Winn Dixie Milk Man

It was one of those days.  About 5:30pm, I was making a stop at Winn Dixie on my way home from work.  No doubt the worst time to be in the grocery store, and just about my least favorite thing to do on the way home, but with three kids we go through a minimum of five gallons of milk a week and since I’m not making my own anymore….  there was nothing to do but stop.

I approached the milk case with a sigh.  I was glad to be off of work and doing my best to keep my head up.  My job in assisted living is a passion, a calling, and a blessing.  It also has its difficult moments.  Older people tend to throw tact to the wind, and sometimes kindness too, and our residents often give a running commentary on… well, anything and everything.  We’ve all had a grandmother or elderly aunt who blurted out “You sure have put on weight,” or “Are you pregnant again?” right in the middle of the family dinner.

These types of remarks are commonplace where I work, and that’s ok.  Normally, I let them slide, especially since the occasional “You’re putting on weight” is nothing compared to all the “Honey, you made my day” and “What would I do without you?” and “Sweetheart, you are looking good.”  But on this particular day, perhaps it was my mood or elevated stress, I’m not sure, but it seemed as though everything was up for scrutiny, from my middle that needs some “toning up” to the size and placement of my breasts.  “You still nursing honey?  They’re hangin’ kinda low today. What kinda bra you wearin’?”

I stepped up to the milk cooler beside the milk man who was busy stocking the shelves.  “Howya doin” he said without looking up and I answered back in kind as I reached out for a gallon of whole.  I was pondering picking up a second gallon when he turned to me and said “You are so pretty.”  I looked up at him and started to get tears in my eyes.  “Thank you.  You have just made my whole day,” I told him.  He said “I didn’t expect you to come walkin’ up like that, and I didn’t expect to say that.  It just came out.  I’m usually shy about sayin’ stuff like that.”  Sounds like a pickup line I guess, but I wish you could have heard his tone, very matter of fact, not a hint of suggestion.  I thanked him again, not finding any better way to let him know how he had just been a gift to me.

I did grab the second gallon (maybe W/D would sell more milk with more milkmen like that one) and made my way to the checkout with a new outlook.  I knew without a doubt that Mr. Winn Dixie Milkman had been a messenger from God to lift me up.  A few weeks ago I had asked God to help me approach my marriage with more love, and one specific area I’d been working on is my arrival home from work.  My family has normally been home for a few hours and they’re ready to play, often leaving me with no time to decompress from my day and transition to home.  This can make for a grouchy wife and mom in that first half hour at home when they’re rarin’ to go and I just want to be left alone.  That day, the Winn Dixie milk angel had given me a boost, a leg up from God to help me put my gloomy day behind me and greet the ones I love with my best and not the dregs of me that are left after a long day.

I have two observations from this:

1)  How often I hold back a positive remark, and how often I’m free with negative ones.  Thank God the milkman had the grace that evening to let the good thoughts come out.  I needed to hear them.  I want to tighten the weave of the sieve that catches my negative commentary and let the positive commentary virtually flow out unrestricted.  So often the opposite is true. We never know what a kind word could mean to someone and it costs us nothing to give one.

2)  When we ask God to work in our lives, He will do it.  He’s a good Teacher, and even gives openbook tests sometimes!  He might even use a Winn Dixie milk guy to give you a hint.

 

 

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Reason #7 Why I Can’t Say NO

Reason #7 Why I Can’t Say No:  I’ve been so abundantly blessed.

Seriously.  I’m so blessed it’s embarrassing.  Sometimes I feel horrible saying “no” to a request, especially when it’s a “good cause,” because I know I’m so fortunate and I feel bad not pitching in for someone else.  So I say “yes,” feeling guilty for having been blessed beyond what I deserve.

Here’s the problem with that:  it’s based on guilt!  UGH!  Guilt, guilt, guilt!  Seems like so much of my reasoning is based on those horrible feelings of guilt.  Clearly not the way a God of such grace intended for me to live.

But then something happened.

Last weekend I said “yes” to something I didn’t really have time for on paper, but still felt I should do.  Origins is providing a night of care each week to a friend of ours who is an incomplete quadripilegic due to an accident.  We do this so his wife can get one full night’s sleep a week.  I signed up to take a turn and last weekend was mine.  Each time I discussed what I was doing with someone in the group, they raised a suspicious eyebrow and said something like “Are you sure?” or “How will you handle that and take care of the kids?”

