Monday, April 20, 2015

Convicted

God did a number on me yesterday......and I needed to be taken to the woodshed.  For awhile now I have been holding my tongue with a certain person close to me who challenges me in that area each time I am around him/her.  We all know someone like that:  a nasty, mean person who deserves to be told off.  "Deserves to be told off."----Well, who am I to cast stones that way?  Am I perfect?  Far from it.  I thought I was doing very well holding my tongue; after all, I constantly remember what the Bible says about the tongue:

  Proverbs 18:21:  "The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit."  Then, there is Matthew 12:37:  "For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned."  Finally, there is Proverbs 13:3:  "Those who guard their lips preserve their lives, but those who speak rashly will come to ruin."

There are many other verses about the tongue, especially in Proverbs, but you get the drift of what God is saying.  We.are.to.think.before.we.speak.  Is that easy to do?  No, absolutely not.  However, as I said, I thought I was doing well.

Then, last night I saw something on Facebook that convicted me.  I have written before how God has used Facebook.  I figure He is hip; He will use whatever means He knows will get our attention.  And, He knows I am on Facebook a lot.  This is what convicted me:

    This is from Jesus Calling by Sarah Young:  "To live at peace with everyone, you need to    control   not only what you say and do, but also what you think.  It's common to assume that your thoughts about others don't matter much, as long as you keep them to yourself.  However, I am fully aware of all your thoughts.  When you indulge in negative thinking about someone, your relationship with that person is damaged.  Those hurtful also affect your relationship with Me, and they may have a depressive effect on you.  The remedy lies in turning to Me and seeking My forgiveness.  Then, ask My Spirit to control your mind and help you think My thoughts.  This is the way of Life and Peace."
 
     As though He were afraid that would not get my attention, this was on a college friend's status this morning:  "There will always be people in your life that are unlovable in your eyes, but our Lord Jesus told us before his death on the cross that we are to love unconditionally.  It is His commandment to us!  Put a little love in your heart, people...remember the world will be a better place for that love you share."
 
     So, I stand convicted, convinced, however you want to word it.  Is the passage from Jesus Calling from the Bible?  No, of course not; however, it is biblical.  If God is concerned about what comes from my mouth, isn't he concerned with what goes through my thoughts to lead to my mouth?  The Bible also tells us we are to hold captive every thought:  2 Corinthians 10:5:  "We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ."  To me, that is even harder than taming the tongue.  So, when an unsavory thought about someone comes to my mind, I have to harness it and dismiss it.    This is what I have to retrain my mind to do:
 
          "Finally brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever
       is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--
       think about such things."  Philippians 4:8.
 
I have much work to do...............
 

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Used of God

God has a way of using the most innocuous people, if we let Him.  When I began teaching English in August of 1988, there was a (I think) fifteen year-old sitting front and center, grinning from ear to ear.   When I look back at that first year, I don't remember much except the students, and he was a card, as the idiom goes.  He was constantly cracking jokes and was the life of the class.  I loved that group that encompassed Nichole, Chris, Shedrick, Scott....  They were smart, smart kids, and as a first-year teacher, they fueled my passion for teaching high school English at a poor, rural school in Colleton County, Ruffin High School.  I would stay at that first stop on the teaching circuit for eight years.  Through the subsequent years I would make my way to schools in Walterboro and Beaufort.


Flash forward to 2011 (again, I think) and a funeral held in the gym of that first school.  Whom did I spy across the floor but that student.  What memories flooded back as I hurried down to hug and speak to him.  He was the same, yet he was a grown man with a family of his own.  His face had not changed a bit.  We subsequently became friends on facebook, and what a blessing he has become to me!  God has sent him as an encourager in dark times.  Just when I am feeling spiritually low, I get a phone call or text message from Him.  He is allowing God to use him to minister to his little ol'  high school English teacher of so very many years ago.  It is awesome how God uses people from our past to minister to us.  He makes and flourishes those connections. 

Sunday, March 1, 2015

A Love Story Spanning the Decades, Part I

June 15, 1949 was the date of my parents' marriage; Mother was three weeks shy of 18, and Dad was 21.  Their love started in an era where times were simpler and vows seemed to mean more than they do today.  Let me start at the beginning.

My parents met when my mother was probably about six years old.  They lived in Bamberg County, South Carolina in a "hole-in-the-road" known as Little Swamp Community, not too far from Lodge and Smoaks.  My father's daddy worked for the railroad and was often away from home.  Dad was one of four boys that his mother basically reared by herself for much of his childhood.  His daddy was killed in a car accident in 1946.

Mother lived "across the branch," as they  called the woods, with her parents and four siblings.  Her daddy was a poor farmer who grew cotton, among other things.  She and my father attended the same one room school house and church.  In those days, country folk in that area had socials that centered around cane grinding and peanut boiling.  It was at one of those peanut boilings when she was probably about 15 that she announced to some of her cousins that she was going to "marry that boy one day."  And that is what she did.

