Monday, June 30, 2008

Living in Stinky Town

Not too terribly long after I was married we moved to another town because of a job change.

Let me tell you, this little girl did NOT want to move away, but move away I did.

My husband and I rode together in the U-Haul and my sister and mother followed to help us unpack.

I was scared to death. I never even liked to stay away from my parents over night, more or less live in another town. I mean, I know I was married, and I no longer lived with them, but I lived in their back yard, for crying out loud.

I did such a brave job of keeping it all together until we started up the bridge that would take us into our new hometown.

It was there, in the middle of that bridge between little girlhood and womanhood that it hit me...

The smell of the paper mill....

Much to the surprise of my husband I burst into tears and said "I don't WANT to live in this Stinky Town!!!"

But live there I did.

And do you know what happened?

After a while I could no longer smell the stench anymore. It didn't even phase me.

OK, there were some days when they must have been cooking that paper extra hard when I would get a sniff of something foul in the air, but for the most part, I didn't notice anymore.

I hadn't really thought about it at all until the other day when I was passing through another town with a paper mill and the smell slapped me in the face.

It was then I remember my first day in "Stinky Town."

God has a way of taking a stinky situation and making it sweet. It was in that stinky place that I received one of my two greatest blessing, for that is the place my sweet little girl was first laid in my arms. And the memories of her had completely wiped out the stench, until I smelled it again the other day.

So to all of you out there living in Stinky Town, take heart. The smell will fade away, and the flowers of your life will bloom, filling your senses with the fragrance of joy.

Isn't He wonderful?!?!?

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Grace Sufficient

One day I'm going to write a book.

I don't think it will be a best seller because I won't be writing things that the world at large particularly wants to hear, but write I shall.

I will write about His hand of protection, of His love, of His mercy.

I will write about His grace.

I think that some have a misconception about grace. Grace is not some super power that takes away all of your problems and sets you up with a condo on easy street.

Over and over in my life I have been drawn to the words of Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 "And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee; for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong."

Sound familiar? It should. I have repeated it many times.

I have seen some people in life that I have thought, "WOW, they just seem to be going through it!"

One day while reflecting on the events in my life I thought, *WOW, we just seem to be going through it!!!*

This past week was no exception to the *norm* of our lives around here. In one day my precious baby girl had to have surgery, my Dad was admitted to the hospital, and my grandmother (on my mother's side) passed away.

I was up visiting my Dad to let him know Denise had come through surgery fine and what the doctor had said he found (which is a testimony in itself) when I ran into someone I used to work with.

As I was relating the events of the day, he said, "You know, Sheri, no matter how bad things seem for me, I could always count on you to make me feel better about what was going on in MY life when I heard about yours!!"

It is hard for others to understand. I have been to the Lord and He has assured me His grace IS sufficient to see me through WHATEVER comes my way.

My life is not a game show where if I make it through some quest, or answer a series of questions correctly I get a new car, and a motorboat, and a trip to Hawaii.

Let me define sufficient for you according to Websters:

Sufficient: enough to meet the needs of a situation or a proposed end.

Now, look at His words in verse 12:9 when I use synonyms in the place of sufficient.

"My grace is QUALIFIED for thee:"

"My grace is COMPETENT for thee:"

"My grace is ENOUGH for thee:"

"My grace is ADEQUATE for thee:"

Indeed, it is all of those things, and so much more.

Someday, I'm going to write a book, a book for my children, for my grandchildren, about His grace, about the love of a Savior for someone like me, and how that love has been enough, has been adequate, has been qualified, has been competent enough to get me through EVERY situation I have faced.

And how, because of this marvelous grace, I have been able to *take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.*

Lord I suppose it would be easy for me to sit down and feel sorry for myself, and I have. But you always remind me of who You are, and what You are to me. You are my Savior, my Father, my Counselor, my dearest Friend. I glory in You, Lord. I love you!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

~~Hottest Dads~~

I pulled up my Internet Explorer yesterday, and there was a slide show with photos of America's *Hottest Dads.*

That caused me to ponder, I mean, it is obvious what the world considers makes for a good father.

Let's see if I can give you a basic rundown. They were good-looking (per the Hollywood standard), they were quoted as saying they loved their children, they had pictures of them holding them or holding their hands, they were *involved* in their children's lives, and they had washboard abs.

