Friday, April 20, 2018

Lean on Me

I absolutely LOVE that my grandbabies are always wanting to help.  And as they develop their vocabulary skills, "I want to help you" most often comes out, "Ina Hope!"

I've written about this before but it just continues to fascinate me.  Such a perfect mistake, don't you think?  Exchanging the word help for hope.

This past Monday was family dinner night.  But because Frank and I have been hosting multiple church groups/dinners at our home recently, I put out the call for someone else to host this time.

Meagan and Nathan accepted the call.  So, I took the pork chops to their house and went on with my other responsibilities.  (Meagan does a great marinade and Nathan has become quite the GrillSmith.  Pun Totally Intended!)

When Frank and I pulled into their driveway later on Monday, we were met by two beautiful blonde haired children with huge hugs and sweet kisses.  I'd brought a couple of other things and Noah immediately offered to help us carry them inside.

Madi was right on his heels with "Ina hope too, Noni!"  (I want to help, too.)  Even if it's carrying my purse, I try to come up with something for her to help with at times like that.  Contributing builds character in children, doesn't it?

This little lady is a natural born leader.  She can also be a little bossy sometimes, especially with her cousin, Zach.  Her offers to help him are usually more of a statement than a request.  "No No, Zachie Pookie. I hope you!"  

Zach is only three weeks younger than Madi.  But she gave him a pet name as soon as she could talk.  It seems every southern mother gives her children pet names.  And Madi's little nickname, "Zachie Pookie" stuck.

Zachariah usually has one of two responses when Madison offers to hope him.  He walks away; which is NOT pleasing to the one so generously offering to help. Or he looks around briefly then gives in to exactly what Madison has directed.

I've even witnessed a couple of shoulder shugs and deep sighs of resignation.  Those two are more like twins than cousins.  And they are hysterical to watch!

This morning as Frank and I sat having coffee on the back porch, my heart got a little overwhelmed.

Our routine is to start each day with some quiet time.  Then, we try to run through our day's schedules so we each have a general idea of where the other will be.  That five minute exercise (so helpful most days) put my stomach in a knot this morning.  A few tears even breeched the dam.

Tears are rare for me, especially that early in the day.  So it caught Frank off guard.  He pulled me close, gave my hand a kiss and said, "Let's pray."

Best Help/Hope Ever!

After we prayed, he asked what he could do to help with my to do list.  He listened patiently and asked questions to clarify.  We developed a better game plan.  We worked to redirect my view. 

His offer to help began to renew my hope that all we Must do today, Can be done.

I wish I could tell you a beautiful scripture immediately came to my mind.  But today, it was the chorus of a song from my teen years instead:

"Lean on me!  When you're not strong and I'll be your friend.  I'll help you carry on. For it won't be long 'til I'm gonna need, somebody to lean on."

I laid my weary head over on the broad shoulder of my husband and whispered my gratitude.

We can't be the strong one every day, friends.  We must all take turns offering help; which then brings hope.

Who knew Madison Riley was such a SAGE at only three years of age?!





Friday, April 13, 2018

The View

I just finished writing a sermon I can hardly wait to preach this Sunday!

In fact, I'm so excited I would love to attach the entire message here for you to read it.  But alas,  I can't give it away today.  What would be the incentive for people to come on Sunday?

The title of my sermon is "The View" just like this post.  Only here, I'm taking a little different twist.

(It dawned on me just a moment ago that I've never invited you to hear one of my sermons but you can rather easily.  Go to gardengrovechurch.com click on the GGC Facebook page and you'll have access to our weekly sermons.

You'll have to scroll back to October to catch my most recent one.  Or just come back on Tuesday and they'll have the one from this Sunday posted.)

This week Frank and I made a quick trip up to north FL to visit my dad and his wife, Christeen.  We left Monday just as the sun was peeking over the horizon and drove the 7 hours to his home.  Then Wednesday, we drove back.

There was no agenda for this visit.  We didn't even do much of anything special.  It was all about time with Dad.  Stepping out of our hectic world and into his quieter one for a while.

We walked to the barn to feed his cows, ducks and kittens.  We checked out his progress on the garden he just planted. We rode in his Arctic Cat over hill and dale seeing where he hunts and fishes.  We even stopped for a couple of selfies near his favorite fishin' hole.

Let me not rush past the statement "...rode in his Arctic Cat..." because you need a good mental picture.  Dad lives on a huge tract of land owned by his family for decades.  Well over a hundred acres.

