The Why

A look back at Coronavirus and the Easter weekend tornadoes of 2020.

Scott Martin: “Why are you awake?”
Me: “I had to use the bathroom.”

~~~~~

Me: “Why are you awake?”
Scott Martin: “I haven’t been asleep yet.”
Me: “Why?”
Scott Martin: “I’m worried about tomorrow’s severe weather threats.”
Me: “You’re worried about tomorrow so you didn’t sleep tonight?”
Scott Martin: Nods head.
Me: “Come to bed now so you won’t be a grump later.”
Scott Martin then climbed in the bed beside me and promptly fell asleep.

And that’s when I knew. Suspicions confirmed. My take on the weather event might warrant sharing at a later date, but this is what I suspect was The Why.

imagesI ain’t even gonna lie. I hadn’t looked at the first model, I hadn’t watched or listened to the weather man (the one living in my house and the one not.) I had’t been stressed over it at all. Normally my stress regarding the weather is limited to: 1. If I’m scheduled to work because when the weather is bad and you’re a fragile kid, your dad’s a meteorologist working in a closet, it’s good to have your mom at home. And 2. When your patriarch is a meteorologist and you still go to church on Sunday morning the aforementioned patriarch will not likely be present. (His coverage area is not limited to Where We Live, Alabama, so it might be simply delightful here and all crunk up in the Pickens, Lamar, and the Hale counties, among others, so he must work to share the information with those people.)

I suspect that the Enemy of This World had tried desperately to flip the King and His people on their sides, a forever abdication of sorts. Tried to make life miserable and tiresome for all of us. I suspect the enemy did one of those happy dance, boo-ya things when the world as we know it had to be interrupted. I suspect when the worship services across this nation halted, he did cartwheels, I also suspect he thought he’d won this one as he watched store shelves empty, panic and fear spread like a brush fire in the desert. I suspect that he did a “YES!” elbow in movement as people began to hide in their homes and put life on hold. And I suspect and in a classic egomaniacal way he celebrated. He happy danced himself through the empty streets of places that have not been empty before this moment in time and he reveled, wallowed in his good work disruption. And I suspect that he could not contain himself when he looked upon the suffering of the people wracked with sickness… I suspect he thought he had the upper hand.

woman-in-black-leather-jacket-wearing-white-mask-3983416That was until humanity and the Good that lives in us proved him wrong. That was until people began to come out of their homes and love on their neighbors, spreading good news and smiles with unused sidewalk chalk. That was until unlikely seamstresses were born overnight to carry the burden of making masks and items for those in need of them. That was until we started to look up and see the helpers, the heroes, and the humble. That was until families forced to stay at home have eaten meals together and talked and laughed, and cried and healed. That was until the creativity that we all have has been channeled into resourcefulness. I’ll bet he rubbed his grubby little hands together with delight at his work until he saw others selflessly run to the aid of the sufferers.

Pastors and preachers, Bible studies and such have come together virtually. Encouragement and laughter can be found on the Facebooks and the Instas and on the YouTubes in the form of Hamilton via Zooms. Sure it’s not easy and there is still much to do and much to work toward, but overall, despite the horrible hand it was dealt, humanity didn’t fold to the pressure and pain he tried desperately to inflict. He was right – the world has changed, but not for the worse, some would say for the better.

The Enemy’s plan wasn’t working out so well so he had to up the ante…

cross-671379_1280Easter week is the single most special Sunday to the King’s People. It’s the day when we remember intentionally what happened that first Resurrection Sunday, when our King overcame sin and death. There is likely not a single historical event that riles the enemy more than that one. He tried really hard to stop the Celebration and he failed, so now he was using against Alabamians what we all know and many of us fear… time and weather. What a perfect diabolical mix to push us over the edge.

Suspicions Confirmed. The enemy wanted to steal the thunder of the King and he had plans to use a destabilized atmosphere, a panicky public, a significant anniversary, social distancing (which eliminates some folks’ place of safety) to throw one massive ugly punch. I am a full believer in being prepared and having a plan, the Lord protects us but he’s also given us a brain to use, so part 2 will lay out just how to do that, a timeline of what and when, but part 1 is what I suspect is the why.

