Age, You Do Not Scare Me!

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First week of August: It’s hard to be mad at the grass growing in the flower beds when theres a hummingbird sipping on the blue salvia and a bluebird on tbe clothesline pole. Finches are flitting through the blackeyed susans, and a bobwhite calls from the fields. Too much good to dwell on the ungood.
I turn 65 this month, seems like I should be saying that about my parents, not me. But the year of birth verifies it. Its really me. Sitting here on the patio as the sun finds a place to rest, I am overwhelmed with God’s grace. I’ve done nothing to deserve this peace.
Jesus said He gives us peace. Not as the world gives, does He give. And it IS a whole different peace. Though several circumstances could be rewritten if my world were ideal, its that peace that passes all understanding that comes with being in Christ, in spite of the less than idealic. The hummingbird can’t receive life sustenance by being nearby the salvia and feeders, admiring them, talking about them; but must contact that necter, get into it. Well, neither can we receive the peace and grace of Christ”s without contacting Him thru His life giving blood. On the outside looking in just isn’t where He wants us to be. I hear Him beckoning, “Come nearer to me, lean in, feel the peace and protection I promised when you became my child”. Age does not scare me.

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THIS DAUGHTER’S DADDY

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I never called my daddy by the more popular ‘dad,’ nor the formal ‘father’. Dad was someone who belonged to my more sophisticated friends; and Father was the one to whom I prayed, the father in Heaven. No, only one name for my daddy – Daddy.

I was born on his 20th birthday, his first child and the apple of his eye I’ve heard, for four and one half years. That’s when his second daughter, a little cherub, was born along with a cradle of other changes in life. But for almost five years, he was all mine, lunch box and all! They say the first few years of a child’s life sets a pattern for giving and accepting love, among other attitudes. After that, we set about real soon trying to abolish every rule, change every ideal, and break every parent’s heart. But for those glorious preschool years, daddies and daughters are pretty tight. In most cases, certainly in mine, all those attempts to become ‘my own’ self of the 1960s and 70s were for nothing. The roots were already down. Deep. In my heart.

Because of my daddy, I still love the smell of wax paper in the lunch box. I happily anticipated his return home after work because I knew I would find a little gem of something left for me in his lunch box.

Because of my daddy, I like the smell of a gasoline engine and oily tools in a garage. I used to line up old spark plugs, nuts and bolts and tools along the wall of the dirt floor garage we first had. A strong pair of hands that held my head up when I was sick often had that grease and oil on them. Thanks for washing them first, Daddy.

Because of my daddy, and my maternal Grandpa, I love the smell of Old Spice aftershave. They both wore it when I was very young, and wrapped my arms around their necks, and sat on Daddy’s knees in church.

Because of my daddy, I love straight young rows of green in the garden. Later, baskets of produce with various colors washed and arranged like flowers in a vase were brought to the door; I love to do that too.

Because of my daddy, I am crazy about breakfast outdoors, and roadside spots to stop and eat bologna and crackers with a coca-cola. He introduced us to camping, too, or I wouldn’t know that this is not always a desirable thing to do. Thanks for the experience Daddy.

There’s nothing magical about wax paper, or motor oil, Old Spice and gardens. The magic that makes these memories mold us is love. Knowing you are safe and surrounded by acceptance is what every child deserves, just for being brought into this world. I had it, and I drip tears onto the newspaper reports of children who get none of it, and worse. Thank you God for a good daddy. Thank you Daddy for loving me, even when I wasn’t lovable.

Happy Father’s Day, to my Daddy, and all the other great dads, grandpas and uncles, and my brother, too! I love you guys!

 

MONDAY MEATLOAF: throw it out if it’s no good.

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It’s Monday, and there are a few things that I’ve assigned to myself every time that rolls around. One is to stay home and serve a home cooked meal after eating out some, if not most (I ashamedly admit) weekend meals. Oh face it girl, we eat out way too often, even during the week. So, Monday, cook. I’ve been through several ways of making meatloaf, trying for years to like what I thought was the way Mama made hers. I threw away the left overs, and didn’t really enjoy it the first time around. But my husband, bless his heart, has always claimed meatloaf is one of his favorites. So, I make a Monday meatloaf. Since I dropped the chopped stuff, I like it much better. The simpler the better, in fact; it’s more dense and tastier with salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic, dried basil, egg, bread and Worcestershire sauce. But until I was willing to throw out the old way with  chopped onions and green peppers, oats and suchlike, I couldn’t get it right – for us anyway.

