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!

Un-perfect, perfect day

Sleeping in – well, until 7:30 at least – and that’s LATE for me, believe me!  Cup of coffee (in my favorite I love NY cup) – already on the nightstand upon my eyes opening.  Precious, quiet moments in the Word followed by some snuggling and chatting with my husband.  Sausage, eggs, hash browns, toast – and more coffee.  College football on the 55 inch flat screen.  Open air, clear blue sky Jeep ride to a vintage/shabby chic store (hello, my fav).  Really cool, bluesy-sounding band playing at the vintage store.  Really, y’all?  Can we get much better?

Giggling girls in the house – curling hair, painting nails and making up faces – as they get ready for the Homecoming Dance.  And sitting on the swinging bed on the screened-in porch – 76 degrees, birds chirping, anxiously awaiting the return of my husband from the grocery store with steaks for grilling.  And I wonder, “Is there a more perfect day?”

I’m content.  I’m happy.  I’m extremely blessed.  And most importantly, I know that in a completely un-perfect world, our Heavenly Father can – and does – give us glimpses of His perfection each and every day. What does YOUR perfect day look like?  He may just give it to you when you least expect it.  And we ain’t seen nothin’ yet…Heaven awaits for those of us who choose to believe.🙂

Live – Love – Laugh – and give Him the glory, y’all!  Happy, Bee-U-Tee-Full Saturday!

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In Moments Like These

Sprawled out on a thick, comfy cushion atop a beach chaise in Los Cabos Mexico. Turquoise blue ocean waves crashing upon a sandy shore, the sun beaming brightly in a cloudless sky and a faint breeze slightly tugging on my floppy, straw hat with the man of my dreams on the chaise next to me within arm’s reach.  It was then and there, as I was praying and thanking God for the beauty of His creation and the blessing of the trip itself, that He dropped the title of today’s blog deep within my spirit.

That was in June of this year.  Four months ago.  I haven’t written since sometime before that and as my natural inclination begs the questions, “Why?” or “What has taken me so long?” I am reminded that God’s timing is perfect.  Although the longing to put the fingers to the keyboard hasn’t waivered, perhaps the priority has.  Perhaps other “things” have found their way to the top of the never-ending To-Do List.  Or maybe, I’ve simply been embracing other moments, doing the best I could, with my Father’s help, to pave the way for this very moment right now.

I stayed home from church today. Bronchitis – one; me – zero.  Ok, bronchitis you win.  What?  Win?  This isn’t a competition.  But you see for me, it was.  Almost a week ago I was diagnosed and after receiving several prescriptions, I determined to beat it.  Too much to do.  Too many moments to enjoy.  But this tired, overworked, under-rested body – and my Heavenly Father had other plans.  I needed sleep.  I needed time with Jesus.  I needed to be still in His presence and allow Him to restore my soul, my spirit, my body.

Now, as I lie sprawled out on a chaise in my home, with the sound of a barking dog in a neighbor’s yard, the smell of a roast in the crock pot and a big pile of messy hair on this coughing head, I am forever grateful for this moment.  And so incredibly glad that my Daddy, my God loves me with an unconditional, unchanging, crazy kinda love!

Less is More

Five a.m. daily alarm.  Note pad by the bed with a never-ending To-Do List.  Bumper-to-bumper morning commute.  Emails to answer.  Phone calls to make.  Problems to solve.  Meetings to attend.  Appointments to make – and keep.  Follow-up to do.  Bills to pay.  House to upkeep.  Birthdays to remember.  Cards to send.  And on and on and on.

Life.  It’s busy.  Busier than ever.  One would think that in the current techy world we live in, with cell phones and iPads and instant messaging and an abundance of devices intended to make our lives easier, that we would get more done quicker and therefore have more time to slow down.  More time to just be.  More time to do less.  Problem is, we do more.  More. More. More.

I am the poster-child of More.  You know, the Type A, “get-it-done-so-I-can-do-more” kind.  I make a To-Do list every single day.  Even on the weekends. This morning is no different.  I woke up at 5:00 and by 6:00 I had unpacked the suitcase from my recent work trip, made today’s To-Do List and started a load of laundry. Somewhere in the back of my mind I thought, “At some point today I will go sit down and enjoy that new screened-in porch.”

