Funny, that…

Funny, that…

Written by: Rhonda Sue Page

I love to laugh.  To me there’s just nothing better than a full on – make your eyes tear – sides split – can’t breathe – pee your pants – snort rendering belly laugh.  Sadly, I find they are few and far between.

This might be because, as much as I love to laugh, I find most humor crass and well…unfunny. I guess you could say I’m kinda picky. If you gotta drop an f-bomb as every form of the sentence structure in your joke……..crickets will chirp.

It’s not you, it’s me.  Sorry, that just makes me tense and uncomfortable.  We can still be friends………I’ll just be uptight.

This love of laughter is both beautiful and unfortunate for me.  You see, I have to confess something awkward about myself:

My name is Rhonda Sue…………..and I have a REALLY LOUD LAUGH.

It’s not just loud, it’s obnoxiously loud….and un-pretty.  Is that even a word?  Spellcheck is having a tantrum on me right now……….but I don’t care.  That  word sums up my laugh perfectly. Un-pretty.  It’s neither delicate nor alluring. It does not tinkle nor chime.

If you know me at all, this will not come as a surprise.  In fact maybe your relieved to know that I’m even aware of it.  Maybe your hoping that will make a difference.

Nope.

I lost the insecure vanity over it some time back…..Because I love to laugh.

I thought it might be worth mentioning because….believe it or not……it has helped me find some very valuable friends along the way.

Like Ms. Pat Owen for example.  I love Ms. Pat.  I would have been drawn to her even if she’d have been a dragon-lady….but she’s not.  Quite the opposite in fact.  She’s got Jackie O style with a mile-wide smile that’ll charm you……..even as she gives you “the business” in her slight southern drawl.  I just adore that kind of sass!  AND…….that woman can make leopard print work on just about anything.  Her bible is dressed better than Paris Hilton’s dog.

My naked bible shames me.

The greatest thing about Pat is that she likes my laugh.  Now, I’m under no delusions here.  “Likes” simply means that Ms. Pat has found the positive in my boisterous quirk.  She uses it as a homing beacon to know if I’m in the room or not.  Then based on that knowledge ………seeks me out for a hug instead of running the other direction.  Mercy in motion.

*Hugs* Ms. Pat!

Then there’s Jolie……Joles for short (Have I mentioned my coolness at this “shortening” ability?)

Jolie and I met under the strangest of circumstances.  At the time there wasn’t a thing funny about it either.

We were new to Houston. I had no friends and wanted to put my best foot forward. It was Stevie’s first day of preschool at FaithSYC. He was a super excited 4 year old on a mission….

“To be the first one at school”…. of course.

This took some doing mind you. He has three younger siblings…….and I feel compelled to mention that Texas has inappropriate heat and abnormal humidity levels for all new-comers. We were up at the crack of dawn just to get in all the feedings, bathings, dressings, diaper changes…….and fixing my hair – twice. Presentation people…presentation.

Heck, just loading all those kids in the car took 15 minutes alone.

But I smartly remembered to grab the double stroller stored just inside the garage door on the way out.

Upon arriving, I promptly fished out the double stroller and begin loading it with babies.  All the while Stephen fired off questions from his inquiring mind that needed to know stuff.

“Mommy are we here?” “Can I buckle out?” “I wanna carry my own backpack, can I?” “Do you smell poop?”

“Yes Honey, we’re here. Stay buckled in until I get the babies settled.  Okay?”

I did a quick sniff test on Mandy then put her in first.  She loved to kick the back of the seat….. so she always got the front one by default.  Then after a quick diaper-check, baby Jon got the back.

Stephen had not waited for me to unbuckle him.  Instead he was out in a flash and “helping” Matthew unbuckle from his seat as well.

But just as I turned to them, little Mandy started screeching from the stroller.  I turned back and knew immediately something was terribly wrong.  The cry was of sheer torture and she was arching up out of the seat.  I grab her up to calm her while ordering Stephen to leave Matthew secured in.

“Hang on Stevie, let mommy just see what’s wrong with Mandy.”

