Braking Points

Pausing in the midst of Life to ponder, pray and find footing to continue.

Porch Story

rocking chairsAugust in southwestern Oklahoma comes in like a steam bath and goes out like a sauna. Steam rises out of the soil in the early morning like ghosts materializing to be swept away by a wind so hot and dry that even shade provides little comfort to man or beast.

At sundown the wind dies and a dense stillness blankets the region, wringing the remaining drops of moisture from every pore and holding them against the earth to start the whole cycle again.

In August people go a little crazy. Minor arguments turn into brawls. Abusive incidents swell as many reach for another cool one and then another until they reach their boiling point. Even the ones who swill sweet tea lean to short temperedness. Unable to punch the weatherman, the boss or God, they settle for whoever’s handy.

Farm accidents, home accidents, and car accidents increase with every degree on the thermometer. Old timers dread August, because the month brings heartbreak. It was only the fifth, but August had claimed its first victim.

Chapter 1

Pete and Dewayne discussed the accident on their way from the field to the house, and then fell silent as they poured their tea and settled on the front porch.

The two men chose spots that shielded them from the afternoon sun and provided at least a whisper of a breeze. Their two hound dogs stretched out near them. Darcy languished between the two men while Max lay draped on the first step of the porch. Pete swirled a mason jar of sweet iced tea watching the ice evaporate, taking a swig every so often but mostly content with pondering the movement of the liquid. His bare feet perched on the porch railing and he tilted backward in the chrome vinyl covered kitchen chair, he’d dragged onto the porch with his tea. His boots caked with red clay rested just outside the door, socks soaked with the sweat of a day in the fields draped atop them to dry.

Dewayne, the younger of the two men and the larger, sprawled on a similar chair, legs splayed, and the waist of his jeans resting below the swell of his belly which was bare. The tail of his t-shirt had been tugged up so that the edge rested even with his arm pits.

Dewayne was a man of ill defined itches prompted more by his need to scratch than by any irritation. With both hands he scratched the expanse of flesh, while picking with one pinky finger or the other into the pit of his navel. Periodically he’d examine the contents of his belly button, flick bits of dirt away and return to his main task, scratching.

No words passed between the two men. By all appearance they seemed content, one to swirl his tea and the other to rub his belly. Pretty soon they’d need to get cleaned up for dinner, but for now just sitting barefoot in the shade met their requirements for rehydration and rest. Neither Pete nor Dewayne expected any visitors. The farm butted up against the town limits and the house set close to the state highway, but the folks that did drop by would not be inclined to do so on an afternoon as hot as this one. Nevertheless expected or not company came.

The dogs alerted first to the girl’s approach. Max, the hound on the porch step, lifted his head to bark, but his attempt sounded like a cross between a yawn and an abbreviated yodel. Darcy lifted the lid of one eye, puffed a big sigh, spotted the visitor before she shifted her position and settled down.

Pete removed his feet from the railing, scooted the chair down onto all four legs and stretched with one eye closed and the other focused on the approaching figure. Dewayne tugged his dirt encrusted t-shirt down to where only half of his bulging mid-section remained exposed. Otherwise he remained settled except for a shift in his scratching spot. He moved that activity to a tuff of curly hair that peeked through at the neck of his t-shirt. With a tilt of his head he, too, could observe as the girl moved steadily toward the porch.

Even with the sun to her back and her face fully in shadow, both men recognized her familiar sway and stride. Neither moved nor spoke. However, as the child drew closer the dogs roused, first banging their heavy tails on the clapboards of porch and steps. They lifted their heads and their bodies followed. With Max leading, the two hounds shuffled down the steps across the patches of dirt and grass that served as yard for the farm house.

The hounds revived by the prospect of attention, loped toward the familiar figure. She didn’t disappoint them, leaning forward without breaking her stride, rubbing first Max then Darcy between the ears. Reaching the bottom step to the porch, she shaded her eyes and stared up at the two men, who nodded and grinned.

“How you doing, Jessie? What you packing?” Pete asked leaning forward with his arms on the porch rail, pointing to the bundle she carried in her arms like a baby.
Jessie glanced down at the parcel and then back at the two men. When she spoke, her voice quivered.

