Month: March 2016

antique or throw away

According to Wikipedia, an antique is an old collectible item. It  is usually collected or desirable because of its age, beauty, rarity,  and/or personal emotional connection. It is an object that represents a previous era or time period. Throw aways are items no longer wanted and/or serve no purpose. Throw aways pack our landfills; antiques adorn our mantels.

During the past 3 days, my sisters and I have helped our aunt sort and sift through all her earthly belongings.  A decision was needed for every single item. Antique or throw away? Preserve or pitch? Treasure or trash? A mahogany drop-leaf table from our great-grandmother’s home. Antique. Packs of old playing cards. Throw aways. A small wooden chair from the church where our aunt went to Sunday School 80+ years ago. Antique. Broken baskets. Throw aways.image

So our days went. Sorting through everything; deciding what to keep and what to throw away. Goats on one side; sheep on the other. We invaded the assisted-living facility ready to work. We were armed with trash bags, all shapes and sizes of storage containers, and every cleaning product known to mankind. We were on a mission and we had 3 days to complete our task. Veni, Vidi, Vici. (I came, I saw, I conquered.)

Due to economic reasons, we needed to move our aunt from her small assisted-living  room into a smaller room that she would be sharing with a roommate.  From old room 49 to new room 39. Just a few doors down the hall but it was like moving to a new town. Change, at any age, is a challenge and an adjustment. For these ladies, change has turned their world upside down. What was familiar is now unfamiliar. Towels must go on this shelf.  Snacks must go in that drawer. There is confusion, repetition, and speaking loudly to be heard.

These two very different elderly ladies are grappling with all sorts of emotions as they work through what their lives look like now. One likes to stay up late at night watching TV; the other goes to bed at 7 pm. One is social; the other is more of a loner. One is a messy; the other is a cleanie. Both families are unsure how this odd couple will navigate this arrangement once we pack up our supplies and leave town.

Felix Unger: What do you dream about?

Oscar Madison: Living alone.         ~ The Odd Couple 

We fall into our rhythm. Antiques will be handled gently and passed onto the next generation. Large black trash bags will be needed for the throw aways. Just open the bags and toss; memories included.  No time to dillydally. Those packs of playing cards deemed as “throw away” are tossed into a trash bag along with the memories of our aunt’s card-playing days. She and her girlfriends used to meet on Saturday nights to play cards; eating and laughing through the night. Lots of girlfriend time to chit chat and gossip. The trash bags bulge with throw aways and fond memories. More for the landfills.

As we cleaned, sorted and moved items up and down the hallway, we met some of the residents in the facility.  Has life, society, or their absent families cemented their destiny? Are they antiques or throw aways?  Some bravely served our great country, but now they are unsure of their name. Antique or throw away? Some were professionals who worked faithfully in our schools, hospitals, and government offices, but now they gather at meal time with their walkers, wheelchairs and bibs. Antique or throw away?

John, a former security guard, meanders up and down the hallways checking all the doors; closing some that are open. He is doing what he was trained to do for so many years: checking and securing the doors. John can’t communicate well and has to wear an adult diaper, so does that make him an antique or a throw away?

I know how God views John. His loving words are comforting.

Even to your old age and gray hairs, I am He. I am He who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you. Isaiah 46:4 (NIV)

Our moving days come to an end. Both ladies have transitioned into their new shared space. There are tears, hugs, promises of visits and reminders of “everything will be OK”.  There is a final review of how to turn the TV on and off.  We leave with a few antiques wrapped-well in old blankets. We toss the trash bags in the facility’s dumpster.

Back home, I will check my doors and make sure they are locked and secured before bedtime, just liked John taught me.

Let’s Walk Worthy!

 

walking the line

“I Walk the Line” was a song written and recorded in 1956 by Johnny Cash. It became his first number one hit on the Billboard charts. Cash was newly married at the time, and the song was meant to be a pledge of devotion to his first wife, Vivian.

