Voice from the Back Seat

>> Wednesday, May 30, 2012

I had struggled so to find this job, I really couldn’t afford to lose it. Therefore, when I received the call from the school that I needed to come get Lyn … she was throwing up … the decision to leave work in the middle of the day caused me concern. My children came first … always. But so did feeding them.  

I left work and drove to the school … and then took Lyn home.  

“Take off your shoes and put on comfy clothes. I’ll get you some 7-UP.”  

When I returned to her room, she was still exactly where I left her … no changing of clothes … no removing of shoes.  

“Lyn, why didn’t you do what I asked?”  

“I can’t bend over.”  

Red flags … waving high.  

A few questions later, we headed for the car. This required a doctor’s intervention. I made Lyn a bed in the back seat. Dr. Gustafson …or Gus Gus as my kids called him … was the next stop.  

“God, you know I’m having a hard time. With their dad gone, I’m really struggling … and very alone. Are you there? Please help me with Lyn. Something’s seriously wrong. Give me the strength I need to go through this by myself.”  

“Everything will be OK.”  

I slammed on the brakes, my head whipping around to look in the back seat. “Who said that?”  

Lyn lay perfectly quiet. No one else was back there.  

As I continued driving toward the doctor, I knew … without any shadow of doubt … that God had told me everything was going to be ok. I was also aware that didn’t mean she would live or die … but whatever happened it would be ok.  

That was the day we discovered Lyn has a very high pain tolerance. Her appendix was close to rupture. The emergency operation caught it in time.  

And everything was ok.

“For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:13 (NLT)


Lessons from Our Dog

>> Sunday, May 27, 2012

We’ve taught our dog, Charlie, to talk to us before he receives some benefit from us; such as a treat, meal or a walk. If he barks, he loses. What we desire is a soft growling sound that signifies to us he is requesting the offered favor. Sometimes he works his mouth for several seconds before he emits any sound. Other times the movement ends with a whiny yawn.  

Yesterday I placed his food in his dish … carried it into the room where he was … and waited for him to indicate he wanted it. First he ran back and forth … tail wagging furiously … looking at me the whole time.  

That didn’t get it.  

Then he tried a series of short barks. I still stood holding his filled dish. As I watched him, I related to his actions. I knew he wanted the food. All I required was that he ask … not pace in agitation … not bark in demands … but ask.  

How many times have I paced back and forth … wanting something from God … but never really asking? Or maybe I’ve used short, clipped sentences to make my demands known.  

The God I know and love wants to give good things to me. He stands ready and waiting. But just as we don’t always give Charlie everything he asks for … such as food that wouldn’t be good for him … God takes into consideration what is best for me. Before He will acknowledge my request, I must stop my agitated thoughts … stop feeling He owes me … stop whining … and come into His presence with an unassuming attitude.  

Charlie finally asked nicely … I placed the dish full of dog food before him on the floor … and he began enjoying his meal … tail wagging … which brought a smile to my face.  

I want to ask in a way that makes God smile.  

“The poor speak in soft supplications; the rich bark out answers.” Proverbs 18:23 (MSG)



>> Wednesday, May 23, 2012

She said it in passing and then the conversation turned elsewhere. But I was still back at the statement, “So you’ve got some words up there (pointing to my head) that are percolating.”  

Funny word … percolating … and it described exactly how my mind felt.  

As a child, I remember my mother making coffee in a percolator. I couldn’t get past the smell … therefore I’ve never liked coffee. To make the coffee, the heated water would be forced under pressure through the grounds … and the finished product exhibited color, taste, aroma and stimulating properties.  

As a writer, I often feel the force of an idea seeping through my consciousness … and after a time of percolating I sit at a keyboard and the finished product flows through my fingers. It is my desire that my words contain color, taste, aroma and stimulating properties.  

But I don’t want to stop there.  

As a Christ-follower … one who listens to sermons and reads the Bible … the force of that input needs to penetrate my very soul … percolate … and then emanate from my life in living color, taste and a winsome fragrance. I’m not finished yet … but I can exhibit to the world what it means to live an abundant life.  

My percolator seems to be working continuously these days.

This is what I want you to do: Ask the Father for whatever is in keeping with the things I've revealed to you. Ask in my name, according to my will, and He'll most certainly give it to you. Your joy will be a river overflowing its banks!” John 16:23-24 (MSG)


A Special Sleepover

>> Sunday, May 20, 2012

Last night I slept with my husband.  

Before you say “Duh”, please let me explain. I hadn’t slept with him since April 12th. And no, he hadn’t been out of the country. The weekend of the 12th, 13th and 14th was his off-road motorcycle training. Learning to ride on the grapefruit size rocks was his undoing … landing with his hip on one of them.  

