Will I Ever Be Enough?

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Will I Ever Be Enough?

The sound woke me suddenly and my heart was beating fast. Adrenalin was coursing as I identified the source of the alarm. Two vibrations and then a few rising tones meant that my hubby’s blood sugar had exceeded the high threshold and his monitor was alerting.

I laid there in the dark, processing the information for a few minutes and it alarmed again. This time he sat up, insulin pump in hand. He took stock of his number and administered the insulin.

Five minutes later, the alarm sounded again. And five minutes later, and five minutes later….

He dozed beside me but I couldn’t sleep. Now awake, I thought of design ideas for an improvement to the continuous monitoring device. A temporary hold on alarms came to mind; a way to communicate that insulin was delivered, now hush and give it time to work its magic already.

Still awake, my thoughts went to the previous day. It was not a good one for me. Work was fine, home was fine, my commute was fine. I was not. Fine. The tension had been building for weeks.

I reviewed my conversations, my mindset, my attitudes. I regretted spoken words. It had been ugly.

I gave much thought to my husband’s earlier wise counsel over a situation that I was struggling with.

I was filled with regret. I was ashamed and embarrassed. I was truly sorry.

The truth is that I’m overwhelmed. Deadlines missed. People disappointed. Criticism hurled. Expectations dashed. I have a litany of reasons to be disappointed with myself that I recite when I turn the attack inward.

I am as hard on myself as I am on others. “Why did you ever think you could complete a half marathon?” I have guilt and embarrassment over yet another thing that I started and couldn’t finish. Mind you, an arthritic hip is the real demon here, but I’m glad to take a beating over it.

I took stock. I asked myself a question.

“What are you afraid of?”

Immediately, I thought of my every day fears. Lizards. Snakes…most any reptile you can name. But really, those aren’t the things that scare me when I lie awake in the night, when I’m driving my car, or when I sit down to write.

The truth is that I’m afraid that I’m not enough.

When I was expecting my second child (we didn’t know she was a girl – it was the 70’s) I was afraid. I had normal expectant mom fears like birth defects and whether something I ate or something the doctor prescribed might harm my baby.

But my biggest fear? I was afraid that I wouldn’t have enough love for another child.

I loved my firstborn daughter with a love that I had never known. She was our life. I couldn’t wait for her to wake up in the morning and I stood over her crib and watched her sleep at night. There was no way that I had the capacity to love another child like that. This new baby? I feared she would get leftovers. If there were any, that is.

Of course, our second daughter was born and I loved her dearly – she was such a gift to our little family.

That fear was ridiculous but it loomed large and in charge for the better part of eight months (again…the 70’s – I had to actually wait a few weeks to get a pregnancy test at the doctor’s office).

Fear unfounded. God created our hearts with the capacity to love beyond our wildest imaginations.

Back to that alarm in the night…the problem with it was lack of data. The device knew only the number that it was reading. It was not aware of the on-board insulin and therefore didn’t take it into consideration. It continued to act like there was not enough.

Through tears I confess that I am just like that. The fear is real, just like that number. There are plenty of triggers that cause me to be alarmed. There always will be. And I feel despicable. I’m ashamed. I’m afraid that no matter how much I do, how hard I try, I will never be enough. And data is proving it. The world, even good people, even some of the people who love me, will never be fully satisfied with me.

But unlike that device, I know the remedy has already been supplied. There is no need to walk about with anxiety and weariness over feeling I am not enough.

“Others were given in exchange for you. I traded their lives for yours
because you are precious to me. You are honored, and I love you.”
Isaiah 43:4

I recently read these words from Kelly Balarie: “If it wants to beat you, tie you down, and throw you out back for always being despicable, I assure you, it is not God.”[1]

And further, if I constantly find fault with myself, I will not have the confidence to recognize the good in those around me. I will never honestly admire others more than I admire who God designed me to be.

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I wish I had a nice little bow to tie on this post. All figured out. Got it.

The truth is that I’m taking baby steps. I’m reading the words of a trusted mentor and I’m making a choice to walk in faith rather than fear.

