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)

Hard Headed

Clunk…clunk…clunk!!  For the past three weeks this sound has resonated throughout my house.  Every few moments…clunk…and again…clunk…and again.  “From what?”  you might ask.  From the beak and head of a bird who has incessantly flown directly into the dining room window! Seriously!  Over and over and over again.  The first time I heard the noise I wasn’t sure where it was coming from.  Upon closer examination I learned that a bird, normally perched on the bush right outside the window was repeatedly flying from the bush to the window, back to the bush and to the window again.  Three weeks today.  Clunk…clunk…clunk.

Yesterday I decided that I would video the entire scenario and zoom in on all the marks left on the glass, some of which include spots of blood.  As I carefully walked to the window and retrieved my phone to capture the incident, the bird immediately flew away.  I had other things to do and never attempted to film again.

Throughout the remainder of the day I thought about that bird and how, as Christians, we are sometimes just like the creature.  Trying to go places where God never intended us to go.  Repeatedly banging our heads hoping to achieve different results.  As much as the bird wants to bust through the window pane, it won’t happen.  It isn’t intended for the bird to go there.  Don’t we, like the bird, often wear ourselves out when we are so determined to do a certain thing?

If you are like me, you often pray for God’s will in your life.  What He wants for you.  And has for you.  How He wants you to live.  Seeking.  For direction. Guidance.

Have you been repeatedly running into a dead-end?  Banging your head?  Into a situation that you cannot penetrate?  Perhaps it’s time to examine the marks that are left behind and as the bird did, fly into the open sky that was there for its fulfillment and freedom all along.

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But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

  Is. 40:31 (KJV)  

    

Creating a Legacy

My grandmother would have been 104 years old today.  Born on April 11, 1911, Maggie Aline left her life on earth in August, 1995.  Better known as Big Mama to her grandchildren, she was beautiful, feisty, and determined.  Although her last days were spent in a nursing home and her body had exhausted its strength, there remained a spark in her eyes until she took her last breath.  She lived. She loved.  She died.  And now she’s living it up with Jesus.

I recently ordered a new wallet which arrived yesterday.  As I sorted through the various items in the old wallet preparing to transition them to the new one, I ran across a piece of paper that I have carried around for years.  As I smoothed out the wrinkles and began to read the words, my mind turned to Big Mama and I thought, “She was like this. She left this kind of legacy for me.  I wonder if I’m living out – right now – that kind of legacy for my children.”  Here are the words:

The Proverbs 31 Woman is:

  • Rare
  • Trustworthy
  • Constant in her love
  • Industrious
  • Thrifty
  • Self-Starting
  • Enterprising
  • Willing to do hard work
  • Willing to work long hours
  • Willing to do monotonous work
  • Compassionate
  • Prepared for the future
  • A good seamstress
  • Married to a leader
  • An entrepreneur
  • Not swayed by circumstances
  • Wise and kind
  • Duty-conscious
  • Blessed by her family
  • Not satisfied with the mediocre
  • A woman of God
  • Praiseworthy
  • A woman of means
  • A woman of great skill and ability
  • Dedicated to her home
  • Clothed with strength and dignity

Taken directly from Proverbs 31 in the Bible, these qualities define the type of woman who God desires for each of His daughters.  And, although my grandmother did not exemplify every single one of these traits, I know that she aspired to become a Proverbs 31 woman.  I witnessed her as she pressed toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus, as described in Philippians 3.

My grandmother created a legacy.  Was she perfect?  No way.  Did she live – and leave – a legacy for her children, grandchildren and generations to come?  Absolutely.  And for that, I am forever grateful.

I want to create, live out, and leave behind a Proverbs 31 legacy for my children.  Won’t you join me in creating, living and leaving your own legacy? Together, we can make a difference for generations to come.

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The struggle is real

Do you struggle with anything in your life? What a silly question, right?!  Most, if not all of us struggle with something.  Or many things.  Your struggle(s) may be different from mine and mine are not necessarily the same as the next person’s but the battles exist nevertheless.

Diet.  Exercise.  Finances.  Marital issues.  Sibling discord.  Illness.  Wayward children.  Fear.  Guilt.  Loss.  Addiction.  And many, many others….some quite deep, extremely painful and unbearably real to millions of souls.

As I ponder over my own struggles, I am reminded of Paul’s second letter to Timothy, which is believed to be the great apostle’s last penned notes to his pastor friend and mentee.  Among several other straightforward exhortations to Timothy, Paul declares in Chapter 3, verse 12 that as Christians, we will suffer persecution (italics mine).  The NIV version reads, “In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.”

Obviously persecution as most of us know it today doesn’t include being stoned or beheaded or some other violent act.  Praise God that we can proclaim our beliefs openly and freely without the fear of losing our lives.  Although unfortunately, some of that does still exist, our persecution is typically of a different sort.  It can often be found in our weak spots.  You know – that thing that has haunted us for years. The habit that we just can’t shake.  Or maybe, it is something that comes out of the blue.  A new struggle. When all is going well with the world……

What struggle are you facing today?  Whatever it is, I pray that you will allow God to meet you where you are – right there in your pain – and not only get you through it – but use you to come alongside others in their own struggles.

Time Flies!

Time flies when we are having fun.  And even when we aren’t.  Like the blink of an eye or the blowing of the wind, we can look up and suddenly 30 minutes – or 30 years – has passed.  Just like that.

