Sin Sickness

I do not love vomit. I would venture to say I am in the majority more than the minority on this one. After all, how many people do you know that say “I love vomit.” My Mama and my Husband both say they “refuse to vomit.” There are times though when one just can not help himself, or herself, times when the Tummy Bug hits and emesis is an inevitable nemesis.

Recently I was doing what I do, I was just meeting a little one, when she looked at me and without warning vomited all over me. I was covered in soured milk colored mucus filled vomit. Her vomit lying on my skin. Inside I was squirming. I wanted away from that nasty throw-up, yet the little one who was now in my arms – I had instinctively picked her up – needed my help. I reassured her all would be well. I spoke gently to that little Lovey and told her even though we had not yet been formally introduced, I was pleased baby-child-close-up-47090to make her acquaintance and was there to help. She showed no gratitude. She didn’t smile. She did not wrap her sickly arms around my neck and express to me how grateful she was that I was wearing her vomit and aiding her. Rather she cried and fought and smeared the vomit further. After I did a quick wipe, bathed her, wrapped her in a warm blanket and set about seeing to my own hygiene, the King does what He will do oftentimes. He showed me something beautiful.

I was wearing the yuck of another, of one who did not even know me. I had taken upon myself the gross of someone who was not grateful and did not have the capacity to do so. I was wearing the sick of one who needed my help yet could not ask for it. As I washed in the sink beyond my elbows for sometime and cleanliness began to take over I saw my King hanging on a cross wearing my sin, a substance far worse than vomit. He willingly allowed Himself to be covered in it so that I could take on His Righteousness. I wondered in that moment, as He hung on that wretched cross, having endured a beating that left Him unrecognizable, if He was squirming on the inside as I had been. I wondered if He wanted to rid Himself of the nastiness of my sin and ugliness of heart. As I rinsed and readied myself for my next task I gave Him thanks for His willingness to exchange my proverbial vomit for His literal righteousness and healing.

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthians 5:21 (ESV)

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James Spann’s Labcoat & The Fried Green Tomatoes

I like a good southern food. Years ago I learned to cook green tomatoes, okra, potatoes, chicken, squash… all the same, and the best way… fried. Dredged in flour or cornmeal fried in oil in a cast iron skillet. That’s the only way I know to do it. Perhaps I am the only one, but as I have said before, I am food weird. I do not particularly enjoy the foods I cook. There is one exception to this rule, and that would be when I make southern home cooking. I come from a long line of “Pickers” while they cook. Just seeing that in print looks weird – I should clarify. When one prepares food one may “pick” meaning to taste one’s food during the “fixing” phase or one does not “pick” meaning one does not partake of one’s food during its preparatory stages.

I tend not to be a picker, again when making southern foods, this is the exception. I am compelled to eat that first bite of fried okra, fried green tomato, steam-fried potatoes and onions, or fried squash. I am convinced that southern fried foods must line the Marriage Banquet table of the Lamb and His Bride, but I have one complaint about such near to manna from heaven.

My one complaint about fried food is how it makes the house and my clothing smell. It annoys me terribly for the aroma of fried foods to infiltrate my clothing and walls forcing me to smell it long after the I’ve cooked and consumed such delicacies. The odor serves to taunt me.

Recently I found myself frying up some green tomatoes. My Mama had joined us for supper and as we ate them she said, “These taste just like my Mama’s.” She turned to my youngest child and said, “Your Mama makes the best fried green tomatoes.” I might’ve blushed a little at such an esteemed statement of praise. As supper drew to an end and we cleaned up, suddenly I remembered James Spann’s lab coat. It had been in my kitchen and surely had taken on the aroma of supper’s fried smell side effects.

man-1378638812bhr.jpgScott Martin was the something-or-other of the Weatherreadyfest of 2018. As the something-or-other he was responsible for helping to get things ready and prepared for an event in St Louis. One of Our local favorite meteorologists, James Spann, was scheduled to do something that requires a lab coat. Scott Martin mentioned this in a to-do list kind of passing, and I set my eyes to looking for and acquiring said lab coat. Scott Martin knows me well enough to know if I am given a task I will do my best to accomplish it. Lab-coat for local celebrity needed, must be minimal is cost, and “not dingy-looking.” Consider it taken care of.

