Monday, August 25, 2014

Worm Holes, Dog Holes & True Tragedy

We live a blessed life, even if it is as imperfect as a beautifully picked apple with a worm hole right through the center of it.  I look around at the weeds in the garden, the holes both of our dogs have dug in the yard that I have tried to keep looking so nice for The Yankees arrival home, the paint chipping off our charming southern front porch and I think, even with all that is imperfect, we have rooted ourselves in this place and life is blessed beyond belief.

I have spent the past five weeks battling one thing or another, the devil pretty much bent on stealing my peace.  Our daughter became frighteningly ill at the beginning of July.  So ill in fact that, I, the avoider of all doctors at all costs, rushed her to the emergency room at midnight one night because I literally thought her appendix was going to explode right on the spot.  Well, thankfully ,it wasn't her appendix. And thankfully some of those doctors I try  so hard to avoid are very dear friends of ours and they took really great care of her, even though we never truly figured out exactly what was happening to her over those five weeks.  Now that she is back in school, she calls this "the summer that I lost"...oh the drama of a teenage daughter in the house!!! But I ended up being so grateful for her attitude during the whole thing.  Frustrated as can be, she never lost track of keeping a positive attitude and knowing she would get better.

The end of summer also equals the true ramping up of football season.  Though the guys have been training since spring, they technically couldn't put their pads on and hit until this past week.  Oh the excitement of it all!  There is a short list of things I love in this world more than football.  Which is why a bunch of us moms (and to their credit, there are a handful of dads out there too) still sit and watch football practice each and every day, even though our boys are in middle school.  If I am not planted next to that field between 330 and 630, you can bet it is because our daughter needs to be with her tennis trainer because that is THE only other place I would be!

Well, this week we had a special guest come to visit, my husbands cousin surprised us from Georgia, but they were only able to visit us for one hour during a break from a golf tournament about sixty miles away.  I was so thrilled to see her as we made plans to meet at the house, visit for about thirty minutes, then, I would drag she and her husband along for the last 30 minutes so she could see her little cousin, and her fathers namesake, practice a little bit of football.  But before we could get twenty minutes into our visit, I received THE DREADED PHONE CALL from my dear friend, "Your son is on the ground and he is not moving."  Frantic frenzy ensued as I rushed the five miles to the football field, hubbies cousin trying to keep up with my speeding car, then off to the emergency room.  Again, note I said emergency room, not a decision I make lightly, I was really scared that he had hurt himself horribly.

Luckily it was only a cervical sprain and nothing a couple days off football hasn't already cured. But we had only enjoyed one week of our daughter being well before we found ourselves back in the emergency room.  A place we have only seen twice since we moved here, I have now been to twice in one month.I started to get really mad at God.  I had been praying for weeks and weeks for the children's new school year to go safely and smoothly and already we had been faced with the possibility that our daughter might not even get to start school on time, and safety went out the window on our sons third tackle of his first practice in pads. It took a friend to remind me to find something to be grateful for..maybe his smaller injury had kept him from practicing during a time when he might have gotten hurt worse, or maybe us going to the emergency room kept us from a car accident going home at our normal time...just something to praise God for during all the commotion.
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I finished my five weeks of stressfulness dotting my i's and crossing my t's with the towns Historical Society...all because we are putting a basic, architectural shingled, black roof on our 100 year old cottage. It can not be done without their approval, which we will not know if we have gained until the day before the contractor (whom we have already hired) is slotted to do the work!  Yikes!  I suppose finding out that our house was technically in the historic district of town was something we might want to have looked into before purchasing the house! Since we aren't asking for a purple metal roof with shag carpet accents, my expectations are high for this to all work out! I balanced out my frustration over this task with gratitude that the woman at City Hall was so nice and helpful, and that the hardware store literally handed over the sample of the roofing shingles I needed to show the historical society with a quick "Just return them when you can"....they didn't even take my name or anything! Sometimes small town living still blows me away with its ease and comfort!

