doN’t gEt tOo tiRed!

Galatians 6:9  Do not grow weary in doing good, for in due season you shall reap if you faint not. Weariness is part of the human experience. I believe that JESUS coming to live as a human had so many layers of truths & lessons-we’ll never uncover them all. But, I want to share a gem that GOD’s been whispering to me. It’s not a long or spiritually deep post-sometimes we need a friend to tell us something that we know already but have trouble doing!

Given a choice, boogie man, lucifer-probably prefers that committed Christ followers focus on the SUPERNATURAL aspects of OUR LORD’S- 33 year human life as opposed to natural, everybody goes through that kind of stuff. WHY do I make such a statement?

Logic says a firm believer takes the WORD of GOD as truth-we accept its premise & the plot. We know that it’s a mystery way beyond what we can understand TIL we get to HEAVEN & can grasp the mind of GOD. Miracles are more dramatic than ho hum activities of everyday life. We hear it preached-CHRIST had struggles like us, that’s why GOD sent HIM to walk in our shoes. Do  we concentrate on that basic precept enough-like say-the fact that JESUS got hungry & physically weary. When we focus on miracles, we come face to face with how very different HE was from the rest of us. But, when I’m sad, lonely, hurt, feeling mistreated and misunderstood-I’m not all that concerned about how JESUS turned water into wine, or healed a sick child, or raised a man from the dead.

SORRY if that sounds offensive, I’m just being honest. I need ASSURANCE that JESUS understands my BROKEN heart- comprehends my pain, grief & sorrow. It makes my burden SO MUCH easier to handle because through the accounts given about HIS MAN TIME-I see that HE completely understands what I’m feeling because HE FELT IT, TOO!

We’re encouraged to sleep, so that our bodies can renew & replenish. I find it interesting that GOD gave us references in HIS WORD while JESUS lived like a human. He got tired & HE slept-if it was good for CHRIST, it certainly will work for you and me! How cranky & difficult will a tired child be? Well, it’s the same principle. People of every age listen up..everyone functions better if we get enough rest. Your relationships will THANK you because you’ll be so much more pleasing and sweet! 😀

Being TIRED makes us grumpy, mentally sluggish-all around dull. Get a good night’s sleep as frequently as you can, rearrange your schedule so you can fit in a Sabbath day to rest and enjoy some down time. We’re encouraged to guard against-GROWING WEARY-defined in the context that  it was written; don’t allow yourself to become bitter about doing the right thing, being all you can be in CHRIST, running the race with strength and endurance. Don’t give up on always doing good because we don’t go wrong when we do the right thing-even if it feels like we have. And TRUST me, it will seem that way at times. LIFE ain’t always fair-at least, it sure doesn’t look that way all the time from my experience.

When you’re exhausted and your body is screaming for a breather, take a lesson from JESUS; grab a pillow & get some needed REST. You will thank you and I guarantee-so will everyone else! 😀

sUch a gReaT cAkE gFree

Mandarin Orange Cake recipe

madarinorange.jpg

MANDARIN ORANGE CAKE

1 box Betty Crocker G-F Yellow Cake Mix
3/4 cup oil
3 eggs
1, 8 oz. can undrained mandarin oranges (the can is really 11 oz., just drain out some of the liquid to make it weigh 8 oz.)

Frosting:
1, 8 oz. Cool Whip, defrosted
1 small box instant vanilla pudding
1 small can of undrained crushed pineapple

DIRECTIONS

Cake:
Combine ingredients until oranges are well broken up.  Pour into bundt cake pan (or a rectangle if you prefer) Bake as directed on cake mix. You may have to judge how long to bake the cake, though.  Cool.

PINEAPPLE FROSTING:

1 pkg. instant vanilla pudding
1 (8 oz.) Cool Whip
1 (8 oz.) can crushed pineapple

Mix pudding and pineapple until smooth, add Cool Whip. Beat until fluffy, frost cake.

For all of my gluten free friends-this is a quick & delicious recipe that I thought you might enjoy with the upcoming Easter holidays. It’s an OLD SCHOOL recipe that made frequent appearances at church potlucks, so I’m thrilled to be able to enjoy a childhood treat!

ENJOY! 😀

i cAn be suCh aN aPe!

I say-I’m not going to do it, but do it anyway. If you’re a girl-you know what I’m talking about. You scan the homepage and take note of the article titles to read. Dog Saves Family of Six in Deadly Fire, Israel and Palestine in Peace Talks, Turkey Meatloaf, UN-RETOUCHED pics of hottest STARS.

THAT one gets me every time. Why does a fifty year old woman TORTURE herself by looking at Kim Kardashian unposing, while POSING in the Riviera. Really? Why am I utterly compelled to compare myself to others? Can I get a witness up in here?

Placing myself side by side with others is dangerous. Feeling inadequate doesn’t do a thing for my happy; magnifying my flaws & shortcomings is like stirring up a tried & true, FOOL PROOF batch of depression. It’s so dumb to zero in on things that I AM NOT, CAN’T DO, DO NOT HAVE-these thoughts emerge immediately; I WON’T ACHIEVE, I WON’T WIN, I WON’T GET- therefore-I WON’T GIVE, I WON’T TRY, I WON’T MOVE, I WON’T PLAN, I WON’T because-I CAN’T. In essence, to adopt that mindset is to tie GOD’S HANDS with that kind of attitude.

I desire more than anything else-to be the woman GOD created me to be. I want to reach my goals and succeed in every single plan that HE set for my life. I honestly do! Here’s where it’s dicey. I continue to entertain unhealthy habits like-defining myself with what other people look like, inside & out. I do that way too much.

GOD made me to be me-why can’t I be satisfied with HIS plans and go with it? To my credit, I’m a lot better at it than I used to be. Still, in my quest to be the best at everything-I’m prone to find the best & imitate. I’m a conflicted girl. I despise a fake, but I ape people more than I’d care to admit. (I love to use the word APE! It adds more flair than imitate, don’t you think?)