It was about that time I noticed the ants on my arm.  Not just ants……….

My heart sunk as I begin stripping my daughter naked…….in a church parking lot….with people everywhere.  My brain was trying to process it all,  just as I heard Jon begin a high-pitched wail of his own.

Panic poured through me…

It was at that moment two hands appeared from nowhere and took Mandy from me…continuing to help her.  I quickly snatched my youngest from that wretched stroller and begin peeling the layers off him with lightening speed.

“Mommy, please can we go in now? Mattie is going to carry my lunch because I said he could, right Mattie?”

I never took my eyes off my task.

“Stephen Michael Page! Sit! Down!”  My tone was low and cold.  They both immediately sat down on the floor of the Suburban and stared as the stranger and I worked furiously to brush fire ants off their siblings.

By this time, I had started to sweat profusely.  Did I mention the humidity?  Add to that my current state of MommaBear protect & defend mode and well………..let’s just say, I was a sight to behold for sure.  My hair was no longer salvageable.  It was plastered to the makeup that had begun to run down my face from the sweat. Life had gone sour within a matter of seconds.

I wanted to sweetly soothe my babies and scream all at the same time.

In deference to my helper………I chose the former.

Oddly, I never looked at the person helping me that day….. Although I sensed it was a woman.  We worked together in complete silence and with single purpose of mind.  We shook out clothing and inspected it unforgivingly before replacing it on red-welted angry skin that would soon blister.

Once the danger had passed, my companion left as silently as she had come.  I wanted so badly to cry.  To give up and go home.  To build a huge bubble for the five us and never leave it again.  Talk about an epic fail.

“Mommy, please can I go to school now?”

From my defeated position on the ground, I looked up into the biggest pair of blue eyes urging me to push through.

“Yes, Stevie, I’ll take you in now.  BUT I need to carry the babies,  so you MUST hold tightly to Mattie AND my leg in this parking lot.  Do you understand?”

Stevie nodded his affirmation and because I saw the seriousness of my tone reflected back in those eyes….we made our way inside. Otherwise I swear I’d have chalked the day up as a loss and headed back to bed.

In fact, the drop-off was a complete blur.  I can only imagine my first impression was less than glorious. Mortified, I didn’t even bother to find and thank the woman who helped me.

It took awhile before I felt safe enough to tell that story. I trashed the stroller when what I wanted was to burn it to the ground. It didn’t get funny for a long time.  When I did finally start sharing it …….. was also when I discovered the person who helped me.  It was Jolie Helms.  We instantly bonded when we “found” each other again. I had since forgiven myself, and I longed to show gratitude to my saving angel. Funnily enough…. she hadn’t really gotten a good look at me either that day. (For all my fear of being judged incompetent.) She had simply seen a need, stopped to fill it and moved on to get her own little guy to class. Grace in action.

That’s the heart of who Jolie is.  She’s not a glory-seeker, and hates to have attention drawn to herself.   But she is by far and away one of the most creatively talented people I have ever met. She loves for keeps, and she draws beautifully….and I’m not talking that about that stick people stuff I do.

Jolie puts up with my laughter too.  Not only puts up with it……she actually goes to see funny movies with me…..on purpose.  Shrug if you want, but Jolie pays a price for this behavior. People turn to see who’s got the un-pretty laugh and that’s hard on her when it’s the person she’s with. She blushes the color of her hair. Which is a magnificent red.

*Fist-bump* Joles!  (FYI – Jolie hates hugging.)

We fear seeing ourselves through the eyes of others.  Yet sadly that can be such a loss when, in fact, those are some of the most beautiful images there are of us.

Especially when those eyes belong to our Maker.

I suppose in hindsight, I could have picked a funny story to go along with the theme of this blog on laughter. I promise I have a few.

Like the time Stevie got stuck in real handcuffs…..or when a plastic bag static cling-ed itself to the back leg of our cat, causing her to raced from room to room as though demons were chasing her….

But it just occurred to me, I’m not really writing about laughter at all……

…….I’m writing about love.

