Let it be enough

I posted this photo along with the following explanation and because it seemed to resonate with a lot of folks, I am just going to go ahead and post it here. This is a struggle bus I ride on a daily basis and I am learning just to let what I do today be enough.

This is hard for an individual like me. The one who’s always thinking I could’ve done more. The reality is finally setting in and I am beginning to see that it’s not the amount I get done in a day but rather the heart with which I do it that gives me the most satisfaction. There’s a verse in Philippians 2: 3-4 that says, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” For me, it is better to do a little with the right heart and motives than a lot without a heart and for self-satisfaction and personal gain.

Why I Can Celebrate A Risen Savior

Before you read this post, I want you to know that I have spent a great deal of time praying over this post. Not only have I prayed over sharing this, but I have also prayed for you, my readers. I can tell you that this particular writing came through a recent Bible Study God placed on my heart about nine months ago. I realize that it’s significantly more lengthy than I normally write. Please bear with me. For me, personally, this has been a life-altering study and today, of all days, it is why I can celebrate Easter because Jesus took my place and He conquered sin and death. He is my Victory.

The truth is you don’t get to know someone intimately without spending time with them. I spent a lot of time with my Popaw. I knew him well. I knew him so well that when he asked for water it was not a common request. At that moment I believe that God was clearly showing me and Mom that Popaw would soon meet Jesus.

For years doctors, as well as family, tried vehemently to get Popaw to drink water. However, Popaw refused. He preferred his coffee and tea always reasoning, “I’m getting my water from coffee and tea. Besides, I don’t know how you can enjoy drinking something that has no flavor.” Mom even bought flavored water drinks to try to encourage his intake of water. It proved to be a useless, futile attempt. Popaw was adamant, he would not drink water.

So, after we finally got him somewhat calmed down the day of his stroke, I asked him, “Popaw, do you want something to drink?”

He responded, “I want water.”

I asked a second time, “Did I hear you correctly you want water?”

Nodding his head and opening his dry mouth he said, “I want water.”

Mom and I both stood there in utter disbelief and shock. Mom looked at me, began to shake her head and uttered, “He never asks for water. Never. He doesn’t like water. I cannot believe what I am hearing.”

I gave him water that day. I knew his time was short. I knew that God was helping both of us process that Popaw would not be with us much longer. However, if I had not spent a great deal of time with him, if I had not gotten to really know him, I would not have known his request to be so odd or unusual. I knew him. I gave him water on Wednesday and he died the following Tuesday.

I believe with all of my heart that the reason John wrote the Book of John is that John wants us to get to know Jesus like He knew Jesus. He is telling us, in essence, the very reason Jesus came was for us to know Him because when we know Him, we will believe in Him. Consequently giving us the right to become heirs with Him. (“But to all who did receive him (Jesus), who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” John 1:12 ESV)

Look with me at the following verse. I have taken the liberty to give it to you in several different translations. I encourage you to read it in others. Each translation has it’s own uniqueness which helps aid in our understanding.

“The Word became flesh and dwelt among us and we have seen his glory, the glory of as the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14 ESV

“The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood. We saw the glory with our own eyes, the one-of-a-kind glory, like Father, like Son. Generous inside out, true from start to finish.” MSG

“So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.”
‭‭John‬ ‭1:14‬ ‭NLT‬‬

“And the Word (Christ) became flesh and lived among us; and we (actually saw His glory, glory as belongs to the (One and ) only begotten Son of the Father (the Son who is truly unique the only One of His kind, who is) full of grace and truth (absolutely free of deception.” John 1:14 AMP

When you read the words, “And the Word became flesh.”? What does that mean to you?

To me it means, Jesus put skin on. It didn’t make him any less God but he took on human flesh. And what that means for me, personally, is that He became human so that He could experience life the way I experience life. He can identify with me.

Think about it like this. The best counselors are those who have walked in your shoes. The ones who have lived through the hard times and made it through. In order to understand us, Jesus was willing to put skin on. The truth here is that he has endured all that we will ever endure. Mock, ridicule, injustice, betrayal, separation from the Father, and death. Knowing this means that He understands and that is what makes Him the “Wonderful counselor” Isaiah talks about. (Isaiah 9:6)

The writer of Hebrews expressed it like this: “Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Hebrews 4:14-16 NIV)

Then John goes on to say, not only did he become flesh but “He makes his dwelling among us.”

In order to really understand what that means we have to go back to the original Greek text and see that the word “dwelt or lived” is literally translated as “tabernacled” which means to pitch a tent.