Fast forward to June of 1949.  My grandfather drove Mother to Bamberg to buy her a new dress in which to get married.  One day shortly after, she came in from the field, kicked off those shoes, and said, "I'm done with you, old shoes!"  On the 15th, her eldest brother drove them to the parsonage in Smoaks and waited in the truck while they went in and got married.  The next day they took a bus to Columbia and the following day continued on to Clemson where they were to live while Dad attended the University and tried to support them.

This thing called "faith"

One.day.at.a.time......

So, I have this little nondescript blog that no one reads.  I have it to basically process my thoughts...when I feel "moved" to do so.  At times it functions to whet my spirit when it is dry.

This morning I am numb, depressed even, over what the next few weeks, months, or years will bring.  I am not in a comfortable spot.  I don't like change, yet change is a primary component of life.  Only God knows how much time my mother has left in her earthly body, one that I have classified as "bionic" because of shoulder and hip replacements.  I worry about my father--my rock, my hero--and I worry about how I will handle it when they are both gone.  See, they have put me in charge of their estate.  I have only halfway listened when Dad went over directions/procedures with me....contacting the Air Force base in Charleston, social security, on and on and on.  The smart man wrote everything down, too, because he knows .....he just knows......

Yesterday when the enormity of it all was pressing down on my shoulders, a friend reminded me to take it one.day.at.a.time.  This blog is old; birthed from my cancer experience, if I remember correctly.  On sun shiny days I have no problem remembering this.  Well, I am entering the not-so-sun-shiny days of my life.  This is what brings us back to our faith. 

One.day.at.a.time "I can do *all* things through Christ, who strengthens me."

It does no good to wallow in worrying about tomorrow;"Today brings enough trouble of its own."
Yet, we are, after all, only "human."  This is something I have to make a concerted effort to do.  One day, one step, one breath at a time....

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Inching Closer to Our Creator

Purple fingernails and the low hum of an oxygen generator....every hum that resonates represents the inching closer to our Creator.....

Such was the scene as I left my parents' house this afternoon.  Just two weeks ago today, Valentine's Day,  we were eating lunch at Cracker Barrel.  Today, when I walked into their home since August 1967 (They bought it in 1963 when Dad was in the Air Force.), the dining table was gone, packed away in a back bedroom.  In its place sat a new hospital bed, replete with lovely eggplant sheets Dad bought yesterday.  We waited for several hours before the ambulance brought my mother home.  She had spent the last week in ICU--at first she had pneumonia and acute kidney injury---now she has heart failure, bedridden with constant oxygen and bed pads.  I stayed an extra two hours through the hospice nurse's visit and all her explanations to my father.  At one point as I looked over at him after she left, he held his hand to his head.  I calmly went over and wrote this verse on a sheet of paper from his legal pad:

"I can do ALL things through Christ, who strengthens me."

I told him I had claimed it as "my" verse several years ago.  I reassured he "can" do this.  See, although hospice is involved, they will come a couple of times a week; *he* is her primary caregiver.  In the last week I have heard him tell several people that years ago, 65 years and 8 months and so many days, they promised to take care of each other as long as they were able.  He is fulfilling that vow.

In the twinkling of an eye one day, Jesus will return; in the twinkling of an eye our lives can irrevocably change. 

Two weeks ago I was eating in Cracker Barrel with my parents; today I was watching purple fingernails and listening to the low hum of an oxygen generator.


Inching closer to our Creator

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Reminder

At times I am such a simpleton---truly slow and hard-headed.  I have been going through a very difficult time with a family member in the last year, and the last two months have been particularly trying.  On most days I find myself treading water, barely keeping my head above the deluge that constantly washes over me.  I have begun to claim as my mantra, "Walk by faith, not by sight."  How easy it is to say.  It's more difficult to do.

This morning I was on one of my regular blogs and saw this posting from the owner:  "In what ways am I slow of heart and foolish?
      1.  Letting discouragement bring me down
      2.  Listening to doubts instead of truth
      3.  Forgetting
      4.  Letting my mind wander instead of focusing on Jesus."

I messaged this sweet lady that I believe God meant that for me.  It truly resonated with me.  I should probably have it tattooed onto my brain or forehead.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Bells and Whistles

A friend and I have often discussed what type of church we are seeking.  It seems we are in the days of the mega churches with the entrapments of bells and whistles of light shows and bands and praise teams.  Why?  2 Timothy 4:3 tells us that the time "will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine.  Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear."  In other words, man wants to have his ears tickled; he wants to hear what will make him feel good about himself and his lifestyle.  That is why we have the "prosperity doctrine" preached in the mega churches. 

But, I digress........

