What’s the Deal With The Pitcher?

My friend and former sister-in-law, Sandi, gave me one of my favorite things.  It’s a “Rebekah Pitcher” she made.  It lives in my kitchen window, often holding flowers picked by my boys for me.  It never gets put away because it’s a reminder to me of who I am and what God wants me to do.  Go with me here…

Rebekah of the Bible (Genesis 22) was walking along one day, headed to complete the chore of carrying water.  I can picture her (ok, in my mind she looks like me, especially for the purposes of this story, only she’s workin’ a type of B.C. style of clothing and footwear) with her pitcher perched on her shoulder, moving forward with the business of the day.  The pitcher might have been heavy.  She might have been in a hurry.  But there was a man at the well, and when she saw he had need, she quickly lowered her pitcher and watered his camels.  He didn’t even have to ask!  Little did she know the man had been sitting there praying that the girl who agreed to water his camels would be the one God wanted him to choose for Abraham’s son, Isaac, to be a matriarch of the nation of Israel.  She wasn’t looking for a meal ticket, she just helped a guy on the spur of the moment, but she ended up opening the door to quite an adventure.  Through that one act of compassion, Rebekah became Isaac’s pride and joy, practically a queen, and gave birth the the house of Jacob, thus becoming part of Jesus’ bloodline as well.  Imagine that… a random moment where she simply acted like a daughter of the Most High, doing something pleasing to Him, and lo and behold she walks right into His plan for her!!!

What has entrenched itself in my mind is the idea that Rebekah quickly lowered her pitcher and offered herself to help another, without thought of her schedule, her future goals, or her bottom line.  God took care of those things.  She just lowered the pitcher.  She clearly had things to do and was in the midst of accomplishing her daily tasks, but evidently had the kind of freedom in living that lends itself to the impromptu lowering of one’s pitcher to participate in an act of kindness and compassion alongside another person.  She wasn’t too busy, wasn’t in too much of a hurry, and wasn’t so wrapped up in herself that she might miss a moment of life’s joy shared with someone else.  If Rebekah were around today, I imagine she’d have a constantly running coffee pot, a lot of miles on her vehicle, and a lot of smiles shared with those she’s touched along the way.

Sure, ol’ Bek had her faults.  She showed favoritism between her sons, deceived her husband, and it seems she could be pretty demanding at times.  She didn’t always get it right.  Still, the way she lowered her pitcher to help the man at that well with such immediacy and ease speaks volumes about her.   I imagine that she lived with her head up, eyes open and expectant, looking for the next opportunity to “lower her pitcher” and experience the joy of helping, serving, encouraging, or interacting with another person.  That’s the Rebekah, or  Rebecca, I want to be.

God has definitely given me a “pitcher” (we all have one) and I want the contents of mine to be used by Him.  That means I have to be willing to lower said pitcher and share the contents.  That’s the reason for this blog.  Pouring out what God has given me to share.  That’s the reason for my life.  That’s what living out God’s calling means to me.

And that’s the deal with the pitcher.


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Can’t Do That In Heels!

This morning I was all dressed and ready for work.  I had on what I call a “sophisticated businesswoman costume” complete with a cute pair of heels.  I was checking on the dog, helping my oldest with her vocabulary, and packing a lunch when I heard a ringing sound.  I looked up to find that my toddler had my phone in his hand and was making a call.  I took a step toward him so that I could grab the phone and avoid disturbing who knows who from my contact list, but as slippery toddlers tend to do, he ran.

Funny how little legs can move so quickly.  Not so funny how I couldn’t keep up with him. I tapped and clopped after him in my high heels, doing my best not to slip on the tile floor and end up in the emergency room.  Guess what?  High heel shoes aren’t made for chasing speedy little boys with impish grins and ringing cell phones in their hands.

