Fear fighting: Are You a People Pleaser?

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Fear fighting: Are You a People Pleaser?

I’m thrilled to welcome my sweet friend Kelly Balarie to Grace and Graffiti. Kelly chose the post that would appear on this page, and as I opened the files and began to post them, I was overwhelmed by God’s goodness. 

The sting is fresh. Last week I was criticized and it felt so personal. God knows I want to be brave, but deep in my heart, he also knows that I struggle with a desire to please people. Oh, thank you Father! You see the hearts of your children and you call us to be your servants; your burden is easy and your yoke is light.

Let Kelly’s words wash over you, friends. I am deep into her book and recommend that you gift yourself and a friend with a copy this beautiful Christmas season. Joy!

 

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God told me to pray with all my heart. So, I did. I don’t think they liked it very much.

 

I think they had thoughts about it. Opinions. Perspectives. Perceptions.

 

Ouch!

 

What do you do when God prompts your heart, but man judges it? They may not say it. They may not whisper it. They may not even admit it, but somehow you know, under the cover of their Christian guise it brews. What do you do with that?

 

This is what I’ve been considering. Do I take care of man or do I take care to follow God’s lead?

 

There’s risk, big risk, in following God. Moving outside norms, beyond bounds or having an air of “different” can feel like a punishment waiting to happen.  It can feel like you’re letting people down. It can feel like their charge over you marks you condemned.

 

Even more, the fear of being judged, ostracized or talked about behind your back – is real. It is really real. Even worse, in some cases, it is likely to happen. Add that to the enemy, who spits out ugly words, like: “Bad child, you are messing things up and stirring up problems,” and, at this point, you can be thrown into the sea of doubt, in a split-second.

 

Still, I want to do what is right by God, don’t you? I want to live for Him – first. I want to answer to Him – above all. I want to be like Christ – in every way.

 

God knows, I want to be brave. I think he sees my heart. So, like a gracious father, He leads me, his child, to truth; He brings me to these words:

 

Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ. Gal. 1:10

 

I can either with the approval of man. It’s fleeting and tiring.

Or, I can win the approval of God. It’s enduring and up building.

 

I can either please people. It’s short-lived and peace-depleting.

Or, I can serve Christ. It’s long-lasting and peace-giving.

 

What man gives today, is gone tomorrow. What you put in to satiating him, is eaten up by his desires for more – the next day. However, the will of God, does not waver. It does not grow old. It does not change course. It has a destination. There, lives joy, His glory and grand purpose.

 

Will we push into it? We can’t do it if we are sitting on man’s lap and eating up the delight of his face of approval. Jesus didn’t get a face of approval on the cross. His on-fire pursuit of doing God’s appeared nuts to man. It appeared worthy of their highest condemnation.

 

Still, Jesus didn’t change course. He stood fast to his belief in what his Father had called him to. He walked the road assigned to him, anyway.

 

What road do you need to walk anyway? What person’s demands do you need to release? What calling of love do you need to pursue?

 

Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me. Jo. 12:26

 

Paperback3DTemplates_5.5x8.5.inddAbout 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.

 

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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

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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?

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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

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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:

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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.

 

 

A Little Coffee and A Lot of Jesus

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A Little Coffee and A Lot of Jesus

 

The coffee pot was sputtering and the smell of the rich brew was beginning to fill the house. The temptation to pour a cup was only slightly overcome by the urgency of a deadline nearly met. I tapped at the keyboard, finishing the email and clicked the send button. The familiar swoosh was the horn that signaled break time.

There was a tap at the back door; I shifted the laptop and rose to greet my expected guest. As I did, I remembered that she introduced me to the joy that is drinking coffee.

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More than forty years ago, I sat at her kitchen table. “I was about to make William and I a spot of coffee”. I had never learned to drink the stuff, but I added lots of sugar and cream and it became part of our ritual.

I certainly was around coffee all of my life. I have vivid memories of holding my mother’s tupperware-pitchercoffee as she drove us to the junior high school. The plastic two cup measuring cup, made by Tupperware, was likely the largest container she could find. It was way before the days of travel mugs, and it sure didn’t have a cute monogram, but it was mostly functional. I loved the smell of her coffee, although in retrospect I know it was mixed with smoke from her Pall Mall cigarette. I suppose it would have been nearly impossible to drive with an open spouted measuring cup brimming with coffee and a cigarette. I’m forever grateful that she chose to have me hold the coffee.

