Bible Verse

Beg as loud as you can for good common sense. Proverbs 2:3

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Live and Learn (written 11/5/11)

This is my new motto.  I said it yesterday when I was with Mom and Linda in Chattanooga.  I’ve said it a lot through the years, but yesterday it suddenly made complete sense. 

Yes, we should learn from our mistakes, but it said more to me:  We should live as best we can with the information we have available to us, try to do the right thing always, and then when (I said when) we make a mistake, when we show very poor judgment, when we’d love the floor to just swallow us up so no one can see us or hear us anymore, well, that’s the time to learn.  And do it intentionally.  Okay, I made a mistake.  I should have seen that coming.  Where was my brain?  And why doesn’t the floor just swallow me up?

And after the learning comes the living again, moving forward, not looking back and rehashing every single second of what we’d love to forget about forever.  What’s the use of learning if you’re not going to move forward into your future?  How depressing that sounds! 

We can make lots of mistakes in the learning.  We try a new restaurant, the food is not very good, we learn not to go there again.  We buy a new jacket, take it back to the store for a refund, find that the refund policy is less than helpful, we learn to be sure before we buy at this particular store.  We put too much stuff on our credit cards, suffer financially for months, even years, and learn to live within our means.  We live and learn, live and learn.

About a year ago, there was a young lady, probably in her early 30’s, who started to attend our church.  She lived with her two daughters in a HUD-supported apartment.  My husband and I befriended her because we wanted her and her children to feel welcomed in our church.  Little by little, this lady started asking for things from us:  a ride to the grocery store or church because her car was torn up, cash because she was running short because one of the girls needed something extra, stuff like that. And we did all those things and gladly because we are Christians and we were being the hands and feet of Christ like we were supposed to be. 

But then she twice asked my husband to privately sit and talk with her because she hadn’t had a father figure in her life.  He declined both times.  She never mentioned this to me.  I guess she didn’t realize that my husband would mention it.  We started getting suspicious and started discreetly asking around a little.  It came to light that this young woman had not only lied to us, she had lied to several other church members who had also helped her when she had recited her story to them.  The story was ever changing to suit the occasion, very few of which were actual needs.  So being intentional and all, I have to ask myself what I have learned from this experience.  I have learned not to help anyone anymore because you just can’t trust people anymore.  You try to do a little good for someone, and this is what you get. 

(Buzzer sound)  Wrong answer.  If I live and then learn, what’s next?  To live again, but this time a little smarter for my efforts.  Do I just turn everyone away?  No, of course not.  But I can be more intentional about putting God in the loop of what and where I should give.  I can discreetly ask around to see if someone is talking to several people for the same kind of help.  I can say no when I feel God wants me to.

See, this is a problem with us Christians:  We think we have to help a person just because they ask or just because we perceive that they need help.  Jesus did not help everyone he came in contact with.  In the book of John, there is an account of Jesus visiting a pool of water at a place called Bethesda in Jerusalem.  The Amplified Bible says there were a “great number” of people who were blind, crippled or paralyzed.  It was said that periodically an angel would come from Heaven and stir up the water.  The first person in the pool at that point was healed.  So Jesus found a “great number” of people there.  His attention was drawn to one man who had suffered for 38 years with an unnamed disorder of some kind.  He was paralyzed and couldn’t get to the water fast enough to be healed.  As we know, Jesus healed that man right there on the spot, told him to “Get up!  Pick up your bed and walk!” (John 5:8) 

Why just one man?  Jesus could have healed everyone on the planet if that’s what the Father wanted.  But he instead chose this one man.  Everyone at the pool was in pretty bad shape.  We probably can’t even imagine what life must have been for those poor souls.  And yet, this one man was chosen.

Why just one man?  Because Jesus did what the Father told him to do.  Jesus told his disciples and, through his Holy Word and the Holy Spirit, he is telling us today that we must obey the Father.  Even though we are surrounded by what we perceive to be opportunities to help, we must obey the Father.  Live and learn.  Pray about stuff.  Get close enough to God that you can often feel or hear his guidance on the spot.  Say no when God is not leading you.  Say yes when He is.  Live and learn.  Know you made a mistake, learn from it, try to not let it happen again, and then live, my Christian brothers and sisters, live!

Friday, December 30, 2011

2nd Post

Thanks for the encouragement and the followers!  I will have to get in gear and give you something to read.

This is something I presented at our church a few months ago for our 50th Anniversary as Hewett Memorial United Methodist Church:

Jeff asked me to share what Hewett means to me, what it has meant to me through the years.  And that got me to thinking about how we even came to be at Hewett at all.

I was raised in the Methodist Church, and we went to church every Sunday.  My mother and father were very active in every church we attended.  They were even charter members of a Methodist church in Huntsville.  So I certainly knew what church was.  David had attended a Lutheran church as a child with his grandmother and had joined my church before we got married.

