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Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Tips for good service

Mark 10:45   For even the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve"

Good service.  We all want to get it.  Actually, we all expect it.  How good are we at giving it?

Christ set the example for us -- He, for whom and by whom all things are created, sets His priority on serving.  What can we learn from that?

1.  There is much joy in serving.  Especially when it's inconvenient.  When I meet a need for someone else, I am rewarded with a deep satisfaction, a treasured  happiness that can only come when I strive to please someone else instead of myself.  Simple things, complex acts - doesn't matter.  Serving someone else is sweet.

2.  Begin at home.  Frankly, its harder to serve here than at church or in the community.  Even though these are the folks we love the best and presumably want to serve the most!  Go figure.  But service should be at home first and best above all other places.  I think we women have an advantage over fellas when it comes to serving.  We seem to have serving programmed into our DNA but, trust me, it still is a choice.  A daily choice.  Now I firmly believe that children should do chores (yes, little urchins of mine - lots of them!!) but Mom should be the greatest servant of all.  "Great" in terms of not only quantity of service but especially quality.  Cheerful service.  Glad spirit.  Willing heart.  Doing things noticed and unnoticed. Without complaining. Wives, don't let your husband out-serve you.  Allow me a brief moment on the soapbox here.....the Church has done a great job instructing husbands in being servant-leaders.  And so they should.  But I fear that we have all too happily seated ourselves in our easy chairs while our husbands perform their "rightful" service.  Treat your hubby like a King.  OK, I'll get down now.  Gotta get cheese grits finished for my house's King :)

3.  Serve at home and then serve at church.  Most folks I know are doing a great job at this.  It hardly needs a mention.  In fact, I worry more about folks that are doing too much rather than not serving at all!!!  But just in case you are merely warming a pew, I suggest that you find a place to serve. A regular commitment.  A place where it matters if you don't show up.  And then serve your heart out!

4.  Look for the serendipitous chances to serve.  Picking up paper towels off the floor in public bathrooms is a favorite of mine. (Yes, Mom, I wash my hands after!!!)

5.  Serve others in their times of need.  Now, I gotta tell you - I think the community I am part of does a great job at this.  Taking meals.  Helping out with others' kids. Acting as personal moving service.  Providing Christmas for needy families.  Praying for each other faithfully. On and on and on.  If you need some real live examples, come check out the crowd I get to hang out with at Watkinsville First Baptist. 

I have heard folks excuse their lack of serving with "It's not my gift".  Well, my goodness, how convenient.  But how wrong.  All those spiritual gifts that we seem to want to pick and choose?  Well, Scripture actually commands us to exercise each one of them.  Yep.  Check it out.  We will have one or two that dominates our motivation but we are all exhorted to give, show mercy, teach, prophesy,  have wisdom and faith.....and to serve.  Especially to serve.  Christ is our example.

Don't expect to be applauded or even noticed for your service.  In fact, hold out hope that you won't be!  Because  your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

One last tip for good service -- if you're like most women, you are much much much more comfortable doing the serving as opposed to receiving the serving.  Probably you protest "no really I'm fine!" and decline offers to help.  Don't.  Even if it makes you uneasy, sometimes you need to let somebody else relish the joy by doing something for you. :)

Thursday, September 19, 2013

To the soldier at Krispy Kreme

We must've seemed silly to you, all dressed up in pirate garb, just to earn a free dozen donuts.  You looked a bit perplexed.  You wondered why there was such a long line at 9 PM when the red HOT light wasn't even on.  When I explained, you just shook your head and looked away.  Your wife shared that you had just returned from a tour in Afghanistan.  I thanked you for your service and asked if I could shake your hand.  You were gracious.  A few other costume-clad Jack Sparrows chimed in and told you "thanks".  But the focus on you was short-lived.  All attention returned to the delicious smelling circles of dough bobbing up in the grease, waiting to drain a bit before being doused in the liquid sugar at the next phase of the donut assembly line. 