“It’s a tree. Is Miss Nancy home?”

Dewayne moved to get a better look at Jessie and the package, shifting his scratching from his chest hairs to the back of his scalp.

“You say there’s a tree in that wrapping? Must be a miniature.”

Pete shook his head at Dewayne and regarded the girl who had fallen silent her eyes first on the package and then on a tuft of grass at the toe of her penny loafers.

“Don’t mind him, Jessie. He thinks trees come full grown. Nancy’s not here. She headed into town for,” he hesitated, “some groceries. Should be back real soon.”

He swirled his iceless tea and inquired, “You want a glass of iced tea while you wait on her? I’m going to get some more before I get cleaned up for supper.”

Jessie shook her head, still studying the ground at her feet. She mumbled something unintelligible.

“You’re going to have to speak up, Jessie.” Pete said.

She lifted her head and looked up at the two sets of eyes that stared down at her. She attempted a smile but it faltered.

“Could I just sit here and wait for Miss Nancy? I could just sit here on the steps, if it wouldn’t trouble you any?”

“Sure,” Pete said, “Come on up on the porch. Take my chair.”

Jessie shook her head again, sat down on the bottom step, and placed the tree between her knees. The hounds flanked her trying to edge as close as they could to vie for her attention as both attempted to use her lap as a pillow. She stroked both their heads automatically as she watched the road for Miss Nancy’s car.

Pete started toward the backdoor motioning to Dewayne to get up and follow. The younger man grumbled but he reached out for the railing using the leverage to wrench his massive frame into a vertical position. Once standing he tugged upward on the waistband of his jeans, accomplishing little in the process. Before heading into the house through the screen door Pete now held open, Dewayne looked back down at the child on the bottom step.

“Where’d you get a tree anyway?”

Initially, Jessie didn’t speak. Dewayne started to repeat the question, but then thinking, ‘What’s the use? Who cares where the tree came from anyhow?’ he batted his hand at the air dismissively and turned to move across the threshold. Before he got inside the door, as Pete slipped behind him to follow, Jessie spoke.

“I got it in Sunday school last Sunday. Miss Ellie gave all six of us one to plant.” A low sob punctuated her words. Pete and Dewayne halted, their eyes met as her words registered. Both stepped back onto the porch and edged toward the steps.

Jessie had buried her head in the curve of Darcy’s neck and though her crying was muffled by the dog’s coat, the heaving of her back revealed her sorrow. Neither man knew what to do when females cried and their experience lacked many first hand encounters, so they stood shifting from one foot to the other in the masculine equivalent of wringing the hands.

Dewayne pushed by the masculine instinct to do something even if it was wrong, asked, “So why haven’t you planted yours? Why are you still carting yours around?”
Jessie lifted her head out of the dog’s fur but did not turn at the two men. Instead, she adjusted the tree to a more secure position between her knees before swiping at her eyes with the back of her hand.

“Daddy won’t let me plant it at home. He says it would be a bad omen to plant a tree given to you by a dead person. He says it would bring all sorts of bad luck and we sure don’t need any more than we already got.” She paused, stroking the trunk of the tree which was hardly bigger than a grown man’s thumb before continuing, “Bad luck, not trees. He says if he didn’t have bad luck he’d have no luck at all, but that he doesn’t intend to offend God or the devil with a tree that was a present from a woman who was dead two hours after she gave it.”

“I think that’s a song, isn’t that a song? ‘If it wasn’t for bad luck, I’d have no luck at all.”

Dewayne interjected, singing the line off key then with a snap of his fingers, “Ray Charles! That’s who sang it.” Pete jerked his head around in Dewayne’s direction with a look that probably had a half life greater than uranium. For his part Dewayne basked in the joy of having remembered the song and the artist lifting a shield of pride so dense Pete’s poison tipped expression merely bounced off.

Jessie turned to consider the two, unable to recall a tiny flicker of a smile before it lit her face. She knew Dewayne meant no harm. Even at ten she knew he was like a defective piece of equipment that needed a discontinued part, but still worked even though it was slow and awkward. His burst of song dried her tears and though the redness around her eyes and the streaks on her cheeks remained, her spirit rebounded slightly.

