Old vs. new …

This morning I was reading the story of Uzziah, King of Judah as told in 2 Chronicles. He was a good king but disobeyed God. He became powerful and pride led to his downfall. He went to the temple to burn incense to God – but only the priest were to do this according to the law. God immediately struck him with leprosy. Ouch!

Of course, I began to question God about such a cruel punishment. I was then led to read a portion of scripture from Mark 1:40-42 – A man with leprosy came to him and begged him on his knees, ‘If you are willing, you can make me clean.’ Filled with compassion, Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. ‘I am willing,’ he said. ‘Be clean!’ Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cured.”  

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Wow! I thought about the scripture in 2 Corinthians 2:17 – “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come. The old has gone, the new is here!” 

 I am no longer bound under the weight of the old law – Christ came to set me free. I trust Him to be willing to set me free from anything and everything! I am cleansed, I am whole, and I am a new creation … because He was willing!

 
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Mama and me and the movies…

It’s not unusual for someone to ask me if I’ve seen any good movies lately – anyone from my hair dresser to the couple we sit next to in church. I assume everyone must go to the movies as often as I do ( I admit I average about once every week or so and have been known to go more often – only if there have been any decent releases that week).

When the Regal theater on Medlock Bridge opened about 20+ years ago, they were giving free “Regalator” cups with your drink purchase. We ended up with three of them, although somewhere along the way we have lost one. This cup gives us $1.00 drinks when we go to the concession stand. I’ve been told by one of the employees, there are only about 300 of them around (we currently wash ours by hand as if it’s Waterford Crystal).  A friend of mine once mistakenly threw it away in the trash can as she exited the theater. I ran back in to dig in the trash and retrieve it.

Getting back to the point of my story… growing up I wasn’t allowed to go to the movies. It was against “church teachings” (and that’s a whole other story). Mama and Daddy began attending this church early in their marriage, after he became a painter. But prior to this, both of them had attended movies. And Mama really loved the movies! I’m pretty sure they saw “Road to Morocco” starring Bing Crosby, Bob Hope and Dorothy Lamour on their wedding night. (Obviously their version of a wedIMG_2168ding reception, and oh how much money you could save doing that.)

So growing up I watched many movies on TV with Mama. She loved the funny ones, and the romantic ones and, of course, most of them were from the 40’s. This was very impressionistic (big word for me – had to look it up to make sure I hadn’t made it up:) as I watched intently each and every outfit worn by the beautiful movie stars of that era – Lauren Bacall, Katharine Hepburn, Joan Crawford, Ginger Rogers… fashion icons of their generation.

Recently I ran across a polaroid picture of myself, and it reminded me of a picture of Mama. I’m not sure if I was influenced more by Mama or the movies, but the similarities here are very heartwarming for me. I cherish the memories of sitting in the den with her watching those old movies, hearing her laughter, sharing a common love. Thanks for the memories, Mama…

 

Ok, God – that’s real funny…

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So yesterday I stopped by Starbucks for a cup of coffee – well, more like dessert in a cup. Since there was a bit of a line I knew it would take a little while, so I sat down attempting Cherry Street Coffee Houseto wait patiently for my tall mocha frappuccino light double blended. I’m sitting there minding my own business and checking my emails when this young woman walks up to me and says, “Are you Patience?” (long pause). I think time actually stood still for a moment. I didn’t know whether to burst out laughing or come back with some smart answer. I chose the latter stating I was not “Patience” nor did I have any. Fortunately she had a good sense of humor and laughed. I think God must still be laughing too…

Patience, patience…

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When my sister graduated from nursing school I only remember one thing from the entire ceremony. In the closing benediction the minister prayed these words, “And Lord, please give them patience”. Now at the time I honestly thought he said “patients” – after all, we were at a graduation for nurses! Well duh… I really can’t blame that on age since I was in my early twenties at the time.

Patience is something I do not have, and I will (not gladly) admit it. You only have to ride in the car with me to know that I have no patience with other drivers. I have a tendency to yell at them as if they can actually hear me. The definition for patience is “the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset”. Yep – definitely not me.

Of course, God knows how impatient I am, and He intentionally puts obstacles , delays , and slow drivers in my path all the time. I have no doubt there is a big “SL” next to my name in His book of life (for Slow Learner). When I hear people talk about praying for patience, I scream a big “don’t ever pray for patience” to them. They have no idea what they are asking for!