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I opened the door and there she stood. Slightly bent and already apologizing for interrupting. “I have been looking forward to this! It’s my lunch break – come in and sit. The coffee is on” I responded.

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We were a young couple they knew from church. It didn’t take long for us to figure out that they were the sort of folks who always had an open door. While he taught my young husband to finish drywall, I often popped in to see her. She made the best bologna sandwiches and I was a young mom who loved being served, even just a simple sandwich.

She moved around her kitchen with the fluid motion of a dancer; it seemed that she truly enjoyed serving her family and friends.

I watched her deal with a rebellious teenager, which was a terrifying thought to my young mom heart. I learned about adding another potato to the pot to stretch a meal for unexpected guests. She was always matter of fact; it is what it is, she would day.

In hindsight, we always stayed too long but they never let on. When the evening began to wane, she would always say “You don’t have to leave – we’ll hang you on a nail!” They were kind and hospitable; they loved Jesus and we knew for sure they loved us.

As our family grew we spent less time hanging out at their house, but we always remembered (at times a bit sheepishly) their kindness and patience in dealing with our immaturity in life and matters of faith.

When our nest was empty, we began reaching out to young married couples; the value of investing in the next generation had been modeled for us. While times had changed the basics were the same; open doors, food and freedom to share were all that was needed to fill a living room with couples.

♥ ♥ ♥

I pour the coffee; hers black and steaming hot, mine still laden with cream and sugar. She settles in at the table and we chat for a bit about books and crafts. She never arrives empty-handed. She always has something to share, whether it is the “other half” of a loaf of bread or a treasured knick-knack that “just looked like you”.

She’s a widow now; she’s buried a son and today she lives half a mile from my house. I marvel at God’s grace; the gift he has given us to celebrate the relationship that started at a kitchen table over a cup of Folger’s coffee all those years ago.

I love to sit across from a woman who has traveled the road ahead of me. Our conversation always shifts to God’s faithfulness. We confess our frustrations and fears and there are sometimes tears. Unwavering faith in God and his sovereignty does not remove the sting of loss or the heartache of disappointment, but there is great comfort in shared burdens and joys.

He built us for relationship; it is in the communion of our hearts that we remind one another of his promises and his faithfulness. Who has invested in your life? And where, my friend, are you investing in the next generation?

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So even to old age and gray hairs, O God, do not forsake me, until I proclaim your might to another generation, your power to all those to come. Psalm 71:18 ESV

Grace to you,

lorraine

 

 

 

 

 

 

Six Things I Learned About Cell Phones

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Six Things I Learned About Cell Phones

We recently took an eleven hundred-mile road trip to the land of my birth, Indiana. We were there to attend a wedding; we hadn’t seen most of our family there in two years.

On Friday night we gathered at a pond on a nearby farm for a picnic dinner. I popped up every few minutes to snap successive shots of the sunset with my phone as it colored the darkening sky.

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Later, as we all sat visiting, I frequently checked Facebook, email, Messenger and What’s App.

We returned to our home away from home and I gathered a few of my belongings before heading upstairs to bed. As I did, I stuck my phone in the back pocket of my jeans.

Upstairs, I began to prepare for bed and backed up to the toilet. As I lowered the jeans I heard a splash. Nooooooo!!!!! I quickly turned and fished my iPhone out of its porcelain bath. I wanted to dial Apple 911 but my phone was wet! I grabbed my iPad and turned to the internet for advice.

I had already made a wet phone mistake (apparently I should not have powered it off – don’t even ask why I thought that was a good idea). Google “wet iPhone”. You will find all sorts of conflicting advice. Don’t judge.

After shaking water from its few orifices I put my beloved device in a plastic container surrounded by wild and brown rice, supplied by my gracious hostess. She’s obviously more into gourmet cooking than saving phones, but it was rice. The google people mostly agreed it was the best thing to do.

I crawled into bed with my iPad. I discovered even more advice, suggesting that you should NEVER put your phone in rice because the rice kernels are the perfect size to infiltrate the headphone jack and charging port. I jumped out of bed, fished my phone out of the rice, and carefully wrapped its vulnerable lower regions in a tissue after examining them closely for evidence of rice violation.

Finally, when I felt I had done everything possible, I slept.

In the light of the new day, my sweet cousin remembered a stash of white rice she used for weighing pie crusts while they bake. I gently lifted the phone, with its protective sheath, from the brown rice and placed it carefully into the white rice. I was confident I was taking every measure to ensure it would dry out safely. I didn’t even consider attempting to power it up. I would wait forty-eight hours, like the good people of Google mostly recommend.