I am walking a line.  I think each of us are walking a line of some kind, whether we realize it or not; whether we want to admit it or not. I want the line that I walk everyday to be representative of my pledge of devotion to my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. An invisible line is a difficult line to walk; it’s hard to follow something that you can’t see. Most days I proceed ever so cautiously; teetering and hesitating like trying to traverse a high wire in bulky boots without a net.

What is my line? It’s a line attempting to be “in” the world but not be “of” the world.

“If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.” John 15:19 (NIV)

Later in John 17:16 when Jesus is praying for His disciples prior to His arrest, He says, “They are not part of this world any more than I am.” (TLB)

But how does that play out in real life? How do I put skin on that? I think it means, at least for me, to do more helping and less harping. More loving and less lecturing. Putting my arms around people more and  pointing my finger at them less.image

Jesus walked the line perfectly. God, Three-In-One, walked the line to the manger, He walked the line while living on  this imperfect earth for 33 years and then He walked the line to the Cross. Totally blameless and sinless, He walked the line.

He was all Holy and God. He loved everyone.  He loves everyone, present tense.  He doesn’t love all my thoughts and actions; but He loves me. I want the people who cross my line throughout the day to see God’s Amazing Grace and Love in me.

My line just gets blurry at times. When the conversations at the hair salon turn to gossip, can I stay on my line?  When my Lord’s precious Name is used in vain, where is my line then? When no one is looking, am I navigating my line so that my thoughts and actions are total honoring God? Lots to work on here for me.

You’ve got a way to keep me on your side. You give me cause for love that I can’t hide. For you know I’d even try to turn the tide. Because you’re mine, I walk the line. ~ Johnny Cash 

I’ll keep walking my line and hope you will join me!

Have a Blessed Easter!

Let’s Walk Worthy!

 

Goodluck

What are little boys made of?  According to the popular 19th century English nursery rhyme, “Snips and snails, and puppy dog tails.”  Growing up with three sisters and raising two daughters, I am mostly ignorant about little boys in general.  They are a mystery to me. I understand dolls, playing house, and doing our hair and nails.  But in a few months, I will have the opportunity to spend time with a very special little boy, Goodluck. Time to learn about what makes little boys tick!

Goodluck lives in Tanzania, Africa. My husband and I are blessed to be in his life by sponsoring him through Compassion International. image

Developing a relationship through letter-writing is a challenge with a 4-year-old  boy. I imagine Goodluck would rather spend his time playing and not answering questions and I don’t blame him. From past correspondences, I know he loves football (soccer). His time at his Compassion Center would involve some play time and that is what little boys enjoy the most: playing (so I am told).

I envision him trying hard in football games but getting overpowered by the older boys. His time will come though.  Just keep trying, Goodluck!

When we meet him, he may be hesitant and quiet; that is to be expected. We hope to break down some barriers with a gift of a soccer ball. Will that bring a smile to his face? We hope so. We would love to bless him with some sneakers too! That would help him with running and jumping and playing! Little boys need sneakers, right?

While my husband and the rest of the Blood, Sweat and Compassion Team trek to the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro, I am privileged to be able to spend more time with Goodluck.

I have the opportunity to visit his home and meet his grandmother and grandfather who are his guardians. It will be an honor to be welcomed into their home and spend time getting to know each other. Two very different worlds under one roof.  With the help of an interpreter, I will express my love and support for all of them. I will ask how I can pray for them. I will try to answer any questions they have for me.

This will be very precious time spent together. Sitting together, sharing about our lives. (The goose bumps are starting already.) Everything becomes so much more personal when we gather in each other’s homes. Less pretense; more reality. Where do they get their water? What meals do they enjoy? How does Goodluck help around the home? How is their health? Do they know Jesus and do they attend the local church?

I will be humbled and ashamed too. Humbled by their hospitality and friendliness; ashamed of my excessive, American lifestyle. I bet there will be tears. I will leave a different and changed person. I came, I saw, I loved. There is no going back after that.

