Thursday, July 31, 2008

Aftermath or Afterglow....It's All In How You Look At Things!

"Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward."
Psalm 127: 3

And it seems that when your grandchildren come along, that reward is doubled! I always enjoy getting to spend time with our little granddaughter L. How a little two-year-old can come up with some of the cutest things is beyond me! She loves to come and visit at our house but because we live 20-plus miles away it's not always possible. But one day not long ago we were able to bring her home with us for the afternoon. When her Mama came after her and they were gone, I looked around the living room at the various toys scattered everywhere. I had mixed emotions. I wondered to myself, "Is this the aftermath or the afterglow of having L. visit?"
Just to make sure you're on the same page with me I'll tell you what "Mr. Webster" has to say. He says that aftermath means: a result or consequence, usually an unpleasant one, and that afterglow means: the glow remaining after a light has gone, as in the sky after sunset.

I could have looked at the mess in the living room and thought....aftermath! Unpleasant result! And in fact, so many times when my (now grown) children were small I'm afraid that's exactly what I thought! But one day I came across a verse in the Bible that helped me to look at things differently. Proverbs 14: 4 says "Where no oxen are, the crib is clean: but much increase is by the strength of the ox." I realized that although sometimes kids can be really, really messy.....they are worth it! I'm so glad that God gave me the privilege of being Mother to three children. I love being a mother and a grandmother!

So, when I looked at the toy strewn living room the other day what I thought was....afterglow! A beautiful afterglow! Here was the glow remaining after the light.....our little L......was gone. You know what I mean! You have someone in your life who lights up the room when they come in! Every Thomas the Train sticker, her Princess placemat (for eating yogurt while watching Dumbo), Mr. Pooh Bear, and each Little Golden Book reminded me of my little L. and of the heritage and the reward we have in our children and grandchildren.

"That our sons may be as plants grown up in their youth; that our daughters may be as corner stones, polished after the similitude of a palace:" Psalm 144: 12

Happy today to be a Mama and a "Gan-Mamma" !


Monday, July 28, 2008


I got messages from my friend Lee at "Prayer Gifts" and my friend Kay at "Thrive Christians" that they both had TAGGED me! So here's the deal.....I'm supposed to tell you six random things about me. I looked and looked in clip art files and Google images for a suitable picture for today's post and didn't find anything I liked so decided to just make one myself! So I guess that's my number one random thing.....

1. I still like to draw and color with crayons!

2. I have ridden in a glass bottom boat.

3. When eating out, my choice of meat is ALWAYS chicken! My kids say that's boring!

4. Red Velvet Cake makes my tummy ACHE every time! (the red food coloring I think!)

5. I cut my own hair.

6. I still have the roller skate key but not the roller skates. (only you other "Seniors" will understand this one! ha)

Thanks Lee and Kay for getting me to put on my thinking cap and think of some random things about myself! It's been so nice to get to know some of the other Christian women bloggers. Each one is a blessing to me in her own unique way!

"A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother." Proverbs 18: 24

I'm gonna do this fun Tag a little bit different today. If you read this post it would be so interesting if you would just list your 6 Random Things about yourself in a comment! I look forward to reading all of them!

God bless you.


Thursday, July 24, 2008

Christian OR "Crust-ian"

My calendar for the past several days has been chock full of things that just had to be done. Things out of my usual ordinary pattern. An unexpected funeral of a beloved aunt. Therapy for my neck. Putting up vegetables from the garden. Plus, of course, all the regular things I must do every day.

Ever so often these past few days I have thought to myself...."I would sure like to be sitting at my computer writing something!" But I actually didn't have anything coming to my mind to write. Oh, a few things flittered across my brain but they didn't amount to much. Hence the absenteeism of a blog post so far this week.

Today as I walked in my driveway in the cool of the early morning, I kept telling the Lord that I would like to see something that would trigger a thought or a story that I could share with you today. As I walked my last few yards headed to the house I suddenly spied something! I looked closer. It was two cicada....or "locusts" as we call them here in Mississippi. They were up under the top of the steps leading to my front porch. Normally I would never have looked up under there but I feel sure God wanted me to see this today. As I stooped down to get a closer view I saw that one of the locusts was alive and well....the other was....well..... just a shell. I'm not sure if the live locust had just molted out of his shell or if he had only been attracted to what looked like another of his own species. Whatever the reason or rhyme, there they were sitting side by side. One full of life. One only a shell.

My mind almost immediately recalled some of the words to a song titled "The Old Rugged Cross Made the Difference" written by Bill and Gloria Gaither back in 1970. They wrote: "Without hope walked the SHELL of a man; Then a hand with a nail-print stretched downward, Just one touch, then a new life began."

