Monday, April 11, 2016

When life hands you lemons...

This journey called life is a beautiful broken journey. It's full of ups and downs, highs and lows and everything in between. When the journey is your own, it's often easier to deal with those peaks and dips but when it's happening around you to those you hold dear...well that's a totally different perspective.

The old adage, "when life hands you lemons make lemonade" comes to mind. It sounds so simple and yet so difficult. When life hands us lemons, the knee jerk reaction is to FIX IT! Fix that "thing", that situation or circumstance so that it goes the way WE see fit. GO RIGHT NOW AND FIIIIIIIIX IT! I've found that my attempts to "fix" usually just make things worse. Instead of rushing out to fix it the better thing to do is BE STILL. Just take a breath, be still and know that HE IS GOD! Nothing that happens in this life ever takes God by surprise! NOTHING!!! NO THING>>>EVER! He doesn't cause everything to happen but it all passes through His hands. He allows some things to teach us and help us grow. Other things happen because we try to control our own destiny instead of waiting and trusting...OH BOY, AM I EVER GUILTY OF THIS ONE!!! When you're in the middle of the "lemons" it's hard to see the way out so we just start stomping through those lemons all the while squirting that acidic juice in our wound/hurt/circumstance/situation, that only makes the hurt/circumstance/wound/situation worse! It only causes it to burn did it help to stomp through the lemons? Nope, not one bit!

I struggle because, frankly, I'm a stomper and the older I get the more "stompy" I am! I know it and those close to me know it. If something is wrong I say confront and move on but that isn't always what God wants us to do. Yes, sometimes a little stomp through the lemons is what needs to happen. Confrontation isn't bad because it brings change but the confrontation doesn't have to be caustic - well timed confrontation brings about healthy and needed change. So when I feel the need to STOMP, that's the moment that I need to stop...take a breath...and BE STILL in His presence. Just wait and listen for His voice. Wait for His guidance; His Word...just be still and wait. If we wait for God's timing...the lemonade will be so much sweeter than if it was made by stomping through the lemons.

Lord, I know you're try to teach me to wait on You and to trust Your timing. It's so hard sometimes because what we see doesn't always match what we are claiming and believing. In those moments, we must simply be still and wait...and trust. I'm learning to trust You more, Lord Jesus but I still have a ways to go. Father, help me not to stomp through the lemons but wait on You because waiting on You makes the lemonade sooooo much sweeter.

So, Lord, when life hands us/ME lemons help us/ME just to step back and wait on You and not run ahead and make a sticky mess. In this life, there WILL BE LEMONS but oh what sweet lemonade YOU CAN MAKE if only we/I will BE STILL and WAIT, TRUSTING that You are already there!

Still learning to wait and trust,
Your beloved "stomper"

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Dad chose Jesus

For the past 3 and half-ish years, I've been asking "why"... why did Dad die? How could Jesus take him away from us when He knew how much we loved him? Why didn't God intervene and raise Dad up and make him whole in this world? I've spent more time than I should have asking these questions and yes, at times, doubting God's love and goodness.  What I've come to realize is this; God didn't "take" Dad...

My mom shared a story with me and at the time I was like, "yeah, yeah, Dad chose Jesus...duh, that's why he's a preacher" but as that story has replayed in my mind over the last few years it finally sunk in...

My dad was always telling us how much he loved us - we never doubted his deep, abiding love for us. Mom was telling me about a conversation she and my dad had many years ago before I was born. She and Dad were talking about ministry and he expressed to her how much he loved her and what she meant to him then he came the "BUT"... "but if I ever have to choose between you and Jesus and what He's called me to do, I'll choose Jesus." At first thought, I was offended that Dad would say that to her but then I realized that's what God calls us leave ALL earthly things/people/places and follow Him. Dad loved Mom and me with ALL of his heart...but his first love was Jesus...just as it should have been. I realize now, that my Dad didn't love the things of this world - he loved people and his desire was to lead them to them the hands, feet and heart of Jesus to all he encountered.

