Category Archives: Christian Life

Are You Decorating a Prison?

Standard
Are You Decorating a Prison?

I settled into the driver’s seat and kissed my sweet hubby goodbye. As I backed out of the driveway, anxiety bubbled up, competing with excitement and anticipation for control of my heart. I spoke a few words aloud to stifle it. “I’m fine. He will be fine. God’s got us.”

I sipped coffee from the Tervis he had handed me moments earlier. The aroma of the caramel liquid mingled with the scent of Polo and I missed him already. Once again anxiety threatened to steal the joy of embarking on a journey I had anticipated for months.

I drove in silence for a bit, considering my penchant for imagining the worst case scenario.

child-waving-goodbye-595429_1920.jpg

I’ve never been good at good-byes. As a child, I hid from them, usually in the bathroom linen closet. It wasn’t often that we sent loved ones on their way, but when our Hoosier grandparents loaded the car for the long trek home I was not about to stand on the lawn and watch them drive away. I quietly slipped into my hiding place, where no one was leaving. I couldn’t bear the separation.

I am absolutely sure I didn’t say goodbye when my oldest brother reported to the Navy. As preparations were made for his departure, I withdrew. With every crisply ironed article of his sailor suit readied for packing, my anxiety increased. The world was a scary place and only God knew when I would see my brother again, if ever.

Not many years later, I got married and soon after we began our family. Imagine the joy when we finally bought a brick and mortar house and made a home. I was the mother hen and my chicks were all under my wings.

My husband had noticed that I didn’t handle goodbyes well; more like I didn’t handle them. At all. He couldn’t imagine missing the chance to get a last hug and speak one last expression of love and care.

And then one day he came home with an announcement. His parents were moving to North Carolina. He would be driving the truck with their household belongings and returning home by plane.

Ya’ll, I could not even. I was distraught. Seriously. I was quite certain that I would be widowed when there was either a tragic accident involving the truck or the plane fell from the sky. I was not in the habit of throwing fits, but I threw a good one.

How would I raise our daughter alone? How could his parents think this was reasonable? Why couldn’t everyone just leave us alone in our little bubble?

In retrospect I can see it so clearly; I was a young wife making feeble, yet frantic efforts to tightly wrap my arms around all of my loves and hold them tight. I believed it was up to us to protect our family; in this case it appeared it was up to me, because everyone else had lost their ever-loving minds and thought it was a good idea for my husband to leave us.

I was not being manipulative; I didn’t have a problem with my husband helping his parents. I was genuinely anxious and fearful and wanted to hold my little family together.

Forty-five years later I’m less concerned about a traffic accident than a potentially life-threatening drop in his blood sugar.

But here’s the thing that occurred to me later that evening as I walked into a conference center filled with stunning women, as their voices and mine blended and lifted praise to the Beautiful Name of Jesus. He never called us to live safe and cozy lives. He called us to step into our calling trusting in him alone.

I listened to Jennie Allen share her surrender of “yes” to Him for ANYTHING. I looked around at the vendor booths, filled with women who had started non-profits to support children in foster care and foreign missions. They risked stepping out of safe and cozy because they knew that God was with them in the first step and every one after.

They yoked up with Jesus and heard his voice, “I’ve got this, just get into the unforced rhythm of grace and watch how I do this.”

I had tried to wall us in; my goal was to create a safe and beautiful place for us to hide. The trouble is, those hiding places become “cutely decorated prisons”[1] where we do little or nothing for the kingdom.

You call me out upon the waters
The great unknown where feet may fail
And there I find You in the mystery
In oceans deep my faith will stand.[2]

water-282784_1920.jpg

 God’s plan is better than hiding in a closet or spinning out of control over what might happen.

The weekend was absolutely perfect. There was so much joy in every part. He is good and He is calling us out to places unknown to us but known perfectly to him. He will be with us in the first step and every one that follows.

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion?
Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life.
I’ll show you how to take a real rest.
Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it.
Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you.
Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
Matthew 11:28-30 ~ The Message

What is he calling you to, my friend? I would love to hear about your faith steps. Where is he taking you? Tell me about it in the comments, won’t you?

Finding the rhythms of grace,

lorraine

 

 

[1] Jennie Allen

[2] Hillsong United Lyrics, Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)

Making Room for Change

Standard
Making Room for Change

 

I really hate to throw food away. I’m not sure if it is my humble upbringing or my overall frugality, but I’m bothered when I realize I’ve let food get past its prime and have to dispose of it.

Recently the out of town grands were visiting and we made lots more food than normal. As they prepared to leave and I surveyed the mass quantities of leftovers in the refrigerator I openly lamented all of the waste.

My daughter remarked that we’d had our fill; we ate well, and the food was wonderful but no longer beneficial.

She suggested that I let it go while being thankful that we’d had more than enough. Good word, I thought as I discarded the old and made room for the beautiful fresh veggies I would pick up later at the farmer’s market.