In spite of our church life history, we did not go to church in our early married life.  We just didn’t see the need.   But when our son, Mark, was about 2 years old, that changed.  We wanted Mark to be raised in church.  As parents, we saw the need for church differently.  So I started praying for a church that we could join.  We lived in Birmingham at that time, and we visited several churches.  None fit.  Not even close.  We were getting discouraged and had about given up. 

About that time, we moved to Albertville.  I was three months away from having our daughter Alice, and I was still praying for a church.   When a neighbor invited us to Hewett, I was hoping that this was the answer to my prayer.  But, as usual, God gave me so much more than I had asked for.

I figured we would come to Sunday School, Mark was 2 ½ so he would probably go to the nursery and play with the other children there, and after Sunday School comes church, so David and I would stay for the service to give Mark the opportunity to play with the other children in the nursery. Sounds like day care, doesn’t it?

But, looking back, I can see that even though we felt compelled to go back to church for our children, God was setting us up for much more.  From the first moment we were here, the love of Christ was shown to us.  As I mentioned, I was 6 months pregnant with our daughter when we first came to Hewett.  Some of the ladies here decided to have a baby shower for me.  They didn’t know me, they didn’t know if we would continue coming to Hewett.  They just saw a young woman in need of a baby shower.  I still remember that evening.  I can show you the house where it was held.  I can tell you many of the names of the women there – Jo Anne Strange, June Denney, Flo Rains, Nancy Beason, Ina Chandler, Mrs. Wood, Jean Machem.  Wow!  Showing such care to a young mother in a new town, at a new church.  That’s been 34 years ago, and I can still remember how wonderful it made me feel.

So we did stay at Hewett for many years, and during that time, I was in many Bible studies, prayer groups, and Sunday School classes.  The women of this church didn’t know it, and I didn’t know it at the time, but I was watching them and learning from them what it means to be a Christian woman.  As a young adult, I had a lot to learn, but this church had a lot to give.  You could say I was mentored by the women of Hewett.

Let me give you an example:  in 1982, we got word that David’s mother had had a heart attack while in Brownsville, Texas.  Now, this was before the internet and cell phones.  It was also before open heart surgery, so it was a very serious condition.  We really didn’t know much other than she was in a small hospital near Brownsville.  This was the first big crisis that David and I had ever had to handle, and we just didn’t know what to do.  Should we go out there to Texas to see her, should we stay here and wait?  David’s dad had told us not to come, that he would keep us informed.  But we both independently felt compelled to go.  We didn’t have the money for plane tickets, we would both have to take off work which at that point was not easy, there were a hundred reasons not to go.

Then we started getting calls from our church family.  We had offers to keep our children while we were in Texas.  June Denny called me to say that she and Ray would take our turn at cleaning the church that week.  I’m not going to say that we flew all the way to Texas just to get out of cleaning the church, but that call kind of decided it for us.  If God was prompting someone to vacuum the church for us, then we needed to do our part and get on a plane.

So we did.  We had a great visit with David’s mom and dad.  His mom’s condition was very good.  In fact, a few days after we returned home, she was discharged from the hospital and would be coming back to their home in Huntsville in just a few weeks.  Except she didn’t make it.  Just a few days before starting back, she suddenly passed away with another heart attack.  She was 55 years old.

Once again, the folks at Hewett came through.  We had food brought to us, people came to the funeral home in Huntsville for the visitation and the funeral.  I remember that the pastor at that time, Larry Wright, checked on us frequently and was always ready to listen or to just talk.  It was a hard time.  But we got through it through God’s help that came through God’s people here at Hewett.

I have many memories of this church.  Having the Soup and Cornbread Lunch using the old kitchen and the oven catching on fire when we were warming up cornbread.  Having a women’s retreat at Camp Sumatanga and being asked to quiet down by a youth leader trying to sleep in the next hall.

I am hoping that David and I have been able to give to this church just a portion of what we have received.  We sure can’t match it.  You can’t outgive God.  But let me tell you this, Hewett:  You have been used by God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.  There isn’t anything better than that.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

My First Post

Hello.  This blog is intended to help discipline me to write and share.  I want to be a women's Christian speaker/writer when I grow up, so I'd better get started.  I named this blog Miscellaneous Ramblings because I don't want to get tied into any one thing.  So here goes!

I recently worked my last day at the Circuit Clerk's office.  My official retirement date is 2/1/12, but I'm using up my leave by taking the time off instead of getting paid for it.  It seems so weird to me that I am not working.  It's only been a week but it seems lots longer.  I have many plans, some realistic and some not so much, but I'm determined to make this retirement a good one, one that will glorify God.  I had a ministry at my job by helping folks understand my little divisions of the court system.  I especially felt led by the Holy Spirit when an elderly person was involved (no, not me -- somebody even more elderly than me).  I have a heart for the elderly.  My dad passed away 6 months ago at the age of 100.  My mother just turned 90.  Her mother lived to be 101.  So I may be here a good while longer.

I'm hoping to have some followers of this blog, so please follow me!  It would be a great encouragement to know folks were actually reading this stuff.  Leaving a comment would be good, too.  Thanks.