To The Rescue

“We gotta go get them.”

The higher up in the hospital chain of command was telling me, in brief, that there had been an accident and the helicopter had been deployed to go and get the one in need of hospital help. 

It was a benign yet factual statement but it made me think.

There are times when we need help and we go to the help; we make our way to the place of healing or any number of situations. While there is healing to be found in those circumstances, sometimes one is in such need of help he or she can not get it themselves. Times when a car accident occurs or any number of life-altering situations.

That hot summer evening as we sat in traffic with dusk setting in and our destination still far away, we heard a helicopter circling above us. That earlier conversation and the circumstances that called for such a remark came back to me.

Someone needed rescuing and they were unable to do it themselves. That person, in that moment, was incapable of helping themselves. The line of cars evidence of the road-blocking, individual-injuring car accident ahead. The stillness gave me time to think. The Spanish moss hanging from the gnarly old live oaks, the sun lowering on the horizon, gave way to the realization and conclusion that we as humans are like that, we need intervention when it comes to being rescued.

We are incapable of saving ourselves. We had to be rescued. So like the helicopter going to get the helpless, Jesus came to rescue us. He didn’t meet us halfway or expect us to make our way to Him by way of works or any number of things. He simply came to earth, sacrificed Himself and saved us once and for all. 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

A song to encourage your heart: I Need You Jesus to Come to My Rescue

Serene Seaside

And the sea will be no more.

“Then I looked and I saw a new heaven and a new earth for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away and the sea was no more.”

There’s more to it than that but I always get stumped right there and I make a face. 

It is a segment of a portion of the 21st chapter of the last Book in the King’s Book. 

I along with some of my closest friends spent the spring studying it and about 31 of us committed this portion and the subsequent verses to memory. We worked hard on it all year and then the day came when it became a part of my memory. I still get some of the articles and verbs wrong, But this part, the part about the sea being no more always gets me, the beach is my absolute favorite place on this planet and I could not appreciate the fact that the sea will be no more. I tried hard to reconcile that in a perfected new world there wasn’t a sea, or a beach. But a perfect world with no beach was a hard sell. 

After some study and some questioning I finally settled on the sea being somewhat metaphorical. 

The beach is the place where I think best, where I sort things out when they get jumbled up, where I check off items on my bucket list, make memories that last a lifetime. The place where I am inspired and it’s been the place that I’ve sought clarity and healing. I’ve limped there too many times to count only to leave walking upright.

The beach is the place where I refresh, reflect and recharge. 

Some days ago we Martins took a vacation to the beach, we visited Mobile and Fairhope. We witnessed a sunset that couldn’t be described and my words can not do it justice. We laughed and ate and swam and pondered and prayed. We attended church at a Bar turned worship center come Sunday Morning. We made memories and soaked up the sun and surf. 

We enjoyed our time and at the end of it all the King reminded me He is faithful in all things and can be trusted with the deep places of the heart, hurt and healing.

Best Thing I Ever Ate!

She was decked out in a pink and purple two piece bathing suit, her middle just peaking over the bottoms, her blonde pigtails long ago waterlogged, and her glasses smudged with fingerprints and sunscreen. They bore the evidence of having been surrendered every time she entered the pool. 

An older lady wiped her face and she pulled away, that is what caught my attention. I saw myself in her, it would have been more than forty years prior and I am certain my middle may have been pudgier and been peeking more significantly than hers did. 

The little girl held in her hand an ice cream bar on a stick and she ate it with such delight I found myself wanting one. She took another bite and nodded toward the older lady. I heard her approximately six year old voice say, 

“Best thing I ever ate!” 

And she smiled. I knew she was speaking the truth. I quickly calculated that she’d been alive somewhere in the 4500 days range and in all that time, here on this blazing hot afternoon by the pool she’d just consumed the best thing she’d ever eaten. I smiled at such a revelation and began to ponder, what is the best thing I’ve ever eaten? 

