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The Spelling Bee

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I am not holding a grudge.  Honestly.

I do, however, hold a memory in my head of the day I lost a spelling bee.

There was a stage, lots of chairs, and lots of excellent spellers.

I loved spelling bees – especially this one – you had to be special to get there.

You had to be a top speller from your grade at your elementary school – mine was 5th grade.

I don’t remember what I wore, I don’t remember being nervous, but I most certainly remember that a certain boy from another school and I were the last ones standing.

Perhaps we spelled a few words each before it happened, but it happened – I spelled my word incorrectly.

The real problem though was that he spelled it correctly.

The word was government, and just to be honest here?  It was on the 6th grade word list, which I never received to memorize.  So, yes, I blamed my teacher.

The funny thing about all this is, is that I remember that boy’s name.  Mostly because it was an unusual last name and actually kind of cool for a kid in our small town.  I thought his last name sounded like Tchaikovsky – the famous composer.

I learned this:

He won, I lost, and I was no longer a perfect speller.

No, I don’t hold grudges, but I hold on to perfection.  Most days I struggle with my imperfection.

I lose sight of a goal much easier to handle – I am not meant to be perfect, Christ is.

I am made perfect through Him and only through Him.

I am a firm believer that everything – even losing a 5th grade spelling bee – happens for a reason.

Perfection in this world is unreachable.  Holiness, humbleness, brokenness, thankfulness, etc. are possible and attainable.

Expanding our vocabulary is possible – with or without good spelling skills.

Receiving grace from God and spreading it around requires willingness, not perfection.

Accept His Grace, be willing, and spread it.

Drop perfection OFF as you walk across the stage and move forward with your life… Start now.

 

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Posted by on May 17, 2016 in Life, in general, Love

 

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In God’s Hands

streams in the desert 2

Forget the former things;
do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland.
Isaiah 43:18-19

I felt it in the desert

I felt it near the stream

I shook at the term wasteland – it landed so deep.

My eyes have been cast downward

Although I love my God

I cherish the blessings of his lessons

as I travel on His creation, His sod.

Have I reached the Truth

That only God can give?

Did He lay it bare for me to see

Through the eyes of yet another?

In my heart I am transparent

I have no clue how else to be

Could this be the point

Where the path could turn

And allow me to be free?

Have I finally seen the light

That has escaped me so long?

Do I dare to take the steps

To step no more?

Am I ready to accept the challenge

To let go of the wheel?

To actually,

And finally,

Let God have it all?

He IS doing a new thing,

He’s laying out the wasteland.

He’s begging me to touch it

And to perceive it

And give it back to Him.

To let it go

To give it back

To the One who was meant to conquer it.

To stand

And watch

And see

And marvel

And gasp

And to be free.

 
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Posted by on January 8, 2014 in Life, in general

 

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Grandma’s House and the Big Flood

The coffee is just short of too hot to drink, but I sip it anyway.  I’m not too crazy about the flavor.  But when Dad dips Grandma’s sugary molasses cookie into his cup – I know it’s for me.  I’m very little and sitting on his knee and enjoying the tiny kitchen and the smells and the family time together after church.

It wasn’t long after this time in Grandma’s kitchen that our town was flooded from a devastating hurricane and their house was ruined and needed to be torn down.  They stayed with us, and eventually we moved what was left of their belongings into their new home.

Dad and Me

Grandma and Me

Somehow my grandparents got very old after that memory.  They seemed more crabby and gloomy after that.  They moved into a nice little ranch house complete with a cozy, little eat-in-kitchen, but I remember, things just felt different.  Everything felt new there.  The carpet, the walls, the bathroom fixtures, even the concrete floor in the basement.  It just didn’t “match” with my grandparents… It just wasn’t “their” house.  It was a radical change.  It seemed too modern for such a turn-of-the-century set of grandparents.

In the next few years we would celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary and soon after that my grandfather would pass away.  I remember sitting on my Dad’s lap and feeling him cry.  It hurts when you lose a parent.  I know.  I really know too well now that both my Mom and my Dad are gone.

At some point in our lives – in our marriages, or in our family relationships – something brings about change.  It can be a major upheaval, like natural a disaster, job loss or a death of a loved-one.  Small things happen too, and if not handled properly, they can bring drastic and unexpected changes also.

For some of us – it’s at this major turning point in our lives – that the changes grow us and make us different.  For the better OR for the worse.  It may begin small and almost not perceivable, but the change occurs nonetheless.  And the biggest surprise of all???  It can happen AT ANY AGE.

We don’t always have a choice in the fact that we will experience these upheavals, but we do have the ability to direct how we will allow them to influence us.  It can make us BETTER or make us BITTER.

I’ve allowed many things to make me bitter, but I am never going to be too old to re-direct that into some thing better.  I understand all this better today as I finish this blog than I did when I started writing it in the beginning of May – this year (2013).