“So, what are you going to do with the little tree?” Pete asked keeping his eyes averted to a distant spot on the horizon.

“I was hoping; I mean, I hope Miss Nancy will help me plant it around here. Everyone knows how good she is with growing things.”

“That’s true,” Pete said drawing the words out as if pondering them. “She’ll be along in a little while. Will you be okay out here? Dewayne and I need to get cleaned up or she will skin us alive.”

“I’ll be just fine.” She returned to staring off down the road and petting the dogs.

Pete thumped Dewayne in the shoulder, pulling the backdoor open again, prodding his brother inside.

Chapter 2

Nancy noticed the slight figure on the bottom step the moment she turned into the driveway. Pulling closer, she recognized Jessie Adams and a second later she spied the sapling the girl balanced between her knees.

A little knot formed in her throat as she recalled helping Ellie carry the tiny trees from her car to the fifth grade classroom, Sunday.

“Goodness, Ellie, what on earth do you have planned this morning?”

Ellie laughed, “Why I am going to help start a forest, a stand at least.”

“Well if you’re going to be planting trees, I would have thought you might pick something other than Poplars. They grow fast, but. . .”

“They are perfect for what I have in mind.”

“Is it a secret?” Nancy asked, her interest piqued, Ellie had that way about her.

“No, I chose them on purpose; Poplars are perfect for the children to plant,”

Ellie’s smile faded, her expression growing more serious as she paused before continuing, “because, well because every one of their families have been hurt by the closing of the Mar-Val plant. Rex and Macy’s moms both worked there; Richard’s dad was a foreman; Sandra’s dad manages the Piggly Wiggly—folks without steady income don’t buy as many groceries; Les’s dad has been asked to relocate his whole family to Mexico to start up the new plant down there; and, Jessie, well in some ways her family’s taken the hardest blow. Both her parents had good jobs there and they just bought their first home. I hear James especially is taking it hard, which just compounds the problem.”

“Hitting the bottle again, huh?”

Ellie shook her head and sighed, “I saw him coming out of the liquor store. I didn’t see him drinking, but I know he’s had a problem in the past. Anyway, that’s why I dug these little fledglings from that stand of Poplars along the creek at my house. I chose Poplars intentionally.”

Nancy had been ready to press her about her reason for choosing the poplars when the children started arriving for Sunday school and the commotion of their greetings and questions interrupted their conversation. Ellie bubbled with energy and excitement as her attention shifted from Nancy to focus on her students.

“Catch you later.” Nancy mouthed as she caught Ellie’s eye for the briefest of instants. Ellie waved and smiled then returned to the children.

Nancy regarded the child on the step and waved at Jessie, who returned her greeting. The child, the sapling and the hole in her heart burned. She knew the children in Ellie’s class and so many others were mourning her sudden death, but Nancy despite scolding herself resented sharing her grief with any one else. Her loss hadn’t settled yet. What on earth did she have to offer the child on the stoop?

Nancy inhaled deeply, blew the air out through pursed lips, before opening the car door and stepping from air conditioned comfort to the afternoon furnace.

Chapter 3

On warm days Granny and I would walk through that grove, and she would point out the fledgling trees that sprung from the shallow but widely spread roots of the older trees. Not only were they temporary, she’d tell me, they were prolific and rapid growing trees. The adult trees in the stand were children and grandchildren of earlier family members. Poplars, she told me didn’t grow from seeds, but emerged as the spawn of a mature tree’s root stock. “A lot like humankind, we grow best when we stick together and when we come into this world we bring a lot of what’s happened before with us.” From Eleanor Brown’s Journal

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Lydia and Abigail–A Tale of Two Sisters

Let me tell you a story, part truth, part fiction, because my mind tends to imaginings.

It was the worst of times followed by the best of times.  There was death and then there was life.  For there are  two sisters, one who died before she was born and one born ten months after the first one died. On November 10, 1997 I had lunch with my daughter Brandee at Wendy’s in Madisonville, KY just before her scheduled OB appointment. She was expecting our first granddaughter, who already had a name, Lydia Elizabeth. Just the weekend before our son Scott and daughter in law, Martha had been to visit with our grandson Jonathan, so we had had both grandsons Jordan [Brandee’s] and Jonathan. It had been great to have them together. Still the idea that a girl would soon brighten our lives thrilled us.