Another day, I am scheduled to be at Goodluck’s Compassion Center held in the local church on Saturdays. I will get to see him in action! There will be singing and dancing! I may be brave and join in as we joyfully praise our Same God. Will I see him battling for the football during play time? If so, I will be his very loud and enthusiastic cheerleader. Go, Goodluck!!image

Goodluck turns 5 soon after we depart. I will leave him with a gift and this special card made just for him. (Thanks, Kathy Jo! You are awesome.)

Being so young, Goodluck may not remember this visit. But I will never forget it. When I take his little hand in mine, I will thank God for this precious little boy and I will know exactly what he is made of: Love.

Let’s Walk Worthy!

 

 

hello gorgeous

“Hello Gorgeous” rang out as we entered the consignment store. All shoppers are greeted with this loving affirmation.

“Hello Gorgeous”. Who me? Wow, this is fun! We laughed and seriously considered exiting and re-entering just to be greeted again and hear those kind words. Yes, tell me again, please!

Five quality women. We consider ourselves quality women: strong, college educated, and God-lovers. We have each traveled some tough life-roads but are still standing. We are nuts; the solid and tough type. We have walked through divorces and remarriages; childbirth and grandparenthood; surgeries and menopause; sudden deaths of parents and slow, agonizing ones.

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The switch has flipped. We are now the caregivers to those who raised us even when they can’t remember our names. We worked through selling our childhood homes and making lots of big-girl decisions in our big-girl panties beneath our comfy sweatpants.

This weekend gathering was time to reminisce and gossip and belly-laugh. We shared an apartment in college where tons of memories were made. It was a hilarious time. In the midst of classes and craziness, we forged lasting friendships. Iron sharpening iron.

Today, we slip and slide seamlessly from one conversation to the next. Rabbit trails on steroids. “Whatever happened to so and so? Remember when there was a goat in the room?”  Looking back and catching up and laughing all day. We fill our day with memories, chocolate, bakeries, good wine and Pringles. All good stuff.

We don’t filter our thoughts like we used to when we are around family or in public. We don’t have the patience for faking nice. Most comments just fly out and that is OK; especially on the subject of men, politics and incompetent co-workers. image

A day of laughing and feeling a little bit younger again comes to an end. Heaps of hugs. My soul  is refreshed. Remembering when and looking gorgeous!

 

Let’s Walk Worthy!

 

 

 

 

whittle

 

Since the 1890’s image, the Whittler’s Bench has sat by the waterfront in the small town of Southport, NC.

The area served as a gathering place for elderly men to whittle away under the hot sun  while “shooting the breeze” about anything and everything.

Local barber, Paxton “Pack” Tharp,  could see the group of men from his shop and was concerned for their safety in the North Carolina summer heat.  So Tharp had a tree planted to provide some much-needed shade.

A cedar tree originally had the honors but populars were also planted throughout the years. The trees were privy to many tall tales and perhaps heated debates throughout the years.

In its inaugural years, the Whittler’s Bench buzzed with the news and gossip surrounding the  two Presidential candidates: Democrat William Jennings Bryan and Republican William McKinley. These two Wills ran for the Presidency in 1896 and again, in a rematch, in 1900. A battle of the “Wills” for two elections; great whittling-time fodder.

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Throughout the decades, the men gathered and whittled during the good times and the very hard times.

The whittling men of Southport came with their misshaped pieces of wood and sharpened knives.  The art of whittling is a carving process that involves repeatedly cutting away small pieces. They cut away the unnecessary; leaving only the necessary. They chipped away the ugly; revealing the beauty. Piece by piece, slice by slice. The discarded  pieces fell to the sandy ground. They carved and created. They whittled.

Pausing at this landmark featuring the faded historical marker, a gray rustic bench and a bushy cedar tree,  my heart cried out: Whittle me, Lord!  I come as a very blemished and mangled vessel. I am in desperate need of the Master Whittler to cut, carve, and create. Cut away my arrogance;  go as deep as needed. Slice off my negative and whiny attitude; it has to go! Remove my judgemental thoughts; toss them on the ground!

