Monday, August 29, 2011

Come for Rest ...

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. (Matthew 11:28-30)

This was the passage that God laid on my heart last week.  The week of the earthquake ... and all of the aftershocks (which we are still experiencing). The week of the uprising in Libya ... no, not in our backyard, but definitely in God's Word.  The week of the hurricane ... we were on the western side of Irene, but still got very heavy rain, winds, falling trees, and unsteady nerves.

And Jesus' invitation.

When the earthquake hit, Lucy & I were home alone.  Granddad was at work and the 'Joes were having lunch with a church friend.  Lucy & I were in our family room, and then the room started to shake.  At first I thought something was wrong with the garage door, but then I could see the walls continue to shake.  So, Lucy was scooped up from the couch, and we went to the lower level.  She thought it was kind of fun ... until the reality set in for this almost 3 year old ... and she would remember her earthquake experience for days beyond.  Lucy's Mommy & Daddy got home soon afterward, and this little girl was so happy to see them!  I finally was able to get through to Granddad ... phone lines out, cell towers out ... but somehow we were able to text each other & all of our family was safe!

And Jesus' words calmed my racing heart ...  
Come and I will give you rest.

During the moments after the earthquake, we heard of the uprising in Libya.  Unrest ... unsteadiness ... uncertainty.  And throughout all ...
 Jesus beckons ... 
Come and I will give you rest.
So then the earthquake aftershocks began ... most in the middle of the night ... kind of eerie ... but then as before, Jesus' invitation ... 
Come and I will give you rest.
And throughout the week ... Irene loomed on our horizon.  Weather models not quite sure of "where" she would land, but knowing the East Coast would get slammed.  So, we began our hurricane preparations ... flashlights, batteries, water ... unsure how much rain and winds we would get, unsure whether we would keep power ... unsure just what this wall of water & wind would bring.  Saturday was a very long day riding this storm.  But, praise God we kept our power & phone lines! We stayed in contact with G-G & Grandpa (about an hour away from us) and with our family out of state via texts & Facebook. 
As the weather went downhill into the evening, we all remembered Hurricane Isabel in 2003: unreal rain & winds, loss of power for 10 days (we have well water, so no power means no water), and right in line with the eye of the storm.  Oh yeah, and no little "3 year old" in the house (which by the way, Lucy was a trooper in this storm!  She did great & didn't complain when she had to stay in practically one room for most of the day.  What a girl!)  
Thankfully with Irene, we were on the western edge.  Although we were hit with extreme rains & winds, we were fortunate ... everyone stayed safe and no major damage to our house.  "Stuff" and material things can be replaced ... 
life cannot.

But, still ... in the midst of the hurricane ... Jesus' words came back to me: 
Come unto Me and I will give you rest. 

I'm so thankful that throughout all of the storms in our lives, Jesus is always waiting.  Jesus is always holding His nail-scarred hands open.  Jesus is our Rest.

Please keep those affected by the earthquake, the uprising, and the hurricane in your prayers.  
So much tragedy all around us.  
So many people hurting from the loss of loved ones. 
So much devastation.
But, even in the midst ... 
Jesus still awaits.
Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
You'd never know that we were in the midst of a hurricane.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

This is (My) Day That The Lord Hath Made

(Originally posted August 24th)

August 24th ... a kind of a significant yet insignificant day in history. Here's just a few highlights:

 It's the 236th day of the year (237 if a leap year).
There's only 122 more shopping days 'til Christmas (I've started already, how about you?).

1814 - British troops invaded Washington, setting fire to the White House, Capitol & other buildings.
1857 - the New York branch of the Ohio Life Insurance & Trust failed, thus sparking the Panic of 1857.
1932 - Amelia Earhart set out on her 19 our flight from Los Angeles to Newark, NJ making her the 1st woman to fly solo non-stop from coast to coast.
1949 - the North Atlantic Treaty came into force. 
1989 - Pete Rose was banned from baseball.
1991 - Mikhail Gorbachev resigned as head of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.
1992 - Hurricane Andrew slammed into Florida as a category 5 causing insurmountable damage & dozens of deaths.
 2006 - the International Astronomical Union declared that Pluto was no longer a planet but rather a "dwarf planet". (Personally, I was crushed with this news.)