If you’ll remember the tabernacle during the days of Moses was God’s dwelling place. Now, this tabernacle was constructed with human hands and under the direction of God. And if you’ll remember on the priests could enter the Holy of Holies and there was a veil that separated them from seeing God. Now, because Jesus came in human form, not made by human hands, we have God in flesh living among us. He is our Emmanuel, “God with us.” He is near. What a revelation!

You see, Jesus is the only way to a relationship with God!

Pastor Emile Wolfaardt puts it this way: “A little more than 2,000 years ago, God stepped onto our earth, pitched His tent and set up camp right in the middle of us all. That is what the word ‘dwelled’ can mean — to set a tent. In other words, the Word became flesh and pitched His tent among us. And when He did that,well men it was the most profound revelation of God man would ever know on this earth.”

“But when Christ came as high priest of the good things that are now already here, he went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not made with human hands, that is to say, is not a part of this creation. “he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption.” Hebrews 9:11-12

And now because Jesus put on skin and dwells among us, “we have seen His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father.”

First of all, I think it’s important to remember who is writing this book, John, the disciple. Remember he communed with Jesus on a regular basis. He had a relationship with him. and to remember that he along with Peter and James was with Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration. Look with me at Matthew 17

“And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light. And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. And Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.” He was still speaking when, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” When the disciples heard this, they fell on their faces and were terrified. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Rise, and have no fear.” And when they lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only.” Matthew 17:1-8

So yes, John has seen his glory but we too have seen his glory. We see His glory when we believe that He is our Savior and He is the only way to the Father. Then we see His glory displayed in and through the lives of others who believe.

What does His glory look like?

“Then Moses said, “I pray You, show me Your glory!” And He said, “I Myself will make all My goodness pass before you, and will proclaim the name of the LORD before you; and I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show compassion on whom I will show compassion.” But He said, “You cannot see My face, for no man can see Me and live!” Exodus 33: 18-20

“And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, “ Exodus 34:6

“In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!” And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke.” Isaiah 6:1-4

“For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ” 2 Corinthians 4:6

“And the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb.” Revelation 21:23

His glory is as brilliant as the sun. And His glory is clearly revealed in the Person of Jesus Christ. Before Christ, no one could see the face of God and live but this scripture tells us that not only is Jesus, the only Son of God, but Jesus himself is God. When Jesus took on flesh, He became the ultimate manifestation of God’s glory. When Jesus went to the cross, died and rose again, He returned to glory.

But John doesn’t stop there, he tells us that He is full of “grace and truth.”

Theologian J.C. Ryle eloquently writes of the grace and truth that came together in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ: “This constant undivided union of two perfect natures in Christ’s Person is exactly that which gives infinite value to His mediation and qualifies Him to be the very Mediator that sinners need. Our Mediator is One who can sympathize with us, because He is very MAN. And yet, at the same time, He is One who can deal with the Father for us on equal terms, because He is very GOD.”

What do you think of when you hear the word grace?

Do you think of the time while Jesus was hanging on the cross and he cries out, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do?” Luke 23:34

Here is the epitome of grace and truth.

The truth is that it’s our sin that cost him his life. That is the reason Jesus took on flesh because there was no other way. The sacrifice had to be spotless and perfect. But do you realize what the implications of our sin really cost Him?

Think back to the Garden of Gethsemane. Three, not once, twice but three times, Jesus prayed fervently for God to take the cup from Him. He came with flesh on for this purpose. He knew all along what His purpose was but His spirit was in such agony that He asked God to “take it away but only if there was any other way.” Why would Jesus beg God to take it away? Because He knew for the very first time since before the beginning of all time that He would be separated from God, the Father. Just ponder that for a moment…..I think most of us know what it feels like to be separated from someone we know. Think about how your heart groans and longs to be reunited. But this, this is far worse than any separation we can imagine. And when we begin to realize the vast implications of what our sin really cost Him, it becomes more difficult not to see His grace in light of His truth and not stand amazed with awe and wonder.

He gave us what we didn’t deserve and took our punishment upon him. Isaiah penned it like this “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned everyone – to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him (Jesus) the iniquity of us all.” Isaiah 53:6 ESV

And if He bore our sins and took our punishment and we have come to faith in Him, then it is profitable for us to remember ”So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” John 8:36 NIV

The truth is He willingly put on flesh in order to take on our sin because there was no other way. He bought our freedom with His blood. And Hallelujah, on the third day he arose and burst the gates of Hell wide open. This is why I can celebrate Easter. Jesus is me Victory!

