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Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Family Fued

Like the great majority of Eastern Kentucky, or at least the majority of the people on my Facebook news feed, I've been enthralled by the History Channel's mini-series depicting the Hatfield and McCoy family fued.  Growing up not too far from Pike County, I was raised hearing of this famous family fued, which tied in well with the history of Bloody Breathitt.  Unlike most, I waited until the full series was on DVR, and then watched it with Kami.  We have about an hour left in the last series, but it's fresh on my mind.

Caleb asked me last night, "Why are they all killing each other?" and I didn't really have an answer.  To us, it is impossible to imagine, but during that time, shortly after the Civil War, it was much the same here in Breathitt County.  It didn't take much to make a Mountain man pull out his shotgun...

All I know is it doesn't take much.  We may not pull out shotguns and pistols now a days, but we can hold grudges with the best of them. If one of those family members had put aside their pride, humbled themselves and shown love, the story might have been different.  That is sometimes the hardest thing for us to do.  We think we've forgotten, then something is said or done and it is right back in the forefront of our mind. 

The mini-series was violent, reflective of the actions of those men from long ago.  It was sad, as well, because so much of it could have been prevented.  While we may not shoot each other, sometimes our actions when we don't forgive are just as emotionally hurtful to one another. Rejection... sarcasm.  Hateful tones and disrespectful attitudes.  And often, unlike the family fued depicted, these actions are toward those we are supposed to love the most. 

"In your anger do not sin": Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry,"- Ephesians 4:26.  Say you're sorry... and accept someone's apology.  And forgive yourself...You never know when it's your last chance.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Remembering...

 Today I'm struggling with what to write here.  All weekend I knew that on Monday I'd blog about Memorial Day, because it would just be logical, but I'm not sure exactly what feelings I wish to express.  Memorial Day is the kick-off to summer, so for many who are off from work, there will be cookouts and trips to the lake and pool parties, fresh cut watermelon and sunshine and sunblock. 

For another group of people, those who have lost loved ones recently,and for some in the more  distant past, it is a somber occasion of visiting cemetaries and decorating graves.  For those who have lost loved ones in the last few weeks, my condolescences to you, as I know it must be hard to greet this, your first Memorial Day for those loved ones. 

Historically, Memorial Day was a somber occasion, set aside for a special group of people, those who dedicated their lives so that we might be free.  Those men and women who gave the ultimate sacrifice so that I could live, serve God, and love my family without gear.  Dating back to the Civil War, Decoration Day was extremely important for those unknown soldiers or those who had been buried in mass or unmarked graves, because it was a way to show respect for a fellow countryman, even if they might have been on the other side of the fence. 

Today, as I'm typing this, I'm reminded of what Memorial means.  According to dictionary.com, the meaning is "preserving the memory of something" or "something set aside as a memory".  Memorial Day isn't for the present time... it's to honor our past and to teach our future about that past.  As a young child, I can remember visiting my Grandma Na's brother G.W.'s grave and decorating it.  G.W. was a WWII soldier who paid the ultimate sacrifice.  How many years ago was that, and I still get tears in my eyes at Veteran's Day ceremonies when G.W.'s name is read... because through Grandma's actions, she helped me remember.  She helped me appreciate, and I am proud that my family is a part of that legacy.

Memorializing something is a uniquely personal experience.  For some families, it is hard to visit graves.  This year, Wallace and Caleb visited Papaw Gary's grave while I was at work.  Caleb was two when he died, yet as he placed flowers and wrote him a little note, Wallace said he cried, because we have helped him remember Papaw Gary.  It is through our remembrances of those we have lost that they can live on.

We need to remember those who have served, not just those who have died, but those who are currently serving.  This morning, I read that a young gentleman that Wallace and I watched grow up is leaving today for his second tour in Afghanistan.  How ironic that someone who I can remember at a very young age is now fighting so that I can be free to raise my son?  These young men and women are true heroes, just as those who fought long ago.  We can memorialize them while they are still fighting by remembering them in prayer, covering them in prayer, and lifting them and their precious families, who also sacrifice, up. 

And above all, may we remember what God has done.  America would not be who she is without Him.  May we always hold tight to this, and remember...

Have a blessed Memorial Day however you choose to spend it. 

Sunday, May 27, 2012

"I Have a Question"

Caleb's favorite phrase right now is, "I have a question."  He's been questioning since he was a young age, which is great because he truly wants to know things.  He is very analytical, always ahead of the game and quick with a comeback.  Today, as I lounged by the pool and attempted to read my Kindle, watching Caleb in the pool, he started a flood of questions.  The conversation went something like this:
 "Mom, does God have a po..?"
"A pool?" (I'm getting hard of hearing in my old age)
"No, a pulse.  Does God have a pulse?" Hmm...
"I don't know, Caleb, but we're made in his image, so I would think maybe."
"Well, what if heaven is a virtual world?  and do you think there are souls with us right now?  Are souls invisible?  Will we get to meet lots of people in heaven?  And will we meet people like Chris Tomlin?  and what if some people don't love the Lord but we think they do, will we meet them there?  If not, where will we meet them?"

When he finally paused to take a breath, I slowly responded. Some things I don't know when I answer his questions, but I do know this... Heaven is not a virtual world. There will be a new Jersualem and a new heaven and a new earth and we will truly be with God.  Souls are invisible right now, within us, but one day we will all have glorified bodies.  I'm not sure what those will look like, but they will be more perfect than we can ever imagine, and I can't help but think that God's perfection isn't our perfection.  Yes, we will get to meet people in Heaven, and we will all rejoice around the throne of God, and if someone doesn't love God, it doesn't matter how many people they fool down here, they won't fool God and won't get to be in Heaven. 

Back to swimming he went.  Satisfied, at least for a few minutes.  Sometimes he asks easy questions, like "Can I have some yogurt?", but the thing with Caleb is you just never know... and sometimes he asks questions that this Mama doesn't know the answer to.  I'm trying to learn... but all I can do when I don't is to point him to the One who does. 

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Emptying My MInd

The blank screen stares at me as I'm trying to think about what to write.  Common sense tells you that when you've got nothing to say, then don't bother, but I did say I'd try to write every day and I'm doing pretty good... but there are some days when life just isn't that interesting.

Not that I've had a bad day... I've actually had a great Saturday.  Spent time with Wallace and Caleb, and also with my ball girls and my Mom.  Busy day... but a good one.  And I guarantee I'll be asleep when my head hits the pillow because Caleb's been keeping me up late and I've been getting up early. Two weeks into my summer break and I don't think I've slept past 9 AM once.  That has to be a record.

Anyway, while that blank space at the bottom of the screen fills with words I'm thinking about how life is sometimes like that.  We try to fill up what we've got because we're afraid of empty space... we're not comfortable being alone and we're not comfortable being in a crowd.  We schedule and plan and work and run and never learn how to just... be.  Sometimes it's okay to be empty, because that's when God can fill us up.  And sometimes in the midst of the chaos and clutter in our life, we lose a little bit of who we are (or a lot of who we are).  When we allow ourselves just to be... that's when He whispers to us quietly and we can actually hear what He has to say. 