I’m currently studying Paul’s personality traits to get an in depth picture of what made this complex apostle tick. I’m dissecting this verse today-We dare not class ourselves or compare ourselves with them who commend themselves, but they measuring themselves by themselves & comparing themselves among themselves not wise.” (1 Cor 10:12)

Look-it’s wonderful to have role models and mentors; people who we look up to, admire and learn from.I hope that I have a few people who see something in me that they admire. But, our admiration for other people has to be kept in balance. I believe that we should honor & esteem people who have a positive influence on our lives. The WORD instructs us to edify & build each other up. But, we must always, ALWAYS be careful to admire, not idolize.

It’s NOT beneficial or helpful to compare-me-with anyone else. I’m here to please my GOD, to fulfill the plans and purposes that HE created me for me. I can’t do that, if I’m obsessed with impressing or imitating others. I know that it’s true, yet I continue to do it-even inadvertently. Paul’s words repeated-I do the things that I don’t want to do & don’t do the things that I want to do.

It’s great to be stirred & inspired; it’s deadly to compete & compare. A comparison trap blurs who  I am & GOD’S purposes for me become overshadowed when my eyes are focused on other people. I dig a pit for myself, if my mirror of measure reflects anyone but my JESUS. Honestly, I fall into my own pits a lot.  This is a precept that I’m nowhere close to mastering, but, I’m desperately trying-because it’s a vital discipline for every CHRISTIAN’S growth and maturity.

So, let me a be a little cheesy in how I close my post today-

Angelina, your lips are luscious,


Kim, your body is divine,

Lisa, I LOVE your hair,

Martina, I love your eyes-

But, even if I ape you girls with the glitz & the glam..the fact remains, I’m still the same, so I may as well be happy with who I am!

i’m tRying tO haVe a mancHiLd hEre!

When we married, we knew that if I had a chance of becoming pregnant, it had to happen quickly. Joshua was born 17 months later. A difficult nine months; I developed gestational diabetes & severe edema. I gained just 23 lbs., but at five feet & normally 110 pounds, by all appearance, I was carrying multi-uplets! I’m not the least bit tempted to get BOTOX lips. I’ve got pictures that prove-an over inflated mouth-doesn’t suit my facial structure. 😀

On a snow forecasted March Thursday night, I’d been in labor all day so Mama decided it would be best to go to the hospital rather than get snowed in. When I got there-the nurse did the standard exam & determined that it was false labor. Come back when the pain’s REALLY significant & contractions are regular. I was only 22, but, I’d been sick most of my life, I knew pain & had a high tolerance for it. When I made my first appearance at the ER Thursday night, I wasn’t crying or yelling like pregnant women do in movies. I should have! We repeated that trip several times only to hear- False labor. Come back when the pain is unbearable and the contractions are regular.

When we made our daily trip on Saturday afternoon, the on call obstetrician breezed in from a golf game and asked how much I had dilated. When he heard, 2 centimeters , he laughed. You haven’t gotten started good yet, little lady. But, I’ll give you something for the pain to help at home.

Sunday morning-standing over the kitchen chair that became my only salvation from the unbearable pressure on my lower spine, I told Daddy that I couldn’t stand it anymore. See, I’ve got this thing about crying when I’m in pain-I just don’t cry often. It’s a coping mechanism-I don’t recommend it-you get more prompt attention if you’re begging for morphine. I’ve been in the ER with a bowel obstruction & had someone with a sprained toe-get beyond the waiting room faster than me! GOTTA be MISS TOUGH STUFF!

Anyways, when we got to the hospital, the same doctor was on call. He spouted off at Mama, I gave her enough Demerol yesterday to knock an elephant out! At two centimeters, there’s no way she’s in the kind of pain she’s describing. When Mama reported the latest evaluation to everyone else, Daddy told the doctor that if they didn’t admit me, he’d take me elsewhere. Finebut, she’d be more comfortable at home than she’ll be laying up here.

It was the first time a fetal monitor was attached to my stomach. Oh my..suddenly, there was a show of sympathy for this naive girl who didn’t know what REAL pain was. Seeing that my contractions were spiking OVER the top of the chart, the nurse said, Maybe, I better get the doctor. He shook his head in disbelief & put on an exam glove. She must’ve dilated at once-he remarked deliberately. He never admitted that he’d been wrong-he just looked at Mama and said-Still at 2. She’s is in for a long, hard, labor.

Really, Doc? Three days in, I’d earned something more befitting than a long, hard labor. Whilst this doctor was not familiar with my complex history- I was 3 WEEKS LATE, my kidneys were literally protruding and still, he let me lay there to dilate some more.

MONDAY afternoon my regular doctor walked into my room & for the first time, I began crying. I told him-I was NOT in false labor when I came the first time four days ago. He apologized for the way that I’d been treated and promised to stay until a decision was made about what to do. How about get this baby outta here! Hours later, Daddy was looking at the monitor & noticed that the baby’s heartbeat dropped & stopped. No beep-no alarm. Daddy limped out to summons a nurse. Next thing I knew, people rushed in, yelling-Call  Dr. Doctor S.! That was one of the most frightening moments of my life-a memory as clear as yesterday. Is my baby okay? I asked while nurses jabbed in needles & prepared me for emergency surgery. I’m afraid we’ve waited too long-we’ll have to wait & see. I drifted out of consciousness with wait & see in my head.

Joshua Themos Morgan was born at 9:47pm on March 28th, 1983-28 years ago, today. When I woke up, my first words were-Did the baby make it? The nurse smiled. Your son’s fine. (I had babies when you didn’t know if it was a boy or girl til it was born.) When they brought this breathtakingly beautiful baby boy to me, the first thing about him to capture my heart was his eyes! He had the biggest, BRIGHTEST eyes that I’d ever seen! Oh, and he weighed 10 pounds! For days to follow, I heard-LOOK at that one sittin’ up in a car seat! Look at those big eyes already looking around! (The nurses propped him up so that he could look around-his eyes stayed wide open). Then I’d hear-Have you seen his Mama? He’s nearly as big as she is!

