Friday, December 21, 2007

A Light Has Dawned

Isaiah 9:2 The people walking in darkness
have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of the shadow of death [a]
a light has dawned.

3 You have enlarged the nation
and increased their joy;
they rejoice before you
as people rejoice at the harvest,
as men rejoice
when dividing the plunder.

4 For as in the day of Midian's defeat,
you have shattered
the yoke that burdens them,
the bar across their shoulders,
the rod of their oppressor.

5 Every warrior's boot used in battle
and every garment rolled in blood
will be destined for burning,
will be fuel for the fire.

6 For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, [b] Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

7 Of the increase of his government and peace
there will be no end.
He will reign on David's throne
and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
with justice and righteousness
from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the LORD Almighty
will accomplish this.


MERRY CHRISTMAS!! The Dawn from On High is here! The yokes of bondage are shattered, the bloody battle clothes can be thrown away. FOR UNTO US A CHILD IS BORN!! He is the Hope of All Ages, the Captive's Deliverer, and the Great Healer. He is indeed my Wonderful Counselor, my Mighty God, my Everlasting Father, and my Beloved Prince of Peace.

I've lamented over the last few days that such grief came into my life at Christmastime. No more. In the midst of this grief, I will celebrate the fact that the One who will overcome my every hurt was born for me. The Light that shines in my dark times has come. His birth set in motion the ultimate victory for us all.

Peace and joy to you and yours this Christmas! I'll "see" you when the celebration is over.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

There's this thing...

There's this thing about blogging... It's just so... well, public. I've debated with myself about how much information to put on this blog about what I am currently experiencing. Part of me argues that my pain is not for public scrutiny. The other part maintains that pain is a part of life, and Woman on the Edge isn't about to back away from life, even the pain. I'm still not sure which part won. (That's the thing about debates... you're never really sure of the winner.)

But for now, I'll say this: I am experiencing and grieving a great loss in my life. For the protection of everyone involved, the specifics of that loss will most likely not be discussed on this blog. What WILL be discussed is the part that matters: Woman on the Edge is indeed on the edge, and GOD IS TAKING CARE OF HER. Wonderful, amazing, vivid, incredible life on the edge with God is worth it. Even in times of pain. I'm starting to realize another dimension of God's massive love, and I invite you to explore it with me.

My counselor sent me an email saying, “God’s arms are around you. He loves you.” I replied to her, “I know He loves me… I’m starting to think I’m His favorite!”

It’s true. God is overwhelming me with love and comfort through Riverside Church, through His provision, through His presence. Today I stood in my kitchen making Christmas cookies. I just stood there doing a normal activity as if my heart wasn’t broken in a million pieces. I stood in a contented peace that I simply can’t explain. It’s that peace that passes all understanding. How can God be so good to me?

I don’t understand where the ability to get up in the morning comes from, but its there. I don’t understand where the ability to make the hardest decisions of my life is coming from but its there. I only understand that I’m God’s girl. I’ve put my little hand in His great big one, and we walk on.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition with thanksgiving present your requests to God. And the peace of God that transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4)

Thank God for His peace standing guard over my injured heart. He will hover over yours, too, in your times of pain. My Prince of Peace rules and reigns in peace, and will give it in generous amounts to those who trust in Him. If you don't believe it, keep reading. I'll be doing my best to let you see it happen in me.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Favorite Things Continued

OK, so I still need it, so here are some more:

My ALABAMA CD collection
Josh Turner's voice
Dark chocolate
Friends who let me cry
Paula Deen's Home Cooking on Food Network
My ear piercings. I'm actually considering another one.
Christmas movies
Christmas cookies
The way God takes care of me
Absolute Truth
Did I say dark chocolate?
Christy's tattoo
Sweet tea
Psalm 71
Willie Nelson singing "Pretty Paper"
Peace


OH! And the white dress with the blue satin sash thing... especially on my little girl.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Raindrops on Roses

In the spirit of Christmas, as Julie Andrews' voice rings in my head "When the dog bites, when the bee stings, when I'm feeeeeeeeling sad, I simply remember my favorite things, and then I don't feeeeeeeeel SOOOOooooo Baaaaaad!"

Here are some of my favorite things right now:

A FABULOUS girl named Mackenzie
An AMAZING boy named Levi
Riverside Church
Movies with a friend
Friends who love me so much they cry when I hurt
Peanut butter fudge
My worn out copy of Streams in the Desert
My worn out NIV
A good manicure
My tattoo
Mudslides
Starbucks Dark Chocolate Peppermint Frappucino
Oranges from my Daddy's grove
Orange juice from those oranges
My girl in ballet shoes
Drivin' my Daddy's truck! It smells like him, and is all marked up by him inside. The arm rest has an indention where his arm fits. Driving it makes me remember who I am... who I'm proud to be.
Christmas red nail polish (only in December)
Long, hot showers
Good fiction novels
Phone calls from my sister
My little girl's laugh
Apple Cinnamon Febreze
My boy on his bike goin' full speed ahead
Did I say peanut butter fudge?
LIVEChat
Friendships. Deep, meaningful ones.
HOPE.


OH! And I'm with Julie on the brown paper packages tied up with strings, too. Bright copper kettles aren't so bad either.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Hurt

It's been a hard day. You know when something terrible happens, and the shock starts to wear off, and the pain sets in? That's the day I've had. Never without hope, and never alone, but today I hurt.

God Himself

I'm at a point in my life when the "rubber meets the road" as far as my faith goes. I am going through something I completely do not understand. It is at this point that I must make a decision. I must choose to trust God and rest, or I can choose to struggle and fight and worry and wear myself out. This kind of heart shattering pain has a way of exposing the depths of a person's soul. And as I peer into the depths of mine, past all the confusion and hurt and rejection and grief, I still have One thing: my God.

Friends, don't think of this as bravado. Oh, I'm hurting alright. I'm angry and confused and broken and sad. All that stuff is there; I am human after all. But here is where I must either believe and embrace Jesus, or I must abandon Him. If He is enough, then He is enough. If He is not enough, then I'm wasting my time.

This morning, I read the words of Paul in Galatians 2:20 "I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me." THAT's why I grieve as one who has hope. THAT's why I'm still standing. Because I have been crucified with Christ. HIS life exchanged for mine. So the life I'm now living, HE is living for me. And so the One who was despised and rejected, a Man of Sorrows, well acquainted with grief, is handling my grief for me. It's nothing new to Him, and it's nothing He can't overcome in me.

Man, it's great to have something Unshakeable right now. Christ following is more than the right decision. It's more than even redemption and grace. It's a sold out, total life commitment that is irreversible, costly, and SO WORTH IT. I'm not a half-way kind of girl, but I certainly couldn't have Jesus half way. Right now, I may be walking through the valley of the shadow of death with Him, but that's where He's taking me. And if I'm going with Him, then I'm going everywhere, not just the pretty places. I can't describe to you how good it feels to have Him, my One Never-Changing, No Matter What, Sure Thing.

This poem in today's Streams in the Desert is perfect:

My goal is God Himself, not joy, nor peace,
Nor even blessing, but Himself, my God;
It's His to lead me there, not mine, but His-
At any cost, dear Lord, by any road!

So faith bounds forward to its goal in God,
And love can trust her Lord to lead her there;
Upheld by Him, my soul is following hard
Til the Lord has fulfilled my deepest prayer.

No matter if the way is sometimes dark,
No matter though the cost is often great,
He knows the way for me to reach the mark,
The road the leads to Him is sure and straight.

One thing is sure, I cannot tell Him no
One thing I do, I press towards my Lord;
Giving God my glory here, as I go,
Knowing in heaven waits my Great Reward
.

Friday, December 07, 2007

All Things



Yep, that's me. And yes, it's real!!! Underneath the butterfly is the scripture reference 2 Corinthians 5:17 "Therefore, if any man be in Christ, he is a new creation. Old things are passed away. Behold, all things are made new."

ALL THINGS are made new. It's a truth I've built my foundation on, and one I'm trusting with my very life at this moment. ALL things. God did that for me. That's why I need Him so much.

PLUS, I even had one heck of a friend to go on this adventure with. Check out her rendition here.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Back to the Drawing Board

OK, so the state Baptist Convention wasn't exactly the place to "take my time." Though I did enjoy a delicious chocolate cake-ey dessert thing, and an even more delicious novel, I also came back with a load of stuff to sort out, in my suitcase and in my brain.

Note to self: Baptist Convention, while fun in its own wierd way, not the place for a 30 something female to expect emotional relaxation.

I have a sneaky suspicion, though, that the retreat I'm doing this weekend might be. My sister's flying in and I am resolved to somehow de-frag my mind and heart in the course of this weekend. Wish me luck!

Friday, November 09, 2007

Takin' my Time

I'm getting tired. How do I know, you ask? Well... for one thing, (see me look down at the ground sheepishly) I had road rage yesterday morning.

I was in the car line at the kids' school and Mackenzie was getting out of the van. My Mackenzie is the most peaceful, wonderful person in the whole wide world. She's not the type of girl that hurries. Evidently, a parent behind me thought she was taking to long, and HONKED. Mama Bear didn't like that! Instantly I was at a boil. I often resist the urge to be impatient in the morning car line, remembering that it is early morning and none of these children are at fault even if I'm in a serious time crunch. So I turned my body around, and gave my "Are you kidding me?" look to the driver behind me. It's the look I wear mostly when I'm watching a political debate or the local news.

