What does golf have to do with it?

Written by: Vivian Wilson

OK, I think I have it. I’ve never had it before, and I didn’t know it was contagious.  Rhonda Sue got it first, and then gave it to Amy, who gave it to me.

It’s a case of “Writer’s Block.” I don’t know how long it will last, but I’m hoping it will run it’s course in a few days.

So what to do?

I think that I should just start writing, and see where it leads. So here goes.

When some of you are reading this Wednesday morning, I will be enjoying some recreation (a source of refreshment of body or mind), in Austin with a long time friend. Specifically, I will be on a golf course enjoying the outdoors, enjoying a wonderful friendship, and hopefully beating her.

(I’m sorry. Did I just say that out loud?)

It’s all for fun; who keeps score? I do. I can’t help it. There is this very strong competitive streak in me. I should be happy if she beats me. Since I taught her how to play, it would attest to my excellent teaching skills.

Golf is not a team sport. It is an individual’s interaction between a little white ball on the ground, hopefully on short grass, and a club that is held in her hands and under her complete control. It may sound like a simple task to swing the club and hit the stationary ball.

But there are many factors that contribute to this “simple task.” So many things have to come together perfectly on time to achieve the desired result, which would be a long and straight shot toward the desired target.

There is a foundation which includes a perfect grip of the club, proper posture and stance, and a proper address to the ball.

Then you have the intangibles: confidence, which says I’ve done this before, and I can do it again; knowledge (which club to use, distance, etc.); emotional control;  then trust your thought process and make the shot.

Even the pros miss the target at times. Even the pros hit imperfect shots at times. So can you imagine how many bad shots I hit? But I always make some good shots which keeps me coming back to try again, never even contemplating giving up of quitting. Life as a Christian is a lot like the game of golf.

We have a foundation, and that is our faith in Christ. We have the source of the intangibles living within us in the Person of the Holy Spirit. And we have God the Father, who has provided the way of refreshment for our heart, mind, and soul through His Word.

As in the game of golf, there are good days when we hit the target; we have loved and served others. And there are not so good days when we have been focused on ourselves and have totally missed the target, landing in the rough.

These are the times we MUST seek the Lord and allow his Word to refresh us, getting us back on the course set before us. I’ll be thinking of you while I’m on the course doing my best to get the little white ball in the hole in as few strokes as possible, and hopefully one less than my golf buddy.

And with this time of recreation, hopefully this affliction that I caught from my friends will be gone.

Vivian

All about prayer…

Written by: Ms. O

I am all about prayer…in many forms…at any time…for a variety of reasons. Years ago, I could not understood what Paul was talking about in 1 Thessalonians 4:17…

pray without ceasing

Pray without ceasing??? Seriously? My attention span is so not “there”…I can’t stick to a crossword puzzle long enough to solve it if it takes longer than say…five…ten minutes. It was not until I spent a lot of time with some pretty prayer filled people that it occurred to me that my view on prayer was severely limited. I truly envisioned prayer as ONLY when I closed my eyes…bowed my head…said the right intro…made sure it was proper…and finished it with my reverent Amen…and I was done.  Don’t get me wrong…I still pray that like at certain times…there are times that it is totally necessary for me to adapt that posture of prayer for it to make sense to me…at that time. But I have found prayer to be so much more…

It took me many years to realize that God is listening in whether I acknowledge Him or not. I mean really…it’s not like I have to “dial in” to Him…wait for Him to pick up…text me back…send me an email…He is always….there. I find myself conversing with Him all the time. I wonder at times if He regrets that I was enlightened…that my flow of conversation does not end…from the wee early hours of the morning…well before the sun comes up…until I sit still long enough to doze off. I know God does not sleep…but I am sure He wishes I did more.

From the time I found out I was pregnant, I prayed for my children. I would look at them and send up prayers of thanksgiving that He would trust me to be their mom. I would pray for patience…gasp…to work through all the questions asked….the stages I went through…with them. I would pray for guidance to teach my son what it meant to be a Godly man…to treat women with respect, love and kindness…to never forget that he is created to be a caretaker…and all that entails. I would look at my daughter…pray that she would see herself as God sees her…so precious…so beautiful…and that she will never hold back….be bold…so God will be glorified. I prayed as they left went each day for school…..whether it was by bus…driving their own vehicle…or packed up in a moving truck. I believe children are God’s way of teaching us what deep-felt,drop to my knees prayer is all about…and it does not stop…ever.