Thankfully my husband had his phone, so we still had Siri to guide us as we traveled to visit a friend and later to the wedding. We returned home late that evening, and I paused as I passed by the rice filled resting place and resisted the urge to test my phone. Forty-eight hours. Show some restraint, woman.

Sunday evening, as we headed to bed, hubby suggested I might check my phone – we had reached the magical forty-eight-hour mark. Thinking about the late hour and hoping the phone gods would take note and reward my self-control, I decided a few more hours nestled in rice would be an unselfish act on my part. I left it alone.

Monday morning dawned. I was optimistic. I had done everything the Google people told me and I took my beautiful rose iPhone 6s from its rice bed. I tried to power it up; nothing. I plugged it into the charger, thinking perhaps the battery was low. Nothing.

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Not one to give up, I found a guy, a guy who had resurrection power. Well, sort of. Like maybe a 50/50 chance he could revive my precious phone for a cost of around $300. I didn’t like the odds. It was approximately noon on Monday, September 19th when we called it. My phone was dead by drowning.

We talked about arranging to replace my phone but oddly, I was not in a panicked rush. Weird, right? Once I got over the “I am so disconnected” anxiety I moved into the freedom of it. I missed my phone, but I could wait.

Saturday morning, just over a week after my phone took the plunge, I had a replacement in my hands. Thanks to faithfully backing up to the cloud, I was able to restore all of my data and lost only a few pictures from that fateful Friday.

I’m not one to make an expensive mistake in vain. I’ve learned a few things that are worthy of sharing:

    • Never, ever, again will I put my phone in my back pocket.
    • Not everything you read on Google is accurate (as if).
    • My stress dials back significantly when I have some distance from my phone.
    • I should use settings to reduce the number and volume of alerts.
    • 75% of what is on my Facebook feed is drivel
    • Never be a smarty pants about your unblemished phone. “First pride, then the crash- the bigger the ego, the harder the fall.” (Proverbs 16:18)

 

In addition to all of that, I recognized the value of stepping away for bits of time.

I’m weary in spite of getting plenty of sleep. I finally understand it’s not sleep that my body longs for; rather it needs restful periods of quiet reflection; moments to listen and focus on my heart and His voice.

Rest is something to be surrendered to, to embrace. It is not a luxury but it does have great value. Spending my spare moments immersed in social media is akin to trading the harmonious notes of a symphony for the scraping of nails on a chalkboard.

I’m trying. The problem is real – I find myself reaching for my phone like a two pack a day smoker reaches for cigarettes. I’m committed to making the better choice; for my soul and for my relationships.

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Share with me in the comments how you manage addiction to devices. I’d love to hear from you!

Return, O my soul, to your rest; for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you. ~ Psalm 116:7

 Grace upon grace,

lorraine

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Heaven Wouldn’t Wait for Her

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Heaven Wouldn’t Wait for Her

Every day, without fail, I talked to her. One or the other of us made the call, and never once did I consider that she might be bothered or too busy to talk to me. Our conversations were as natural as breathing. We looked forward to them.

If one of us needed to run to Wal-Mart after the kids were in bed, we called, already knowing that the other would watch for headlights and run out the side door and into the waiting car. It didn’t matter that our homes were not on the way to the ultimate destination.

Our children were best friends. Our husbands loved being together. When someone saw one of us without the other, the immediate question was “Where’s your twin?” We double-dated every Saturday night and took turns hosting Sunday night suppers after church.

I was crafty and creative; she was creative and practical. I was quick to panic and she always had a calm and confident response. I was raised by a mid-western farmer’s daughter; her parents were from the South. She taught me to cook fresh fried okra and for that alone my family is forever indebted to her. Together we learned to make something out of nothing – we could decorate the fellowship hall with a box of random scraps of fake greenery and ribbons (it was the 80’s – pre-Pinterest, okay?).

We shared our love of diet Pepsi and Almond Joy bars, Hardee’s biscuits and gravy and Chinese food. We both shopped right up until Christmas eve and wrapped gifts until just before dawn on Christmas morning.

But something happened at church. My family left and it wasn’t nice and neat; it certainly wasn’t pretty. In fact, it was the most difficult event of my life to that date. As with most fractured relationships, there was a ripple that went out from the epicenter of separation.

The fallout changed the amount of time we spent together. Too many fingers of relationships in that place couldn’t be untangled. And the thing that we had most in common – church – was no longer ours.

