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Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Getting First Place

A very dear friend asked me to write a letter to her graduating senior.  It was pure joy to sit down and pen a note to this young adult that I love tremendously.  It was sweet to think about the past we've shared, fun to think about her right now, and very exciting to ponder her future.


But I wanted to send her on her way with something more than memories of good times and anticipation of what lies in store for her.


Last year, about this time, my heart spilled out 12 things for graduates to know.  You can read those here   http://livingletters4.blogspot.com/2014/05/twelve-tips-for-graduates.html


They still hold true.


But for  McKenzie, and for the rest of the young adults I know who will be closing one chapter of their lives and picking up their pen to begin another...what do I want to say today?

Friday, April 24, 2015

To the Mommy with the screaming kids at Wal-Mart

I'll bet you wished you could've disappeared into thin air.  Or screamed back at the littles.  Or at least pretended that you were their nanny and none of this was your fault.


But there you were, with all the eyes upon you.  The littlest little was really having a hard time.  He didn't want to be in that cart and it was your will against his.  The bigger little was quite busy lecturing him and telling you every error her brother had committed (gotta love those older sibs!).  And he was having none of it.


I didn't stand around to glare like a couple of self-righteous looking middle aged spinsters (I can promise you those two have never had children - or else they are suffering so severely from early onset dementia that they have clearly forgotten what it feels like to be in your place!).  I didn't want to humiliate you further with the realization that yet another person was witnessing the meltdown.


So I am hoping and praying that this message will waft across cyberspace somehow and write itself onto your heart.


Here's what I want to say...

Thursday, April 23, 2015

In honor of the GSU students we lost this week

Over the next few days, five Georgia families will have to walk through the frightful valley that every parent recoils from...they will have to bury a child.  Every Mama in Georgia - maybe even across the whole nation - grieves with them.  There are simply no words to convey the depth of this tragedy.


I don't know these girls.  Only a small connection to a couple of these families.  All I know is that they were training to be nurses, to be one who gives aid to hurting, to promote healing and wholeness.  They were becoming what they were called to be.


And now, in the blink of an eye, they are gone.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Overcomers? The problem with the American Dream

 And they overcame him  (the enemy) by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.
Revelation 12:11


I don't usually do posts like this.  Most of the time, I focus on encouragement.  Loving others.  Trusting God in daily struggles.  Raising kids.


Today I am compelled to be a bit more intense.  Perhaps controversial.  Maybe even offensive.
So read at your own risk.  If I offend you, I am sorry.  Well, maybe.


But I am sickened by how most of us Christians live.  Including me.


Wednesday, April 15, 2015

My Father's Eyes

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
    I will counsel you with my eye upon you.



I've always been told that I have my Daddy's eyes.  Clear blue.  Squinting nearly closed when I laugh. Piercing when I am focused. Revealing my heart...always.




My Daddy's eyes are dimming now but they are still, as forever, looking out for me.  "Be careful," he calls, when I tell him I am heading to the store.  "Do you need some help unloading?" upon my return.  And, every day, several times a day, "Are all the babies OK?"  (And I know he means especially baby girl Mary Alice).



Protective .  Helpful .  Compassionate .  My father's eyes.


My Father's eyes.




What does it mean that His eye is upon me?


 I think first that it means He protects me. Just like my earthly Daddy is always interested in my protection. And like when I tell Chip to keep an eye out for his baby sister. I want him to take care of her. Make sure she's safe. And secure. Especially in unfamiliar surroundings.
Unlike earthly protection, though, my Heavenly Father is omnipotent and omniscient. He is capable beyond any earthly power and He knows my needs for security and defense far more than I know myself.  He is my shield and protector and no one and no circumstance can touch me without the express consent of His sovereign loving eye.  Ever.


My Father's eye upon me also means that He is there to help me.  Yes, to instruct and to guide but also to help me go in the way I should.  Help to do the right things.  Help to carry the loads He assigns.  Help to turn away from the ways I should NOT go. In the same way that my Daddy is continually looking for ways to help me...and yet with Divine Power and Knowledge and Love.
So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?”  (Hebrews 13:6)  Because He has His eye upon me, His omniscient, omnipotent, loving eye, I do not worry about my life.  Not my people, nor my to do list, nor my needs.  He is my helper.
   Consider these two passages: God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble. (Psalm 46:1) and 2 Chronicles 16:9 - For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is perfect toward Him
WOW!  Aren't those so very powerful?  He is right there - present - in my troubles, ready to help, able to help, longing to help.  And on top of that, He is always looking for ways to show Himself strong on my behalf!  Unfathomable!


