Sunday, December 27, 2009

Christmas 2009

I will not be one of those people who enter the Christmas season just wishing it was over.
However, I will also not ignore the strain that I feel this time of the year.
We all have the stress of the holidays, even those of us who try hard to focus on the true meaning.
Can we really escape it?
Can we really enjoy the entire Christmas season with all of it's crowds, parties and programs?
Those of us who love to shop often feel pressure to find a perfect suitable gift for the ones we love but who already have everything.

Our family (Jeffers and Russells) decided this year to really and truly "scale back". We've talked about it before,..but this year most of us really did it. Our plans were to spend our time/money on something which had a positive impact on others.
It was wonderful and I loved it.
I'm not relating the following info to make us look special or holier than others, but I'm sharing what has helped bring more meaning to my life during a wonderful but painful time.

Between all of us, we provided Christmas for several children through the Salvation army, we fed and clothed the hungry through an established organization in Little Rock and we established an award which will be given to a high school student in the North Pulaski Chorale department. It is in memory and honor of two of my favorite singers,..my father, Louie and his granddaughter Jae Lynn.


It's called the
Barefoot Singer Award



Singing with no shoes symbolizes vulnerability, passion and freedom
from barriers and inhibitions.
Singing barefooted heightens the senses of the
performer as well as the listener
by incorporating physical touch and sight
into the creation of musical sounds.

This award in presented tonight in memory of a singer who loved to
perform barefooted on this very stage.
When Jae Lynn Russell’s voice left us in 2004,
the entire choral department of North Pulaski came together,
removed their shoes and performed in her honor.

A Barefoot Singer will have a song
on their mind, in their heart and on their lips
in what ever circumstances they are in.

A Barefoot Singer will sing just as surely as they will breathe
and music is not so much considered a part of their life
as it is a part of their soul.
A Barefoot Singer is a lover, a dreamer and believes that
magical things can happen when music is in the air.

Although this Barefoot Singer award is going to a very talented individual,
it not their ability which sets them apart from their peers.
Rather,....it is their love of the song.
 
I don't know all of my readers and followers but I have loved your company this year.
Merry Christmas friends.
 
 

Monday, December 14, 2009

Teddy

Shopping today in June's Hallmark of NLR almost led me into one of those Christmastimehumdingerhissyfits.
Have you ever had one of those?
I wrote about them here.


My time spent the past couple of days with Casey and Abby has left me pining for my other daughter.
What would Jae be like today?

Today, in the Hallmark store, I was reminded of a time, years ago, when I was in there shopping for something. Jae was about 8 years old and as we entered the store, her eye fell onto a small red teddy bear sitting in the middle of a hundred other stuffed animals. She gasped, knelt down in front of the rack, picked up the bear and followed me through the store. She cooed and whispered to it the entire time as I browsed for forgettable things.


She begged me for it.
Begged me I tell ya.

I said "no".


You should have witnessed the emotional parting she and this red teddy bear had right there in the aisle of that busy store.
It was a quiet separation but I knew she felt as if she was leaving someone special.

I recall a similar time when in a toy store at Branson, Jae saw a doll named "Polly Flinders". The minute she saw the doll, we could tell that it was different. She seemed to connect with it in a way that we had not seen before.
Her desire for Polly Flinders could best be described as ......desperate.
Even after Jae no longer played with dolls, Polly was never put away.

For some reason, this red teddy in the hallmark store seemed to be similar to Polly, so as soon as I could, I returned to purchase him for one of her Christmas presents.

Teddy became a very important member of our family.
He frequently got buckled in beside her in our family van, he slept on her pillow each night, waited for her to come home each day, he camped with us, accompanied us to Disney, occasionally went to church and he faithfully attended every cheer competition.
He was present as she filled her journals at night and I'm positive he was privy to many of her night-time musings.

In June's hallmark store today, I recalled Jae Lynn kneeling there and meeting Teddy for the first time.

I wanted to tell each mother in the store to buy whatever their kids wished for.


Teddy now sleeps in my room with me.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Mr Bean

My family loves Mr. Bean

annoying ads at the bottom...be sure to "x" them out if they pop up!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Journey

I've been thinking lately about my purpose.
I guess I should try again to read Rick Warren's book about the purpose-driven life.
Nah.

I think I just need to remember a few things:
Like God is much more concerned about my heart than He is my successes.
He doesn't need me to be good at anything,..He just wants me to be faithful and obedient.
If I can exercise consistent Godly characteristics,
then His ministry will occur through me.
Little ole me.
Having an eternal Kingdom impact.


Although I am not in a true leadership position anywhere,
I have found that I am constantly leading people.
In most of my relationships at work and church, my old age (!) has given me
much experience in a variety of interesting things.


As a leader, I want to remember to be the biggest servant.
I don't want to have a "disdain for the mundane".
If I'm stacking chairs after a church event, then I want to be the best chair stacker ever.
If I'm washing dishes, then I want others to see me standing joyful at the sink.
Does God care about dishes and chair-stacking?
Maybe or maybe not, but I know
He cares about how I feel and act when performing those tasks.


I can't expect any type of ministry in my life to flourish if I don't
seek God through prayer and scripture.
Desiring a close walk with God won't get me there.
Feeling guilty is non-productive.
Church attendance is important but by itself will not sustain a life of purpose and ministry.
It's not enough to discuss God and His wonderful ways.
I can surround myself with good dancers, talk all day of my dancing skills,
and immerse myself in performances,
but that doesn't make me a dancer.


My life is about the journey.
Unexpected detours seem to be in the plan.
The only place I need to "arrive" at is Heaven.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Youth Workers Convention

I don't think Satan wanted me to go to Atlanta this weekend.
There were 5 of us scheduled to go to the Youth Specialties Youth Workers Convention and each one of us had serious issues which made us want to stay or be home.
Four of us made the trip in our tiny capsule Mazda and arrived at 4 frazzlin o'clock in the morning!
We pull up to the Omni hotel which appears to have no lobby or parking lot. We somehow wind up in a valet area and are immediately surrounded by tuxedoed valets who did a great job at hiding their disgust with our old dented-up car filled with bubble gum wrappers and a hundred M&M's (which got thrown during a fierce fight).

Now, I need to tell you right here, that somehow, during the 8-9 hours ride sitting in a back seat the size of a milk crate, something serious happened to my right knee.
It began to hurt around Memphis, was killing me at Birmingham and absolutely locked-up as we drove into Atlanta.
It simply would not work.


As Ralph, Levi and Jackie unloaded the car, I was sent by the bellman to the elevator towards the 4th floor for check-in.
Dragging my leg across the cavernous deserted lobby towards 3 fresh-looking desk clerks, they greeted me professionally and I handed them my credit card. One of them apologized and said "I'm sorry ma'am, you have a Marriot credit card and this is an Omni Hotel chain. We can not accept this credit card."

It's four a.m.
My right leg has a mind of it's own.
I'm too tired to think.
"What?"
He apologizes and repeats that the "Omni hotel does not accept credit cards which have other hotel names printed on them."

I had options here.

I could pull out another card
or
I could crawl over the desk and use his tie to choke the snot out of him.
I think he saw clearly that I was going for the second option because he laughed and yelled "I'm just kidding! Oh My Gosh! I'm joking! I'm so sorry ma'am,..I can see how tired you are and I should not have pranked you like that! Please forgive me!"

