Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The little lost onion.

The following is one of the first blogs I ever wrote...but since it sort of goes along with yesterday's dirty sink, it seemed worth sharing again. Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go clean out my pantry again.

By now my dirty little secret is out. I am NOT a good housekeeper. I know, this shocks some of you. Okay, so it shocks NONE of you, still, even I didn't think I was this bad.

It all started about a month ago when I got this idea that I should take some time and reorganize my pantry. I'm out of school, so now would be a great time. Of course, I persuaded myself that I could do it later. I didn't really "feel" like doing it right then. I don't know if I was waiting on some great inspiration....not that pantries are all that inspiring anyway, but for whatever reason, I didn't "feel" like tackling this project. It could wait till later.

Life kept right on rolling by and occasionally I'd think, "I really do need to get to that pantry while I have time", but of course something else would always take precedence....something like taking my kids somewhere, doing the laundry, watching the news, taking a nap...I'd take just about anything as a viable excuse to put off doing what I knew I really should do. I still just didn't "feel" like doing it.

A couple of days ago, I came in my kitchen door and was greeted by a rather unpleasant odor. "What is that smell?" I asked, to which my son replied..."It's the dogs. They need a bath." The dogs may have needed a bath, but something told me that wasn't what I smelled. I checked the trash and the fridge (since we all know I let things grow in there) but found nothing. Oh well, I'd find it later....when I felt like it.

Today, I went into my pantry to grab a pack of gum before I went to the gym...there was that smell again. Something told me this time I'd better stop and find the source because now I recognized that smell...it was an onion that was past its prime. I looked everywhere in that pantry....moved everything - twice! Finally, I happened to look into a back corner behind some graham cracker pie shells...and I found it. Because I care about the those who might read this before a meal, I'll skip the yucky details. Let's just leave it that this onion had seen its better days a long, long time ago.

To my defense, that onion had been hidden. My daughter sometimes helps "clean" up the kitchen and has a habit of stuffing EVERYTHING into the pantry. Those who have children who help clean may understand this. Sometimes she puts things away and it takes me weeks to find them. Since I wasn't really looking for this onion, it just slipped quietly and pungently into oblivion. It took quite a bit of cleaning to get rid of the "remains".

What's the point in sharing my culinary and housekeeping fiascoes? It has something to do with a quote I read this morning. It was by Thomas Huxley and it was a principle of success. "Do what you need to do, when you need to do it, whether you feel like it or not." If I had gone ahead and cleaned that pantry weeks ago, I could have saved myself a real mess (and a stinky one at that!) I simply put it off....and if my procrastination only affected my pantry, it probably wouldn't be any big deal. Unfortunately, I could name a lot of different things I have "put off" till I felt like it, only to find myself looking at a real mess or worse, finding that it was too late. I don't know if others deal with the bad onions of procrastination, but I have a feeling we all do. One author stated that procrastination isn't really just being lazy, it's being rebellious. Ouch!

Proverbs 27:1 says, "Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring forth." Saying I'll do it later is acting as though I've been promised tomorrow. I may say I'll get around to it, but what am I waiting for? What's worse, every time I "Put it off" till later, the task becomes more of a weight around my neck. If I put off enough things, I can eventually become so weighted down that I can't seem to move. Why not just obey quickly and be done with it? Truthfully, it always takes less time than I feared it would and it feels so good to have it done! 
The onion is gone now, and the house smells much better...but the lesson remains. "Do what you need to do, when you need to do it, whether you feel like it or not." Procrastination has a way of stinking up your life, like an onion pushed back in the corner....eventually it will make its self known. I think I've had enough of that.

Monday, June 29, 2015


Sometimes my random thoughts can be, well....random!

Have you ever noticed that one of the areas of the house that seems to get the dirtiest is the place where everyone goes to clean up...the sink. If you don't take the time to clean it every day, sometimes every hour - things can get out of hand! And kids think nothing of dumping more on top of an already overflowing sink!

Today's random thought is for anyone who listens to and helps others with their problems - that would be counselors, pastors, teachers, managers, moms....you get the picture. 

We spend a lot of each day dealing with the "mess" of others, so that makes it even more important that we go to our Heavenly Father DAILY and allow Him to clean us up as well. Otherwise...well, a dirty sink isn't much good to anyone, now is it.
Keith Green singing "Create in me a clean heart"...

