Thursday, March 28, 2019

A Spring in My Step






Spring is a much anticipated time of the year that I eagerly await – until it gets here. Then I have to face some of the more challenging things about the season.




  • The sun doesn’t come up until after 8:00 am and I have a harder time getting out of bed in the dark. Thanks Daylight Savings Time.
  • The deck and car is covered in yellow dust and there is a haze of pollen in the air.  I am using more antihistamines, eye drops, and nose sprays just to make it through the day.
  • My closet is a jumbled mess. Heavier clothes need to be cleaned and boots packed away.
  • Dust bunnies are visible in the late afternoon sun reminding me it’s time for spring cleaning.
  • Baby squirrels busily destroy my container garden of pansies and tulips before we discover their nest under our grill cover.


As new life springs up all around, I am also reminded of the enjoyable aspects of this time of year.


  • The ornamental fruit trees are dressed in white, pink, and purple blossoms. The red and orange leaves on oak and maple trees gradually fade into green.
  • Catalogs arrive with page after page of colorful spring fashions that tempt me to order the latest and greatest.
  • My too late bloomer husband agrees to use on sale coupons and take his semi-annual shopping trip for his furnishings.
  • Reminders of the Easter season and the new life experienced in Christ are in the stores and even on the History Channel (Jesus: His Life.)
  • My thankful heart rejoices in all the challenges and joys that this season of renewal has to offer.





Thursday, March 7, 2019

A Season of Change


The place was mostly abandoned and spooky.  Wind whipped up dry leaves that danced around the empty store fronts.  Rows of dealer—not shopper— cars filled the parking lot. We’d hoped to find a place to eat around the mall, but most eateries were closed.  We saw up close the new face of suburban America. 

On March 1 of this year, CNBC online pronounced, “The retail apocalypse is alive and well this week with major chains… announcing massive closures, totaling the death of more than 465 stores over the last 48 hours.” Ten years ago, only a few saw this massive change coming.

Online shopping from the comfort of your own home is replacing the brick and mortar experience.  I do my share online, but still like a retail therapy trip to check out the merchandise. Just as the mall replaced the downtown main street shopping experience during the past fifty years, the future of retail is changing again to meet consumer demands.  The malls that are thriving incorporate experiences, other than shopping, to attack customers.  Indoor put-put golf, bouncy houses, carousels, pottery painting, and live theaters seem to be major attractions.  How do we handle the changing times that are imposed on us by our society?

Today is Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent.  As a Baptist type of Christian, I usually don’t give up anything for the forty days leading up to Easter. But, I feel it’s an important time to reflect on the meaning of Easter and the Resurrection.

In New Testament times, life was about to change drastically for the twelve men we call disciples and all the other followers of the Teacher, who was called Jesus Christ. He tried in many ways to prepare them for the upheaval that would affect their lives forever.  Following Jesus was new and exciting as the disciples saw Him perform miracles, heal the sick, and drive out demons.  They envisioned a new kind of kingdom that would overthrow the Roman Caesars and restore the power of King David’s empire. They were shocked when Jesus began to predict His death and could not comprehend the possibility of His resurrection.  Things were changing all around the disciples, and they didn’t see it coming.

After Jesus’ death on the cross and resurrection from the dead, life would never be the same.  He would no longer walk with them in the flesh, but in the Spirit. His disciples and followers ever since would be filled with God’s Spirit when accepting Jesus as Savior and Lord.  Lives and society would be transformed by the good news of the Gospel. 

Will there be malls in twenty years, or will all shopping be done online?  I still can’t imagine buying a car online without kicking the tires.  Only time will tell, but the huge change that Jesus brought to this world will still be alive and well in the heart and minds of His followers. Climate change proponents who predict that a weather apocalypse will destroy the earth in twelve years must not be students of the Bible.

God plainly states in the Scriptures that He will have the last word and the future of our planet is in His capable and loving hands. We should open our eyes to the truth of God’s word and embrace each season of change.