Looking at the locust I thought, "What a picture of God's grace!" Indeed without God that's all we are....a shell of what we should be and facing the wrath of God. But when that nail-scarred hand of Jesus reaches down and touches us, a new life begins......and it never ends! Our eternal life starts the minute we accept His grace to cover our sins! What a blessed assurance!

"He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him." John 3: 36 KJV

Don't be a Christian in name only and just a shell of what you could be. God wants to truly change us into creatures of not only eternal life but of daily abundant life in Him!

Thankful to be a product of God's grace.......


Thursday, July 17, 2008

Insomnia and Chimney Fires

What do insomnia and chimney fires have in common? me see if I can explain! Seems that at least one night a week lately I have trouble sleeping. The other night as I lay awake and my thoughts bounced from here to there, one of them stopped on the memory of a chimney fire at our house several years ago.

It happened on a very cold day in March. Clear, beautifuly sunny day but very cold. Since B. and I got married thirty-five years ago, we have always heated our home with an Ashley wood heater. (I think we're on our third one now!) I love the even warmness that the heater puts out. But I do admit it took me a while to adjust to depending on putting wood in a heater to keep us warm in the wintertime instead of just going to the wall and turning up the heat! When B.'s home he mostly takes charge of the heater but he's gone 12 hours or more each day to work.

That memorable day in March a few years ago the fire had annoyingly not wanted to burn and we had been having to baby it all morning. It had, in fact, unbeknown to me, gone out. B. left for work and I came to the computer to check my email and read the news and the normal wind-down routine just after the busyness of getting B. off to work. I noticed a chill in the air. I knew that meant the heater wasn't doing it's job so went to check on it. I don't know if anybody reading this is familiar with this kind of wood heater or not but there is a large door that opens to the firebox and that is where the wood is inserted. Then below that is a small door that opens so that you can remove the ashes that accumulate. Sometimes when B. would start a fire "from scratch"....meaning when there was not already some live coals in the firebox....he would get all the wood shavings, some small kindling wood, and the firewood placed "just so" in the fire box, then strike a match to it and open the small door at the bottom. With the top door closed and the bottom door open, air would be pulled up into the pile of wood and feed the fire. BUT....if you start a fire this way you have to STAY RIGHT THERE ! You can NOT go back to the computer and finish reading your email and the news! I did know that. I promise I did! But I thought I would only be gone for just minute and then come back and check on it.

After what seemed like only a very few minutes of sitting at my computer I heard a noise that got louder and louder and was coming from the living room. When I ran in there to check I found that one of my worst nightmares come true! I had a humongous raging chimney fire! It sounded like an angry monster trying its best to consume what rightfully belonged to me. And I was scared! I was REAL scared. Home alone. Out in the middle of our 80-acre farm.

I ran outside to see what it looked like out there. Fire and billows of tar-black smoke shot out the top of the chimney. What could I do? I called 911 and told the dispatcher that I had a chimney fire. She assured me she would advise the fire department for me. "Just try to stay calm," she said, "They'll be there soon." Little did I know then what a mis-statement that was!

I had already ...first thing of course.....tightly closed that offensive bottom door that had caused the trouble and also turned off all other air sources for the heater. I put on my heavy coat, got our 2 fire safes and put them in the car, backed it out of the way and then got the water hose and started trying to wet down the outside of the chimney. About twenty minutes passed and still no sign of the fire department. But by now the fire had stopped roaring, there was no longer fire shooting from the chimney but smoke was still rolling out.

A sweet sound floated over the trees to my listening ears....the sirens of the fire truck. Finally! I had stuck the cordless phone in my coat pocket before going outside and just about then it rang. My throat was so dry and tight from running around out in the cold and being scared to death that our house was going to burn down that I could hardly squeak out a "Hello". It was the 911 dispatcher that I heard say, "WHERE do you live out there? They can't find you!" I respond and tell her that they must be very near because I can hear their sirens and they sound close. She somehow patches me through to the fire truck and I am able to tell him how to find my house. When the two fire trucks roll into my yard the firemen get out in somewhat of a daze, look around and say..."We had no idea that anybody lived out here!"

To make this very long story a little shorter, they came in and put a little water in the chimney, went into the attic to make sure there was no leftover smoldering embers anywhere up there and then they left. I tell you, I was a weak wobbly mess when it was over. NEVER again have I ever lit a fire, opened the little bottom door and LEFT! It sure taught me a lesson!