Remember and Celebrate

It seems perfectly fitting that today, Palm Sunday, while Christians around the world are commemorating Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. I am finding cause to celebrate your triumphal entry to Heaven.

Forty-four years ago today, Jesus finished your place and called you home. “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” John 14:3. Jesus unbound you and set you free.

Your bindings were not literal chains but those of a physical nature. For almost four years leading up to your death, your body suffered greatly. Cancer raged. While the chemotherapy gave you time, it also depleted you of your strength. Then forty-nine days or more before you took your final breath, your chains became your hospital bed. The tumor resting on your spine was inoperable and caused paralysis from the waist down.

While the cancer and chemotherapy were taking its toll on your physical body and binding it up, nothing could contain the Spirit of God that welled up in your soul. You understood what Paul said in Philippians 1:21. “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” You knew the end of your story was going to turn out well but you also knew for what time God gave you was a great responsibility to live your life worthy of your calling. And you did! You understood what most of us fail to even understand now, what really matters: Loving God with all of your heart and loving others. You loved others enough to share with them the Good News of Christ because you wanted them to experience the same peace and joy that you had been given.

Daddy, can I tell you something? Your life is still making a difference. The prayers you prayed are still being worked out. Your legacy continues. How do I know? Because your life continues to make a difference in my life and it leads me to desire greater wisdom and knowledge of Jesus and a greater love for people. I found this in your Bible and I am convinced it’s a prayer that you prayed for all of your children. God, answered your prayer, He allowed your actions to shine and He did remember you

And so today, as we enter into Holy Week by remembering Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem. I will remember and celebrate your triumphant entry into the arms of Jesus!

A Fast Spreading Infection

An infection, especially a bacterial infection, left untreated can wreak havoc quickly. Oh, I’ve heard about incidents where folks left infections untreated and serious problems resulted from not taking care of the problem. In some cases, amputations of appendages and even death. I just didn’t realize how quickly an infection can spread until I had one.

One day in late May, I decided to treat myself to a manicure and pedicure. It’s not something I normally do. It’s one of the luxuries I don’t care to spend money on, except occasionally and for special occasions. This particular day, I just needed a “pick me up”.

The next day, as the day progressed, I noticed that my left thumb was tight and it was trobbing a little. But when I glanced down at it, it had the appearance of a bug bite. It was the end of May and the mosquitos were out. I brushed it off and didn’t think anything else about it until later in the day.

During dinner with Terry I jokingly said, “Look at my poor thumb. It’s swollen and it has a fever.”

He said, “Well, when you get home put some ice on it. It looks like a bug bite.” (See, I told you, in my previous blog, his answer for everything is “ice”. )

By the time I arrived home my thumb was throbbing. It felt as if my heart was beating in my thumb. Not to mention, the swelling was getting worse. My thumb was so tight I could barely move it. So, I did what Terry suggested. I put ice on the darn thing and began my Google search to determine what bit me. After several searches and looking at pictures of bug bitten fingers, mine didn’t exactly fit the bill. So I Googled, “Why is my thumb swollen around the nail?” One of the first articles talked about bacterial infections related to manicures. Suddenly it dawned on me that I had the manicure the day before and that’s exactly what happened. I had gotten an infection. Then I recalled an odd comment the nail tech made to me, “I don’t like that color. Why you choose that color?” (And yes, he said it this way because he’s Asian) I also remembered during the process of cutting my cuticle he gouged me a little in the lower left corner of my left thumb. As I looked at my fat thumb, I could see tiny remnants of dried blood from the small gouge mark. No wonder he didn’t like the color, I thought as I recalled events from the previous day. But honestly, if the infection hadn’t set it, I doubt I would’ve even noticed it.

I slept very little that evening. My thumb was having a throb fest. By the next morning, it was more red, swollen and feverish. In fact, I couldn’t bend it. Terry, Alex and Amy suggested calling the doctor. I tried arguing but they kept saying, “You don’t complain about pain unless it hurts.” That is true, I do have a high tolerance for pain and sometimes it’s a blessing and sometimes it’s a curse. Also, I knew from what I read the night before that I did need to seek medical attention.

My dermatologist wasn’t available until Friday and my PCP was out of town but I did get in to see the PA. As soon as she looked at my finger, she said, “Wow! Bet you won’t go back to that nail salon again!” She explained that this type of infection can go south very quickly and she was very concerned. She prescribed a 10-day antibiotic and told me that I had to soak my finger five times a day in Epsom salt and water. Then I had to use warm compression on it after the soaking. She suggested I do this for the next three days and then cut back as the infection got better.

As I was leaving I was trying to find some humor in all and said, “Well, I knew my thumb was sick because it was running a fever.”