I put my family to bed and then made the trip across Lake Ponchartrain to help some acquaintances who, that night, became my friends.  Dwayne had to work early the next day, so Mackenzie, my oldest, pitched in on babysitting duty for an hour or so until I returned home the next morning.  (So really our whole family pitched in to make this happen)  Losing sleep wasn’t a problem since my little one still doesn’t sleep all night and my body is well-acquainted with getting up every few hours during the night.  I dozed in between my every-other-hour cell phone alarms, when I would get up and turn my friend from side to side to avoid bedsores, help with changing bedding, bathroom needs, whatever issues came up.  As I dozed on the couch and my cell would vibrate telling me it’s time to wake up and turn my friend, my eyes would open and invariably fall on a beautiful bronze sculpture by the door.  It’s an artist’s rendering of Lazarus, standing triumphantly, arm overhead as he unravels his grave clothes.  (See John chapter 11 for the whole story)  I thought of Jesus and the many things He did on behalf of others when He walked the Earth.  Nothing like one of Jesus’ most famous miracles right in my face all night to get my mind thinking about the things He did and my reasons for doing the things I do.

I thought, as I completed the very personal, potentially embarrassing tasks for my friend, of Jesus’ words in John 13:

 12 When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. 13 “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. 14 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. 15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. 16 Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.

I had said “yes” to this act of servanthood, not out of guilt this time, but because it is clearly, truly, one of those things that I KNOW Jesus would do.  I love Him, and I want to be like Him, and performing an act of servanthood for another person that night, I knew I WAS being like Him.  THAT’s a whole lot better reason than just “I feel guilty having so much so I’ll agree to do something for someone else.”  Whadya know?  Maybe I got it right, for once?

I have to say, it feels great to have said “yes” to something for the RIGHT reason.  Why don’t I do that all the time?  Why even allow my feelings of guilt into the equation?  Why not simply ask God if this is what He would have me to do, and then proceed according to His instructions?  Doing something as an act of love for Christ and my fellow-man sure created a different feeling than doing something out of a bad feeling of guilt.

Lesson learned:  When I say “yes” for the right reason, it ADDS to my bond with Christ and my bond with those whom I serve.  When I say “yes” for the wrong reason, I notice that the activity normally yields little to no growth in my spiritual life or in my relationship with those receiving services from me.  This alone is reason enough to make SURE my yeses and no’s are based on healthy rationale.

Perhaps with this, Reason #7 Why I Can’t Say NO, and my last entry in the series, I’ve come across a formula or system for checking myself when I’m faced with an opportunity to say “yes” or “no” to a task, commitment, or request.  The activity should be something I can do out of love for God and others.  It should bring me closer to Him and to them.  This is a simple check but it applies in all situations, to all requests whether church, family, work, or socially related, and it rules out unhealthy reasonings such as guilt.  Interestingly, my answer about when to say no, came through a time I said “yes!”

Hope this series has helped someone out there.  It sure has made a difference for me.  So what next?

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Reason #4 Why I Can’t Say No

Reason #4 Why I Can’t Say No:  I can’t stand admitting that I can’t.

On the outside, friends, you might think I’m just the girl next door.  You see me come and go, live a relatively quiet life, and you never know my secret.  My deep, dark, disgusting secret.  Until now, because I’m about to tell you:   I’m a raging lunatic perfectionist.

SURPRISE!!!!

My husband and my closest of friends are snickering because they had that figured out LONG before I.  Maybe others are raising an eyebrow.  After all, it’s not like being around me is like an episode of Hell’s Kitchen.  I don’t go around screaming or firing people who don’t live up to my expectations.  In truth, the most insane perfectionist expectations I reserve for myself alone.

I hold myself to a standard that is beyond ridiculous.  So much so that I often find myself frustrated with other people who seem to be ok with themselves even as they behave in less than perfect ways.  How do they let themselves off the hook so easily?  Not so for me!  I seem to know no other way but ON the hook.  So terribly, irreversibly ON the hook.

