Bible Verse

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

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Speaking Hope

As of today, my new blog Speaking Hope Ministry will be my main focus.  I will still be posting here at times, but most of my posts will be at www.speakinghopeministry.blogspot.com  every Wednesday.

Thanks for all the encouragement and support you have given to me.  It has helped to give me the courage to go to a ministry format.

Logo by Margaret Moore


Monday, September 24, 2012

Ross Bridge


Earlier this year, my husband and I were spending a couple of days at Ross Bridge Resort in Birmingham, AL.  

One afternoon we were sitting in our room reading our Kindles.  My husband was listening to something on his, so he wore ear buds. I had a historical romance set in the 1500’s of Scotland.    

I was at a pivotal point in the story when I became aware of something vaguely sounding like bagpipes.  I looked at my husband, absorbed with his own project.  As I listened intently, it seemed to go away.  I went back to my book.

Just seconds later, I heard it again, this time a little louder.  I looked at my Scottish historical romance, then around the room.  Was I going nuts or what?   

Reluctantly I asked my husband if he could hear bagpipes.  He was annoyed at the interruption, but pulled the ear buds out and listened.  I knew I wasn’t the only nut in the room when his eyes widened and he looked toward the window. 

I raced to the balcony, leaned over the railing and looked down to my right. Sure enough, there was a man in a kilt playing the bagpipes!  We gleefully watched as he passed beneath us, the tassels on his knee socks gently swaying as he walked in rhythm to the age-old tune.

We learned later that the hotel is named after the ancient Celtic clan of Ross, whose descendants settled the area.  What better way to show the plaid than a bagpiper walking the grounds each afternoon?  And what better way to add a wonderfully surprising authenticity to my afternoon reading?
 
 
 
 

 

 

Monday, September 17, 2012

The Hummingbird


My husband gave me a gift today.  He showed me something he knew would be fun for me to see:  a hummingbird sitting on a wire just outside the bathroom window.

It was a tiny little thing, perched there in perfect balance as the wire moved gently in the breeze under our patio roof.  He looked very satisfied with himself as he sat there, glancing around a little lazily (for a hummingbird, anyway). 

When I think of a hummingbird, the picture in my mind is not the one I just described.  It’s one that involves a lot of swooping and hovering and flashing that red throat at the ladies.  As a child, I believed that hummingbirds never rested, but continuously hovered -- even in sleep.

I remember being relieved when told that hummingbirds perch in the trees like other birds.  I remember thinking what a sad life it would be to never stop moving, no matter how graceful and beautiful it looked to the world.

We all have to rest a little now and then. 

My little hummingbird friend didn’t stay very long.  He was soon on his way to defend his territory once again with his swooping dances and high-pitched chatter.

As I watched him go, I thought of God’s desire to give all of his creation rest.  I can’t think of anything that doesn't, even plants and soil rest during their seasons.  It’s part of God’s original design.  Somehow, as He was speaking every living thing into existence, He wove this need into the pattern.
After all, who hasn’t been grateful to read “Come to me all who are heavy laden and I will give you rest”? (Matthew 11:28)  I don’t think Jesus was talking only of physical weight. 

The hummingbird needed rest for his body, and God provided it.  But God also provides rest for any kind of weariness, whether physical, mental or spiritual. 

Whether we fit into a chair or onto a wire, receiving God’s rest is always the perfect thing to do. So sit and rest a spell, it's part of God's plan.


 
 
Photos by Cindy West McGregor
 


Thursday, August 9, 2012

Comparison

        She comes bounding down the concrete steps, two or three at a time, with a big smile on her face.  She is covered with dry dirt – her hair, her face, her arms, hands, legs, shoes.  I know which sundress she has on, but I still can’t tell what color it’s supposed to be.  Everything is covered with, at the very least, a fine layer of red dust. 

         Her socks have been eaten by her sneakers; they look like sports socks without the fuzzy pom-poms on the back.  Both shoes are untied and in danger of leaving her feet.  Her hair is wild – part of it is matted and part is flying everywhere.  She is hollering “Hi, Mama!” over and over and is squirmy with excitement.

