Friday, April 23, 2010

Such a Nice Thing to Hear

The note on my Facebook "wall" said

I heard this said about you today, "She has such a heart for the Lord." and thought that you would love to know! Thanks for ALL you do.

Such a nice thing to hear about yourself. It started an interesting mix of thoughts and feelings for me as I considered it.

First of all, since we are called to be a light in the world, witnessing to others by putting our faith into action...doesn't it feel great when someone notices it? I considered all my blessings that make it so easy to have "a heart for the Lord"... a relationship with God because of the sufferings of Jesus, married to my own personal superhero, the blessing of being the mom to three beautiful girls, the world's best parents/sister/extended family (in-laws included), wonderful friends, the unearned privilege of being born in the best country in the world...and on and on and on.

But then I start analyzing...considering the comment made, am I joyful because I brought glory to God or prideful because I brought glory to myself? The analysis continues...I know what my actions and thoughts were for the entire I worthy of such a comment? I know that many (if not most) of my actions or thoughts on that particular day, and even this morning, were not for the Lord.

One of the weapons that Satan will use to weaken our faith and our relationship with God is doubt. While it is true that we, as sinners, are unworthy of the precious gift of salvation, that gift was still freely given. And I have to work at focusing on the love God has for me, to make such a gift available. I can't focus on why God shouldn't love me, but do my darnedest to be worthy of His love for me...a love so strong and deep that He planned for and allowed the sacrifice of His Son for me.

And when someone gives me a little "hat tip" regarding my faith in action, maybe that's God's way of letting me know that I'm on the right track and I'm growing where I've been planted. Because it is my heart's prayer that others see less of me and more of Jesus in all I do...that I can complete the work that God has given me so that, at that appointed time, when I enter into Heaven's gates, I hear "Well done, thy good and faithful servant" (Matthew 25:21).

Other verses to consider ~ Romans 5:8, Romans 6:23, Ephesians 2:8-9

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Slugbug Prayers

Allow me to begin by confessing that I have not YET mastered the discipline of getting up early every morning for some quality quiet time with my Bible...and a thorough prayer session. I realize that confessing the weakness is the first step towards overcoming it...please pray for me!

With that said, you can understand that I need as much help as possible to make the most of the power of prayer. So I have developed/copied/stolen various triggers and routines that will bring me into a prayerful moment. For example, I participate in a long distance slugbug competition with my sister in California and my cousin in Arkansas (and, now my mom...wherever she may be at any given time). When any of us sees a Volkswagon Beetle, we text the others, accumulating points for the day (no slugging...just the prize of daily victory). There are extra points for convertibles and vintage models (we call them "old school"). This may seem silly to some, but I don't care. What this does is keep us connected on a daily basis. And, whether I see a slugbug and text them, or I receive a message from one of them on a sighting...that triggers me to say a prayer of thanks for these special ladies...perhaps petitioning God on their behalf regarding something going on in their life...asking for blessing on them and their loved ones. This children's game reminds me to pray for them.

And I have other similar triggers in my daily life....while folding laundry, pray for each garment's owner, making each prayer specific because there will probably be more than one prayer said for each and mementos around my home remind me to pray for various family members and friends...see a news story or article, pray for those involved and that God's will be done...and, when I lay down to sleep, to quiet my brain from the day's activities and tomorrow's to-do list, I pray specifically over my husband and my children, and all that is going on in their lives. It's a chance for me to give thanks for all the blessings in my life and to hand over any burdens to Him who loved me so much that He gave His only Son so that I may believe and not perish (John 3:16). This allows me to enjoy peaceful rest.

Several years ago, I spent some time in the Bible study by Cynthia Heald titled "Becoming a Woman of Prayer" (you can order it here). I learned volumes about how God is He wants us to be persistent...that we can pray for anything. And I drew comfort from knowing that the Holy Spirit will lift up the prayers we really need when we may not know what to pray for. Prayer has given me comfort when moments of worry and doubt may be sneaking up on me. And I've seen the results of prayer in my the big life issues and the daily challenges that a stay-at-home homeschooling mom can face. I am thankful that Jesus tore the veil separating me from God...through dying for my that I can approach the throne of the Holy Father myself and build a relationship.

So, I recommend that you work on understanding the power of prayer. Develop your prayer habits. You will come to develop a peace that will help you manage life through any circumstance.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

April Showers...

...Will bring May flowers.

On a Rainy April Day...

...This is my Headband of Optimism.

No comments, please, regarding the cleanliness of my Headband of Optimism. Remember...I have children.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Running the Race...the Right Way

During one of our Easter Sunday services this past weekend, our pastor, Pastor Robert L. Dickie, Jr., chose Hebrews 12:1-2 as the verses on which he would teach. Wow! I learned a lot...about verses that I thought I knew. Let me clarify...if pressed, I would tell you that I was very familiar with the first verse of Hebrews 12. And if asked to summarize, I would certainly mention the great cloud of witnesses (see Hebrews 11) and that we need to run the race before us. What?! Did I miss something? Isn't that it?! I learned yesterday that that certainly was not all to that verse. Paul, the suspected author of this letter to Hebrew Christian believers, included directions on how to run the race before us. How did I miss that?! Who knows...but I must have been ready to hear it this Easter Sunday.