Even in areas where it seems I’m laissez-faire, I’m still beating myself up inside.  Keeping a perfect house, for example, has forever been beyond my reach.  So in that case, I just don’t try.  Rather than continue to try and fail, I elect not to try.  Ditto for my desk.  It’s a perpetual state of chaos and I do not have the energy to continue to attempt another failed organizational strategy.  I laugh sometimes that I’m like Pigpen on Charlie Brown.  An ongoing cloud of stuff just follows me.  I don’t mean to create it and I’m not sure where it comes from but it’s always there.  On the outside, it seems to others that I don’t care.  Just last week, a coworker moved several things on my desk.  Her explanation was “just trying to make you a little neater.”  I smiled and said nothing.  But inside me was a cauldron of humiliation and frustration because I really do expect more from myself, and sincerely do wish I had a neater desk.  I joke about it sometimes, but the truth is that it’s frustrating to me to have not yet conquered my “pigpen” type qualities.

Same goes when I have to admit that I can’t do something.  Whether it’s that I don’t have time, ability, or even the interest, saying “no” means I admit that I’m less than perfect, and um…. I hate that.

Hold on to your hats because I’m about to blow this whole thing up by admitting the truth:  THIS IS NOTHING BUT PRIDE.  Nothing at all except me wanting to be in the front of the line, every time.  Nothing except me wanting the satisfaction of being the best.   Not me, showing mercy to other poor less-than-perfect souls by letting them off easier.  Nope.  It’s me holding myself to a higher standard because I LIKE THINKING I’M THE BEST.

Totally and completely opposite of the way a daughter of the Most High God should be.  (Pride’s first on the list of things He hates, you know.)

Any of you who are still reading after seeing in print such an awful truth about me, thank you.  So what now?  Check this out:

Romans 5

 1 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we[a] have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we[b] boast in the hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only so, but we[c] also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. 6 You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

It’s grace, my friends.  The ultimate price was paid for me when I was completely oblivious.  You too.  No need to be in front.  No need to be the best.  No need to beat myself up for failing to achieve whatever my latest unrealistic expectation happens to be.  I’ve been loved, accepted, and declared OK already and it had nothing to do with me.  I simply had to accept it for the gift that it is.  That kind of enormous gift makes my need to be first and best seem so silly, doesn’t it?  Why all that trying for a fleeting feeling of self-satisfaction when there is a much more abiding and steady confidence that can be mine through no effort of my own?  God’s plan sure seems easier when it’s put that way, huh?   Perhaps that’s what Jesus meant by the whole “my burden is LIGHT” thing.

And since I no longer have anything to prove, seeing as how Jesus did it all FOR me, since I know that not wanting to admit my imperfections is really an imperfection in itself, and a BIG one at that, Reason #4 is officially defunct.

 

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Why I Can’t Say NO

I can’t stand saying no.  My inability to refuse requests means I wind up in tight squeezes.  Often.  It also means I feel stressed.  Most of the time.

So WHY is it that I can’t (or won’t) say “no” to requests from various sources (kids, family, work, friends, church, self, society in general)?

I’ve decided to figure it out, using a series of posts, especially since I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in this!

Reason #1 Why I Hate Saying No:

Somewhere along the way, a scripture verse was implanted in my mind.  Something about not withholding good from another person when it is within your power to do something.  For most of my life, I’ve believed that it’s my responsibility to do good when I’m able.  I still think so, and this verse often goes through my head when I consider a new opportunity or request for my time, services, friendship, etc.  So God wants me to do good every time I have the opportunity, and to never withhold a good deed from someone when I’m able to accomplish it.  Right?

Sounds great, but how would one actually accomplish this?  For example, I saw a man today on the street in New Orleans.  He was holding a sign telling me he’s homeless, needs help.  I had a ten dollar bill in my wallet.  It technically WAS within my power to act.  But I didn’t.  I didn’t roll down my window for this guy, and I didn’t stop the car to let him get in.  I didn’t bring him out to eat or help him find a job, even though technically I do have the ability to do all those things.

Keep going with this and you’ll have a glimpse of the craziness that happens in my head.  How is it possible to NEVER withhold good from a person when it is in my power to act?  Let’s face it:  with technology today, and living in what is still the wealthiest country on earth even in an economic slump, there’s not much that’s outside my ability.  I CAN make a call, find a resource, introduce a person, give a ride, make a meal, have a talk, buy a bag of groceries… it’s almost always within my power to do something.  Oh yeah… except for that whole 24 hour in a day limitation and all.  (But when have I ever let that stop me??)