Today as I stood in a very long line at the post office, there was a womanIMG_0923 behind me with two young boys. One was lying on the floor most of the time and basically refused to get up. The other one asked at least six times why he had to be there and why he couldn’t be at home. The mom seemed to have mastered the skill to tune out and carry on.  Once that question was answered he began to beg for water. Honestly, if the water bottle in my purse had been unopened, I would have gladly given it to him. Then it hit me to offer him some gum, which he boldly and without hesitation took from me. I asked if he wanted to share the other piece with his brother. That’s when the mom said, “That’s ok, he’s autistic”. Ouch!

So God was not only teaching me some patience while in this line, but also showing me how much patience it must take for this mom every day. I stood there and said a silent prayer for her and (while at it) asked forgiveness for my judgmental impatience. I could picture  Abba shaking His head and saying “Will she ever learn?”, and Jesus quickly replying with “just give her time”

 

 

Two words…

A lot can be said in two words – words that can hurt you or words that can lift you up. I’ve been the recipient of both, as I’m sure you have as well.

Years ago I was going through a very tumultuous time in my life and in my marriage. Everything seemed to be spiraling out of control. I admit I was not spending time with God – at least not quality time. I was still going to church, still singing  in the choir and going through all the motions, but my personal relationship with my Heavenly Father was one-sided. I was restless and attempting to control things myself (or so I thought).

One night I was awakened during the night only to find our bedroom completely engulfed in smoke. At first I thought the house was on fire, but there was no smell of anything burning. It was just a heavy layer of smoke or fog. There was a feeling in the room of heaviness and a sense of foreboding. I immediately recognized the work of the enemy encroaching upon me – seeking to gain a stronghold in my spiritual life. And of course, I had left the gate wide open by not being in God’s word and in prayer. I sat up in bed – Mike remained asleep next to me – and I just simply spoke the name “Jesus“. The smoke immediately parted as if someone had a vacuum on each side of the room, pulling the forces back to where they came from. There was an immediate feeling of peace, and it was in that silence and peacefulness that I heard it. God’s voice – speaking two words to me – “be still“.

IMG_0912God had spoken to me in many ways – through His Word, through dreams, through other people, and in my heart, but never out loud. And He didn’t need to say “Be still and know that I am God“. I knew it was God! Those two words have been food for my emotional soul on so many occasions and through some very tough journeys. It is my reminder to rest in Him, to know of the assurance that He’s got me, and He has my circumstances already in His vision. It’s trusting Him that He’s fighting the battle, and the only thing I need to do is to “be still“…

Broken…

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I feel broken today. Not just broken but unfixable. That overwhelming sense of being a failure is like being knocked down by a big wave. The water rushes over me and I’m unable to breathe, unable to ask for help at my lowest point. DSCN3270.JPG

I want to fix things and find solutions. My reliance on God becomes clearer on these days. Rather than trying to “fix it”, I “fix my eyes on Jesus” (Hebrews 12:2). Laying helpless I allow the flood of His love and the perfection of His faith to sweep over me.

I am transported to calm and still waters, and lush green grass. Abba is with me. Nothing needs to be said – it is just enough knowing He is there. And He is all I need..

 

Was I borned or adopted?

When our oldest daughter was about 4 years old she asked me this question out of the blue one day. “Mommy, was I borned or adopted?” Another one of those questions I was not ready for. And I challenge you to look for it in any parent or adoption manual. Trust me, it won’t be there.

Amanda0003When I talk to “parents to be” about adoption, one of the topics I most like to talk about is when to tell your child they’re adopted. I find it interesting that this is part of the home study assessment. That question never crossed my mind prior to our first adoption. I figured I’d always tell him or her from the beginning. That’s one secret it would be impossible to keep hidden. And why would you want to? After all, it’s their story and a huge part of who they are. It’s that nature vs. nurture thing – something else covered in the home study.

Now back to the original question I was asked. I know you are all waiting with bated breath (I have no idea what that means) as to how I answered the question. I first paused for a moment to think (remember to answer in a language and a way she will understand for her age). “Well, you were born AND you were adopted. Remember, you grew in your birth mother’s tummy and then your daddy and I adopted you.”

“I wish I had grown in your tummy,” came her sweet reply. “I do too, sweetie. But then you wouldn’t be who you are.”

Wow! Two birds with one stone – a talk about being adopted AND about nature vs. nurture. It was a “hallmark moment”…

 

 

Blameless.

Last night I had dinner with some wonderful Godly women. (If you’re reading this, Loretta, thanks for being such a great leader.) Our discussions mostly evolved around exercise – we have some avid runners in the group. I absolutely could not identify with this. The only thing I might run for is if Hershey’s announced they were going to discontinue making “Kisses” candy. I would then make a quick “run” to the store to pick up as many as I possibly could.