Funny how that happens…….

~Rhonda Sue

Fitness: for the body and the soul

Written by: Vivian Wilson

I have been active in sports my whole life.  I love physical activity.  I bowl once a week, and I love to play golf.  But I am not one who gets excited about working out at a gym or any place else for that matter. I have done it, but my motive was mostly vanity.

I have actually participated in “boot camp”.  This was not a “sissyfied” boot camp.  This boot camp was led by an ex-marine.  His name was Casey.   (Not a very manly name for a marine, but I digress).  It was held outside in 90 plus degree weather.  The equipment that Casey provided consisted of sandbags–HEAVY sandbags, tires–BIG tires, and pipes–pipes filled with CONCRETE.  It was a fun-filled hour of torture three days a week.  On Friday, we ran two miles carrying the pipes after doing other “fun stuff”.

No one made me do this. I chose to do it. Why? you ask.  Vanity.

I wanted to lose weight and look good.  It worked, at least the weight loss part. The problem is, if you stop exercising for any length of time, the good results begin to fade and before you know it, you are back to square one. So physical fitness must be a life-style. Everyone, well maybe not everyone, but 99% of you will agree that exercise is very important for good health. We know it is good for us.

If we know things are good for us, why don’t we do them?  Why is that? I believe motive is the answer.

Motive is defined by Webster as “…that which incites to motion or action”.

Obviously, vanity isn’t a good enough reason for me to change my lifestyle when it comes to physical exercise. What if my motive was 1 Corinthians 6:19-20?

Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?  You are not your own; you were bought at a price.  Therefore, honor God with your body.”

Well, now I am feeling convicted.  What if my motive was obedience?  Now that opens a can of worms. I’ve been talking about physical fitness. But what about something even more important—my “spiritual fitness”?  This requires exercise also.

Casey didn’t focus on the whole body in that one hour. He chose certain muscles, our quads for instance, and worked them to our limit. I think God does something similar with our “spiritual bodies”.  For instance, last year the focus was on my “trust muscle”.  He gave me situations and circumstances that required me to stretch my trust in Him. While he did that before, and will continue to strengthen my trust, it was the focus last year.

Last week, God revealed to me the spiritual muscle on which He will focus this year. It is my “surrender muscle”. OUCH!  This is both very scary and very exciting.

Webster defines surrender this way:

1.  To yield possession of or power over to another

2.  The act of surrendering one’s person to another

To choose to surrender to God’s will, to yield to God’s will over mine, is absolutely essential to be a disciple of Jesus.  In Luke 14:33 we read “In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple”.

Complete surrender is what God requires.

So what would motivate me to completely surrender to God?  It is my love for Him out of gratitude for all He has done for me, beginning with my salvation, and because He has taught me that I can trust Him because of who He is.

Just like physical muscles, we can’t see daily changes in our “spiritual muscles”, but over time with exercise they become stronger. As God gives me opportunities to choose to surrender to His will this year, I will grow into the person He created me to be, and to be used for His glory and the benefit of His kingdom.

I must be intentional, consistent, and focused.  I must also be mindful of that which incites me to action.

When I started writing this, I wasn’t quite sure where this would end. But here it is—I am convicted!  I will take better care of my “temple”, starting with daily exercise.  And I will pay attention and look for opportunities to surrender.  This is going to be a challenge, but God knows what he is doing and with whom he is dealing.  It will be and exciting Year!

A work in progress,  Vivian

Ready or not…God is.

Written by: Ms. O

There is something to be said about being ready.

I am one of those people who considers that “being on time” really means “being there at least fifteen minutes early”. I can’t help myself. It drives my kids crazy….because I have rubbed off on them. My view on this is that if I am there “early” then I can relax into what I am there for.

