Great Expectations: Part Two

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What are you expecting today?  This week?  This year?  Next year? In the next five, ten, twenty years?  Of yourself?  Of others?  Of God, if you are a believer?

Seriously.  Think about it.

Your New Year’s resolution(s) results.  Your hard work and efforts – professionally and/or personally.  What. Do. You. Expect? To happen. To transform. To change.  To stay the same.

Is the glass half full or mostly empty?  Do you hope for the best? Expect the worst?  Believe that good will prevail or generally sense the bad and the ugly?

These are not rhetorical questions simply asked for literary effect; rather they are fully intended to evoke emotion and deep thought in you – and me. And elicit responses within our own minds and hearts.

In his book, The Power of Positive Thinking, Norman Vincent Peale writes, “When you expect the best, you release a magnetic force in your mind which by a law of attraction tends to bring the best to you.”

Now I’m no brain surgeon and I’m certainly far from a scientist or scholar, but y’all I believe it and I can attest to it: Expect great things and great things will happen!

I could go on and on with testimonies and Lord willing I’ll keep up with this blog and eventually share a few real-life events that only He could orchestrate through my faith in Him AND positive expectations.

Would you join me in the journey of great expectations?  I’d love to hear your stories……

<<<<(still) to be continued>>>>

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Great Expectations: Part One

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In late December I received a voice mail from the framing department at Hobby Lobby. The message indicated that I needed to come to the store before they could complete my framing request.  Aww shucks, okkkaaaayyyy twist my arm to make another trip.  (I love me some Hobby Lobby, y’all!)  🙂

So….let’s rewind to the day after Thanksgiving….picture this with me:

Walk-in attic upstairs, framed pictures of family lining the walls on both sides of the stairs between the first and second floors, an impatient gal barreling out of the attic with an extra long, extra wide plastic container coming down the stairs with a determination as strong as nails to get all the décor down those stairs and on that Christmas tree quick, fast and in a hurry….

Bare feet and glass included.

Yep…I did….I carried that container down those stairs (well…I made it to the second stair from the top) and plum knocked off the biggest frame on the dang wall!  The one with the most glass, y’all. And the one that had taken me FOREVER to frame.  It’s a collage – with 6-7 (all different sizes) black-and-white pictures of my sweet girl when she was 10ish AND it has individual, raised letters at the bottom that spell out B L E S S I N G S. My favorite one on the wall!  I swore when I got that thing done that I would never embark on such a craft again.  Framing is not for me!

It broke!  Ya think?

Made a big ol racket, too. And left some scratches on the wall. And glass went EVERYWHERE. On the stairs. All the way to the bottom and onto the tile floor. And there I was in my bare feet, which is crazy because I ALWAYS wear those dollar pair of Old Navy flip flops. Always. Except on the day after Thanksgiving when I knocked my favorite pic off the wall!!

Praise God for the best hubby ever who insisted that I sit my little tail at the top of the stairs until he got it all cleaned up. That Shark vacuum he likes so much did the trick!

Now…back to Hobby Lobby – I made my way there earlier this week and you know…the framing department is in the BACK of the store…so I HAD to stroll a while…..just to look and see what “pretties” they had….and they had plenty….I could’ve bought up their entire “Farmhouse” supply of stuff – but I didn’t.  What did catch my eye, however, was some of those faux (aka fake, ha) books that are used for stacking and whatnot and I thought to myself how well they would look on my living room table since I’d been looking for something to add some height.

So…I picked up a couple – and one in particular resonated with me….but not until several days later when I spotted it on my living room table… 

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

I stopped in my tracks as I glanced down and noticed the name for the first time early one morning as I made my way through the living room.  You see, I had not noticed the name AT ALL in the store.  I had simply liked the style, design and colors, bought it along with one more, and that was it.  Quick, fast and in a hurry….

<<<<<<to be continued>>>>>>

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Celebrate!

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In the spirit of being intentional in 2018, I will celebrate!  Big things, small things.  Important dates to me – and to my loved ones.

There’s so much to celebrate – if we will but look….all around us! And quite often, right in front of us!

