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Saturday, March 28, 2020

URGENT NEED!




I have told you about the ministry I am involved in here which works with foster families, adopted families, single moms and older single women.  This is the group where I teach a Bible Study on Thursday afternoons.  How I have grown to love these ladies!  The Well is providing a wonderful service to many.



Yesterday, I received a call from the director of The Well.  In a 24 hour period, she had received 10 phone calls from single moms who have lost their jobs and are desperate for help.  We are trying to help by supplying groceries.  Many of the local organizations which help in supplying groceries are shut down during our Stay At Home order.  The Well is actually closed, BUT we are trying to come up with a plan for getting groceries to those in need with the least possible risk. 

I made a call yesterday and instead of our interns having to go to the grocery store to pick up items as need arises, our local Super One has agreed to fill our orders when we fax them in for pick up thanks to their director.  Our staff are then packaging and delivering the groceries for front porch pick up.  We are trying to keep social contact to a very minimum.

What then is the urgent need?  Our contributors have faithfully provided for the needs of those we currently serve.  We anticipate this need base is about to explode based upon the calls we have already received.  We want to be good neighbors and love those God places in our path.  We want to help these single moms provide for their families when, through no fault of their own, their income has disappeared.  

I have lived on a shoe string at times in my life, I have been a single mom, and I know how difficult this can be.  There is no money for extras and any disaster can send you spiraling down.  When you buy groceries, you calculate as you pick up items what the total will be and at times, you have do do without.  Every cent you spend is carefully thought out.  This time in my life had such a big impact that I have spent the rest of my life--even when it was not necessary--carefully considering how I spent the funds that were available. 

Yes, these ladies will qualify for unemployment, but as a former CPA, I can assure you unemployment does NOT replace the loss of income these women have suffered.  I can only imagine their panic as they stare at the uncertain outcome of this global pandemic.  Yes, they now have a check coming--but when--two or three weeks?  These ladies need to feed their families TODAY!

Would you consider helping?  We have drop off sites for groceries at our downtown location and The Bridge church on North Vienna.  Most of us--even when we are practicing social isolation, can write a check.  No matter the size, every dollar will help to feed these families, we would appreciate your assistance.  Help us to help these mothers to keep their children secure in the knowledge they will be taken care of and provided for.  

Any donations to The Well can be mailed to 2303 Royal Oaks Drive; Ruston, LA  71270.

I was hungry and you fed me,
thirsty and you gave me a drink;
I was a stranger and you received me in your homes,
naked and you clothed me; 

Matthew 25:34-36

Thursday, March 26, 2020

GOING ON A BEAR HUNT

One of my young creative neighbors posted a message via our Facebook Group Page that we would be having a Hood Bear Hunt.  In an effort to help keep the Hood kiddos entertained, we have been encouraged to put a stuffed bear (or animal) in our windows.  The children walk around the Hood and find the bears.  What a cute idea!


When I googled this (GOOGLE KNOWS ALL), I found this is happening across the nation.  Another example of what a great country we live in.  People uniting for the good of the masses!

What would you expect, but for me to add a little twist to it.  My bear is extremely talented!  She is posting a message everyday to keep the game going!  This may test my creative juices to the limit!  


You people KNOW I am challenged when it comes to making a picture with my phone and the fact I have a very old cell phone does not help.  Hopefully you can zoom in and see the message by clicking on the picture and then zooming.  Today Ms Smart Bear has a different message, but you will just have to drive by to see what the latest word is.  

The children hunting for the bears are surprised to see the note in the window.  An unexpected message from one of the Window Bears.  You are just walking along, counting the bears and not expecting a message and then PRESTO--you have a message.

Reminds me of the way God works.  We are marching along on our trek through life-not expecting anything out of the ordinary and ALL OF A SUDDEN, there is a God moment.  NO doubt about it---definitely a message sent from God.  What a blessing to know He is communicating with us--He has His eye upon the sparrow and loves us even more.

So as you continue your walk in what seems to be a rocky path, keep your eyes open and your ears attuned---God may have a message for you.  What a blessing!

