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That’s MY Donkey

“Hey man! Don’t be takin’ my donkey!”

That’s what I would’ve said if a couple of strangers came up to my house and started untying the family beast of burden. I mean, how will we get the firewood home, or take grandma to prayer meeting? You can’t just go around taking people’s stuff all willy nilly.

“The Lord needs it.”

Jesus told his friends to say that when He sent them to fetch the donkey. Apparently that’s all it took. The owner had no problem sending his valuable property with strangers. He wasn’t promised a great return on his investment. He wasn’t promised the donkey would be brought back fed and watered… or even returned at all.

All he knew was that the Lord needed something he had.

If I had a donkey, I can hear myself reasoning…

“Sorry guys. It’s the only donkey I’ve got. You’re gonna have to find yourself another mode of transportation. I just made the last payment. Had to finance it for seven years, but finally it’s all mine.”

“What? The Lord needs it? The Lord has everything. Why does He need MY donkey?”

I’m afraid me and my donkey would’ve missed the Jesus parade… the only one He ever had.

In fact, I think I would’ve missed a lot of things.

I don’t believe I would’ve climbed a tree to get a better look. People would surely laugh at a grown woman perched in a tree.

I wouldn’t have called Him up for a night time meeting so He could answer my questions either. What would the neighbors think?

I doubt I would have given my lunch to Him when everyone realized it was time to eat and there was no food. What good would my little pitiful sack lunch do?

And I KNOW I would not have stepped out of a perfectly good boat to go traipsing across the choppy sea. Who would take such a risk?

Not me.

In fact, everything is just fine the way it is. So Lord, I’m here for You… right here in my cozy house, with plenty to eat, and my nice warm bed, surrounded by things and people I love, with my precious donkey safely tied outside.

Hmmm… Sounds like a parade off in the distance.

I wonder what I’m missing.

A Picture of Grace

He looked through the woods as we drove. “Easter comes early this year. I wonder if the dogwoods will be ready?”

Like him I hoped so. They are such a beautiful picture of grace.

Have you noticed how much Jesus loved visuals? As He spoke of worry, He pointed to wildflowers. Instead of just saying that God would provide, He referred to the birds. I bet it gave Him much pleasure to create the dogwood.

dogwood

Look at this stunning visual of His sacrifice. Each cross shaped blossom displays blood stained “wounds.” Each center exhibits a “crown of thorns” as if the very heart of God shouts, “This is My Beloved Son in Whom I am well pleased!”

Let’s fall to our knees and worship this God Who draws us to Himself.

All heaven and nature point to Him.

How can we do less?

“For God made Christ, Who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.” -2Corinthians5:21

“O God be merciful to me, for I am a sinner.”

Follow the Recipe

As you probably know by now, my hubby David is a fantastic cook. He just knows stuff: Like how to combine the simplest ingredients into a one dish wonder that causes unbridled yummy noises to flow as I delicately woof down whatever he’s concocted. Plus, he never seems to need a recipe. For instance last night he made a chicken and rice dish with sautéed mushrooms and onions. Apparently he has a secret supply of angel nectar stashed somewhere with our emergency beans because the broth was heavenly. I slurped it down like it was my last meal. Of course that’s currently how I roll in every part of my life. One can’t assume too much at my age. We don’t even buy green bananas.

Unlike Chef David, I like to bake and I ALWAYS use a recipe. Never have I thrown stuff into a bowl all willy-nilly and exclaimed happily at the results. In fact, I now have a system whereby I put all the ingredients to the left of the mixer then as they are used I move them to the right of the mixer so I can remember if I’ve added them or not. It’s a good system. That way I hardly ever leave the pumpkin out of the pumpkin bread anymore.

This morning I came across a passage in Scripture that seems to combine both mine and David’s style. It’s a great recipe.

“He that would love life and see good days:

  • Keep your tongue from evil & your lips from telling lies
  • Turn away from evil
  • Do good
  • Search for peace and work to keep it”

Not only do we get a rather easy formula for loving life. We also get a promise that the Lord will answer our prayers.

  • “For the eyes of the Lord watches over those who do right, and His ears are open to their prayers.”

Then comes the warning: “But the Lord turns His face against those who do evil.” Sheesh. Ain’t nobody gonna want that!

So if you’re like David and you just know stuff, toss goodness and peace into your life, refrain from negative hurtful talk and reap wonderful results. If you’re more like me and need a recipe, refer to this list often; because who wouldn’t want to love life, see happy days, and have answered prayers. Apparently this recipe turns out so well that it’s given in both the Old and New Testaments. [See Psalm 34:12-17 and 1Peter 3:10-12]

Beloved Reader,

May the Lord bless you with many good days, where you love life and know He is attentive to your prayers. May He also give us strength against evil, deceitful speech. And may your pumpkin bread always contain pumpkin.