Thursday, February 7, 2019

My Diamond Jubilee


According to Wikipedia, “A 75th birthday or anniversary is commonly known as a Diamond Jubilee.

“How did I reach three-quarters of a century old?” If I had been born in any other period of time, I would not have lived to celebrate this time of my life.  It’s been a long and at times difficult journey to get this far.  Health issues plagued me most of my life culminating in a successful liver transplant in 1998. The medical technology of the 20th century and the generous gift of a donor organ saved my life. Three have been health problems since then, but nothing of that magnitude. You can read about my second chance at life in my memoir, Born Three Times: A New Life, A New Liver, A New Love.

Since this is my diamond jubilee, I decided to research those precious stones. Diamonds are the hardest substance on earth.  They are formed within the earth’s mantle and brought to the surface by deep source volcanic eruptions.  The impact of asteroids and meteorites on the planet can also produce diamonds. Much of the world’s diamond mining comes from Africa. South Africa and Angola are sources of diamonds, but they are also mined in Canada, Russia, and Australia. The only diamond mine in the US is found near Murfreesboro, Arkansas. Diamond mining can be very labor intensive and environmentally harmful, leaving massive scars on the earth’s surface.

“As you can imagine, the journey a rough diamond undergoes from its violent formation process to being mounted on an exquisite setting is long indeed and passes through many different channels.”  (Beyond 4Cs-The real insights to mining diamonds) "The round diamond is the undisputed king of brilliant cuts. With 57 carefully placed facets, every round diamond that is polished from a rough crystal has the potential to becoming a jewelry masterpiece.” Carat, cut, and clarity determine the price of each precious gem.

A Jubilee was significant in Old Testament times.  During Jubilee years, it was mandated that lands be given a year’s rest so that the earth could rejuvenate.  Healthier and better crops would grow in future plantings.  Also during a Jubilee year, the slaves and indentured servants were set free from their bondage and given a second chance at life. 

I see many parallels to my life’s journey. Like the diamond, I have been cut and polished and been given the opportunity to enjoy an abundant life here and eternal life after death.  After all, it is said that “Diamonds are forever.”  And like the Israelite slaves, I’ve been given a second chance at life.  

At our wedding Charles and I played the song, “Grow Old Along with Me, the Best is Yet to Be.” 
  That has proven to be true in both of our lives.


 

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Jumping to Conclusions



I recently watched an old movie with Paul Newman and JoAnne Woodward.  In The Long Hot Summer, Newman’s character was falsely accused of being an arsonist.  Almost the whole town jumped to the conclusion that he was guilty and tried to run him out of town.

A quote from Pinterest reads as follows:

“Snap judgments often lead to regrets from those
whose only exercise is jumping to conclusions."

Two events in Washington, DC have captivated the news in recent days. The ever-present cable news networks and social media took these false stories and inflamed public opinion.

The first accused the President of telling his lawyer to lie to Congress.  With no documentation to back up the claim, much of the news media had the President convicted of an impeachable offense.  The accusation was later walked back when the Special Counsel who investigates such crimes said it wasn’t true.

Next on a demonstration-filled weekend in the nation’s Capital, teenage boys from a Catholic school in Kentucky were accused of racism against Native Americans. The accusation was based on a cherry-picked video.  When the full video was released, it was revealed the boys did not instigate a confrontation, but were themselves victimized by epithets from a Black Hebrew Israelite group. 

These two incidents of the media defaming people and making snap judgments, made me question if the Bible had something to say to me on the subject.  Yes, I confess; As a Christian, I’ve been guilty of jumping to conclusions myself.  Four truths "jumped" out at me.


Appearances Can be Deceiving - See the situation from all sides and from another’s point of view.
John 7:24  “Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.”

Be Slow to Judge - It’s better to be discerning and deliberate in our thinking than to pay the price of false judgment.
Proverbs 25:7-8  “What you have seen with your eyes, do not bring hastily to court,  for what will you do in the end if your neighbor puts you to shame?"