           A few steps behind, another little girl starts down the steps  She is immaculate in a pale pink blouse with matching slacks.  There is not a speck of dirt anywhere on this child’s clothes or body.  Her blouse is neatly tucked in and a slim maroon belt encircles her slender waist.  She is wearing a pretty necklace made of big pink and white beads. 

         Her hair is fixed into two identical pigtails -- every hair is where it’s supposed to be and the pigtails are exactly in the same place on each side of her head.  She carefully makes her way down each step, one at a time, occasionally glancing at her waiting mother with a demure smile. 

       While my child is launching into a manicky monologue of her day, her clean friend quietly greets her mother and gracefully seats herself in the car.

        On our way home, while my chatterbox continues excitedly in minute detail, I think about the complete femininity of my daughter’s friend.  I have never compared my rough little tomboy with anyone else for any reason but the difference in these two little girls strikes me with a surprising force. 

         I glance at my perfectly formed, smart-as-a-whip daughter and wonder if I should have done something to make her more feminine.  Perhaps I should have given her more dolls.  Maybe I should have forbidden her to play with big brother’s toys.  I’m sure dressing her in his hand-me-downs much of the time didn’t help either. 

      I look at her again and feel lucky to have a child so full of life and love.  But is it luck?  “No,” a voice inside me says.  “God gave you this child to love and nurture.  And that’s what you’ve done.  Let her be herself.”

        At the next stop sign, I impulsively give her a tight hug.  A small cloud of dust rises around her head and from somewhere on that dirty, dirty face a smile beams out at me and she says, “I love you, Mama.”

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Andy and Opie

What is your favorite Andy Griffith Show episode and why?

Andy died today at the age of 86.  Even though it's sad that he has left us, just hearing his name brings many good memories to mind.  Some of us can even remember him before his television show, when he was in a couple of movies and had a standup comedy act.

His TV show was one of those great and wonderful things that happen when everything is just right – the actors, the stories, the location, the time that it took place.  It all came together each week to bring us laughter, sometimes sadness, and always an uplifting ending.

My favorite (although I admit it's hard to pick one) is when Opie told his pa that he had met Mr. McBeevee in the woods, and that he walked in the trees and wore a big silver hat.  Andy at first thought that Opie's imagination had created a new friend for himself.  Things changed when Opie showed up with a hatchet and then a quarter that he said Mr. McBeevee had given to him.  Opie would not be swayed – Mr. McBeevee was a real person and he had given these things to Opie.  Andy tried to give him the benefit of the doubt and took him out in the woods to find Mr. McBeevee.  He was not to be found.

With a heavy heart, Andy decided if Opie would not admit to making Mr. McBeevee up, he was going to have to give him a whipping.  All Opie had to do was say that Mr. McBeevee was just make believe, and nothing more would be said about it.

Poor Opie!  Here's the person that he loves more than any other, the person he looks up to and respects more than any other – and that person is asking him for something he cannot give.

Andy told him to tell the truth and say that is was make believe.  And Opie couldn't do it.  He couldn't lie to his dad, even though he knew that's what his dad wanted to hear.

He said, "I can't, Pa.  Mr. McBeevee isn't make believe, he's real. Don't you believe me, Pa?  Don't you, Pa?"

"I  believe you," Andy answered and later explained to Barney and Aunt Bea that "It's a time like this when you're asked to believe something that just don't seem possible, that's a moment that decides whether you have faith in someone or not.  I do believe in Opie." 

In the next scene we watched as Andy accidentally encountered the real-life Mr. McBeevee and was utterly overjoyed!  His well-placed faith in Opie revealed a wonderful jewel:  His son had done exactly the right thing, even in the face of very strong opposition.  Happy ending all around!

So who are you in this story?  Are you Andy, just trying to raise your son right and trying not to freak out when it appears he's gone astray?

Are you Opie, knowingly breaking your father's heart by doing the right thing? 

Or maybe you're Mr. McBeevee, taking the time to befriend a young boy in the middle of your work day.

I want to be all three:  I want the quiet strength of Andy, the unwavering courage of Opie, and the happy ways of Mr. McBeevee.
So I'll ask again:  What is your favorite Andy Griffith Show episode and why?