Of note, this predicted weather event was the Easter Sunday tornado outbreak of 2020. There were a total of 24 tornadoes that day that were confirmed by the National Weather Service and zero fatalities in Alabama.

 

Fake Grace

My boy wiener dog loves my Mama’s dog. Her name is Grace, the dog not my Mama. Grace is a rather portly elder chiweenie. She is a good-for-a-retired-person dog. She likes naps and waking up early. She enjoys walks in the neighborhood and rides to the coffee shop. She has a tendency toward being lazy, but when she’s around her younger cohorts she gets a burst of energy and hops around like a bunny. We always laugh when she gets so excited when she visits my house. Her favorite playmate is my boy wiener.

He isn’t the smartest dog. We’ve decided as a family he is either the smartest or the dumbest dog ever. He makes us laugh with his antics. He is solid black except for a heart shaped white patch in his chest. He is playful and as I said, he adores Grace. He absolutely adores her and when she does that bunny-hop thing he gets exceptionally excited. They’ve visited and played together regularly. However, when this quarantine started, those play dates and visits were halted. To his dismay Grace has not been to visit in quite some time.

However, our behind neighbors happen to have a chiweenie as well. She is blonde and a tad younger and slimmer than Grace. There is a fair amount of space that separates my boy pup and the neighbor pup, he can’t see her very clearly but her bark sounds just like Grace. We have named her “Fake Grace.” Fake Grace will bark and my boy pup goes bonkers, he runs the fence and barks back. When Fake Grace is not outside my boy pup will stare longingly out the window in the direction of Fake Grace’s yard. When she finally emerges into the yard my Boy Pup can hardly contain himself. He barks himself silly, In rapid fire succession I imagine if I could understand dog it would sound a little something like this,

“Grace! Grace! GRACE! Come here, come over here and play! What are you doing back there Grace?”

Fake Grace does not respond. My Boy Pup persists.

“Grace!! Why did your Mama put you back there? You’re supposed to be over here!”

Fake Grace remains silent, she carries on with her business, hardly acknowledging the pest behind her home.

“Grace! I’m going to come over to that yard and get you!”

Fake Grace continues to saunter around her yard.

dachshund-2683905_1280The Boy Pup, desperate for fake Grace’s attention, wiggles himself free of the confines of my backyard and sets out to visit Fake Grace. Usually he gets turned around, stuck, gets himself into any number of awkward situations trying to make his way to Fake Grace. He has had to be rescued countless times as he makes an attempt to reach the counterfeit. As I rescue my Boy Pup, I scold him. He has gotten himself into a mess trying to make it to Fake Grace.

It was just such an experience when I realized I am much like my Boy Pup. I spend wasted hours striving for a Fake Grace when the real Grace is where I should be investing my time and energy. Oftentimes the things of life have the appearance of godliness but when I get right down to it those things become my sole focus. I strive to impress the Fake Grace decoy all the while neglecting Christ, the very One on whom I should be focused. It has even been so bad that there have been occasions when in my attempts to get the attention of the Fake Grace, I get myself into such predicaments that I am incapable of freeing myself from. Thankfully God is a long-suffering, patient God. He rescues me from my entrapment, loves on me, and reminds me that Christ alone should be my focus.

Hebrews 12:1
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

dog-1232449_1280

The Librarian’s Gift

“Seeing you makes me miss homeschooling my kids a little.”

The librarian had made her way to the table we had been occupying. The Martins were dispersed among the premises. One was looking for the Odyssey, or maybe it was the Iliad… one of those Homer books. The middle was checking the status of some things on the borrowed library computer. The youngest had fallen asleep on a table positioned in the sunshine.

They are the Modern Day Bethany 3, and Martha was quiet and still for a change. As we walked into the door of the public library two-thirds of the group announced they didn’t have the necessary book to do their assigned work. I laughed out loud. I informed them it was their lucky day because libraries specialize in… wait for it… BOOKS! And they most certainly have what they need. I grabbed the required literary companions from the stack. My long ago library aid years returned to me instinctively; I did not require help or a card catalog to locate the volumes needed to complete the assignment.

simplicity pngAs we sat at the table the older two got so tickled with themselves that they even got me tickled. The very word legume had me turning red and laughing so heartily I was sure the aforementioned librarian would ask me to vacate. Those same two, have gained their Mama’s ability to laugh uncontrollably in a place designated for quietness – a sense of humor that is both inappropriate and annoying and the ability to procrastinate and avoid socializing if possible.

