Saturday, May 31, 2008
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
The other afternoon we were having threats of thunderstorms in our area again. A few light showers had come through but nothing bad. My husband walked in the room where I was and asked if I had looked out the window and if I knew what the latest weather report was. I answered "No" to both questions and then looked out the window past the old barn. I saw some very ominous looking black clouds on the horizon. They had blotted out the sun entirely and looked very vicious. I felt that familiar burning knot come into my stomach! But at almost the same time I felt a peace that I know came from God. In just a little while the clouds began to roll over our house but as they got closer, they got thinner and lighter. Finally I could see a break in the clouds just over the tree line. We had a few sprinkles and a few mild gusts of wind but that was all.
I thought about my fear of the dark clouds. How tense they made me feel. And how, after all, they only held a few drops of rain and not the storms I had feared. Isn't that so typical of most people? We usually just look at what COULD happen instead of what IS happening at the present time. I have wasted so many hours of the day worrying about things that have never come to pass!
I want to stop letting fear control certain parts of my life. The Lord is helping me and some of you are praying for me in that area. I want to be able to let the following verses become a reality in my life everyday.
1 John 4: 18a, "There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear..." and
Isaiah 26: 3 "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee."
God bless you today my friends....
Sunday, May 25, 2008
"O say does that star spangled banner yet wave... O'er the land of the free, and the home of the brave?" (Frances Scott Key)
"Memorial Day." The day we remember those of our military who have made the ultimate sacrifice. There are many thousands of brave soldiers who have fallen through the years since time as we know it began. Most of them are only names to us. But today, on this day of remembrance, I want to tell you about one Marine who is more than just a name to our family. Although I never met him, I feel as though I knew him. His name was Aaron C. Austin and he was my son John's best friend in the Marine Corps. They started Boot Camp at Camp Pendleton, CA, together just six weeks after the terrorist attacks in New York City on September 11, 2001. When John came home for the first time after his three months of boot camp he told me about this guy in his company who "drove him crazy"! It was "Austin".....John called all his buddies by their last names. But before I knew it, Austin was his best bud. They were in the same company from then on. Machine gunners. The toughest of the tough.
The two of them boarded a ship early in January of 2003 sailing for Kuwait. By March they would be manning machine guns on the first tanks that would roll across the border into Iraq when the war started. By God's grace they both made it through their first tour in Iraq without a scratch. But things would be different when they flew back for their second tour in the spring of 2004. Unknown to them at the time they were destined to be torn apart forever in a hellhole called Fallujah. They both would be coming back to the States , but this time not together. Aaron's battered body would be flown home encased in a flag-draped coffin. Later that fall John would be medivaced home via the military hospital in Germany where he had to have emergency brain surgery due to shrapnel in his head from an IED. Oh what a merciful thing it is that we don't know what the future holds! It's sad enough when tragic things come upon us unawares but how awful it would be knowing ahead of time!
And so it is to Lance Corporal Aaron C. Austin that I dedicate today's post. Our family salutes you! We salute your mother De'on and your father Doug! And we salute one of your best friends.....and our son......,John, because we know he was willing to give his life, too, had it been required.
Aaron was awarded the Silver Star for his heroic actions. I include the words from his citation here so that everyone who reads this will know why I picked Aaron to memorialize today.
"For heroic actions while serving as Machine Gun Team Leader, Second Machine Gun Squad, Weapons Platoon, Echo Company, 2nd Battalion, 1st Marines, in Fallujah, Iraq. On 26 April 2004, Lance Corporal Austin's platoon-sized security element patrolled into the city in support of Operation Vigilant Resolve and secured two buildings from which to observe enemy movement. At 1100, a numerically superior enemy force attacked Lance Corporal Austin's platoon from three different directions. In the first fifteen minutes of the attack, the enemy fired dozens of rocket propelled grenades, fired hundreds of machinegun rounds at the rapid rate, and then assaulted to within 20 meters of Lance Corporal Austin's position,all the while throwing grenades and spraying AK-47 fire. Many of Lance Corporal Austin's fellow Marines on the rooftop position were severely wounded by enemy grenades and machine gunfire. At great risk to himself, he unhesitatingly helped move them to safety. After ensuring his wounded platoon members received medical treatment, he rallied his platoon and rushed to the critical rooftop defensive position. Braving withering enemy machine gun and rocket propelled grenade fire, Lance Corporal Austin reached the rooftop and prepared to throw a hand grenade. As he moved into a position from which to throw his grenade, enemy machine gun fire struck Lance Corporal Austin multiple times in the chest. Undaunted by his injuries and with heroic effort, Lance Corporal Austin threw his grenade, which exploded amidst enemy personnel and halted their furious attack. Lance Corporal Austin's valiant actions inspired his fellow Marines, allowing them to repel the enemy's attack from his platoon's northern position. Lance Corporal Austin's selfless actions, outstanding courage, and unlimited devotion to duty reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service."
