Wednesday, December 23, 2009

I'm Dreaming of the Perfect Christmas

Ah, Christmas memories. I have many of them, but they’re not all “Courier & Ives” type memories. Sometimes, even after all our
preparations and planning, things just don’t turn out quite like we expect.

I remember our family had one such Christmas. The problem began when Robbie Lee and I went out to pick out our family Christmas tree. We saw a sign that said they were selling Christmas trees for only twelve dollars each. It sounded too good to be true, but we stopped in to have a look around anyway. I was surprised to find a tree I liked and the price was actually just as they advertised, only twelve dollars.
We took our inexpensive tree home and decorated it with bulbs and lights, sharing memories with each ornament we hung on the tree. Our Christmas seemed to be off to a great start. We had the perfect tree at a perfect price and it was going to be a perfect Christmas.

 Later on, however, I soon found out why the tree only cost us twelve dollars. Every time we walked across the floor we could hear the needles falling off the tree. I’m not talking about a few needles here and there. Needles were dropping at an alarming rate. It was so bad we were afraid to walk past the tree. We found ourselves tiptoeing around the house so we could save what few needles were left on the tree. The closer it got to Christmas, the worse it got. The perfect tree was practically naked.

On Christmas day, we rose to a beautiful morning with lots of presents to be opened. As we settled in to begin passing out the gifts I
decided to give our dogs, Maggie and Nicky, their presents first so we could open ours in peace. I handed them each a snack and then I gave them each a stuffed toy to play with to keep them occupied. Of course, Maggie, the sheepdog, decided she wanted the toy we gave to Nicky, a mixed breed from the SPCA. She decided to take matters into her own hands and grabbed the toy from Nicky’s mouth. Nicky, being very stubborn, decided he was not going to give in that easily and a terrible fight ensued.

As “White Christmas” played softly in the background, Maggie and Nicky were going at it big time, right underneath the Christmas tree.
Slobber, hair and tree needles were flying all over everything. I yelled for Robbie Lee to fetch me a glass of water to throw in Maggie’s face to calm her down because I had read once that this was a good way to break up a dog fight. The way it was explained was, you throw the water in the dog’s face and it distracts them from the fight. I wasn’t so sure it would work, but I was desperate at that moment.

“Here’s the water,” said Robbie Lee looking very worried.

“Throw the water in Maggie’s face!” I yelled as I tried to pull Maggie out from under the tree. Maggie had Nicky pinned down and I was
afraid she would hurt him since she was much bigger.

“Okay, if you say so,” Robbie Lee yelled and took aim. Only instead of throwing the water on Maggie, she emptied the whole glass of water all over me. I was drenched from head to toe. I screamed so loud when the water hit me that the dogs finally fled the room.

There I stood in my wet pajamas beside the Christmas tree. By now, all the remaining needles had fallen from the tree and the wrapping paper on the gifts was torn and wet from water and slobber from the dogs. This was not how I had envisioned my Christmas morning with the family. Of course, once I changed into dry clothes, we had a great laugh about the whole thing and we did finally enjoy our Christmas day, especially after I stopped expecting it to be perfect.

Sometimes, even with the best laid plans, the unexpected can and does happen. We visualize how everything is going to be and we hope

for perfection. We place a lot of stress and strain on ourselves because we want everything to be just right, but life doesn’t always go as we plan and seldom do things turn out to be perfect. I’m so glad God does not expect us to be perfect. He loves us just as we are, with all our blemishes and imperfect lives. Yet we strive to be the perfect Christians and when things don’t go as planned, we feel as if we have failed and God no longer cares for us because we didn’t meet our version of His expectations.

Galatians 3:2 says, “Let me put this question to you: How did your new life begin? Was it by working your heads off  to please God? Or was it by responding to God’s Message to you? Are you going to continue this craziness? For only crazy people would think they could complete by their own efforts what was begun by God. If you weren’t smart enough or strong enough to begin it how do you suppose you could perfect it?” (The Message) 

Stop trying to live the perfect life. God is not impressed with, nor does He demand, perfection. If God had thought it was possible for us to live perfect lives, He would not have needed to send His Son Jesus to die on the cross. So just scrape the idea you have to be perfect right off your plate. All the planning and all the work has already been done for you. There is nothing you can do or say to make Him love you more. He loves you just the way you are.

So the next time you are expecting perfection, but you end up with a dog fight under a naked Christmas tree remember, God has given us the perfect gift; the gift of salvation. Now that's perfection.


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

In The Middle of it All

Looking, shopping, buying and spending 
Books, bikes, bracelets, and earrings
Sizes, colors, junior and miss
Cards, boxes, ribbons and lists
Trees, bulbs, garland and lights, 
Wreaths, garland, reindeer in flight
Pictures, plays, parties with punch
Fruit cakes, candy, cookies with nuts
Wrapping, stamping, mailing with love,
Aunts, Uncles, children, and pups
Carols, friends, old and new
Greetings, meetings, gatherings too
Laughter, memories, tears and joy
Silent night, Holy night, one baby boy
God’s gift to the world, the best He could send, 
Peace on earth and good will toward men 
Robes, slippers, toys and dolls
A baby in a manger in the middle of it all.