“To be honest, you are running a fever and that indicates the infection is already spreading. Your body temperature is 100.4,” she responded.

“Wow! I never run a fever and my normal body temperature is 97.6, not 98.6. I sure am glad I came today and didn’t wait, ” I answered back

“If it gets worse or your fever gets higher, go to the ER immediately. Do not wait.” She earned as I was leaving.

Driving home, I kept thanking God that the pain was so intense that I had to go to the doctor. Otherwise, I would’ve waited and the outcome may have been much worse.

Just to help you understand how seriously my doctor’s office took this infection, the PA called me for the next three days to make sure I was improving.

As I sit here and recount this story, it reminds me of how sin infects our lives when it’s left unchecked. You see, sin is like a bacterial infection. The longer we wait around to take care of it the longer it will take to get it out of our lives. Ravi Zacharias says, “Sin will take you farther than you want to go, keep you longer than you want to stay, and cost you more than you want to pay.”

Jesus stands ready to forgive and make you well. But you have to call on Him and trust Him through the process. Just like I did with my doctor. Do you remember when the Pharisees and Scribes came complaining to the disciples about why Jesus kept dining with the sinners and tax collectors? ”And when Jesus heard it, he said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.””
‭‭Mark‬ ‭2:17‬ ‭ESV‬‬

This is my normal thumb size
This is two days after the manicure and you can see how swollen it is. If you look closely, you can see the tiny gouge mark in the bottom left corner of my thumbnail.
This was two days after I started on antibiotics. It’s still swollen but now you can see exactly where the infection is because of the red streak.
A side view of my fat thumb.

Did I go back to the nail salon and call them out? No, I didn’t. I do not think it was intentional; however, I have not had a manicure since that time. Will I go again? If don’t know. Every time I think about going, I am reminded of how costly this manicure could have been. And you know what, that’s exactly the same way I need to think when I am tempted to fall back into my same old pattern of sin. I need to be reminded of how much my sin cost Jesus. His life.

Why She Throws

Many times people ask, “How did Amy get involved in throwing?” It’s a fair question because it’s not a typical sport. To be honest, until Amy got interested and started competing, the sport didn’t interest me at all.

Amy has been involved in recreational and competitive sports since the age of five. She played soccer, basketball, volleyball, and tennis. Terry coached her in basketball from kindergarten through sixth grade. He often joked and said, “I could teach that girl to play football.” It’s true. She probably could’ve held her own with the proper protection. She was rough and tough.

In 8th grade, she was playing in the conference volleyball championship and she strained her back, or so we thought. Of course, her being the tough girl she was not about to come out of the game. She continued to play. It was obvious she was in pain but all athletes play with pain from time to time. She was no exception.

The first thing we did when we arrived home that evening was put on ice her back. (Side note: all of my kids will tell you that “ice” is Terry’s answer to everything.) She was a little sore the next morning but didn’t moan too much. I gave her some ibuprofen and took her to school. We kept icing and using ibuprofen for a few days and she wasn’t grumbling or in substantial pain. Basketball practice was already well underway and they were getting ready to begin their season. She and her friend Kasey were the two starting guards. All was moving along as planned.

They played their first two games and Amy performed well. She complained a little with her back but nothing major until one evening when Terry and I picked her up from practice. She quietly got in the car and immediately I knew something was wrong but didn’t ask. I turned around to look at her and saw big goose egg tears streaming from her face and she said, “It’s my back.” Amy doesn’t cry. This was serious.

We were very fortunate to get her with Dr. Maxwell an Orthopedic Spine Specialist, within a few days. After x-rays and examining her, he identified her injury spondylolysis. He told us these are common injuries seen in gymnasts but that hers was sustained from hyperextending her back while hitting the volleyball.

When asked if she could play volleyball again he said, “First of all, let me ask you a question. If you have a metal coat hanger and bend it back and forth numerous times, what happens?”

“It breaks,” she replied.

The room grew silent and still. After giving us time to pause and reflect on what we had just heard, Dr. Maxwell continued. “Yes, and if you were my daughter, and I have a daughter who played volleyball, I would tell her that it is not a good idea to continue. It’s entirely up to you and your parents. However, for the next six weeks, you cannot participate in any sports and that includes basketball and we will have to wait and see about track season. When I do release you, you are going to have to be very careful and if it hurts, you have to stop what you’re doing. ”

Ouch! It was a huge blow. This was not part of her plans. The wind had just been knocked out of her sails.