There have been some significant people in history born on August 24th:

1198  --  King Alexander II of Scotland
1845  --  James C. Calhoun 
1929  --  Yasser Arafat
1955  --  Mike Huckabee
1958  --  Steve Guttenberg
1960  --  Cal Ripken, Jr
1962  --  Major Garrett
1965  --  Marlee Matlin & Reggie Miller
1981  --  Chad Michael Murray

And my list of significant people and events could go on ... some people I have no idea who they are ... some events I've heard of or seen in my lifetime.  If you're interested, just Google today's date and see how many different websites post trivia for every single day of the year.  But, back to today ... 

Today is the day that God set as the day of my birth 
(40 + years ago).

At first I wasn't going to post about my birthday.  I guess the older I get, the less emphasis I really put on this day.  
But then I started thinking ... GOD chose THIS day for me to come into His creation. 
I am a part of His master plan ... nobody else can do what God created me to do ... 
He knows the plans He has for me ... 
He knows me.

So, as I am always thankful for every day, and every moment that God gives me ... I am very thankful for today ... August 24, 2011 ... set aside for my birthday. God has blessed me beyond anything I could have ever wished or hoped for ... my wonderful husband ... wonderful "kids" ... adorable Lucy ... Little Valentine ... my wonderful parents ... an abundance of family & friends ... and my wonderful blogging friends.

Life is wonderful ... life is good.

Oh yeah .. And Lucy was ready for "Granny's birthday cupcake" before 9AM today!!!  

Yes, life is good ...

And God is great! 

After a family dinner at Brio Tuscan Grille, my husband & I relaxed out on our deck.  I started dating "this guy" one month after my 19th birthday ... and then here we are on my 47th birthday ... yes, God is awesome!

Almost 28 years together.


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Only God Can Heal

This week is a sacred week to me. It’s a week that I allow myself to reflect … to remember … to feel. I allow myself the freedom to let my mind wander through many years of family memories. This week always takes me down memory lane more than any other week of the year. Don’t get me wrong, I treasure my memories of growing up around my Granny’s house & all of our family right there in our little corner of the world. 
But this week … for 31 years now … takes me back.

God blesses each of us with one institution that has been around longer than any other – family. It doesn’t matter if we are married, single, have children or not.  We all come from a family. I know there’s many ways to define a family these days, but my definition in this post is my bloodline family.

You see, 31 years ago my Aunt’s life was taken by a drunk driver of an 18-wheeler truck. It was quick, unforeseen and unimaginable.  I’m sure that everyone in my family remembers “where they were” when we received the tragic news. I was beginning my junior year of high school and was at band camp preparing for our marching season. I don’t remember much of what happened prior to one of my cousins coming to pick me up early & tell me of the wreck. But in the midst of the fog of tragedy, I still remember the anxious feeling I had when I saw my cousin instead of my Daddy (who was taking some vacation time to work around the house).

I really don’t know what direction the rest of this post is taking, so I’m relying on God for my words ...

We always hear that “time heals all wounds”.  

I will disagree.

Time” does not heal … God does.

It does not matter if we have years and years and even more years to heal from a tragedy. We can have all the time in the world … but without God in our hearts & lives, we will never be able to fully heal. One of my favorite passages is found in II Corinthians 1 (KJV) …

3Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; 4Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God. 5For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ. 

Oh what a promise -- to have “the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort” by our side to comfort us through any circumstance we go through. But there’s one catch … 
we have to be open and receptive to God’s comfort. 
He’s waiting with His arms wide open … 
He wants to heal & comfort … 
He wants to bring us to Him. 
His ways are not our ways, and His thoughts are not our thoughts. 
He alone is The Peace that passes all of our understanding.