And if you are one of my very faithful readers and have not given up reading yet I'll tell you the moral of this story. In your everyday life, realize that there are some things that you cannot play around with. Fire is definitely one of them! There are several places in the Scriptures that talk about how careful we have to be with fire. James 3: 6 & 8 says "And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell.....But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison." It's so easy to speak before we think isn't it! But we shouldn't go around gossiping and lying and talking hateful to people. It isn't Christ-like and it will get us in trouble real quick! It's like a fire. It can get out of control before we know it and much damage can be done. Proverbs 16: 27 says that an un-godly man "diggeth up evil: and in his lips there is as a burning fire." And let us not ever think that just because we are saved and going to heaven that we cannot act just as ungodly as a pure heathen if we don't ask God to help us keep our flesh under control. It's a battle every day. Satan wants to see us lose control of our tongue and put a black mark on our Christian witness. But God wants to help us.

One of the most common things happening in our neck of the woods seems to be Christian families being split by divorce. People who when someone says, "So and so are breaking up and getting a divorce" you just can hardly believe it. It's happening more and more often. What's a preventive for this? Putting up a fire break. That's what the old-timers used to do. They would plow around their house and make a wide fire break of fresh turned dirt so that if a wildfire came their home would be safe. We need firebreaks around our homes still....even if we live smack dab in the middle of a big city!

Husbands and wives need to decide on some of the needful "firebreaks" for their marriage to stay safe. Some that could be useful are: 1] Never invite anyone of the opposite sex into your home when your spouse is not there (excluding family members of course); 2] Don't send frequent text messages or IM's to someone of the opposite sex; 3] Don't spend large amounts of time talking about personal things to someone of the opposite sex; 4] Don't travel alone with members of the opposite sex; and 5] Don't eat out alone with a member of the opposite sex.

I guess you're probably tired of reading the phrase "of the opposite sex" by now but that's where it all begins. Proverbs 6: 27-29 says this: "Can a man take fire in his bosom, and his clothes not be burned? Can one go upon hot coals, and his feet not be burned? So he that goeth in to his neighbour's wife; whosoever toucheth her shall not be innocent." So many people have admitted that an affair that finally was the death of their marriage started out "innocently". That's why we have to diligently watch for the "fire" and put it out before it can get out of control and destroy all that is dear and precious to us.

If you don't already have those "firebreaks" in place around your home, I encourage you to get out there and plow that ground and get them ready so that your home, your marriage, and your children don't have to suffer needlessly!

God bless you is my prayer!


Monday, July 14, 2008

Above the Clouds

Have you ever felt like you had an "Eeyore" complex? I feel that way today! I think it could have something to do with having to go to the of my least favorite things in all the world!.....on a Monday morning. Thankfully it was just for a cleaning. Nevertheless, I still got those familiar butterflies in my stomach on the forty-five minute drive to the office. The sun was shining but I felt like I had a cloud hanging over my head!

And I feel old today! Our oldest son was born thirty years ago today. A woman has to be pretty old to have a thirty-year-old child! Just do the math! ha I have gladness of heart because God gave me this a grown man and father...but a little gloominess as to how very fast the years have flown by.

And...because it's Monday I am behind in laundry and dishes. Always happens after the weekends which are always, always hectic and busy! I need a Sabbath rest! The weekends are good....don't get me wrong....but I just always feel overwhelmed on Mondays!

So today I've been feeling akin to Pooh Bear's friend Eeyore who can never see the bright side of anything. That is until I happened to remember this picture I took last week when the thunder was rumbling and the smell of rain was in the air. The storm clouds were dark as could be.....but also in the picture the sun was brightly shining above the clouds.

And in truth, isn't that the way life is? We....or maybe I should say I....have the tendency to look at the dark side of the cloud instead of remembering that there's always a bright shining light from the sun on the other side!

Here is some advice from Scripture to my gloomy, grumpy Eeyore self today: "Why art thou cast down, O my soul? And why art thou disquieted within me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God." Psalm 42: 11

Praising Him for loving spite of me!


Friday, July 11, 2008

He Loves Me...He Loves Me Not

A few days ago while walking in the driveway, I stopped and picked a few of the Black-eyed Susan wildflowers growing along the side. Almost every time I see a flower like this I think about the childish rhyme, "He loves me....he loves me not....he loves me....he loves me not..." that people...mostly young girls... chant while pulling off one flower petal at a time. I was introduced to this little 'game', you might call it, as a youngster. It held so much promise of happiness but yet also the possibility of sorrow. Whether I ended up happy or sad was determined by which phrase..."he loves me"....or...."he loves me not"...corresponded to the last petal on the flower!

