Taco Bed Becky

SONY DSCGod started teaching me very early in life about change. My parents were foster parents. From that day when I got off the bus from first grade to find that I suddenly had two older sisters, I began to realize that change was a part of life and people would be coming and going from then on in it. Actually, I got the part about their coming into my life that day…the part about them leaving it didn’t really sink in until later.

My extended family wasn’t Ward and June Cleaver stable. They were more Smokey Mountain stable–rock solid and comfortably immovable, beautiful and a little bit wild around the edges, full of the kind of surprises that make you glad to be there and happy to be a part of it. They were big in number and in stature, loud in laughter and with a work ethic that just wouldn’t quit–everything from hoeing corn to shelling peas, picking up sticks for a bonfire, playing softball or badminton,and seeing who could find the best hiding place was a contest that ended in a good-natured joke. In my innocence, I didn’t realize everyone didn’t have that kind of stability.

Because we lived out in the country with no street lights (easier to make sure you weren’t being followed), my parents took in children from emergency rescue situations as well as some who stayed with us for years. I lost count of the number of times I rolled over in the morning to find a face I didn’t know looking back at me. As the foster children began to come in and out of our home, I learned the value of stability in life and how it was our responsibility to give that gift to each one for as long as they were with us. There were no favorites in the house–the rules were the same for all of us. For some, it was the first time they had ever experienced that kind of love. For us, it was just normal. Stability in fragments. It’s quite a concept.

Somewhere along the way, I managed to get a bit mixed up about the concept of stability, however. I truly didn’t mind the additional people in the house–I was used to large numbers of children because I had a WORLD of cousins and all the neighborhood kids were regularly in our yard, anyway. I was ok with change…as long as it didn’t involve ME or my stuff. Everything had a place and was in it. Woe to the one who moved it.

I began to set such store on keeping “things” as they had always been that I actually pitched one of the biggest fits you’ve ever seen when my parents were finally able to purchase a new mattress for me and my sister. Our old one was pitiful. We would roll to the middle and the edges would creep up a bit like a taco every night. My parents were doing a good thing in trying to change it, but you’d have thought they were trying to kill me from the ruckus I made. They prevailed. We got the new mattress…and the world did not end. We actually slept better. Change. It happens…and sometimes, it’s for the good, I thought then…as long as there isn’t too much of it. (grin/grimace)

I thought about that this morning as I stood over my sink looking out into the rain-soaked yard. My life has been chock-full of change now for as long as I can remember. Over and over, I’ve had to re-learn the taco-bed lesson as God has moved people and places and things all over my world. We’re facing a lot of it right now. You probably are, too. People we love are ill or hurting and the number of situations about which we have no control in our lives mounts daily. It makes the stability of relationship with God even more important. He has no favorites and the rules are the same for all of us…whether we follow them or not.

All of this “disruption” makes me glad He already knows what’s going on and what is to come. I trust Him to do the right thing for me…even if it makes me uncomfortable for awhile. As I mentally ran through a list of changes we and our loved ones are facing right now, I suddenly asked God to please not let me be Taco Bed Becky–hanging on to those things that need to change in order for His best to be evident in our lives. I’m so grateful that He is my stability among the fragments. I need that today.

And I’ll be praying that for you, too.

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” Hebrews 13:8 (HCSB)

Ahhhh, stability…without stagnation. Now, there’s a concept.

Grace & Peace!

 

 

Waiting…

Potential“but when the fullness of time had come…”  Galatians 4:4 (KJV)

“But when the set time had fully come…” Galatians 4:4 (NIV)

“But when the right time finally came…” Galatians 4:4 (GNT)

No matter what translation of Scripture I’m reading, I love those words written by the Apostle Paul about the timing of the birth of Jesus…the One I call Savior. That makes them special. They were written after about 400 years of silence from God…yes, that’s right! That deliberate silence from God meant 400 years of waiting time for God’s people. It can’t have been easy. People came and went on this planet. They lived whole lives never knowing what we know now. They had no other choice but to wait. That sounds really harsh, doesn’t it? (Don’t worry about my offending God with that statement…He knows.)

Those words tell me that everything was finally in place for every single prophecy (over 300 of them!) about the Promised Messiah to finally begin to come true. They also tell me that

  • God was in charge back then just like He is now.
  • He has a plan and it is for my good–and yours!
  • He was particular about the details of the plan on purpose.
  • There were people who needed to be in the right places and in the right positions before the plan would work like it was supposed to work.

