It’s Not Fair

“It’s not fair!!!”

“It’s NOT fair!”

Those three words have peppered the tantrums that have played out in our home over the years. I’ll admit I’ve even said them myself. It isn’t fair. Many things are not fair. Much of life is not fair.

The one who says those words most often is my youngest; she still bears the scars of difficult obstacles she was forced to face even before her remembrance. She struggles with the everyday and the basics on a day-to-day basis. She is the youngest of the Martins and she waves high the banner of unfairness of youngest siblings everywhere.

A few weeks ago I was studying the King’s Book, specifically that of Matthew, and I happened upon the parable in Matthew 20, the one about the laborers in the vineyard. I haven’t always liked it because it seems so not fair. It made me a tad uncomfortable and I tend to avoid things that make me uncomfortable. For this reason I hadn’t really studied it. You can find in Matthew 20: 1-16.

I’ll summarize it.

There was a Master. He had a vineyard. About 6 in the morning he found some workers and agreed to pay them a denarius for a day’s work. About 9am the Master went out again and hired some more workers. He agreed to pay them a fair pay for their day’s work. A little while later, about lunchtime, he went out and did the same thing. At 3pm He did the same and at 5pm the same. At the end of the work day he paid all the workers a denarius. In essence some of the workers worked 12 hours and some worked just an hour, but at then end of the day they made the same wage.

money-euro-coins-currency-332304When recently questioned about what I thought about the parable, I admitted I’ve been in the same camp as the all day workers. “It’s not fair!” The Master should’ve paid the one hour workers a twelfth of what he paid the all day workers. I am not a mathematical expert but the lunch time workers should have gotten half a denari and the 3pm worker a fourth. That would have been the FAIR thing to do. Wouldn’t it?

Yet when one reads on, the King Himself says in verses 15 and 16, “ ‘Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?’ So the last will be first, and the first last.”

The first will be last? The last will be first…that is so not fair….or so it would seem, but the King’s economy is not the same as my economy and thankfully God is in charge and I am not. It took a change in perspective for me to surrender my “It’s not fair” banner. Because He is Kind and compassionate, abounding in love, He was gentle in revealing this one to me.

If I am completely honest I’ve long held on to the “it’s not fair” because I know that I am an early morning laborer. I came to know Jesus early in my life. I got the same Grace and Salvation He freely gives to someone who comes to know Him in the Eleventh hour of his or her life.

With the all day workers, what I failed to realize was, that they had enjoyed the presence of the Master longer. They had been with the Master all day. They had been able to work and serve the Master for a full day. They had been able to see that Master at work himself, managing and such, doing whatever it is Vineyard Masters do.

Perhaps the Eleventh hour workers were envious of the all day workers. They had just met the Master and had not had the benefit of gleaning from Him, watching Him lead, spending time in His presence. I am thankful that in the Kingdom I am an all day worker, that I have had the privilege of working alongside the Master for the majority of my life, that I have been under His protection and grace for many years. I am grateful that He takes the time to show me a new perspective to an old story that my heart hadn’t always been receptive to and how He reveals Himself continually in His Word. He is a good Master, one who is not fair, because He is better than fair.


A Mary is A Mary

One of my Nearest and Dearest visited the U.K. this past summer. She brought home souvenirs that I truly treasure, they were English tea leaves housed in a tiny Big Ben tin. Once used, I cut the box that it had come in apart and made bookmarks. Currently, these memorial snap shots of London’s major landmarks can be found in the book of Jeremiah Chapter 29. The tiny Big Ben tin is in my pantry, a reminder of our friendship and her trip.

Much to my surprise and delight for my fortieth Birthday she gave me one of the most treasured gifts I have ever received. A gift so unique I’d’ve not even known to ask for it. Wrapped in a simple blue box with the words “Historic Royal Palaces” lettered in gold was something I’d always wanted I just didn’t know it until I received it. I squealed when I opened the box. As I unfolded the bubble wrap I uncovered a for real English porcelain pexels-photo-810050.jpegtea cup and saucer. I do not possess the vocabulary to describe how enchanting that cup and saucer are. Beautiful and dainty, they evoke a feeling of elegance when I look at them; I even hold my pinky out when I pick up that cup and sip my imaginary tea. I have yet to use it, for I am waiting for as unique and special an occasion as it is. I have placed it in a place of prominence and I admire it daily.

I enjoy television from across the pond, British entertainment is some of my favorite. In fact, it would seem much of the British world brings me delight. I particularly like how the Brits do documentaries. Recently I was watching one such documentary and found myself pondering the Marys the King knew when He walked this earth.