Only one out of the 32 featured said anything about *family values* and that says plenty to me.


I came up with my own list of

~~Hottest Dads~~

I will have to start with Abraham. My Pastor preached an awesome message this morning about "Father Abraham" and so I feel like that is a good place to start, after all, his name does mean "Father of great multitude."

Abraham not only loved Isaac, but he was there for him. He had the answer for Isaac when he questioned him about the whereabouts of the lamb for the sacrifice (Genesis 22: 1-8), and he had the right direction for himself and for the next generations to follow.

One of the things that strikes me the very most about Abraham is that when you are reading about the generations that follow after him, and they trace back, they always stop with Abraham.

As Pastor Weeks said this morning, we can find the answer why in Joshua 24:2. "And Joshua said unto all the people, Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, Your fathers dwelt on the other side of the flood in the old time, even Terah, the father of Abraham, and the father of Nachor: and they served other gods."

So, even though Abraham did not have the example that Isaac did, he was able to give that kind of example to Isaac. What a testimony!!

Next on my list would have to be my Pastor, Ben Weeks. Not only do I see him in his role as father to Abby, but I am amazed by his ability to be our spiritual father. He is wise beyond his years, and carries a load that I cannot even fathom. I have seen him weep, and I have seen him correct. But most of all, I have seen the love he has for each and every one of us, and I am honored to call him my Pastor, thankful he is my Watchman.

My brother is such a tremendous man. Not only a tremendous man of God, but he is a Pastor, a husband, and a father. It fills my heart to hear him talk of his *girls* and to see the love light his face. But what impresses me even more is to see that same love light his face when he talks about his church family. I cannot tell you what it has meant to see God work in him and through him, and to know that the best is yet to come. I cannot wait to see *Papa Tim.*

My husband is full of wisdom in so many ways. He says he knows he has made mistakes as a parent (don't we all), but it is his desire to be a better father than his father, and that his son would be a better father than he has been. He has fostered independence in our children, trying to prepare them *and me* for that day that will come when they will have their own lives. And I listen to them as they unconsciously repeat those very principles that he has pounded into them over the years.

My brother-in-law has so much love for my nephew that it seems he will nearly burst with it. He has become a father to be proud of. He has given himself to my nephew, allowing him to know him. And he has shown him, by example, how to give of himself to God, to the work of God, how to be submissive to their Pastor and honor him. He has such a giving heart and he has given that to his son.

Then, of course there is my own Dad. So much of who I am came from him. And I hear him more every day. He has given me the confidence and poise to face life head-on. I have gained so much more respect and understanding for him through all of our recent challenges. He has so much pride and resolve. I know a good deal of that comes from his own father.

My *Little Papa* was an humble man. He was one of the smartest, well liked people I have ever known. Even though he has been gone for almost 10 years people still talk about him, and I still miss him.

My Grand-Daddy was so wonderfully affectionate. He had a heart of gold. I still love the memories I made when I stayed with him. He treated me like I was so special when I was with him. I will always miss him.

Now, of all the attributes I mentioned, I don't think washboard abs was there. It is sad that the world doesn't get what really makes a man worthy of honor, and that is to live a life of honor. No Oscars or Golden Globes for those I have listed.

Matthew 7:20 says, "Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them."

Let me list some of the fruits of the great men....


Each one of these lives touched other lives, produced more fruit.

Each man listed is a legacy.

You don't get much ~~Hotter~~ than that!!!

Thanks to all of you Dad's, all of you men living a godly life in front of your children, upholding the standard, honoring your Pastor's. You are the ones that are worthy of the recognition.

50 years from now these celebrity dads with be all but forgotten, but your commitment will live on for generations to come!!!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Broken and Blessed

Boy, lately I have been facing some *stuff* and I don't like it.

Day after day our lives touch the lives of others. We pass the masses in our vehicles, in our stores, in our churches, and we focus on that happy face plastered to the outside of broken vessels.

I write to you today, a broken vessel.

I may be covered with a colorful glaze of prefab joy, but that doesn't strengthen the cracks in my vessel.

I have borne many heartaches over the past few years. But yesterday I could no longer contain the weight, and my vessel broke with pieces of my heart scattering everywhere.

And it took every ounce of grace that I could draw on to leave the situation before I fell apart.

It was one of those times when I ran and threw myself at my Father's feet, placing my brokenness in His hands to reshape me once again.