I decided I’d better look up the verse, so here it is:

Proverbs 3:27
Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to act

At first glance I noticed some words I’d failed to remember before:  “Do not withhold good from those TO WHOM IT IS DUE,”

Hmmm…. what does this mean?  Honestly, I’m not totally sure, but I find it interesting that there IS a qualifier in there: to whom it is due.  Does this mean the person receiving the good deed should be deserving?  Does it mean we should not withhold good when we OWE it in some way (as in payment of a bill)?  Is it a reminder that we should fulfill commitments made to do good?  Whatever it means, it’s no doubt significant that a guideline was placed in there.  Up until now, I’d interpreted the verse as a command to do good to EVERYONE, period, no matter what, when it is in your power to act.  Now, I realize there’s a qualifier.

I’m also pondering on the idea of WITHHOLDING good.  I picture myself with a bag of delicious cookies or a box of cupcakes, hogging them all to myself, refusing to share with even the hungriest of my friends or family.  The idea of having something good and refusing to share it is appalling to me.  Clearly unbecoming of a believer in Jesus.  But, if I say “no” to a request when I truly don’t have the time, the expertise, or couldn’t easily get the resources, am I really WITHHOLDING good?  Can you withhold something you don’t already have?

Scripture is also clear in other places about a wife’s responsibility to husband, a mother to children, a daughter to family, and employee to employer.  Often saying “yes” to a request that I technically COULD accomplish means I end up withholding good from those to whom I clearly OWE the responsibility: my husband, children, family, or employer.  So it becomes clear to me that saying “no” could sometimes be a way that I OBEY this command rather than fail to fulfill it, especially when the request I refuse would cost me time and energy that already belongs to my marriage, my children, my family or my job.

If my life (myself, my heart, my emotional energy, friendship, capacity for love and compassion, my time, my intellect, etc.) were a bank account, I gotta be honest with you, I stay overdrawn.  At the very least robbing Peter to pay Paul if you know what I mean.  I recognize the same condition in most of my friends and acquaintances as well, especially those among the believers.  However, I’m not sure our Father meant for us to be out of balance in this way.  Even in the above mentioned scripture verse, I’m not sure He was trying to command me to behave in the way I’ve been trying to.  I’m not sure He meant “Say yes to everything you are asked to do, make everyone your best friend, and take on every unfortunate situation as your own.”

As much as I hate to admit it, I can’t be best friends with everyone.  I can’t be responsible for the welfare and happiness of everyone I come in contact with every day, and trying to do so produces a life spread so thin that no one gets anything good.  So either God has commanded us in the aforementioned verse to do something we can never, ever actually do, OR maybe He was saying something a little more like: “Be careful to share and give good things to those that I’ve given to you to care for. Don’t hold back from those I’ve given you to love, and watch closely for those times when I’ll give you the opportunity to do something that is easily within your power but is an extraordinary work on my behalf for someone else.”

And that, my friends, is reason number one that I can’t say no… only it’s not a reason anymore.  Next?

 

 

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Much Obliged

Jan Karon, in her novel Out to Caanan, tells of a hurricane that hit the small town of Mitford.

“At the edge of the village, Old Man Mueller sat in his kitchen, trying to repair the mantel clock his wife asked him to fix several years before her death.  He happened to glance out the window in time to see his ancient barn collapse to the ground.  He noted that it swayed slightly before it fell, and when it fell, it went fast.  ‘Hot ding!’ he muttered aloud, glad to be spared the aggravation of taking it down himself.  ‘Now,’ he said to the furious roar outside, ‘if you’d stack th’ boards I’d be much obliged.'”

A few days ago, someone I counted a friend said some unkind and severe criticisms about me and to me.  You see, I have this “thing” this NEED for people to like me.  So much of the time, my need to please and my inability to say “no” gets me an overloaded schedule and an overburdened heart. Pair this with my unrealistic expectations of perfection and I’ve got a formula for a pretty severe emotional thunderstorm.