There is one presenter I especially enjoy, he’s a jolly fellow with a grand sense of dry British humor and is entertaining as well as educational. He says things like “flabby bits” and will draw the eye to the unusual and often overlooked details of art. After watching a special on Impressionists, he changed how I pronounce Van Gogh.

the-tardis-263153_640(I once watched a Dr. Who episode centered around the Impressionist Vincent Van Gough and I will not even lie, it made me so distressed I shed actual tears. My children still find it funny that I cried while watching Dr. Who. They refer to that particular episode as “The one that makes Mama cry.” They are right, it does. Every. Single. Time.)

I digress, the aforementioned Jolly Presenter was explaining his point of view regarding the Renaissance art, he introduced the audience to the various Marys of the Bible depicted in classical art. He spoke of the Mother Mary, Mary the sister of Martha and Lazarus, and Mary Magdalene. He explained that many times the Marys overlap in Renaissance art. To drive his point home he would say “A Mary is a Mary” his British accent stretching out the name Mary in the statement. It sound more like “A Maaawrie is a Maaawrie.” I mused at that thought and what I actually knew from the King’s Word about those Marys. Mary his mother, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of Salome and James. I thought about Matthew 28, when Jesus had been raised from the dead. I imagined how dark and overwhelmed those Marys must have felt as their Precious Jesus was beaten and crucified, how he hung on that cursed tree amongst common criminals. How deeply sad they must have felt as they lay His lifeless body in that tomb. The pain would have been overwhelming. How so early on that Sunday morning those Marys went to finish the job of preparing his body for burial. I thought about that “Mary is a Mary” mentality and how very inaccurate that it actually is.

When Mary Magdalene cried and mourned, believing that Jesus’ body had been stolen (John 19:13-15), she wept with grief there before her Lord. She did not recognize Him. But then He did what He so often does for the ones He loves. He spoke her name. Verse 16 says he said only her name “Mary” for her to know who He was. He knew her all along.

The reality is, in the eyes of the King, a Mary is not just a Mary. The truth is we are all uniquely created. Jesus knew each Mary then individually just as He does now. He is in the business of making relationships. The purpose of His death was to restore relationship with God.

As I’ve pondered on the British Presenter, how his statement prompted me to ponder, I am in awe of the King and how He loves each of us individually and uniquely. How the world may scream something different, yet that will never negate the truth that Jesus loves me and He loves you too.


You are a precious treasure! The King loves you indidvidually and uniquely!


Best Elisabeth Elliot Quotes | Doorkeeper

I didn’t grow up knowing much about missionaries. They were a far off lot, the things of bedtime stories and fairytales, and it was difficult for me to wrap my childlike brain around a person who would give up all they had to tell the rest of the world of the King. I knew the King and loved Him but this missionary life boggled my mind. As I grew up and lottiemoonmy faith became my own, missionaries became a part of that faith. It wasn’t until my adult years a Lottie Moon Christmas offering resonated with me; I began to have an appreciation for missionaries and for their work across the globe.

I have one that declares she will be a missionary one day, I will admit that in the beginning I tucked that away and just observed her. She isn’t vocal, pushy, or even very outdoorsy, all requirements I once thought were necessary for such a life. When I first learned the story of Nate Saint, Jim Elliot, Roger Youderian, Pete Fleming, and Ed Mccully via a low-budget movie with Ricky Schroder, I wept. For the first time the realization hit me that in fact the missionary life was the hard life.

One of the wisest women I know, a woman steeped in Christ who has mentored and encouraged me for over a decade once said to me that the most difficult call from the Lord to a person is to be a preacher or a missionary. Over time I’ve come to realize she was spot on. After I learned the story of the aforementioned heroes, a story from the mouths of their families and the ones present when their earthly lives met their demise at the end of a spear. I learned that they could have used the weapons they carried, defended themselves against their attackers, an act they chose not to do but would be considered totally reasonable, and ultimately those who killed them did so because of a lie.

I came to realize once more that those who are sold out to the King, their lives, our lives do not make a lot of sense to some people. It blew my mind that Elizabeth Elliot would even consider taking her small children back to the very place where her husband was killed and live amongst his murderers. It was in fact, until I realized that when one walks with the King it can be mind-blowing.

