Friday, April 22, 2011

Busy mowing weeds or Looking nice for Easter

I sit here nursing two major blisters on my hand because I decided to mow the weeds today. Well, technically I decided to mow the grass; I wanted everything to look nice for Easter! While we are way past the Easter egg hunting stage, I was a bit worried we might lose one of the children in the tall grass if something wasn't done.

I could have asked my son, but he's a bit under the weather. Besides - I wanted to do something industrious on my day off and I DIDN'T want to do it indoors. The grass seemed a logical choice.

I got the mower going just fine and started mowing the 75 acres...okay, so it's only a regular sized yard but it certainly FELT like more! It didn't take too long for me to realize I was mowing a little grass and a LOT of weeds! Ever since Hurricane Katrina our yard just hasn't been the same. We dealt with the major storm just fine, but I find that in little ways we are still dealing with the junk it brought with it - namely weeds. I've never even seen some of these before!

We used to have a beautiful yard. Now if it weren't for green weeds, we'd have no green at all. Gloom, despair, and agony on me. (That was for all my older readers who actually REMEMBER Hee Haw!)

Last month I did some weeding in my flower bed. That day I discovered a wicked weed that impersonated a rose when it first sprouted up, but it quickly became evident that it was NOT a sweet smelling flower - just a climbing vine with thorns that were HUGE! Removing that vine just about ripped my arms to shreds. I now keep an eagle eye out for that one....but that's not the only one I have to worry about.

I noticed a few things as I dealt with these weeds. First of all, my son had just been mowing over them - cutting off the evidence they were there. We all know you can't deal with a weed like that! You've got to get it out by the root or it'll just keep coming back. Oh my - the spiritual parallels are starting to stir.

The next thing I noticed was that the areas we used the most didn't really have as many weeds. For example, by the street where we put out the trash, there were very few the middle of the yard where we don't really pass that often, however, we had some major weed parties going on! I got to thinking of the areas in my life where I keep a watch - they stay pretty clear of sin...but what about those that I neglect? I wonder what's growing there that I don't want!

Then I noticed how easily it was to pull up some of these weeds. Of course - we had some rain yesterday and the ground was moist. I could just reach down and pull those weeds right out of the ground! If it had been dry, the dirt would have been so hard it wouldn't let go - at least not without pulling up everything around it. That reminded me of how easy it is to clear out the sin in my life after a good soak from the Holy Spirit. During dry periods, it seems like no matter how I try I can't clear up those pesky little problems....or even see them! But let me enter into some intense worship and suddenly I can see that which has been hovering underneath the surface so long - and easily let it go.

There was that patch of rye grass growing - the one that no one seems to know where it came from. It springs up quickly every Spring, but it's next to impossible to mow (it just lays down) and it just as quickly turns brown and looks like straw. I thought my "good grass" would overtake it, but I'm afraid it's working the opposite way. At any rate, it takes up far more of my yard that I'd like. In fact, I'd "like" it to not be there at all!

Finally, there was that little patch of weeds with flowers in it. I think it's a weed - some might call it ground cover, but I'm pretty sure it's a weed. I do know it wasn't grass, still I just couldn't bring myself to mow it down. It reminded me of my childhood and the fields beside our house. I could have mowed it down, but I decided not to. I'll let you draw your own spiritual parallels for that one!

Yep, I've mowed some grass, pulled some weeds (not all - that would be too much for one day off!) and  managed to get a couple of blisters in the process. Things look "nice" for Easter, but if I'm honest, I've got a LOT more work to do. I don't want to just look "nice" for Easter and still live a life filled with weeds. If today's experience is any indication, this could be an interesting summer indeed.

Proverbs 24:30-32 (New International Version, ©2011)

30 I went past the field of a sluggard,
past the vineyard of someone who has no sense;
31 thorns had come up everywhere,
the ground was covered with weeds,
and the stone wall was in ruins.
32 I applied my heart to what I observed
and learned a lesson from what I saw:

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Palm Sunday to Passover

Let me begin by saying I know very little of Jewish tradition. I know a little, which prompts me to want to know more.....for it is from the Jewish tradition that much of my faith finds its roots. I'm also not really sure what nudged me toward today's post, or where it will wind up; but I wanted to share this random thought in hopes that it will spur us all toward a deeper understanding and faith.

This post somehow started when I read a post from The Higher Calling (Please Lord save us) and I highly recommend taking the time to read it even if you read no farther into this blog.

Perhaps I was thinking about how Jesus entered Jerusalem that day because it was time to celebrate the Passover; but the next thing I know I'm looking up how to clean for Passover. What can I say? I'm more than a little ADHD and that means you never know where a stream-of-consciousness will take you.

