Sunday, May 29, 2011

Really Living!

My youngest son (a fourteen-year-old almost man) and I just returned from our first summer adventure--our first-time ever kayaking.

Several months ago, I received an email offering a kayaking adventure on the Broad River for a really good price.  Plus it came with a T-shirt!   I had never been kayaking; I had tubed down the river in Helen, Georgia in water that could only be about twelve inches deep, but I had dreamed about whitewater rafting in my younger days.  I used to long for adventure, but somewhere along the way, I got too busy, too "grown-up", too OLD!  I missed that "me" and decided to do something about finding her again.  Feeling a bit plucky, I logged on to the website and purchased the certificate.

It has been tucked in my bookbag for the last two and a half months, waiting for me to find the courage to redeem it.  Friday, I remembered it and that it had an expiration date of May 31st.  It was use it or lose it.  I dug down deep inside the bag to find that single piece of paper that offered me adventure.  Holding it in my hand, I dug down deep inside of me to find the courage to actually go through with it.  I approached my son.  "Would you like to go kayaking with me this weekend?" I asked. 

He grinned his beautiful grin.  "Seriously?" he replied. 

"Seriously!"  I answered.

At 2:30 today, we put in at Broad River Outpost in Danielsville just off of Wildcat Bridge Road.  Some three hours later, we pulled our kayaks out of the water six and a half miles downstream just past the Highway 172 Bridge.  With arms as limp as wet noodles and sunburns across our noses, Sam and I grinned as we collapsed onto the seat of the bus that would take us back to the Outpost.  We had done it!  With Class II rapids, a five-foot waterfall that we could have avoided but chose not to, and a thousand boulders to snag our kayaks on (which we did), mama and son bonded on those six plus miles of the Broad River.  We talked, we laughed, we splashed, we capsized (or at least the son did) and we paddled.  It was hard.  It was tiring.  It was worth it all!  Today, we lived!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

For More Than This

Waiting...knowing that You have called me to more.  I wait, O Lord, knowing that in spite of my mistakes, You still have a plan for me.  I wait for Your direction, for I do not want to miss You this time.  I am waiting.

Listening...for the slightest whisper of Your voice, Your answer, Your love.  I have heard You before, and I wait to hear Your voice so crystal clear again.  You have not forgotten me.  You are teaching me, even in Your silence, so I listen expectantly.

Watching...for the move of Your hand, calling me to move, to turn, to wait.  Your hand has held me these many years, sheltered me in these many storms, and claimed me so many eternities ago as my name was carved into Your flesh.  You have not forgotten me.  You have not cast me aside.  I am Yours.

Breathing...inhaling the perfume of Your holiness, I bask in Your Presence.  You have called me deeper, into an intimacy, a passion, that only You fulfill.  I long to breathe in this fragrance that cannot be captured, cannot be imitated, cannot be forgotten.

Knowing...that my life is not my own, that all my days are gifts from Your hands, that I still struggle with my will, my wants, and my will-nots, You love me anyway.  

You call me.  You have watched me in my struggles, in my joys.  Then, You hold out Your hand to me.  You wrap me in Your arms and pull me to Your chest, holding me, holding me.  I am home.

   I have heard Your voice, loudly, clearly.  I know You still call me, daily, to the place of Your holiness.  Sometimes, Lord, I enter in, but more often, I barely make it to the outer Temple before I give up, get distracted by the busy-ness of the day, of this life.  I long to enter into the Holy Place, to be consumed by You.   Empty me of me, and fill me with YOU.  Do not let me settle for normal.  I have been created for Glory!

Monday, May 16, 2011

"A Bad Day Fishing is Better than a Great Day at Work"

What do you do when God has you in a place you really don't like?

You've heard that there are two kinds of people:  those who see the glass as half empty and those who see it as half full--referring, of course, to pessimists and optimists.  I never really fell into just one category; I fluctuated back and forth for most of my life.  Now, I definitely see myself optimist! 

That surprises me, honestly.  I spent most of my adult years feeling like I had a black cloud hanging over my head (or at the very least, hovering nearby).  Disappointment didn't disappoint me because I expected it.  Disaster?  I knew it would show up sooner or later.  The depressing events that did occur were my lot in life to deal with.  Woe is me.  Then, somewhere along the line (in the recent past), my view changed.  There was not a single "aha" moment for me, but more of a slow progressing to the point where I am today. 