My little Lottie, the one who is called to be a missionary was named Charlotte, Lottie for short, before she was mine. A fact that I know is not an accident. She exercises daily the very things she will need to be a missionary. Unlimited generosity, tremendous faith, unquestionable forgiveness. She is quiet and walks in humility and is bold all at the same time. She loves different cultures and is the most adventurous eater I’ve ever known. I will admit that I am fearful for her and would be content for her to decide to be something a little less global, but the truth is I want her to be what the Lord intends for her to be and if that is a missionary then so be it. I will have to trust that the One who calls is faithful and He will do as He promises for me and my foolish, fearful heart. I reckon Jim Elliot said it best when he says, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.”


The One who calls you is faithful, and He will do it. 1 Thessalonians 5:24

Love Has a Name

Scott Martin is notorious for scoring things no one else in our family has. Once he won some bleacher seats from the television station that had previously resided at Talladega Superspeedway. He brought them home, perched them on our patio and would sit in them regularly. They were very ugly and I winced every time I had to look at them. He eventually sold them and they reside now at a friend’s tire store, I still wince when I see them, they are still ugly, but at least they aren’t on my patio.

tickets-672414_640He has won countless tickets to events, we have never paid for tickets to the Monster Truck Jam, but he and my children have been multiple times. He usually wins a “family four pack” and since there are five of us, I always forfeit my ticket option. I have come to appreciate that I am the real winner, a quiet evening at home. He is forever receiving “swag” in the mail from folks: autographs and goods from names I am not even vaguely familiar with, trinkets that bear some logo or advertising on it, original art, and all manner of music paraphernalia.

We never bought a ticket to a comedy event the entire time we dated. Then there was that prize money from Wheel of Fortune that we used to adopt our youngest child. He has a knack for things like that. If I truly believed in luck I’d say he got a hefty helping of it. I on the other hand do not recollect when I have ever won a thing. I am accustomed to his winnings, so when he mentioned he had received some tickets to the upcoming Ice Show I was not at all surprised.

We decided to make a night of it, we took our teenage children and one of their friends to watch the costume clad Disney characters skate about on a sheet of frozen ice. As the show began the characters announced that we were going to discover the “World’s Greatest Treasure” I turned to my left and said to Scott Martin, “It’s love.”


“The greatest treasure is love.”

“How do you know? We haven’t seen this before.”

“I just know. It is love.”

Throughout the performance the filled arena would be shown items pulled from a treasure chest that would segue into the next act. All treasures, but none the greatest treasure. At one point I literally laughed out loud because, Scott Martin had been repeatedly assaulted by the various extremities of the approximate six-year-old Woody-hat-wearing boy seated to his left. Scott would adjust, lean over to me and matter-of-factly say, “This kid has hit me like fifteen times.” At the exact moment I looked, said Woody-Hat-Wearer was upside down in his foldable arena seat. We remember those days, when our six year-old was upside down in his chair kicking the seat occupant next to him. For years we would “bookend” our kids so as to avoid a cowboy boot to a stranger’s eye.

At one point in the performance Scott leaned over and said, “That looks like aquarium line dancing.” If I had’ve been drinking one of those fifty dollar Cokes you can only get at such events, I’d’ve for sure spit it onto the seat occupant in front of me. I am not entirely sure the limited gravity of water would even give way to line dancing, but I didn’t argue, I just laughed.

We watched the parade of stars, found ourselves talking amongst ourselves about the costumes and at times focused on the people around us more than the ice skaters below. Our nose-bIeed-section seats afforded us little in the way of seeing details below. As I was people watching, I noticed a couple of Daddies who had nodded off, a few other teenagers, who like my own knew every word to every song sung, despite informing me prior to the beginning of the show that they might be “too old for this.” I noticed Mamas with phones, kids with cotton candies and cell phone selfies galore.

ice-snow.jpgA few rows ahead I spotted a curly headed little girl. She was fun just to watch. It was clear to me that her favorite princess was on the ice as she began to jump up and down. She pulled her Mama’s shirt and pointed wildly at the princess-dress clad woman skating below. As her favorite princess would randomly wave to her adoring fans the curly headed girl began to shout with adoration. She waved wildly screaming, “Look here! See me!” When the Princess skater whizzed by without a personal acknowledgement the curly headed girl picked up her petitions. She held the dollar store glow sticks her mama had given her. She waved it so fast the pink and orange neon sticks looked like a blur.

I feel certain that the Princess never saw her Number One Most Adoring Fan, way up high in those seats, waving that literal Neon sign. In that moment, The King spoke. He reminded me that He is never far away from us. We don’t have to yell, “Look here! See Me!” to get His attention. We don’t have to wildly wave cheap glow sticks for him to focus on us. He is near and we need only say His Name.

