Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Kids, School and Prayer - But Not How You're Thinking

I always wanted kids. From the time I was a senior in high school I began praying for my future children. In those days, I was praying they would be healthy babies, grow to love the Lord, meet and marry Christian mates, etc. worthy prayers indeed but more on this in a bit.

After I got a small degree from a local college, I went to work in a nearby slightly larger town at City Hall. I was rubbing elbows with the mayor, city manager, and the council members. I did occasional work for the police and fire chiefs and became well known in the city circuit for being well organized and dependable. I put the city’s disaster plan on computer and in book format, which took months to accomplish. I could have been mayor one day! Okay, I am kidding about the becoming mayor part because I was carried away by the memories; but truly, I did have a great job. I saved my money and only occasionally splurged on designer wool suits and silk scarves, stiletto heels in assorted colors, and coordinating accessories. Ahhhh, the memories! I was a working girl and I had to look GOOD! When I finally decided to marry MDH, which is a story in itself, I worked for only a few months and decided to quit my power job. We wanted to adjust our lives to one salary so that someday when we had children (those that I was already praying about); I could stay home and be a full time mom. OK all you feminists quit gagging and calling me ignorant. I realize that is not a worthy goal for some women, but it was for me and I was happy with the decision. The only problem --- it took me four years to get pregnant and it was not for lack of trying, wink, wink. On the positive side we had made our little old house a home and we were ready for the new addition. To by-pass a lot of stuff, let me just say it was an easy pregnancy, easy birth, and then a lot of crap with postpartum depression and finally joy in motherhood.

One of the best things I did as a young mother, was to get involved in a local chapter of Bible Study Fellowship (BSF). They not only had a wonderful program for women but also for children, so when Big C was about three years old we began attending a Wednesday morning group every week. To keep you and me from being bogged down in the details of my past, it suffices to say BSF helped me mature first as a Christian, then as a wife and mother. It taught me how to set goals for my marriage and my family by following the standards of God’s Word rather than the world’s standards. One of the greatest lessons I learned occurred when Big C was ready for Kindergarten. Although MDH and I had been led by the Holy Spirit to send Big C to a private Christian school, I still could not help feeling I was sending my baby to the wolves. We happened to be studying Moses during this stressful period of my life and our teaching leader discussed how much faith it took for Moses’ mother to place him in a basket and set him adrift in the reeds along the banks of Nile River. The possibility of crocodiles, large snakes and drowning were real but probably paled in comparison to watching her baby’s throat being slit by an Egyptian soldier. Anyway, she lined that little basket with tar and pitch which would have made it waterproof and gently placed Moses inside. With faith in the “Great I Am” she served to provide protection, she set that basket in the reeds on the banks of the Nile and told her daughter to wait and watch to see what happened. (For the rest of the story read Exodus 2). Her heart would not let her stay and watch. She probably went back home, crawled in bed, covered her head, cried and growled every time someone spoke to her and I bet she felt like slapping her husband for getting her into this mess in the first place. Wait! That was me on the first day of Kindergarten and no less than how I felt this morning when Big C left to attend his college classes. The whole point of this mess is to say, prayer is my tar and pitch that I cover my children with everyday and it has never been more important than today as I watched Big C leave for the pagan college world. He is grounded in his faith, comfortable in his skin, relatively intelligent and not afraid to bounce his ball to beat of his own drum (or something like that). Every hour, every minute of every day, every day of the week I cover Big C and Little I with a thick coating of tar and pitch to protect them from humanistic false teaching, bad friendships, and poor decisions (crocodiles, snakes and water) and trust the same “Great I Am” to lead their baskets to safety. Charlton Heston would be so proud!
I know some of you are thinking, "that poor simple minded fool," and you would be right about the simple minded part, but I am no fool. I have experienced the power of prayer and God's faithfulness too many times in my life. The only foolish thing would be for me not to share with you what I believe to be the Truth. If you know God through His Son Jesus, then you have the supernatural power of prayer in your hands. If you are a mother stressing over sending your baby to kindergarten, middle school, high school, college, etc. then coat that baby down with tar and pitch. Pray with your child every morning and then throughout the day and watch God work in the life of your child. He may not work in ways that you expected, it will be a much greater work than you or I could imagine, and it will be the kind that "works together for good."
Golly I feel better! How cleansing it is to bare your soul to the world! I should sleep great tonight and wake up with renewed energy. I might wipe down my kitchen cabinets or mop my bathroom floors tomorrow because of the lightness I feel. NOT!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Happy Birthday Daddy-O!

