Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Whose Glory?

Okay, I just can't resist.  The big news last week was, of course, the untimely death of Michael Jackson, "King of Pop".  I have to confess that I really, really like Michael Jackson, and I think his story and life are tragic.

Yes, I know about the child molestation charges.  I know that personally, he was a strange man.  But I also know that a man of his talent and artistry as a musician is rare, and for that, I really liked him.

As I pondered these things over the last few days, I asked myself, "What exactly is it that makes people like Michael Jackson, Elvis Presley and other celebrities turn to things such as bizarre behavior, drugs and isolation?"  The tragic ending of so many of these talented lives brings about a conclusion that became obvious to me:

We were not made to be worshipped; but we were made TO worship...and to worship ONLY the one true GOD.

Human beings were not created with the ability to handle the pressure of being worshipped.  Yet that is what happens with celebrities such as Michael Jackson.  I'm not saying that he bears no responsibility, but isn't that something to think about?  I tend to think that the only way a human can cope with fame is by then turning around and giving ALL glory to God the Father, accepting none of it for himself.  Sadly, that rarely, if ever happens with our world's biggest stars.  I guess if they did choose to do so, they wouldn't be the "superstars" that they are.

The thoughts I've had about this are actually kind of difficult for me to articulate, but they are thoughts that I felt were worth putting out there--for we also bear the responsibility to not "worship" people.  Even people such as Bible teachers, theologians, and Christian musicians and authors.  It's very easy for us to sometimes look at even our own church leaders and place them on a pedestal of sorts.  That puts them in a very tempting position to take the glory for themselves.  We are all responsible for laying all glory, not matter who it is aimed for, at the feet of our Father, for He is the ONLY one who deserves it and is able to handle it.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Wow Factor

This picture has nothing to do with this post, but I just love it and wanted to show it off again.  :)

My seven year old "wowed" me a couple of times today.

First, I had a doctor's appointment today.  I recruited my mom to accompany me (which is usually the case), because we like to do things together, and also because it is a GREAT help when I don't have to take the kids into the appointment with me.  There is a lobby outside of the waiting room, where people are constantly shuffling in and out, waiting for valet parking, waiting for the elevator, getting a drink at the water fountain...you get the idea.  Mom decided to watch the kids out in the lobby instead of the waiting room, because, well, it's naturally louder out there and the kids have a little more room to...um...I don't know...just do whatever they do while I'm with the doctor.  

Anyway, when I was finished I came out into the lobby, but before I opened the door I could hear little voices...singing!  When I stepped out, there were my two girls, standing as if on a stage, crayons for microphones, using the sheets they had colored as song sheets, singing "Awesome God" at the top of their lungs (well, nearly).  

I would expect this out of Emily.  But Ashlyn is usually very shy about these things when there are people around.  But there they both were, like entertainers on the street, singing for all of the valet and elevator and water fountain people.  Wow!  I was quite amused!

The second thing that happened today was during the sudden storm that came upon us from the north.  It came very quickly and was unusual since our weather usually comes from the west.  Anyway, as leaves were blowing around outside and thunder was sounding, Ashlyn curiously asked me, "Mom, storms always pass by, don't they?"  I replied, "Yes, they sure do."  Then, ever so casually, she said, "Just like anger, huh?"  


Ashlyn responded, "It's just like anger.  Sometimes you feel angry, but then it passes by and you aren't angry anymore."  

I didn't know where that came from, but I was thrilled at her insight and took the opportunity to elaborate (ever so slightly of course):  "That's right, Ashlyn.  That's why when we're angry we should be careful not to say or do things that we will be sorry for later."  

That was enough.

And I was wowed.

Friday, June 19, 2009

The Pain of Beauty

Recently, our resident self-appointed princess, Emily, decided that she wanted to get her ears pierced.  She came up with idea on her own, just out of the blue one day, because she was tired of dressing up with "those ones that just clip on and pinch your ears".  Personally, I didn't have a problem with her getting her ears pierced, but I wanted her to definitely know what she was getting into.