Recently I was given lots of gently used clothes; they were mostly from the Loft, one of my favorite stores. It was a huge blessing, but I quickly realized in order to make room for them I would have to part with some things that had served me well, but no longer brought me joy. They had to go and frankly many of my “old” favorites were just that. It was time to let them go!

I’m in a season of waiting; I feel like God is on the brink of doing something new, but change isn’t something I typically embrace.

Could it be that God’s waiting for me to make room for a new thing?

I’m trying to rest, to wait and see what He’s up to.

Even as I type the words, I think “How ludicrous is that”?

bed-945881_1920

Rest is not trying; rest is surrender. Rest is restorative.

When I lie down at night and realize that every muscle is tense, that my jaw is clenched and my hands are tight fists, I have a routine of consciously relaxing from my head to my toes. I release control and allow my mind to let the stresses of life go for a bit…I focus on a favorite scripture passage or picture my favorite place to let go…the beach.

I surrender to the rest that I know I will need to face a new day. I release control of life for seven or eight hours and I sleep. It is during this rest that cells are repaired; the body restores itself from the effects of the day’s exposure to stress, toxins, UV rays and all manner of other harm.

Spiritual rest is only found in the quiet place; I hear him best when I choose to turn off the noise of the outside and consciously relax every corner of my heart, surrendering them each to his calm. It is in this rest that my heart can hear Him speak healing words of love over the places that exposure to the world have been scraped and made raw.

I’m acting on what a friend has been praying for me. I’m free falling right into the arms of Jesus; it’s the only place of true rest and restoration.

I’ll let you know how it’s going, friend.

Resting in his grace,

lorraine

For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun!
I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.
Psalm 43:19 NLT

TOM

And speaking of rest, how would you like to win a new mattress? My friend Rebecca Huff is sponsoring a big giveaway this month. Head on over to this post to see what it’s all about and learn more about getting rest through quality sleep.

The Easy Wife

Another great giveaway is happening over here on The Easy Wife Facebook page. What a great way to get started with Essential Oils! Check out Jami and Stacey’s podcast – you’ll be glad you did.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Excuse Me, That’s MY Tiara

Standard
Excuse Me, That’s MY Tiara

It was less than a week after my birthday. While not a Hallmark milestone year, it was a benchmark for me. Suddenly I was eligible for even more “senior” discounts. At 62, theater tickets and even hotel rooms are cheaper.

I receive your blessing, Lord. I didn’t come this far to walk away from a good deal!

While I was willing to embrace the discounts I was not willing to accept the tag. Senior.

My parents were senior citizens. Senior citizens grumble about their “fixed” income and eat dinner at 4:00 to avoid crowds and save two dollars.

I was scrolling through Facebook, which always makes me feel better about myself. Right there on my news feed was a post about the Disney Princess Half Marathon – my friend had just signed up. Suddenly (and a bit impulsively) I was in.

You should know this about me: when the total of any purchase approaches high double digits my pulse quickens; if it hits triple digits I need a gut check. And yet I navigated over to the web site, whipped out my credit card and shelled out $185 to register. I was giddy – it might have been the tiaras or the hopes of a “dream come true magical experience”, but I had grand visions of crossing the finish line, hand in hand with my dear friend.

I imagined we would spend hours comparing training schedules and cheering each other along as we added distance and shortened times.

I made a meme for my Facebook cover. I wrote it down in my goals. Oh, this was going down, friends.

Perhaps this would be a good time to mention that I hate running. I love the idea of running; but running hurts me. It twists my guts in knots; I get something called a “stitch” in my side. With every foot fall I feel the jolt, first in my feet and then up my legs and into my torso. I literally feel like I’m pounding the pavement.

After I’ve been in motion (I can’t run very far, but at least my body doesn’t revolt against walking) for thirty minutes or so, the nerves behind the third and fourth toes on my right foot begin to burn. It’s somewhere between fire ants and electrical shock. It’s most painful with foot fall, so it’s only hurts every other step.

My breathing is labored and because I’m panting so hard I’m thirsty before I get to the end of my driveway.

I should also mention that this friend lives as far away from me as you can get and still be in the Continental United States. With almost three thousand miles separating us, our joint training was not impossible, but highly improbable for two people who can’t seem to get together for an occasional phone call.

You have a question, don’t you? You are dying to ask. 

Go ahead…I’m waiting.

Okay, I’ll ask it for you.

Why in the world did I think this was going to happen?

Twice I’ve positioned myself along a fence near the finish of the Disney World marathon. I watched every face as I checked the status of my runner on my smartphone. The first time, I was torn between urgency and dread.

26.2 miles. How could her body endure such punishment? And yet, I never took my eyes off the course as I scanned every face for the one that I loved. My child.

And I saw her. She was smiling, she was running well, and I cried. Relief and pride and joy swept over me. My baby girl had done it. 

Again last January I stood near the same place, watching. When I spotted her I made a spectacle because I wanted to make sure she knew I was there. It was a harder run; she hadn’t trained as well and she was hurting. But she did it. I know she had to dig deep to cross the finish, but she did.