Caleb giggled and I kept tapping and clopping, feeling larger and more clumsy with every step.  Around the dining table we went, through the kitchen and into the next room where big sister was working on vocabulary.  Mackenzie stuck out her hand and helped me catch Caleb and I snatched away the phone.  We discovered then with a sigh of relief that he was calling his big sister.  We disconnected the call and I proceeded to finish the morning craziness, inching ever closer to tears.  With a few minutes left before time to leave and a few things left to accomplish, I kicked off the heels so I could function as mom.  And function I did, as I started the dryer, put on some makeup, fixed breakfast, and then, in my last act of motherly bravado, changed the poopy diaper that appeared at the exact moment I should have been walking out the door.

I stepped back into the heels, grabbed all the necessary stuff, loaded the car and backed down the driveway with a sigh.  My heart is always heavy as I end my mommy time and start my professional businesswoman time.  Did I do what I should?  Was I too crabby?  Will they remember how much I love them?  Did I forget the cookie dough fundraiser?  When will I get around to hemming his pants?  Do I have enough diapers?

Tonight, after everyone was in bed, I realized as I squeezed out the last of my contact solution that I forgot, again, to pick up more today.  I also forgot to get the alka seltzer I like to keep on hand, and the orange soda Mackenzie needs for a science experiment.  There are some documents in my purse that need to be scanned and emailed.  They’ve been there 4 days now.  So I’m letting the tears flow at this point.  Sometimes I have to let the spinning plates drop and just cry over my inability to do it all.  Sometimes I have to nurse the blisters that pop up from trying to chase tiny boys while wearing high heel shoes.

Maybe I’ll invent a pair of perfect shoes.  Ones that look sophisticated and gorgeous, but have traction for running after two-year-olds, with comfort that makes standing in the grocery store line a pleasure, and of course they’ll match every outfit.

But there is no such perfect shoe, just like there’s no such perfect me. It’s impossible.  What I’ll do is keep living my life, keep loving my kids, keep working hard, keep learning and growing and chasing, and make the best of the times when I just plain have on the wrong shoes.

And I’ll keep smiling.  I CAN do that in high heels!


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Zoom Out

The other day, I was using Google Maps to get directions to a meeting.  At first, I could see only a cross-street and had no clue where I was headed.  Then I used the handy-dandy “zoom out” button to back off and see a bit more about what neighborhood I’d be going to and sure enough, that zoom-out told me everything I needed to know about how to get to the meeting.

In a recent conversation, a dear friend and I were discussing how it can often be frustrating trying to figure out what God wants us to do.  At several crossroads in my life, I’ve often sought God’s direction, done the best I could and went one way or another while still wishing I was SURE that’s what God wanted. Or I’ve wondered why God allowed circumstances in my life to prevent me from doing things I really thought He had assigned to me.  Did He change His mind?  Is He playing cat and mouse?  Among believers, I’ve heard this same story again and again.

But you know what?  God sees the “zoomed-out” picture!  His calling and purpose for me permeate my being much more deeply than I originally thought.

When I was 15, I heard God call me to work for Him.  Over the years, the idea I first had of what God might expect has certainly undergone a metamorphosis.  (Thank You, Lord.)  I first assumed, since I’m a girl, that the only way I’d be able to minister for God would be to marry into the ministry.  (If you want to know how that worked out, read through the “Where I’ve Been” pages)  Then I assumed the only way would be teaching women, Baptist women, and women younger than I.  I assumed that my only place would be putting on high teas, women’s retreats, or prayer luncheons.  Then I assumed my teaching and leading would look very much like other popular female Bible teachers and speakers.  I did the best I could based on the “cross streets” I could see.  Thank God, He was looking at the zoom-out map!

These days I’m learning that God’s purpose and call is much larger, more thoroughly built into my being than I realized.  It’s more than just what I’m doing for a job.  Many years I’ve spent wondering why God didn’t give me a job in His “calling” for me.  But the truth is, if we are faithful to His calling on our lives, we’ll be living it out no matter where we are or what we’re doing.  God’s purpose for you and me goes way beyond what we do for a living, neither can it be accomplished in a mere 40 hours a week.  My job is simply one small way I can live out God’s calling for me.

