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WHEN MEMORIES TAKE LEAVE

on-emptyI sat in the squeaky backyard swing with my great-grandma and watched grandpa as he dumped dry ice into the chest freezer in the garage. My great-grandparents were cotton farmers in the South, but their age now limited them to a small garden plot next to their house.

It’s odd the things we remember from our childhood. Unlike my sister, I never seem to remember the important things. Nope, I remember things that are trivial like squeaky swings and dry ice being dumped in an old freezer box. I remember the color of my grandma’s Avon bag from 1965 and the exact shape and color of the Avon Topaz cologne on her bathroom vanity; yet, have no memory of more important and relevant things. It leaves me to question if my brain wasn’t damaged by forceps at birth.

How we experience and remember life is different for each of us. The things I will remember about my upcoming trip to Italy will be much different than my analytical husband. He will remember the name of every cathedral and monument we visit. I will remember the color of the roses in the flower gardens and how our dinner napkins were folded. As a visual/tactile person I categorize life moments in snapshots and by touch; and that’s OK.

I love that God has created us so divinely and uniquely different from each other. Yet, when we come together and share our life experiences, memories and journeys those differences complement each other and the diversity unites us to see life through the eyes of another.

And so, I will continue to remember crazy stuff like my home phone number from 45 years ago, the pink and white checked swimsuit I wore my first time on water skis or the material I picked out for my 7th grade home-economic sewing project.

I am certain my memory will continue to fail me on things of importance, but one thing I will never forget is that I am fearfully and wonderfully made by God.

“Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! It is amazing to think about. Your workmanship is marvelous—and how well I know it.” Psalms 139:14 (TLB)

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GOING TOPLESS

topless driving“I’m headed to the grocery store,” I shouted to my husband, “I think I’ll go topless today. “
“Great idea,” he replied, “I would join you if I didn’t have to mow the lawn.”

I grinned as I walked out the door; I knew going anywhere topless was a favorite for my husband. Throwing my handbag onto the passenger seat, I put on my favorite sunglasses and applied sunscreen in anticipation of my topless drive.

Seated in the driver’s seat, the top was removed, the parking brake disengaged and the shift stick positioned into first gear. I was ready to rock some tunes in the open air with no barriers between me and the warm sunshine; every pore of my body was tantalized by the freedom of going topless.

I circled the grocery store parking lot and found a spot near the entrance. As I exited the car, an older gentleman called out, “You might want to pull up the top, you know…just in case.”
“In case of what,” I queried, it’s a beautiful day to be topless. I clicked the remote to lock the car, grabbed a shopping cart and entered the store.

With grocery bags loaded in the trunk and still feeling adventurous, I entered the freeway for a short, topless joy ride home. My husband greeted me in the driveway to help carry in the groceries.

“How was the topless drive?” he asked as he pulled up the convertible top of our roadster. “Invigorating, as usual,” I replied. We clasped hands, brushed lips and walked into the house knowing that ‘going topless’ was a private joke between us. Eyebrows are raised and intrigue ignited whenever we speak of our topless driving excursions and the sense of freedom we experience each time we drop our top.

To my husband and I, the expression ‘going topless’ is our way of saying we are going to take our BMW roadster for a drive with the rag top down. Of course, there are those who perceive our conversation in a much different way.

In the New Testament, the Pharisees are a good example of how others can seek to misinterpret the true meaning of our words. The Pharisees listened to Jesus, but not without preconceived ideas about the message He conveyed. Ruled by human nature, they twisted His Words to fit their agenda and cause.

When human nature rules, we stand ready to discredit and fault anyone or anything that opposes our mindset. On the other hand, when ruled by our spiritual nature, we seek to comprehend, understand, and accept others in the same way Christ accepts us; we forgo assumptions.

The next time you are privy to a conversation, a sermon, or directives you don’t quite understand, I invite you to step back and listen with the heart. Digest the words spoken without judgment; you might be surprised at how wrong you are in your assumptions; I speak from experience.