I have poured my heart out in prayer to God…at my circumstances…with a bruised heart…shaking my fist at the injustice of it all…wondering if He was listening…as if He wouldn’t…knowing that He was hurting as much as I was…crying my tears with me. He knows my deepest hurts…because He hears my whispered prayers in the dark…when it is just me…..and Him. Those intimate prayers bind me to Him…because he knows my secrets…what I hide from the world…because only Him I trust.

When someone asks me to pray for them I don’t have to wait until I get comfortable…or at the kneelers. Think about it this way…it is like when you walk into a conversation between friends…and they open their circle to include you.  When I am asked to pray, their circle…with God…has opened…and I enter into petition for…and with…them…being ever so thankful that I was included in this sacred request. I share in their joy..concerns…in conversation…with our Father.

It is when we limit prayer, we limit who God is…for us. He defies boundaries…can withstand our anger…is able to wipe our tears…always ready to listen…when we join Him in…prayer…conversation…so much more. Prayer is personal…and particular…to who is offering it. I also think we pray before we even know we are…and God understands that. Prayer is God’s love language…the binding of our hearts to His.  Even when we can’t put prayer into words…He knows the groans of our soul….He’s just good like that.

Give thanks to the Lord, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done. Sing to him, sing praise to him; tell of all his wonderful acts. Glory in his holy name; let the hearts o those who seek the Lord rejoice. Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always.” 1 Chronicles 16:8-10

I love prayer…I am never alone…He is always present…waiting for…me. The talking I have down pat…it’s the waiting I am working on next…so pray about that…for me.

Ms. O

 

Words about nothing in general. And a favorite blog list.

Written by: Amy Dalke

Because it’s 9:08pm on Sunday evening, and I have a severe case of writer’s block (and procrastination issues, obviously), I figured I would tell you about my past week.

So that you can be bored to tears.

But then I changed my mind, deciding to spare you that kind of trauma.

The last thing you want to hear about is the potato soup I made from scratch, or how I spent an entire afternoon researching flowers that only need partial sun. (I seriously cannot believe that’s a true story.)

So I won’t bore you today with stories about burned dinners.

IMG_0298

(This was a quesadilla, if you couldn’t tell.)

I’ll also spare you the insanity of the second grade field trip.

IMG_4137 IMG_4141

BECAUSE WHO TAKES A GROUP OF ELEVEN DOZEN EIGHT YEAR OLDS TO THE MUSEUM?

Not again. Not ever, ever again.

Instead of rehashing all that excitement, I’m just going to point you to a few other blogs that are definitely worth your while. These blogs are on my daily (ish) reading list, and even though I don’t know these writers personally, I like to pretend that I do.

Stuff Christians Like (Jon Acuff): http://stuffchristianslike.net

Jon is sarcastic, which basically means I love him. My favorite post of his is the one about needing a t-shirt that says, “I direct deposit my tithe.” (You know, so no one judges you for passing the offering plate without dropping anything into it.)

Living Proof Ministries (Beth Moore): http://blog.lproof.org

Because, duh. It’s Beth Moore.

Jen Hatmaker: http://jenhatmaker.com

She makes me laugh. Hard. And her words convict me…all in the same post. She inspires me to live outside my comfort zone. Because faith does that. It lives outside the safety net.

Big Mama (Melanie Shankle): http://thebigmamablog.com

I believe Melanie and I were destined to be friends. Even though we don’t know each other yet. I love her writing so much, that I recently went back eight years to the beginning of her blog, and read it like a book.

A Holy Experience (Ann Voskamp): http://www.aholyexperience.com

Ann cuts to the bones of faith, and she does it with words that make you think, “Yes! That’s it! How does she know?

So that’s all. I’m obviously chock full of insight and deep wisdom today.

(Like usual, right?)

You’re welcome.

So what blogs do you read? What is your favorite?

 

Happy reading…

Amy

 

 

Creativity NOT Required

Written By: Rhonda Sue Page

 

Okay, I’m just going to be completely honest here.