Monday, December 7, 2009

From the Younger Woman to the Older Woman

The younger women in our church got together and wrote this message for the older women. They read it to the women at our Devoted Women's Conference and it is very moving. Don't ever think you are too old to have an impact on the younger generation. We have a great responsibility to lead and to mentor them as they walk along side us. Take the time to read this and perhaps share it with the women in your life. Enjoy:

I desperately need you to show me wisdom.
I need you to show me what true beauty is, a fierce kind of beauty.
I need you to show me that high heels aren’t always worth it.
I need you to be an example of virtue.
And to tell me that life isn’t always what it seems; that the past doesn’t dictate my future.
I need you to distinguish not just what is right - But also wise.
You can’t let me compromise.
I need you to champion me into my inheritance.
I need you to show me courage through all circumstances.
I want you to show me how to smile through my eyes.
I need you here to tell me that beauty is timeless; that as I increase in age I can increase in beauty.
I need you to make me laugh until my stomach hurts; to keep me smiling at the days to come.
I need you to show me how to really eat chocolate.
I need you to teach me to listen with my heart.
I need you here so you can take my hand and lead me.
You have to remind me to not just live, but live deeply in Christ.
I need you to dress me with strength and dignity.
I need you here with me to walk through each day with confidence and boldness.
I desperately need you to show me the value in purity; never let me live without a relentless pursuit of God.
And most of all; the thing I need you to be most, is to live your life with a vigorous purpose - because my life depends on it.
From my heart to yours, with love.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Book Signing

I will be signing copies of the "Life is a Buffet" books this Saturday, December 5th at the Walden Bookstore in Chesapeake Square Mall, Chesapeake, VA from 1 pm to 3 pm.

If you're in the area, please stop by and say "hello." The "Life is a Buffet" books make a great Christmas gift for someone who needs encouragement or is going through a touch season in their life. The books are filled with heart-warming, humorous stories and simple Biblical teachings that will make you laugh and give you food for thought at the same time.

I hope to see you there!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Give Him Praise

Did you know that another meaning for "Thanks" in the Bible is "Praise?" 

I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving, but in the middle of all of the eating, football, family visits, and laughter I hope you take the time to, not just give thanks for all that God has done in your life and the lives of your family and friends, but that you will actually give Him praise because He is a good God. 

Happy Thanksgiving to you all from our family to yours.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Your Source of Joy

As the Holiday season is about to kick off with Thanksgiving I hope we all remember the source of our joy in our life. It's not our circumstances or our status. It's nothing to do with being married or being single or whether or not you have a big pay check or none at all.

Nehemiah 8:10 that says “The joy of the Lord is my strength.” 

Strength in this scripture means “a fortified place” “a defense: a fortress, a rock, a stronghold.” Also similar to the word, “prevail.” 

So we could say, our joy comes from the Lord because He’s our fortified place, our defense, our fortress, our stronghold, we prevail out of His strength and that’s a source of joy.

Joy and Strength have nothing to do with us or our circumstances, but everything to do with God and his strength. Our strength comes through God’s strength. That’s the foundation of our joy. 

This is a Chuck Swindoll quote on “joy.” 

“I have discovered that a joyful countenance has nothing to do with one’s age or one’s occupation or one’s geography or education or marital status or good looks or circumstances. Joy is a choice. It is a matter of attitude that stems from one’s confidence in God-that He is at work, that He is in full control, that He is in the midst of whatever has happened, is happening, and will happen.” 

Don't rely on your own strength or circumstances for your source of joy this Christmas season, but remember who you are in Christ and that He is your provider, your healer and your strength. He is your source of joy. Renew your mind each day to remind yourself you're not doing this life out of your own power, but out of His incomparable power and love. 

Happy Thanksgiving! Let's remember to say thanks for all that God has given us and for all that He promises in His Word. One day is just not enough time to thank Him, but let's give it our best shot. 

Enjoy the Joy!

Monday, November 9, 2009

The Ladies Retreat 2009

I had a great time speaking to all the amazing women at the 2009 Ladies Retreat sponsored by Bayside Baptist Church. The retreat took place at the Eastover Retreat Center in Spring Grove, VA and it was in a beautiful setting. We had the privilege of meeting awesome women, some who have overcome great obstacles just to attend the retreat.

It never ceases to amaze me, as we go out to impact the lives of women, Robbie and I end up being even more blessed just by meeting and chatting with the women at the retreats, conferences and groups. Thanks ladies for a wonderful weekend. It was like meeting old friends again, even though we had just met you for the first time. Thanks for making us feel so welcome and relaxed.