“Be honest in your judgment and do not decide at a glance (superficially and by appearances); but judge fairly and righteously.” John 7:24 AMP

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KISS THE DIRT AND GROW

IMG_1214As I watered the hanging plants, I couldn’t help but notice some of the hardy perennial flowers were hugging the ground. The recent hard rains had beaten the stems into the earth. The once pretty flowers were nothing more than petals scattered around the flower garden and those flowers that survived the rain pellets were no longer cut-flower, vase quality stems.

With clippers in hand, I began to cut-back all the plants that had been crushed and beaten during the storm. It was heartbreaking to see the affected plants reduced to stubble; but it was necessary for new growth.

The fallen and broken stems would eventually extract the life out of the new buds that longed to bring restoration and growth.

Mankind is no different than our garden plants. When we become broken by the storms of life and find ourselves kissing the dirt beneath us, we look up to find the Master Gardener standing over us with pruning shears. He cuts back the dead weight and prepares us for new growth so we can once again be cut-flower, vase quality stems.

This morning, I walked outside to survey the outcome of the plants I had pruned a few weeks ago. Sure enough, healthy new growth had pushed through the earth anxious to unfold new blooms.

Nature truly represents the heart of our Heavenly Father. With pruning shears in hand he snips, cuts and resurrects our brokenness. He will dig up and transplant our roots in more fertile soil if we fail to show new growth. Like a true Master Gardener, God never gives up on us.

There are plants and shrubs in my flower garden I have moved every year to find the perfect location to promote growth. God has done the same with me. He continues to transplant my spiritual roots until he finds the perfect place for me to grow.

If your life is currently kissing dirt, maybe it’s time for God to use His pruning shears and bring you back to life.

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.” John 15: 1-2

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THE DANCING DONUT BOX

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“Holy Shenickies, what the heck is going on”, I shouted as I walked into the kitchen. Everyone ran to see what the commotion was all about. They all stopped dead in their tracks as they watched the do-nut box dance across the counter and fall to the floor.

The box of partially eaten donuts had been left on the counter the night before with intentions of discarding the contents the following morning. We watched in disbelief as hundreds of black carpenter ants scurried across the kitchen floor. I have never seen anything like it to this day and pray I never experience an encore.

That chilling episode exposed a hidden enemy hibernating in the foundation of my home. The do-nut box with all its sweetness only served to draw out the army of ants silently destroying the wooden shell that supported the structure of my home. The dancing do-nut box had exposed the truth that would have eventually brought destruction.

We all face dancing do-nut boxes in our lifetime. They are filled with sugar-coated sweetness that attracts all kinds of predators who seek to destroy us. It may all appear good on the surface, but when we open the box, we discover the enemy that lies in wait; an enemy who seeks to devour our soul.

“Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” James 4:7 (NIV)

Like the ants in the do-nut box, our enemy, Satan, scatters in every direction when we open the cover of God’s Word. In truth it exposes the deception inside the dancing do-nut box moments of our life.

When was the last time you opened the cover to your Bible?

 

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SOUP OR SALAD?

SouporSaladDevotionalI watched as a large group was seated at a nearby table in a restaurant where I was having lunch. As the guests studied the menu, the waitress asked, “Can I get you something to drink?”

Coke…water…coffee…nothing for me was some of the responses and as she left to fill the drink order, decisions were made about what to order from the menu.

“Is everyone ready to order?” As the waitress jotted down orders she presented each guest with a number of different choices.

What kind of bread, do you want soup or salad, which dressing do you prefer or how would you like that done? There were choices about side dishes, toasted or not toasted, desserts and whether one check or separate checks were needed.

The six people seated at the lunch table all made choices; some the same, but more often very different from others. That’s a lot like life. Every day is a soup or salad day filled with a host of choices that only we can make and the consequences of those choices are sometimes out of our control.