Because he knows almost every foot of that land from his 80 years of rambling over it, he needed a way to still access each corner.  So he bought himself an all terrain vehicle with two front seats positioned side by side.  A huge console in the center covers part of the engine.

Frank was on this little adventure with us, so guess where I was sitting.  Yep, I was precariously perched on the console like I was a fifteen year old girl instead of a 59 year old lady!

I kept trying new hand grip spots to secure me from toppling over on top of the fellas.  And the console started heating up well before we got back to the house.

(Please envision my eyes as wide as saucers and my bum quite warm!) 

But we made a memory!

In truth, it's a memory I'll hold dear for years to come.  Dad just driving us slowly over the fields and through the wooded areas. Easing his way through the boggy lowlands.  Pointing out vegetation and wildlife as they appeared before us.  Telling stories of hunting trips and fishing adventures.

We were seeing the land from his point of view and I was reminded why he loves it so much.

It was good therapy for Frank and I just to get out of town for 48 hours.  Somehow, your perspective shifts when you get away and shake up your normal routine a bit.

Even our ride on the Arctic Cat was good medicine.

There's more I'd love to share but I just got a call from my favorite fella with an invitation for lunch.  So I'm signing off to make sure he knows I view him as most important!



How about you?  Do you have a story of how your perspective has shifted at some point?  Or perhaps a tip about keeping your perspective right?  We'd love to hear about it in the comment section........







Saturday, April 7, 2018

Time to Plant

It's time to get your garden ready!

Yes, I'm aware that for many of you the timing of this statement makes it seem a bit ridiculous.  But bear with me.

Where I live, the temperatures are already topping 80 degrees on a daily basis.  I'm filling my lungs morning and evening with the final wafts of cool air.  By the end of next month it will be sauna time again.

So naturally, my mind is on planting already.

Life has been too busy for serious flower bedding.  But I did manage to throw a few bulbs in the ground and refresh my doorway planters.  Big win for me.

As I cleaned house yesterday preparing for company, I began to ponder the rhythms of planting and harvest.  Since I can't dig in the actual dirt right now, my mind turned to spiritual planting.  A couple of thoughts came to me rather clearly.

  • We seldom ever harvest in the timing we think is reasonable.  The time between planting a seed by faith and seeing fruit from that seed is almost ALWAYS longer than I expect.  

I heard a great line from a teaching this week.  "The farmer waits with knowledge."  Such an important concept for us, too.  Productive farmers know from experience - there will be results from all my planting efforts......if I'm patient.

He can't go out two days later, snatch the seed out of the ground and say, "See!  I knew it wouldn't work!"  It takes time.  Keep watering/cultivating your seed, dear friend.  It will yield a harvest.

  • In spiritual matters, we don't always reap from the field where we've planted.  But watch for it, your seedling of faith will produce fruit for you somewhere in your life.

I've gladly served as a mentor and invested heavily in the lives of many young women.  Some of those investments have been expensive for me financially, emotionally, or time wise.  And occasionally, I see no return for my investment from the one I've worked with.

But again, patience is key here, along with eyes to see.  

Recently, I've had the privilege of meeting with two ladies I should never have had access to under normal conditions.  They've spoken truth into my life and encouraged me to reach beyond where I've thought I could go.  I look at their lives and see possibility for my own life.  

And there's the return for my earlier investments.  The seeds I've faithfully planted in other young women have become a harvest for me from a totally different field.  

But if I hadn't planted, I wonder if I would have reaped these divine appointments that have provided much needed fruit for me.  Hmmm, something to ponder.

So, even if the ground around you is still frozen I maintain my call........."It's time to Plant!"  Find something/somewhere you can plant a seed (by faith) toward seeing the miracle you long for come to pass.  

Then start the tough work of waiting.

Believe that this seed, properly cultivated, will bring a harvest your way.  Patiently watch for the first signs of a seedling and celebrate, even if it took longer to sprout and came to you from a different field.  The miracle is still just as amazing!

One thing is for certain - no one ever harvested if they didn't plant.

It's Time to Plant!!

Monday, April 2, 2018

It's Winnable

Do you have a vice?

"Sheri, we just came through Lent!  We were supposed to give up our vices."

Yes, I'm aware.  But I have a story about a vice that I think will be encouraging.

Important Side Note:  I just looked up the definition for "vice" and found I was using it improperly.  Free Dictionary, "A practice or habit considered to be evil, degrading or immoral."  

I guess I was leaning more toward definition #3.  "A slight personal failing; foible.  An imperfection."   Whew!  Glad we cleared that up!