As the show came to a close the “Greatest Treasure” was revealed, and it was indeed love. As we made our way out of our seats Scott Martin said over the hum of the people, “Love has a Name, and it’s Jesus.” He may not have been exactly right about the line dancing in an aquarium observation, but he got that one right for sure.

Love does have a Name and it is Jesus.


“Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13


Springtime Buttercups

Aunt Sis, she has another name that sounds nothing like Sis but for reasons long lost to family lore she became Sissy some sixty plus years ago and the name stuck. I grew up knowing her as Aunt Sis.

People in my family tend to earn new names from their given ones. I am Mamie, Mame for short. Only the closest to me call me by that name. My niece Ellie Grace (She is called Eggie) calls me Mamie and while it is intended to be a two syllable word, she says it with such a Southern twang and drawl that it has more like eight syllables.

My Aunt Sis can spin a yarn like nobody I’ve ever known, I used to beg her to tell me stories when I was little. She could transport me to a time when the adults I knew were children. They were wild and free, romping about thickets of pine trees. Those conifers were so densely packed they left a carpet of pine straw on the ground year round, beneath the carpet was the richest and darkest dirt. One day the conifer carpet would compost down into more beautiful black dirt, thick with nutrients and soft as biscuit dough and excellent for mud pie makin’. Shoes were rarely worn, and storm weathered saplings would serve as pretend horses for pint size riders to gallop upon. There is a legend that as a baby my Mama was “thrown” from one of those hoses. In a rodeo type fashion Mama was placed atop just such a tree by her older sister, my Mama wasn’t a very good rodeo Bronco Buster because she promptly fell straight to the ground. Sis told me that story. I’d venture to say she told me that story multiple times to halt my incessant story requests.

She told me the story of Ol’ Mrs. H and her buttercups too. There is not a spring that goes by that I do not recollect that story and the adventure that followed it.

Mrs. H was an older woman in our small church growing up, in fact I hardly remember her, by the time I made any connection to her at all she had long since moved away from her sprawling estate. Her house was ginormous, or so it seemed, filled with mystique and legend it seemed to be bursting with old stories. It sat on the left of the Highway to Home but come the first of spring it wasn’t the house you noticed but the Buttercups that engulfed the grand old home. The rest of the world refers to them as daffodils but Sis called them Buttercups and so do I. I can still smell the sweet spring air, their aroma overpowering. As far as the eye could see all around that long abandoned antebellum home with its huge columns. A sea of yellow. Hundreds, maybe thousands of Buttercups lined up in perfectly straight and neat rows after row, as far as the eye could see. Bulbs planted decades before when the old house was alive and well.

Sis told about the old lady’s brother, having been born a little different, he struggled with the day-to-day, but he liked to plant and plant he did. Perfectly straight rows of chevrolet-362870_640buttercups, acres and acres of them. One spring Sis got permission from the Old Lady to have some of those buttercups. We set out on an Adventure of a lifetime. We got in “MIckey’s Bus.” Her husband drove a suburban before Suburbans were cool and she had aptly named it “Mickey’s Bus.” Its seats were covered in fabric that vaguely resembled those rag rugs that used to be popular. We drove the few miles over to the Highway and dug up several clusters of those Buttercups. We howled with laughter and giggled with glee as we went about the task of procuring those plants. Sis would tell us stories of the house and legends long since dead. We traversed the rows of Buttercups and unbeknownst to me at the time memories were born that day.

Memories that still make me smile, long after that grand ol’ house was replaced by huge metal warehouses in the name of progress, I’ve often wondered if the warehouse worker people know that they are standing on what was once that magnificent sea of yellow. There have been a few survivors from those original buttercups, I know where they reside. The Highway to Home split the estate and at the time a small section became a parcel or private property. Sis pointed them out me once some thirty years ago and and told me who the Planter would of been. I point them out to my children now, as the only reminder of that Sea of yellow planted a century or so ago, a remnant that remains unassumingly on the other side of the Highway to Home.

In the moments they are being made those memories rarely seem significant. I suspect that lovely cool day as we meandered down the road in an old white suburban, laden with sweet smelling flowers, shovels and picks, if you had told me that particular day would be one of my favorites and stand out in my memory and as a precious one at that, I likely would not have recognized it as such. Memories and stories that marked me and help to shape me into who I am.