Last week I had a horrific nightmare…one that had my heart racing…and I could not breathe normally for at least ten minutes. I dreamed that my phone “dinged” with a text message…and it was my traveling friend Sharon…telling me she would be at my house in two minutes…(why two? I have no idea, but go with it)…to pick me up…to leave for Israel. REALLY? I went into uber panic mode….in my dream…trying to figure out if I had clothes to take…my head lamp for when we go into the caves…not sure about that adventure…my walking shoes…shampoo…and my maps done. In my dream I was mad scrambling, throwing everything I could get my hands on, into the suitcase. I woke up in a jolt…grabbed my phone to check the date…and laid back down with a hand to my heart…knowing I had to get ready…SOON.

I grew up in the northern part of the United States….where there are distinct seasons. At the end of summer, heading into fall and eventually winter, my mom would do the big switch. I have no clue where she kept them…since our house was NOT that large…but she would go into this mysterious storage space…and bring out our seasonal clothing. Our shorts and tank tops would get packed away…and out would come the sweaters, pants and coats…along with hats, mittens, and scarves…which were not the decorative scarves of today…these could muffle any cold wind from the Artic. When spring would happen…close to summer since our winter cool lingered…Mom would do the big switch – a – roo again. She always wanted us ready for the season…to have ready what we needed to put on to walk out the door.

We  moved to Texas when I was in high school…and all bets were off. Texas is the most indecisive state in the nation when it comes to weather. Of course we have the TRUE Texas heat…hot…hotter….and just plain boiling….but when it comes to winter, it is no easy task. I used to try the whole switch clothing when my kids were little…it does not work well….and ends up causing more work than help. Instead, I find myself headed towards the layer effect…..just so I am ready…ALL THE TIME.

My heart felt wish was that I could carry that over into my Christianity…I want to be ready…for whatever life throws my way. I have always felt like a failure when the bump/hump/mountain interrupts my day/week/life and I am not ready….and fall into the “not ready for prime time” Christian person. So I took a step back in my faith learning and reread something that had my fears relieved:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding:

in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.”

Proverbs 3:5-6

I must have read that scripture dozens of times…and up until this point I  never really thought out it….until now…when my life is spinning once again in chaos mode…and I am looking for the answers…for myself.  This is the total opposite of what God wants me to do…find the answers myself…to be SO ready…which is an illusion…that I totally leave Him out of the picture. His desire is for me to come to his storage closet FIRST…allow Him to clothe me with the right attire…so that I am ready to face the world….and all it holds. He has the answers for me…some of which will be made known…others involve me trusting Him without having to have the answers…ugh….so NOT me…but I’m learning…the hard way.

So in my morning routine of getting ready for the day…I pray to seek God first…and all (that I need)…shall be given to me…so I am “God ready” for my day.

Lord, you are much too good to me…and for that I am ever grateful….Ms. O

Marriage is so perfect, because we always see eye to eye.

Written by: Amy Dalke

My husband, Larry, and I have contrasting likes/dislikes; and we have disparate perspectives towards any number of issues.

For instance, he has read two books since we’ve been married. I have read at least twenty since November.

He will not eat vegetables, except for the occasional raw carrot or crunchy green bean. I would carry a veggie tray in my purse if it would fit.

I tend to go with my gut when making decisions. He analyzes facts to their death, and then makes decisions based on logic.

I often speak before I think. He measures his words, after careful thought.

I am impulsive and impatient. He can wait something out until I’ve forgotten my initial passion for Whatever It Is. (…come to think of it, I just realized that might be his strategy.)

Suffice it to say, our differing opinions can occasionally lead to disagreements.

Take Friday night for example.

[Preface] A group of friends decided we would all go skiing in New Mexico for spring break. (Larry and I were both part of this initial discussion.) The Skilled Planners/Organizers in our group did their research, and found that there are no homes available at Angel Fire (or nearby resorts) that could accommodate all 17 of us. Following a string of back-and-forth emails, describing and discussing our various options, it was finally agreed that we would go to Keystone in Colorado instead.

I confirmed that the Dalke’s were still on board. The deposit was paid. And so on.

Since we had already agreed to go skiing, I didn’t think this new “change” in geographical location really affected anything.

Well.

It did…at least it did for Larry, that is.