"It's going to hurt you know," I told her.  "It will probably feel like a shot."  She looked at me funny, but hesitated only for a second before replying that she still wanted to do it.  I continued, "You know, you'll get one ear pierced--and it will hurt--but then you will have to get the other one done too.  You know that, right?"  She knew that.  She was determined.

So I decided to take her, still periodically reminding her of the pain that she would have to endure.  It wasn't because I didn't want her to do it, but because I know that this is not a girl who is very tolerant of pain.  Finally, before I paid for the earrings (they have a no refund policy if the kid backs out), I gave her one more chance to change her mind.  Nope.  Still wanted to do it.

She climbed up in the chair, sat perfectly still, and when the lady doing the piercing got the little gun up to her ear, brave little Emily lost it.  She started wailing.  BUT--she NEVER tried to get away!!  The lady told her, "You can cry, but you just need to sit still."  So, even though she was so scared, my little girl sat perfectly still and, through tears, got both of her ears pierced, one right after the other.  I was AMAZED.  And I have NEVER seen her more proud of anything!

Looking back on that little episode, I started thinking about what desire and determination will do for a person's courage.  It's kind of like when we, as Christians, pray for God to give us patience, or make us stronger or teach us humility.  Do we always realize the pain that we may have to endure in order to get where we really want to be as Christians?  

I believe that just as Emily (who usually doesn't tolerate pain very well) was willing to endure the pain of ear piercing because, as she put it, "I really wanted earrings", we have to remember that suffering absolutely produces patience and perseverance and knowledge and strength.  May we never forget to keep our mind on the goal instead of the suffering, and remember that God uses our circumstances, good and bad, to eventually mold us into the person He wants us to be--which is exactly where I want to be too!  

I want my desire to become like Christ to overwhelmingly supersede my fear of suffering and pain.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

My Mamaw

Wow, what a week it's been!  

Over the weekend, as many of you may know, my grandmother passed away.  Last July, while we were on vacation in Florida, I received word that she had been diagnosed with lung cancer.  This past Saturday, while we were visiting the Smokies, we received word of her death.  

The feelings that come with this kind of passing of a loved one are complex--you are thankful that they are no longer suffering, but even then, there is a darkness that comes with the passage from "life" to "death".  But then another feeling that comes is wonder, because someone that I knew so well is in a place that I have only dreamt about.  My Mamaw was a very Godly lady, and I believe that after all that she suffered within the past year, she desperately longed for this day.  

Mamaw was also a very loving woman, who raised seven kids through many hard times.  She was genuinely fun to be around, with a great spirit.  That spirit has been passed down to many of her kids--so family get-togethers are never boring!!

The greatest thing is that she never failed to let us know how proud she was of us, or how much she loved us.  I sang at her church on several occasions, and right after she died, one of the first things I thought about was a certain look she had on her face during every song I sang.  I have never doubted her love for me, nor how proud she was, not just of me, but of all her family. 

I remember visiting Mamaw, and when it came time for us to leave, she would always say, "What's your hurry?"  It didn't matter how long I'd been there, she ALWAYS asked me that question.  I could ask her the same thing right now, except that I KNOW she had a better place to go.  It's going to be a sweet reunion in heaven when loved ones are reunited, and to think that it will happen in the presence of the One who gave His life for us.  She's there!  So even though we'll miss her now, we have peace because we can be assured that we will see her again.  

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

It's All Good

Isn't he cute?  Or maybe she?  No, we didn't want to find out the gender (we've had too much fun being surprised the other three times), but we did find out that God had answered a very specific prayer request concerning my health (and the baby's).

There are certain risks that increase with every c-section a woman has, having to do with scar tissue and things such as that.  In fact, my doctor sent me to a "high-risk" doctor for this ultrasound, just to make sure that she would get a more detailed evaluation of my womb.  So we made that a very specific matter of prayer.  When the ultrasound was over, he told me that everything was located in the best possible place!  What a blessing!

Of course, that isn't to say that there still aren't risks, as with any pregnancy.  But those are things with which we just continue to trust God.  During the ultrasound, all three kids sat still, watched the monitor on the wall, and asked a million questions--evidence that they too are amazed at the thought of a new life being knit together inside the womb (even though they don't quite word it like that!)