During the month of January, I will celebrate my hubby’s birthday.  And new beginnings.  And the opportunities that have not yet presented themselves.  And forever grateful I will be. To have the chance to celebrate. To walk out this often difficult – but super cool blessing – called LIFE.

As an elementary-aged girl, I was very involved in the children’s choir at First Baptist Church in Jackson, MS.  I adored the Music Director (to this day I still think he hung the moon) and I remember singing “Celebration” over and over and over. Back then I had no idea that it was a ‘secular’ song – and frankly it didn’t make much difference once I found out.  The impact of the lyrics and the Music Director was far more important. (That’s another blog for another day).

What will you celebrate today, this week, this year?

 (Most of) the lyrics to: “Celebration” by Kool and the Gang 

Yahoo!
Celebration
Yahoo!
This is your celebration

Celebrate good times, come on!
(Let’s celebrate)
Celebrate good times, come on!
(Let’s celebrate)

There’s a party goin’ on right here
A celebration to last throughout the years
So bring your good times and your laughter too
We gonna celebrate your party with you

Come on now, celebration
Let’s all celebrate and have a good time
Celebration
We gonna celebrate and have a good time

It’s time to come together
It’s up to you, what’s your pleasure?
Everyone around the world come on!

Yahoo!
It’s a celebration
Yahoo!

We’re gonna have a good time tonight
(Celebration)
Let’s celebrate, it’s all right
We’re gonna have a good time tonight
(Celebration)
Let’s celebrate, it’s all right

Yahoo!
Yahoo!

 

In a Word

A couple of weeks ago my mother-in-law told me that she had chosen one word for herself for the coming year.  A word of focus.  A word that would assist her in establishing her goals, tasks and decisions for the next 365 days.  Her word.  As I listened, I could easily tell that she had put much thought into the selection.  While I was somewhat intrigued by the notion, I wasn’t necessarily moved to do much else as I went about my day, my week….my life.

Every year for several years now, typically in the early morning hours of Christmas Eve nestled under a blanket in front of a fire with a cup of coffee, I have taken some time to reflect and set.  Reflect on the year past. And set goals for the year ahead.  Each year’s goals have been similar and have usually been clarified in these categories: Spiritual, Health, Financial and Professional.  Detailed.  Specific. Actionable. Achievable. And quite tedious, actually.

As Christmas Eve 2017 approached, I just wasn’t feeling it.  #1 I didn’t want to reflect on what I knew I had not accomplished.  I didn’t want to look myself square in the eye and fully admit that I had done a horrible job of sticking to my self-imposed goals.  And I certainly didn’t want to establish a new laundry list of ideal standards without the necessary unwavering commitment to achieve such accomplishments.  #2 I didn’t even know where to begin anyway.  I just….wasn’t feeling it this go-around…

Then it hit me….I must be intentional!  If I choose to establish one goal or one thousand goals, it’s on me.  If I want to commit or throw the paper in the nearby fire, I can do either or neither.  Whatever I do, I must do it as unto the Lord.  He doesn’t care if it’s on a piece of paper or simply in this crazy head of mine.  He only wants my heart and He wants to receive the glory for whatever results are produced.

So I have a word: INTENTIONAL.  Not because my mother-in-law or anyone else is choosing one word… but because it’s right.  Right for me. And where I am right now. And who I am.  In Him.

Thank you, Dorothy. You planted a seed. Others watered it. And the Lord is growing it. In me and you. For His glory and in His time.

And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.

Colossians 3:23-24 NKJV 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beyond Happy

“Happy New Year!”  How many times have you said that to someone in the past 6 days?  How many times has someone said it to you?  Obviously neither you or I have counted the times that those three words have rolled off our tongues or been spoken to us since the clock struck midnight on January 1; nor would I expect that any of us would ever do such a thing.  But what if we DID count?  Not count for the sake of adding numbers as if we’d earn a dime for every tick marked or because we’ve established some sort of system to make ourselves feel better.  Count as in MAKE IT COUNT.  What if, every single time we chose to offer 2017 well wishes to someone, we paused and considered what we might do to contribute to the happiness of that person?  To take it a step further, what if we got really crazy and turned the statement into a question: “What can I do to contribute to your happiness this year?” Feel too weird or awkward to ask that of someone?  At the very least we could ask ourselves, “What do I think I could do to contribute to this person’s happiness in 2017?”  And: “What will I do about it?”