I pray our words and prayers refreshed you in some way and encouraged you to be all that God intends for you to be. You are fearfully and wonderfully made.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The Benefits of Laughter

I found these interesting facts about laughter on the internet and thought I'd share them here. Who knew laughter could be so healthy? 

1. Laughing 100 times roughly equals 15 minutes on an exercise bike? Vigorous laughter increases the heart rate deepens the breathing rate, and uses muscles in the face, stomach, and diaphragm.
2. Aside from improving our moods, laughter can reduce stress, help fight infection, and reduce pain.
3. The levels of two stress hormones, cortisol and epinephrine which suppress the body's immune system, will actually drop after a dose of laughter.
4. Laughter causes positive changes in brain chemistry by releasing endorphins, and it brings more oxygen into the body with the deeper inhalations.
5. Laughter releases anger, fear, guilt, anxiety and tension.
6. Laughter encourages concentration on "right" attitudes rather than "wrong" attitudes.
7. Higher levels of an antibody (salivary immunoglobulin A) that fights infectious organisms entering the respiratory tract were found in the saliva of people who watched humorous videos or experienced good moods.
8. Researchers found after watching an hour-long video of slapstick comedy that the "natural killer cells," which seek out and destroy malignant cells, more actively attacked tumor cells in test tubes. And these effects lasted up to 12 hours.
9. The 1998 movie Patch Adams told the real-life story of a nonconformist doctor convinced that fun, play, and clowns are important in improving patients' quality of life in a grim hospital atmosphere.
10. Planning enjoyable activities for the future will reduce the stressor hormones such as cortisol and epinephrine.

Sometimes life is not funny, but laugh whenever possible. A joyful spirit is contagious. 

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Spiritual Makeup

I have a hard time putting on eye makeup. When I’m done I sometimes look like a raccoon or something. I have very light eyelashes and eyebrows so if I don’t put something on them I look like I am half asleep. I have tried a million different things when it comes to eye makeup, but I guess it’s my technique that needs tweaking. I use eyeliner to highlight my eyes, but I don’t have a steady hand. I usually end up drawing lines all over my face. I’ve also tried all diff erent colors, but being a redhead makes finding the right color a bit challenging.

Recently I went to a nail shop to have a pedicure and a manicure. The lady doing my nails suggested I needed to have my eyebrows and my chin waxed. I agreed, but I was a bit wary of the whole procedure because my blonde eye-brows would really be invisible. When it came time to apply the wax I have to admit I was a bit nervous. Somehow, putting hot wax on your face and then ripping out the hair did not seem like a fun experience. Since the hair on my face is blonde I never worried too much about waxing, but I decided it would be a good idea to have it done.

The hot wax wasn’t as bad as I expected it to be. It was actually kind of nice, but then came the actual ripping of the hair. The petite Asian
woman tried to reassure me it wasn’t going to hurt, but still I began to tense up and grasp the arms of my chair tightly. She placed the two pads on my eyebrows and pushed down hard. Then, RIP! I yelled out like a dog being kicked with a boot. “Yow!” I screamed. Everyone in the shop looked in my direction. The woman laughed at me and then tried to calm me for the next round. She placed the hot wax on my chin and then, RIP! I yelled out again and squirmed in my chair. I was definitely their entertainment for the day.

After she was done my face felt like it was on fi re. It was red and felt like it was burning, but there was no more hair. My eyebrows were thin, but at least they had a shape now. I guess it was worth the torture. Only a woman would put herself through such agony to look good.

Wouldn’t it be great if we paid as much attention to our inner beauty as we do to our outer beauty? We curl our hair, put on makeup, have

our eyebrows shaped, do our nails, and paint our lips, but we ignore our inner beauty. We are much more concerned about what others see on the outside. We also put quite a bit of emphasis on the appearance of others as well, quickly judging people by their appearance.

I Peter 3:3-4 says, “What matters is not your outer appearance—the styling of your hair, the jewelry you wear, the cut of your clothes—but your inner disposition. Cultivate inner beauty, the gentle gracious kind that God delights in.” (The Message) 

Don’t get me wrong. There’s nothing wrong with fussing over our appearance. We should strive for excellence in every area of our lives, including our appearance, but God wants us to focus more on our inner beauty. If we look beautiful on the outside, but we have ugly dispositions, which one will have a greater impact on others? We may spend a great deal of time on our hair, our makeup and our clothes, but very little on the spiritual side of our lives. We neglect to build up our inner beauty until our Christian walk appears to be plain and unattractive to others.

The next time you go in for an eyebrow wax, ask yourself when was the last time you allowed God to strip away some of the layers of dirt and dust from your inner beauty. Maybe it’s time to take inventory of what you have piled on your plate. Let Christ shine through in your life, both inside and outside. Now that’s what I call attractive.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

No Tricks, Just Treats

I can remember going Trick or Treating when I was a kid with my sister, Robbie.  Even though we grew up in a Christian home, my parents never said anything about us going out for Halloween because, to us kids, it was all about getting free candy.  We would rush through supper, shoving our food into our mouths and washing it down with ice tea so we could get our costumes on and hit the streets.  We’d always pray it wasn’t cold because then Mom would make us wear a coat over our costumes.  We wanted everyone to see how we were dressed. After about an hour or so we’d start to sweat under our masks and yank them off.  