I should have known.

Welcome to the National Youth Workers Convention.

The weekend was wonderfully filled with refreshment and inspiration and I'm looking forward to sharing some it of here soon.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

What's On Your Mind?

I wonder sometimes, as I live, work and socialize with different people, what types of agonies lurk in the front of their minds as they carry on conversations with me.

As I laugh and joke about mundane things, mention newspaper articles or comment on life,..have my friends been mentally and emotionally sidetracked by horrible memories?

Could my friends be making a valiant attempt to respond to my conversation but deep inside their head, they are mulling an internal pain which would silence me if I knew of it?

That happened to me today.
I excused myself from the crowd so I would not make a scene.
Was I angry?
Nope.
Were they insensitive?
Not really,..they didn't know me "before" so don't fully understand the sharp trajectory change my life has taken.
It's not noticeable to the eye.
I have a deep wound which appears healed, but festers under the surface.

My friends would not know that their topic of discussion began a mental train of thought which could not be stopped.
I could not tell them that as they were talking an joking among themselves that I was replaying a nightmarish scene that played itself out in my front yard of the afternoon of March 18th, 2004.
There are some pains which are never forgotten.
It becomes part of us without us wanting it to be so.
The hurt defies description, yet,.. it's ordinary and normal.
We pray to be separated from it, but it's utterly impossible.
It ebbs and fades at times, but we feel it from a distance knowing it will return.
We all say that "Pain comes to us all", but sleeping, waking and living with it is so,......painful.

It's not crippling by any means, but it is lonely.
Very lonely.

Maybe it's the grief of losing someone who we don't think we can live without.
Maybe it's the loss of love through divorce or rejection.
Violence inflicted upon us by another.
Physical illness and suffering.
A prodigal child.
Addiction.

Whatever it is,..it's is never far from the mind.

I must remember that when I interact with people.
I must remember that about me.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Matthew

My book to study this month is Matthew.
Some of the things I learn in my study almost seem so elementary that I often find myself ashamed because I'm just now learning them
I think,.."everyone knows these things except me!"
Well, I'm not disclosing what I learned today at my kitchen table because you would think me a big doofus.

I WILL however, mention other interesting (to me) observations from my last couple of days in Matthew:

There are four women listed in Matthew's discussion of Jesus' linage.
Two were prostitutes. (Tamar and Rahab)
One was an adulterous. (Bathsheba)
The last one mentioned was from a sworn enemy people of the Jews. (Ruth)

John the Baptist is in the middle of a verbal tirade against the Pharisees and Sadducees when his cousin Jesus appears out of nowhere, pecks him on the shoulder and asks to be baptized. John switches instantly from a loud confident prophet to a knowledgeable but humble (confused?) brother.
I would have loved to have witnessed this moment shared between the two of them.


After Jesus was baptized,..the Spirit of God descended and "hovered" on Him as a dove. Did you know that in the second verse of Genesis 1,..before the world was formed,..the Spirit of God "hovered" over the darkness?
The Spirit of God as a tiny dove vs the Spirit of God hovering over a huge unformed planet.
One and the same.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Weekend Reflections

Went to Fayetteville this week-end to spend time with Casey. The Hogs just happened to play so I watched them too.
Here's some random reflections from the weekend.
**************************************
Casey cleaned her apartment in anticipation of our arrival. Imagine that.

Breakfast at the Cracker Barrel is a great date.

The lady who sat next to me at the football game cried during the National anthem.

Casey's roommate is an Interior Design major. She's been "in studio" now for about 36 hours straight. Her schedule the past two semesters has been insane.
Mama's...don't let your babies grow up to be Interior Designers.

Every single coach and manager on the South Carolina Football team wears their pants about 4 inches too long.

If Jae were still with us, she would more than likely be a senior cheerleader at some university.

Casey plans, travels and roams because she still grieves deeply.

Abby is right now, the same age as Casey was when we lost Jae.


I am reminded that some of the most important jobs I can do or my girls is to pray, love and listen.


Anytime I see sunrises, sunsets, pretty moons, rainbows or storms,..I wonder what it all looks like from Heaven's viewpoint.

I love to come home.

I found out that we now have the BET channel on our TV.
Oh joy. Another channel to block.

Abby still fits nicely in my lap.

And lastly,.....a moment form the Hogs football game that I always look forward to.....





.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Storms

Last week, our area experienced a torrential rainstorm which flooded many of our roads and bridges. As I drove home through the worst of it, I unexpectedly found myself driving through the deepest water I ever recall driving through.
I was in it before I knew it was there.

After being home about 20 minutes, I received a call from my mom who, to my dismay, had also been out in this storm.
Mom does not see well at night and the short distance she was driving was flooded which forced her to drive miles out of her way.
In the dark.
In the rain.
And she had forgotten her cell phone.

Mom has driven these roads for 50 years.
She knows every bump and dip.
She knows every home and mailbox along each road.
The distance was short....maybe a mile.
When she left home hours before, the weather was fine.

But Thursday night, the circumstances became very different.
Outside influences changed the normal into the unrecognizable.
Old knowledge was not useful.
What should have been an effortless drive was replaced by danger, worry and fear.

My brothers and I all sat in our homes unaware of what our mom was going through.

What are the lessons here for me?
1. People get blindsided by life.
It happened to me and I bet it will you too.
It nobodies fault,...Life just happens.
One minute you are safe, the next you are near-drowning.

2. Storms are normal.
However, I, like some of you, think storms are unfair.

3. We often don't realise that the people we love are in danger.
They don't tell us?
They can't tell us?
We don't ask?

4. God always knows exactly where we are.
Thank goodness He is reachable even when we are too frightened
or overwhelmed to seek Him.
He is the original "wireless".

5. Worrying about my parents is right up there with worrying about my kids.
I must nag fuss remind mom that we are not reachable when she is without her cellphone.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Riding Pete Into War

Last night, Bro David referred to a text in Revelation 19 which describes the last battle.
It is in our future when the curtain of time is dropping and
all the forces of evil are gathered to fight against
He who is called Faithful and True.
The army will be all dressed up in white wedding garments
and riding on white horses behind Jesus Christ.
Now who in the world wears white to go into battle?
And who goes to war after a wedding?
Me!
And you.
But I don't think we really have to fight.
Good thing, because I'm afraid I'd have trouble staying on the horse,
much less fighting on one.
Does this all sound a little far-fetched?
Yep...it does to me too.
However,...if we're going to believe the Bible, then we need to believe the whole thing.
How exciting!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Early Morning Revival

What were you doing at 5:45 this morning?
That's about the time of the morning when I get into my car and head towards work.

The last few weeks have been ones of emotional conflict for me.
Last Saturday, I became involved in a situation at work (the new job which I'm struggling to enjoy) and was pretty dadgum frustrated that this "particular situation" kept me from attending Abby's band competition. I can't share details here because it would involve discussing details of a patient, but by the time I clocked out that evening, I had been stretched physically, emotionally and even spiritually.