I love to tell a story myself. I find myself on the other end of the incessant pleas for a story. I often tell my very own niece Eggie the stories of Rabboni. I told her the first Rabboni story as we sat on the beach many summers ago. I wrapped her in a towel and spoke just loud enough for her to hear. I waved my hand toward the water and its particularly rough waves that day and told her of His friends afraid on the sea. As the waves rolled in and the shadows grew long I told her how Rabboni walked on the rough and tumultuous sea, one very much like the one we were sitting beside. I told her how He enjoyed the company of fisherman; we giggled when we thought of how fishy his friends probably smelled. Most of all I tell her how He loves people. She loves to hear the stories of Rabboni and I love to tell stories of Him. Hebrews 12: 2 says that He is the author and perfecter of our faith. I am so thankful that He is writing my story beautifully and included sweet smelling Buttercups to serve as reminders of His faithfulness and Creativity.


‘Tis Better to Give

“The internet never lies.” George Washington

“Don’t believe everything you read on the internet just because there is a picture with a quote next to it.” Abraham Lincoln

I honestly read these in the past and for a moment believed they were spoken by the two famous gentleman cited as the speaker. For a split second I had forgotten that the scenarios were impossible as neither speaker lived during the time of the internet or widespread electricity for that matter, and most certainly would not be vaguely familiar with the Information Age in which we live now.

We live in a time when our senses are bombarded from a backlit screen with initials like LCD and CRT multiple times a day. In a time when information is abundant and it seems a large portion of our information about others can be ascertained by social media. Even the term “social media” had to be defined in fairly recent history. In some ways that word seems like an oxymoron to me, yet it is how a large majority of us live, connect, and even socialize. It would only stand to reason when I recently read a quote on said social media that I felt the need to verify it. It was an Anne Frank quote, had a picture of her beside it and it read “No one has ever become poor by giving.”

When I scrolled by it I half-heartedly read it. I passed it by and carried on swiping through friends’ family Christmas celebrations, selfies with big smiling grins, joyful memories and exciting outings, an abundance of recipe and organizing videos sporadically played, and an abundance of goodwill sentiments for those days and the ones soon to follow.

I pondered on that quote, went back to it, snapped a screenshot to come back to when the busyness of the day was no longer a factor, I would also want to verify the source, as “George” and “Abe” have advised.

I decided, after a few internet sources confirmed the beautiful Jewish girl of fourteen years did indeed chronicle those words in her diary during the horrific holocaust, that regardless of the speaker, the words could not have been more valid, the fact that they were said in the midst of more than tragic and devastating circumstances makes them even more powerful but no less truthful.

Those aptly spoken, rather written, words could not have been more timely. The economy of our world would dictate otherwise, that you can not keep that which you give away, we should look out for ourselves and share only from our excess. However the Lord’s economy never works as the world’s. His word says that we are blessed to be a blessing, we are to be cheerful givers, and that we can not lose that which we give to the Lord. (Genesis 12:2, 2 Corinthians 9:7, Matthew 16:25)

No one has ever become poor by giving

Not Always Nothingness


We had completed our outdoor chores just as the day was coming to a close. He had been tasked with leaf raking. His sisters were in charge of distributing the leaves around the plants. I found him sitting on the ground, silent, staring out into seemingly nothingness. I’ve seen him this way multiple times before. He said nothing, never even acknowledged my presence as I approached him. His arms bare, bright red shirt with classic humorous phrase on it, he has always liked shirts that seem to speak for him, for his words are few, they always have been. As I sat down in the grass beside him, I followed his gaze. Nothingness it seemed was in fact the beginning of a beautiful sunset. The blue sky sinking into streaks of pink and orange. Bare trees silhouetted in front of the colorful display. He sat silent and motionless.

I always struggle this time of year. I have for as long as I can remember. When the days are cold and darkness comes early, I tend to give way to feelings of sadness. Maybe sadness isn’t the right word, melancholy perhaps. I have read that many of History’s creative types were prone to bouts of “melancholy”. I take a little comfort in knowing I’m in good company. I find myself struggling until the buttercups begin to show themselves. They are the first to usher in spring and with it warmer days.

As we sat there staring I became acutely aware that the bare trees made me uncomfortable. Their leaves long gone, the deciduous giants looked oddly vulnerable. As the word floated through my mind, I began to ponder. How in the world could something so seemingly strong be vulnerable? Maybe that is why I do not like to look at the trees, perhaps I think that if I am seeing them in that state of nakedness then I am invading them somehow. As we sat there thinking of such things I made a “Hmph” sound. He looked at me, he said nothing. I spoke.

“Hey Bud. What do you think of the trees with no leaves?”

