A Psalm for Saturday

Today’s blog comes in a little differently than others. I found this in one of my many writings. There was a time, and I possibly need to get back to it, when I would just read a scripture passage and journal how it spoke to me.

This particular one was written out on January 31, 2015. Interestingly, as I read through it today, it resonated with me and I found myself thinking, ”Yep, what was true four years ago is still true today and I needed this reminder.”

Here’s the scripture reading:

“I love you, O Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised, and I am saved from my enemies. The cords of death encompassed me; the torrents of destruction assailed me; the cords of Sheol entangled me; the snares of death confronted me. In my distress I called upon the Lord; to my God, I cried for help. From his temple, he heard my voice, and my cry to him reached his ears.”

‭‭Psalms‬ ‭18:1-6‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Here’s what God spoke to me through this passage.

As my rock, you are my protection and you are not removed from my presence. If there’s any movement it’s on my part, not yours. You are my constant and unyielding even when things around me are unsteady and shaky; You are NOT. You are my rock in both good times and bad because You are constant and unchanging. My emotions sometimes gets the best in me and I waver and wane. You keep me steady.

I need You in both good times and bad times, maybe I need You and your stability more in the good times. Why? In good times I find my self more self-reliant, more pious and more complacent when things are seemingly well- that’s why!

In times of struggle, whether brought on by my own foolish choices or circumstances beyond my control or tragedy, I run to You. I cling to You. I depend on You to pull me through. I want and need Your help.

The paradox- in both good and bad, I need to run, cling, depend on and want your help.

You are my shield. You protect me. You stand between me and my enemies, most of which are in the battlefield of my mind. You are my stronghold and so worthy of my praise and adoration.

A Glorious Day

As I sit waiting for the dryer to stop, my mind has drifted into another time and place. Well, technically the place is practically the same and maybe that’s why my mind has escaped the reality of the present and drifted into the past.

I remember vividly as if it happened yesterday, and yet it was at least 15 years ago, possibly more. I know for certain I journaled it. I’m just not certain where that journal is right now, but when I find it, I’ll post it

It began like all mornings. Terry and I up before the crack of dawn or the rooster’s crow. In order to get him off to work by 6:30 am and get the 4 kids up and ready and out to door by 7:15 Besides being a necessity to rise early, some days those few stolen moments were the quietest of my day. I treasured them. I longed for them. I needed them.

For weeks leading up to this day, I had been struggling with the kids ns their attitudes. One thing to note, I’ve mentioned it before, but it’s worth mentioning again. I do not have compliant, non-opinionated, willfully obedient children. They all have strong personalities. I remember journaling about the difficulty I was having with discipline. I felt as though one or all four head-butted everything I asked them to do. Most times, they would concede because I was far more stubborn and bull headed but not without a fight.

Anyway, this one particular morning. I was journaling and pouring my heart out to God. I was sitting in my room with tear-stained eyes because I just didn’t think I could handle it anymore.

As I’m wiping away the tears, I hear the creaks in the wooden staircase, indicating that someone was coming upstairs. As I pull myself together, Matthew peers into the doorway, ran into the room and bounces on my lap, in a single bound. Yep, like Super Matt. He wrapped his arms around me and looked out the bedroom window. He looks at me and glances back to the window exclaiming, ”My what a glorious day!” Turning my head, I peer through the window and saw it too. A magnificent sunrise beginning to spread across the dark sky.

Yes, indeed a glorious day unfolding before me, I just needed the eyes of my child to remind me.

As I continue to ponder that day, I am reminded of how many times I cried out to God and He brought me peace and joy and reminders of his goodness through the lives of my children.

Do you know when we cry out to God in earnest plea, He turns his ear, and hears and answers the deepest cry of our heart?

In your righteousness, rescue me and deliver me, turn your ear to me and save me. Psalm 71:2

The key to this verse is recognizing the righteousness of God and believing that He alone has the power to rescue, deliver and save. Oh friend, don’t keep drowning in your sorrow. Cry out to Him. He will gladly come to your rescue, maybe in the form of a child.

Fascinated by the Sky

I have a fantastic fixation, likely an obsession, with the sky, clouds, sunrises, and sunsets. Truly sometimes I find myself just driving around to catch the last glimmer of daylight in the sky. I also love to watch and observe shapes the clouds form in the sky. I have seen a host of things from angles to horses and even a white puff of fluff that looked like my dog. Heck, I even have Terry seeing things in the clouds now.