As an introvert, I'm perfectly comfortable just being by myself, but even when I'm by myself I have to be doing something.  In this world of technology, I'm always on facebook or checking my email or playing Scramble with friends or looking on Amazon.  Heaven knows how much time I spend... wasted time.  When am I going to learn that time doesn't stand still, ever, but it is more likely to slow down when I slow down myself? 

I apologize to those of you who have read this far... this is just a quiet girl's rambling before she drifts off to sleep.  I've almost filled up the space in my little white box, so I guess I've satisfied the requirements.  Clearing my thoughts... working through them here, for you, does make me more empty... and I'm planning to fill up tomorrow with some "me" time, some family time, some hugs from Caleb (who said to me today "MoooooM." You know the tone, as in, "I'm around all these high school girls and I really dont' need your help because I'm trying to impress").  Sunday plans? Church, reading my Bible, reading my Kindle, going for a walk... and I might even time myself sitting still.  No computer, no KIndle, no cell phone, just me and this head of mine... and God.  Maybe if I'd learn to pour all this nonsense out to Him, you wouldn't have to listen... =)

Friday, May 25, 2012

Let Your Light Shine

Today I was sitting in a place of business and I couldn't help overhear a conversation.  I was there for a pretty lengthy time, and it was a pretty lengthy conversation.  I'm not sure what prompted it to begin with... could have been the 10 commandments posted on the business wall, or the music that was playing in the background.  All I know is the gentleman who began the conversation was pretty admanant about being an atheist, and the businesswoman was gently adamant about NOT being one.  As they discussed the Bible and politics and Hell and earth (yes, I know it's rude to eavesdrop.  I was trying not to... but I couldn't help it. ) I was struck by how opportunity knocks at our door each day.

I've often heard the saying, "If you had to stand trial for being a Christian, would you have enough evidence to prosecute you?"  Would I?  As I sit typing, I recognize that being a Christian is about far more than mouthing off words from the Bible and being able to discuss theology... but it IS  about those things, too. When you stand in the face of someone who is questioning how you believe, do you know enough about it to back it up?  It is hard to convince someone of something they are dead set against, and words must be used.  Actions and words go hand in hand, though.  We must DEMONSTRATE our love for Christ, the very love we witness about. but if we have  no head knowledge, we can easily get ourselves tangled up in circles by those who are arguing.

This morning, every argument was responded to with a valid point.  I sat and nodded my head in agreement.  I'd rather live all my life and find out that I was wrong about there being a God than to live the other way and die to fall into the hands of a living God.  What is the point of life if there is no other power?  No higher purpose?  Granted, I've been raised my whole life to believe in God, so it's been engrained in my head, but I've also experienced his tender mercies and love. I've been comforted by that sweet, quiet spirit and been amazed by the sunrise that my Creator painted across the sky.  I KNOW in my heart there is a God.  I KNOW in my head that sometimes it's hard to figure Him out, but He says we're not supposed to.  He says in Isaiah 55:8-9 ".“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”  declares the Lord. 9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways   and my thoughts than your thoughts.  "  It's not our job to figure it out. It's our job to love one another...

And that goes back to the whole letting our light shine.  Sure, some "Christians" do bad things... but they aren't really Christians.  Even though we all sin and fall short of the glory of God, and we must daily die to our flesh... we are known by the fruit that we bear.  What kind of fruit am I bearing?  Is it drawing people to Him rather than repelling them?  Are the words I write on this blog and on Facebook and those that come out of my mouth congruent with a love for Christ, and does how I treat people back that up?  We  can't judge, and we are only responsible for our own actions... but we are called to be lights, a city on a hill.  We're the salt of the earth.  We're to go out and preach the gospel to all men.  Sometimes, it comes from those in a pulpit, but to most sinners, it comes from me... and you... and a businesswoman who passes out devotion books and has those "tough" conversations with her patrons.  Lord, let me be a light.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

"We're All Mean"

A few years ago there was a movie or show called Mean Girls. I never watched it.  I know enough about mean girls.

I was a mean girl.  In grade school and middle school.  Through part of high school.  On through the years I graduated from obvious, making fun of people meanness to sneaky, talk behind their back and spend hours on the telephone gossiping about people meanness.  I was most definitely not Miss Popularity!  In fact, I didn't even like myself... and I think that was part of the problem.

It's hard to be comfortable in you own skin, especially when all kinds of people have all kinds of expectations.  We feel like we have to live up to everyone around us, be as smart and as skinny and as social and as funny and as... on and on until we're in a vortex and don't know how to get out.  We try so hard that we lose sight of who we really are... not sure of what is real and what is just pretend so that everyone will think we are what we need to be.  I'm just now figuring out who I am and what I'm about and learning to love me.  I wish I would have done that years ago, learned to be comfortable with me and not tried so hard.  It never works when you try too hard... people know it and end up not liking you for it, for the very thing you're doing to get them to like you.  Shewww... It's exhausting.

Truth is, I'm still mean sometimes.  Wallace and Caleb vouch for that.  It's too easy for me to complain or make snide comments about someone.  Just tonight, everything Caleb was saying was getting on my last nerve and I was snapping like a mean old snapping turtle.  To which he replied, "Mom, I'm just a mean kid."  And I stopped... and I paused.  Because we learn by example and what he sees and how I respond to him will directly influence how he will respond... which may very well be why he has such a temper. (And let me make a full disclaimer.  My Mom and Dad are not, nor were they ever, mean people. Both of them are two of the most humble people I know.  I'm not sure where I got my mean streak...)

"We're all mean, Caleb.  And I'm sorry I've been grouchy tonight."  Help me, Lord, not be mean...

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

A Mama's Nest

I'm lying in the bathtub, bubbles up to my chin when I hear it.  Faintly, because I'm on the other side of the house, but it's the song I've been humming since Bible School this night.  "Anything... is possible.  Anything... is possible.  We will fly.  We will soar.  Nothing is impossible..."

Oh, such sweet words to a Mama's ears.  A tired Mama who so doesn't know what she's doing so much of the time.  That boy who can be wild, willful, stubborn... anything is possible, God.

Those things that make me so mad at him... through You, they can be strengths.  "I have a question?" Oh, he's just curious, and wants to learn new things.  He's intelligent and seeking out learning... that's a strength, not a weakness. Talking?  and not listening... well, maybe not the not listening, except when he may not listen when people tell him he can't.  Or he's not good enough.  Yes, even that is possible, that You can use it for a strength.  Never meeting a stranger and being the best hugger around?  Yes, definitely... he is an encourager.

Lord, forgive me for being so impatient and for always quarreling.  He's just a kid, even if his nine year old body makes him look 13.  He loves you, is tenderhearted and sensitive.  Sassy, yes, but also sweet.  So much to learn... but I know that You're working on him. 