DSC_0005

My beautiful daughter and her son at the finish.

Each time, I carefully surveyed the runners. They were all shapes and sizes. Some were running alone, others part of a team. Some ran for a cause emblazoned across their chest; others I was sure ran for reasons much more private but no less noble and meritorious.

I was inspired. I allowed myself to consider the possibility. I decided I would do that. One day.

And so it is not surprising that on that day, as I considered the number of days I hope to have left, I knew it was time to walk right into the dream that was birthed in my heart years earlier.

But August came and with it some significant pain that started in my hip and radiated down my leg and into my shin. I rested.

The pain persisted. It got a lot worse when I walked any distance. I relented; an appointment was scheduled and the diagnosis was harsh. Arthritis.

The short story is that I can’t do 13.1 miles. I’ll never cross that finish line, exuberant yet exhausted.

I’m been bummed. I’ve felt guilty about wasting the money. But most of all I’ve wondered what else is no longer possible. I have regrets over things not attempted. I also am beginning to understand why some of us are less “Snow White” and more “Grumpy” with age.

I’ve given this some time to marinate in my heart. I’ve asked God to cover it with grace and mercy as I consider what He would have me do next.

He is amazing ya’ll. He began to roll a highlight reel of my life. He showed me the races I have run; the ones where I crossed the finish line bloody and bruised and alone.

There were some where I barely could barely walk as I held the hand of one who came alongside and literally walked me across the finish. I saw the times that I crawled, too weary to look up…but he was always there.

I don’t know if I have days, years or decades left in this life. I don’t know how many of my dreams I’ll realize. 

But I know this for sure:

When I cross the the final finish line, he will be there waiting for me.

He is watching, he is checking my status and when I get near, he’s going to make sure that I see him. I believe he will take my hand and help me across.  

It’s true that I won’t be running with a tiara but I am his nonetheless. 

Let the king be enthralled by your beauty;honor him, for he is your lord. Psalm45:11

The hardware of this life’s races will pale in comparison to all that he has for us in heaven.

 Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because,
having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life
that the Lord has promised to those who love him.
James 1:12 NIV

He will give you a crown of beauty for ashes. Isaiah 61:3

Can’t stop, won’t stop,

lorraine

Travel Advisory – Narrow Road Ahead

Standard
Travel Advisory – Narrow Road Ahead

I had been out of sorts all weekend and now I was stepping off a flight, still in a funk.

I’d been in this airport before; it was familiar though not the least bit comforting.

It was barely October but the northeastern air was cold as I exited the terminal toward the rental cars. “At least I know my way around” I thought as I trudged in that direction, pulling luggage and balancing a heavy computer bag on my shoulder.

I settled into a sedan and drove away from the airport, remembering the first time I flew into Manchester. That time, the luck of the rental car line-up afforded me a Mustang convertible. I had put the top down in spite of the chilly temperatures.

One wrong turn transported me into a fragrant forest of trees. Realizing that I must be off course, I navigated onto a side road to turn around. The sound of the gravel under those tires and the earthy scent of the trees reminded me of places I love. Even now, the memory calmed my heavy heart a bit.

I passed the spot of the errant turn and smiled to myself. Maybe a cup of coffee would perk me up, I thought. I spotted a new Dunkin’ Donuts just before I reached the on ramp for the interstate; in just a few minutes I had a steaming cup and was on my way to the hotel that would once again be home for the week.

After a quick call to let my hubby know I was bound for my destination, I reflected in silence as I drove the mostly deserted highway.

I’m too old for this.

I am too tired for this.

I can’t do this.

I can’t, I can’t, I can’t. I recited a litany of reasons and excuses – all well-rehearsed over the past few days. Weariness set in as I sipped my coffee and focused on the road.

I had forgotten the natural beauty of the drive south toward Boston. It was overcast, but even under gray skies the glorious colors of fall brightened the landscape. The birch trees stood tall, their white bark like dress whites crowned with colorful leaves.

I noted one of those highway signs that marks a famous landmark. Robert Frost Farm. The client had mentioned it on my last trip and suggested it might be worthwhile to stop and explore on my return to the airport. Ever the worried traveler, I didn’t dare risk missing my outbound flight.

But now I was in no great hurry to reach an empty hotel room. There was no mystery or excitement or even concern about finding it. I’d stayed there before and it was just the standard place to rest after a long day.

Only days before an Amazon box awaited my arrival home after work. I opened it with curiosity, since I didn’t recall ordering anything. To my great delight, my sweet hubby had ordered a stack of books recommended for writers! Among them was Bird by Bird by Ann Lamott. And so I had just read and underlined these words:

“One of the gifts of being a writer is that it gives you an excuse to do things,
to go places and explore.”

“I’m a writer”. I had only recently mustered the courage to make that declaration and in the moment I felt a fresh determination to walk in that. I took the exit and navigated to the tiny, unassuming farm.

frost-home-window

I shivered as I exited the car and approached the barn. A lone man sat just inside. After greeting me, he quietly waited as I explored the artifacts and books displayed.