Moments later, while in a store running an errand, Ralph called me as he sat in the stands of Forrest City High School when Abby's band marched out onto the field. He held the phone in the air and I listened to her entire band performance as I stood in the frazzlin paint section of WalMart.
I nearly cried with disappointment.
Then late last night, I became involved in another work-related situation which left me feeling exhausted.
and frustrated.
and tired.
and confused.
and scared.

So back to this morning.....
At about 5:45 this morning, I began a long hard talk with myself and had a long wonderful talk with God.
I don't claim to be one of those people who say things like "......AND GOD TOLD ME........."
Nope.
God just doesn't seem to communicate with me that way.

But this morning, I begged God to keep me passionate about life.
I begged Him (literally) to keep me "on the edge" of living all out for Him.
I've been there before and I don't want to be satisfied with anything less.
Lately, I've been spiritually tepid and I hate it.
I want to be fully there....where ever I am.
I want to live with an expectancy of watching Him work.
It's not that I've been doubting God, but more that I've been trying to figure out things by myself.
Just not involving Him much.
Going through the motions, but no real reliance on or use of Faith.

My prayers this morning brought an exciting time of clarity for me.
My situation has not changed at work, and I don't have a clue of what's in store for me, but I'm feeling much more confident that He will hold true to His word of having plans for my hope and my future.

It's all about your heart Becky.
It's all about your heart Becky.
It's all about your heart Becky.
It's all about your heart Becky

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Jae's Artistic Church Moments

This afternoon, as I cleaned out some old papers and books from my office,
I found a workbook of Jae's.
She was always prone to doodle and write as she "listened".

Here's my favorite picture and danged if I know how it
and the next one ended up sideways!
Just tilt your head to the right a bit......





I think I recall this moment myself....
(hee hee)

The pic below says
"This is me is 5 minutes"
Is that not the sweetest?


I sat in the floor of my office and missed her with a
physical intensity that made me
short of breath.
I'm still that way tonight.
The world misses her.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Where Have I Been?

I could tell you that I've not blogged because I've been too busy.
It wouldn't be true.

I could say that I've not blogged much recently 'cause I've been depressed about my job issues.
Nope. That wouldn't be true either.

Maybe I haven't blogged because I've had writer's block?
(What is that anyway? Writer's block? I think you have to be a real writer to have "writer's block".)
That rules me out.
No writer's block for me.

How about, I haven't blogged because my Internet went out for almost a week?
Yep. True.
Internet usually goes off anytime the modem gets beat to crumbs. (not me)

Here's a few other (true) reasons :

Cleaning house. (DEEP cleaning house)
(No. I absolutely will NOT come clean yours)
Searching for a new job.
Going to band competitions and practices and games. (the North Pulaski band rocks!)
Mucking horse stables. (Did you know the average horse poops every two hours?)
Chasing horses that get out of old fences.
Watching Fox News.
Reading.
Sleeping late three mornings in a row. (Heaven!)
Oreos.
Watching my mom's dog (full time. Bad doggy)
Porch swinging.
Texting. (I'm slow)
Watching Spike TV shows about police chases.
Shopping for landscape plants to purchase, plant and kill.
WalMart.
Church.
Long talks with Abby and Casey.
Wondering what Jae Lynn is doing in Heaven right now.
Watching home movies.
Wondering where time goes.
Planning my cruise to the Bahamas.
(Not true)

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Last Day In Cardiac Rehab

I took a bunch of pictures but can not post most of them because of HIPPA laws.
However, a few photos just have my co-workers.
Here are Daniel and Levi appearing all professional.
These two fellas are notorious for lifting cell phones out of unsuspecting patient's pockets and then changing the screen to their photograph.
I happen to know, however, that they are not angelic as they appear here.
They doctored the above picture on my camera into the photo you see below.
and here you will see that Levi has stolen MY glasses


and Daniel has stolen MY doughnut.



Below is a fuzzy picture of me and Deonna that I would
remove from this blog if I could figure how.
My other nurse co-worker Julie only had her pic taken with other patients
so I can't show her on here.

Glen is my boss. The picture below is a rare one
because he never lets us photograph him.
(Levi stuck his hand around the corner of the door to snap this pic)


Our work station

and the exercise area which is usually FULL of patients!

I deeply love this team and will miss working with them!

My Job

Many of you have asked (thank you) about my job status ever since I mentioned here that the one I loved for the past 3.5 years has "gone away". (grrr)

Here's the scoop:

When my current job in cardiac rehab was phased out, I was promised a job in a small new unit called Cardiac Observation. Basically, it's a place cardiac patients can stay a few hours or perhaps the night while we monitor them.

I already know and love the staff and I don't particularly mind the 12 hours shifts but,.. the bad part is, that I am scheduled to work every other Saturday. Now that I just cain't do!

My humble (but important to me) social calender is booked!

Going to watch the Razorbacks gives me the excuse to go spend the weekend with Casey. Also Abby Rae has band competitions which is the funnest thing I've gotten to be involved in with her. These band competitions rank right up there with Jae's competitive Cheerleading competitions and Casey's ball tournaments.

So. I've been job-hunting.

Three interviews later, I am convinced that for the time being, I am to go on and park my little ole self in the Cardiac Observation Unit for awhile. There is a job on the horizon which I hope will pan out in the next few weeks, but until then,..I will give my patients and co-workers my undivided enthusiasm (which very well could overwhelm them - hee hee).

This week I'm on vacation.
My accomplishments for the week?
I finished off an entire package of Double-Stuff Oreos.

Monday, October 5, 2009

No Nobodies In Heaven

Have you ever wondered how God will be able to pay attention to each one of us in Heaven?
If there are a few million of us there, then how will He even know that I've arrived?
If I'm surrounded by King David, Moses, Mother Teresa, and other saints from past and present, won't I end up being just a big "nobody" in Heaven?


(I know you are probably thinking,..I hope God don't put Becky and her sorry attitude in a mansion near me!)


The other night, Bro David mentioned something about Heaven which made me wonder if Heaven may possible be similar to warm loving family get-togethers here.
Up until the time that daddy passed away over a year ago, my entire family would gather at his house. Not because it was the best home or most convenient location, but we came to 8214 Centennial because daddy and momma were there.
One by one, each family member would arrive. Usually, daddy could hear us on the back porch before we entered the kitchen so his eyes were on the door as we arrived. Some of us arrived alone and some of us entered the front door all wadded up as a group. One of the first things we did on arrival was go to his chair to greet him.
During our family gatherings, we would mill around throughout the house laughing and talking to each other, sometimes speaking directly to daddy, sometimes talking to others near his chair and sometimes out of his sight. Regardless, we knew that we were a loving family and we were bound together through our strongest link,...our "patriarch".

If daddy spoke with Bobby or David, I didn't get jealous....I knew he loved each of us.
If daddy was having a conversation with one of the grandchildren, there was no one who was impatiently tapping a foot.
There was no competition for his attention. We all felt that it was simply good enough to be near him.

As the family circle grew larger through marriages and births, the family grew louder and love was multiplied. It grew harder and harder to get all of us together at the same time, but no matter who was missing, the family was incomplete without each person there.
Joyful and loving, but aware of absences.
I recall the days when we had each member there at the table. It was incredibly satisfying.