At the end of six weeks, he released her and she was able to play in the last few games of the season. Immediately after basketball, track practice began. Fortunately, running didn’t irritate her back too much. Then one day came home one day and announced that Coach Bond asked her to try thwoimg shot put because of her arm strength and length. It didn’t irritate her back either and she discovered she was pretty good at it. She taught herself to shuffle and throw.

During the summer she also started taking lessons and playing tennis again. Sometimes certain motions would irritate her back and so she would just stop and try it a different way.

After tennis season her Freshman year, she tried out for basketball and made the team. The day before team practice was due to start she said, “Daddy, would you be disappointed if I didn’t play basketball? You’ve always told us that we give 100% to everything we do. And you’ve always said that if we start, we don’t quit. Yarborough’s are not quitters! I don’t think I can give my best because my heart isn’t in it. I feel like I’m doing basketball more for you than me. My heart is in tennis and track and I really want to work on those two things.”

Terry said, “No, I am not disappointed. I would rather you tell me now. I’ve never pressured you into playing any sport. I’ve always supported whatever you’ve chosen to do.”

The choice was made and she didn’t play basketball. She did exactly what she set out to do. She improved in both tennis and track, specifically her throwing. By her senior year, she improved enough to win the state title in the discus and 2nd place in the shot put her senior year. More importantly, she received an invitation to WCU as a “preferred walk-on” and is now a scholarship athlete.

And that’s how that happened. And you can bet your bottom dollar if someone had told me twenty-two years ago. that my little girl would be a thrower girl, I would’ve laughed in their face and said, “Not my girl”

The reality is that sometimes we may think we know the path we want to take and “we can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.” Psalm 16:9

Unsightly Nose Hairs

Sunday on our way to church I pulled the visor down to open the mirror. I do this regularly on Sundays because I put my lips on. Truthfully it’s about the only day of the week I wear lipstick. I mean occasionally if we’re going out I will but that’s why I wonder if I’m truly southern. Cause don’t all good Southern girls put their lips on?

As I was meticulously applying the lipstick because I don’t do do-overs, I noticed the most unsightly nasal hairs. It really freaked me out. I’ve never noticed how prominent they were and I doubt anyone else does either because they are very light in color. It was more the way the light was filtering into the car. However, because I found it almost grotesque, I immediately picked up my phone to do a google search for nasal hair removal.

Do you know what I found out? I can cut those little boogers back but to remove the hair follicle could be dangerous and detrimental to my health. I mean who knew that this tiny little unsightly and seemingly useless haphazardly placed hair could actually be helpful and healthful.

Here are a few important facts about nasal hair (in case you didn’t already know):

  • Nasal hair is one of our body’s defense mechanisms against disease
  • When you breathe in and out your nasal hair catches harmful debris and keeps it from getting into the body.
  • Nasal hair also helps maintain moisture in the air we breathe

From my research, I learned that plucking or removing nasal hair is not a good idea and can lead to serious health issues. However, if they’re so unsightly you can’t stand them, you can trim them with scissors. Although you need to exercise caution in that as well.

Here’s the thing that stood out to me the most. How intricately we are fashioned. Think about it. Even the smallest of detail, like an unsightly nasal hair, has a purpose. Only a very creative God could do such a thing. Let’s just take a look back at how he created us.

  • First, we were made by the hands of God. Yes, His very hands. Take a look at Genesis 2:7, “then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground”. Remember for all of the other creation, He spoke it into existence. But for humankind he formed, indicating he used his hands. He made something from nothing.
  • Second, He breathed life into us. Yes, the very same God who formed us, breathed life into us. Take a look at the rest of Genesis 2:7, “and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living creature.”

I find it both fascinating and mind-boggling that the very same God who created the world, hand-crafted me and then breathed breath into my lungs. But what I find more fascinating is the intricate details with which the human body is created and that each one has its purpose and each one serves their purpose.

So, the next time I see those unsightly nasal hairs, I won’t be so quick to think of ways to get rid of them. Instead, I will see them for what they are, protective measures with purpose.

Do you need a little red wagon?

When my oldest son, Ryan was about 13 months old and showing no signs of interest in walking, I along with our beloved pediatrician became concerned. Oh, there was no concern for fine motor skills or cognitive development. He was already talking a blue streak. He manipulated objects meticulously with his hands and his eyes always seemed to be studying how things worked. He crawled and could get anywhere he wanted to go. He would pull up and stand but wasn’t really interested in holding your hands to walk and absolutely no interest in walking on his own.

One day during a routine office visit the pediatrician suggested purchasing a little red wagon made by Fisher-Price. (Like the one below( She said it would encourage walking. Also, it would serve as a dual purpose ride-on toy as well.