As it would happen I found the perfect specimen at a local discount store. The kind of discount store that is random at any given time, boasts a variety of “discounted” items and is not necessarily known for its neat and organized appearance. The kind of store that doesn’t give you the hangers when they wad up your purchase and toss it into a flimsy plastic bag with some other store’s name on it. Perhaps if I had of received a hanger none of the following would have happened.

The day we made the purchase, I hung the bag with the wadded attire on a chair in the kitchen with every intention of hanging it up and ironing it as needed. Then I had planned on carefully packing and sending it to St Louis for the event. By the time I realized I had left it there in that bag, it was too late. Fried green tomato smell permeated the white cotton coat. I imagined for a moment Mr. Spann walking around the stage, giving his presentation alongside Ginger Zee, both getting a whiff of old fried green tomatoes every time he raised his arm and directed the audience’s attention to tornados and polygons. I imagined him stopping mid-sentence, looking for a plate and Ginger smelling his coat which served as a reminder of her time in Alabama. I imagined him slinging the taunting garment aside and mumbling something about a dry cleaner and some Febreeze. As my active and hardly accurate imagination took over I was reminded about the King’s Word and what it says about smells. Aromas.

That we are to be the pleasing aroma of Christ.

2 Corinthians 2:15 “For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.”

We are to be so covered by Christ that he infiltrates every part of our lives in such a way that folks know we are a part of Him. His love should be like that Fried food infused coat that we put on and it permeates everything that we do. In essence, the aroma of Christ is Love, and that love should stick with you and wherever you go, just like the aroma of southern fried goodness.

Colossians 3:12-14  (NIV)
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

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Christ and the Corrective Lenses

My friend MJ lay next to me snoring lightly, the big drops of rain falling from the tree tops that were adjacent to our “treehouse” retreat accommodations sounded like something entirely different from than the peaceful pitter and tinkling I was used to. I surmised it was my, until now, not-so-close proximity to the roofline. Despite the sleep promoting environment, I was awake. Wide awake. I figured if I was going to be awake I should go ahead and be a little productive and be about my favorite early morning activity, studying the King’s Word. The open blinds let in just enough light for me to see outlines and large objects. In order to not wake my friend MJ I would have to rely on my dimly lit phone.

I reached for the little yellow case holding my contacts.

Fact: Minus corrective lenses I can see nothing clearly.

Fact: I wear my glasses while I sleep so that when I awaken I know where I am. Too many close calls have yielded such a strange practice.

Fact: I now require readers to see small print so I have to put in my contact lenses and then don said readers. Double Corrective Lenses. Bifocals are the next step but I am just not ready to surrender to that one.

blur-blurry-bokeh-347139.jpgMy relationship with corrective lenses began some 32 years ago. I was 8. I had no idea people had faces, trees had actual leaves, or billboards were sources of information. I was in the 4th grade. I had the standard old school eye exam. When asked what the first letter on the chart was I answered honestly, “What chart?” Needless to say my mama got the note that a follow-up eye exam was required.

The day she took me, was like any other. I rode in a car with faceless but familiar people,
I entered a large foreboding yet vague structure and sat in a chair. My information supplied by my other senses, the smell of potatoes chips, candy, and cleaners mingled together. It smelled like the place I got shots, the pediatrician’s office; it didn’t sound that way though, there were no crying and coughing babies. The chair felt different, they were grown up chairs and the pediatrician’s office had my size chairs.

As per my usual I began to ask questions. Where were we? What were we doing here? Would it hurt? How long would we be here?

I have always been a question asker, it is my primary source of information and learning. Sometimes my questions intimidate people; sometimes they think I am criticizing them and their way of doing things. In my adult life I have learned this and have altered how I communicate in just such a situation. I ask the King questions daily. I used to be almost ashamed of that, like I didn’t trust God when I questioned. I understand now that is simply how I learn, and because He loves me, He welcomes my questions. He often answers me back with questions.

*****

“Lord, I’m struggling. I feel overwhelmed and unsure. Why Lord?”

“What is your name?”