I lost my interest in the glazed treasures, thinking about your re-entry to American life.  I wanted to get out of line and join you in the back and ask about your tour.  I wondered how long you'd been gone, what you did...and what you missed while you were gone.  You looked about my age.  Did you miss out on a graduation?  Or a grandbaby being born? Fourth of July picnics and Christmas mornings?  Games between the hedges?  Long walks with  your wife?  A second cup of coffee on Sunday mornings?  Funny little things like Cow Day at Chick-fil-A and Pirate Day at Krispy Kreme?

I'll bet our impatience over long lines for free donuts is more than perplexing to you.  And I wonder if you are bothered when you hear somebody complain about traffic or a slow checkout clerk.  Do we seem self-centered to you when we pay more for a vacation than some folks you served with make in a month? Are you glad you chose to serve our country, to represent a bunch of eye-patch-wearing, sword-holding, donut-eating carefree Americans?

  I hope we aren't ungrateful for the sacrifices you've made to defend what we hold dear. I wanted to say so much to you.  For all of us.  To you and to your family. I felt the urge to climb up on a table and clap for everyone's attention and lead us all in "God Bless America" or a few verses of "The Star Spangled Banner".  Shoot, I'd have settled for "Take Me Out to the Ball Game"!.  But I've embarrassed my kids enough times. And since this time I had only one there and she'd have had to bear the potential pain of my public patriotism alone, I refrained. So I did the only thing I knew to do.  I bought your donuts.  I hope the clerk got my message right when your turn at the cashier came.  I just wanted to say Thanks. 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Class info

I am currently teaching a Bible study at Watkinsville First Baptist Church called "Equipped for Battle Victory".  We're learning about how to live a life of joy and peace and confidence in the midst of chaos, turmoil, and attack.  I'd love to have you all join us but for some of you the commute would be a hassle :)  Some of you asked about getting the workbook, etc.  If you want to listen to the class lectures, they are on the WFBC website  Go to the "ministries" link, then the "women" link.  The audio recording link is at the bottom of that page.  The workbook is also there for download or I can mail you one if you want one.  They are $12, payable to WFBC.

If you can make it in person, there are two options for class - Tuesday mornings at 9:30 or Wednesday evenings at 6:15.  Even though we've already started, it's not too late to join in.

MY Race

Hebrews 12:1,2 :
 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God

My Betsy is a swimmer.  She was blessed with the long torso, lean body type that proves an advantage for competitive swimming.  She also has the tenacity and work ethic that have resulted in some summertime blue ribbons.  She's a natural in the water.

There's this one habit, though, that her coach has worked with her hard to break.  When Betsy is speeding through the water, she has a hard time not glancing over to the lanes on either side just to check on the competition.  More than once, this has cost precious milliseconds that made the difference between 1st and 2nd.  This is very common among young swimmers.  You see it all the time - a kid gets out in front and decides that relishing the position includes looking back at those behind.  And that wasted motion means time lost for the lead. Betsy's been swimming for a while but even so, she has to fight hard that natural tendency to look at the other lanes.  For her, it's not to enjoy her lead but rather to see if she's still got the lead. She measures her progress, not by the finish line, but by the other swimmers.  On the side of the pool, her coach shakes his head (or shouts "No, Betsy!!"), wondering how he can keep her from worrying about somebody else's race.

Friday, September 13, 2013

To the Mommy at Baskin Robbins

I don't know your name.  Or your story.  But for just a moment yesterday, you were me.  Or I was you.  You loaded two adorable little girls in your minivan and called a quick "Buckle up!" over your shoulder.  They appeared to be about 3 and 6 and you dressed them alike.  Except for their blonde ponytails, they were mine a couple of decades ago.  I couldn't be sure but I think I even saw an infant seat on the other side.  You were me.  Hurried and a tad bit harried.  Yep, you were me.

And I just wanted to call out to you and hug you and look in your eyes and tell you that you are a great Mom.  I don't know what brought you to Baskin Robbins an hour before dinner but the milky smears on the little's one face that didn't get quite wiped off tell me it was worth your trip.  Way to go, Mommy.  Way to go.  I'm glad you didn't worry about it ruining their dinner.  It probably did but there'll be dinner tomorrow and next week and the week after.  And there won't always be time for an ice cream cone.  There'll be things to hurry to forever but you won't always get to dress them alike and fix those ponytails.  I am so glad you did today.  Way to go.  You are doing a great job. 