It has been 17 days since I last blogged.  Over two weeks since I sat down and purposely took the time to turn my thoughts into writing, share my heart, and express my feelings to you – my readers.  In many ways, two weeks is a short time-span.  After all, God’s timetable is not mine.  To Him, a thousand years is to a day or vice versa, right?  Just as His will is perfect, so is His timing.  And everything else about Him.

As my mind turns back in time to recall the events of the past two weeks, I am forced to ask myself, “What have I been doing?”  More importantly, “Whatever I did, whatever I invested my time in, did I make a difference; did I touch someone’s life in a positive way – or was I just busy?”

Busyness is one of the devil’s sneakiest ways to get us off track.  If he can keep us busy, caught up in the never-ending circle of chores and errands and work and….even service to the Lord, he’s got us right where he wants us.  Distracted.  Stressed.  Overworked.  Exhausted.  BUSY.  Too busy to notice that we’ve not done what the Lord has called us to do – or perhaps not done it in the proper spirit, according to His intent and purpose.

As I was reading my devotion earlier this morning, I found myself almost speed-reading, as if my time with the Lord was just something else to get done so I could move on to the next thing.  Then suddenly, the Holy Spirit ever so gently guided me to a very familiar verse:  Psalm 46:10 which reads, “Be still and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.”  (KJV)  In that moment, with tears slowing making their way down my cheeks, I was reminded that He is faithful.  He sees my heart.  He knows my struggles.  And if I will only be still – still in His presence, the only time that truly matters is His time.  Two weeks – or two days, He never ever lets me go. And He will finish the good work that He has started in me.

Are you busy?  Does time fly for you like it does for me, and for most of us?  Be still in His presence today.  Be restored to the joy of your salvation.  It’s the best time you will spend today – or any day.

From Good to Great

Last night I had the privilege of attending the 30th Annual Meeting for the North Little Rock Chamber of Commerce. The main floor of Verizon Arena was the ideal space for the event, which drew in nearly 800 business men and women from various parts of  North Little Rock and Little Rock.  Entrepreneurs, Bank Presidents, CEOs, Upper Level Managers.  They filled the room.  Dignitaries – former Mayors, the current Mayor of North Little Rock – were also in attendance – and the brand-spanking-new Arkansas Governor himself was the keynote speaker.  Important folks doing important stuff.

After the awards were presented and a couple of short acceptance speeches were given, the Mayor introduced the Governor.  As he took the stage and made his way to the podium, I quickly wondered what his subject matter would be.  Shortly into his speech about his focus on computer science in the schools, I thought to myself, “That is a great thing.  He is doing great things.  Lots of folks here are doing great things.  I want to do great things.”

On the way home in the car, the BGITW (best guy in the world), aka Brad asked me what I thought of the Governor’s spiel.  I replied, “It was ok.  I think I like him.  But I got the feeling that he was still in candidate mode.  He’s in office; we already elected him.”  Brad made a comment or two and our conversation went elsewhere.  He had no idea that I had been contemplating this idea of greatness and was grappling with both my own opinion of the Governor’s “greatness” and my own definition of what it means to be great and to do great things.

Several years ago while working on my Master’s Degree, I was required to read Good to Great by James C. Collins.  In the book, Collins identifies great companies, specifically those companies who have successfully made the leap from good to great.  And while he does divulge several key traits, habits and practices of the great companies, that isn’t his chief intent.  Rather, he addresses why more companies don’t do those things on a more consistent level.  It’s quite a good read and one that I recommend to anyone in a prominent business role.  Inasmuch as the book pertains to companies, some truths can also be applied personally. As examples, here are a few quotes:

“Good is the enemy of great.”

“A culture of discipline is not a principle of business, it is a principle of greatness.”

“Bad decisions made with good intentions, are still bad decisions.”

“Greatness is not a function of circumstance. Greatness, it turns out, is largely a matter of conscious choice and discipline.”

As my mind continues to ponder greatness, I think of great men and women.  George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Jr., Mother Teresa, Alexander the Great, Winston Churchill, Nelson Mandela, and many others.  And as great as they all were, I can think of none greater than Jesus Christ.  For believers He is our Savior, our Lord; the One whose example we are to follow.  And then I am reminded:

  • Standing upon a hillside in sackcloth garments and sandals, He delivered the blessings of obedience to all who were eager to listen.  No business suit, shiny black shoes, stage or podium.
  • In the midst of a condemning crowd, He reached down to pick up a stone from the sandy earth to protect a sinful woman.  No carpet floors.  No awards handed out. Just pure forgiveness.
  • After an already long journey, He chose to travel through Samaria so He could provide Living Water to a dry and thirsty soul.  No three-course, white table cloth meal.
  • Mocked.  Beaten.  Bruised.  And hung on a cross – a heavy, wooden cross carried by Himself – and left to die.  For me.  And for you.

Greatness.  Yes, I want to do great things.  I want to accomplish, achieve and excel.  I want to make speeches of my own and win awards and go to fancy dinners and mingle with the other great-doers.  Much more importantly though, I want to be like Jesus.  I want His greatness to be revealed through me.  I want others to see that it is only because of Him that I can do ANYTHING good, let alone great. Without Him, all my efforts are in vain.

Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.

John 14:12 (KJV)