God's Word for Today

Monday, September 29, 2008

Let me explain…..

When life fills your cup to overflowing what do you do?

I have experienced many times in my life when I felt as if I was truly dwelling in the desert. I also understand that without these times of suffering we can never fully embrace our times of abundance. The key to enduring the sweltering heat, the refining fire and the pruning away is to (during these difficult expanses) keep your eyes focused on where the true source of strength comes from.

Now I have to confess to you that there are many days when I shift my focus and take a deep and unsatisfying drink of self pity, when I question why certain things happen, when I try to make sense of the truly unexplainable, when I allow my inner thought to race ahead into the unknown. Herding kittens comes to mind, talk abut a truly impossible task.

For me one of the keys to endurance is very simple. Recognition, knowing what I have control over and what I do not. I may want control over a person or a situation, however the reality is that rarely do we ever have control over someone else’s actions or an uncontrollable situation.

How much time do I waist needlessly reliving what could be or what should have been, but the reality is that to really focus on the way things are at times can be a very bitter pill to swallow.

Denial works for short period of time, I have been know to blow up my float, fix my straw hat to my head, kick back and let the current take me away, it helps if you have an umbrella drink in hand as well. Focusing on the day to day workings of life helps, latching on to the simple things, the things that do not change, relishing the very basics, how things taste, the smell of the air as the seasons change, scripture, prayer, breathing, sleeping, waking and beginning again.

My time and energy these days is in a constant shift, the balancing act of trying to discern the things that I can control and the things that I need to hold on an open palm and lift up to the Lord. What to do? What not to do? When to speak….when to be silent.

Let me be clear, I can very defiantly distinguish between what I can control and what needs to be left in the hands of our all powerful and capable Heavenly Father, it is the letting go and letting God that gets in the way. If everyone one would just consent to do thing my may, well the possibilities for perfection are limitless (yea right!)

Over the last few weeks in my bible study we have focused on desert dwelling. John the Baptist spent his time living in the desert eating wild honey and locust, Jesus began his ministry with a 40 day fast in the desert where he was tempted in every way by the devil. OK, OK, OK……so if I have to pitch my little old tent in the sweltering heat surrounded by the prickly cactus of reality and the painful heartbreak of standing back and letting the consequences of selfishness and rebellion blossom in the life of my son (like I have a choice) I will. My point in all this ramblings is to give an explanation.

My post may be infrequent, they may from time to time be fluffy and mindless trips down the river denial. I invite you to grab your float and hat and umbrella drink and come along. They may from time to time be reflective of the internal (and frustrated maternal) hissy fits that erupt in my hormonally charged psyche.

For today I am thankful for yarn, they way it feels as it pulls through my fingers, with each stitch, with each row I finish, something that was not there before is there. One stitch is the same as the other, it will be the same tomorrow and the next day. If I make a mistake I can very simply gently pull and pull and my mistake is gone. (if all life’s mistakes cold be rectified with a simple pull and rework) Repetition, keeping my mind busy, simplicity, the same over and over, and then your finished. One day it will be wrapped around someone who is in need. This I understand!

Today I also recognize that I have no control over nature, the small squirrel who lost it’s life as it darted out in front of my car. The tiny thump thump under my tire as I ran over it in my car made me recognize very clearly how random things can be. I tried to stop, but especially in squirrel territory, who has not at one time or another unintentionally removed one of these small creatures from the face of the earth.

Yarn, crochet, life and death.
That’s my explanation, for today anyway!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Kool-Aide Disaster of “O8”

There are some mornings that it simply does not pay to get out of bed, there are also some evenings where it does not pay to be thirsty. Having these two situations colliding within the span of seven hours is what we will now refer to for future reference as “The Kool-Aide Disaster of 08”

The alarm had been set to snooze for the next few moments and I quietly lay in bed letting my morning come awake slowly. I rolled over and stretched. I was strategically awaiting the flip of the light switch in the living room before I would get up, so as not to disturb my husband as he begins his mornings with a word of prayer in the quite darkness of the living room. I looked at the clock and it is 6:25 A.M. Just a few more wonderful moments and then the day and reality will begin. My bed is warm, I actually slept all night, I did not wake up with a headache and I did not have to go to work this morning as it was my day off. Yaaa for me!

