Safe Haven

I like to think of my home as a safe haven for my family. People are cared for, needs are met, and we can close the door on the world outside when the weight of it gets too heavy. I cannot help what may or may not happen to or for my family members outside the four walls of our home, but inside that home at least I attempt to make a place of retreat.
That’s not to say there are never tears or gnashing of teeth there.
There are. Whenever you mix different people with differing ideas and personalities there are going to be issues. As my kids grow older, and begin the process of making their own decisions, we sometimes struggle. Still, our home is a safe place for those who live there. It is the place where we can let it all hang out, so to speak. We may have to save face outside, but inside it is a safe place to fall.
The day my daughter found out she had not been chosen for a part in the school play, she made it all the way home on the bus, up the street, through the front door, and into her daddy’s arms before she felt safe enough to let out her sadness and tears. No one would make fun of her disappointment. There was no embarrassment at not being chosen, just murmurings of love and long hugs.
Recently, at the end of a particularly difficult workday, I drove home with great determination to get to my place of refuge. It was snowing and the roadways were becoming unsafe, but I would have driven on a sheet of ice to get home. I fell through the front door and into the waiting arms of my husband. Poor guy. He has two emotional females to manage.
While my husband and boys are a bit less emotional and weepy, they too, find love and acceptance at home when the world throws them a curveball or a bully on the playground.
I cannot imagine not having this safe haven to go to.
Yet I know there are people who do not feel that their home is safe. Rather, home is a place of judgment and fear. Children are not treasured or nurtured. Marriages are not cherished. Honesty is not appreciated, and there are no arms to comfort or shoulders to cry on. Home is a place to avoid, or run away from rather than run toward.
In either case, whether or not your home is a safe haven, one is available to all who run to it. Proverbs 18:10 states that “The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.” It doesn’t say that some are safe. All who trust in HIm, and run to it are safe.
Every sadness, disappointment, or abuse we have suffered at the hands of this world He understands.
The pastor of the church we attend recently shared a series of messages dealing with getting through bad days. A tag line from the series said, “He (Jesus) went through his worst day, so that you could get through yours.”
We all need open arms to run to sometimes. While it’s always nice for those arms to have skin on, we can rest in the knowledge that God’s arms are always open, and everyone who runs to Him makes it.
This Easter, I pray that you will pause and think about the sacrifice made for you.
It was personal. It was devastatingly horrible, and scripturally fulfilling. It was for me, and it was for you.
The prophet Isaiah spoke these words about Jesus long before Jesus ever graced the planet. “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:5)
Those words are a safe haven for us all.
How will you celebrate this Easter? How will you thank Him for being your safe haven? Fun, family, church services? Something else? Share your traditions here… some of us need some new ones!