That is so far removed from the church of Jesus' time.  AND, I think that is why there is a large faction of the population who want nothing to do with church; they don't see Jesus in that. The church He founded met in homes where people shared a meal together.  They showed concern for people, not how to pay a multi-million dollar mortgage on a stadium or multi-plex.  Recently, an acquaintance asked me about coming to a new church that meets at a local school.  I nicely cut her off and told her I want no part of it.  I do not need flashing lights and praise teams to worship God.  I need a community of like-minded people who want to commune in private homes over a home-cooked meal where they have a Bible study and plan ways of doing for those less fortunate in their community....where they pool their resources to fix a damaged roof of a poor shut-in...where they collect socks to hand out to the homeless (I recently found out that is one thing the homeless need a LOT of)...where they make sandwiches on one of the Bible study breakfast meetings and assemble bag lunches to give out to the homeless....that is the community of Jesus followers I want.  I once had that...and it was wonderful.  Now, there is just me....for the time being...so I wait.  I wait on the Lord.  He will bring that to me again...someday.  How do I know?  Because He says "Trust in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart."  Jesus told his followers in Matthew 25:40:  "Truly I tell you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me." 

So, I wait on the Lord to bring it to pass......the Church as He intended.....one of service to the least among us.......a pure, unadulterated church.....not one ensnared with the trappings of this world.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Intentional

Intentional---This is my "theme" word for 2015--my word to live by.  To me, the word means "on purpose with forethought."   I want to be intentional in what I do:  intentional with my finances, intentional with my relationships, intentional with my work, intentional with my health, and intentional with giving my time to others. 

I have been a "fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants" person.  This year I want it to be different.  I see 2015 as a pivotal year in several areas of my life, and being intentional will help me to achieve my goals.  My 2015 goals are as follows:
                
                           1.  Contribute *weekly* to my savings account using the principle of adding the
                                       amount that corresponds to the week of the year
                           2.  Pay off 3 debts
                           3.  Stick to "clean" eating as much as possible for my health
                           4.  Exercise at least 3 times a week
                           5.  Allot a specific day of the month to visit my parents, putting all else aside
                           6.  Read through the Bible in one year with a plan I found online
                           5.  FEAR NOT

With God's help, I will be able to live an intentional life this year, one that blesses others as well as meets some of my personal goals. 

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

A Reflection

As a new year dawns tomorrow, I am pondering this post from last January 1.  It focused on overcoming fear with the touchstone of these verses:  Isaiah 41:13:  "For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and  says to you, 'Do not fear; I will help you.'"

And my favorite:            2 Timothy 1:7:  "For God gave us not a spirit of fearfulness;
                               but of power and love and discipline."


I think back over 2014 and consider how I have done in that area.  Last December God was placing a powerful blessing in my hands, and I was scared to death to reach out in faith to grab it and take advantage of it.  I was so scared that I ignored it for the Christmas holidays.  Once New Year's was past, I tentatively reached for it, and I haven't turned back.  There have been ups and downs in this new venture (adventure) He gave me in online tutoring, but each time I faltered, I looked back at those verses and snatched them, not tentatively reaching  as initially, but snatching them for dear life.  He has taught me so much through this compact between us:  faith, trust, and reliance.  It *is* a compact between Him and me.  He set this opportunity on a silver platter before me and said, "Here is an answer to your prayers, Ginger.  Take it, trust Me, and I will help you."  And *that* is exactly what He has done---beyond my wildest dreams.

So, as 2015 dawns, I am setting new goals---boldly---knowing that the same God who guided me and helped me in 2014 will be there to guide me and help me in 2015.  As I reach out my hand, He will continue to say, "For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and  says to you, 'Do not fear; I will help you."

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Resolutions: To Make or Not to Make?

We are on the cusp of a new year---2015---and that means the buzz on social media is about resolutions and whether to make them or not.  People tend to pledge to do the normal thing--lose weight, exercise more, etc...

I have never been one for really making resolutions, but this year I am.  And, I am writing them down as a visual reminder.  I got some not-so-great medical news this morning, so it is a necessity that I make some changes to affect that for the positive.  2015 will be a pivotal year for me financially as well as I pay off some big bills.   I have had many challenges in the last few years:  cancer, family illnesses, financial strains, etc..  Through it all, I have relied on one verse to see me through: "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."  (Philippians 4:13).  Notice the one little word allIt doesn't say "I can do some things.."  It says all.  All means *all*.  Christ equips us to victory through Him.  There are many things we can not do on our own power, and I believe trying to shows arrogance--an "I-don't-need-you" attitude.  I have been guilty in past years of giving up on resolutions before I have really begun---because I tried to do them in my own power.  This year, I resolve to rely on Him as the verse says:  "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."  If I rely on Him for the biggies, like I did cancer, then why not on the not-so-big things, too?