Everything that I am, I owe to my Father. And as I sat with tears falling, I had no regrets for what He has made me. My only regret is that someone I love so deeply could not know me at all. But then I realized, that person never has. And it is that very lack of knowledge that became the glaze that covered the broken places.

I look at those around me, the walking damaged, and I know, because beneath my smiling face I too have been broken.

Oh, but I have been broken and blessed. Because it was at His hands I have been broken, and at His hands I have become a new vessel. And I know, as I always have that He is working everything together for my good, because I love Him so.

If You can work through my pain, if it means that I can reach someone for You, if it means You can use me more, then brake this vessel, Lord. For above ALL else....I MUST BE SAVED.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Getting Focused On What's Important

As you know, I have been having a love affair with photography.

There is just something about getting that incredible shot that give me such a rush. It must be what it feels like to shoot a 10 point buck, or something!

I cannot wait to get home and upload my pictures so that I can look at them through a larger venue.

What a disappointment when I pull up that picture that looked so perfect on my LCD screen only to find it is blurry.

Sometimes it happens because I have inadvertently been focusing on something besides my subject, usually without realizing it. And although my subject will be *almost* in focus there may be something else in the background, or some part of my subject besides my focal point, that is crystal clear.

The thing about photography is, that moment has one chance of being captured. If you find it is not in focus, chances are, you have missed a great shot with no opportunity to take it again and have just the right circumstances available to make the shot great again.

Doesn't life seem like that sometimes?

I have found myself out of focus lately. Without even realizing it was happening I have taken my view off of what should be my main subject and let my surrounding distract me. I have been focusing on murmurings coming from areas around my main subject instead of that which I should.

My brother was listening to me rant the other day. His calm voice of reason made everything clear.

It is so like the devil to try to take my eyes off of those things that are truly important and have me focus on something that really doesn't matter. Sometimes before I even know what has happened my view is muddied up by nonsense.

But sometimes he gets way to much credit, and I have to admit that I have allowed things to distract me.

And I have found I don't have time for the pettiness that I have seen. I need to remember what Andrew Carnegie said.

"As I grow older I pay less attention to what men say, I just watch what they do."

Lord, I am here, once again, needing You. I don't understand the world, but I suppose I am not supposed to. Help me to remember Your words in John 16:33, "These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world." Help me to focus on the task You have placed before me, and not be distracted by the *well-meaning, ill-informed.* I know that I have to keep my eyes off those that would cloud my view. Give me Your strength, increase my focus, give me Your wisdom, and Your guidance. For I know this world would distort my view, but You are my clarity. You have kept me over and over and over again!!! I love You!!

Monday, June 2, 2008


My husband has this very special cousin.

She and two of her children came to visit us a few years back when she was going through a difficult transition in her life. We enjoyed being able to give them a place of refuge for those few days.

You know, sometimes when you are going through hard times, it is hard to be what you would like to be for others.

My own situations have kept me from being the strength that I would have liked to be for Barbara.

There is this song by Mercy Me that I have listened to many, many times, each time with tears streaming down my face. I have seen the toll of illness on my parents, and, to be perfectly honest, there have been times when I have prayed for God's mercy in their situations. The suffering can be agonizing when you see it wearing down someone who owns part of your heart.

I cry, not because of the reason you think, but because when they are finally through with this journey I will want to be *home* even more. You see, this earth is not my stopping place, I hope that will be at the feet of my Savior.

And I think of my parents, healthy and whole, and the burdens of this life behind them, and my heart is so full of joy and longing.

Probably my favorite hymn says "There'll be no sorrow there, no more burdens to bear, no more sickness, no pain, no more parting over there. And FOREVER I will be with the One who died for me...What a Day, Glorious Day that will be."

This past Friday Barbara lost her precious son, Tyler, after a courageous battle with cancer. My heart hurts for her, because I know Barbara has a mother's heart.

She has been so wonderfully brave, and I have seen such growth in her through all of this.

It could be a bitter time to loose a child, and I can only imagine how it would feel (just doing that makes me cry). But Barbara has managed to see the sweetness, too. She has spent the past year at Tyler's side, making memories that cannot be stolen, cannot be replaced.

And I know she will continue to seek after God's will for her life.

Lord, be with Barbara. Be her comforter, her counselor, for You alone can provide what she needs right now. Even so, Come Lord Jesus!