Those words carry hope. They cradle the thought that God had been busy on our behalf and was finally through preparing our Best Blessing ever…and that timing was EVERYTHING in order for it to actually BE the best blessing ever. Important words. Instructive words…

Those words also make me crazy sometimes–especially when they apply to MY life today because I’m not always the world’s best wait-er! (Who is?!) As an adult, I totally understand the need for waiting…I just don’t always fully embrace the concept personally! (You, either?! ha! Imagine that!)

What I do know, however, is that the same list of statements under my first paragraph are just as true today for MY life as they were when God was waiting to bring His Son into the world to save us…and those details that we’re all waiting to fall into place in our individual lives today? Well, once He has those in place in a way that will bless us best or teach us most, our wait will be over about whatever we’re praying over or holding our breath on now, as well.

Whether His answer is a “Yes!” or a “No!” or a comically rhetorical”What were you thinking when you asked Me that?! (because, YES, God has a sense of humor and sometimes I think we’re allowed to see the possibilities without the pain as a way to grow us up a bit!)…whatever it is that He’s chosen for your answers and my answers, it will be just what we’ve needed all along.

Welcome to the Advent Adventures!

 

 

His face

 “The Lord bless you

and keep you;

the Lord make his face shine on you

and be gracious to you;

the Lord turn his face toward you

and give you peace.”  Numbers 6:24-26

I ended my last post with these verses. They haven’t ended it with me, yet. They keep showing up and rolling around in my brain like some wonderful gift. I keep thinking about those words:  “his face” and they kind of melt me.

It’s considered cross -cultural, I think, that when you’ve been abandoned or disavowed or just disapproved that the symbolism for those who feel you’ve outstayed your welcome is that they turn their back on you. Sometimes that’s just figurative. Other times, it actually happens physically.

These verses show the other side. They’re beneficent, encouraging, hopeful, and personal. They are grace. They are life-giving. They are possible.

No matter where you are today or what you’ve done before, these words are for you. God wants a personal relationship with you! He WANTS to turn His face toward you and be gracious to you. He WANTS to give you peace–peace that lasts forever, not just until the next crisis arrives.

That means you’ll have to look at Him, too, of course. It means you’ll have to see past all of the misconceptions and half-truths and preconceived notions passed as fact by those who don’t really want to do the work of getting to know Him. It means you’ll need to dig deep. It means you’ll have to go to the Source and ask Him to come in. He can do that. He will do that…if you ask.

It isn’t complicated. It does have to be deliberate. You have to choose it–NO ONE just falls haphazardly, or by heritage, or by just being a good person–into a personal relationship with God. It is simple, however. You’ll need to acknowledge the vast gap between who you are and the perfection that is Him. You’ll have to recognize that you can’t make up the difference on your own. You’ll have to see yourself for what you are: someone with sin (and if you’re like me, a lot of it)…someone who has missed the mark…repeatedly. You just have to ask Him to get rid of that sin and make you whole again.

Be ready, though. Asking this isn’t temporary. It will change you. Completely. Forever. He will rock your world in ways you can’t currently imagine…and it will be amazing.

It’s worth it. HE is worth it. The peace is worth it.

These verses are more than just an ancient blessing. They are prophetic. When you ask God to come into your life and be in charge, these words will leap to life and this will happen:

  •  The Lord bless you–with a new heart and a clean soul!

  • and keep you–forever! Never alone again. Always in His care!

  • the Lord make his face shine on you–able to know the Almighty and experience His pleasure in you! He values you! He loves you! He made you on purpose, so He’s already on your side!

  • and be gracious to you–grace = unmerited (unearned!) favor! Who couldn’t use more of that?

  • the Lord turn his face toward you–He will let you see Him! He will be personal with you! He will choose to have a relationship with you that will surpass anything you’ve ever experienced.

  • and give you peace–long past this holiday season. His peace is for a lifetime…and our world needs this now, more than ever. It can start with you today. Just ask.

NO COMPLAIN NOVEMBER: Day 30

SONY DSCI’m not exactly certain, but this may have been the most relaxing Thanksgiving of my whole adult life. It started off with a driving trip with my husband to see our Mississippi family, supper and catching up with my sister and her family, and resting in the open home of friends…and that was just day one of our little trip. The rest of it was all about shared food, laughter, catching up and loving on our extended family.

