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Friends from my grown-up life express disbelief that I was painfully shy when I was little. My mom doesn’t believe it either – but I was – lots of reasons but those reasons aren’t for today – and that’s not me today. That is so not me today that my boys have learned the art of shepherding me out of church, a restaurant, a grocery store. There’s a lot of collie in those boys (LOL). There’s a lot of reach in me.

We are each designed to reach according to our love languages and gifts. When we reach according to our God-designed reach-way – it can be a beautiful, fulfilling thing – but not just a one-way reaching, a one-way fulfilling. When we reach God’s way – it is a holistic reach – where all shes involved are blessed – and it might have a ripple effect – like wave on the ocean.

We are God-designed to reach – just like He reaches to us. The value of she might even be determined through reaching.

My grandmother, she taught me about strength in the daily and the beauty of sitting in the quiet together on the front porch swing – and how to make coffee cake.

My mama, she taught me about the view from the high places – and the value of hard work, sacrifice and kindness, that poverty is a state of mind – and how to make truffles and majeskas

Aunt Shirley taught me  that every family needs a keeper of the stories, that cousins are awesome – and how to make meringue shells.

Aunt Joyce taught me about cooking, the importance of routine, how to make mashed potatoes, salad dressing, how hot chocolate changes a morning – and generosity of spirit

Alva taught me how to make ginger snaps and post-it notes for prayer requests on bathroom mirrors

Joan taught me how to crack my heart wide open to be a spiritual mom: “We so need to be needed,” said this 70 something woman.

The Tuesday Morning Prime Timer’s women’s coffee group that met at Hardees or McDonalds – they all taught me that you never arrive in Utopia, that you still get mad at your husband and that they are needed – who else had the time to lay believing hands on me, pray that the Holy Spirit be in the delivery of my 4th son – who almost died that day and was held in the hand of God

Laura-May in her rolled down stockings taught me about the innate need to pass our God messages and God love down – that we were designed for that.

My sweet mother-in-law – she taught me about unconditional love, how the compassion gift works beautifully, how to quilt and how to never give up reaching in this mother-in-law/daughter-in-law relationship – sweet blessings are found in the reaching.

My grandmother-in-law, June, taught me about canning summertime and growing to share violets

About 15 years ago – Gracie taught me that God makes whole the broken. She taught me about speaking faith to move mountains – I didn’t know that. . . didn’t know about praying for these babies growing inside me – until Gracie. She taught me about heaven – and the hope of it, the tangible of it. She taught me that when God has a plan, even too low trisomy babies who are never seen can hang on to be seen – Gracie who at 4 months in-utero, whose heart stopped beating, my little girl gone to God in the high places – taught me that love doesn’t have to see or hold now or today.  She taught me how God turns my mourning into dancing.  Because of what she taught me, I believe. I. believe. . . . that’s how I learned how to call on the name of Jesus when doctors and nurses are calling S.T.A.T. c-section – and chaos ensures and I hear “I don’t have a heart-beat” – and then Cam was born, healthy and whole, against all odds, with APGARS of 9 both times – when most kids don’t make it. Don’t survive it – especially after 16 minutes. She taught me the power of the name of Jesus can save – and it makes a difference in my life everyday.

Every she poured grace into me, poured hope into me. The value of she is immeasurable.

Yet, just like a cup of coffee or glass of sweet tea – I cannot have it if I don’t reach for it.

Every she pour into me because I reached out. Sometimes it takes a lot of reaching to grab hold of the one God sends. A lot of reaching sometimes means a lot of rejection.

If I hadn’t spied through the forsythia at Laura May, hadn’t ventured to her front porch for an evening hello

If I hadn’t sought out my aunts and in the seeking and reaching found relationship

If I hadn’t reached for conversation with the older lady sitting beside me in a volunteer group

Or sought an invitation to the Prime Time Ladies Tuesday mornings – and showed up to listen

If I hadn’t sought to spend time with my husband’s family, sought out his mother and grandmother to pull his traditions into ours

If I hadn’t reached for God when we lost Gracie – and continue reaching today

I wouldn’t have been poured into with such blessing, such over-flowing

This reaching, pouring and receiving – God created us for it. Think of Christ’s geneology and the passing down of His word – a geneology of reaching, pouring and receiving.

If you haven’t been poured into – reach

If you need to be needed, need to pour – reach

You might catch a lot of thin air, experience some rejection – but God has someone who needs you and who you need.

We were created for it.

The Value of she is found in the reaching.

 

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pennchurchdoorcc“Come,” he says. . . “Come. . .” An act as simple as turning a door knob, yet like the knob opens the door to something new, unseen, different from where you are standing – so does this invitation from Christ: “Come. . . .”

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly” ~ Matthew 11: 28-30

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desertcarcThe engine of progress begins with a soul inspired. A soul inspired begins with a relationship with God. A relationship with God begins with a conversation, a talk and listen, and an “I-believe-Lord.-Help-my-unbelief” kind of growing trust. It’s Monday. Monday is a good day to begin being inspired.