At lunch, Brandee confided that she was a bit anxious to see her doctor, because she had not felt Lydia move since the previous day. “I will feel better once I hear her heartbeat.” She said.

Unfortunately, there was no heartbeat not in the doctor’s office or at the hospital for a confirmation ultrasound while I sat holding my daughter’s hand [my son in law worked in Tennessee at the time and was on his way]. Brandee, whose faith has since she was a child amazed me, through tears said “I know God has a purpose, but I don’t know what it is.” The silent ultrasound mocked our platitudes. I was hurt. I was angry. If I were God, I would have made our Lydia’s heart come alive and beat again. All I could do was hold my hurting daughter.

SIDE NOTE: Terry and I have ever since began praying for unborn babies and the parents as soon as we hear of the pregnancy right up until birth and sometimes long afterward. I do not think that God punished any of us for not praying enough, but we want to acknowledge that as natural as pregnancy is, life is fragile and we want to be connected to the one who gives life and sustains it.

On October 9, 1998, Abigail Jo Foster entered the world, a healthy robust child. At the same time in heaven, Lydia leaned forward off her Grandmother Jo Nell’s lap giggling with delight. ‘My Sissy!’ She proclaimed. ‘I LOVE HER SO MUCH!’ The Lord was so delighted by her response that He appointed her as Abigail’s number one encourager. When Abigail succeeded at learning to walk, talk and give orders to everyone, Lydia clapped her hands with delight, ‘That’s my sister, she is one strong willed girl. I love her.’ Abigail in the meantime began to alternately look forward to Lydia’s interventions and the random thoughts that often bombarded her and bat them away from her.

Likewise when Abigail failed to take chances or perform in public, like when the kindergarteners in her class were rewarded by getting to do the Chicken Dance in a school assembly and Abigail chose to stay in the classroom with the kiddos who were detained, Lydia got right in her head and planted seeds of courage. Abigail did not appreciate anyone planting anything in her head, but Lydia kept right on. Later those seeds grew and with lots of encouragement, praise and love both earthly and heavenly , Abigail began to throw off the basket that covered her light. Lydia danced and sang and cheered right along with her little sister.

When Abigail sulked, ranted, raved and grew incredibly selfish at times, Lydia scolded her gently, though had she been on earth she might have smacked her one. When Abigail fed Frank, then Izzy and Clay, calfs abandoned by their mothers, Lydia stayed right with her and relished the dedication and hard work. Though Abigail and she had never met physically, the sister bond tightened over the years. Abigail noticed the nudges, the cheers, the scolding, but largely thought they came from her own head.

When at fifteen Abigail’s friend died in a car accident, Lydia rushed to meet Abigail’s friend near the portal of heaven, embracing her and loving her while at the same time reaching out to her hurting little sister to comfort her. From a front row seat in heaven Lydia has witnessed Abigail’s accomplishments, disappointments, joys, sorrows with a confidence that everything works together for the good of those who love the Lord and are called according to his purpose. With her own place in heaven secure, she has watched and nurtured Abigail’s faith along with her parents, grandparents, and others.

Being a decisive person herself, Lydia finds Abigail’s indecisiveness a bit unsettling, nudging her here and there to get on with it. She also encourages her to be more adventurous and to live LIFE to the fullest. Lydia never took a breath on earth, but she knows heaven well.  And she sees what life really is and wants Abigail’s life to have meaning and purpose even though she is earth bound.  GO FOR IT! Is the cheer she shouts at Abigail daily, along with LOVE OTHERS!, BE KIND!, LAUGH! CRY! FOR HEAVENS SAKE LIVE LIKE YOU ARE ALREADY IN HEAVEN–CAREFREE!  Abigail does not hear the shouts though LYDIA screams as loud as she can.  She does, however, feel little brain pinches and wonderings. . .which frankly annoy her a lot

Sisters, What are you going to do with them?  One with her feet on the earth and the other firmly settled in heaven, but still connected, still sisters.