So, moving on.  The little imperfection to which I'm referring is that of playing solitaire on my phone.  It's a wonderfully mindless activity that doesn't allow my brain to wander around aimlessly whenever I take a much needed break.

I've shared with you before how I've put roadblocks up to keep this activity from stealing time.  I'm allowed a maximum of three short games in a row; taking no more than ten minutes.  No more than three times in a single day.

Believe it or not, I have a counter on my phone that keeps me accountable to this commitment.  So it really doesn't qualify for the #1 definition of vice from Free Dictionary.

Back to the point of the post.

I most often play the Medium difficulty games.  Once Frank taught me the rudiments of solitaire, I quickly discovered the Easy category didn't provide enough of a challenge.  The Hard category is definitely challenging but requires full attention, totally negating the purpose of mindless activity.

So Medium is juuussst right!  (Did you hear the voice of Goldilocks from the Three Bears?)

There's another issue also makes it attractive.  The attention-getting statement on my game goes like this: "Easy and Medium games are always winnable.  Hard games may or may not be winnable."

Having that one little tidbit of information has been a game changer for me.  Literally!

No matter how challenging the game may be, I know the computer that set it up has also created a strategy for winning the game.  There is no question about it.  This game CAN Be Won!

Consequently, I have never abandoned a single game in the four years I've been playing on this phone.  (The accountability counter I mentioned earlier can attest to this truth.)

Why abandon a game that can be won?

There is a little button entitled the "Undo" button.  It allows you to start over when a game gets perplexing.  Please understand, some games I've had to leave and come back to time and again.  A few, I've handed over to Frank asking for his expert help.  One had me stumped for almost a week.

There is also this ridiculous caution sign with an exclamation point that appears when you've run out of options for a game.  If you can't come up with a solution, you have to start tapping the undo button until every card has returned to its original state and begin again from the very beginning.

Either that or abandon the game.  And we've already established my response to the abandoning option.

When the caution sign pops up signaling no more available plays, I must make a choice.  It's humbling.  Sometimes annoying.  Often irritating.  But always I hear that little promise running through my head, "This game is winnable!"

So back I trudge to the starting line and try yet again.

I've come to look at that silly game as an example of life in general.  Often, we hit major snags along our journey.  Difficulties make it appear we have no available options for a good outcome in this situation.

But remember!  The constant promise we have is that the One who created us also sees a way out of our dilemma.  There is a viable solution if we just keep looking.

Some struggles can keep us stumped a long time.  Often we must seek out the help of a friend with more experience.   We may even have to trudge right back to the starting line and begin all over again in order to find success.  But it's worth the effort.

Don't allow darkness to convince you to abandon your intended goal.  This game of life is winnable.

A promise I often rehearse for myself is found in Jeremiah 29:11 which says in part,  "I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. Plans for hope and a future." 

In layman's terms - it's winnable!


How about you?  Any lessons learned from your definition #3 vices?  We'd love to learn too - just leave a comment below.......







 

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Untimely

SICK was not what I had planned for this day!

But it appears when you eat a taco salad that doesn't agree with you - At ALL - the choice is not yours.  Frank and I had a lovely al fresco lunch yesterday at a Mexican restaurant where we often eat.  The weather was perfect and we had the outdoor dining area all to ourselves.

About two hours later, my tummy started rumbling but I didn't have time to stop and deal with such minor discomfort.  We had rehearsal for the Tenebrae service starting at 5.  Frank needed me ready to walk everyone through their parts.

The rumbling became more insistent.  While Frank read through his last section, I slipped to the restroom and almost completely unloaded my lunch.  (All the while holding my cute little necklace out of the way, mind you!)

The nausea subsided and I thought that was the end of it.

Oh, no!  Not by a long shot. 

Thankfully, the whole point of a Tenebrae service is reflection.  People enter silently and exit silently.  Greeting, talking, hugging as we leave is discouraged.  Since that is one of my main roles, I was able to slip to the office bathroom.

I'll spare you the details of riding home with a trash can in my lap.  Cody and Kristin followed us to bring home my car.  Frank told them to stay outside!  We were pretty sure it was the taco salad but she only has five weeks left and couldn't risk a bug at this point.

Frank is without a doubt the best care-giver in the world.  He just senses what I need before asking.  Cold cloth.  Trash can.  Blanket warmed in the dryer. Hot tea.  Dry toast.

When I stumbled out of bed this morning, I was more than a little relieved to find he had decided to study here instead of going to the office as planned.  It's the little things, when you're sick.

He made my grocery run for me.  Our dining room was already set up for the flurry of excitement that will descend on us tomorrow evening.  And six little baskets are sitting in our guest room waiting for the grands.