The Birthday Boy!

Last weekend we celebrated my dad’s 80th birthday. My brother, who is eight years older than I am (there have been questions about that recently and I want to make it clear that he is OLDER than I am), and I invited friends and family to his beautiful home to share the celebration, and what a great time we had! My dad has had a difficult year. He endured eighteen rounds of chemotherapy and lost his hair. Fortunately, his cancer is in remission for now so this was a perfect opportunity to celebrate his life.

Family dynamics is complicated, but to appreciate my dad you have to have a little background. Dad had four brothers and three sisters and he outlived them all. Raised in a strict Catholic family, when he left the Catholic faith, he encountered great discrimination from his siblings. He became the joke of his family and was treated badly at many gatherings. I remember as a child our family being thrown out of his sister’s home because my dad took a stand against his brothers drinking alcohol with so many small children around. Nevertheless, he stood firm in his beliefs, kept his integrity, led our family in devotions every night, read his Bible and prayed every day, and tried to share with his siblings about his personal relationship with Jesus. My dad is not perfect, he battles a bad temper (of which I've been the wrath of more than once) and depression (which I inherited), but looking back on events in his life, it is no wonder he struggles in those areas with all the pressure his family laid on him. All these years have passed and I think his youngest brother, although he remained Catholic, finally came to know Christ before he died which was a great comfort to my dad. He has a nephew who also left the Catholic faith and became a Baptist minister. He can very much relate. He attended dad’s party and shared with me what an example dad had been to him over the years and how dad experienced persecution from his family that many Christian never encounter. What a testimony to my Dad’s faithfulness!

Daddy is not “famous” in our small community. He is not known for being involved in civic organizations, having a lot of money, playing great golf, teaching an amazing Sunday School class or organizing soup kitchens to feed the hungry. He gives generously to many things, but he does so quietly and without fanfare. He practices Matthew 6:1-4: “Be careful not to do your 'acts of righteousness' before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. Therefore, when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth; they have received their reward in full. However, when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”

My dad will never make the cover of Volunteer of the Year. What you will see, if you stop and look deep enough, is a plain fellow who has remained faithful to the Lord. He realizes his value is in Christ alone and not of works, “lest any man should boast.” The lessons I have learned from him are simple ones. The world could use a few more of these quiet, steady men. By the way, my parents celebrated their 57th wedding anniversary this week also. What a wonderful example!
Thanks for reading, Rosie.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Down On The Farm

Last weekend we decided to get out of town for a couple days and go to the big city of Rogersville! MDH's family owns a farm in the vicinity of Rogersville’s thriving metropolis and while the farm is far enough away from the city to be considered “out in the country," modern conveniences still abound, except for Internet connection, phone service, and cable; but that is okay because we did have indoor plumbing! What a treat!! Truthfully, we had a nice weekend without distractions. The boys were able to take their guns and do some target practice, hike, spit, belch, and pass gas without my calling them barbarians. Men like that kind of stuff. Me? Not so much, so can you guess what I did? Visited with the family cows!

Meet Sissy.......This is Big C's cow. She has birthed several calves and made Big C money to attend college. You're a good girl Sissy. She likes attention and corncobs. Then we have the fellow with the "moo doo." Isn't he a doll! Finally, there is the current baby of the family......a new little bull who still has his cord. He is only five days old. Do not stare into that adorable face and get too attached. He will eventually be sold and possibly served at your local burger joint. Sorry friends, but that is reality on the farm. Fortunately, he will not be as cute and adorable by that time. I could not get a good picture of Little I's cow, Brownie (how original). She is great with child and due any minute. We expect to hear the good news soon. While I did pet Sissy, I had to get behind a gate to pet and feed the other cows. Once they realized I had people food instead of grain, they nearly trampled me. My father-in-law, Pop, has the herd spoiled. They have learned the call "come on babies!" is their signal to stampede toward the barn. It is a hugely funny site to see these large bovine plow down a hill looking for a handout of stale bread and moist corncobs.