As I scurried around the house thinking of the day’s events and checking off every task in my mind, I glanced out to the porch. The porch that I say I love. The porch that I wanted so I can take time to relax – and do less.  So I stopped.  I put down the list. I made another cup of coffee.  And I sprawled out on the hanging bed.  And two hours later I am still here.  Listening to the birds sing.  Watching the squirrel walk across the top of the fence.  Smiling at the rabbit as it hops across the yard.  Noticing the leftover rain as it flows from the rooftop through the gutters to the ground.  And I like it.

I need to do more of this.  More listening.  More relaxing.  More that becomes less.  How about you?

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Crinkle Cut Fries

On this past Thursday afternoon I began to think about dinner options and texted TBGITW (the best guy in the world) and my sweet girl to ask them what they would like to eat.  After various suggestions and one strong, “NO MOM” on the spaghetti idea, I made my way to K-Roger.  I will never understand why Hannah does not like my spaghetti (even though she claims to LOVE my cooking overall), but she will eat it at her friends’ houses. At least my son liked it – at least during his toddler years he did.  I can still see him perched in the high chair, attempting to use a fork to shovel in the red, meaty sauce and slurping spaghetti noodles through his tiny lips.  Good ole soap and water took care of the mess left on him but how in the world did I ever get that high chair clean over twenty years ago without Clorox Wipes?  Ha!

So there I was in the K-Roger meat department looking for cubed steak, or minute steak as I grew up calling it.  Minute steak with rice and gravy, lima beans and crescent rolls.  One of Hannah’s favorite meals and one I was happy to prepare on a Thursday night.  Of the gazillions of times I’ve shopped at K-Roger, I’ve never known them to not have minute steak. They are known for their meat department. They don’t run out of meat, except maybe on the morning of Memorial Day or July 4 when the last minute bar-be-quers (is that a word?) show up.   First time for everything I guess. I had already placed a big package of ground chuck in the buggy when the meat guy (who looked waaay to young to be called a butcher) confirmed that they were indeed out of Hannah’s favorite comfort meat.

I immediately thought, “Burgers it is!”  As I trekked from the meat department over to the bread section and grabbed two bags of slider buns, I suddenly recalled eating homemade crinkle-cut fries when I was a child.  I remember my mother using a really cool gadget to cut and shape the potatoes into the zig-zag pattern.  And those were the yummiest, tastiest, homemade French fries!  Three, large russet potatoes later and I was ready to check out.

The crinkle-cuts were a huge hit with TBGITW and my sweet girl.  They both oohed and ahhed and got second helpings and made sure to ask for the delectable starch again sometime.  And I smiled.  And thanked God.  For my mother who worked hard and always did what she could to “bring us up right.”  For memories – even the bad ones – because they help me to remember where I came from but more importantly, Who has brought me to where I am now and Who promises me a bright, eternal future.

And I hope.  Hope that David and Hannah will have fond memories of favorite meals shared as a family.  Pray that I’ve raised them up right.  And especially that they have their own crinkle cut fries moments to pass on to their own children one day.

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Once Upon a Time

“Once upon a time.”  We’ve all read books that open with the familiar line.  And most likely with the ending, “And they all lived happily after.”  According to Wikipedia, “Once upon a time” has been used in some form since 1380 in storytelling and it simply means, “at some time in the past” not to be confused with a long time ago in the past.

Storytelling.  We love to tell stories. Stories of events from years gone by, last month, yesterday or five minutes ago.  Memories put into words allow us to connect, provide sweet recollections and remind us of God’s faithfulness.  Good ones or not-so-great ones, memories help us tell our “Once upon a times.”

As I think about stories and the telling thereof, I am forced to ask myself, “What kind of story am I telling?”  More importantly, “What kind of story do I WANT to tell?” And, even more significantly, “What will my children’s ‘Once upon a times’ sound like as they tell their own stories?”

None of us can change or undo any point in the past that created our “Once upon a times” but we can certainly live in such a way that guarantees that we live happily ever after.  What does YOUR “Once upon a time” sound like?

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Therefore, if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature.  Old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.  2 Corinthians 5:17 (KJV)