Nothing is impossible, Lord.  Even Mamas who don't know what their doing can make kids who somehow figure it out... who grow up to be what You want them to be and to do great things for Your kingdom.  Maybe the most willful, the most stubborn, the most creative and unique... maybe, just maybe, those are the ones You've got the biggest job for.  Thank You for trusing me with this wild and wonderful job of motherhood.

And someday, I will release him, out of this Mama's nest.  I have confidence that he will fly, he will soar... "Those that wait on (trust in) the Lord will have new strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint."- Isaiah 40:31. 

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Forget not His Benefits

All the Uncles on the Clemons side of my family have last names. I mean, I know everyone has last names, but when we say "Uncle" we always say first and last names.  See, there are three Mikes on that side of the family. Growing up, that only left David ,Marty, and Winker (whose first name is Charles, but I didn't know that until I graduated high school).  So we always have to be particular about the Mikes. 

I am so blessed to have a family that loves to be around each other.  Growing up, my dad (Mike Griffith, or big Mike as my Great-Uncle Os called him) was always the Mike who laughed.  Mike Fugate was always the one who was sneaking up on people and scaring them.  Mike Clemons was an avid Louisville fan, and I stayed at his house for most of my childhood.  I was always a little scared of him... still am.  I don't know why... he was nothing but good to me, taking me to the lake and putting up with my childhood whining.  These Mikes might have the same name, but their personalities were as different as daylight and dark.  MIke Griffith tended to be easy going. My Uncle Mike Fugate loves having us all over to his house =)  I've grown closer to him because of Bobcat football, but he still doesn't have much to say.  And he hates a camera!  My Uncle Mike Clemons is  computer genius, a talented artist, and the guy with the dryest humor around. 

A couple of years ago, my Uncle Mike Clemons had a light heart attack.  Tonight, my Uncle Mike Fugate is in St. Joe's in Lexington with pericarditis.  When faced with the possible mortality of people who in your childhood seemed invincible, it hits a little close to home. These guys never get sick... but then they are.  And I'm realizing that my dad, the other Mike, is almost 60, which used to seem old but now it doesn't.  Time keeps marching on, and as long as we live in a fallen world, people will face illness.  Tonight, I'm sending up a prayer not just for my Uncle Mike Fugate, but for many in my community facing illness... my sister-in-law's Mom, a dear friend Rosa who beat breast cancer and a horrible car wreck with a traumatic brain injury only to be looking at battling breast cancer again, a family friend who had open heart surgery, and many others battling sickness and loss.  When it seems like all you hear is sickness and sadness and grief, the only place we have to turn is looking up... to God, the author and finisher.

Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not his benefits- who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases. who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion..."- Psalm 103:2-4. He is our healer, our redeemer, and the great and merciful.  Look down on us now, Lord... we need you most definitely.

Monday, May 21, 2012

How He Loves

Tonight on the way home from Vacation Bible School I was listening to K-Love, enjoying the peace and quiet of having the car to myself (Caleb had rode home with Holly) and one of my favorite songs came on.  It's How He Loves by the David Crowder Band.  It's a simple song, really, but there are a couple of lines that always give me chill bumps. 

"We are His portion and He is our prize Drawn to redemption by the grace in His eyes
If grace is an ocean, we're all sinking So Heaven meets earth like an unforeseen kiss
And my heart turns violently inside of my chest I don't have time to maintain these regrets
When I think about the way And oh, how He loves us..."

The music swells and I just get caught up in it.  I am His portion?  That amazes me... the Bible says He is our portion, meaning that He is enough.  He is our prize.... and eternal prize.  Drawn to redemption... How I'm drawn.  Redemption, being redeemed, being bought and purchased.  Forgiven and paid for.  If grace is an ocean, we're all sinking.  His grace is more than an ocean, more than the sky, infinite grace, to cover all sins and ensure me that I am loved regardless.  My heart turns violently inside of my chest.  This kind of love sometimes makes it hard to breathe and hard to concentrate because I know I am unworthy.  I don't have time to maintain these regrets... how can I regret anything?  I mean, yes, I was wrong to do things, and I am truly sorry.  All those years are wasted, though, and he said he'd restore the time of the locusts.  So how can I live with regrets when I think of what He did to ensure that I wasn't punished for those acts?  And how can my heart be filled with regrets when it should be filled with an overwhelming love? Love casts out all fear...

Oh, how He loves us.  He loves me... enough to die for me.  Enough to forgive me.  Enough to be enough.  How He loves us... through provision and sacrifice.  How He loves us... through the laugh of a child and the hug of a friend and the soft words of those who comfort us in the time of sorrow.  Through the shadow of a bird in the air or the wind blowing softly through the trees.  Through a rainbow in a sky, the wild lightning or  the drip-drip of rain.  How He loves us...

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Evil in the Sight of the Lord

This morning I read from 1 Kings and 2 Chronicles in my Chronological Bible.  The reading detailed the division of Israel into two kingdoms, Israel and Judah, and the Kings which ruled over them.  The kings were listed, as were there deeds and accomplishments.  Following many of these kings, the writer would say, "And he did evil in the sight of the Lord."  Evil... not a pretty word at all.  In the sight- plain view (as if there is any other way with God).  These kings just didn't care. They disobeyed commandments, worshipped other gods, and did pretty much what they wanted to do.

Everytime I read a passage like this I tend to think about our world.  It's a scary place when you turn the news on.  Killings, fighting, drug dealing, wrecks, people suffering and alone.  Evil... "morally wrong or bad, injurious, harmful, marked by anger", according to dictionary.com.  Too many times I've heard it say that our world have no morals anymore... and how true is that?  People doing what they want to do, in plain sight, for anyone and everyone to see.

Then there are those of us who try.  I mean, I do. I read my Bible and pray and try to do good for others.  I pray to be a light to this dark world.  I reach out to those in need and listen when someone needs to talk.  But how many times do I NOT make time for someone else? Or inwardly roll my eyes at someone?  How often do I truly listen, making people my priority?  How many times do I get angry, acting out of anger, yelling and losing my temper?  Too many times to count.... and that, too, is evil in the sight of the world.  Sadly, there are no different degrees of evil.  A sin is a sin in God's eyes.  Thank God there is no condemnation for them in Christ Jesus.  He has nailed my  sins to His cross and took my place.  So when I recognize that I am doing these things, I should stop, change my reaction, and try a different route.  The moral high road, where I try to do good, not harm, and don't allow anger to get the best of me.  Help me, Lord... Thank You for Your mercy. I don't want to be one of those who leaves a legacy of knowing, but not doing. 

Saturday, May 19, 2012

What Are You Going to Do Now, Big Boy?

Tonight Wallace, Caleb and I took the Ranger out for a ride.  What I thought would only be for a few minutes turned into a 2 hour ride throughout the county.  It's kind of hard to talk over the engine, but we had a good time.  I like looking at the scenery, but I'm not really much of a rider.  I'm filled with far too much fear.

