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Boldly Go

The woman looked awful. A sudden migraine drop kicked her into that terrible place where she thought she might die and wished she’d hurry up. She wobbled to my office window and requested a sub. First grade teachers cannot leave all willy-nilly just because they’re dying. Everyone knows death for a teacher requires at least a two week notice.

“Yes!” I assured her. “I’ll find someone to fill in for you until a substitute can get here.” About that time, my sweet husband happened by to see me. He had walked over from the middle school during his planning period. “Hey Huuuuunnnney… could you please watch her class for a few minutes?”

When the longest forty-five minutes of his life were finally over, again he stopped by my office. “How’d it go?” I asked sympathetically. Like Arnold Schwarzenegger in Kindergarten Cop he responded, “They were HORRIBLE. They pat you with their sticky little hands. Why do they do that?”

It seems my sweetheart was not designed to meet the needs of tiny people. Gladly he’d endure the purgatory called middle school. But never again would he willingly subject himself to the abyss known as elementary.

With another school year starting, I’d like to extend my great appreciation and a backpack full of “Bless your hearts” to the educators. I must say, you remind me of Jesus… except that He didn’t have to do bulletin boards.

People pulled and tugged and confronted and accused and begged of Him continuously. So. Many. Needs. I bet the children even patted him with their fishy little hands. Yet He kept opening His weary arms to accept the least of these.

I find it interesting that while “vast crowds came to hear Him preach and be healed of their diseases,” Luke 5:16 gives us a little insight into Jesus’ strategy for coping. He “often withdrew to the wilderness for prayer.”

Don’t worry. This is not where you’re guilted into adding one more thing to your very long list. Take this as an observation from an old chick who served amongst the good, the bad and the ugly for five years in one school and twenty in another.

Prayer changes everything.

No, you probably won’t have time to withdraw to some hidey hole where thou shalt kneel for a quiet “sweet hour of prayer.” But a mindset of bringing a child or family before the Lord as you’re dealing with them really helps. If your prayer sounds like, “Lord help little Pookie Bear lest I shake him til his teeth rattle.” God knows his need… and yours. I promise. I’ve seen it firsthand. Prayer changes everything. Mostly it changed me. Besides I figure since Jesus Christ, the perfect Son of God prayed often, we might benefit from a cry for help too.

So thank you dear Teachers.

Lord help you dear Assistants.

Bless you dear Office Personnel.

God love you dear Principal.

What a wonderful calling you have! To bring out the best in so many lives! Like Captain Kirk on the Starship Enterprise, may you boldly take others where they have never been before!

And like Jesus, may God give you strength to open weary arms to the very least of these.

Teachers Rock!

Teachers Rock!

“What’s the real name for smot berries?” I texted our very knowledgeable daughter Hannah. My phone changed the word snot. I had to wonder why Verizon deemed smot a better word. Turns out SMOT stands for the “Singing Men of Texas.” Interesting.

Her reply was, “Mulberry, as in ‘all around the.’”

The tree out by our creek bank drops tons of small blackberry-like fruit. David was push mowing that part of the yard one day when he slipped and took a nasty fall. As he told me what happened he said they must be “snot berries” as in slick as. Hence we have referred to the berries as such. Hannah enlightened us that they are mulberries and are good for making jam. One must harvest them by placing a sheet under the tree and allowing the fruit to fall as it ripens. We may have to call the berry by the correct name since snot-berry jam won’t be as enticing.jam

Our son-in-law Shane sent a text one day after church. His phone autocorrected his words so his exciting news got changed to “We had three starvations!” I’ve attended some churches where I thought I might starve. Guess I should’ve packed some…. mulberries.

In the wonderful world of texting, have you ever had a mishap? Or even worse, have you ever said something on Facebook that went bad?

C’mon. Let us have a laugh at your expense.

By the way… lol does not mean “lots of love” and is inappropriate on a sympathy card.

Words are a powerful thing. I wish my tongue had an auto-correct. How nice it would be if only that which is beneficial would spill forth. Or at least funny.

Funny is beneficial, right? OK… nice, funny, beneficial.

And clean. It takes a lot of effort to be clean funny… and nice… and beneficial.

I don’t anticipate a lot of comments today.

