Friday, July 18, 2014

Wringing My Hands




Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.  Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
1 Peter 5: 6 & 7


I used to think Life would someday be worry free.  No more anxiety.  Not.


Every day has its own cares, anxieties, concerns.  We skirt around the bad word...that W word...Worry.  We know we're not supposed to worry.  But that doesn't take away anxiety.  Every day has its own pile of mess that makes us anxious because we're humans.  The hands in this picture look more like my insides than I like to admit. 


That's why we have to read God's word often.  We can't just do it once and call it good...we've GOT it!  We need to be reminded over and over of the simple fact that he cares for us.  Christian music by solidly Christian artists helps, too.  By people like Babbie Mason. 


There were errands to do today.  I got in my car, backed out of the garage, and the cd began to play.  It was Babbie with her version of I Know Whom I Have Believed.  Since my hands were on the wheel, I wasn't actually wringing them, but the ones on the inside began to relax a bit. 


But I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able
To keep that which I've committed unto him against that day.


O yeah. 


If you need a fresh stroke today, go to www.babbie.com and soak up this lady's words from the God she loves.  Her music is available there and everywhere else you buy the good stuff.  She'll lift your spirits - and probably your hands.


Feel the breeze:  We carry our concerns with us as we make our way through a tough world.  What's eating up your gut today?  Parents?  Kids?  Grandkids?  Job?  Church?  Mate?  Disappointments?  Money?  Life will never stop and as Gilda Radner used to say, "It's always sumthin'!"  The main thing is, do you know the One who is able to keep you from falling?  Do you trust the One you have believed?  He cares for you.  If you're raising your hands to Him, you can't be wringing them in despair.  Ruth Bell Graham said "Worship and worry can't abide in the same place."


Blessings.



Thursday, July 10, 2014

All the Monkeys in the Circus




Not my circus; not my monkeys.


Well, this is one way of saying "I refuse to be dragged into your drama." 
And certainly, it's a good plan to protect yourself and your feelings from those around you who seem to constantly create drama...those busy souls who live from crisis to crisis.  After awhile, the nerves just won't take any more.  And so you back off and create some distance and try to maintain a more calm existence for yourself.  Truly, in many instances that's a healthier way to live.


But there are circuses and monkeys that do belong to me.  And my feelings get stirred up and I feel bad and have great concern for my monkeys.  That would be my immediate family and closest friends.  Let trouble touch my husband, my kids and their families, my brother and his family...and I get really protective of my monkeys. 


I was thinking about this the other day because I was concerned about one of my monkeys.  The stress of life was just falling off the edges of his plate like sloppy mashed potatoes and gravy and my innards were a mess of concern.  It truly hurts to see those close to you have heavy issues.  That's when I realized what a good analogy this is for how Jesus feels about us.  Jesus is our brother.  The feelings we have for each other are just a taste of the feelings he has for us.  This is his circus and we are his monkeys.   And he cares for each one of us. 


Romans 8:16 & 17 says this:  The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children.  Now if we are children, then we are heirs - heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.


While we may find it necessary to distance ourselves from some of the people we know - because they truly are not our monkeys and their overly-dramatic lives are not our "circus," - we can be sure that the One who matters most will never distance himself from us, no matter how insane our drama becomes.  Scripture tells us the Spirit prays for us with groanings that are too deep for us to hear.  Constantly.  I have to remind myself of this all the time.  As Babbie Mason sings, "Your heavenly Father will be up all night."  We are so cared for and we all too often don't remember it.


Feel the breeze:  So the next time you find yourself tied in knots because of someone else's drama, even those near and dear to you, stop and think.  Jesus is your brother.  Your brother wants the best for you.  Your brother is praying for you.
 
It's His circus.  You are His monkey.





Tuesday, July 1, 2014

A Fresh Start

It's been several weeks since my last post and I admit I have been a bit dry.  Bone dry.  Like "Do I have anything to say?" dry. 

Frankly, there are a few things going on here.  But you have things going on, too.  If I'm calling myself a writer, I should be able to put words on the page.  As the time has crept along, I've begun to think maybe I don't have enough structure in my writing practices.   This morning I read a post by a leading writing and blogging expert and I determined to try to be more intentional and structured and focused.  And overcome some tech issues that I've never been able to master.  All afternoon I pushed.  I tried.  It was like trying to birth a baby that was stuck in the birth canal.  I had been at it for several hours when my husband came home from the golf course.  After enduring my frame of mind for a few minutes, he probably wanted to go back.  I had to apologize.

Finally, I quit and picked up a book.  That's when I found this quote from a Lutheran minister and creative writing teacher, Walter Wangerin, Jr.:

As a writer, I think it is my job to seek God in the common things; indeed, to believe that God is already in the common things ahead of and outside of me.  This happens in three ways: first of all, to see the glory of God in the world, to perceive it, to find it, sometimes to be stunned by the discovery of it when I hadn't been looking well enough.  Second, having perceived it, to acknowledge it, to salute it, to be aware of it, to know it, to dance with it, to think about it, to engage with it - and having engaged with it, to give that glory back to God.  The third part involves writing - or maybe I should say praise.  Ultimately, it is my job to praise.