Our lives were more separate, but always along parallel lines. She had time to develop deeper relationships with some amazing women in her circle and I had a lot of healing to do from the brutality of the breakup with the church we had attended our entire married life.

When she told me her diagnosis I was sure it couldn’t be true. Cancer couldn’t happen to someone as pure as her. I prayed, certain that God was going to show himself mighty in her healing. I claimed a verse. I laminated it on a bookmark with a beautiful autumn leaf I found along a path on the way up to Chimney Rock and I gave it to her. It was a bold step of faith, but one I had to take for my dear friend.

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And then I watched cancer and the harsh treatments ravage her body. I sat by the bed where she lay dying in her parent’s home, silently praying as Judge Judy meted out justice on the television. I prayed and asked Jesus to make this right, to mete out some justice for my dear friend.

The call came early one evening; I remember sitting in the living room of a house we were renting; being strangely surprised and not at all surprised at the same time. I was not a stranger to grief, but I was overwhelmed by it; I was glad when they said I could come see her once more.

Her face was no longer distorted by pain. She looked peaceful and serene, the Sandy that I had known and loved. I told her that I loved her. I said the things that I had been afraid to say before, afraid she would think I had given up. I knew as sure as I was standing there she was in the presence of Jesus. She was finally healed and she was walking among the truly living, in a place where there is no more dying.

It’s been sixteen years since my dear friend left her body behind and joined the saints in Glory. There are so many days that I miss her, but I’ve learned to listen for her. When I get still, when I stop overloading my senses with information and noise, I consider what she would say.

“It’s going to be okay. We don’t need stress over this; we just need to do what we can with what we have and it will be good. And we are going to have fun doing it! Now, I’m thirsty – let’s grab a drink!”

I love you, Sandy. Happy birthday! I hope that you are enjoying heavens equivalent of candy corn, Pepsi (because who diets in heaven?) and Southern cooking. One of these days, I’m coming, so watch for the headlights and meet me at the side door okay? You can show me around.

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This is one of my favorites of us!

 

By his grace we carry on,

lorraine

 

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Sock Monkey for President

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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

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I Had an Out of Body Experience Last Sunday

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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

 

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I’m Way Too Busy for You!

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I’m Way Too Busy for You!

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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


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Sometimes I Cry in My Bed

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Sometimes I Cry in My Bed

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We sat talking in the early moments of the day. She snuggled up with me, still in her princess jammies, her long hair falling softly around her face. She said she heard her younger brother crying in the night, as their rooms share a wall.

I told her that Grandpa and I visited often when she was a baby, and we slept in the room now occupied by him. We always heard her cry for the infamous 2 a.m. feeding. She smiled and snuggled a little closer.

She looked up at me with her clear blue eyes, surrounded by a pool of pure white, framed by long strawberry blonde lashes. “I cry sometimes in my bed, Grandma”. I wanted to cuddle her closer, to ask her why she cried, but I waited.

“Everyone makes mistakes.” she said.

Her eyes were fixed on my face, waiting for a response. “Do you mean that you go to your bed and cry when you have made a mistake?” I asked. Without a word, and with a somber expression, her eyes fell and she nodded.

“Yes, baby. We all make mistakes”, I assured her. I asked her if she knew the very best mistakes she’s ever made and she looked at me quizzically. “The best mistakes are the ones that we learn from, baby. Never waste a mistake.” I told her.

 

Best Mistakes

There was honest humility in her statement. Everyone makes mistakes.

And she is right. Paul put it in simple terms. “All of us have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory.” (Romans 3:23 CEV)

Jesus said it best. “I’m telling you, once and for all, that unless your return to square one and start over like children, you’re not even going to get a look at the kingdom, let alone get in. Whoever becomes simple and elemental again, like this child, will rank high in God’s kingdom.” (Matthew 18:3-4 MSG)

Holy moments. I do not perceive that my statement was some sort of anointed word of wisdom into the life of my granddaughter. To the contrary, the reality that we all make mistakes and are completely dependent upon his grace was never more clear to me than when SHE spoke.

Humility like a child; looking into the face of our Father with wide eyes, telling him what he already knows. “Sometimes I cry in my bed, because I made a mistake.”

Confession is good for the confessor. Sincere confession and repentance is always accompanied by humility.

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Jesus looked at his disciples, all men who understood clearly that there were distinctions of position in their culture and he made one thing perfectly clear. At the foot of the cross we are all like little children, stripped of status, of title and persona. We are broken, we are humble and he meets us there…

Because everyone makes mistakes.

I need his grace,

lorraine

 

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