So, what does Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit, instruct us to do to run the race set before us? Looking again at Hebrews 12:1, we see that we are instructed to lay aside every weight. In this illustration given to us by Paul, this compares to a runner taking off any unnecessary clothing or equipment prior to running. Before Pastor Dickie gave his thoughts on what this description represented, I immediately thought of the weight of worry, excuses and doubt...anything that interferes with our faith in Jesus, prevents us from putting our whole weight upon Him to overcome obstacles and accomplish the work assigned to us by God. In my personal circumstances, this is anything that I let get in the way of getting healthy or fulfilling my daily responsibilities within my home and to my family, or interfering with positive deposits I can put into the relationships in my life. As my thoughts drifted in this direction, Pastor took me in another as he began to elaborate on this little phrase...and this one is no less valid than those I had just been preoccupied by. Pastor suggested that the weight mentioned represented all those things in our life that may not be sinful themselves, but distract us from becoming all that we were designed to be. For example, why is sleep too important to interrupt for quiet time in prayer and with my Bible? What do I make a priority over doing a puzzle with the kids? Why do I choose to watch a movie instead of reading a great book? Perhaps even too much time spent at the computer. Or, as the case is with many people, am I saying "yes" to too many activities...projects at church, various lessons for the kids, etc.? Activities that spread my time, talent and attention so thin that I don't do anything well...thus hindering the opportunity to glorify God. "Weights may be good things that are keeping us from great things," our pastor taught.

This verse then tells us to set aside the sin that does so easily beset us. This is tough stuff...because it's not just saying don't kill people and don't take things that don't belong to you in the literal sense. It is saying to refrain from hatred in your heart for others, regardless of their belief systems. It is saying that we should not judge others, for we all could be judged for something. We should not gossip...we should not envy or covet the lives/belongings of others. We need to be selfless, rather than selfish. We are to strive to live lives rich with the Fruits of the Spirit (from Galatians, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control). We are to strive to be like Jesus...always.

Finally, Hebrews 12:1 tells us to run our race with patience (from the KJV, NIV uses the term "perseverance"). How do we do that? Look at the next looking to Jesus. When times are good...look to Jesus and give thanks. When times are tough...look to Jesus and rest in Him. As Hebrews 12:2 tells us that, despite despising the shame He would experience on the cross, Jesus endured it for the joy that was set before Him...a relationship with you and me. If you fix your eyes on that reward...a relationship with the "author and finisher of our faith"...can you persevere through the hills and valleys, twists and turns of your race?

As I said earlier, I must have been ready to hear this small part of Scripture this weekend because I do not remember it from any other moment of study in my life. My prayer now is that I am also ready to act on it...and I can do so by following Paul's instructions -- lay aside the my best to lay aside my sins...stay patient and persistent by looking to Jesus.

Special thanks to Pastor Robert Dickie, Jr. for his faithfulness to teaching God's Word. His blog is found here.

Note: Photo taken by the author...from a Bible given by her mother to her grandparents in 1960.

Saturday, April 3, 2010


Last month, I was attending our monthly homeschool art program at the Flint Institute of Arts with my daughters. The gallery lesson was focused on the exhibit of the Quilts of Gees Bend. I have always loved quilts! I love running my hand over the careful stitching...sometimes that stitching is artistic, sometimes it is just practical. I love to think about the fabrics they have a history or were they carefully chosen and purchased for this project? After walking through the exhibit and looking through the related items at the museum's gift shop, I realized that I have the privilege of access to many beautiful quilts that are relevant to my life. All made by special ladies (real cathedral builders in my life)... from different branches of my family...some made in recent years and some made decades ago. All were made with love...what else could define the time it takes to plan and create such an item that can warm on a chilly item that can host a item that can provide hours of play as a fort or roads for toy cars. I would love to share those with you now. And, I hope, to build on this little mini exhibit. Please enjoy!

I must start with the quilt of which I have my earliest memories. This wedding ring quilt was made by my aunt, Jewel Overman Calhoun, and given to my parents as a wedding present in 1965. I have wonderful memories as a child of using the pattern of the quilt as roads for toy cars. I am in awe of the time it took to cut out all of those little pieces and sew them together.

Next, I would love to share with you a quilt that I received as a wedding gift. I remember the night I received it...the night before my wedding, after returning home from our rehearsal and dinner. I walked into the house with my parents and my sister and the quilt was draped over a quilt rack standing in the living room. I learned that my Aunt Opal, my dad's sister, had made the quilt rack herself. That is wonderful enough...but the story of the quilt...My Grandma Overman, my dad's mom, was killed in a car accident in 1961...before my parents ever met. My knowledge of her is limited to only what has been shared over the years by my dad or his siblings as we gathered for cookouts. But, my aunt, Opal Overman Shands, took a quilt top made by my grandmother and completed it for me. I am emotional now as I recall the tears in my dad's eyes when he saw it that night. I love this quilt because my grandmother, Eva May Meek Overman, planned its design, chose the fabrics and stitched it with her hands so many years ago. I love this quilt because my Aunt Opal...the dynamo of the family...held it in her own hands and finished it with care...for me.

These next few quilts do not play such a prominent role in my own memory...but they are special because of the creators and the obvious care and love that has been expended keeping them.

This quilt was made by my mom's paternal grandmother, Tabitha Garland. We don't know the exact time of its creation, but we know it was made prior to 1963, the year she passed away.

The following two quilts were made by my mom's maternal grandmother, Martha Ann Fletcher Head. Again, we are unsure when they were made. My great grandma passed away in 1967. The first quilt featured is a crazy quilt and the second is a block quilt.

Thanks so much for humoring me as I shared these special quilts with you. I have a few others to share in the future...those given to me when my daughters were born and some that weren't immediately available for pictures. In the meantime, I encourage you to treasure any heirlooms you have in your possession from those that came before you. They are part of your story.

Keep warm...