I don’t know what precisely what fuels my obsession-compulsion; however, when I gaze at the sky I find myself encapsulated with its beauty and I say, ”Wow, God. You made this for me!”

The first mention of clouds is when God set the rainbow in the sky and promised to remember His covenant and not destroy all life again. ”I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. ”I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life. Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life.” Genesis 9:13-15 (NIV)

Again clouds are mentioned during the time of Moses and the Israelites,
”By day the LORD went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light so that they could travel by day or night.” Exodus 13:21. The cloud of the Lord was their protection. When the cloud stopped, they stopped. It served as their protection. In the same way, God used the fire by night to guide them. This way they weren’t limited to the times they could travel.

But quite possibly my favorite verse pertaining to clouds is the following

It is such a great reminder to me that one day God will right all the wrongs. He will not leave the guilty unpunished but He will be patient and give everyone time to change their hearts and minds. This isn’t a weakness. There is greatness in His power to be long-suffering. He will bring reconciliation and restoration when true repentance is sought. His methods are not ours but when wrath comes it will be swift and quick. He doesn’t play. He’s not giving idle threats. And the Pulpit Commentary says the following, ”The clouds are the dust of his feet, Large and grand as the clouds look to us, they are to God but as the dust raised by the feet in walking. As an illustration of this statement (though, of course, the fact was utterly unknown to Nahum), it has been remarked that recent scientific discovery asserts that clouds owe their beauty, and even their very existence, to the presence of dust particles in the atmosphere. The aqueous vapor, it is said, condenses on these particles, and thus becomes visible.

Maybe in writing about my fascination, I am discovering that in looking upward, I stand more in awe of Him and I am more fixated on where I am going and not where I am.

It was some year….2018

Reflections from 2018:

  • At the end of January we bought a house in Landrum, SC
  • Amy’s track season began.
  • We moved in February with the help of family and friends.
  • Popaw became gravely ill and was put under Hopsice Care.
  • WCU Men and Women’s Track and Field Team’s won SoCon Championship
  • Alex finished his Junior year at UNC- Charloote and Amy her Sophomore year at WCU
  • Ryan transferred from Groton, CT to Goose Creek, SC and is now instructing at NNTPC (Navy Nuclear Power Training Command
  • Matthew transferred from Honolulu, HI to Goose Creek, SC and is now instructing at NNTPC but not before making a trip to Bali
  • Ryan and Matthew finally, after 5 years, are together again. For the time being, they are actually living in the same apartment. (For any of you who know these two, their personalities are like day and night. ) I’m sure it’s quite comedic at times.
  • Popaw graduated out of Hospice Care
  • Alex began his Senior year and Amy her Junior year
  • Mom sold her big house
  • On the day Ned celebrated his first year in Heaven, Mom bought a new home.
  • GE announced the sale of their lighting division. Sale is currently scheduled to take place in March or April. (Terry will have 34 years with GE March 31) We have no idea what this looks like for us; but we know God is in control.
  • Terry, my sister, Kristi and a few great friends threw a little ”surprise party” for me…..all because I turned ”50” It was a lovely surprise
  • Terry and I celebrated 24 years of marriage.
  • Christmas Eve I made dinner for my family. Our house was full and so we’re our bellies. That evening, we celebrated Terrys birthday by going out for dInner. For the first time in 5 1/2 years, our family of 6 were together.

2018 has been a year of changes and many surprises. It hasn’t always been what I had hoped or planned and in many ways its been much better.

All I know is that God has been so good to me. He has given me strength to endure things I never thought I could. He filled me with contentment when my heart was longing for more. He has given me patience to endure trials. He taught me to trust that His timing is best. Now, He has made it possible for all of my children to be within 3 1/2 hour drive.

I am truly thankful and blessed.

Looking forward to 2019 with excitement and anticipation of what’s to come.

Happy New Year!

Coffee Talk

Before I continue writing our story, I need to let you know that our lives are not peaches and cream. There is absolutely, and I mean absolutely, no way for two highly opinionated, stubborn people to not have issues.  Just ain’t gonna happen.  I promise.