Situations like these tend to bring out those old thoughts, reopen old emotional wounds for me.  “You’ll never be good enough.”  “No matter how hard you try, it never works, so why keep going?”  Sound familiar to anyone?  I hope not, but just in case it does, here’s what has occurred in my heart:

I have a forever Friend.  His name is Jesus.  He’s been there since the beginning, seen it all, knows the deepest darkest.  He has invited me to hide under His wings, in His shadow, inside His fortress.   From there, He can tell me what is true.  He can gently and lovingly show me pieces of myself that need repair work.  He can remind me how steady and sure His love is for me, and that no matter what anyone thinks of me, He and I know who I am.  It’s like He and I can sit in the kitchen like Old Man Mueller, watching the storm’s damaging attempts outside, and be able to appreciate and smile at the good brought about by challenges and difficulties in life.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t tell you that this realization has come after my husband got to witness not one, but two emotional fall-aparts.  He got to hear plenty of the old disgusting ideas that seep like infection out of my old emotional wounds before I’ve finally decided to take this situation to the “kitchen table” with Jesus.  Sometimes running to God isn’t always my first reaction.  Sometimes it’s my last resort, but it ALWAYS is the right solution.

Yeah, so maybe I had a little hurricane come through.  Maybe it knocked over a thing or two for me.  But I know who I am.  I’ve examined my heart and it’s right with the One who matters.  So thanks, little storm.  And if you’d stack th’ boards I’d be much obliged.

 

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Important to Me

As I write this, my two oldest kids are sharing a bowl of popcorn and a game.  My youngest is playing contentedly with a glo-worm on the floor, and my husband is napping on the couch.  It’s Saturday, a rare one when we are both off of work and all five of us are together.  Though this moment in our lives would make a nice Norman Rockwell painting, my days aren’t always this easygoing.  I do my share of “hurry up, we’re late!” and “I’m too tired to deal with this right now.”

But today… today we’ve savored a slow, relaxing time together.    I think of all the time I’ve spent running and rushing, wishing and hoping, and shooting for goals, making the sale and putting out the fires and carrying what sometimes feels like the weight of the world.  I realize that all those things I try to accomplish are important.  Yes, they are important.  But there’s important, and there’s important TO ME.

I hope in the end my life will count for something important.  More than that, I hope it counts for the things, the ones that are important to me.   This home, this family, being a great wife and mother, carrying on the good name my mother and father gave me.  That’s more than important.  It’s important to me.

So I have a new question to ask myself as I prioritize my crazy life.  Is it important?  Is it important TO ME?  Wonder if I’ll change my mind about what’s on the top of my list?

 

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Black Coffee

So I’ll get right to the bottom of things.  It’s been a scary summer.  Right as my big kids left for Florida for the summer, my husband got sick.  Really sick.

It’s been weeks of guessing, wondering, steps forward and then as many steps back.  Things are looking up now, and I’m pretty sure we are on the last stretch of the road to recovery. Looking back over the summer, I’ve hardly known how or what to pray.  Even a seasoned believer like me who likes to think she’s experienced God a time or two…no idea what to pray for.  Of course, I told God what I wanted:  A happy, healthy husband.  But the questions in my mind continued to swirl.  I lost one marriage already in a painful end, and after finding Dwayne and daring to love again, after all the joy I’ve found with him, the idea of losing him is more than I can entertain.  I have really been wrestling with what to say because the last several years of my life have taught me that God may say yes to my request but he also may say no.  And what does that mean to me and my faith?

A few months ago I noticed a friend’s post on Facebook.  She said something like: “God is so good.  We were in a car wreck and none of us were hurt.”  My knee-jerk reaction was to comment: “So if you had all been hurt or killed then God would be bad?”  I know that’s not what she meant, but so often I find myself popping off a similar phrase, that churchy talk that was once such a part of my daily allotment of verbage.  I can’t settle for that anymore.

If there’s anything I know without a shadow of doubt it’s that God IS good.  His love is everlasting.  He is enough.  He’s good when I get what I want, and He’s good when I my worst fears are realized.  It’s in my worst moments of suffering and frustration that I’ve found God to be most faithful, most trustworthy, and most loving.  It’s on the bottom that I’ve committed to trust Him no matter what happens.

If God is as big and as real as I need Him to be, then there absolutely MUST be more to everything than what I see and know.  There MUST be something He can see, something He has planned that will set all to right, that will make it all worthwhile in the end.  I’m finding, though, that it takes a bit more faith to pray and tell God what I want, knowing He is capable of granting my request, and being confident that He hears me, daring to hope that He’ll say yes and yet choosing to trust that He’s still right if He says no.