That is The question He asks me most. Just last night I was talking with Him and he whispered over and over,

“Don’t you remember?” “What is your name?”

My answers always initiate a pondering that answers my questions. I digress… again.

*****

As I completed my eye exam, I cautiously answered questions and waded carefully into a sea of unknowns that this day had brought to me. When the eye doctor placed the cold metal Phoropter (I did not know its actual name – the Google helped me with that answer when I asked that question) over my face, the cold sensation of the metal and ability to see simultaneously cemented in my memory. I still remember that feeling of joy and elation.

I. Could. Finally. See. The. Chart.

adorable-beautiful-black-and-white-325687.jpgI rattled off those letters like an expert. I knew them and I boldly proclaimed their names to the eye doctor. It wasn’t until he moved the miraculous Phoropter that I was deflated. How could it be? My joy instantly turned to sorrow. He escorted me to my mom, spoke to her briefly and she walked me over to another mysterious section. She told me to pick out some glasses frames I liked. One needs to see one’s image in the mirror clearly to determine if one likes one’s glasses. Needless to say my first pair of corrective lenses were less than attractive. Despite their appearance they were life changers. I’ve come to realize that is often the truth of life. It is oftentimes the seemingly small moments, seemingly insignificant things that are life changers.

I could see. An entire new world opened up to me. My senses worked in tandem to give me information and reveal the world around me. My mama says I read every sign from here to Gulf Shores, Alabama, and if she had to hear “Bates House of Turkey” one more time she was going to scream. (I should probably bring to her attention the fact that at least I don’t do that now – where every other signs boasts a difficult to pronounce name of an attorney. She really would scream before we got to the Tank Farm heading southbound on 65.)

When we come to know the King, to have a relationship with Him, it completely changes our perspective of the world. Like putting on corrective lenses for the first time. In the Book of John, Chapter 9 there was a blind man whom Jesus made to see. He was born blind and upon meeting Christ he was healed and made to see. This caused a great debate among the ones who needed rationalization of the process. The man’s response is a classic. It is recorded in verse 25.

He replied, “Whether he is a sinner or not, I don’t know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!” John 9:25

One Thing I DO know is I was blind, but now I see. Simple isn’t it? The gospel itself is simple. With Jesus our entire perspective changes and in areas where we once were blind, with Jesus as the Change Agent, we now can see as well as a fourth grader with her first pair of glasses seeing her Mama’s face clearly for the first time in her life.

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Crowns and Heaven

“Mama what kinda crown you want?”

“Whatever kind you think will be good Mags! Thanks!”

She had asked me from the kitchen. Her Daddy had spent the better part of the last several days working at a makeshift office on the kitchen table. It’s fairly portable and we “clear the table” for meals. I had taken over the living room office, in preparation for some jam-packed weeks to come.

Scott Martin rarely complains, he just unpacks and packs up his work stuff, transitions with ease and with an almost alarming flexibility just “rolls with it.” Once he sat on our unmade bed, held a borrowed microphone and recorded radio segments for some not so local radio stations because the Martin homeschoolers with an armload of new science books had taken over every room but our bedroom.

He knew “partly sunny with a high of 89” might not bode well with “Look at this blobfish!!! It’s just like it says ‘a rainbow of ugly!’ Bahahaha” thereby eliminating another opportunity at recording said weather segments. He never once complained. I would have. I’d’ve raised the dead yelling about it. He just keeps on rollin’ with it.

The night she asked me about the crown, I entered the kitchen-slash-office-turned-crafting-center to prepare for dinner. As I entered the multipurpose room, the chaos and disarray of it all slowly absorbed into my already weary mind. I started to open my mouth to complain but instead choose to look not just see. There at the table, my youngest, the one that struggles desperately, chatting away. Nonstop asking her Daddy questions,

“Is there really a dark side of the Moon? Has anyone seen it?”
“Do blind people dream in color?”
“Why didn’t Noah put the dinosaurs in the ark?”
“If you lived in a treehouse where would you go to the bathroom?”
“Why do I only like blueberries in a muffin?”
“Can we take our dog to a dog psychologist to see why he keeps getting on the kitchen table?”
“What makes Pepper so spicy?”