If you order a well-done burger and the short order cook prepares it medium, you must make another choice; eat the burger or send it back. Or, the chicken soup ordered turns out to be a bowl of clam chowder.

The table of life offers an endless number of soup or salad choices; some good, some not and some that are simply out of our control. And then enters Jesus with His mercy, grace and love. He takes control of our choices and works all things for our good if we consult with Him about our life choices and commit our ways to Him.

“And we know that for those who love God, that is, for those who are called according to his purpose, all things are working together for good.” Romans 8:28

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WHEN THE ANCHOR DOESN’T HOLD

AnchorOfHopeMy husband and I decided to take our pontoon boat out for a spin around the lake. We stopped by the lake house and picked up our grand kids who wanted take a ride to the swim hole; a place where all the boaters gather and drop anchor to swim.

Captain Poppy, my husband, maneuvered the boat around other boaters to find the perfect spot to drop anchor. “Right here, Poppy, right here!” shouted the grand kids. Poppy shut off the motor and cast the anchor into the deep waters where you can dive off double-deck boats and jump from ladders without fear of hitting bottom.

Everyone jumped into the water with float toys and noodles for a refreshing reprieve from the sweltering heat that beat down on the boat deck. The grand kids enjoyed splashing each other as they did cannonballs from the back of the pontoon and engaged in water gun fights. But the fun came to an end when someone from a neighboring boat shouted, “Your anchor isn’t holding, your boat is drifting!”

Sure enough, as we turned toward our pontoon, it was slowly drifting in the direction of other anchored boats. We had been too busy having fun to notice we were in trouble. Poppy, a competitive swimmer, wasted no time; he reached the boat in record time and quickly reseated the anchor.

I don’t know about you, but there are times when my life loses its anchor and I am pulled by the current and waves of the deep water. As I begin to drift, a voice calls out, “You have let go of your anchor; you are not where you are supposed to be!” That’s when Captain Jesus throws out a life raft and pulls me back to safety.

If you keep Jesus securely anchored to your heart, you will not drift into places you should not be. His anchor secures us in deep waters, high tides, low tides and every storm we face in life.

Do you need a secure anchor right now? Jesus stands ready to throw you a life raft if you call out His name and anchor your soul in His Word.

“In their distress they cried out to the LORD. He saved them from their troubles.” Psalms 107:19

 

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IN DUE TIME

beggingGodThere are times I have looked to God and questioned why me. He responds with silence and even though I continue to stand at the door and knock, He doesn’t answer. My soul becomes anxious for any kind of response so I resort to promises. If you answer me God, I will read my Bible more, donate more time to the church and the list continues. But my promises do not move God; he remains silent.

In desperation, I begin the process of begging for mercy. I know is absurdly ridiculous, but I do it anyway. God ignores my pleas and the door remains closed and I switch to a pissed-off mode. My ‘why me’ questions now turn to ‘how dare you’ accusations toward God. It doesn’t move God one bit. Overcome with defeat, anger and helplessness, I throw up my hands and shout, “I give up!”

As the words escape my lips a floodgate of hope surges within me. I question why such an intense peace fills my soul and an inaudible voice speaks directly to my heart; the unspoken words pierce my soul.

“I know the plans I have in mind for you, declares the LORD; they are plans for peace, not disaster, to give you a future filled with hope.” Jeremiah 29:11 (CEB)

When I finally gave up, God gave in; and when I did, He opened the door to my cries. Our Redeemer patiently waits for us to completely trust His plan for our life. As we do, God opens new doors of opportunity and points us in the direction of His perfect will for our life.

When you ask God for something, He can only answer one of two ways: “Yes” or “I have something even better in mind.” It’s a waste of time and energy to try and beat down the door, beg or make promises in an attempt to get God to answer. I’ve learned through experience that our waiting is more about acknowledging our need for Him than our need.

God answers us in His time, not ours. “Be still and know that I am God.” Psalms 46:10 (NIV)