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

Thursday, June 27, 2013


I sat with my daddy last week at his computer.  Earlier, I had asked him who owned Andrew Hardware.  When I was a small child, it was the place all the men gathered around the pot-bellied stove and told their stories and solved the world's problems.  These were more the farmers.  At the other end of the block was the Coffee Cup where the businessmen met -- or so I seem to remember.  I also wanted to know about the empty parking lot next door to the hardware store.  Had it always been just that ... an empty lot?  He answered my questions and then disappeared for a while.  He had gone back to the computer room, (yes, my 82 year old parents have a computer room with their individual PCs), and found pictures of "old Perry."  My dad is somewhat Perry's un-official historian.  Thousands of pictures and stories are housed in both his brain as well as his computer.  He loves remembering and sharing them.  And I love hearing them.

As for my questions, there were actually two hardware stores downtown.  I always assumed Mr. Andrew owned Andrew Hardware, but this particular day I discovered that Mr. Talton owned Andrew Hardware and Mr. Andrew was the proprietor of Houston Hardware directly across the street.  There was no explanation on that one.  As for the empty lot, Daddy said that before even he could remember, a wooden house sat between the 2 buildings that are still standing, but it caught fire one night and burned to the ground.  An interesting piece of information is that Mr. Swanson, the man who lived across the street, ran out to see what was going on and got so excited, he died of a heart attack right there on the spot.  Hmm.  That, too, was interesting.

Living in the place where you grew up can take you down memory lane every time you walk out the door.  Just this week, I was taking my parents home from eating out, and my mother said, "This is where we used to play capture the flag.  Right here in the middle of the road.  And right up here at the top of the hill is where we used to go parking."  (That was beginning to border on TMI -- "too much information.")  I have traveled that little stretch of road literally thousands of times in my lifetime as it's less than a quarter of mile from where my parents have lived for 55 years, and I never knew that.  But she remembered.  And now I will, too.

But I'm constantly recalling my own memories as well.  

One day I stood downtown on the corner and took 4 pictures in 4 different directions.

The first is where it all began for me.  Dr. Gallemore's office.  This is where my brothers and I were born, where I had blood drawn for my marriage license, and everything that fell in between, including getting my ears pierced and warts removed.

Of course, I don't actually REMEMBER being born...

Rotating to my left and across the street is the Perry United Methodist Church.

Here I was baptized as an infant and where I came to love Jesus in the children's Sunday School department.  Where I first exercised my piano skills in worship and where I gave my first testimony in a pulpit.  It's where I married my husband and where we have said goodbye to generations of loved ones.

Across the street is this building.

Today it is the administration building for the church, but before that, it was the Bank of Perry.  The bank where my great-uncle was the president until he died and where my uncle's insurance company was housed.  Where I had free range after hours and even where I worked as a teller after graduating from high school.

And then one more quarter rotation finds this.

It's now The Swanson restaurant, but when I was little, it's where Mrs. Norine Jones lived, my babysitter on those rare occasions when Mom and Dad would go out.  (She was also the daughter of the aforementioned Mr. Swanson who gave way to the excitement of the fire.)  But most importantly, this is where both of my parents went to kindergarten ... with Mrs. Norine as their teacher. 

And this is just one corner!  

A quick stroll down the street and I remember Mr. Mac and Mrs. Ruth who owned the car dealership.  If he had 5 cars parked inside his showroom, that was a big deal.  When I got married, Mrs. Ruth gave me her monogrammed cocktail napkins that I have and use to this day.  After all, she had married a McLendon and I was about to do the same.

I remember my Uncle Smokie's men's clothing store like it was yesterday and sitting up on that very high counter while the adults visited (or shopped).  I picked out my wedding china at the 2 jewelry shops that sat directly across the street from each other.  I had my first "date" at the Coffee Cup.  (I rode my bike to meet him.)  I bought my first short-shorts at Tots and Teens, and I met Jimmy Carter and shook his hand at the entrance to the court house.  I was just going to the public library housed in the basement, but he stopped me and asked me to tell my parents to vote for him ... for governor.  Little did any of us know about that one.

Yes, and just across the street is the New Perry Hotel where I learned my social graces inside in the dining room and how to swim out back in the wrought-iron fenced pool. And, if I tried to list all the homes and  landmarks that I pass on a routine basis that hold memories of one kind or another, I could fill page upon page upon page.  Certainly I don't pretend that all of them are positive remembrances.  But these are the places God used to shape me.