He nodded and worked, she kept crafting and cutting, all the while talking, like a magpie that never quits chirping she went on and on. We have learned she questions when she is anxious. A week of unknowns had thrust her into an anxiety-ridden baseline that causes her counterparts their own anxiety. They’d long ago sought shelter elsewhere; The Scarlet Letter preferred to their youngest sister’s anxiety influenced behavior.

Her Daddy sat working. She stood. Evidently she’d been standing a while. He nodded and responded appropriately. He patiently answered her questions for the umpteenth time. He encouraged her crown making from paper, noting she “is good at arts and crafts.” He joked with her and made her giggle. He patiently reminded her for the second time it was time to clear the table for supper. She smiled and acknowledged that even though “Mama wouldn’t let her watch tv she was sorta glad.” He agreed, he was sorta glad too.

As I took it all in I took a picture. That paper crown perched perfectly atop his head. He wore it as if it were the most natural thing in the world. If it’d have been a new custom-made baseball cap with his favorite team he would have worn it just as proudly. It wasn’t until later I saw that she’d made it to match his shirt. As I watched them briefly just before my presence interrupted them, gratitude washed over me. Gratitude for this exchange. Grateful for patience that extends beyond my own. Gratefulness for a Daddy for who loves his children wholly. Grateful that he sees the fragility of the one before him and he loves her anyway.

Grateful for a glimpse again of the King and how He loves me, brokenness and all. I suppose when I get to Heaven I’ll know for sure, but for a brief moment in time that night, in our humble kitchen I saw from behind what Heaven is like and it is a beautiful thing indeed.

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Olympic Faith

True Story: In a race I once beat an Olympic Bronze Medalist in Track.

Every time I mention said winning in front of said Olympian she laughs, it’s a hearty laugh and often I will mention our race just to hear her Nigerian accent and laughter all roll out together in a determined defense. She claims I cheated. I maintain I did not.

I’ve never been what one might call athletic, the concept of organized sports is really quite foreign to me. I know this will boggle the minds of some, but sports, most of them anyway, do not make much sense to me. Despite years of football indoctrination from a lifetime of SEC Football exposure, the sport of football is a subject where I lack understanding. One would think purely by osmosis, or at the very least, genetic makeup I might have gotten more than a minimal understanding of sports. Athletics, competitive in nature, boggle my mind. I have tried over the years to understand but I can not.

I’m more of an expert stick man artist kind of gal. I can Macgyver a harmonica out of a couple of popsicle sticks, some paper and rubber bands in no time flat, but Heaven Help if someone asks me what the down means or a touchdown or something. I only know a safety is loosely translated as going to someone else’s house and beating them up. It took my coworkers one full Saturday shift during Football Season to explain that concept to me. They soon gave up any further teaching, abandoning me as many have that I just will not get it.

My sister is as much of a Football Fanatic as I am not. She cheers for her school, The Alabama Crimson Tide. She tailgates and touchdown dances, and I don’t even know what all, I just know she loves her team and by sheer happenstance, my wedding anniversary tends to fall on one of the lesser important of the game weeks. My Birthday is an altogether different story. Often it falls on the Iron Bowl weekend and I know that means Alabama and Auburn will be playing each other, families will be divided, and about a metric ton of Ro-tel Dip will be consumed by Alabamians across the state. Game Time is also a good time to pick up some Christmas gifts because just about everyone but me is somewhere, eyes peeled, consumed by one of the most dramatic quarters of a competition for nearly a whole year… or so I am told.

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When third grade boys inevitably ask me “Who I go for?” (That’s Alabama slang for which team do I prefer to win; it took me 3 years of teaching third grade Sunday School before I caught on.) I leave them scratching their heads with my answer. “Well, my sister went to Alabama and she and my Husband like them so I like them, but I like Auburn’s history and it fascinates me so I like them too, but My money and my Husband go to Mississippi State so I figure I like them too.”

“But Mrs. Amy, Who do you go for?” I usually just shrug. I digress yet felt it necessary to explain how unnatural a competitive athletic experience is for me.