I’ve tasted some good things before but none of them are so ingrained into my memory that it tops the list so significantly that I can immediately recall it. 

Spaghetti is my favorite food and any time is a good time for pasta and I love a good salad, the kind that makes a meal with meats and cheeses and copious amounts of full fat dressings thereby rendering it no longer in the healthy food category. I love a good beverage, the kind that comes in a tall glass bottle with a top that requires more than just a twisting motion to open. I love a chocolate dessert, a brownie, a sundae, all manner of sweets and savories but there isn’t one thing I’ve tasted that made me hankering for more and forced me to declare it the best thing I’ve ever eaten. But there is One Thing that could hold that distinction. 

Although it is not physical food there is One Thing I’ve tasted and the moment I did I knew I wanted more, knew my life wouldn’t be complete until I had experienced it again. There is One Thing that has left me hungry and has truly been the best thing I’ve ever experienced and that is my Jesus. His word says to taste and see that the Lord is good (Psalm 34:8.) He alone is the Best Thing. 

He is better than an ice cream bar on a stick by the pool on an afternoon that’s been defined meteorologically speaking, as hot as blue blazes (I don’t even actually know what blue blazes are.) He is better than my Italian Grandmother’s spaghetti and sauce or those meat and cheese salads from my teenage years. He is better than all those things and once you’ve experienced Him you can’t help but declare He’s the best thing ever!

Unconventional Passover Practices

At Sundown on Passover if the weather is stable enough for the Patriarch to participate the Martin 5 will be celebrating. I want the Martin 3 to grow into adulthood understanding clearly the foreshadowing of Who was to come. 

It’s always a little weird and a ton of awkward, but it paints a clearer picture. I’m figuring out when you walk closely with the King there is often a little weird and substantial amounts of awkwardness. 

On Passover at sundown we step outside under the big full moon and we will blow the family shofar. Then we partake in an abbreviated sedar meal, we will read through our coffee company complimentary copy of our Haggadah and hang a red ribbon over the door frame of our home.

The Martin 3 will find the hidden afikomen that has the middle matzah that has been broken and hidden away and the finder will win a prize. It’s usually chocolate in nature.

It’s not the typical Jewish way of doing it, nor is it the norm, but it’s our way of connecting that Scarlet Thread that runs throughout the King’s Book. The old and the new. 

A couple of years ago as I made preparations for the meal I had asked Charlotte to remind me of a particular Hebrew word, she had the Google translate at her disposal and I knew she’d be able to correctly interpret. 

As I handed her the object with the Hebrew word, I said, “I think it just says Passover.” The Word Passover always looks to me like GOD written in backward (or frontwards if you’re a legit Hebrew scholar) in English. 

In a matter of moments she confirmed my suspicion and handed it back to me to continue with my preparations. 

The evening meandered on and just before bed, in her typical way she came to see me, tell me goodnight, snuggle a bit, and she handed me a drawing she had been working on since her impromptu interpretation session. It simply said “Passover” in Hebrew and she had added some floral accents.

She smiled as she handed it to me, pleased with her work and with pleasing me. Beauty at its best. A pureness of heart, a gift given with nothing expected in return, a beautiful and accurate depiction of what my King prepared to do this very week so long ago. 

A Chag Pesach Sameach indeed!!!

Easter Emotions

If I’d’ve been one of those gals at the cross with Baby Boy Beloved John I’d’ve been ticked! 

I’m talking so mad you can’t say anything except, “I’m too mad to talk to you right now so you best get outta my face” mad. 

That Mama kind of mad that I doubt Daddies can fully understand, the kind of mad that you’d kill for your kid and lose sight of everything in the periphery kind of mad. The kind of mad that can only come from believing one set of circumstances and expectations only for those to be shot to heck-n-back and the reality is almost unbelievable except there you are smack dab in the middle of them. 