Joshua looks like me-but he came into this world just like his Daddy. FRANKLIN EUGENE MORGAN, JR. (Chipper’s official name) weighed 10 pounds and 11 oz. The doctors called him GENERAL MORGAN! 😀

A day later, we learned the TRUTH about how close we came to losing our son. When the surgeon made a normal c-section incision & got a glimpse of this child, he asked for the scalpel again & added three inches to both sides. Over the years, I’ve had to explain the HIP to HIP scar to surgeons who suspect that I’ve had a tummy tuck.  My little, big baby, had outgrown the confines of mommy’s small tummy & was desperately trying to break free. Problem was, nobody had detected-I have an abnormally shaped pelvis (genetic birth defect) from whence no baby would’ve ever been birthed. Joshua had gotten stuck in my birth canal & was literally hitting his head against the wall! 😀

We got a miracle with our miracle! If Joshua had pushed himself an 1/8 of an inch further down, his eyes would’ve been irreparably, permanently damaged. He could no longer move & because he’d been fighting hard for weeks, he was exhausted; that’s when his heart stopped. Mama still teases Chipper about his reaction when he first saw Joshua. When the nurse unwrapped him for the family to see him, everyone gasped in horror-but, my Chipper was so mortified-he said out loud-Oh my LORD, he’s HIDEOUS! Joshua could’ve been a front man for the CONEHEADS!  Now, by the time they brought him to me, he was perfect-the only evidence of his traumatic birth was the faint ridge across his forehead.

Joshua was abnormal. Abnormally smart, that is. He walked at 8 months, was fully potty trained at fifteen months, could recite his ABC’S & count to fifty by 18 months. Before he was 2, our pediatrician suggested testing his IQ.  He scored exceptionally. Josh could read,write, spell & do basic math before kindergarten.

A week after he started first grade, the Louisiana Board of Education made a recommendation to move him up to second grade immediately & place him in the advanced gifted program. We agreed, but there were times when Chipper & I certainly second guessed that decision. Josh stayed at the top of his class, played sports & participated in extra-curricular activities. He was well rounded, but it was harder for him socially than we realized it would be. Being 1-2 years younger than classmates brought challenges, but, he handled the obstacles with maturity & poise. Josh is the epitome of go getter!

At age twenty, Josh earned his anthropology degree at Canterbury University in Christchurch, New Zealand. He came back to America & worked full time while putting himself through nursing school. The day that Joshua took his Nursing Board Exam-he finished in less than an hour. Now, it was a big deal because a student must answer a certain number correctly to pass. Once an appropriate number is reached, the test automatically stops. Students are allotted hours to complete the exam and wrong answers are not counted against them. Joshua answered the minimum number of questions in record breaking time. That’s my baby!:D

Josh has always had a unique way with kids; he’s a bit like Peter Pan himself. He has a toy room & my manchild writes out a Santa list, too. His boy charm never fades…and I love that.

GOD has our son exactly where HE wants him to be. He was offered a position straight out of nursing school-where else but the PEDIATRIC wing. In just a year, he moved into the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit of one of the country’s top hospitals. Joshua is personal, compassionate and thorough with both his little patients & their frantic parents.

He not only looks like his Mama-he has many of my personality traits- randomly meticulous-emotionally charged-passionate about how people are treated. He and I lock horns way too quickly-but, we’ve always shared an extremely close bond. Not long after he moved away, he called to discuss a personal issue with me. As I listened to him talk about something that-as a Mom-wasn’t so easy to hear-still, I thanked GOD that my son and I had the kind of relationship that merited that kind of a call.

It’s hard sometimes to see my child as a man. I often call him Joshy, my little Ricky Rudd, (I do NOT know why since we’ve NEVER been Nascar fans). Our son is a wonderful, successful, young man-whose eyes sparkle as brightly as the day he was born! When I hear his gorgeous laugh-when I witness him as unafraid to express his opinions about any subject from religion to babies to politics-I’m so overwhelmed with pride & joy! Joshua T. Morgan is truly an incredible person.

Sometimes he calls me in the early morning hours to tell me about one of his patients-many times, he’ll ask me to pray for one. When I hear his voice tremble as he gives me a summary, it melts my heart to know that my son is making such a valuable contribution to our world everyday. Happy Birthday, my baby boy-what an priceless blessing you’ve been and still are!

drEaM kInGdOm

Recently, my Chipper & I watched Leo D.’s blockbuster movie, Inception . Honestly, I’d rather think up movies than watch them. I’m not a movie fan, per say-unless it’s something that I loved as a child (black & white versions preferred). Nostalgia is my comfort food– if I’m sick or down-instead of a carton of ice cream or bag of potato chips, give me the couch, faded pajamas, and a stream of movies like White Christmas, Little Women (June Allison & Liz Taylor), Pollyanna, Christmas Carol, ( for someone easily bored-I’m pathetically routine).

But, since my Chipper is a huge movie fan-once or twice a week, we’ll watch something together. I gotta say-the premise awed me. A futuristic world where people stick an IV in their arm that connects them to a dream machine. (Just go with it.) In essence, humans live in the real world and their dream world, too.

I loved how dreams & reality became so intertwined, that the characters (audience, too) had a hard time distinguishing what realm they were in. I liked that the writer chose not to make these futuristic humans look like aliens- it kept it more plausible to keep them like present day people with jobs and families. They drove cars (not spaceships) and dressed like we do.  I thought that it was brilliant to build on the idea that humans will always push the boundaries of what they are & ARE not capable of doing.

As the story moved on, the characters experimented with DREAM LEVELS, a dream within a dream. When that was achieved, a dream within a dream within a dream. I was fascinated with subtle threads of reality, like, to wake a dreamer and bring them back to the real world, they would experience a KICK..that falling sensation that we experience while dreaming. Brilliant!

My brain over analyzes and I have an incredible imagination-so since then, I’ve asked my Chipper a dozen times, What if THIS is only a dream? What if we’ve already lived as other people? What if we’re not fifty? What if we’re five hundred and fifty? (He rolls his eyes & teases me about being a cow in one life & a pig in another.) I tell him to be serious & imagine how many souls we could win to the LORD in 7 life times!

I’m not a heretic, people..I’m blessed and cursed with a very vivid imagination!:D

I loved make believe during my childhood and since I lived at church, it’s no big surprise that I would fantasize about Heaven.  I don’t have a problem believing-streets of gold, gates of pearl, crystal rivers. I don’t have trouble picturing lions & lambs frolicking about in lush meadows while children play on their backs. I don’t doubt that music will be like nothing we’ve heard or that TANGY (our Tammy) will have a beautiful singing voice! bwahahahhaha

When I dwell on FOREVER-my imagination gives up! If FOREVER lasts forever-doesn’t it still end at some point? I can’t comprehend a million years but I know that it ends on the last second of day, 999,999,999, at 11:59pm & 59 seconds. Chipper says that he gets forever easier than In the BEGINNING. I say, who cares about the beginning man! It happened-here we are. BUT, an eternity that goes on & on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on..not so much!

