Friday, January 31, 2014

HOUSEHOLD GODS

I once again have moved---and as I began to put away box upon box of "Stuff"--it caused me to stop--pause--and consider--how much of the things that I moved are necessary in my day to day living.  I promise you I have pared down to a bare minimum--and yet still it is over-whelming when you begin packing and unpacking it all.



There is a whole new movement among the younger generation--a move I greatly applaud and am trying to emulate.  In a word---SIMPLIFY-  I first heard of the concept when #1 began telling me about the house he plans to build for his family.  I believe his term is "Off the Grid".  Minimal space-including ideas like sleeping quarters for his boys built in lofts with all the floor space for living area.  More ideas than I can share in one post and not the purpose of this post either.



#1 Daughter read Seven:An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess and then I see that one of the Bible Study offerings this mini-session at my church is this very book. I am soon going to a women's retreat where the author will be speaking.  I am looking forward to hearing her thoughts and how it applies to our faith walk.


 I recently read a fictional series about a woman and her daughter that purposefully lived a life of simplicity--growing their own food-making their own clothes--a long list of living as pioneers--and only ordering a minimum amount of goods.  It was fascinating to see what they did to cut out the use of throw aways.  They had very little garbage--there were few things they could not compost.   I read the series more for the information of how they did all this--than the fictional story presented in the book.



As I unpacked, I became aware of the things that I am dragging along--now in the third move in three years (do I quality as a nomad yet?)--that really have no or very little purpose.  A box full of keepsakes, that have very little meaning to anyone but me.  Eventually I KNOW what is going to happen to this box.  I have already gone through all the pictures of a lifetime and divided them among my children, but I still have many left which I could not seem to part with.  All these memories are captured in my mind's eye--but perhaps in fear of loosing those memories and moments--I carry them along.





My "stuff" has become my household gods.  The things of the world that I carry with me as I live my nomadic life and cannot seem to part with.  There is a story in the Bible--which came to mind as I considered this "Stuff".  A story of Rachael--who took her father's household gods when she left with her husband Jacob.  Why did she take these gods?  Was it the memories of her childhood home or the protection she sought as she left for a new life or the connection to her former home?  The whys are not as important as the fact that she had made these little pieces of pottery into gods--something she worshiped.  She had given them equal standing with "The Only God".


I am praying today--that I not allow "The Stuff" in my life to become my household gods.  Praying that I remember all is fleeting and temporary--the only thing eternal is God Himself.  My part of eternity is my relationship with Him.    All other is fleeting--HE is The Alpha and The Omega---and the rest--it is all just stuff.

"Now Rachel had taken the household gods and put them inside her camel's saddle and was sitting on them. Laban searched through everything in the tent but found nothing."

Genesis 31:34 

Thursday, January 30, 2014

STANDING IN THE GARDEN IN YOUR NIGHT DRESS

"Next thing you know, you'll be standing in the garden in your nightdress and wondering how you got there."  I love this quote from a BBC series I am watching on Amazon Prime.  It grabbed me as soon as it was uttered and the wheels immediately began turning. Consider the scene--the lady who has declared herself terminally ill---YEARS ago--has gotten up from her supposed death bed after learning her husband has lost interest in her--she is standing in his prized garden when discovered by the mail deliverer.  When asked what she is doing--that was her reply.




How often have we all stopped in life--looked around us-and with a puzzled expression asked the same question---"How did I get here?"  This is NOT going according to my plan.  As we begin our trek as independent adults after school, we have aspirations and dreams of how our life is going to look. We will marry--live happily ever after--have 2.5 children---live in a house of our dreams, drive a fancy foreign sports car--travel the world--and watch golden sunsets in our brief old age.



There will be no struggles--financially, emotionally, or physically.  No bumps in the roads, no car wrecks, no storms, no illness, no death, no loss--it will all be a life just like a fairy tale--with us as the Queen/King.



Our plan is NOT God's plan--this life is NO picnic--we will not necessarily grab the golden ring---it probably will not look anything like our dream.  One day you look around and there you are standing in the garden in your night dress and trying to decide how you got there.  One day I woke up and my bed is in Fort Worth, Texas and I am trying to decide how I got here.



The answer is quite simple---it is NOT my plan--it is His plan.  In a step of obedience, I moved to Fort Worth.  My life does not look like I EVER thought it would.  He has His reasons for where I am and why I am here---I now stand on faith--faith that it is ALL for His good purpose.  So for today---standing here in the garden in my nightdress--I choose to believe He knows my future and what today looks like---He is not surprised by where I am--and He has plans for me and my future.  No time for questioning--time to move forward and being attentive--for the next right thing to do as He reveals His good plan for my hope and my future.



