Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Not sure who is reading regularly here yet... Do I actually have regulars??? LOL
Anyhow, if you read this... Pop over to my friend, Dori's blog... http://yourwordislife.blogspot.com/ and be entered in a drawing for an autographed copy of Jennifer Rothschild's Self-Talk, Soul Talk. Jennifer Rothschild is also the author of Me, Myself and Lies, the summer Bible Study for Living Proof Ministries (Beth Moore's blog site.)
All you have to do to enter is leave a comment on Dori's blog for Dori that says that you came over from my blog.
Sunday, May 24, 2009
One Saturday afternoon a few weeks ago, I was driving East on Interstate 24, heading home following a trip into Nashville for a baby shower. It had been pouring rain all morning long and a heavy rain was falling on the drive home. It was still a little on the nippy side because we were experiencing a cool snap like I had mentioned in one of my previous posts.
I looked over to my left side, only to see that I would be coming up on a convoy of soldiers heading toward Murfreesboro. There were four vehicles involved. The final vehicle was a Hummer/mini tank, which was following three other green vehicles. They were laden with supplies that looked like they might be en route to help with tornado clean up efforts.
I should probably tell you that since 9-11, I have a developed a habit of personally thanking soldiers whenever I see one of them in uniform. I consider these guys and gals heroes of the greatest kind. So, I whenever I get the opportunity, as corny as it seems, I want to shake the hand of every soldier I meet, look them square in the eye and say thanks from a grateful heart. They get enough flack from a lot of others. I figure that it's the least I can do.
Back to the freeway.... As is true to my encouraging nature, I decided that on this rainy Saturday, in the middle of the freeway, I would try to make the day of some of our working boys and girls in green camoflauge...
As I passed the mini tank, I lowered the window of my pickup and stuck my short arm out as far as I could (thanks to the cooler weather, I was wearing a red jacket, I had no doubt they'd see it) and gave an enthusiastic thumbs up!!! I yelled, "Thank You, Guys!!! Thank You!!!" Then as best I could, I snapped what I thought to be a perfectly good civilian salute.
The response from the guys in green took my breath away.
A solitary soldier popped up through the top of the tank and stood at attention, with a full salute in the pouring rain! He remained at attention until I lost sight of them... or I guess he lost sight of me.
Here was a soldier, willingly putting himself in harm's way for our freedoms... and he was saluting... me!?!
The more I think about it, that's exactly what Jesus did for us. He willingly gave up His life so that we might live.
But freely given.
I'll leave you this Memorial Day weekend with these immortal words from the pen of Lee Greenwood:
"And I'm proud to be an American, where at least I know I'm free. And I won't forget the Man Who died Who gave that right to me. And I'll proudly stand up next to you to defend her still today. For there ain't no doubt I love this land! God bless the USA!"
Happy Memorial Day.
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
"Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him." -James 1:12
Several weeks ago, Murfreesboro TN was placed on the world map when an EF-4 tornado tore through the west side of town, leaving a path of destruction of 23.5 miles long and a half-mile wide. While much of the "clean up" process has taken already been taking place, there are marks of devastation across the landscape of the hearts of some families that will certainly remain forever.
Because the hardest hit area was less than a half-mile from our church and only a few minutes from our own home, I have heard over and over stories of God's amazing goodness, His mercy and His grace, in spite of the storm that took only two precious lives. I've seen pictures of the massive tornado taken from the front porch of a friend's house... And I have seen God's face in the face of those whose homes were completely destroyed but who lived to tell about it without an inkling of bitterness or complaint.
How is it that my friends have managed to remain faithful to their Lord throughout this trial? What is it that keeps them from becoming angry or bitter at God? What keeps them from losing their sanity or from giving up (or worse?) I believe it has to do with the fact that they believe God is looking out for them...that He has their best interests in mind. They may not understand His ways and especially when they aren't what they would have chosen for themselves, but they TRUST HIM.
Such a small word...just five little letters.
Five little letters that caused a young teenager to take on a mouthy giant with a handful of stones and a slingshot... and win! Five little letters that allowed Moses to stand firm in the face of Pharoah and tell him, "Let my people go." Later, it would allow those same freed people to cross the parted Red Sea on dry land. It would teach Job's friends that even in the loss of all that he had (up to and including his life), God was still trustworthy.
TRUST. When the path is unseen or the way unclear. (Hebrews 11:1-6)
TRUST. When you are weary. (Isaiah 40:29-31)
TRUST. When you would rather worry. (Phillippians 4:6)
TRUST. When God's plan seems bigger than you are. (Jeremiah 32:27)
TRUST. When you are disappointed. (Jeremiah 29:11)
Five little letters.
Such a small word.
But He's one REALLY BIG GOD.
Monday, May 11, 2009
Several years ago, in the days following Tony's death, I often joined our church singles group for lunch following Sunday morning services. This was often a group of eight to ten people, some were divorcees with/without their children, some were never marrieds and then there was me... the young widow. We always had a great time together, laughing, eating, sharing stories, and catching up.