All of this farm stuff reminded me of an old book on my high school reading list (Mrs. Witt would be proud) titled Animal Farm by George Orwell. It might do us all good to read this satirical story before the November election. Just a thought!
IMPORTANT UPDATE!!!! Brownie gave birth this afternoon to a beautiful 50 pound bull baby. She has not yet announced his name but we are thinking Ecru!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Shack

I never read book reviews before I read a popular book. I like to read without preconceived notions or prior expectations Therefore, I had no idea of the controversy I was getting involved in when I decided to read The Shack by William P. Young.

I was born and raised in a Southern Baptist Church, discipled by godly men and women, and taught sound doctrine and theology through the years. However, studying God’s Holy Word on my own, having a personal relationship with Jesus and lead by the Holy Spirit, I hold my own convictions and beliefs that does not necessarily match my SB upbringing. This sometimes makes me unpopular with the masses. That is okay. I have learned to embrace my difference. I am just being completely honest here so please do not tune me out before you hear the whole song. After a lot of studying, praying and discussion with my Heavenly Father, He helped me concluded that my personal relationship with His Son Jesus was the most important aspect of my belief and anything outside of that, including church involvement, which interferes in my relationship with His Son, is not the best way. This is not to say I am not involved in a local Bible teaching church, because I am. I teach a Middle School Girls Sunday School class and attend a weekly worship service. I just happen not to agree with the philosophy that you need to be in a building seven days a week to experience God nor do I agree with the guilt trips church leaders lay on members to participate in every activity God lays on someone’s heart to organize. The Church dwells within people, not the confines of a building. Unless I am sure that the Holy Spirit directs my participation in an activity, I am not involved in every Bible Study, ministry outreach, committee, or worthy event. If I were, I would never have time to nourish the personal relationship I believe God desires for every man, woman and child, not to mention the time to nurture the relationship with my husband and children. I have learned that I cannot live my life constantly doing things. I need to be still. This is also not to say I never reach out to doubters or unbelievers. God is always putting someone in my path to share His Love.

With all that said, I am very surprised at some of the reviews I have read since reading The Shack. Just to give you a little background about the author you can read this. It will give you an idea of where he is coming from. In addition, the fact that this is a work of FICTION and a product of the author’s imagination should cause the reader from the start not to take the book literally. It is an allegory and should not be taken as a Biblical record.

The story is about a man named Mack who loses his five-year-old daughter in a horrible kidnapping and murder, then becomes angry with God, and asks the age-old question, “Why?” What human has never asked this question? God (or Papa in this story) invites Mack to meet him in the shack where the murder occurred. The story that develops is Mack’s encounter with the Trinity and eventual personal healing from his little girl’s death. Papa appears to Mack as a large African woman, Jesus as a Middle Eastern Jewish man who is a carpenter and the Holy Spirit as an Asian woman named Sarayu (meaning wind and relating to Pentecost). While I believe in God as a Father, some popular leaders are taking great issue with God being a woman in this story. The author makes it clear that Mack had a bad relationship with his abusive earthly father and could not relate to a loving Heavenly Father. This story line eventually teaches that God can become all things to help people come to the saving knowledge of His Son Jesus. It is not teaching that God is a woman. Nor is it teaching all religions lead to God, which is the other issue rearing its head. On the contrary, I believe the author is trying to say that Jesus will “travel any road to find you.” Jesus is the only road to God the Father. The hierarchy of the Trinity is also in question and being called heresy. The Bible clearly teaches that God the Father, God the Son and the Holy Spirit are equal although Jesus said many times, “I do only what the Father tells me to do,” and thus, He also does in this story.
There are other issues, but I am not going to go through all of them. It sure makes me think that the leaders who are speaking so loudly against the book might have books of their own, which are not selling. They are the same leaders who ranted against The Di Vinci Code being so heretical and painted a dark picture of Jesus and the Catholic church. Now someone publishes a book that tells the opposite story and the critics still can not be pleased. Few and far between are well written Christian fiction books that portrays God as Love who created us to have a personal relationship with Him and sent His son to die and close the gap that sin caused between God and man. I am not sure I understand their thought process.
Anyway, I liked the story. It made me think outside the box. It confirmed that I am not alone in my convictions. It is a story that God can use to draw hurting people into a relationship with His Son Jesus where He can then do a mighty work in their lives. God reveals himself through others, nature, and ultimately in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ whose true story is found only in the Bible. Occasionally, a fiction book appears on the scene that God uses to draw men/women to Jesus. I think The Shack might be one of those books. I encourage you to read it and draw your own conclusion and I would love to hear your opinion.
Papa if I am wrong, then let your Holy Spirit move my heart in a different direction and prevent me from becoming a stumbling block to any person looking for you. Amen.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Honey, Money, Gimmie!