As I mentioned earlier, our normal family sunrise service will be a Skype experience this year. Since I'm usually up by 4AM on Easter to prepare, it's a timely change.

Several things I wanted to make happen for tomorrow will have to be tabled for another year.  I've slept off and on almost the entire day.  Even now I know I won't be back to 100%.  This is an untimely sickness for sure!

But as I rested today, I reminded myself the most important elements are locked into place whether I'm able to assist or not.

The sun will rise tomorrow.  We will gather with our church family and celebrate Resurrection Day with great enthusiasm.  We'll remind ourselves that because of Easter, we have hope for our future.

Because of Easter, I know I'll see my sweet mama again some day.  Because of Easter, all the things in my life that seem to make no sense can be turned over to Christ.  He can explain it all to me or not, the choice lies with Him. 

He has a different perspective on my life and yours.  He sees what we can not.  The key is resting in the truth that He Does Know.

One of my favorite Easter songs is written in a lilting 6/8 time. Tomorrow our family will sing together.  The verse isn't well known so Noni will sing it but everyone joins in on the chorus:

"I serve a risen Savior He's in the world today.  I know that He is living whatever men may say.  I feel His hand of mercy I hear His voice of cheer.  And just the time I need Him, He's always near.  

He Lives! He Lives!  Christ Jesus lives today.  He walks with me and talks with me along life's narrow way.  He Lives!  He Lives!  Salvation to impart.  You ask me how I know He lives.  He lives within my heart!"

My prayer for you is that you'll experience the Savior in a wonderfully timely way this Easter season!






Monday, March 26, 2018

Significant Celebrating

Happy Easter, Everyone!!  And so begins my favorite week of each year.
  • Palm Sunday (Marking Christ's triumphal entry into Jerusalem.)
  • Maundy Thursday (His last supper with his disciples)
  • Good Friday (The day Christ gave His life in exchange for ours)
  • Easter (RESURRECTION DAY!!)   
If you're a regular reader, you know that Frank and I are a bit extreme about significant holidays and the celebrating there of.  Mostly, because holidays serve as perfect teaching opportunities.

We used a fun video in service yesterday to explain Palm Sunday.  (The Skit Guys are our favorite.  They use humor to explain/teach/challenge the Church.)

This Wednesday, we'll share the traditional elements of the Passover Meal in place of regular bible study.  We have a minister who worships with a Jewish congregation coming to teach us all about the significance of each element.

On Friday, we'll have our first Tenebrae Service.  This is new for us; we just learned of it last year.  Tenebrae means "shadows."  This one hour service will be very somber; calling us to reflect on the sorrow that surely surrounded the death of Christ.

Please remember, the disciples were living the story in real time.  They hadn't read the ending.  They had No Idea that Resurrection Day was just around the corner.  The purpose of the Tenebrae Service is to help us identify with the depth of those emotions.

THEN (mental drum roll).................EASTER SUNDAY!!!

Frank, in full Biblical costume,  will be presenting a monologue as the disciple Peter.  I've willingly tolerated shaggy hair and a growing beard for several weeks now as he moves toward creating the characterization.  Wigs and fake beards just don't do the trick for him.

My favorite part of his presentation?  He'll sing a solo, "The Day He Wore My Crown."

Music was what first brought us together.  Frank has an amazing voice but he seldom ever does solos anymore.  I'm looking forward to hearing his rich baritone fill the rafters once again.

Our annual family sunrise service will morph yet again this year.  Six babies and two pregnant mommies means getting to one location all ready for church before the sun rises is a bit more challenging than it used to be.

So, at Nathan's suggestion, we're going techie.  We'll Skype!  Not quite sure how that's gonna work but we're gonna give it a try.

"Oh, Sheri!  Doesn't that make you sad?"  

Well, sure.  No change is comfortable at first.  But the important thing is that we're trying to make the connection and we're making Resurrection Day special for our young ones.  Easter is about an empty tomb.  A Risen Savior.  Hope for all people.  Not a chocolate bunny.

Traditions and breaking out of the mold impacts children.  We want desperately for Easter to be understood by them.

Before our Easter dinner, everyone will tell about a Resurrection Egg they'll find on their plate.  Special blessings will be read over each family.

Then comes the Egg Hunt in Noni and Papa's backyard!

At the writing of this post, I'm still not sure when Easter Dinner will actually take place.  We're looking at Saturday, Sunday and even Monday.  We're trying to co-ordinate multiple families, work schedules and the all important issue of - Nap Times!

