Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Big & Small

Some may view this blog entry as silly but I don't care.  The truth of the matter is that I didn't write it for you anyway.  I wrote it for me so during those tough days I can look back and remember God's provision and attention to detail.

I remember packing for camp one summer and having problems locating sheets.  I complained to my Mom and she told me to pray about it. Pray about it?  Really?  God is too busy to care about me finding sheets to take to camp.  I looked for two days.  Finally I gave in.  

"God, it's me again.  Mama says to pray to You about all things.  I think that means the big things and not about simple things like finding sheets for camp.  I still think asking You is silly and wasting Your time but I'm going to ask You anyways because Mama said to.  Hope You're not mad. Amen."

I went back to the same closet that I had searched high and low over for the past two days.  There in plain view were the sheets that I needed.  In the words of Mama, "if it were a snake, it'd bite you".  I learned a very valuable lesson that day.  Number 1: God cares about the little things and the big things.  Number 2:  Listen to Mama more often.

I tell you that story to tell you this one but first you need to know some basic things about making jelly.  Making jelly isn't hard, just time consuming.  Mom taught me to freeze the juice in "batches".  (A batch is however many cups of juice needed for that particular type of jelly.)  That way if I only want to make a couple of batches, I only have to defrost two bags and I'm good to go.  Normally you'll always have a bag that doesn't have a full batch so you'll have a remnant bag that you have to wait to use with another remnant bag.  Another issue is the salvage jar.  When pouring out a batch of jelly, you may not have enough to fill a complete jar.  So you put a jar to the side to use for all of those last drops of jelly from each batch.  It's not a pretty jar because you'll see the lines from each batch.

I was given five 1 gallon bags of frozen blackberries.  I had never done blackberry before so this was a real treat.  They almost wouldn't all fit in my Mehu liisa (jelly juicing pot).  I did two cookings of the berries and they produced a lot of juice!  I didn't want any to go to waste.  Once again I remembered the lesson learned from the sheets so before I started I prayed that God would provide an even amount of batches.  He provided eight perfect batches...EIGHT!!!!  
Full to the gills!
1st pot full of juice with more to come

Towards the end I prayed that God would provide an even amount of jars because I just didn't want to have to deal with an ugly salvage jar.  He provided 45 half pint jars (8 oz) and 25 4 oz jars of blackberry jelly.  I am thrilled!

I can't help but smile at that memory from long ago.  Not only am I thankful that God cares about the big and small things in life but for also giving me a wise Mama to teach me through her words and actions how important it is to go to God for all things.  Big or small...good or bad...no matter your mood or state of mind...24 hours a day, 365 days a year...God is there for His children and He still answers prayer.   

Thursday, August 20, 2015

An eventful Monday

Dad always gave blood, especially for the babies.  Once he got sick, he had to stop.  I gave for the first time in 2014 because Dad needed it.  After he passed away, I decided to continue the tradition in memory of him.  I have O- blood.  Since this is a very sought after blood type, my # is on speed dial at the local Life Share unit. 

This past Monday the blood mobile was scheduled to be at my office building and I planned on donating.  I have small veins so being hydrated is very important in helping the nurses with their task.  So I increased my water intake.  I knew that I would need protein so I went to Papa’s for one of their huge burgers.  I knew that I couldn’t give right after eating lunch so I waited 45 minutes after eating before going down to donate.  Anthony is the master of sticking small veins.  He worked his magic and I was able to give my pint.  I was never light headed or nauseous during the process.  I picked up my free shirt, water and oatmeal crème pie on my way out.  I was fine as I stepped out of the blood mobile.  I was fine as I walked across the building atrium.  I was fine as I waited for 5 minutes on an elevator to go back to my office on the 22nd floor.  I was fine as the elevator went up…until about the 18th floor.

I remember feeling extreme pressure between my eyes and top of my head.  I knew something wasn’t right.  It felt like somebody was just pushing my head down to the floor.  I looked up and saw 18 on the elevator display and it was slowly becoming black.  I remember saying aloud, “God, help me make it to my floor.”  The next thing I remember was my boss’ voice telling me that I would be alright.  Apparently he was waiting on the elevator so that he could go downstairs to donate blood.  As the doors opened, he saw my condition and was able to catch me before I passed out. 