At one point, we were going down a pretty steep  hill and my heart was palpitating just a little.  I held on tight and thanked God for our seatbelts.  Wallace said, "I'm not even a little scared here, babe."  See, fear, or lack of fear, comes from experience, or the lack of experience, depending on the situation.  Wallace has ridden four-wheelers all his life, pretty much.  In the dark, in much more dangerous places that where we were.  He wasn't afraid because he knew where he was going, he had faith in his ability to drive, and he trusted God to take care of us.  As I realized this, I also realized that Wallace wasn't going to take us anywhere that he didn't have control of.  He loves us too much to do that. Kind of like God, our Daddy.  He places us in situations where we are afraid.  It's dark and we aren't sure of the road ahead... but he knows.  He's been there before, and he knows the way.  And he's not going to put us in a position that we aren't capable to handle... with His help.

We ended up driving a pretty good distance in the dark, in some pretty creepy places.  If you've never been in Eastern Kentucky in the dark, with no streetlights and just your little ole headlights shining, let me assure you it's a pretty dark place.  As we drove around places rumored to be haunted and saw snakes creeping across the road, I was a little scared again.  I had to keep telling myself that Wallace knew what he was doing... which can be a scary thought in and of itself.

My favorite part  of the evening, though, was when we were pretty much on level ground.  Even I knew where we were at, and how we would get home. Caleb, though, did not.  As we drove through weeds that were almost as tall as the Ranger, he looked at his Daddy, and said, "Well, you've got us here.  What are you going to do now, big boy?"

And I think sometimes that in our fears, in our failures, God might just nudge us and say that.  "You went your own way, made your own path, and wouldn't listen to me because my road looked scary.  You've got yourself here, what are you going to do now?"  In Caleb's situation, Wallace knew the answer, but too often we don't.  Or we're too stubborn to admit that we took a wrong turn.  The good thing is, God is faithful to put us back on the road and point us in the right direction.  Sometimes it's a wilderness out there, but He'll help us make it home =)

Friday, May 18, 2012

Faith is...

"For faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen."- Hebrews 11:1

This morning I read Hebrews 11.  I've read it before, but some things stood out to me this morning.  The substance... this means "the actual matter of a thing... that of which a thing consists."  Therefore, when we hope for something, faith is the matter that what we hope for is real.  Ultimately, faith is a sign that we believe in the eternal promise of Heaven and our reward.  This is demonstrated as the author goes through the Faith Hall of Fame.

Faith makes us believe in creation... that God merely SPOKE it into existence.  Think he can't handle your situation?  He SPOKE and the world was made.  Faith makes us realize that our story isn't over when we die.  Abel was killed over a more perfect sacrifice, over jealousy, but the "dead speaketh".  The first murder of mankind... and we still talk about it.  Faith makes us believe that God is God, and there is no other.  Faith makes us believe that he will reward us, if we diligently seek Him.  This isn't a cat and mouse game.  Diligently means, "constant in effort... attentive... painstaking".  I'm not sure about you, but I'm not always constant in effort, attentive, and I like to avoid pain at all costs.  Faith lets me know that even in my mistakes, though, He's still God.

Faith makes us do things that we could never imagine.  Look at Noah, building an ark for a flood when noone even knew what rain was.  And you think what God is telling you to do is crazy?  Faith makes us obedient, just as Abraham was.  It also makes us move out of our comfort zone.  Faith makes us look for that city whose builder and maker was God.  (Wow... that verse gives me chills.  I've said before on here, sometimes I just long for home.  Not my house, but my eternal home, where there won't be any sadness or death or sickness...)  Faith delivers us, just as Sara delivered Isaac, who brought forth a multitude of descendants even though he was good as dead (that amazes me... again, that Abraham would be so willingly lay his son down on that altar.  But isn't that precisely what our Father did for us?) 

Faith makes us embrace His promises, and confess them, even though we may be nowhere close to them at this moment. Faith makes us unafraid, just as Moses's mother was unafraid as she lovingly hid him in the bulrushes (another miracle... she gave him up, only to get him back.  Isn't that just like God?) Faith makes us able to stand up for what we believe in and be willingly to give up pleasure for a season, as Moses did.  Faith makes us receive those we do not know, just as Rahab received the spies, and inherited a place in Christ Jesus's blood line.  Faith makes us be strong.  Faith makes us seek better things.

Faith is strong.  It is what helps us through difficult situations, and it helps us to please God.  He smiles when He sees us stepping out in faith, knowing that it is hard for us to do. Relinquish control?  That is hard work! 

If you haven't read this chapter, I urge you to do so.  It makes those Bible characters you heard about when you were little come to life.  Thank You, Father, that we can be faithful because of Your example. Great is Your faithfulness...

Thursday, May 17, 2012

I'm Tired

I was going to write a long blog on one of the Bible verses that I read last night, but to be honest, I'm tired.  I worked hard in my office all day (well, I shredded most of the day.  I had clinical paperwork from 2006.  There is something so wrong with that).  Long day... movie with the boys, flat tire on the way home, and all I'm ready for is to read a little and let my head sink in on that pillow. Which is okay.  We all deserve days where we get a break.  Tomorrow is my first day of summer vacation, and it's going to be a break day.  I do have to clean a little house, and wash a couple loads of laundry, but I'm planning a relaxful majority of the day on my couch, with a good book and maybe some white chocolate covered pretzels (what I'd really like is some Krispy Kreme donut holes... or some brown butter cookies from Yoder's... but I'm trying to be good.  Really trying, most of the time...) Caleb will be glad to know that I'm not really starting my organizing phase until next week.  My goal for the summer?  To be organized... which is the same goal I've had the past three summers. It hasn't happened yet, but at least I can currently see the floor in both my office at work and my bedroom here at home.  Both are very, very good things that don't usually happen, so I'm thinking I'm on my way.  And maybe that's why I'm so tired...

So good night, friends.  Dream big dreams and let God rock you to sleep. I promise something with a little bit more substance tomorrow night. 

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

1000 Gifts

If you've read my blog, you know I've been participating in Ann Voskamp's Joy Dare for 2012.  I read her book 1000 Gifts and it truly changed my outlook on things.  Gratitude really does make a difference.

Yesterday's dare was to find three things about me that are considered gifts.  This was pretty hard for someone who is just figuring out that I'm okay just like I am.  Today's dare, though, was much easier... 3 gifts from The Word.

Let me just give you a disclaimer that the whole Bible is a gift.  The more I read it, the more I want to.  I'm reading my Chronological Bible through, and also doing a study on the Proverbs 31 woman.  Also, I'm doing a study on Hebrews and one on Knowing God.  I may not do each of these every day, but the best days are days like today when I don't have anywhere to go so I can sit and soak it all up.  As I said yesterday, reading is one of my favorite things to do... and I'm loving God's Word more anad more.