Friday, June 22, 2012

Fifty Shades of Jill and Lori….

Click here:  Fifty Shades of Jill and Lori….

I wanted to pass this along.  Click above to follow the link.

I have heard of this book but have never read it and really didn't know what it was about.  I do now.  A word to the wise is sufficient...

Friday, May 25, 2012

Watching...


People are watching us.  Our children watch us and imitate us as part of their learning experience.  Their gaze will shift from us to others in their world, and they will imitate them, too.  At least the ones they admire.

Other Christians are also watching us, seeing how we react, what we say, what we do.

Those who are not Christians are also watching us, seeing how we react, what we say, what we do.

Years ago, when Alice was 4 or 5 and Mark was 8 or 9, they went to a daycare facility all day during the summer.  I was a real stickler for rules, so the kids knew to follow all the rules while they were there.  Not to say that they always did, but I expected them to and they knew it.  The daycare would take everybody swimming or to the putt-putt, stuff like that, so they would have a little extra money to buy a Coke or a candy bar while on their outing.  One day, as I was driving them home, Alice said her teacher told her that she couldn't bring extra money anymore.  She said that the other kids could bring money, but she (Alice) could not.  That sounded odd to me, so I asked Mark about it.  He said no one told his class that they could not bring extra money.  Mark was getting upset about it, telling me I ought to call the owner of the daycare and tell her off, because Alice wasn't hurting anyone and there was no reason for her to be singled out.

Let me say here that it was a semi-miracle that Mark stood up for Alice.  Mark was the typical big brother who wouldn't allow his little sister into his world.

I thought a moment, thought about the daycare owner and what I knew about her and how everyone at the daycare went about their jobs.  And I pretty well knew why Alice's teacher would do this.  Alice was a very cheerful child, easy to get along with, wanting to please, bringing little gifts of weedy flowers that had been crushed in her little, hot hand.  But she was also a high maintenance child, always losing a shoe right before church, wandering off at the slightest provocation, chattering constantly, and falling down a lot which meant lots and lots of skinned up knees.  It seemed her little knees would never heal fully before she had skinned them up again.  She was somewhat clumsy, so usually her battered knees came from tripping over her own feet.  But she was so cute and sweet, everybody kind of overlooked all of that.  Usually.

I highly suspected that Alice's teacher was tired of the extra work Alice made for her.  As Mark ranted and raved, I formed a plan.  "Listen and learn," I said to him as I dialed the daycare center and asked for the owner.

It was really pretty simple.  We always played by the rules, so I figured that the kids needed to see the rules in action.  When I told the owner what happened, I asked if the rules had changed, because if they had, then we would abide by the new rules.  I said all of this in a conversational way, without anger or righteous indignation.  The owner was immediately apologetic and said that certainly Alice could bring her extra money, that Alice's teacher would be spoken to about this, and that Alice was a sweet, loving child and she could use a lot more like her.  Just for emphasis, I asked again if the rules had changed, and the owner said they had not.  I thanked her for her time and hung up.

I looked at my son and said, "See?  You don't have to get mad to get results."  I don't know if he remembers that episode in our lives that happened around 30 years ago, but I remember it because it really brought home to me that my children were watching me and learning how to deal with life through me and my husband.

Never hurts to be reminded that others are watching.  But most importantly, God is watching, and I don't want to do anything that would grieve him in any way.  It's impossible on my own, but with Christ and the Holy Spirit, it's possible indeed.
 
2nd Titus 2:7  In everything set them an example by doing what is good.



Tuesday, May 8, 2012

A Chance

Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!
Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!

Psalm 34:8

 "Oh, taste…" Well, I don't need anyone to tell me twice.  I'm right in there, tasting away. 

We have to eat, right?  If you have gained a few (or a lot) of pounds by eating too much, then you've got a whole nuther set of problems.

I had gastric-bypass surgery in 2004 and lost 90 pounds.  I can't eat the same things I used to eat.  I can't tolerate much sugar, so I'm constantly checking the labels to see how many sugar grams there are.  It's absolutely astounding how much sugar can be in one granola bar!  I don't know, maybe I was addicted to sugar before my surgery.  I couldn't eat very much of anything for months afterward, certainly not sugary stuff, so that forced abstinence may have broken the sugar addiction.  I'm just speculating here.