Maybe Heaven will be like that. Fellowship with each other will be taken to an entirely new dimension, but the best part will be that it will all happen in the "Presence" of God.
Being together,...and near Him will be enough.
He won't have to be giving me undivided attention for me to feel His love.

I bet He can't wait until we are all sitting at His supper table.
I imagine that He is enjoying the ones at his feet and His chair, but He is also aware of each one of us that's missing.

I can identify.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Cardiac Rehab

In the summer of 2006, I entered a unit for the first time and had a conversation with the supervisor of the North Little Rock (Baptist) Cardiac Rehab department. I knew nothing about Cardiac Rehab, but was fascinated by their 12 hr/day work schedule....off every Tuesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday!
At that particular moment in my life, I needed time.
I wanted to be more available to help mom take care of daddy.
I wanted to devote more time to Jae's scholarship.
I wanted to be spend more time with Ralph, Casey and Abby.
I also was desperate to write.
The schedule was near perfect.

I knew the unit supervisor, Glen, through mutual friends and by professional reputation. I didn't request an interview with him but just busted into the unit unannounced and asked him if I would like it there. (!)
I recall telling him that I needed a job which made a difference in people's lives.
I wanted a job that "mattered".
Glen assured me that Cardiac Rehab was indeed life changing.

You see, at that moment in my life, I was still very broken.
Jae had been gone about 15 months and I felt very distracted. I was still doing the daily crying thing, I struggled with the frequent sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach but it appeared on the surface as if I was coping well with the grief.

I also remember at that time in my journey, that one of my survival techniques was to try to encourage other people.
NOT because I was good-hearted, no! no!.....I did it because it made me feel better.
Selfishness...pure and simple.
As I entered Cardiac Rehab that day in 2006, I had this crazy hope that I could make a difference in other people lives while dulling the ache within my own.

The job turned out to be everything I needed it to be.
No kidding,...going to work each day felt like I was going to a 12 hour church social.
In the North Little Rock Cardiac Rehab, hugs are given freely all day long.
Loud laughter abounds.
I know all about my patients children and grandchildren and they know about my girls.
I get to use my spiritual and professional gift of mercy and my patients in turn shower me with affection and affirmation.
I've been part of a staff which has assisted in identifying many life threatening conditions.
Each member of our small team (of 6) is a strong believer in Christ, but our differences are ridiculously huge.

For the hundreds of patients who have passed through our doors during the past 3 and 1/2 years, I think we have been an unusual mix of health care and entertainment. Not because we are especially talented, but because we quickly discovered that we deeply loved working together.
And.....we also deeply loved caring for our patients.

In two days, I will be walking away from this job that I love.
Our hospital is cutting it's services and we are being downsized.
Financially we are not lucrative, therefore our outcomes don't really matter.
(Health care 101. Don't get me started)

Where will I go? I'm not exactly sure.
But I can tell you that 3 1/2 years in a Cardiac Rehab has been just what this broken-hearted mom needed. Most patients complete the program in 8-12 weeks. It took this nurse a bit longer.

Cardiac Rehab for me.
Is God's plan not amazing?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Weak vs Strong

Ouch!
I'm convicted.....my morning devo was Romans 14.

In these verses, Paul begs his friends in the church of Rome to stop nit-picking over rules and customs!
He reminds them to focus on each other hearts and souls.
He tells them to concentrate on the Kingdom and work of God.
In this chapter, Paul kinda implies that it is the weak Christians who are actually strong in their freedom.
But then he encourages the more mature believers to continue to walk in knowledge.

Personally, one of my weaknesses is that I am way too sensitive about criticisms of teenagers. I will bow up fast whenever someone stereotypes the younger generation into something negative. (for example,..my last post)

I believe that's what Paul was referring to as a "stumbling block".

The word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword and regularly pierces Becky at her breakfast table.
(my version)

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Our Youngest And Our More Mature

I am a million year volunteer at our church, but Levi is our "official" paid church youth minister. He does a fantastic job in spite of his hectic schedule and life,..married and raising a 1 year old, working two jobs and going to school!
He has chosen Romans 12:1-2 for our youth to focus on this semester: (you know this verse)
I beseech you therefore, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind so that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

Ya know,...this culture is hard on our young brothers and sisters in Christ.
They live and exist in a cesspool of promiscuity, drugs, profanity and broken spirits. They walk the halls, sit in class and eat at the lunch table with un-churched kids who have never even heard of the joy of a life in Christ.
Christan teenagers are in a minority.
To attend church is a rarity in most teen groups, and to have teens who attend regularly and more than once a week is almost against all odds.

Hang on to your computer chairs friends, 'cause I'm fixin to rant.
Not about any one person, 'cause I don't know who "they" are.
But I'm hacked off,.HACKED OFF I say! at the more "spiritually mature" group of people in some of our churches.
I have two girls in our little youth group who have been working hard each Sunday morning to assist in leading worship. They are both beginning guitar players and the songs they are asked to play are not always easy. The music is not exactly their type,..as they usually don't play the guitar to "We'll work til Jesus comes", but they are eager and they are faithful.
Our worship leader is very encouraging, affirming and the girls are having a great time in their new roles.

Recently "someone" mentioned one of the girls was wearing a short skirt.
OK. Fine.
I agree.
I spoke with the two girls about how you can not wear short skirts on a stage.
You can see things which are not supposed to be seen, not to mention we don't want people staring at legs when we are trying to point them towards worship of the Most High God.
The girls agreed too.

"They need to smile more!" many people in the congregation have mentioned.
OK. Fine.
I spoke with the two guitar players and they agreed that "countenance" is important. However, they said, it's hard to stand up in front of everyone, sing, try to hit the right chords and smile all at the same time.
Watch all other guitar players.
Do they smile?
(no they do not)

Last Sunday night, the girls led the worship by themselves!
Woo Hoo!
Several people in the congregation complimented them and for that, I am appreciative.
Several, however, were supposedly "bothered" that the girls were leading, one in knee length shorts and the other with holes in their jeans.

Not respectful?
Do I really think God is offended and feeling disrespected because of shorts and jeans with holes? Is that His rule?
Can I ask "Who are the mature ones here"?!
Why do some people treat their youngest, strongest brothers and sisters this way and then wonder why the kids don't stay in the church?
For me personally, I can hear 100 compliments and 1 criticism,..but which remark do you think stays in my head the longest?
How much more so for our dedicated, but insecure, teenagers?

I've told Levi that I'm not gonna take it any more and I don't want him to either. When he or I get a complaint from the more "spiritually mature", I am not going to nod and agree to discuss it with the kids.
Rather, I will ask those people how often they have said good things towards these kids who sit week after week in the front row of pews.
I will ask them what they know about the culture that these kids are forced to exist in daily.
I may ask them how often they pray for these kids by name.
I will tell them that the teens of our church are actually some of the strongest believers on their campus.
They would be doubtful, I bet, because the teens get on stage with,..(gasp),..shorts! holy jeans!
Oh for cotton-pickin sake.

deep breath........

I think that God is pleased with the fact that there is a remnant in this young generation of your church and mine who are not "conforming to this world".
As they are learning this, and how to "transform their minds", I think we need to remember how slow WE are to learn things.