For only a penny you can buy two sparrows,
yet not one sparrow falls to the ground without your Father's consent.
As for you, even the hairs on your head have all been counted.
So do not be afraid;
you are worth much more than many sparrows.
Matthew 10:29-31

Monday, March 23, 2020

ONE LOST PIECE

I love putting puzzles together.  For several reasons, I reserve this activity for times when I am snowed/iced in and cannot leave the house.  The "Stay at Home" order has become my new excuse to puzzle.  So for the past few days, I have danced around the table putting together a puzzle.  Here is a synopsis of what this project looked like~


Here is the box with 1000 pieces just begging to be put together.  







If you look closely at the last picture, you will notice in the green of the sign over the store porch there is a piece missing.  You must understand how my process of assembly goes.  After dumpling the entire puzzle out on the table, the process begins.  It is a slow process and I divide it into numerous sessions during the day until I go to bed.  At the same time that this is going on, I am deep cleaning my house, pulling weeds out of flower beds, cooking, walking the dog, reading two books, and checking on my friends.  So my puzzle assembly is disjointed to say the least.  When the puzzle is finally finished and I am one piece short, I am a little perturbed.  With so many pieces, I knew pieces had fallen on the rug (which is also multi colored), so I got on my hands and knees and searched~all to no avail.  I finally took the puzzle apart to give to a neighbor who is completely shut in with health problems.  

BUT---I didn't give up---where was that one piece?  I had handed off a puzzle which would frustrate someone else because there was one piece missing.  No matter that the piece was green and there is lots of green on the puzzle--every piece was important.  So today as I continued my deep house cleaning, I moved every piece of furniture in the dining room and LOW AND BEHOLD--I found it!



I was bound and determined to complete the puzzle to have each and every piece.  Though I never physically put that piece in the puzzle, it has been passed on to the neighbor who now has the complete puzzle.

I was reminded of the story of the lost sheep and the shepherd who left the other 99 to find that one lost sheep.  We are all important---no matter if we blend in with everyone else and don't feel like we stand out or if we are the one who always stands out in a crowd like the one puzzle piece which was a complete bird.  The puzzle was not complete until each and every piece was accounted for.  What a comfort to know there is one who loves us so that He will not rest until we are all accounted for.  

There are lessons to be learned while "Staying at Home".  God is right in the middle of all of this.  He is not surprised by what has happened.  Look, listen, and think while being a good citizen and staying in-there are lessons to be learned.

“Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’
Luke 15:4-6

Friday, March 20, 2020

2020 TP PANIC

For the life of me, I cannot understand WHY? in the world, so many are in a toilet paper panic.  As far as I know, the virus does not result in explosive diarrhea which might explain the panic buying.  I read on line today someone had even hi-jacked an 18 wheeler filled with TP.  If I decide to commit a crime which might result in long term imprisonment, it will NOT be for stealing toilet paper.  An armored car filled with more money than Carter had liver pills is more my style.



In an effort to practice social isolation, I am ordering my groceries on line and running by to pick them up.  Toilet paper was not available the first order.  I quickly counted all my TP resources and determined how long I could hold out before becoming desperate. It was similar to the daily glance at my dwindling savings thanks to the stock market free fall.  Thankfully by the second order (I am also cooking at home ALL the time now), the gold standard of TP-Charmin was once again available.  PLEASE SOMEONE EXPLAIN TO ME WHY THIS IS THE PANIC ITEM OF THE DAY???  



When we have hurricanes, water flies off the shelf.  At least that makes some sense!  There is a possibility with power outages and huge amounts of rain that the water system could become unsafe.  Unfortunately here in the deep South, some of the small rural water systems come under boil orders occasionally.  I don't know if they are not treating correctly or if a varmint got in the water supply, but before you drink, you must boil.  THEN it is understandable to have a water shortage.  Even though all that bottled water comes from the same taps we use in our homes, it has been tested.

When I stop to think of all the TP I have wasted in my lifetime--rolling yards of dear friends (the police frown upon this) and hitting that roll and letting it spin as if I am on The Price is Right and going for the grand prize while getting ready to check out of the BR.  The thought of my waste makes me cringe.  Who knew today's waste would become tomorrow's currency?

The TP though is a mystery!  Here is something you might need to be reminded of---TP HAS NOT ALWAYS BEEN AROUND!  W A Y B A C K--man had to figure out other ways to insure cleanliness.  If you are out hiking in the woods, and run out of biodegradable TP, there are leaves all around.  Just be careful to not pick the three leafed variety.