We never worried about going out alone back then.  Maybe the times were different, but we went to as many houses as we possibly could and even left our own neighborhood sometimes.  Every time someone would drop a piece of candy into our bag we’d stick our heads in to see what we got.  Sometimes it was a full size candy bar and sometimes it was only a penny or a small sucker,  but we’d always press on to the next house hoping to hit the jack pot somewhere along the line.  I’m not sure what we were hoping for, but it was just exciting to see what we’d end up with at the end of the night. 
We’d return home with our brown paper bags filled to the brim with candy and we would immediately pour it out on the floor in our room to sort out the good stuff from the bad stuff.  Then we would swap candy with each other, offering up a handful of hard candy for a Hershey Bar with nuts.  The trading would get pretty ugly sometimes, but it was all in good fun. 

I remember one Halloween night, Robbie and I had been out Trick or Treating for quite a while and decided it was time to head home.  When we got there Robbie immediately started to whimper and then she let out a loud cry. 

“What in the world is wrong with you?” I asked.

“My candy is all gone,” said Robbie through tears.  “There’s a big hole in the bottom of my bag.”

It was true.  All that Trick or Treating and she had no candy left.  Apparently her bag got too heavy from all that candy and she started dragging the bag along the street until the bottom ripped open, leaving a trail of candy behind her.  Somewhere in our neighborhood there were some happy kids.  Her loss was their gain.  

I just shrugged my shoulders and went into my room to sort through my bag of candy.  It was terrible what had happened to Robbie, but I didn’t really see how that impacted me in any way.  I could hear Robbie still crying in the living room while I was separating my Bit O’ Honey from my bubblegum.  Suddenly it happened.  My dad opened the door and gave me the bad news. 

“You’re going to have to share your candy with your sister because she lost all of hers,” he announced.  

Robbie sat down on the floor in front of me, choking back tears.  I didn’t look up at my dad.  I just stared at Robbie.  I wanted to grab her around the neck and strangle her for losing all of her candy.  One night a year we got to go out and collect free candy and she had to go and lose hers.  Now I was being forced to share my precious collection. 

“Fine,” I said in a low voice.  

When Dad shut the door and left us to our sharing I made it clear to Robbie that I was going to be the one who decided what she would receive from the bag of candy.  She knew she was in trouble.  I handed her a sucker and a couple of pieces of bubblegum.  Her bottom lip started to tremble.  

“Okay, okay,” I said, not wanting her to cry again.  

I didn’t want Dad to come in and divide up the candy.  He didn’t know the good stuff from the bad stuff so I was sure to end up with the raw end of that deal.  I handed her a little bag of candy corn, but that wasn’t good enough either.  The next thing I knew, we were rolling around on the floor, biting, screaming, pulling hair and otherwise killing each other.  Of course, this brought Dad right back into the room.  He reached down and put all of the candy back in the bag and announced he would divide the candy into two bags for us.  I just shook my head.  Robbie smiled and followed Dad out of the room because she knew it was too dangerous to be left alone with her older sister at a time like that.  I collapsed on my bed feeling like there was no justice in the world.  

As time marched on there were many more incidents that forced me to share my goods with Robbie.  Once she was stung by a bee and threw her strawberry Slurpee up in the air.  Naturally, I had to share mine.  Another time I was forced to let Robbie wear my new plastic bracelet I had just purchased from the gumball machine because nothing came out when Robbie put in her money.  Needless to say, I was forced to learn about sharing at an early age.  

God is also very interested in sharing.  In Isaiah 58:7 it says, “What I’m interested in seeing you do is: sharing your food with the hungry, inviting the homeless poor into your homes, putting clothes on the shivering ill-clad, being available to your own families.  Do this and the lights will turn on, and your lives will turn around at once.  Your righteousness will pave your way.  The God of glory will secure your passage.”  

It’s so easy for us to get comfortable with our Christianity, believing God saved us just so we could be comfy cozy in our own salvation.  Yet there is so much more to being a Christian than waiting at the bus stop for the heaven bound bus to pick us up and carry us away.  God asks us to share what we have with others.  He wants us to share our time, our resources and our love.  

God has deposited so much into our lives, but instead of sharing what we have with others, often we’ve got our head stuck in our own bags, trying to see what great goodies God has given us.  When we do share, sometimes we keep the good stuff for ourselves and hand over only what we no longer have a need to keep.  I once heard a story about a person who used to send used tea bags to missionaries overseas.  I can just see them straining as much tea as they could possibly get out of the tiny little tea bag and then tucking it away in an envelope, feeling so good about themselves.  