All of this to say, there are people all over our town who are truly hurting.  Friends who are dealing with children that are really sick, not just dealing with some quick emergency room visits as I have had to do over this past month. I saw a request today for furniture needed for a family that has NONE and yet I have the nerve to gripe about dealing with a Historical Society over a roof that will cover our heads and protect all that we DO have?

There are people all over this country who are having to live through unspeakable things.  Just this week, a Mother and Father in New Hampshire sat on their living room couch and watched a video of the beheading of their precious son by ISIS.  No one should ever, EVER have to witness something like that. I would be completely lying to you if I said that my husbands work in that part of the world and these types of things do not bother me, that living each day and thinking "Usually he has emailed by now, is he ok?" isn't my way of life.  But when peace is no where to be found, I battle it the way I try to battle anything negative, big or small...with gratitude.  In this scenario, I always find myself grateful that I have my husband...grateful for his ever growing faith, so, so much stronger than my own, and grateful for his willingness to follow Gods will for his life,no matter where it takes him.

Gratefulness is the only defense I have against a world that seems to be turning more and more upside down by the day. It puts my "problems" into perspective.  It hopefully helps me to have a heart for those who are dealing with huge issues.  Gratitude helps me to see that there is still beauty, there is still good, and there is always God.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Fist Pump

One of my favorite visuals comes from back when I was still in New England and just a baby in Christ.  Each Sunday morning before church service would begin, I was privileged to sit in a circle with some of the most supportive women. We would all discuss our struggles, hurt for one another, and pray for one another.  One day we spoke of how satan would just love to see us fall, to see me give up on my marriage, to see so and so stop praying for her sons salvation, to see us all stop praying for healing for another sweet lady in the group.  Then a friend told us all the story of how her old pastors wife would go through her house with a broom and get all of the corners of the rooms and yell to satan that he HAD to get out of her house, he had no place there.

Many people do not even like to talk about the devil.  Some don't believe in him. Some believe he has so much power, that if you go through your house with a broom, yelling and screaming at him like a wild person, all you will do is just get his horns all ruffled and your problems will become worse, not better.  All I know is,  his name has sure been coming up a lot lately.

I am blessed with two West Virginia buddies that wish to see marriages saved as much as I do.  One touched base this weekend, heartbroken over hearing another marriage broken up, this time by infidelity and wondering why the devil just wouldn't leave people alone, leave families alone.  But here is the deal folks....satan doesn't just swoop into these marriages ( insert your ordeal here in place of marriage), swirl everything around like the Tasmanian devil, and then run off laughing and rubbing his hands together.

He may find a way to sneak in without knocking at a time when our guard is down, but we are the ones who have to give him permission to STAY.  We are the ones who make the choices day by day, minute by minute to allow the things he wants to see happen to continue happening.  Many of us, myself included in many aspects of my life, just simply and honestly do not want that personable accountability. Or maybe we just don't have the self-discipline.  I can promise you from having been there that it is one thousand times easier to stay in a place where you are miserable than to work your tail off day by day to get out of that place.  But difficult as it may be, the end is so blessed and so worth all of the hard work!

As always, I love to go to for some of the best reasoning on things.  I loved this quote on overcoming satan in your life:

 "As Christians, we have the indwelling Holy Spirit to help us overcome sin (1 John 4:4). We have everything we need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3). If we sin, we have no excuse. We cannot blame the devil. We cannot blame our circumstances. We can only blame ourselves. And, until we recognize that the problem resides within us (Romans 7:20), we will never arrive at the solution."

I am choosing to quote 1 John 4:4, not because I feel like playing Bible bingo today or taking anything out of context, but because this is what I need to see the most today:

1 John 4:4The Message (MSG)
4 My dear children, you come from God and belong to God. You have already won a big victory over those false teachers, for the Spirit in you is far stronger than anything in the world. 

