Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The Blessing of Being Taken For Granted - Part II

It has been such a benefit for me to be able to sit down and take some time out of my life to transport my feelings into the written word. I know it may sound silly to some people, but I have been able to look back at my musing and smile and even cry. I have found it to be very cathartic for me.

We finally brought Mama home from the hospital Monday. It was a very trying day to say the least. We arrived at around 10am and got home shortly before 5pm. And since I had not had any sleep it was a very long day.

Brother Wood had given me a copy of my *forthcoming* CD and I brought it along for Mama to listen to. Needless to say she cried on the way home. That was the best review I could ever get.

We got home and I stayed with Mama while Dad ran some errands. We rearranged some things so that she could get around in the wheelchair that was on its way. But while we were waiting she decided that she would probably get around better on a *Hover-round* so we called and had my uncle bring my grandmothers that she doesn't use.

Mom was so cute riding around with her boys. She even maneuvered easily around Dad's dialysis equipment. She said "Your Daddy's gonna have to build me a ramp so I can ride around in the yard." This exasperated my Dad who said "Honey, your Mama's never even been in the yard when she could get around!"

When I started to leave late that afternoon I walked over to hug her and I kissed her on the forehead and she squeezed me with the one arm that wasn't holding her boys and said "I thank God for you every day."

My throat choked with tears.

I don't think there has ever been a time in my life where I have felt so overwhelmed by life. I wake up every morning thinking about my parents and they are always what I am thinking about when I finally fall asleep.

I can remember vividly what it felt like to be a little girl looking up at my big strong Daddy. I can still she his youthful face and the strong measure of his step. My Daddy always knew where he was going. He was decisive and opinionated. I can remember times he failed and I was struck with the reality that he was a man and he made mistakes.

And I can still remember snuggling up to my Mama at night. I remember what it was like to lie with my head in her lap so she could *pet* on me. She was always bustling around, keeping everything going. I miss those days of shopping that we used to have, and the way she looked when she was holding my own babies.

It has been harder than I could ever tell to see the toll of life, to look in the faces that were once so youthful and vibrant to see the worry and pain etched into their countenances. They have always taken care of their family, and it worries them to think they may need to be taken care of.

And it worries me to think I may not be able to care for them well enough. My heart feels so heavy with the passing of each day.

I have always taken for granted the fact that my parents would be around for a very long time. Now, I don't know if that is the case. So like a sponge I attempt to suck in everything I can so that on some lonely night in hopefully the far away future I can squeeze out the memories and let them refresh my heart.

Oh, my sweet Mama, it is I who thanks God for you. I thank God for the love of two people that will carry them throughout their lives and will sustain their family long after those lives are no more. Your heart made me who I am today. I love you both with each breath that I breathe. I am so blessed.

Please, Lord, never let me take for granted all that You have given me. Every day it seems You put me back on the Potter's wheel and reshape me. Keep pouring into me. I need You today.

Monday, September 24, 2007

ROCK === me === HARD PLACE

I am a Healthcare Professional. I see things from the bedside prospective. I understand the ins and outs, the hows and whys of hospitalization. I can rationalize decisions based on my knowledge and nursing judgment.

But, yesterday, I was a daughter.

I was a daughter who listened to her mother sob and cry because of someone who lacked *bedside manners.* I was a daughter who then had to pick up the pieces of her brokenness.

Nothing I knew helped me.

Nothing except the Word. Nothing except prayer. Nothing except calling on Him.

Have you ever felt like you were *caught between and rock and a hard place?* Yea, me too. Yesterday I felt so firmly wedged between the two that it would have taken a truckload of dynamite to dislodge me.

There are certain people in life that at some point you are forced to place a certain amount of trust in. Physicians fall into this category. But at some point late Saturday evening one of the physicians that has been caring for my mother destroyed the bond of trust by informing my mother that she was going to be alone, legless, with no one to take care of her.

Any rational part of my nursing training dissolved instantly as I listened to her retell his visit.

Of course he was not available to talk with me, but I found someone who would. And talk I did. I explained to her that he was to be notified that she did have family to take care of her even though he told her she would not.