So my three gifts from the Word today?  These came during my readings today in the Proverbs 31 study and the Knowing God study.  Micah 6:8 (I cited it wrong in my tweet and facebook status..) My paraphrase: Know, o man, what God requires.  Seek justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God.  This verse is a gift because it is a simple prescription for living a Godly life.  Seek justice... if you seek, you will find.  Justice is important in this world that is so mixed up. Love mercy... because we have been extended mercy, we should extend it in kind.  Walk humbly with your God... meaning He's my God.  And that I can walk with Him? Wow!

Psalms 139:23-24- I love this whole chapter, These verses essentially say, Search my heart, O God, and know what is in it.  If anything is in there that shouldn't be, help me get rid of it (again, my paraphrase). What a gift that God will look at our heart and call us on it.  I'd much rather Him do that than to let me go along in my sinning!

2 Timothy 1:10... I'm going to quote this one, because I loved it when I read it today.  I had read it before, even had it underlined in my Bible, but it is so meaningful today.  "And now he has made all of this plain to us by the appearing of Christ Jesus, our Savior. He broke the power of death and illuminated the way to life and immortality through the Good News.".  Christ Jesus, our Savior, appearing to us.  In our hearts today, but soon to us in person.  He broke the power of death and illuninated... brought to life so we could see it... life and immortality through the Good News (His Gospel... His Word).

God has a way of giving us gifts. I wrote those verses down early in this morning, during my quiet time.  Tonight, I am saddened by the loss of a young lady in our community.  Her Mom was my boss at the hospital and loved her girls so much.  I can't imagine her grief, nor do I want to try to. She left behind a beautiful little girl who no doubt doesn't understand.  I'm also saddened by the loss of the mother of one of my Mom's childhood friends.  Tonight, I'm praying for those families affected.  May you be comforted in the illumination of immortality.  Death may separate you now, but He has given us victory so it is not permanent. I know that doesn't help lessen your loss... and no words can.  But I'm praying for them from the bottom of my heart. 

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

What's on My Mind

Don't you just love that on Facebook?  As if we can really always say what is on our mind. Sadly, some people do just that... and once it's out there, you can't take it back.  Tonight is one of those nights when there really isn't anything particular on my mind, but I'm resolved to write each night... so here's what I'm thinking about. 

Summertime!  Today was Caleb's last day of school and I've only got a couple of days left until I'm off for the summer. I'm going to do some advising and I'll be reworking lecture notes since we've changed books, but as far as clocking time every day, nope... I'm ready for sunshine and popscicles and reading by the pool.

Which brings me to my other topic.  My favorite part of the summer is being able to read.  Mindless reading, that doesn't involve a 100 pound textbook.  (OK, maybe I'm exaggerating... or maybe not.)  I've got so many books on my Kindle.  I'm currently finishing The Memory Palace, a memoir by the daughter of a schizophrenic.  I'm also reading Faith Bass Darling's Last Garage Sale, a fun book about a rich woman with Alzheimer's who is convinced that she is going to die the eve of the Millenium, so she sells everything she owns for dirt cheap.  I've started War and Peace... my goal is to read it by the end of the summer.  Holly assures me once I "get into it" I will love it.  I'm still waiting.  And then there's The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo  and the Stephanie Plum series (I've been buying them up at Half-Price books since I just got started on them.  I love them! They are my mindless pleasure in the bathtub.).  I've got so many free books from Amazon that when browsing I sometimes forget I've already downloaded.  Good thing Amazon lets me know at the top of the screen!

Also on my mind... tonight I walked for an hour, about 3.5 miles.  My goal for next week is 5 miles at least three times a week... We'll see.  Night, all, and God bless =)

Monday, May 14, 2012

The Human Yo-Yo

Yep, that's me.  I've shyed away from this topic but it's time I face it full-on... I am a human yo-yo.  I'm not talking about my emtions, although Wallace and Caleb would probably say I'm guilty of that, too.  I'm talking about my weight.  Up and down, then up some more, up, up, then down a little... you get the picture.  And you're probably a lot like me.

I am sickened by those who can eat whatever they want to and not gain a pound.  I know this is not a Christian attitude to have, but I'm still guilty.  Wallace also makes me sick, with all his talk of running, sometimes up to 13 miles at a time.  Really? Who enjoys that??? Maybe it's that I think I would... if I could only make myself stick to it.

There are several reasons for this yo-yo.  One, I'm a picky eater.  I know that junk food is bad and fruits and vegetables are good.  I even think that beautiful summer salads are, well, beautiful... but then when it comes to me actually eating them, I can't help but think they taste like dirt.  I know this is all in my mind... but it's still there.  Secondly, I'm a stress eater.  Rather, I'm an emotional eater.  Happy?  Let's go out and eat to celebrate.  Sad?  Let me grab a bag of salty potato chips and they will make them all better. Stressed?  French fries are sure to make it better... but then it doesn't.  Thirdly, I have a lack of self-discipline.  I know that.  I think that's why it kills me so much that Wallace runs, and runs, and runs so more.  The sad thing is I KNOW that I feel better when I exercise. It's just the act of getting started.

Tonight I went to Zumba and it was wonderful. I probably won't be able to walk tomorrow, but I'll force myself to do an hour up and down my lane.  I'll try not to eat quite as much and I'll also try to drink all the water I'm supposed to.  And did I mention that I bypassed Dairy Queen on my way home tonight even though my mind was screaming, "Reeses Peanut Butter Cup Blizzard???"  Yeah, today has been a pretty good day.  We'll just have to see about tomorrow.  I'll probably never be able to run with Wallace... but I'm putting one foot in front of the other again, and that's a little progress. 

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Happy Mother's Day, Mom!

There is an instinct in a woman to love most her own child - and an instinct to make any child who needs her love, her own. ~Robert Brault

Being a mother is an amazing thing.  When you're first handed this little bundle, counting the ten fingers and ten toes and looking them over, it hits you that there is a life you are completely responsible for.  Some people are blessed... like me, there child was born into a family with grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends to help raise him.  Others must do it on their own.  Whether a single mom, a stay at home Mom, a work outside the home full-time Mom, being a Mom is hard.  Once you become a Mom, you have been given a gift.  Some cultivate that gift more than others... the gift of loving one more than yourself.

In the quote above, Brault says that a mother can tell when a child needs love. Again, some are better at this than others.  In this situation, I'd have to say my Mom is the best.  As the oldest sibling, my Mom cooked and cleaned and brushed hair and helped with homework.  She wiped tears away from younger siblings and listened to their stories from school.  She cared for their boo-boos. As a teacher, she gave her all every day in the classroom.  She loved those children like her own. She made sure they had food to eat when they were hungry and taught them a whole lot more than reading, writing, and arithmetic.  There aren't too many places where we go where someone doesn't know my Mom, whether it be through a class or a Wednesday night Bible study class.