Another Monday routine is changing the sheets and hanging them out on the line. If it rains on Monday, I’ll wait to wash them as soon as the sun shines. Rick Bragg hit a homer when he wrote, “…cooler than the other side of your pillow” in All Over But the Shoutin. When I read that phrase, it was instant recognition! If you’ve ever slept without air-conditioning, or even with it for that matter, then you know first hand how marvelous it feels to turn that pillow over to the cool side – two breaths later you’re sleeping. The only other requirement I have for a good night’s sleep is that the pillowcase is wearing fragrance that comes only from hanging out with Mother Nature. Simple things.

I try to get a few cards out on Mondays, but that is not consistent since you never know who may need a note of encouragement from one week to the next. It’s always a good Monday if there are no new heartaches nor illnesses among our friends. Actually, if I’m to be honest, there are always a host of lonely folks who would appreciate a card. I’d say the only thing holding me back from routine here, is me.  Dedication. And a supply of cards and stamps. So, it’s hard sometimes to get a routine going, and I am striving for more consistency there. This is not a ‘toss out’.

So what else am I thinking of throwing out with old meatloaf recipes? I may haul off the recycling more often so I can find the garage wall and bags of cans aren’t clanging every time I shut the dining room door. And I’m definitely tossing out this Monday Musings weekly post idea. Yes, I tried it, and I feel it is not achieving my goal. It’s not that the ideas didn’t flow; I have a list of Monday M’s that I haven’t used yet, and I rarely go a week without inspiration from nature or scripture. But the idea of setting a goal to post weekly, (a blogging group’s idea) with a theme (my idea), took the spontaneity, the fun out, in a way. So forgive me ‘Blessed By Blogging’, as I’m sure your suggestions are much better for most folks than my method, but this is not working for me. I guess I write from the heart, and need more time to make it reader friendly. Anyway, speaking strictly for my own writing, I feel weekly makes it too common;  almost tedious for my readers. Although I have had a big jump in followers lately, so comments on this routine are appreciated.

I began my blog for, well, for me. That is contrary to what all the other Christian bloggers say; they aim at writing for the audience of one – God. Don’t get me wrong, please, I truly want to do everything “as unto the Lord”. It’s just that I am always writing in my head and heart, so starting a blog gave me that vehicle to sport around in so to speak. A vehicle to race, or Sunday drive, or park – whatever my pen and paper wanted to do. Mama wanted me to write, believed in me, so the blog is dedicated to her. I also write for someone else, and that’s my sister Kathy. She has been the wind beneath my wings since we were too young to know Bette Midler, or even to know we’d eventually stop fighting and be friends. My goal is to encourage women to see scripture in living color, one blessing after another.

As I said, I get inspiration from nuggets of nature and snippets of life where I see God has tucked in a tidbit of Himself for us to know Him better.  You know, my meatloaf is best when I can’t taste the individual ingredients, but just a great little loaf of compact flavor. Life’s just better blended with God’s gems of scripture to bring out the full flavor. That’s pretty much what my blog has been from the start. I’ve never been too structured. Hey, what farmer’s wife can be? You have to be flexible in our house. In my core, I much prefer schedule, structure, and security. But if I depended on those, I’d be in a wad most of the time. So, I have to be able to throw those out too, from time to frequent time.

So goodbye, Monday Musings. It may be a while, or it may be the next week. I just ain’t- a -gonna wrap myself all up in it. I get a lot of pleasure in my simple meatloaf Mondays with laundry and cards, and no, I don’t think I need a counselor about that….it just feels good to throw out the popular, overworked ideas of what is expected – at least one day a week.

“And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men” Colossians 3:23

Monday Marvel: Hardened Hearts

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Mark 6:52 says the apostles did not understand the miracle of dividing five loaves and two fish among more than five thousand, for ’their heart was hardened’. I keep asking why. Was it because Jesus catered to the crowd? Was it disbelief that Jesus could do what He just did? Again, in Mark 16:14 the eleven are said to be in “unbelief and hardness of heart”. His own! Did they feed off each others’ cynicism? As for our own attitudes toward those in the boat, do we as followers of Jesus empathize, or criticize?

“Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.” 51 Then He went up into the boat to them, and the wind ceased. And they were greatly amazed in themselves beyond measure, and marveled. 52 For they had not understood about the loaves, because their heart was hardened. (Mark 6:50b-52)

Were the disciples distraught because they’d done his bidding, distributed endless bread and fish, only to be told to go on to Bethsaida, in a boat amid strong winds, without Him? Were they thinking, “Hmph! We are with him daily, doing everything he says, leaving all to follow, and He stays behind with a group of people who didn’t even think far enough to bring their own lunch! Here we are, about to sink and drown! Where is He now?” Could it be a little of that ‘older brother’ syndrome, that the prodigal son met? Likewise, are our hearts hardened toward the help and answers that throngs of people receive, while we sit and wait for answers?

Another question, were their hearts hardened because it was not God’s will yet for them to fully understand His plan for Jesus. Are we humans so predictably weak that God knew the disciples and apostles would desert and depart if they knew the heartache that awaited them at the crucifixion of the Lord; the Lord they would grow to love more each day? There is a very good reason why God doesn’t show us our future! We seem to take the hot water better, a degree at a time. I think maybe both scenarios, lack of humility and lack of understanding of God’s will can be heart hardening agents.

The ‘me-me-me’ mindset of today squeezes out of the picture a true desire for the good of others. I’ve been awfully guilty of it, and hard as it is to look the ugly us in the mirror, you know it’s true of many. Not because we are awful terrible people; but because we are human. And yes, God knows that. Just as He knew Peter, Andrew, James, and John, and all the others who were there. He knew they were tired and had looked forward to that quiet rest Jesus suggested in verse 31. Perhaps they didn’t feel like sharing the end of that day with throngs of needy people. So, too, is my heart hardened when I selfishly think, “enough is enough” or “I’ve dealt with this problem causer enough”, etc. Really? Have I not studied God’s word enough to keep “70 times seven” and “long suffering” foremost in my mind? In some cases, it really is time to turn; but I am speaking to me, for I am an impatient person, which makes for short suffering instead.

If the twelve apostles fully understood the total sacrifice that their leader was about to make; the humility, the service and pain that would be His future, would they have stayed for the long haul? Only God knows. But, they were human.… When the sea is calm, with blue skies and a pleasant breeze, boating may seem like a job I’m all in for. But let the tempest rage, and I may abandon ship, or at least criticize the captain. Are you hearing something real here? The invitation of Jesus to “give you rest” sounds welcome, but if the cost isn’t counted before hand, patience will run thin when there’s work to do. If the answers aren’t what I expected; the results are running amok; if fair weather friends forsake me, do I throw up my hands and quit? “Unbelief and hardness of heart” please leave me.

I am not sure their hearts were ready to accept all that their eyes beheld. My eyes read over and over the accounts of Jesus’ acts, but has my heart encased all the belief I am capable of? “Lord I believe, help my unbelief” (Mark 9:24) may be my motto.

There are different levels of hardened heart throughout scripture, and when I asked, our pulpit minister said that this was likely a simple case of unbelief.  I agree; but I can’t believe it is the same hardened hearts of the Pharisees who were often trying to trip Jesus up with questions like, to heal or not to heal on a Sabbath. What a tremendous miracle the apostles had just witnessed! Yet, in the middle of a wind-blown sea, proving their own efforts futile, their fear and doubt rose above what they’d just seen. BUT – but, when Jesus walked on the water, stepped into the boat, and spoke the waves still, they marveled, and perhaps that hardness of heart in verse 52 was in past tense! When our seas are raging, aren’t we tempted to doubt? It is SO hard to stay focused on what we know about our Lord, and to not think that He must have missed the real answers to our dire straits. Lacking full belief underlies all of the above thoughts on the hardened heart. Faith is how we know OUR very own Jesus is that Jesus who walked on water and stilled the storms. Faith is why we can follow Jesus’ lead in putting others first; fighting the me-me-me mindset. Faith is how we wade through the atrocities of this life knowing the perfect rest awaits. Believing Jesus is our always answer and our excellent example will soften our hearts into a workable faith. Let Him into the boat.  “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Romans 10:17

 

MONDAY MEMORIES

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Memorials Are For Remembering    With Memorial Day here, I imagine many of you are just thankful for a day off, or at least extra pay to be at work. Many are hoping for good weather to enjoy the first ‘summer holiday’, and others may be hoping for rain so they can just simply stay in and rest! But whatever you are doing, I hope we are all finding a way and some time to just be remembering. Memorials are for remembering. From rainbows to unleavened bread, God said it is good to remember; and He established several memorials throughout history. Usually we are remembering the bravery and sacrifices of the military on this day, and I am guilty of taking that for granted most of the time. I’ll take the opportunity right here to say a heartfelt THANK YOU to all who gave their time, and often life and limb, for our country. A hundred times thank you!