He is enough, therefore I am enough…

lorraine

 

What fear are you struggling with today? I pray that you too, can begin to walk in faith and I highly recommend you join me on my fear-fighting expedition.

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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/.

 

[1] Quote from: Fear Fighting – awakening courage to OVERCOME your fears, by Kelly  Balarie

Learning to Love My Scars

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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.

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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

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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!

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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/.

 

 

I Want a Perfect Christmas

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I Want a Perfect Christmas

Christmas Morning.

When I write the words, I alternate between anticipation and dread.

I’ve shared childhood Christmas memories here before. Christmas was a very special day in our family. There was no other like it – the mood in the house was positive and everything else was put on hold for a day.

As a child I couldn’t have known how desperately my mother must have missed her extended family, more than a thousand miles away. My focus was appropriately narrow; as a child I saw only the joy of our celebration.

I’m not so naïve anymore. I’ve been at this “adulting” thing a long time. I’ve come to realize that there are not many “perfect” days in this life.

I’ve also realized that perfect is in the eye of the beholder.

My natural tendency is to catalogue all that is not as it should be, or as it once was. That tendency is from the pits of hell and will steal your joy, friends.

If I’m not careful, I’ll note all of the imperfections that surround my normal life and my special days. I’ll stay in a funk and wonder why people avoid my joy-sucking presence.

I have known some memorable Christmas mornings. It’s tempting to long for those days and to mourn their passing, comparing every celebration to that “perfect” one. (My memory is also remarkably selective!)

This Christmas morning, my sweet hubby and I will again awaken to a quiet house. Our children have been celebrating in their own homes for years, making memories with their children. I’m tempted to long for the “good old days” rather than embracing the peace that will fill our hearts as we enjoy what has become our “new” normal.

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This is a little glimpse into our Christmas preparations – a couple more to add, but I think you get the idea. Lots and lots and lots of joy when we gather!

My thoughts quickly turn to the widows and widowers who will wake up alone this Christmas morning; the single parent who is navigating the holidays for the first time since a divorce. I remember those in military service, on mission or even in prison. People are mourning legitimate losses all around us.

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Christmas is just another day for so many who are separated from home and family.

What about that little family on the first Christmas morning? Mary and Elizabeth spent months chatting as they anticipated the arrival of their baby boys. I’m pretty sure that not one time did Mary say “I hope I deliver mine in a stable, out of town, with no one but Joseph around to deliver him.”

The first Christmas was anything but perfect in my natural mind’s eye. I’m also positive that Mary didn’t “naturally” invite dirty shepherds into her meager labor and delivery spot with a hospitable heart. But in her joy, she was able to celebrate the delivery of the promised child. He was given to her, but she knew his life was significant far beyond that stable.

Mary’s joy was not hers alone. The joy of her son, the joy of her family, was to be shared with the world. He was also OUR promise. Jesus was Christmas; the fulfillment of the promise that we never have to be alone again.

The joy he brought is not fleeting, nor is it found in perfect moments. It’s in relationship with our perfect savior.

Before you read on….

If you are mourning a loss dear one, mourn it.

Cling to the one who knows your sorrow and feels it. His word promises that he knows your every toss and turn and he catches every tear. My heart aches for you; it is your loss that has allowed me to see the frivolity of my mourning over failed expectations.

I’m praying that God bends right from heaven and kisses your cheek.

If you are like me, fighting the urge to hope for perfection this Christmas season, go to the source of joy.

Accept no imposters, avoid the cheap knock-offs that the world is pushing on your Facebook news feed.

If you long for the joy of the “perfect” day, these verses are my gift to you.

The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.
Psalm 126:3

Then I was constantly at his side. I was filled with delight day after day,
rejoicing always in his presence,”
Proverbs 8:30

A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dried up the bones.
Proverbs 17:22

But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.” Luke 2:10-11

And last but not least….

“I have come that they might have life, and have it to the full.”
John 10:10

 Merry Christmas, friends. May your life and your joy be full.

lorraine

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

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

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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.

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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