I don’t want them to struggle with the same things I do, so I make them do things, step out of the comfort zone, in hopes that one day they’ll be less hesitant to do so. I reminded the Lazarus of the bunch I was making him build character as I handed him the required funds, and the dialog he was to have to get a copy made. Mary, per her usual, was sitting quietly and drawing until Lazarus dragged her into his comical circus. They were laughing and enjoying being goofy teenagers.

After our trip to the library we made our way to a local fast food place and had lunch. We ate and made our way home. The next day was our Bible Study day, and unbeknownst to us, this would be the last time we would be able to do any of the activities we had been doing so many days before. The following Tuesday the Quarantine would begin. By the next week the libraries and dining rooms of restaurants would be closed. Life would completely change for us in routine and in what we could expect from the coming days.

Within a week everyone would be homeschooling their kids, corporate worship would cease, and it wouldn’t be weird for folks to wear a mask made out of a bandana into a store. Conversations and priorities would change and it would seem as if life would never return to the normal we once knew.

As days have turned into weeks since that now seemingly long ago conversation I had with the librarian, I have thought much about what life looks like in her house, how she had missed being with her kids daily, and now she has the opportunity to do that. I have thought much of the negatives of the quarantine life. The negatives of staying at home, unable to resume “normal life.” Although admittedly I am a little more sluggish to focus on the positives, like the unexpected gift of homeschooling to the librarian, family meal times, and unplanned and unexpected togetherness. I, like most of the world I know, want life to resume, for the normal to return. But I would be lying if I said that I have not appreciated the slower pace of life and the unexpected gifts it has yielded.

woman-holding-gray-ceramic-mug-846080

“That’s What I Know”

“That’s what I know.”

She works with me nearly daily and she makes that statement on the regular. To be completely honest she says it all the time, and I rarely pay attention to what she is actually saying. She uses it like a punctuation mark and I hear it as such. After all who announces their punctuation to their statements and questions?

“Have you done your chores question mark”
“I had no idea you today was your birthday exclamation point”
“The car is making a funny noise period”

I am thankful in the English language our tone of voice, inflection, and context do that for us.

That particular day as she said, “That’s what I know.”

Something made me actually hear the words she was saying and not the intended punctuation.

I have no idea what she was talking about but I clearly heard her say, “That’s what I know.”

Perhaps it was the chatter about the once every 12 years 27th upcoming pay week. Maybe it was the talk of the upcoming holiday break plans, the visit from a family member, the insurmountable work that lay ahead of her, or the lunch choices in the cafeteria.

Ironically I do not know what it is she knows.

So when she proclaimed within earshot, “That’s what I know,” it got me to thinking… what is it exactly I do know.

I know I have worked the same paycheck yielding job for nearly twenty years and find myself wondering what comes next.

I know that there are so many uncertainties I do not know where to begin muddling through finding answers.

I once had a friend in the midst facing a terrible diagnosis and she simply said, “We do not know what we do not know.”

I decided to shift my focus from the unknown to the known.

I know that I am incredibly grateful for the body of believers I am in…
I know that I am even more grateful for Jesus, for without Him life would be unbearable, without Joy, and void of purpose…
I know that even on the hardest and darkest of days He, Jesus is Light and Life..
I know that even when it takes as much effort and deliberate action to do the basics that I do not do them alone…
I know that in the secret places of hurt and despair He is there…
I know that He is good…
I know that He is trustworthy…
I know that His ways are better…
I know that He will use for good even the worst of circumstances…
I know that He loves me and He loves you…
I know that He called me (and you) and that He will sustain me (and you)…

I have found myself focusing on the what I don’t know a lot… but today I am going to choose to focus not just on what I know, but on WHO I know.

And that WHO is Jesus Christ, the knower of all things so that I do not have to be.

silhouette-image-of-person-praying-1615776

Jack Daniels’ Daddy

I like storytellers. I always have. When I was a kid my Aunt Sis was the best storyteller there was. Her stories beat out the librarian’s any day and I can remember aspiring to be half the story teller she was one day. She would fill my ears with stories of childhood play, teenage adventures, and long lost lore of family folks from Tennessee.