Lord, please help ME to always be an encouragement to those younger than me in the Faith.
(and to those older than me too)

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Jae, a Friend and a Song

My friend Mary Beth Chapman told a story recently on her blog which reminded me of one of my own special moments which happened about 16 months after Jae's accident.

One particular summer morning, I pulled a package out of our mailbox and saw it was from a distant friend. This person and I were friendly of course, but she was not someone that I had spoken with except in passing at various sports events. The package held a letter and a CD with a song which she felt I should have.
The following is a thank-you letter I sent to her and I think it will explain the story to you.

********************************************

Dear ________,
Thanks so very much for the CD of the song. Thanks even more for remembering that I am still so incredibly sad. It has been 16 months since the accident, and much to my surprise, I find myself having some good days here and there. I honestly would have not dreamed that good days would be possible for me again.
I wanted to let you know specifically how your song helped me last week.

Casey had been away at church camp for several days and she sent me a text message around 1130 PM. I had already gone to bed but heard the text signal, so I got up to read her message.
I am extremely bad about knowing the details of working my cell phone, and in the course of trying to read Casey’s message, I found a “file” of saved messages on my cell phone which I had never seen before.
Evidently Casey had taken my phone and saved all of Jae’s messages to me from the days and weeks before she was killed. She, of course, thought I knew about the file.

The first saved text message that I pulled up to read evoked one of my most precious memories of Jae Lynn on the morning of her 16th birthday. I recall over the past months wishing that I had somehow saved those messages (especially that particular one) and suddenly, at 1130 PM, I was suddenly and unexpectedly reading them.
It was as if I was, after all I have been through, hearing Jae say those words to me again.

Although I was thrilled with the discovery of Jae’s messages to me, I was overwhelmed and overcome with my loss of her presence.
There was no consoling me.
Alone, at midnight, sobbing in the dark, I remembered your CD which had arrived that very morning. I put it in and pressed “repeat”. I do not know how many times the song played, but I do know that I was able to go back to bed within a couple of hours.

How comforting it is for me to know that God cares about the hard moments of our life! He knew back when this song was written that He would somehow connect
the other mourners in their grief,
the song-writer who was inspired by their loss,
the recording artist,
and you
and me on one of my worst nights.

I am grateful that you went to the effort of sending it my way, 16 months after her death.
It ended up being much more than just a song.
 
Love,
Becky 

Friday, September 11, 2009

New Things For Me

I have wondered for about a year now about whether my current employment is where God wants me to be. It is not that I dislike my job,..no no. In fact, if you knew my co-workers and my work environment,..you would be envious. I have never worked with such a dynamic and cohesive team.
For 36 hours, the 6 of us work in a room smaller than most of our living rooms.
The TV is going, we have 8-10 fans on high, we have 6-12 patients entering and exiting every hour, treadmills are humming, recumbent bikes and ellipticals are whirring and great conversation and laughter is a constant.
So why do I wish to leave?
I don't.
But I have just had this feeling that I may be supposed to do something else.
What?
I have no idea.

Yesterday, I was told that my job would be cut from our unit. (go ahead....gasp!)
Of all of us,..I have been at the Baptist system the longest, (almost 30 years) but in my department,..I am the newbie.
It's the fair way.
I've been given 3 weeks.
3 weeks?!!

Now that's pretty exciting isn't it?

My fingers nearly ran through my bible to find this passage this morning:

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your request be made known unto God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
(Phil:4:6-7)

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Discouragement And Faith

Something I read recently:
"Faith is not a power. We don't simply summon faith up whenever we want to.
Faith is simply believing that God will do the things He says He will do. It's as simple as that."

Yeah right.

I believe that truth in my head, but my reality is that I often doubt God will do the things He says He will do.
I want to have Faith, but deep down, I have come to believe that what I really want is far different.
I want protection.
I want to feel secure.
I want my family to be healthy.
I want my church to be fresh and vibrant.
I want my daughters to be Godly young women.
I want to be free from apathy.
I want to be kept from catastrophes.

Why does it often seem to me that having faith also means I may have to embrace the very things I fear?

The famous Faith chapter in Hebrews is chock-full of awful experiences of His chosen ones. For instance,..the ones getting sawed in two,..... do you think they felt like heroes of Faith? I wonder if they found themselves doubting God at that last moment of their lives.
I imagine I would have been screaming my head off thinking that God had forsaken me.

My job is to follow God's ways as best I can, whoever I am with and in whatever circumstances I find myself in.
However,...when I'm full of self-doubt and discouragement, I have this notion that God won't stay near me. That He won't stay by this "faithless one".

Me, of all people,...the queen of doubters,... should know better.

Thank you God for knowing my head and my heart and for making spiritual sense of the things I feel and want as I walk through this life with You.
I am a fearsome wreck, but I believe that You can make me a fearsome wreck full of faith.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

King Tut

Did you know that the
King Tut exhibit
is coming to Arkansas?


Thursday, August 27, 2009

Churches and Bars

I have communicated recently with a dear friend who is hurting.
His life is hard.
Painful and full of fear for the future.
I know how that feels and you probably do as well.

My wonderful Aunt Eve was an alcoholic for a great deal of her life. Living alone in Dallas, she found a tremendous support system in the Alcoholics Anonymous Association. That great organization assisted her to remain sober for about 25 years before her death on Christmas eve of 2000.
She believed that her 25 years of sobriety was one of her greatest accomplishments.

Her way of following God did not resemble my path to Him.
Aunt Eve would never be described as a "church lady".
When she visited us here in Arkansas, she came to our church and was loved and welcomed, but I always get the feeling that she really didn't approve of our church.
I don't think she felt as if she fit in.
She was always eager to go home and get back to her "club" in the smoky Dallas AA meeting room. It was her church and she was a faithful attender every week.

Aunt Eve asked one day;
"Do you know the difference between your church and the local bar?"
Well now.
I (we) could think of several differences!
Differences like,....Cigarette smoke? Drunks? Poor lighting? Hookers? Sin?
Ya know,..important things that lots of us "church people" have strong opinions about.

"Do you know the difference between your church and the local bar?"
I will never forget her answer......
She said "The people at the bar will tell you the truth when you ask how they are doing."

Is that not the truth?
Is that not the truth.

Our culture values our privacy and independence, however, I think we could use a little more transparency. We go to church every Sunday and sit next to people who seem to have their life all in order.
That's discouraging for those of us who don't.

This Sunday, when people ask me "How ya doin?" ....I think I'll just blurt it out and tell them I'm a crazy mess.
Who knows,..I just may cheer someone up!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Great Gulf Fixed

Here is your scripture passage to ponder for the day.
(why thank you Becky for managing everyone's life)

Luke 16 tells a touching and sobering story about the rich man and Lazarus.
It's a familiar story to most of us but I'm hung up on a verse right smack in the middle of the story which usually doesn't get much attention.
If you recall, the rich man was in the torments of hell when he lifted up his eyes and saw Lazarus in Heaven and in Abraham's embrace. The rich man asked for mercy from Abraham and begged for Lazarus to be sent to him with even a small drop of water.

Here's the reply:
v. 25 But Abraham said, "Son, remember that in your lifetime, you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted and you are tormented.
(this next part is what's giving me pause,..)
v.26 and besides all this, between us and you is a great gulf fixed so that those who want to pass from here to you cannot, nor can those from there pass to us."