So take a look at the Silver Star Medal in the picture today. It's wasn't given to a nameless, faceless person. It was given (posthumously) to Lance Corporal Aaron Cole Austin. One of many brave souls who have given their all.
May we live so as to not make their sacrifice to be in vain!
"Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." John 15: 13
May God bless and help us all.....
Thursday, May 22, 2008
Surprise! Surprise! NOW do you see a bird in the picture? :) Today one of my co-workers at Sav-A-Life came out of her office carrying a small neon orange gift bag with bright yellow tissue paper sticking out the top. She was walking straight towards me with her arm outstretched and the gift in her hand. I was more than surprised when she handed me the bag....I mean, my birthday's not for another two weeks and I couldn't think of any other reason she would be bringing me a present! "For me?", I said. With that smiling, pixie look that only T. has she said, "Yes, it's a gift for you!" Well, who can resist a gift no matter what the occassion? When I took the bag I first noticed the weight of it....so much heavier than I had expected it to be. I reached down into the depths of the billowing yellow tissue paper and felt something hard and cold. When my hand came out of the bag I was holding the beautiful stone bird you see in the picture today! I know I was probably standing there with my mouth open! I immediately knew that the bird in my hand had some connection to my blog about the illusional "sand rock bird" on my deck railing at home. Then T. said, "I got this so that you would never be deceived again when you look out your kitchen window!" Wow! What a great statement! We DO need the real thing, or standard, sitting along side the illusion just so that we can always realize what is real and what is not.
God is the standard that we should judge our lives by. Sometimes even we Christians judge our lives by the lives of others.......some who may be weaker than we are. In doing so, it sure makes us look good when we think we're not as bad as someone else. So to the casual onlooker....we are the dedicated, sold-out Christian. But deep down we know we have to judge our lives by the life of Jesus Christ and not other humans. And when we put ourselves beside Christ for judgement, we all fall flat on our faces and can see where we come short. And it's there , on our face, that we can begin to do what we were born to do.....worship and honor and glorify the Lord because only He is worthy. Is your Christianity real? Or are you an illusion of Christianity?
Thank you T. if you are reading this! I love the bird and I love the analogy! And I can't wait until I see the expression on his face the first time B.looks out the kitchen window! I am not going to warn him there's a new feathered friend carved from stone sitting on the railing! (Smile!)
"In God is my salvation and my glory: the rock of my strength, and my refuge, is in God." Psalm 62: 7
May God bless you today!
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
Late this afternoon B. came in and asked where my camera was. I told him and he went and found it and headed out the door. When he came back in later I asked what he had taken a picture of. He just smiled and handed me the camera. I looked and it was a picture of a single rose.....one of our favorite bushes that we thought was beyond help and would probably never bloom again. Even in the picture I could see that all the branches seemed dead except one tall green stem which had this solitary gorgeous pinkish/coral rose attached to the end. So unexpected and so beautiful. Evidently all this rain we've had this year has brought it back to life.
That's so like the Lord. When we think all hope is gone for someone or something, the Lord sends the unexpected and breathes new life in the person or thing that we have given up on. So to me that means....don't give up. Don't stop working on that project or trying to break that bad habit or witnessing to that lost friend! Just when you think that it's no use to keep going the Lord may cause a near dead rose to bloom and bring you a promise of answered prayers!
"Praise ye the LORD. Praise the LORD, O my soul. While I live will I praise the LORD: I will sing praises unto my God while I have any being." Psalm 146: 1-2
May God bless you today.......