I hold those stories in my heart and they are a large majority of my memories. Many of the stories, I now tell have been influenced tremendously by the very ones I heard as a child.

Nowadays my ears tend to perk up when there is a storyteller within my hearing.

Recently I was doing what I do when a lady I’ve known for years was telling tales. She has never once met my oldest daughter, but constantly calls me by her name, Charlotte. She always calls me Charlotte, despite a name tag worn daily that spells out my name A-M-Y. I don’t mind it so much, I’ve come to view it as a term of endearment.

As she told her story to no one in particular she was laughing and talking about her childhood. It was familiar to me, a familiar tone, a tone of contentment in the story and I took note of what she had to say. She drew me in with a matter of a few words.

Holiday meals, her family had gotten so large they’d long ago stopped going to the old homeplace, a small house, that the 11 of them growing up could barely squeeze into. She’d laughed when she had explained the sleeping arrangements, in the two bedroom, humble abode. Indoor plumbing was not yet a required item for houses and the “11 of them and Mama and Daddy” had managed to make it with minimal in the way of necessities. I knew that tale, I had heard it before, numerous times, in the antics of my Aunt Sis.

She had numerous siblings and so many aunties, uncles, and cousins they had to find other accommodations.

abundance-1868573_1280She had said now they “had to rentaplace ” rent a place, all one word. She described paper lined folding tables laden with food that made my stomach growl and my mouth water just hearing her talk. They had a side table, a meat table, and hold up just a second, three dessert tables.

Red Velvet cakes, pound cakes, strawberry cake, pies, pumpkin, sweet potato, chocolate, apple, two or three banana puddings. I found myself trying to figure out how I might pretend to be a long lost cousin or something just so I could go and eat. I told her that and she laughed.

She started naming all the people’s specialties, Pearl’s potato salad, her Red Velvet Cake, she always made two, one for the dessert table and one to give to her Uncle J.D.

Her face shifted a bit, and I saw her meander down memory lane. Her expression softened her eyes distant, she said, “She ran out of names so she just started givin’ children initials. We got a A.C. O.C. O.J. and a Jack Daniels!”

She said her Grandmother had so many children she had run out of names. Her Grandfather was a godly man but that last one she named, made me wonder if he had found his inspiration in a moment of weakness and the bottom of a bottle. She said they had a fruitful life together and when he was considerably young, decades ago, he had been diagnosed with cancer. She said, “None of us knew it until he was real old and he saw his medical doctor who told him that he had cancer he was gonna die from.”

She said upon receiving the foreboding diagnosis, he did not act surprised and simply said to the young physician, “I already knew that, I knew it forty years ago. My wife and I got on our knees and prayed for God to take it ‘cause I had all these children to raise.”

The puzzled physician questioned the old man further, asking him about protocols, medications, maintenance and such. The old man listened and said he had taken nothing. The young physician with his extensive medical training knew the physical impossibility, the aggressive cancer his geriatric patient had would not have yielded its life taking ways for a year much less decades. Perhaps his patient misunderstood, the doctor clarified, “Yes, but what did you take?” The old man looked at his young physician in the face and said,

“I took it to Dr. Jesus.”

I thought about that, about the medical impossibility, perhaps the decades ago doctors had gotten it wrong, perhaps the then young man with the brood of children had not actually had cancer. Like the young doctor, I was more willing to accept the failures of medicine over the miracles of God. How many times had I done that myself, how many more times would I? How many times have I desired healing for myself or someone I love and needed help from the King with my unbelief? I have pondered on that, and have found myself asking the King more and more to help my unbelief.

But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” And Jesus said to him, “‘If you can’! All things are possible for one who believes.” Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!” Mark 9:22b-24

Words. Words. So Many Words

I recently got on a word kick… wanting to know where words come from, how they started out, how they are changed over time. Words that meant something centuries ago aren’t nearly as meaningful in the 21st century simply because they are removed from the context in which they my were originally spoken. I have a list of words like that and perhaps I will expound on it one day.

I’m fairly sure that words have always been important to me but when it comes to the Love language preference and expression… words of affirmation makes the list but is super-ceded by some other expressions of love. I’ve found myself more and more immersed in the world of words and it’s left me to ponder.