Of course, we don't have to have landmarks to have a memory surface.  It can be a song on the radio.  A smell when we pass someone at the mall.  A picture that falls out of a book.  And then suddenly, there it is.  We remember

In one sense, the past is gone, never to be repeated.  But in another way, it's not gone at all.  We remember because it all lives and breathes somewhere deep within us.  It suddenly becomes as much a part of us now as it was back when.  These memories, they come unbidden.  Some with such force that we are startled by their abruptness.  Some so subtle that we hold tightly to them and yearn for more.

So what do we do with them?  Embrace them or hold them at bay?  Acknowledge or suppress them?  Maybe we ought to deliberately choose to see where God was alive and active in them, that His grace was sufficient whether we knew Him or not, and that without Him, WE WOULD NOT HAVE SURVIVED ... and then maybe we can be thankful.  Maybe THAT is as the heart of our remembering.

O give thanks to the Lord, call on His name, make known His deeds among the peoples.
Sing to Him, sing praises to Him, tell of all His wonderful works.
Glory in in His holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice.
Seek the Lord and His strength, seek His presence continually.
REMEMBER the wonderful works He has done...
1 Chronicles 16:8-12a

Just an ordinary moment...

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

A Cup Overflowing, 621-640

Every time you feel in God's creatures something pleasing and attractive, do not let your attention be arrested by them alone, but, passing them by, transfer your thought to God and say: 
"O my God, if Thy creations are so full of beauty, delight and joy, how infinitely more full of beauty, delight and joy art Thou Thyself, Creator of all!
Nicodemus of the Holy Mountain

My search for True Beauty continues:

#621  lavender morning skies

#622  sound of my heart beat -- and my personal rhythm of life

#623  girl's day spent with Adrianne

#624  races and crossing the finish line -- regardless of what position we finish, "We win!"

And we did!

#625  carpet of petals after a storm

#626  early Saturday morning and the love and grace God showers upon me

#627  waking of creation: God calls the earth from the rising of the sun to its setting (Ps. 50:1)

#628  seeing God present through His people even, especially, in the wake of violence and tragedy -- the Boston Marathon bombing

#629  the feel and earthy smell of dirt

#630  fresh vegetables
Hand picked

and cooked

#631  joy in the morning sun

#632  kale smoothies and thoughts of green flowing through my veins

#633  Spring centerpieces: beet stems and baby rabbits

#634  impromptu dinner partners ... and stories
Dozier and Dot Blackstock

#635  celebrating baby brothers
I do love these "boys" so much!
#636  wild turkeys

#637  white cows dotted midst blooming dogwoods

#638  sounds of raindrops on a tin roof

#639  meeting and watching the potter himself: Cody Troutman

#640  lizards in hotel rooms and learning to marvel rather than scream

True Beauty worship...

Monday, June 24, 2013

Unwanted Guest

It's not the first time an unwanted guest has found its way into my house.  But that doesn't mean I'm used to it.  When I sat down to have my quiet time early one morning last week, I heard it.  At first I thought it was just the way I was moving the paper next to me on the couch.  But upon sitting still ... I heard it again.  I opened my devotional book and turned to the prescribed passage in my "Spiritual Formation" Bible to begin my "sacred space," and ... that sound.  I stood to see if I could pinpoint where the noise was coming from and follow it.  But each time I moved, there was nothing but quiet.  So I sat to begin my reading once more.  There it was again.  It sounded ... crackly.  Like paper.  And as hard as I tried, I could not concentrate for knowing that something was lurking about me.  Something I could not see.  But only hear.  What was it?  A lizard?  A gargantuan cockroach?  Or heaven forbid, a snake?

I tried to set my thoughts on the Scripture passage.  I tried reading the devotional.  I tried praying.  But constantly, my mind was going to whatever "it" was every time "it" moved.  It was consuming my every thought.  And, quite frankly, instilling a little bit of fear.  You know, the kind when something brushes up against your leg in the ocean.

This was ridiculous, and I finally could take it no more.  I got down on my hands and knees, put the side of my face to the floor and looked under the armoire, the large wardrobe converted to computer "desk".  Sure enough, several pieces of paper had slipped up under it and made a nice carpet for anything that might be treading upon it.  Thus, I assumed, the crackle sound.  I got the broom and pulled out the debris, trashed it and went back to my spot on the couch.  Finally, a little peace.