“Would you like to view the video and tour the home?” I hesitated only a moment. Writing was a great excuse to explore this place that had inspired Frost to write. For the next half hour, I settled under an afghan on a rough wooden bench and watched a poor quality film about the life of one of America’s most beloved poets.

I toured the home; the simple farmhouse was anything but inspiring, but as I peeked out windows and imagined life there in the early 1900’s, I realized that inspiration comes in the ordinary moments of everyday life.

I purchased a small paperback collection of Frost’s poems, said goodbye to my tour guide and walked the grounds, collecting damp leaves as I wandered. The question hung in my heart and mind. “What am I doing here?”

There was small stone wall; I stopped to rest a bit despite the chill. Opening the small book, I found Frost’s famous words:

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I —
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.[i]

Frost’s reference to a road less traveled reminded me of the words of another who had this to say about choosing a path:

Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road
that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.

But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life,
and only a few find it. ~ Jesus, Matthew 7:13-14

That chilly afternoon, I realized that I choose a path every day.

The wide road is so appealing. I want easy. I long for wide lanes and smooth terrain. I stand at the fork and want to choose for my comfort, for my peace and for my convenience. Me, me, me.

fall-leaves

I lingered for a bit, considering the week before me. It was not the road I wanted to choose. It was hard; it was unfamiliar and uncomfortable. But it was ordained. It would stretch me and at the end of it, I would be spent. And that is exactly the way I long to live: poured out and used up for the reasons I am alive – to love God and to share his love with others.

I stood and walked back to the car, my steps lighter. I breathed the autumn air deeply and paused again to look back at the homestead.

It was going to be a great week. I was sure of it.

Navigating the road less traveled,

lorraine

[i] The Road Not Taken, by Robert Frost

 

Are  you looking for a safe place to seek encouragement?

Hopelively is a private community for women desiring to find and keep their Hope. For women seeking encouragement in their wellness pursuits or recovering from loss. Our goal is to promote a spirit of hope in the midst of struggles, both physical and spiritual.

Find us on Facebook.

Administrators: 

Jami Amerine of Sacred Ground Sticky Floors,

Lorraine Reep of Grace and Graffiti,

Rebecca Huff of ThatOrganicMom 

hopelively-admins

Learning to Love My Scars

Standard
Learning to Love My Scars

“Scars have the strange power to remind us that our past is real.”
Cormac McCarthy, All the Pretty Horses

It was in the early 1960’s that my aunt and uncle and their daughter, my beautiful cousin, came to visit our big family in Florida. At the time, there were probably five of us. Two rambunctious older brothers inspired my younger sister and I to run and jump and test our limits.

There was a three by five foot step at the front door of our home with a cement patio surround. Our house was situated on a corner lot – there were no neighbors directly behind the house. A right of way for power lines towered high above the wide strip of land that my parents referred to as “the field”. Even with all of that space to roam and play, we spent hours in the front yard.

That step was a perfect place to hone (and test) our jumping skills. We set goals to leap higher and longer and never once thought about the consequences of falling on our faces and losing a tooth or worse.

I don’t remember the details, but I remember the reaction. Cousin Jan fell and skinned her knee. She was appropriately upset by the sight of her own blood and her mom and dad (as all moms and dads do with their first child) rushed to scoop up their one and only. I was nervous and anxious because I’d never seen that sort of reaction to a skinned knee. Most of ours were not reported and typically discovered during bath time when the washrag lathered with dial soap found the spot and the victim yelped.

I had never heard about scars, but quickly realized they were a big concern. It was her first skin injury; her parents were worried that she would have a scar. I didn’t know much about scars, but it seemed like a really bad outcome.

***********************************

The phone just rang. I knew by the caller id that it was my dermatologist’s office; the call was expected. Several days ago they scooped flesh from six spots on various parts of my body for biopsies. I surrendered to the procedure with routine dread, knowing too well that delaying the process only makes matters worse.

Three of the six were nothing – benign something or others and whatever. Get to the others, I thought to myself as I rifled through my bag, looking for a pen and paper. One is a basal cell carcinoma. Surgery required, she said. Frozen section, so plan to stay with us all morning, she said.

The other two, squamous cell, but thin so we can “just” treat them with Efudex. The mean cream is the pet name they’ve given it. It’s a topical chemo that slowly kills the cancer cells until the area is angry; red, oozing and painful. Awesome. I scheduled the surgery and turned back to my work.

I couldn’t really focus though. I kept thinking about having yet another surgery scar on my chest. A tear threatened to escape and I scolded myself. “You just heard about a friend’s loved one with a terminal cancer diagnosis – this is nothing! Get some perspective!” (I’m so much kinder to others than to myself at times.)

post-op-patchesIn late October I had the most invasive surgery yet. MOHS surgery removed the skin cancer and left a hole in my face the size of a quarter. Following the excision, another surgeon grafted skin from my shoulder to make a patch to cover the hole. The process was traumatic, but it’s over. I need only glance in the mirror for a reminder to wear my sunscreen. That one has been hard to love.