The next sound I hear is a knocking over of something, whispered expletive and the lamp on the end table in the living room noisily clunking into the wall and vibrating into my quiet dark bedroom. More whispered expletives, more clunking around and then it dawns on me.

In those dark moments I am weighing my options, do I get out of bed and suffer my husband’s wrath for having knocked over the left over glass of cherry kool-aide, or do I remain in bed and pretend to be blissfully asleep.

More crashing, more shuffling, more bumping and more expletives….it was now becoming very obvious that I could no longer feign being asleep. I got out of bed and put my bathrobe on and walked in to the glaring light of the living room.

My husband is on his knees with a rag madly dabbing at the carpet and to my horror the large magazine rack holding all of my devotional and reading materials had taken the full baptism of the cherry kool-aid.

My husband being the first responder to this disaster was in the throws of post traumatic shock at the sight of the sticky red cherry kool-aide, which was no seeping into the pages and down the spines of multiple hardback books as well as a few paperbacks and is now sloshing around in the bottom of the magazine rack

We work in silence side by side on our knees sopping up the red mess.

Thankfully, depending on whose perspective you choose to view this disaster from the majority of the bright red cherry mess landed all over my books and only a very small few drops splashed upon the beige (yes beige) carper in my living room.

The growing stack of kool-aide damaged literature begins to spread out on my kitchen counter like a red tide on the gulf coast. I am washing down book spines and removing book jackets and pulling out soaked book marks, fanning them out in a vain attempt to salvage what I can.

Needless to say this kool-aide tainted incident left more that the residual pink stickiness all over my books it also made a wonderful start to my day, and all this before even the first cup of coffee!

As my husband was pulling out of the driveway I was regretfully (well maybe not so regretfully) pouring the remainder of the offending cherry kool-aide down the kitchen sink and placing the half full plastic carton of powdered mix in the trash as well.

This sad traumatic red stained day will be recorded in history as the day that cherry kool-aide was officially banned from the face of the planet, or at least from our household and defiantly from my grocery list for the foreseeable future.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Wave Bye Bye

Well I boxed it up and shipped it off and stood at the window and waved Bye Bye to my laptop.

Pray for a speedy return with a brand new motherboard and the best part is it is still covered under the factory warrantee!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

A look Back

Over the last few days I have been taken on a trip down memory lane. The reminiscent memories of childhood things. This for me is a bittersweet journey. There were many happy moments during my youthful years but the majority of them were tainted with brokenness and struggle.

Single mothers do the very best they can, but poverty, generational dysfunction and the burdens of life took its toll on our daily existence.

As I thought about trying to filter out the sad or the difficult and hone in on the more pleasant things I am challenged, my natural tendency is to focus on all that we did not have, or could no do, but the treasured memories that I have read about in some of my blogging friends do not involve anything beyond a simple trip to the grocery store or a daily trip to the beach with their Mom.

As I thought about my treasured memories, of the days when things were good I'm brought back to something very simple as well.

When I was a little girl my grandparents lived in Columbus Ohio. I am not sure how my mother was able to afford the trips but there were many visits’ to Grandma and Grandpa’s over our summer vacations.

Aside for the 12 hour car ride, even that was at times pleasant with the car games we would play and the rest stop picnics, but once we got to Grandmas it was always such a wonderful expectation.

There was always a ham in the oven, a gallon of vanilla ice cream in the freezer and a box of Super Sugar Smacks in the kitchen cabinet. I remember sitting at the kitchen table watching my Grandma fry eggs for breakfast. She had a large flat top cast iron griddle and she first would cook the bacon and then fry the eggs, you did not worry about cholesterol in those days. She would fry the eggs right in the bacon grease and skillfully take her spatula and flip the hot grease up over the eggs to cook them perfectly. The toaster was on the table and grandpa was in charge of keeping in loaded and passing out the hot toast.

We would sit side by side in the built in kitchen nook and look out the window at the birds coming to the feeder outside the window for there breakfast as well.

We would talk over breakfast about what we had learned in school or what other plans we had for the summer, my Grandfather would sometimes pay us a dollar to count to ten for him, he was intrigued by our southern drawl, we hammed it up and really drew out the syllables as we recited the numbers and then pocketed the cash.