It is Enough

David made my favorite breakfast this morning. He cubed leftover boiled potatoes and browned them to make home fries. Beside those were scrambled eggs with cheese. As we enjoyed our feast I made yummy noises and commented. “I LOVE Thursdays!

He smiled back at me and said, “I love YOU!”

Next thing I know, I’ve covered my face in my hands and tears are dripping into my eggs. The man is just too good. I’m in so much pain these days that he does everything for me. He knows my heart but I still tried to explain. “It makes me so mad that I can’t do the things I want to… like work in the yard, and cook, and clean. I’ve always enjoyed keeping house and raising kids and working in the school office. Now I’m too weak to do ANYTHING!”

He was quiet but his eyes brimmed over with enough sympathy that I could hear his words. “Honey I can’t do the things I used to either. Neither one of us can do what we DID. So we just do what we DO. We’re in a different stage of life. That doesn’t mean that the things we do now are not important.”

I thought on his words. I guess I’m not the only one who used to be busy from dawn to dusk. The clock went off at 5:15am for so many years that it took forever to get used to NOT getting up at the crack of dawn. Oh I still wake up around then. But now I waddle to the potty then climb back into bed. It’s really not such a terrible life.

But my strength is so small.

I suppose there are very few times in our lives when we have great strength and faith to move mountains. How much do we really need? Maybe that’s why the Lord reminds us that all we really need is a speck… a drop… even as small as a mustard seed. According to His Word, that is enough. He gets the best glory when we rely on His strength anyway.

Today, I have just enough faith to lift feeble hands toward heaven and cry out to my loving Father. “I want to do more Lord. But for now, apparently this is enough. For if I needed more, You would give it.”

To me He whispers this reminder from Psalm 37- “Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust Him and He will help you. Be still in the presence of the Lord and wait patiently for Him to act.”

Beloved Reader: May the God of all comfort strengthen you to do what you can. Then rest in His great love and know… It is enough.

My beautiful puzzle came from the Our State store. Five hundred and fifty pieces of pure bliss awaited my attention. According to the front of the box, each area of the Old North State is represented. I could hardly wait to get started. Besides, the internet and cable were down; rain pounded the metal awning, and two of my eight year old grandchildren had just arrived. All things indicated a great day to stay inside and assemble a masterpiece.

Marie emptied all the pieces carefully onto the dining table. Wow. Five hundred and fifty pieces make a pretty large pile! Jesse propped the box up for easy reference. Their mom asked where they’d like to live on the map. Since their family had recently visited Cape Lookout, Marie pointed to the horses. “I want to live there with the wild ponies!” That was no surprise as the child loves animals so much that we’ve dubbed her Ellie Mae. Jesse however pointed to the mountains. Apparently bears in the wild are quite inviting to a boy who loves the outdoors. Their family hikes the mountain trails often especially if it means wading through an ice cold stream on a warm day.

“Where would you like to live Grammy?” They peered at me with wonder as if saying it out loud would make it happen. I pointed to the Cheerwine bottle right smack dab in the middle. “I want to live right here, in Salisbury.”

“But you already live in Salisbury!” They reminded me as though I’d forgotten.

“Yep. And there is no place I’d rather be. But I can always visit if you decide to live near the beach or in the mountains. That’s another good thing about living in Salisbury. It’s not too far from anywhere.”

They nodded as they considered their life choices then began sorting the puzzle pieces by color. It’s been years since I worked a big puzzle. Suddenly I felt a bit overwhelmed. When I was a kid the sensible thing to do was to gather all the straight sides, form the outer frame, then fill in from there. The kids however chose their favorite pictures on the map and began finding the pieces they needed. My phone buzzed and I’m glad I checked. The cable guy was on his way. Of course I needed to change into my “greet the cable dude” clothes since my everyday attire has devolved into whatever I happen to have slept in. The backdoor opened and thankfully it was the grandkids’ mother returning from her errand. Like a quick change artist I jumped into my clothes in time to greet the cable guy. Next came David home from work to instruct the repairman. The kids never looked up. I sat down again trying to gather my thoughts. A small pile of green straight edges greeted me. Surely I could make the bottom border. Glancing at the progress of the kids I found that Jesse had completed not only the bear but also Chimney Rock, the waterfall, the Christmas tree lot and a jug of moonshine. “Save all the red for me. I’m putting together the cardinal,” he instructed. Marie had the wild horses and several light houses finished. Quickly she worked her way down the coast. She gazed at me with sympathy. “Here Grammy. Try these pieces.” Sweetly she handed me two pieces that seemed to have no rhyme or reason. I couldn’t get them to fit.