God asks us to give out of the best of what we have, not our leftovers or what we wouldn’t even want for ourselves.  If you don’t believe me, take a look at Matthew 5:40.  “If someone drags you into court and sues for the shirt off your back, gift wrap your best coat and make a present of it.”  Yeah, your heard it right.  He wants it gift wrapped baby.  

When we lift our bag up to God and ask him to make a deposit, He always gives us His best.  We need to dip down into our filled bag and pull out the good stuff when we’re sharing, without bargaining or expecting something in return.  Make sure you’re only handing out treats, no tricks.       

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


I will be speaking at the Bayside Baptist Church Retreat on November 6th & 7th, 2009 at the Eastover Retreat Center in Spring Grove, VA. The event starts with lunch at 12 pm on Friday, Nov. 6th and ends after lunch on Saturday, Nov. 7th, 2009. I will be speaking on "God Wants Your Ordinary Life" on Friday and on "Enjoy the Joy" on Saturday. This event is open to all women. I understand there are a few tickets left. So if you are interested, please contact Joann Kent at 757-460-2481 for more information and tickets. The price is $65.00 which includes accommodations and meals. The Eastover Retreat Center is in a beautiful, tranquil location in Spring Grove, VA. It should be lots of fun and a great time of rest and relaxation. So come and get refreshed and have a laugh or two.

Friday, October 16, 2009

That Sinking Feeling

My sister, Robbie works part-time for a contracting company in the marketing area. She was enjoying working at home for a spell, but a new assignment required her to return to working in the office again. When she showed up for the first day in her new office there were all the routine things she had to go through like getting new office supplies, having her computer set up, being trained on the new phone system and, of course, that all important office chair. 

Robbie has a bad back that can render her helpless without a moment’s notice at times. So having a really good office chair with lots of support for her back is very important to her. The chair she started with seemed to be perfectly suited for her needs and, after giving it the once over, she decided it was a keeper. 

The next day she showed up at the office for her first full day of actual work. As she sat in front of her computer she suddenly got a kind of “sinking feeling.” At first it wasn’t so noticeable, but as the day wore on she began to notice her keyboards were gradually getting higher and higher and her chair was sinking lower and lower. She turned her chair upside down, examined it thoroughly, but could find nothing wrong with it. She turned the chair upright again, sat down in it, pumped the lever that aligns the height of the chair until she again was sitting in a comfortable position for typing on her keyboard. 

About an hour passed, and Robbie, once again, started to experience that sinking feeling. Her keyboards were getting closer to her chin and she found herself looking up at her monitor instead of straight at it. Her chair had sunk again. Robbie decided she needed to call in professional help and asked the secretary to come into her office and examine the chair. The secretary turned the chair upside down, blew away some dust from the mechanical workings there and turned the chair right side up again. She pumped the chair back up as far as it would go.

“Try it now,” she announced as though she had performed some kind of miracle cure by blowing on it. 

Robbie sat down again, waited for a minute or so, and decided the chair was magically repaired. The secretary wiped her hands clean and continued back to her desk with a sense of pure satisfaction written across her face. I’m sure she was asking herself, what would they do without me around here?

About an hour later, Robbie began to notice she had again sank back down to the lowest level in her chair. Frustrated, she picked up the phone and requested another one. Soon a man came wheeling in another chair for Robbie and quickly whisked away the broken chair. Robbie sat down in the newer chair, rocking back and forth, pumping the lever to get it just in the right position. Finally, she sighed a sound of relief and started working again. However, in a few minutes the newer chair started to sink, little by little, smoothly sinking down below a comfortable level. Robbie found herself sitting in front of her desk with her hands up almost even with her chin as she tried to continue typing on her keyboard. 

Robbie could not believe this chair was malfunctioning as well. She was starting to get a real complex about her weight. Perhaps she shouldn’t have eaten the two cinnamon raisin biscuits for breakfast that morning. 

Robbie worked on the chair for a while, pumping it up, sitting in it and then sinking back down, over and over again. This chair was more like a carnival ride than an office chair. She once again picked up the phone and called for another chair. Later that day another chair was delivered from the warehouse. The same man who had delivered the other newer chair looked her up and down as if he was trying to figure out what the problem could be. After all, this would be her third chair. Robbie pretended not to notice and thanked the man for responding so quickly. He wheeled the old chair out of the office, looking back over his shoulder at Robbie and shaking his head. 

Robbie carefully sat down in the newest chair and waited to see if the chair would sink at all. It seemed to be perfect. After some adjustment she began to relax and get back into her work, but by now it was quitting time. Robbie decided to leave for home and test her newest chair the next day. 

The next morning Robbie arrived at the office bright and early, carrying her briefcase and coffee. She was humming a tune she had heard on the radio on the way into work. This is going to be a good day, Robbie thought to herself. She placed her coffee on her desk, turned on her computer and flopped down in her newest chair. As she went to sit down she misjudged the distance to the bottom of the chair and nearly fell over backwards. The chair had sunk over night to an all time low. 