Whatever happens in Abigail’s life, her sister in heaven, knows that someday they will meet, laugh, giggle, dance and sing together. Until then she and God have a deal, Lydia is Abigail’s number one Cheerleader!

As a grandmother to both these sisters I feel strongly they are connected even though they never met each other in this world.


A Girl & Her Grandparents

For 23 years Terry and I have been grandparents with three of our grandchildren near by and five of them 600 miles away. Proximity makes a difference, not in the love one has for grands, but in the opportunities for brow beating–excuse me! I meant to write ‘influence’. Abigail’s blog brings to mind various memories. I suspect her Papa, Papaw and Nana have similar responses. We all feel fortunate to have had our grands in our lives. Terry did indeed provide childcare for Abigail and her older brother Jordan from the time their Mom went back to work until they were in kindergarten with some external child care also being provided. He did this while pastoring a church filled with wonderful folks to whom family was very important. They accompanied him to the various homes, hospital rooms, retirement homes. When Jordan was an infant, I would often come in from work to find Jordan over Papa’s shoulder asleep while Terry composed his sermons, took care of correspondence, or did research at his computer.

While we tried to make MOMENTS with our Oklahoma grandchildren, our Kentucky grandchildren just kind of filled our moments. Abigail as an infant and toddler rewrote the grandparent manual. From the git go she was a force to be reckoned with. While Jordan had relaxed eating often nursing or taking a bottle with Papa at a slow pace. Abigail sucked her food down in a few minutes in order to get on with life. Her problem solving skills involved a lot of observation and planning. She would sit on a blanket and access an object on the edge. Rather than heading after it , she would pull on the blanket and bring it to her. It is like we have telescopic views of our Oklahoma grandkids and microscopic views of our Kentucky ones. Love them all, but I am especially close to this one.

Barefoot & Blonde

When thinking of my grandparents there’s one word that comes to mind: blessed. Throughout my nineteen years of living I’ve ALWAYS had my grandparents in my life. Looking back, I can’t imagine it any other way. My grandparents are my biggest supporters, my rocks, my shoulders to cry on. I know that no matter what, I can turn to any of them and they’ll welcome me with open arms. I don’t think I can ever express just how much all four of them mean to me. So here is a little peek into just how great they are in my eyes.

Screen Shot 2018-03-15 at 11.29.59 PMMy Papa is one of the greatest men I know. He’s got a HUGE heart, and a great love for God. My Papa has had to put up with me since day one, which I’m sure wasn’t an easy task. When my Mom went back to work, he was…

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I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of Heaven and Earth. Do you? Do I? Or, do we equivocate? The extent to which I believe this initial statement in the Apostles’ Creed establishes the lens by which I see the world, history, science, education, conservation of nature, people. Indeed the lens by which I view everything. C.S. Lewis and Eugene Price both avowed atheists before their conversions FIRST came to belief in GOD as the origin of all creation before becoming Christians. Their stories are found in SURPRISED BY JOY and MY BURDEN IS LIGHT.

In the commandments given to Moses it is what hinges all the commandments together. HEAR, O ISRAEL. THE LORD OUR GOD, THE LORD IS ONE.  YOU SHALL HAVE NO OTHER GODS BEFORE HIM.

SO, to recite these words while holding views that eliminate God from creation or limit God’s role in creation, or question his parenthood over All then I would be better off not saying them. Not because, the Creed says that, but because the Scriptures say that. Do I believe science and God oppose one another or do I believe that God created the clues in the Universe and the curiosity in humankind that seeks answers and solutions and knowledge to unlock the gates to discovery and invention and scientific processes? Do I believe every human carries within them a spirit stamped with the DNA of God Almighty. Do I believe the words of Genesis, ‘Let us create mankind in our own image. So male and female, he created them.’

So, is it empty recitation or awe filled proclamation. Do I speak a truth I believe or bear false witness while blasting the whole idea of God Almighty creating heaven and earth in favor of man’s theories which discard or dilute his power and action?

I believe in God the Father Almighty Creator of Heaven and Earth!

What is your stand?