Scars. They mark our bodies with the evidence of a wound.

But what if I look at that with a new perspective? Every scar is also evidence of healing. The hurt place is again whole.

Scars are evidence that we have lived. They are beautiful because they give hope of healing. Scars don’t form on the dead.

When Jesus appeared to the disciples after his resurrection he willingly showed his scars. He was recognized by them because they were evidence of his humanity.

Do you have a scar that is bothering you? He is wild about you, dear one. Settle into him and let him whisper to you the beauty that he wants to place in your heart.

“Now listen, daughter, don’t miss a word:
    forget your country, put your home behind you.
Be here—the king is wild for you.”
Psalm 45: 11

christy

Just one day after MOHS surgery, I met Christy for the first time. A great blogger friend and beautiful woman, she reassured me of my only unfading beauty – the work that He is doing in me.

 

May you always know you are beautiful,

lorraine

 Please visit and “like” the Grace and Graffiti Facebook page here.

And remember, it’s nice to share with your Facebook friends!  

I’m reading this amazing book and I think you would love it as well. Use the link below to preorder it today!

Paperback3DTemplates_5.5x8.5.indd

About the book, Fear Fighting, Awakening the Courage to Overcome Your Fears:

Author and Speaker, Kelly Balarie didn’t always fight fear – for a large part of her life, she was controlled by it. Yet, in her book, Fear Fighting: Awakening Courage to Overcome Your Fears, with God, Kelly charts a new course. Join Kelly, on the journey to go and grow with Christ’s bravery, the Spirit’s counsel and God’s unending love that squelches fear. This book reads like a love letter from God, while offering practical heart-calming prayers, anxiety-reducing tips, and courage-building decrees that will transform your day.

 

About Kelly Balarie:

Kelly is both a Cheerleader of Faith and a Fighter of Fear. She leans on the power of God, rests on the shoulder of Christ, and discovers how to glow in the dark places of life. Get all Kelly’s blog posts by email or visit her on her blog, Purposeful Faith. You can also find a variety of resources for your fight against fear at http://www.fearfightingbook.com/.

 

 

Proceed to the Route

Standard
Proceed to the Route

The sun was already low on the horizon as I choked back tears and hugged her. I had something I wanted to say but I knew that with one word would come a torrent of sobs. The last thing I wanted to do was make this more difficult.

I closed the car door and backed along the fence line. Through tears I drove away. “Call Mike on mobile” I sobbed to my car. The hands free feature dutifully dialed my husband and I poured out my heart as I drove along the now familiar highway.

It had been a week since I arrived, ready to relieve Nana for a few days. Momma was at the hospital hours away, attending to the newest arrival. With six children at home, she called for help.

But now Momma was home with the baby and things were settling into the new normal. It was time for me to go.

The heart is complicated. It can be so divided at times. I desperately wanted and even needed to get home. My job was waiting; my hubby had endured back to back absences during a recent business trip and this week with the grands. It was time to go, and yet my heart longed to stay.

And to further question my desire to stay, it had been a tough week. I have a new respect for moms of big families, especially when there are lots of littles.

I had barely arrived when a stomach virus struck. Each night, a different child woke with cries of “I frew up”. Showers, linens changed and comfort doled out, I collapsed on the air mattress in the boy’s room and dared the guinea pigs to wake me with their nocturnal shenanigans.

Every day, before first light, the house was awake with sounds of children. J was in his bed, reciting his schedule for the day and using every word in his vocabulary. Keep talking little buddy…I need coffee. Sweet EB was already standing in her crib, clutching her comforter, pillow and a stuffed Minnie Mouse larger than her. I put my arms around the bundle and went to the kitchen urging her to whisper, a skill she has not yet mastered.

As I walked through the living room, there sat G – completely dressed, including his newsboy hat. A “man” of few words, he gave me a nod as I passed. By now I could hear E calling from his crib. He and his sister would want their milk and Miss P, the only one with a schedule to keep, was still deep in her princess sleep. The oldest of the lot was sleeping soundly, a tween getting his growth sleep.

I pray we made some good memories. I have some great ones and I also was reminded of life with littles.

Toddlers must be fed but won’t necessarily eat.

When you hear a toddler say “Bye, Bye Puppy” you’d better run for the gate.

I discovered that a four-year-old can, in fact, give himself a toilet swirly.

A puppy can chew up a shoe faster than you can say Amazon Prime.

When a child says “all done” it might mean:

  1.  I want a cookie
  2.  I want down but if you throw this away I’ll be back in five minutes demanding it or
  3.  Stand back, I’m about to hurl.

There is nothing like burying your face in the tiny curls of a grandchild, even in the middle of the night when you are desperate for rest. I knew that my days there were few and I made a point of enjoying those moments.