"God can do anything, you know - far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us." (The Message) 
Ephesians 3:20

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

THE IF ONLY'S

We ALL have a LONG list of "If Only's".  We spend a large part of our life saying "If ONLY!"



If ONLY I had not had that LAST bowl of ice cream---3rd candy bar---next helping of french fries, entire bag of M&M's, extra helping of dessert, and on and on---



If ONLY I had stopped and played with my children more when they were young.  A clean house could have waited--we could have eaten sandwiches, the leaves could have been raked tomorrow, the tax return could have waited, I could have turned off the television.  



If ONLY I had studied more, my GPA could have been higher, I could have gotten into that post graduate program, I could have had the career I really wanted, I could have had more job opportunities.


If ONLY I had traveled more--seen more of this beautiful country, seen the entire world, sailed the seas, climbed those mountains.



What is more important are the eternal "If Only's".  If only I had been courageous enough, taken the time, stepped out in faith and talked to _____ about Jesus.  We were talking about sharing tonight in Small Group and why we do take the opportunity when it presents itself.  After thinking it over, I decided the fear of altering an important relationship or fear they will no longer listen stops me many times.  Why?  It is a lack of faith and trust.  IF GOD opens the door---and nudges me---time to put the fear aside and trust Him.  Better an altered relationship--than the consequences of not sharing when given the opportunity.  How much would I regret it--IF I missed that window---and could only later say "If Only".

"But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,"
I Peter 3:15

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

WHICH FLAVOR IS YOUR FAVORITE?

I have a new love affair--such a sweet--sweet---sinfully delightful---lust filled affair of the heart--well no--the stomach!  After YEARS of abstaining--I have fallen off the wagon and reconnected with my old love,  A love that began as a mere child and has pulled me back with the magnetic pull that only a first love possesses.  I have found I c e   C r e a m once again.



It all started as a mere child--there were no sweets kept in Momma's house--EXCEPT for ice cream---and we ate LOTS of ice cream.  During those post WWII days, there was never a battle of which flavor, things were simpler during those days--including the choices of flavors of ice cream.  We had-chocolate, "the Three Kinds"to (Neapolitan), and vanilla----PERIOD.  Not to worry--I LOVED them all--so did the entire James family.  OH and vanilla with chocolate syrup was even better than chocolate.  Thus began the love affair.




THEN as a young adult--young mother with children--along came Baskin Robbins----MERCY!  I set off on a quest to try each and every flavor in the freezer.  AND THEN--I discovered Pralines & Cream and became obsessed.  Always in a cup--always two scoops---MANY nights---I well remember the flavor that #1 son loved "Daiquiri Ice"---in other words lime sherbet.



The only thing better than store bought ice cream is home made ice cream--and I could eat my weight in it---ANY flavor---especially on a hot summer night.  The ONLY time I remember refusing a bowl of homemade was when silly SIL made "Banana Ice Cream"---THAT IS JUST WRONG!  We NEVER let her live that down.




Yes--ice cream comes in so many flavors and choices these days that it is mind boggling.  AND now they make these little one serving containers which means that I can go in and choose MANY different flavors.  GO AHEAD FEED MY OBSESSION!   We are all different and have different tastes---and that is why we have so many different flavors.  It is a GOOD thing!




Believers also come in many flavors---or denominations---we are all different--and some desire to worship in the time honored traditional liturgical high church and some the new contemporary style.  The spectrum runs from "high church" to the contemporary worship with rock bands and plenty of action happening.  I see nothing wrong with either--and the reason we have different denominations is to meet different personal preferences.  The important thing is worship---of the one true God---whatever the style--the focus is God.  The Apostles Creed--which was written  in the very early days of the Christian church-declares a belief in the holy catholic church.  Look it up--it is talking about the church universal---all of us believers under one shield--the shield of Christ.  At the root of it all ---it is just like ice cream-there are many flavors--but they all start with the same base--a frozen custard.  So it is with believers--we all start with the same base---Jesus.  What loveliness in diversity--and yet the universal claim of grace through Christ.  Pick a flavor--any flavor!



"There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism,"
Ephesians 4:4-5

Monday, January 27, 2014

BUT I AM SO AFRAID!