I believe in. . .thus begins the Apostles’ Creed, the oldest of Christian creeds. Millions of Christians around the world recite these words in church weekly, others more often, some never and some use other Christian statements of belief [Nicene] to collectively declare the tenets of their faith.

IMG_6107I grew up in a church tradition where such liturgy had been discarded as unnecessary and frankly, a bit suspicious, especially if it was merely rote recitation or used as standard for acceptance or rejection for church membership or access to Communion. From an early age I heard, ‘no creed but Christ’, no book but the Bible’, ‘we are Christians only, but not the only Christians’. I grew up believing and still frankly do that Jesus established Holy Communion [The Lord’s Supper] as a Sacrament, though I admit I never heard that particular word until I was well into my teens. We celebrated Communion every Sunday and often at special services. Baptism was by immersion at the age of ‘accountability’ [usually 11 or 12 years of age following a Pastor’s class] on a statement of faith—did they sneak a creed in on us—that went something like, “Do you believe that Jesus is the Christ, the son of the living God, and do you accept him as your personal Lord and Savior?” The appropriate answer of course was, ‘I do.’ After which baptism occurred.

So while other Christians were baptized with less water and some as infants, while others celebrated their first Communion around 7 years old, followed by Confirmation classes at what my tradition called the age of accountability, I have discovered that we are more alike than different. Some of us have drifted from the faith of our childhoods, some have deepened faith, some struggle to find their faith footing among a plethora of world views, many non-Christian or even anti-Christian.

I am sharing this so that whoever reads this can understand that the path I have traveled to embracing the Apostles’ Creed as a powerful way to succinctly express Christian doctrine.

As I age, rather than closing up, huddling in my self built bunker, I want to open my heart and mind and body to receive ALL God has for me to grow in Love. . .His Love, His Grace, His Power. I want to firmly plant my feet in the concrete of Jesus, but to open wide my eyes to see and embrace life rather than just waiting for ‘Heaven’. Living here, eyes open, heart open, loving, laughing, suffering, from the hour I first believed prepare me for EVERLASTING LIFE. I won’t say heaven will be less wonderful, if I waste time or hide out here on earth, but I do believe personally it opens my eyes to the blessings here and now. I want other Christians and even those who have other faith traditions or no tradition at all to see and understand God’s love and action in their lives. And as I age I have more opportunities to bless others, even if it is only to pray that they might know God loves them.

That is one reason I presenting this commentary and Terry and I are hosting a two week Lenten Study on the Apostles’ Creed at 6 PM EDT, Sunday in our home in Florida. And for those of you in Kentucky, I hope we can do this for a longer period of time when we return. Among other resources we are using Matt Chandler’s study guide along with the Bible. This is not a lecture, but a sharing group and all are welcome. This is not a gathering that seeks to pull anyone into a specific church tradition, but instead to celebrate the Oneness with Have one with the other as Christians.

IMG_1105The Apostles’ Creed is not merely words generated by men, nor does it have special mystical power, like an incantation. The words find their origin in Scripture, both [and this may surprise some] Old and New Testament. The words for me embrace the whole of the Bible beginning with Genesis, ‘In the Beginning, God’, the ‘Word became Flesh’, and ‘Come, Lord Jesus, Come’. Not only do they center me on the Trinity, but on the importance of the Church [the Body of Christ with its many parts, UNITED, UNIVERSAL], the reality of our own accountability before Christ and EVERLASTING LIFE.

SO consider yourself invited.*




3854CF61-AD49-46BA-9DFF-3BA38C3D12E3A few years after my ‘be still and know’ moment, I began to struggle with the multitude of changes occurring in my life. Now let me let you know I have always been a dreamer so seeking new beginnings, new adventures whether actually or simply in my head provides impetus for trying new things.


I hate being blindsided and forced to CHANGE. Perhaps, God knew that about me—OK, so God knew that about me. The physician I worked for in Bartlesville, OK gathered us all one afternoon to inform us that at the end of the month, he was closing his practice, heading to Indianapolis to do a fellowship in plastic surgery, and WELL! There we all were, open mouthed and taking deep breaths to keep from screaming…OK, I can only speak for myself, I was close to screaming.