And then I got on the bed with her and held her and prayed with her until peace came to her. And I removed my sleep deprived presence with her promise that she would allow Him to continue to minister to her, and I got into my car and fell to pieces.

How do you comfort someone so distraught? I did the only thing I knew to do. I called on the Comforter. Psalm 91 11-12 says: "For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone."

A man with a stony heart came after my mother's hope.

Verses 15-16 of the same chapter reads: "He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him. With long life will I satisfy him and shew him my salvation."

And where my humanness would have taken control of the situation to a bad end, I am thankful He stepped in and took control of the situation. I'm thankful He did.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Nobody's Home

I was driving in the country yesterday. I have to admit I have always loved the rural south. Even as a young girl coming here just for a visit, I was always fascinated by the country side. I can remember one of my desires was to just drive the state and document the old abandoned homes with photographs and try to research who lived there and what their story was.

I passed empty home after empty home yesterday. What once were lively and active homesteads are nothing now but shells covered in brush and foliage, sometimes so hidden you can hardly even tell they are there.

I worked with a lady that told me the story of one such house down a dirt road near her mother's house. She said they had always wondered about the home because it was apparent it was empty, but the yard had stayed cared for. One day a couple of years back curiosity got the best of them as they were walking off Thanksgiving dinner and they went up to the house to investigate. What they found astonished them. The house was fully furnished. One of them found a window undone, so they went inside. She said it was just like the person had disappeared. His clothes were lying across the bed as if ready for someone to step into. The house was neat and tidy, and the wall still had a calendar turned to a month in 1959 hanging on the wall.

So as I was driving yesterday I tried to imagine that moment when they shut the door on their home for the last time. I thought about the years that had passed since the halls of these rundown structures had echoed footsteps, or carried laughter or tears. I thought about the babies that were rocked, the children that played and grew, and the emptiness of life when they moved on. I thought about the place my grandparents lived in when I was very small and the fact that it is now barely standing, hardly recognizable, but once was a place where I felt loved.

Then I thought about all the places in the house of God that are empty that once held someone on fire, filled with the Holy Ghost, excited and ready to reach the lost. I thought about seeing them less and less until you just don't see them at all.

I don't know if these families just woke up one morning and decided to abandon their homes and leave. I am quite sure they had a plan, or that an event such as death caused them to stand empty.

And I don't think anyone wakes up one morning and says "today is the day I give up on God." I see it happen over time. I see the coldness coming in, the lack of worship and decrease in faithfulness. And pretty soon their souls seem abandoned, lacking life, full of weeds and devoid of light and laughter. Then if you run into them in town you sometimes cannot even recognize them as the same person you once knew, just as I can hardly recognize my grandparents old homestead. The frame is still there, but the lack of maintenance and repair make it seem as if a good wind would do it in.

Lord, make my heart Your home. Come in and sweep it clean from the debris of life and live inside of me. I need You today, more than ever. I need to feel Your presence. I love You with my life.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

The Blessing of Being Taken For Granted

My Pastor preached an awesome message concerning Luke 15:11-32. Once again it was timely and needed in my life.

And he was so right. It seems when the story of the prodigal son is brought forth it is most certainly concerning that wayward son or his long suffering father. But he brought forth the one we don't really mention.

There was another son in this story who got up every morning and worked the fields, a son who obviously had been out in the fields still working when he came home to find a celebration under way for his long-lost sibling who had returned home.

This brother was always there, reliable, steady, uncelebrated. I probably would have reacted much the same way "You have never done this for me, and I've worked so hard and always been here for you."

I can imagine how he felt, after having plowed the fields, worked the land, cared for the livestock and all that they had. I can imagine how he felt taken for granted to have his brother who squandered his father's fortune return to a hero's welcome.

The father seemed perplexed by his reaction. "Son, thou art ever with me," he said. Then he said something so wonderfully interesting, he said "And all that I have is thine."

Sometimes in life it seems we give and give and give of ourselves until we feel like we give out. It begins to feel like no one notices and no one cares, like we are unappreciated. This is especially vivid when someone else steps into the picture. I must admit I had similar feelings this past summer when my sister came to visit. My parents still go on and on about everything she did for them and how wonderfully she took care of them (and she truly did).