I also caught myself hollering. A lot. At the dog, at the child who was feeding his dinner to the dog, at the pair of vandals who found the one and only stray marker and were about to deface the walls of the living room.

I think you get the idea. Even when the Momma returned home, this mother’s heart was drawn to help. I truly wanted to be in two places at once.

As I poured my heart out and drove up the highway, I began to notice informational signs that were completely foreign to me. The cities listed were not in the direction of home. My sweet husband gently suggested I might be going the wrong way.

I hung up and opened the Maps app on my iPhone. I had made this drive many times during my daughter’s college years. How could I be lost?

navigation-1048294_1280

I typed our home address in the app and started again. As I did, nothing looked right to me. My internal compass continued to indicate that I was headed the wrong direction. The GPS? I stared at the blue dot and all that I could discern was my current location. That was not helpful! I could look around and know where I was. The obvious question was how do I get to where I want to be???

I turned the car around and immediately, my Australian navigator said “Proceed to the route”. Through tears, I shouted at him “I can’t see the route! Why doesn’t this thing show me a bigger picture?”

I couldn’t get my bearings. I knew the direction of home and I was sitting on the side of the right road. All that I needed to do was get on that highway and drive south, but when I did the landscape wasn’t familiar. I had clearly lost my bearings and my instincts were failing me.

After an hour of driving in circles, I gave in. Over and over, the familiar voice had repeated “Proceed to the route”. I needed to listen to that voice. I finally put all of my faith and trust in the satellite that could see me, even when I had no idea where I was.

I proceeded to the route and eventually I recognized familiar landmarks. I was on my way home.

The next day when I was less stressed and more rested, I understood where I had gone wrong. I had started my drive at the north end of the city; all of those other times I was south of town when I started home.

My heart quickened a bit as I thought of how often I look around and decide that I know exactly what I need to do next. I press on, even when God’s voice is clear. “Proceed to the route.” But Lord, I say, none of this looks or feels right to me. I am sure that I know the right way to go.

I proceed to go in circles, wasting time and resources, only to finally stop and choose to listen and follow his lead.

Oh Lord, when I get anxious and go in the wrong direction, nudge me until I proceed to the route that leads me to your best. Thank you for the assurance that you never lose track of me.

Where can I go to get away from your Spirit?
Where can I run from you?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there.
If I lie down in the grave, you are there.
If I rise with the sun in the east and settle in the west beyond the sea,
even there you would guide me.
With your right hand you would hold me.
Psalm 139:7-10 NCV

Proceeding by grace,

lorraine

Modern Day Folk Tales and  The Day God Said Pizza

Standard
Modern Day Folk Tales and  The Day God Said Pizza

I’m thrilled to welcome my cousin, Julia (always Julie to me) Brown, to the blog this week. Julie and I sat with our paternal grandmother as she read The Little Red Hen from the Golden Book illustrated by J. P. Miller, it’s lessons of responsibility and consequences gently but securely rooted in our young character. All these years later we find ourselves coming from different directions, but with the same moral burden for the children who are at risk.

She recently shared this sequel to the original tale and it resonated with me. What are we, the evangelical right doing to support the women who have chosen life. Are we pro-life or simply pro-birth?

There’s An Egg in My Barnyard

One day an out of town hen arrived in the barnyard, laid an egg, and then just left. The animals all stood around looking at the egg, trying to figure out what to do, as it was soon going to hatch.

Some of them teamed up and made signs saying “Leaving eggs in the barnyard is a sin! Immoral Hens Will Not Be Tolerated!!”. That kept them super busy and they clustered far away from the egg to discuss the bad hen’s sure descent into hell.

Some formed a club to promote the idea of each individual chicken being responsible and accountable for himself and the dependent members of his own family. They knew if that were true there would be no future eggs in the barnyard, and they were right.

But the egg still sat in the barnyard.

Some said, “Just break the egg now; that will end the problem”.

There ensued a vehement battle between animals for and against the idea, but the egg still sat in the barnyard.

Some of the animals just sat in front of the barnyard TV with remotes in hand, farting into the couch cushions and watching reality shows about slutty hens.

The Little Red Hen, whose name by the way was Elizabeth, took the egg home and sat on it. When it hatched, she taught the little chick what to do.

She loved it so it would be well adjusted and happy. She taught it right from wrong so the little chick could grow into a fine grownup chicken who would contribute to the barnyard community.

While all this was happening there were several other animals that were concerned, and could see the groups that were forming weren’t really addressing the IMMEDIATE issue of the egg in the barnyard.

For one reason or another, they weren’t able to take the little egg in, and they knew The Little Red Hen was carrying a heavy burden they should share.

So they chipped in as often as they possibly could and helped, and the little chick grew into a fine grownup chicken.

Moral of the story: There’s an egg in your barnyard; help.

THE END

Perhaps this story has you wondering about your role in the life of the egg in your barnyard. You might enjoy this post about ways to help foster families in your area.