Luke 6:39-42 (MSG)

39-40 He quoted a proverb: “‘Can a blind man guide a blind man?’ Wouldn’t they both end up in the ditch? An apprentice doesn’t lecture the master. The point is to be careful who you follow as your teacher.
41-42 “It’s easy to see a smudge on your neighbor’s face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own. Do you have the nerve to say, ‘Let me wash your face for you,’ when your own face is distorted by contempt? It’s this I-know-better-than-you mentality again, playing a holier-than-thou part instead of just living your own part. Wipe that ugly sneer off your own face and you might be fit to offer a washcloth to your neighbor.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

No need to be afraid...

Okay, unless you've been living under a rock somewhere (or on some well deserved vacation where they don't have wifi) you've heard a lot about the controversy going on in the country right now. As one friend posted, her Facebook page looked like a war broke out between the confederacy and a Skittles factory. And people are mad...on both sides. (Saying both sides in America is NOT a good sign, since no nation divided against itself can prosper, but that's for another post.)

And because of some recent rulings, some Christians are afraid. I've heard people mention that this will mean the beginning of persecution for Christians. Well, as I pondered all this yesterday it occurred to me that most people have no need to fear that they will be persecuted for being a Christian...because other than them going to church on Sunday, no one has a clue that they are Christian. 

I'm as guilty as anyone. The question that came to mind was this, "Just how many times in the past week have I stepped out of my comfort zone and spoke to someone about the love of Christ?" Notice I didn't say the rules of Christ or the judgement of Christ, but of His love? Seems to me that most people have no need to worry that Christians will be persecuted simply because, as the old saying goes, if they were taken to court for being a Christian, there might not be enough evidence to convict! They need not fear.

That's not the kind of fear-free life I want, however. There is no promise that we will live a life free from trouble or that the world will always agree with what we say. In fact, as I've heard many times, it does promise that in this world we will have tribulation. We are told that the world will not always accept us, just as they did not accept Christ. But we are to be imitators of Him and in spite of hatred and persecution, we are to give love and forgiveness. The message that Christ gave never changed no matter what the world thought or what the modern interpretation of right might be. God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, of love, and of a sound mind.

Today I was reminded of another story of standing up in the face of modern thought...the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and the fiery furnace. These young men faced a challenge. They weren't told they had to give up worshiping their God, but simply that they ALSO had to bow down to the modern god before them. You probably know the story. They did not bow down. They still had to face that fiery furnace, but once inside they had one who "looked like the Son of God" with them. Oh yeah, they walked out of that trial free of the bonds that had once held them and they didn't even smell like smoke.

Today, more than ever, we need to realize that we have a message of hope and we have got to step out and share. Not bowing to popular opinion is scary, especially for those of us who hate to argue, but it's not really about arguing. It's about love.

One final instance came to mind in all of this. This summer at camp our students had the opportunity to go on the high ropes course. I have often looked at this course and WISHED I had to courage to try it. The course was very safe, but I have a real fear of heights. As I've gotten older, the fear has only intensified. I wanted to strap up and go on that course but my fear was much greater than my desire to try something new. Then I heard that frightened voice of one of the kids. 

This little one was SO afraid. She was up there on that course and paralyzed with fear. There was only one thing I could do...I stepped out and went to her to help show her the way. (Some would say this was a case of the blind leading the blind...) I managed to get her to maneuver her way across the course. I must have done a good job because once she got started, she wanted to go on to greater heights. I had to admit to her, that I had reached my limit but I was SO proud of her for overcoming her fear. 

There was only ONE thing that could make me go on that course - to reach someone in need. Maybe it's time we ALL started to step out, despite our fear, and share the LOVE of Christ. I don't have to agree with someone to love them; I just have to take that first step.

In the words of a prayer found on Mother Teresa's wall:
People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered.  Forgive them anyway.
            If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives.  Be kind anyway.
            If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies.  Succeed anyway.
           If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you.  Be honest and sincere anyway.
            What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight.  Create anyway.
            If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous.  Be happy anyway.
            The good you do today, will often be forgotten.  Do good anyway.
         Give the best you have, and it will never be enough.  Give your best anyway.
         In the final analysis, it is between you and God.  It was never between you and them anyway.

No need to be afraid.....

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Wicked weeds....