There was a time when I just knew I was living out God’s call because I was writing devotionals, speaking to women’s groups, leading a class at church, and being a minister’s wife.  Then, all that went away.  For a short time, I wondered what in the world God was thinking.  Why did He allow my life to fall apart?  Didn’t He mean it when He called me?  But after the pain subsided a bit, after a new marriage, a new job, a new baby, and a few new homes, I’ve realized something:  God’s call still burns me up inside.  I’m carrying it out in spite of myself!  My deepest heart still wants to do what He wants me to do.  People who need His love still surround me and I am still driven to share that love with them.  Perhaps my life has undergone quite a few changes, but one thing that hasn’t changed is that voice that called me out back at 15 years old.  When will I stop boxing God into my own little ideas?.  Sometimes I’ve carried out God’s call by writing, sometimes speaking, sometimes rocking one of my children, sometimes teaching, sometimes working with families, sometimes hugging an older person, sometimes leading a house church, sometimes loving my husband, sometimes having coffee with a friend, sometimes reaching out to a worried daughter and telling her mom’s going to be ok, sometimes helping a stressed out son make a good care decision for his dad, sometimes a hand to a coworker who’s having one of those days, and sometimes making a pot of coffee.  How foolish to assume that God would ask for my workday alone.  He wants, and has, all of me, so why would I expect Him to use any less than all of me?

So are you wondering what God wants you to do?  Are you waiting for God to bring along the perfect job or perfect situation before you carry out the dream He’s placed in you?  Give some thought to the idea that God’s desires, purpose, and calling for you are much larger and deeper than a vocation alone.  God has place unique gifts in you and produced a one-of-a-kind creation.  Sometimes, crucial tasks appear before us in the grocery store, on an airplane, or at the baseball field.  Try zooming out, and allowing God to carry out His work in every single area, every single moment.  Rely on Him completely to provide a place for you to live out your God-given purpose, but know that He may provide more than one place, may ask for more than just your work week, more than just your Sunday mornings and Wednesday nights.  This “God’s will” thing just may revolutionize your whole existence.  It sure has mine!




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Proper Place

I’ve arrived at one conclusion as I’ve explored my eating and fitness habits.  I must keep food in its proper place in my life.

I promised I wouldn’t turn this into a diet and fitness blog and the reason I won’t is that there are so many more interesting things to me.  I know fitness is a hot topic, and if you want to see some great stuff on fitness, just click on my brother’s picture at your right.  He’s got it going on, for sure.  It seems to me, though, that people who are super thin become consumed by the quest, and I don’t want to be consumed by being thin.  I don’t want to concentrate on calories every waking moment.

That said, I also don’t want to rely on food as my only comfort, my only venue for celebration.  It shouldn’t be my go-to.

I don’t want to be consumed by limiting food and I don’t want to be consumed by relying upon food.

Balance.  That’s what I want.  That’s what I need.

And that’s going to be my goal.  A healthy, balanced attitude toward food and fitness.  For me, that means a walk with the kids every evening when I get home.  It means eating when I’m hungry and not going past full.  It means taking some vitamins and drinking plenty of water.  It means enjoying my food and refusing to rely upon it for comfort.  It means taking care of my body, but not waiting until I’m a certain size to be confident in myself as a woman.  It means not letting food consume my life, whether that be limiting my food or overindulging in food, but using food as a fuel for energy, a blessing to others, and a gift from God to help me move on to living the life He has for me.

I write this with a feeling of satisfaction in my tummy, having enjoyed a delicious dinner, but didn’t stuff myself.  I’m going to go on to bed and get a balanced night’s sleep.  I’m glad to have explored this area of my heart and ready to apply what I’ve learned.  Hopefully, putting food in its proper place will be more like riding a bike than walking a tightrope!!  Thanks for taking this journey with me.