After breakfast once all the dishes were cleared away I have so many wonderful memories of Grandma sliding into the kitchen table with a bowl of fresh peaches, apples or strawberries. I would sit across from her and watch her as she would peel and slice whatever fresh fruit she had on hand for our desert later that evening.

Sometimes the fruit was simply sprinkled with sugar and served over vanilla ice cream, other times it was baked in a cobbler or pie or turned into a wonderful fluffy creamy layer cake. I was fascinated watching her as she would peel and slice. I watched in amazement as she would peel and entire apple and never break the peal. I remember the day I stood in my kitchen and held out an apple peal all in one long curly strand before my daughter and felt a wonderful sense of completion.

We had breakfast and lunch at the kitchen table, but dinner was always in the dinning room. There was always a white table cloth with flowers from my Grandma’s garden in the center of the table. The table was always set, knife and spoon on the right and the fork to the left, with the napkin folded into a triangle under the fork. We all had real glasses to drink from and the food was served in big beautiful serving dishes.

I have those dishes today and they sit displayed in my china cabinet. I bring them out on special occasion or just when I want to feel closer to my Grandma.

We would all sit around the big dinning room table, it seated as many as 12. There was a large bay window with lace curtains adjacent the table and a sideboard for her serving pieces as well as a china cabinet.

We would all gather at the table for our evening meal. My Grandpa at the head of the table Grandma to his left (that was strategic as this was the closed seat to the kitchen) and my Great Grandma at the other end of the table from my Grandpa.

It was always simple and delicious food, but it was abundant and for us it was such a treat. My Mom was a hamburger helper girl, she had to be with time and budgetary contrarians, but at Grandmas we had name brand cereal, 7-UP in tall cool green glass bottles in the refrigerator, long curly strands of apple peel, fresh peaches, hot fragrant ham in the oven, creamed peas and a never ending supply of hot buttered toast.

Thanks, “My Hands…His Glory” and “At the End of the Day” for spurring this trip down memory lane.

I really needed it!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Friday Fill-Ins: #89

1. I enjoy my Thursday evenings with my accountability sister, my morning coffee, a quiet afternoon when I can take a nap, a thunderstorm, spring, homemade biscuits and gravy and reading a great novel.

2. Life’s unanswerable questions are something I wonder about often lately. Why things happen, the mystery of God’s will and the opposition it receives in the stubborn willful human nature.

3. In your heart, you knew that no matter what God will hold me up, even when I feel my grasp slipping.

4. Take a teenager who thinks their an adult, add a little (a lot) of rebellion and you end up with a mothers bruised and broken heart.

5. Life has gifted me with compassion when it is appropriate to be compassionate, empathy, a willingness to learn and be teachable, discernment, tears, accountability sisters that hold me up when I am about to crumble and faith in an all powerful all mighty God.

6. A cup of hazelnut coffee and a Nonni’s Turtle Biscotti is an instant vacation.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I’m looking forward to a quiet evening and a Netflix DVD, tomorrow my plans include bill paying, sorting the 12 pounds of junque mail, laundry, sweeping and dusting or maybe I’ll just sit on the sofa a nurse my cold, and Sunday, I want to go to church and be swept away by the power and awesomeness of how great God is!

Friday Fill-ins: # 89

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Come with me..........

It was September, but the gentle breeze through the open window felt like spring. There was a faint fragrance of hibiscus and sea salt curling around her nose as she slowly came awake. The air was full with the awakening of the new growth and the briny sent of the ocean. She sat up in bed and noticed that something was very different, but she was not sure what it was. Her robe lay on the floor and she picked in up and placed it across her shoulders, but this wasn't her robe this one was thick, plush and smelled of lavender and was so brilliantly white it nearly hurt her eyes to look at it and more importantly it didn't have spaghetti stains on the sleeve.

She looked around and found things oddly in order, there were no cloths absentmindedly in small piles on the floor. The beside clock read 9:30 A.M. but it was supposed to be set for 6:15 A.M. She felt rested and refreshed.