Chris Sligh’s words from “Empty Me” capture my whittling-needs list:

“Empty me of the selfishness inside, every vain ambition and the poison of my pride and any foolish thing my heart holds to. Lord, empty me of me so I can be filled with You.”

Lord, cut away with Your Loving Hands.  I know it will hurt but I also know it is necessary.  Shape and make me into Your new Creation. Less of me, more of You.

The Master Whittler hears my cries. He gathers me and begins the whittling process. As He works, He constantly reminds me how much He loves me and gently whispers, “See, I am making all things new!” Revelation 21:5 (TLB)

Let’s Walk Worthy!

 

Memories for Sale

As my birthday candles increase each year, I discover I want to know more about my past. Maybe understanding more about my past will help me appreciate and navigate my senior citizen years better. I hope.

I wish I had known my parents as people; the truly, amazing people they were. People who had fascinating stories to share about their lives before me and my sisters. Before life got crazy busy.  All those interesting life-stories before diapers, scraped knees, bills, and broken hearts.

I didn’t and couldn’t look past their parent label and see them as people. As a child, I was too young to care. As a teenager, I was too obnoxious to care. As a newly married, I was too busy to care. Then they were gone. There was no more time to sit and talk and share. There was no time to ask questions, listen intently and maybe share a giggle.  What were their likes and dislikes?  What were their dreams? What filled their bucket lists? Losing my parents too soon stole so much from me and my family.

IMG_3246At a yard sale last summer, I stopped at a table selling a hodge podge of items. There were glasses, plates, and a little bit of everything for sale.

What caught my attention and made me sad was a basket of pictures. Memories for sale. Cheap too! Just 25 cents for black and white photos of special events and beautiful people. Isn’t that when photos are taken? When the family is gathered together for a special occasion and everyone is picture-ready perfect. Maybe it’s a birthday, graduation or anniversary celebration. Or maybe it’s as simple and precious as our first whooper-of-a-fish caught or our first pony ride. We want to remember the happy times. So we snap a memory. We want to remember this moment and these people, exactly as they are right now.

IMG_3254I paused at the collection of memories. I had so many crazy emotions circling in my mind,  “Should I purchase some or all of them? Don’t they deserve a proper home?  But I don’t know the people in these old photos. If no one buys them, will they be thrown away? Shouldn’t they be with family, handed down to the younger generations?  Isn’t someone missing their family represented in these photos? Does anyone else think this is sad and strange?”

There were no answers to the silent rantings in my head.  I was hot in the July sun so I walked away from the basket of photos selling someone else’s memories for sale. I felt some minor injustice was occurring at that yard sale; a personal violation of some sort.  I walked away but decided to  learn from it. How can I make sure my family’s memories aren’t tossed in a basket going for a quarter or less some day?

Each picture has a back story to be shared by those who know the details. Pictures should be talked about after the family Thanksgiving meal and at the passing of a loved one and at the old picnic table out in the yard. You laugh and cry, both bringing tears to your eyes. You talk and share and pass on the memories so others can learn and appreciate.

So I am spending my days clinging to photos and seeking stories from any relative that can shed light on the people I didn’t really know – my parents. I am writing  down my memories as a way to honor two amazing people and to educate those who come after me. My memories aren’t for sale; they are priceless.

Let’s Walk Worthy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

signs

The gradual warming temperatures are ushering in signs of spring. Yay!

daffodil2The crocuses and snow drops force their way up through the remaining snow.  What brave little flowers delivering big doses of hope to all of us!

The stately daffodils are the trumpets in the springtime flower orchestra. They arrive early blasting the news for all to hear: Spring is here!

The song birds have returned to sing and entertain us with their nest-building flitting about  busyness. Signs of spring are everywhere for us to enjoy and remind us to say  “thank you” to our Creator.