Today after I finished my run, I decided I'd mow our back yard. Hubby has a job in the heat all week and son just had his wisdom teeth removed (that was an experience!) so I decided I'd tackle the mowing this week. 

As I mowed, I noticed that we are still dealing with the after effects of Hurricane Katrina all these years later. For one, the trees that once were in our yard providing welcome shade are now gone, that we'd gotten used to. But now, I have noticed that the roots are finally rotting away and in their place they are leaving little gullies - even holes. I've filled these in over and over, but it seems to be a never ending process. Sigh - just one more thing to get used to thanks to that Hurricane.

Then, as I mowed, I noticed another after effect - a rather sharp one! Climbing vines - wicked weeds that slowly make their way into the trees in an attempt to choke the life out of them. I first encountered this "weed" about a year after Katrina, but I didn't realize how evil it truly was. I simply cut it down and went on my way. Now I realized that instead of one evil weed, I had a BUNCH! No problem. This time I'd get them out by the roots.

That proved to be a more daunting task than first imagined. I was able to dig out one, which had a HUGE bulb that looked like something from outer-space. It even had evil looking "eyes" with pods all around! I was not so lucky with the remaining weeds since they were underneath the roots of trees and assorted shrubbery. I was beginning to think these weeds knew what they were doing!

One by one I cut as far into the dirt as I could and then proceeded to pull these vine/weeds from my trees. Some were fairly easy - they were young and the thorns were soft and springy - almost like little fat leaves. They reminded me of those "little sins" that don't seem so bad....

The more developed ones were definitely NOT easy. The thorns resembled something you'd expect to find in the Amazon Rainforest, not in a backyard in South Mississippi! These wicked weed-thorns made blackberry bushes seem like "goose down"! Imagine the kind of thorns used to create the crown of thorns - yeah, now you've got the picture.

These thorns pierced my leather gloves as I tried to pull them from overhead. Some of the vines went all the way to the top of the trees. Before I was done, I had a huge pile of wicked weeds and the remains of at least two azalea bushes. I hadn't planned on cutting them down, but the weeds had so incorporated themselves into the bushes I had no choice. The only way to get to the problem was to cut down the entire thing.

By now, those who know my rambling random thoughts have already made the connection. These weeds, if removed early and removed entirely - well, they aren't that hard to deal with. The ones that have "established" themselves are a much bigger problem indeed. Sin is like that. It seems harmless enough - may even disguise itself as something treasured (At first I thought my mother's rose bush had somehow transplanted itself to my back yard!) But once it is established, it wants to take over every part of you and destroy everything around it.

As I said, this didn't look like something you'd find in a backyard of South Mississippi - I'm pretty sure the storm blew it in. Storms do that. We think we are finished dealing with them and then years later the gullies and holes appear and the wicked weeds rear their ugly heads. Wish I'd been more diligent after the storm and recognized the enemy would use my distraction to take root in my yard.

I've got a lot to "chew" on (and quite a few cuts and scratches) after my yard work today. Most of all, I have to remind myself that I have an enemy that is just looking for his chance to wrap his tendrils around me and kill....Maybe it's time for some spiritual yard work as well.

Proverbs 29:6 (MSG)

Evil people fall into their own traps;
    good people run the other way, glad to escape.

Hebrews 12:15 (MSG)

14-15 Work at getting along with each other and with God. Otherwise you’ll never get so much as a glimpse of God. Make sure no one gets left out of God’s generosity. Keep a sharp eye out for weeds of bitter discontent. A thistle or two gone to seed can ruin a whole garden in no time.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

This is NOT where I thought I'd be....

Ever have one of those days when you look at your life and say something along the lines of "This is not where I thought I'd be"?

We all have visions of what life will be like when we reach a certain age, then life happens and it's not at all what we expected. No one thinks at 45, 50, 55, 60 (if they ever think of themselves being that old) that they will be looking for a job and starting over; or dealing with middle aged weight gain, teenagers who think they are stupid, and a loss of dreams.

We think we'll be like the commercials - going on vacations to Disney with children who think we are wonderful, eating out with friends who are as witty as we are, and taking romantic cruises with our spouse who still thinks we are the "cat's meow." Instead, life gives us vacations at home because there's not enough money, eating at the drive thru while we rush from one appointment to another, and if we are lucky, falling asleep in front of the tv with our spouse because that's about all the energy we have left. Oh yes, life also gives us an endless supply of bills, bills, bills - and not the spending kind! I don't know about you, but this is definitely not where I thought I'd be...