Change that happens because I choose to change and Change that happens suddenly, capriciously may be related but they are not congenial.

I had come a ways in my journey with God so after a prayerful rant on the way home from work that day, I took a breath and listened. Nope! Nada! Not a word! Tears flowed. Panic threatened. The landscape stretched out around me, flat beauty alive with May wildflowers, as a new vision filled my head. Dr. Craig hadn’t done this to me, to us. God had. Left to my own ways, all my dreams and aspirations would have stayed in my head as I settled into a comfortable job, with comfortable people, enough challenge to keep me dreaming, and no reason to fly.

S0 GOD like the eagle removed my nest. . .and I was reminded HE was holding me, my hopes, dreams, and all those I loved.

Change comes! Some of the changes associated with growing older challenge me greatly, but WHAT I DO with change, how I respond is MY choice. AS long as I realize that as I step into the precipice of the unknown, God will either ‘catch me or teach me to fly’.

“When the night is holding on to me, God is holding on.” King of My Heart, John Mark and Sarah McMillan

The Hour I First Believed…

I have spent way too much time in my life chasing after people who caught my attention and seemed to have everything I did not have. It wasn’t so much that I wanted what they had as that I wanted to be included in their circle of friends, to be included so that others would view me as having value based on my proximity to them. It wasn’t that I had NO friends, but it seemed that I always fell short of the golden glow of popularity. It wasn’t that I had NO successes in school or life, but let’s just say I wasn’t Valedictorian or Homecoming Queen or Star Basketball Player…and somehow that seemed to be very important at the time. Of course, I blamed it on the fact that I was ugly, short, poorer than a church mouse, and believe it or not, that I did not have a boyfriend. I decided to change that status when I got to college and I did. Found my man and low and behold after 50 plus years still have him.

Unfortunately, I still found my self circling the ‘golden’ people working to fit in, wanting to get close enough to feel valuable, funny, and accepted. Sometime in my early thirties someone made the statement that ‘the person who loved the least in a relationship, had the most power’ so I adopted that attitude. I realized the formula worked fairly well but I did not like the effect it had on me. At the time my life was pretty much in turmoil in just about every area except education….I was acing that track…I was number one in my field of study at the University of Tulsa and I was owning it. I was also failing in my marriage, failing as a mother, and in general a pretty pitiful person. I hit a wall after I got my master’s degree, even though I got a really good job.

I met a woman at work who rubbed me the wrong way. She was always talking about her faith and God. Now don’t get me wrong I was attending church at the time. Why! I was even active in my church, but hey! She just rubbed me wrong. I suspect I do that to people now. I am ashamed to say, I even mocked her behind her back, rolled my eyes and even baited her. All the while my LIFE was in shreds. I was hurting others, people I loved, and they were hurting me as well. I found my self one step away from annihilation. Then Dorothy’s grandson David was hit by a car and left brain dead on the same day that his Uncle David had died in a car accident 16 years before. In the midst of my personal turmoil I witnessed how she responded and handled this horrific event and relived as her grandson died the loss of her own son. I watched as she and her husband comforted their son and daughter in law. What she had, I wanted but I had NO IDEA how to get it. I MEAN HEY! DID I MENTION I WENT TO CHURCH!

One night driving home from work, 50 miles on a two lane road, I sobbed so hard I had to pull over to the side of the road. I could not see. I prayed…not the first prayer of my life, but the prayer that saved my life. “God, if you are real as Dorothy believes, show me how to get through this time no matter what happens to my marriage or to me. Forgive me. Show me!” I did not even say Amen. As I sat there my tears slowed. I felt a peace within unlike any I had felt for a very long time. And as clear as a real voice in my head, I heard, Be Still and Know that I am God!

Spoiler alert: I did not immediately become BETTER, still letting God work that out in me.

What I did become WAS HIS! That is when I knew that the saying I had been relying on in all my relationships that the one who loved least had the most power was WRONG! Oh, it works if you want manipulate people, but NO ONE CAN OUT LOVE GOD AND HE IS ALL POWERFUL. So my goal is to become MORE LOVING of others and MORE LOVING to others…some days are better than others.