I suppose that is why I find it funny that by chance circumstances on that fateful day I would beat a medal-possessing track athlete. Perhaps therein lies the answer to my sports disconnect.

My friend, the Olympian, is one of the most humble people I’ve ever met. I had known her sometime before I even knew her amazing history. Another coworker had mentioned it in passing and because it was the honest truth she did not deny it. I was floored. Once I got hold of the fact that she held a for reals, hard-earned medal, I ran with that one. I would question and quiz her daily. I would listen to her stories, woven together in the thread of her native tongue intertwined with words like Alabama and the University and nursing and back home. Commonwealth and games and I would listen and I would watch.

Once I learned of her medal I asked her why she didn’t wear it to work like everyday? She laughed her hearty laugh and I jokingly said “Well where do you keep it? Your panty drawer?!” Again she laughed, there was no denial, and she said “I used to have it hanging on a nail.” I rolled! She kept her medal in her unmentionables drawer! Later as I pondered that one I learned a great and valuable lesson. I can laugh all day about one’s greatest treasure being stowed away with one’s underpants, yet there are days I am no different.

The King’s Word says, I’ve been given a great inheritance, and I’ve been guilty of cramming that baby in my panty drawer and never giving it a second thought. My Salvation, the Lord’s Grace, THAT is a great reward, it is THE greatest reward, but if one were to observe me they would have no clue whatsoever that I held such a tremendous inheritance. A Heavenly reward that supersedes all earthly riches. I walk around some days like a Pauper with that Treasure stuffed down in my drawer next to a bunch of mismatched socks.

My friend, Faith, has also taught me that her treasure, her true treasure isn’t in things. Never once had it occurred to me that mine might be. But it was, it has been, and it’s one I am committed to work on surrendering daily.

Once we were having a discussion about children and it dawned on me like a slap across my face, Faith gives birth to Hope. As a matter of fact, Faith did give birth to Hope and on my birthday (I know the King must’ve planned that one just so that I could understand). I’ve never known humility like hers. I’ve often said she’s taught me more about Jesus in my adult life than near anyone has. I love her, her humility, her joy. I found a picture on the Internet once when I googled her name. It was prompted by Shelton Martin yelling at the Olympics on our television one summer, “C’mon you can win one for YOUR underwear drawer too! Go USA!”

It dawned on me, that is where he thinks one keeps one’s hard-earned medal. He has nothing to tell him otherwise, or at least what his experience dictates. As I thought about our friend, how I love and adore her, I googled her name and found the image. I giggled. It reflects her perfectly. She is laughing and smiling. Her Joy apparent. As I surveyed it, I was once again aware she had taught me yet another lesson, her joy comes from within, from the Savior she serves. He is her joy and her strength and it is to Him I am grateful for having a plan that includes such a Faithful friend.

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Thankful for Second Chances

And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Revelation 21:5

I have this do-hickey thing as a staple in my various kitchens over the years. Much of its history is a mystery to me. What I do know is that it belonged to my Mama, and before that it was her Mama’s.

When I was younger it used to be a staple in my Grandmother’s kitchen. All I knew about it then was, it was near the kitchen sink, it sort of looked like a funnel but not really, so it couldn’t be useful for much, and it was ugly. As I have gotten older, my vision has progressed. While my contact prescription continues to be an ever present indicator of my increasing age, my perspective has changed dramatically.

This one time useless, unattractive, piece of kitchenware is not what I once thought it to be. In recent years I have begun a new kitchen adventure, one that is almost cathartic in nature. I have discovered that I like to can, pickle, and preserve foods. It is odd to me that after all these years, the little gadget would be resurrected to a new life. It lay dormant for many years, yet as I have begun to use it I am often comforted by it and left to wonder. I wonder as I pickle okra if I resemble my Mam-maw in any way and it occurred to me, that I must. I ventured into the kitchen at the end of a good but long day, that came rolling in with such swiftness I had hardly recovered from the day before. It had been marked with sadness for me, for reasons I do not even fully understand and as I went to bed that night I was heavy hearted. I awoke and began the day at breakneck speed, before 8am I was jolted into the reality of the world I live in, when Shelton had a complete meltdown over a siren alarming on a generator. Ears covered, leg bloodied, and crying, he stood frozen on an asphalt sea of nothingness. Thankful for an older sister who seems to comfort him better than I can somedays, I continued on with my tasks.

