Thursday, September 26, 2013

Ok. I have held it in long enough. I've tried, but I simply cannot do it any longer. I LOVE FALL! No, I seriously LOVE Fall. I love everything about it: the smells, the tastes, the chill in the air, the colors. Don't even get me started about the colors, y'all. These are MY colors. (I know I wear a lot of black and white, and that stems from a childhood fascination with nuns that is a whole 'nother blog altogether.) But these colors not only make me smile but they speak to my heart- the colors that God created basically JUST BECAUSE HE WANTED TO! Just a little show off moment for the trees that have given us shade, fed the air, served as a home to the birds, and now will replenish the earth with carbon with every deep, rich blessing that drifts to the ground below.  

Oh, this is quite the time to be alive on this planet and in the beautiful Commonwealth of Virginia.


The other day I was going by a corner lot where a pumpkin patch sets up and it wasn't there yet. I was worried that it wasn't going to come this year (Lord knows I don't need any pumpkins! He saw to that by blessing those vines beyond our expectation!) But I wanted the patch to be there- I wanted the hay bales and the gourds and the little red wagons the kids use to haul their treasures in. I wanted the bonfire that they light every evening and the maze they set up that winds around the big tent they work under. Just another change that I wasn't in tune with...Then I realized that it is still September...for a few more days. (They set up yesterday, by the way!) So all is good.

Now I realize I may be stepping on some toes here, those of you who want Summer to last all year long. You people who say that it can't get hot enough for you and who, for some unknown reason, actually love to sweat. I know: this is an East-coast resort area. I KNOW! OBX and VB and all that.
But, how can I say this nicely...GET OVER IT! This is Virginia and even though we don't get really cold, we have seasons and this one coming up is MINE. You had yours. It's MY turn and I am going to go bake some pumpkin stuff and light a pumpkin candle and make stew and chili and bake bread. Yeast bread and corn bread. So sorry for stepping on your toes but it's time you took the flip flops off anyway and put on some socks 'cause it's FALL!


Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Recently I heard a young pastor say that if there had been Prozac in David's day, there may never have been Psalms. Up and down, up and down, poor David's emotions were all over the place. Why? David's love for God was so deep that when he hurt, he ached to the core, and when he rejoiced, his voice reached above the clouds.



So it is with Christians. We are a passionate group, those of us who love the Lord. We love a God Who will always, always love us more. We know His mercy and we cannot understand when that mercy, whether perceived or real, is withheld from us by others who profess to love Him as well.

As people of faith, we know Love. We know Compassion. We know the author of Forgiveness. We face insults and wrongs daily from those outside the faith and it hurts. When we are faced with those emotions from our brothers and sisters, it hurts even deeper. We expect more from each other, forgetting that we are all human and we fall way, way short every time.

Yes, conflicts will happen among God's people, just as they do among those who don't know Him.  But the difference between "us" and "them" is how we handle the conflict. Do we see others whose opinions differ as wrong and out of line? Or do we just see our brothers and sisters hurting and reach out to try to heal the wound? Are we even listening to each other? And why can't we each be just a little right? Because that would mean that we are also just a little wrong.


So what do we do when we are hurting? Do we, like David,  seek the One Who always loves us (and always has and always will)? Do we drop to our knees and pray for the hearts of those who have wronged us? Do we search ourselves for any wrongdoing on our part? Too often we gather in groups to whisper condolences and offer support. We look to the Word only so that we can post something thought-provoking on Facebook. Or we sit and stew and grow bitter.

In Matthew 18:15-17 we are instructed to go directly to the person who has sinned against us. There are complete instructions on how we should handle the situation, yet we avoid direct conflict and interaction and only perpetuate the problem. Oh, we have learned so little. Why do we doubt the Word of God? Do we think that we know more than Matthew?  We are so intent on winning the argument that we are afraid we'll lose ground and somehow weaken our own stance on an issue. 

What can ever go wrong by at least trying to make something right?

It's not easy to admit our sin. But the thoughts that do not build up and do not glorify are just that, sinful. So go have a talk with Jesus, read your Bible, call your brother or sister, and don't post anything about it on Facebook.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

As I watch the waves roll toward the shore I am amazed at their beauty. Each one is perfect, yet unique. I marvel at the power of the ocean that they came from, then shrink in awe at the thought of the One Who created the ocean.

As lovely as one wave is, the next one is equally beautiful- gracefully cresting and crashing ashore, only to recede and rebuild into another swell ready to pound the shore again, and again.

Once one wave ends I don't miss it and yearn to see it again because I know that God will provide another one that will have its own unique beauty. And so I am reminded not to become too attached to anything on this earth but to cling fast to the Christ, the One and only constant Truth. I lean on the Word of God in 2 Peter 3:8, "But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day."