Then I turned around and started praying that I hadn't provoked someone to come after me with a gun or something!! And I started thinking, "WHAT is wrong with me? I have got to get a grip."

This week, our community has faced an event that would make anyone's hair stand on end. And oh, if I could recount the adventures I've personally experienced... the frustrations and challenges of trying to move seemingly hopeless situations in positive directions would render this blog at least PG-13. It's been an unusually difficult week after an unusually busy week.

OK, so how does a Christ follower stay focused in the middle of all the honking and hurrying and helping and hurting? What's the key to keeping your peace in the middle of chaos? Of course, I know all the Jesus answers and I know I'm never without His presence, I know I always have His peace and that hope is a fixture of the Christian life. I know that my reality doesn't lie in what is going on around me. And yet, I have to admit that I'm human and we humans get tired. I get tired.

Time for some rest. Time to draw aside and refuel. I might sleep late. I might get a pedicure. I might take a long bath. I might just sneak off with a Bible and some tissues. Ooooh, and I might read a fiction book and eat some chocolate...cake.

Oh yeah, it's time to take my time. Hope you take your time too.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Havin' FUN

My son told me something this week. (He turned five on Friday!) On Wednesday, we were headed to school and I reminded him that he would be having a party at school, it being Halloween and all. He enthusiastically said: "YES! God is gonna have so much FUN goin' with me today!"

Wow. A five year old just taught me one of the most valuable lessons of my life. Oh, I know God loves me. I've been taught since before I could understand words. But I guess I've always had the notion that He does His share of arm-crossing as He monitors my life. I often forget that God enjoys me, and wants me to enjoy Him.

As the good, strict Baptist I've always been, I've not regularly pictured God enjoying Himself, and certainly never at a Halloween party. My son hasn't had time for made-up rules to cloud his understanding. He knew the truth: God was goin' with him, and they were gonna have fun. That's the kind of relationship you and I can have with God, too. No wonder Jesus said unless we become like little children, we won't enter the kingdom of Heaven.

I'm off to watch my brother perform at a family community festival. I have a feeling God'll have fun there, too.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Sharin the Joy

The book is officially out! Tonight I savored some wonderful moments with some people I love very much, who came to celebrate with me. Here's a shot from one of the readings:





Feels funny to read your own stuff aloud!!

God has kissed me again, and I am grateful. More details later, but for now I'm headed off for some happy sleep.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Happy things

Life has been intense for the last couple of weeks. Just how I like it. And it's about to intensify even more with next week's book release! More on that later. For now, I have to tell you the happy things of today. First, we took some time out to chill, and do some pumpkin carving. Ever since Levi's field trip to the "punkin patch" last week, he's been relentless about wanting to make something happen to his punkins.




Here is a pic of Matthew's brilliant work of carving my logo into a pumpkin!




I even managed an afternoon snack of baked pumpkin seeds!!

In other happy news, my Mackenzie has been saving for over a year and tonight was able to purchase her own Nintendo DS game system with her own money. Below is a shot of her spending her stash on her long-awaited DS. Notice the grin on her face, and the bag of coins on the counter. With a stack of bills (mostly ones) and a bag of change, my girl made her first major purchase! I'm so proud of her disciplined saving for something she really wanted, plus, I'm a sucker for that smile!


Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Waxing Poetic

Today was a crazy day. It was like drinking out of a fire hydrant. So, I did what any girl would do on a particularly stressful day. I visited a salon!! Got a good eyebrow wax, and all was well. Somethin about settin' your face to rights... just makes everything else better, too!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Gifts

So I told you that God tells me secrets. He also gives me gifts. Here's one of 'em:

Yesterday I happened to be in Alexandria, Louisiana at the Baptist Building. (For those who might not know, the Baptist Building is the Southern Baptist state headquarters. Sort of like church command central.) While I was there, I stepped in to say hello to Janie Wise, the state Women's Missions and Ministry director for Louisiana. Janie wasn't in, but we stood around laughing and joking with her staff. After a few minutes, the subject of my book came up, and I gave each of the girls a card telling about the book. Suddenly, one of them said, "Janie just got this in today!"

She ran into Janie's office and sure enough produced a shiny new copy of my book!! Imagine the odds of me happening to be in Alexandria at the Baptist Building on the very day Janie gets my book in a promotional packet in her office. What was I to do but SIGN MY FIRST BOOK?!?! Here's a picture of me signing my book at Georgia Barnett's desk, no less.



Could there be a better gift than this?






I went to the Baptist Building for a committee meeting. (Boooooorrrring!) And just look at what He gave me while I was there!! God spoils this girl, I tell ya.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Secrets

This weekend, I sat by a lake and "had church." Me and God, my thinline HCSB and about half an hour. He kissed me with some breezes and winked at me in the sparkles on the lake. And... (hear me whispering) He told me some secrets.

They were secrets I really needed to hear. I needed more than a sermon, more than a Sunday School lesson. I needed God's heart and mine in an unbroken embrace. I needed connection with God that can't be explained in something as limited as human language. The kind of connection where He works on parts of my heart that I'm not even aware of. The scars of tears and snot on my onion skin Bible pages are the only tangible remnants of those moments. Yet, I'm different somehow.

Here's a little gem from those precious minutes by the lake:

Philippians 1:9 "And I pray this: that your love will keep on growing in knowledge and every kind of discernment so that you can determine what really matters..." This is something I desperately need: the kind of love that knows what is really important. I need the knowledge that can differentiate between good and best. I need the kind of loving discernment that knows when something is important enough to take a stand, and when the most important thing is to let go.

At this moment, I know one thing that really matters: God wants to whisper to me. This weekend, He did just that.

And to top it all off... GEAUX SAINTS!!! It ain't been easy so far, but we finally came out winners tonight!!

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Saturday Night

Life's been busy this week. Man, am I ready for Monday. But I still have a day to go before then.

I'm learning something profound. I'm learning to rest. I'm learning that I can let Jesus live through me and care for the things He brings my way. And when I can't help them anymore, I can rest in the fact that He can. I can keep giving my heart away because He keeps restoring it. I am getting better at casting those cares upon Him. I'm more desperate for Him than ever. I love it.

For now, a bubble bath awaits and the man of my dreams is putting my kids to bed. Nobody pinch me, ok? Ya'll have a great Saturday night! I'm sure fixin' to!!

Monday, October 01, 2007

What I Did This Weekend

I had an INCREDIBLE weekend! Here's a little glimpse of the amazing privilege that is my job:




Here's a peek at us loving on God.



Here's the place where it all happened.




I gotta tell ya, there aren't words to express how grateful I am that God decided to let me do this part in His work. I deserve absolutely nothing and He kisses me with His grace all the time. Ain't life grand?

Thursday, September 27, 2007

The Real Stuff

I've been thinking about what it means to be in ministry. I've been thinking that ministry is a way of life, but not the way of life I thought it was. It's certainly consumed pretty much my entire existence for the last 13 years. You know, the glass house, the never ending meetings, the whole "dont-because-you-might-be-a-stumbling-block-to-someone-else" thing. The weight of a few hundred people's hurts, the weddings, the funerals, the hospitals. And then there's the leadership part, the whole "those who teach will be judged more harshly" thing. And the exhaustion. And the casseroles, the Christmas parties, the pretty clothes, and the not wanting to do anything that might embarrass Jesus.

Yesterday, I was reading a column of satire featuring commentary on Christian televangelists and "star personalities." The column was dripping with sarcasm, but was commenting on true actions of the Christian leaders. It occurred to me that somewhere along the way, these leaders had lost the focus on what it really means to be a servant of God. Somehow it became all televisions and lights and money and emotion and status. At this point, out came the stupid behavior. The kind that J. Lee Grady said "gives the church a black eye."

Then last night, I sat in LIVEChat and was surrounded by single moms and people with incredible stories and incredible needs. I got a chance to love people who are different from me, to put my arms around people who hadn't been hugged in days, and the thought came to me that THIS is a part of ministry I never want to get away from. Yes, part of my work for God is writing and talking to groups of people, and that part is really fun for me. Jesus talked to big crowds too. But He also spent His life in very personal interaction with people. He went to houses where no one else would go, and touched people no one else would touch. Sometimes we get so busy doing church stuff that we don't imitate that part of Jesus' life. Sometimes I think He has to be most embarrassed by our nice clothes, comfortable lives, and pharisaeical behavior.

I just don't want ministry to become a monster in and of itself, one that takes the place of true Christ-following. It's so easy for this to happen. Sadly, years of my own life were spent doing church work and possibly never really imitating Jesus. Just like the pharisee and the priest that crossed to the other side of the road because they didn't have time for an injured man. The words "good" and "Samaritan" would have been an oxymoron in Jesus' day. The Samaritan man was the least likely minister and yet he was the most effective. It's just becoming very clear to me that there is a BIG difference these days between what is classically approved "Christian lifestyle" and what is deep, passionate Christ-following.