Having fought some major battles in my life, at this point, my battle is in doing the little things God calls me to do each and every day.  I hear Him, but then I turn away from that and follow my own plan, just as the devil swoops around my mind and I allow myself to be diverted from what I know I need to be doing.  What is it that God has called you to do?  What if, right here and now, we choose to absolutely believe that the Spirit that is in us is stronger than ANYTHING IN THE WORLD!!!!  Doesn't that include the devil?  I believe it does!  So here is what I am going to do...I am going to throw my fist up in the air and tell the devil to back OFF.  Don't think I won't run around my house like a crazy woman with a broom kicking satan out if I have to!  But the point is we all have to DO SOMETHING!  Start with believing the strength of the Spirit within you, then throw that fist in the air and tell the devil where to go!!!!

Saturday, August 2, 2014

I Admit It...I'm A Hypocrite

Yesterday I ran into a friend who is battling cancer.  In talking with her, I told her that I feel a bit like a hypocrite.  Many, many times I fall into a self-pity mode.  The Yankee goes off to do his job, which happens to take him far away, and each time he goes, people spend the first week saying "Whatever you need, we are here for you , anything at all."  Then they spend the second week asking about him.  Then, by week three, most are so engrossed in their own lives that they don't even ask anymore how he is or do we need any help with anything. I am putting my heart out there when I share with you that this hurts and it is frustrating. But, as my beautiful niece likes to remind me, I also bring this upon myself by appearing strong enough that I do not need help...and, as has always been hard for me.... asking for it.  If I am at the point of asking you for help, you can bet it is killing me to do so.

 In the beginning, we did a few things to help my friend with cancer. Now that her battle has continued, we have prayed, yes, but not so much as plopped a card in the mail to let her know we are continuing to pray for her. Why? Because my life got busy.  Our daughter got really sick, our son needed to be at football practice, meals needed to be cooked, grass continued to grow, laundry refused to wash itself...well, you get the idea. I allowed life to get in the way of being a faithful servant to someone who could probably really use my time.

Several years back I had the privilege of meeting a wonderful woman named Shirley.  Such a sweet woman. At that time, Shirley was still suffering greatly over the recent loss of her beloved husband. She sat across from me and spoke so sweetly, tears pouring down her face, of how she would still look at the door and expect to see him walk in.   The tears became heavier when she spoke of the realization that she would have to go to bed alone, knowing he would never walk through the door again.  As I sat and cried with Shirley, I had never so clearly understood Gods commands that we take care of the widowed.  

When you harvest your grain and forget a sheaf back in the field, don’t go back and get it; leave it for the foreigner, the orphan, and the widow so that God, your God, will bless you in all your work. When you shake the olives off your trees, don’t go back over the branches and strip them bare—what’s left is for the foreigner, the orphan, and the widow. And when you cut the grapes in your vineyard, don’t take every last grape—leave a few for the foreigner, the orphan, and the widow. Don’t ever forget that you were a slave in Egypt. I command you: Do what I’m telling you. (The Message)

I vowed that day that I would visit Shirley.  Then life grew hectic, the calendar continued to turn, and another friend and I vowed we would go visit Shirley.....,..needless to say, season after season has passed and I still could not even tell you where Shirley lives.

I do not mean to be so hard on myself.  Or maybe I do. These are only two fairly recent examples. Difficult times spring up all around me.  Peoples lives open up like sinkholes, explode like geysers, hot, painful water spouting up through the cracks in their very being.  People that could use a helping hand, a kind act, an ear to listen. Is it my responsibility to help or do I concentrate on myself, say I am too busy, and count on the next person to do it?  If God grants us the gift of eyes to see the suffering, a heart to feel others hurt, then shouldn't we have the grace to find a way to help?  I would like to say I would help anyone with anything, but then, well, opportunities present themselves and I don't.  And yet  I would be ecstatic for people to help us when The Yankee isn't around.  Right there!  Did you see it?  I am a hypocrite. Or I am human.  All I know is, I want to do better. And as with all I write about, doing better is a choice I must make.

I would love to hear thoughts on this one, maybe so I have folks to sympathize with over the "we all get busy" or maybe to hear how you overcome your own self and get out there and do what God has called you to do! Either way, hearing from you keeps me going, keeps me writing!

Til next time ya'll have a great weekend!!