What are you afraid of?  I have friends that are terrified of snakes.  I was raised in a small town in the middle of 7 acres with a pond and woods all around the back.  I got over being afraid of snakes a LONG time ago.  I leave the good ones alone and take the hoe to the poisonous ones.  Would not want to risk one of the grands coming upon the "bad ones"




Some are afraid of the dark---got over that one a long time ago also.  Being raised with brothers and cousins that DELIGHTED in scaring you in the dark--you learned to show no fear.   If they got the slightest glimmer of fear--the torment began.  I slept with my head under the covers and only my nose sticking out until I was in high school.  You did not dare tell Momma you were afraid either-she could be worse than the brothers & cousins!




You have all heard "My Grizzly Story".  I had to overcome some fears to hike in bear country.  Let common sense prevail and hike with a big group--which works well until a couple of your buddies bolt and run.  There would be no adventures unless you conquer you fears---there is always some danger.



I have already written about the danger of break ins and robberies while living in the city and the precautions I have taken.  I am not fearful of this happening---I have exercised caution and do have a weapon.  All to help conquer any potential fear.



The weather can be uncertain.  I have heard a great deal of conversation recently about tornadoes---the wind to be feared in Texas.  I have not only never been afraid of storms, but tend to enjoy them.  I love to sit outside during a storm and watch the wind blow and the rain come down in the midst of the thunder and lightning.  Why I have even been known to be stupid enough to get caught out running in the lightning and rain.  Fastest I EVER ran!  On the bright side---I have a basement to run to---GASP---foreign concept to a girl from Louisiana with a water table 2 inches down.  



We would never learn trust or never need courage unless we were first afraid.  Fear is not necessarily a bad thing.  I DO have fears!  What am I fearful of---an uncertain future, stock market crashes, something happening to one of my children or grands. Things which I have no control over.  Should I sit around and worry about something which I can do nothing about? 

God gave us fear so that we could overcome it!  He teaches us trust by allowing us to conquer our fears and rely upon the facts.  There are things we can control--stepping on snakes, wandering up on a bear, the dark, burglars, and storms---we can control our fear by being watchful and prepared.  Those things we have no control over---because He has allowed us to conquer our fears over the other--we learn we can trust His protection in all our life.  Put aside your fears--lean into Him and trust Him---allow Him to conquer your fears.



"Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the LORD your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you."
Deuteronomy 31:6

Sunday, January 26, 2014

NOT REALLY ALONE

Click on the double bar at the top left of the page to disengage blog music before playing this.

This touched my heart on many levels---

look who is singing it---

and the lyrics say it all--He is always by my side!

AND it has been nominated for an Oscar---


Saturday, January 25, 2014

DOWN THE STREET FROM THE HOOD

It is a rite of passage when you move to Fort Worth to attend the Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo.  Who am I to miss such an opportunity??  I spent a lovely Sunday-after church and lunch walking through the exhibits, barns, and watching some of the competition.  It was a beautiful and wonderful day!

 

Every stock show/rodeo needs a midway and the rides went on for blocks.  If you had rather have a tamer side of the Midway-games were more numerous than rides AND do not forget the Yummy Midway Treats!



The rodeo is so famous that the tickets sell out months in advance.  Two and a half weeks of rodeos---and you cannot find a ticket!




HEY I FOUND THE COWBOYS/GIRLS!
We stopped by and watched some riding competition.  I do not have a clue what they were doing--beyond riding horses--BUT note young-old-female-male.  I have not seen that much silver as was on riders and saddles since the hay day of silver wedding gifts.  As if that was not enough--the riders equaled any pageant dresses when it came to sparkle.  Amazing competition!


The children's art display included the picture above--an elementary school child's rendition of a boy, a truck and a dog!




It would NOT be Texas without the LONG horn steers!


 Saw my LONG lost friend Billy while there!  He was NOT happy with the fence and begged to go with me!

MEANWHILE--BACK IN THE HOOD

The Hallelujah you heard me singing was after the completion of the painting project-



Here we have the molasses dining room wall-
I think I need an antique breakfront in this spot


And then there is the Summer Tan Living Room
With a Molasses Fireplace


You do remember the Vanilla Bean Kitchen?
This is my bedroom which is sunbaked with one wall of molasses.
PERHAPS I like earth tones?

No sign of "The Whiz" across the street as someone so laughingly named him on facebook.  Except for the flurry of emails from "The Hood" all has been quiet.