When I dwell on what HEAVEN will be like, I have to slow my breathing to keep from hyperventilating! I’m dying to get there & see it for myself. (hehe) Please don’t think that I’m a quack..but, sometimes I think about what I would do if I were creating my utopia. My friend, Catherine Cameron, said one time that she SURE  hoped that GOD was planning on giving us a bed in HEAVEN, because she couldn’t imagine not being able to lay down and sleep when she wanted to! 😀

I’d include a DREAM KINGDOM, a realm where people could lie on a cloud & live out all the dreams that we had on earth. (once we get there, things of earth will pass away..that’s what THE WORD says.) This is my deal. When I was growing up, I wanted to be an actress & mortician (no joke), detective &  a thousand other things. VERY few of us achieve doctor and lawyer status in one life time. (KUDOS to those few who do-I’m insanely jealous!)  Best of all, in my heavenly DREAM KINGDOM-the dreams would be completely PERFECTED..no KICK needed! 😀

When we get to the REAL Heaven, PRAISING & WORSHIPING our LORD will be the most glorious experience that I can think of but there’s a reason why HE’S PREPARED exquisite mansions and paved the streets with the purest gold.  OLD TIME preachers used to put it this way-GOD spent six days on this world-so what must HEAVEN look like?

HEAVEN isn’t a movie myth! It’s a MAGICAL, UNEXPLAINABLE, wonderland that GOD has meticulously prepared. I believe that HE smiles whenever HE finds me daydreaming about it-talking about it, reading about it, writing about it. There’s a reason our FATHER chose to keep it a mystery. HE wants HIS children to anticipate a place so indescribable that words don’t work! My heart is dancing like crazy as I write-the thought of HEAVEN sends my pulse into double time.

Today, lie down & allow your mind to create your own DREAM KINGDOM. As you design-remember-as outrageously spectacular as you make your paradise, it will never compare to GOD’S!!

cAll mE anYthIng bUt oNe of tHoSe!

I won’t lie. I’m over-animated, highly demonstrative, extremely passionate and ridiculously talkative, so needless to say, I’ve got no problem expressing myself and I get irked easily and if I’m not mindful, I’ll sound off- it’s just me-flaws & all. While I admit that it’s not one of my more redeeming qualities, it goes to the heart of what I want to write about today.

Are you honest about your strengths & weaknesses? If you’ve never taken a personality quiz-you should; identifying our character traits makes it easier to exercise self restraint in weak areas and better equipped to capitalize on strong points. One of the reasons that I love using Proverbs as a daily self help is-it’s a DUMMY 101 Manual-everything you need to know about being a professional wise man or FOOL! 😀

I can’t say how often I’ve kicked myself in the butt-for butting into something I had no business butting into. Proverbs 26:17, He who gets mixed up in a fight which isn’t his business, is like one who takes a dog by the ears while it’s going by. A perfect depiction of what happens when we don’t mind our own business. Of course, always use common sense when that verse comes to mind. I was watching the news last night & the lead story had me ranting & raving like a maniac. FYI: If you witness a 43 year old man taking little girls into an abandoned house-BUTT IN! At least four girls between 6 & 16 have been raped there by this familiar neighbor.

I was heaping praise on the lady who called the police after sensing that something wasn’t right, but as the story went on, I was about to throw my shoe at her! She saw the man do the same thing a year earlier, but decided to do nothing more than confront the creep and ask why he would take children in a dilapidated shack for an hour. REALLY?

About my emotional outburst, I could get a doctor’s excuse to confirm that I’m estrogen deprived or that swimming in the shark tank puts me under enormous stress. It could be that my creative flair is at the root, or poor self confidence or scars left from being molested, this or that, but my D (do) N (not) A (activate) makes me this way. Wind me up on a suitable subject and be prepared for my take on things. Daddy calls me leather lungs (ironic since I have COPD & never smoked).  My father in law, Poppa Bear, often reminds me to take a breath whenever I get started.

I don’t care much for CHURCH people. Now, please don’t tune me out until you read the post in its entirety. Church people is not a SYNONYM for Godly people. My favorite people on earth are GODLY people! I love keeping company with GODLY people, building friendships with GODLY people. But, I detest associating with shallow, self centered church people, who possess about as much spirituality as a bowl on my coffee table.

Here’s an easy to understand explanation of what I’m saying. When deciding if someone is a church person or a godly person-use this handy guideline that I’ve gleaned from others’ observations as well as my own in my ministry history.

1. Is the person in question more interested in the color of the carpet or the welfare of the visitors?
2. Is the person in question most concerned about their comfort & certain other church people? Do they believe they have earned equal say with the pastor when making decisions about the direction of the church? Do they  expect to receive credit for what they do and what they give? Still unsure? Here’s a sure fire test to distinguish between church person or godly person. How many times does he or she mention what they’ve done for their church? Do they reek of false humility? Do they esteem others as often as they do themselves?  Do they talk about the contributions of others? (THEIR family members don’t count.) Do they critique easier than they compliment?
3. Is the person in question unwilling to sing any type of music other than the songs THEY like?  If you’ve heard a person complain that the songs being sung in your church don’t mean anything, that they aren’t sacred enough-read the words yourself.  Do they omit CHRIST?  Are the lyrics worldly or man centered?  Take note of the complainer.  Do they participate in the worship? I do not believe that GODLY people can stand with their arms folded across their chests and SCOWLS on their faces when these words are sung. HOLY HOLY, is the LORD ALMIGHTY-who WAS and IS and is to come. With all creation I sing, PRAISE to the KING of Kings, YOU are my EVERYTHING and I will ADORE YOU! Church people, on the other hand, don’t consider that a well prepared worship pastor, will do their best to incorporate songs that appeal to all age groups instead of a few.
4. Most church people are there every time the doors are open-I’ll give them the most services attended pin. BUT-if they’re also quick to tattletale on who isn’t FAITHFUL-red flag. Most church people keep count of the number of services Brother & Mrs. So & So miss. They can tell how many members are absent a lot faster than how many visitors are present. Church slang- the fifty up crowd call it COMMITMENT, the younger prefer-ACCOUNTABILITY.