Remembering Our Heroes  I have enjoyed reading the pieces written lately for our local heroes, though they’d not want it worded that way; Robert Hendon, Billy Murdock, and others. The word ‘hero’ is defined by the heart who spells it. It’s something a little different to each of us. I got to wondering why I know just about nothing of the military experience of my relatives. It is because they don’t like to talk about their service time much, I guess. With the humility they learned from authority, along with the experiences they’d just as soon forget, it’s easy to see why they’d rather have been talking about their first car, or hauling hay. I want to name them here just to pay their service the respect it deserves.

First, my “little brother” Mark Alan Jackson, three years and eight months in the National Guard and ten years in the Marines, during which time he served in Desert Storm. His scars are in his ears and in his heart. I remember he was away at Christmas and made his own fake fireplace out of cardboard to hang a fake stocking. I remember that his first baby was born while he was away, and how exciting it was to watch him walk into the airport the first time he ever laid eyes on her. Thank you Mark.

Several of my favorite uncles were military men. Uncle Wade was married to my Momma’s only sister and treated us just like his own family.  Alvin Wade Holley served in the army during WWII as a mechanic. He wore an injured eye the rest of his life because a starter fell off into his eye while servicing one of the army trucks. I don’t remember any of his stories if there were any; I do remember he had the biggest heart in all the world for anyone who needed anything ever! I miss you, and thank you Uncle Wade.

Uncle Jerry Fuqua served in the army in the Korean War, married my daddy’s late sister, and lives in Paris, Tennessee. Now, as I said, they didn’t talk about themselves much so I didn’t hear this first hand from him, but Lil Brother says there’s this one incident he has heard about from Uncle Jerry’s combat time. I won’t be too specific, but it involves the necessary bodily function that still had to be carried out even if a tree or a ditch was the only outhouse available. It also involved a Korean sniper, on a hill with a good view of Uncle Jerry taking care of business so to speak. Now the story goes that when the shot went right between Uncle Jerry’s knees, nearly scaring him out of a year’s growth, the sniper just grinned and waved. I’ll be interested in finding out how much of that was truth. But at nearly 10PM, I’m not bothering a sweetheart like him just to get a good story straightened out. More on that later, perhaps. What I remember most of Uncle Jerry, is that he takes EVERYTHING in stride, cool as a cucumber, and loved my Aunt Sue truly big. Thank you Uncle Jerry.

Henry Veltman Jackson, my great-uncle, served in the Navy and experienced Pearl Harbor up close and personal. The story goes that he saved a piece of a Japanese pilot’s scarf when the pilot crashed into their ship. That was a little too close, I’d say. Uncle Veltman’s son, Johnnie Veltman Jackson also served in the Navy. They are both gone now, and what I know about their duties is nothing, I hate to say. What I remember is that they both made the first five years of my life a joy. Uncle Veltman and Aunt Lorene were like parents to my parents when they were newly weds in a big city far from home. And Johnnie was a big brother to me. They loved me like I was their own. Many others have spoken of how richly that family layered the love onto their lives, too. Thank you Uncle Veltman, and thank you Johnnie.

Hero is a Subjective Word   Last but not least, MY GRANDPA! William Chesterfield Wilkins, Chess to most folks, Chesley to my Grandma, Daddy to my Momma. Grandpa was inducted into the army near the end of WWI, when there was  an outbreak of pneumonia. Grandpa was sent home to recover from the pneumonia and the war ended before he had a chance to return. So, his status of ‘hero’ to me, all took shape at home. I remember that Grandpa could do chin ups from a maple tree limb when he was in his 60’s, maybe near 70; and that we planted a garden together in his back yard – in town. He cared a whole whoppin’ lot about his grandkids, and that we learned the important things. He chose the direct, quick and effective application of discipline; which is why he gave me my hardest whipping ever when I was about ten. I watched my little brother pretty closely after that, for a while anyway. Grandpa was a diabetic and at that time, the only snacks he could have were bananas and Fresca. I remember that when we went to his house, he would give us his last banana if we asked for it; no, he just gave it without waiting for us to ask; and a glass of Fresca too. He didn’t have an easy life, but he made life easy for his family in every way he could. Thank you Grandpa.

