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Three Short Years Ago

As we prayed in the hospital waiting room, her husband emerged from pre-op. He looked at me and said, “She wants to see you before they take her into surgery.” I jumped from my place and nearly ran through the doors to be with our middle daughter. She was in a very dangerous state. Having lost her first son to similar health issues, they were about to take her second son by emergency C-section. But he was not due until May 15th. And it was only February 28th. His chances were very slim.

“Dear God, please spare us from sorrow upon sorrow. Protect this little life, and that of his mother.”

As I reached her bedside, one look told me my fears were justified.

“Lord please watch over our beloved daughter Amanda. Strengthen her husband Shane. We ask for Your mercy and healing, please Lord, please.”

I held her hand for a minute and kissed her forehead. Silently, I wondered if I had kissed her good-bye.

“Father, please spare her life. She’s been so weak and so sick for months. Lord we ask for the baby to be strong and healthy. We need a miracle. But You are able!”

I walked outside in the crisp cold air. Pansies and violas lifted their pretty faces and listened as I made call after call to friends and family, asking for prayer.

Back in the waiting room, my two sisters arrived with food. Knowing they had left work two counties away and had hurried to be with me gave such great comfort.

Shane came through the doors to the waiting room. Looking like a surgeon still in his operating garb, he announced:

“It’s a boy. Two pounds, fifteen ounces, and Amanda is fine. The baby’s name is Able, as-in God is able to do above all that we ask or think. We’ve had his name picked out for a while, but we didn’t know how appropriate it would be!”Able wired

Steadily baby Able grew stronger. The nurses in the NICU were wonderful. Finally, on May 19th, at nearly three months old, he got to go home.

Today we celebrate his third birthday!

“Thank You sweet Lord! You are so amazing!”

 “Now all glory to God, Who is able, through His mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think!”  -Ephesians3:20

Happy Birthday sweet Able!photo (42)

What a big boy you are!

What a big boy you are! Did you dress yourself? =)

 

Redneck Manna

The very thought of this culinary delight takes me back to Grandma Pittman’s house. If I was lucky enough to enter her kitchen when she was cooking beans, there on the stove between burners, cooling and draining on a napkin would be hot fried fatback. She would share but we kept it quiet for some reason. I had the notion that we were partaking in some secret sin as we nibbled the crispy goodness down to the rind. The grease from frying out the fatback was used to season the soup beans or added to the cast iron skillet to crisp up the cornbread batter as it was poured into the hot pan. My mouth waters at the thought of fresh baked cornbread crumbled into a glass of cold milk.

Mm mm… some kind of good!

There’s a restaurant in Denton, NC which features a wonderful buffet of southern delights. Really good fried chicken, pork chops, greens, country ham, creamy butterbeans, shoe-peg corn, potato salad, crispy fried okra, mashed potatoes, gravy and of course cornbread.

[There’s also a giant salad bar but to me that’s a big why bother.  Apparently some health nut came up with that bright idea.]

At the end of the hot bar is where angels sing over the Redneck Manna. There you will find stacks and stacks of fatback. Fried up crispy it is the crowning joy of the long buffet. We took David’s mom Nina there the other night because she loves fatback. “Just the right amount of streak-o-lean!” she proclaimed with delight. When she finished her meal the rinds were piled like cordwood. Since she is fast approaching ninety, there’s just no need to worry about blood pressure and such. I mean why? It did her more good than all the dietary restrictions in the world to enjoy her favorite treat. When I asked what I could bring her for dessert, she tucked her chin down in shame as she looked over the top of her glasses at me like the cat that swallowed the canary. Pointing to the last piece of fatback on her plate she quietly requested, “I’ll have some more of this please.”

No banana pudding, no chocolate, lemon or chess pie, no strawberry or peach cobbler for her. Just bring on the Redneck Manna. Good ol’ Doctor Oz’s head is probably still spinning around and around.

I feel so sorry for all the lard haters. If it makes them queasy thinking of our tasty treat, then they surely wouldn’t want to hear what my beloved mom-in-law longed for as we drove home from the buffet.

“Oh how I wish I could bag up some of that fatback for later. Wouldn’t it be great between two slices of bread with mayonnaise?”

Bless her heart… which for sure is well lubricated.classic 2

While I know that God did not drop fried pig fat down on the children of Israel as He led them to the Promised Land, I feel sure it’s because He’s reserving the bulk of the Redneck Manna for Heaven.

On this side of Glory there are a few pieces left at the Classic Restaurant in Denton… or perhaps in Nina’s purse. I just pity the fool that tries to take it from her.

An Unseen Path

Your back is against the wall. You look in every direction hoping for a way of escape. Nothing good can come from your situation. You wonder how you got to this terrible place. Your heart has been seeking God’s direction, His perfect plan. You begin to wonder if He cares at all.