Don’t judge my assessment-scripture shows that JESUS wasn’t keen on associating with church people either. In fact, HIS teachings show godly people how to spot the fakers. Pride’s a dead give away. CHOOSE me, LOOK at what I do, SEE what I did, nobody does it BETTER, even the charitable deeds will be ALL ABOUT THEM. Nothing new under the sun. Church people want their church to meet THEIR needs & do whatever it takes to keep things the way that THEY want them.

JESUS couldn’t tolerate those types, I’m so WITH HIM! Blasphemous statement, maybe..but, for the record, I prefer to be called a JESUS FREAK over a church girl any day!

i nEed tHis, yOu nEEd thAt..LeTs liNk uP..

A few weeks ago, my cell phone rang in the early afternoon-our daughter, 25 year old Jena, calls at least once a day so it wasn’t out of the ordinary. But, it wasn’t a normal call. She was on her way to the hospital to get an x-ray done, per doctor’s orders, ASAP. While children are growing up, we worry & fret-they fall out of trees, spill over on bikes, land the wrong way on trampolines-parents stay on the lookout for potential harm. Mommys of all ages-let me warn you-you don’t stop worrying when they become adults. Why not? Because adults fall out of trees, spill over on bigger bikes, land the wrong way on..heck, we don’t have to BE on a trampoline to land the wrong way..tehee

The point is-Mama never stops being Mama. I didn’t grasp what my own mother sought to explain once I moved away from home. I knew that sincere motherly love fueled her ongoing reminders to be careful but, it really sort of  insulted my ability to be an adult. I was such an immature baby back then. I’ve since apologized to Mama about my irrational views on smothering, for neither am I a ridiculously overprotective mother-it’s simply my GOD GIVEN right to nag remind my kids not to text & drive!

When Jena read the doctor’s orders to me, I panicked. Identifiable mass on left ribcage, 3.8″ in diameter. Soft. Do not fax report, call in to office. She attempted to sound unworried-but she was scared..I could hear it in her voice. New husband, Scott, was on the other side of Charleston, her brother two hours away and us a tad over three. I hung up and fell apart. Her daddy called her back so that he could at least pray on the phone with her, something my daddy does when I have surgery and he and Mama can’t get to me.

I typed a text & sent it to about twenty five of my friends and family. Within moments, I began receiving kind words and assurances about prayers going up for Jena. One of the most precious was from a new friend, who stumbled on my blog-but soon realized that it was no co-incidence. I hate to break it to Google, but they aren’t the world’s ultimate search engine.*wink* She tagged a heartfelt prayer tagged with-I asked my boss, also a Christian, to step in my office so we could pray for Jena together. Her text meant more to me than I can say-she’d been grappling with some personal issues that had damaged her hope & put her faith under fire. Reading her words of renewed trust in GOD-brought me such joy-even in the middle of my storm.

Let me tell you-having so many people praying all AT ONCE physically soothed me beyond words.

Half an hour later, Jena called-I don’t know if we should celebrate or cry. The radiologist measured it & told me  prior to the procedure, that it was always easier to find a mass when she had an outward visual of where to look. BUT..when she got started, she could see it on the OUTSIDE-but there was NOTHING on the inside. Mama, she searched her hardest to find something-but, I saw the screen with my own eyes-there was NOTHING there.

My heart left my feet and bounced back in my chest! I clued her in that I had begun a prayer chain & that there was no question at all-GOD had granted our request. I was floating Up, Up & Away on my happy balloon! Jena was getting in her car when she interrupted me mid sentence-Hold on Mommy, it’s the radiologist calling. (She still calls me Mommy a lot-I love that). A minute or so passed before she came back on the line. I gotta go back and let the head radiologist do it again. Apparently, he looked at the notes from my doctor & wants to repeat the test himself. I’ll call you when he gets done. Seven. (That’s the way she, her daddy and I say I love you. I’ll tell you why later. It’s so precious!)

I wish that I could say that I had giant sized, unwavering, NO DOUBT faith..but, I promised to keep it real-HONESTLY-my fluttering heart nose dived back to the soles of my feet. I kept my tone upbeat-they’re just being cautious, sweetie. Don’t worry. It would be misleading, however, for me to tell you that I believed my own words 100%.  Fear & doubt reappeared very quickly.

Half an hour later, she rang again. He said he’d never seen anything like it-a visual, feel-able, protrusion on the outside of the body that had absolutely NO ORIGIN on the inside. SO, I’m going back to work! Send your prayer warriors a big thank you and let them know that PRAYER changes things! Miracles aren’t always for everybody else, are they Mama?

Have I mentioned what a spiritual giant my girl is? 😀

As I looked over my stats this morning, I’m certain that GOD put something in my heart and I’d like to share it with you. People from all over the world come to my blog everyday. Wouldn’t it be AWESOME to have a prayer chain going 24/7 ? I have followers in every time zone in our country as well as overseas in England, Zambia, New Zealand, Australia, China, Guatemala, etc. Someone’s reading my blog every hour of the day so why not capitalize on Nehemiah’s story-wanna help me build a PRAYER wall?

I want to pray specifically for your needs & I’d like you to pray specifically about things on my heart. Perhaps, your husband or wife needs to accept CHRIST. Has your child drifted away from you or the LORD? Is someone you love terminally or chronically ill? Are you burdened about a friendship that needs to be restored? Marriage in crisis? Battling depression or some addiction? Stressed out by finances or debt? Need to lose or gain weight? Grief stricken? Church in turmoil? GOD is abundantly ABLE to deliver a miracle!

If you want it to remain anonymous, make up a name (that’s NOT lying ). I promise that I’ll personally pray about each request as will many of my readers. I’ll moderate EVERYTHING and publicize only what you want  public. If you need to explain privately, but want a generalized request on the wall, I can handle the wording. I’m certain that this is a way for us all to give & receive.

This is my top project of the day, so check back & help me get it started! I’ll have a place where you can put the requests and a space for PRAISE reports! I’m super excited about this, guys- I BELIEVE in prayer because I’ve SEEN it work OVER & OVER & OVER in my own life. Let’s DO THIS!