One thing that's kind of funny about it is that I don't crave sugar.  I don't miss it at all.  If something sugary looks good to me, I'm just hungry and a little food that I can tolerate will take care of that.  

When I eat, I have to pick and choose what I can eat.  If I don't choose wisely, I can end up very physically sick.  It's so bad, I'd have to feel better to die!  Sometimes pain is the best motivator we've got.

So I look over my options of what will work.  I try to eat slowly and chew every bite very well.  I have to remember that if things don't go down right, they will rebel at some point in my body. 

Because I have only so much space to fill, I reach for the stuff I like best first.  I'll see how things are going and then add something else if I feel I can handle it.  All this took years of practice and hit-or-miss methods of getting what my body needs to function.

So, yeah, I know something about tasting.  But how do you "taste" the Lord?  Our need for Him is even more basic than our need for food.  And yet we look all around Him for things to satisfy us in any way we can.

When we want to know what something tastes like, we take a small bite or spoonful to get a sample of the whole.  We can usually tell by the sample how good or bad the whole will be.

What if we "sampled" God's goodness by giving Him a chance to show us how good He is?  What if we took a sample of His goodness and meditated on it and thought about it.  I'm not particularly thinking of scripture here.  I'm talking about asking the Lord to give you a sample of His goodness and then watch what He does.  And then from His holy "sample," we will know how good the Whole really is.

Photo by Cindy West McGregor

Friday, May 4, 2012

Odd But True


David and I have an odd little life.  We do things differently than most folks, and here's why:  Back in 2006, David was found to have severe congestive heart failure.  His doctor told him that he could never work again and to avoid all stress.  He didn't know who he was talking to.  David is a workaholic in that he always has to be doing something.  He's not a sitter like me.  David is a doer, I'm a thinker.  So together, we have had a long, satisfying marriage by playing off each other's strengths.  Then, without any warning at all, David was told he can never work, to avoid all stress, and that his heart could stop at any moment. 
David had retired the year before and had three businesses (landscaping, stump removal) and two part-time jobs.  He quit all of them that afternoon. 
So David stayed at home all day, and I went to my full-time job.  It wasn't easy for me to leave him because I fully believed that I would find him dead when I got home.  For the first year or so, I would wake up two or three times a night to see if he was breathing.
Men want to take care of their women.  Kind of the caveman thing with the male venturing forth to whack an unsuspecting varmint in the head and drag it back to the cave to provide for his family.  My caveman wasn't able to do that anymore, and we both struggled to find a new balance in our relationship.  We were both hurting, scared and anxious.
I know that without a solid base, our marriage would have been in big trouble during the last 6 years.  Our love for each other and our love for God runs deep.  Over the past 3½  decades, we had faced many problems and, with the Holy Spirit's leadership, had gotten through each one.
So here we are now, our odd little life changing once again since I have recently retired.  No one is the breadwinner, no one has to leave the cave to provide for us.  Turns out, we are pretty good at just taking care of each other. 
David's heart problems have leveled out, and, if he rests like his body tells him to, we are able to travel with our camper (and three cats, which is another story entirely).  He has good days and bad days, like we all do.  The medication he is taking has strong side effects that he doesn't have any control over.  But obviously God wants him here and wants me to be with him.  I'm so glad…














Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Friendship

Today I was reminded that I'm not a very good friend.  A former co-worker called another former co-worker to see if I was all right.  She had written me a letter and had called me but had not gotten an answer to either one. 

 What is my problem?  Charlotte and I worked together for 11 years.  We were physically side-by-side, but most importantly, we were friends.  And yet I ignored her.  I feel very bad about it.  I called her and left her a message, but if she doesn't call me back, it's only what I deserve.
Her letter is here in my big stack of stuff that I keep thinking I'll get around to.   I've kept it close by and I've been aware of it nearly every day, thinking I needed to answer that.  I even composed two different letters on two different dates to her, but I never printed them to send.