My favorite thoughts about what it means for my Father's eye to be upon me is the same favorite I have about my Daddy.  Compassion.  My Daddy...and my Heavenly Abba...care what happens to me. The matters of my heart matter to them both.
Zechariah 2:8 puts it this way - for he who touches you touches the apple of his eye.
The apple of His eye.  Connoting tenderness, affection, being cherished.
Now neither my earthly Father nor my Heavenly One have favorites....but amazingly they are able to make each child feel as though they are.  Cherished.  Treasured.  Held dear.
And, just like my reaction when something pokes the center of my own eye, if something...or someone...does me harm, my Father rapidly and powerfully responds to remove the offender, to soothe the hurt, and to prevent recurrence.  I'm the apple of His eye.


One last thing. 


In the context of this verse, I wonder if there is another layer of meaning.  Something additional the psalmist wants to convey.  He speaks of the Lord teaching us, instructing us, guiding us in the way to go.
Maybe, just maybe, He is telling us that we will know what to do, where to go, how to be, by watching our Father's eyes.  Just like a quarterback can telegraph a pass by looking at his intended receiver, maybe we can discern what God wants us to do by looking at what His eyes are focused on.
What situation needs our attention.  What wrong needs to be made right.  What person needs our concern.
Watch His eyes.
Then go towards what He has set them on.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

It's time for graduation...and I'm glad!

It's April.  The graduation announcements will soon be arriving in the mail.  Mortar boards are being decorated.  Ceremonies are being planned.  College decisions are finalizing.  And I'm glad.


This year I have one in the mix.  He's finishing up his Senior year, agreeing to room with a stranger, and committing to spend the next four years in the library (right???).  And I'm glad.


As I ponder his future, reminisce about his past, and appreciate his present, I am really glad.


For a lot of things.



I am glad that we taught him how to clean the kitchen, to mow the lawn, and to take out the trash with excellence.
...and I'm glad that we didn't demand perfection.


I am glad that we held the bar high on academics and expected the best he could do
...and I'm glad that we shared our own failures freely so he could learn to give himself grace.


I am glad we chose an unconventional path for his education.
...and I am glad he was included in making that choice.


I am glad we insisted on obedience early on.
...and I am glad for the grace to adjust our expectations when necessary.


I am glad I got to raise at least one man-child and for the mutual influence he and his sisters have had on one another.
...and I am glad for all the guy friends that God placed in  his life to offset the estrogen he lived with at home!




I am glad we were blessed with the means for me to stay home and still afford music lessons and sports activities and some fun family trips.
...and I am glad we could NOT afford everything they wanted to do so they worked to make up the difference.


Yeah, I'm glad alright.


Except that he's leaving.


  This ain't my first rodeo and I know that, come August, the only times I will ever see him is with a suitcase in his hand.  I know that, although life doesn't end when your kid leaves for college, it sho nuf does change. 


And I've liked it just fine the way it's been, thank you very much.


I am well aware of all the NOT glad moments that await me...
 - for the times I'll start to cook  oatmeal scones and wish he were there to eat his favorite breakfast.       
 - for needing to set the table for three instead of four...or five...or six.
 - that the laundry will have far fewer sweaty socks to wash.
 - that the door won't bang every day and a deep male voice won't yell "Mom! What's for lunch?"
 - that I'll be able to get a lot more sleep because there won't be a lanky 6-footer on my sofa wanting to discuss theology and chemistry and girls way into the night
- that there will be fewer chances for hugs and impromptu trips to Academy Sports and cheers  for four fingers above the rim
-for all the times I'll want to share a funny story or ask a question on doctrine or feed him a piece of pecan pie fresh out of the oven only to remember he's not downstairs studying calculus or upstairs strumming his guitar or outside bouncing the basketball.
-for the times I look into the eyes of his Dad and his sister and his dog and realize they are aching for his presence, too.  Those are awfully poignant "not glad" moments.
For sure.


I'm glad he is equipped for this grand adventure called college...because he is equipped for the demands of life.  Not because his parents have done such a great job but rather because he's been so teachable, so determined to learn, so willing to grow. And especially glad that God's grace is abundant and He supplies what is needed to raise my kids well


No, it's not my first rodeo.  So, even though I recoil in anticipation of that familiar pain, I am comforted by the assurance that our "new normal" will bring joy, too.  And I can even be glad for the "not glad" moments because I know their presence over his absence mean we have loved well.  The depth of the "not glad" moments are evidence that the "glad" ones were indeed intense.
For that, I am very glad.


So, if you see me tearing up at the meat counter at Publix as I contemplate the need for a smaller sized roast, don't feel sorry for me.  Just know I'll be experiencing one of those "not glad" moments that are the price tag we pay for all those other "glad" ones.


In case you're wondering, I sure am glad we paid that price.  It's been worth that...and a whole lot more.








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Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Y'all come on in!

Show hospitality to one another without grumbling  I Peter 4:9


This Scriptural command is an easy one to obey.


At least for us Southerners, right?


Doesn't this evoke images of a tastefully decorated home, an exquisite menu, and a beautifully dressed woman with manicured nails?


In a word - NO.


I don't think that's what Scripture means. At all.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Talking to myself

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
    be acceptable in your sight,
    O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.


Psalm 19:14