I got to wondering, did the disciples ever feel that way, too? When I thought about this, my mind went back to the last chapter of John. I imagined the disciples there, sitting on a boat (John 21: 1-3) and thinking this is not where they thought they'd be at all.

They had followed Jesus for years and were expecting Him to usher in His Kingdom, and instead He'd been crucified. They had made it through those painful three days before the resurrection, and had seen Him face to face once again. So how come they are back where they started - sitting in that fishing boat? Not just back in the same boat - it was even worse. This time they were catching NOTHING! (Been there a few times myself!)

Along comes Jesus, who of course they don't recognize. (I have to admit this is of some comfort to me when I fail to recognize the voice of God in my own life...I mean, the disciples missed it a time or two themselves and look at all they had seen!) Jesus calls out to them and says "You don't have any fish, do you:" Gee, thanks for rubbing salt into the wound whoever you are! There's nothing like having someone else point out just how fruitless your work has become. They had started out following Jesus on the adventure of a lifetime, but now they were right back where they'd started, and it seemed like nothing they tried was working anymore.

Yet Jesus tells them to cast their nets out again, trusting nothing but His Word this time. You know the story, they bring in so many fish they can barely pull the net into the boat! (vs 6)

Fast forward to the beach, (vs 9) and the disciples find Jesus with a fire built and fish already cooking...seems He didn't have to wait on what they brought to the table. He invited the disciples to bring what they had caught as well, but it wasn't with their catch that He fed them. It was what He provided. What a beautiful picture of bringing our offering to the table and instead of asking God to bless what we're doing, joining in with what He already has planned.

I heard a Christian recording artist say recently that he was no longer asking that God use him to make the difference, but simply that God make the difference. His ego was out of the picture, he simply wanted God's will to be done no matter who He chose to use in the process....even if that meant NOT using him. In turn, it seems that God has used him more than ever!

Back to the disciples. I kind of get the feeling that they were then where some of us find ourselves now - not where they'd expected to be. This wasn't how life was supposed to turn out. Their dreams had died and even though they knew God was still God, they figured it was pretty much over for them. But God had something else in mind....He told them to throw their nets on the other side. They were not done yet.

Maybe that's what God is saying to us today? Maybe it's not time to let the dream die...maybe it's time to cast the dream again only this time in a different way. Maybe, just maybe, He's not done with us yet.

I have to wonder will we be as surprised as those disciples were when our nets/dreams come back full this time. Will we be just as amazed when no matter how full, the nets don't break? And will we be fed when we bring our offering to add in to what He is already doing in the earth?

Life has a funny way of taking you on a journey you weren't expecting. At this point in my life,  this isn't where I thought I'd be....but I can't wait to see where He takes me from here.  I hope to see you on the journey...and that we catch a lot of fish this time!

I'd love to hear from you...what dreams is God telling you to "cast out" one more time?

*This was a repost from five years ago....but it surprised me how much I needed to read it again, because it is as true to me today as it was back then. I guess life sort of goes in cycles...
This is why I write - to remind myself of what God is saying and to get some perspective on things. Thank you for learning with me.

John 21
Jesus and the Miraculous Catch of Fish

1Afterward Jesus appeared again to his disciples, by the Sea of Tiberias.[a] It happened this way: 2Simon Peter, Thomas (called Didymus), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples were together. 3"I'm going out to fish," Simon Peter told them, and they said, "We'll go with you." So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing. 4Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus. 5He called out to them, "Friends, haven't you any fish?" "No," they answered. 6He said, "Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some." When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish. 7Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, "It is the Lord!" As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, "It is the Lord," he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water. 8The other disciples followed in the boat, towing the net full of fish, for they were not far from shore, about a hundred yards.[b] 9When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread. 10Jesus said to them, "Bring some of the fish you have just caught." 11Simon Peter climbed aboard and dragged the net ashore. It was full of large fish, 153, but even with so many the net was not torn. 12Jesus said to them, "Come and have breakfast." None of the disciples dared ask him, "Who are you?" They knew it was the Lord. 13Jesus came, took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. 14This was now the third time Jesus appeared to his disciples after he was raised from the dead.