I can’t even pinpoint the exact time it happened but our children were all still home and in school.  Guessing, I’d say probably around 15 years ago.  I just know it began when all of our children would at least stay in bed until 7:30am on Saturday mornings.  We were early risers and found ourselves enjoying conversation and coffee.  Hence, began what we commonly refer to as “coffee talk”.

During our coffee talk, we spend time talking about everything.  We don’t hold anything back. Most of our conversations, especially early on, centered around our children and their friends.  We would discuss potential issues we saw in our children and especially behavioral changes we saw with certain friends.

We would also talk about things we liked and disliked about each other.  Things that bothered us or behviors or attitudes that we didn’t like.  We did.  Honestly, we still do. We are just not afraid to share how we feel.

There have been times over the past 24 years when there have been times that I’ve just wanted to walk and so has he. These are the times we’ve had to be painfully honest with each other. These are the times where we’ve had to be raw with each other and not hold anything back.

Both of us have always been aware that we are one choice away from being unfaithful. We know how easily we could get sucked into the idea that ”the pasture is greener on the other side” However, from our previous experiences, we also know the pain of unfaithfulness and committed, early on, to fight hard and remain faithful.

If you think it’s been easy for us, think again. We began our lives together with the ready-made family. Two young whippersnappers, ages 3 & 5, are not an ideal way to begin a union. We were and are still determined. And I believe that’s what has made the biggest difference.

We know the value communication.

If you’re in any relationship right now and you’re not honestly and openly communicating with each other; I encourage you to start your own version of ”coffee talk”. It’s amazing how much it will change your lives.

Think about it like this:

Maxwell house: Good to the last drop

Folger’s: The best part of waking up

Starbucks Doubleshot: Bring on the day

His Word Never Fails

Oh my goodness! How many times I’ve read this passage of the angel coming to Mary and yet this one verse, I’ve skipped dozens of times. Wow.

In the very heart of the angel speaking to Mary are the words “Gods word will never fail”. When God calls you out of your comfort zone into a scary place of the unknown, He will be with you. He will go before you and prepare the way. It doesn’t mean the path will be smooth and easy. It means that ultimately His plan for you will be carried through until completion.

Was Mary’s pregnancy expected? Absolutely not! Was her pregnancy welcomed? No! Did she hear an absolute word from God? Yes. Was He faithful to carry out what He said He would do? Absolutely.

Mary was a willing participant, even though she had no real comprehension of the vastness of Gods plan for her. She simply took the words delivered to her by the angel and said “Ok. I am willing to do whatever He asks and may things happen just as you say they will. I trust Him completely”. She couldn’t see the end or even the middle she just knew what she believed and was willing to place complete faith and trust in her belief in God.

I would love to say I trust and believe with the same veracity Mary displays; however, my faith wavers and wanes. Often times I allow my emotions to get in the way of what I know to be true.

God’s Word Never Fails……

I Thought We’d Have More Time

All week long, we’ve been warned about the infamous Diego aka Snowmageddon 2018. The name was given to the winter storm that has pummeled the south this weekend. We were prepared. We have plenty of non-perishable food and bottled water. We had enough bread, milk, and eggs on hand but like Terry says, “If the power goes out, bread is the only thing that will keep, unless you have a generator.”

We sold our generator before we moved. Did we think we wouldn’t need one? Not necessarily, we simply don’t have room to store one and we’ve braved many power outages without a generator before. Besides, our new hike is highly enemy efficient and we have a gas log fireplace. We also have a gas grill and can cook on it, if needed.

The snow in our sleepy little town of Landrum didn’t start until around 5:30 pm yesterday. Considering the favorable temperatures, sticking began almost immediately.The picture was taken about an hour after the snow began

In fact, the snow was so quiet and beautiful it was like going outside and standing in the middle of a snow globe. A little after 11:00 pm, this is how it looked,

After watching the Christmas Chronicles on Netflix, which is a must see, we opted to watch one of our faves, The Grinch Who Stole Christmas. We both fell asleep in our recliners before the movie ended, that’s what happens when you get older. We are awakened by the startling noise on Terry’s phone telling us our power was out. Evidently, it went out around 1:00 am and Duke Energy sent us an alert. As we sleepily trudged toward the bedroom with the flashlight in hand, Terry exclaimed, “Well dang, I thought we’d have more time before the power went out”.

