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.......







 

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