As I'm stepping forward in "ministry" myself, I'm realizing that I've got to stay focused on the real stuff of living for Jesus. And I'm realizing that that real stuff has little to do with the clothes I wear, the money I have, or the size of group that I'm in front of. It has everything to do with forgetting about staying comfy and clean and crossing back to the side of the road where the ones who have been robbed lay bloody and waiting to die. It has to do with binding wounds, carrying the injured, and spending myself on their recovery. That's the real stuff.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

DEEE-Lish!




And there you have it. The yummiest part of my day. Today I spent some time having coffee with a friend. When she and I are together, there's plenty of trouble and lots of throw-back-your-head laughing. This cup of coffee looked so pretty I just had to take a picture.

Hope you had a vanilla-almond espresso with half-and-half and plenty of sugar and whipped cream and cinnamon on top kind of day!

Monday, September 24, 2007

It's Really Here!

My book came in over the weekend!! It won't be in stores until around November, but my first copy arrived in my mailbox Saturday! YAY!

Can you believe it?? My picture's on the back and everything!!

Sometimes I forget to celebrate this. I don't know why. Maybe because the process has been so long and arduous. But, I'm an author! A real one! A real live publisher liked my book enough to publish it! This is SO COOL! Have yourself a party on my behalf tonight, Ok?

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Zing!

I love my job. This weekend I got to speak to over 400 women. We laughed and learned and I loved it!

My friend Julie, whose encouraging words were invaluable this weekend, told me something that I'm still thinking over. She said I was in what Max Lucado calls "the sweet spot." The place where your gifts and what you love to do intersect with God's will for you. She said, "When you're in that place, when what you love to do and what you are called to do intersect, there's a zing!"

You know, I was having so much fun, I almost felt guilty! Friday night, Kathy and I were walking around the pond at Camp Living Waters praying and talking with God about Saturday's events. As we were praying, the Lord reminded me of all the times He had changed my life or spoken to me in amazing ways at a retreat or event like we were about to have. I vividly remember the first time I went on a retreat, I was around 13 or 14. It was a life changing thing for me. Since that time, God has spoken to me, connected with me, and changed me through a camp or retreat when I was able to leave regular life for a while and really listen to Him.

He started helping me understand that while I'm having such a great time, HE could actually be speaking to people and working in THEM like He has with me so many times. Can I just tell you how much JOY there is in doing what you love and knowing that God is using what you are doing to make a difference in someone's life?? Sweet spot, indeed.

ZING!!!

Saturday, September 15, 2007

FLOOD

Too tired to say much, except...

Ya know that Bible verse about God opening the windows of heaven and pouring out such a blessing that there would not be room enough to recieve it?

THAT HAPPENED TO ME THIS WEEKEND!!!!!!!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Happy news!

I'm so excited!! Camp Living Waters' Spa Day has registered 325 women! YAY!! So this Saturday, I get to speak to 325 women about Rest, Rejuvenation, and Recovery!

I can't wait! Can you BELIEVE this is my JOB????

AND on top of that... Just a pic of the superhero that lives in my house:








Don't you feel safer now?

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Lottery and Leadership

I spent today doing what I love, then had a yummy dinner with the people I love, and now I'm settled in at home with a happy exhaustion. Today I got to teach a women's ministry workshop at Ridgecrest on the River, a conference for church leaders. Before I fade completely out, I have to share some thoughts about the day.

At the end of the day, there was a conference-wide worship service. The speaker, Dr. Bill Taylor, said and showed some things that have really got me pondering. He talked about some of the Southern Baptist leaders from 1950-1980 and their innovative ministry methods. What was groundbreaking innovation in their day has become "the way we do it" in this denomination. Dr. Taylor cited the example of the Sunday evening service, which was created during a time when many homes had no electricity, but often the church in town did have electricity. Some innovative leader saw that people wanted to come where there was electricity, so they began an evening service that resulted in many new believers. What was, in its day, a creative method for ministry has now become a sacred cow for many.

As he presented these thoughts, Dr. Taylor showed us a graph. The graph displayed Southern Baptist growth during the 1950's to 1980's, showing an explosive growth for that period. Of course, it also displayed the slight but steady decline that has occurred over the last couple of decades.

I couldn't help asking myself some sobering questions. I was reminded of a time when I was "coasting" on the wealth of knowledge my parents placed in me. Mom and Dad implanted in my brain a veritable textbook of Southern Baptist doctrine and scripture memory. I felt satisfied with this knowledge for a long time. After all, I could quote circles around most Christians I knew. I could go long periods of time without experiencing anything new from God and no one was the wiser because I talked the talk so well. I had a treasure of knowledge, and that was great, but it sure didn't take the place of real, life changing connection with God. Eventually, I couldn't coast any longer.

Is this where we are as a denomination? Have we been coasting on the surge of growth brought about through the inspiration God gave to the leaders of past decades?

Think about it. If I won the lottery, I'd quit working. The millions would give me a sense of safety, a feeling that I could finally afford to take a little time off. Has the explosive growth of last century given our denomination a "lotto" mentality? After all, we've become the largest and richest protestant denomination in America, so we can afford to coast a while on the hard won victories of our past leaders. But, can we really?

As Dr. Taylor referenced the ideas of leaders gone before, I don't believe he was recommending that we return to their specific programs. He was urging us to grasp for ourselves the passion and courage behind their ideas. They took the risk of trying new things like Sunday night services in their attempt to share the good news about the kingdom of heaven. Where did we get the idea that we could just steal their ideas and not do the work of innovation and creativity for ourselves? At what point did we become so comfortable with the windfall of growth that we no longer felt the need to keep up with the changing needs of people in our society?

I don't think they expected the next generation to ride their ministry coat tails. I think they expected us to find newer, more effective ways to minister to a new generation. And it's becoming evident that our "free ride" has a cost after all.

I don't like this idea of coasting. I want the adventure, the suspense, and the intense work that it will take to drop the security blanket of what I've always known and forge ahead into the uncharted territory of sharing Jesus with people in the here and now. I'll look to the example of those before me and their passionate risks. But I'll not miss the ride Jesus has planned for ME by being too lazy or chicken to get in the vehicle with Him.

Frankly, the idea that God Himself wants to give me personal direction and unique ideas for what He has called me to do is WAY TOO wonderful to pass up, even for the safety and comfort of never having to take a risk.

I'll treasure the opportunity I had today to live out my passion for women's ministry. But I'll also be pondering the serious questions of today for a while. I just can't think of passing up my own explosion and settling for the aftercloud of someone elses.

Daily bliss: Today was full of happiness, but there's nothing like coming home to the ones I love. So for today, my happiness is my sweet love and my two babies. I'm a blessed woman.

Delicious Debate

I've had the interesting privilege over the last couple of days to be in two separate meetings where there was.... how shall I put this?... Tense discussion. I've remembered something interesting about me. I love a good fight! Debate is one of the most pleasurable things in the world to me.

The exchange of words and ideas, the attempt to communicate clearly, the persuasive passion of some, and the shy nerves of others. It's all WONDERFUL to me. Defending an idea forces me to think that idea through carefully. Sometimes we don't always stop and examine our hearts until something such as a moment of tension brings feelings to light. Sometimes nothing solidifies a belief like hearing the opposing belief.

Know what else I've found interesting? It's REALLY hard for Christians to be OK with disagreeing. I've observed two Christian meetings where people really, really struggled to express opposing views appropriately, almost as if it's wrong to have differences of opinion. Why do we get our feathers ruffled so?

I don't know about that, but I'm SURE I enjoyed it all WAY too much. And since it's after midnight and I have a workshop to teach tomorrow, maybe I'll wait till later to ponder what this says about my mental health. It's cracking me up right now because I faced some excruciatingly tense moments this evening with pleasure, and then came home only to melt into a puddle of queasy panic. Why, you ask? Mackenzie was losing a tooth!! So much for a woman not fazed by heated debate when she's standing with her fingers in her ears trying REALLY hard to find the happy place in her mind to escape from the pulling of a loose tooth.

My happiness today: A man who can handle tooth issues that render me completely useless. AND Levi's pronunciation of "tapioca," a pudding to which he was introduced today: "Tacky-oh-coh" I'll eat tackyohcoh pudding with that kid any day.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Homework at the Hughes'

Just thought I'd share one of my rare "Leave it to Beaver" moments with you. This afternoon, my kids worked on homework peacefully at the table while I supervised and assisted like a normal mommy would. They were too cute, so I have to share!


The picture of concentration! Cutting is serious business in K-4!


The picture of brilliance!

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Dizzy Days

Spent a lovely evening in the emergency room yesterday. I had some symptoms that were pretty scary, especially to someone who has suffered from blood clots. Turned out to be.... wait for it.... vertigo. Yup. Lots of drama for a little diagnosis, but I am SO thankful that it's something so simple, and not those nasty clots again.

Today I've been playing catch-up. After an action packed weekend that culminated in a visit to the hospital, I had extra laundry and dishes and general maintenance work to do around here. I also have a good bit of writing to do, which is the fun part. I spent the morning writing in my rocking chair. (Am I blessed or what?) There's still much more to do. I have a busy fall ahead of me, several speaking engagements to prepare for, plus the book's release. Tomorrow I think I'll be forced to lock the door and turn off all telephones in order to get some creative work done.