(I mean, in my defense, Colorado and New Mexico are both somewhere between Texas and California. How was I supposed to know they were about six hours apart?? And what is six hours, when you’re already traveling thirteen?)

I may have mentioned this venue update to Larry at some point last Wednesday, but his ears don’t always catch my words. There are times I truly believe this is a learned skill. But I digress.  Nonetheless, he claims the updated ski trip location was brand new to him on Friday. (I reserve the right to revisit this situation one day to make a point about how he doesn’t ever listen to me.)

So…back to Friday.

We were going to hang out with our friends (the ones we are going skiing with) that evening, so earlier in the afternoon, I thought it would be good to quickly discuss the ski trip again with Larry. I knew he wasn’t exactly doing back-flips about the re-routed, lengthened drive; therefore it was my job to remind him that it would be awesome if he refrained from complaining the whole evening about skiing, and driving to ski, and all the other things anti-ski-related.

The fact is, I don’t like it when things are out of sync. What I mean is…I generally take a positive approach towards most matters, especially if I know others have opposing thoughts. Larry, well…sometimes I think he likes to offer dissenting viewpoints. I am an  approval addict, so I want everyone to get along, with delight and contentment. Those who know Larry can vouch for me when I say…he’s not exactly Pollyanna; he doesn’t really worry about pleasing other people. He views life through more of a skeptical eye (which God often uses as wisdom and discernment, so this is not all bad, mind you). However, I cringe sometimes when he freely voices his dislikes with seemingly pessimistic attitudes. Sometimes I feel like I need to walk behind him, and whisper, “He’s really not always this critical…he really is a nice guy.” (As if Larry needs people to like him.) (This is pathetic in more ways than we have time to talk about today…)

My failure to communicate about the ski trip revisions (or his failure to listen to my attempt) created a bubbling brook of irritation and resentment between us. Granted, I’m fairly certain his anxiety and frustration levels had not soared like mine had. I went into Friday evening prepared to deflect any of Larry’s negative opinions…(and to win him over to my amiable outlook). He went into the evening prepared to be attacked (by me), because of his contrasting sentiment. In other words, I had clearly sent the message that it was not okay for him to disagree. (I know. Ridiculous.)

To spare you the details, let’s just say there were a couple of accusatory words exchanged between the two of us over the course of the evening. And that was not awkward at all for our six friends around the table.  I could have graciously spared them all, except I have this annoying tendency to insist on the last word. I can’t Just. Stop. My. Mouth. This might be okay if Larry didn’t have this same problem. Only one of us can have the last word, and both of us insist on it. All of this excitement on a beautiful Friday evening, around the dinner table. (Next time, I’ll give you a heads up, and we’ll sell tickets.)

Saturday morning didn’t come with any sweet apologies from my end. In fact, I woke up with the mindset that I would not give in…because obviously, Larry was the one who owed ME an apology. All the day long, I replied with short answers, sarcastically bitter “um-hmms”, and purposefully obnoxious sighs. One of my top 5 immature actions of the day was when I walked the long way around the kitchen island, just so he could not (even inadvertently) touch me. Well that sure showed him. (Oh please.)

The day’s highlight reel was capped off by date night with our best-friend-neighbors. Let me just say, date night was the LAST thing I wanted to do. I’m not a good actor. If I am not happy with someone or something, it’s nearly impossible for me to just slap on a cheerful grin. I probably don’t have to tell you that it’s completely fair to feel sorry for our dinner companions. Lord, have mercy.

For the second night in a row, we were That Couple. You know the one who nitpicks and jabs at each other all the time, and argues over every little thing…with no care for their company, or their surroundings? I may be a tad dramatic here; it’s not like we had a war of words throughout dinner. Yet I definitely wore my attitude like a jacket I refused to remove.

Larry made one comment to me, in the middle of our feud, which struck me to the core. While I arrogantly aired out my frustrations about HIS shortcomings, he asked me:

Did you ever consider that my interests, and my opinions, may be different from yours? And that…just because I’m different, that doesn’t make me wrong?”

Well, when you put it like that

Not once did I factor into this situation, a few little things I know about Larry:

1)       He hates to be cold.