As the day continued to speed by with the same pace as it began, I found myself looking at 5:30 pm and dinner time disdainfully. As I ventured into the kitchen to prepare dinner, I chose the leftover dinner option and got to work on pickling those 7 quarts of okra. I suppose it was an attempt made in the hope of relinquishing some of that distress I was carrying.

Early that morning I was asked the question “What are you thankful for?” My honest answer at the time was “Air-conditioning.” As the day was drawing to a close I found myself thankful for this do-hickey, likely called a canning funnel or something like it. I am thankful for a busy day, dirty dishes, and tons of dirty laundry for they are the evidence of a full life. I am thankful for the sound of Ball jar lids sealing in the kitchen. I am thankful that as I prepare for bed at night, I can wake up again the next day knowing the absolute Truth that mercy comes new with every sunrise.

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Gratitude in the Midst of Sorrow

Just moments before I snapped the picture of the balloons headed Heavenward I was sitting in a somber service of remembrance. I was moved by the courage of the Mama and Daddy. They’d lost their precious one and they were making a public plea. Their Dear One had been a recent victim of distracted driving and they had made the most of the opportunity and occasion and implored those present not have cause to experience the pain and hurt they were in that moment.

There are times in life when we are given a captive audience and we can make the most of such an opportunity or not. I sat in awe of their courage, strength and dignity. The Mama and the Daddy, in that moment, they were proving themselves trustworthy. They’d asked those in attendance to avoid distractions while driving. They were speaking to the loved ones seated around them asking them to reconsider picking up their phone the next time it begged for their attention while they were driving.

I listened intently as I sat amongst a dozen or so people, all of whom I share a genetic makeup, as we honored the life of a precious one, who also had running through her body a common DNA as those people surrounding me, the same thread as her Mama. I marveled at these dozen or so people. To my right, my cousin, Dinger as she is best known, more of a sister-like figure to me than actual cousin. To my left, my Mama. A few moments ago I’d heard a statement from her sister Nancy that I already knew.

“You look just like Mama.”

As the service ebbed and flowed and the sting of tears sat just beneath the surface words of joy and remembrance filled my ears, memories filled my mind and I held my Mama’s hands. As my eyes looked back and forth, I noticed Mama’s hands looked just like the ones slightly to the left in front of me, propped up on the back of the chair, they looked like the ones to the right of Dinger, and the set directly in front on me. Those hands, were my Mam-Maw’s hands.

I distinctly remember them wrapped around a Hull Brown Drip Pattern coffee cup. She would use those hands to pull weeds, feed animals, quilt and sew. Those rugged hands would hang up clothes to dry and hug tiny frames, they’d wipe tiny hands and faces with scalding hot water and Clorox saturated dish rags. Those hands could make a sweet tea that I only wish I could replicate. I’m quite sure when Mam-Maw made it to Heaven Jesus would have declared that she was in charge of the Sweet Tea making. Despite not having had it in 30 years my mouth still longs for that Devine sweet nectar.

As I sat there and listened, I looked at the ones seated around me I thanked the King. I thanked Him for good childhood memories that dozens of cousins, aunts, and uncles filled. Long summers of adventures and fun. I thanked Him that I never eat a kraut and weenie that I don’t think of my Aunt Sis and the summer my sister and I had deduced that she must’ve been pregnant because all she ate was kraut and weenies and she’d recently purchased a high chair. Two coincidences developed from some lean economic times and a practical need being met. We cleaned her entire house that day. We figured she didn’t need to be on her feet in her condition and advanced age. We sat on the steps leading to her den, formulated a plan befitting a seven- and five-year-old.

I thanked Him that the one physical feature that all of us share are early onset crows feet and laugh lines. They are evidence of our good sense of humor and laughter. We are a funny lot, those that share the name and genetics of that side of my family.

I thanked the King for the life of the beautiful young lady who had left our world way too soon and tragically, but I did so knowing that she would not be forgotten. She had not died in vain for the message was given, and the warning heeded. I thanked Him for allowing me to be made up of good, strong stock. His word says that laughter and a cheerful heart are good like a medicine and I thanked that He has abundantly gifted me with those very things.

