Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Necessity

Destruction often comes in the middle of the night. While we are absent minded. While we sleep in peace.

Going out that next morning to feed the two sheep, one sheep is without the other. That is unusual. They are always together.

The one is distraught. She stands at the trail-head bleating.

Her heart bleeding.

We know she is signaling trouble. We walk down the trail she has led us to ... and we see the other baby lifeless on the ground. Devoured.

My heart and soul fall to the ground in pain. Heart pain. I feel myself collapse into the arms of God, through fear's temptation of what may lurk.

They had always remained in the barn throughout the night. It was necessity for safety, and it was pure God-Giving instinct. But our neighbors recently acquired a few animalsgoats, donkeyand walking out of safety's shelter had been tempting. They had no idea the danger that awaited.

We can only assume that a panther, or big cat, took her down [rumors of panther sightings]. There were no prints. The cat may have jumped down from a tree to attack, immediately dragging her into the leaves where we found her. And a few weeks ago, our neighbor's 50 lb. young goat totally disappeared without a trace. The predator had to be strong to jump their fence with a 50 lb. goat.

Sheep were not made to go it alone. They were made for God-Giving camaraderie. Sandy has been so needy, distraught, distressed, afraid. When I leave her to return to the house, she runs to the fencehopped over it onceruns back and forth looking for someone, anyone, bleats. Her heart is still bleeding. She absolutely can not go it alone. She misses her sister. We miss our Bindi girl, the black sheep of our family.










We seemed to be left with two choices: (1) find her a home with other sheep, or (2) get a new sheep, a new addition to our family. A new sister for her. And that's what we did.

Meet our newest necessity, Ginny [named after Ginny Weasley].



 
 
We weren't made to go solo. We weren't meant to go it alone in this world.
Karalee and Katelyn

Shelli (1 year old) and her sister (3 years old)
 
Freckles and Snowy
 
Hermione and Blue
We were made for God-Giving camaraderie. Sheer necessity. The Lord is our Shepherd, our shelter, our safety. Without Him, we are running to and fro, tossing to and fro, crying, mouths bleating, hearts bleeding ... and we are often oblivious. We need Him.

Only devastation awaits outside His safety, His protection. It only takes one foot out to feel the heat of the predator, the breath of death.

Jesus is our shawl of life, wrapping us securely with His love and intention, enabling us to walk out into this life wilderness with an enduring, withstanding heart comfort. No fear. Enabling us to see with eyes wide open amidst the flakes that graze our faces.

The Shepherd searches for us, longs for us, extends Himself to us. Will we enter His gatesHis God Giving, Spirit Giving, Savior Giving, Shelter Giving, Peace Giving, Trust Giving, Faith Giving, Love Giving, Word Giving, Life Giving gatesthis Thanks-Giving?

*****

"For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life." John 3:16



Thursday, November 13, 2014

Slow

The teenage daughter is driving on the old two lane highway. It's a difficult road to maneuver for numerous reasons, but ...

(1) it's hard to pass when you get behind someone slow (2) it seems driven by impatient drivers. And (3) unfortunately, it's not the road less traveled.

When someone is turning left and waiting for oncoming traffic to clear before turning, it never fails that impatient drivers will go around, passing on the right roadside. When they do this, their vehicle throws up dust, dirt, and rocks. And they pass rather rapidly because their impatience seems to be rushing them, holding a fire to them. Even pulling a trailer, they seem to think they are zipping by in a Mercedes.

This clearly seemed against the law. But after a little research, apparently, there is a Texas law "545.058. DRIVING ON IMPROVED SHOULDER"  that allows for this if one is passing on an "improved" shoulder and the person turning left is completely stopped or slowing. But it doesn't seem safe and the debris flies. [And at one part of the highway, there are five signs stating: "No passing on shoulder. $180 fine.]

Just yesterday, a large truck was in front of me as we were cruising along at 60. Apparently, a car in front of them stopped to turn. The truck's height and width made seeing ahead difficult. The large truck waited till the last minute to pass the car on the shoulder at full speed. They didn't slow down at all. I was instantly facing a stopped car, flying debris, forcing me to either hit the brakes or take the shoulder.