This was not the room she had fallen asleep in last night. The massive four poster bed draped with mosquito netting inhabited the center of the room. A lazy ceiling fan gently pushed the air about. Her hand brushed across the 600 thread count Egyptian cotton sheets and down comforter and she looked down and slid her feet into the soft fleece lined house shoes on the floor beside her bed.

She stood up and her pajama bottoms fell from her waist and puddle around her feet. She looked down and to her shock and amazement she realized that she had lost 40 pound overnight. She did a small pirouette in the mirror and smiled to herself at her new morning figure.

The master suite was so luxuriously appointed she felt she was in a 5 star spa. The bathroom had a steam shower and Jacuzzi tub with heated towel rods and a walk in closet with dressing room. There was every comfort that she could possible ever desire. She finished exploring her sumptuous surroundings and walked over to the window.

The curtains were softly blowing in the breeze and she looked outside and saw the ocean, she closed her eyes for a moment and then opened them again and took a second look. The hypnotic cadence of the waves nearly compelled her back into the soft warm bed but she took a long and restive look. She placed the thought out of her mind that in reality she did not live by the ocean but this dreamlike reality was far to pleasant.

One skinny foot in front of the other and she was walking toward the kitchen. Out of her peripheral vision she caught a glimpse of the front door. She had a lingering thought of going over to it to look out the side windows but a dark wave of doom washed over her, for some unknown reason she knew not to open the front door.

“I will stay here!” She thought, “This place is wonderful, peaceful, and clean. I like it here.” she said to herself. I am tired of doom she mused and put the thought of the front door completely out of her mind and continued on to the kitchen.

There was a silver tray full of croissant and cream cheese Danish on the counter of the spotless kitchen. The aroma of the freshly ground hazelnut coffee filled the air. There was a beautiful bone china coffee cup placed delicately upon a saucer awaiting the rich dark coffee. The small silver cream pitcher was next to the coffee pot. She picked up the cup and poured the beautiful dark brown coffee into the soft bone white cup and poured the half and half. The creamy richness swirled as she brought the cup to her mouth. She inhaled deeply and the nutty fragrance filled her nostrils. She took a sip and experienced what was quite possible the most perfect cup of coffee in all of creation. She looked around the kitchen, counter tops gleamed and the stovetop shined like a mirror. It was perfect.

Again one foot skinny in front of the other into the sun room and she settled herself upon the soft oversized chair. There was a silky chenille throw causally draped over the arm of the chair and she pulled it over her legs. She saw her bible and journal sitting on the small table to the side of the chair. She picked it up and began to read.

She finished her quiet time placed her bible back on the table and stretched luxuriously like a cat in the sun. There was a pleasant grumble from her stomach and she realized she was hungry. She looked at the small table and suddenly there was a beautiful silver tray with a steaming fresh cup of coffee and a warm croissant with real butter and homemade strawberry preserves. There was also a beautiful bowl of fresh tropical fruit. She selected the most perfect banana she could find and began to peel it.

She decided not to question the unusualness of her surroundings or the miraculous appearing of her breakfast and chose to bask in this unexpected gift. If she had lost her grip on reality then so be it.

Her fast having been broken she settled back into the soft comfort of the chair and let the sunshine cover over her. The warmth seeped into her bones and it felt as if the sun was coming from with in her very soul.

She could stay here forever she decided.

A small thought, a real thought poked it’s ugly little head into her consciousness and she took another sip of coffee and swallowed down the wonderful elixir and with it the real and ugly world was pushed back.

There was a small pile of mail on the table. She picked up the stack and began to thumb through it. The first envelope she opened contained a coupon for a free manicure and pedicure at the spa down the beach, the second enveloped contained two free tickets to the local production of South Pacific including dinner at a four star restaurant following the show. The third envelope was from her banking institution informing her of a $15,000.00 banking error in her favor as well as the fact that her 401K account had seen remarkable grown over the last quarter and had tripled in value. She continued to thumb trough the mail as she looked out the window.

The water was a deep clear blue and the sand was a soft pale yellow, the sea oats swayed back and forth in the breeze she longed to feel the sand between her toes.

In this wonderful place there were no penciled appointment on any of the dates on the calendar, there was no junque mail to be sorted, there were no bills to pay, no groceries to shop for, no dirty laundry to wash or dust on any of the horizontal surfaces and no meals to prepare and most importantly there were no uncontrollable situations, unsolvable problems, heartache, pain or disappointment.