The world calls him autistic. I call him awesome. Some would call us cursed. I call us blessed. Many years ago I mourned what the world calls normal, I mourned what I knew would never be. Atypical. We had answers but in the answer there were an infinite number of questions and uncertainties. I never really told anyone at the time of my grief. I hid it. My fear would exit myself in the form of anger or anxiety. Sometimes it still does. He spoke, his characteristic, loud monotone voice like music to my ears.


“They’re okay? They don’t bother you?”


“They sort of bother me.”

“Why?” Clearly he was puzzled. How could I be bothered by something so abstract yet so finite?

“They seem sort of naked or something.”

“But won’t they be back? They always come back.” The leaves were the “they” to whom he was referring.

“Yes. In the spring, when everything starts to grow again. The trees lose their leaves in the fall, they go to the ground and compost down into the soil.”

“Well that’s good.”

“It is, I reckon.”

“If the leaves were there we couldn’t see that bird or squirrel.” I hadn’t noticed them but there they were, doing whatever it is birds and squirrels do in trees on cool days. Scurrying about being an adventuresome bird and resourceful squirrel. They had captured his attention long before I sat down.

In the vulnerability the trees had allowed a part of themselves to be seen that otherwise would have gone unnoticed. To capture the attention of one of the most unique of thinkers. In their vulnerability and loss they were life-giving and were now able to ready themselves for new life and new growth. He had seen that I had missed it entirely. As we sat there in silence watching our new-found friends against the backdrop of God’s paintbrush, I gave thanks for a new perspective, for the reminder that joy comes not from my circumstances around me, but from within. I gave thanks for a unique and amazing boy and his insight into the things that go beyond the naked eye and that in vulnerability there is healing and life renewed.


Poured Out

Charlotte’s hearty and joyful laughter on the other end of the phone and then,

“Mama you really do wanna be Jewish don’t ya?”

My response,

“We already are Char.”

Not really, not in blood line, at least as far as I know, but we have been adopted by the very One who came as Messiah. So by way of grafting in, we are a little Jewish. The laughter was preceded by the reminder that that night at Sundown would begin the Feast of Booths and by way of observance we Martins would be making our way to the front steps to celebrate the goodness of the King. To ask His blessing for the next year in more ways than we even know to ask for.

There was a time in history when a great temple stood as the dwelling place of God and the Rabbi would make his way to the pool of Siloam (the place of healing), fill a vessel, pexels-photo-149687.jpegthen pour out the water out like an offering. As the water made its way down the temple steps there would be praise for blessings had come. The healing was on the way and Messiah was coming and there was the solid reminder of the water the Lord provided from a rock while the Israelites wandered in the desert.

The King once spoke of Living Water and I can’t help but think this very act was in the forefront of His mind when He said it. So some couple a thousand years later, in a crude but no less symbolic nature, in Warrior Alabama, we Martins gathered at the top of our steps, a vessel filled with water, a glass pitcher given to me by a precious friend, who in doing so reminded me to allow the King to fill me up to be poured out again. As we congregated we read some from the King’s book, we prayed and Scott Martin spoke blessings over his flock. Rudimentary and not a word spoken in Hebrew, but no less significant. There is power in speaking blessing over those who have been entrusted to us.

After the paternal blessings, the male son, Shelton, had the privilege of pouring. As I watched the water move over the mortar and stone, making its way down the steps I marveled at how beautiful the very act was. Tears blurred my vision as I pondered how the King poured Himself out willingly for me. As I tucked Shelton in that memorable night he asked about the following year and would we observe the Feast of Booths as we had that night. He asked about the Year of Jubilee and he asked how I knew about “all that Jewish stuff.” I explained that I didn’t really, but we Martins could use much in the way of blessing and it just was something I needed to do.

Like most everything the King asks of me, despite the uncomfortable nature associated with it, ultimately it is for my benefit.

Shelton was satisfied with those answers and gave me a hug and an “I love you mom.” He settled himself under his covers and I reminded him that he is dearly loved, that I love him more than he can imagine, but that Jesus loves him even more. As I reflected on that day I was once again reminded of the perfectness of the plan, how I am loved. Loved enough for One to pour Himself out for me.




Favorable Change

“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.”

Stingy eyes evidence of the tears the day before as I tried to insert my contacts lenses I pondered to myself how in recent history I had gone through a record number of contact lenses evidence of multiple crying episodes. The day before, my friend had declared she was moving away. I’ve heard it said that major events and good things occur in threes. Like three pregnant women at the same time, three blind mice, the three little pigs, the three primary colors from which every other color can find its basic origins. The ships that carried Christopher Columbus’ to find The new World: The Nina, the Pinta, and The Santa Maria. The three cord strand that is not easily broken (Ecclesiastes 4:12): The Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Jesus’ resurrection after 3 Days. I could go on and on. Well maybe not me, but with help of an internet search engine I could.

