Sunday, November 29, 2015

All is Well With My Soul

When I moved out to our property in the middle of nowhere 25 years ago, my friend, Mary, did not mince words.  “A well is challenging,” she said.  “People get testy when their well acts up and they don’t have water!”  Mary’s words haunt me from time to time but the stories that come from owning a well are worth telling.

My early morning devotional prepared me for my day.    The teaching spotlighted the story of the woman with three hairs on her head.  The woman got up one morning and decided she would braid her hair with those three strands and go on her merry way.  The next morning she looked in the mirror and realized she had only two strands of hair and decided to part her hair in the middle.  The following morning she had only one strand of hair and chose to wear a pony tail that day and went on to enjoy the day.  The next day she woke up with no hair and exclaimed “Yippee, I don’t have to fix my hair today!”  Grasping the power of a positive outlook, she remained cheerful. 

The message dropped in my spirit loud and clear.  Remain positive always and praise the Lord in all things.

My husband stepped into my office trading me a hot cup of morning brew for the bad news:  “I didn’t anticipate the temperature dipping to 26 degrees through the night and I didn’t plug in the heat tape for the well.  We have no water this morning.”  Having just fed my spirit with the devotional that stressed praising God in all things, even if you only have three strands of hair, I exclaimed:  “Good, I don’t have to shower today.”

My praise music on in the background, I choose to sing.  Praising God helps us win in every difficult situation. The author of this morning’s devotional reminds me of the power of praise.

1)    Praising God brings healing to my spirit.
2)   Praise empowers my prayer life.
3)   Praise defeats Satan:

May we shout for joy when we hear of your victory
    and raise a victory banner in the name of our God.
May the Lord answer all your prayers.
Psalm 20:5

I have places to go and people to meet with today and it looks like my hair may be somewhat flat ….but, praise the Lord anyway.  All is well with my soul. 

God can use anything to measure our maturity.  In my case, He’s using  the well…again.  I want the victory today.  I'm hanging in there.  How about you?

Sunday, November 22, 2015

The Best Time

Photo Courtesy:  Peggy James
With Lois Honey

The nice thing about traveling is meeting people.   It wasn’t long before I learned that the fabulous gal seated next to me on the plane was a woman of faith.  My heart soared hearing her stories and all that God had done in her life. 

Thanksgiving is like that…it’s contagious!  She leaned toward me and asked this question:  “And what about you?  Tell me about the best time in your life.”

“Give me a minute here…”  I responded.

…Could it be when I married Tom?  Honeymooning in Jamaica, I remember thinking “I’m going to remember this paradise forever.  I may never be this happy again.”

But then we bought our first home and we learned how to wallpaper and I thought:  “Could I be any happier?”

Then our first born came.  She was sensational and I thought I would burst with happiness. 

In a neighborhood Bible study, I met Jesus personally.  I got set free; the chains fell off.  That had to be it.

Another baby came and I thought to myself:  “I will never be this happy again.”

Then we moved out west near my retired parents.  Our family thrived in the sparkling sunshine.  Life can’t get any better than this.  “I feel like I’m on vacation every day!”  I said.

Was the happiest time in my life when I landed a sales job with a great company and an awesome boss?   To work for a man of integrity, who treated his employees more like family than coworkers—was that it?

Was my happiest time when my daughters graduated from college and entered careers they were shaped for in their lives?

Becoming a grandmother is thrilling beyond words.  Was that it?

…I turned to her and answered:  “It’s now!  I truly know more of whom I am and why I’m here.”

This is the day the LORD has made.
We will rejoice and be glad in it.
  Psalm 118:24

How would you describe the best time in your life?

I wish you all a lovely Thanksgiving holiday.  I challenge you to look back over the years and all the ways that blessings have been sprinkled in your life.   May we always have hearts of Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Hitched to a Rough Road

Photo Credit:  Peggy James

I got his email and wanted to shout:  “Hey, buster, does the phrase “continued behavior pattern” mean anything to you?  But I didn’t.

Travis is at it again.  His email revealed a litany of complaints about our neighborhood, our country road, our board officers, bad decisions made that will cost him money, yada-yada-yada.

Travis is a Christian brother but you’d never know it.

He is a large, loud man who shoots his mouth off as often as he shoots his guns back here in the hills.  He interrupts at our road meetings and, like a typical hothead, he speaks truth but with a tone that makes me feel like I need to duck in case some of his words fly at me and smack me upside the face.

I thought we were making progress, but we’re not.

It is our rough road that brings us together.  Last year we picked up the neglected pieces of our road association.  We agreed to assemble once again to talk, make decisions, and improve our road. 

It’s slow going!

That’s not fair; I’m too idealistic.  I hate conflict.  I just want all of us to get along.  Will we ever get to the place of pot luck? 

Travis reminds me of Jesus’ friend, Peter.  How did Jesus handle him? Peter, a hothead, and quick on the draw, made mistakes.  He must have hated himself when he failed his best friend.  He quit and ran to his old fishing ways.

I wonder if that’s how Travis feels.  Does he feel bad about himself?  Is that why he can’t love us back?

What did Jesus do?
Jesus didn’t put Peter down or make him feel “less than”.   He called Peter forth into being a strong, steady man.  That’s what He spoke over him.  He fed him breakfast. 