She placed the opened mail on the side table and made her way out the French doors that framed the ocean view. She leisurely walked down to the pristine beach, the breeze increasing as she got closer to the shoreline. The sun was soft and not to hot, the pale blue sky was dotted with the most delicate white fluffy clouds she had ever seen. There was a small school of dolphins jumping and playing in the surf just beyond the sand bar. She had the beach entirely to herself, there was not another living soul in sight save the frolicking dolphins. She turned and looked back and saw her lone footstep in the sand and the cottage against the sky and thought how beautiful it looked.

When she turned back to the ocean there was a wonderful lounge chair with red and white striped cushions under a large matching beach umbrella. Beside the chair was a small table with a tall frosted glass of pink lemonade with a sprig of mint. She settled in her chair under the umbrella with her favorite novel and began to read and sip her lemonade.

She decided that she would stay here forever.

She sat, read, sipped her lemonade and watched the dolphins frolic. Life was good!

Her eyes grew heavy and she drifted gently off to sleep for a mid morning nap, lulled by the soft pounding of the waves and the far off cry of the sea gulls.

As she slept a very faint sound, a whisper almost could be heard above the sound of the waves. It was the River Denial which flowed swiftly and strongly just outside the front door. The waters were deep and muddy, churning with trash and debris. The banks were full of knurled and exposed roots and littered with flotsam. The current was very strong and if by chance you were not careful, if you got to close and fell in you could easily be swept away.

Thank goodness she had decided to never open the front door ever again.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

An improper fraction

Words like x component, convert, denominator, whole numbers and their opposites, Y axis, plot, integers …. Compare two fractions by cross multiplying, charting….. cross product, numerator, equivalent, smaller negatives, improper fraction, 12 was supposed to be A and 13 was supposed to be B, absolute values, number line, positive numbers, floating point numbers, truncated, rounded, a given number, Cartesian coordinate, origin……..

I might as well have been in Indonesia for all the sense it made to me, however I was so thankful that my husband understood this foreign language.

Exactly what is an improper fraction….. maybe it’s a fraction with poor social skills or bad table manners or maybe it is a naughty fraction with a potty mouth or quite possibly a fraction that is politically incorrect??????????

They sat together in the corner of the living room with pencil, paper and calculator. They talked back and forth discussing the solutions to these math problems and the amazing this is that they actually understood the words that were coming out of their mouths.

Sadly math was my worst subject. I watched in amazement as the reality that my DD actually knew what the definition of truncated was. I am not even sure if I have spelled it correctly, yet they diligently work through the morning trying to resolve the areas of confusion.
As I listened to them collectively work together and watched my husband patently explain the math mysteries in a way that would connect with my DD I was to profoundly thankful for his analytical and orderly thought processes.

Praise Jesus that he understands what truncated actually means as well. It sound to me like it is the treatment for a sexually transmitted disease spread amongst the elephant population.
I will beg the forgiveness of my sweet friend over at Turning Points as she is now probably shaking her head in shame at the fact that she actually knows a person who is so mathematically challenged.
I stand in the full light of truth and completely acknowledge my total lack of any knowledge beyond the very basics of mathematical processes.
Give me an apple pie (I have a great recipe for a lattice top apple pie with a crumble topping by the way that is absolutely fabulous) and a knife and I can explain the concept of fractions beyond that I am in big trouble.

Adjectives, adverbs, similes and personifications I get. Anthologies and expository compositions make sense to me, book reports and creative writing hold a special place in my heart. Pondering great literature, researching for a short story this I can help with.

As I listened to my husband and daughter diligently work through these mathematical dilemmas I was keenly aware that where I am weak my husband is strong and where I am strong my husband is weak and together we make a balanced team.

At the conclusion my DD brings me a piece of paper with a small word puzzle, and asks me if I can decipher it.
I was already in Indonesia so I took a stab at it and of course failed miserable.

YYURYYUBICURYY4ME ........................

and the answer is........................................

To wise you are to wise you be, I see you are to wise for me!