In a time when anything and everything we want is literally at our fingertips, we have become a society of doing what makes us happy. Us. As in me, myself and I.  As in I want, I want, I want. Or, I need, I need, I need (mostly based on our own justifications of what defines a true need). This will make me happy. That will make me happy.  Happy New Year turns into Happy Valentine’s Day, Happy Easter, Happy Mother’s Day and Happy Father’s Day and Happy Birthday and Happy This and Happy That and before you know it another 365 days have passed and we are singing “Auld Lang Syne” and striving for continued/better/more happiness again – and again – and again.

Now do not misunderstand me! There is nothing wrong with saying “Happy New Year” or wishing “Happy (fill-in-the-blank)” to anyone and, in fact, I am a die-hard celebrator of all things happy.  Like Martina McBride sings (gosh, I love her voice), I’m a happy girl!  Lots of things make me happy and I enjoy sharing happiness with others.  My true, deep-down-in-my-heart happiness comes from the peace and joy that I have in knowing my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and in my best, genuine, Mississippi twang, hear me say, “There ain’t nothin’ that compares to that!”

With that, I’ll leave you with a question and a challenge: What can I do to contribute to your happiness and what will you do to go beyond happy in your own life and in the lives of others today?  this week?  this year?

This is the day that the Lord has made.

Let’s rejoice together, SHARE the joy and ASK others to join us!

Happy, Happy!

Joy, Joy!

 

 

 

 

 

A heart like His

I wanna have a heart like Jesus.  A heart empty of judgment; full of love.  A heart closed to fear and fully open to forgiveness.  One that gives more than it takes and sees good in the midst of bad.  A heart that beats FOR Him, not just because of Him.  Every. Single. Beat.  But I’m a sinner.  I’m fragile and I’m human.  And I fall short in tall ways. And my shortcomings overwhelm me in the light of His purity.  Oh but grace…God’s grace. That which I cannot comprehend I can still choose to embrace. So I do.  And the clean waters of His love wash the dirt away.

Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.  Psalm 51:10 NIV

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Step on in…

Several weeks ago a friend said to me, “You are always on the go and see lots of nice places.  You should start a blog.”  I replied, “I DO have a blog but I’ve not written in quite some time.”  Just a few days prior another friend told me, “I sure do miss your blog.  I always love reading what you write.”

Ok, God.  I hear You.  Somebody – or at least TWO somebodies out there –  want to hear what I have to say through this platform.  Oh yeah, this means of communication that is a direct result of intense prayer time and a spirit-led decision to put my crazy, transparent thoughts on the World-Wide-Web, complete with a glamour shot and a quite appropriate label of “Mississippi Blonde.”   Yep, You still want me to do it.  You haven’t gone anywhere….I have.

Ask. Seek. Knock. And it shall be given to us according to God’s will.  We know this scripture.  We quote it.  We commit it to memory.  And, in our own human frailty, we believe that He will answer the question, open the door, provide the guidance. And He does, although not always when or how we desire.  But…what do we do when He answers?  Often if we get the response we want, we praise Him with hands held high and we shout “Amen” loud and proud.  We go forth on the path that we believe has been clearly revealed by His spirit or through His word.  On the other hand, if we receive less than our desired answer, we aren’t as willing to raise our arms toward Heaven.  We fall short in the excitement of a Father who still answers prayers.  So we stand. We stand at the door.  The door that we knocked on – and that He opened. And we keep standing – unwilling to take the next step – to cross the threshold into His perfect will.

I have no idea who needs this.  But I do know that I had to walk through the door – today. Not tomorrow.  Not next week. Today.  What door do YOU need to walk through?  He has already opened it for you…just simply step on in!

Time Keeps on Slippin’

I did NOT want to play Monopoly today.  It just wasn’t on my list of things to do on Christmas Eve.  I grew up playing games – from Apples to Apples and Operation in my very young years – to Scrabble, Yahtzee, Sorry, Spades and of course Monopoly later on.  For whatever reason though, I’ve had no desire to engage in such leisure activities in several years.  I’d rather watch from the sidelines, bouncing in and out between my own commotion, stirring the pot of competition between others without any commitment to the games myself.