But you know as well as I do I had only removed the sound and had not touched the source.  It's the old sweeping of the cobwebs without getting rid of the spider routine.  You can destroy that web as many times as you like, but until you do away with the spider, you're just going to have to keep dusting.  So even as I sit here right now, something, (hopefully only a lizard -- whose lifespan is about 3 years), is quite possibly watching me.  So however I do it, whether my husband is around to remove the problem and place it outside or I take the aforementioned broom to escort it to lizard heaven, it's GOT to go.  Or else there's not going to be any real peace around here.  At least not for about 3 years.

Reminds me a little bit of how I often treat the sin in my life: removing the manifestation  but allowing the root to grow.

Maybe it wasn't a wasted quiet time after all.

Just an ordinary moment...

Thursday, June 20, 2013

A Cup Overflowing, 601-620

May I quote Ann Voskamp again?  "Thanks makes NOW a sanctuary.  And I take my vows: I will not desecrate this moment with ignorant hurry or sordid ingratitude.  I will be Jacob, and I will name this moment the 'house of God' (Genesis 28:19)."

Sordid ingratitude.  That has the ring of Eve in the garden, does it not?  She wasn't satisfied with what she had and wanted more.  So why don't we just throw a little gratitude in the face of that hissing enemy of old.

#601  "Make way for the King of Glory!" -- children's choir at Perry Presbyterian

#602  waiting rooms

#603  a thousand bees at work

#604  colors of spring -- a red bud in bloom

#605  an Easter agate .. and an empty tomb

#606  that God is the great Promise Keeper -- and because He lives, I, too, shall live.  Alleluia!

#607  Spring's first lizard ... sunbathing

#608  discipline
Time out

#609  mourning doves perched high above me in the pine

#610  cool mornings and open windows

#611  wisteria in full bloom

#612  that Jesus comes to us

#613  large pastors and tiny communicants

#614  Debra Willis -- the Lord just blesses my socks off through this child of His

#615  Bible study and lives changed

#616  holy walks and sacred encounters

#617  that God's mercy knows no bounds  -- because I'm in need of it ... again

#618  Beth Hannah -- House of Grace

#619  opportunities given ... and taken that allow neighbors to pray

#620  a holy Meal shared on the deck with 8 lovely ladies ... re-membering


Monday, June 17, 2013

A Cup Overflowing, 581-600

Whatever happened to the lazy days of summer vacation?  You know, when you take off your shoes and spend the hours of daylight walking barefoot through the green grass or mornings sipping an orange soda at the local pool.  Where evenings are for catching fireflies and putting them in a class mason jar.  Yet our days are more squeezed than ever.  And before we know it, "summer" has flown right by and we've missed it ... again.

In her book One Thousand Gifts, Ann Voskamp writes, "Time is a relentless river.  It rages on, a respecter of no one.  And this, this is the only way to slow time: When I fully enter time's swift current, enter into the current moment with the weight of all my attention, I slow the torrent with the weight of me all here.  I can slow the torrent by being all here.  I only live the full life when I live fully in the moment.  And when I'm always looking for the next glimpse of glory, I slow and enter.  And time slows.  Weigh down this moment in time with attention full, and the whole of time's river slows, slows, slows."

Can't you use a little of that?  Me, too.  Then let's begin "looking for the next glimpse of glory."

#581  a lone widower standing at the mausoleum

#582  an impending storm bearing down and the race to get home

#583  58 years of marriage

58 years later --same swing
#584  a late night cup of tea warming the cold hands

#585  the blue in the sky after a storm

#586  watching another's hand struggle to write a simple word

#587  a quiet Sunday afternoon of lying on the couch with a heated blanket over me and a book in my hands

#588  that God does not treat me as my sin deserves (Ps. 103:10)  Oh, yes...

#589  stopping to listen to Come, Thou Fount  -- 2 violins and piano

#590  for a guardian angel and a little boy who can see him

#591  a momentary breakthrough of sun and the way it colors everything

#592  "Purdy purdy purdy purdy" ... the sound of morning

#593  knowing that after having done everything to make some space for God, it is still He who comes on His own initiative

#594  a day of Easter dress shopping with Marynan and Adrianne

#595  the dove that watches from above as I pray

#596  Palm Sunday sermons and devotionals

#597  breaking "bread" and sipping coffee with old friends -- Lynn and Al

#598  love interchange from my baby girl

#599  patterns of light across a love nest

#600  an early morning tea cup warming my hands; an early morning note from a friend warming my heart

And time slows...