Several years ago my mother-in-law sold the mult-level house she had lived in for some thirty years and purchased a new single-level home.  The process of culling a lifetime of accumulated goods seemed overwhelming for her, added to the fact that she had to  make so many decisions and now must decorate this new home.  It seemed, to her, as if she would never get it completed.  I, on the other hand, thought that this was a wonderful!  To get rid of the clutter that had piled up and to start over in a new home seemed to be the ideal dream!   I loved hearing every detail about this process each time I visited with her.  One day, she looked at me and said, "I told my friends that I had to start looking at this like my daughter-in-law does--as a 'grand adventure'".  I was flattered, and it led me to see that I had changed over the years.

Change scared me.  The status quo was safe, and that was what I wanted.  I had had three years of stress and change that I had no sayso about:  breast cancer--TWICE, chemotheraphy--TWICE, fear of dying--TWICE, with constant financial difficulties over that time period.  BUT, somewhere in the midst of that tremendous storm, I found a hint of the experiencing, in the newness, in the outcome of the trials.  And I began to see that LIFE was meant to be lived as a grand adventure.  Bit by bit, I changed, and I am so glad I did.

Not too long ago, I went through a difficult experience; my teaching ability had been called into question.  My name and my reputation were both at stake.  I was hurt, and I was angry.  I had been blindsided with this.  I wanted to lash out and exact payment for what had been dealt me.  Then at one point later that day, I prayed, "God, I just want to do what You want me to do.  I am angry, and I am hurt, but I want to glorify You in this.  I want to do what You want me to do."  Over the course of the weekend, the fury and the pain lessened.   Days passed; I was able to talk with the person who had attacked me without besmirching my label of Christian!  Just recently (last week), the same person came to me and remarked that my attitude and my professionalism were "simply amazing".  Wounds, deep wounds, had begun to heal.

God had me where I didn't want to be, but I was where HE wanted me.  You've heard the saying, "A bad day fishing is better than a good day at work".  For me, a difficult place with Jesus is always better than an easy place without Him.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Not Enough Time

          I had always thought there would be more time, but now I look and see you heading out the door, running to meet a friend, making plans for your now life.  Your tall, lanky body blocks the sun streaming in from behind you.  I look at you, amazed that this boy-child has turned into this young man. 
          You hover over me, your shoulders broad and strong, stretching farther apart each day, each month, each year.  The top of my head easily fits beneath your chin, and I would rest there, holding you for days if given the chance, but you are busy, moving, going, fast motion, quickly growing out the door.  You are not yet gone, but I miss you.   There is still too much I want to say to you, to show you, to teach you, and the clock is tick-tick-ticking, and I cannot (would not) slow it down for there is much for you to live!
          I miss the chubby arms wrapped tightly around my neck, the scent of boy and puppy dog mixed and mingled like a fragrant perfume wafting up from your sweaty little head.  I miss the stories told about your day and your adventures.  I miss the water-splashing bath-times and your many excursions under the sea, searching for “octutuses”.  I hear your little boy voice purposefully deepening to mimic the voice of what you thought a “worker man” sounded like.  I miss the green army men strewn about the house, remnants of the weird war battles waged with your daddy. 
          And soon, I know that I will miss these days—the days of constant demands, pressing school projects, arguments and make-ups, of music and sports and the need for excitement.  I get so caught up in trying to figure out how to get you from boyhood to manhood successfully that I forget to enjoy and savor the beauty of who you are now.  Too many wasted moments.  I miss you already.
          I am proud of this man you are becoming, independent and strong, but I want to keep you that little boy whose first word was mama and who thought I hung the moon.  You loved me to the moon and back, to the moon and back, and bigger than the sky, and I liked you forever and loved you for always, and sang to you that “as long as I’m living, my baby you’ll be”.  Now my baby is growing, every day, taller, stronger, and wiser. 
          Because of you, I am a mama.  I savor that word, twirling it on my tongue, holding it in my heart, loving it as it slips from your lips.  The word means abundantly more than one who gives birth.  In that same moment that I gave birth to my son, you birthed me as your mother.  And just as you have daily grown as my child, my son, so have I grown daily as your mama.  I have not always done everything right, often missing the mark by miles, but I have loved you before you breathed your first breath of air and it continues through (in spite of) our differences.  You are my son forever.  Thank you, for letting me be your mama, for letting me love you, and for you loving me.  I am so very proud you.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Music...