It was wonderful. We were busy, but didn’t try to fit in anything that wasn’t about family on this one. It was what all holidays should be about, but so seldom are. Yes, we loved on a couple of friends and were well-loved in return, but honestly…well…they’re actually family of the heart, so it still counts.

Hey! Did you notice? We made it. Today is the very last day of NO COMPLAIN NOVEMBER 2015!

That doesn’t mean we’re all off the hook tomorrow! It means that now we’ve had a whole month to practice and we should be much better at this as we go forward! (You didn’t think I’d let it slide that easily, did you?!)

Here’s some of what I’ve learned this month:

  • It is possible. You can actually set your mind to let go of your “right” to complain every single day.
  • Choosing to participate in this has been a very positive thing for me…and more than a few others, as well! When we focus on being more positive, people are drawn to that and want to participate!
  • You can never have too many people who are choosing to focus on the positive things in life!
  • Encouragement and positivity are contagious–and courageous!–choices in a world so often focused on only the sensationalized negativity that passes for news.
  • Small ideas still matter. What seemed like a single, simple conversation among friends in October mushroomed into something much, much bigger than we ever expected.
  • Sharing our experiences–whether they are our radiant successes or our less than stellar results–brings us closer, deepens relationships, and makes accountability fun.
  • Knowing that you’re not alone in something that may seem impossible at first is pretty good motivation to keep working at it.
  • I’m STILL the most blessed person I know…and I have the family and friends to prove it.

I’d love to hear from you about what you learned this month, about your best days and your worst ones, too, along with how you see this extending out into your future. I’m still excited about this “experiment” of ours and I’m looking for ways to make it even better next time, so share away, please! If you’ve got a focus for December that you’d like to share, please feel free to do that, as well–we’re always up for more blessing!

I’ve been thinking about how I’d like to end this post and I keep coming back to one of the most beloved blessings in Scripture. I’ll share it with you here and pray it for all of us in the month ahead as we celebrate the One who came to bless us best: Jesus, the Christ…no longer a babe in a manger, but seated at the right hand of God making intercession for each of us even in this moment.

“The Lord bless you
    and keep you;
the Lord make his face shine on you
    and be gracious to you;
the Lord turn his face toward you
    and give you peace.”   ~Numbers 6: 24-26 (NIV)

Grace & Peace! (and still no complaints!)

 

NO COMPLAIN NOVEMBER: Day 24

I’ve seen something similar before, but the message is still a great one and worthy of sharing here with you just as my precious #6 (Thanks, Lisa!) shared with all of us earlier this week. It is especially appropriate for those who are busy in the preparations of the days leading up to the “great day” of Thanksgiving…just TWO MORE DAYS, y’all!!

“Grateful for…

  1. Early wakeups = children to love
  2. House to clean = safe place to live
  3. Laundry = clothes to wear
  4. Dishes to wash = food to eat
  5. Crumbs under the table = family meals
  6. Grocery shopping = $ to provide for us
  7. Toilets to clean = indoor plumbing
  8. Lots of noise = people in my life
  9. Endless questions about homework = kids’ brains growing
  10. Sore & tired in bed = I’m still alive!

Amen

pumpkin1I’ve been thinking about that since Lisa sent it out to us Sunday morning. All of the things we so often turn into complaints have, at their heart, a reason to give thanks. Let’s not forget that this week…or next…or ever. So many people can NOT include those 10 things in their prayers.

That was brought home to me especially by a Facebook post last night from my friend, Linda:

“I heard on the news tonight that 14% of the U.S. population experiences food insecurity and for Mississippi, it’s 22%. Food insecurity in the land of plenty is mystifying. How blessed, and how truly unaware of that blessing, are those of us who don’t wonder how, when, or where our next meal will be.”

That’s pretty sobering, isn’t it? In this month of NO COMPLAIN NOVEMBER, and especially in this week of Thanksgiving celebrations, let’s remember those who are less fortunate …and then, let’s do something to change it.

Our mission won’t end at the end of this month. We can choose to be grateful. We can choose not to complain. We can choose to make positive differences in the world and in the lives of those who need our compassion and our assistance…even when they aren’t asking us for a thing. Start thinking now! True ThanksGIVING can start right in the neighborhood where you live. Will it? Will you?

Grace & Peace!