**I had to clearly identify the upheaval in my life – it can be a little deceiving where the roots of the problems lie…

**I had to figure out how it had changed me in a negative way, and of course, how it was affecting others.  That is usually where we throw our bitterness.  It may grow inside of us, but it spreads like the plague onto others.

Bitterness and all the mess that comes out of it can come from our circumstances – but it’s also inside of us.  We each have a little piece of it.  I’d identify this as original sin.  We need just the right formula to get the black bitterness to grow.

We have the ability to nourish and feed bitterness and take our punches and bruises in the midst of it all and then maybe eventually wallow in self-pity.  I call that depression.  I know that area VERY WELL.

But we also have the ability to lean on the Grace and Mercy of an Everlasting God and have Him nourish our problems and show us the way through the mess – and to be BETTER on the other side of it.

No mystery here though – we will endure some sort of battle, and we will have scars.  The Devil, who is our enemy, will revel in those scars and poke them to get us back on his trail of destruction.  We must continue to stand against him… most effectively by kneeling before God as many times as needed.

2 Corinthians 4:8-9

We are hard pressed on every side,

perplexed, but not in despair;

persecuted, but not abandoned;

struck down, but not destroyed.

That scripture didn’t feel real to me a few months ago …

I felt the despair.

I felt destroyed.

I did not, however, feel ABANDONED … In other words, I never COMPLETELY believed ALL of Satan’s lies.

Satan’s lies are like reeds in a basket that are tightly woven.  Those lies and the defeat that they bring upon us are somewhat waterproof and impenetrable.

2 Corinthians 4:7

But we have this treasure in jars of clay

to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.

After many devotions on broken-ness that I have read lately, I believe that being broken is a powerful thing.  And that God uses that broken-ness to show His power.  His power pours out of that clay easier than that tightly woven basket that Satan would have us live in.

In other words?  Jars of clay have cracks and imperfections and they sort of break easily and are more open.

Tightly woven baskets can be symbolic of a closed-off and controlled life that God can’t use very well.

There are some big lies out there.  So this lesson isn’t just for me.  And I don’t have a grip on all of it some days.

Because it’s easier to lie down and take the punches.

It’s easier to accept defeat.

But God desires more than that.  He CAN and WILL pick you up and help you dust yourself off and show you how to realign with him …

To be used by Him …

For His Glory …

Because Satan is a liar and a thief and he is already defeated.  Enough said.

I’d LOVE to share another recipe with you… This one is for a molasses cookie that literally reminded me of my Grandmother’s cookies.  I hope you will try them and enjoy them.  Maybe they will evoke memories of your childhood as well! 

Giant Ginger Cookies

(make them small, or they take forever to cook inside)

 

Ingredients
4-1/2    cups all-purpose flour
4     teaspoons ground ginger
2    teaspoons baking soda
1-1/2    teaspoons ground cinnamon
1    teaspoon ground cloves
1/4    teaspoon salt
1-1/2    cups shortening
2    cups granulated sugar
2   eggs
1/2    cup molasses
3/4    cup coarse sugar or granulated sugar

***********************************************************************

DirectionsCombine dry ingredientsBeat shortening on low for 30 seconds to   softenGradually add the 2 Cups of granulated   sugar

Beat in eggs and molasses

Gradually add as much of the dry   ingredients with mixer

Add the rest of dry and mix with wooden   spoon

Shape dough into balls

Roll balls into the 3/4 Cup granulated   sugar

Place 2+ inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet

 

Bake at 350 for 12 – 14 minutes

Cool for 2 minutes, remove and cool on rack

 
 

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Only God

starry night

People can know your story

and your struggles.

They can hold your hand,

Comfort you with words of wisdom,

Protect you from loneliness.

But only God can reach in

and make you aware

of your broken-ness

***

God is the only one responsible

for giving you the hand up

and out of the darkness

of your sin, your pain, and your defeat.

Showing you your brokenness

so that He may use you FULLY

***

Some days I latch on to a song that speaks to the things that weigh on my heart.

I’ll look up the lyrics,

I’ll peruse the albums,

and I’ll sample other songs by that artist.

And I’ll know – they understand

They’ve been there

They wrote about it too.

***

Some days I could play Amazing Grace – My Chains Fell Off

over and over and over…

What song is speaking to your heart today?  What is God singing in your ears?

Today, for me, it’s Chris August … Starry Night

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d-iJcn37L6U

 
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Posted by on October 28, 2013 in Life, in general

 

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Five Minute Friday – Ordinary

Ursa-Major

It’s no ordinary pool.

Not for about 3 months now.

It’s been a sanctuary made of a concrete apron and some fencing and, of course, the pool.

Each and every night, encased in the darkness we spoke.

Exchanging sorrows, apologies, and words – some bitter, some encouraging, some just packed with truth.

It’s like the darkness protected us … But in all actuality – we were in the biggest wide-open space there was by the pool – under the stars.