She had a special group of girls for a long time... her cheerleaders. Kami and I laugh because someone will come up to Mom and she'll hug them and love on them and Kami will say, "Was everyone a cheerleader?".  And she's always had a love for basketball and football players, too.  She's the quiet one patting them on the back and giving them hugs, taking cookies to the den, until game time, that is. Then she's the one ringing her cowbell the loudest.  After the season, she'll take their letterman jackets home and sew on patches for the boys, sometimes more than once.

Mom is quiet.  She's the type that can go unnoticed.  She's the one in the background hanging wall decorations or painting signs or directing people to locker rooms or classrooms.  She's the one in the kitchen making the cake or the punch or cooking.  She's the one who does the dishes and wipes the crumbs off the counter, making sure wherever we are at was as clean as it always was.  Give Mom a piece of fabric and she can make you a dress.  Give her some flowers and she goes all Martha Stewart.  Her picture albums are all organized by year and her craft supplies are in neatly labeled boxes. 

She's also the one who has encouraged those who did not have an encourager.  She's the one who brought home a boy who needed a place to stay, and loved him and raised him as my brother. My Mom is the one who can always be counted on.  If you know her, you know that to be true. 

Not everyone is blessed with a good Mama. I've been blessed with a great one.  With quiet grace and dignity, a smile on her face and her hands full of work, she's placed high expectations on her girls. Happy Mother's Day, Mom.  Thanks for all you've done for me, for my sisters, my son, my friends, all of your cheerleaders and football players and band members and kids.  You're the best... and I really mean that.  <3

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Dear Caleb,

On the eve of my 9th Mother's Day, I've been skimmig through Facebook and reading all kinds of Mother's Day posts.  I've been reading the blogs I subscribe to and nodding my head in agreement about all the things a good mother does, and how she shows her love to her children.  Tomorrow, I'll be talking about my Mama, because she truly is the best, and my mother-in-law, and grandmas.  So many women who made me who I am, good or bad.  But tonight, I want to focus on that wonderful creature who made me a Mama...

My funny boy, who has an infectious laugh and a twinkle in his eye.  A devil on a golf cart and a dolphin in the water.  No longer cuddly little boy, this man-child is a unique breath of life.  God designs us each to be our own, and he is no exception.  Oh, the things he can say.  "Mom, I have a question...", and a lot of the time I don't have an answer.  He leaves me breathless as I watch him text and type and google and search on You-tube.  What will this boy grow up to be?  My heart aches as I think about the heartaches he might face.  If I could tell him anything, it would be:

I love you.  More than mint chocolate chip ice cream and to the moon and back, an imperfect, unconditional love that I rarely know how to express yet I fumble along.  I am so proud of you, even as you make me mad because you don't listen, and are stubborn.  I know that these qualities could be your downfall but they could also be your saving grace if you use them the right way.  You make my heart smile as I watch you, sitting with your glasses half down on your nose, looking at videos on that Ipad.  Your caring heart for others, praying for those who are sick or who need uplifting, amazes me... yet at the same time that sassy mouth that is so much like me and your Daddy infuriates me.  Words are powerful, Caleb.  Use them right.  Use them to love others and to love Jesus in a way I never did at your age.  Love others to the point of it hurting, because God heals broken hearts and it's better to be hurt at the feet of Jesus than to have a heart of stone.  Show that love through action, by kindness to those who are less fortunate.  When you get old enough, love a girl like she's meant to be loved.  Cry a little every now and then.  There is no weakness in a man's tears.  Give 110% at whatever you choose to do.  Stand up for what you believe in and say no to bullying and drugs and hate.  Laugh every day, all day, but learn when it is ok to be serious.  And above all, know that your Mama will love you no matter what.

Thank You, Lord, for this boy you've given me.  Being a mother is the most important job in the world, and I don't take it lightly.  I know I'm not perfect, but You're making up for my mistakes.  Help my messes blossom and grow into a young man fitting of Your kingdom.  I'm remembering that as much as I love him, You love him more...

Friday, May 11, 2012

Living on a Rooftop

Last night Wallace and I had words.  We do that sometimes, not as much as we used to, and usually when one or both of us are superbusy and running around like chickens with our heads cut off, which seems to be almost all the time.  I  knew he was tired, knew he hadn't been getting much sleep, but my feelings got hurt and then I let him know about it. 

Funny that when I read in my Bible, one of the verses was, "Better to live on a corner of the roof than share a house with a quarrelsome wife."- Proverbs 25:24.  This isn't the only time this concept is discussed.  In Proverbs, it's listed a couple more times, followed by the Proverbs 31 woman, who is known for her virtue.

Also funny how it never says anything about a quarrelsome man.  I got to thinking about that on my long walk I took last night (I walked until I wasn't mad anymore, so it was a pretty good walk...) See, when Wallace and I fight, I like to scream.  I like to talk things out, even when maybe everything has been talked to death.  I think as a woman, I like to get into the "why's" and the feelings involved.  Wallace says his peace and is done.  No arguing, no pleading, no yelling.  Just finished.  Ready to laugh it off or lay his head down on the pillow with a clean conscience.  I think that's how most guys are... so maybe that's why it talks about a woman, because the woman is usually (and I'm saying usually in my case.  It may not be the same in yours) the one that keeps it going.  What's that old saying- Hell hath no fury as a woman scorned?  Women tend to hold grudges, and bring up stuff and keep it brewing, over and over again.

I'm happy to say we've had a delighful evening tonight.  Might it have to do with me NOT quarreling?  I'm really trying not to complain.  Wallace is far from perfect, but so am I.  Yes, he gets on my nerves sometimes, but I get on his, too.  Maybe the happy medium is just to smile and shake my head when he irritates me, and keep on loving.  I certainly don't want him having to live on our rooftop... it's a slippery slope, and I'd hate to see him break his neck.  Been there, done that, and trust me, it was no fun =)

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Physical or Spiritual Therapy?

So, Caleb hurt his knee almost three weeks ago, and since we got cleared by UK we've been making trips to the physical therapist.  Katrina and her staff at Jackson Physical Therapy have been excellent, and I'm not just saying that because she's my cousin =)

Caleb is feeling MUCH better, which means that he's having a tough time with the limitations.  And as I was watching him today, I got to thinking about how sometimes physical therapy is a little like our spiritual life as well.

First of all, Caleb started out in that knee immobilizer.  Caleb is a very ACTIVE boy.  Oh, he loves to sit around and play his ipad, but he is always moving, so that knee immobilizer was torture.  He has been forced to move slowly, and when he gets going too fast, the immobilizer slides down and he has to stop and adjust it.  Isn't that just like life? We think we are in good shape, feeling better, and start off full sprint ahead.  God sees things differently, and slows us down.  Sometimes we're left completely immobile (Hence the be still and know I am God verse) and sometimes He just cautions us, but there are definitely times in our lives when we must move slowly.

