Thursday, August 20, 2015

Beach Day with God

Several of my friends are facing very hard things in their lives right now.  These trials reminded me of  my beach day… Stay strong and brave, friends!

Beach Day with God

Last spring, my husband and I were fortunate enough to be taken on a trip around the coast of Spain.  We didn’t really know anyone on the trip very well so one day we found ourselves at the beach by ourselves.  I wanted to go to the beach but my husband – I’ll call him Jack (because, well, that is his name J) – did not care to be at the beach but I was loving it.

The beach was a public beach and Jack was being a bit of a beach snob.  It was a little shocking to realize that tops were optional! And girls that should have been wearing skirted bathing suit bottoms thought thongs were a good idea.  Yikes!

Even with the non-American crowd, I was thrilled to dip my toes in the Atlantic Ocean. Jack fussed about the sand and pretty much sat in one place.  I dropped my shoes with him and took off down the beach.

I walked along the beach where the waves hit the sand so that I could gather seashells. I’ve always enjoyed gathering shells when I go to the beach.  Maybe its because of my name  ~ or maybe it’s because the shells represent God’s amazing creation. And reminds me that He cares about the creatures of the sea – and me.

When I was eighteen years old and weeks away from moving 3,000 miles away from my family and friends to attend college, I walked along another beach looking for sand dollars.  I had a few broken sand dollars in my cup as I prayed to God. I told Him of my fears and anxieties of the unknown.  I asked for a reminder that He would be with me.

All of a sudden, sand dollars were washing up at my feet!  I know it sounds cuckoo but within a few minutes of my petition, whole sand dollars were literally at my feet.  I don’t know if the current suddenly shifted or if I just happened to step into sand dollar cove but my cup was soon full of whole sand dollars! (Actually, I believe God did that for little ol’ me.)

Okay, God, I hear you!  You care about me and the things that I care about. Thank you!

As I walked on the Spanish shore, I said a similar prayer. You see, within a few weeks of my return home, my twenty-three year old daughter would undergo a preventative double mastectomy.  (If you haven’t read her account of that journey, you can do so here).

I was relieved that she had made the brave decision to have the surgery but I am her mom.  And moms worry about their children. 

I had not shared with many people about the surgery during the months leading up to it.  Some that I did share with questioned the decision so I became fairly judicious with whom I told.

As I walked along the Spanish shore, I felt alone and burdened. 

I knew I would have to be strong for my daughter and so I had a little conversation with God as I casually picked up seashells.

In Spain, no one but me seemed to care about gathering shells so the shore was littered with shells. Big, whole shells.  I was in shell heaven.  Not only could I quickly fill a cup, but I could be choosy and only pick the prettiest shells. The shells were diverse and abundant and very non-American.

I stopped walking for a minute and looked out at the vast ocean and all of a sudden I felt my soul rest. If the God of the universe can paint pretty shells, control the tides of the oceans and, yet, knows the hairs on my head, I could rest.

I was reminded that my strength comes from the God of the universe. Alone, my strength falters and fails but His strength is unending and as constant as the waves that crash on the shore.

Wave after wave crashed at my feet.  Time after time, the Lord has shown me His strength in difficult times.

The journey my daughter started over a year ago took an interesting twist when her reconstruction had to be delayed a year because God interrupted “the plan” and sent a little girl to my daughter and son-in-law.  (You can read about that twist here .)  Tomorrow, August 21st, my granddaughter, Bravery, will be present as the process is completed.  (Well, not literally present at the surgery J)

Wave after wave. The Lord is good, and faithful and constant. 

If you are facing a hard thing, rest in knowing that God is faithful.

I look up to the mountains; does my strength from mountains?
No, my strength comes from God,
who made heaven and earth and mountains.
                                                Psalm 121:1-2 MSG

You rule the oceans, you subside their storm-tossed waves.
                                    Psalms 89:9 NLT


Tell me of a time God met you “at the beach” and reminded you of his faithfulness.
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Thursday, August 13, 2015

The Stubborn Stake

The Stubborn Stake

A few years ago, we bought a tree and had it planted.  Until the tree could establish a root system, it was staked with a heavy duty T-post. 



For those of you wondering “What’s a T-post?”  Well, a T-post is a metal post with a triangular plate at its base that is pointed like an arrow so that it goes in to the ground easily but can’t be pulled out easily.  In order to get it out, you have to dig it out.





During a drought three years ago, the tree died.  Before we knew it, the tree transformed into a big stick in the ground  ~ and we removed it.

But the post remained. 

I hinted several times to my husband that the post looked silly in the yard without a tree to support.  He agreed.

But the post remained.

After several months of mowing around the post, I decided that I would pull it out so I walked over to the post and gave it a hearty tug.  Nothing.  I tried to wiggle it back and forth.  Nothing.  It wouldn’t budge.  I tried again just to make sure.  Nothing.