OH! You are also officially reading the blog of a corporate chaplain! I'll be doing a little chaplaincy work here and there for Marketplace Chaplains USA. After a surprisingly thorough investigation of me, they have declared me fit to be a chaplain. I'm looking forward to this opportunity to stay in touch with reality... to kind of get outside the church doors if ya know what I mean.

All in all, I missed my Monday. (It's my favorite day of the week.) Labor Day has officially become my least favorite holiday for cheating me out of a Monday.

For now, I'm a bit dizzy and a lot tired. I'm headed to my bed. Right after I tell you the happiest part of my day: Pumpkin Spice Latte' at Starbucks! OH! and my Love made the kids' lunches for tomorrow... and I didn't even ask him to. I love that guy!

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Closure!

Yesterday, for the anniversary of Katrina, we had a little family ceremony. We were aiming to give some closure to our kids, and help them recognize how God has provided for us, but I gotta tell you, I didn't realize how good the closure would feel to me!

Anyway, we planted a hibiscus in our yard to help us remember the beauty that has come out of the sad days of Katrina, and how God took care of us. Here are some pics:




Daddy and his helpers.



The ceremonial squirt!



We MADE IT!!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

HAPPY Anniversary

In the next world we may more perfectly
Love Him and serve Him, praise Him,
Grow nearer and nearer to Him with delight.
But then we will not anymore
Be called to suffer, which is our assignment here.
Can you not suffer, then, one hour or two?
If He should call you from your cross today,
Saying, "It is finished--that hard cross of yours
From which you pray for deliverance,"
Do you not think that some emotion of regret
Would overcome you? You would say,
"So soon? Let me go back and suffer yet awhile
More patiently. I have not yet praised God."
....let us take heed in life
That God may NOW be glorified in us.
(Ugo Bassi's Sermon in a Hospital)

Today marks the two year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. This morning as I reflected with some area pastors on this day and what it means to us, my heart virtually screamed the above quoted poem. See, lately I've been doing quite a bit of asking for deliverance. Since Katrina's upheaval, my life has seemed like one upheaval after another. I'm tired. So is everyone around me.

Last night, my hair guy and I were talking about my book. He asked me "Do you listen to what you write?" Jimmy wanted to know if I practice what I preach, or if I take my own advice. So I asked the question of myself. I told Jimmy how I feel that everything that has happened since Katrina has worked together as a "test" of sorts for me. How can I write a book with a theme of hope and perseverance... and then NOT trust God to give me the strength to persevere myself? I don't want to be someone who preaches one thing, only to get in my car, drive away, and do another. So yes, I practice what I preach.

But in some ways, I have not yet praised God. To me, persevering through trial is one thing, but lifting praise to God in and FOR a trial is another thing entirely. In my mind, to look suffering in the face and THANK GOD for it is to have triumphed over that suffering. And so, if you'll allow me...


THANK YOU GOD, for Hurricane Katrina. Thank You for the uncertainty, the loss, the sadness. Thank You for forcing me to rely on You for hope. I praise You, God, for the turmoil it caused. I praise You for making me uncomfortable enough to seek comfort in You. ThankYou for personally being my comfort in all of this. While I'm at it, Lord, I would like to praise You for the embolisms I had. Thanks for the pain and the frightening diagnosis. Thanks for showing me that death is nothing to You, therefore it is nothing to me. Thank you for sending my husband to the hospital. Thank you for being there when I thought I might lose him. Thank You for the people whose hands you used to help hold me up that night. I praise You, God, for the exhaustion, the depression, and the discouragement that the last months have held for me and Matthew. I praise You for being Reason enough to go on even when we didn't feel like it. The bottom line, Jesus, is that You have and do use suffering to connect with me and to help me connect with You... and connection with You makes life worth living, so I praise You for it ALL. You, my Jesus, are worth every mile, every tear, every shaky, exhausted step. Lord, don't let me waste time. I'm not waiting till you call and end to suffering before I praise You. So, please, be glorified in THIS life, with all its imperfections and in the midst of all its sufferings. Amen

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The Wierd One

I got a new haircolor today. It's a mysterious blackish-reddish-purplish color. (Pictures as soon as I get a good one.) I always love haircut day. Since Katrina, my hair guy doesn't have a shop anymore, so he comes to my house to do the job. It's grown into a pretty fun gathering, with who knows who popping in to sit in the makeshift salon that is my kitchen.

Today, Starbucks got thrown into the mix. What else is a girl to do while she waits for her hair color to work than walk over to Starbucks, stand in line (purplish hair color gunk and all), and order a round of treats for everyone. Here's the funniest part: There were people who actually said words to me and carried on conversation with me, all the while acting like I didn't have purplish goopy funky hair sticking up all over my head, and there was no pungent, nasty smell of hair color in a cloud around me.

Oh sure, there were wierd looks too, AND people there I knew, but I expected that. All in all, it was a pleasant trip. I even met a new friend who shares my name that I'll hopefully get to see again.

It's interesting what you can do if you're the one wierd or gutsy enough to do it. Not that going out in public while your hair color processes is anything noble. My point is that no one ridiculed me. I know for a fact I stunk and no one crossed to the other side of the room. It was that "twilight zone" type moment when no one really realized what was going on and by the time they did, I was gone and it was over.

So what if this applied to living for Christ? Do I have the guts to be the wierd one for Jesus? Can I live my life in such abandon to Him that no one really knows what to make of it? I WANT TO!!! And really, who could stop me?

Monday, August 27, 2007

Stage Whispers

My son, ever the performer, can't seem to tone down his four year old voice. Yesterday he was in the living room with his sister, and down the hall I heard this stage whisper: "Quick! Mom and Dad are coming! We aren't supposed to be on the table! They are goin to see us!"

My quiet little girl knows the value of don't ask don't tell. Not Levi. He's got the gift of gab. And for now, it works for me!!!

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Old song, New thoughts

This old Rich Mullins song implanted itself in my brain over a decade ago. I liked the tune and the catchy phrasing. For some reason lately, it's been floating to the top of my ocean of thoughts and I've been really pondering its lyrics...

"Now the plummer's got a drip in his spigot
The mechanic's got a clank in his car
And the preacher's thinking thoughts that are wicked
And the lover's got a lonely heart
My friends ain't the way I wish they were
They are just the way they are

And I will be my brother's keeper
Not the one who judges him
I won't despise him for his weakness
I won't regard him for his strength
I won't take away his freedom
I will help him learn to stand
And I will ~ I will be my brother's keeper

Now this roof has got a few missing shingles
But at least we got ourselves a roof
And they say that she's a fallen angel
I wonder if she recalls when she last flew
There's no point in pointing fingers
Unless you're pointing to the truth

And I will be my brother's keeper
Not the one who judges him
I won't despise him for his weakness
I won't regard him for his strength
I won't take away his freedom
I will help him learn to stand
And I will ~ I will be my brother's keeper



What's so wrong with being my brother's keeper? Even Cain railed at the idea. I think the songwriter hit on two main issues: I won't despise him for his weakness. I won't regard him for his strength. The way it's going around in my mind, losing patience with the weakness of another, or on the other hand, building too much regard for the strength of another leads to resentment. It takes a certain strength to care for another who is weaker, and even more strength, I say, to care for another who is stronger.

The song issues a challenge indeed. Can I be my brother's keeper? Can I as a believer extend love to those around me without judgement, whether they are weaker than I, or whether they possess strengths I envy?

Wouldn't it be nice to be "kept" that way? Surrounded by others who understand "my friends ain't the way I wish they were. They are just the way they are." Don't you think at the root of many relational problems is the attempt, whether conscious or unconscious, to make someone else into "the way I wish they were" instead of accepting that "they are just the way they are?" Isn't it even more interesting that a brother's keeper doesn't do the job of molding someone into something else? The idea of being a keeper or caretaker almost automatically conjurs up feelings of responsibility or authority, but hardly ever feelings of acceptance or servanthood. But to truly be my brother's keeper, I have to stop trying to make those around me be something I wish they were, and begin helping them stand in who they are.

Problem is.... it's so much easier just to tell them what they ought to be, isn't it? Or to sit in judgement? Or even to remove their freedom so they can't be what I wish they weren't? The harder thing, definitely, is to accept another whether they please me or not. To love them whether or not it is convenient to do so. To stand with them even when they embarass me.

Jesus is our Keeper that way, you know. He's stood by me through it all. May He do the same through me for those He's given me to keep.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Yes, Ma'am.