One particular Sunday afternoon, one of the college aged daughters came along with her mom for lunch. While we were sitting around the table, the mother turned to her daughter and (in a tattling-like tone) said, "Tell them what you did this week."
All eyes were on Suzy (not her real name). We were all curious. We had seen this child grow up and knew her to be the epitome of purity throughout her high school years. She was the girl who dated the young man who was surrendered to ministry. She was the one who was active in the youth group and that all of the other girls wanted to be like. But when she became a college freshman, all of that changed.
"What?" Suzy inquired.
Her mom said, "You know what I am talking about."
Suzy slowly lifted her shirt just above her waistline, only to reveal her new bellybutton ring!
One by one, all of our mouths hit the floor. And the people (particularly those of the male gender) in the group started firing one question after another... Did it hurt? How did they do it? How long do you have to leave it in? How do you clean it? The questions and conversation continued for several minutes while I sat in stunned silence.
Finally, after what seemed like ten minutes of listening to the guys play twenty questions with Suzy, I decided I had heard enough. So I began to look at her, look at the guys and look down at my own (quite round) mid-section... and wondered out loud, "Hmmm... belly-button ring, huh????" Then I shook my head and said, "Nah. I couldn't find mine to pierce it!!!"
We're all made differently, aren't we? The God of the Universe has created each of us uniquely. So why is it that we are always hung up on our appearances? Why is it that we can't just let the Master Designer love us as we are? After all, didn't He design us with a purpose in mind, and don't you think that maybe you fit nicely into that purpose, regardless of what the outer package may look like? Let's not get too caught up on the outward beautification process, but let's learn to focus on inward beauty, and let God love us just as we are. And then let's learn to laugh at and love ourselves the way He sees us.... Beautiful!
Saturday, May 2, 2009
"Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour." - 1 Peter 5:8 (NIV)
Middle Tennessee really only has two seasons: winter and summer. (Spring and Fall are really just variations of the previously mentioned seasons.) The temperatures bounce back and forth between cold and hot during the months of March, April and May, then they finally settle into the sticky hot weather of summer. And the reverse is true in the fall months until about mid-November, when the temps will become more wintry.
Nevertheless, Spring is gorgeous in middle Tennessee! We have some beautiful flowers like daffodils and tulips that begin to show their smiling faces in early March. Dogwood and Red bud trees bud. Roses, azaleas, and other flowers are in all their glory. And much to my husband's chagrine, the grass also grows.
Around the end of March, the weather will start to warm up again. And it will continue to get warmer through the early part of April. Therein lies the problem. Most of the new people around here will be lulled into a false sense of security by all of the beauty and the warm weather that seems to sneak in and stay for only a few weeks. After all, wherever they came from probably had four real seasons, so they form the false belief that it's here to stay. They will put away their winter clothes or plant delicate perennials, only to be quickly fooled by the changes of temperature and late frosts. It's a really cheap shot to the human psyche from nature... and those who are unsuspecting find out the hard way that it really isn't summer just yet.
We actually have names for the last two of these changes in temperature in the Spring time: "Dogwood winter" and "Blackberry winter." These shadows of winter signify the last of the cold snaps of the season and usually happen around the middle of April and end in early May. They are so-named because the dogwood trees and blackberries bloom when these last little cold snaps come. Usually, the skies are grey like winter, and the wind is colder than it has been in previous weeks. Sometimes it's rainy. Other times, it's just cold. Whatever the case, it is tom-foolery for the unsuspecting!
Have you ever gone through a spiritual "blackberry winter"? I most certainly have! And if you've been a believer for any length of time, I am betting you have, too! Whether it's a fall into temptation, complacency or God just has you in a dark spot for a brief time for a period of testing, blackberry winters come to us all.
Don't be fooled by spiritual blackberry winters! If there's anything I have learned after becoming a Christ-follower, it's this: Satan is the chief of liars! He wants nothing more than to lull us into believing all is well... or that we can get away with one little thing... And then all of the sudden, we find ourselves drowning in the middle of a sea of misery, guilt and shame. I Peter 5:8 in the Message says this: "Keep a cool head. Stay alert. The Devil is poised to pounce and would like nothing better than to catch you napping."
The good thing about the blackberry winter is that it doesn't last long. The reward is that the berries bloom, and soon after there will be sweet, juicy fruit! The sun will be back, shining and the days will be warm and summer upon us for good.
For the believer going through the spiritual blackberry winter, remember that above all, God does love you. He will be there with you through the duration of this period of whatever it is you are going through. God has promised the crown of life to those who will persevere under trials. (James 1:12) If you fall for one of Satan's lies, forgiveness can be a beautiful thing, especially when you go to God with a broken heart and a contrite spirit (Psalms 51:7). Whatever the case, the spiritual fruits that will follow these seasons of trials will be sweet.