“Switch them around like this.” Her tiny fingers showed me how. Eventually I got it to work. She held her hand up for a high five. “You did it! Now here are two more. You can do it Grammy.” Her sweet encouragement made me laugh. Apparently the brain fog from chemo a few years back is still in effect. At least that’s the story I’m sticking with. Absentmindedly I attached my little section to Jesse’s part where he’d not only finished the cardinal but had started the state flower. “Yay Grammy! Good job!” He too high-fived me before resuming his search for dogwood leaves.

Eventually the cable was repaired, the internet was restored and the rain stopped. But no one seemed to notice. We were too busy finishing the Moravian star and the Cheerwine bottle.

Home sweet Salisbury! Don’t I love it?! It’s really not too far from anywhere!

The Man Gift

Do you find it hard to buy for the men in your life? You’d think living with someone for nearly forty seven years would give me a clue. Nope… still clueless. Currently we are trying to improve our little love shack. Not a full blown remodel; just a few things to make our nest more efficient. Since David enjoys cooking I ordered a large slab of butcher block to enlarge his workspace beside the stove. The box was delivered to the front steps where only strangers venture. I mean really. Look at the entrance. There are enough spider webs covering that space to suggest it’s still Halloween. Maybe that’s why the delivery guy dumped the box on the ground beside the steps. He must’ve took one look and decided not to risk it.

Even though it was very heavy I figured I could slide the box around the house to the real door. Well, I tried. About three inches and several painful warning signs later it hit me. Apparently I am not a spring chicken any more. I have to say I was not quite ready for that shocking revelation. Sometimes life is just not very polite. About three hours later I got a Christmas miracle. One of our daughters and a grown granddaughter happened by and were able to get the box into the house. Those girls are freakishly strong for a couple of skinny chicks. I did a happy dance… actually a happy waddle and took joy in the gift that I knew my sweetheart would love.

Christmas morning came. I clapped like a little girl rejoicing that for once his present did not contain socks or underwear. He pulled his pocket knife out and carefully opened the gift. The look on his face said, “You bought me countertops?” So I explained how the piece would have to be cut to fit over the dishwasher beside the stove then fastened to the wall so he could “Mise-en-Place” [arrange all his ingredients] and chop to his heart’s content. Again the look. This time it said, “How wonderful… a project.”

I know this man. He’s not unkind. He just wasn’t sure what to do with his face. Then we pulled the rest of the box off his gift to discover even more wonderfulness. The thing was busted. BUT it was actually broken at exactly where we would have cut it. Though the edge is a bit jagged, we decided to use it rather than go to the trouble of sending it back. David stained it, sealed it, put it in place and invited me to see how it turned out. I tipped my head at the broken piece against the wall standing up as a backsplash.

“It’s like a live edge,” he explained. I looked at him wondering what to do with my face. He gave me a smile and I realized. He DOES like it! So we shall enjoy it just the way it is. Together throughout our many similar adventures we have learned that things do not have to be perfect to be good and useful. That wisdom along with so much contentment only comes with age. Perhaps it’s a good thing I’m not a spring chicken any more. To that I say, “Waddle on!”

Just Dust

I’m pretty good at hiding my crazy. But sometimes it’s a bit disconcerting even to me. For instance: I can’t stand to raise the blinds and leave them a bit cock-eyed. That won’t do even for a minute. I hate marking something out with an ink pen when I mess up. I just get a new piece of paper and start over; even on something as minor as a grocery list. And I really hate grammatical errors to the point that I have a hard time texting. While I’m trying to be all hip by getting used to abbreviations, I still think twice before using “lol.” Probably because for the longest time I thought folks were sending me lots of love.

Annyyywayyy…

I got a new day planner for 2021 as if my life is so busy I need to take careful notes. The only thing I have to keep up with now is all the doctor appointments. Like my mom-in-law used to say, “When you get to a certain age, there’s always somewhere to go; either the drug store, the doctor or the funeral home.” Sadly, I think I’m there. As I added the January appointment to my new calendar, I put it on the wrong stinkin’ date. My fresh clean planner is already messed up! It felt like a bad omen. As my hopes for the new year plummeted, I thought of the white-out stashed in my desk. Quickly I tried to cover up the mess. But alas. The cure was worse than the error. A crusty white blob stared back at me on my fresh new year.

Panic squeezed my chest until I realized the soiled date is also Winter Spruce Up. This magical day is celebrated throughout our small town by hauling all manner of unwanted junk to the curb. Diligent city workers will cart away discarded treasures for FREE! In our case it will be the 1980’s model washer and dryer that died simultaneously on black Friday. These faithful friends have been part of our lives longer than I can remember; much like the shoes of the children of Israel as they trudged through the wilderness. Those things just never went out of style. Another good thing about being crazy is that the word FREE covers a multitude of angst. PLUS now I have something to write over the white-out on my new calendar. Carefully I printed “SPRUCE UP” over my former mess. It’s not perfect, but it is better.

Last year taught me many things. Probably most important is that I am not in control. Who would have ever suspected that as organized and careful as we are we’d get caught with our britches down and nothing to wipe with.