Second, in PT, the phrase No Pain, No gain is popular.  Physical therapy hurts.  Anytime you are working an injured part, whether it has been bruised, broken, or torn, it's going to hurt.  If it doesn't hurt, you're probably not doing enough with it.  Caleb has struggled with this.  Today, at therapy, they were having him do an exercise where he held a pillow in between his knees and he got really frustrated at me.  "I'm squeezing, Mom... but it's hurting.  You don't understand."  (I did not point out to him that I did understand... that I had labored with him for a few hours and I'm sure it was a little more squeezing than a pillow... just saying).  Spiritual growth is hard, too.  Jesus said we'd have trouble, and sometimes we have to find our way through painful situations.  The good news is, He knows how we feel, and He is always there to go through our troubles with us.  And He doesn't even remind us of how bad He suffered!

I'm proud of my boy.  He's worked hard, and I know it's hard for him as a little kid.  God is good, and faithful through and through, even if it does hurt a little. 

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Forever

This morning I woke up with Chris Tomlin's song Forever on my mind.  "Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good. His love endures forever."- Psalm 118:1. 

Give thanks... for He is good.  Even when things aren't going your way.  Even when you don't understand what you are facing.  Even when all things seem lost.  He's still good.  He can be no other way BUT good. 

His love endures... endures, holds on, is steadfast.  Won't let go.  Even when you deserve it. Even when  you can't feel it.  Even when you don't want it.  His love endures.  Forever.

This is one of my favorite verses, because sometimes it's good to think about His love.  I can endure, hang on, keep on keeping on, because His love endures forever.  This phrase appears numerous times throughout Psalms... because maybe King David knew about enduring love. 

My favorite line of the Forever song is "by the grace of God we will carry on."  Amen and amen.  We will carry on... because His love endures forever.  Hang in there!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Adonai Yahweh

Lord... I AM... The Sovereign Lord. 
I'm reading Mary Kassian's Knowing God and I am loving it.  How amazing is it that our great God has so many names?  Each name identifies with a different aspect of His character, and of course He is so multifaceted...after all, He is Lord!  He IS...

The last lesson of the week was on Adonai Yahweh, meaning Sovereign Lord.  Sovereign- A person who has extreme or ultimate power or authority.  Lord- A master or leader; one who has authority...

With authority comes great responsibility.  That means that God, as our Lord, is responsible for our care. He does it because He loves us.  We don't have to worry about our needs being met.  This isn't saying we'll get everything our hearts desire, but He knows what we need before we ask.  And sovereign... the lesson had Bible verses backing up what all He was sovereign over, which is everything!

Think about it... He spoke the world in existence.  Those powerful waves crashing on the shore?  He can hold them in the palm of His hand.  That roaring lion in the Sahara?  He will one day make it lie down with the lamb.  He controls the thunder and lightning and blizzards and hurricanes. He controls the sun and rain and the snow and ice. He tells the sun when to shine and created that big old supermoon so many of us looked at the other night.   He tells the angels what to do and even has limits on Satan. He is sovereign over us, but gives us the free will to choose His salvation. 

Tonight, I'm thinking of How Great He Is.  I know this video is long, but if you have a chance, click on it.  He's great, and sovereign.  Won't you worship with me?
www.youtube.com/watch?v=PtpTk2ENq7o Louie Giglio- How Great is Our God

Monday, May 7, 2012

Summer To Do List

Summer is so close I can taste it.  Meetings the next day, where we'll work on stuff for the fall semester, and then working in my office for only four more days.  Summer...

I'm a big to do list person.  I love to plan... much more than I love to actually do.  Today, I was writing out my to do list and I started smothering down... not because I have so much to do, but because I don't.  I love the verse "Be Still and know I am God..." but I still haven't figured out how to do that, so I panic if I don't have something to do.  Now I'm not saying this summer will be boring.  I have over 100 books on my Kindle to read, I'm taking a class at Western (biostats, no less), and my house needs a good top to bottom scrubdown cleaning (which I am thoroughly dreading).  But my to do list also includes... sleeping late.  Movies with Caleb.  Walks and Zumba.  Lounging by the pool.  Getting in some sister time with Kami and Holly.  Listening to Wallace talk about running.  Maybe taking a ride in the Vette if we can sneak off.  The beach and Green River Lake with my Griffith family.  Rocking on Mamaw Bert's porch and spending time with Grandma Na.  Reading my Bible and soaking it in.  Naps. 

Summer break... hurry and get here.  Looks like I've got a lot to do, and I'm ready to tackle that to do list =)

Saturday, May 5, 2012

I Ain't Afraid of No Ghosts... or Am I?

I've always loved scary stories, even when I was a little girl.  Scary books, and especially scary stories told late at night in the dark.  My rational mind tries to tell me that hauntings can't be true... but then there are all those stories...

My cousin Jenn is a ghost hunter.  She has all the equipment, the special cameras and the audio recorders.  She loves the paranormal and appears to be a good "ghost hunter".  Tonight I watched her on "My Ghost Story" and she did an awesome job.  This isn't the first time she's been on TV, either... and everytime I know about it I try to look her up.  I usually don't watch those kind of shows, but for one thing, it's neat to see your family on national TV, and for another, it is interesting.

However interesting I think it is, though, I think I'll just  partake in the third party through her stories.  I'm not sure I'd like to come face to face with the spirit of a Civil War Soldier, but I did enjoy hearing her tell about it.  I guess one ghost hunter in the family is enough =)

Friday, May 4, 2012

Finals Week

I don't have much to say tonight.  It's been a busy week, and a long day.  Went into work early and cleaned on my office some.  You can actually see carpet now!  Then, had final exams.  I hate final exam week.  Everyone is so stressed and scared.  I hate the whole emotional roller coaster.  Contrary to what some people may believe, I really do love my students, and I want them to be successful.  Not everyone can be, though, and that is the part I hate.

At the end of the day, I'm sad to see this group go.  They've been a good group.  Pretty much, all of the students that I've had have been good.  Oh, there's some students who are better than others, simply because of personalities and mannerisms, but at the end of the semester, they all deserve a standing ovation.  Even those who have been unsuccessful... because they have fought.  Nursing school is no piece of cake.  And a lot of these students have families, jobs, responsibilities... So tonight I'm saluting you, nursing students.  Thanks for letting me be a part of your life.  Thanks for letting me get to know you and learn about your families and your responsibilities, your hopes, dreams, and fears.  Reach for the stars... and keep on keeping on.  It'll be worth it.

I'm blessed to have a job that I love.  Just to think that I have a small part in shaping the future of nursing is humbling... but I think I'm ready for summer vacation =) Only two more weeks of meetings and filing and cleaning up my office.  I can do it... I can =)

Thursday, May 3, 2012

The Proverbs 31 Woman

Today has been a long day.  Caleb had physical therapy, I had a funeral to attend, work, and teaching a CPR class.  It's almost 10 PM and I'm ready to fall into bed, lots left undone and feeling like a failure because I've ran in what seemed like a million directions.  Life is hard... and then you die.  Kind of morbid, right, until you think about the eternal reward. 