2)       He is highly prone to altitude sickness.

3)       He doesn’t really love to ski. (see number 1)

4)       Driving for long distances is not his ideal way to spend 4 days…mainly because he gets motion sickness Very. Easily.

Since I wanted to go…then I expected him to be equally enthusiastic. When he wasn’t…it irritated me. I thought, “Why does he always have to be so negative?”

There are 53.2 moral lessons I learned through this weekend’s saga. I realized I should pay more attention to detail (this may have all been avoided, had I not assumed Colorado and New Mexico were equidistant from Houston.) There was also a lesson or two about pride: if I could have humbly retreated from my adamant high horse on Friday evening, then I would not have wasted all day Saturday in a sulk fest.

My biggest take-away, though, is that there is much grace to filled into the gaps of our differences. Just because I like something, doesn’t mean Larry should like it, too. I can see it one way, and he can view it from another…without one of us being “wrong”. It probably isn’t that amazing to be married to someone who assumes you share their opinion at all times. (And if you don’t, well…you better change your mind quickly.)

Instead of being so hell-bent on “fixing” his cynical negativity… maybe I could spend some time dealing with that part of me that needs him to just fall in line with whatever I decide I want to do. My gut hurts as I type these words, because the pride in me fears your judgment: “Seriously, I didn’t realize she was so selfish.” “Poor Larry…she seems kind of [insert that “b” word].”

I am hoping that next time Larry and I have a disagreement, I will careful look at both sides of the “story” before I allow my emotions to spill out over the dinner table.

I think I’ll work on a major perspective shift:

…instead of focusing on the imperfections of my husband, I just might focus on changing his imperfect wife.

I’ll let you know how this goes…

Amy

p.s. here is irony at its finest: our Sunday school starts a new book next week: Love & Respect: the love she most desires, the respect he desperately needs. Well, then. Looks like I’m getting some up front and center opportunities to change…

Mirror, Mirror – Where’s My List?

Written by: Rhonda Sue Page

Guess What?  I had a birthday this week.

Now I’m not one of those people who get overly excited or distracted by them.  However, it did occur to me that I had recently started checking some stuff off my bucket list…so maybe unconsciously I’m feeling my age.

No, I don’t have an actual physical bucket list. (That’s what OLD people do…so they won’t forget.)  It’s mostly just unwritten ideas of things I’d like to do eventually… if I ever get around to it….and if it’s convenient….when I feel like it.  (That’s what YOUNG people do…so they can’t get caught forgetting.)

For instance, I HAVE ALWAYS wanted to be fluent in Spanish.  I grew up in New Mexico hearing it all around me.  Over the years I picked up a whole lot of nouns, colorful adjectives, basic slang, and sadly…all the bad words.  But nothing that would ever take me to Cancun and get me past asking the basics of  “What time is it?”  “Where’s the bathroom?”  and “No really, how hot is your chili?”….

….oh yeah, and pointing out someone wearing green pants and walking a cat. Don’t ask, cuz I’m not even sure how that came up! But should you ever desire to be as cool as me, I’ll throw that one at you for free:

“Ella lleva los pantalones verdes y camina a su gato.”

You’re welcome.

Back to my vague, non-committal, non-existent bucket list…

This past Christmas, I finally bit the bullet and bought Rosetta Stone/Latin America Spanish. Now at any given hour, I can be found cruising the house in my oh-so-fashionable headset parroting the sounds of my online mentor, “Raimundo”. (Roll the R … end it with a flourish people!)

In my mind I sound just like him….super confident and slightly sexy.

Especially when I say “Voy a llenar mi cara con pastel de cumpleanos…. porque puedo.”

(I’m not giving you that one.  You’re on your own.)

Another bucket list item soon to be checked is a trip to Israel.

I have ALWAYS, ALWAYS wanted to go to Israel.  I mean like no where else in the world: GO. TO. ISRAEL.  Comprendes?  Soy muy serio!