So, this week I allow myself to just be still and know that He is Lord ... 
to savor family pictures and my memories … and to remember my Aunt. 
Her legacy lives on. This week I allow myself to be engulfed in an array of emotions … 
it’s also my Aunt’s birthday week … 
nine days before I turned 16, her faith became sight … 
she’s been worshiping her Savior for 31 human years … 
she’s Home in Glory … 
she’s forever in my heart.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

The Energy of a "Soon" Three-Year-Old

I admit that I haven't been reading my blogroll much this week.  Matter of fact, I haven't had much time to even get online ... when I have, it's just been to check messages, see what's happening on Facebook, and not even remembering I have a Twitter that I rarely have updated.  Oh yeah, and very little time on Pinterest.  This has been a week of keeping up with the energy of a soon-to-be 3 year old. 

This week has found this stylin' toddler busy and on-the-go (and Granny trying to keep up with her)!  With her Daddy being out-of-town and Granddad at work, Lucy had to hold down the fort at home ... translated that means it was an all girls week at home!  And we had a very busy agenda ... 

Breakfast at "Old Mac-Donald's Farm" was followed by ... 

A quick visit to Granddad's office (where Lucy is the #1 consultant!)

But Lucy isn't just a high-demand consultant and food critic.  Oh no ... this little bundle of energy is also a prize-winning chef.  This week's menu included banana bread mini-muffins, brownie mini-muffins and ...


This little toddler sure knows her way around the kitchen!  Hardly any muffins are left in the pantry, and the pizza was ... well, it was the most delicious pizza that Granddad has EVER eaten!!! And let me say, Granddad is a pizza connoisseur ... and he says "Hands down, Lucy's pizza is the best pizza EVER!"

So, now the week brings us to today, Saturday.  Mommy & little Baby Valentine needed to rest some, so Lucy took Granny & Granddad to one of her absolute favorite places.  Can you guess where we went?

Yes, Lucy LOVES Cracker Barrel!  This was THE perfect Saturday morning to visit our favorite from last summer.  For some reason this summer just hasn't offered the opportunities for us to take Lucy to Cracker Barrel like we did last year.  But, she had a blast this morning!  And there will be many more Saturday mornings at CB for the 3 of us. This is what Lucy enjoys after eating eggs and pancakes ... 

Nothing like a game of checkers to relax after such a great breakfast.

To end the day, Granddad had another surprise for all of us girls ... 

Sweet Frog!  If you don't have one near you, hopefully you'll get one soon.  It's soft serve frozen yogurt that is self-serve ... you grab a cup, pick out your flavor(s) and toppings, then weigh it, pay for it and indulge.  What a great treat at the end of the day ... and at the end of such a great week!

So, as you can see, Lucy has kept her ol' Granny pretty busy week.  And Granny wouldn't have it any other way!  I hope you've had as great a week as I have. 
God is definitely good ALL the time ... and I am blessed. 

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Being Emptied

Free, I long to be free
I long for the day I'll believe
That all you say you see in me is true
That's hard for me to do
It's hard for me to die to myself
Entrust my life to someone else
So come empty me out
I'm no good without
You inside of me

Tuesday, December 28, 2010 I made my New Year's Resolution for the new year of 2011 ... to be emptied ...  emptied of myself ... emptied of things that really do not matter ... emptied of the world ...

Come and fill my heart with hope
Come and fill my life with love
Come and fill my soul with strengh to carry on
Because from here the climb is steep, the road is long
Come and fill my days with dreams
Empty me of all the empty things
That I hold onto
Come and fill my heart with you
Being reminded of what matters ... not for myself, but for Him ... not for myself, but for others ... not for myself, but for eternity ...