So when the for the third time a sweet dear friend told me she was moving away all I could do was cry. It was a true answer to prayer for her and for her family, but for me, it was heartache. For the others whose lives she had invested in, it was sad. I’d watched her over the last several years, she had been the very words of Jesus that had come to life for me.

Jesus said in Matthew 25: 36-40:

“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

qag0vcte_600x600_a538b01aMy friend, she had fed me. She fed me on multiple occasions, but one of the most memorable was when we were moving, living out of boxes, and she called me and said, “Hey! I have a Beef Bonapart that I am bringing to you Martins right now.” There was no time to protest, no time to argue, she didn’t even give me the option to say no. She brought that delicious baked pasta right to my front door, handed it over, said, “Enjoy! I love you!” and she left.

That evening I was tired, I was stinky, I had worked all day in preparation of my new living quarters and I was hungry. I’d long ago resolved that dinner would come in the form of a grease stained paper bag, with some mediocre fast food option to sustain me through the night. Yet, there I was sitting at a makeshift table with my family, enjoying a homemade dinner on a paper plate, with a plastic fork, she’d brought so we could eat that pasta dish.

She’d invited me in countless times, even in the days when she barely knew me. I was in essence a stranger and she opened her home and welcomed my rowdy Martins and me. She told me once, regarding her Mama’s house, “Mimi’s house isn’t fancy but it is welcoming.” I knew exactly what she meant, for her house was the same. It wasn’t fancy, but is was warm and welcoming for sure.

clothes-hangers-coat-hangers-plastic-hanger-hang-39518She didn’t exactly clothe me, except she daily reminded me that Colossians 3:12 tells us to, “clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” She reminded me by being dressed that way herself. She challenged me to dress the same way, to exhibit compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.

I can honestly say I’ve not been in prison physically, shackled up and sentenced to serve jail time by a judge, but I have been shackled up spiritually. I’ve been so fearful and anxious that it were as if my extremities were shackled to the wall. She knew I was in jail, that I couldn’t free myself from those things. She didn’t have a key to liberate me, but she knew the One who did, and she would intercede to Him on my behalf. Both in my hearing and not. She would pray for me and I can honestly say, there were times I never told a soul that I was wrestling yet that did not stop her, she would sit with me and she would pray.

I have been sick. She has prayed for vomit and pain, for test results and for strength. She has prayed for peace and for comfort. She has prayed without ceasing not just for me, but for countless others as well. Heaven alone knows that astounding number. She taught me the benefit of “Well, let’s just pray right now.” When she would be asked to pray for someone or some situation in particular, she demonstrated there truly was no time like the present. She’d say the aforementioned statement and then she’d get to it, petitioning the King for healing. I am, I was, one of the least of these.

When my friend announced her leaving, I cried because there are some kinds of change of which, I am not a fan. I cried because I know that she is so much like Jesus that I would miss the reminders of Him, (she would argue this point with me here, further demonstrating her humility and supporting my statement.) We prayed together that day, and she reminded me of a solid truth, “When you walk with the Lord, change is always in your favor.” As the time came for her to embark on the new phase of life and new adventure and ministry Jesus had already prepared for her, I was challenged. Unknowingly she has challenged me, and Jesus clarified that challenge.

Jesus speaks to me somewhat unconventionally. He essentially said to me, that I wouldn’t be missin’ her and the Jesus in her so much if I acted more like Him. If I would take the time to do for others the very things my friend taught me to do.

The King’s word says in Proverbs 7:17, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” I’ve not been trained in the metallurgic arts, but I know enough to know this is absolutely the truth, for I was a rusty, dull, piece of iron, heavy and laden with fear when along came my friend, who acts like Jesus and helped to sharpen this ol’ gal up.


‘Tis the Season

We sat at the table, she had coffee, I had sweet tea. We were near giddy just to be with each other. Years ago when life was different, when our kids were little and we went to the same places every day, when circumstances forced us into each other’s lives, and it was not uncommon to see each other multiple times a day such a giddiness would have been absent, such an anticipated and leisurely meal likely would have been too. Back then, we would daily talk and there were times that it had been literal hours that we had seen the each other last. But as it happens with life, things change and children grow. People move. Jobs are different. “Seasons” – that tends to be how I hear it referred to, and for a season we were inseparable. This season of life though is much different.