I went to see the movie 'Mamma Mia' recently. Who knew Meryl Streep and Pierce Brosnan could sing? Well, sort of. Having never seen the stage version of 'Mamma Mia' I cannot compare the two, but I thoroughly enjoyed the movie. Of course, I am old enough to be familiar with ABBA and have some of their music on my iPod, but I was not familiar with the storyline intertwined with the music and was pleasantly surprised. The Mediterranean scenery was gorgeous and the bright colors in this flick astounded me. I enjoyed it so much I danced is the aisle. Not really! I am just kidding. Really! This is certainly a chick flick so take some girl friends along with you and don't be afraid to sing along loudly. Meryl Streep is looking good to be almost sixty. What an inspiration to me...umm...you older ladies. Man how I wish I had her cheekbones! Colin Firth was also in the movie and he will always be Mr. Darcy to me. If you do not know whom Mr. Darcy is then shame, shame, shame, on you! Go read this book and then watch this movie. Now. Right Now. I am driving my family crazy singing ABBA songs and planning my Greek Island vacation. I just had to share my madness with friends.

Friday, August 1, 2008

College and Careers 101

It is official! I am now the proud mother of a college student!
Big C attended orientation and registered for classes today at a local university. I would post pictures of this momentous event but the turkey would not let me take my camera. Hateful child! I tell him all the time that it is my right as a parent to embarrass and humiliate him in public as long as I am doing his laundry. That does not seem unreasonable to me but he does not go for it. Hateful child! OK, really he is the best possible eighteen-year-old son any parent could order on a silver platter. God has blessed MDH and me with two agreeable, easy to parent young men.

Big C graduated from a very small high school. There were only sixteen kids in his graduating class and having all been together for the majority of their elementary and high school careers, they were like brothers and sisters. Because of this, when Big C visited the university’s main campus, he was overwhelmed with the amount of students. He decided living on campus was not for him. He was more comfortable with the idea of living at home for a couple more years and attending a small local branch of the university. MDH and I are thrilled with the decision as we were in no hurry for him to leave. He mows our big lawn! He worked last summer and this summer forty hours per week at the local utility district. This has not been an easy job since it required digging holes with a shovel, mowing/weed eating thorny patches of ground, spreading hot asphalt, and numerous other tasks of physical labor. He does not shy away from hard work and would much rather be sweating in the hot sun than working at a fast food establishment. Hard work has made college look even more appealing. Anyway, he has saved practically all of his money from both summers (he is a tightwad) and will be paying for his books each semester. Scholarship money will take care of the majority of the tuition and we will foot the rest. Right now, he is considering Physical Therapy as a career with a concentration on athletic injuries. His advisor recommended an undergraduate degree in Biology. However, Big C has a talent for public speaking, communications and journalism and although he would never admit it, an interest in political issues. It will be interesting to see how the Lord directs a special son of His and mine in the days ahead.

In addition, an odd thing is going on with Big C and I am writing this only to keep you informed on current events. Big C is fast becoming a local celebrity. We are not sure why this phenomenon is occurring other than the fact Big C is just truly a nice, responsible, dependable, well spoken, easy to please and always smiling young man (not that I am partial). He knows many people and his sweet, funny personality tends to draw folks his way. Being a basketball freak of nature and cute does not hurt either. We walked in the orientation room today and a low rumble filled the air. I swear that is the truth and checked to make sure I didn't have toilet paper dangling from my foot! I took him to a nice restaurant to celebrate today and four servers stopped to talk with him and get his cell phone number. It is like being remotely associated with Ferris Bueller. We went to a Japanese restaurant the other night and the waitress threw her arms around him and squealed. No joke! MDH took the guys to the local mall to see a movie a few nights ago and a guy runs across the mall, picks Big C up and shakes him because he is happy to see him. If I’m lying, I’m dying! These occurrences are becoming more and more frequent and it is an adventure to go anywhere with him, but he just laughs and rolls his eyes. Hum! Maybe that is the reason he is so popular.