The GOOD NEWS---the firemen are coming Monday to move the furniture.  My small group volunteered to come help move me--but I told them I have moved all the boxes-and SURELY you will not deny me the fun of watching the firemen move all this heavy furniture.  At that point several volunteered to come help watch!

Friday, January 24, 2014

FRANKLY SCARLETT



OH How I LOVE/HATE Scarlett!
Such a mixture of what I admire most in strong women
and dislike most in pretentious women!

Remember the scene in "Gone with the wind"---when Scarlett went to town to shanghai Rhett?  She is dressed to the nines--in her beautiful dress made from the draperies.  Rhett EVER SHARP notices everything---he looks at her and says, "What have you done with your hands?  Those don't belong to a lady.  You've worked with them like a field hand."  Scarlett was on a mission to save her beloved Tara and NOTHING was going to stop her from pulling that off.  She had all the trappings of being the spoiled Southern Belle---but do not let that fool you for a second--a woman of steel was under all that velvet and satin.  A woman who dug in the fields---drove those around her ruthlessly--to save them all from starvation and the "Yankee Devil".  Her field- hand hands---gave away her big secret.




If you saw my hands today, you would think I had joined Scarlett in the fields.  Scrubbing, cleaning, raking, sweeping, packing and unpacking, and let's not forget painting have taken their toll.  I finally cut my nails all the way back, but I am afraid that is the tip of the iceberg.  Work needs doing and I am the straw boss--and the field hand all wrapped in one.  No time to think about what this is doing to my nails and hands--no time to worry about the bumps and bruises--driven trying to get the job finished.




My hands and Scarlett's hands do not identify us--they are only a outward sign of who we are.  Hard working---women determined--without concern for the outward appearance-but with great concern for the job before us.  If you saw me with my paint clothes on--often in the aisles of the hardware and Lowe's, you might mistake me for a street person--or a field hand.  My outward appearance is not who I am--my heart is who I am.  



Under those beat up hands, bruised arms and legs, old clothes covered in paint - there beats a heart filled with love for God and all of you.  NEVER judge a book by its cover---there is so much more when you bother to turn to the first page and begin to read.  SO MUCH MORE!


" But the LORD said to Samuel, "Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the LORD does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart."
I Samuel 16:7



Thursday, January 23, 2014

DISARMING MY ALARM


The kicking in of a neighbor's door in broad daylight settled any question I had about an alarm system.  This past week the new alarm was installed and I am fascinated by all of the bells and whistles.  Electronically I am all set---IF I can remember how to work all those bells & whistles.



The most elementary part of the system is the control box-(if you believe it is elementary I have an igloo in the desert I want to sell you).  THIS is the brain used to keep intruders out by calling the police, calling for emergency medical help, or calling the firemen.  SO simple it only takes a book a couple of inches thick to learn how to operate it.




THEN there is the computer option for those that might be traveling this great world that we live in.  From any point in the world, by signing into my account, I can arm or disarm the system or check the stats of WHAT'S HAPPENING!  Would LOVE to be traveling so I could check this out!




At the bottom of the barrel for those who are technically challenged and prefer the simple things in life, we have a key FOB which can arm and disarm the system.  My FOB is actually a little more sophisticated than this one--WELL perhaps it is made for dummies---it has a arm button for staying and one for going---WHAT difference does that make--I do not have a clue---armed is armed.




OH--I am out of range and forgot to arm my system---NEVER fear--your smart phone has an app that allows you to arm and disarm you system from anywhere in the world--no need for Wi Fi---no need for wires--no need for anything but this hand held device.





 In case you wondered---I AM still armed otherwise too!

A LOT of technology to protect myself.  I also have an internal alarm that goes off when I feel emotionally vulnerable as do many of us.  If only it were so simple to disarm it!   It warns me of danger and pain if I do not turn away when confronted with someone edging too close to my heart.  God desires for me to disarm my alarm and TRUST Him.  He WILL protect me and has already proven that over and over.  Trust him and throw away the FOB---turn off the system and move forward with anticipation of what He has in store for me.  Disarming my alarm is a daily challenge--I will be disappointed in myself if I am not able to disarm it and in fact remove the system.  ONLY with His help-will I ever get my alarm disarmed!