Remembering the lives of our personal heroes is a way of keeping them near if their hearts lie still. It tells those who remain with us that they matter, and that they always will.

I would be an ungrateful Christian if I didn’t mention my biggest hero. A memorial I am privileged to take part in every Sunday is to remember the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. He gave His entire existence to saving, healing, feeding, and teaching the masses – the entire world if they will accept Him. From the beginning of time as His blood flowed backward, to the end of time as His blood flows forward from the cross, He stands lovingly, tenderly pleading, “Come unto me.” Thank you God.

“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” ( Matthew 11:28 NKJV)

 

 

 

 

Monday Musings: Mountaintops

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Here it is Monday again, and as I savor my second cup of Maxwell House, I realize I’ve enjoyed my new book by Rick Bragg a little too long and haven’t made my Monday post. This week I share my view from a friend’s mountaintop. This was written last year to express my joy for them, and now seems the right time, with it being Mother’s Day month, to share it.

YOU CAN’T GIVE WHAT YOU DON’T OWN

A Lesson From Someone Else’s Mountaintop

When people reach their mountaintops, they raise their arms, fist bump the sky and shout with incredible joy. Sometimes, their journey is a lesson they themselves may not realize they wrote. One such mountaintop lesson that spoke to me recently is the completion of a long awaited adoption process. Not of my own, but that of a friend.

My daughter’s best friend and her husband adopted a daughter from China. You can read of her family’s incredible journey in her blog, The Glass Slipper at crouchcrew.com. In her beautiful account of their experience as adoptive parents and siblings, she talks about the anguish she imagines the birth mother having as she must wonder about her baby girl’s destiny. Never having been in that situation myself, I too can only imagine the emotional war that must take place within a birth mother’s heart when she makes the selfless choice to give her child what she hopes is a better life. I would say that in our world today this is a decision that almost never is made by anyone other than that mother herself. It got me to thinking of giving and how you can’t give what you don’t have. It is her decision to give. To give a child another life; and to give another family the privilege of calling her baby theirs, is the ultimate gift. That is, other than the gift of God’s own son to us, to make a way for us to have eternal hope, eternal life, eternal joy. This is a gift we could never deserve, and has been given because it is His to give first of all, and secondly because He has that much love for us, His adopted children.

Accepting the wonderful gift that the Father God has given involves another matter of giving. We have to give; give up something first. If our hands are full of self, sin, sorrow…whatever we are holding, then they cannot open to take His gift. These things must first be given up, but what you don’t own, you can’t give. So, we must own our sins. We must own our sorrows and regrets. By pointing fingers of fault at others we are refusing to own, or accept responsibility for our wrongs. Excuses, reasons, or holding onto grudges and envying will not get rid of the wrongs. Until we own our sins, both committed by us and to us, we cannot give them away-

– away, at the foot of the cross;
– away, into the hands of God;
– away, in forgiveness for self and others.

We must stop making them the fault of anyone or anything else. Own them – and give them up. We’ve always heard ‘confession is good for the soul,’ and I think this is why. Though it’s HARD to do, it’s SO worth it. Putting it all down at Jesus’ feet, emptying ourselves of all that stands in our way of grasping His great gifts, is the giving that makes a new life possible. Peter put it this way, “humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.” (I Peter 5:6-7) Then we are able to give His unending love away over and over to others because it is the true gift that keeps on giving. The more you have, the more you can give.

Kim and Steven emptied something out of themselves to make room in their life for a little girl who was in need of a family. Not a small sacrifice. Nor was it for the mother who gave her baby to become the new joy of another family. Theirs is one example of this marvelous circle of giving that God started centuries ago. The more we give up (ultimately ourselves), the more room we have to accept and the more He gives. God doesn’t push Himself on anyone. He stands waiting, wanting us to share His love, to lead others to Him where He is with arms full to load us up with more love, grace, and mercy. To quote a beautiful spiritual hymn, “I am mine no more”. When we empty ourselves and put on Christ, we fill up with the Spirit, and then bless others by sharing what we now own – the love of God.