To the garage I went to get a shovel.  Back out to the post ~ the very skinny, green post.  How hard could it be to dig it out?

I stuck the shovel in the ground and pulled out a chunk of dirt.  Satisfied, I kept digging. 

Though the T-post was only about two inches wide and a few millimeters thick, I dug a hole about 18 inches in diameter.  I wiggled the post.  Nothing.  I dug some more. 

But the post remained.

When my hole was about a foot deep, I thought about giving up.  It was a lot of work and I was tired and hot and my muscles ached.  I could not even see the inverted arrow-like plate that was preventing me from pulling out the post.  All I saw was the post.

But the thought of leaving the post in the ground, well, really in the big hole that I dug, was not appealing. I would win. I was determined to finish.  I put the shovel back in the hole ~ after wiping the dripping sweat off of my brow.

I had watched the tree planters put the post in the ground.  It was simple. All they did was hammer the post.  And the post was in.  There was no shoveling required. Just a little hammering. Simple.

Getting the post out ~ not so simple.

Eventually, I got the post out.  What was left behind was a hole nearly two feet wide and two feet deep.  A big ol’ hole ~ just to get a skinny post out of the ground!

Don’t we have things in our lives like that?  We easily get ourselves into situations that are a lot harder to get out of.

Sin is like that.  It is easy to start down the path of sin.  It seems like a little thing at first.  A little lie.  A little bit of gossip. A little cursing. A little bit of flirting. A little greed. A little bitterness. A little anger. A little haughtiness. A little bit of immorality. A little laziness. A little un-forgiveness.

A little.

The next thing you know, you have gotten yourself into a situation and you are stuck.  It was so easy to get into the situation but now it is going to take a lot of digging to get the post of sin out of your life.

We need the Master Gardener, God, to excavate the stubborn, strong posts of sin out of our lives.  And He wants to do that for us.  He wants to return the yards of our lives into unmarred, beautiful lawns.

Once I had the stubborn post out of the ground, I was triumphant. No longer would it be in my way when I mowed.   No longer would it obstruct my path or be an eyesore.

Are there posts in your life that need to be removed?  Won’t you let the Master Gardener help you dig up the useless posts?  He’s waiting to help you.


John 10:10 ~ I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.

John 8:36 ~ So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

Romans 6:17-18 (msg) ~ Offer yourselves to sin, for instance, and it’s your last free act. But offer yourselves to the ways of God and the freedom never quits. All your lives you’ve let sin tell you what to do. But thank God you’ve started listening to a new master, one whose commands set you free to live openly in his freedom!

Amen and Amen!


Do you have a stubborn post that needs to be removed?


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Monday, June 29, 2015

I Have to Use a What?

I Have to Use a What?


At my last dental visit, the gal that scraped the tarter and gunk from my teeth advised me to get a waterflosser ~ aka ~ a WaterPik.  I value good oral hygiene so I went straight to Bed Bath and Beyond and picked out the best WaterPik system I could afford.

I took it home and stuck it in my closet because 1) life was busy, 2) it seemed complicated and 3) I wasn’t so sure about the whole “it’s time for a WaterPik” thing.

Yesterday, I pulled it out of my closest and I had every intention of filling the reservoir with water and plugging it in so that it could “pik” my teeth.

And here it sits…



Why?

Hmm... Well, the only other person on the planet that I know that used a WaterPik was my 98-year-old grandfather that recently died ~ and I just tossed his water flosser in the trash!



As a child, my teeth were very crooked and dull and I was embarrassed to smile.  And my bottom jaw stuck out. Way out. I couldn’t even eat a sandwich.

Eventually, I got braces and had extensive oral surgery to reconstruct my jaws and fix my bite.

I came through the whole dilemma with a smile and straight teeth.  For years, every time I went to the dentist, the comment was, “Wow! You have a great bite and amazing teeth!”

So, was it me turning 50 that caused my teeth to require a WaterPik? My husband is a year older and he wasn’t advised to get a WaterPik. (Wait, he was advised to get a Sonic Care toothbrush.  So there. Ha!)

What happened to the free toothbrush and dental floss?  I used to walk out of the dentist's office with a little dental goodie bag and I was good to go for another six months. 

When my blondish hair became less blonde and more, ahem, silver, my wonderful stylist helped me become blondish again.

When my arms became too short. I mean when my 20/20 vision started to deteriorate, I bought my first pair of readers to give me a little boost.  Then I bought a stronger power. And stronger. And then I bought a lot of readers and stashed them all over my house so that at any spot in my home, I was no more than five steps away from 20/20 vision.  Eventually, it became impossible to rely only on readers so I bit the bullet and got glasses. Then I got contacts when it became clear (no pun intended) that this was my new way of life.

I come from a long line of silver haired, glasses wearing women so I was prepared for the eyes and hair but I was not prepared for a WaterPik. Again, the only person I knew that used a WaterPik was my elderly grandfather.