That could lead to a problem MUCH more serious than a dirty bottom. Which is more of a disaster a dirty bottom or an itchy bottom~I digress.

Here is what I want you to know---DO NOT PANIC if you cannot get TP.  Why  in my lifetime, when my oldest was a baby, there were NO wipes & his little tender bottom could not tolerate the rough TP.  SO, Friends, I used a warm wet wash cloth.  NOW before you yell GROSS---It was used one time and washed.  There you go--after the laundry I had a whole new batch of clean -reusable TP.  SO, Friends, don't panic---if you have wash rags and a washing machine---all is not lost.  If worse gets to worse we live deep in the piney woods--there are alternatives out there.  For goodness sake--STOP hoarding the TP!



Being cheerful keeps you healthy.
Proverbs 17:22

Thursday, March 19, 2020

UNDERSTAND THIS

I find it heart warming that the majority of the time, the very best of us comes out in moments of extremes.  Extreme disasters such as 9/11 showed us we could work together for the good of us all.  In all my reading of historical fiction, I have been amazed at the resilience and courage of our great countries in the hardest of times during the World Wars.  Everyone went to work with the common cause of preserving our freedom which was being threatened.



We CAN learn from history!  Understand this---above all else---how you respond to the current crisis is writing your history---the history of your family---the history of our country and most specifically the history of YOU.  I refuse to even acknowledge the selfish behavior of those who refuse to forego their own pleasures and those who see this as an opportunity to profit.  They will NOT be allowed to cloud the history that is being written at this very moment.  

Instead, I will focus on the history being written by those who are working for the good of all of us---even when at personal risk; those who are checking on their neighbors; and those who have put the good of us all above the good of just one.


I look at this picture of #1 Daughter's family and know this~  They are making their history.  Forever they will remember this time of sitting at the table with Dad and everyone working on their tasks.  She is home schooling and they are quarantined.  Dr. Daddy was sick and in an abundance of caution, they are staying away from everyone.  These children will forever remember this time as a close family unit.  No outside activities, no play dates, no school--being at home and learning the importance of family.  Understand this, they are writing their history.

It is all over the daily news and the WWW.  We are stepping up and doing our part to help our communities.  Whether that be staying at home, or ordering take out from our local restaurants, or dropping off groceries to the most vulnerable, our response to this crisis will forever be our history--our legacy.  The importance of this time is highly evident when watching the news--we are not discussing or disagreeing about politics, we are reporting on the responses to this pandemic.  IT IS THE NEWS OF THE DAY!

Don't mess this up---understand this ---your actions RIGHT NOW will become an integral part of your history.  You never go wrong placing the interest of others above your own.  I'm proud to be an American and looking forward to seeing what history says about us after this is all said and done.  I'm betting on another bright moment for the USA in the history books.  All we have to do is our part!

Your life in Christ makes you strong,
and His love comforts you.
You have fellowship with the Spirit,
and you have kindness and compassion for one another.
I urge you, then, to make me completely happy by having the same thoughts,
sharing the same love, 
and being one in soul and mind.
Don't do anything from selfish ambition or from cheap desire to boast,
but be humble toward one another,
always considering others better than yourselves.
And look out for one another's interests,
not just for your own.
The attitude you should have is the one that Christ Jesus had"
Philippians 2:1-5

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

IN THE MIDST

As most of you know, I just spent a week touring Big Bend and various sites to and fro with one of the grands.


Here we are in a ghost town cemetery in Terlingua just outside of Big Bend.  As we walked around the cemetery, I noted how many children died at such an early age.  Of course this was 100 years ago, and antibiotics, as we know them today, did not exist.  Any illness was a threat to your life.  The town was in the midst of a boom-mining was making many rich.  With the boom, came the people.  In the midst of it all, illness strikes and many saw their final day on this side of Eternity.  Prosperity came and prosperity went--but life goes on.

I, like many of you, have socially isolated myself.  I love people, but am also an introvert, so being alone does not cause great distress.  I miss my friends, miss the children at school, and miss the ladies in both of my community groups, but I am more than able to fill the hours in each day.  Also I have been reminded of quite a few "In the midst" truths~~~~

In the midst of distancing myself from others, ( I am in the "vulnerable" group as my children delight in reminding me), there are ways I can help those most affected.  Writing a check comes to mind-there are MANY organizations who are helping and would love for you to contribute.  Let's not forget how many are profoundly impacted by loss of income and do what we can to help.  Writing a note~to those who are feeling the isolation and sometimes are truly alone.  Make a call or better facetime to keep in touch with your loved ones.  Social isolation means no face to face contact--there are other ways to stay in touch.