We made our purchase immediately upon leaving her office. We excitedly gave Ryan his new toy. We attempted for days to encourage him to stand and push the wagon, he rejected our efforts. He wasn’t keen on using it as a ride-on toy either. Oh no, not my Ryan. He was far more interested in the seat. He quickly noticed the seat lifted up. He spent hours lifting and lowering the seat. After a few weeks, he discovered there enough space to hide things under the seat. Often when we were missing items, we would ask Ryan and he would crawl to his wagon, lift the seat and proclaim, “Here!”

Finally, after about a month, he would use the handle and walk a little but if he had somewhere he wanted to go quickly, his knees hit the floor and he crawled. I guess you could say we were making some progress. Just not fast progress. It would be another month before he would officially take his first real steps and walk.

As I think about this story, it reminds me that some things happen immediately and some things take time. Sometimes, we need help and encouragement to take the next step. Sometimes we are like Ryan, satisfied to be crawling when we should be walking. It’s a place called complacency.

Have you been there? Are you there now? I have been and I can tell you that it’s not a good place to be. You don’t flourish when you’re complacent. You know why? Because you’re so satisfied with yourself or the way things are you don’t see a need to change. It’s sometimes referred to as the silent killer.

The Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary defines “complacency” as “a feeling of calm satisfaction with your own abilities or situation that prevents you from trying harder.”

So, how do we combat complacency?

Get a little red wagon and learn to walk. Actually, yes.

Let’s break it apart

  • First, recognize areas of your life that need growth and change. Ryan needed to learn to walk and we had to get something that would promote growth and change. Again, keep in mind that sometimes these things take time. Don’t get discouraged or give up easily if change and growth don’t happen quickly. Winston Churchill says, “There is nothing wrong with change if its in the right direction.
  • Be willing to admit your weaknesses. Everybody has them and sometimes we need help to overcome our weaknesses. Ryan needed the assistance of the little red wagon.
  • Don’t be afraid to take risks. In order for Ryan to learn to walk, he had to take the risk to fall. Granted he fell a lot at first and I think this is the scariest part of taking any risk. There may be some failure along the way but is rarely does a reward happen that doesn’t have a risk involved
    Avoid the trap of laziness Ryan became lazy about walking because crawling was easy for him. He could get to everything he needed or wanted. He didn’t realize until he started walking/running that he could move a lot faster. Most often its self-absorption that will keep us in the trap of laziness.

The best way to avoid becoming complacent is to do the following:

Put one foot in front of the other

Hope for the Waiting

Are you in a season of waiting? If so, you’re not alone. I’ve been there a time or two. Sometimes the wait has been a considerable period of time, like years. Can I be honest? I grow tired and weary from the wait. At times, my heart grows numb and wonder how much longer?

The reality of this season, as I’ve learned, is for God to use this time to prepare my heart for what He has in store for me to do. I am reminded of this when I read, “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus, to do good works which he prepared in advance for us to do.”

However, while I know the truth and I know fully that He intends to use this period of time, regardless of length, for His glory; I still grow weary. I grow weary from the emotional upheaval and of it all. I grow weary when I see others moving forward and I feel stuck and confined. And yet, I wait and hope and pray.

‘Hope has a thick skin and will endure many a blow,’ wrote John Bunyan (1628–1688). ‘It will endure all things if it be of the right kind, for the joy that is set before it… it is hope that makes the soul exercise patience and long-suffering under the cross, until the time comes to enjoy the crown.’

The hardest part for me is the “feeling stuck”. You’re paralyzed. To go back is not wise and there’s no way to move forward. You’re sitting in neutral and going nowhere. Have you ever been there?

I believe it’s in these times that God’s voice can be heard the loudest. If we’re willing to listen.

Why you ask?

Think about it like this, when my children were in the tweens and teens and I wanted to have good meaningful conversations with them, I would get them alone in the car with me. When they were alone with me there were not the usual distractions keeping us from conversing, except their own stubbornness. Also, they had no where to go. They were stuck with me. Now, they could choose to engage in conversation with me or not but most often they would. In these moments of engagement I truly began to understand the heart of my child. His/her wants and desires. Fears. Ambitions. Heartaches. During those moments, I could speak truth into them. I could speak blessings over them. I could give them wise counsel.

It’s the same idea when we’re at a standstill or stuck during the waiting period, God wants us to engage with Him. He wants us to pour our hearts out to him. He desires intimacy with us. More importantly, He wants to speak His truth into us. The only way this can happen is when we don’t look for other things to distract us and we look to Him. Or we don’t allow our stubbornness to ignore that He’s eager to hear us cry out to Him because He wants to speak wisdom, truth and blessing into us!