Friday, May 16, 2008
This picture is the view I have when I look out the window above my kitchen sink. See the sand rock sitting on the edge of the rail just next to the hand railing? Does it look a little bit like a bird to you? Please say yes! Maybe not in the picture but I can't number the times that I have just quickly looked up or caught a glimpse of this rock out of the corner of my eye and thought....."A bird!".....and almost immediately thought...."NO....it's a rock!" I'm not sure why I keep forgetting. I think it's just that quick glimpse that does me in! I thought that maybe I was really losing it by thinking of a bird every time I looked out the window but then B. came in one day and said, "Have you seen your bird sitting on the railing?" O.K. Now I know where it came from! B. put it there! It reminded him of a bird to him, too, so I guess I'm not delusional after all. ha
The rock is sort of an illusion....."something that deceives by producing a false or misleading impression". It reminds me so much of a bird when I glance at it but in reality it's just a sand rock picked up from around our farm somewhere. But sometimes don't we look at things in life like that? Things sometimes look like what they're not. The devil is a master illusionist. He can make something evil, addictive, and life-threatening look like something beautiful and wonderful that we think we can't live without. We need to take time to look closely and make sure what we think we see is really what is there. See if it consists of the truth of God's Word and not the falsehood of the devil's lies. It might save us a lot of future heartache or embarrassment. I'm not sure today's post has made any sense to anyone except me.....my little sand rock may look only like a rock to you and nothing like a bird.....but it's something that God has used to etch a picture of truth in my heart today.
Psalm 119: 128 "Therefore I esteem all thy precepts concerning all things to be right; and I hate every false way."
May God bless you today.....
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
Yesterday was a typical Monday. Dirty dishes in the sink from Sunday. Dirty clothes in the laundry from the weekend. Tired and aching bones from the busy weekend and the storms. But a beautiful day outside weather-wise. A great day to get caught up on my over-due chores. Only.....do you remember those new glasses I wrote about a few weeks ago? One pair of them was great! And one pair of them was NOT great! I could not use them when playing the piano at all. So I had called Eyemasters and they said, "Bring them back!" After looking at the beautiful sunny day yesterday morning and not wanting to put off driving over sixty miles to Eyemasters on a possibly rainy day in the future, I made a spur-of-the-moment decision to go get my glasses redone at once. I called a friend and asked if she would like to ride to the "big city" with me and she quickly agreed. Then I got a load of clothes in the wash, got the dishwasher loaded, cooked a quick dinner for my husband, got myself ready and then even put hubby's supper for work in the plastic containers I use to put in his lunch box. I had them waiting in the fridge for him since I would not be back before he left for work. He usually works second shift and I always pack him a huge supper in a lunchbox/cooler. Yesterday I even wrote him a note listing everything that I had ready for him and taped the note to the cooler. I had EVERYTHING as ready as I could possibly get it and was able to leave the house before 10:30 a.m. I was quite proud of myself! (Because sometimes I am pretty slow!)
My friend and I had a great day out once we got started. I left my glasses at Eyemasters to be fixed (they had originally cut off too much of the reading field at the bottom of my progressive lenses!) and we headed to shop. First stop was Lifeway Christian Bookstore. We looked and looked. She got a book for her granddaughter but I left empty handed. I was hoping to find a CD of Patch the Pirate for my grandbaby but it was nowhere to be found there. We went to a couple of other stores and then our tummies told us it was time to eat! We went to one of my favorite places.....Chick-Fil-A. Ummmm...yummy! I had their deeeelicious grilled chicken sandwich w/ waffle fries and a diet Dr.Pepper. After that we were ready to pick up my glasses and head for home after a quick trip by the grocery store.