Our very large family is full of “interesting” people. Here’s my nephew-in-law’s take on the Mulberry situation. His humor is also beneficial.

http://88caprice.blogspot.com/2014/08/picking-mulberries-how-did-guide.html

I met my friend Ann the first time as we waited to pick up our kids from school. Like me she had two in elementary and one in the car. We hit it off immediately, mostly because we shared the same warped since of humor. By summertime we piled the kids in the car and headed to Morrow Mountain for swimming lessons and pbj’s several times a week. We were at best a six ring circus on wheels. Make that eight counting the clowns in the front seat. Angels flew low surrounding her station wagon on all those trips up and down the mountain. Not one mishap! We won’t speak of the twenty-five mile per hour zone and the park ranger with nothing else to do. I’m sure he’s gone to Glory by now and is happily handing out tickets to all those flying past his little cabin doing thirty two.

One day I spotted Ann’s car in a parking lot. This was BW [before Walmart] so maybe it was Roses’ at the Rowan Mall or Sky City at the Towne Mall. The particulars are fuzzy. But I do remember seeing a nasty disposable diaper in the space where she had parked. Just for fun, I scribbled a note and placed it on her windshield.

“Hey Lady- Is that your dirty diaper? Don’t be a litter bug!”

Since we were rather new friends, she had no idea that it was my handwriting and was quite insulted. All manner of unpleasantries rattled around in her head. It took a while before I confessed my mischief. It’s a wonder she ever accepted me back into the beloved.

Our children are grown and now we share a different bond. We’re both Grammys. Oh the joy! However, piling the kids in the car and heading to the park takes a lot more energy. Not because we’re about a hundred years older, but now we have to deal with all those pesky car seats. Back in the day we just stacked the six kids in like loaf bread with halfhearted instructions not to kill each other.

Recently as I cleaned out my desk, I came to grips with the fact that I cannot keep everything. Sadly, stacks of cards from kind people over the years needed to be tossed. However, all of Ann’s notes made the cut. Often she has written just a small word of encouragement at exactly the right time. How does she know? Around the same time she was also going through some stuff and found my windshield note from yesteryear. She sent me a picture of it saying, “The things we choose to keep.”note

Through the years we’ve endured a lot of life. Together we’ve learned the power of friendship, encouragement, and humor. While I tend toward mischief, she leans more to the kinder side. I’m just glad I made the cut. Maybe because we are still just a couple clowns joined at the heart.

I was in a hurry. It doesn’t matter what time I get up, the last few minutes before blast-off always vanish into thin air. I scurried across the road to my sweet mom-in-law’s to retrieve her newspaper. She likes to read it early so she can “solve the problems of Salisbury before she starts her day.”  Everything was wet from the previous night’s storm. Crepe Myrtles bowed heavily over her driveway with rain filled blossoms. With head down watching for puddles, I was moving too fast to notice.

BAP! Right square in the face it nailed me. The giant pink plumage soaked my hair and my shirt, then recoiled and smacked me again. I felt like a carnival contestant being hit with a giant wet sponge.

You know… there have been times when that would’ve been occasion to call fire down from heaven. I mean really.

As I stood there dripping, looking up at the laughing tree, I happened to remember that me and crepe myrtles go way back. The first time I recall noticing one was in the early seventies. Though I couldn’t tell you what I wore to church last Sunday, I actually remember riding through China Grove with my sweetheart, expressing to him how much I’d love to have a crepe myrtle tree in our yard someday. The first years of our marriage were spent in an apartment in south Florida, so it wasn’t possible. But once we moved back home, my beloved mother-in-law spoke to her neighbor and together they retrieved sprouts from her giant tree. I planted crepe myrtles everywhere we lived. About the time they’d grow large enough to sport a little plumage, we’d have to move again.

Once, when we bought our “forever house” between Rockwell and Gold Hill, I had an especially nice one with a great shape. Though I lovingly pampered it the five years we were there, it refused to bloom. Unexpectedly, we found ourselves moving again due to a job change. That rascal finally bloomed the day we moved. I cried all the way to Lexington.

Fast forward about more twenty years.

Through many crazy circumstances, we have come full circle. Even though this was not our plan, currently we live in the house where the lady lived who shared the sprouts with me forty years ago. And now I am surrounded by giant beautiful crepe myrtles.

Every once in a while, we’ll go through a spell where nothing works. It’s natural to wonder if God cares at all. Then like a wet sponge to the face it hits us! Out of the blue He does something so kind and generous that only He could think it up.

So go ahead and laugh you crazy wet crepe myrtle! And thanks for the reminder to slow down and remember the Lord’s sweet care!

myrtle

tree

 

 

“You will live in joy and peace.