“How can this be?” Robbie asked out loud to no one in particular. “Why am I the only one who can’t sit in a chair without sinking through the floor?” 

She just stood and stared at the chair for a moment with her hands on her hips. Of course, you never win a staring contest with a chair. Robbie grabbed the phone and called her boss. 

“Good morning,” said the boss. 

“Good morning? How can you say good morning?” Robbie asked. 

“I’m sorry,” he said. “Is this not a good morning for you?” 

“No, it’s not,” Robbie replied. “I have been through three office chairs and none of them seem to work. They’re all worthless. They just sink to the ground every time I sit down. I’ve tried everything. Now this last one seemed fine, but it sank overnight. This morning I nearly killed myself just trying to sit down at my desk. Something has to be done! I can’t work like this! Is this a chair conspiracy? Is someone playing a joke on me?” 

There was silence on the other end. Perhaps her boss was thinking of the right words to say without being too offensive.

“I’ll order you a brand new chair,” said the boss. “I’ll tell the warehouseman to get rid of all those chairs that we have on hand. Apparently, they are all malfunctioning. Don’t worry. You’ll have a new chair soon.”

“Oh, well, thank you very much,” said Robbie with a grateful tone. “I appreciate that. Sorry to yell at you first thing in the morning. I’m usually very calm and quiet in the morning, but this chair thing is making me crazy!” 

“Don’t worry, we’ll take care of it right away,” said her boss. “Now is there anything else you might be needing before I go to my meeting?” 

“Um, no, no, that’s all,” replied Robbie. “Enjoy your meeting. Goodbye.”

Robbie carefully sat down in her chair and peered over her desk to see her computer. Everyone else seemed to be working along and having a normal day. Robbie grabbed her pen and scribbled on her calendar for the next day, “Buy fruit. Throw out donuts.” 

Robbie eventually got her new chair and life returned to normal. Although she did find herself checking now again, anticipating that sinking feeling, it never came. Her new chair seemed to be in good working order and supported her in every way. Now she could focus on the job at hand instead of constantly stopping to readjust her position. 

Have you ever experienced that sinking feeling? Things look bleak and you’ve run out of hope and faith. You can’t see your way ahead and your heart sinks every morning as you get up to face the day ahead. No matter how hard you try to pump yourself up you still find yourself sinking to an all time low at the end of the day. You’re not the only person to experience this feeling and survive it. 

“at the bottom of the sea where the mountains take root, I was as far down as a body can go, and the gates were slamming shut behind me forever—Yet you pulled me up from the grave alive, O God, my God! When my life was slipping away, I remembered God, And my prayer got through to you, made it all the way to your Holy Temple.” Jonah 2:6-7 (The Message)

Jonah had been swallowed up by a great fish because he was disobedient to God, yet God still heard his prayer, spoke to the fish and it “vomited up Jonah on the seashore.” Sounds messy doesn’t it? The point is no matter how low we sink and no matter whether it’s because we’ve been disobedient or just because life has dealt us a swift blow, we can still cry out to God and our prayer will get through. Sometimes we reserve God as a last resort, but God loves us unconditionally and wants the very best for us. He wants us to call out to Him as our first plan of action. 

You can never sink so low that God can’t reach you. So the next time you feel that sinking feeling just cry out to God right from the beginning. There’s no need to sink any further. Your hope is in Him and He will always be there, reaching out His hand to pull you up and put your feet back on higher ground. He will make you the head and not the tail. He’s the boss. Align your position to a “vertical focus,” sink your faith in Him at all times and you can’t go wrong. 

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

"Proposal Moment"

I just watched the movie "Proposal" starring Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds last night on DVD. Hilarious movie by the way if you haven't seen it. Be sure to check it out. I love the scene where, out of the blue she just starts to share some personal things about herself to Ryan Reynolds that she had never shared with anyone else. That got me thinking about doing something similar. So here's my "Proposal Moment."

1. My first concert was "Grand Funk Railroad."

2. On my first date we went to a skating rink. I didn't know how to skate and fell a few hundred times. The boy's name was Barry. He was gracious and kind. Hope I didn't embarrass him too much.

3. I have a bug phobia. Bugs send me screaming out of the room. I once locked myself out of the house because of a centipede. I hit him with a broom. He fell to the floor. I figured with a hundred legs he could run pretty fast. I screamed and ran out of the house slamming the door shut behind me. I had to sit on the front porch for someone to come home and let me in.  The centipede stayed inside, sat on the couch and watched TV.

4. My favorite movie is "Rear Window." I love all the action going on outside in the different apartments while love is brewing inside Jimmy Stewart's own apartment without him even noticing.