Spiritual Drought

A few years ago, the Southeastern US experienced a drought.
Rain was not falling, lakes that held public water were drying up, and water was rationed. We were allowed to water our grass only two days a week, and we all drove dirty cars. By mid July, no one had any grass left. It made me thirsty just looking outside. The ground was parched, and large cracks formed in the ground. I have a picture of my son mowing the dirt in our backyard.
Yet driving around town there were a few businesses with lush grass. They were like oases in the desert. Immediately I was angered. How was it that they were allowed to water their grass? Then I noticed the small sign. It read, “Grass irrigated with well water”. Well water? What well water? What well? This was Charlotte, North Carolina we were talking about here. There were no wells in this part of town.
Later that summer a minister from Africa came to speak to our church.
He found our drought amusing. He said that with an American drought there was still water. It was true. I could at any moment still get water in my home. He said that with an African drought there was no water. None. He said that villagers would have to walk hours or days to get to a well for water. He was amused at our “drought.”
So there’s drought, and then there’s drought. And it made me think about another kind of drought. Spiritual drought. It’s the drought that some believers walk into. By “believer” I mean someone who has a relationship with God, who has met Jesus, understands the sacrifice made by Him on their behalf, and yet finds they are wandering apart from that relationship. If this describes you, or if it ever has, you know the pain associated with that feeling.
It’s a feeling of abandonment, of separation.
So many different things can bring on these feelings. You look around and see that everyone else seems to have a great life, job, marriage, whatever. But you? Not you. You pray, beg really, but nothing seems to go your way. Try as you might, it seems that God is ignoring your pleas. So what do you do? You pull away. And why not? If God is going to abandon or ignore you, you’ll just return the favor. It’s not working for you, anyway.
The Bible speaks of a woman who was experiencing a spiritual drought. Jesus met her in the way that only He could. Their meeting was unusual for a few reasons. They met at a well just outside of town, in the heat of the day. She had come to draw water alone for she was not welcome at the regular time when the rest of the women gathered. She was known as a woman of ill repute. My granny would have called her “loose”. She was loose, but she wasn’t stupid. Showing up to the well with all the other women in town would have proven disastrous for her.
So in the heat of the day, she came for water. In the culture of that time, it was not permissible for a man to address a woman in public- not even his own wife, let alone a woman like this. And finally, Jesus was a Jew and the woman was Samaritan. The two people groups were not on friendly terms.
Yet Jesus was not one to let social morays interfere with his plans.
So He met her there at the well, and struck up a conversation with her about water. He told her that she could certainly drink that water from the well, but that she would surely grow thirsty again in time. He told this woman that He could offer her spiritual water from which she would never be thirsty again. Jesus offered her a forever oasis. But there was the issue of her life. There were things she had to make right.
Jesus looked her in the eye, and one by one, listed her offenses to her. Can you imagine standing there; being told all you had done wrong by someone offering spiritual cleansing? What did she do? Well, she freaked out. She ran to the townspeople and began to babble on about Jesus and his offer to her. She told them about how he had offered her cleansing at the well. This woman ran out of her spiritual drought.
It’s the same with us. Jesus is at the well, with a ladle ready to lift it to our lips.
Ready to offer us freedom from spiritual thirst. But there’s the issue of our hearts. In our sadness, disappointment, and feelings of abandonment, we have separated ourselves from Him. Our trust in Him has been taken down a few notches, and we have turned to self-preservation. Because you can really only trust yourself, right?
When the drought in the southeast finally lifted, and the first real rain fell I walked outside in just stood in it. I let it wash over me. It was like the first time I had ever felt it. I’ve been in a spiritual drought before. I believed the lies I told myself about God. That He had forgotten me and that I had to make it under my own might. But when I got to the end of myself, I realized I needed the water Jesus had to offer. That the only way for me to walk out of the drought I was in was to go and drink. I did.
I had to place my life, and whatever happened with it, back in His hands.
It didn’t mean that everything suddenly smelled all rosy. What it did mean is that the outcome and my circumstances were not of my choosing. It meant I handed it all back over to Him, and I trusted Him with the result. It was like the first time I had trusted in Him. Only this time I am wiser. I hope. This time I trust what I know, and not what I might see. What I see might tell me He is not there for me, what I know is that if I were a loose Samaritan woman at a well in the heat of the day, He would still be there.