As always, I awoke way before dawn this morning.  Vacation or not, my body alarm knows when the clock’s hands are knocking on the 5 am door.  Determined to embrace the comfort of our Sleep Number bed and take pleasure in the avoidance of morning rush hour traffic, I rolled over and dozed off again. In those quiet moments before dozing, I prayed.  I thanked God for my family, my health, my friends, my career.  I asked for forgiveness of sins and requested healing for family and friends who are battling diseases or facing other struggles.  And I asked to be more like Jesus.  To do what He wants me to do.  To be the wife, the mother, the woman of God that He desires me to be.

Two hours later as I reopened my eyes to celebrate the Eve of my Savior’s birth, my husband walked into the room with a cup of hot coffee for me.  As I sat there sipping on the fresh brew and contemplating my plans for the day, I wondered what the day would bring.  It is rare that I have no to-do list, no pressing obligations, no immediate action items, so I anticipated little and hoped for much.

It wasn’t long before my beautiful, teenage daughter knocked on the door and found her way to my bedside.  Bright-eyed and bushy tailed unusually early for a no-school day, I wondered why she was up.  “Oh, I just couldn’t sleep. I’ve been waking up at 5:30 every morning,” she said as I inquired about her early rising.  “Welcome to my world,” I responded.  It was then that she announced that she was there to ask me to play Monopoly.  Just moments before when she was heating leftover sausage-cream cheese-crescent yumminess, Brad had a crazy idea that he would play her in the real estate trading game and then she had a crazier idea that I would join them.

No, no and no.  I don’t play games. I don’t like to play games. I do not want to play Monopoly. Or any other game for that matter.  I have things to do.  And I just don’t want to play. After several attempts at making poor excuses and a wise, loving husband who pointed out that I had absolutely nothing that HAD to get done today, my stubbornness would still not let me agree. I never said “no” but I never said “yes” either.

Moments later after Brad and Hannah had both moved on to other things in other rooms and I was left to get back to whatever it was I thought I wanted to do, the Holy Spirit ever so gently said, “I want you to play Monopoly with your daughter and your husband. I want you to enjoy THEM.  I want you to give them the time and attention they deserve and want from you. Don’t let this time slip away from you….”

And there you have it.  As He always does, our Heavenly Father answered my prayer.   I was so close to missing a chance to listen to Him.  To ignoring an opportunity to walk in obedience. To dismissing time and attention with my loved ones. Time keeps on slippin’ – and it ain’t takin’ its time doin’ so.  I finished my coffee, walked up the hallway, smiled and announced, “I get to be the hat!”

I lost the game – mortgaged all (little as it was) of my property and went bankrupt. First one out.  Pretty sure I won so much more!  Now THAT’S the game of life!

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In an Instant

I used to joke with my sister that the only thing she knew how to cook was instant grits.  You know, the kind of grits that come in a little packet that you dump into a bowl , add boiling water, stir and eat.  Quick and easy.  Culinary skills aside, we did eat a lot of instant grits growing up and admittedly so, I’ve eaten them as an adult.  With enough butter or cheese added in, the grainy morsels taste less like the cardboard box that they come packaged in.

A couple of weeks ago during a grocery shopping trip I came very close to buying a box of the quick and easy breakfast item.  No joke.  I almost picked up a box of the bacon-bit flavored ones (those were my favorite back in the day).  As I stood there and considered tossing them into the cart, for just a brief moment I had a flashback of my childhood days.  I thought of my sister and the joke between us.  I thought about how we used to eat instant grits. And I could taste the bacon-bits and the extra large spoonful of melted butter.  In the end, I decided to walk away from the carb-laden quick-meal and I moved on to another aisle.