I don't know your story, it is true, but I'll bet you wonder sometimes if you are doing a great job.  Even good enough.  But I'll bet you are.  And I wish I could speak life into you and promise you that what you are doing matters.  I wouldn't tell you to "enjoy it because it'll be gone too soon".  Nope.  I would tell you that you are a doing a worthy work and I would cheer from the sidelines.

Parenting is hard. It is the greatest blessing of my life but it is hard.  Every single stage has tough parts to it and no matter in which one we find ourselves, we think it's the hardest.  And we try and convince anyone in another stage that our current one is tougher.  But I remember the "dress-alike-ponytail" stage.  I loved it.  And I wondered if I would survive it.  I think the Marines stole their theme line from Moms -- MOTHERHOOD is the toughest job you'll ever love!!

Ice cream Mommy - keep it up.  Way to go.  I hope you got donuts from the shop next door, too.  Just because they asked. And I hope you didn't even worry about a sugar high or what anybody else thought.  I hope that somehow, across the parking lot, you could sense my silent applause.

Next time I see you - or one of the hundreds that seem to be my reflection in the mirror - the ice cream's on me.  Atta girl!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

What I don't do

Sometimes I'm asked "how do you do it all?".  A couple of times recently I've had requests for a post on how I balance all I do and how I manage to "get it all done".  So I'm responding.

I will share some tips that help me be more productive and efficient..

Wednesday, September 11, 2013


Probably everyone who reads this remembers where they were and what they were doing on September 11, 2001.  I was pregnant with my youngest.  At home doing school with my older 3.  My hubby was in Atlanta.

My Mom called me about 9:15 that morning.  She saw it on the news.  Events were still unfolding.  We had no idea that subsequent attacks were pending.  I was torn between wanting to get the information and wanting to protect my children.  But I wasn't torn about wanting everyone home.  Glad my babies were right under my wings but I wanted our protector home.  Atlanta was a lifetime away. 

We all recall the horror.  The disbelief.  The aftershocks of grief and fear and anger.

But I also remember the spirit of unity among our people and the realization of our need for God.  This was bigger than American pride.  We had been brought to our knees all right, but not in desperate humiliation...rather we responded to the crisis with confident reliance on our God.

On this 12th anniversary of the greatest tragedy our generation has ever seen, may we remain in just that same place.  Just where God wants us.  On our knees.  Needing Him.  Trusting Him.  Seeking Him.  Finding Him.

And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart.  Luke 18:1

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Gold rings for pigs

Proverbs 11:22 says "As a ring of gold in a swine's snout, so is a beautiful woman who lacks discretion."

Women, all women, desire to be beautiful.  Personally, I believe God wired us up this way.  It's not only not a sin to be beautiful, I believe that doing the best with what we have to work with can honor God.  After all, He created beauty!!!

What spoils God's design for beauty is a lack of discretion. 

So what's discretion?  Webster defines it as "the quality of being discreet, especially with reference to one's own actions or speech; prudence or decorum".  Ummmmm, what's discreet?  "modestly unobtrusive; unostentatious"

Hmmmmm.  Apparently the litmus test of gold rings for pigs is how much attention we are trying to attract.  By our dress or our make-up or our actions.  Or - I just gotta say this - our lack of dress.  Lots of noise lately about our "right" to dress like we want to and our "right" to look attractive.  Let's us girls be careful.  Gold rings are pretty ----- but not on pigs. What a waste of treasure!

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Love for the Living Letters

If you have read many of my posts, you know that I spell "LOVE"  "F-O-O-D" .  By no means am I a gourmet cook, or even a great one!, but I love to love folks with food.  And, like all families, mine has some favorite dishes that I prepare for us and that I want to pass down to my offspring.  And if you like to try new easy recipes, then you are welcome to check these out.  I am just beginning to compile our favs so the plan is to add to this link over time.  But I have been planning to do this for months and I figured the best way to get it done was just to begin.  Then I'll eventually get it done.

Hope you enjoy....and I'd love it if you would share some of the recipes that you use to love on your family!!

Click here to download Love for My Living Letters.   I'll let you know as I add to the collection in the future!