Healthcare Hoopla

Early on, I said this blog would be absent of political or religious agendas.
I am sticking with that claim, but I cannot seem to ignore what’s going on in our country with health care reform. It really matters little to me which side of the aisle you support. (See? No agenda.) Both sides make some good arguments, I suppose. (Oh, so tolerant.)
Still, as I watched our legislators debate the health care bill, I would have found it even more entertaining if what they were debating had not been so important to our country. I wasn’t completely sure I wasn’t watching the British Parliament there a few times. I didn’t see any white wigs so I was pretty sure it wasn’t. As passions continued to rise on the floor of the House, and feelings grew hotter, it was actually nice to see a few of them lay their cards out on the table. It’s often hard to pin down a politician on anything.
Now that the legislation has passed, and has been signed into law we can only wait and see how we will be affected.
Many fear that doctor’s offices will be overrun with new patients trying to get an appointment thereby limiting their own access to health care. Others worry about their present health care coverage, and if costs will continue to rise in order to keep it.
As a nurse, I wonder how secure my job will be as hospitals will undoubtedly be tightening their belts in preparation of whatever results come down the pike from this historic decision. We can speculate, worry, rant, rave, cuss, and discuss it all until the cows come home. All this hoopla is called job security for those in the news media arena. Perhaps a career as a reporter would be better.
I love my daughter. If you look up the phrase “knee jerk reaction” you’ll see her pretty face there. It also appears in the dictionary by the word “panic”. Calm, cool, and collected all have someone else’s photo by them. My daughter often comes to me, all in a tizzy, with her overwhelming situations.
I try to calmly take her face in my hands, look her in the eyes, assure her that the world has not stopped turning, and that I can fix almost anything. Generally, in her world at least, I can. If I can’t, then her dad usually can come to the rescue. And if he can’t, then we’ll help her through whatever it is. I have proven this fact to her time and time again, but it doesn’t seem to matter. Something else will come crashing into her preteen life, and once again the panic sets in.
As I watch the reactions of so many to this new national healthcare plan, I am reminded of my daughter.
Once again the sky is falling, and once again we must be reminded that God is in control. Too often we depend on things other than Him to sustain us. We counted on our investments to have enough to retire on, or send kids to college. Oops! That didn’t quite work out, now did it?
We depend on our own energy, abilities, and talents to meet our wants and needs only to find that we don’t quite measure up. Hmm. How did that happen, and what do we do about it now? Now we find that we might not be able to depend on our Blue Cross policy to be there for us in our hour of need! Oh the pain!
I can just see God reaching down, taking our faces in His mighty hands and saying, “The world has not stopped turning, and I can fix anything. And if I choose not to fix it, I will help you through whatever it is.” It is during times like these that we need to be reminded that God alone will meet our needs. We can try to be our own providers, and we do, but so often we fall short.
Remember the story of when God’s people, the Israelites, were wandering in the desert, and God provided the manna each day to eat?
They were instructed only to gather enough for one day. Yet there were those who doubted the manna would be there for them the following day. So they gathered more than they needed only to find that by the next day the manna they had hoarded was as moldy as the leftovers in the back of my refrigerator. They failed to remember that God was also known as Provider. (Jehovah Jireh to some)
Jesus reminded us of this as he was teaching us to pray. He instructed us to ask only for our daily bread… just one day’s provision at a time. He also admonishes us in Matthew chapter six. Jesus said we so want to borrow trouble from tomorrow. Yet we need to be reminded that we should let tomorrow worry about itself, because today has enough worries of its own.
We may face some difficulties as we get used to a new system of healthcare, but we might also find that many are afforded hope when before they thought there was none. All I know for sure is, in His infinite wisdom, God has us safely in His mighty hands. I can almost feel them on my face now… Can you?

Charmingly Redeemed

I’m what you would call an “artsy-fartsy” type.

I haven’t really had any formal art training. Well, unless you count one measly and messy year of lessons from a local artist back when I was a kid. I love to throw things together, experiment, and then see what the end result will be. I like to make new creations out of random things.

I remember, when I was little, I made my mom a “music egg”. My mom is a piano teacher who is always stressing the importance of hand position and curved fingers. I came up with the idea to drain an egg, paint it, and then wrap it up and give to her as a gift. That way she could use it in her teaching by placing her student’s hand over the egg to show just how curved their hand position should be. Pretty creative huh? At least for a third grader!

Even today, some twenty-five years later, something in me wants my work to serve a purpose.

To be useful just the same as my “music egg” was. So, what do I do now? I make things out of vinyl records, wine corks, dominos, bottle tops and other odds and ends. I make jewelry. I make bulletin boards, magnets, and push pins. I’ve been known to buy old suitcases and “jazz” ‘em up a little. I call my wares “Charmingly Redeemed”.

Let me explain the title: Charming, adj-attractive; fascinating; delightful; pleasing to the eye; To Redeem, verb-to restore; to make worthwhile; justify; to convert. I take things that are trash- either no longer useful, or serving their original purpose- and (hopefully) restore and convert them, making them attractive, fascinating, and delightful. Something new.

You don’t really use a wine cork again once the wine has been opened, now do ya? Are you really listening to those records on your turntable? Wouldn’t you rather wear a delightful pair of earrings? A converted bangle bracelet? I thought so!

Now, there is a deeper level to my title selection here as well.

For you see, it also describes me! I love the fact that I have been redeemed, made new. I was once trash, useless and wasted. I am now being restored and converted, justified and made worthy! (And that’s just the redeemed category; sometimes I fall into the attractive, fascinating, delightful camp too!)

For many years, I was a dead body that was lying on the floor of a lake. Christ dove into the water, pushed His strong but nail-pierced hands, under my torso, and lifted me up through the depths. He gently placed me on land, blew life into my dead nostrils, and I awoke to begin a new life. I wasn’t drowning or grasping at a life preserver that Jesus tossed my way. That would mean I could take credit for doing something. I was dead. Dead as a doornail. He breathed life into me.