And there it is...the heart of what I do.  And I realize that even if there's a writing deadline or a speaking message looming, the message that will give the glory and praise to God most likely will not be found in the confines of this house.  I have to get out, if it's just to the sanctuary of my back porch.  The crepe myrtle is blooming in the back yard, the birds are singing new songs as they flit among the branches of the oak trees, and my friendly squirrels are waiting to give me greeting.


I must also take the time to wander.  My friend, Judy, is stepping into a hobby she has talked about for a long time:  photography.  Last weekend, we took off and drove down roads we haven't visited in a long time, just to see what's there and take it's picture.  We will do that more often in days ahead. 

I write because I have to seek God's glory in the common things.  That's how I praise.  If I'm going to write about the common things, I have to take the time to enjoy them and experience them.  Time.  Take Time.  It's a never-ending theme for all of us.  I also have to give myself the freedom to practice my art my own way.  If my best writing position is propped up in my recliner with my computer on my knees and stock cars running in circles on TV, then so be it.  So much for the advice of that writing expert.

We all have things we have to do and we all have challenges when it comes to getting them done.  What are yours?  Do you fight the demons that want you to believe your creativity doesn't matter?  Do the clock and the calendar beat you up?  Are you trying to fit into somebody else's mold?  Do Life's distractions just get the best of you?

Maybe we all just need to take a walk.  God's already out there, in all the common things that make up his magnificent creation. 


Photography by Judy Deeson








Sunday, May 25, 2014

SECURITY QUESTION








Men have become the tool of their tools.  Henry David Thoreau

 

My phone beeped.  I had a text.  Twelve-year-old Grandson Jack had a question.

Where were you born? 

Well, this is interesting, I thought.  Big Spring, TX, I texted back.  And PawPaw was born in Cuthbert, GA just in case you need to know.

His response: Thanks.

I wanted to keep the chat going since he doesn’t do this very often. 

So what’s up?  Is this for something you’re doing for school?  A grandmother’s heart is always looking for the best.

No.  I’m trying to get into my DS and I can’t.  Mom set it up so I tried Naples, FL but that didn’t work.  Yours didn’t either. 

And then it hit me…she’s blocked him so he can’t get into that game thing until he has permission. 

And it hit me again…in his world, I’ve become the answer to a security question.  I’ve reached a whole new level of identity. 

Here’s the humorous end to this tale.  When I spoke with my daughter two days later, she knew he was trying to access his games.  Of course, it was all because of me.  I had sent him a gift card for his birthday.  He had bought a new game and needed to update the DS so he could play it.  He had his mom’s permission but she couldn’t remember the security code either.  They ended up calling Nintendo and getting the code changed.  I hope she wrote it down somewhere.

That’s the world we’re living in now.  Everything we do has a password or a code and they’re not all the same.  It’s not safe to use the same one for everything because then the bad guys can access everything you’ve got.  Including your bank account.  Which they do with relative ease anyway.   I don’t know about your brain, but mine just can’t remember all those different letters and numbers and symbols.  Security questions are the easiest because you’re likely to remember the name of your first dog sooner than you will some random grouping of nonsense.  And of course you’ll know where you were born.  You just have to remember whose birth place you used when you set up the system.  And which letters were upper case and lower case.

Wow…when I was twelve years old all I had to know was my address and phone number.  Now I don’t dare lose sight of my little notebook that has the access information for all the important sites I visit in cyber world.  We are enlightened.  We press on to greater heights. 

O, the places we’ll go!  If we can just remember the security code.

Feel the breeze:  Is there a technology issue in your life?  Consult a kid. 

 