I love my fifth graders.  They are so full of love and compassion for each other.  When one of my students was recognized on the morning announcements as a Math Wizard, my entire class applauded when he came back to class.  They encourage and compliment their fellow classmates.  When my "only been in America for one year" English-as-a-second-language student struggled with language arts, they rallied and reminded her of how far she had come.  They fill me with such pride and joy.  I am truly blessed every single day I am with them.

Sometimes, my precious students fill me with laughter.  Today is one of thos days.  This morning, on the way to music class, I noticed that the first five students in line (all boys) were trying to walk in sync, moving their left feet forward at the same time, then their right feet.  They struggled to get in rythmn but were unable to get it right. 

With a smile on my face, I stopped the class and gave directions for walking in sync.  "When I say 'left', move your left foot forward.  That way we will all start on the same foot.  Walk in rythmn."  I turned away from the class, paused, then began repeating  in a drill sergeant voice, "Left, left, left, right, left."  I continued down the sidewalk, calling and marching, until I came to the door of the music room--a distance of about twenty-feet.  I looked behind me, expecting to see a line of fifth grade soldiers, marching in perfect order.  Instead, I saw a pile of bodies, arms and legs splayed this way and that.

I ran back.  "What happened?" I asked, pulling students from the top of the pile to reveal the face of a bewildered young boy--the one from the front of the line.   "Caleb, what happened?" I asked again.

As he struggled to stand, he said in an indignant voice, "You only said left!"  Then he and the other students proceeded to show me the impossibility of marching in step when only the left foot was moved:  a perfect split by the time the third 'left' was called.  Laughter bubbled up and threatened to burst from my lips.  Oh my, but they are literal!  I could not stop smiling.

Lord, thank You for the joy of children, for their literal-mindedness, for the sheer pleasure of laughter.  I am indeed blessed!

Monday, May 2, 2011

I Don't Want to be Normal Anymore!

I have been deceived.  Not just today, but for my entire life!  I have been fed the lies in an insidiuous manner; small lies, spoon-fed, one picture at a time, one notion planted only to grow into this massive burden that now encompasses my life. 

It started in my childhood, this desire to have pretty shoes, pretty clothes, that "can't live without toy".  It grew with every advertisement, every shopping trip, every paycheck, until I believed that I had to have that perfect, life-changing item.  As Americans, we fervently believe that happiness comes with "having it all", but having it all comes with a price--the price of our freedom and the price of our happiness.

We buy our houses on a thirty-year payment play; we buy our cars (now easily the price of a home twenty-five years ago) on an extended payment plan that lasts from four to six years; we buy our clothes, our food, our entertainment on an extended payment plan that goes on and on and on.  The burden grows right along with the interest.  The chains get heavier and heavier.  It never ends. 

This is normal.  Right?  It must be because the majority of Americans live paycheck to paycheck,  trapped in debt, weighted down with the commitment of paying for this lifestyle we must have, surviving, but not really living.  And isn't that what we long for, real life--to be free from this burden, to live as we were meant to live, to have that abundant life?  How did we get here, and how can we get out?

I have spent too many years dealing with this demon.  The enemy convinced me that I needed those be happy, to fit in, to be normal.   Finally, the Truth has been revealed.  I am not called to be normal.  I am called to be a "peculiar" person, walking a different path, living a life that has more purpose than just "getting by".

Today, I begin to downsize--my belongings, my clutter, my chains, my debt.  Today, I begin to really weigh the cost of the item, the pleasure, the experience.  No longer will I serve money and the things it can buy.  Today, the money will become a tool for fulfilling my purpose. Today, I commit to serve the only Master who offers freedom from the lies.  Today, I begin the climb out of the dark crevass of debt and into the Light of Truth.  Today, I begin changing those very behaviors that created this prison.  Today, I begin building the legacy for my children and my children's children--a life free from debt. 

For more information on how to become "debt-free", check out Dave Ramsey, financial counselor, at  He is an awesome man of God who has been there and gotten out, and now counsels using Godly principles for finance.