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Tin Man (Woman)

This little dietary exploration has been fun for me so far.  I’m feeling a little like the Tin Man who just needed some parts oiled and was able to move again.  By simply paying a little attention to what’s going on, I’ve been able to have some little successes.  Yesterday, for example, I noticed a slight hunger sensation and went ahead and had a small snack since I had an appointment that delayed my lunchtime.  That way I wasn’t ravenous at lunch so was able to have a reasonable portion and stop when full.  I’ve also noticed thirst playing a part in the way I feel.  I’m definitely not drinking enough water.

I downloaded a handy period tracker app for my phone (sorry fellas) and it has lots of cool features that help track cravings, moods, and other symptoms.  I played around with that a little and it’s been interesting to note my cravings and moods and their relation to my cycle and stress level.  It’s helpful to notice that how I’m feeling physically and emotionally has a profound effect on my appetite.  A little preparation can go a long way I would imagine, especially when I know a vulnerable time is coming. 

Another drip from the oil can fell on the part of me that knows food isn’t an adequate comfort mechanism.  I suppose it isn’t enough to be aware that I use food for comfort, but I must be further aware that food ISN’T DOING A GOOD JOB.  There is a much more perfect Source of comfort and He (God) is always available in plentiful supply.  That knowledge has made me want to turn to food a little less…  I know God and the glimpses I’ve had of His majesty make food seem like a pretty dumb substitute when I could have Him.

I’m feeling more able to “move” and function in a healthy way, especially since I’ve focused less on the food and more on my rationale.  Another drop from the oil can fell on my brain, I guess.  So I’ve noticed it makes a difference when I’m thinking about what I’m doing rather than making mindless decisions.

I had a stressful phone conversation at work and was startled to notice that my first thought upon hanging up the phone was “I need chocolate.”  Hmmm….  I didn’t refuse myself the chocolate, but I got up and walked around the building outside to breathe some fresh air and clear my head, telling myself I’d get something if I still wanted it after I walked.  The few moments diversion worked and I was onto another task that presented itself when a resident stopped me for conversation.  I forgot about the chocolate, but learned a little lesson from that.

Hmmm…   I’m still not going on a diet.  Still not even setting a weight loss goal.  But I feel like progress is being made.


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What IS Hungry, Anyway?

Who said we needed to be hungry to eat??

My stomach evidently can’t tell the difference between hungry and BORED.  Yep.  I totally eat when I get bored.   I also find myself vulnerable to feeding myself regardless of the presence of a hunger sensation when I’m tired and when I’m lonely.  Oh yeah, and when I’m happy, too!  I mean, it’s my BIRTHDAY, so I’ve GOTTA eat cake, right??  I also eat because it’s TIME.  And because it’s polite to eat what someone else lovingly made for me.

Here’s the difficult part:  Ignore your body’s signals long enough and they become harder to understand and recognize.

It’s a challenge for me, especially with the constant presence of food around me and food-centered activities, to listen to and figure out my body’s hunger signals.  Do I even know what they are?  (The experience of hunger CAN be different for everyone.)

Let me think…

Well, I know what REALLY hungry feels like.  (My husband and I laughingly refer to this as “pissed-off hungry”)  Sometimes, when I get home from work he’ll ask if I’m hungry.  I’ll reply that I’m so hungry I could injure someone. Then, I’ll tear up in envy of my thin husband with his superman metabolism and immunity from overeating.  I’ll stalk off or start to cry.  (See where we got the name?)  This is because serious hunger for me causes irritability.  Even aggressiveness actually.  I also sometimes start to shake, get a headache, or experience nervousness or anxiety.  I know this is caused by the drop in blood sugar.