When I got home and started putting my groceries up, I opened the refrigerator to put the milk in. Lo and behold right there on the top shelf was a small bottle of cranberry juice and a bottle of Arizona Green Tea that I had waiting for B. to pack in his lunchbox! And I had written it on the note too! So, when he called me on his break to make sure I had made it home all right I asked him, "Why did you not take your juice and tea today?" He a little sheepishly replied, "I didn't read the note until I got to work!" I couldn't help but laugh when he said that. "True to form I thought!" He's the type that only reads the instructions as a last resort when putting something together! :)
This morning I was smiling to myself again about it and it came to me that we are sometimes the same way with the "notes" that God has left us. The Lord could say to us,for instance: "Why aren't you using wisdom today?" We might answer that we don't feel we have any wisdom. He might say, "Did you not know that I told you I would give you wisdom if you asked?" And would we reply......"I didn't read the note!"
B. did without two of his favorite drinks last night because he didn't read the note. Let's not do without any of the wonderful things God offers us simply because we didn't read the note!
May God bless you today!
Saturday, May 10, 2008
Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies." Proverbs 31: 10
I'd like to tell you about my three mothers. The Mother that brought me into the world was with me for only sixteen years. Then she went home to be with the Lord. But during the years she was with me, she taught me many things about the Christian life. She was the best Christian woman I ever knew. In fact, I believe that many of the blessings I enjoy today as an adult are the direct result of some of the prayers she prayed for me when she was alive.
She was an old-fashioned person. She had old-fashioned values and an old-fashioned faith in God. She was always telling me things like, "Pretty is as pretty does" and "Two wrongs don't make a right". She taught me by example to be honest, thrifty, and kind. She taught me how to sew Barbie clothes and, eventually , my own clothes. My Mama was the anchor in my life and when she died in March of the year that I was sixteen, I didn't know how I could go on with my life. Only by the grace of God did I struggle through the next few years. "She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness." Proverbs 31: 26
When I was nineteen, I got married. Then my new mother-in-law became my "second mama". She taught me to garden and to can vegetables. I had never done any of that because I grew up in town. She was one of the very best cooks I have ever known. We would get together when the garden came in and can two or three canners full of vegetable soup. Then she would give me half of all we had canned and keep the other half for her and her husband. But the funny thing was that I always got the half that was just not quite as good as the half she kept. :) We could eat it at her house and it was the most delicious soup I had ever put in my mouth. I could eat some of the same batch at my house and for some reason it just didn't taste the same. She just had that special touch. I have missed her the past twenty-plus years that she has been with the Lord. "She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness." Proverbs 31: 27
The year after I got married my widowed Daddy remarried. My new step-mom became my "third Mama". She has been such a blessing to me over the years and still is. God surely must have wanted to give my Daddy a special blessing when He gave my step-mom to him for a helpmeet. She has shown me how to enjoy life. Whether she is cooking for a crowd, fishing for crappie, taking a walk or pulling weeds in the flower bed, she is enjoying every minute of it. "Her children arise up, and call her blessed: her husband also, and he praiseth her." Proverbs 31: 28
I truly count myself as blessed for having three of the best Mothers a person could have. Each one of them had/have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and because of that I know I will never really lose them!
"Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised." Proverbs 31: 30
I hope each of you mothers reading this have a happy and a blessed Mother's Day!
God bless you....
Thursday, May 8, 2008
(I actually wrote this a few months ago but it came to mind again this morning as I was fixing my breakfast!)
This past week a disgusting thing occurred in my kitchen. If you have a weak or queasy stomach you might want to stop reading now! But if you're curious, keep reading. It happened one morning when I poured some hot water from my coffee maker into a cup. I just happened to look over in the cup before dumping in the spoonful of Chai Latte tea that I was making and was greeted with an awful sight! Instead of seeing clear hot water I saw a cup filled with water that looked like it had just been scooped up out of the ditch! There were little flecks of dark things and little stringy hairy looking things floating and swirling around in the water. It made me sick! My first thought was that something awful had happened to our water system. I immediately got a clean clear glass and filled it with water from the tap half expecting to see the same nasty sight that was in my coffee cup. But this water was sparkling clean just as it was supposed to be! I was at a loss as to what in the world had happened to the water in my coffee maker! I showed the messy stuff to my husband and asked him what he thought the problem could possibly be. His immediate response was, "Could it be fibers from your coffee filter?"