I don’t have a blog. This, that you are currently reading, is NOT a blog. It is a non-blog. A sad substitution for an actual blog. I think the official term is writer’s block………..but somehow……… that is giving my process WAY too much credit.

I throw caution to the wind and decide to let the kids help me.

“Hey Jonny…….what should Mom blog about this week?”

“Tell about how Captain American saves the world!” I will now save you the 10 minute movie rehash that followed……in HD detail.

I snuck out of the room.

“Amanda, Sweetie…. do you have a subject for my post this week?”

Amanda’s smile lights up the room and she does a full on twirl as she sings….

“MEEEEEEEE!”

Wow……..so far, this is really NOT helpful. I have still have hope though. The “Olders” are upstairs and surely their topics will reflect their older-ness (Dibbs on the new word)

Hey Matthew, I’m writing a new blog today, you have anything you think I should discuss?

“UHM……….the Allied soldiers of WWII?”

“Okay, thanks Hon!” I singsong my way back to the door. WTHeck?!! I’m not even sure what that was. That kid is too smart for me. It freaks me out.

My last hope is Stephen.

“Say Steve……….I’m just wondering if you have any interests you’d like to share for the blog this week.” I say casual-like. (You have to be casual-like with older teenagers. You can’t let them think you need their help…….that really turns them off. It’s like the commitment melts their motivation.) So, I’m surprised when he responds quickly.

“Guns….most specifically the L85A2 BullPup assault riffle with M145 optics. It has an M4 magazine that holds 5.56 ammo.”

“Okay, thanks Hon!” I singsong my way back to the door. (De ja vu, I know.)

“Wait, don’t you want to hear about how it’s a variant of the SA80?” No……..no, I don’t.

“That’s okay, I think I have what I need.” I holler back
Between knowing every detail of guns and every detail of cars……..I’m beginning to think a nice girlfriend won’t be so bad.

“Mom, you’re so random” Steve quips after I’m halfway down the hall.

I’m random?!!

Maybe that has something to do with trying to keep up with all the varying interests of this household?

James is traveling……………… so I wait patiently for him to call.

Then, I charge right in.

“I’m having some trouble coming up with a nice idea for the blog this week.”

“You should just walk away and not think about it. It’ll come to you when you least expect it.”  He says this so encouragingly that I’d like to hug and slap him all at the same time.

“James that’s the advice you give to people who’ve lost their keys.”

“Oh, okay. Sorry…….I got nothing then.” I can’t help it……I forgive him. He’s my rock.

Although, I’m still no closer to having a blog now then I was four hours ago….. I take James’ advice and go to lunch with my friend Penny. Penny is like sunshine on a chilly day. You just want to stand in close proximity to her because she warms your spirit. Plus Penny has learned the art of being “okay” with crazy. That’s good, because today…….I’m 15 shades of crazy.

Penny and I are perfect together. No matter how much time we spend apart, we always pick right back up where we left off. Not on subject matter, mind you. Just on comfortable friendship space. On subject matter we are both terrible. Sometimes we forget the topic before we even finish our sentences.

(“SQUIRREL!”) anyone?

I appreciate that Penny has learned the priceless treasure of just being still before God. She’s good for me in that way. Today of all days is a good day to remember to trust God. As we talk and I unwind, I realize it’s been a long tense week. I wasn’t conscious of it…….. but with all the STAAR testing, Driver’s Ed, Church/School functions and James’ travels…….I’m plumb tired. It’s not surprising I’m struggling on the creative front.

Three hours later……..I still don’t have a blog idea.  Sorry, I don’t have all this together.

But it does occur to me that maybe you don’t need a masterfully written blog. Maybe you’d just like an honest random non-blog.
Maybe you’d like a “Penny” to have lunch with……….to sit and listen….. and let you just be you.

Now that, I can do…..creativity not required.

 

Rhonda Sue

Best Friends are God’s Instruments

Written by: Vivian Wilson

What’s in a name? Well, in the Bible, quite a lot actually. Sons were named with intent, and the name given revealed quite a lot about the person, or the circumstances under which he was born.  

For example: Abraham means “father of a multitude”; Jacob means “cheater”; and David means “beloved.” You can read in the old testament how their names were significant.