Last week I had a Facebook message from a sweet girl who grew up with my daughter. She asked about how she might help them, in the midst of a particularly trying situation with a foster baby.

She wrote: “Hey, I keep thinking about Elizabeth and her family and I feel like God is leading me to send pizza. Pizza, seriously? My desire this year is to focus on listening and obeying so here I am…”

A few hours later, Elizabeth called with a report on the day. She casually mentioned that it would have to be a – wait for it – pizza night at their house. She was just too tired and too late returning home to cook.

Imagine the sweet friends joy when she realized that she had, in fact, heard God say “Pizza”.

By his grace caring for the eggs in my barnyard,

lorraine

 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.
James 1:27

More about Julia:

julie

Julia Brown is a recent retiree, after having spent most of her career as an executive administrative assistant in the corporate world and the last 13 at a local police agency. In her retirement, she has arbitrarily decided she is a textile artist and has several art quilts in various stages at this writing. She lives in a 215 square foot camper in the western North Carolina mountains with her husband and her sewing machine, while they build their retirement home. She has been so moved by Lorraine’s account of her daughter’s life as a foster parent, she decided to add one more title to her name, that of foster parent advocate. While she says she can’t move mountains, she can carry a handful of sand at a time.

 

 

Sock Monkey for President

Standard
Sock Monkey for President

I registered to vote within a week of turning eighteen. I would have done it on my birthday, but I had another event…I got married. As my mother would say, we didn’t have two nickels to rub together, so we didn’t go away on a honeymoon trip. After the wedding reception my new husband and I traveled the short distance to our single wide, fifty-foot-long mobile home. We spent the week getting better acquainted with each other (if you know what I mean) and occasionally venturing out to take care of married adult person responsibilities.

One afternoon in particular we drove to the local courthouse where I could change my legal name. I had a learner’s permit to drive and a social security card. That’s right. I was married and not yet legal to drive a car by myself. ‘Merica.

lighthouse-maine_karen

Maine Lighthouse – Photography Credit Karen Slabaugh

 

I have a terrible memory. While my sister remembers our childhood in great detail, I remember the address of my only childhood home and the name of the schools I attended. I don’t even recall the names of every teacher from elementary school. But there are monumental occasions that were imprinted on my heart and therefore, my mind.

amish-horses

Working  Horses on Amish Farm – Grabill, Indiana

 

One of those is standing at that counter with my new husband. We wanted to vote in the presidential election of 1972. It was a big deal.

mt-ranier_jamie

Mt. Ranier, Washington – Photography Credit Jamie Dedmon

 

Of course, when registering to vote, one must declare a party affiliation. We looked at each other and without any discussion, chose Republican. I would love to tell you about how we researched the tenets of the party, but the truth was that our parents were Democrats. It was about as rebellious as we ever got. ‘Merica.

fireworks_karen

Fireworks ‘Merica – Photography Ctedit Karen Slabaugh

 

 

As it turns out, our conservative views aligned with the party for most of our forty-three years as voting citizens of the United States of America. We didn’t always vote for the Republican candidate – in the spirit of full disclosure, I was party to electing Jimmy Carter because he was a Southern Baptist. ‘Merica.

grabill-storefron

I’ve been at this “adulting” thing for a long time and I like to believe I’ve matured It’s been a long time since I made important decisions based solely on rebellion. But it’s 2016 and this election cycle is the scariest, most absurd circus I have ever experienced. I can’t be the only one who wants to write in the sock monkey.

sock-monkey

 

 

I will not. I am going to be responsible and I’m going to cast a vote for the person who I am slightly less afraid of than the other. ‘Merica

amish-buggy

And then I will turn to the only One I absolutely trust; I will ask for mercy for myself and for our country. I will walk in faith, not fear, believing with all of my heart that He has this. His eternal plan has little to do with the Office of the President. I am a child of the King and my eternity is secure.

For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him.
He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortresss; I shall not be shaken.
On God rests my salvation and my glory; my mighty rock, my refuge is in God.
Trust in him at all times, O people, pour out your heart before him;
God is a refuge for us. Selah.  ~ Psalm 62:5-8

Grace upon grace,

 lorraine

I Had an Out of Body Experience Last Sunday

Standard
I Had an Out of Body Experience Last Sunday

pause

We were exhausted from three full days of moving and packing, but it was Sunday morning. We might have been tempted to skip church, but we had to check out of the hotel and the house was hardly relaxing, filled with moving boxes begging to be unpacked. There was also the minor detail of this being our son-in-law’s first official Sunday on staff. There was never a doubt that we would go to church.

We joined others as they came from classes and streamed from the humidity of the parking lot to the cool sanctuary. The bright room was filled with people greeting one another and settling into their seats.

We chose a spot about a third of the way from the front and our twelve-year-old grandson joined us. I finally exhaled, thankful for this pause in the midst of a very busy few days. I pulled him closer; I had to quietly admit to my Father that this grandma’s heart was anxious over all of this change and its impact, especially on my precious grandchildren.