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34-35 (NKJV)

“Love one another, for love is of God; he who loves is born of God and knows God.” I John 4:7

It’s All About the Journey

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They say it’s not the destination that counts, but the journey getting there. I agree – to a point. For without a clear destination, a person can get lost. Even with the best planning, however, there are still the unexpected treasures or displeasure to encounter. So, trophy or tragedy, more living goes into the trip than the ‘there’ (except, in my opinion, if it happens to be the Grand Canyon!) Are we there yet?

Yes, it’s the unexpected detours, the rough spots in the road, or a picturesque roadside for a picnic; the outrageous drivers, or fellow companions’ moods; and even the body of the transport that make it interesting; and proves your skill at travel – or living the journey.

Take our little road trip today for example. If you don’t mind the details, you’ll arrive at my intended destination.What was going to be an overnight stay in Hernando, MS to get an early start at the Como, MS auction, changed to “we’ll get an early morning start and save the hotel cost”. The more he looked at some other trucks on-line, the more he leaned toward stopping in Memphis to look at a truck, then on to Como. By the time we went to bed, he had decided we’d just forget the auction and look at two trucks in the Memphis area, Exit 60 and then Collierville. So, this way, we could get Auggie’s day started as usual (pee, poop, eat his breakfast) and settled in for our neighbor Karen to come in after noon to tend to him. Yes, clearly the little pudgy puffy ewok has taken the reins in our life . And what a nice detour he has been!!20180216_154935.jpg

My GPS is a tad bit old but trustworthy for the most part. Gary wants me to enter the destination’s address; he also has ‘farmer directions’ he obtained on the phone. The two rarely match! First stop, an unplanned strawberry farm in McKenzie, TN. So, we’re carrying fresh strawberries, in May, in a car, for all day. OK.

Next stop, a gas station for a large bottle of water to wash the berries. Travel makes one hungry!

Going against the GPS now,  I turned her off so her desperate attempts to make us go her way were thwarted. Exit 60: “We’re here”,  he tells the young man, who answered, “I thought you were calling before you got here. I’ll be ten minutes.” Third stop: road side, waiting 15 minutes for a three-minute drive to ‘the truck’. Or should I say, the piece of junk. Gary says it’s worth about $4,000 to stretch it out and put a something or other on it. Oh.  Off again, to the address he gave me, and GPS on again. Hey, this route is familiar – our son lived in Collierville a short while and the road off of I 40 is very scenic; calming and memorable.

Fourth stop: a truck parked on a lot, (a hot deserted lot) possibly wrecked before. The frame he thinks aloud, is out of line. “No”, I answered uncertainly, “I do not see it”. “What’s your impression?” he asks. Hmmm, an old used truck – what else could I see? Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder.

So, it is my job now to decide where we can eat dinner (noon meal). My third call sounded like they understood the gluten question. Home cooking, 0.8 miles away. My phone GPS got us there and surprised us that it is in the Collierville town square. Very pretty, historic and well-preserved! The Silver Caboose proved a fine choice. Homecooking at it’s best with many choices; veggie plates prepared like home, but better! And, Perfect iced tea. 20180519_132630

When the waiter came to take our order, I said, “I’m torn between a salad, or a vegetable plate, because I can’t have wheat gluten”, and as I was adding “I don’t suppose you have a gluten-free bread?” he became very agitated and abrupt. I named my peas, beans and greens selections; Gary ordered, and I started to ask if I may order a piece of grilled chicken, but he was off and running – from me, no doubt. Gary said, “What did you want?” I told him and he motioned to the mannerless waiter, saying “she wants a piece of grilled chicken added to that”. Period. As I added “…if that’s possible…” he said, “be quiet” to me, and “that’s all” to the waiter. I looked a bit stunned because we women do not go for the cut and dry; we want explanation and courtesy, given and taken. Gary said to me, “You’ve got to be insertive to people like that” LOL. I said “you mean assertive?” But at the time, yes, I could have taken my foot and become ‘insertive’. Pardon me, please, you genteel of nature.:) But my man took care of me! The chicken was good.