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beachbirdccThe world may ruffle your feathers, but the Lord gives peace to your soul.

“And the peace of God,
which transcends all understanding,
will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus”
~Philippians 4:7.

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“Drip down, O heavens, from above,
And let the clouds pour down righteousness;
Let the earth open up and salvation bear fruit,
And righteousness spring up with it.
I, the LORD, have created it.”
~ Isaiah 45:8

 

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Changing Our Daily

floridateac“Do you believe,?”Jesus asked.

“Yes, Lord! Help my unbelief” came the answer. The blind man had to then open his eyes to see, the lame man had to stand up, the sick woman had to reach out to touch the hem of his garment.

Peter invited Jesus to dinner before he was asked to follow Jesus, Cleopas invited a stranger into a conversation on the Emmaus road, and the soldier walked to find Jesus to ask for the healing of his servant. All had to act to have their life changed in big ways, ways as simple as opening our eyes, trying to stand up, inviting someone to dinner or including them in a conversation.

Maybe it works in changing our daily, too – little changes like inviting someone into a conversation, going to see a neighbor, even making a cup of tea and carving out a place of goodness in an everyday ordinary routine -and inviting God into it with those words from long ago: “I believe. Help my unbelief.”

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A Winsome Retreat

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(This is a ramble about an adventure steeped in blessing. I don’t think I could write about my weekend any other way)

I flew to a woman’s retreat – going far away from home is a hard thing for me. It’s the second time I’ve ever done anything like that. I left feeling like a little ladybug in a very big elephant-sized world and returned feeling so very brave.  I took my camera because it helps me holistically process, both directly and indirectly, my experiences. On the two-hour drive to Winsome 2018 at the Sulfur Springs Retreat Center, I didn’t stop to take photos. When I got there, for some reason, I really needed to take a photo of the horses in the pasture. Don’t ask me why because I really don’t know why. Yet, on the two hour drive back to the airport, I stopped, even turned around and drove back, to take pictures of things that just said, “Stop. You  need to do this. It’s a blessing I have for you.”

Winsome 2018 was a weekend of blessing. Kim Hyland, founder and host of winsome and author of An Imperfect Woman told us, “He sabotaged my strategies and he saved me.”She talked about of the idea of Perfection as a Saboteur, that “perfection is too heavy a burden to carry on our own,” and how it “drives the need for redemption in us.”

Denise Hughes, blogger, author, and editor, talked about how, for writers, writing is an act of obedience, that the writer “places the writing on the altar and we leave it on the altar, leaving the outcome of where it goes in God’s hands – and, as a writer, that liberated me to write in whatever spaces God gives me – whether it’s a big community or a small community, – and later she talked about how God grows us into women of grace. She is a beautiful story-teller!

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Niki Hardy, a beautiful, eloquent rectal cancer survivor, talked about False Guilt leading to broken identities, not being good enough to have an abundant life, how we need to find abundance in the pain, how to hold on to who we are to him – and then she had us close our eyes, think about our happiest and most secure place – and she led us on a journey:

What is your happiest and most secure, safe place? I was surprised – not my porch, not my garden. Not my thinking room. Not the house where I grew up. It wasn’t Paris, the beach or the mountains. It was my kitchen – but not just my kitchen empty. It was my kitchen with all my boys, my husband, my daughter-in-laws, the grandgirlies and grandson – listening – just listening to them talk the way they talk, interact the way they interact – even when it’s not pretty, even when it’s not grace, even when hard growing is going on.

“You’re wearing a backpack,” Niki said. She asked us to think about what we had in that backpack, what made it heavier, a burden, a challenge, something weighing us down.

Sometimes in my kitchen, when there’s too many schedules loaded into my schedule, when there’s emotional chaos brewing, when there’s too many heart-sores I cannot heal in me or in those I love, when my jaw is just dragging the ground due to exhaustion from what I don’t know – it feels like I’m carrying a backpack that weighs me down. Squatting down to find the marjoram in the spice rack – or the summer savory – only to find it above the stove, I feel as though I wouldn’t be able to rise up; rummaging for a storage containing with a matching lid, or the garlic press, cooking, baking, being overwhelmed by the mess I’m making and the knowledge I have to clean it up. I could imagine the weight of that visual backpack; I could feel that weight.