But what does regular hungry feel like?  You know, just the body’s gentle signal that it’s time to refuel.  I have to admit I’m not too sure. I know that I overeat often when I get REALLY hungry, but what if I could recognize the signal early enough to go ahead and feed myself while I’m still in control and not in a desperate attempt to alleviate the REALLY hungry symptoms?

I know God built this mechanism into my body.  I guess it’s time to take a few days to dust it off and figure out how to use it!!

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Never Just One

What’s the snack with the slogan “No one can eat just one.”? I can’t remember at this moment, some kind of potato chip, I think, maybe Pringles. Anyway, that’s issue #2 that I can identify when it comes to my eating habits. I can’t just have one.

Seriously. It’s hard for me to imagine sitting down and having, say, just TWO doublestuf oreos. Nope, I want a minimum of ten. At least til the milk runs out, right? Yesterday my husband took me to lunch and I really slowed down after the first half of my cheeseburger but I felt compelled for some reason to continue eating until it was gone. I knew I should stop, but it BOTHERED me to leave it there.

When I think about it, when I’m using something like an Oreo for comfort or stress release, it makes sense that I would need to eat until the bad feeling temporarily recedes. But there are times of happiness, and other times when I’m just eating a regular meal, that I have trouble stopping at one or two. When it tastes good and I’m having fun eating, I’ll tend to go overboard also. For the record, this also happens exclusively with things that taste good. As in, I’ve never gone crazy eating too many carrot sticks. It seems easier to stop when I’m eating cottage cheese, but not so easy when I’m eating cheesecake.

I’ve tried the “no junk in the house” method, and it works for a while. Then the total deprivation gets to me and a trip to Winn Dixie produces a package of Doublestuf or a bag of chips. Then, said bag of junk doesn’t just sit in the pantry and go stale. It disappears as quickly as possible and calls to me in the night if I take too long to finish it off.

It seems I have an imbalance here. I’m either eating none until I can’t stand it anymore, or I’m eating it ALL until it’s gone. Why don’t I just have a little at a time and stop there? Here are my ideas:

1) I have some unreasonable anxiety that when I return later and want just a little bit more, there won’t be any left. (This probably stems from growing up in a house full of kids that was usually grand central for our friends also. Treats never hung around long. If I didn’t get my share, there very likely would be none later.)

Solution: Remind myself that I’m an adult now. I’m not rich, but I have the ability to get myself another bag of Oreos anytime I want. God Bless America.

2) I often have to eat in a hurry. If I don’t finish right away, it’ll be cold later, or I may not get another chance to stop and take a break. I remember this starting right after I had my first baby and barely had a chance to shower regularly, much less eat a meal uninterrupted. I began noticing that even when I did get a chance to enjoy a leisurely meal, I made it disappear as fast as possible, in the habit of choking it down before the baby needed me again.

Solution: USE A MICROWAVE if it gets cold. Figure out some way to remind myself that I don’t HAVE to rush.

3) (This one might be reaching, but here it is anyway:) There is so little in my life that I can control. So few things that finish up nicely and wrap up neatly. Life is messy, often yucky, and seldom easily tied up with a bow. A bag of Oreos, however, CAN be finished. It can be put away. I have control over it, and I can watch it disappear. I don’t do many things right, but finishing off a bag of Milano cookies is an easy success for me.

Solution: Find something else I can accomplish quickly and easily to give myself a “success” without eating. I just got a used piano. Maybe I’ll try to conquer a new piece of music here and there.

4) I know I shouldn’t be eating the bag of Oreos, so I finish it in order to get rid of it. I then promise myself I won’t get any more, and I feel better because the “bad thing” isn’t in the pantry anymore. This all falls apart, of course, when the deprivation gets me mad enough to go get another bag. It’s like any other forbidden thing, it often is the object of obsession.