But there's part of me that wants to say "What about me? What about how I take care of you and sacrifice for you? Do you even notice?"

Then I am reminded that I am here, for the good and the bad. I remember how hard it must be for my brother and my sister to be so far away and so helpless as my parents' health continues to decline. I remember what a blessing it is for me to be able to get in my car and drive the mile to their house and just look in on them.

There is a blessing in being taken for granted, in them knowing that I am here and that I will do whatever I can to help them. I don't expect a parade in my honor or for them to "kill the fatted calf." I have been able to share many meals with them over the years and I know I have been so blessed.

Lord, thank you for my Pastor, for his sensitivity, for his anointing. I can never express what it means to my life to have someone so in tune with You to lead and guide me. Thank You for sending a word just for me, for my heart. I have had some hard days, Lord, but You have never let me down. I need You every moment, every second of my life. You are the greatest part of who I am. I give You my heart, today, for always, for You know, I was once the prodigal, and You welcomed me home.

Monday, September 17, 2007

The Dog Ate My Homework....

When I was in high school we had, for a short period, a poodle named Dusty Joe. I loathed that dog. I know, such strong emotion for a dog, but, alas, it fits my feelings toward Dusty Joe. Dusty Joe was a one dog wrecking company. The interesting thing about him was he only shredded the new magazines, he only ate new shoes, and he only devoured school books.

I had to sit in class and tell my teacher "the dog ate my book." Do you think she believed me? She basically said "I know you didn't just give me that lame excuse."

If we want, we can come up with excuses for every thing under the sun.

My car wouldn't start.
My child is sick.
My Aunt Bertha Mae is in the hospital and I need to visit her.
I don't have any money.
My alarm didn't go off.
The electricity was out.
I got stopped by a train.
There was a wreck.
I don't have a job.
I don't have a phone.
My phone didn't have a signal.
I didn't get your message.
I was depressed so I ate a dozen cookies.
I was mad so I said hurtful things.
Someone hurt my feelings.
Someone made this happen to me.

I guess I could continue with the list until the end of time. We all know that most of the times an excuse is just that, an excuse. It's a way for us to release ourselves of the guilt and the responsibility of our own actions.

For several years my husband did not attend church. He went from leading services, teaching Sunday School to telling us we could not even go to church at all. All of this because he took his eyes off of God and placed them on man. And when man failed him, he used that as his excuse to walk away from God.

I have known this since it happened. I never realized he knew himself. But last night as someone was trying to say something negative against a man of God, it was my husband who spoke up.

He said "That's nothing but an excuse, and believe me I have used them all. I used every excuse I could to justify why I wasn't going to church. But I know now that I can never take my eyes off of God."

Something happens to us when we examine ourselves. Something happens when we listen to our own words and realize that we have to be responsible for our lives.

Psalm 139:23-24 says "Search ME, O God, and know my heart: try ME, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in ME, and lead ME in the way everlasting."

Yes, the dog ate my English book. But I left it where he could get to it.

Yes, my husband was hurt. But that shouldn't have kept him from the God that has never let him down.

Wonderful, merciful Saviour, today is another day. And I am still human. Help me to see my shortcomings and help me to learn from them. I want to be responsible to myself, my family, my church family and most of all, to You. I owe You my life, my heart, my all. I want to be a vessel of honor. Examine me today, Jesus. Rid my life of those the things that keep me from serving You. Take the obstacles out of my line of vision and let me focus on the things of You. Thank You for keeping me.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Be Still and Know

I am having a hard time slowing down my mind. Possibilities both good and bad seem to forever be swishing around in my brain. Someone told me that I shouldn't worry about what is going to happen, I should just wait and see.

That sounds good in theory, but when life waits with you it makes it so much easier for you to wait, too. If I have learned one thing about life it is that it waits for no one, and that includes me. My life changes at a breakneck speed, on most occasions, and catches me staggering around with my swishing thoughts trying to figure out what happened.