No, it doesn’t make sense.  Yes, there probably are much lovelier and less hostile parts on the globe to visit I suppose.  I’m even willing to bet you could steer me toward one of them if I were the least bit fickle………..

………………………BUT I’M NOT!!!!!!……………………

(Pero, no estoy.)

It’s the groupie in me I guess.  I make no apologies…………..Jesus IS my rockstar.

My heart “Horatio” and I are always looking for new ways to connect to Jesus. And this one just seems like a no-brainer. I want to walk where he walked. View the land through his eyes. Smell the earth after a rain. Hear the sounds of that world.

To understand that which is so completely foreign to me,  I want to try, (in some small way) to put myself in that place. I want to be touched by a people he chose to call his own and appreciate them as he did. But more than all that…..I want to stand in the places where Heaven did business with Earth and make His reality more of my own.

I know it’s not magic.

It’s better.

We have the God-given ability to reflect what we worship.  To take on the characteristics of the things we most desire and seek after.  I spent too many years only seeing the negative about that…………… when in fact it is a wondrous gift to be able to spot our own progress and red-flag wrong thinking.  Too often I felt condemned by it…….. when I should have remembered it was there to work for me, not against me.

“…For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was. But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does.…” (James 1:23-25)

If you find you’re at that point……then take heart. Stick with your faith because you are a masterpiece in the making…not a creation of your own hands – but of His.

Be encouraged!  There comes a point in walking with Jesus where you stop looking for all “the stuff” to fix yourself.  It’s a daily process of trading in the hurts over what hasn’t worked for the grace to trust WHO will work.  Your longing and desire become for him and him alone.

It is at this point we start to hear His invitation “to come” in a different light.  Time spent in his presence holds it’s own reward and becomes a cherished necessity.

A desire to surround ourselves with like-minded believers. People who passionately love God, and distain the petty discords the enemy tries to weave are a treasure to us.

Of all the crazy things on my bucket list, I want most to fully embrace a life that reflects Jesus and calls others to want him, too……It is the cry of my little Horatio.

But you should know……… that wasn’t always the case.  To coin a phrase “You’ve come a long way baby” dates me ….. but it’s true.

Now I find I’m glad for the ability to use The Word as a mirror.  I hope you’ll decide to make it work for you.

There are other things on my mental bucket list too.  But if blogged them out…….. I believe that would constitute as “list”-ing them.

And since “Ahora tengo cuarenta y cuatro años”…….

……..I’m waaaaay too young for that!

¿Qué hay en su lista de deseos?

~Rhonda Sue

Desire delayed—–until now.

Written by: Vivian Wilson

Sunday afternoon, I struggled with an accusation that crept into my mind, which led to the thoughts that I am going to share with you.

This was the accusation: “This is all about you, Vivian, because you know how much you love to write your blog.”  Sadly, I fell for it for a few hours;  and I felt guilty and confused.  I’ve been writing this blog for eight weeks now, and I confess that I feel uncomfortable writing about myself every week.  But the truth is, I can only write about what I know. So is this all about me? The answer is yes and no. The real question is, “What is my motive?”

In 1984, God put a desire in my heart.  I had attended a couple of ladies retreats while I was in the milk-drinking stage of my walk with Jesus.  I heard a woman speak. She was seventy years old, had a great sense of humor, and her words touched my soul.  Her name was Marge Caldwell.  I remember thinking, “I want to be like her.  I want to speak to women and encourage them in their lives.  (I was really very shy then, so I know it wasn’t my idea to stand up in front of a bunch of women and talk.)  I had a lot to learn, a lot of growing to do.  Apparently, I am a slow learner because it took thirty years for God to fulfill that desire.

Psalm 37:4  “Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.”

Romans 8:5  …”but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.”

Colossians 3:1  “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.”

God gave each of us at least one gift.  My gift is encouragement.  This blog is the opportunity God has given me to serve Him.  The “accuser” did me a favor.  He caused me to consider my motive and  my call.  I believe my motive is pure.  It is my desire to be obedient to the One who has called me, and Who has given me whatever wisdom and insight that I might have. Instead of guilt, I have confidence and assurance of God’s love for me and His faithfulness to fulfill the desire that He puts in my heart, and His grace and power in my weakness.