Some of y’all have no idea what that’s like, for that I am grateful.  I do know that kind of mad and I can tell you some days even decades later I still ain’t all the way finished getting mad over some things. It’ll just hit me and all the sudden I’m ready to slash tires or walk on coals or some other nonsense in order to make sense of those unexpected, blinding circumstances and experiences. 

I know that mad and I get why those gals got up so early that Sunday morning, just as the sun was coming over the horizon, chill in the air, ragged from crying for three days. I get why they made their way to that tomb to finish the burial job the men had started before Passover. 

Their beloved Boy was gone. This wasn’t how it was supposed to be. How was this the magnificent plan?

I imagine on the way they rehearsed what they would say to the posted guards and if I’d’ve been there I can guarantee you I’d’ve been a little bit ghetto and prolly said something along the lines of, “ I dare those sons-a-bananas to forbid me…” any number of made up angry imaginary arguments. All’s I know is I’d’ve been wagging my tongue and still tryna make sense of what had taken place on that cross outside the hill. I’d’ve been angry that I’d’ve had to observe Passover despite my hurt of losing my Boy.

I said that out loud as I drove home with Shelton and Charlotte last night. I said out loud the part about being so angry. They both looked around trying to discern who actually had ticked me off. I explained and their answers to me  fit their Bethany 3 personalities perfectly. 

Charlotte  said, “Mama it had to be done, it was an act of love.” She’s a Mary.

She is right of course I know that, but did they? Did those gals know? 

Shel said, “That’s a stage of grief. Anger. You’d just be grieving over death.” He is a Lazarus. 

But that Sunday morning those stages of grief would’ve come to a screeching halt for on that Sunday morning the King conquered death by death!

He is no longer dead, He is alive and ain’t no need to be angry anymore.

Borrowed Tools and Tombs

“Why you gonna buy a tomb when you can just borrow one?” 

He, like most Alabamians, pronounced borrow, “bar-ee.” 

He was speaking of the King’s tomb, the beautiful limestone one belonging to Joseph of Aramethia. It was brand new and had never been used. Joseph had prepared his final resting place, but on that dark day Jesus was the dead man in need of it. 

The Preacher Man had acknowledged that the tomb hadn’t been intended for the One who was going to be using it. He communicated that the tomb was to be used by Jesus.  He noted that sometimes it’s better to borrow something than to outright buy it. 

The Preacher Man used to be in the plumbing business and every now and again his old trade makes its way into his sermons. 

“Some-a y’all are that way about tools. You’d rather bar-ee ‘em then buy ‘em.” 

He chuckled  and I got tickled. I knew just what he was implying, some folks borrow things and they don’t return them. Sometimes some folks, well-intentioned or not, borrow things and just fail to give them back.

 Truth is, I am notorious for it. 

I’ll have really good intentions when I borrow stuff but the truth is I’m forgetful and I mislay things or I put it in a place so I won’t forget and I inevitably forget where that place is. Just a week or so ago I borrowed a book from a friend and had she not texted asking for it, it would have likely made its way into my collection. I will often find things months after I’ve intended to return them and by that time I am embarrassed to admit I have had the item for so long. Case in point, I presently have a Dolla-Store storage container awaiting return to its owner. It came to me filled with a half-dozen of the world’s best peanut butter cookies made by my friend Erica. It’s been sitting in the same spot in my laundry room for about six months. 

As the Preacher Man made the statement about the borrowed tools and the borrowed tomb my imagination took me to the place in the garden that dusky evening, His lifeless body removed from the cross needing a final resting place.

I imagined Joseph and Nicodemus making their way to what would be a borrowed tomb. I wondered if Joseph knew that the tomb would only be needed for a couple of days. I imagined Nicodemus carrying the excessive amount of burial spices he’d brought over his shoulder like some men carry animal feed or dog food. 

That night wasn’t Nicodemus’ first night encounter with Jesus. I wonder if he even gave it much thought as they prepared Jesus’ body for burial, or if it was one of those things he thought about with the hindsight of processing such major events. 