I remember muffled voices.  I remember not being able to focus.  I remember being very sleepy and having trouble waking up.  I remember cold packs being put on my forehead and around my neck.  (Well, actually I realized later that they were cold packs because they didn’t feel all that cold to me.)  I remember people raising my legs.  I remember wanting to have control over my own body but not being able to.  When I could finally focus, I had about five faces looking down at me.  It took over an hour for me to recover enough for me to walk to my desk.  During that time I had coworkers, friends and strangers offering to help me in any way that they could.  I was still loopy around quitting time so Tate was my chauffeur home.  I slept like a baby that night.  I am extremely thankful that God answered my prayer on the elevator near the 18th floor.  Will I donate blood again? Absolutely!!!  I just won't get off that little bed for about 10 or 15 minutes afterwards no matter how "fine" I feel.

In the days since my little “episode”, I couldn’t help but see God’s hand through it all.

v  God’s timing is perfect!  Greg could have gone to give blood at any time between noon and 4 pm.  He normally goes before I do.  God put him at that elevator at the exact moment that I would need help.  Greg’s focus shifted from his task to helping someone in need.  As I go through my day, do I notice if someone is in need?  Would I help or am I too focused on my “to do list”?

v  God is continually teaching us. In life, we will go through trials or experiences that aren’t pleasant.  Sometimes it’s for us to learn a lesson.  Maybe to be reminded that God is in control, not us.  Sometimes it’s so that in the future we can help someone else out when they go through the same thing.  Greg knew how to help me recover because he had done the same thing before himself.  Now I have the knowledge of what to do if I came along the same situation.

v  God’s focus is on people.  When I stepped onto the elevator, I had a bottle of water and oatmeal crème pie in one hand while the other hand held my phone and wallet.  Greg had to choose between catching me before I hit the ground or grabbing my material possessions before the elevator doors closed.  He chose what was most important.  Another elevator had arrived shortly after I passed out which would make the one that I just used next in line to be used by someone else.  My wallet and phone were still on that elevator.  Things could have gone from bad to worse had they been stolen but they weren’t.  When someone went to find my stuff, the doors opened and my stuff was right where I had dropped it.   Not only did God protect me physically, He protected me financially too.  Where do I place the most value in my life, on people or possessions?  Do I let God control over every aspect of my life?

v  God’s in control.  All the time.  No one and nothing can change that.  No matter how much I want to be in control, it’s not going to happen.  No matter how much I work hard at being in control, it’s just a lie because I will never obtain it.  The sooner I grasp that truth; the sooner peace will reign in my life.  As I laid on the floor having others move my body because I couldn’t…As I laid on the floor having others take care of me because I couldn’t take care of myself…As this control freak laid on the floor feeling very vulnerable and very frightened…I heard the words, “I’ve got you.  You’re going to be okay.”  It may have been Greg saying those words but I assure you that it wasn’t Greg’s voice that I heard.  I knew that God had answered my prayer.  I knew God was in control.  It was at that moment that peace engulfed my body and soul.

v  God still answers prayer…even for the hard headed recovering control freaks.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Bird Poop & The Flat

Dad was put into ICU on Friday, May 16th.  My days have been filled with hospital visits.  My mind has been filled with fear, anger and worry.  Tate knew I needed to get away to relax so he coaxed me to go fishing off a friend's pier.  His plan worked.  As we were leaving and discussing supper options, I hear Tate say, "Crap!"  A bird had pooped on his head.  I couldn't help but laugh.  I even got the giggles.  He tells me, "It's good to see you smile and hear you laugh.  Wish it didn't take a bird crapping on my head for it to happen but whatever it takes."  (Now that's self sacrificing love right there!)  So before we could go grab a bite to eat, Tate needed to wash his hair.  Originally we were going to head to Bossier for Newk's but as we got in the truck, Tate suggested Wendy's since it was closer to home.  "I can be good and get a salad" he said.  As we get closer to our destination, we start to debate between Wendy's and Whataburger.  "Just because I'm turning into Wendy's doesn't mean we have to stop.  We can go on to Whataburger."  Just as those words come out of Tate's mouth we turn the corner and see a Mom with her two teenage daughters trying to change a flat in the Wendy's parking lot.  We look at each other and smile because we both know Tate isn't going to leave without helping.  He says, "Apparently God wants us to eat at Wendy's."