Adding to this mayhem is the fact that I have had to make decisions and handle situations that overwhelm me to say the least. So as I have been running around helter skelter trying, most of the time, in vain to pretend I have some semblance of a normal life what ends up happening is I am spinning my wheels in the quagmire of life, getting nowhere, but managing to stick myself in some pretty deep ruts.

It is from one of these said *ruts* I write. And at this point I would like nothing better than to stick my head in the mud surrounding me and pretend that all is right with my world.

There is an old song that says "If He could carry the weight of the world upon His shoulders, I know my brother that He can carry you." And that rational part of me knows all too well that He is capable carrying me and more since I have never seen him let me down.

So today, for a little while, I'm putting out all my irons in all my fires, and I'm going to be still in His presence. I am so weary, and I don't need to hear any advise or well meaning platitudes today, I don't need to hear how I need to slow down, since I know that already.

I just need to hear His voice, reminding me He has it all in His control and I can let go and let Him take over, let Him comfort me.

Today I'm going to be still, so look out world, for now, just keep on spinning. I'm sitting this ride out.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

I Want My Daddy!

MANY years ago my then 2 year old daughter and I flew to see my Dad and Mom. She was naturally too young to understand much of what was going on and because of her age she had to sit in my lap during the flight.

We took a small plane out to Memphis where we boarded a larger plane. On the way to Memphis we encountered some bad weather. There was a good deal of turbulence which unnerved me to say the least, but it was my little dumplin' that really became afraid.

"I want my Daddy," was her mantra, and she repeated it loudly over and over and over. Nothing I did would calm her down. All she knew was that her big strong Daddy always took care of bad stuff, and in her 2 year old mind, the rocking and rolling of the plane was pretty bad.

The other passengers looked at me with each piercing cry from her sweet little lips which didn't help the situation at all, it only caused us both to be in tears!

I have encountered some turbulence lately. And yesterday the rocking and rolling of my life was pretty bad. So I found myself curled up in my bed calling out to my "Daddy" to come take care of the bad stuff.

Do you know that He said He would never leave us "comfortless" but He would come to us? The word comfortless in this instance could also be "orphans." So if He is not going to leave me comfortless, and He is the Comforter, wouldn't it stand to reason He is my Father also? *Keep in mind, this IS Jesus talking.*

In John 14:18 it says this: "I will not leave you comfortless (orphans): I will come to you." And then in verse 26 He states "But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you."

That means if He is coming to us then He is the Comforter, too. He is the whole package. Just like my fleshly Dad is so many things to so many people (father, husband, brother, son, uncle, etc), but he is just one person, named Jim.

As I cried out today for my Father to come to me, I called His Name Jesus. And the Comforter came.

I have been adopted by a Father that will never leave me or forsake me. He cares for me, hears me, comforts me, and loves me. And Oh, How I Love Him!

Saturday, September 8, 2007


Just a brief update on the happenings in my little life.

Shain and I were excited yesterday to fill in a crucial piece to the wedding photography puzzle. We found someone to develop the quality of prints we want. Stay tuned for our first unofficial *shoot* later this month. I will post some pics and pray for some positive feedback. We are in line, so far, to purchase our new camera equipment after the first of the year and then, look out South Georgia...*This Day Photography* will be officially up and running. We still have a few kinks to work out, but this should give us plenty of time. We will start off specializing in engagements and weddings, but we have some other ideas for down the road....

Also, Sister Weeks and I are moving fast on our fundraiser for the church here. I am very excited about it and will be posting more information as I get it. With the help of Brother Wood, our sound man extraordinaire, our projects should be near completion by the end of the month. We are working on impromptu CD projects from some of the songs we do in church. Nothing done in studio, just some lagniappe to help us purchase some much needed things for the church. Interested? Let me know!

Continue to pray for us as we seek the best way to handle the next few weeks. We have some serious juggling to do between Dad and Mom. Bobby will be on the road next week, so that leaves the kids and I to keep it all together (YIKES!!) Pray the Lord will help us find the right way to get everything taken care of so that they can get the care they both need.