I almost just posted a comment to you, Beck, but I thought I'd put it out here instead. Because it's long.
You are so right about the fact that being a brave woman doesn't mean you are not afraid. It means that you choose to continue moving in the face of your fears - in defiance of them.
Our church is studying "Mere Christianity" right now (C.S. Lewis), and you reminded me of something I read there this morning. It's a little bit out of context, as he is talking mainly about repentance here, but I think it still applies (as most truth has application in so many places). So, here is a quote, because he said it better than I could:
"Can we do it if God helps us? Yes, but what do we mean when we talk of God helping us? We mean God putting into us a bit of Himself, so to speak. He lends us a little of His reasoning powers and that is how we think: He puts a little of His love into us and that is how we love one another. When you teach a child writing, you hold its hand while it forms the letters: that is, it forms the letters because you are forming them. We love and reason because God loves and reasons and holds our hand while we do it."
I think that this is what Scripture means when it says that we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us. You are brave and strong - one of the strongest women I know, my Becky. But it isn't really you at all. It's the bit of Himself that Christ has placed in you that continues to give you strength. He has given this gift of himself to you because you chose to ask for it.
Because, really, with all that you have faced this year, the fact that you continue to get out of bed every morning defies reason.
And doesn't it take a little bit of the pressure off - doesn't it help us to be okay with fear - to live with its presence - if we know that it isn't up to us to conquer it? So, to paraphrase Lewis: We live our lives in the presence of fear because God moves and lives fearlessly in us.
Hope that makes sense :)

<3 Christy

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Facing Fears

Ok, I think I'm down to the real reason I've been in such a dither lately.

It's hard to admit this....


I'm scared.

I started this year at the tail end of Katrina's aftermath. Having just breathed a sigh of relief and declared myself over Katrina, I found myself in the hospital wondering what my husband and my babies would do without me. Then, in a few months I found myself in the ER wondering what I and my babies would do without him. Then, I wondered what we would all do without a job. Now I'm wondering what I'll do WITH one as my book's release gets closer.

Matthew has some type of stomach plague and has kept it for over a week. With his every sigh the knot in my own stomach tightens up. I have this icky, heavy feeling that I should be bracing myself for something terrible. I've actually carried this feeling around since oh... May or so. I'm sick of it.

My wise counselor friend calls this hypervigilance. She says it's normal in the aftermath of trauma, and we have had several events in succession that qualify as trauma. She says it'll pass. I hope she's right.

What I know is what I said above. It's fear. I'm scared. I absolutely loathe admitting this.

I ask myself, how can a woman committed to living her life on the edge, a woman who is completely confident in God's providence, be afraid? Shouldn't I be conquering this fear and marching in a victory parade by now?

Herein lies my problem: I've let myself think that a radically lived life of abandon would be lived without fear. Nope. It's just lived IN SPITE OF fear. It's not that a woman on the edge isn't scared. She could be shakin in her boots! She just doesn't let that stop her from staying right out on the edge.

I forgot that for a while there. I let myself stuff back the fear because I hate to admit the weakness it exposes. I ignored it in the hopes that it would go away since I don't have time to be afraid. Only it didn't go away, it only masked itself in frustration and stress.

So here it is for the world to see: I'm afraid. I'm afraid that my husband won't get better. I'm afraid I can't handle everything alone. I'm afraid the next storm could be a repeat of Katrina. I'm afraid my book will be a flop. I'm afraid I am not a good mother to my kids. I'm afraid I'll never make it as a speaker. I'm afraid my church will reject me and my husband. I'm afraid there might not really be anyone I can trust.

It's time to quit pretending that the fear isn't there. It's time to look it in the face and, knowing what I know about God, releasing my life into His hands, I keep living. I will walk right past the fear and let it watch me love the man, weather the storm, write the book, kiss my kids, speak my heart, pour myself out over this church, and trust the only One who I could ever trust in the first place.

I guess what I'm realizing is that the edge isn't all about not being afraid. It's about DEFYING fear. And so defy, I will. Are ya with me?

Friday, August 17, 2007

Better...

Too tired for the full story, but a good, hard cry (minus the kicking and screaming, I'm happy to say) dulled my sharp edges a bit. It had been coming for a while, but when the tear flood finally swept in, I felt tons better. I have much to reflect on here, but for now I'm going to sleep. Matthew is a bit better tonight, much to my relief.

My smile? This conversation:

Levi: "There was a girl at school today who was my friend. She loveded me."

Me: "Oh yeah? How do you know she loved you?"

Levi: "Because she TOLD me it. She said she loveded me! And she played Ninja Turtles with me, except she was a Ninja Turtle Barbie."


OH yeah, girlfriend! Every Ninja Turtle needs a little Barbie.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Sick and Tired

He's sick. I'm tired. My efforts to save the world aren't going as planned. An all out temper tantrum would have ensued as a result of this feeling in my younger years. Ya think anybody would call the cops if I just threw myself down on the ground and had a good screamin', kickin', cryin' fit? Is this all I really am inside? A spoiled toddler who can't deal with a few bumps in the road? A malfunctioning machine that self destructs when overburdened?

It's raw tonight, friends. The sharp edge, I suppose.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Rockin'

I'm writing from my rocking chair! It fits just perfectly in my room now. (see previous post) I love this chair. Matthew bought it for me when I was pregnant with Mackenzie. I've rocked and nursed babies in this chair for hours on end. I've read books in this chair, cried tears in this chair, and consoled myself with some serious rocking.

It's first home was our trailer in Graceville. That's where we spent the first six months of Mackenzie's life. This chair was where I learned to breastfeed and where I got through post partum depression. I can still smell the sweet smell of baby, and feel her sleeping all warm and curled up in a tiny ball on my chest.

Next, it moved to the Gapway house. There, it lived in Mackenzie's bedroom. It was a Paddington Bear nursery, and this chair sat by her bed and rocked her every night until after she weaned at two years old. We rocked through my dad's heart surgery and through spending our days caring for him. We rocked through three years on staff at a church with no pastor.

Next, it moved to the Galloway Road rental house. It waited patiently while we built our house. It also sat still, unused during a horrible time in our marriage when I could barely think or move. I now wish I had written during that time, but sadly I lost almost a year of life in a frozen emotional arctic. Not even my chair helped then.

It came out of retirement when it moved into our new house in Tropical Manor. It was placed directly into the baby nursery where it readily accepted the warmth of a new baby boy. I accepted that warmth too. It brought the end of a painful pregnancy and the thaw of that emotional ice age. There it rocked my Levi by his bed. I would nurse him and sing to him about trusting Jesus. Some nights I would rock both my babies. Five year old Mackenzie sitting on one side with her head nestled under my neck, and tiny little Levi in the crook of my other arm.

Then, it moved to seminary. It had to take a more prominent place as living room furniture then. But I held onto it. After a while, our seminary apartment was just too cramped and it moved to Matthew's office.

Our post-Katrina apartment had no room for it, so it stayed in Matthew's office. I visited whenever I could and still stole a few minutes here and there to sit with one of my babies or just by myself.

Now, it has moved again but this time it's all mine! The rocker is by my bed in my room in a perfect location for reading, praying, thinking, blogging, or whatever I happen to be doing. I actually came in here frustrated, intending to write a scathing blog about something else entirely, but the smooth, happy rocking motion got my attention instead.

If I've learned anything over the last few years, its that stuff doesn't matter and I really think I have a healthy attitude toward stuff. And if I had to, I suppose I'd let go of my rocker. But I really, really don't wanna. I love this chair. I love how it makes me feel. I love the memories it holds and the secrets it keeps. Every girl should have a chair like this.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Night, night!

Just hafta tell you I now have the prettiest room ever. Due to a fortunate move of office for my hubby, I got rid of a desk that was taking up SO much space in my room. Plus I've been steadily getting rid of books and stuff for weeks now. The Goodwill store knows who I am and my church library will be getting some new titles. Now I'm going to bed in a room that feels breathable. No, not just breathable, but pretty. Yay! Party in my room tonight!!! Oh, sorry... it's invitation only. :)

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Old Walker Guy

There's this older gentleman around our town. I call him the Old Walker Guy. I'm sure, though, that he has a very nice name. He can be seen during all seasons of the year walking around various places in the city. Usually I see him on Old 37 or around the Publix in that part of town, just a block over. Today, I saw him somewhere else entirely, but the important thing is that I saw him.
I have a secret crush on this old man. He is, ummmm....really old. He's overly-tan and is always wearing a hat. But he seldom wears a shirt. It's important to note that his pecs have sort of slipped southward, creating numerous ripples as they have met with resistance from the rib area. Actually, he's quite wrinkly all over the torso. But I love him just the same. He never fails to make me smile.
I have seen this man on a near-weekly basis for many years now. His presence is not missed by me when I don't see him, but when I do see him, I remember suddenly how long it's been since the last time. He must walk nearly all day long, given the varying times of day I spot him. And he always seems to be enjoying himself. He smiles into the windows of passing cars and takes step after step with gusto and meaning.
He's become a symbol of perseverance to me and maybe even one of hope. I don't know if he is fighting simple aging or something worse. I once had a neighbor that walked and walked every day in an attempt to stave off the effects of Alzheimer's. But I really admire his spirit. He reminds me that, even if I have nothing to walk toward, the journey itself really should be enough.

<3 Christy

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Adventures!

Isn't it interesting how we plan? Now that I consider it, the very idea of planning is a bit questionable. Think about it. We make plans, but we have NO WAY of guaranteeing those plans, or of knowing what any particular day will bring. Just as rules are made to be broken, evidently plans are made to be interrupted. So I say, why not just call any plan an adventure and EXPECT the interruptions? I figure this way, eventually, if nothing goes wrong with my plans, I'll be disappointed at the lack of adventure I've had.