Jesus didn’t take much from this life, from the world, instead He gave and He gave. 

He gave love when He was handed hate. He gave forgiveness when faced with the unforgivable. He gave Grace in the face of adversity. He gives forgiveness when it is undeserved, and on that Sunday morning some two thousand years ago He gave back that borrowed tomb as He was raised from the dead and He didn’t need it anymore. 

It Wasn’t That Big of a Deal

“By love serve one another.” Galatians 5:13

It’s been 22 years since it happened and to be honest I really have very little recollection of it, yet every single time since that moment, that one act, I am reminded by the recipient. 

“You cleaned my house for me.”

I woke up to the TV news playing, it was that early in the morning news and while it was the beginning of a hot August day, I was still groggy when I heard what I thought was a dream. A loved one had died, I was still in the in between when the news registered in my groggy brain. I clarified. What? How? He was perfectly healthy a week ago wasn’t he? My Mama said she didn’t know details but did suggest we head over to the deceased man’s home. His wife was there, mama had just gotten off the phone with her and while she’d said she didn’t need anything, my Mama knew better.

We arrived and the house was still and quiet. The grass was overgrown, her husband was going to cut it the following weekend, he would’ve done it the previous one but he had chosen to do something else instead. His choice had made for a memory, Good choice! I thought at the time. The house was an old house, the century-old kind with a big broad front porch and two porch swings. The screen door seemed as tall and as wide as the downtown buildings you could see from it. They had no central air conditioning as the house was literally over a hundred years old and hadn’t been retrofitted. All the windows were open and cross-ventilation was the method of cooling, although on a sweltering humid Alabama August day, cross-ventilation is hardly recognizable. A single fan stirred the air and the house was slightly in disarray.

They, like many people, lived in their house, so clothes were strewn about, dishes from the night before piled high, papers and such laying about. It wasn’t a dirty house but given the fact that it would soon be filled with people it could use some attention. My sister and I got right to work. We straightened and cleaned, wiped the visible dust away, swept and cleaned the original hardwood floors that were worn smooth and dipped where hundreds of thousands of feet had trod. We cleaned toilets and changed out towels, washed dishes and stacked up papers neatly and placed them in a basket. We took out trash and my husband mowed the grass. We finished everything is an hour’s time or so and then moved on to whatever task was needed next. Mama directed us, she comforted her friend and would tell us what what was needed, “They’re going to need some paper products, for when people come. Amy, you run down to the store and get those. While you’re out, run by the post office.” I was handed a letter to mail.

The things we did that August morning, before the hustle and bustle that comes when a dearly loved one passes weren’t really a big deal, not to us anyway. I never even gave it a second thought really until later, when the calm began to set in after her husband had been laid to rest and the real grieving began. 

“You cleaned my house for me. Thank you.”

Those were her words to me. What she had remembered, what had mattered. 

It had been no deal to me. I hadn’t over extended myself. It hadn’t cost me a dime. I’d only done what needed doing in the moment, yet that small act had meant so very much to her. 

She still reminds me of that when I see her, she’s long since moved away from the grand old house in the city. She’s moved on in life and in love, yet that 22 year old act of kindness she still remembers. I can hardly recall it, and it certainly doesn’t even cross my mind when I think of her or her late husband but that is what she remembers in those first days of grief.

As I’ve traversed life I’ve come to realize oftentimes it’s the not big things that are most impactful. Those moments when we are unaware of their significance that turn out to be a really big deal. 


The greatest among you will be your servant.” Matthew 23:11

Tuba-Twelve

The Preacher Man used to be a Plumber before he entered into ministry. 

He still is a plumber some days, I believe, on an as-needed basis. I have seen him carry a plunger and tote a wrench before. Perhaps it was his lay trade history that makes it so he says things that get me tickled and make me take another look at things that are familiar. 