Grow in Wisdom - Senior adults should use their life experiences to help resolve difficult situations and relationships.
Job 12:12  “Is not wisdom found among the aged?  Does not long life bring understanding?”

Remember your Weakness – Look inward and not outward before jumping to conclusions.

Luke 6:37 “Do not judge and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.”

I conclude with a word to the wise from author, Scottie Waves:
“Stay open-mined. Things aren’t always what they seem to be.”







Monday, January 7, 2019

Joy in the Journey


Three hundred and fifty-eight days remain in 2019.  Where did 2018 go? It is definitely true that the older I get the faster time flies by. Having the flu for ten days after the frenzy of Christmas has left me worn out and struggling to get back to normal.  January is usually my busiest and happiest time of the year.  Even though the days are short and dreary, I am energized to get my life and possessions back in order. 

Not so this year.  Even though I retired from the office at the end of August, much of my time has been spent fighting one infection after the other. In 2019, I definitely need to find better health and Joy in the Journey.

Where should we look for joy?

Not on the news.  I want to cry when I read about heathen or pagan worship services being held on the USS John C. Stennis in the carrier chapel. Why would they want to meet for worship when they don’t believe in any god?  And who would have ever thought that the number one cause of death in this world in 2018 would be abortion.  Not a disease like cancer with 8.2 million deaths or heart disease (5 million) but a cause of death chosen by 42 million people last year.  This is a heartbreaking statistic, until I look at the adopted children in our church. Those birth mothers chose to carry their babies to term and give joy to the adoptive parents who now love them and care for them each day.

Not in Hollywood where during the Golden Globes actor Christian Bale credited Satan with inspiring his role in the movie, Vice. It seems as if the God-hating world gets all the publicity these days. 
  
Joy comes from the inside out. It is like a well of water that needs to be drawn to the surface. Christian author, CS Lewis said “Joy is the serious business of heaven.” Christianity is often portrayed as a religion of rules that deprive the follower of joy.  The good news of Christianity is that when we are in a right relationship with God through Jesus, we receive the gift of JOY. We just recently celebrated Christmas and sang “Joy to the World.”

Now that Christmas is over, I don’t want to leave my gift of Joy in the box or on the shelf.  My New Year’s resolution is to incorporate more joy into my daily routine and find reasons to share that joy with others.

Another author wisely wrote: “Focus on the journey, not the destination.  Joy is found not in finishing an activity, but in doing it.” (Greg Anderson)
 
Here’s to finding joy during each day of 2019.

Monday, December 10, 2018

A Messy Christmas


Have yourself a messy little Christmas…  No, I didn’t make a typo, but did an intentional rewrite of the first line of the Sam Smith song. 

The first Christmas was not all neat and pretty like my beautiful Thomas Kinkade Nativity display.  For Mary and Joseph it was noisy, stressful, and painful.  Traveling the 70 miles from Nazareth to Bethlehem (Joseph’s tribal village) to register for the Roman ordered census was not an easy feat.  The several day trip with the heavily pregnant Mary riding on a donkey must have been an ordeal. As Joseph walked beside her he was confronted with guiding them along a treacherous and rugged uphill and downhill path. In the late fall and early winter, the weather would have been very cold and rainy with no roadside inns to protect them from the harsh conditions. They also faced the possibility of wild animals, bandits, and robbers looking for easy prey.

The hope for a comfortable room at the inn at the end of the long journey did not materialize. Instead, they found themselves in a stable that housed noisy, smelly animals. The cold, quiet night was interrupted by Mary’s cries during her painful labor as she delivered her first born son.  Joseph had to lend a helping hand before the parents and baby fell into an exhausted sleep. 

Their rest was soon interrupted by a heavenly choir, angels, and a visit from neighboring shepherds who were the first to witness the newborn babe. What a glorious and not so silent night it must have been. 