Is this how God feels when I ignore him?  And I certainly ignore him a lot.  And look at all the wonderful things he has done for me!  The list is truly endless.
I feel bad about ignoring Charlotte, and I hope she will forgive me.  I feel bad about ignoring God, and I know he has forgiven me.  You'd think I would feel better knowing that God won't hold it against me, but it makes me sad to think I willfully ignore the most precious thing in my life.

I need to repent and go in a different direction.  I need to have a completely different mindset about ignoring God and ignoring my friends.
Lord, I'm sorry I ignore you so frequently.  And I'm sorry that I disappointed Charlotte.  Please help her to forgive me so that we can continue to be friends.  Thank you for forgiving me all of my sins, including this one.  Help me, Holy Spirit.  Remind me that I need to turn once again to Christ. 

Like the song: 

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in his wonderful face,
And the things on earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.

Photo by Cindy West McGregor

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Dear God

Dear God,

You are magnificent, You are wonderful, You are everywhere I look and everywhere unseen by human eyes.

The birds each have their own song, each have their own colors and patterns.  You thought of each one in just a certain way and You spoke them into being.  Lord, our world would be so empty without them.  Thank you for letting us enjoy them.  You made them pretty just for us because no other living thing has the capacity to enjoy beauty and wonder.

How did You do it, Lord?  How did You think of every little bitty detail?  Our scientists think they have figured out Your creations, but they have not.  No one can see inside a bird or a rabbit and know what they are feeling or thinking.  I know that animals do things by instinct, but You are the One who gave it to them.

Thank You for my world, Dear Lord.  Thank You for my house, my yard, the birds that come to our feeders.  Please continue to bless us, because apart from You, we are nothing. 

                                    In Christ's name, Amen.

Photo by Cindy West McGregor

Sunday, April 8, 2012

New Age Funeral

Years ago, I attended a funeral that was sort of "new age."  I really didn't mean to stay for the funeral.  I had gone to the visitation and got caught talking to someone and stayed too late to quietly slip out.

I remember that there were maybe 15 people.  The deceased was the father of a co-worker.  I had never met him but had heard his daughter speak of him many times.  We stood in a circle while certain people read famous poems and quotes and such.

Several people then shared happy memories of the man they had known.  His daughter was the last person to share, and when she was through, she asked us to join hands and pray.

Of course, I reached for the hand on either side of me and then bowed my head.  And then one of the people in the circle started praying… to the dead guy.  Yes, that's right, they were praying (talking) to the dead man.  I can't remember what they said, but a thought came to my mind so strongly, I was afraid I had blurted it out loud.

I don't pray to a dead guy.  The guy I pray to is alive and has been from the beginning and will be until the end of time.  Oh, he was dead for a few days, deader than a doornail.  But on that third day, he rose and saved us all.

Yes, I pray to a guy that is more alive than any of us will ever be this side of heaven, and I'm so honored to do so.

Happy Easter!
Photo by Cindy West McGregor

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Later On

Later on, after John was arrested, Jesus went into Galilee, where he preached God’s Good News.  "The time promised by God has come at last!” he announced. “The Kingdom of God is near! Repent of your sins and believe the Good News!”                                                                                        Mark 1:14-16



They say opposites attract, and that may be true.  I know that my husband and I are opposites on some things.  For example, David likes to get things done immediately; I tend to put things off.  I'm thinking, "Well, I can do that later," while David is thinking, "I'll do it now and get it done."  You know, the early-bird-gets-the-worm theory.

In this passage from Mark, Jesus says that the Kingdom of God is near.  If it was "near" 2,000 years ago, I'm thinking it's about close enough to reach out and touch by now. 

Jesus says to repent of our sins and believe the Good News, the Gospel, the resurrected Christ.  We can either pay now (accept Christ, be genuinely sorry for our sins and change our behavior) or pay later (spend eternity separated from God).
Never too early and never too late to get this one done.

Photo by Cindy West McGregor



Thursday, April 5, 2012

Fair and Equal

We all want fair and equal treatment.  From  childhood when we first say, "Hey, that's not fair!" to adulthood, "I have my rights, you know!" we are looking for equality. 