Too wise (YY) you are (UR) to wise (YY) you be (UB) I see (IC) you are (UR) to wise (YY) for me! (4ME)

Will the wonders of the seventh grade continue to unfold and may she always remain teachable and seeking even when things get confusing.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

A Worship Experiance

I pulled my car into a distant spot, the parking lot was full. I made my way up the hill and then up the stairs and walkway. There were strangers dotting the parking lot and children running about. The basketball courts were being utilized and the benches out front were full. The faces I saw were unfamiliar.

For the past 20 years I have never walked into what has been my church home and not found someone I knew. This sense of walking past so many unfamiliar faces was a bit strange.

All church activities have been cancelled, our weekly bible study was moved to the Presbyterian Church down the road and our church had been activated as a Red Cross Evacuation site.

The large road signs lining the surface street directing the evacuees to their destination were at each entrance of the parking lot. There were lager portable signs stationed along side the major thoroughfare pointing the way towards their temporary sanctuary.

Portable cots lined the hallways and filled the family center. The parlor was transformed to a clinic and the library was a counseling center. There was a serving line for meals set up in the family center and several tables manned with Red Cross staff were stationed throughout the building.

Every spare foot of wall space was taken up with either a folding cot or chair. Red Cross volunteers wandered here and there with their name badges and clipboards looking official, but what struck me were the faces of the people.

We had been asked to gather for an impromptu worship service. Most of us were not trained Red Cross workers so there was little we could do save pray and smile and make these strangers feel welcome.

What we could do was this, we opened wide the sanctuary doors and invited in the tired and misplaced people for a moment of worship, for a moment of praise, for a moment to place their burdens in the hands of our capable Heavenly Father.

We lifted our hands in praise as we worshiped together, we stood and raised our voices and sang.
My prayer was that as we sang it would be a pleasing sound to our Heavenly Father but beyond that, I also prayed that the sound of our voices would vibrate throughout the hallways and into the family center and that the spirit of God would seep from the sanctuary and permeate down the hallways and into all the rooms and various occupied corners and surround all the people who chose not to come.

As we continued to worship I had a clear line of sight out into the hallway. As the passersby would file by they would find themselves looking into the sanctuary. Some would walk by without giving a second glance, others would do a double take as to say “What is going on in there?” Still other filed in at random times as if drawn by our voices. Two elderly women even came in in their pajamas. At first I thought this strange, but then it washed over me that for now this place was their home, and p.j's are welcome in the house of the Lord!

We closed with an alter call, they came one after another and knelt down just as they possibly would have done in there own home church. We prayed over them and we saw the sadness in some of there faces, we saw the concern, the wondering, the questions.

When will we get to go home?

What will be there when I get back?

Will there be anything left?

As we conclude the service a gentleman walked past me and I stretched out my hand to him and he took mine in his, before I could catch myself I said “I am glad you are here!” then I had to back track and say “You know I am sorry for the circumstances that have brought you to this place, but I am so glad that you were here to worship with us in this place tonight! I will be praying for you and for your home and I hope that you will not be separated from it for very long!” He shook my hand and thanked me and smiled and then left the sanctuary.

As the evecuee’s filed out to find their small little assigned space and their uncomfortable cot those of us with homes to go to stayed and continued to sing. We sang and praised God for this amazing and unique worship opportunity we had just experianed.

God truly had been wth us as we sang with unfamilular people, as we worshiped with these same people and knelt in prayer with them, they had been removed from there home, however in those few moment we were all one family.

I left the building filled to overflowing with how great God is. I made my way to my car and now I am sitting in my safe and dry home and in a few minutes I will crawl into my warm comfortable bed and fall safely asleep.

Tonight there are 200 plus people who have been displaced from their homes who are falling asleep on uncomfortable fold away cots lining the hallways of a strange place surrounded by other people that they do not know.

But I know as we worshiped together tonight we felt truly in one accord with each other.
It truly was my deep and heartfelt privilege to worship with these people tonight. To stand in the gap for those in genuine need, to recognize that there are times when my life’s little issues really do pale by comparison to the larger issues going in the world around me.

God is good!

Please continue to pray for all the people who have been displaced by Hurricane Gustav and pray that Hurricane Hannah will dissipate and that God will guide and protect all people who have been impacted by these storms.

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