Monday, May 18, 2015

Grandmother's Encouragement

He comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in
any kind of affliction, through the comfort we ourselves have received from God.
2 Corinthians 1: 4
My grandmother lived on a street that looked much like this one.  Her white frame house was always surrounded by flowering trees and shrubs.  When I think of her, I think of her love for beautiful flowers and the costume jewelry she loved to wear.  She always had on her beads.  And she smelled like Dove soap and Jergens lotion. 

The memory that is giving me courage today is what she did and how she lived with only one usable arm and hand.  In the late 1950s, a stroke robbed her of the use of her left arm.  She did regain the use of her left leg enough to get around with her cane.  My sweet Papa took care of her as long as he lived but he was gone before 1966.  After a string of caretakers and live in helpers, her courage came to the fore. 

"Leave me alone," she demanded.  "I will be fine by myself.".    And for a long time she was.  She always told us how she prayed and depended on God to help her through the hard times, especially being in the house alone at night.

I think of this today and I remember her standing in her kitchen in front of the stove...a short, round, grey-haired lady of the Old South... standing there in her bare feet cooking on her gas stove.   It was fortunate for her that her stroke didn't take her dominant hand.  While the left arm dangled uselessly at her side, she worked steadily with her right one, frying chicken, making biscuits or dumplings or fried apple pies.  She cleaned her house and washed her clothes and generally took care of herself.  She was amazing.

I'm about to spend a chunk of time without the use of my dominant - right - arm and hand.  The difference  is - once my surgery and physical therapy is done, mine should be better than ever.  Hopefully, the pain will be gone and I can sleep at night.  My inspiration during those long days of dealing with life with one hand will be a woman who has been gone since 1987.  I hope I've got half the determination she had.  I know this:  the source of my courage is the same One she had.  Because she passed her love of the Lord down to me.

Do you think some experience you've had is inspiring someone else today? 

Monday, May 11, 2015

Pushing Through the Stuff

Forget the former things;
Do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the desert
And streams in the wasteland.
-Isaiah 43:18 & 19
I have a confession to make today.  It's Monday morning and something about a new week makes me want to fix everything that's amiss in my world.  However, since it took me a lifetime to get here it would take me another lifetime to really accomplish what I would like to get done.
Here's the thing.  I am a clutter bug.  
Give me a flat surface and I can cover it with stuff in a matter of hours.  And then ignore that stuff for days... weeks... sometimes even months.  Unless company is coming and then I stuff it away in the room we jokingly call the office. 
"So what are you doing today?" Friend Judy will ask.
"I'm working on the office.".  She howls.
The truth of it is... and maybe you have this issue, too... Life just keeps coming and coming.  And Life brings STUFF.  And the people who leave, leave us their stuff to do something with.  It all has to be sorted because there might be some great family treasure in that box.  Indeed, I have found some things I'm truly glad I was able to save.  And stash away in another box. 
Those of us who think with the right side of our brains have a real challenge when it comes to the organization of the stuff.  It drives the left-brained people crazy.  Like my husband.  I know this is why opposites attract.  He is the organizer of the western world.  The only thing I can organize successfully is words.  Often, the accumulation of the other stuff just gets overwhelming.  Too many times I have to clear a space on the desk to be able to write something. 
There has to be a way through this desert.  As I put my head on my pillow last night, I talked to God about it.  As He so often does, He gave me a thought in my spirit.  Actually two thoughts.  The first was prioritize.  OK.  I will do my best with that.
And then, from the things I've been reading and studying in the past few days came this one: meditate on God's Word.  It's the answer to everything.  Get alone with the Word and spend the time.  And then prioritize the tasks until they're done, one by one.
Through this maze of messiness... this desert of disorganization... this pile of papers that must be sorted... settling my spirit through listening to God in quiet meditation... that's the stream through this wasteland.
He is making a way in my desert.
What is the desert in your life that needs a quiet touch from God's Word?

Sunday, April 26, 2015

My Book...Almost Ready!

"When are you going to write a book?" somebody asked me a few years ago. 

Well, unknown to that person, I was writing a book even then.  Or at least, I thought I was writing a book.  What I was doing, I now realize, was playing around at it.  Writing a piece here and there and sticking it in the book file.  In case anybody out there is doing that, that's not writing a book.  That's amusing yourself. 

Time was passing, Life was passing and I was getting older.  The good part about that is that I was gaining more and more experiences, maturity, all kinds of good stuff that has become grist for the mill.  Enter Suzanne Fox who happens to be an outstanding editor and the question became "Hey, Toots... are you gonna fish or cut bait?". That's when I found out what it's really like to write a book.  Suzanne and I have often joked that this book should be named "In Spite of It All" because of all the roadblocks that were thrown in the way.  The point is... it did get done.  To my great amazement.

And I can't wait to do it again.  My blog has suffered because the past month has been focused on the final editing and all the niggling details of getting a book into print.  But here I am tonight, with the proof copy sitting on my knees... all done.  The above picture was taken right there on my knees.  That's Judy Deeson's picture on the cover. 

So in just a matter of weeks, my book will be available on Amazon.  And everybody who reads it can feel the breeze!  Watch for my blog to give you the launch date.  Put your email into the subscription block to be sure you don't miss it.  I'll be giving away some copies along with my daughter Becky Loar's CD, Rise.

Do you have a dream that's been simmering far too long?  What's holding you back?  I learned that a book gets written one letter, one word, one sentence, one paragraph, one page at a time.  Be encouraged, dear person... these dreams can become reality, if we just keep walking and following God's path.


Monday, March 23, 2015

Listen to HIM!

Beautiful Savior!  Lord of all the nations!
Son of God and Son of Man!
Glory and honor, praise, adoration,
Now and forevermore be thine.

Lent always brings out the Jesus programs on TV.  Which is good.  I'm glad the world notices these pre-Easter days.  Lately I've been watching CNN's series Finding Jesus.  The programs focus on the people and things connected to Jesus.  They begin with the Biblical accounts and then show what our modern culture is saying and believing about these things.  The whole point is, of course, to find solid evidence that Jesus lived and that the Bible accounts are true. 
With all their scholars and archeologists... people who spend their lives sifting and digging through centuries of buried relics and artifacts and written accounts - both those in the Bible and in other writings from ancient times... they have not produced one shred of anything that in any way changes the story that is the foundation of the Christian faith.  It's such a simple story.  A baby, a preacher, a cross, an empty tomb.  The preacher's words are recorded in what has been accepted for thousands of years as the sacred Scriptures.  They're the only words that count.
The seventeenth chapter of the Gospel of Matthew gives us the story of The Transfiguration.  Peter, James and John went with Jesus to the top of a high mountain.  "There he was transfigured before them.  His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light...a bright cloud enveloped them, and a voice from the cloud said, 'This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.  Listen to him!'"
When all is said and done... listen to HIM!