It’s DONE! Now when you come to the blog-click on the prayer wall located at the right of the top menu bar. You can put your requests in the comment box. I think that it will be easier for us to keep up a constant feed, going whether it’s for prayer, encouragement or praise. When I upgrade the blog space, (PAY & I’m being feasible) it more like I’ve envisioned. MONEY really is the ROOT of all EVIL! Thanks to you who started building it! South Carolina, Mississippi & New Zealand have put the first stones in. YAY!

do I reALLy maTTer aT aLL?

Yesterday afternoon I went into my office, grabbed a couple of my oldest, used up study Bibles, my scripture memory binder and a few of my journals and retreated to my bedroom for some impromptu-but seriously urgent me time. Not a bubble bath, paint your nails, facial-pampering kind of me time..this was more of a rescue mission. I got knocked around by the enemy at an ungodly hour yesterday for real. Literally speaking, the moon hadn’t turned in for the day & the sun wasn’t dressed and if somebody would quit borrowing my rechargeable camera batteries for their Wii remote, I could prove it to you! Actually it began beautifully..those rare mornings when both the moon and the sun are in the sky fascinate me..like..can you even imagine just how expansive the HEAVENS must be for those guys to reside together up there with so much distance between them? Those awe inspiring photos were to be the premise of my blog-the photos of both light and darkness residing in the same space. CLEVER aye?

BUT-lucifer and his puny imps decided to railroad my spiritual thought process and when I went for the camera, they made their move.  And, though I hate to admit it-they succeeded-temporarily. It was all I could do NOT to barge into the bedrooms of the other two occupants of our home (who will remain unnamed to protect their privacy) and scream-WHY do you keep removing my batteries! We go to Walmart  five days out of seven-does it ever occur to you guys to pick up some spare batteries? UGHH! I guess I really should give myself kudos for refraining from that kind of immature behavior. Still, when you get irked before the day begins, it can’t be good..for anybody!

When the other residents of my house got up-the choice of how their day would begin was in my hand-what to do..what to do..start their day off negatively-or keep my mouth shut & let it go. I’m proud to say that I allowed them to eat their fruity pebbles in peace.

I realized that some days I just wake up NICER than I do others. Do you identify with that? When I say that I escaped to my room for some me time-it was to repair my mindset-and for me, that’s usually done by looking back over my life and seeing that I count-I am worth something, even when I don’t feel like I am. My stronghold is that I often have a negative self image; I struggle with seeing myself as a valuable part of LIFE-I told you in yesterday’s blog that I’m a joy chaser-I’m always trying to reach some goal. I do that because when I’m feeling down about me and who I am, it’s branded in my mind that if I could just be a little better or a little more likeable or a little more pleasing or a little bit smarter or prettier or…I really can be my own worst enemy.

I’ve found out, however, that if I can get my mind back on GOD’S view of me-if I can look and see that HE has used me in the past, is using me now and will no doubt continue to use me for HIS purposes, then I’m less likely to have a major setback. This is the deal-it’s imperative for me to keep GOD as my point of reference-because if left up to me, I don’t see much worth salvaging.

Usually, God will remind me this-Whatever you’re doing, do it for my glory. 1 Corinthians 10:31 See, I just feel like I don’t do enough for HIM or anyone else-especially lately. BUT, HE whispers this-the things that you are doing-are you doing them well? How are you taking care of Chipper? What about Tammy? Are your taking care of your children? How about the new in-law kids? Do they know how happy you are to have them as part of your family? What about the birds flocking to your yard? Are you keeping them fed? The family that came to your home this week? Did you treat them kindly, make them feel at ease?

God wanted me to understand that not everything I do has to be a big thing-HE notices the smallest acts as well. HE delights in how I nurture other members of HIS creation-from the birds to my flesh and blood. HE says-I want you to do EVERYTHING as if you’re doing it for me..because…you are.

God is every bit as concerned about WHY I do what I do as HE is WHAT I do-especially when it comes to how I interact with others. I think what I’m understanding more than ever before is that it doesn’t matter where I’m living or what I’m doing, my top priority is to do everything in a way that makes HIM smile. To do that, I have to believe in me & who I am BECAUSE of HIM. My FATHER cares more about me honoring HIM in what I’m doing NOW than some great accolade that I think I need to achieve to make HIM proud.

So then I read: 1 Corinthians 15:58  Be strong and immovable, my dear brothers and sisters, always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.

Combing through my old Bibles and journals, I saw a familiar pattern-I feel worthless a lot-but, somehow, HIS WORD always brings me back to this..if I am loving HIM and loving HIS creations, working for HIM, keeping my focus on HIM, walking with HIM and if I’m truly doing everything I do as if FOR HIM-I am successful in HIS eyes and HE has and will continue to accomplish HIS purposes for me through me! HE FAVORS ME! 😀

miLey cyRus teLLs tHe trUth!

The memory is a clear one; in the summer of 2008, we purchased an above ground pool from Craigslist,  for $500-a fraction of the original $3,500 price.  We knew early on that year-that we wouldn’t be taking a vacation because of my pending surgery, Jena’s job and the extra time & money we’d be putting into my parents’ 50th anniversary shindig.  Though we only used it for one summer (we moved here the following March) we sold it for the same price we paid-to a family with 4 kids who were as thrilled to find it as I was.

Ahh…the first time I heard THE CLIMB, I was lying on my float with the sun beaming on my face, not expecting GOD to speak words of wisdom to my heart that afternoon. When the song ended-I dunked my head off the side of the float to swish the tears. Who sings that? Can I put it on my laptop and my Ipod?

Jena: It’s from the Hannah Montana movie Hans (best friend, Hannah) & I watched last week. Remember, you came upstairs to see why we were stomping so loudly? It’s true; my twenty-something year old girls reached the expert level of HOEDOWN THROWDOWN. They even offered to teach me. Uh, you don’t need to know whether I do or DO NOT know the HOEDOWN THROWDOWN..pu lease! This is a serious blog!

BTW-the movie is quite good-too bad that the moral of the story hasn’t resounded nearly enough in Miley’s real family’s life because she’s a talented young woman whose career could’ve been one of longevity (at her age, still can be if she & her ADULT PARENTS will get their ACT together). SORRY, Hannah Montana/Miley haters-yes, I saw the bong photos and read about the wild parties. If I had a ten year old, NO-I wouldn’t want her patterning her life after MILEY at the moment. All I’m saying is-she’s got a great voice & is a competent actress. Did you see THE LAST SONG? Her role as Ronni was stellar. But, who cares what I think, right?