Take yesterday for example: My sister and her family had been in town all week, and we had carefully planned a trip for Friday, my hubby's day off, to a wildlife refuge across the lake about an hour and a half from us. We set out early, wanting to make the 9:30 tour, and made it across the Causeway bridge, down I-12, off our exit, and well out into the middle of nowhere, Louisiana. All of a sudden, our van fainted. My husband pulled off to the side of the road and called my cell to let me know he was having trouble. I saw in my rearview (Angie and I were in her car and had given the Dads the privilege of driving with the kids!)and turned around to check out the situation.

We deduced that the van had passed out from an alternator problem, and started discussing options. We just HAPPENED to be a few miles from Camp Living Waters, one of my favorite places, so I called the director, Keith. Keith's maintenance and mechanic man, David, just HAPPENED to be on his way back to camp, about to pass by where we were. We stood around the van and waited for David, trying to keep the kids inside one of the vehicles and out of the street. My daughter was sitting in the backseat playing a game (thank God for gameboys) and a car whizzed by. Something came from the car, either a rock or some other foreign object, and slammed into the window by her head, shattering the window and shocking us all. The rest of my body's adrenalin flooded into my bloodstream and I shook as I examined my daughter. (Not a scratch or even a sliver of glass on her anywhere.)

Not a minute later, David pulled up and confirmed our diagnosis of a bad alternator. He charged up the van and we made it out to Camp Living Waters on what my mom would call "a wing and a prayer." While David went for the part he needed to repair the van, Angie and I went for picnic supplies. We also just HAPPENED to have most of what we would need for everyone to go swimming, so we picked up a few extra items to help us take advantage of CLW's pool. We sat down to a lovely picnic, and then spent a couple of hours in the pool. (Wildlife tour was obviously missed by this time.) An afternoon shower rolled in and we packed up the kids, made a redneck window with plastic and duct tape on the van, and headed back across the lake toward home.

We thoroughly enjoyed our day of botched plans. Actually, the kids were just as pleased to swim in the pool and just as thrilled with the excitement of the unknown, we couldn't have given them a more fun day with our plans. Sure, they might have petted a giraffe, but what's better to six and four year old boys than real life survival and adventure? When I think about it, what's better to a thirty-something mom? I can't think of anything more alive than the adventures of our day.

The reality is, we could never have PLANNED to break down at the location we did, just a few miles from a fun place for the kids. We could never have PLANNED to break down at the exact time we did, just a few minutes before a qualified mechanic was passing by.

So why do we plan? Right now, I have to say I don't really know. There is definitely a place for preparedness and goal-setting. Maybe what I'm asking is why we, as finite humans, make plans as if we have the power to control anything, and then get upset when our plans go awry. I can't count the many times I've planned, expected perfect results to my plans, and been disappointed with the disastrous results of my inflexibility and high expectations. WOW! How many times did I miss the LIVING in the middle of trying to accomplish my plans?

These days, I'm learning to be more about the journey than the destination, and more about leaving the rest to the One who knew all my days before I was even born. I'm learning to let Him take care of the details and busy myself on enjoying the adventures He lays out for me. I'll take a broken alternator and a busted window and a derailed day over a nice, tame, NORMAL vacation activity any day!!!

Monday, July 23, 2007

Cheese Drunk

'Scuse me if I slur my words a bit, but for lunch today I had the cheesiest, most wonderfully delicious pasta dish I think I've ever tasted. It was definitely a walk on the wild side in comparison with my breakfast of bran flakes and fresh peaches... with skim milk of course. I always start the day with the best intentions.

But at lunch, well, I decided to give this decadent dish a try, and off I went into cheesy pasta land and before I knew it, I was cheese drunk. You know. Sorta feels like taking a valium. A sleepy, happy, giggly sort of feeling. It's a good thing I wasn't driving! Though I'm not sure what the citation would have been, I know I was in no condition to operate a motorized vehicle. Maybe its a life of a little too much stress, maybe a little exhaustion, mix that up with a high stress morning that ended well and the relief that came with that, and you have the perfect opportunity for a food high.

I don't know, and really, I don't care right now. I'm just glad God gave me the ability to chew. And I'm glad I had a lunchtime with a friend to slowly and thoroughly enjoy something delicious and cheesy. I'm smiling like a fool just typing this.

Of course, after indulging in such forbidden pleasure, what could I do but bring home the rest for my husband to try? Just following procedure, right?

Yummy!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Ronald McRomance

I got hit on! Any mom over 30 will understand my elation at this. I was in McDonald's purchasing my son's choice of lunch as a reward for his valiant endurance of before-school immunizations. I stood there in my mommy uniform of shorts, tshirt, and tennis shoes, reciting my litany of mommy phrases like "Stay right beside me." and "No running." and "You want a cheeseburger or nuggets?" My makeup bag and I hadn't seen each other in a couple of days, and the earrings were missing from one of my ear piercings.

We ate our rewarding, if unhealthy, lunch and laughed along with the other people in the place. (This is a common occurrence in New Orleans. For some reason, people here greet everyone in a place and will carry on conversation at the drop of a hat.) One guy asked me if I was married. I answered yes, I was. He said "If you weren't I'd be over there by you, cuz you just a beautiful person. You got a beautiful smile."

Now, no need to remind me of the social couth or character of a person who flirts with married women in front of their children in McDonald's. I know all that. But I gotta tell ya, it still made my day. Pitiful, perhaps, but God bless that guy wherever he is. He brought a smile to my face and a reminder that there are more layers to womanhood than bathing kids, tying shoes, doctors office waiting rooms, and dishwashers.

Friday, July 13, 2007

I got tagged

Christy has tagged me and invited me to share another list of wierd things about myself. Here's her list. Refer to it for contest rules and what to do to join in the weird list game.

OK, here goes:

1) I always, always, always have polish on my toenails and the weirder the color the better. Purple, blue, green, neon, I'll wear it all.

2) On the subject of nails, I cannot STAND to have fingernails of different lengths. If one of my nails breaks, I'll cut them all. I keep them short these days for piano playing, but in past days of longer nails, I found every imaginable way to repair a crack or split in the nail to keep from having to cut them all and lose my manicure.

3) The nail thing reminds me, I have weird preferences about men. NO, and I mean absolutely NO long nails on guys. No way. I prefer as little white edge as possible. Also no crocs. Crocs shoes are not sexy. No spitting either. My man doesn't spit unless he's brushing his teeth. That is the only appropriate time.

4) My favorite way to eat eggs is scrambled, but the smell of cooking scrambled eggs makes me gag.

5) I'm a good knife peeler. I can peel an orange in a twirly spiral with a knife. I'm good at apples and peaches too. I cannot, however, use a potato peeler. The last straw was the slice I took out of one of my fingers with a potato peeler two weeks ago. Just gimme a knife.

6) I still have a permanent retainer from when my braces were removed in seventh grade. It's still glued to the back of my teeth.

7) Speaking of teeth, I have a "thing" about teeth. Loose teeth are one of my worst nightmares. My daughter losing a tooth literally puts me hiding under the covers until it's over. If you would like to see me pass out, simply show me someone pulling a loose tooth. I'm getting lightheaded just typing this.

8) Of all thrill rides in the world, I'm most afraid of the ferris wheel.

Weird enough for ya? Hope it made you smile! And ummmm... I'm tagging Matthew, Jim, Greg, although you guys will probably not play. And Alli, you've already been tagged, but I'm taggin' you too... and that's it.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Git 'r Done!

Have I mentioned that I love Monday? It is hands down my favorite day of the week. I love the freshness of a Monday. Today I accomplished much, another feeling I love. I'm not really sure why, but a good accomplishment just makes my heart feel happy. Doesn't have to be much. Today, I'm happy that I conquered the red tape at the Social Security office and replacement cards for my kids are on the way. I'm happy that I conquered my sink of dirty dishes and all the garbage cans in the house. I conquered some business stuff that has been nagging at me, and all in all, am feeling on top of things.

I know SO well that it's only a feeling. But I like it nonetheless and will savor it while it's here.

Friday, July 06, 2007

My Very Own Miracle

On our vacation, just after we crossed the FL line, we stopped at the welcome center rest area. (State welcome centers are the best places to stop. They're always in the best condition.) On our way in, I saw a mother with two children. One was about the age of my son, and the other was about two. She was alone, and on her way out of the rest area as we were on our way in. As I passed her, my heart went out to her alone with two children. I've made the trip from Lakeland to New Orleans alone with my kids a few times, and it's not an easy thing. I counted my blessings that this time, my husband was with me and we each took one kid and went to the restrooms. We all got our complimentary cup of OJ, and headed back out to the van.

Much to my surprise, the mom I had seen on our way in was still there, parked right next to us! I noticed her car was packed full and mentioned to Matthew that she must be moving. Immediately, God spoke to me and told me to go give her some cash. I had cash in my purse because a sweet lady from our church had slipped me a little cash for our trip before we left.