He’d have liked for me to drive home. Actually he said, “you gonna drive back?” I said no of course, I had things to do, naps to take, uh, I mean notes to take.

Outskirts of Jackson, TN, our GPS says ‘this way’. Gary says ‘my way’. So, GPS is off again; we know the way home. But road construction is never-ending, so a left turn has two lanes unknown to Gary who took up both lanes as we made the turn..  Another car was trying to turn left too. The driver was not grace-full in his reaction. I couldn’t look! The explanation and courtesy thing again; not at all appreciated by my driver, nor the other man. Both should have been thankful there was no accident and driven on. So now we laugh at it and continue on our way.

Scripture repeatedly tells us we have a planner, a spiritual GPS so to speak, to keep us from getting lost. In our spiritual journey we need the same things as we need on a road trip. We need directions, food for growing and sustaining faith; grace and gifts. We make mistakes, and we need re-directing. And then with gratitude we find our way home.

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD.  For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55: 8-9

“Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts!  And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!” Psalm 139:23-24  (ESV)

Happy travels!

 

 

Monday Mistakes – 3rd in Monday Series

This is the post that I intended to publish last Monday. Ironically, the title was already “Monday Mistakes” and I forgot I had it ready, so I wrote what I posted last week instead. This is a follow-up on my weed and feed attempt from 2 weeks ago.

The weed and feed deed has been done. I assure you that the blacktop in front of us as well as the driveway will not be sprouting weeds any time soon! However, the middle of the yard should have weeds aplenty! My husband tried in his non-teacher way to tell me how to get started. But these seeder/spreaders are unforgiving; once that high dollar stuff is being fanned across the ground, there’s no bringing it back. Controlling the speed with one foot and one eye on the speedometer; the fan toggle with right hand, steering wheel with left hand, and my other eye trying to turn with my arthritic neck to check on the progress (the open/close handle wanted to jog shut from time to time) was a multi-tasking that I hadn’t done in many years. I’ll spare you the rest of the details, and just hope that I haven’t killed precious things in my effort to take out the unwanted weeds. Does this sound familiar?

Yes, in fact, we can do more damage than good if we do not balance the bitter with the sweet. In my dandelion driven distraction, I forgot to put the cat up; fortunately by the time I actually got started, the dew was all dried so I have hopes that he didn’t pick up the chemicals with his paws. In my haste, I forgot to decrease the distribution width on the first swipe, then I misjudged the radius of my turns and didn’t cut off the fan, so there is much overlapping, and that is not the end of my mistake list. But I had the best of intentions. They say roads are not paved with good intentions.  I was nearly finished with what I knew was not a good job, when I thought about the BIRDS!!! I love them more than pretty grass, so what was I thinking????? Now I will be watching for their welfare for days, with my stomach in a knot until I know that they are OK.

Have you ever put forth a great deal of effort in helping someone, only to decide in the end that you did more harm than good? Yes, so have I. It’s that balance thing again. Carefully selecting enough constructive criticism while being sure they know you care; and providing the encouragement they need is a daunting task. I have recently been in such a situation. After much encouragement from my heart, and sincere prayer for someone, I found that there was still something holding that person back. She just wasn’t able to get over the mountain in her path, but she seemed to be making so much effort! It was breaking my heart. Then when I observed what I’ll describe as slipping back over loose rocks that were sure to trip her as she climbed, I made one last  effort to give a hand up.

Regret seems to love me – it comes to sit with me often.  I just have to remember that my intentions were good when I worked to remove the weeds and fertilize the lawn. My methods were not as well thought out. But we just can’t throw the baby out with the bath water. I learn from mistakes; forgive myself and others; hope for new beginnings; and keep on loving. I believe I can feed, without the weeding next time. Encourage, without offending. Lesson learned.

 

 

Monday Makeovers

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“…all things are become new.” II Cor. 5:17b

The clothespins were starting to fall out of the ripped side of my old blue bag. It was made of that stuff somewhere between paper and fabric, so there was no mending that! Certain that it would not endure another trip to the clothesline, I began pilfering around for a solution, without having to buy another one;  or more likely, wait through several trips to the town of forgotten errands. Rummaging around in my craft supplies, I spied a piece of heavy canvas, so old that I don’t recall what its origin was. The great nieces had used it for a drop cloth once, but it just never felt right to discard it. So, I’d shuffled it around 100 times, more or less.