The words “in an instant” have been on my heart and mind for several days.  From the brief encounter with a memory in Kroger to the moment when I opened my eyes at 5 am this morning, my thoughts have frequently turned toward the thought of “instant.”  Maybe it’s the lingering heartache from the recent loss of four teenage/young adult girls who were killed in an automobile accident a few days ago.  I’ve witnessed my daughter, her high school and our community grieve.  We’ve all mourned with and for the families of those who lost their lives on that foggy, Saturday night.  We’ve cried. We’ve prayed.  One moment those young girls were alive and vibrant and then – their lives on this earth were ended.  And things were changed.  In an instant.

Perhaps too I’m thinking of that moment when I recently fell into an unseen hole in a sidewalk and landed full-body-weight on my left arm.  And ended up with a severely contused elbow and wore a sling for a week.  One minute I was walking at a normal pace toward a pre-determined destination and in an instant, I was on the ground, writhing in pain.  Just like that.

I’m also reminded of family members who are battling cancer. And countless others I know who enter through the doors of a medical office for a regular visit and walk out with a terrifying, life-threatening diagnosis.  Or the wife whose husband of 30 years comes home from work and announces that he wants a divorce.  In. an. instant.  Life. Forever. Changed.

Life.  Made up on moments.  A compilation of “in an instants.”  It can be down-right depressing – and scary – to think that my life, your life can so drastically change – or end – in one, too-short-to-comprehend, fraction-of-a-second INSTANT.

It makes me stop.  To think.  To pray.  To reflect.  To evaluate.  And to be ever so thankful.

As much as life can (and will) change – and as much as these changes often hurt and cause us to question and to grieve – I’m so glad that in an instant, through a repentant heart and a willingness of acceptance, Jesus Christ entered my heart.  I’m grateful that His offer of love, mercy, grace and forgiveness was available to me.  In an instant, He changed my life.  For the better. For eternity.  For His glory and His purpose.

This particular post has been in the works for two weeks now.  I would work on it and then put it aside, never quite finishing my thoughts.  Unsure about its ultimate intent and purpose, I just couldn’t hit the “publish” button.  And when I woke up this morning, after yet another devastating news story of the attacks in Paris, I realized that the “instants” will never stop. There will always be stories to tell.  Moments to share. And life – for better or worse – will continue – until it doesn’t.

Have you had your “instant” moment with Jesus? Have you met the One sent by the Creator of the Universe to live among us and die for us so that we, in an absolute instant can spend eternity with Him when our time on this earth has ended?  I hope and pray that you have.  If not, I pray that you will.  Now.  Your life can be forever changed.   In an instant.

In Moments Like These Too…

We had just made it back into town.  She had driven her new car, with me as her passenger, the 3 1/2 hours from North Mississippi to Central Arkansas. And she had done so well.  Drove the speed limit.  Both hands on the wheel at 10 and 2.  And I was so proud of her.  And was happy that she was happy.    And then….”How Great is our God” came on the radio. And we both started singing – every. last. lyric. Because we knew how true it was – and is – and always will be.  Our God is great.  All. the. time.  As we pulled into the restaurant to grab dinner before heading home, I fought back tears as the song ended. And she wanted to know why I was sniffing; why tears were swelling up in my eyes. And all I could say was, “Because it’s so true.  God is so good and we are so blessed.”

In a matter of 2-3 minutes during the course of a song, an overwhelming flood of thoughts penetrated my mind and my heart.  My 16 year-old daughter who loves the Lord so much and shows no shame in praising Him in a new car or an old one – or anywhere. My husband who has shown me what Godly, unconditional love truly looks like.  My mother who worked so hard as a single parent to provide for my sister and I.  My son who has matured into such a fine, young man and who is making his own good way despite my often ‘young-and-dumb’ (as my mother would say) actions back in his childhood days. My aunt who has been diagnosed with breast cancer for the second time and her daughter/my cousin who is also battling the terrifying disease. And the prayers that I said for each of them throughout the weekend.  And so many needs. In my own family.  In my church family.  And grace. God’s grace.  In my life. And yours.  And I just couldn’t help it.  My heart was full of gratitude. And faith.  That He will provide – because He always has. That He will heal – because I know that He can. And that He will save. Because He loves all of us just that much.

So there I was in yet another moment – and I’m so thankful. Because among the new car and all the other “stuff” that I might find myself surrounded by, there’s nothing or no one that can compare to how great my God is!