THE CLIMB has become one of my life coach songs. I’m a perfection seeking overachiever who intentionally purposes herself to take notice of the little moments that pave the pathway to anticipated destinations. I’m smart enough to know how DUMB it is for me to be overly preoccupied with oncoming joy. It robs me of small, but nonetheless, immediate happy moments.

I’ve finally labeled a long time personality traitI’m a joy chaser. Does this sound slightly familiar? I don’t have it right this minute, but if can reach the next phase & when I finish the next level & as soon as the kids are out of school & whenever we buy a house. I don’t want to be a joy chaser anymore so I’m remodeling  from the inside out. On the surface, that statement sounds un-spiritual, I mean, shouldn’t a pastor’s wife endorse getting JOY! The BIBLE says to seek joy, spread joy..name our babies JOY? *wink-wink* 🙂

My concern is-I become obsessed with hopes of the big joy that comes with reaching a specific goal or destination. That’d be okay except that it usually comes at the expense of smaller bits of joy tucked here and there throughout the journey. I’m terrible about this-so I’m trying to undo fifty years of what comes natural-in favor of what-for me-takes hard work.

This is typical Lis-by the time I reach a goal, I’ve already got another one to focus on-definitely not a stop & smell the roses type. Example-I’m an avid jigsaw puzzle geek..rarely will you visit when there’s not 1,000 pieces on the dining table. It amazes my Chipper that I’ll spend all that time working to complete it-but as soon as I put that last last piece in, I TEAR it up. THAT-tears him-up! He’ll ask-Don’t you want to admire it for a while? My responseBut why? It’s finished! Let’s go to Walmart, so I can start a new one!

The older I get, the more I’m striving to RECOGNIZE & SAVOR happy times that I encounter on the day to day scale because many of my destinations have proven to be just that –my destinations. Proverbs 16:9-we plan our ways in our hearts-but GOD directs our steps. A complex thought if we believe that GOD grants the desires of our hearts. The key to that happening ONLY comes after we’ve  learned how to seek for what GOD wants-not what we want. I DIE daily-I DECREASE for HIM to INCREASE.

What I thought my life would look like looks NOTHING like what I see now, but, I’m fine with that, because I know that I’m where I’m supposed to be. I’m glad that Chipper & I stopped telling GOD what our boundaries were years ago. Let me share a precept that will save you time and suffering if you’ll take my word for it. I know firsthand that being too deeply rooted in your goals & agendas will sprout stubbornness. When that happens, it’s more difficult to SEE, HEAR & FOLLOW HIM if you’ve got your entire life set in stone.

Nobody wants to admit that they’ve boxed GOD in-but, our actions speak volumes and I feel like someone needs to say it candidly. When we are so set in our own ways, GOD isn’t at liberty to work FREELY & UNCONDITIONALLY. (HE gives us free will to do our own thing if we choose to do). I don’t ever want to say anything that I can’t back up with scripture. These words spoken by JESUS led my Chipper and me to see that COMPLETE surrender is a major component of being successful in the kingdom of GOD. Matthew 8:18-23- When Jesus saw a crowd around Him, He gave orders to depart to the other side of the sea. Then a scribe said to Him, “Teacher, I will follow You wherever You go.” Jesus said to him-Foxes have holes and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head. Another disciple said, Lord, permit me first to go and bury my father. But Jesus said to him, ” Follow Me and allow the dead to bury their own dead.”

Why would JESUS answer the question that way? BECAUSE IT WAS AN EXCUSE…it didn’t mean that the guy didn’t want to do what JESUS was asking him to do-BUT-he wanted to add some stipulations to the deal. JESUS was explicitly clear on what HE thought about the man’s half-hearted pledge of devotion. I’ll use a personal circumstance to define. When we announced that we were going to New Zealand, a few folks wondered out loud how we could leave our families, move our kids so far away from their school friends and most of all their aging grandparents. In fact, one of them asked me point blank how we could do that-as if-that– was something malicious or bad. Thankfully, I didn’t have to come up with an explanation because JESUS had it answered for me already. You want to know why it’s beneficial to LEARN the WORD..not just read it? Because when you learn it, it enables the HOLY SPIRIT to bring the WORD to your thoughts when you need an answer. Luke 14:26 says- If anyone comes to me & doesn’t hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters—yes, even his own life—he cannot be my disciple. I responded boldly.

The next thing that person said was..but, the BIBLE also says that we’re supposed to honor our mother and father.

Jesus used strong language to explain the cost of discipleship. We must be willing to sacrifice everything if that’s what our FATHER requests. For most of us, family ties are probably the hardest thing to let go of-wouldn’t you agree? It wasn’t easy to leave America, but, I don’t think I could’ve honored my very godly father and mother any more than I did by leaving THEM to follow HIM. And, it goes both ways-as painful as it was for them to see their daughter, son in law & first two grandkids move 10,000 miles away, they never asked us not to go because they understood that GOD was requiring sacrifice on their part-just as HE was requiring from us. Look, it’s possible to be a Christian & say NO to GOD.  But, if we expect to discover our full potential in CHRIST, we must be willing to love HIM more than our family or life’s perfect scenarios.

THAT destination that you’re working hard to reach may be nothing more than a figment of your imagination. We don’t know what the future holds for our lives and what we want or expect to occur-may never  come to fruition. We’d be much wiser to  learn how to celebrate the journey while we’re traveling.

For instance, we plan something based on-after the kids grow up. But, what if the kids are never meant to grow up? I acknowledge that it’s a bit morbid for me to suggest-but doesn’t it seem more sensible to enjoy every second of having young children in the event that there may never be a time of-when the kids grow up and move out…

A few days after I heard Miley’s song, my sweet girl bought me a prize. These LIVE LOVE LAUGH pumpkins sit in my kitchen and remind me constantly that-the joy that I’m anticipating to happen later doesn’t have to overshadow the joy GOD has blessed me with today. The song says-It ain’t about how fast I get there-it ain’t about what’s waitin’ on the other side-it’s THE CLIMB. In other words, appreciate my life journey & be content with what God gives along the way.