I was trash waiting to go to the eternal dump. Boy, am I glad He picked me from the bottom of that lake. (While the dump is an okay place to spend a hour looking for “art”, I can’t imagine eternity there…and I am also pretty sure that the smelly, nasty loneliness of the earthly dumps and trash heaps I’ve visited don’t even compare to the landfill of eternal separation from God and His beloved.)

The other aspect of this is that I deserved to stay at the bottom of the lake.

Just the same as my corks or my records deserve to go to the curb. Think about it (and for you eco-friendly, earthy, hippie, tree-huggers out there, bear with me for the sake of my illustration, will ya?) The corks are trash. They smell, have wine stains on them, some are broken and have jagged edges. As far as the records, a lot of the ones I use are just plain bad. (Are you really going to listen to “Readers Digest Greatest Collection of Love Songs” or Jim Reeves’ “Missing You” album? Seriously folks, I think we can agree for the sake of argument these things are on their way to the curb.)

I deserve nothing more. All of my good works are nothing. I am a fallen sinner. It is the Gospel of Christ, and His work on the Cross, His relationship with His bride, and His grace that redeems me! He melts me. He molds me. He pokes me…(The same things I do when making my jewelry- though on a much smaller scale!) He does all these things to draw me to Him! (Now I’m getting into sanctification here…Uh oh Stacey, you might have to have me back for another “guest blog” 🙂 He has made me “Charmingly Redeemed” by His death on the cross. I love it! I love being His work of art, and not just His work of art, but His tool to be used for His glory!

Every time I make a new piece of jewelry, or paint a new item for my business, I can’t help but think about what it used to be and how cool it is that I am making something even better out of it. You can still see the “old” in it, but now it has been made new in order to serve a new purpose. May you find yourself new, and charmingly redeemed as well!

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”
2 Corinthians 5:17

Different

Families who followed the directions in the passage from Deuteronomy 6 lived a different kind of life from other people. It was to be a lifestyle that would ensure that the truths of God would never be forgotten.
My husband and I have four kids. Two of them are teenagers. Our kids are growing up and out from under. For years I have done a pretty good job of keeping all my little chicks safely under my wing. But the bigger they get the more crowded it gets under there. Despite my best efforts to keep them close, they insist on venturing out.
As a classic mother hen, I am not comfortable with this new development.
As a family, we are different. We live a much different life from lots of people. With a commitment to raising our kids in a Christ centered home, there are some obvious differences. We are not separatists, however. We very much want our kids to enjoy the best this world has to offer. We just want them to realize there is better. So in addition to teaching them the principles of Scripture, we go to movies, amusement parks, and we eat out at restaurants. Our kids have laptop computers, ipods, video games and cell phones. They all attend public school. But there are limits.
As my sons, the oldest in particular, poke their heads out from under my wings they like these differences less and less. Our oldest spouts off about how strict we are compared to his friend’s parents. Even his churched friends have more freedom than he does, he claims. Hmm.
So yes, our once fairly serene home life is being challenged.
The testosterone levels increase, and their tempers flair. Our boys sometimes fight and argue. Patience is in short supply. I’m talking about mine here. I can’t even describe my preteen daughter’s emotional roller coaster. Every day is a mental exercise in family management. It’s hard. And it makes me sometimes second-guess our choices as parents. I begin to panic, and try to shoo them back under my protective wing, but they are just too big! Change comes slowly, but it is coming. Not fast enough for our boys, though. I see our oldest son testing and pushing. Hard. I know this is part of his passage into manhood (I read that somewhere), but it is painful to watch and worse to endure. And our fourteen-year-old is close on his heels.

I remember when they were little. Our oldest was four when the third one was born. Those were very physically hard days. There was hardly a complete night’s rest because someone was always up for one reason or another. I felt like a bleary-eyed diaper changing machine. With diaper bags, strollers, and car seats, going anywhere was an Olympic event. I gave up and just stayed home most of the time. But then I was rewarded with the cute and sweet moments. Back then, my husband and I were amazing people in our kid’s eyes.
There was nothing more heart warming than to watch them sleeping. Even if, when it finally happened, I was crying from exhaustion.