Recently I was talking with a friend of mine, we are co-laborers in ministry and friends of over a decade. She’s a real life writer, she has a journalism degree and she wrote, writes (present tense) beautifully published pieces. She is no stranger to a byline.
I read her words and I’m in awe. I find myself wondering how she can take such disjointed, separate things and weave them together to create a mosaic of literary beauty. It fascinates me and in some regards I’m a teeny tad envious of her abilities. (For the record she’d absolutely blush, and humbly deny what I’ve just said about her… she’s just like that.) She is the embodiment of a gracious, humble, writer.

So on that spontaneous morning as we sat around the table I almost fell out of my chair when she called me a writer. I laughed that loud obnoxious unexpected laugh, the one that can give way to the snorting laugh because I was so surprised. I adamantly denied her accusations. We talked of words and she made a statement that has left me to ponder the words, the writer, the wordsmith.

“So many words. Words. Words. So many words.”

In the context of our conversation we had been discussing the words written, words read, and words said.
Words.
Words.
So many words.

The value of them contingent on the context in which they’re expressed. I have always been a tad verbose and the more words the merrier. Alone they mean less than they do when woven together to formulate sentences and paragraphs, complete and coherent thoughts. There seem to be many words and I found it more and more difficult to muddle through them and pick out the ones of value. The words that matter.

The King addressed words once. In Matthew 6:7 he said, “And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words.”

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.Ouch. Are my words numerous and empty? Are they words just for the sake of words? Or are my words beneficial like those of Ephesians 4:29? Good for building up.

“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.”

Words have power. They can build up and tear down, they can be beneficial or not.

I recently had a conversation with another friend. I had asked her a question. Finding myself in a frustrated situation, I asked her, “Do you not just want to say something? Don’t you ever just wanna be like, yelling your disappointment with the person you are frustrated with?”

To which she said to me, “Yes, of course I do. That is our human nature, but as I walk with the Lord, I have come to realize that I would rather have a season of silence, than to say something I would regret.”

That has resonated with me and I am coming to the realization that often times fewer words are better and Words. Words. So Many Words, may not be the best thing after all.

portrait-photo-of-woman-with-brown-curly-hair-doing-the-shhh-3764395

Let My Words Be Few by Philips, Craig & Dean

Do not be quick with your mouth, do not be hasty in your heart to utter anything before God. God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few. Ephesians 5:2

Fan the Flame

When I was little I loved to play outside. I would run and skip and jump and do all the things of childhood in an imaginary world all my own.

I would make cakes and gourmet meals with pine straw and mud. I would play house in the midst of trees as tall as I could see.

I loved outside.

I can still remember my Mama or my Mam-maw within sight, burning stray branches or raked up leaves. I remember the distinct feeling of warmth and cool covering my body at the same time. It was magical and therapeutic and I didn’t even know it. I would run barefoot, and surely I stunk to high Heaven by the end of the day, but it was a glorious feeling.

selective-focus-photography-of-people-holding-sticks-with-3569890Sometimes for lunch we’d straighten out an old wire hanger, or find a real sharp stick and we’d place a wobbly cheap hotdog wiener on the end of it. I can still taste it, and while I’m not an adventurous eater, I’d be willing to bet few things culinarily compare. That’s how life works when you’re a child, I reckon.

The simple things brought healing and restoration. The hurt of the world farther from the mind than in adulthood.

The days of late have been difficult, progressively worsening and heavy.

That cool morning, I made my way outside accidentally, there was no level of intent other than to pick up the stranded paper wrappers and sticks dotting the premises.

Life had been especially difficult and I seemed to carry a burden that none could take. And even if they could, I lacked the voice to tell them how. My mind gets muddled and foggy when I am heavy laden like that. I struggle with figuring out what to do and in what order. Basics will often get ignored in those times, the basics of life like good nutrition, writing, ability to remember. Laughter is far from frequent and the words get lost. I find myself staring at the blank canvas of the computer screen, becoming frustrated with myself, slamming my hands down on the keyboard, and walking away angry.