And so (even though there were no broken bones) he was unable to lie in a bed. Thus, the big chair in the television room became his place for sleeping. Not wanting to be clear across the house from him, I slept on the couch.  

We thought it was a temporary arrangement … meaning just a few days. But five days turned into ten … then twenty … then thirty. After 40 days, he could finally sleep in the bed again.  

I know there are married couples who sleep in separate beds. Sometimes it is for physical reasons such as an injury and other times it is a choice made to insure a good night’s rest. For us, separate beds would be a punishment. It’s important to us to know throughout the night that the other one is there.  

In these past 40 days (and nights) I’ve thought about the couples for whom the separation is permanent. Perhaps their mate has been placed in a long-term care facility. For others, their loved one has passed on.  

I never want to take the closeness we have for granted.  

You have captured my heart, my treasure, my bride.
You hold it hostage with one glance of your eyes….”
Song of Solomon 4:9 (NLT)



So You Think You're Having a Bad Day

>> Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Recently I visited a middle school, spending the day with the students. As I drove to the school, I pondered what I could say to kids their age that they could relate to. My morning had not gone well … which resulted in me arriving late. But I was greeted enthusiastically and presented with gifts … a Chai tea, brownie and rice krispies treat.  

I had an “Aha” moment.  

My talk began with how my morning had gone wrong … but ended well … with gifts and time with them. Then I shared about my life ... unwanted by my mother … married off while still in high school … a totally unfulfilled life. But years into my life I met and married a wonderful man … we have a newly built home … and live a truly blessed life.  

“Just because you are having a bad life now does not mean it has to stay that way. When you arrive at an age that you can make choices for yourself, you can turn your life around.”  

Then I asked them to write me a little story … about a bad day they had … or about a bad life they were living. Some of the stories broke my heart. Dads with bullets in their heart. Being taken from their bed in the middle of the night and placed in foster care and then another one and then another one. Trying to sleep with people screaming and guns firing. A mother telling her she didn’t want her and giving her away, keeping the new baby because she loves it.  

Out of 56 stories, 13 were about children trying to live their lives in a broken world … just wanting someone to love them. It’s the only life they know.  

When you think you are having a bad day, remember these kids.

“I was hungry and you fed me,
I was thirsty and you gave me a drink,
I was homeless and you gave me a room,
I was shivering and you gave me clothes,
I was sick and you stopped to visit,
I was in prison and you came to me.” Matthew 25:36 (MSG)


More Fun Quotes

>> Friday, May 11, 2012

Sometimes, when I look at my children, I say to myself, “Lillian, you should have remained a virgin.”  Lillian Carter  

I had a rose named after me and I was very flattered. But I was not pleased to read the description in the catalogue: - “No good in a bed, but fine against a wall.”  Eleanor Roosevelt  

Last week I stated this woman was the ugliest woman I had ever seen. I have since been visited by her sister and now wish to withdraw that statement.  Mark Twain  

The secret of a good sermon is to have a good beginning and a good ending; and to have the two as close together as possible.   George Burns  

Santa Claus has the right idea. Visit people only once a year.  Victor Borge  

Be careful about reading health books. You may die of a misprint.  Mark Twain  

By all means, marry. If you get a good wife, you’ll become happy; if you get a bad one, you’ll become a philosopher.  Socrates  

My wife has a slight impediment in her speech. Every now and then she stops to breathe.  Jimmy Durante  

Until I was thirteen, I thought my name was SHUT UP.  Joe Namath  

We could certainly slow the aging process down if it had to work its way through Congress.  Will Rogers  

(Author Unknown)


The Invisible Mother

>> Thursday, May 10, 2012

I couldn’t make sense of the blank stares, the lack of response, the way one of the kids would walk into the room while I was on the phone and ask to be taken to the store. Inside I'm thinking, 'Can't you see I'm on the phone?'   

Obviously not; no one can see if I'm on the phone, or cooking, or sweeping the floor, or even standing on my head in the corner, because no one can see me at all. I'm invisible. The invisible Mom. Some days I am only a pair of hands, nothing more! 'Can you fix this? Can you tie this? Can you open this??   

Some days I'm not a pair of hands; I'm not even a human being. I'm a clock to ask, 'What time is it?' I'm a satellite guide to answer, 'What number is the Disney Channel?' I'm a car to order, 'Right around 5:30, please.'   

Some days I'm a crystal ball; 'Where's my other sock? Where's my phone? What's for dinner?'   

I was certain that these were the hands that once held books and the eyes that studied history, music and literature --but now, they had disappeared into the peanut butter, never to be seen again. She's going, she's going, she's gone!?   