In the Jewish tradition, before Passover begins, you are to make sure you "clear-out" the leaven from your home. You can check out an excellent article that explains this far better than I can by clicking the link:

Tonight begins the day before Passover (if I understand this correctly) and the opportunity to examine your life from the year before. I don't know why I've never connected "spring cleaning" with this practice of removing the leaven from your life, but it really fits together. In spring cleaning, you get rid of the excess - that which weighs your life down. You get rid of the ego that would take the place of the coming King. I like the way the lchaimweekly article puts it - this isn't the time for doing a stash and dash sort of cleaning when you discover last minute guests are coming. That just won't do for Passover.
With this in mind, Spring Cleaning takes on a whole new meaning...a spiritual one.

I truly hope you will take the time to read both articles and allow God to speak to your life during this sacred time of year. As for me - I've got some cleaning to get started on. I'm afraid I've neglected this too long and it's going to take a lot longer than one night to get it all done.

Matthew 21: 9 The crowds going ahead of Him, and those who followed, were shouting, "Hosanna to the Son of David; BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD; Hosanna in the highest!"

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Purpose or perish

The whole idea of purpose has really been on my mind a lot lately....

Purpose is a big deal - Proverbs 29:18 says, "Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keeps the law, happy is he." Another word for vision is revelation or purpose and another way of saying perish is "cast off restraint." So, without a purpose, the people cast off restraint and run wild; but those that know God's purpose for their lives are happy. Explains a lot, doesn't it.

I have the opportunity to see children in a variety of situations, and I can attest to the truthfulness of this verse. Children who have a sense of purpose for their lives behave differently than those who seem to have no real hope or vision for the future. Oh, they are still children and occasionally make poor choices, but overall they seem to go through their days with focus, knowing that the future depends upon the choices they make now. Those who seem to have no purpose or hope for the future are simply led by whatever feels good at the moment - usually with disasterous results!

With all that in mind, I have been thinking a lot about what my family's purpose might be....especially since I really want a happy family! (With two teenagers, that's tough sometimes!) I know that no family happens just by accident, and my family least of all! Just look at us...when we sit down at the table for supper we look like the United Nations sitting down for a summit meeting! My husband and I are so white we practically glow in the dark, my father was at least one quarter Native American, my husband's ancestors were Irish. My daughter is half African American, and half caucasion. My son is a delightful mix of Irish, Chinese, Korean, and Phillipino. Together we make a family....but for what purpose? What did God have in mind when He put us all together as one? I know He's used us to tear down walls of ignorance and share His love with those around us. I'm still praying that I will catch the vision for what exactly He has for us to do.

What would happen if Christians everywhere started looking at their own lives, and that of their families, as having a purpose? I have a feeling the world would be a very different place.
I'd love to hear from you about what God has shown you about purpose for your family. Perhaps your comments will inspire others to live life with a renewed sense of purpose and vision for what God will do.

Proverbs 29:18 "Where there is no vision, the people are unrestrained,
But happy is he who keeps the law. "

Proverbs 22:6 "Train up a child in the way he should go,
And when he is old he will not depart from it."

Monday, April 4, 2011

The rest of the story....

Yesterday I posted my "story" using only six words: "Empty crib. Bitter woman. Loving God." Guess now it's time to tell the rest of the story.

I don't really know how long my husband and I tried to have a child. It seemed like forever. Forever waiting...forever watching those around me having children....forever seeing people who had children and yet didn't seem to want them. Forever not understanding why.

Then came the day when a friend told us about a young woman who wanted to place her unborn baby for adoption. It seemed to be an answer to prayer, a dream come true. We got the call to come and pick up our son...we named him Matthew Isaac which means gift of God who brings laughter. You know, I don't think I've ever realized until I just wrote that how ironic that name would be.

Soon after we brought home our son, things started going wrong. There is no pleasant way to tell this story so I'll say as little as possible. After a while the birthmom changed her mind and despite phone calls in the middle of night promising "deals" or laughing at us, we got the call the day after Christmas that we had lost the battle and must "give back" our son. After seven months of hope, our dreams ended. Nope, just no way to tell this part of the story in a few words.

When we met in the lawyer's office to hand over our precious child, my husband asked the birthmom to please raise him to know the Lord...and we walked away with tears and empty arms. I remember that first night waking up hearing him cry...only he wasn't there. My world came crashing down. This wasn't the way this story was supposed to end. I was a Christian. I loved God. I was doing everything I knew to serve Him. Why wasn't He helping me?

I lived my life believing if I was "good", then God would make my life work out...right? So why wasn't life working out?

Finally the pain got so bad I decided I'd just quit living. Oh, I wouldn't do anything drastic, I would just shut down. I wouldn't allow myself to ever feel again. No smile would pass my face. I would just .... exist. That pretty much worked for the next four months....till the night before my birthday.

I just realized that it was exactly 24 years ago tonight that I made the dramatic move of shaking my fist at God. I actually said out loud, "If this is who You are, I choose not to serve you." I then went to bed, because I had church the next day. Yes, you read right - I had church the next day. I would still go through the motions. (I have to wonder how many others go to church and do that very same thing?)