"........Those who want to pass from here to you?....."
Do what?
Really?
There are instances of people in Heaven wishing to go to the occupants of hell?

This will be a point of discussion and study for me in the next couple of days.
One of the ways I changed the most since Jae's death is that I no longer accept some of the things which I've always thought to be true.
(and I'm tellin ya,..that's not always been a positive thing!)


Thursday, August 20, 2009

Middle Of The Night Inventory

Note the time.
(3:30am)
Does anyone out there do this besides me?


One thing that's keeping me from sleeping is
Ralph's hairy daughter. Sophie's been sleeping with Casey for a few weeks and now she's back in our bed because Casey's gone back to school.
Our kids hardly ever slept with us because I'm similar to "Princess and the Pea." Everything and anything will keep me awake.


A scripture that's recently inspired me is
the story of the prodigal son. I listened to my friend David Jeremiah preach on it as I drove home last night. I almost took the long way home so I wouldn't have to turn off the car radio. Instead I went ahead and drove home ..'cuase he's on a CD!! :) I get to listen again in just a couple of hours when I drive back in to work.
I just really really needed the reminder about the Father's grace.

The song that's been on my mind is
the one I posted on my other blog

I currently reading
no books.
Other blogs. Hey,...that counts!
In fact, go to my high school friend Rob's blog. Rob leonard is an incredible servant/writer/man of God. He's neck-deep and whole-heartedly in the trenches of a college ministry.
Passionate.
Vibrant.
I wish I knew my place in God's work like Rob does.

I'm currently spending a lot of time on
planning a video scavenger hunt for our church youth group this Saturday night.
Also trying to create a logo and design a website (which is way out of my league).
And gazing at my new horse.
Did I tell you we now have a "Draft horse"? This type of horse is a member of the Clydesdale family. We got him because the owner has a carriage business and "Pete" is too short to pull the carriage.
So.
I now own a runt Clydesdale.


One thing big in my future is
that I volunteered (somebody slap me) to organize the publicity for the national Gathering of Bereaved Parents which will be in Little Rock next summer. (Really,..just go ahead and knock some sense into me).

Something I'm pleased about is
Abby's first day of school. She came home all bubbly about her classes and schedule and it was fun to hear her talk about it all.

I wish
I could sleep.

A fun thing I did recently
was fill in about a hundred dates on our family calender. This is our busy season with Abby's band and Casey's games in Fayetteville.
Oh yeah! We also rented a pontoon boat last week for her 21st birthday. It was an incredible day. You see, although my family does a lot of camping, we are not "boat people". We have never owned a boat nor have any of us driven one.
Ralph had this massive party barge doing wide open figure 8's in the lake all day long. The other boats tried to avoid us I'm sure, but it was hard.... Ralph kept aiming for and driving through all of their wakes.

Ok dear friends,.... Thanks for staying up with me.
You've been a great listener!
(hee hee)

Monday, August 17, 2009

What The Teachers Did Right

Our church is hosting a "Teacher appreciation" luncheon for the elementary teachers at our school across the road.
I am bringing crackers.
Crackers.

As I drove home from the grocery store, it occurred to me that crackers is a teeny tiny, too small of a thing to bring to the teachers who invested so much into the lives of my daughters, nieces and nephews.

They pour their lives into my children for years and I bring them crackers?

That's not a fair trade-off.

If Jae, Casey and Abby's teachers were right here in front of me, I would tell them this:

1. Thank you for the field trips, even though they were a lot of trouble. Most were educational, but they all created wonderful memories.
2. Thank you for requiring 30 minutes of reading 5 nights a week. That graded "homework" created a love for reading like no other assignment. You let them read whatever they wanted to and let them keep their own time-sheet. It was homework which created hours of close family time as we lay side-by-side reading books.
3. Thank you for using encouraging endearments and giving them affirming nicknames.
4. Thank you for laughing loudly when they are funny.
5. Thank you for not laughing when they would be embarrassed.
6. Thank you for playing with them at recess and occasionally eating with them at lunch time.
7. Your lesson plans which included art and music were worth the trouble. We talked about those often at our supper table.
8. Thank you for noticing that she needed glasses. How in the world did I miss that?
9. I am grateful that you have not tolerated mean and screaming co-workers in the other class rooms. Your professional peer pressure has kept the standards high.
10. I have been inspired as I observed you show God's love to kids who have never seen it or felt it before.
11. You daily teach and role model some of the most important lessons which are not found in the text-books. Important things such as... how to work through friend-squabbles, how to treat another child who does not wear deodorant and why we should give valentines to every child in the room. Many of the friendships formed in those classrooms have followed them throughout their life.
12. I really appreciatle how you encourasged me to keep "doing music" in their classrooms. I would have quit in a heartbeat if you hadn't told me what a big deal it was to the kids.
13. Your soft touch on their arm or their head has often spoken much louder than your words.
14. Even today, years after leaving your classroom, they love it when they appear in your doorway and you stop your class to introduce them as "one of your favorites".
15. Thank you for letting all of Lauren Lee's classmates skip school for several days after her death. They all desperately needed the time playing together in our yard.
16. It's odd to say that a good memory can be recalled from a child's funeral, but I will forever be grateful for the large number who filed in and sat together at Jae's funeral. Thank you for sobbing with me at such a loss.

Each of my children's paths were nurtured for hours in your care and I truly am grateful for your help as we formed them into the beautiful young women they now are.
They may look ordinary but they are the beloved daughters of the King of all Creation.

This first day of school, as you look out across your classroom full of fresh faces, remember that you are one of the most powerful people in this world.
Your influence will live for generations.

With deep appreciation
and crackers........,

Jae, Casey and Abby's mom

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Gold-plated Addictions

Tonight, I had the privilege of hearing William P Young's book "The Shack". You may or may not have read this book, but surely you have heard about it.
Surely.
AND if you have read it, you either:
loved it
or
you considered it heresy.
Most people are not neutral about it.

Here's my take on this book which I have read. (Also, believe it or not, I have also had this book sent to me anonymously twice. (twice!))

I have never thought it to be a lesson designed to impart deep theology.
I do not consider it a book about grief.
I honestly don't think he author planned on the vast circulation it has received.
I got frustrated about a third of the way through the book and put it down for several days. I hear this is a common behavior for many readers. Interesting.
It jumps smack in the middle of all of our prejudices.
I have a better concept of the trinity than I have ever had in my life.

I am no book reviewer, nor do I want to say that I agree with all of the symbolism I read about it. However, this author has an amazing testimony of the redemptive power and grace of God.

He spoke much about being "performance driven" as he dealt with all of his internal brokenness and addictions as a result of a horrible childhood. He reminded us all that some of us deal with the "bad" addictions (he mentioned drugs, alcohol, sex, porn, gambling,.etc) but that there are many of us who deal with "Gold-plated addictions" such as church roles, respect, significance, success, etc.
The problem with these gold-plated addictions are that we tend to excuse the behaviors,..even celebrate them! Seldom are they considered significant spiritual issues.
We exercise self-discipline (external) and think we have acquired self-control (internal fruit of the spirit).


sigh.

sigh.....

Time for a personal evaluation........

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Casey

Casey Leigh is 21 today.