When King Herod learned of the birth of the King of the Jews from the wise men, Joseph & Mary fled with the infant to Egypt to escape the mandate by the King that all boys under the age of two were to be slaughtered. There was definitely no peace on earth for Jesus or anyone else in Judea during that traumatic time.  

It seems every year the month of December brings messy challenges to those of us who hope to experience a Norman Rockwell or Hallmark Christmas. Weather problems delay travel and can cause cancellations of long-awaited reunions. A White Christmas can mean a disaster here in Georgia with roads too treacherous for travel.  We spent most of the past weekend driving around in rainy, cold weather to fulfill some planned commitments. We were glad for a warm house at the end of the day.

Nasty viruses and the flu come to call more easily this time of year.  All the hugs and well wishes can mean more colds and bronchitis.  Eating right and lots of sleep can help, but it is no guarantee we will escape. 

Family issues seem to predominate this time of year.  Work hours, distance, and finances often keep our family from enjoying a stress free holiday. It seems impossible to make a plan and stick to it.

Yes, things can get messy, but after writing about the difficulties of the first Christmas, I am much more thankful for all the blessings I enjoy. I will be grateful for all the beautiful messy things that Christmas brings my way.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

No Rose without a Thorn


My twenty-year old granddaughter, Rose Davis, is my guest blogger today.  A French proverb states there is “No rose without a thorn.” Her story about the thorn in her life that caused her to bloom into a delightful young woman is well worth sharing with my readers. Here is her bio and her story.

Rose Davis is a Christian, a dancer, a social media influencer, a student, and a granddaughter. She has a dream to make a difference by increasing access to dance for low income communities. She dedicates her time to her studies in Sociology and Communications at the University of Toronto in Mississauga, Canada and curating lattes at Starbucks. Rose also manages a creative team for her church’s young adult ministry. Her biggest venture is PinkBalletShoes—an Instagram account with over 290,000 followers—where she creates a culture about dance through the medium of photography. To follow her, check out her website: www.pinkballetshoes.com

Rose wants you to know:
“I love what I do and I am happy to share a little piece of my life with you!”

I see my life as a collection of stories. Every moment, every heart break, every joyous occasion, every piece of mundane living as a collection of stories to create this one beautifully written piece. The thing about stories is there is this chronological order that must be followed in the midst of chaos to understand the outcome.

I see my life in seasons. Every season carrying high and low moments, that work together to teach me something I otherwise might not learn. The thing about seasons is they are always changing, reflecting wondrous and repetitious things we have seen before.

My whole life I grew up in church. I was your typical Christian kid memorizing Bible verses, earning KidzCash for prizes, and proudly knowing every lyric to the Veggie Tales’ songs. My reality was living in that four-wall-built structure. Beyond that there was no meaning for me. I challenged the thought of God by questioning His very existence. To me He wasn’t real, but I so wanted Him to be.

Then chaos hit and I thought my life was over. I was moved out of my home and  found myself trudging through a barren land in a foreign country. I experienced loneliness to the point where I felt so low that suicide was an option. “God, why would you do this to me?” I questioned. “Take me out of here,” I pleaded. The only response was absolute nothingness. I’d heard of God being real to others, so why wasn’t He real to me? I was hurting. I was broken. I needed God to be real.

“Where are you God?”


“Where are you God?”

He was nowhere, until He met me in worship. From nothing into something, His presence hit me and I began to weep. He was close like a Father, holding me tight. I knew He was real. His voice began to comfort me with answers of “I’m right here, I’m right here.” He restored my knowledge of His presence.

In the broken, in the hurting, in the barren, God exposed my loneliness. He revealed how absent I had been from Him. Growing up Christian was only an introduction to Christ. God had to teach me to encounter Him, to embrace Him as He embraced me, and to cry out so He could replace my pain with joy.

I was in a story of doubt—in a season of loneliness—where God brought me understanding by His closeness. He taught me to allow myself to embrace and be embraced.