Our culture doesn’t practice this same intentional, meaningful, naming of children.  We choose names that are popular, or names that are not, so as to be unique, or we name them after a family member.
I was named after my grandmother. I was curious about the meaning of my name, so I googled it and found that Vivian means “full of life”.
I love that because it is true now.
But there was a time when that certainly did not describe me. For most of my life, I did not live life, I survived it. Even though I was a believer, I had not received all that was mine in Christ. I still believed the lies of the enemy about my worth and that I was powerless to change.
John 10:10: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”
But God is faithful. He has promised to finish the work He started, (Phil.1:6) and to make me into the image of His Son. (Rom.8:29).
God is ultimately the One who inspires change or growth. He uses His Word, His Spirit, and He uses other people. We are created to be relational. For this reason He has given us special people in our lives, those whom we would call “intimate friends”, best friends.
A best friend inspires us to be all that we were created to be by inspiring us in our heart, mind, and soul.
I have been blessed to have a best friend who inspires me. She makes me think, she encourages me in my walk with God, she loves and accepts me for who I am, that is grace. She has taught me to be a better “lover” of others  She has inspired me to live life fully.
To live life to the full is to live in the power of God’s love. That is to love Him above all else and to love others  It is love that sets us apart and distinguishes us as disciples.
John 13:35  By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.
1John 4:16 tells us that God is love.
Col.2:9-10  tells us that the fullness of God indwells us.
So don’t be afraid to love with abandon. Risk relationships. Allow that God-given “best friend” relationship to inspire you. Be an inspiration to your best friend.
God’s love will fill your heart so that you can share it with the hurting, broken, people around you.
Best friends are a way that God makes for us to embrace Him with “skin on”.
So celebrate your best friend. Thank God for this wonderful gift. Tell her how much she means to you. Cherish that relationship because she is an instrument in the hand of God that He uses to shape you. Inspire each other to be all you were created to be and to live life fully in the love of God.
My best friend is teaching me to live up to the meaning of my name. My life is full as I walk God’s love and grace, not keeping it for myself but letting it spill into the lives of others.
Do you enjoy life? Are you living it to the full?
Are you an inspiration to your best friend?
Eph.3:17-19  …And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—-that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
In Christ’s love,
Vivian

 

The “new” is here…once again…

Written by: Ms. O

There is something about Spring that triggers in me a sense of melancholy. You would think I would be all “Sound of Music” dancing around with the trees budding new life…grass greening up…flowers poking out everywhere…signs of new life.

I can celebrate all that “wonderful”…but along with the appreciation of new…comes the missing.

I miss growing up in a not-so-big house with a more than average sized family. Five kids and two parents…throw in two dogs…and we were busting at the seams. I miss sharing a room with my sister….my little brother tagging along after me….a dining table where we sat elbow to elbow…and the ability to fill a station wagon.

I truly don’t remember many times that I would be the only person home…maybe not until I was a teenager, and the majority of my siblings were gone. With a full house came the necessity of getting along. We knew we had to share space….in peace…lest we upset our mom…which would upset our dad…big mistake. I never thought about having it any other way…it was a way of life…and one I miss.

One of my biggest aches is that my kids have grown up…and moved on…as they should…but I can’t help but miss the past. You spend so much time investing in their lives…pouring yourself into everything they are…and one day…it changes… never to be the same. I miss cuddling with a sweet smelling baby…kissing boo boo’s…hearing them come in from school…going to school activities for them…watching them get ready for prom…graduation…and then college. How does this happen…where does the time go…and does the missing ever stop?

I have lived in some pretty amazing…and not so much…locations in my life. Being married to someone in the oil field meant we were guaranteed to move…never getting too comfortable…for too long. Each location had brought to me some pretty awesome people…whether it was the long time we spent in West Texas…aka the end of the world…long enough in Colorado to have my second child…or the too short of time in Louisiana…just to name a few. It is the people that  marked the location for me. God blessed me in each town with friends…that not just passed the time…but more so marked it for me. I miss those faces…the familiar for that period in my life…those treasured gifts.