I have never been in construction but I have on a number of times traversed the aisles of the Home Improvement Store. The smell of lumber draws me in like freshly baked bread does some other folks. It ushers in reminiscing and memories. When I was little, some of my people were into carpentry. My play was sprinkled with wood scraps and sawdust like some kids’ play is peppered with play-doh and glitter.   

Perhaps it is that which has laid a foundation of familiarity when The Plumber-turned-preacher goes back to his roots. This might have been the case when he preached on Matthew Chapter 7, verse 3; it is a verse about the plank in one’s own eye whilst pointing out the splinter in someone else’s eye. The King was speaking metaphorically at the time, and to be honest I have known this story for a lot of years. The thought of a piece of wood in my eye seems uncomfortable, but that is where the lesson mostly ended for me. I had missed the point of the story entirely. Maybe the preacher knew that so he drew from construction days as he began to break it down for his congregants, yours truly included. 

He likened the log in the eye to a piece of lumber, specifically a two-by-twelve, two inches wide and twelve foot long. He is deeply southern and pronounced two-by-twelve all together making it sound like “tuba-twelve.” 

A two-by-twelve is long and thin so it bounces and bends easily as it is ill-supported, and isn’t easily maneuverable. A two-by-twelve is an awkward piece of lumber. The mental picture began to form in my mind. 

Imagine trying to walk around stabilizing that plank of wood, managing to go through life with that tree hanging off your face. The metaphor had become clearer. Imagine that nonsense when you are concerned with a speck in someone else’s eye. As the Preacher man spoke, his description of the “tuba-twelve” made me realize that until that moment I had completely missed the purpose of the parable. As he preached, he challenged us all to be aware of our own plank of wood, and now I remind myself to be ever cognizant of my tuba-twelve while being careful not to point out other folk’s stuff. 

Make ‘Em A Meal

Several weeks ago I took sick. I’d gone to bed normally and woke up in the dark-thirty hours of the morning with an appendix gone bad. The bad appendix earned itself a not so endearing name and it made me sick as could be. I was amazed that something so small and insignificant could take something so strong and big down in a matter of hours. One of the side effects of the sickness was that unbeknownst to me it would lock my words away. They were held captive in some unknown place. My words were few and far between, my verbal communication was grunts mostly, and the written communication was nonexistent. The words had vanished overnight and I found myself distraught for more reasons than just an infected abdomen. A week post-op I found myself still silent, waiting for the words to return, my friends recognized my paralysis pertaining to life as usual and quickly developed a rotating meal schedule. Had it not been for this meal provision the Martins would have had to solely rely on subpar takeout and instant noodles. 

It was on the night of the final “meal night” that I received an unexpected gift.

But first some history. Many years ago prior to Wednesday night service at the church house an optional meal was provided. The gentleman who spearheaded a team of volunteers who cooked and prepared meals for the masses of GFBC was named Freddie. He was a genuinely good man and he loved people through food. The meals were never fancy but they were delicious and for the weary mama I was with three babies under five they were a midweek reprieve. Our weekly routine revolved around those midweek meals. Countless times I crammed tiny frames into high chairs or sat with my foot on an adjacent chrome and plastic chair to inhibit its tipping out of its clumsy occupant. I scrubbed faces and hands prior to Awanas and Veggie Tales, and I fought sleep many a Wednesday night while the preacher man spoke. Eventually the Wednesday night meals would cease, time would march on, and that sweet man would enter Heaven leaving behind his precious widow. 

Present day,  There is not a week now that I do not move those same chairs, long since transported to new classrooms and and silent observers of ministry. But there isn’t a time that I don’t wonder if at what time in my history I possibly encountered them. I often wonder if those chairs were a talking record keeper if they would stop me and say, …

“Do you remember the time you sat in me and ate that Wednesday meal and cried because you were so very tired?” Or “Remember back then how much you stressed over such simple and small things? Things not of eternity and so inconsequential that you don’t even remember them now?” Or “Hey you see that dried bit of ketchup on my underside? That was placed there by your screaming toddler whose inability to effectively communicate rendered him screaming, ketchup covered and frustrated? Yet now, he communicates clearly and while he is still sometimes ketchup covered at meal times, he is a reminder that God is a promise keeper.” 