It is in these times that we are perfectly positioned to hear what David penned so beautifully in Psalm 23: “The Lord is my Shepherd. I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for His namesake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil because You are with me. Your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life, and I will shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

If you’re in a season of waiting, I have really good news for you. You are not alone. So hold on tightly to the truth of His Word and know that in due time He will lift you up and remember this, “He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from beginning to end.” Ecclesiastes 3:11

Overwhelming Peace

Has there ever been a time when you know that God is asking you to do something really hard? It may not even make sense but you know you’ve got to do it. Yet, you’ll argue, hem and haw just to prolong the inevitable! Or maybe you’re just one of those really obedient folks who instantly jumps for joy and says, “Okay God, sign me up!” (If you are, good for you. I wish I could be that way)

I think we’ve already established, that’s not me! I’m going to ask and beg and plead before I submit. If I’m really being honest, it’s because I’m motivated by selfish desires and trust issues and that’s why I find it hard to yield. (And my Mom always thought my sister was the strong-willed one, Ha!)

Terry and I moved in February 2018 and I didn’t quite leave kicking and screaming but I may as well have. I agreed to move and clearly saw how God paved the way for us to move. There was no doubt that we were following God’s leading. However, my heart was not prepared to leave. In fact, I’d pretty much decided that things were going to fall apart and we would be unpacking and staying.

Guess what? That didn’t happen. We moved.

For the first few weeks, I felt as if I were in a drunken stupor. Half dazed. Probably pinched myself a time or fifty thinking I was sleepwalking! I wasn’t resting well and I was spending more than twelve hours a day in Hendersonville and not all by choice. My grandfather became very ill and was hospitalized. Rest finally found me and I began to feel more humanized but still not clearly processing the turmoil binding up inside.

Next came the anger. I had to literally talk myself into being nice. Man, it was hard. Thankfully I didn’t have to pretend in front of Terry but I probably should have spared him from some of my angry outbursts and crying spells. Emotionally and physically, I was spent and defeated.

I’m going to interject here and tell you why there was so much turmoil going on inside me. I’m not telling this for you to feel sorry for me, I don’t feel sorry for myself. I just think it puts a little more perspective on why I was so emotionally and physically spent.

In October of 2015, one of my dearest friends died and so did my Aunt. In December 2015 the business I worked for closed. In March 2016 Ned, my dad, received his cancer diagnosis. June 2016 Amy, our youngest and only daughter, graduates college and leaves the nest in August of 2016. In May 2017, Ned’s cancer returned and in October he died. Then we made the big move on February 2, 2018. So, there was one thing right after another, not to mention my two oldest boy were deployed during that time. To be honest, I think the move was like the tidal wave that broke me. By then, I was much to tired to stop it.

Honestly, I knew it would be hard to leave a place I loved, a place I called home for 26 years, I just wasn’t prepared at all for the emotional impact. Fortunately, I didn’t get so overwhelmed with grief and despair that I became caught up in the doldrums of depression. (It would’ve been easy to go there because it’s easy to get caught up in thinking ”I’m the only one.”)

And so, I began to take my problems to God. I prayed. I screamed. I cried. I just told him everything I was feeling. As I began to pour out my heart to Him; slowly, the dark cloud began to lift and a slight ray of light emerged. At that point, I was able to talk more freely, without anger and rage, to Terry and explain how I felt. I also felt more comfortable sharing my feelings and asking people to pray for me. But I had to understand why I was having such a hard time before I could ask for prayer.

As more light filtered in and the clouds began to dissipate, I embraced my new surroundings and peace began to fill my heart. Actually, it was an overwhelming peace. And you know what’s crazy? I actually wrote out a prayer more than a year beforehand: God either moves us back to Hendersonville or overwhelm me here with your peace. I kept praying that prayer over and over. And to be honest, I really thought God would move us back but instead, He overwhelmed me with peace.

There’s a powerful verse tucked in Isaiah 26:3 ”You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast because they trust in You”

The reality was that I had to get to a place where I absolutely trusted in the Sovereignty of God and then He poured within me His perfect and overwhelming peace.

So maybe God is asking you to trust in Him and do something that seems hard or difficult but you know deep down in your being that you’ve got to do it. Maybe it will cause some confusion and chaos for a while but can I tell you something? Trust Him. He knows what’s best.