Of course, I started to debate with God, feeling like I was surely crazy. Before I could talk myself out of it, and with Matthew's encouragement, I jumped out of the van and knocked on her window. She rolled it down and I said, "You are gonna think I'm crazy, and probably I am, but God told me to give this to you." I shoved the cash into her hand and said, "I hope you know He loves you, and I love you, and... well I hope you have a good trip." I waited for a second, unsure of what she might say. Then she spoke, "You have no idea. I've been driving all day since early this morning. I left my husband today. I'm trying to get to my mom's house. I just got my last paycheck and we got out. I've been praying the whole way, and now you're here."

We talked a few more minutes and I tried to encourage her. With a promise to pray for her, I went back to my van and she pulled away. I sat there in tears. God had just done something amazing. This woman was African American, driving a car much nicer than mine, and dressed nicely. She could have potentially been hurt by my assumption that she would need money from me. She didn't appear to be in need, and I had no way other than God's whisper to know that she needed a friend. I was sobered by the thought that I had passed her casually on my way into the rest area, having no idea that she was having a life-altering day. Guess we never really know what's going on in the lives of the people who cross our paths. I had almost driven on without doing what God put in my mind to do.

It was risky, and slightly crazy, and an absolute miracle. The Patriarchs used to set up monuments at a place where God did something major in their lives. Guess for me, that Florida Welcome Center will be a place where He did something major in me. He sent me on an unlikely assignment, and He touched someone through me. He added some solidity to something He's doing in my heart for single mothers. He gave me a moment of absolute certainty that He is present and active in me.

To anybody that thinks Christ-following is boring: Honey, no way! As a matter of fact, it may be the only life of true adventure there is.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Rest Stops...




On our trip to Florida, we camped in a tent on Pensacola Beach. We loved it! We had never done any tent camping before and it turned out to be a fun adventure. Our kids went swimming in the lagoon and caught little crabs much to their fascination... and ours! In our attempt to "get a life" we just might have found a fun hobby to share that doesn't include the words "baptist church" in it!! That'll be a first for us! Thankya Jesus!

In Florida, I also had some time to myself to enjoy the place where I grew up. The picture above is of a blue hydrangea that's been growing at my Granny's house ever since I can remember. It's still there, and the sight of it conjures up such indescribable feelings of comfort and peace. My Grandmother is in heaven and is enjoying much more beautiful sights than this, but to me right now, there isn't much more beautiful than that flower and the way it reminds me of her.



It was good to hide away at home for a while. I needed my mom's arms around me and my dad's kiss on the cheek. I needed deep discussion with my brother and raucous laughter with my sister. I needed a visit with my Christy and a general rest stop of love on my journey. There's that darn lump in my throat again...

Monday, July 02, 2007

High Class Wedding

While I was in Florida, I had a chance to attend the wedding of my double second cousin. (Look it up.) My Dad and I drove three hours to High Springs, FL to attend the wedding out at the Florida Bible Camp. We had such a great time together, and at this wedding, I learned a lot.

I learned that the term "shotgun wedding" in my family means a wedding where there is a shotgun in every vehicle parked on the premises. We drove a few miles out into the woods and came to the camp in the early afternoon. Everyone was relaxed, no fussing, no feuding, no stress. The groom's father was kicked back in his lawn chair in front of his camper. The groom's mother was making a Wal-mart run to pick up the wedding flowers.

We sat around a table "shootin' the breeze" and laughing together. Family and friends began to arrive, everyone in jeans (unless they didn't want to dress up). Yummy smells started to come from the grill. The bride arrived, and then the groom. The preacher changed out of his shorts into dress slacks and a tie, and the groom did the same. We all got seated and ready.

The wedding ceremony was short, sweet, and simple. After they were pronounced husband and wife, we all had a yummy dinner together with more laughing, talking and general breeze shooting. A simple cake was brought out and we all enjoyed a piece.

On the trip to Florida, we had heard a radio report that indicated the average wedding budget these days is $27,000. This particular wedding probably cost around $27.00. There was no "bridezilla," no champaigne toast, no china plates, no gown with a train, no fussy bridesmaids, no grouchy mother, no stressed out father. At this wedding, there were loud sounds of laughter, soft whispered "I love you's," straightforward encouragements, and subtle gestures of friendship. And for all the lack of pomp and ceremony, the couple came away just as married as they would have been if they had spent a fortune. That young couple had something money can't buy. The bride's parents are still married, the groom's parents are married nearly 25 years, the groom's grandparents are married around 45 years and his great grandparents on both sides each nearly made 60 years together. I realized that I share the same heritage. My own parents celebrated their 45th anniversary this month, and my grandparents had almost 60 years together when death parted them.

I left that camp proud of who I am and where I come from. This young couple may not have had a fancy wedding. Some would have considered the affair downright primitive. But they left there wed nonetheless, and with the knowledge that a wedding is merely like the kickoff of a football game. You really win or lose in the plays of the game. No emphasis on a fancy day, but I'd say most people at that wedding understand where the emphasis really belongs: on the day-to-day living of life together.

My family may not be high class. We aren't rich and famous. But we know how to say "I love you." We are behind each other when it really counts, and we hold hands after 45 years of marriage. Come to think of it, that might just be the highest of class after all.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Pining Away

What I miss about Florida:

After a tearful goodbye I hope you'll permit me a bit of reflection about my home state. Here's my top ten list of things I miss about the sunshine state.

1. Laughing with my family. Loudly.
2. Fresh food. Grown by God and my Daddy in the blackest richest dirt you've ever seen.
3. The smell of orange blossoms.
4. My kids with bare dirty feet from playing just as hard as I did when I was a kid.
5. Produce stands. Why doesn't Louisiana have any produce stands for heavens sake?
6. Spending a Saturday morning misbehaving with my sister making way too much noise while shopping and laughing so much that I have to cross my legs.
7. Steak dinners. I NEVER eat restaurant steak due to the inevitable failure to compare with what my dad and brother can do with red meat and a gas grill.
8. Church. Old hymns in three or four part harmony sung in the same pew with my mom and dad. Standing in the snctuary where I was baptized and my grandfathers funeral was held and my sisters wedding and countless Vacation Bible School processionals were made carrying a flag or Bible to the front marching in time to Onward Christian Soldiers. The nursery where my diapers were changed and the sunday school rooms where I became the fastest Bible drill kid you've ever known. (If you don't believe it, try me.)
9. A few square miles of a neighborhood where just about every street bears my family name.
10. Publix supermarkets and the general cleanness of just about every other public place. No one pukes or pees in downtown Lakeland.

So I guess even though my car sports a Louisiana tag, it'll take more than that to get Florida outta this girl. All this to give you a sappy glimpse at the heart of a FL native who loves her life as it is but still sometimes wishes Florida dirt was under her feet. A couple days back in New Orleans and maybe this lump in my throat will go away.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

A Little Church History/History of a Little Church

I spent a lot of time at work today going through church member files. I'm a church secretary, by the way. I'm in the process of making sure all of the data in our database is correct, such as birthdays, anniversaries, addresses and all of that.
It's an interesting thing, the church member file. I've been a secretary for other types of churches, but this one is a liturgical church. Older churches tend to keep thorough records. These records turn out to be tiny summaries of a person's spiritual life. Copies of letters their elders sent when they weren't attending church, and records of phone calls where the member explains why they weren't attending church. Did this member write a formal letter of complaint about what the pastor said on Sunday? Yes, in fact, I have a copy right here. Dates of marriages, dates of baptisms and confirmations, dates of divorces and dates of funerals are all there.
Did this person take communion enough in the year 2003? I can find out. How many times have they been divorced? The record of each husband's membership application can be found in a multiply-offending wife's file.
I'm not sure how I feel about these records. From the standpoint of one who loves history, it's fascinating. But with my background in less-traditional denominations, I don't understand why it matters how many times a year someone communed. I'm not sure I'd want some secretary to read about my personal medical procedure thirty years hence. Does God care if I transferred from a Baptist, Evangelical or Episcopalian church?
The funeral bulletins were especially sad, though. You read through a file and see how a husband and wife transferred into membership with their two children. You see the dates their children were confirmed and married. You see how much money they contributed to various efforts (roofing fund, new air conditioner, etc.), and then you see that an elder had to contact them because they weren't in church. Why? The spouse has been sick and can't leave the house. Then you see the funeral bulletin and the memorial checks that make their way to the church.
You have to sum up their lives in dates and factoids.
I had been considering the possibility of cleaning out those files once the data was clean and up-to-date. But really, you'd lose so much. The handwriting samples, marriage certificates, and cordial letters between divorcees tell so much more of the story.
And they remind you of how short life really is.

- Christy

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Chinese Take Out Happiness

I got chinese food take out today. I have something embarrassing to tell you about it. So just keep this between us, Ok? It was my first time!!! No kidding. Not the first time I've ever eaten chinese food, but the first time I've ever had it take-out, with the funky little boxes with handles and stuff. This could explain why I ordered about double what my family could eat. Either that or the lady who took my order is working on commission.

After we ate the food (yum!) and I was putting the leftover little boxes in my fridge it occurred to me. I had never done this before! But, I liked it! I was picturing myself as Sandra Bullock in Two Weeks Notice ordering chinese all the time. I brought home the little menu with the numbers and everything. I'm practicing saying "Yes, it's all for one." like the movie. Ha ha!