Probably most of all, I miss when times were simpler. Go ahead…make fun of me…I truly don’t care…cause it’s truth. I miss knowing the line-up for the Phillies, which stayed the same for what seemed like ions…and sitting on the first base line to watch my favorite players play my favorite sport. I miss having a bowl of ice cream and not worrying the sugar/calorie/fat content….which when it is reduced down to what is good for you…does not taste as good. I miss board games…ones you did not have to plug in or watch on your TV…the ones that had game pieces that people fought over for the right color or…when it came to Monopoly…getting the thimble first. I miss Sunday drives that truly had no destination in mind…simply a journey…an adventure.  I wonder what made it all change? Life?…or me…moving on…growing up…and away from the blessings in search of something…better. Ugh.

“You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.” (2 Corinthians 9:11)

This is what I take from this sort of sad feeling that grips me this time of the year…each and every year. Paul nailed it when he wrote this passage about generosity…of how we will be known by how we live our lives…for others. I know the things I miss…I miss because they enriched my life…and I did not appreciate them enough…when I was living them. I grew into who I am because of those people…memories…snatches of time…but I don’t stay there. I was given those love offerings so that I could learn to be kind….patient (for the most part)…and accepting. I was shown love…more than I ever deserved…and I am called to step out of that shadow…and make some shade of my own…for others. I can’t say I will ever stop that missing…but that’s okay…God planted those things in my heart…but I also know I’m called to keep moving…in His direction.

Hello Spring…it’s me again…let’s do the new…

Ms. O.

Those people you really don’t like…

photo-4

Written by: Amy Dalke

There are people I just don’t like.

They just have this way about them….and it’s irritating.

Every time I’m around them, I just want to poke my eyes out.

Because that would be more enjoyable.

Do you ever run across these people?

Probably not. I bet you have a heart full of rainbows and sunshine for everyone you meet.

I wish I did.

But there are people I come across who are just plain unlovable.

They have prima donna attitudes. Ungrateful people.

Moochers.

Obnoxious people.

Know-it-alls.

People who chew with their mouth open.

These are people I find it difficult to love.

(Okay, maybe the last category is a bit extreme.) (Until you’re sitting next to someone smacking on gum, and you just want to scream. Or punch them.)

It’s just so flipping easy to judge people because they are not me.

They don’t act like I think they should.

I’m pretty sure we all run into people for whom we don’t hold fond feelings. (To put it nicely.)

This intense dislike is rooted in our own broken parts, but we prefer to gloss over that. Because it’s easier to point out their ugliness, than to admit our own.

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I act as though Jesus separates sinners into certain categories: “The Ones He Died For” and “The Ones For Whom He Shouldn’t Have”.

It’s like I think God is happy to cut-and-paste his mercy over my favorite sins, but when it comes to judging my neighbor….well, tickets to the mercy seat just sold out.

How do we so easily forget that Those Other People have hearts and minds and feelings and issues and painful life stuff?

Just like us.

How do we so effortlessly buy the lie that we are so much better than “that” person.

Is it because our sin is more acceptable? Because the gross parts of our own heart just clean up a little better?

Yuck.

Easter reminded me that the unlovely people are exactly the ones Jesus loves.

We are the unlovely people.

Easter is all about love. A big, fat, redemptive love.

The kind that reaches beyond our defined cookie cutter boundaries of Lovable and Unlovable.

The Jesus kind of love doesn’t pick and choose the big sinners from those who only sin on weekdays.

2 Corinthians 5:14-15: “For the love of Christ compels us, because we are convinced that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them, and was raised again.”

Since I believe He died for me, my life is to be driven by His love….not by own wishes, wants, and whims.

John 13:34-35: “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.

God’s love is all over the place in the Bible. And we can’t edit the challenging parts. Like the one that says He died for all. Or the parts that talk about loving other people like Christ loved us.

I fall so short.

There are some days I don’t make it two miles from church before I’m already acting all selfish and such. (Especially if I stop at the grocery store. Which is prime territory for some people to get in my way.)

I’m just too quick to shake my finger at the errors in other people; and I can talk all day about how they should improve.

What would it look like to be more filled with the love of Jesus than we are filled with ourselves?

What if the redemptive love we celebrated yesterday actually changed the way we love?

Let’s live today differently…let’s live in the awareness that every single person we meet is someone that God loves…regardless of our own blind, preconceived opinions.

Because we can’t look into the face of Easter and think that redemptive, all-consuming, sacrificial love is only for the good people.

It was for us, too.

Your friend,

Amy