All of us are born with the need to be loved. It's sad to say that in this day and time there are many who don't experience that love from their family and friends and some turn to unsavory places and circumstances to try to meet that need for love.

Probably more people than we can imagine have felt at one time or another that no one loved them. Maybe someone close to you has even felt that way and you knew nothing about it. It's something that can be hard to admit and even harder to talk about.

Although the love we feel from family and friends is a very wonderful thing, there is a love that is even deeper and more wonderful. I'm talking about the love that God has for each and every person on planet Earth. God loves you more than any human being could ever love you. And you know what? God wants you to love Him back!

Have you ever felt that because you did or said something that was wrong that God didn't love you any more? And on the other hand, do you ever feel that when you try to do something "big" for God, that He will love you more? I've felt both of those opposing emotions. Sometimes I do things that I know are a disappointment to God and I think within myself..."I guess God doesn't love me much right now! (sigh!)" And on the other hand, sometimes when I try really hard to do something 'big' for God, I think..."I guess God must love me more today!" When in reality, neither of these conclusions are true! God is love! Pure and simple. He loves me when I'm bad. He loves me when I'm good. He loves me because He is God and not because of anything I do or don't do. Period. God loved me...and you...and every person past, present, and much that He gave Himself in the form of Jesus to pay for our sins on Calvary's cross. It's not what we DO but what He DID that we need to remember! "Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins." 1 John 4: 10

I have found these things to be true: I have found that the more I love Jesus....the more I love the people around me. ("By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another." John 13: 35) I have found that the more I love Jesus....the less I worry about the future. ("There is no fear in love..."1 John 4: 18) I have found that the more I love Jesus, the more I recognize His love for me. ("We love him, because he first loved us." 1 John 4: 19)

So...the moral of my story today is this.....if you pick a flower and pull the petals off to the rhythm of "He loves me"....He loves me not" doesn't really matter what phrase the last petal lands on where God is concerned....because "God IS love!" 1 John 4: 8

Thanking Him for loving me!


Tuesday, July 8, 2008

These Blind Eyes Now See

This hot humid Mississippi summer has really been doing a number on a skin condition I have called seborrheic dermatitis. When I visited my dermatologist last week she told me that I need to make sure I shampoo my hair every day and that I leave the special shampoo in at least five minutes before I rinse it out so it can do the work it's supposed to do. In the first place, I hate shampooing my hair every day because it takes so long to get it dry. But I think I hate this skin condition worse so I decided I would try and get with the program! This morning when I got in the shower, I put the shampoo on my hair first and got it good and lathered up. There I left it and proceeded to finish my shower. The only problem was that I had all this shampoo sitting on my head and there were little rivulets of foam running down my forehead from time to time. This particular kind of shampoo hurts like the dickens if it gets in your eyes so I decided to finish my shower with my eyes tightly squinched together!

As I felt around in the shower for the soap and washcloth I thought....I am so thankful that I don't have to grope around in the darkness all the time! And then the Lord brought to my mind a book that I had read many years ago by a lady named Marolyn Ford. The name of the book is These Blind Eyes Now See. In this book she tells a totally amazing story of becoming blind and then being healed. I have heard her speak a couple of times and ,boy, is she ever interesting! A godly lady if I ever met one! By the time she was 18 years old, she had lost her vision because of macular degeneration. Undaunted, she went to a school for the blind and learned how to take care of herself and be able to go wherever she wanted to independently. Many years later, after she was married and had a daughter, the Lord miraculously healed her and gave her sight back. She went to her eye doctor who had been taking care of her for years. He examined her eyes, shook his head and said...."Marolyn, nothing has changed in your eyes. I can still see the scars covering the macula. BUT just by talking to you and hearing you describe what you see in this room I know you CAN see! It has to be a miracle!"

And as I write about this miracle of Mrs. Ford's, I can't help but also think about the young man that was blind from birth ,whom Jesus healed and gave sight to in John chapter 9. Then, when he gave Jesus the glory for his healing, the Jews said to him..."Give God the praise: we know that this man (speaking of Jesus) is a sinner." But the man who had formerly been blind from birth, and who could now for the first time see all the wonders of God's creation, could not and would not let these legalistic Jews force him to turn against the One who had healed him! "He answered and said, Whether he be a sinner or no, I know not: one thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see." (John 9: 25)

Such is the story also of every Christian. We were born blind... to the things of God. But when we came to Him in faith for salvation, He touched us and gave us a new way of seeing things. Since that time we have been able to see through spiritual eyes the things which we had never been able to see before! And we are never, ever the same after the touch of Jesus in our lives! All I know is, I was blind, but now I see! What a blessing!