No… I am definitely not in control. No matter how much I plan, stuff happens. Appliances will give up the ghost right before Christmas. Sickness will hit no matter how healthy we eat. There’s not enough white-out in the world to cover our crazy. However, God “knows how weak we are; He remembers we are only dust. Our days on earth are like grass; like wildflowers, we bloom and die as though we had never been here. BUT! The love of the Lord remains forever with those who fear Him.” –Psalm 103:14-17

The best way I know to deal with crazy is to give my uncertainties to the Father. I function much better with Him in charge anyway. As it turns out, He’s really good at making some very useful things out of dust.

An EncouragingU Christmas is a collection of holiday stories from five local authors including Doug Creamer, Ann Farabee, Roger Barbee. David Freeze, and ME! Click here to check it out! After the year we’ve had, I think you’ll love getting your hands on something positive. May the Lord use our book to lighten your load just in time for a very Merry Christmas!

Much love! Lynna

PS: Copies will also be available at Attractions on Main in Salisbury and Missions Pottery in Lexington starting in December.

My mom-in-law used a handful of catchy phrases that she deemed appropriate for certain situations. For example: If someone thought they were “all that” and dropped the ball at church or a family function, she would remind us that “One monkey don’t stop the show.” If something hurtful happened she was quick to remind us that “What doesn’t kill us will make us stronger.” When plans changed unexpectedly we knew we could count on her to say, “When God closes a door, He opens a window.”

I think my favorite, and her wisest saying was that “Things won’t always be this way.” In 2020 after the year most folks have had, I believe we can all shout a loud “Halleluiah” to that!

I hear talk about our new normal.

Nope.

I refuse to let this become my new normal. I look forward to handing out all the hugs I want; to smiling without hiding it behind a mask; to watching television without all the fearful warnings and even better, without the political ads filled with lies and character assaults.

I think we’re better than this.

I think this year has been a wakeup call to remind us of how good it is to work hard, send our children to school to professionals who know stuff; to shop for groceries without looking at each other suspiciously; and best of all to worship without fear. Let’s return to THAT normal!

After all, what hasn’t killed us has surely made us stronger!

PS:

While the proverbs of my beautiful southern mom-in-law are very wise, she would agree that Scripture is wiser still. May the Lord strengthen us to rest in His promises.

“The Lord is good, a Stronghold in the day of trouble. And He knows the ones who trust in Him!” – Nahum 1:7

Amen!

No Blueberries

So how was your Labor Day weekend? I heard a lady say once that growing up on a farm with seven siblings, their dad had them convinced that Labor Day was the one day of the year when folks worked the hardest. No picnics on THAT farm!

Traditionally our family gathered at Mama and Daddy’s lake house. He would fry fresh chicken outdoors in a giant cast iron skillet over a fire. He knew exactly how to keep the temperature right so the chicken would be tender and juicy inside but crispy on the outside. THAT my friend is an ART! My mouth waters at the memory of it. Mama made homemade potato salad and slaw. We’d usually have green beans and corn from the garden and plenty of desserts. On patriotic holidays Mama would also make cherry yum-yum to look like the American flag. Blueberry pie filling in one corner represented the stars while alternating stripes of cherries and cream cheese filling completed Old Glory. One of the new sons-in-law, made the mistake of dipping into the stars all willy-nilly. Every relative there had to point out that “THE NEW GUY ATE ALL 50 STATES!” The NERVE!

After Mama’s passing, Daddy moved to the lake full time. It’s a beautiful place with a gorgeous view. But we sure miss Mama. She was in charge of life jacket reminders, menu assignments, small flags for the grandchildren to wave, and generally keeping the chaos organized. Of course she also kept watch so no one went swimming before waiting the obligatory thirty minutes after eating. Her biggest job was keeping Daddy in line. That always turned out to be her most challenging assignment.

Daddy’s birthday is near Labor Day. He turned eighty seven this year. Praise God he is still strong and healthy. It may or may not have something to do with the t-shirt one of the kids gave him years ago. It included the blessing/curse assuring that the grumpier one is, the longer God lets them live.

Just sayin’.

We didn’t get to go to the lake this year. I really missed it. But apparently Daddy has been grumpier than me for he’s still kickin’ while I can barely function. It’s hard to come to grips with change. Seasons come and go. It shouldn’t surprise me that change is going to happen. Then it does and I find once again that I don’t much like it. Currently our country seems to be going through an extreme amount of change all at once. I had a teacher who used to say, “Do the best you can with what you’ve got; then forget the rest.”

So for now, while we still can, let’s have all the picnics, wave all the flags, find reasons to laugh with one another, and forget the rest. Life and change will continue to happen. Let’s make the best of what we have and by God’s grace let go of the rest; Even if it means no blueberries in our yum-yum.