My mind is spinning in a tailspin so I apologize if this comes off as being a big conglomeration of nothing.  On days like today, all I really want to do is curl up in a ball and cry.  And it's not even really been a bad day... I'm just in one of those funks.  Seems like I can't do anything right.  Everybody questions my actions and my responses and it's a lifelong battle with everyone... I feel like it's me against the world. 

And it is. Not just me, though.  It's me and a band of angels against the world, and no matter how much I think I have to defend myself and my actions and my responses and my decisions, I don't have to.  I'm me, and I'm God's and that's all there is about that.  I do my best...and it's good enough.  Maybe not to the world, maybe not to those around me, but my life, the dash between 1979 and whatever date I die, is between me and God only.  That's enough to be happy about right there.  It's the same for you.  Why do we feel like we have to be perfect?  Why do we feel like we have to handle it all?  Because I can't do anything without Him... I'm far from perfect, and I can barely write my name sometimes, much less handle everything I'm trying to juggle. 

Today, I sat in a funeral of a beautiful woman who has left a legacy of "The Proverbs 31 Woman."  As I was thinking about Aunt Jo last night, that's exactly what came to mind.  Precious.  Trustworthy.  Bringing good to her husband of 60 years.  Planning her life on her farm that they made from wilderness.  Strong and a hard worker.  Beautiful on the inside and out.  Kind.  I don't know about you, but those words scare me.  Maybe this is why we think we have to be perfect... doesn't she have it all together? Isn't this Proverbs 31 woman the epitome of perfection?
  "She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future.  When she speaks, her words are wise, and she gives instructions with kindness."  "Her children stand and bless her. Her husband praises her:  “There are many virtuous and capable women in the world, but you surpass them all!”"    

This is what I want... to have dignity and strength and be fearless, to give kind instructions, and to be blessed by Caleb and praised by Wallace.  This is why I feel like a failure... because I don't do these things.  Not consistently.  Oh, my... I know I could never do all these things.  The preacher today talked about that, too... how we try to do it all on our own.  He talked about Jesus, who could have done anything He wanted, knew he had to cry out to the Father in Gethsamane.  He then talked about how Aunt Jo knew who to lean on, too. 
So I may not be humble or kind., but I'm trying.   I am far from perfect, but I serve a perfect God.  He loves me just the way I am, just as he loved Aunt Jo.  And she's up there right now with Him, with her 7 sisters who went before her. 
  "Reward her for all she has done. Let her deeds publicly declare her praise."-  Maybe my mess of a life is a testimony in and of itself... that I know I've not got it all together, but what matters is that I know Who does.  Thanks for listening.  Keep on hanging on... because we may get there eventually.  And oh, it's going to be perfect. 

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Family Reunion

Tonight I went to the funeral home for my great-aunt Josephine's wake.  I will probably write more about her tomorrow, because she truly was a wonderful person and my Grandma Bert's best friend.  Tonight, though, I've been thinking about how crazy life is.  We run and go and never stop.  I live on the same road as my Mom and Dad and sometimes go two or three days without seeing them.  Funerals are sad occasions, but it's nice to get to visit with people that you don't get to see often.  It'd be even nicer if we could stop and pause in our busy everyday lives to visit when the circumstances aren't so sad.

People I'm glad I got to see tonight include my cousin Brandon.  Brandon and I grew up 6 months apart so much of our younger years were spent running from each other. (Ok... he ran from me.  For some reason, I always wanted to hug him. And he didn't like hugs).  We spent a lot of time playing detective (he was always the detective and I was his assistant).  We had classes together through school, and when he got his license 6 months before I did, he came to my house and picked me up to go riding around.  Brandon is a great guy.  He's funny and likeable and works hard at his job.  We don't talk much, but I love him dearly and think of him often.  Lexington isn't that far away...

I also got to see the mothers of two of my dearest childhood friends.  Olivia was the sister I never had (ok, I had two... but she was like a sister to me).  Our grandmas were first cousins, and when we met in kindergarten, it was like we had known each other all our lives.  Today I got to see Livi's Mom and Grandma. Both looked as beautiful as ever, and the hugs I got were great!  I also got to see my childhood friend Harold Ray's Mom, Dottie. Harold Ray was (and still is) one of the smartest people I have ever known, and we spent many a class together.  I've always loved Dottie, whose laugh is infectious.  I've prayed for her as she battled cancer, and tonight she looked wonderful.

And then there were lots of other people, too.  It's good living in a small community where everyone knows everyone else in this situation.  So many faces, so many smiles and pats and hugs, because everyone sympathizes with one another.  And just sitting with Holly, Warren, and in front of Mamaw Bert, visiting... I need to do that more often.  Not in a funeral home, but sitting on the back porch rocking with Mamaw Bert, or on Mamaw Na's porch swing. 

I'm sure you have those people you'd like to see more, too.  I know we're all busy, but let's make an effort to pause and spend some time with those we love.  We never know when we won't have the opporunity.  And seeing all those people tonight that I loved made me think of those who have gone on.... of my family in Heaven.  Grandma said tonight, "I can just picture Jo smiling down on me right now." She's up there with her Mom and Dad and sisters... what a family reunion that will be.  And we will have all the time in the world, then...

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

A Blog from Caleb






So, I've not really upheld and wrote every day. I've had really good intentions, but things fall by the way side and I get busy and find myself with a million and one things to do.  Sometimes I really don't know what to write about.  Tonight is one of those nights.  I've had a good day... work, then Caleb to Physical Therapy, and then spent a good hour and a half on my Mamaw Bert's back porch laughing with some of my favorite people.  All in all, a good day...

Caleb's sitting next to me right now and he's antsy.  This whole sitting still thing has been rough on him, but he's learning to just be still sometimes.  He's starting to like to write, much like I did when I was his age.  And he's a pretty good proofreader.  So when he asked if he could post tonight, I decided to hand over the keyboard and let him have at it.  I don't know what's on his mind, but I'm excited to read it.  Enjoy...

                                              My Blog
                           By:Caleb Bates
My great Mom and great Writer "Lauren Bates" decided that I could blog for her Tonight..... I am sort of like her. I use alot of "......." in my sentences. I'm a Mom's Boy! A bit about  me...... I have a broke knee. I love TITANIC. I like to listen to Music..... my favorite game is "Temple Run". I have tried to write books, I'm  nine years old.... in my Classes I'm refered as "Tech Genius" and I'm very proud to be so smart! So..... many People have been praying for me lately. Tuesday, April,24th,2012 I feel in the Library and hit a book-shelf. I have been working hard! I am having so issues walking. In TENN. I was wheeled around Down Town in a wheel-chair.....as I have climbed up a Big Hill called "Helpful Hill" that means that I am working hard to get well! Hopefully I can blog again soon!,

Caleb Bates :)

My boy IS smart.  I'm so proud of him! I'm sure he'll be guest-blogging again soon.  Until then, God's grace is sufficient.. even through physical therapy =)