The room was full of people who were mostly strangers to us. While the worship style was familiar and comforting, it was not what we are accustomed to.

And yet, as we sang hymns of the faith, my heart was full. I was able to set aside my mental list of tasks and goals and enter into genuine worship.

I was out of my normal “body” but it was good. It was as if God underscored his promise to prepare the way for his children.

“It is the LORD who goes before you. He will be with you;
he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”
Deuteronomy 31:8 ESV

 

Are you dealing with change today? Are there circumstances that have brought you to physical and/or mental exhaustion? Perhaps a pause, the one thing you have no time for, is the very thing you most need. Get still, and listen. Then share with me what He speaks to your heart, will you?

In need of more grace every day,

lorraine

 

 notdesigner.blogspot.com_logo_facebookPlease visit and “like” the Grace and Graffiti Facebook page here.

And remember, it’s nice to share with your Facebook friends!  Thanks!

I’m Way Too Busy for You!

Standard
I’m Way Too Busy for You!

friends-775356_1920

Don’t you just love it when you ask someone how they are and they quickly respond “Busy!”? There are times that I walk away from that person, feeling that I’ve been an unwelcome distraction from the important stuff that just lagged behind because they slowed a bit to respond to my question.

I absolutely understand that often people are truly busy. Everyone has a lot going on.

I have some little grandchildren who are BUSY. On a recent visit I followed one toddling little munchkin along a trail of pint sized clothing to find that he had opened a dresser drawer and was methodically removing all of the carefully laundered, folded and matched up tops and bottoms and scattering them about the house.

I tried, to no avail, to interest him in play with age-appropriate, entertaining toys. He preferred running amuck and creating havoc. He is the cutest little mess and I love him!

Ellie and Eli

As I’ve thought about my penchant for overscheduling, overcommitting and overextending, I keep going back to that toddler’s mess. I wonder if that is how my life looks to my heavenly father as he observes me dashing from one thing to another rather than settling down and allowing him to lead me into worthwhile, enjoyable activity. Thankfully, he loves me!

But wait, people who are making a difference, people who are movers and shakers are busy, right? Perhaps, but I’m learning that the people I admire, people who accomplish much, are avoiding busyness – they are taming the beast with intentional planning.

Reaching this stage of life is no joke, friends. There is an undeniable reality; life is now fleeting. Nearly every week we hear news of someone we know who has passed into eternity. This verse is speaking to me, bringing me to a place of longing for God’s plan for every day, so much more than my own:

Oh! Teach us to live well! Teach us to live wisely and well! – Psalm 90:12 MSG

So, I’ve been paying attention to smart, Godly people when they speak about time management. I’m searching Scripture. I want to know that I am ready for the next thing, especially if the next thing is meeting Jesus.

Here are four things I’m doing to make sure busyness doesn’t rule my life:

  • Plan. Count the cost, for every yes is a no to something else.

    “For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it?” ~ Luke 14:28 ESV

    I’ve found that a planner is a great visual; it is easy to see when the squares are filling up and spilling over into each other. I use washi tape and markers emphasize the important days and events, the time that is sacred to me and/or the ones I love. I find myself protecting it, drawing actual borders around those hours and days. Make dates for happiness and keep them.

  • Build margin into your planning. Make room for the unexpected, the divine encounters.

    “We plan the way we want to live, but only God makes us able to live it.”.~ Prov 16:9 MSG

    When every square is full there is little opportunity for spontaneity. I don’t want to be an inhospitable, unapproachable busy person who doesn’t have time for people.

  • Establish priorities. While some priorities are set (God, Family, Work) the way that we manage them is fluid. Different seasons of life may change your time allocation to each.

    “There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens…” ~ Eccl 3:1 ESV

    What are your goals?
    Make sure that you have time set aside to work toward them. Write that list of books you want to read this year in the margin of your planner. List the steps required to reach those ambitious goals. You will do it!
  • Establish an inner circle of friends. Are there so many people texting you that you lose track and don’t respond? Have you offended someone close to you because you just didn’t have time for them?

    Consider this. The Lord himself invested himself personally in just twelve others. He narrowed that even more to an inner circle of three who were there for him in his darkest hour.

    “Taking along Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he plunged into an agonizing sorrow. Then he said, “This sorrow is crushing my life out. Stay here and keep vigil with me.” ~ Matt 26:37-38 MSG

    I’m focused on building meaningful relationships with a few. I will be a better friend and will have dear friends to walk with me through the most difficult days. Influence many, but invest in a few ~ that is the example of Christ.

Time is the one of the few resources that is equally granted to each of us. When the master comes, will he be pleased with the way that I invested mine or disappointed in my foolish spending?

Only by the MARVELOUS grace of God,

lorraine


 notdesigner.blogspot.com_logo_facebookPlease visit and “like” the Grace and Graffiti Facebook page here.

And remember, it’s nice to share with your Facebook friends!  Thanks!