Solution: Take away the stigma. Again, I AM AN ADULT. I must stop shaming myself. There is nothing inherently shameful about Oreos. There is no such thing as a perfect diet, so since I can’t possible achieve dietary perfection (who even knows what that IS?) then there is no reason to outlaw something or obsess over it because I see it as a “mistake” food or a “bad grade” on my eating report card. No shame means no rush to get rid of the “forbidden” item. GOD STILL LOVES ME!!!

5) I sometimes eat angry. Overeating when angry is a way of punishing myself or another person.

Solution: Learn to express my anger in healthy ways. Get a punching bag.

Good thing I’m writing this down. I may be onto something here!!

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Bad Drug

I use food for comfort, stress relief, and even expressions of anger. In other words, much like a drug addict turns to drugs for all of the above, I turn to food.

Not just any food, mind you. It has to taste good. In other words, I don’t console or reward myself with plain tuna or unsalted popcorn. (Ewwww) Think chocolate truffles, macaroni and cheese, or Pepperidge Farm Milano cookies. Think Doublestuf Oreos, Ruffles chips and French onion dip, and loaded cheese fries. Think cheeseburgers, chocolate mousse cake, and cookie dough. But, I digress…

Why do I do this? FOOD for thought… (hahaha)

I was raised a VERY good Southern Baptist. We don’t smoke, drink, or chew, or go with boys who do…

But we EAT.

I can give you a very long list of the “don’ts” I was taught as a child, those sins to be avoided at all costs. Funny, but eating isn’t one of them. I’m sure somewhere along the way, some preacher preached against overeating, but it musn’t have been very memorable because I have zero recollection. I have to wonder if overeating had been as taboo as say, smoking weed or premarital sex, would things have been different? If bingeing on junk food were treated like a bad behavior like going to a bar, seeing rated R movies, or getting a tattoo, would I have developed this habit? Now some of the “bad behaviors” I just listed are things I’ve done, some aren’t, but NONE of them are habits of mine. Then again, there are others who experienced a very similar upbringing and they DO struggle with things like drugs, alcohol, gambling, or sex addiction. That would mean I can’t totally blame my upbringing for my dependence upon food. It still wouldn’t change the fact that I use food much in the same way anyone uses a vice for consolation.

There’s one problem with this method of comfort, of soothing my sadness:

It doesn’t work.

Sure it tastes good while it’s going down. But I eat too fast (read more about that later) and so even that part isn’t as enjoyable as it should be. Then afterward comes the guilt, the frustration, and the stomachache, not to mention the extra pounds and sluggishness. Food is no more effective than vodka when it comes to solving one’s problems, and it’s nearly as harmful in the longrun.

OK, so I’m turning to an inadequate outside source for comfort. What can I do about it?

Here are my ideas:

1) Realize that food isn’t doing the job I’ve assigned to it. It isn’t a good enough provider of comfort and solace. I’ve simply given food a task it can’t perform.

2) Find something else to which I turn for comfort. (Hear God going: “ME ME ME!!!”)

3) Figure out what’s bothering me so much and see if I can eliminate or solve any of those issues.

What do ya’ll think???

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Speaking of resolutions…

Alright.  It’s a new year and I can’t help my infatuation with the idea of a fresh start.  I love starting over every new year, I just hate failed resolutions. 

I’ve been tempted to make a weight loss resolution, but I’m not.  Honestly I’m more than frustrated with my body’s sluggish reaction to my weight loss efforts, and my own inability to “stick to it” when it comes to diet and exercise.  I’m not ready to try and fail again.

However, I read an article this morning that made me think.  The article pointed out that (as we all know) a lifestyle change is necessary to maintain weight loss.  A restrictive diet or rigorous exercise regimen will pull the pounds off but they come right back once the diet or exercise stops.  The article suggested that at some point, some introspective investigation needs to be done to discover the “why” behind one’s eating and exercising habits.  That made sense to me.  I don’t want to start another diet, but I don’t want to become a type 2 diabetic either, so it’s worth a try to think this over.