I couldn’t pick just one burden to put in my backpack. I thought of the challenges my boys face – and I put those inside. I thought of my mom challenged with carcinoids and my aunt with dementia – and I put those in, too. Then, I thought about my dad walking out on our family, not having a dad who thinks you the world – and, though I have worked through the rejection, the heart sores from it – and am so blessed that God has stood in the gap, teaching me is the best Father – there are days I still struggled with the lack of that tangible relationship. I always imagined a father who would tell one of my boys when he was being sassy, “Son – don’t you talk to my little girl like that.” A father’s relationship with his daughter impacts her self image and self worth. I remember a little girl in our neighborhood. One day one of other neighborhood boys made her mad – and she ran into her house hollering at the top of her lungs, “Daddy”- that moment kind  of wowed me. God was showing me through that little girl running to her dad the kind of relationship of relationship he wants with me. I almost second guessed myself and didn’t put it in – because, really, in comparison to so many other challenges people have, well, I started to put a guilt trip on me, that false guilt trip mentioned earlier, that guilt trip that satan uses to trick us away from God, who he is, how he sees us – and how we see ourselves through him.

Then Niki asked us to see Jesus walking toward us. I was dismayed – I thought I should have picked the mountains or the ocean in that moment. I second guessed myself, thinking I should have had a better answer, that my truth isn’t good enough. With my eyes closed in Pennsylvania, I was wide-eyed behind my kitchen counter (it’s an open floor plan) in Tennessee – standing there wondering what I was supposed to do now – and, just like my son’s friends who stop  by – who know they don’t have to really knock, but always tap on the door – there was a tap  on the big kitchen doors – and I saw him – Jesus – on the other side of the glass door, tapping and then pushing it open. The door always opens loud. Nobody can sneak in or out of our house. He pushed it open and walked in – like he belonged. Like I was part of his belonging – and, it just about took my breath away! God takes our truth and our confusion – he knows what to do with it. He just needs us to be honest about it . . . with him and ourselves.

Next, Niki asked us to give him what was in our backpack – and there, in that kitchen, I pulled it all out and gave it to him, right in the hustle-bustle of my happy, secure place, where it is o.k. to not always know if you have the right answer.

Then Niki  told us that in return he gave us a package to put in our backpack – and we were to open it – what was it?

I rejected the first thing that came to my mind, as though I had a choice. Shouldn’t it be solutions for those I love? Shouldn’t it be a well mom and aunt? Shouldn’t it be problems solved for the challenges my sons faced?

And I remembered a quote that I love, that I found this year:

“Child,’ said the Lion, ‘I am telling you your story, not hers. No one is told any story but their own” ~ C.S. Lewis, The Horse and His Boy

God doesn’t take away the salvation he gave me to give to someone else who doesn’t have salvation – because there’s not enough to go around and I’m being selfish. When my heart cries out for healing, he doesn’t say, “I’m giving this to you, but, really, you should give it away to someone else – because there’s just not enough to go around and me being healed is really selfish. He doesn’t send cardinals darting out in front of me and say with regret – because  I gave you this blessing, someone else will go without a blessing today. If the potter is gracious enough to want to make the bowl or cup of myself whole again . . . . shouldn’t I accept it, knowing that he also wants to do the same thing for ones I love? That his blessings, his healing, his making whole our brokenness – there is a never-ending supply?

This package I unwrapped and placed inside my bag was for me, about my hurts, about my story, about my relationship with him, so I chose to accept the package he gave me. The gift wasn’t a choice. To accept the gift was my choice.

. . . and I chose to accept the gift, I felt so loved, understood, accepted, and valued by this father through creation and adoption.

Inside the wrappings was a key to my bedroom in his house, with a big window overlooking the most glorious view, in a bedroom designed for his favored daughter. It reminded me of Kintsukuroi, which treats breakage and repair as part of the history of an object, using a mixture of gold and silver, making the object stronger and more beautiful than before.

Winsomehorse4cElise Daly Parker hosted a Dreams Vision Board Party, which I didn’t complete (remember that horse photo I just had to have?), but I have tucked away to work on in a few weeks. It’s something that has been niggling at the back of my mind, this thinking about the next 10 years. Elise has given me the tools to be able to think about it without hedging my way out of it.

There were more speakers . . . wonderful speakers, sweet worship, heart-felt hospitality – and delicious food ((the scones were amazing!), rocking chairs I just melted into, cozy rooms and kindness . . . so much kindness.

I came to Winsome not knowing what to expect. I allowed that. I didn’t impose expectations of this retreat. I sat long and talked much with sweet friends Brandee and Sherry, Judy, Debbie and Delia, and so many other sweet women, some expecting babies, some with empty nests – and some in between.

I’m still processing the faith seeds shared. I’ve learned that it doesn’t already have to be done, not to be impatient as I unpack and unfold the messages that worked their way into my heart. I came home better equipped for this ever-changing, ever-challenging, grace-filled, God’s-love-in-it, overflowing journey.

The ladies of Winsome were indeed a joy, delightful, engaging, kind, praying, pointing the way, encouraging with beautiful hospitality. I am so glad I was brave and courageous enough to do a new thing!

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Trekking Through – http://www.trekkingthru.com/
http://www.richfaithrising.com/ Unite the Bloggosphere
http://purposefulfaith.com/ Cheerleading #RaRaLinkUp
http://www.messymarriage.com/ Messy Marriage
http://holleygerth.com/ Coffee for Your Heart

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