But the surrounding landscape is dotted with other signs too. You see them at the post office, schools and all major intersections. Wherever vehicle and people traffic is heavy; the signs are present. They seem to be reproducing and increasing overnight; more and more of them “blocking out the scenery and breaking my mind.”

Sign, sign, everywhere a sign

Blockin’ out the scenery, breakin’  my mind

Do this, don’t do that, cant you read the sign? ~ Five Man Electrical Band, 1971

Political signs. It is election time on the local, state, and national levels. All coming at us like a freight train; ready or not. For a sanity break this morning, I watched several Saturday Night Live’s spoofs of the Democratic and Republican parties’ debates  on YouTube. It felt good to belly laugh. I highly recommend it when the political sign madness overwhelms you.

The “Vote For” political signs are stuck in the ground everywhere showcasing the name of someone who desperately wants and needs your vote. Most are red, white and blue, to varying degrees, in color. That is the most patriotic and the safest color choice. But I did see a yellow sign today; the candidate’s last name was Lemon. Cool connection. Another clever sign for a school board member, spelled the candidate’s name in the windows of a school bus. Whatever gets your attention and ultimately your vote.

There are big signs, billboards too. Is bigger really better or just more obnoxious? Time will tell.

I also saw a large static sticker on the back window of the car in front of me today. It read,  “The government shouldn’t take my money and give it to you just because you are to lazy to work.” My advice: If you are going to express yourself in such a public way, please use proper grammar (too vs. to). Just my pet peeve.

imageSo I will attempt to look beyond and through the signs of our world to the signs of His Creation. I will let my eyes settle on the beauty of the cardinals and the bluebirds and their feathered friends.

I will enjoy the forsythia bushes flaunting their yellow arms and the softness of the pussy willows. Throw in some SNL spoofs and we just might survive this election season of signs.

Sign, sign, everywhere a sign!

 

imageLet’s Walk Worthy!

 

 

 

 

Verbs

A verb is one of the main parts of a sentence in English. You can’t have a sentence  without a verb. That’s how important these “action” parts of speech are. The verb signals an action, an occurrence, or a sate of being. Whether mental, physical,  or mechanical, verbs always express activity.

God, Creator of everything including grammar, knew the importance of verbs. In Deuteronomy 7, God uses verbs to clearly express the actions He is instructing the Israelites to take. When He brings them into the Promised Land and drives out the enemy nations,  these are the actions (verbs) they are to perform. No exceptions. No questions.

Break down their altars

Smash their sacred stones

Cut down their Asherah poles

Burn their idols in the fire

Purge the evil

Destroy completely

In Deuteronomy 10, God shares what He wants the Israelites and us to remember using more verbs: Fear Him, Walk in obedience, Serve and Love Him with all of our being, and Observe His Commands.

The Israelites are reminded of His 10 Commandments in Deuteronomy 5. What should they (and we) do with His Commands?  More verbs: Fix these words in your hearts and minds, Tie them unto your hands, Bind them to your foreheads, Teach them to your children, Talk about them all the time, and Write them everywhere.

God is very clear with His verbs. He wants us to have an active faith. IMG_7163

Too often people are turned off by the Bible, God’s love letter to us, because they believe it is filled with too many verbs. Too many uncomfortable do’s and mega-tons of restricting don’ts. Rules ruffle our-free-to-live-how-we-want-to feathers. We spend our lives under someone’s thumb of authority: parents, spouses, bosses, and government. We don’t want any more rules and commands coming from another source in our lives especially not an invisible God. Ugh! So we rebel whenever and however we can.  We bend, if not break, most or all of His verbs. We can and we do. I can and I have. The Israelites did. In Deuteronomy 31, the Israelites’ rebellion is predicted. God shares openly with His good friend, Moses, whom He will bury Himself (what a perfect love story ending).