  • One old coat hanger and my wire cutters provided a stabilizer for the back side, where I placed:
  •        two grommets from my sewing box, left from a project of three years ago;
  •        removed the actual hanger from the old bag to fit through the grommets;
  •        used an old spool of brown thread for contrast stitching,

and it’s a new clothespin bag!MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

 

Why, you ask, would I care about a clothespin bag? Because for me, and my family, there is nothing that compares with the scent of sheets and pillowcases hung out to dry on the clothesline in the fresh spring air. So that’s the why of that.  As to why I didn’t just go grab another no-trouble replacement at Wal-Mart? There’s a little bit of a DIY’er in me and a lot of cheap, too. So if I can make it out of old parts, and not incur more expense than buying one, why not?

I’m so glad the Lord didn’t just toss me out, but set out to remake, renew, and refurbish me instead. My soul was torn, and my spirit was falling out. The devil was wearing me thin.  But the love of the Father made my soul whole. The Holy Spirit speaks peace to our dismantled spirits through the Word of God. And Jesus Christ sacrificed all the needed materials to make us new.  “This people I have formed for myself; they shall declare my praise” Isaiah 43:21

When God’s people, Israel, had been cast far off, scattered among foreign people and lands, God’s prophet Ezekiel relayed to them that God would restore His people. “Then I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within them, and take the stony heart out of their flesh, and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in My statutes and keep My judgements and do them, and they shall be My people, and I will be their God.” Ezekiel 11:19-20.

Today God’s spiritual Israel, His people, “know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands eternal in the heavens.”  (II Corinthians 5:1, speaking of the resurrection) There is also a renewing in this life that can be a daily blessing. When we as wives, mothers, sisters and friends let each other down, betray our own hearts’ desires and do what we wish we would not; and worse, when we let down the Christ Who gave us the perfect example, we are being the torn ragged old cloths that time and temptation produce. But we have One who loves us much more than we can understand, and He has provided a way to mend and makeover those who go to Him. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” (verse 17)

Thank you Father God for taking my heart’s old tattered cloth and replacing it with the sturdy fabric of faith; for giving me new purpose every day, spurred on by your Spirit and the zeal of fellow Christians. Thank you for a day of rest and worship, preparing me for my Monday makeover. “Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.” (II Cor. 4:16)

Monday Musings

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PICK YOUR COLOR

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Monday – so sweet with potential; with all six of the week’s seven days yet spread before us. Like a bag of M&Ms candy with all those colors, you can choose the color you feel like, although they all taste the same. Ultimately, Mondays are like that; each with 24 hours in the day, the paper was delivered, the mail will run, there’ll be meals to eat, and work to do. But for now – on Monday – we get to choose the color we’ll wear. The bag is still full! I can be blue if I choose, or sunny yellow. It’s all in what you pick. In high school I used to eat only the brown ones – that let me savor the taste, but not too much. As time went by, so did my self-control, and I am no longer a respecter of colors.

What will you take on for the new week? Select ravaging red, and take the day by the horns and go! Or bravely wear brown of contentment in the face of a fast paced world. This week’s post will be short, because I intend to take on a new job. I am going to weed and seed the lawn with a new spreader. I hope it produces LOTS of green! This is also the first of what I hope becomes a series of Monday posts. I will continue the M&M theme with the second ‘M’ standing for something to go with Monday, the first ‘M’.  Perhaps “Monday Mommas” is right around the corner:)

Today I am enjoying yellow and blue – sunny weather, blue skies, and four little bluebird eggs in the box still incubating. Last Saturday, I observed the sweetest thing I’ve seen in a while – two bluebirds just kissed! I am not kidding. I saw them fly into a leafless maple, sit side by side, turn to each other and touch beaks; then one flew off and the other watched. Did he go to work? She preened a little, then she, too, flew away and into her box. No, they weren’t feeding each other as I’ve seen them do for their young in the past. I didn’t see nest-building material being exchanged, and the eggs were already in the nest.  No, they just kissed; had to be. It gave me a new understanding of “a peck on the cheek”.

Have a sweet rest of the day!

“Look at the birds of the air for they neither sow nor read nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” Matthew 6:26