The filter!! Immediately I knew what the cause of the problem was. It was the lack of a coffee filter ….not because of it. I use my coffee maker for several things other than coffee. I might throw several regular tea bags in the brewing basket….minus a filter….to make iced tea for Benny. Also I often do the same thing for green tea for myself, or with herbal teas…..again, minus a filter. My thinking was this….the tea is already in a bag….why should I waste a coffee filter making tea? But by omitting the filter, I had made a mess in my coffeemaker! I am sure that some of the tea must have come through the thin bags and lodged inside the brewing basket. So I got out my white vinegar and cleaned my coffeemaker thoroughly….twice! Then I got out a clean filter, put it in the basket and ran a pot of water through ……oh yes!!......just what I was looking for…..sparkling clean water !! I will not forget this lesson quickly because it almost made me sick to think I had probably been drinking my coffee for a few days with all that "tea trash" in it before I realized what was happening!
But it did make me start thinking about the importance of filters in our life. I was surprised at just how many kinds of filters I have right here in my house. There's the air filter, the water filters, the air conditioner filters, and the humidifier filter. On the car there is an oil filter, an air filter and most likely a gas filter. Think about it. Filters are there for a reason. I should have remembered that when using my coffeemaker! We can't just decide we don't want to use a filter and do without it. If we do, whatever the filter is used on will not be in working condition for very long. Take the filter off your air conditioner and it will stop up and not cool. Take the filters off your car and your engine will most likely stop running.
Did you realize that we as human beings also need a filter? We need to filter everything that comes into our life through the Word of God. The things we see, the things we read, the things we listen to, the activities we participate in should all be filtered through the Word of God and what it says about how we should live our lives. Even when we listen to gospel preaching or teaching we need to filter that through what we know the Word of God says and not just take it at face value. Too often we try to put aside the filter and live our lives the way we want to without any restrictions. But leave the filter off too long and you and I will end up with our lives a filthy mess just like my coffee maker was!
Remember these verses from Ephesians 5: 26-27 "That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish."
May God bless you today!
Tuesday, May 6, 2008
Saturday, May 3, 2008
"Hold me fast, let me stand...in the hollow of Thy hand....keep me safe, 'til the storm passes by." Do ya'll remember that song? (The funniest thing just happened. I had just taken my hands up from the keyboard after typing those first two sentences when I heard my husband get out of bed and start humming this same song!) Funny how we both had it on our minds first thing this morning! Or actually not.....as we were up late last night after he got home from work watching the tornado warnings that were still scattered throughout our area. Thankfully there was minimal damage here in north Mississippi.
If you have known me for very long at all you know my fear of storms! I am trying to trust more and fear less in many areas of my life. Thanks to those of you who are praying with me about this! I don't want to live a defeated life when Christ has come so that I may "have life and have it more abundantly"!
Beginning yesterday afternoon we were under a tornado watch here in our area. I tried to stay really busy to keep my mind off of it. Since we are "empty-nesters" now, there are many times when my husband's job makes it necessary for me to be "home alone" during stormy weather. So yesterday when our tornado "watch" was upgraded to a tornado "warning" because a tornado had either been sighted or was showing up on the radar as a tornado he called me from work several times to check on me and make sure I was all right. He is able to listen to a weather band radio in the shop where he works and keeps up with the bulletins. Very thoughtful of him. And also I knew he was praying for me.
When the threat of the worst part of the storm was over he called to see about me again. Then he told me to go and get the little "Days of Praise" devotional booklet he uses and read the devotion for the day. After I hung up the phone I did and was amazed to read the title for Friday, May 2, was "God and the Whirlwind"! The key verse was Nahum 1: 3..."The LORD is slow to anger, and great in power, and will not at all acquit the wicked: the LORD hath his way in the whirlwind and in the storm, and the clouds are the dust of his feet." The writer made this remark near the end of the devotional: "God has His way in the mighty whirlwind, and we do well to hear Him speak as He passes by.." How true this is. When the world gets to thinking how high and mighty we are, how far technology has come, how strong we are.....then comes a mighty tornado or hurricane and we as humans see that we have NO power compared to the power of Almighty God, the Creator! I stand amazed!
This morning is beautiful. Green, green, green outside! We're so proud of all the rain after suffering through a drought last year! Our rain gauge has a full two inches in it this morning! God is good!
May God bless you today.....