Now, fast-forward about ten years. They are no longer so physically demanding. I love being able to tell them, “Go take a shower and get dressed.”  They can fix themselves a meal, and clean their own rooms- with some prodding. Getting ready to leave the house is no longer an Olympic event. All that is great. Yet the cute is gone. Mostly. It’s not that I don’t enjoy them now, I do. Mostly. But I am tired mentally and emotionally. Knowing that we really only have two more years before the oldest turns eighteen and heads off to college causes us great anxiety.
We feel the clock is ticking, and we have only so much more time to teach them what they need to know. Only now they don’t listen. Now we are not so amazing or smart. We should have taught the difficult life lessons when they were toddlers, and they thought we knew everything. Perhaps we have missed our window of opportunity. We should have paired potty training with personal accountably and responsibility. The lesson on tying shoes should have had a dose of “respect your elders” thrown in. Maybe we wouldn’t be facing the struggles we face now. They truly would know it all now, rather than just thinking they do.
As crazy as things are right now, I am determined.
I am determined not to just survive these teenage years. I don’t want to just muddle through, and cling to the hope of one day having grandchildren. So I am going to have to change. I am probably going to have to change as much as I hope my kids change. I have to see these people as “adults in training” rather than alien beings that have taken up residence in my children and thus must be eliminated. I need to realize the changes they are going through are likely harder for them than they are for me. Well, maybe.
I once quizzed a friend of mine on this very subject. She is an adult child of two parents who managed to raise their children the way we are trying to raise ours. The jury is no longer out where those kids are concerned. All three are success stories. So I asked, from her point of view, how her parents did it. In part, her reply was this:
“We would have major arguments until the wee hours of the morning over why I couldn’t see certain movies but all my friends could, and that I hated them for being different. Always saying no to me. Being about “different things” that my friends thought were weird…it annoyed me.”
And then:
“As for my parents, they stayed calm, available and consistent. No matter the hour or the topic, I knew we could discuss anything. My mom asked 100,000 questions so we knew better than trying to get away with things. But I am sure my parents spent more time on their knees than in discussions with us.”
That sounds like a plan to me.
I know that what makes our family different won’t always be what our kids like about our family.
Teenagers, as a rule, don’t like different. Different opens up room for criticism and ridicule. Two things teenagers try very hard to avoid. But hopefully if we stick to the plan and continue teaching the truths of the Scriptures to them as we go about this life, in the end, being different won’t be such a negative. Hopefully after we’ve passed through these rocky teenage years, we’ll all look back and praise God for the differences.
Are you a classic mother hen having trouble letting your kids grow up and out from under? As a Christian parent, do you find your kids struggle with the “differences” that brings?

Sudden. Unexpected

Have you ever received that unwelcome, unexpected call that changed your life?

Or gotten the news you most feared, but never allowed yourself to believe would really happen to you? Have you ever arranged your life in perfect order only to have something out of your control shake it all to the ground? So often we are blind-sided. We didn’t see it coming. Should we have seen it coming? Sometimes, but sometimes not.

When I lived in Charlotte, North Carolina, a little bird had taken up residence, and laid her eggs in our backyard grill. It was a very clever spot for the bird, but a very inconvenient one for me. I love hamburgers, hot dogs, and grilled chicken. Grill cooking hardly feels like cooking at all.

But being an animal lover, I put the kibosh on all outdoor cooking until the birds were through with our grill. One, two, three weeks went by. Still no baby birds. Just five tiny white eggs with little brown speckles on them. I’m no bird expert, but I began to question if these eggs were going to hatch at all. I decided to give it one more week. Maybe these were slow hatchers.

I was going to say slow cookers, but considering where the nest was, I thought that would be in poor taste.

Every couple of days I would lift the grill lid and peer inside, and every day the mother bird would fly out, and leave the five eggs un-hatched inside. I was pretty certain that the eggs were duds, and were not going to hatch no matter how long momma bird sat there. Still, I didn’t want to have the blood of five baby birds on my hands, so I did a little research. That’s when I found out the bird living in my grill was a Carolina wren. I also learned the eggs were overdue to hatch by two weeks. Hmm.

I felt sure that the momma bird would soon figure out she’d been sitting far too long and give it up, but no. Every day I would check the grill, and every day there she was sitting, steadfastly, on her eggs. I tried to reason with her and tell her it was no use, but she wouldn’t listen. This was her task in life and she was committed. I had to admire her determination, but knowing it was all in vain, I felt sorry for her. I also felt sorry for me. I wanted a cheeseburger.

I gave it a few more days just to be sure, and finally removed the nest still holding the five eggs, from the grill. I know in the end I was doing us both a favor, but I still felt bad about it. I knew she would fly back to find her nest and find her eggs gone. Suddenly. Unexpectedly. She would have to fly in a new direction and find another purpose for her life. Her nest became my son’s kindergarten Show ‘n Tell.

Does that sound familiar? Has that happened to you before?

I’m not asking if you’ve built a nest and laid some eggs. I’m asking if you have ever been blind-sided. Have you ever been heading in one direction confident this is the right way for you, only to have something happen completely out of your control to change the course of your life? I’m not really talking about winning the lottery. Although I imagine that would surely change your life.

Instead, your husband suddenly says he doesn’t love you anymore. The medical tests came back positive after all. Your company is downsizing, and you find yourself without a job or a 401K. You lose your pregnancy to a miscarriage. Sudden. Unexpected. Change. It’s like you’re walking along and everything is fine when suddenly the sidewalk disappears from under you. You make like Wiley Coyote and hang there, suspended in midair; surprised at what just happened, but then gravity takes over and down you go. Love that gravity.

You find that you are dazed, stunned even. You think, “Wasn’t my life great just a minute ago? I’m pretty sure that was me.”

Why does it feel like the world is turned upside down? Things or people you counted on are no longer there for you. The future you thought was yours is now history. It was all so sudden, and completely out of your control. This change in your status was totally unexpected. Well, it was totally unexpected by you.

The Bible teaches that nothing comes to us without first going through God the Father. So while we were not expecting this life altering experience, He was. Nothing takes our Heavenly Father by surprise. Take the Apostle Paul for example. Before he was Paul the author of much of the New Testament, he was Saul the Christian persecutor. Saul suddenly found the sidewalk had disappeared from beneath his feet one day, too. Paul’s sudden life-altering event is recorded for us in Acts, chapter nine.

Paul, or rather Saul, had a great life. He was a Jew’s Jew.

He was a man with a mission. He knew what he was about. His life had purpose: direction. He was happily ridding the country of those who were following “the Way”. Persecuting and killing Christians was his primary purpose in life. It brought him joy and satisfaction right up to the day he was blindsided and his life was forever changed. On the road to Damascus, to bully even more followers of Christ, Saul was struck blind. He was literally blinded by the light. (For a moment lyrics from the Manfred Mann’s Earth Band bounce around in my head.)

In that moment Saul experienced earth shattering, unexpected, sudden life change. In order to stop Saul right in his tracks and get his attention, God used a blinding light to extinguish Saul’s ability to see. You cannot persecute what you cannot find. God was not only interested in stopping the intended persecution of the Damascus Christians; He was interested in using Saul for His own agenda. Drastic times call sometimes for drastic measures.

We serve a drastic God.

Do you doubt this? Remember Sodom and Gomorrah? Noah and the flood? Jesus? Pentecost? Oh yes, we serve a drastic God all right. Throughout history God has used extreme measures when needed to get someone’s attention. Why would we think He has stopped doing that? Some of us just don’t respond any other way. We are so determined to continue down a path of destruction that the only way for our course to be changed is for God to get drastic.

Nothing was going to convince that little bird in my grill that her eggs were not going to produce baby birds for her to nurture. Would she have sat on them all summer? I’m not sure, but it was a possibility. Her motives were pure, but they did not change reality. Those eggs were not going to hatch, and if I was going to enjoy the benefits of my grill I had to take drastic measures. I believe God would rather not take drastic measures too, but He will do whatever is necessary to ensure that His will be done in us.

It is in those drastic, life-changing moments that we feel most out of control of our lives.

The nice, neat story we’ve narrated for ourselves receives an unexpected plot change that we didn’t author. It’s what sells suspense novels, but we’re not so crazy about it when we are the main character. When we feel most out of control we must remember that God is not. Think about it. The God of the universe has His hand on the very things that are causing our sudden life changing events. What a great comfort this should bring to us. Instead of fighting to regain control of the story, we should rest and wait for Him to author the next chapter.

I can’t guarantee many things, but I can guarantee that at some point in your life, drastic, unexpected change is coming.