That cool morning I was in just such a state, so the distraction of the paper scraps of debris left by the recent storm were a welcome sight. I managed to wander around and collect enough sticks to start a small fire. It was unintentional in my conscience, but maybe deep down long ago parts of me knew I needed that reminder. that something can be made from nothing in the hands of the Creator, that beauty will come from ashes, and that in the Refiner’s fire, albeit a painful and at times frustrating process, I can trust the end result to be beyond what I can comprehend or imagine.

photo-of-pile-of-burning-wood-1070054I chose to sit by my fire, to watch the flames dance and to remember my childhood. I must have been smiling when my husband sat beside me, because he asked, “Whatcha thinking about?” We sat a while longer and the flames began to die down, the cool more prevalent than the warmth, when he said, “I wish I had something to do Matt Crawford method for that fire.”

I had no idea what he meant. I looked around and was not at all surprised to see our former neighbor with whom we had enjoyed many an evening fire, nowhere to be found. It had been many years since we had been neighbors and now they lived across the country.

About that time my husband brought a large plastic something and began to wave it rhythmically over the embers. To my astonishment the fire grew and the dying embers were now flames that began to rain down ashes.

Laughter rolled out of me as it looked like snow falling, and we were covered in ash in a most literal way, beauty from ashes. As he fanned the flame and it grew I was reminded again that the Creator can be trusted and even if the process is painful, tedious and slow, the healing will come.

For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God. 2 Timothy 1:6a 

tealight-candle-on-human-palms-783200

Boots With the Spurs

Boots with spurs are synonymous with cowboys. When I think cowboy I think old Western, like Bonanza and The Big Valley. Those were the ones available on my TV growing up. With the hindsight of adulthood, I realize those were not entirely historically accurate. In my imagination when I think spur, I imagine a closeup of the back of a boot, spur spinning, the boot-wearer having taken 10 paces and turned around to face his opponent in a duel. (Duel always prompts thoughts of Aaron Burr, spur, Burr…not quite the same but enough to keep me focused.)

Spurs worn on boots, spiked, metal wheel designed to urge a horse along by thrusting it into the animal’s side.

spurs-2824528_1280

 

So as I pondered the word and mulled it over, spur, I immediately put it into the context with which I am familiar, “spur one another on.”

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Hebrews 10:24

I have a few spurs in my life and for that I am grateful.

By definition to spur is to “encourage” an “incentive.” The horse definition fits me a tad better. I’m sluggish and despite already moving in a direction, I get weary: I know the word tells me not to grow weary in doing good so that at the proper time I will reap a harvest if I do not give up. It tells me to keep my hands on the plow and move forward. I know those things, and I keep moving, but it’s at a slower pace. Then someone will come along and do that spurring. That spike in the side, so to speak, of urging me to move, to keep the faith, not to give up hope, and to press on with a good steady pace.

Those spurs in my life challenge me.

Am I a spur for others?

When I am prompted, do I encourage others along, trusting the leading of the King, to direct that at just the right moment?

I am challenged to do just that to encourage and spur one another along toward love and good deeds.

horse-rider-riding-boot-93489

You Woke?

“And tell me your name?”

She smiled in my direction, and paused. I looked around, half trying to figure out if she meant me. The others were mostly looking in my direction; she meant me.

“Amy Martin.”

I always use both names, I have no idea why but I do.

“I am Amy Martin.”

She told me where we were in the questions from the homework. We had made it to the question that had asked why there had been a hovering of the Spirit over the expanse. I knew that, or I thought I did, I had remembered the word ruach and had written it down, I mentioned that in my answer.

We are studying Genesis, more specifically, The God of Creation. So as we were seated around the pushed together tables, after having rolled in almost tardy, but not quite, I beautiful-businesswomen-career-caucasian-601170studied the ladies seated with me. Some I knew well, others not so much. I listened carefully among the chatter of the other tables and as we moved onto other questions my overactive imagination got the best of me.

Another question, “Does God get tired?” The ladies sharing the tables said, “No.” I had remembered that question too. Before I had continued down to the scripture references I had already written in the margin, “He does not sleep nor does he slumber.”

Psalm 121:4, says Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.

To illustrate further the Table leader went on to say, “It doesn’t matter when I wake up, God is always awake.”