“You are going to rest with your ancestors, and these people will soon prostitute themselves to the foreign gods of the land they are entering. They will forsake Me and break the covenant I made with them.” Deuteronomy 31: 16  NIV

They didn’t get it. The Israelites missed out on the life God wanted for them. I don’t want to miss out on the life He wants for me. But that will take obedience and yielding to not my will, but His Will in my life. It will mean following His verbs.

But then I stop to consider WHY? Why so many verbs from God? I quickly realize it isn’t because My God is a tyrant or dictator. No, quite the opposite.  All He has ever done and will ever do is from His favorite verb of all: LOVE.  He loves us so much. Parents who love their children provide boundaries/guidelines for the child’s safety and well-being. Same concept.

During a sleepless night, I started my own list of verbs. What activity God expresses towards me through verbs. My list of God’s verbs follows the ABC’s.

My God   adores, blesses, created, defends, embraces, forgives, gets, hugs, improves, justifies, knows, loves, molds, notices, overwhelms, purchased, quiets, reassures, saved, teaches, understands, values,  welcomes, X-Y-Z   Me.

Verbs express activity. What verbs has God used in your life, to demonstrate His amazing Abba Father love towards you? If any start with X-Y-Z, please let me know 🙂

Let’s Walk Worthy!

 

March Gladness

Charles Dickens said it best about March’s changeable weather.

“It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold; when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade.” Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

Many of us are familiar with the phrase, “in like a lion, out like a lamb” used to describe the beginning and end of this unpredictable month. Besides the whimsical weather-related sayings associated with this month, March has a lot going on throughout its 31 days.

If you are into astronomy, you aware that the March equinox on the 20th is the astronomical beginning of SPRING in the northern hemisphere. If your strong suit is health awareness, you may be excited about bringing awareness to the American Red Cross and Multiple Sclerosis throughout March. Don’t forget about World Kidney Day on the second Thursday! If you are Irish, March 17th is your day to shine green! Erin go Bragh!

There are some very famous March babies too:  Michelangelo, Vincent van Gogh, Dr. Seuss, Albert Einstein, and Alexander Graham Bell.

If you follow college basketball, this is YOUR MONTH. Whether you spend hours upon hours researching facts and figures to complete your bracket, or you take a more light-hearted approach and make your picks based on the cuteness-factor of the mascot or the color of a team’s uniform; it is all part of the Madness. March Madness. That term was first used in 1939 by Henry V. Porter, a high school basketball coach in Illinois. Boy, if Henry had a nickel for every time that phrase was used today!

The whittled-down Sweet Sixteen teams will play on March 24 and 25. Then the Elite Eight will follow on March 26 and 27. By this time, your bracket will have been tossed in the trash or your homework will have paid off and your team will still be alive and dribbling. Some will be glad; many will be mad. Again, all part of the Madness.

But on the weekend of March 25-27, I invite you to join me in celebrating March Gladness. No matter how your team has fared in the Madness, circle this weekend for some celebratory March Gladness!

My gladness has nothing to do with a bracket or wins/losses or who’s in/who’s out. My March Gladness is because my best friend willingly died on the cross for me. He did that because He is so in love with me. He died for you too! Yeah, He loves us that much. That is Holy Madness!

That jagged, wooden cross caused Him unimaginable pain and a horribly brutal death.  He suffered for what I did yesterday, and what I did today, and all that I will do tomorrow and for all my remaining days. He allowed His Blood to flow from that ugly cross down onto the ground to cover all the crap in my life. I am not glad that He had to suffer so deeply for me; but I am very glad that I serve a SaviorthH92HM729 who was willing to suffer for me.

My Gladness for His willingness to free me through His Pain should shine through my life every single day that I have breath in my lungs. My gladness for being stamped “Debt Paid” should resonate by the way I interact with people and how I live my life.

No, I am not glad about His Pain. But I am very glad that by His Pain I have been set Free. That is my March Gladness.

Let’s Walk Worthy!

Photo Credit: youthdownsouth.org