Isn't He Wonderful!!!

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Because I Too Have Suffered

My Mama is in the hospital. This has been the theme for our lives over the last couple of years. But this time, something is different.

We have seen doctor upon doctor here in our little town. And they have given her the care that they could within the scope of their practice. But it hasn't been good enough. Finally we got the referral I have been praying for.

My mother has been in pain, and in peril as we have watched her undergo surgery after surgery within the last 9 to 10 months. Each doctor has been unable to answer our questions, unable to stop what has been happening to her.

Yesterday we met another doctor. This was a totally different experience. He came in, assessed my mother, and said "This is what we're going to do." And then he matter-of-fact laid out a course of action stating "We aren't going to cut any corners."

All I could say was Thank God, Thank God.

This doctor is unique in that he works in an area that most don't want to deal with, and that is wounds. And he doesn't *play around,* he means business.

My Mama has been in so much pain, and when she expressed her fear of more pain to him he patted her and promised "I'm not gonna let you hurt."

I suppose if anyone has physically hurt in their life, it has been this man. You see, at some point he has suffered from severe, disfiguring burns. And as he sits by his patients and says "If the worst happens, it's not because we didn't do everything we could do, it's because it's God's will," I can look in his eyes and know he means every word.

He knows what it is to hurt, to suffer, because he has suffered too. He can go beyond sympathy to true empathy for his patients.

I know Someone else who has done the same for me. Someone who was "wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities," Someone who left a throne on high to "robe Himself in flesh" so he could say "I know."

I believe this doctor is going to do whatever it takes to get my Mama through this. I believe it because as some point another doctor obviously did the same for him.

And I believe that my God will bring the healing for my Mama. For it is through His suffering, "with his stripes we are healed."

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Welcome to the 21st Century!!

My family and I took a much needed break from reality this past weekend. We slipped away in our motor home that has seen very little activity of late and went to the beach. It was so beautiful there. The beaches were white and the water was so clear.

As usual our *apostolicness* turned some heads, but I personally think it does people good to see there are people who live a holy life and still have some fun. And have fun we did!

My husband has a cell phone. I know, you're thinking "big deal," but he almost has one against his will. When we got new phones last year the kids wanted nice phones which they paid for themselves, but my hunny and I got the $0.99 special. I found one on eBay like I wanted a few months back and after consulting with my big brother *the cell phone guru and eBay expert* I called my hunny and he said I could have it. So I have a smart phone. My husband never lets an opportunity pass to let me know how unnecessary he thinks my phone is.

So here we were, riding to the beach. I had fallen asleep on the couch since I had worked the night before and was apparently sleeping quite well when a loud POP sat me straight up.

We had a blow out in the middle of no where. Thank God it was the left rear inside tire, so we were able to limp into the next town. He called trying to reach the retailer that he knows in that town, but no such luck. While he was trying to figure out what to do, I took my *unnecessary* phone and looked it up on the internet, dialed the number to a tire place and handed him my phone.

Granted that tire place didn't have what we needed (and it was really scary), but they pointed us in the direction of another that was able to get us back on the road in no time.

The rest of the weekend he spent saying look up *whatever* and see what it says. Now I know it really is not necessary to have my phone, although I certainly have enjoyed it's convenience, but it did come in handy this weekend!

My old Pastor used to say "You don't run out and check you're spare tire every time you leave home, only when you need it." Unfortunately that is what religion is to so many people. God rides around in their trunk of life, only to be dug out when there is an emergency.

And I see so many people that live life based on the experience of their parents or grandparents. *If it was good enough for them, then it's good enough for me.* It's time I stepped out and introduced them to God's message for Yesterday, Today and Forever, showing them that God is not a spare tire, but He is a right now God, He is a Friend, and He should be a part of all of our life.

I am glad that I saw the benefit of looking further into His Word, and was ready to accept something that was so different from everything I was used to. And I am so excited as He expands my walk with Him to encompass every area of my life and give me insight. I cannot wait to see what lies ahead for my family...

Always you are welcome Lord, transform my life into something You can use today, and tomorrow, for I am Yours for all time!!!!