Once, a car was turning left in front of me. They were not waiting on another car, they just simply slowed to turn. So I waited for them mere seconds, then proceeded after they turned. There was absolutely no need to pass. The car behind me, trying to pass us both on the right, began driving alongside me on that road. Me on the lane, them on the shoulder. Side by side. Dust and rock hitting my car from their impatience. Their determination to get ahead left me fearful to proceed until the dust settled.
 
And that'll make a Southern belle's blood pressure rise. That right there. Because the last thing I need is another crack in my windshield. And they put my girls and me in danger.

It made no sense. Why couldn't they have waited mere seconds?

Slowing down to wait on others is a matter of trust. Trust in God's protection.  Trust in His path and plan. Trust to learn something new. Trust to see something new.





On this old two lane highway of life which is definitely not the road less traveled, we are continually surrounded by the slow, the impatient. With the holidays quickly approaching, it's important to slow down. O Soul within, slow.

The lines will be busy. The pressure will arise to beat that person in line or to the next intersection.


But it's common knowledge that if we rush ahead, more than likely, dirt, dust, and rocks are being thrown back on the ones behind. On our beloveds. And more than likely, precious arms are being held up to prevent the blinding. O Soul within, take notice.

What will those few minutes cost? What will it cost loved ones?

What is God trying to reveal in the slow-down?

Once upon a time, I cost a loved one greatly. Oh, years and years ago, but precious arms remain held up from the needless dust and debris that continues to fly. Oh, how I'd give anything to turn back the clock. There is no turning back the clock. There is no turning back the clock on my youth or the haphazard danger.

Danger. Danger. Why? Because I didn't proceed with caution. I turned a blind eye to the warning sign. Without thinking, I plowed right over. God was not the center of my life, and as much as it hurts to say—oh, how it hurts to say—obviously, I didn't care. O Soul within, one plus one does make two.

And regardless of seemingly haphazard effort, the situation may never mend. Why? Because precious arms are still covering eyes, fearful of dust and rock remembered flying. It's safe now, but the realization will never comeheart rate still speeding, blood pressure still rising, anger still fumingbecause fear to uncover eyes persists. And rightly so.

Yeah. We each have been the wrecked and the reckless.

When those are stopped on this old two lane highway of life, slow.

Just slow. 

Observe caution signs. Trust that God has great reasoning for the slow-down. Remember and determine the driving force. Injuring others haphazardly will forever haunt. The injury to another soul and the one within—that quite possibly may last a lifetime—will never be worth it. Yeah, O Soul, it does hurt the one within.

 

The season of debris is difficult. If in that season of rocks flying ... don't take the hit singlehandedly, holding up the arm for protection. Lower the arm in a vulnerable spirit of forgiveness. When the rocks are flying, and they will fly, allow the Rock of Ages to cover, to protect. He is our shield. He is dependable and trustworthy. Every single time. O Soul within, lower the arm.


"Do not be afraid of them; the Lord your God himself will fight for you.” —Deuteronomy 3:22





Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Straightening

I tighten her expander for the very last time. "You ready to get this enforcer ... enhancer ... expander off?" I chuckle through a grin.

"You finally got it right, Mom. After all these weeks, you finally said it right." She laughs with the tool still in her mouth.

For the last month, I've been teasing the precious thing about the horrible expander in her mouth. I never call it the right thing. Exterminator. Ex-anything. Whatever I can come up with on the spur of the moment. It's all part of her braces plan, but I feel like I'm torturing her each time I make an adjustment. It breaks my heart to adjust it.

And it actually broke part of her mouth ... in order to allow more space for her teeth. I don't understand it all, I just know it was like a wishing bone ... more force placed on it a little each day until it breaks. And when it broke, her face flushed, she could barely swallow, and her mouth went numb.

This morning ...

"Mom, what time is it?" She reads to pass the time.