And that is when it happened…I realized the obvious, something I have known as long as I have known the King, but in that moment I finally connected the dots. I am fully aware that God does not sleep, He is always available and is willing and ready to fellowship with me.

I thought about my Mama. She is an early riser and I am too, sometimes. When she wants to talk to me she will typically check the status of my sleep, wake cycle. She will usually send a “test text.” I do the same for her. It goes something like this?

Me: “You woke?”

Mama: “Yes. You woke?”

Me: “I’m woke.”

It always makes me laugh, if neither of us was woke we obviously wouldn’t be texting.

You know Who is always awake, who never sleeps or slumbers?

God.

I have never had to ask Him if He is awake prior to talking to Him. What a gift to have a God that is always awake and ready to talk with me. Never once have I said to the Lord,

“You woke?” and there is silence. Not. One. Time.

As the questions meandered on and the topic of conversation changed I pondered on and held onto the wonderful revelation that the King helped me to see clearly that Tuesday morning.

He is ready and willing to talk with me (and you) anytime of the night or day.

clock-1673583_1280

You will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. Jeremiah 29:12

Press In and Press On

I have a tendency not to remember.

I write to remember.

I write to empty myself.

I write because over the span of my lifetime I’ve learned writing is a good medium with which to express myself. In all honesty I do not feel that alone I am any good at it. I have come to realize and understand the words are a gift from the King. He gives the words, I just pen them, or type them actually. I am not even a good typist, but with time and practice I have become a better typist. I would say I am a 60 WPM gal, but I don’t peck at the keyboard like I once did.

For my birthday Scott Martin gave me a large print, extra-space-to-write-in-the-margins Bible.

I needed the large print so that I could make out the words even before my eyes were fully awake and functioning. She is a hefty thing. Larger print begets larger words which beget more pages filled. Despite her size I have grown accustomed to her clumsy nature. At present she is held together with a rubber band, her cover came off weeks ago. She is crammed full of stray papers, hand written notes, and an occasional candy wrapper turned bookmark. I tote her back and forth, she gets tossed around more than her fair share but she is truly a treasured possession. Despite all of her unique characteristics, it was her extra space to write in the margin which made her a perfect candidate to become mine. Scott Martin recognized in her something I needed, substantial note taking space. He knew I would appreciate that more-than-adequate note taking space to serve as a tool of remembrance, a place to jot down the things I did not want to forget.

Recently as I sat down to have my quiet time, I was seated at the kitchen table, Scott Martin was talking in the background and everyone else was still sleeping. (The early morning sun streams through my kitchen window and hits the table in such a way that I especially enjoy my quiet time when it is sunny out.)

That particular day, I was directed to read Psalm 5:1-3 and then I was supposed to answer a question about hopefulness and expectation in prayer.

Give ear to my words, O Lord;
consider my groaning.
Give attention to the sound of my cry,
my King and my God,
for to you do I pray.
O Lord, in the morning you hear my voice;
in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch.

As I looked in the space I noticed an imprint of my own handwriting, as I turned the pages I noticed it was present next to Psalm 8 and by the time I had gotten to Psalm 10 it timelapse-photography-of-falls-near-trees-707915was just beginning to be less noticeable. I flipped left until I found the original text next to Psalm 1. I had dated it, and written a note to myself about the home of William Faulkner. A friend of mine had been there for a visit recently and was telling me about the red cedars planted all about the grounds. Legend has it those cedars were thought to “cleanse the air and were planted to ward off a typhoid outbreak long ago.”

She read Psalm 1, with a focus on verse 3,

He is like a tree
planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
and its leaf does not wither.

I made note. I wanted to be like a tree, a cedar tall and straight, not withering beneath the foreboding conditions of this world. I wrote to remember.

The force with which I had written the original text and had pressed down so firmly, made its way onto the pages of the next 10 Psalms.
I laughed at what I had done.

My mantra these days is to “Press In and Press On!”

Press tight into the hem of King and Press On to the next thing.

The fact that I had pressed in so hard I’d marred the next 10 Psalms pages is not lost on me. I’d pressed down so hard with my pen, writing furiously in a time of desperation that the lasting impression was made and would not soon be forgotten.

bible-book-business-christian-272337.jpg