The online dictionary defines a season in this way – season : a time characterized by a particular circumstance or feature : a suitable or natural time or occasion: an indefinite period of time : while. The King’s Word says to everything there is a season. (Ecclesiastes 3:1).

the-original-italianI reckon calling different times of life a “season” seems to make perfect sense. Seasons change and life changed, so we went from seeing each other every single day to seeing each other on special occasions and when we happen to be at the same place at the same time. When that happens I have been known to squeal with excitement. As we sat there soaking in our time and happenings in our families’ lives, drinking our caffeinated beverage of choice, amidst an endless supply of buffalo check and country store decor surrounding us, “Season’s Greetings” made its way into my mind (defined by the same above source as: an expression of goodwill at Christmas or the New Year) I wondered where the expression had found its origins.

Our conversation meandered, we have always had difficulty staying on task. We filled in gaps of time with parallel world events, our conversations woven around the One Whom we both love and whom this Season, the Christmas Season, is about.

As we talked I pictured in my imagination a woven tapestry, our words making a picture and the thread holding it all together is Christ, the one that binds us to the support frame of the loom, Jesus. Pull that central thread out, and the tapestry would all unravel, the loom and colorful threads that make up our lives would come crashing to the ground and be nothing more than a mound of tangled up mess. I do tend to have an overactive imagination and a wandering mind. However, the reality is, we would both tell you, that Jesus alone holds us together. As we filled in those gaps, we laughed until we cried, we cried until we laughed, she and I caught up as best we could. She has always been a lover of jewelry and she was adorned that day as per her usual. On her right arm I noted the pearl colored baubles and jewel encrusted bracelet, the simple silver bangle that my 40-year-old eyes could not decipher what the small writing said. I examined and must have had a quizzical look because she said, “Oh, this one, this was a gift from a family. It says ‘Make a difference.”

I nodded. I knew what she meant, and she went on to point to other things, to show me pictures of and tell me about the gifts she had received. In light of the Season, I thought it fitting.

Her career revolves around loss. It wasn’t her first career. She was, she is an accountant, CPA I think is what it’s called. She’s a numbers person. I am not. That career was like a springboard that catapulted her into her now second, late-in-life, go back to college career. A calling is a better description.

It boggles the mind of many, myself included, whenever she begins to talk about it I just say,

“I couldn’t do it.”

Her answer always the same, “Yes you could.”

“No Ma’am. I could not” My reply also always the same.
We have had this conversation on multiple occasions.

As the tapestry grew and our conversation continued, we talked about the gifts, how each one tells a story and ministers to her. How she looks at them and doesn’t see an object but sees people who gave them. The Givers have sealed a place for themselves in her heart. She doesn’t say it but I can read it in her eyes. She rubbed her index finger over the imprinted words “Make a Difference.” Her eyes were shiny with tears and on the verge of running down her cheeks, she looked at me and said as if speaking to the Giver rather than me. More rhetorical than not.

“You lost what you love and went through a very hard time and I get the gift. I struggle with that.”

For a moment there was a pause in our conversation. She used the scratchy paper napkin that had been rolled around her silverware, to dab her eyes.

cross pexels-photo-635699“That’s Jesus.”

The words were out of my mouth before I knew it. I even questioned if I had said them out-loud. I saw her nodding and dabbing her eyes and realized I had actually said them out-loud. A second time, stronger and confident of my declaration.

“That is Jesus.”

He was born the humblest of births, lived a life of simplicity, loved on and cared for the ones unworthy, the ones the world did not even recognize as people and yet He willingly gave His life as a ransom. He gave it up so that we can receive the gift of salvation. The gift of Hope. The gift of Peace. The gift of God with Us.

I reminded her again that she was for many, the face of Jesus. That she was a glimpse of who He is and that He had placed her where she was for just a time as this. Our conversation meandered on and by the time the lunch crowd had come in, we determined our breakfast meeting had to adjourn.

The tapestry of our lives filled in a bit more, holding firmly to that thread of Christ. We hugged and promised it wouldn’t be so long until we saw each other again. My cheeks sore from laughter, my eyes stinging from tears, I was filled up and happy as we parted, better than I was when we had met.

I giggled as I recalled our conversation, challenged as I pondered on parts of it.

This Season, this Christmas Season, this Season of life, this Season, I will choose to acknowledge and worship the Giver. The One who gave His very life in exchange for mine and I’m likely to find myself in the very same frame of mind as my friend, humbled and moved to tears, that another would suffer loss and joyfully give me a gift.

Season’s Greetings Indeed!

Merry Christmas!

'Tis the Season!