That sweet widow of Freddie is my friend Neanie and she was the caboose of that meal train, post appendix. 

As we opened our dinner she had sent our way, complete with not one but two desserts because if you know you know! Freddie and Neanie cake is manna from Heaven and Neanie’s banana pudding is absolutely amazing! As I opened and plated that meal I immediately was transported backwards in time as I recollected those Wednesday night meals and I thought to myself, “The spirit of Freddie lives on!” Simply put it was a reminder to love them with food. I ate that dinner and tears filled my eyes because in that remembering and reminiscing a story was born and the words were suddenly unlocked and made their way to the surface and the healing and wholeness began to take shape. Tears rolled down my cheeks as I thought how a simple act, the provision of dinner did more that day than just provide supper, it was a tangible act of love and mercy and provision in more ways than just the obvious. It was a tool of remembering much like that meal with the King prior to His crucifixion. I felt sure much like He said, “Do this in remembrance of me” the King was glorified by that sacrificial act of love between His people and the reminder to do more things like make ‘em a meal in remembrance of Him and His sacrificial love.

Almost Missed It

I Almost missed it. I was too worried about myself to even be aware of him. Too busy being about my own business. 

I hardly noticed him sitting across from me, elderly, past retirement age, Bible open in his lap, head bowed in thought and prayer. 

I was looking at my phone pouring over a Google search. His Bible was worn and used marked and highlighted. It fit snugly into a Bible cover. He would turn the pages with a gentleness and ease that I watched intently. I am a page flipper, no grace, no careful touch, just a ferocity and clumsiness that tends to be my nature. My Bible reflects such a nature.

This man though took such care with his most treasured possession, a pang of conviction came over me. He wore no expression of shame and he did not dare attempt to hide his Word. I noted as he read he was towards the back. I assumed a letter from Paul and I fought the urge to ask him what he was reading, what nuggets of truth he was finding in those soft pages. Moments before, I was too worried about myself to even be aware of him and as I sat now enamored and intrigued, I realized for the second day in a row, I’d almost missed something, someone rather, because I was consumed with myself and my own circumstances.

The day before I was frustrated, my day began with a broken pipe that led to a broken ceiling and a broken wall. I am no contractor but I knew it meant trouble. Expensive trouble. As I exited the interstate I was grumbling about the cost of such things and how I was heading into work after crying all morning and I didn’t really want to go but no I had no choice and if God could’ve just not let this happen that would’ve been great and also could that car in front of me just GO!!! 

I was angry and I was so consumed with myself that I almost missed it.

A person sitting on the ground, head down, knees pulled in, arms around them one frail hand raised, but just barely, holding one of those foam trays, meat comes on and written in neat all caps black letters, the word “Hungry.” The sign one of desperation, the posture, one of shame. 

As I sat across from the unashamed Bible reader I realized that I had almost missed them both, the ashamed destitute least of these, and the unashamed Bible reader because I was looking down instead of up.

I had been so focused on me and my stuff that I failed to look around and see the world around me. 

Another pang of conviction and I began to pray. A prayer of repentance and petitioning, I asked for eyes to see others as the King does and to see  less of me and my circumstances.

I looked up after my silent amen just as The Bible reader began to doze.

I’ve done it myself many times, my intention to spend time with my Lord but fatigue takes over and my head once bowed in Prayer now is bowed in slumber. I used to feel bad about that, used to be upset that like the King’s friends, couldn’t I just stay awake and pray, until one day a friend of mine told me she felt sure that the Father would much rather me climb up in His lap and fall asleep than to have never met with him at all.