What?
Wait just a minute!!
Wasn't it just a little while ago that I asked Ralph if he was interested in adopting another child?

I'll always have a mental picture of him reading his paper as Jae Lynn lay on a floor pallet in front of us. He looked at her (about 5 months old) and said "Sure."
We really didn't think the details of the adoption would work out.
They never did.
I bet 100 people had given me a "lead" about a young woman who was pregnant and may be interested in placing their child for adoption. "I'll get back to you." they would say.
At least 100.
We eventually just stopped paying attention to people who told us about those "possibilities" because although they meant well,...it was painful when most of them simply forgot about the conversation later.

However,...in the Spring of 1988 there was to be a baby born in just a few months in the town of Dover, Delaware.
We were.....
Cautious.
Hopeful.
Doubtful.
Skeptical.
Confused.
Trying to be full of faith.
Faithless.
We experienced it all.

Then, on August 31st, 1988, a three week-old Casey Leigh Russell was placed into our arms in the middle of bustling Philadelphia airport terminal.
With a 3 hour layover, we found an empty terminal and placed her on a blanket on the floor. As we unwrapped our 2nd daughter from all her borrowed blankets we took our first good long look at her and marveled at these God orchestrated events which brought us together.
21 years later, I still marvel at His plans.
For me but especially for her.

I often looked at Jae and Casey together, 9 months apart, and would exclaim to Ralph,.."Can you imagine them separate and living in someone else's home?"

She was raised under Jae's shadow and was often overlooked as Jae Lynn perked her way through life. (There has never been a day in Casey's life where she could be described as "perky". )
After Jae's accident, to instantly become the oldest trail-blazer in the family, and in such a painful way, she really kinda had to re-learn who she is. The search is still on in a lot of ways, but gracious sakes alive the layers are getting more interesting as we go!

She's starting her senior year at college in a couple of weeks and I am so satisfied with our relationship as it has changed through the years. Although I do miss those days when she let me hold and rock her,...it is a wonderful thing to discuss life issues with a child who has changed and grown into an adult right before your eyes.

"You have a destiny Casey Leigh"
"How will I know what mine is?"
"You just have to pray and ask God to show it to you"
(bedtime conversation in 1993)

Jeremiah 29:11 (Msg)
I know what I'm doing.
I have it all planned out.
I have plans to take care of you, not abandon you,
plans to give you the future you hope for.


Sunday, August 2, 2009

Sleepless

Insomnia again last night.
Ya know, when I can't sleep, it is usually because I have something on my mind.
Maybe something I've been dealing with in life like kids, church or our scholarship project in Jae's memory.
Maybe it's something which I absolutely should not be worried about such as my farm animals or leaks in my RV when it rains.
And then it is just apt to be something bizarre like "why are my feet cold? OH NO! My circulation must be bad and both feet will have to be amputated in just a few years!"

Usually at 2:00 am, I am determined that I will get up first thing and call Dr. Fendley and get me a sleeping pill. However, then I forget about it until the next time I am awake at 2:00 am.

Last night was different however.
Last night, I was missing Jae Lynn like I have not done in a while.

I recalled the horrific nights where I could not sleep for crying for her.
I recalled the demonic nightmares which tortured me for a while.
I recalled the amazing outpouring of love and friendship which sustained me then and continues to sustain me now.
As I lay there, I recounted the numerous times she appeared at my bedside in the middle of the night.

The longing for her continued throughout the day and I found myself rifling through pictures this afternoon so I could see her face, her smile and her expressions.
I stare at those photographs and recall those moments when those pictures were taken. What would I have thought had I known how I would soon be looking at them?
Incredibly,...today,... 5 years after....I am filled with disbelief that I had her in our home, in our life, at my bedside and now she is gone.
I've been doing that "shaking my head No" thing again.

Sometimes, seeing her face in pictures brings me comfort.
Today however, they bring a deeper longing for Heaven.

I would not have you ignorant brothers concerning those who are asleep.
You believe in God, believe also in Me.
In My Father's house are many mansions.
If it were not so, I would tell you.
I go to prepare a place for you
so that where I am, there you will be also.
(Becky version)

Signing off now,..the moon is bright and I need to go stare at the night sky.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Pictures

I am trying to carry my camera around more.
The problem with shooting pictures is the next tortuous step (for me) in home photography.
It's the place where I sit in front of my computer for hours scanning, downloading, transferring and then sending all of my pictures to a folder somewhere in Nigeria.
Seriously.
Abby has shown me at least 100 times how to
do this "simple" thing.
She says that she's getting tired of showing me.
I just tell that she should understand because
I've shown her how to clean the kitchen more times than that
and she continues to forget the process.


**************************************

Below is the style show of the first "RocketDog day" at the
North Little Rock Cardiac Rehab department.
(Custom-created holiday by me)
Does anyone else have RocketDog shoes?
I think they are way cool!

Here are my daughter and her friends after an all nighter youth lock-in at church.
Can you tell which one is Abby?
She's the one yawning! (hee hee)
The do-nut in the foreground kinda made her blurry.

Here is what happens when a youth director finds a camera with special functions.



Oh friends....will you look at the size of my BURN PILE!!!!!




We decided to clean out the barn after decades of junking it up.
Literally.
Much of the junk in our barn was there when we
purchased the property,
and then we did a mighty fine job of adding to it.
Now,...let me clarify that not ALL of the stuff in this BURN PILE! was from the barn.
It's been building from yard work and storm damage in
several of our family's yard.

It was getting so big that I told Ralph we had better take care
of the BURN PILE! soon
or the fire would just get way too big (not really).

So.
To get the BURN PILE! started we added a little "impetuous".
For some reason, that's what my daddy called diesel fuel.
(Now don't you worry........we never never never use gasoline.)



Add a match.....


and you can see that we chose a good day to care
of the BURN PILE! because
the smoke is pretty much going straight up.
(that means there's "no wind")



I know you're jealous.
You wish you had a BURN PILE! this big.

Ralph calls Sophie (below) his "hairy daughter".
She wore herself out on the barn cleaning/BURN PILE! day.



But when you clean out a barn,..you find all kinds of cool things.

Like my Aunt Mildred's stove. Oh my my that woman could cook!!

I guess it got put in the barn in the 70's and the people who owned the

place for the next 20 years never moved it.
We actually have another stove in the barn from the 40's(?).

We haven't uncovered it yet, but I saw the top of it the other day!



These skeleton keys were raked up from the back of one of the compartments.

Can't you just imagine some man all frustrated

and saying "Hon? Where did you put my keys?"


Sunday, July 26, 2009

Mayberry

Tonight we began a study entitle "Mayberry". I tell ya, I love the study because we get to watch an entire episode of Andy Griffith!
We use the character's response to situations and then the study has scriptures to match.

Andy, Barney and Opie reminded tonight of the pleasing simplicity of service.

I have struggled much during the past 4 years or so with "what does God want me to do with the rest of my life?"

Ya know, I think that many of us have a deep-seated fear that God will "call" us into some sort of uncomfortable life-style. Something hard like inner city missions or serving in the deep wilds of Africa. We listen to the missionaries and marvel at their commitment.
We want to be willing. Truly do.
We confess our unwillingness and feel sure that even God couldn't make us want to "go".