Peter reached his full potentialWe all can reach our full potential if we remember Jesus is for us.  Each day gives us a new start.

We meet for business in the neighbor’s barn.  I arrived early and joined some of the guys hobnobbing near the horses.  Travis smiled and extended a friendly handshake.  I placed my arms around his thick middle and gave him a bear hug instead.

You should have seen his face.

Immediately he whispered “I will never forget the first Christmas when some of us moved out here and you invited all of us over on Christmas Day.  You cared.”

It was a community effort, not just me,” I corrected.   We laughed as I reminded him how I roped in the kids on the street behind me and made Christmas cookies with them.  I bribed them with chocolate kisses if they would deliver our homemade party invitations to the neighbors. 

Travis remembered from so long ago!  Did it mean that much?  

 Love never gives up, never loses faith,
 is always hopeful,
and endures through every circumstance.
1 Corinthians 13:7

I like to think that although we’re simple ragamuffins living back here in the hills, we can care for one another like that again.

I’m not giving up.

And you…hug a Meany this week.  I double dog dare you.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Packing My Dancing Shoes

My favorite toddler story goes all the way back to my youngest at three years old.  Her instructions were to take an afternoon nap and not get out of bed while I waited outside for the school bus to drop off her big sister.  When I got in, I peeked on what I hoped would be a sleeping child.  Instead I found her wide awake on her bed.  Did you get out of bed and help yourself to an Oreo cookie?” I asked.  No!” replied my toddler with lips outlined in chocolate cookie crumbs!

Another favorite is last summer when my daughter’s family stayed with us for a few days.  Mommy took a shower leaving papa in charge of the baby who fought her morning nap.  I walked down the hall and noticed him sitting on the edge of the bed adjacent to the crib singing lullabies’ to her so she wouldn’t cry!  What a precious moment frozen in time forever etched on my brain.  I didn’t know he knew those songs.  Just about when you think you really know someone…

Come the middle of this week, I’ll be heading into toddler-land to babysit my youngest granddaughter for a few days.  I’m packing my vitamins, getting lots of sleep and bringing my dancing shoes.  She’s the one that loves fast silly music so as long as we tune into The Wiggles, we should have a grand old time.  

By the way, did you know dancing has healing properties for the elderly?  Findings from a 21 year-old study of senior citizens 75 years and older led by Albert Einstein College of Medicine reports that dancing makes you smarter!

Dancing Makes You Smarter

*Dancing reduces stress and depression.
*It increases energy and serotonin.
*It improves flexibility, strength, balance and endurance.
*It strengthens bones and boosts cardiovascular health.
*It increases mental capacity by exercising our cognitive processes.
*It creates dynamic and rapid fire decision making – creates new neural paths.

That last one is reason enough for me to get up and put the music on!

Do you like to dance?  Or perhaps you have a favorite toddler story you would like to share with me?

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Crisis Turned Blessing

I wasn’t worried when I rode in the ambulance because I knew you were praying for me.”  These are the words my husband whispered to me after facing a medical crises a few weeks ago.

Complications set in a few days after Tom’s surgeon performed a procedure at the hospital.   He returned home, but lost so much blood due to an artery punctured during surgery.  His blood pressure dropped to 79/49 and we headed to the ER at the VA in Prescott where they then transferred him by ambulance to the civilian hospital and surgeon who performed the surgery.   It turned out to be an easy fix, but if he had waited a few more hours he would not have survived.

Terrific blessings came our way.  I can’t wait to list them all because every time I think of that week in October, I want to cry.  My heart is full of thanksgiving.

*Tom received immediate care in both emergency rooms without a wait!  He was given the best treatment and a comfortable room with a view!

*Because of the complications, he received every test imaginable and from them learned he is healthy in other areas.  That’s a gift in itself.

*Our kids were able to express their love to their dad and it was a beautiful thing to see.  It’s easy to take people for granted when every day is the same.

*Amy, with her medical expertise, provided the best care for her dad by his side in the hospital and at home as well.  We must have thanked her a thousand times.

*We were grateful for the support and love from friends and family.  I smiled at every text, phone call, email, gift, card, and comment left for us encouraging us through prayer.  Within minutes of the kids’ posts on social media, our friends and our churches rallied around us offering to help and pray.  With a prayer army the size of ours, I relaxed.

*Our bonus daughter, Angie, came with our bonus grandson, off for fall break, and stayed the week with me.  We are thankful for the sacrifice she made after just getting out of the hospital herself.  She’s upbeat and loving and our time of sharing and praying was outstanding.  Her chili, cornbread and chicken soup recipes filled my house with delicious aroma as we welcomed Tom home.  It was enjoyable to once again have the rooms in my home active with family, cooking, baking and video game races blasting from the T.V.  

Life Is Good Again
It could have been a disaster, but it turned around to be the biggest blessing!  We thank God for all of it as we enter into the Thanksgiving Season.

We’ve been staying close to home as Tom still tires easily.   I got a little cabin fever a few days ago and took a walk around our neighborhood, visiting with neighbors and absorbing the beauty of simple country.  I’ll close with a few photos I particularly love about where I live.