When we got up both of us were dreading the fact we couldn’t make coffee. We didn’t care about the heat. We knew our gas logs would be effective. We just don’t function well without coffee. We are definitely coffee lovers.

Finally, around 1:00, we ventured out. The roads were horrific; however, we were able to get to the local gas station, which had power, and get coffee. We came back home fully rejuvenated and caffeinated up.

We ventured out again around 3:00 because our local Pub was opened and we wanted some hot food and watch football.

Once back home, we pulled out all the candles and cranked up the gas logs. Then to our surprise, around 5:30 pm our power came back on. What a welcome surprise; but, we were prepared and not fretting another night without power.

As I think back over the events of the past 24 hours, I wonder how many of us think the same thing Terry did, ” I thought we’d have more time.”?

In the Bible, we are told we don’t know the time or day of Jesus’ return, but He is coming back. Are you ready? Have you prepared? Do it now because you don’t want that day to come and say, “Well dang, I thought we’d have more time.”

The Lamp

This lamp came to my house via my Moms house. As we were walking through her monstrous house and trying to decide what she wanted to keep or donate, we came upon this lamp. She pointed and said, “That’s going to the donate pile.”

I said, “Mom, that’s a great lamp. You’re not keeping it?”

To which she replied, “Honey, it’s been sitting on top of the file cabinet all these years. I really don’t know where it came from.”

I didn’t hesitate to say, “Well, if you’re not keeping it, I’ll take it.”

It took about three weeks from that point to sneak it in my car and bring it home. Why did I sneak it in my car? Because I knew better than to tell Terry I was bringing home another one. He would notice anyway. He always notices.

Before choosing its spot, I left it in the garage. As afore mentioned, Terry noticed. I swear. He’s got hawk eyes. I didn’t try to hide it. I just didn’t have it blatantly obvious. He waltzes in the great room and announces, “I see you’ve brought another lamp home. I’m guessing you brought that from your Mama’s. Where are you going to put it? Every room in this house has at least two lamp i don’t know why you’d need another one. We have plenty of lights.”

By the time he finished his speech, I was already moving lamps around and bringing this one in. I found its perfect spot. Once in place, I turned to him and said, “See! It fits perfectly here.”

He agreed and then said, ” It really is a cool looking lamp. I like it.”

To be honest, I wasn’t surprised by his response. We then to have similar taste in furnishings.

At that point, I explained how the lamp begged me to bring it home.

When I first looked at the lamp it reminded me of the following, “You anoint my head with oil, my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever”. Psalm 23:5b-6. As I moved my hands from the top of the base to the bottom, it was as if the Word of God came alive in my hands.

As I finished my spiel, he looked at me and said, “I see it too.” It’s a good thing ’cause the lamp was not going anywhere. It serves as a good reminder to me that I am announced, shielded and protected for all the rest of my days. What a great reminder to have right in front of me every day.

Halloween Shenanigans

A few years ago I decided to make a confession. My confession went something like this.

When the children were young and going trick or treating, our rule for candy was as follows: no eating candy until we got home and checked it. Then, we would generally allow them one or two pieces before bed. All the while, telling them it was for their protection. To some degree that was truth; however, it was more because Terry and I wanted to take out our faves and keep them for ourselves.

To be honest, one of my favorite times of the year was Halloween. Not only did our kiddos look forward with great anticipation, Terry and I enjoyed dressing them up and taking them to gather candy. In fact, some of our fondest and funniest memories are Halloween memories.

The one we talk about the most is this particular Halloween pictured below

Matthew’s costume was a vampire. It wasn’t a total epic fail but obviously my bother, the makeup artist, wasn’t available to get the makeup just so-so. There was no Pinterest, not that it would’ve made a difference.

Before going to the Pumpkin Patch, Terry decided we should just let them stroll through our neighborhood. So we loaded Alex in the stroller and began walking. Ryan and Matthew got a little ahead of us. The road ahead was steep, and boys will be boys. They move full speed ahead. Terry suddenly burst into laughter. Between laughs he said ” I didn’t realize we were taking James Brown trick or treating. Look at the back of Matthews wig. He looks just like James Brown running down the street.”

For years we’ve howled over that night.