Hopeless desperation can quickly engulf the soul. It is the undercurrent recorded when Moses led God’s people out of slavery. Exodus 13:17 reveals that the Lord directed Moses straight into a trap.

“When Pharaoh finally let the people go, God did not lead them along the main road… even though that was the shortest route to the Promised Land. God said, ‘If the people are faced with a battle, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.’ So God led them in a round-about way through the wilderness toward the Red Sea.”

Camped against the sea they were exactly where God wanted them. In the distance they heard the thunder of horses pounding the ground, pulling the best chariots of the mightiest army in the land. Facing the reality of certain slaughter they drew their little ones in and held them tightly.

Did God actually take them from the clutches of slavery just to discard them in the horrors of battle? With no military advantage they cowered as the enemy thundered closer. Panic stricken they cried out to God and questioned His care. “Why didn’t you leave us alone? We told You we’d rather be slaves in Egypt any day than corpses in the dessert!”

“But Moses told the people ‘Don’t be afraid. Just stand still and watch the LORD rescue you today. …The LORD Himself will fight for you. Just stay calm.’” Exodus 14:13

It’s hard to stay calm and wait for the Lord to rescue. It’s hard to trust His plan when our backs are against the wall. Questions about His wisdom and our own choices pound away at our hearts like an approaching army bent on our destruction. Do I dare trust that He will fight for me?

Then this happens:

“When the Red Sea saw You, O God, its waters looked and trembled! The sea quaked to its very depths… the earth trembled and shook. Your road led through the sea, Your pathway through the mighty waters- a pathway no one knew was there!” –Psalm 77:16-20

What is your Red Sea? What looms before you that you cannot face alone?

There’s a pathway you cannot see. It’s formed by the mighty hand of God for your miraculous delivery. Call out to Him in faith. He can be trusted to fight your battle and lead you down a path you never dreamed possible.

You are no longer a slave, but a son, a daughter, a child of His own. Take heart dear one as you wait. Be still and know He is God.

 He can be trusted to rescue you before the watching world!

Don’t Poke the Cat

Finally after days and days of unusually cold and rainy weather the sun burst forth in the winter sky as if to say, “TA-DA!!!” There was so much fun to be had that we couldn’t stick to the regular schedule. The park was calling… puppies should be petted… ducks begged for attention… tricycles needed to be ridden. Whew! What’s a kid to do after being shut up in the house for a couple weeks? So we played our hearts out way past naptime. When finally home the exhausted ones dove headfirst into their beds without a fight.

Suppertime came and the kids were still sound asleep. If they didn’t wake up soon it would be bedtime. So their wise mama woke them from a dead slumber. One ran straight to the fridge to retrieve a half-eaten apple. Apparently dreams of the unfinished treat determined his swift course of action. The other could not be enticed to move from her mother’s lap. Bunny in hand, nothing interested her. Like a cat with an attitude she was best left alone.Kitty Marie

Sometimes my day goes much the same way. The yard is calling… the house needs attention… the phone should be answered… and HGTV sucks me into the you-could-totally-do-that vortex. I charge from one project to another until exhaustion takes over. Whew! What’s a girl to do?

I think Jesus enjoyed life to the fullest while He was stationed on Earth too. The only difference between Him and me was that He knew His days were numbered so He made the most of each day for eternity’s sake.

No wait.

Did I really say the ONLY difference?

Whoa… back the Bible Bus up.

What I MEANT was…

Perhaps it’s good to enjoy the day to the fullest with eternity in mind. Then we rest and start all over with a fresh new day. Tear up the guilt card for taking a nap, or choosing not to answer the phone, or being too tired to do one more thing.

I think I’ll do like the kids and enjoy it all while my chubby little legs can still carry me. I can always rest later when I’m too tired to move.park walk

But let me warn you.

When I get to that point be careful not to poke the cat.

Have You Met Kevin?

Lynna Clark:

This story is from March three years ago. It made my heart happy since David took the picture of the crocus [croci?] on the header just this morning. Maybe it will give you hope too!

Originally posted on Lynna's Wonderful Life:

See him there in the left corner? Like the bird in the movie UP, he makes me laugh.  He’s been waiting all winter for an introduction. The bare trees around him stretch bony fingers into the sky. Water in the nearby birdbath would occasionally freeze hard making a mini Ice Capade for squirrels looking for a drink. Winds push his body until it sways a little, but he just watches quietly and patiently.

Then suddenly Kevin’s bobbing head nods “Yes!” to an emerging daffodil. Nearby crocus push happily upward spreading their pretty wings, embracing the sunlight. A hyacinth ventures out wondering if it’s too early to show off her new dress. The choir of violas sings in happy unison, “Spring is near!” A pansy lifts its face to confirm that Kevin’s waiting has not been in vain.