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Translation Please

My oldest had asked to go to prom. The Homeschool Prom. I laughed at first, irony at its finest I thought.

“Mom please. My friends are going and I think it’ll be fun.”

After some research and such, I agreed.

She counted down the days. We borrowed a dress. She texted her Grandmother and Aunt Kel to let them know Prom was a go.

The Countdown reached its single digit numbers. Preparation plans firmed up within the context of a Girls’ Day Out.

The morning of the prom we met early at a fancy full service salon, the kind that offers bottled water only and boasts fanciful cosmetics and skin care products. All manner of Skin Serums guaranteed to rejuvenate and excite skin with moisture, yielding one soft and supple skin. Last I checked that was also known as lotion, but I reckon at $25 per ounce, just putting “Lotion” on the bottle rather than “Skin Serum” would be poor marketing.

My sister, who has a much better handle on what is fashionable and trendy took charge, ordering updos and treatments. I stood to the side, not really knowing what, much less how I should request the aforementioned full services. My sister ordered a blow out for me. I’ll be honest I glanced in the direction of the bathroom wondering if the salon blow out was the same as the blow out with which I was most familiar. Seeing the obvious concern on my face she said,

people-2561845_1920.jpg“They are going to fix your hair. Calm down. It’s my treat.”

As I sat in the chair I was asked multiple questions like, “What treatments for your hair do you participate in?”

“Um, I wash it.”

The stylist, clearly not amused, then asked what style I would like my hair.

“Whatever you think. I’m not picky.”

Obviously I am not stylishly astute. I have a particular pair of shoes I wear nearly all of the time. They are comfortable and they are my favorites. They do not particularly match anything I wear but as I said they’re my favorites. They are evidence of my function-over-fashion mentality.

The stylist fastened the cape around my neck and proceeded to carry on with her tasks.

At the end of it all, my girl had a beautiful updo and I had been blown-out to look like a fancier version of myself.

We declared we had just enough time for a sit down lunch, and headed to a favorite Bistro-type restaurant. I’ve come to realize Bistro just means, “you’ll probably have to wait a little while to be seated.”

As we finished our delicious meal and prepared to pay our check and move on to the next item in the day of special preparation, my oldest put her eating utensils down, indicating she was finished.

My sister looked at her and said, “You full?”

My girl nodded.

“You don’t want to be all bloated in that dress. You have good panties?”

I nearly spit my water with lemon all over the table. I nearly choked. My oldest looked as alarmed as I had over the aforementioned blowout confusion earlier that day. This time though, I knew what she meant.

I clarified. “She means, you’re going to want good support under your dress.”

A wave of relief visibly washed over my girl.

Sometimes we just need clarification. A translator of sorts. The Holy Spirit was a promised Helper, a translator of sorts. When the Holy Spirit lives in us then He has the ability and is willing to translate those words or phrases. In fact, he can and will translate the very heart of God for us.

And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— the Spirit of truth…. the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. John14:16 & 26

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Heavenly Prep Class

I am not a music person. The old expression ‘Can’t carry a tune in a bucket’ is completely bass-guitar-chord-close-up-96380applicable where I am concerned. I’ve come to realize that is only disturbing to those who are. My husband is a music person. He can hear a tune once, maybe twice and can make those same sounds come out of a guitar. The bass kind. There are different kinds of guitars, but music people already know that to be true. It took me years to learn that.

I like music, like to listen but it is not a requirement for me to concentrate. I’ve witnessed my husband work and his productivity is always better with a tune playing in his ear. I do not have now, not have I ever had rhythm. Evidently it is comical to watch me try to clap in time, or so I’ve been told. My husband can pick a rhythmic beat up from nowhere. We can be in a crowded restaurant, barely able to hear ourselves talk when all of a sudden he will begin drumming his fingers on the edge of the table. I do not have that ability, not an iota of it. Sometimes in church when the band gets jazzy the clapping will begin. I’m lost.