"9:07."
"What time do we leave?"
"9:20." She's ready to go. She's ready to be relieved.
"Are you ready to go?" I ask.
"Yeah."

"Are you ready to get that thing off?"
"Yes, Ma'am."

We arrive at the orthodontist. They take a good look at it.

"We are getting it off today, right?" I ask. So sure.

"No."

I sit stunned. "I'm sorry, Katelyn," I blurt out. "I told her it would come off today," I say to the technician.

"No, it needs to remain longer. If we took it off now, the teeth would revert back to their original locations, and all that movement, all that pain, would have been for nothing." She pauses. "Don't listen to Mom," she teases.

After the technician walks out, I look at my oldest daughter—"Why did I think we were getting it off today?"

"When they said it wouldn't need more adjusting, we just assumed ..." We assumed.

**
 
On the way home, I couldn't help but think how this applies to life. God allows that little strain, that little pain in our lives to mold and shape us. To press us. Until we break.
 
Until our faces flush, until we can barely swallow, until we feel numb.

It'll feel like torture.

We assume that life will go right back to normal. We'll get that expander off, and we'll go right back to normal. Come on, normal.
 
But if we went right back to normal, there would be no lasting change. We don't need that kind of normal.
 
And it's often a shocking realization to have a new normal.
 
We don't understand it all. We won't understand it all. But we must trust our Father. Trust that He knows best. How could we possibly know best?
 
We need change. Friend, we need change. O Soul within, you need change.
 
And everyone experiences it, in one way or another. We may assume others are pain-free, but they aren't. No one is exempt. If we don't have physical pain, we surely have heart pain. A broken, bleeding heart doesn't always show through a crisp, starched white shirt.

The pain reforms and reshapes ... until we break.

Why?



Because we need more room for growth. New growth.

Because we need to be formed and shaped like Jesus.

Because we won't love Him like we should, like we could, until we need His healing, His revealing, His concealing tenderness for the broken. Thank you, Father, that my broken heart is all your own.

Because we need to beautifully get it straight.

Because it's in the straightening that we ...

"enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise."—Psalm 100

Friday, October 31, 2014

Memories

Fragrances, colors, glances, foods, expressionsthe assortment of life's unexpected occurrences that jog our memories.

Jog my memory. Don't jog my memory. It can be bittersweet, can't it?

That's what I've been juggling in my mind all afternoon, since I picked up my daughter from her volunteer job. She greeted me at the car with a handful of candy from our church's trunk or treat.

As I looked at the candy, I said, "She always made sure I had plenty of tootsie rolls." The tears pooled and fell.

"You miss her, don't you, Momma?"

"Yes."



While I spend my days writing, she spends her days across the globe in language learning.

Memories are a precious thing. People are a precious thing. We don't always realize it until we can't reach them. Until we can no longer see them.

The ones who we can only see in thoughts and dreams.

Filter your pain through God's pane.

And grab the ones near and love them.

The ones that

don't put the toilet paper on correctly
mess up too many dishes
track in leaves all over the clean floor
leave their belongings strewn about
don't do and say the things we wish they did
don't get the job done to satisfaction

Choose to love. Demand less. Expect less. Make memories.

Don't be too tired to play.



Don't say, "Another day."



Monday, October 27, 2014

Random

This post is about me. I'm sorry! But the sweetest lady and writer friend, Cynthia Herron, tagged me last week to share 20 random things about myself. Bear with me!
 
And by the way, Cynthia's list is fun and sweet, so I'm linking it here, "The 25 Tidbit Challenge."
 

1. How tall are you?

I'm 5'5" and praying I stay that way. After 46 years, I found out earlier this year that I have scoliosis ... slight curvature of the spine at the top and bottom.





2. Do you have a hidden talent? What is it?

Brace yourself.


Do you remember "Froggy" from The Little Rascals? I can talk just like him. It hurts my throat though.

This is so non-feminine, but I can burp any time I want to. You simply swallow air. And I can make that noise under my arm. I'll leave it at that. These talents were appreciated in my youth. Close friends requested my talented demonstrations!