We are excited beyond measure to find out--in October--if it will be a brother or sister, and even more, to see what amazing features God has granted to this one!  We'd appreciate your prayers!

Sunday, June 7, 2009


There were some bizarre happenings around our house this week.  Warning: this is kind of lengthy.

It all started Tuesday evening when I decided to take a walk with Mom and Dad.  Jason had some work to do, so he stayed at home with the kids.  As we were headed out, Jason was pulling the van in the garage, which he'd just swept out.  So, Wednesday morning, I needed to drive the van, but couldn't find the keys.  I called him to see if he remembered where he'd put them, but he couldn't remember at all.  All day AND evening of Wednesday was spent searching for the lost keys.  The yard was scoured.  The drawers were searched.  The garage (the most likely place we felt) was practically overturned.  NO KEYS!  Even my brother and his wife came to help us look.  Nothing.  We looked until we could not think of any place else to look, and even then we still searched.  We finally just figured that Jason had placed them somewhere where Jake might have taken them and then, who knew?

You may be wondering what the big deal is.  The big deal is that when we bought the van used, there was only ONE key.  I never got around to having a spare made.  YIKES!  I was completely stuck!  So, Thursday morning, I called the Honda dealership, and they told me that yes, I could have another key made, but that the van had to be there for the programming of the key.  What?  I knew what I had to do.  It had to be towed.

So, I called a U-Haul place in Stanford, and the guy gave me the option of either renting a U-Haul dolly, or, for half the price, I could borrow his that he owned.  Of course I chose the latter.  My dad said that he would go get the dolly with his truck and in the mean time I would be trying to figure out how to get my van out of park so that we could get in onto the dolly.  With the help of the nice people at Alton Blakely Honda, I was able to do that.

We had help lined up to push the van up onto the dolly.  Jason was coming by and another friend.  But, as it turned out, Dad was able to use one of his tools to load the van himself.  He had JUST gotten it loaded when Mack (our friend) pulled in the driveway to help, and then right behind him was an unfamiliar red truck, which I'd noticed had just gone down the road the other way, had turned around, and pulled into our driveway.  Immediately behind the strange red truck was Jason.  He and Mack hadn't even gotten out of their cars when the guy in the red truck holds out a set of keys and says, "Ma'am, did you happen to lose some keys?"  

I just about fell over.  

I said, "Yes, I did."  And then I just stared at him in disbelief as he told me he had found the keys a half mile up the road.  He continued to say that he was driving down the road and saw the keys, stopped and picked them up, and then when he drove by and happened to see our van on a towing dolly, he thought that maybe they belonged to us.  ARE YOU KIDDING ME?

Needless to say, we were all in utter shock!  The key ring was all rusted from the rain and the remote was busted up and detached from the ring.  But there they were!  They'd been taken for a ride when Jason had laid them on the back of his car Tuesday night and drove off with them Wednesday morning.  HA!  I didn't give him too much grief.  After all, he felt bad enough and plus, haven't we all done silly stuff like that?

I know this is a long story, but there's more.  I decided to keep the service appointment I had at the dealership because I needed a spare key anyway.  I got the key made, ordered the remote, and while there I found out that there had been a safety recall on a part of the transmission.  Because we bought the car with a salvage title, we had no idea.  Honda insisted that the part be replaced (at no cost to us) and in addition, they want to check the rest of the transmission.  If there has been any damage as a result of the part having not been replaced yet, Honda is going to give us a brand new transmission.  But, we're still waiting to see about that.  I just see this whole episode as evidence of my God taking care of our needs!  

Oh, but there's one last thing.  I have to almost laugh though, because currently the new key is stuck--STUCK--in my ignition.  It WON'T COME OUT!!!  At least I already have an appointment scheduled for the transmission part this week, huh?  What a week!  

But I won't complain, because God has blessed us through this, from the keys being found, to the part being replaced, even to the fact that the man in Stanford didn't end up charging us for the use of the tow trailer.  Now if we can just get the key out of the ignition...  :)