As I reflect on those words, I am reminded again that Jesus didn't "take" Dad from us...Dad CHOSE to go be with Jesus when given the chance. I shared this thought during the service dedicating the library at Cornerstone Church in Dad's memory. I had never really thought of it nor did I plan to say it, but God gave me those words in that moment and my mom repeated my words back to me at a moment when I was again questioning, "you should listen to your own words sometimes." LOL  My Dad made the choice to go and be with Christ - face to face.  This Savior whom he'd preached and taught about, this Father whom he'd loved wholeheartedly and served so faithfully - when given the opportunity to choose between this life and the next...Dad chose Jesus. He had made that choice long before that November day when he stood on the cusp of eternity. He chose Jesus and he followed after Him with reckless abandon in life until the day the Father scooped him up and carried him to Glory.

My Dad left me more memories than I could ever write down or tell but the most important thing he left me and all who knew him, was a legacy of love and faith. I knew my entire life that my dad loved me more than anything in THIS world. It made me strong, courageous and confident. How much more strong, courageous and confident I am in the love of Jesus Christ!! My dad didn't just tell folks to "lay down their nets" and follow Jesus...he showed them how to do it and do so with joy!

In the words of "Kojak", "who loves ya,baby?" The answer to that question is God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit! He chose to love us even while we were yet sinners...WHO WILL YOU CHOOSE? I CHOOSE JESUS!

Thursday, February 18, 2016

The Good Ol Days

I MISS THEM!!! Yep, I miss "the good ol days"! As much as I love the modern conveniences of life as we know it, I miss the days of my childhood.  I miss having one phone in a central location, "rabbit ears", the singing of the National Anthem at the end of the television broadcast day, no answering machines or cell phones. I miss that simpler time. The days before social media...ya know, when people thought you had money if you had an electric typewriter and that you were a millionaire if you had a computer at home! Yep, those days are the ones I miss!  Don't get me wrong...I LOVE reconnecting with friends and loved ones via Facebook and email but wasn't life just a little less harried "back in the day"? Sure, we were busy - out and about but if we were out and about we were untouchable to a degree. Anyone who needed us would have to wait until we got home to get us.  There wasn't a constant state of "connected-ness".

I'm forever watching "retro" television. It drives my tribe NUTS!!! My husband constantly ribs me about watching "old tv" and asking me why I want to watch those shows. I think it's because while I'm watching Match Game, The Carol Burnett Show, Gilligan's Island, All in the Family, et al I transported back to that simpler time...the good ol days. A time in my life when my biggest concern was passing an English test or wondering if my high school football team win that week. In reality, I think it mostly revolves around the fact that while I'm watching The Carol Burnett Show or Laverne and Shirley I'm transported (mentally at least) back to my childhood. Back to the days when my "original" family, my first family was intact and life was simple (for me at least)...a time when all three of us were all still on this big blue planet - present in the body. In my mind's eye, I can see my Dad standing at the stove shaking that big stock pot with oil, salt and kernels in the bottom to make popcorn. No microwave or air poppers back then. I can see my Mom laying on the floor in the den with her "husband" pillow; blanket thrown over the vent in the floor to capture all the heat blowing up from the oil furnace. I can see (and sometimes even smell) the live Christmas tree we had every Christmas with the big multi-colored bulbs and the silver tinsel topped with snow from a can. I can see it and smell it and it makes me smile and ache all that same time. It's weird because I'm so blessed and happy in the present...but sometimes I just long for a few moments of the "old days".

I hope that at some point my children, when they are grown and living on their own, they will look back at this time in their lives, their childhood, with the same fondness that I have when I look back on mine. I hope that they see their dad and me "doing" and "being" and I pray it makes them smile.

I think after you release a parent into eternity, the "old days" take on new meaning. As an adult, I've always cherished my childhood and the days at home with my folks. I didn't cherish them while they were happening...I was too busy growing up and too young to realize how absolutely magical those moments, days, weeks, months, years really were - how I wish I'd known!!! I'd have made a point to soak up every hug, smile, laugh, joke and yes even the moments of being disciplined (Yes, even I had to be corrected and sometimes it even required a spanking!! SHOCKING, I know! LOL)

I encourage my children to soak up every moment and to be present in every moment because moments only happen once. It's hard for kids to be present in the moment...but I continue to encourage them to do it. There are so many things that I can only vaguely recall from my childhood and young adulthood...I know there was so much FUN but I can't remember the details. I often have people ask me, "Hey, do you remember when we..." or "Do you remember the time we..." and it makes me sad that I can't always say yes.