The mountains and hills will burst into song,

and the trees of the field will clap their hands!

Where once there were thorns, cypress trees will grow.

Where nettles grew, myrtles will sprout up.”

-Isaiah 55:12,13

Slow Process

It’s been right at a year since our middle daughter’s family got news of a job change which required their move to Corpus Christi.

“Y’all know that’s in Texas right? According to the world wide web it’s approximately 1293 miles away; or 21 hours and 24 minutes by car.” I wondered silently if the estimated time included at least one potty break per state. I may need to save my North Carolina one so that I could have two in Texas.

As I helped Amanda get rid of the unnecessary things in her desk, I found myself rescuing items she was hurriedly tossing. This morning just as I was thinking of her, a pink notecard fell out of my Bible. Actually it was half a notecard. Amanda’s thrifty like her mom and cuts stuff in half to make the stash last longer. Like those scrubby sponges with the yellow on one side and green on the other. My hubba picked up one I had cut in half and gave me “the look.” Apparently his man hands did not appreciate my thriftiness.

Annyyywayyy…

Amanda’s half a note card has this written on it. “What time I am afraid, I will trust in You.” – Psalm56:3

Long before Amanda’s family was called to leave home for the foreign sandy soil of coastal Texas, God was preparing her… and me. I love the little verse even more because it’s in her handwriting.

Like mama’s recipe card for banana pudding written in her own hand, it draws me to her. Suddenly she is right here, telling me not to get impatient. “Use low heat. Keep stirring and it will turn out just fine.”

Night after night the Lord writes His beautiful care across the heavens and splashes the sky full of stars. With His own hand He pens a message filled with creative genius for all who will look.

“For His unfailing love toward those who fear Him is as great as the height of the heavens above the earth. He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west. The Lord is like a father to His children, tender and compassionate to those who fear him. For He knows how weak we are; He remembers we are only dust.” –Psalm103:11-14

Again I’m reminded by the distinct handwriting of those I love:

God can be trusted. He knows that I am as fragile as the North Carolina clay from whence I came. And life, like pudding is a slow process. Keep stirring. Eventually things will turn out just fine.

handwritten

Dressed all fancy and standing tall among her peers, the white lace seemed a little much for one of such questionable background. Apparently someone thought highly of her and gave her a rather royal name. It changed the way she thought of herself and others.  There was a time when shame was her clothing, uncertainty her mindset.

But no more.

Now she thrives in the lowliest places, especially amongst the common. Living just to brighten the world around her, she asks for nothing in return. Lifting her face toward heaven she stands confident that the One Who made her would also provide.

And He does.

queen ann

 

“So don’t worry about these things saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs.

Seek the Kingdom of God above all else and live righteously and He will give you everything you need.

So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.”

Queen Ann’s Lace: What a commoner!

Yet there she stands like royalty, beautifully dressed by her Creator. She wisely whispers to all who will hear.

“If God so sweetly cares for me, won’t He surely take care of you who are made in His image?”

queen ann close

Some guys we love are planting a church, so we asked what we could pray about.

“Wisdom!” was the collective reply.

So many decisions, changes, and responsibilities.

Sometimes life is downright exciting slash terrifying. As we were raising our children my go-to prayer became the one in Colossians 1:9-11.

Wow. What a prayer!

In one fell swoop it covers all things needed. Endurance and patience are tossed in for good measure. Sounds like a good request whether raising children, planting a church, sending kids to college, or just living a life that honors the Lord.

Currently I find myself in a season of not knowing what to pray. Many things in my life feel “undone.” Have you ever been there?

Maybe that’s why the Lord reminded me again of my go-to prayer.

In light of that, here’s a picture of one of our finer moments. We are totally rockin’ the big hair and mega-stache. David kept that no-nonsense look in his eyes for all the guys coming around our house.

The Christmas tree behind us was tied to the stair railing because it kept falling over. That’s a little disconcerting in the middle of the night.fam 90s

Thankfully the God Who answered my prayers way back when we were so stylish is still faithful.

So if you’re wondering what to pray today, here’s a great “go-to” prayer:

“We ask God to give you complete knowledge of His will and to give you spiritual wisdom and understanding. Then the way you live will always honor and please the Lord, and your lives will produce every kind of good fruit. All the while you will grow as you learn to know God better and better.

We also pray that you will be strengthened with all His glorious power so you will have all the endurance and patience you need. May you be filled with joy, always thanking the Father.

AMEN!

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