I think our most memorable Halloween, for me, was our first one. We took Ryan and Matthew to Pumpkin Patch. Afterwards Terry said, ” Those boys need to get more candy. They’ve never been trick or treating, have they?”

We drove over to Druid Hills, an Historical District, in Hendersonville. The rain had subsided leaving behind piles of wet leaves. Terry decided it would be a good idea to let me and the boys out, while he followed behind at a slow pace. Ryan, being the candy fiend he is, darted off from house to house. Matthew’s little legs trying to keep up. When suddenly, Matthew, sporting a firemen’s outfit that year, ran right out of his boots and kept trucking. Leaving me behind to locate his shoes in the wet leaves. All the while, Terry following from inside the warm truck, laughing hysterically at the sight before his eyes.

I knew then and still know now that life with Terry will always be an adventure. It will always be a life filled with laughter and a life filled with special memories.

Broken and Useful

Interestingly I happened upon a PBS show Eugenics Crusade. Eugenics became popular in the United States as well as other countries because of its promise to improve the human race. However, popularity waned when Hitler perverted eugenics during World War II to form his “perfect society”.

After watching the show, I conversed with my friend, Tima, about the whole idea of eugenics. During the course of our conversation we discussed the magnitude of how much can be learned by those society deems invaluable, in particularly those with severe mental handicaps.

Have you ever been around adults or children with severe mental handicaps? How do you feel around them? Do they make you cringe? Do you feel an awkwardness because they’re not like you? Are they detestable and insignificant to you?

For years, I feared those with handicaps. Let me explain. When I was young my Caregiver had neighbors who had a handicapped son. He had cerebral palsy. He was wheelchair bound, he didn’t speak, moaned and drooled. He could sit upright and had use of his hands. One time, I got close to wheelchair and he lunged at me. Scared the life out of me. His sweet mother explained he was just trying to give me a hug. This whole thing was foreign to me and as a result I avoided children and adults who had handicaps.

Fast forward about 20 years and I met this couple, Steve and Lynn Easler. They were my Sunday School teachers. We had a Christmas party and they invited me to come ride with them. At that time, I didn’t know a lot about them. When I arrived at their house, the introduced me to their three biological children and then to Jared, their first special needs adopted son. Jared had physical disabilities, not mental, his hands and feet were clubbed. On the way to the party they shared with me their desire to adopt “special needs” children. Little did I know, at the time, that I would have the privilege of watching God gift them with a multitude of children.

However. it was the adoption of their third child that God would show me how absurdly wrong my thinking was about “special needs” children. Julia, now in her late twenties, was born with Cerebral Palsy. Her life itself is a miracle. Trust me. When Lynn and Steve brought her home, we gathered and prayed over her. At the time, they didn’t know how severe she really was. Julia, by the world view, is nothing more than a “vegetable”, if you will. She requires full time care and can do nothing on her own. She even has a feeding tube. Yet the joy this child has brought to those of us who know her is unexplainable. The way she turns he head at the sound of Lynn and Steve’s voices. The way she looks at them. The tenderness and care they administer to her. She is a gift. It’s truly a beautiful thing as well as humbling. You see, God pours himself into her brokenness and makes her a thing of beauty to all who know her.

Our desire is for perfection. Now, we’re working harder and harder to achieve what we deem perfect. Social media gives us a boost, too, because it’s easier to portray the perfect image. Heck, now there’s even an app to make your body look better. Our desire for perfection keeps us from being honest with ourselves and others when we are broken.

Perfection to most is something that is unbroken, no holes, no blemishes, flawless. However, let me explain something about God’s view of perfection. He takes that which is broken and seemingly useless and He makes it useful and highly valuable. Our problem is that we want to hide or rid ourselves of our flaws. Do you realize that He wants to work through them? God wants to use our brokenness, our blemishes and holes to pour out more of himself . He takes our uselessness and makes it useful for his glory.

As I was sitting here writing this song came to mind.

Bill Gaither – Something Beautiful Lyrics

Something beautiful, something good
All my confusion He understood
All I had to offer Him was brokenness and strife
But he made something beautiful of my lifeIf there ever were dreams
That were lofty and noble
They were my dreams at the start
And hope for life’s best were the hopes
That I harbor down deep in my heart
But my dreams turned to ashes
And my castles all crumbled, my fortune turned to loss
So I wrapped it all in the rags of life
And laid it at the cross