The disciples had this problem from time to time.  As Jesus was explaining how the Kingdom of God works, he told the parable of the workers in the vineyard.  The owner of the vineyard throughout the day hired men to work.  By the end of the day, some had worked only an hour, but every man was paid the same.  The men who had worked all day complained that this was unfair.  But the owner made clear that his intent was not to be unfair, but to be generous.  He goes as far as accusing the first hired of jealousy.  (Matthew 20:1-16)

Sometimes it's hard to feel generous.  Sometimes jealousy is much easier.  It's a form of greed.  We want, we want, we want.  How much is enough?  Jealousy and greed try to convince us that it is never enough.

But the Bible tells us that Jesus is enough, He is sufficient (2nd Corinthians 12:9).  We don't need anything else.  Jesus did it all, said it all, sacrificed all.  Jealousy and greed will just have to take a back seat.

Monday, April 2, 2012

What I Learned From a Chuzzle

 


Chuzzle is a computer game that I have played for years.  It's not hard at all; in fact, I can play it without thinking, which is why I like it so much.  The Chuzzle board consists of six rows of Chuzzles across and six rows down.  The object of the game is to move the rows back and forth or up and down until you match three Chuzzles of the same color, whereupon the said Chuzzles sort of explode and their eyes race across the board to a jar where they wait for the next game.

Chuzzles are very cute, with their big expressive eyes and pretty colors.  During a game, it's very easy to line them up just right to get those three of the same color to explode and leave the board.  It's fun.

But as you get into the game, things start to happen.  A big lock comes out of nowhere and locks one of the Chuzzles into place.  It can't be budged; it stays until two of its color can slide to it and release it from its prison.

Okay, not a problem.  There's a whole board to choose from.  It's just a small part of the board tied up.  I keep working until finally the magic three line up and the lock is broken.  Yay!

Except now there are two locks on different parts of the board.  So I can't slide the Chuzzles up or down on about half of the board.  Hmmmmm…. Well, I'll just have to work with what I've got… If I can't move that row to the left and right, then I'll have to use this row.  And I've got to act quickly, because the locks just keep coming until the whole board is locked down and the game ends.

Sometimes when I'm out and about, doing whatever it is that I'm doing, I run into a problem of some kind, and Chuzzles comes into my mind.  I think about that board and its locks and how I have to find another way to get the job done.  Even when things are happening quickly and it looks like all is lost, if I will keep looking for an answer and not give up, I can usually figure it out in time.

God gives us everything we need to work through our problems.  Sometimes he even gives us Chuzzles.

I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.                                   Philippians 3:14


Friday, March 2, 2012

Please Protect Us

Dear Father, please protect us from the storms.  They are so scary and deadly.  It doesn't seem right that we have to live through this again.  The last two years we've had terrible tornadoes in April.  People were killed, injured for life, traumatized for life.  Please protect us.  Help us to use the warnings in the right way, to take shelter when the experts say we should.  Be with all your children today who are afraid, whose stomachs are tied in knots.  Fear is, of course, from Satan; it is not from You.  Help us to cling to You and ignore Satan.  He is a liar; You are the Truth, the Way and the Life.

"And so, Lord, where do I put my hope?  My only hope is in You."  Psalm 39:7
Photo courtesy of Cindy West McGregor

Monday, February 13, 2012

Comment... Please!

I've had some folks tell me that they would like to comment here on Miscellaneous Ramblings but couldn't figure out how to do it.  I think I can walk you through it.  It's easy, so please don't hesitate to comment.  It encourages me no end. 

Put your comment in the box provided at the end of the post.  Look directly beneath the box and you'll see "Comment as"and a small box that says "Select Profile."  Click on the little downward arrow to the right of that, and you'll get a drop down menu to select from.  There are several options, but the easiest would be to select "Anonymous," which is the last thing listed.  You can always put your name in the comment if you want to.  I'd love for you to identify yourself if you feel comfortable with that.

You can click on "Preview" to see it as it will appear on the blog, or click "Publish" and it will go directly to the blog.

Thanks for reading and commenting.  It makes my day everytime!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Have you Heard?

If you have been saved, if you have given your life to Christ, if you have invited Jesus into your heart, you have already heard the voice of God, which is the Holy Spirit.  You have already been in contact with Him, you have felt Him move within your spirit and your soul.  He spoke to you and you spoke to Him.  And He has been there ever since and will be there evermore.  How great is that? 

But there’s so much more to it.

 To hear the Holy Spirit, you’ve got to be listening.  You have to know what He sounds like in order to hear Him. 

I used to have a quiet time first thing in the morning.  This was way back in the day when my kids were growing up.  I had a full-time job (and I know a lot of you can relate to this) so I had to cram all of my home time around my job.  To accommodate the quiet time, I got up an hour early to pray.  I had a small notebook with pages upon pages of people and situations to pray for.  Once you got on my list, you didn't get off.  Even dying didn't take you off, because then I prayed for your family.  So there!

 And being a dutiful pray-er, I would ask God what He wanted from me.  Most times I would go on and on about how I wanted to be used by Him, suggesting different things that I was interested in.  But sometimes – sometimes – I would shut up and just listen.  Be still.  Try not to think of anything. 

 Well, of course, I would have these random thoughts go through my head.  "Got to remember to take the chicken out of the freezer for tonight."  "I wonder if Alice ever found her other shoe."  "Surely Mark has finally picked up his room by now."  "I need to tell David about that funny noise the car is making."

 Or people's names would float through my mind, or their circumstances, or something I had planned in the future.  "I hope Mable is feeling better."  "I wonder if Randy got that job he applied for."  "The preacher looked a little pale last Sunday.  I hope he's okay."  And I would try my best to ignore them all.  They were intruding upon my quiet time, and we couldn't have that, now, could we?

 One day it occurred to me that maybe, just maybe, those thoughts were the answers I had been looking for.  I had asked God to use me.  And then I ignored his directions to me.  Perhaps I thought of Mable because she could use a call from me or a note to cheer her up.  I could call Randy and ask about his job situation.  I could stop by the church office and look in on the preacher. 

 I came to treat those thoughts of names and circumstances as holy thoughts, promptings by the Holy Spirit to do what I could to love the ones he had brought to my mind.   And it occurred to me that when somebody's name just popped into my head at any time, those were holy thoughts, too.  A quick e-mail, a check of somebody's home page to leave a comment of encouragement, maybe simply a quick prayer offered up in the midst of a busy day.

 So, see?  You have already heard the voice of the Holy Spirit.  You'll hear it again.  Just listen…


Friday, February 10, 2012

60 and Counting...

I am 60 years old.  How did that happen?   I don't think of myself as being that old.  To put a bit of perspective on it, if I live to be as old as my dad lived to be, I've got another 40 years to go.  Or 30 years in the case of my mother, who is still healthy and active, mentally and physically.  So I can't use the excuse that I am too old to start something, like my speaking career.  That's a lot of years to fill up with something, and I want them to be fruitful.

But I have been noticing for the last few years that an awful lot of other people are treating me differently.  I didn't understand at first, and then I finally figured out that they see me as elderly.  I want to say, "Listen, you little whippersnapper, my dad lived to be 100.  Now, that's old!"

It's disheartening to be treated as if I'm not all there or not there at all.  Store clerks and check-out girls are the worst.  I've had people pat me on the arm or shoulder, trying to be reassuring.  This is the south, so of course I've had my share of "Hon" and "Sugar."  The one I really resent is when someone, usually male, calls me a "young" lady.  Listen, mister, my mind is fine and I know that I clearly am not young.  You need to get your eyes checked.  Or, better yet, you need to quit saying that.  I find it condescending and patronizing. 

I remember my dad saying "I have all the answers, but nobody will ask the questions!"  He was probably 98 when he said that.  And I kind of feel that way.  I don't know everything, of course, and neither did my dad.  What I want is for people to be able to learn from my experiences, and I want to continue to learn from others' experiences.  There's too much fascinating stuff out there to just sit on the sidelines and watch.

So I vow to get in there and live, no matter my age.  If other people won't listen, I'll figure out a way to get their attention.  I'll wear bright colors and say bright things.  When they pat, I'll pat back.  When they call me young, I'll tell them they need to get their eyes checked or avail themselves of a mental exam because they may be delusional.  I want to surprise people.  They will see an elderly, frumpy woman.  But when I start to speak, they will see the Light and know that I am someone who is speaking for the Lord.  Can't beat that with a stick.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Do What, Now?