(*Beautiful mini-quilt made by hand and given to me as a blessing by my wonderful #3, Jody! That word “Blessed” sums up my life in ways I can never truly write about well enough to convey the depth of it. My friends and family  know that and generously continue to add to my metaphorical pile of blessings by loving on me every day!)

NO COMPLAIN NOVEMBER: Day 21

I woke up cold and early this morning and couldn’t figure out why. I got up and pulled on a robe and house shoes, turned up the heat, and settled into my favorite chair in the living room. The chair used to belong to my Grandmother and it is old and covered in what is now (and was then, too!–grin) a hideously brown and orange flowered print from the 1970s…and it reminds me of her and how she loved me and it warms me up in ways that have nothing at all to do with temperature.

About an hour later, my husband emerged from the bedroom and I wondered why the heat was still running and I moved through the house looking for another way to warm. Entering back into our room, I noticed that the curtains at the window were gently moving…with the breeze of an open window…left open all night long.

I did that. I did that yesterday to air out the room and I’m the one who forgot to come back and close it up, make it tight against the chilly night air. I did that.

It doesn’t sound like much, but God doesn’t always need big things to teach us. Lessons of the day:

Sometimes, the things that make us uncomfortable are our own fault. It may not have seemed like a big deal at the time, but the effects of our actions–or our inactions–still make themselves known. There’s no point in complaining about things that are in the past or that we can fix today. Fix what you can and move on. (And I pray those things are as simple as shutting my window.) Be careful about where you are and what you do today.

Sometimes, the things that make us the most comfortable aren’t really things, but the emotions brought on by people who have poured love into us in days long ago. It’s a pretty good reminder that to become people of influence, we need to be pouring love into the people around us now…and be more vocal at expressing our appreciation when the ones around us pour back into us. Again, fix what you can and move on. Be careful about WHO you are today and what you choose to pour into those around you now.

Wishing you a warm, dry, cozy day surrounded by love and great memories…with no complaints…

Grace & Peace!

NO COMPLAIN NOVEMBER: Day 18

The last few weeks have been “hectic” for us…and for most of the world. When that happens, it’s always good to take some time out to spend with friends and it’s even better when you can do it while using the experience to deepen your relationship with God.

LNO tablesLast night was such a night.

Over 300 women from our church and community gathered together for a delicious meal and some time of praise mixed in with a few stories about what God has been busy doing to make Himself known in the ladies among our community.

LNO 2015The room was filled with tables surrounded by women. All were beautifully decorated–both the tables AND the women. We weren’t there to show off our finery. We were there to use it much like the gifts the Wise Men brought to the newborn King so long ago: we were there to celebrate His coming and honor His place among us.

As I listened to the chatter in the room beforehand, I was filled–as always– with an amazing sense of being blessed. Women in accord. That’s a powerful thing. The program was wonderful. Four women from among us rose to share on themes of Hope, Peace, Love, and Joy. There were tears. There always are. You can’t get this close to the Christ without it moving your emotions. There was also laughter…because you can’t get this close to Him without that, either. We celebrated His original coming so long ago and we also celebrated that He continues to come and meet us right where we are even today.

Despite the trials that each woman in the room has certainly experienced or might be currently dealing with, no complaints were heard. God was there, and there was no room for anything else but Him. It was a much needed respite for me and the word “grateful” doesn’t even begin to cover it.

I came home and joined my husband in viewing a recorded program from the night before. There was nothing sacred about this competition to see who will become the next VOICE and rise to fame and success…right up until one of the contestants, Jordan Smith, took the stage and began to sing “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” in an incredibly worshipful way. I love that song! We even had it played at our wedding as our parents came down the aisle. It has such a message of hope and peace for me…that melodic reminder that my God has been and will always be trusted to be faithful no matter what I face in this life. At the end of his song, two of the coaches simply expressed their thanks for bringing a sense of hope into what had also been a difficult week for them, as well.

That’s what God does. He shows up and He’s faithful and He brings us HOPE in a world where there are angry words and unkind actions over everything from red cups to refugees fleeing for their lives. We’ve managed to lump those things into one big pile for public debate…as if they’re equal…or ever could be.

My challenge today is to take some time out to meditate on the faithfulness of God in my life. I’ll do it away from the news and the noise of this day. I’ll make time to tell God how glad I am that He is mine and that I am His…and I hope you’re able to do the same.

Grace & Peace!