(I don't like the word "burp" and am completely embarrassed that I wrote it here ... and when my daughters were little, I taught them to avoid that word and instead to say "I had 'air'" ... yes, I did.)

3. What is your biggest blog-related pet-peeve?

Spam comments


4. What is your biggest non-blog-related pet peeve?

When people smack their food. It has bothered me since I was a kid. It gives me chills. I'm sorry!

5. What's your favorite song?

The More I Seek You by Kari Jobe ... but I love any song that makes me soar.


6. What's your favorite Etsy shop that isn't yours?

What is Esty?


7. What's your favorite way to spend free time when you're alone?

Reading, writing, and arithmetic ... just kidding!


But I do love to read, write, and watch Property Brothers on HGTV ... the girls are begging me to find a way to be on "the brother's" show. They really just miss our granite countertops! And well, they may have a slight crush on the brothers. :)

8. What's your favorite junk food?


Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream ... Blue Bell or Baskin Robbins ... I've loved it since I was a child. The first cone I ever got had mint chocolate chip ... I took the first lick, and my ice cream scoop fell on Baskin Robbins's floor right there in the Tyler, Texas, mall. They gave me a new scoop.

9. Do you have a pet or pet(s)? If so, what kind and what are their names?


Yes, I now have three cats and two sheep.


Sandy, the beige sheep, and Bindi, the black sheep of the family

Shelli with Sandy


Aslan with the two kittens we found back in the summer, Blue and Hermione.
For those of you who remember when we found them, they are really getting big, aren't they?!
And they are the sweetest things. Aslan still isn't crazy about them.
10. What is your #1 favorite fiction and non-fiction books?

This question is so unfair. Out of order, non-fiction has to go to Beth Moore ... she helped me fall in love with God. Any of her works make me love Him more.


Shelli and Karalee with Beth 2010 at Life Today taping

Beth hugging on Karalee and Katelyn ... one of the sweetest moments of my life.
I began her Bible studies before the girls were born ...
using them to help seek God's direction in my life.
 
Fiction? I loved Savannah by Eugenia Price. And believe it or not, Scarlett, the sequel to Gone With The Wind. I really don't have favorites though.

11. What is your favorite beauty product?

I clean my face with Cetaphil every night.

12. When were you last embarrassed?

A few weeks ago, at a high school football game, I accidentally walked into the men's restroom.

13. If you could drink one beverage (besides water) for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Diet grape soda

14. What's your favorite movie?

Peter Pan (Disney version) ... I laugh so much through this movie. When Nana the dog waves ... hilarious. The girls and I often wave like that ... we know where "the wave" came from!

15. What were you in high school: prom queen, nerd, cheerleader, jock, valedictorian, band geek, loner, artist, prep?

In high school, though I had many friends, I was a bit of a loner at times. My parents divorced right before middle school, and when my mother remarried, we had to move to another city. We moved from Tyler, Texas, to Terrell, Texas. So, I was trying to find my way in life. However, I was in the drill team, honor society, voted "Homecoming Queen," "Most Beautiful," and "Class Favorite."


I don't know how that happened. Only God can do something with seemingly nothing. I was truly a disaster on the inside. My family falling apart was tragic to my heart.

16. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you live?

I love Texas. I can't imagine living anywhere else except in a little cottage with two mice at Disney World! But where my husband goes, I go; and where God leads, I hope to follow.

17. PC or Mac?


PC, but I have never used a Mac ... so I can't really say I have a preference.

18. Last romantic gesture from a crush, date, boy/girlfriend, spouse?


When I was fishing ... the day after, my husband said that he loved watching me fish and was reminded of our early days. We have been married for nearly 28 years.

19. Favorite celebrity?


Mickey Mouse



Karalee and Katelyn with Mickey ... on Katelyn's Make-A-Wish trip.
Katelyn is our cancer survivor.
 
Oh, I like Johnny Depp, too.