5. I was banned from the cafeteria in 6th grade for being too loud. I put a pickle on a girlfriend's milk carton when she wasn't looking and it fell inside. She drank the milk and I screamed with laughter. Apparently I screamed really loud because I was banned for the remainder of the year. I had to eat in the classroom all alone. But the memory of the pickle in the milk carton was well worth it. The girlfriend survived by the way. She was clueless.

6. I always wanted to be a lead singer in a rock band. I used to practice by putting broomsticks through a folding chair so it would stand up and taping a hairbrush to it to use as a microphone. I would then sing with my entire record collection and do all of the rock poses. I was pretty good some would say. But getting a proper job and making a salary prevailed once I graduated high school. I still sing in front of the mirror sometimes without the hairbrush makeshift microphone. However, the rock poses are not near as cute as they once were. Thus, I became a writer.

7. I've always secretly wanted to learn to surf. For a while I would even go into surf shops and look at all the surf gear. However, I barely know how to swim. I never acted on the surfing lessons. I still love to sit on the beach and watch all the cool surfers out in the water. I do carry a boogie board to the beach now and again, but I usually fall asleep under the umbrella using the board as a comfortable place for my feet.

8. I hate carrots. I can eat them if they are shredded in a salad, but that's about it. I really hate them whole and raw. I do however love carrot cake and carrot souffle'. That's probably why I wear glasses. That's a big price to pay just because I don't like carrots. It must work though. I've never seen a rabbit wearing glasses, at least not outside of a children's book. Come to think of it, I've never seen a rabbit eating a carrot either. Perhaps the whole carrot thing is a myth in which case I'm glad I hate carrots, just in case they're wrong about them.

9. I still get very excited about going to Disney World. I love everything about it. It's like being in a different world altogether, hence the name, Disney World I guess. I suspect I will never grow too old to go there. I may have to rent one of those segway riders to get around later, but I will do what I must. I hope they never get rid of the Carousel of Progress. I will be crushed. I definitely am completely, and thoroughly entertained in Disney World. Perhaps it's the kid inside of me. I have a really big kid inside of me. I love video games, board games, Disney movies, and ice cream. Yep, definitely a big kid.

10. I'm terrified of chit chat. Standing in a room filled with people while balancing a small plate of munchies and trying to make interesting conversation can send me over the top. But I have improved somewhat over the years. I make a real effort, but alas, I'm sure the other person can see the terrified look on my face. I'm the kind of person who likes a close friendship where we're in and out of each other's homes and in each other's lives like the Seinfeld group. But chit chat is a skill I find hard to learn. With a really close friend you can sit and not say a word, but you don't feel pressured to talk. I really suck at chit chat. I find myself going on and on and on because I'm so desperate to learn to be a brilliant chit chatter. I see others do it so easily. It must be a gift. I intend to get better as time goes by. But I will never have the gift of gab.

Thanks for letting me share my "Proposal Moment" with you. If you'd like to share yours, feel free.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Knock, Knock, Who's There?

Most normal people are able to stay in hotels without any problems whatsoever, but that doesn’t seem to be the case with my family. For some reason, wherever we go, we never lack at least one embarrassing event. Don’t go thinking we’re crazy or anything. We just seem to be tested more than others. I’m sure we’ll be better for it in the long run. 

Sometime back, there was a week-long revival meeting with a speaker we really wanted to hear. The meeting was to be held almost twenty-five miles from where we lived. Rather than drive back and forth every night for the week, we decided to check into a hotel closer by. Besides being more convenient, it would make us feel like we were away from home and add more excitement to the whole event. 

Now when it comes to packing, Robbie Lee is at her peak of expertise. This woman writes out lists of things to bring before she even begins topack. She coordinates colors and only packs the needed number of outfits for each day. You know the type, “I’ll wear this on Monday and this pretty little outfit on Tuesday, etc.” When you walk in her room, she has each outfit laid out with a pair of socks, underwear, and any needed accessories.As she places each item in her suitcase, she checks it off her handy list, humming as she goes along. I can’t watch for very long before I become very nauseous. 

I, on the other hand, can never decide what to bring. I stand in my closet for hours just trying to decide if I even like an item well enough to take it on a trip with me, trying to envision myself wearing each piece of clothing. My biggest hang-up is I’m afraid I’ll get away from home and hate everything I brought to wear. So I bring what I like to call “just-in-case” clothes. I usually need more than one suitcase when I’m finished, but it’s worth the trouble. 

Mom is the worst of the lot. It doesn’t take her any time to pack because she just goes intoher closet and pulls out everything she owns. She does this whether she’s going away for a week or only one night. Not onlydoes she bring everything, but she leaves it all on hangers instead of putting them in her suitcase. Her suitcase is reserved for underwear and a wide variety of plastic bags that hold makeup, medicine, facial creams, and Lord knows what else. Mom actually doesn’t understand the concept of a suitcase. She insists on putting everything in a plastic bag before it’s packed. This is so she can drive us crazy late at night in the room while she rummages through each one, making lots of noise. 