Today, deliberately try to take in with your eyes all the different colors, shapes, light contrasts and textures you can! And with your spiritual sight, ask God to let you see the things around you today....people, situations, He sees them.

Thanking God today for sight!


Friday, July 4, 2008

What Does the Future Hold?

(scan of stamp on letter from 1991)

It's the 4th day of July all over the world.....but only here in the United States of America is the "Fourth of July" a celebration of our freedom and liberty as a nation. As I was thinking about our nation and the freedoms we hold so dear, a nagging thought came to my mind. Maybe one that crosses your mind sometimes too! What does the future hold? Jobs are scarce, gas is sky high, crime is increasing, our rights as Christians are being slowly but surely taken away. Sometimes, let's face it, the future looks bleak.

If we are Christians, our ultimate future will be to spend eternity in Heaven with our Lord. But what worries most of us is the period of time between now and when we get to Heaven! None of us want to see our loved ones suffer or die. None of us want to be diagnosed with cancer. None of us want to see world wide chaos from another World War. None of us want a tornado or flood to destroy homes and lives. Yet when these things sometimes do come our way, God is there to help us through the trial so that we can be a witness to others of His grace and mercy.

I think back to something that happened many years ago now. My husband, B., is a Vietnam veteran and while serving there became very close friends with a man in the South Vietnamese army who was an interpreter for my hubby's platoon. For privacy and security reasons I will call this man "Nam"....short for Vietnam. For several years after B. came home from Vietnam, he and Nam exchanged letters. Then the letters stopped coming. When Saigon fell to the Communists in 1975, B. was sure that Nam had been killed. That is until a warm day in May of 1991. I'll never forget it. We were leaving to go to town and stopped to pick up the mail at the box on the way out. I saw an unusual envelope with a return address of the Philippine National Red Cross and Nam's name underneath that. I remember my heart pounding so hard I could hardly breathe. B. asked what was wrong and I just handed him the letter. He opened it and started to read it but started shaking so bad that he handed it back to me to read. It was through much joy and many tears that we read that Nam, his wife, their daughter and several of his in-laws had escaped from Vietnam! They had traveled the rough seas all the way to the Philippines in a small boat that Nam had built with his own hands!

It had been almost twenty years since B. had heard from his friend and this seemed almost surreal to be reading this letter now. In fact, it was truly a miracle that it had ever gotten all the way from the Philippines to our house anyway. After we had time to calm down a bit I started examining the front of the envelope. Nam had only remembered B.s first and last name...which was spelled wrong.....and the tiny little town B. had lived in when he was in the military.....and that was spelled wrong! Thankfully the post office there forwarded it on to the right! As I continued to look at the envelope, the postage meter stamp in the top right hand corner caught my eye. There just as plain as day was the word FAITH.

Of course we immediately wrote Nam back and offered any assistance we could to help him and his family get on their feet since they had left Vietnam with only the clothes on their back. As we began to correspond on a regular basis Nam's wife sent a letter that told of their experience of escaping a brutal land where there was no freedom as we know it. I want to give you a part of her letter her own that you can see just how far the hand of God can reach. No matter what the future holds for each of us, it will not take God by surprise.

Here is what she wrote in July of 1991: "Nam had lived in hiding from 1979 because of communist. He lived without freedom, therefore he always afraid. When we married, we have to live over ceiling of my parent house. Nam had recognize Jesus since we get married. Our boat have 14 people. We met robber, storm, and we were thirsty for 2 days. But God always protect us. Final we came to the Philippine Islands. I had not ate 7 days. When we see the land we were so happy and thank God we came to freedom at last."

Wow! I still get goose bumps reading that after all these years have passed! Isn't this a wonderful testimony of how the Lord can bring someone through unimaginable horror and into peace and thankfulness? Here is a promise from the Lord that will help us through that unknown thing we call the FUTURE: "The LORD also will be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble. And they that know thy name will put their trust in thee: for thou, LORD, hast not forsaken them that seek thee." Psalm 9: 9-10

So, if you're like me and sometimes look around at all the tough times we are facing nowadays and wonder what the future holds......just hold on to God and He will carry you through. The song writer Ira Stanphill knew this when he penned these lyrics, "Many things about tomorrow, I don't seem to understand, But I know Who hold tomorrow, And I know Who holds my hand."

Join me in thanking God for freedom...both physical and spiritual.... today!

May God bless you!