A while back one of the band leaders began to clap, to demonstrate over her head for all to see exactly how to clap in rhythm. (My fellow church-goers must share in my rhythm deficit.) I giggled, knowing I was a lost cause, I tapped my foot per my usual and kept my hands busy doing other things.

The music doesn’t speak to me like it does to some, lyrics and notes married together in a sort of poetry. The King will speak to me at times during those times of worship and I’ve been known to jot those words down, often after I’ve written it down I’ll hang on to His Book or my pen, less aware of my inept abilities.

So when the singer lady said

“Y’all we are practicing for Heaven!”

As she clapped and encouraged the others to do so I really giggled knowing full well that I was likely to be in trouble once I got there. I’m fully aware that when I reach my eternal home I will receive a new body, one that makes the current one pale in comparison, but I wonder if I’ll get a new singing voice and the rhythm that should accompany it. I sure hope so, lest I risk having to attend Remedial Praise and Worship Class.

I admire those who are musically gifted, I am thankful for them as they are reminders of how I will spend eternity, worshipping the King in song.

Oh sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth! Sing to the Lord, bless his name; tell of his salvation from day-to-day. Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples! For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised; he is to be feared above all gods. Psalm 96 (ESV) 

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Least of These

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“There’s another one.” She was sitting by the sandy shores of the Gulf Coast, her reading glasses much too fancy for her modest swimwear. The kind of bathing suit a Me-Maw sports. Her just slightly younger companion sat silently beside her and nodded in the older’s direction.

I surmised they were sisters. Sisters by birth, Sisters in faith. Both had silver-gray hair piled high on their heads, their dark and weathered skin no stranger to the sun. A small cooler sat between them and must have contained ham sandwiches on thick white bread, a sweet red sliced tomato and mayonnaise that wouldn’t dare be a reduced fat. A summer lunch bounty that one longs for in the middle of winter. They had a small portable radio, the kind with an actual dial and antenna that extends and bends for better reception. I just made out the sound of a “singing,” old-time favorites that speak of a Promised Land and Happy Days. I watched as the older concentrated on a mass of tangled netting and seaweed in her hands. I followed her pointer finger and just barely animal-animal-photography-beach-63282.jpgcaught a glimpse of movement. I determined I needed my own readers to clearly see what she was pointing at. A tiny, less than half an inch sand crab. She had liberated it from the washed up tangle and it was scurrying to safety.

I grabbed the attention of my youngest who watched as The Older continued to work diligently, little said in the way of explanation except a word or two. She had in her hands a slew of salvaged sand crabs. I giggled to myself as my youngest was in awe of the “mini crabs” as she aptly named them. One by one The Older painstakingly freed them. Not a word of gratitude from the tiny captives, yet she persisted. We stood for a moment and admired her handy work before we carried on with our own beach combing.

We walked steadily, feet washed by the cool waves, eyes downward looking for a special prize or oddity. As we walked I pondered. I wondered why in the world someone would spend their afternoon freeing tiny sand crabs from a mash of trash trapped in a discarded mesh bag. Then the King, He spoke. He does that from time to time, He’ll speak a word and grab my attention.

“Least of These.”

He let that sink in a moment and then,

“Least of Mine.”

And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ Matthew 25:40  ESV

I thought about those crabs, how they were least, insignificant really in my opinion, and realized to the Beachside Liberator they were important enough. I wondered how many “Least of these” hadn’t been important enough to me.

The Least of These began to run through my mind…
…Quiet times neglected to perceived more important callings.
…Prayers that weren’t pressing enough to pray.
…Conversations that didn’t seem worthy of having.
…Promptings that went ignored because surely it wasn’t for me to do.

As I walked and pondered I apologized for those opportunities the King had given me, the ones in the form of a tangled up tiny sand crab and rather than take the time to help, I simply ignored it and moved on, barely an afterthought in my day.

The Crab Liberator was proving herself trustworthy, she’d been given little and despite how small and seemingly insignificant, she was being faithful with it. I mused that maybe next time she would stumble upon a sea turtle tangled and in need of her services.

I asked the King to make me more aware, to be ready for, and to welcome those Least of These opportunities knowing that when I am faithful with little, I can be one of His trusted with much.

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