And so I continue to seek the will of God, to remember that time is fleeting, and that every wave is an opportunity to embrace something new.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

I was working in the school store at Norfolk Collegiate. A dear friend called me to tell me that a plane had crashed into the World Trade center. Since NYC is my favorite town, many people contact me when something interesting happens there. I assumed it was one of the small planes that have, at times, hit skyscrapers accidentally. I remember her saying "No, it's not like that. It's a big plane- on purpose."

The phone seemed cold in my hand as we hung up. She was on her way to school. I was finished there for the morning, but I wasn't going anywhere. Not when my kids were in a school less than 3 miles from the largest naval base in the world. We had no idea whether we were next.

As the news of more attacks was reported, more parents showed up at the school. Some took their kids home, others waited together by a few TVs that were tuned to CNN. After the Pentagon was hit, the fear became even more evident. Our area could very well be the next target. I recall staring at the images and having to remind myself to breathe. We were stunned, in shock. I remember the rest of the day as one of small scenes. Prayers, tears, confused silence. I took this attack personally and I have still never fully accepted the pain of September 11.

My first trip to New York was in high school. I didn't go up in the towers with the rest of the group. I walked around the area, watching the people and breathing in the city. It was March, and very windy. The employees had difficulty opening the doors as the wind created a vacuum effect as it blew between the enormous buildings. I remember having a brief exchange with a maid about how hard it was to open the doors. Afterward, I thought how nice she was and how New Yorkers weren't all rude, as some people think. I don't regret not going up in the tower. I'm thankful I have a happy memory on what is now hallowed ground.

It was a very fragile time for me, after suffering the loss of my mother and having endured an extremely tumultuous time in the years prior to her death. New York represented a city that was so big, and so strong, and so alive that any pain or fear or anxiety would be in the shadow of the giant towers that represented life and power. How could you have time for your fears and pain in a city that was so intense? I loved both the beauty and the beast that were New York and was thrilled years later when I introduced my husband to it. He found his own reasons for being drawn to this city, so our kids were soon indoctrinated as well.  

As with any crisis, we go through the necessary motions to get through our day, our week, our years. We grieve and mourn losses, pray for those left behind, and move forward, vowing to be different. We look to our only source of constant Love, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. It is in Him and through Him that we succeed and grow.  As it is with gold, these hard times refine and purify us so that we can continue the work that is set before us. We draw closer the ones we love. We hold each other a little tighter, and pray for strength and guidance. And we never, ever forget.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

I only needed a few things from the grocery store. As soon as I got out of the car I heard the thunder. Hurrying through the store collecting my items I overheard many conversations about the impending storm. People sharing how they had come through it only to know that they would be facing it once again when they left. Some were hoping the power would stay on so that they could actually cook the food they were buying. Others were regretting
even coming out in the first place. And I was somewhere in between all of those places, just trying to get out, get loaded up, and get home.

I was making pretty good time, too. Until the school buses turned onto the road. One by one the three that were in front of me was reduced to one. Together we turned on my street, still 2.3 miles from our house. (We've measured it. When you live this far out you have to reassure people that they are not lost and they only have 2.3 miles to go until their destination). 

At the first house, the STOP sign went out, the lights came on, and all I could see was a pair of little tennis shoes on the ground outside the door. Right then and there I knew that my heart was won and that God had slowed me down just for this. He was joined by two other kids and they rounded the front of the bus with mixed enthusiasm. One ran, one walked, and one seemed reluctant to leave the bus and stood waving at the driver. At the door of the home was a woman wearing a smile as wide as the driveway and arms opened to greet all of them. I don't know if they are all three hers, but right then they were.

The scene repeated itself for about half of my journey. There were moms taking pictures of the little ones, probably kindergartners, as they exited the bus. One mom even had her child return to the bus steps to capture just the right shot! There were grandparents, dads, neighbors. Some kids ran into open arms, some merely walked up as though it were just another day. But at every stop there was someone that had shown up just for the sole reason of being there for a child. To love them. To welcome them. To offer comfort and kindness.

As I write this, the storm is raging. Wind, rain, loud rolling thunder. And I am so thankful that each of those children is safe.

Our God is there, as we get off our "bus." He is waiting to love us, to welcome us, and to give us comfort and safety. Our day may not have been great, but when we greet Him and ease into that precious place of peace that only He can offer, it's as good as milk and cookies after school.

Why I Choose to be Southern Baptist

These have been tough days for those of us who call ourselves “Southern Baptists.” I won’t go into all the details. I don't think it’s S...