Ok, well... nothing too profound today, just thought I'd share a "first" with you!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Yawn

Today was a regular day. I was a regular girl. Doing my job, cleaning my house, you know the drill. I did some writing, made some phone calls. I made banana bread with some ripe bananas, did some laundry, ran the dishwasher, and made a yummy dinner. My kids are in bed now, and all is well. Nothing special to write tonight except... that sometimes nothing special is something special.

'Night!
Becky

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Candy and Crying

I started a new book today. Mind candy, I like to call it. It's fiction writing that I totally cannot do, but wholeheartedly love to enjoy. Mind candy is also my attempt to trick myself into riding my exercise bike. I love to read so much that I'll get on the bike for it, if I tell myself I can only pick up the story on the bike. So this morning, there I sat on my bike, pedaling away with a chick-lit book I picked up for the pure fun of it. I can never seem to escape from picking up something of value, though, even from the most light hearted mind candy.

The story I'm reading is about two older ladies in a small town, their friendship, and their well meaning antics. Sort of a Steel Magnolias crossed with Fried Green Tomatoes with a bit of Sunday School tossed in. (the little ol ladies are retired ministers' wives, ya see.) The book is written mostly as a conversation between the two friends, full of humor. Yet, at one point, I simply burst out into tears. Here it is:

"You see, Maxine and me, we weren't always Queen Mamas." "No, we were not." "Or queen bees." "Worker bees, more like it." "Regular drones." "Which isn't a bad thing now, but..." "But the time comes when even a drone has to stop and look around herself and say, 'I'ts time to create a buzz.'" "And Oh, what a buzz Odessa made!" "I did. Though I didn't do it just for myself. I did it for all of us." "The drones." "The meek." "The women who are strangers in their own communities." "Who are all fearfully and wonderfully made. There's the meat of the story, Maxine, right there."

I pedaled and read and wept. No kidding. This is supposed to be a humorous book. But the words "women who are strangers in their own communities" caught in my heart and in my throat. I can identify with that. I AM that sometimes, or at least I feel that way. Caught between who I really am and who I think I'm supposed to be to please everyone else. Desperately wanting to be known and loved just as I am, yet knowing and trying to live with the fear and possible fact that "just as I am" might not be satisfactory to those I hope will do the knowing and loving. Furthermore, I wept because I don't know a woman who hasn't felt this way.

Here's the other place I broke down:

"Oh--and don't forget to mention--" "The tiaras. This story is just jam-packed with tiaras." "Hey, a woman wears a lot of hats in her lifetime. Why shouldn't one of them be a crown?"

Why not indeed. Tonight I wish I had a crown of my own, and a crown to place on the head of every woman who feels like a stranger in her own community. For every child-bearing, vaccuum running, dish washing, tear wiping, diaper changing, hard working, creative thinking, deeply exhausted, seemingly unnoticed woman out there who is playing the part of drone as her inner queen bee wastes away.

So maybe it's just me (this could be true since I also broke down in the van as I listened to Alabama's song "If You're Gonna Play in Texas You gotta have a fiddle in the band." Don't ask me why.) But for some reason, those words got right to my heart today. Good thing mind candy isn't counted in calories!!

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Mommy Dilemmas

I have been talking with friends lately about the process of growing up. I mean, I guess I'm already a grown-up, but I'm still a person in progress. One common point, especially among those of us who have grown up in the church, is that we remember the world being black and white when we were young. You know - making judgments between right and wrong was pretty easy, especially when you were armed with Sunday School dogma. We edit Bible stories for our kids and feed them only the parts that are easy to understand. We hand them an incomplete measuring stick to hold up to the world around them. We never try to explain the sin in the lives of Bible heroes - that makes it pretty tough to understand...well....to understand the level of personal perfection we are supposed to aspire to. I mean, if adulterers and drunks can become heroes of righteousness, couldn't anybody? We can't have that, can we? What if our kids think it's okay to sin?!?!
Life becomes so much more gray as you get older. That's a common human experience. What do we do with that?
I was reading to my kids tonight, and my son said something - I really don't recall what it was - that reminded me of his own tendency toward the black and white. He's a guy who stands for Truth, Justice and the American Way. Really, he's straight as an arrow (he was born that way). I suddenly wondered about his own transition into adulthood. How would he handle the muddying of his Scales of Justice?
I'm not claiming to have any answers here, it's a new question for me. I am struggling with the desire to make the world a place my children feel safe and at the same time I know that I am responsible to help them transition into the grown-up world. I don't think it's easy, and it's probably not right, to sit a six-year-old down and tell her about King David's little Bathsheeba issue. Maybe my nine-year-old could handle the picture of Noah, laying naked and drunk in his tent, but I'm not sure.
The ability to navigate life's murky spots is make-or-break when it comes to faith. And I want it to be a "make" for my own children. To clarify, though, I don't want it to be something I have driven into their little skulls with a rubber mallet - I want it to be a faith-affirming gift that I hand to them.
Of course, one of the keys is teaching them about grace. Grace for one's fellow man and for the issues that you may disagree about. God's grace for the miserable failure that I am and you are and they will be.
But I struggle, even as a real grown-up, with the concept of grace. It's hard for me to accept for myself. I'll never be good enough, but I am driven to try to be good enough anyway.
How can I pass on a gift to my children that is not yet in my own hands?

<3 Christy

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Spit-and-Polish

I was driving home the other day and started to think of an old friend of mine. We’re still in touch, but don’t see each other more than once a year or so. I was smiling broadly and may have even laughed a bit at the thought of how fun it would be to see my friend again. I’ve known her since I was thirteen or so – we go back a long way, and we know each other very well. Yet, I still agonize over what to wear, how to do my hair, losing ten pounds – essentially, giving my real self a good scrub and polish – every time we get together.
I started to wonder about this. My mind likes to wonder about this sort of thing. I am always put perfectly together by the time we meet. But, by the end of the evening (we usually go out for dinner), my lipstick is gone and my drug-store eye shadow has settled into the creases of my lids, my mascara has sprinkled little black flecks on my cheeks, and there’s probably food in my teeth.
I suddenly remembered that last year, after returning to the car from dinner, I pulled down the passenger-side visor to re-apply some lipstick in the mirror. She asked me why I was doing that. I think I said I just wanted to look nice, or something else just as lame as that. Why was I doing that? She likes me just as much after all the polish has worn away. Probably even a little bit better.
So, why are we compelled to keep our real selves secret?
The self I presented to the world when I was young is very different from the self I am today. I was congratulating myself on that fact as I continued to drive home, when it occurred to me that it may not be something worth congratulating.
When I was young, I wore my faith on my sleeve. All of my innocent dogma and all of my self-righteousness were on display right alongside it. I considered those things part of my faith at the time. Aside from that, though, I kept my opinions largely to myself. I kept my talents hidden, just in case I wasn’t as good as the next guy. I didn’t laugh as loudly as I wanted to, either. I had my clutch of friends who were close enough to know who I really was, but they numbered in the single digits.
As I have grown, I have gained confidence in the fact that people like to know what I think about. I have learned that it’s okay to be the loud one at a party. It’s okay to laugh so hard that you snort a little bit, even in front of strangers. It’s endearing to wear a toothy grin when you walk around by yourself. So, I taught myself to put my big heart on display – even if it gets hurt sometimes. I taught myself to vocalize my opinions, but in a soft, non-threatening way. I share with others through the talents and gifts that I was born with. My husband says I’m saving the world one cake at a time. That makes me proud. A homemade cake is no small thing!
But it occurred to me that I haven’t opened the door to myself wider, really. I just got braver about sharing some things and less brave about sharing others. My faith? It’s now well-protected. I don’t proclaim it as loudly and boldly as I did when I was younger. I don’t know if that’s a bad thing, but it isn’t all good either.
I’d like to hide behind the modern notion of relational evangelism, but for me, I think that it’s easy to use that as an excuse not to share something that I am no longer bold enough to share.
Maybe I have merely polished my self instead of growing as a person. Maybe I was just trying to scrub the religion out of my heart so that I would look better. Maybe I was trying to hide the parts of me that aren’t as good as the next guy’s. I am not the type of person that you would meet and suspect as being a private or quiet individual. I haven’t been since I was, say, nine or ten years old. But the truth is, I am picky about what I will put out there, and much of who I am when I am around others cleverly detracts attention from what I don’t want people to know about me.
So, my secrets have just traded places. Now, the old secrets are on display and the old display items have been locked away inside.
No, I don’t think that’s something to feel self-congratulatory about at all. Why am I always compelled to keep parts of my self hidden? Wouldn’t people like me better without the pretentious polish?
I have the gift of many friendships now, but there is still only a small clutch of people who have seen all of me and know my heart. I consider it a badge of honor when a friend trusts me enough to come to me crying an ugly cry and not wearing any makeup. Nothing makes me feel more worthy than being shown the deep secrets in the heart of a friend. Why is it so hard for me to honor my friends in kind?
It’s so scary to risk. And, in a reciprocal friendship, we risk so much. Friendships aren’t like family – they are not bound by blood or by law. Friends can move away. Friends can fight and don’t have to forgive before the next holiday gathering.
But, I think that the beauty is in the risk.


<3 Christy