20. What blogger do you secretly want to be best friends with?

My blogger friends are becoming my very dearest friends. I've only met one in person.


Donna Pyle and me at Beth Moore's Siesta Scripture Gathering 2010 ...
my hair and the humidity=lovely


However, I would like my best friends to blog, too. :)


Your turn! If you are up to it, tell me one random thing about yourself! 

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Hanging

It was an extra early morning.

As my husband walked out the door, he cautioned, "Don't let the closet scare you. Your clothes rack fell."

Oh, great, I think to myself. Really? What else can go wrong?

"Thanks for letting me know." I closed the garage door behind him.

As I walked into the closet, it boasted disaster. And four days later, my clothes still remained sprawled out on the floor. Still attached to hangers.

On his way home, my husband called to say that he had stopped at Lowe's to purchase items to repair the closet rack.

The evening went as usual. Dinner. Walks. Property Brothers. Good movie.

Near bedtime, I said, "We aren't going to fix the closet tonight, are we? I'm so tired." Please say no.

"Yes! It won't take long."

Trudging back to the bedroom closet, I noticed he was raring to go. Drill. Screws. He said, "This rack was held up by mere plastic and one screw. We'll go through and replace them all." You sure are enthusiastic. I'm not.

But upon investigation, I noticed that one shelf was the only one with plastic ... the rest were strong and stable, metal holders. I showed my husband. "How odd," I said.

The shelf was fixed. Metal holders. Three screws. My clothes won't fall now.

The clothes that I choose to return.


"I'm not putting these clothes on the rack just yet. By the looks of it, I've got some weeding out to do." I scolded myself.

Sometimes areas in our lives need weeding out. There are areas that need hanging up.

My grandmother hanging clothes on the line to dry reeled through my mind. If the weight was too heavy for the clothespin, the fabric would fall. She'd have to brush off the debris. Oh, how I wish I had a picture of her hanging out clothes. Priceless.




The breakdown in our lives often reveals that some area needs to be turned over to God for security and strength. Entirely.

We place too much weight on ourselves to find that we can't maintain enduring strength alone. We need help.

Sometimes we have to change the angle of our lens to realize that something is wrong. To see the truth. The color is different. This is too much.

When everything seems to fall apart and it seems we are continually brushing off our knees, the hope remains that we are still attached to the One.

It's really a quick fix. We don't even need an early start. And God already paid the price.

Oh yes, Jesus came down to offer repair.

When the fabric of our lives seems to fall apart, there is One who enables us to hang in there.

The One found hanging on a cross.


Friday, October 17, 2014

Midst

Things change.

Right in the midst of life.

How dare it?


Stretching the legs, I walked out to the property line to meet my neighbor, who was waiting there.

"Everything okay? What's wrong?" I ask.

"Have you seen the baby goat? It's been missing since this morning."

"No, we just got home from church." I pause. "Oh, no." My heart sank.

"There are huge claw marks on the fence-line. Panther, coyote ... something probably got it."

Stranger. I hope the girls and I will be safe out walking. It was only a baby, but it was a big, chunky baby.

"No trace?"

"No trace."

Yeah, it was "just a goat" ... but it was a sweet one. And we enjoyed his presence on our walks. He always met us at the fence. My heart hurt. My girls' hearts hurt. We felt uneasy knowing something was out there ... that strong, that dangerous.

It's hard to see clearly through pain.


I woke up this morning with a severe headache. Stumbling through the darkness, I fumbled my way into the kitchen to put a bite of sustenance on my stomach followed by Excedrin.

Crawling back under the warm covers, in the darkness, I thought about the pain. With no apparent choice, I grabbed my head. The simple compression, simple touch, seemed to relieve it through blurred vision. Tears pooled.

Pain ... makes you appreciate the times of ease. When every nerve is relaxed, when life feels good. When life doesn't throb.

But it also makes you realize how easily passing over to Jesus would be. Just to be pain-free. To grab the hand offering aid.