End of story...not. The next day when I walked into my Sunday School class, a friend said "Happy Birthday" and I broke down into a puddle of tears. So much for my resolve to never feel again. Then she told me she'd come by to take me out for cake that afternoon. Nevermind that I didn't want her to - she didn't take no for an answer. (So thankful for friends like that.) She did come and took me out for a dessert called "Death by Chocolate." That's a unbeatable combo there - a friend who won't take no and LOTS of chocolate.

After dessert my friend took me to church where I eased into a back row and sat behind a pole. I was certain God couldn't find me behind that pole. You can probably figure out what happened next. God found me behind that pole.

That night, God showed me that I had no idea who He was or how much He loved me. That night He held this child and let her rage and question and cry and finally surrender....and through it all He never turned away. He held this hurting child and loved her through the pain.

God began the healing that night and continued it for the next seven years. Even though I hoped and had those hopes dashed again and again....I learned more and more just how much He loved me. I finally began to trust HIS plan, even if it was very different from my own.

Then one night, the phone rang. I answered it thinking it must be some salesman. Instead, on the other end of the line I heard the voice of Matthew's great grandmother. She called to let us know he was okay. She had never forgotten the words my husband spoke that night and she wanted to let us know that he was healthy and doing well and that he loved the Lord. The chapter finally ended.

But the story wasn't over. The very next year God led us to Bethany Christian Services and down the road to adoption once again. We brought our daughter home later that year. That day, laughter came back into our home. The ashes of mourning had been replaced with the oil of joy. Three years later He brought us full circle with my son...but that's another story.

Empty crib. Bitter woman. Loving God.

Thank you Father, for forgiving this child and loving me through it all. Things didn't work out according to my plan, but I'm so glad God had a better plan than mine.

Twenty-four years ago tonight. Wow. Wonder what God has planned for the next twenty-four.

Jeremiah 29:11 "For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Only 6 words?

I can only write six words? Me? You have GOT to be kidding!!! How can I possible write just six words that tell a story? Sure, Ernest Hemingway did it; but I've read Hemingway and I, Ma'm, am no Hemingway!

Still, I want to try one more time to win a scholarship to the She Speaks contest. Perhaps this time will be the charm. If not, it'll be a good exercise in here goes:

Empty crib. Bitter woman. Loving God.

If you get a chance, check out this link with more info on the She Speaks conference: or the blog where this contest is mentioned:

That's it for now.....perhaps tomorrow I'll tell the full story behind those six words.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

This time, the rock chose me.

I have started a new little "tradition" for the races I run. After each race, I find a rock to help me remember the race. It's sort of my on little "Rock of Ebenezer." (1 Samuel 7:12) These little rocks may not seem huge to anyone else, or even very special...but each one represents a race that I have completed...and another battle won.

Today, however, was different. Today I ran my annual birthday race with the Sumrall First Baptist F.O.G. (Followers Of God) to help raise funds for their youth to go to summer camp. I love this race and the people who put it on. They are such encouragers, and this race sort of sets the stage for my next year of life. I really labored to finish this race, which somehow finds all the hills in Mississippi and compresses them into 3.1 miles. I'm sure running a race the night before didn't help, but still I was hoping to cut a few seconds off my recent times.

After about 3/4 mile, I knew this wouldn't be a fast race for me, but the real story happened in the very last few minutes of the race. I rounded the corner to face the final hill of the run and then I felt it. A small rock had found its way past my heel and now rested squarely underneath my foot. I knew I could stop and remove the stone, but I was so close to the end, I decided to just keep on running.

With each step, I felt that little rock. It wasn't a huge pain, but it was annoying. Step, rock, step, rock, step, rock.

I finished the race with that rock in my shoe and then I sat down to remove the offender. I tipped my shoe forward to shake out a small, almost perfectly round white pebble. It is amazing that something so small could be such an irritant. I've been thinking about that rock ever since.

I have a good friend who once said to me, "I find that we don't often choose our battles, but they are chosen for us....and if they are chosen for us, it's because He has made a way for us to win."

I certainly didn't choose that rock today. It somehow sought me out and jumped into my shoe! By the standards of other rocks, it was nothing really - not even worth stopping for. I wonder how many other things in my life are like that little rock? Compared to my "Rocks of Ebenezer", that rock was nothing! God had already helped me run the race, all I had to do was finish....rock and all.

Whatever trials this coming year may bring, I now have a reminder that they are nothing more than a "pebble in my shoe". They can't compare to the Rocks of Ebenezer I have as a reminder of all God has done for me.

1 Samuel 7:12 "Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen. He named it Ebenezer, saying, “Thus far the LORD has helped us.”

Lamentations 3:22-23 "Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness."