"What He ordains for us each moment is what is most holy, best, and most divine for us." Jean-Pierre de Caussade

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Checking In

My nephew turned 16 last month and is now the proud owner of a legitimate driver's license.  What a milestone in a young boy's life.  

But, boy, do I ever remember the scariness of that season when my own children began taking off by themselves -- or with a sibling with them.  Which is exactly why I asked him when he walked through the door last week, "Have you texted your mother to let her know you're here?"  He bowed his head in embarrassment and said, "Yes, ma'am, I'm doing that now."  (Like I wouldn't have called her if he hadn't shown up...)

You've got to admit, it's pretty humiliating when you've just received such "freedom" to have to let mama  know when you get somewhere.  But it could be worse.  When my husband turned 16 and went to see his girlfriend who practically lived down the street, not only did his mother stand at the end of the driveway and watch him almost the entire way there, but when he got to the girl's house, he had to go inside and ask to use the phone so he could call her and tell her he had made it.  Yes.  Texting and driving is dangerous.  But once you get there, it can save a lot of face.

So it's probably no surprise that when my nephew was leaving, I asked, "Do you need to text your mother and tell her you're on the way home?"  

"Yes, ma'am," he said, and began typing.  "But I don't know why.  They made me get the "find my phone" app so she can tell where I am at all times just by looking."  I chuckled.  Technology.  It's a wonderful thing!

I'm reminded of what King David wrote:

You have searched me, Lord,
and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
You perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
You are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue,
You, Lord, know it completely.
Psalm 139:1-4

But it sure does delight Him when we check in.

I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised (2 Sam. 22:4).

Just an ordinary moment....

Monday, January 28, 2013

Dink You

I just got back from a weekend of keeping one precious little man.  I can hardly believe he's almost 2 years old.  Time doesn't slow down for the grandbabies anymore than it did for my own children.  I told his mom what my own mother told me: Enjoy this time.  In a blink of an eye, he'll be grown.  And he will.  

One thing for sure, his little personality continues to develop more and more every time I see him, with his vernacular expanding at an exponential rate as well.  He still has long conversations with me that sound Portuguese.  Usually it's something very funny, because when he's through, he'll just laugh and laugh.  And so will I.  Yet more and more words are becoming decipherable.  But two in particular.  He has learned the word "please" ... or "pease."  His mother and I laughed at how he thinks he can get anything he wants just by saying that little word.  And she's mostly right....  But, gratefully, he's added yet another phrase to his vocabulary that somehow completes the first.  "Dink you."  I give him one of G-Nan's cheese straws: "dink you."  Give him his cup: "dink you."  Set him down from his high chair: "dink you."  Even when my husband strapped him into the car seat and threw his jacket over him to give him a little extra warmth due to Saturday's cold weather, he looked at his Geezer and said, "dink you."  

Oh, sweet child, may "dink you" become the habit of your life ... one that you never outgrow.

And may thankfulness become the practice and conformity of my own existence as well.

Be cheerful no matter what; 
pray all the time; 
thank God no matter what happens.  
This is the way God wants you who belong to Christ Jesus to live.
1 Thessalonians 5:16

Just an ordinary moment...

Sunday, January 20, 2013

A Cup Overflowing, 421-440

You are my God and I will thank You;
You are my God and I will exalt You.
Psalm 118.28

#421  that God created the world -- and everything in it -- out of sheer love

#422  a house set in order after a season of upheaval

#423  a husband sweeping the kitchen floor after dinner

#424  creativity

#425  successful surgeries

#426  face-timing in Bass Pro with my grandson -- and throwing kisses 

#427  for a young man in my prayers ... and a very small ray of hope

#428  that God accepts me unconditionally and that my value in His sight has been affirmed once and for all by the death of His Son

#429  for the gift of hope -- "Hope is the essence of the reign of God.  Hope allows us to trust that, in ways we may not understand, God is at work, and that one day, He will establish His kingdom." (Maxie Dunnam)  Don't you just love that?

#430  overhearing my name lifted in prayer

#431  childhood friends ... and still giggling -- every 3 months, I have the privilege of hosting these 6 ladies for lunch.  They have literally known each other all their lives ... attending every grade in school together ... from kindergarten through 12th grade.  What a blessing. What a hoot to hear them reminisce.
Jeanne Bledsoe, Betty Gray, Nelle Shelton, Billie Davis, Jane Chapman, Dot Blackstock

#432  after a night of restlessness, waking up to Matthew 6:31-33

Therefore do not worry, saying, "What will we eat?" or "What will we drink?" or "What will we wear?"  For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.  But strive first for the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

#433 tapping into a spiritual giant: John Wesley

#434  a lone blue heron standing statuesque by the side of the road

#435  4.2 lbs. -- less

#436  an impromptu lunch with my favorite daughter

#437  soul to soul with a friend [sigh]

#438  an afternoon rain shower and taking the time to listen

#439  the way birds "come out" after a rain -- numbers too numerous to count; every feeder taken

#440  two people growing in the same direction

Full and thankful....

Friday, January 18, 2013

Come and See

To say that I am moderately challenged by the latest technological advances is to be gracious indeed.  I can do what I can do and that is about it.  Especially when it comes to cell phones.  What used to be a device that was used for nothing but talking to another person (in your own town, mind you), has now become a tool to access the whole world.  And so when I woke up recently and discovered my "life line" was not responding, I did the only thing I knew to do:  I got in the car and headed 12 miles up the road to the hospital phone store.

Fortunately, I was early enough that I didn't have to wait, which was a good thing, because I spent the next 4 hours of my day there being helped by an incredibly patient young man.  We found out that indeed my phone had seen its last day having passed quietly in the night, and with no time to mourn, the tech proceeded to ask me the only question worth asking:  "What are you looking for?"

Quite frankly, I wasn't sure.  Should I go with another Android?  After all, it's what I had been using for several years now and really all I knew.  Seeing my confusion, the tech said, "Come and let me show you what I've got."  And so I followed, and for the next 30 minutes, we cased the walls and he showed me all he had to offer.  Certainly, most of it was more than my little brain could comprehend.  But after many questions and much thought, I finally settled on the phone that I thought would suit me best.

You know, there was Another who said, "What are you looking for?"  Strangely, not until I began looking for this particular verse did I realize these were the very first words John records Jesus as saying.  "What are you looking for?"  It was not a harsh reproof as He turned and saw John the Baptist's disciples following Him.  It was an invitation to their desires -- to state their wishes, to express their feelings, to lay open their minds and hearts to Him.

Yes, He turned toward the disciples at their first inclination to follow Him and sincerely asked, "What are you looking for?"  No doubt, He poses the same query to us: what is it you are looking for?  Why not take some time to answer with what is deep in your heart, with what is weighing on your mind, with what is turning in your spirit, and then listen for the same invitation He gave to John and Andrew that particular morning: "Come and see."  

And when we do respond, the truth is it's probably more than our little brains can comprehend.

When Jesus turned and saw them following, He said to them, "What are you looking for?' They said to him, "Rabbi" (which translated means Teacher), "where are You staying?"  He said to them, 
"Come and see"....
John 1:38-39

Just an ordinary moment...

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

A Cup Overflowing, 401-420

If I have said it once to my piano students, I have said it a thousand times, "You have got to count.  It's the most important thing you can do ... even more so that getting the notes right.  It's what makes the music flow."  And so I continue...

#401  a silent Christmas night and a heart that is very, very full

#402  a day filled with family -- 38 of us 

#403  hearing "I love you" for the first time from my grandson's lips

#404  Christmas morning and four generations around my breakfast room table  Lord, You have been our dwelling place in all generations.  Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever You had formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God (Psalm 90:1-2).

#405  siblings that love and care for each other and enjoy hang time

#406  the color red (In all honesty, the "red" here are the cardinals outside my window every morning, but when I saw this picture ... well it just seemed to fit as well.  Red... I love it.)

#407  the glory of God hidden in an Infant

#408  the glory of God hidden in each of God's children

#409  the morning song of a house finch -- Come, let us sing to the Lord; let us shout for joy to the Rock of our salvation."  Psalm 95:1

#410  the way the wind sounds and the mystery of its origin

#411  and then the sudden stillness of the same

#412  playing in an inflatable 

#413  for friends of long ago that still bring a smile to my face and mind -- Kathy, you will always be the "Big Toe (alto)"

#414  green in December

#415  old home places -- where my great-grandmother lived

#416  landmarks -- I can find Nannie's house (my great-aunt) by looking for the windmill

#417  "grace upon grace" ... an abundance of blessing, a cascade of goodness.  This is what God desires for me.  I ask that I not be content with less

#418  learning to discern and recognize the song of a particular Carolina Wren who frequents my morning sacred space -- and sings to me

#419  New Year's Eve communion

#420  that God's order provides for new beginnings

My cup overflows...

Monday, January 14, 2013

"We Just Take a Pill"

The first thing I noticed when I walked into the little mom and pop restaurant was the table groaning from the content of breakfast sitting in front of the couple squeezed together on the bench overlooking the trough.  As the waitress placed yet another plate of pancakes in front of them, the fellow said, "I think I know y'all.  Don't you go to the gym?"  He proceeded to tell us that he had signed up back in September but had only been a couple of times but he thought he had seen us there.  We said we do in fact go, and the conversation continued back and forth, off and on, for the next 15 minutes or so as we took the booth behind them.  They  told us about their "business" and handed us a card.  It appears one can take this pill and then eat all or whatever one wants and still lose weight.  Dang, sign me up, I thought, as I ordered my one scrambled egg, 2 slices of crisp bacon and a piece of dry wheat toast.  Believe me, there was nothing wrong with my breakfast; it was very delicious ... but Barbara's sausage gravy over not one, but two,  grilled biscuits could be all mine if I just had one of those little power pills.

Call me weird, but this scenario is what came to mind this morning while thinking about abiding in Christ and of being alive in Him. You see, those who trust Christ as Savior truly do have a power pill -- the indwelling Christ who presents Himself to us as the Holy Spirit.  Very God of very God.  Yet here's the problem: we so often pop that holy power pill and stop there.  But to be a Christian is to change.  Conversion -- passing from death to life -- may be the miracle of a moment, but the making of a saint is the task of a lifetime.  I like what Maxie Dunnam wrote in Irresistible  Invitation: "The new process of saint-making is to work out in fact what is already dynamic in principle.  In position, in our relation to God in Jesus Christ, we are new persons.  Now our condition -- the actual life that we live -- must be brought into harmony with our new position."  

Yes, this new life in Christ is pure grace.  Big-time grace.  Grace of epic proportions.  And that grace is soundly enough to cover every sinful act we have ever even thought of doing.  But if we are to abide in Christ, if we are to be alive in Him, then it seems like some discipline just might be in order.  And I'm not just talking about sausage gravy.

... Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear.  Philippians 2:12

Just an ordinary moment...

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Wind Chimes and Amazing Grace

When my husband asked me what I wanted for Christmas, I told him some outdoor wind chimes.  The ones I had were well-used, well-weathered and the windcatcher had been rehung more times than it should have been.  So the week prior to Christmas, he suggested we go and I pick out the ones I wanted.  I told him okay, but I didn't want to look them ... I wanted to listen and choose it from the sound it made.  (And, yes, then he was suppose to buy it, take it home and wrap it so I could unwrap it Christmas morning and be surprised.)

And so as I stood in the local hardware store with my back to the several dozen chimes hanging from the indoor gazebo, my husband began touching the windcatchers to make them do their thing -- chime.  He moved from one to the next until there was a symphony of tones filling that warehouse.  And then I heard it.

"That one!" I said, pointing with my thumb behind me.  "That one right there!"  He started moving back touching each chime as he went.  I said, "No!" pointing again behind me.  "That one!"  Finally, I heard its sound again and cried, "Yes!  That's the one I want!"

It was not until then that I turned around to see what I had chosen.  It was the Mongolian Alto.  "Reminiscent of church and temple bells," its card read.  "Major pentatonic scale in root position in the key of A."  And then I grinned as I read, "The tones found in Amazing Grace."  The smile on my lips paled to the smile etching itself on my heart.  Yes.  How appropriate.

Grace.  It's what my name means and it has been the greatest gift of my life.  Grace that sought me out as an enemy of God and made me His daughter.  Grace that sustains and keeps me.  And as the old hymn goes, grace that will lead me home.

The chimes now hang just outside my sun room window and with the slightest bit of breeze, the tones are not only bringing music to the spheres but are resonating deeply in me.  "Grace!  Grace!" they seem to sing.  Or at least that's what I hear.  (Okay, so one time I did hear "Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer" which are the same tones in Amazing Grace.)  But when I'm sitting alone in my sun room with a cup of hot tea, I'm not upset my quiet is disrupted.  I hear "Grace."  When I'm irritable or upset, I hear "Grace."  When I'm putting on my make-up, "Grace!"  Sitting at the dinner table with my husband: "Grace!"  The fact is, as I walk this thing out called "life,"  the sounds of grace sing me through the day.

And it just might be God's theme for me in 2013.  On the eve of this New Year, my devotional led me to John 1:16: And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace. Yet this particular morning's translation read,  Indeed, from his fullness we have, all of us, received -- one gift replacing another.  

"Grace for grace."  "One gift replacing another." Yes, gratitude, the theme of 2012, seems to be melding right over into 2013.  And I bet if you listen carefully, you might even find it to be the tune of your life, too.

His marvelous grace.  What an amazing gift!

Just an ordinary moment...

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

A Cup Overflowing, 381-400

As I look back at 2012, no doubt Psalm 71:15 has been my tune.  May it be yours as well in 2013.  "My mouth shall recount Your mighty acts and saving deeds all day long; though I cannot know the number of them."

There are not enough numbers, but still, I attempt to count...

#381  my Christmas cactus's virgin bloom

#382  not too busy to sit -- in this season, what a gift!

#383  for the mercy of God in a friend's son's life -- that the glory of the Lord might be revealed

#384  a Sunday morning cardinal that reminds me to choose joy today

#385  sitting with my husband and parents in morning worship

#386  that Joseph (Mary's husband) would allow his heart and mind to be shaped and changed -- even though he had made up his mind "to put her away privately" -- what integrity!

#387  morning peace

#388  how a young woman who lived over a hundred years ago can still speak volumes to my soul and challenge me to holy living

#389  testimonies from perfect strangers that can't be kept quiet  

#390  Christmas hospitality given (again) through Di and Randy

#391  the deep love that is alive in my heart toward another

#392  sitting in the dark on a quiet Advent Sunday morning

#393  for a pastor whose heart is both tender and sensitive

#394  to hear for the first time the name of Jesus formed on and spoken through my grandson's lips -- Yes, when he ran into the den and saw my nativity, he pointed at the baby and said, "Sheshush!"  Oh, God, may he always live to exalt Your Son's name!

#395  Christmas eve testimonies

#396  rocking and loving on this year's baby -- my great-niece Moriah, to be exact -- and realizing just how appropriate that is on Christmas eve

#397  being soaking wet after a playful bath time with a certain little fellow who found a great thrill in splashing his G-Nan

#398  early Christmas morning peace

#399  that Light came into the world -- and darkness cannot over come it

#400 for the Word made flesh

Just very thankful indeed...