Maybe it has already and you are struggling with what to do now. Well I can say with some authority that panic is never a good choice. I cannot come up with any time that panic served any person well. As I watched my Carolina wren return to the empty grill, she paused only for a moment before taking off to face the rest of her life. There was no obvious bird-freaking going on. As far as I know she didn’t return to my grill ever again. I was proud of her for handling it so well.

We can learn a lot from a little brown bird. When we are faced with sudden, unexpected life change we are also faced with a choice. We can allow panic to set in and collapse under the pressure we face, or we can rest in the knowledge that God is still God and He is still the best author of our lives. We may not know what the next chapter of our lives will bring, but we can find strength in the knowledge that God knows, and is working it all out for our good.

Lazy Daisies

They arrived in ones, two’s and threes. Twenty women all dressed up in their finery. They’ve been meeting like this for decades, once a month during the school year. During the school year because during the summer the kids are out of school, and meetings are difficult to plan around children and their summer activities. Except most are now grandmothers, and planning around their kids is no longer needed, but it’s the way they’ve always done it. It’s the Lazy Daisy Garden Club, and I attended their meeting this month for the first time.
Why? Well, it was my mother’s turn to hostess the meeting, and well… I didn’t have anything else to do. I’ve known most of these ladies my entire life. I went to school and church with their kids. Well, I went to church with some of their kids. The others went to the Baptist church. I was Methodist. I heard one lady say she’d give up these monthly meetings, but then she’d never see the Methodists.
There was chatter about how it’s time to plant phlox, trim your crepe myrtles (I made a mental note of that one), and cut back your roses. The meeting was then called to order by the president who called for the monthly devotion. A nice nondenominational devotion was read with a prayer to follow. Then old business was discussed. I am sitting there surprised that there was anything business-like to talk about.
The treasurer stood, and offered a report on their money. They have six hundred and some odd dollars in the kitty. It is from this meager amount that they go about doing the business of beautifying their community.
A lady stood and read several thank you notes sent to the club for their monetary donations to the town’s school libraries. Each school had received fifty dollars, and all had written flowery thank you letters. The ladies seemed pleased that their gifts were so well received.
Then the dollars were collected. Everyone handed over a dollar bill to the treasurer. Well, if they wanted to. Most did. It got their name in the drawing for the door prize brought by the member who had won it last month. They hauled in a whopping fifteen dollars. What passes for a door prize at a garden club meeting? Well, a watering can, of course.
Then the president called for the program. A lady stood, and talked to the group about recycling. Apparently if you recycle one ton of newspaper it saves seven trees and a gazillion gallons of water. We were all duly impressed. We learned that bags and fashionable purses were now being made from plastic bottles. Amazing. I’ll take two.
After the program concluded, it was time for lunch. On the menu: Chicken casserole, strawberry pretzel salad, green salad, and red velvet cake for dessert… and sweet tea. This is the south, after all! White tablecloths, pretty dishes, vases with cut flowers (Yep…daisies), and small favors on the tables.
There was a lot of chatter about kids and grandkids, who was ailing, and who was better. Complaints about how big the cake slices were, and compliments to the hostess for a great meeting.
Then in a span of a few minutes, with doggy bags in hand, they were all gone. I was left in the kitchen with my mom. We both heaved a sigh of relief. The dishes were washed, and we plopped down in the closest chairs. My mom said she might not hostess another meeting… But I know she will.
She’ll do it again for the same reason they don’t meet during summer. It’s just what they’ve done together for so long. They’ve walked each other through childrearing, empty nesting, loss of spouses, and having grandchildren. They know the good, bad, and the ugly about each other. They don’t talk about the bad or the ugly of course, but they all know about it.
Service to the community has been one of the Lazy Daisy Garden Club’s driving forces. From providing flowers to local shut-ins and planting flowers at local churches, to their support of the Turkey Creek Nature Center, they continue to leave their green-thumb prints all over town. Since its inception in 1952 right through today, they continue to take pride in this community.
They may differ on political or religious views, but they can all come together around friendship and flowers. I envy these ladies in a way. Their commitment has lasted for decades. How many of us can say that about our commitment to anything?
In a society where everything is disposable, they have managed to recycle this group over and over again into something that meets their needs and the needs of their community. May the Lazy Daisies long continue to impact each other and this city.