When we finally arrived at the hotel, the check-in process went just fine. We were told that our room was ready, and the desk clerk carefully gave us instructions on how to get to it. Of course, none of us paid any attention. We all stared at the woman, shaking our heads while saying, “Uh-huh. Uh-huh.”But when everything was said and done, not one of us could remember what she said. We each remembered bits and pieces of her instructions, so we figured we’d manage. 

Our room was located in another building. We piled back into the car and while we all talked at once, we drove like mad women all over the parking lot until we finally arrived at the right spot. Of course, getting the clothes out of the car is always a disaster. Mom is a small, petite woman, and she’s not able to handle very much weight. So she usually ends up carrying one small bag, and Robbie Lee and I get stuck with the entire contents of her closet. I don’t like to make two trips, so I insisted that we carry everything up at once. 

Loaded down with hanging clothes, suitcases, and the many spare shoes, we started out to find our room. Robbie Lee and Mom remembered the room number, and they had the key. 

“The room number is 328,” Robbie Lee yelled back at me. 

“Wait, why are you going that way?” I asked. 

“Because this is the way the woman said to go,”replied Robbie Lee. “Weren’t you listening?” 

“Yes, but I think I’m going to take the stairs instead of walking the length of the hallway to find an elevator. It’ll be shorter.” 

“Suit yourself, but I think you’re making a big mistake.” 

“You take Mom with you. I’ll meet ya’ll there.” 

So we separated. I headed up the stairs, barely able to walk with the load I’m carrying. I watched as Robbie Lee struggled with her baggage, walking behind Mom who looked like she was the queen of the hotel carrying her one small bag. Before long, I was exhausted, and I didn’t think I could take another step. The stairs nearly killed me. I called Mom names under my breath with every painful step I took. Finally I saw the room number,328. The door was already half open. 

“Oh, good, they’re already in there.” I thought. 

With one swift kick, I flung open the door and ran to the first bed I saw, throwing down everything I had in my arms. 

“Whew! I made it. I didn’t think I was going to be able to take another step.”

As I looked up, there sat an elderly man with white hair in his bathrobe. He was sitting in the corner of the room with the television remote control in his hand. His eyes were as wide as saucers, and he looked like he had just seen a ghost. He pointed the remote at me as if to say, “Take one more step, baby, and I’ll mute you.” 

“I’m so sorry,”I said, picking up my suitcases and hanging clothes. “I must have the wrong room. I’m leaving right away.” 

As I struggled with the bags and the door, I knew the old man must have been thinking I would never leave his room. He never moved from his chair and kept the remote control on me the whole time. When I finally fell outside into the hallway, I just burst out laughing until I started to cry. I couldn’t help but see the expression on that man’s face over and over again in my mind. I’m sure he was calling the front desk complaining about this crazy woman who barged into his room and was now having some kind of fit outside his door. 

I finally managed to drag myself down the hall until I saw Robbie Lee and Mom standing outside our door. 

“Where have you been? We were getting worried,” said Robbie Lee. 

“You gave me the wrong room number. I’ve just been down the hall terrorizing an elderly gentleman.” 

“Yeah, I know. I knocked on the wrong door too. A man answered the door wearing a towel. He must’ve just gotten out of the shower. I apologized and left. We finally discovered the right room number scribbled on a piece of paper the woman had given us.” 

“Hurry up and put the bags down so we can go eat,”added Mom in her helpful manner. 

Later that evening during the revival meeting, I saw the elderly man I scared half to death going up for prayer. I reckon he figured he’d better not take any chances while there was a wild woman roaming the halls of the hotel.

“For Each One Should Carry His Own Load.” 

Ever tried taking on more than you can handle? It’s so easy to do. At the time it all seems manageable to you, but down the road you find yourself burdened down with not only your load, but everyone else’s as well. Christians always seem to feel that if they do more work, God will love them more. The truth is He just wants a relationship with us, and no amount of work we do will make that relationship better. But still we take it all on. We say, “Maybe if I do this in addition to this thing over here, God will look down and say,‘My, I sure do love that little son or daughter of mine. They just work, work, work.’ ”In reality, He’s looking down and saying, “Hey, I wonder when my son or daughter is going to stop running around in circles and spend some time with me.” 

It’s important to learn how to say no. We tend to feel guilty if we have to turn someone down even when we know we’re filled to capacity and can’t handle any more. Instead, we find ourselves letting“yes”leak from our mouths far too many times. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying you should never volunteer for anything. I’m just saying learn to weigh the load you are already carrying against the additional load someone’s asking you to take on. If you don’t, you may find yourself with no time left for your family, yourself, or your Lord. You’ll start to feel empty, burned-out, and unsatisfied. 

Slowdown. Carry a manageable load. Learn to say “no.” Spend time working on your relationship with Christ. Everything else will fall into place.

Excerpt from "Life is a Buffet So Save Room For Dessert." Copyright © by Polly D. Boyette 2005. "All rights reserved."