As Tate is helping the eldest daughter change the tire, I get to talk with the Mom, Kim.  They were headed back to West Monroe from College Station TX after a ballgame.  They normally go to Dairy Queen when they're on the road but decided to go to Wendy's "to be good" with their food choices.  (Isn't that what Tate had said earlier?)  They had hoped to be home by now but were running behind.  (I wonder if God allowed the bird episode to happen so that we would be there at exactly the right time.)  Her husband couldn't go this trip but had provided them with a 2 ton jack and showed them what to do in case of a flat.  Tate went to work but he couldn't get the height he needed so he brought out his jack thinking it would help.  No such luck.  So he found the jack that came with the Rav4 and was able to change the tire.  The ladies had no clue on how to use that particular jack so they were watching closely to be prepared if it ever happened again.  Kim tried to buy our supper but Tate refused profusely.  "I pray that if Heather or my mom were in the same situation, a kind stranger would do the same for them.  All I ask is that you pay it forward some day."

As we drive home I remember the evening's events and see how God has orchestrated the entire thing.  He knew those ladies were going to be running late getting home and were going to have a flat tire in a Wendy's parking lot and He needed somebody there to help.  He knew I needed to relax and laugh so that I could get my focus off worrying.  So He allowed a bird to do an unpleasant deed to give me the giggles and to slow us down in getting supper so that we would arrive when the ladies needed help.  He made Tate to think of staying closer to home and "being good" with his food choices by going to Wendy's.  He made the ladies choose to "be good" by going to Wendy's instead of going to their normal route to Dairy Queen.  Even though Kim's husband provided her with a jack, God knew it wouldn't do the job so He sent Tate to show them what to do next time.  Now all of us have another testimony of how God's timing is perfect and how He provides in mysterious ways.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Defeated or Victorious?

I'm being bombarded.

For the past few weeks but especially the past few days God has been chiseling on His pot (me).  He talks to me through prayer, through His word, through Lysa TerKeurst books/blogs, through K-love and through friends.  This pruning hurts.  But I know it must be done.  So I accept it and work through the pain to make the changes that I need to.  It's hard.  Especially when you are a fixer.  (I was in middle school when Dad left and that's when I became a fixer AND a control freak.  The life I knew was spiraling out of control and for whatever reason I felt that I had to do everything in my power to stop it.  Where there was tension, worry, fear or problems, I had to fix the situation so that life would be "normal" again.  I've done it for so long that I will even take on other people's problems...that aren't even mine to fix...whether they ask or not...and I will spend/waste time and energy on trying to fix it.  Then if that person doesn't heed my instruction I get mad.  How dumb is that?!  Just one more area in my character/personality that God is working on...AGAIN.)  But I've always been told that God knows what's best for me.  He knows that what I need is not always what I want.  And that my "wants" are just cheap trinkets compared to what God has in store for me.  I need to quit wanting to be in control and submit to His will for my life.

On the flip side, Satan has raised his nasty head and I feel under attack.  Since I've decided to allow God to change me and I'm working diligently on those areas He wants me to address, Satan makes sure that I run into situations or people that will challenge that growth.  He wants me to fail.  He knows I am hot headed.  He knows I'm a fixer.  He knows I lack self control over my tongue.  And he is using each weakness to cause me to stumble.  He constantly reminds of my failures.  I have ruined my witness many a time with my words or actions.  Sometimes it was due to anger.  Other times it was because I was trying to "fix" the situation.  Either I would lash out at an individual to "put them in their place" since I just knew their actions were the root of all the problems. (How arrogant of me!)  Or I would use racy humor or language to accomplish the task of easing tension or lift moods.  Just recently I've come to find out just what the cost of my lack of self control over my mouth has done to others.  My heart hurts just thinking about it.

I was feeling defeated.  I wondered why God would want to use someone like me.  I make wrong choices.  I fail to model my life after Christ causing people to call me a hypocrite.  While I was wallowing in this pit of shame and guilt, God reminded me of the spiritual battle that is going on.

Ephesians 6 New International Version (NIV)

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.  18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. 19 Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.