In the midst~practice your hobbies, read a book or several books, complete a puzzle, weed your flower bed, and I am even deep cleaning my home.  Keep busy with that list of those things you have put off.  Why you could even start a blog or begin your great novel you have been stewing on for decades.  I have begun to learn how to draw.  I have always laughed and said I flunked coloring in first grade and its been down hill since then.  Low and behold, it turns out I might actually enjoy drawing.



In the midst~think, ponder, and contemplate great truths, life's puzzles, or any other subject you have never had the time to really consider.

In the midst~enjoy your family (those isolated with you), play games with them, watch movies (via wi-fi) with them, work on home projects together, and most important talk to each other.  In our fast paced world, we have forgotten how to enjoy each other---take time to remember.

In the midst~rest & relax.  I am probably the most rested I have been in my entire life.  I go to bed at my same time and sleep 8 hours-a deep restoring sleep.  There is nothing we can do to change things--so accept them and make the most of the time.  Chill as my kids would say.

In the midst~remember--This too shall pass--there are lessons to be learned from this---consider what God is showing you.  Perhaps I will even get back to blogging with all this time on my hands.  I have missed my cyber friends!

In the midst~BUT GOD!  God is still here---He is not surprised by all of this---His Word rings true---spend time everyday in it and above ALL PRAY--PRAY---PRAY!

I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
    my God, in whom I trust.”
Psalms 91:2


Friday, February 21, 2020

ONE BODY

I'm still vertical and kicking---but really busy these days.  Would love to give you an update of what is happening at The Well.  


There is a weekly meeting of our Bible Study which is not only holding steady numbers, but actually slowly growing.  These ladies are teaching me more than I am teaching them.  The most important thing we are doing is building community.  One of the first times we met, I asked the question, as an ice breaker, "If you needed help in any form, who would you call?"  Sadly one of these dear ladies could not think of a single person.  Poverty tends to create isolation and isolation grows loneliness.  Through the efforts of the amazing team at The Well, we are slowly fostering connections, creating opportunities for interaction, and beginning to see relationships and friendships forming.

The Well has the important task of assisting with personal dignity in mind.  Those who attend The Well are given opportunities to earn points in a number of ways.  Attending Bible Study earns you points as well as the monthly Cooking Club, GED classes, Art classes, Bingo for the older ladies, and many other opportunities including bringing in your paycheck stub to get points.  These points can then be used for the laundry facilities, to shop in the pantry, redeem gas cards, and shop in the pop up clothing store.  The points earned enable those served to fill in the gaps in their tightly stretched finances.  

These ladies I am meeting with are either trying to live off their social security retirement checks, or work sometimes two or three jobs to make ends meet.  They are not lazy, and have all worked their entire lives. They have worked in mostly low paying jobs due to their education level.  Almost all of them struggle with making ends meet.  An unexpected illness can bring the anxiety of trying to buy prescriptions with already stretched finances.  Buying the antibiotic needed can mean forgoing a trip to the grocery store.  That's when The Well can assist by redeeming those points for groceries from the pantry.

Most of us take for granted a Wal Mart trip for soap, shampoo, toilet paper, socks, or cream for our winter dried skin.  This is a luxury for those caught in the grips of limited available funds.  What most of us consider necessities become luxuries for many.

Helping without harming is the aim of the  Well.  Offering assistance without the feel of being given a handout instills pride in those who are served.  Knowing you earned the points to use for filling in the gap of items needed for day to day existence builds confidence and the feeling of self worth.  

We are building community with our neighbors we have never had the opportunity to meet before.  The success stories are growing as the ministry builds.  One of our ladies recently found full time employment, rides are being offered to those without transportation, friendships are growing, and community is being formed.  Life is always better when lived shoulder to shoulder.  

Would you like to help?  We would love for you to get involved and meet some of your neighbors.  Thursday and Bible Study with the ladies has become one of my favorite times of the week.  What a blessing to meet new neighbors and grow community.  Pray for the Well and our ministries, as we pray for you and your community.