As the first few months of my new faith took hold, I sought out Dorothy and we became the best of friends. As I applied all I was learning to changing me, as I let God lead, as I opened the Bible and studied, I found myself hungry to know more. And low and behold, events occurred that changed my closest relationships and changes began to happen that I had only dreamed were possible. None of that came without some pain and suffering, but it allowed me to love my husband through a very difficult hurtful time in his life. Without God I could not have done that, but God gave me a new appreciation and love for the man I had married. He helped me to be a better mother, still screaming at the top of my lungs at times, but still better…and they all made it to adulthood.

I am sharing this because my granddaughter opened up and shared and I felt it was time for me to share this story. Perhaps that is what Lent is about, looking deeply at our journeys of faith or for some lack thereof and telling God how we feel. He knows anyway. Perhaps Lent helps us focus on what Love really is and HOW POWERFUL AND BLESSED THOSE WHO LOVE REALLY ARE…Whether they are in the Popular circle or Not.


Watching and Waiting–Ash Wednesday

A watched pot never boils, but as I unintentionally proved just yesterday an unwatched pot boils dry and scorches the beans.  Charred remains, ashes imbedded in the bottom of the pan, evidence of my inattentiveness.  There is definitely a correlation to the ashes crossed on the forehead, a tangible mark reminding we Christians why we take 40 days before Holy Week to meditate on the sacrifice.  Even I, who does not have ashes crossed on my forehead, knows the significance.  Jesus asked his disciples in the garden, ‘can you not watch with me one hour?’    Watching and Waiting link arms as this season of Lent begins. 

SO . . .

How can I overcome my tendency to try to rush life along?  When does ‘watching’ become hovering, which is only one small step from–you got it–meddling.

How can I wait with expectation, with excitement, with hope, with gratitude, without       Considering the darkness in this world.  Waiting and watching this Lenten Season  involves active participation in carrying the light until the Morning Light!


Wait, Wait, Wait–One of My Least Favorite Things to Do! Preparing for Lent, 2018


I am pretty darn sure that the purpose of waiting extends beyond simply getting on my last nerve.  Indeed some waiting periods involve little more than tapping my foot or glancing at my watch every few seconds while sending a slit eyed look at the closed door in say the doctor’s office.  Having experienced some gall bladder issues lately, some waiting involves letting the pain subside or the nausea to pass.  Some waiting involves getting through cancer treatment and then holding one’s breath until the tests reveal whether or not you have beaten the beast.  Some waiting periods anticipate good things, the birth of a child, Christmas, family visits, vacation trips, the return of a loved one from deployment overseas.  Whatever the anticipated event or the delay, waiting demands to be reckoned with!

This Lenten Season I want to consider the wait.  I invite you to join me. Why? Because God seems to have a purpose for waiting.  Plus it appears he likes the number 40, because he kept the Israelites in the wilderness with Moses for 40 years and Jesus in the desert for 40 days.  So Lent’s 40 days stretching from Ash Wednesday  to Palm Sunday give time to pause and reflect on how the sacrifice of waiting can build character and teach me how to utilize if not embrace THE WAIT!  Perhaps together we can even find the miracles within the time in the Waiting Room.  For as Isaiah wrote:

“He gives strength to those who are tired; to the ones who lack power, he gives renewed energy. Even youths get tired and weary; even strong young men clumsily stumble. But those who wait [hope, trust] for the LORD’s help find renewed strength; they rise up as if they had eagles’ wings, they run without growing weary, they walk without getting tired.”
‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭40:29-31‬ ‭NET‬‬

Surely WAITING has a PURPOSE in God’s economy…just saying.

God’s Got This–BE STILL

IMG_1057.JPGThe Lord will fight for you, and you can be still.” (Exodus 14:14 NET)
Let the weight of this simple verse sink in. Whatever comes my way, your way, today, The Lord has my (your) back.

In fact, The Lord advances into the fray.

What does He want from me? He wants me to be still, be silent, observe from the wings, allow Him to clear the path, and although not specific in this verse to trust and then follow. Watch with silent wonder as God handles your battles today, hands off, expectations heightened and share the power of waiting upon The Lord.

Have a fantastic Thursday, drive safe and be kind to those who don’t!

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