Disappointments

Have you ever been disappointed? You’ve wanted something for so long and finally, you get it, only it’s not exactly what you expected. However, later on, it becomes crystal clear that the exact thing you wanted wasn’t what you needed and that thing you got was exactly the perfect thing.

“I want a dog”. If I heard it once I heard it a thousand times. “But Daddy, please.”

“Amy, I am not going to get a dog until you get older. I am not raising two babies at once.”

Oh, don’t feel bad for her. She had an ample share of cats. In fact, all of her journal entries in First through Third grades either included a story about one of her cats or her friend, Hannah, and sometimes both. I’m not exaggerating. I read those darn things about two years ago and laughed until I cried.

Finally, Terry told her that when we got a house with a bigger yard she could have her dog. And let me tell you, she didn’t forget.

As soon as we moved to our house with over an acre of property, the begging kicked into overdrive. She was determined to wear him down.

She didn’t and refused to relent because he had a plan. Not really, but let’s just pretend he did.

Christmas was drawing near and Amy started chirping again about a dog.

Oh, I forgot to mention. Amy wanted a big dog. A German Shepherd was her preference but any big dog would do. When she was little and would petition for a dog she would often say, “I want a big dog like Clifford the big red dog!”

Well, it just so happened that Alex, Amy and I ended up at the local pet store in Hendersonville a few days prior to Christmas. We saw and held several breeds of dogs and I took pictures and sent them to Terry.

My favorite was the Bichon. I was particularly fond of this breed because not only were they cute little white balls of puff, resembling cotton, with coal-black noses and big round black eyes but the best part was they were hyper-allergenic and don’t shed! But I also knew Terry would make the final decision. Trust me when I say I pleaded my case to the max for this dog.

I’ve written about how Sammy was chosen. Read Here

Anyway, so Terry picked him out and gave him his name. We took him home on the evening of December 24, 2008. We somehow managed, with the help of Mom, Ned, Ryan and Matthew to keep the dog quiet until Amy and Mom got into bed.

Amy’s room was directly over Ryan and Matthew’s room. They were responsible for his care and keeping him as quiet as they possibly could. The only snafu was locking him in his crate. He whined incessantly until they took him out. Apparently, his cries were loud enough for Amy to hear because she kept tapping my Mom and saying, “Mawmaw, do you hear that? I hear a dog. Don’t you hear it? I’m getting a dog for Christmas!”

Mom said Amy continued to try her best to pry it out of her. Mom had to turn over and pretend to be asleep. I really don’t know how she did it without laughing at Amy’s persistence. This is my very relentless child who doesn’t give in or up easily.

Finally, Amy drifted off to sleep. However, I don’t think Ryan got any sleep and Matthew had very little. Sammy kept them awake.

Christmas morning came. Terry had decided that Sammy would be the last gift of the day. So, we kept him in his crate in the basement and I think the boys put a towel over the crate to dissolve some of the noise.

Finally, after the last present was unwrapped, Terry snuck downstairs and got the puppy. Amy was in the living room and Terry put him down on the other side of the wall and let him walk around.

“See, Mawmaw, I knew I heard a puppy last night. I told you I was getting a puppy.” She picked him up and loved on him a bit but then her disappointment surfaced, “He’s cute but I wanted a German Shepherd!”

Sammy just wasn’t what she expected. She was disappointed. Fortunately, her disappointment didn’t overshadow Christmas Day.

For years, she would mention not getting a big dog and then one day, not too long ago, she said, “You know, I’ve realized that Sammy has been the perfect choice for me and our family.”

Now, let me go back to the original question: have you ever been disappointed? I want to take it a bit further. Have you ever been disappointed because God hasn’t given you what you asked for? Maybe He didn’t come through when you expected but He did come through. Maybe you didn’t get the promotion when you thought and knew you had earned it but eventually, the promotion came. Maybe he didn’t give you the job you wanted but He provided a job. Maybe He didn’t heal your loved one on earth but gave them the ultimate healing in Heaven. I don’t know what has disappointed you. I know there have been many times in my life I’ve been disappointed.

However, what I’ve come to realize is that disappointments are part of life. Life is not a whimsical merry go round and singing “Kumbaya” around the campfire. Life is hard and sometimes it hurts. Sometimes it doesn’t feel fair and sometimes it doesn’t feel good. But can I tell you what I’ve learned? Just because He doesn’t answer in the time and the way we think He should does not mean that He is not good. On the contrary, only a good, loving and wise father gives his children what is best for them. In the same way that Terry knew Sammy would be the best fit for the family.

Matthew 7:11. “If you, then, though, you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask Him!”