I need you in my life
Need you like the air that I breath
You've become the very heart of me
And I, I can't believe my eyes
Can't believe the dream that I've found
Lord, your love has turned my world around
So come fill up my heart
'Till I'm like you are
So deep inside of me
Setting aside the things that have no meaning, and setting my sights on what matters to Him ... His purpose ... His promise ... His plan ...

Search me, Lord

Try my heart
Come and take me now and make me new
So that all of the world will see you
Overflow in my life
Knowing that He knows me better than I know myself ... He knows my very thoughts ... He knows my purpose ... 
Come and fill my heart with hope
Come and fill my life with love
Come and fill my soul with strength to carry on
Because from here the climb is steep, the road is long
Come and fill my days with dreams
Empty me of all the empty things
That I hold onto
Come and fill my heart with you
I'm still His work in progress ... my empty things are being emptied daily ... and He continues to fill me with Him.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

They Model What They See

A couple of weeks ago Granddad called me to say he was finally leaving the office, and since it had been a long, stressful day for him we decided to meet at a sandwich shop just a few miles from home.  It wasn’t very busy at that time of the evening, so we sat & just talked about our day for a while.  Neither of us really noticed the family that had sat down at the large table next to us.  Mom & her 2 children – the girl looked like she was around 11 or 12, and the boy looked like he was around 9 or 10.  We didn’t see any faces as their heads bent down looking at the table.  Not one sound came from that table until Dad came along juggling 4 drinks & their table number.  

Dad took extra care not to spill any of the liquids and was very delicate in passing them to the appropriate family member.  So, I took a quick moment to notice … daughter was heavily involved in her e-book & didn’t even look at Dad as he placed her drink directly in front of her, son was so wrapped up in his hand-held game that he almost knocked over his Sprite, and Mom seemed uptight as she glanced up from her iPad to see that her husband did not put lids on their drinks.  So, Dad made another grunting noise as he had just gotten out his smart-phone, but now he had to make his way back to the end of the aisle to get lids for the family drinks.

When the staff brought their food, one of the servers made a light-hearted remark about the electronics in front of each person.  By the looks on their faces none of the family members really appreciated the remark, but seemed rather put out that they now had to make room on the table for food plates.  Throughout their meal (or at least until we left), not a word spoken from that table.

After witnessing this scene, I’ve tried to take a long, hard and critical look at myself:  Is my family-time truly time with my family, or do I allow distractions to take my focus away from them?  Do I brush off these distractions & excuse them by saying that I’m “multi-tasking” instead of giving my full attention to those around me?  Am I a positive role model for future generations, or am I too involved in what interests me to even care how the younger generation sees me?  Who, or what, are my priorities? 

I admit that I can be guilty as charged by allowing distractions to invade my focused time with my family.  I’m not by any stretch of the imagination a perfect person.  But, I guess the old saying is correct … with age comes wisdom (or at least we pray for wisdom).  I’ve heard young children beg their parents “No! Please don’t text anymore!”  And I just want to go over to the parents and tell them that their young child needs their full attention – not the leftovers nor the multi-tasking.    

We have no idea the lasting affects that our world of technology will have on the rising generations.  I’m not talking about the world of information or even technological advancements.  I believe in advancing technology, improving our information sources and having knowledge just a few clicks away.  I admit I have not been drawn to e-books, gaming systems, or computers with screens so small that my eyes wouldn’t know how to adjust (glasses on or glasses off). But I can see how some people are drawn to the technological advancements.  And maybe one day I may give them a try.

However, what I am talking about is the institution of family.  We’ve heard the expressions “monkey see, monkey do” and another one “we model what we know”.  Well, what do our little ones see us doing?  How are we modeling to them what families are all about?  Do they have to compete with gadgets for our attention?  Again, I’m not knocking modern technology.  Because it still takes people to operate the technology.  We have a choice to what we give our attention.  And I believe there’s a time and place for everything. 

So, in a closing question … what legacy are we leaving behind for future generations?  We only have a short time with our children while they are children.  Technology will always advance and there will always be new gadgets … as our kids keep growing.