If you’ve never heard the song-you’ll be inspired and if you have heard it, listen again. It never hurts to be reminded to LIVE LIFE in the NOW!

finDing haPPy nuGGeTs in hoRRific ruBBLe…

2011 has bombarded the planet with tragedy and heartache. To use a cliche-when it rains, it pours. For a person who isn’t all that into regular TV- I’ve been glued to the tube-afraid that I’ll miss something. After all, we’re seeing MEGA disasters simultaneously taking place around the world in a way that we never have before.  PLEASE don’t laugh-but, I read the MAYAN calendar myth one night last week. Of course, I’m not superstitious! But–well, 2012 is only nine months away. Did you SEE the movie 2012?  Okay-you’re more spiritual than me. WELL-did you read the LEFT BEHIND series? Well, there you go! I met Jerry Jenkins last summer at a conference and if what he wrote was a hoax-my spirit would not have “beared witness” with his spirit-but I thought he was great and so was his lovely wife..just sayin…No joke, I’ve begun hitting the pause button when I go to the loo in case something else happens before I can get back to my couch potato position! (Sorry, babe, I know you’re a tad uncomfortable when I disclose um…such personal things…but, I’m driving home a point here).

This photo is one of the images that seared my heart.  I’ve prayed for this young woman everyday since the earthquake-I don’t know what it was about her-other than her eyes. I pray for all of the victims-but, this girl I pray for specifically, though I don’t know her name. LOOK at the pain in her eyes..

I’m here to tell you that I’ve cried more in these first three months of 2011- than I did all of last year-and we had a very rough 2010, by the way. Listen, I can’t contain my tears-and frankly, I needed my heart to be softened and tenderized. Any remnants of bitterness have been suffocated out-for that I’m grateful to this girl. See,  my prayer life has drastically changed ; the things that seemed VITAL to our survival a few short weeks ago-have dwarfed beside the giant devastation. Another thing-red & yellow, black & white- we’re ALL precious in the FATHER’S  sight!

I’ve thought about what it must do to GOD’S heart to see such massive pain everywhere. It’s almost more than I can stand to look at the suffering being endured by so many. It’s actually been easier for me to gaze on bloody, mangled faces-as opposed to those panic stricken, crying ones. The sea of faces veiled by HOPELESSNESS-haunts me. I’m struck by the number of people of all ages, walks of life, ethnicity-having their lives so abruptly ended BEFORE our eyes. It’s surreal to realize that when the video first came across our television screen-there were petrified REAL people in those cars and floating houseboats. It sends a chill down my spine whenever I see it, far more movie-like than real. The death toll will rise long after the official numbers are tallied; I believe that a long and painful journey is on the horizon, universally and we won’t be forgetting any time soon how precious each moment of our life is. We don’t know what the next several moments hold. We just don’t.

I thank GOD for missionaries, worldwide- my prayers for them have been rekindled. Unless you’ve given up a normal life to take GOD to a foreign place, you can’t fully appreciate the sacrifice. I encourage you to bestow honor on the men, women & kids who have left all behind and call another people their people. And, I applaud the generous churches who support them- in times like these- we are reminded what a difference they are making.

Thousands of displaced, physically and emotionally injured people-are in these crowded facilities-alone. I sobbed hearing a mother talk about her five year old being ripped from her grip. Then there was the husband who frantically managed to get three kids from the second floor of their house to the rooftop-and then couldn’t reach his wife. He watched as she was sucked beneath raging waters filled with cars, boats, other bodies and debris.

I wept when I read about a brother and sister, trapped in a collapsed building together during the earthquake in Christchurch. The young woman knew that her brother was on the brink of death-but big sister REFUSED to be removed without him. She held his hand all the way to the hospital where he was pronounced dead.  Scenes like that are supposed to be in tear jerker novels–but when it’s real life, it’s too horrific for words. You and I should be appreciating our petty troubles-because from GOD’S perspective-we don’t have anything to complain about.

We all  have the tendency to think that the world revolves around-me and mine-and it’s easy to get stuck there. We start whining to someone about our problems-only to have that person-one up-us. Worse yet-we one up-their one up. A bunch of poor pitiful me types (that would include EVERYONE) can build a mountain out of mole hill in no time at all. Teamwork never comes any easier than when when we use our personal problems as building blocks. MISERY does indeed-love company.

All of these volatile events crashing in at once-have led me to ponder about the fragility of life. I’ve become a kindred spirit with Ecclesiastes & Lamentations. The sobering truth? As long as humans exist in a non-perfect world, crisis and heartbreak WILL find us. Sometimes we are expecting it-but times will also come when we’re blindsided by sorrow and tragedy. One of the sad FACTS of LIFE-but here is a happy part of that equation, too.

CHILDREN of LIGHT-don’t walk through darkness alone-EVER. Think about that for a second & let that truth enlighten you. GOD promises that HE never leaves HIS CHILD-no matter how DARK, how DEEP, how BURIED, we may be-HE is there with us. I love the poetic words of KING DAVID-Whither shall I go from thy spirit or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up to heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me. Psalm 139:7-10 It’s impossible for us to be in a place where GOD isn’t providing unwavering direction and protection. Even when it seems as though our world is falling apart, even during the most dire of life’s tragedies-those times that we’re crying our eyes out; at those moments when we are barely hanging by a thread of the thread-GOD does NOT abandon us. Psalm 46:2 says: That’s why we are not afraid even when the earth quakes or the mountains topple into the depths of the sea.

I’ve told you before about how my Pa Thompson, who lived in Savannah loved black gospel music. If you haven’t read all of my posts, Pa’s passion for that style of music has been preserved in me. So, I’ve been singing one of mine and Pa’s favorites over the past few days-this song always settles my restless heart. I close my eyes and travel back to that place in my childhood when I’d be riding to the M& M grocery with Pa and this song would come on the radio (static included-it was the1960’s when AM was all we had).  Pa would sing bass and I’d sing the harmony. Thanks for that memory, Pa-it’s one of my most treasured. Courtesy of youtube, I relive it often and your voice is  always mixed in there somewhere. 🙂 No matter what’s going on-I’ll HOLD TO GOD’S UNCHANGING HAND.

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