I lay there thinking about the Ebola scare. We are so near Dallas. We have several being watched in the county. Two schools are closed in our city because a nurse who aided the infected patient had kids that went to those schools. She informed the school, and now the school is taking precaution.

The evening prior while watching the news, I told my husband, "If I contracted that disease, I wouldn't last a week." Why, I barely survived the intestinal symptoms of appendicitis back in March. And three weeks after my surgery, I thought extreme intestinal distress from an apparent antibiotic reaction would surely kill me. I'd never been so weak. He agreed. He always tells me I need more meat on my bones.

My daughter smiled. "At least I know where I'll go when I die," she declared.

"You surely do." I returned the smile.


Change. Pain. We can't avoid it. But it's nothing new to God. Jesus is no stranger to pain. 

God is in control. If life were easy here, what would we have to look forward to? Why would we long for a heavenly home? Why would we long for the arms of Jesus?

God knows the enemy who claws the ground ... looking for us ... desiring to devour us. Why, He allowed it. He is in control. God in us gives us the power to be joyful, to see differentlythrough blurred visionto see in full color in the journey ... in the throbbing pain ... in the change ... in the midst.



Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise! —Revelation 5:12

Friday, October 10, 2014

Twitter and Pornography?

That's certainly not a one word title, is it?

Pornography. I can't believe I'm even using that word in a title. Pornography?

I may never live this one down.

I confess. I must be a hypocrite. I have a Twitter account. As a writer, I understand I need one. I need a social media presence.

And to this point, I've not had reason to fear or be cautious.

But recently, I had two new followers on Twitter. I always look at a new follower's page to see if this is someone I should respectfully reciprocate the follow. Is this another writer? Is this someone who follows God?

Pornography. Both Twitter pages were pornographic. Outright. No other description exists. The movie Fireproof scrolled through my mind. I refused to scroll ... I blocked them.


I suppose I'm just naïve enough to be the only person who didn't realize Twitter allowed that. And do they allow it? Was this something that simply fell through the cracks? Does Facebook allow this?

Obviously, there are no internet restrictions. I realized that the first time I googled "Whitehouse" and a graphic picture popped up coupled by my McAfee virus protection warning:

"Whoa! Are you sure you want to go there?"

No, I didn't want to go there.


And please know I don't mean to slander Twitter or anyone else. There is much good there. And I'm not comparing them to a spider. I do compare the enemy to a spider.

This is a dilemma that I'm not certain how to handle. I've always written to help others or pass on knowledge that I've learned, the easy or hard way. But this is one of those times where I need knowledge.

So I'm asking.

There is such a difference between seeking the bad and it seeking you. Pop-ups can be blocked on computers. But can you block those kind of followers on Twitter from ever following you? Is there protection available? Can you protect your eyes? Your heart?

I don't know.



But my first thought was ... children are on Twitter. What if these pornographic sites "follow" children ... and the kids look at their site, like I did?

And that may never happen to me again ... I may never get "followed" by something like that again ... but it did happen.
 
*****

As a kid, I'd be so excited to go buy the next issue of Seventeen magazine. I'd run up to that store's magazine shelf to see a picture of Scott Baio or Shaun Cassidy or Andy Gibb ... and glance over, down the rack, to see the enemy glaring right at me. Magazines so distasteful there in full view ... being the tempter. Ready to ensnare. I'd look at the poor fellow standing there, and my young heart would sink for him. He'd clearly been entrapped. I'd get what I came for and get out of there. 

I wish I could say my childhood was without mistakes. Oh, a different set of mistakes. But I wish I had been a Pollyanna. Oh, I was so close. But my mistakes caused me to feel just enough discipline from my heavenly Father to know that I don't want to go down any outright, brazen disobedient road again.

Obedience is the path to take. But we must be on guard.

In this world, we can be following on the path so innocently ... only to discover ourselves entrapped in a web.

The enemy is intentional.

The enemy is there, in the dark, waiting for someone to devour.


God is there, in the light, waiting for someone to reward.

Guard your hearts.

Parents, guard your hearts.

Parents, guard your children's hearts.