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

TWO-SONG TOM


I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.
3 John: 4
 
The title of the familiar hymn jumped out at me as I looked down the list.  I was doing research for a program on Charles Wesley, the prolific hymn-writing brother of John Wesley, founder of Methodism.  Jesus, Lover of My Soul.  The hymn always makes me think of Uncle Tom.
Uncle Tom was my father’s brother.  Back in the late 1940s and 1950s, we took lots of car trips with Uncle Tom and Aunt Clyde.  The six of us…Mama, Daddy, my brother Ken and I…would pile into whatever car was the newest and roomiest at the time and take off.    Most of the time we took day trips, but it wasn’t unusual for us to hit the road for a cross country adventure.  I treasure the memory of the summer trip to California…six of us with a trunk full of luggage in a big boat of a car with no A/C, sailing across Texas, New Mexico, Arizona…with the windows open and the warm wind whipping through our hair.
Daddy and Tom would trade off driving.  Kenny was usually in the middle in the front seat and Mama, Clyde and I snuggled into the back.  And as we drove along, Tom would periodically burst forth in song – an activity totally at odds with his rough “grove man” persona.  He couldn’t carry a tune to save him, but he sang lustily and loudly.  He had two songs – Bye Bye Blackbird and Jesus, Lover of My Soul – and he only had a line or two of each one.  Aunt Clyde would just cover her eyes with her hand and giggle.
I wondered, as a kid, where he got these two completely different songs.  When he was growing up, they did have a radio which I was told they sat around and listened to.  Daddy said it was funny that they watched the radio almost like we watch TV today!  That’s probably where Tom got Bye Bye Blackbird.  But as an adult, he wasn’t much of a church-goer so I didn’t think the hymn was something that really got his attention as he sat in the pew as a child.
The answer came to me as I thought of that long-ago experience the other day.  His mother.  He heard it from his mother.  And she heard it from her mother.  I remember many times hearing his mother’s sister, Aunt Esther, talk about their mother’s beautiful voice.  On summer evenings after she had fed her family, she would sit on the back steps of their big white frame house in Virginia and sing as darkness fell.  Aunt Esther said her lovely voice would carry across the yard and the neighboring field to the delight of the neighbors.  She gave voice to the hymns she loved to sing at the little Methodist church nearby. 
And so her grandson, my Uncle Tom, carried a few lines of a Charles Wesley hymn in his head because it had been sung to him by his grandmother and his mother.    It makes me very conscious of the things I’ve sung to my grandchildren.   I recall a night several years ago when I was rocking the youngest one to sleep.  He was about two years old.  I thought he was almost ready to be put down when he looked at me through slits of eyes and whispered “Sing Jesus Loves Me!”  I sang and he slept and all was well with the world.  We often pass down the faith through our songs.
It was a car full of happy people that rode across this country that summer.  Thanks to Aunt Clyde, who read everything about travel and was always the trip-planner, we got all the way to the Pacific Ocean and visited Disneyland.  And we were serenaded along the way by Two-Song Tom… Jesus, Lover of My Soul.
I’m sure his mama was sitting in heaven smiling.
Feel the breeze:  Historically, we learn our first songs and stories from our mothers and our grandmothers.  There is much truth in the saying “The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.”  What songs did your mother sing to you?  What do you sing to your little ones? 

Monday, April 21, 2014

Silent Saturday










The women who had come with Jesus from Galilee followed Joseph and saw the tomb and how His body was laid in it.  Then they went home and prepared spices and perfumes.  But they rested on the Sabbath in obedience to the commandment.
- Luke 23: 55 & 56


They laid Him down.  And then they went home. 


I've thought a lot about that over this past Easter weekend.  They went home...back to the lives they laid down that morning to go and be with Him and follow all the details of the last hours...moments...of His life.  They watched it all.


How do you go home after that?  The whole world was different from that afternoon on.  Even their own living spaces must have seemed different.  The emotions that gripped them with physical pain must have been paralyzing. 


But there was work to be done.  Not only was it preparation day for the upcoming Sabbath - when no work was allowed - now there were the burial spices and perfumes to be prepared so the final ministrations could be done as soon as possible when Sabbath had passed.  Focus...focus...there's work to be done. 


All the while, and into that night and the next day, the sadness and doubt and confusion must have laid on them like the giant stone that closed the door of the tomb.  What do we make of this now?  Was it all over?  Did His death put into question everything He had said and taught them?  Was He really the voice of God? 


Silent Saturday.  There were no answers.  They could only sit and wait.  And wail.  And pray.  In the quiet of their homes.


Life is full of Silent Saturdays.  But take heart...Sunday's coming! 


He is risen.  Hallelujah!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

From the Palms to the Cross

They  took palm branches out to meet him, shouting
    "Hosanna!
     Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!"
-John 12:13


I had picked up a Bible that was my father's. 
As I flipped through the pages, something fell into my lap.  It was a palm cross.  A very old palm cross.  It had a straight pin through the middle.  I remember the time when everyone had a palm cross pinned to their clothing as they entered the church on Palm Sunday.


As I held it in my hand, it was a reminder of my father's faith...and his faithfulness to his church.  I'm sure my mother removed the cross from his coat when they got home that day.  She stuck it in his Bible and there it was for me, all these years later.


What a scene it must have been when the road to Jerusalem was lined with happy people waving palms to welcome Jesus.  I remember the pictures of the happy faces and the bright green palm branches from the walls of the Sunday School rooms.  Jesus knew the joy would be short-lived.  He did not come to earth to bask in the shadow of palms.  As he told disciples Andrew and Philip:


      "Now my heart is troubled, and what shall I say?  'Father, save me from this hour?  No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour.  Father, glorify your name!"  (John 12:27-28)


And so I see the symbol of salvation in an old, brittle, faded palm frond twisted into a cross.  The promise of the life of Christ and the joy of my salvation because he loved me to death.


Father, we glorify your name this Palm Sunday.  Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!