One night, a group of us were having dinner, celebrating the return of a friend from England. She had just gotten back from a fabulous trip, and was going on and on about the hotel she stayed in. I was sitting there, looking around at the others all put together so well.   

It was hard not to compare and feel sorry for myself. I was feeling pretty pathetic, when she turned to me with a beautifully wrapped package, and said, 'I brought you this.' It was a book on the great cathedrals of Europe. I wasn't exactly sure why she'd given it to me until I read her inscription: With admiration for the greatness of what you are building when no one sees.'   

In the days ahead I would read --- no, devour the book. And I would discover what would become for me, four life-changing truths, after which I could pattern my work: 1) No one can say who built the great cathedrals - we have no record of their names. 2) These builders gave their whole lives for a work they would never see finished. 3) They made great sacrifices and expected no credit. 4) The passion of their building was fueled by their faith that the eyes of God saw everything.   

A story of legend in the book told of a rich man who came to visit the cathedral while it was being built, and he saw a workman carving a tiny bird on the inside of a beam. He was puzzled and asked the man, 'Why are you spending so much time carving that bird into a beam that will be covered by the roof, No one will ever see it ' And the workman replied, 'Because God sees.'  

I closed the book, feeling the missing pieces fall into place. It was almost as if I heard God whispering to me, 'I see you.  I see the sacrifices you make every day, even when no one around you does'.   

'No act of kindness you've done, no sequin you've sewn on, no cupcake you've baked, no Cub Scout meeting, no last-minute errand is too small for me to notice and smile over. You are building a great cathedral, but you can't see right now what it will become.'   

I keep the right perspective when I see myself as a great builder; as one of the people who show up at a job that they will never see finished, to work on something that their name will never be on.   

The writer of the book went so far as to say that no cathedrals could ever be built in our lifetime because there are so few people willing to sacrifice to that degree.   

When I really think about it, I don't want my son to tell the friend he's bringing home from college for Thanksgiving, 'My Mom gets up at 4 in the morning and bakes homemade pies, and then she hand-bastes a turkey for 3 hours and presses all the linens for the table.' That would mean I'd built a monument to myself. I just want him to want to come home.  And then, if there is anything more to say to his friend, he'd say, 'You're gonna love it there ....'  

As mothers, we are building great cathedrals. We cannot be seen if we're doing it right. And one day, it is very possible that the world will marvel, not only at what we have built, but at the beauty that has been added to the world by the sacrifices of invisible mothers.  

(Author Unknown)


There Is No Trying; Only Doing

>> Tuesday, May 8, 2012

 “I’m trying to lose weight.” How many times have I said that over the years? All my trying has gotten me is more trying. And then good ole’ Chuck Swindoll … my mentor via podcast … said: “There is no trying; only doing.”  

So right now … since I heard those words … I am doing.  

In conversations, I hear the words, “I’m trying to get out of debt.” But actions don’t match words when they show up with a new car. As a bookkeeper … and personal keeper of our finances … I don’t want the reputation of someone who tries to balance the bank statement.  

In the area of finances … both at work and at home … I am doing.  

But what about trying to trust God? The problem may seem just too big for Him to handle. Maybe it’s a situation that there is just no way out. Trusting God to lead is too hard. And so we … as human beings … take matters into our own hands to fix it. Trusting God means letting go of the outcome.  

For today … in the adversities of life … I am doing.

"Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don't get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.” Matthew 6:34 (MSG)



>> Saturday, May 5, 2012

I couldn’t shake the word out of my head … chaff … planted there at the Good Friday service. That evening, around the edge of the auditorium had been eight stations designed to help you contemplate your life. It had been a very simple spot against the wall … a table with some fans sitting on it … fans to signify blowing away the chaff in your life. Some written words helped direct your thinking.  

Did I have chaff in my life?  

That question stayed with me through the coming days. The dictionary told me that chaff meant something comparatively worthless. So I began observing my daily routine and habits.  

Boy, did I have chaff in my life.  

How many programs on television are really worth watching? What kind of books do I read that bring value to my life? How much time do I waste on Facebook? What about my Bible reading and prayer time? These were the questions in my head.  

I needed to re-prioritize some activities.  

As I evaluated my patterns, I realized this had to happen on the inside before I could make it work. If I truly desired change, I would see things with a new perspective. It was about my actions that others don’t really see.  

I’ve got a little fan that’s blowing in my life … helping rid me of that chaff.  

“And then take on an entirely new way of life—a God-fashioned life, a life renewed from the inside and working itself into your conduct as God accurately reproduces his character in you.” Ephesians 4:24 (MSG)


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