And we were never alone.

Ordinary?  To the many people passing by it’s just a pool.

But to us, it became a sanctuary for hope and healing.

Under a covering of constellations…

And under the covering of a gracious, merciful, loving and forgiving God.

It’s just not ordinary anymore…

*Curious about Five Minute Friday?  It’s like a Flashmob for writers.*

A bunch of us, with a one-word prompt, write fearlessly for FIVE minutes and link up together. Join us!

http://lisajobaker.com

 

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“She’s Gone Missing”

tucson screen shot

During the 6 past months or so, I have experienced a feeling of being lost. And truthfully, I think many people have noticed that I have gone ‘missing.’ Some may have been aware of this while I was at home – dealing with my chronic pain and numerous ailments that were quickly becoming overwhelming. Others have actually witnessed my departure from my church, my home and my state.

I am feeling lost because right now I AM LOST.

Now, blogging about that wasn’t something I wanted to do…because I don’t want to drag anyone down by that.

But here’s the truth – some of you might be feeling lost as well…

I have a sense of this because I see who responds to what kind of dirt-digging honesty I dredge up and publish…

And I hear from those of you who understand that honesty…

Some of you are feeling lost as well.

The important thing is … I don’t think we should feel like we are lost and all alone in that – nor do I believe we should stay there.

My ‘lost’ experience is clearly rooted in my identity as a woman, a wife and a mother.

I am all those persons and more. But the core of who I am began long ago and I think I’ve misplaced who I am in the midst of life’s expectations.

I stroll through my collection of old pictures and I see myself at ages 2, 5, or 7 years and I think…

“Where is that little girl? That feisty, scrappy, tiny – but loud – little girl?”

“Where is the girl who loved playing tag, hide-n-seek, and Barbie dolls?”

“Where is the child who rode her bike all day, liked to fish, wanted to hammer nails in her Daddy’s workshop, chewed Bazooka gum, and told secrets?” (Ok, and lots of lies too – shhhhh)

workshop

long island

That’s still who I am inside – but somehow I have had those really fun-loving parts of me buried under {LIFE}.

We all experience a little loss of who we were as children under the responsibilities of adulthood and the complexities of life to some extent. But I think I fell prey to the notion that being an adult meant changing who you were into something that was expected of you and becoming defined by those around me or being defined by what was happening to me.

And the funny thing is, nobody explains that to you as you grow and mature and marry and have your children. Although, come to think of it, maybe there have been women in my life that have come alongside me and hugged me and have given me the knowing look that says – “I understand what you’re dealing with.”

This explanation of how your life will change – it might not always come from your Mom, but I’ve met a few of women through the years that I believe they were trying to communicate this to me in their own way.

So, here I am, on a respite from my life. How often does THAT come along? Can I say, I give a HUGE amount of credit to my husband for allowing this? I have had an epiphany of sorts and that is … that I’ve been given permission to wander in the desert.

And yes, I am literally IN the desert.

I’m getting a huge break from my chronic neck pain, my asthma and from the stressors of my everyday life. I don’t feel as rushed, as worried, or as angry, but I also don’t hear the laughter or happiness that comes in small snippets throughout the day from the crazy antics of my family members or pets. That makes things difficult at times.

But during this respite, my focus is sharper.

My confusion is deeper.

My indecisiveness is at an all-time high.

And God is speaking –

Louder & Clearer

Make no mistake here…a desert experience isn’t a picnic. (It’s more like a lot of bottled water and healthy snacks.) But confusion and indecisiveness have never been a normal thing for me so I feel like this time in my life has helped me see the bigger picture.

Actually, the picture is enormous.

It all begins with a God who is Infinite.

A God who is abundant in Grace.

A God who is fathomless in His Forgiveness.

A God who is big enough to bring us through the Desert – under His Almighty protection.

A God who promises never to leave us or forsake us – Regardless of our fleeing into the desert.

Because THAT is how BIG my God is…

 
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Posted by on June 30, 2013 in Life, in general, Writing

 

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~Listen~

I may be in a different time zone and the LORD only knows where my head and heart are right now, but it’s time for…

Five Minute Friday

(It’s like a Flashmob for writers)

~Listen~

I hear the sounds of growth, the sounds of Love

Hovering over you and me and healing the pain from the cracks and crevices where growth emerges.

Listen and you will hear the sound of growth, but it is not always familiar.

It comes amongst the grunts and groans of life.

It comes during the times when God says “No.” or “Not now.”

But, if you listen, it’s there.

The burgeoning, flourishing, and sprouting that occurs in all of God’s creation.

Is it possible to hear growth or change or rebirth?

Does it come with a noise that makes it distinguishable and audible?

Yes, I believe it does….but it’s personal, and only God knows what it sounds like in you.

Shhhh, it’s happening

~Listen~

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”

Psalm 46:10

 
 

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