Then the subject made a spiritual turn (thank goodness – maybe I can chime in on this, I’m thinking). But I sat mostly in silence as we talked about being “blameless” as one of our identities in Christ. We were asked if we absolutely feel blameless not only in our heads, but feel it in our hearts. Now I have been over this study before, which we were discussing, and even mentored women with this. But now it was really hitting me that I wasn’t sure I was feeling this in my heart.

I was raised in a very legalistic church. You did everything by the book (the churches rule book), and there didn’t seem to be any room for error. I would hate to call this a form of brain washing, but maybe a rinsing of the mind (then they threw it in the spin cycle for good measure). I couldn’t begin to think of “grace” as a “gift”, or the truth that I didn’t need to do anything to earn it. After all, I grew up where we “exchanged” gifts. I didn’t trust people who gave me something and expected nothing in return.

Image-1But early this morning I began to think about  a book I once read.  The book mark was still on the page that spoke to my heart so long ago. “Of course the Son is innocent. He is blamelessness itself. The Father knows this. But the divine pair have an agreement, and the unthinkable must now take place. Jesus will be treated as if personally responsible for every sin ever committed.” (When God Weeps by Joni Eareckson Tada and Steven Estes) 

I love that God’s grace is a “gift”, with no strings attached, nothing expected in return. It’s a free gift. He took all my sin upon Himself- every act of sin I have committed or will ever commit. I am His. I am loved. I am complete in Christ. I am blameless. Amen!

 

Words from Daddy…

I recently celebrated a birthday – it was a BIG one. And no, I’m not going to reveal my age since it will not add to or take away from the story. But I will say that my dad is 92 years old, so I’m no spring chick. He’s very hard of hearing at this stage in his life, and we can no longer communicate over the phone. With a distance of 400 miles between us, I don’t get to visit as often as I’d like to. When we spoke on my birthday he was unable to understand anything I said to him.

But a few days later I received a FaceTime call from him. Very surprising since he doesn’t use the computer. I’ll be the first to admit that I really don’t like FaceTime calls. I don’t like people seeing me while I talk (don’t judge me, there are plenty of people who feel the same way). But when I saw where the call was coming from I didn’t hesitate to answer. There was my dad with only half of his face showing (too cute for words). He could see me and it seemed to help him understand what I was saying. But the thing that captured me most was the moment we were saying “good bye” and ending the call. His last words to me were “you look beautiful”. I get teary eyed writing this. I don’t know if I have ever heard those words from my dad. Even at my age it made me feel so special and so empowered. I have played them over and over in my head today.

If you’re reading this and you’re a dad, please take the time to look your daughter in her eyes (if she’s close by) and tell her that she’s beautiful, that you’re proud of her or how thankful you arImage-1e that you’re her dad. Believe me, she will never be too young or too old to hear words of affirmation from you, her daddy.

It is my strong belief that we learn about our Heavenly Father from our earthly father. I love it when my Abba Father whispers in my ear that I am His beloved and He delights in me. I love that He “rejoices over me with singing”.  There is nothing like a father’s love… so stop reading already and go tell her.

What’s a real mom?

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In the fall of 1995 we were between houses and living in an apartment complex for six months. Our daughter was six years old and was “Miss Sociality” (I doubt that was even a word back then). She knew every kid in our building and beyond. I could watch them play from our living room while they were outside.

One day I heard them running up the stairs. Amanda was at the door with about six of her new friends, all looking up at me. Then out of Amanda’s mouth came “tell them you’re my real mom”. Say what? I did NOT look like a deer in headlights. I looked like a mom standing in the middle of a desert with no library close by, no iPhone (it hadn’t been invented anyway), no computer, no adoption guru next to me. Nothing! I had not been prepared for this and no one warned me it would be coming.

I took a deep breath – a very long deep breath. If there’s one thing I had learned from teaching elementary children, it was to sometimes answer a question with a question. And I knew each of those kids had the question on their minds of whether or not I was her real mom. Later I would find out that she had told them she was adopted, and they all wanted to know where her “real mom” was. She told them I was her real mom, and that left their curious little minds questioning what she meant.

I began to ask them questions: Does a real mom change a baby’s diaper? They all nodded “yes”. Does a real mom get up in the night and take care of her sick child? Again – “yes”. Does a real mom cook dinner, feed her child, give her hugs and kisses and tell her how much she loves her child? “Yes, yes, yes…”

Then I must be a “real mom”. Enough said…. they all ran off to play.