Okay. That’s all the poetical wax I’ve got. Here’s what it looks…

View original 61 more words

A Dense Fog

Have you ever been in a situation where you couldn’t see any possible way out? No solution. No way to win. The fog rolls in so thick that you’re afraid to take a step in any direction.

I’ve been there. In fact that’s where we currently live: in a dense soupy overwhelming fog.

We wait and pray and pray and wait. But the fog does not lift. So we keep a lantern handy.

Psalm 119:105- “Thy Word is a Lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.”

A lamp only lights one step at a time. We take that step then wait on the next. We ask for grace and strength to do the things we know to be His will.

Psalm 46:10- “Be still and know I am God.”

We find that waiting is harder than expected.

We remember His promise to care for us even more than He cares for birds and wildflowers. We watch with wonder as He pours out His daily bread with a side of cake because He’s just that kind.

We ask to someday be the ones giving instead of always being “needy.” We look forward to that and hope we’ll never forget how this feels.

Sometimes we find ourselves slipping into despair. Our faith grows weak as darkness joins the party. We question the God Who promised to direct our path. So we pick up a floodlight of our own making as we try to see farther down the road. Our hearts grow fearful as we worry about the dangers ahead. Now the way is darker than ever. Gently He reminds us to take up the Lamp again. His direction continues one step at a time. His plans are wise and they include us.

Proverbs 3:5,6- “Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek His will in all you do, and He will show you which path to take.”

Dear Lord we long for the day when the fog is lifted. How thankful we’ll be when the clouds have rolled away, and we see the beautiful plan You’ve had all along. Keep us on the path You’ve chosen for us. Strengthen us against discouragement if the journey gets even rougher. We really want to finish well. We know you are God. It’s the “being still” that is so hard.

Thank You ahead of time for how the story ends. We love and trust You evermore.

 

R-E-L-A-X

What do you do to relax? Not vacation relaxation. Common let-your-brain-stop, turn-off-the-calculator, mute-the-noise, close-the-laptop, take-a- deep-breath rest. As the great theologian Aaron Rodgers would say, “RELAX.” Though pressured and wounded, that one principle took his team to the playoffs.

I read an article that asked what I do to recharge my everyday brain power. One of our daughters reads. Another takes a nap. The third dares not take a nap lest she wake up grumpy. I think there’s nothing more relaxing than a Sunday afternoon NASCAR nap. Even in the same family everybody’s different.

David’s favorite source of therapy is taking a nice long motorcycle ride. But if the weather doesn’t cooperate there’s always the kitchen where he loves creating an interesting dish. That sure works out well for me. His kitchen proficiency speaks my love language.

My brain recharging station is beside a window where I sit and look out at the birds. Even in the dead of winter the yard is full of them. Bright red cardinals show up great against a gray landscape. We spotted a few of my favorite blue birds the other morning. I’m not sure what they were doing here this time of year. Maybe they were on their way to somewhere warmer or perhaps we are somewhere warmer. It was unusual to see them in January though. It was all fun and games until a mockingbird chased them off.

Sweet chickadees with striking black, gray and white jackets are beautiful to watch. These tiny visitors seem to signal that a cold blast is coming. Little house wrens tuck themselves under the awnings and huddle together for warmth. That’s a great joy to witness unless one steps outside without noticing them. Then one could easily wet ones pants when the sweet little wren comes fluttering past ones ear into the kitchen. Our light fixture still bears witness of the frightened bird. I was not the only one who needed to change underwear that night.

Back to the resting.

A couple friends of ours take blankets outside and recline in yard chairs just to look at the stars in the night sky. My sister loves watching a fire in her fireplace. The warmth and crackle infuses her soul with rest. I love hearing waves lap on the shore of the beach or the lake. Wouldn’t it be great if we could take a slice of that and box it up for home like a fireplace? How refreshing it would be to sit in front of the beach each night for a brain rest.

Do you ever purposely turn off your brain for the sake of recharging?

I know.

Right about now you’re thinking, “How old IS this woman that she has time for such frivolity?!” The answer is old… very very old. But how do you think I have grown so old and wise? Honey, I’ve been unplugging for years, even before Eric Clapton. Yes. That long. Dropping his name at least makes it sound cooler.

If you can’t think of how you’d recharge your brain if you tried then you are definitely overdue. So get off the internet and take five. Go outside and walk around your house. See if the daffodils are poking their heads through the ground yet. Take a few deep breaths and thank God you have the strength to do so. Build a fire in the under-utilized fireplace tonight. Or take a blanket outside and stare up at the stars.  But watch out for those pesky attack wrens. They can undo tranquility in one fell swoop.

Attack Wrens

The purpose of this rather long story is to hopefully encourage you to take a little brain rest.

So tell me.

How do you spell relax?

Even poor ol’ banged up Aaron Rodgers knows better than to live in a constant state of panic.

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