There are changes that age brings about and then there are choices age brings about.  More and more, I find myself saying, “I’m fifty years old. I am not doing that anymore!”

For instance, I’m getting out of the all night lock-in chaperone line.

I’m also not in the furniture moving business anymore.  I don’t remember my fifty-year-old parents hauling my furniture up three flights of stairs. (In reality, my forty-year-old knee injury kind of dictated that one.)

I’m also not eating a pint of ice cream before bed.

And I’m not apologizing for not liking food that still has eyeballs. Or mushrooms. Or olives.  And if you try to trick me into eating them, I’ll spit them out like a toddler! Really, I will! And I won’t feel bad about it.

I am going to try to listen more. Pray more. Love more. Laugh more.

They say that with age comes wisdom ~ not just a WaterPik tooth flosser! I believe that is true.  I believe I’m a little wiser than I was a few decades ago.

But I know I’m not as wise as I will be a few decades from now.

I spent a lot of time with my 98-year-old grandfather before he died and I loved his wisdom.  Maybe, someday, my grand-kiddos will listen to me – and then when I’m gone, they can toss my WaterPik in the trash.

Blessed are those who find wisdom,
Those who gain understanding. Proverbs 3:13

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge,
But fools despise wisdom and instruction. Proverbs 1:7

I guess I will be wise – and get the WaterPik out of the box, fill it up and use it – like a wise woman who wants to have her own teeth when she is 98 years old.

All kidding aside, I know that the wisdom that I need most in this life can only be found in the Lord and in His Word. 

Are there changes you need to make in your life to become wiser? Do you need to read and study God’s Word more? Do you need to surround yourself with wise people that can help you grow in God's wisdom?

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Saturday, June 6, 2015

I'm So Mad!

I’m So Mad

I am so mad!  Really, I’m not mad at all.  But if you ask my teenager or young adult children, they will tell you I am mad.

Why do they say that?  Because when I text, I use periods at the end of sentences. Oops! I did it again! And, I reply to texts with “K” instead of “ok!” or

Okay!

Or Okie dokie!

Or  :) :) !!!!!

But never “OK!” because that is yelling!

I’ve also learned not to respond with “sure.” Apparently, that has negative connotations and people think I’m mad.  Somehow, I type “sure” but when it goes through cyber space an amazing transformation happens and when it is received, it actually reads, “nope, not at all, not okay, maybe, I guess it’s okay!!!!”  Sure!

“Can you meet for lunch?”
“Sure.”
“Well, you don’t have to if you don’t want to!!!”

Welcome to my world!!!!!

It seems that grammatical correctness equals “mad” in the teenage/young adult world. Periods at the end of sentences are bad!

A parent of several teens was having a glass of wine at the end of a very long and busy week ~ wait a minute, every week with a passel of teenagers is a very long and busy week so that should probably go without saying ~ anyway, one of the teens made an observation, “Mom, I don’t remember you and Dad having a glass of wine at the end of the week being a ‘thing’ in the past.”

My reply would be, “Because we didn’t have teenagers!!!!” (Notice there is no period at the end of that sentence!)

When the kids were little, if they got out of bed, the farthest they would probably go was to my bedroom.  How is it that a kid could walk down a flight of stairs and across the house in the pitch dark to come into my bedroom to tell me they were scared? Apparently, they weren’t afraid of the dark or of falling down the stairs or running into a boogie man in the living room... I digress. 

When the little kids turned into teenagers, I worried they would go a bit further than my bedroom.  Case in point.  One Friday night my “mom sense” told me to open my bedroom door.  As I opened the door, I caught five teenage girls all gussied up and sneaking down the stairs – hushing each other.  When I asked where they were going, someone actually said, “To the car to get “Suzy’s” hair straightener!”

Uh, girls, I’m not stupid! I did my fair share of sneaking out (sorry, mom and dad!) and you did not change your clothes, put your make-up on and pull out that sloppy bun to help “Suzy” get her straightener out of the car at 11:00 at night! 

That was the week we activated the house alarm.  Not to keep people from breaking in – but to keep my people from breaking out!!!! 

When the kids were babies and then toddlers and even that awkward stage before preteens, I worried about them.  I worried about their bumps and bruises and innocent boy-girl crushes.

When the kids could leave the house on their own, my worry grew.  My knees became calloused from kneeling in prayer to plead to God Almighty for their protection and safety ~ protection and safety for their physical, spiritual and emotion lives.

Parenthood.  We do what we do the best we can do it.  We make mistakes and we have some successes. 

We text grammatically. We forget to use the appropriate emoji. But, kids, we aren’t mad.  We try to use your lingo but sometimes old habits invade our texts and we place a period at the end of the sentence.

We. Love. You.

If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love,

I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate. 1 Cor. 13:1 msg


I don't want to be a rusty gate ~ I just want to send a quick text. K?  








I welcome your comments - especially if you can relate.  :)
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