The date is not as important as the doing.  I should have my own special song about flexibility.  :-)

Bottom line is this.  Easter is our most important day of celebration.  The message behind Easter is really quite simple:
  • We're all broken.  
  • We all need a Savior.  
Aren't you grateful for this wonderful season, too?  

I want to share another reason we're so big on Easter.  

In 1974, a teen-aged boy invited two of his friends to join him for church on Easter Sunday night.  The incentive was, they would all campout afterward.  So the boys went.  Both of his friends heard a clear Gospel message for the first time that night and accepted Christ as Savior.

One of those boys was my own dear husband!  Easter is Frank's spiritual birthday.

Most people are happy to go to church on Easter.  Be bold.  Don't go alone.  Pray this week and invite someone to join you.  You may be helping them toward the best decision of their lives, as well.

Happy Easter, Dear Friends!



(I'd love to hear about how you mark this wonderful holiday.  Your celebration ideas may spark a great new tradition for someone else.  Please share with us in the comment section.  Thanks!)  












Monday, March 19, 2018

First and Third

I'm aware that "first and third" is most commonly heard in musical discussions.  Or maybe with directions being given.  "It's on the corner of First and Third."

But for us, First and Third describes our current life.

Our First daughter (Kristin) is pregnant with her First child.  Our Third daughter (Meagan) is pregnant with her Third child.  And Joy (middle daughter with four children)  is keeping them both calm!

Last week, our "adopted" daughter Amanda flew down to spend a few days with the "Frisisters."  (That's friend and sister blended.)  She is also pregnant with her third little boy.

It's a joyous time for our clan.  Some days I do indeed feel like the most abundantly blessed person around.

Yesterday, we celebrated Kristin and Cody's little guy with a family and friends shower.  We held it at their home so everyone could see their nursery.  (Completed the day before, they used the shower as a push to make it happen.  Smart plan!)

About 30 ladies.....and Cody.....spent the afternoon ooohing and aaahing and saying "How Precious!"  Um, the ladies were saying all that, not Cody.  :-)

Paula (Cody's mom) and I hosted.  The sisters helped with games and serving.  Closest family and friends literally did shower them with love and good wishes and all things baby related.

Most of you will remember, Cody is an only child.  Parker Franklin McGhee will carry on the McGhee name.  As Cody's dad was an only son and Native American, this is a special honor.

It's also a great honor that Parker will carry Papa's name.  Franklin means freedom and Parker means GateKeeper.  So they often say Parker is the Keeper of Freedom.  Powerful, right?!

Someone commented that because Parker will be our seventh grandchild, this must not be quite as special for us.  Nothing could be farther from the truth.  Which of your own children could you do without?  Each unique, each holds a spot only they can fill.

When my sister was born, I was almost 7 and became concerned that my parents would only love the new baby and forget all about the older kid.  I went to my mom with my fear.  "When the new baby comes, you won't have as much love for me anymore."  That's what made sense to in my little mind. 
She pulled me up onto her lap and shared this bit of lifetime wisdom with me.  "When God blesses a family with more children, the love in your heart is multiplied; not divided.  And the multiplying simply means there's more love to go around for Everyone!"

Isn't that true?!

Parker Franklin McGhee is the first of the first and the seventh in the bigger line.  But he already holds a place in the hearts of Noni, Papa, his aunts, uncles and cousins that belongs only to him.  Just like the spot held by Meagan and Nathan's baby who is third of the third and eighth in the bigger line.  :-)

Zach, the three year old, proved this last week.  He was standing in front of Aunt KayKay and everyone was talking over his head.  He started patting her belly and saying, "Pahkur, ooh, ooh Pahkur."  He's looking forward to the arrival of his newest cousin.

If you could see how they all look out for one another and how tender the bigger ones are with the new comers you would see the multiplied love in action.

The bigger truth is this, scripture says our Heavenly Father knew each one of us intimately while we were begin knit in our mother's womb.   You and I are more than one more number in the lineup.  We each fill a special place in His heart.

Aren't we grateful that the love of the Heavenly Father for us is multiplied by each child born into the Kingdom through Salvation?

Wow, my little mama was so smart!  :-)




Post Script: 
It is with great joy that we share, Meagan and Nathan are expecting another little boy!!  We are all over-the-moon excited!  There will, of course, be another post about their fun reveal party and all that the loquacious siblings brought to the celebration.  

Our grandchild count will go from 3 boys 3 girls..........to 5 boys 3 girls, this summer!   Oh, but fret not - those three girls can Hold Their OWN - trust me!  :-) 











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