The reality is however, that God calls us to work and serve just as hard "here" as those missionaries do "there".
We are surrounded daily by souls and spirits who need a kind word.
They sit beside us in our offices.
They are on the other end of the phone lines we talk on.
They are stocking or checking our groceries at Wal-Mart.
They live next door to us.
They sit beside us in church.
They sit daily at our supper table.

God created us all with unique personalities, talents and resources to take care of each other. Every day.

Galatians 6:10 says "Right now, every time we get the chance, let us work for the benefit of all, starting with the people closest to us in the community of faith." (the Message)
But I find that I sometimes ignore/forget/get irritated at the important things while I give inordinate amounts of attention to projects which have no eternal significance.

In the past 4 years or so, I have pondered, prayed and planned to be flexible and ready to do whatever I think God wants me to do. But I have found that His obvious plan for me at this moment in time brings no real big outward change to my life.
But baby you should see the changes on the inside!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Hand-Holders

I am a nurse.
Things looked a little sketchy in college, but I always knew I'd be one.
It's a calling on my life just as sure as some people are preachers and missionaries.

I work with all kinds of nurses and by far, most of them are exceptional.
Some are funny, some are creative, some are serious, some work all day in high gear and some are quiet and slow. They go into the presence of their patients with one thing on their mind, and that is to offer some sort of comfort or help. The help could range anywhere from flipping a pillow underneath a head to injecting a high dose of Morphine.

I know a few bad nurses.
Their skills are fine, may be even excellent,.... but they are a sorry excuse for a nurse.
Know why?
Because they don't care about people who hurt.
A nurse who is rude, unsympathetic and thoughtless will cause instant outrage.

Ronald Reagan was shot in the 1080's and wrote a book about his experiences after the gunshot nearly ended his life.
In his book, did he give accolades to the dynamic surgeon who dug a bullet out of his chest?
Did he compliment the radiologist who pinpointed the location?
Did Mr. President write about the ER doc who stabilized him until surgery?
Nope.
None of those brilliant people were the ones who calmed the President of the USA and made him feel safe.

The most important man in the world made a hero that day of the nurse who held his hand and would not let it go.
She squeezed his fingers from the time he entered the Emergency room until he went under anesthesia an hour or so later.
Now, I guarantee you that the nurse had a lot more skills which may have been more useful at that moment than being a good "hand-holder", but the President didn't think so.
He was desperate for some heartfelt care.

I think our churches today are like that.
People come to us with heart and soul-threatening wounds and we want to get in the middle of their business and "fix" things.
They are in the right place!
By cracky, we have the answers!
Quick!
Right away!!
Save em!
Baptize 'em!
Sign them up for a committee and convince them it's the same thing as "ministry"!
Make 'em come to church twice on Sundays and once on Wednesdays!
Then, after a few weeks, those people in pain will walk out of our sanctuaries wondering why they don't "feel better".

Come to think of it,..
I think a lot of our members are there as well.
I can think of lots of friends who have left a body of believers because they were not "cared for". I'm ashamed to say, but I can recall that I often chalked it up to the notion that those people were "too sensitive".
Not any more.
Now I know that some people enter our churches looking for good hand-holders.
That important life-saving skill, my friends, can point them straight to Jesus.

Caution!:!:
SLOW Learner here!
This isn't rocket-science Becky.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Playing It Safe

Francis Chan, one of my all time favorite preachers.
I hate that this is a bit fuzzy.
Watch it anyway!


Monday, July 13, 2009

A Gathering Of The Bereaved Parents

Friends asked me today how I liked New York this past weekend.
My reply was that the
New York Crowne Plaza Hotel was excellent, but
I did not venture out of their doors
a single time until my return to the airport.

New York City is not on my bucket list.
************************************************************************
Here are a couple of reflections about the
2009 Gathering of the Bereaved Parents of the USA:

1. I count some of these people among my dearest friends on Earth. And I have only spent a few days with all of them over the past 1-3 years

2. Many true inspirational heroes are considered as such because they get out of bed every morning and put their feet on the floor.

3. Butterfly releases are cool.

4. New York City taxes are not. (raised my bill by almost 22%!)

5. Friendships which change after the loss of a child often occurs not because the friends have changed, but can be attributed more to the fact that the parent has changed. Some friendships can not deal with the changes and are lost. Some friends can more easily relate and are strengthened. I'm still mulling that one over, but I think I agree.

6. Some of the best writers in this world will go forever unnoticed and unpublished.

7. A common thread I heard voiced is this:
Not only has "the church" not provided comfort, it has often inflicted wounds.
Come to think of it,...I have heard that many times before from people with other types of pain such as divorce, mental illness, substance abuse, etc....
This thought, my friends, will be an entire blog post very soon.

8. As my airplane flew over the earth from here to there, I observed the tiny specks of cities, houses and cars underneath us. I was reminded of how insignificant I am. But more impressed with the might and power of God who has each hair on each head of the whole Earth numbered.

9. The concept of "re-framing the pain".
This means that you take the pain of your life (whatever it is) and transform it into something of value. Almost, according to one speaker, as if you are holding up a defiant fist in a refusal to be brought low by the bad things which have happened.

10. Other guests in the hotel would occasionally get onto an elevator and ride with those of us from the gathering. These poor people would often ask "where ya from? or "what brings you to New York?"
It was a real conversation stopper to tell them.
We, on the other hand, often got a kick out of their response.
11. Whenever I am asked to speak or present for this group (or any group for that matter!), I now qualify it with the condition that I can speak God's name however and whenever. The response has been amazing. Not only do they agree, but this year, there was an entire section of break-out sessions under the label of "Spiritual".
My friends there long to hear of hope.

12. No matter how badly I hurt from not having Jae Lynn's voice and presence in my home, I am filled with gratitude to God for blessing me with my family, my friends and my church who have walked this road with me and show love to me daily.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Hissy Fits

I'm not Catholic and I know you're not priests, but I have a confession to make:
I have thrown two gigantic Hissy fits within the past 10 days.

Yep.
True.
I Know,...I can't believe it either.
(hee hee)

I would spill my guts and tell you all about them, but I suspect you would secretly roll your eyes at me.
You would hear the circumstances and say "get over it! You can't control the situation!"
Bottom line is that people have angered me more that I have been angered in a year!

It has occurred to me however,...as I have endured these horrible negative emotions that do not belong in my positive thinking little head,..that I may be suffering from a lack of time in the scripture. You would think that on vacation, I would catch up on all my devotions and quiet times,..but the opposite has actually happened.
Dear me.....I'm living naked without a covering from God's word.

Believe me,...I skip/forget/just don't do my devotions on a regular basis and don't always attribute bad things to this sloppy practice.
BUT,..this past week,..I am convinced that Satan is working overtime on me and I never saw it coming.

Big things this weekend which are of utmost importance to me:
New York, of course, where I will share my testimony to hundreds of other Bereaved parents.
and
The 3Cheerleaders memorial softball tournament which will, once again, be held without me there.

Remember me and the tournament in your prayers this weekend.

Thanks,...

p.s. I kinda began to come out of my bad mood last night when Ralph bowed his head for prayer at our supper table and prayed that we would have wisdom to deal with "the crazy heifer". I almost fell out of my chair laughing!