Satan is alive and well.  1 Peter 5:8 says "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour." He will use whatever is needed to make a Christian fail to be an example of Christ.  The more guilt, shame and defeat he can cause to a Christian, the more likely that Christian will give up the fight.  Then there's one less Christian out there trying to win others to Christ.  In times like these I must decide whether I'm going to give up or stand back up, dust myself off and try again.  I've read the Bible.  I know how the story ends.  God is victorious and Satan is defeated.  So on this day I choose to not give up.  On this day I will put on the full armor of God and stand against Satan and his schemes. On this day I resolve to not be a hypocrite.  On this day I will ask for strength, guidance and self control over my words and actions so that I may be a shining example of Christ.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Never give up...never, never give up

I got my score yesterday for the FAR section. I didn't pass.  I felt like somebody had kicked me in my gut.  I had to hide to have my cry.  Then I got mad.  I gave up so much time to study for that section.  While others were enjoying life, I was strapped to a book.  I even had to juggle studying and taking care of Mom after her surgery.  (I do not regret my decision to take care of my mother.)  You'd think God would give me points for that and help me pass.  Then Hurricane Isaac made me reschedule.  It shook my mental game.  It would've been nice if God had given me points for enduring that as well.  The timing of the score release sucked since I take the AUD section today at 1:30pm.  My mind is playing tricks on me.  One minute I'm sad/mad about the whole situation.  The next I'm determined to not let this knock me down.  You only fail when you quit, right?  Then I think of how arrogant and disrespectful to God I've been with my thoughts.  He doesn't owe me anything.  The only thing hurt here is my pride.  Until now I've never really failed anything.  I've always passed.  Humility sucks and yet I feel better since this has happened. The pressure of "being perfect", "#1 in all that you do", and any of the other warped thoughts I learned from Dad's "helping" during my school days has been released. (Disclaimer: Dad did not intentionally mean to warp my thought process.  He just wanted the best for me and pushed me harder to achieve.)  The worse thing that could have happen during these exams was that I not pass.  Well it happened and I'm still standing.  There wasn't a crowd of people laughing and mocking me.  Nobody threw rocks at my car.  A huge neon arrow attached to a sign that read "She didn't pass so that makes her 2nd rate. Avoid any contact with her" did not magically appear over my head.  I didn't lose anything of value...even though the test wasn't cheap.)  However, I did receive compassion and encouragement from family and friends.  None of them suggested that I give up.  In fact they were adamant that I keep going.  (Just keep swimming, just keep swimming.)  So today is a new day.  God is still with me encouraging me to go on.  Today I pull myself up, knock the dirt off my pants and try again. 

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Glad that's over

My thoughts about the test. You know that blindfolded guy who throws knives at the woman strapped on the wheel. Sometimes I felt like the guy and other times I was the woman. A few times I felt like the wheel and desperately wanting it to stop spinning. Praying I did well enough so I never have to do that section again

Monday, July 16, 2012

Early mornings, Exercise & Me..Not a good combo

I've been wanting to make better life choices and getting healthy was in the top 3.  Last week I started going to the gym before work.  I'm not a morning person so getting up instead of rolling over when the alarm clock sounded was a victory in itself.  This morning I rolled over.  When the alarm clock across the room went off, I jumped up, threw on my gym clothes and off to the gym I went. 

Due to time constraints, I skipped the weights and concentrated on cardio.  I was almost done on the treadmill when I looked out the window near the corner of the gym. I didn't see my car. Just a cop car where my car should be. My stomach dropped. I'm straining my neck and all I see is a cop car. I don't remember there being two parked in the parking lot. So I hop off the treadmill immediately. My mind is racing.
  • why did this have to happen while Tate's gone
  • what all was in my car
  • what new vehicle do I want
  • what a way to start a Monday
Hurriedly I wipe down the machine and grab my keys. As I get closer to the door, I see that I was very foolish. What I thought was a window showing a cop car was actually the mirror's reflection of the one cop car I had seen parked earlier. As I head out the door, there sat my car...all safe and sound.

They say that exercise is good for you. They say that it's better for you if you do it in the morning. That may be true for morning people but for those of us who would rather sleep later, events like the above have the ability to cause heart attacks. What good is that exercise then, hmmmmm?

I can laugh now. 30 minutes ago I could not. Figured you needed a laugh too.

Enjoy your Monday.