My friend, John Frady has been blogging about his weight loss, and knowing his wife, Kathy’s weight loss success, I’ve been inspired.  John’s decided to publish his daily eating choices as a way to keep himself accountable.  Admirable, but in an effort NOT to appall my readers, (though it probably would amuse you as well) I’ll spare you my dietary details.  I will, however, bare my heart instead of my stomach.

Why do I eat what I eat?  Why do I do what I do?  How did I get this relationship with food? 

I promise not to turn this into a health and weight loss blog.  I’m not going to obsess about food or fitness.  I’m not going to start eating salad with no dressing, and I probably won’t run a marathon.  But maybe my own exploration of my emotions, my habits, and my feelings about food and fitness will help someone else, and maybe me too, to discover exactly what’s going on behind those “bad” habits and maybe if we find the “why” and address that issue, well, maybe the bad habits won’t be so hard to break. 

Stay tuned, and we’ll see…

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My Christmas Gift

Christmas Day I got an unexpected gift. It was one of those gifts no one but God could have orchestrated for me. I was feeling a little blue because we had an early Christmas with the big kids before they left for their holiday visit to Florida, so Christmas morning was rather anticlimactic at our house. We are in a time of financial recovery, so there weren’t any big gifts under the tree. Dwayne was working, so little Caleb and I got up and went about getting ready just like any other Sunday morning. We made it to church and I got all set up for the service I would be leading since the Pastor was out of town. I had a few minutes to drink some coffee before time to start, but got to the kitchen to find the percolator had lost it’s “perc” and there was nothing but yellow hot water. I sat in a chair, hoping for a quickly passing morning so Caleb and I could get home and relax. I was in no mood to be making merry.

All of a sudden, I heard a voice behind me and turned around in time to get “bum-rushed” by a friend I hadn’t seen in quite a while. I had heard she recently had moved into her own apartment. Not a surprise to me since I knew of the very difficult marriage situation she has been in for years. I yelled “HEYYYYYY!!!” and we embraced, both of us in tears. There just isn’t anything like the open arms and understanding smile of an old friend.

She just decided on a whim to come by and see me at the church that morning. Well, we all know it wasn’t a whim. She woke up to her first Christmas morning alone. I know what that feels like. She knew I know what that feels like. God knew she needed me and He knew I needed her. We don’t attend the same church anymore or live in the same neighborhood, so we hadn’t seen each other in too long, but as kindred spirits can do, we picked up right where we left off. It didn’t take much arm twisting to get her to come home with me, so we spent Christmas together. Hearing her voice in the congregation, catching up over an awesome Christmas dinner made by my sweetheart (duck, oyster dressing, sweet potatoes, brussels sprouts, apple pie) and then just lazily baking cookies, snacking, and having coffee as other friends stopped by the house. We laughed, talked, ate, baked, laughed, talked, ate, and baked some more. She went home long after dark with hugs and, I hope, a warm heart. I certainly was left with one.

My first Christmas alone included a visit to a church service where the pastor commanded everyone to kiss his or her spouse. I stood there alone feeling horribly rejected, disgusting, useless and gross. But God brings beauty out of ashes. Because I knew what a terrible feeling a first Christmas alone can be, there was nothing more natural to me than to give someone else a better first Christmas alone. I’m THRILLED that my sweet friend knew where to go. She knew whose arms would be open. Believe me, in this town, she could have easily found a party anywhere. What an honor to have been her safe place.

This is my calling. It may have taken on different forms. It may look way less Beth Moore-ey than I expected, but it hasn’t changed. I once thought God calling me to minister meant that He would use me in one certain way. For a while, He did use me just as I expected He would. Then… well, then things changed, and sometimes it’s easy to feel that God isn’t or won’t use me anymore. What a gift it was at Christmas to know that He is not finished with me. No nasty divorce, no hurricane, no crazy job, no amount of stress has taken away God’s ability to use me.

Can’t wait to see what’s next.

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