So I will continue to share my life experiences and the truths God teaches me though them.  It is my sincere prayer that my words are, in fact, what God uses to encourage each of you in your journey.

If God has put a desire in your heart that until now has not been met, don’t worry. His timing is perfect and  He will fulfill it when you are ready to receive it. It will be worth waiting for.

By the way, I have a new desire.  (Genesis 2:18  “It is not good for the man to be alone.”)  I want God to give me a Godly man to share the rest of my life with. I hope it doesn’t take Him thirty years to prepare me….I”ll be 95!

Father, make our hearts to be so in tune with your heart, that our desires are your desires. Give us the patience to wait as you prepare us to receive your blessing. Increase our faith and trust in the waiting.  In Jesus’ Name.  Amen

Vivian

Sitting in the “in between”….

Written by: Ms. O

As I write this, my heart is still in grieving mode. I know it will turn to joy for the outcome…but for now it is grief. My aunt…by marriage but I never stopped claiming her after the divorce…passed away over the weekend. This was my mother in laws sister…the eldest of the three kids. (I never met Sam, the middle brother because he died at a very young age.)

These two sisters were like two peas in a pod. It did not matter that they had two very distinct and separate personalities…when they were together they were in sync. They got so silly when they were together, it was nearly impossible to get a decent picture without one of them laughing out loud or making a silly face…and we had to retake it or deal with it.

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When Frannie, my mother in law, passed away, we continued to stay in touch with Aunt Mary and Uncle Jack.  Each Christmas her daughter so graciously shared her parents with us for lunch…to catch up…to hug…to laugh a lot…and break bread…more like tortilla chips since we always chose Mexican food. She was the remnant of the Davis family. She, for us, was the bit of Frannie we could hold on to. Now…..that is over…but as my heart grieves I know this…she (and Frannie) will live on…when I pass on the love they showered on me…so I ask for your indulgence of time to share with you… so that you may also glean from this woman:

We lived in Midland for five years…the same town that she and Uncle Jack lived in…and she had a key to my house…for those just in case far too often times when I locked myself out. I truly think she would wait until she knew I wasn’t home…and let herself into my house…don’t get freaked out…to leave me surprises. I would come home from running errands and there on the counter would be something she picked up at a craft show… or a baked good that filled the house with such a welcome home smell…and a note in her very distinct handwriting….as if I had any question who my “gifter” was.

She loved to bake…and she could bake like no other. Christmas (although she baked year round) was like a smorgasbord of delight…and she loved to share. She was so very slender so the baking was not consumed by just her…although she did like her sweets. Her intent of baking was to give it away.  I have stained overly used recipe cards of a few of my favorites of she typed or wrote out for me that I refuse to write over again …because the wear and tear tells me how much I love what it creates.

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Last…but truly not least….is the love that she had for her husband Jack. I had heard the story so many times but it never got old. They had just a few dates…he was in the service and lived on base…when they decided to run off and get married. That was over 72 years ago….yes, you read that right…72. Jack was 22 and Mary was 17 on the day they wed back in May of 1941.  One of Uncle Jack’s favorite lines when someone asked if all the years were happy and how did they stay together was this: “I never thought of divorcing her…maybe murder a time or two…but never divorce.” They had seen their share of joys and hardship…and stayed dedicated to each other.

No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.” 1 John 4:12

Death does not have the final say so…especially for Aunt Mary. Her random acts of kindness have always made me more conscience to think of others when I am “out and about.” Her recipes are the source of great joy for me and my daughter Mandy, as we bake her recipes together.  And this love that she and Jack had for each other…this dedication to “stick it out”….is what my prayer will always be for my own children. I am sure she is giving God an earful right now (that woman loved to talk)….rejoicing in Heaven…and setting up a table of goodies for when we meet her there.

Until we meet again…. I sit in the between of my grief in losing her and rejoicing for her as she takes her place in the kingdom…

Ms. O