All of the icons on my computer are the iTunes icon.  All of them.  They are all 2 notes of music on a blue background.  No kidding.  I don't have an icon that is a big "e" denoting the internet.  I don't have the colorful Picasa 3 symbol.  I don't have all those HP icons that come with every HP computer.  This is what I have .  Everywhere.  If I didn't have a special button that tells the computer to directly connect to the internet, I don't know what I'd do.  Well, yeah, I know what I'd do.  I'd be on the phone to iTunes trying to get it fixed.  But I can pretty well work around it and do what I want.  There's usually more than one way to get to something.  This unhappy circumstance is somehow my own fault.  While trying to transfer my iTunes library (over 1800 songs) from my old laptop to my new laptop, I ended up with only part of my library and a whole lot of icons going somewhere I don't need to go very often.  It's kind of iTunes overload.  And to make it worse, the icons lie.  They still say what they are supposed to be.  But when I click it, I get iTunes; and not only do I get iTunes, I see every time that I am missing around 1,000 songs in my library.  I have mentioned this problem to a few computer-smart people and they always say, "Do what, now?" which is the Southern equivalent of "Huh?".

So I end up with this vague feeling of guilt for causing this calamity and then letting it go on without fixing it.  I know the answer is out there somewhere.  I just dread talking to iTunes, explaining my problem and then hearing a stunned silence followed by "Do what, now?" 

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Reflections on David's ICD (written Feb. 2011)



My husband has an ICD, an Implantable Cardioverter-Defibrillator.  An ICD doesn't do anything at all until his heart gets so badly out of rhythm that it flutters instead of pumps.  Death is just seconds away at this point; if the heart isn't pumping blood, no organs will survive.  So the ICD administers the same shock that the paramedics do, exactly the same.  It's like David has a little paramedic with him all the time with his little paddles all fired up and ready to go.

He had had the ICD about 9 months when it first shocked his heart back into rhythm.  It happened as he was standing in line at Foodland, our local grocery store.  He said he suddenly just shouted loudly and felt a big shock running from his chest to the top of his head.  The incision site of where they implanted the defibrillator is sore, but that’s the only lasting effect.    

It is hard to express how I feel about this.  A friend of ours had suddenly passed away about a month before this, so I guess being so close to his death, I can see in my mind how I would have to get through people coming and going, a funeral or memorial service, making decisions without David, living my life without him.  My chest starts to hurt when I think about life without David.  I see our friend's wife struggling daily with it.  I don’t want to have to do the same. 

And I don’t have to, at least not yet.  There is no doubt that his life was saved.  The paramedics would not have arrived soon enough, even though they were just a few blocks away when it happened.  Which is precisely why he has the defibrillator in the first place.  God sent us to a cardiologist who sent us to the doctor who implanted the ICD.  We so blithely would say, “Oh, yes, if his heart stops, the ICD will shock it back.”  It was easy to just speculate on what that would be like.  David was told it would feel like a mule kicking him in the chest.  So I named the ICD Mule Muffins because, I said, it would just be one old mule kicking another.  Ha, ha.  Very funny.  People would laugh and enjoy the joke. 

And then it happened -- heart stops, ICD shocks, David has another chance to live longer than around 8:30 a.m., Friday, February 25, 2011.  He lives longer to see his grandchildren grow older, his wife to retire, he lives to travel and camp, to putter around the yard, to pass out candy at church, to meet his buds at Foodland for breakfast.

Second chances are extremely cool.  My praise for the Father runs deep.  I am so grateful to Him for this and so many other things, all related to my David.  We’ve been through a lot, especially since his disability started 5 years ago almost to the day.  Maybe we’re getting more time because we’ve passed the test, we’ve come through the fire, we’ve been refined, we’ve got more to do because of who we are today. 

I love the Lord.  He knows that and doesn’t need to give me anything so that I love Him more.  But He did anyway.  He made it so that David and I can continue our life together.  It took just a spark, but it worked.

Thank you, Jesus.  And I mean that literally.