I really can't explain the ache or longing that sometimes creeps in but I do know that it brings a beautiful mixture of laughter and tears. Laughter because it all happened and tears because I'll never pass that way again. Make the most of every moment and BE ALL THERE!

Holidays past

NOTE: I started this post during the holidays this year but never here it is.

I find myself a little more sentimental this year than's interesting. Interesting because I keep thinking that it'll get better, that the tears won't be so close and the longing won't be so deep but it doesn't...get better. I had a very dear friend tell me it doesn't get better, it gets different...not better ` we get stronger but it's never better... just different. She's right! I do find that I'm stronger (most days) but that feeling never goes away...never gets better. As the days pass, it just feels different.

The last few weeks, I find myself remembering. Remembering holidays past and it makes me smile and it makes me cry but mostly for that moment the longing seems to ease if only for a moment. I hear an old Christmas tune and I remember Christmases spent at Fincastle in the parsonage. The smell of the real Christmas tree and the oil heat. I can hear my Dad popping popcorn in the metal pot that he had to shake back and forth over the eye of the electric stove.  I can see my mom in her spot on the floor - blanket thrown over the vent to catch the heat as it blows and inflates her blanket (that was a coveted spot, by the way.  I remember Christmas programs in the sanctuary at Fincastle. At the end, Santa would come down the center aisle and all the kids would go home with brown bags full of fruit and candies. I remember big coats, snowy nights and dinners at my grandparents. Nanny Ross' homemade chocolate pies and the coleslaw and ham and Nanny Bruce's. I remember the coal burning stove that heated Papaw and Nanny Ross' house and the buckstove at Papaw and Nanny Bruce's house.

I look back fondly at the holidays I spent with wonderful friends who were more like family while I was at Lee College (University) and at Disney and couldn't get home for the holidays or had to go a little later due to work. Those are still special times and bring a smile when I recall them.

There are so many memories and they are so vivid that most of the time I can smell all those smells. Occasionally, I'll get a whiff of a scent and I'm suddenly 7 years old all wide-eyed with Christmas wonder. It's not that I miss being 7 years old really but I miss that time. A time before smart phones, personal computers  and cable TV. It really was a kinder, simpler, "gentler" time. I miss the faces that sat around the table and those smells and that feeling of excitement. Most of all, I miss my Dad. I know that for the last 3 years, Dad has had a seat at the best banquet and he is surrounded by those faces that I miss. He is happier than he could ever be here in this world...but I miss him. I will miss him for as long as I'm in this earthly vessel but I know where he is and that he is happy and well and safe and I find comfort in knowing this truth.

When God is silent.

NOTE: Another started but unpublished until now post. I've come a bit further in the journey since I initially started writing this post.

Over the last 2 years I've heard a lot of things. I've heard my children laugh, cry and argue. I've heard my husband tell me he loves me and heard him cutting up with the kids. I've heard a lot of sermons, scripture, encouraging words but one thing I haven't heard the voice of God speak to me. He's been silent.

I can say that I've felt His presence, while not necessarily realizing until later that it was indeed His presence in the form of a friend hugging my neck, sending a note, or giving me a reassuring look...I know that it was the Heavenly Father working through folks to minister comfort to my broken spirit.
So, when God is silent is it because He really isn't talking or is it because I'm not listening or can't hear Him because of the chaos in my mind and heart? Let me tell ya, there's been A LOT of that in the last 2 years!!! I have struggled with trusting God and feeling like my prayers are effective. It has seemed to me that the things for which I've prayed have gone the opposite way.  Well, opposite of MY will...there's the rub. Why is God's will not my will and visa versa?  My will should be that God's will be done in my life and the lives of those I love...right?