"But the Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen 
and protect you from the evil one."
2Thessalonians 3:3

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

SLIPPING AWAY

I read a comment on Facebook that Wiley Hilburn was slipping away--hours before he left this world.   Being out of pocket all day--I did not realize this was happening, but did receive a text from an old friend telling me the sad news of his passing.  Wiley as well as his father were my clients for a LONG time.  I always enjoyed his stroll into my office and the ensuing conversation.  He was NOT very interested in taxes or the tax process---BUT also like every other Red Blooded American did not want to have to pay anymore at the end of the process.  He was like another of my former clients Don Hammon, I never ceased to be amazed at how they could drape themselves over a chair--as if they were there for an afternoon nap.  Two long term Ruston icons--now gone--slowly but surely my peers and long time friends are slipping away.



When I stop and consider, there is a LONG list of those who have left us.  The natural order of life--as we get older---this happens--our loved ones and friends begin to leave.  I suppose you have noticed---none of us get out of here alive? I am not being grim or morbid---I am just stating the facts.  We all have an appointed time on this earth and when our time comes--we are out of here.



Since we do not know the day or the time, I often ask myself at the end of the day---if I do not wake up tomorrow---what is my legacy? What have I done to further the cause of Christ?  Will I be missed?  What will my loved ones remember about me?  Important questions--to my knowledge--we will not know what is said about us in our eulogy or obituary.  We may THINK we can control that, but the bottom line is whatever our plans are--they can be changed once we are gone.  At that point in time, how we have lived our life will become apparent by what is said by those we leave behind.





 Today is the first day of the rest of your life--ever how long or short that may be.  Begin today with purposeful intention in living life to the fullest and glorifying Him to the best of your ability.  Each and every time another one slips away---take stock and reflect--How am I doing?  As surely as the sun rises each morning and sets each night, you will slip away some day also.  Do not let it slip up on you--live each day as if it were your last--ALL FOR HIS GOOD GLORY!


"4 "LORD, remind me how brief my time on earth will be. Remind me that my days are numbered, and that my life is fleeing away"
Psalm 39:4

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

BLESS THEM AND THEY WILL BLESS YOU

The Old Testament is filled with stories about Blessings being given.  There is a good reason for that---our blessings are such an important gift.  God is teaching us with these words the great importance of blessing others and the eternal impact our words of blessing carry with them.  My words of wisdom to any parent are to be sure and give your blessings to your children.  

I looked "bless" up in the dictionary and found the following:


1:  to hallow or consecrate by religious rite or word
2
:  to hallow with the sign of the cross
3
:  to invoke divine care for <bless your heart> —used in the phrase bless you to wish good health especially to one who has just sneezed
4
a :  praiseglorify <bless his holy name>
b :  to speak well of :  approve
5
:  to confer prosperity or happiness upon
6
archaic :  protectpreserve
7
:  endowfavor <blessed with athletic ability>

I was amused at #3.  We women especially are so guilty of starting a comment about another with "Bless their heart"--you know how it goes-"Bless her heart, she has the worst luck when shopping. Why else would she be wearing that outfit?"   I will admit, I did not really realize I was invoking divine care upon anyone by using this phrase.  Perhaps that helps with the not so kind intentions at times.


The blessing I am speaking of is covered in 3, 4, 5 & 6.  My asking for God's protection is certainly a good thing--as well as His preservation.  Our children benefit the greatest from the fourth and fifth.  When we stop and praise them--giving them glory for their accomplishments, and speaking with approval of their very being, it is a vital and important part of parenting.

Certainly we all desire happiness for our children and prosperity when in the right venue is an added blessing.  Prosperity in their relationships with others and God are one of my continuous prayers for my children.  Wealth and material possessions are only temporary, but real wealth is measured in the breadth and depth of their relationships.


It is wonderful to pray God's blessing upon your children, but just as important is the audible verbal blessing to them.  They need to hear the words.  Our sense of self is very closely tied to the approval and love of our parents.  A lifetime of struggle can follow when a child never feels the love and approval of their parents.


I have made it a practice to tell my children how proud I am of them, how much I love them, and point out their many accomplishments.  When given the opportunity, I tell THEM how wonderful they are---out loud--with words--to them.  It makes my heart sing when I have the opportunity to do this.

It dawned upon me today as I told #1 good-bye how they have blessed me over and over.  How they have affirmed me--told me how much they love me, and how proud they were of me.  They have blessed me -  out loud--verbally---and it warms me to the depths of my soul.  A blessing is such an important thing---and as we bless others--they will bless us---what a beautiful circle---a circle of love.


"I pray that the Lord will bless and protect you,
and that he will show you mercy and kindness.
May the Lord be good to you and give you peace."
Numbers 6:24-26