Have the same concern for everyone.
Do not be proud, but accept humble duties.
Romans 12:16

Monday, January 20, 2020

STAYING IN MY LANE

My daughter and her family were here for a visit during the New Year's holiday.  We talked over New Year's Resolutions during our time together.  It has finally dawned on me Resolutions might be better phrased as Chances to Change.  After many a failed resolution, usually within the first two weeks, I have learned to look at myself with an appraising eye and decide upon areas which might benefit from change.  I can assure you there are plenty of those.  

I gave up a LONG time ago vowing to eat right (it happens, but not frequently), exercise daily (my sloth refuses to be thwarted from an occasional outing), learn a new language (since I have not mastered the one I currently claim as my primary mode of communication), or any of numerous deserving improvements which I will have a difficult time sticking with.  I refuse to set myself up for failure by drawing lines in the sand and vowing from this day forward I will change.  We are creatures of habit, and believe me, my habits are deeply ingrained after all these years.  It is more constructive to work toward change and accept the occasional slip.  We can then pick ourselves up, brush off, and start again.  Change is not instantaneous, but a process.

We decided while talking over the New Year, we would be better served by coming up with NOT JUST an area to seek improvement, but a plan for how we would achieve the desired improvement.  I am going to exercise every day (or every other day or  once a week--pick a number).  HOW am I going to ensure this will happen?  An accountability partner, a class, a group or even your fitbit can help you stay on track.  Someone or something which is reminding you of your commitment.

NOW THAT I HAVE SET YOU UP---one of my "goals" or "chances to change" is to stay in my own lane.  I am NOT happy with my propensity to ignore the board in my own eye and instead focus on the splinter in the fingers of others.  I need to learn to-

It seems to be much easier to critique my neighbor than to objectively examine my own heart.  This year---I am working on that.  Refusing to getting drawn in to giving unwanted and unsolicited advice and instead focusing on the lane in front of me.  There is a fine line between being helpful and compassionate and nosy and critical.  

So how am I going to do this?  I am telling you and all my friends, stop me if you hear me straying into the land of None of My Business.  You will know when I begin to cross the line and stray into your lane.  Stop me--remind me---stay in your lane.  

I am so thankful, we serve a God who is interested in our sanctification, knows it is a process, and never gives up on us.  The first step in the process of change is identifying the need and coming up with a plan.  With God's help all things are possible, even me staying in my own lane.

14 Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.
Hebrews 12:14

Monday, January 13, 2020

OUT OF THE BUBBLE.

While I might be absent from the blogging world, I am NOT absent from the real world!  My world is expanding--only not in the Cyber World, but in the Physical World.

The new ministry I have been blessed to be a part of, "The Well" is expanding the scope of those being served.  Instead of serving only those who are involved with children-single moms, foster families & adoptive families, the demography has grown to include others who might feel unseen.  Older women, empty nesters, the retired, the single, the lonely are slowly being reached one person at a time.


This past week we began a Bible Study-Small Community Group with some of those who are participating.  Somehow I was blessed to be chosen to lead-facilitate the group. (Probably because I am the only one older than all those participating)  After sitting through thousands of sermons, decades of small groups, and more teaching than I can recall, surely I had something to offer?

OH, I have a whole store house of head knowledge, but I was schooled from the first few minutes in how to be a Jesus Follower.  These ladies have their Christ Connection down pat--without my learned teaching, without lengthy theological discussions, and without volumes of books and commentaries~THEY KNOW CHRIST.  They know Him, they worship and praise Him, they communicate with Him and they love Him.  A deep abiding, knowing, trusting love filled with hope and thankfulness.  They freely speak up during prayer--affirming what they are hearing---they call out to Jesus---and they know Him in an intimate way.  These ladies are going to teach me far more than I could ever impart to them.  They know Jesus---He is in their hearts---and they have a bond I cannot even begin to describe to you.

OH, I am certain God will use me in their lives, I know we will grow together in community, but what is most exciting is what they have to teach me about a deep and intimate relationship with Jesus.  We will go to The Well together and draw from its living water.  What a blessing leaving my bubble is going to be!

"Remember that I have commanded you to be determined and confident!
Don't be afraid or discouraged, for I , the Lord your God,
am with you wherever you go."
Joshua 1:9