Not so bad if you’re praying for a new car, but a little more challenging if you’re praying not to lose your husband.  Do I even dare to pray for something I want and need so much, risking the pain I’ll feel if I let myself hope for a yes and then I get a no?  Is it worth it to keep hoping and praying when there are no guarantees?

The answer for me is “Yes.”  Yes because there ARE, after all, SOME guarantees.  God’s presence and His love.  His mercy and His grace.  Heaven for me as a believer is a guarantee.  When it’s all said and done, what more do I have, and what more do I need in light of forever?  So yes, I’ll tell God what I want.  Yes, I’ll dare to hope He gives it to me.  I’ll risk that openness with God, and I’ll somehow wrap my brain around the idea that if He says “no” to my request, He hasn’t said “no” to me personally.  I think I’m learning how to let God seep down into the deepest darkest crevices of my being.  I’m learning how to share with Him the deepest, most desperate wants and rest in the guarantee of His love instead of conjuring up a guarantee that He’ll do what I hope he will for me right now.  I’m learning how to walk with God and let Him show me how to enjoy today rather than wondering what I’ll do if my fears come true tomorrow.

These thoughts might be considered a black, black cup of strong coffee since they are being poured out here.  But I have a feeling there are a few out there who enjoy a good cup of black coffee like I do, and aren’t scared to sip on these ideas with me and offer feedback as well.

 

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Crazy Love

So my husband spent a few days in the hospital last week.  He’s home and getting better every day, but it’s been miserable.  I mean really miserable.  He’s got plenty of frustrations of his own, struggling to get well and hating being unable to function normally.  He’s got some lifestyle changes to make that aren’t easy.  But he’ll have to get his own blog to tell about all that. 🙂

I’ve been in a quandry about my own reaction to his illness.  I’m really struggling to keep it together.  Several times I’ve scolded myself, thinking there’s no way I should be this stressed out and uneasy.  Looking inside myself, I wondered what in the world had me so upset.  Was I THIS spoiled, used to his helping hands with me all the time?  Was I THAT hungry, missing his yummy dinners usually waiting when I got home?  Am I such a spoiled brat?

Then, a couple of days into his recovery, he looked over at me and grinned.  One of his trademark melt-my-heart smiles.  It was a glimpse of him… happy.  And for that moment, every bit of my worry and frustration and sadness disappeared.  I realized then that my problem is the same ol’ thing that got me wrapped up with this guy in the first place.  Crazy, awesome, incredible love. 

I adore this man.  And seeing him happy is when I’m the happiest.  Somewhere beyond the initial thrill of infatuation, we graduated to the kind of love that gives itself away.  The kind that delights in the happiness of another, more than one’s own happiness.  The kind that would rather take the loved one’s place than see him suffer.  The kind of love husbands and wives SHOULD share, the kind mommies and babies share, the kind that JESUS showed us so long ago.

Know what I think is SO cool?  That love… the pang in my heart when my loved ones are sad, the leap of joy when I see them happy… God’s the one who gives me that!!  That’s HIM, interacting with me, whispering about who He is and the way He treasures us all. 

I John 4:7-8  “Beloved, let us love one another.  For love is of God and everyone that loveth is born of God and knoweth God.  He that loveth not, knoweth not God, for God is love.”

 

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Weeping and Sowing

Psalm 126:6 NIV “Those who go out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with them.”

At times over the last few years, I’ve been confused, grieving, angry, rebellious, and disillusioned.  All normal parts of being a human dealing with life’s tragedies and disappointments.  I’ll call that “weeping.” 

We all have “weeping” times in life.  We all have joyful times.  Highs and lows, ebbs and flows.  That’s the way life is.  Seasons are constantly changing.  Somehow along my way, I got the impression that a time of weeping was no time to be sowing.  And truthfully, many of my weepier days, the last thing I feel like doing is “sowing” into the work God has for me.  I put away my gift, quit writing, quit speaking, quit ministering and focused on the weeping.

My dad’s a pretty awesome grower of vegetables.  Over the years, though I’m afraid I might not have his green thumb, I’ve learned some things about sowing and harvesting.  Daddy’s corn is without doubt the best in the world.  It’s a taste I look forward to every year, bringing back memories of Christmases, Thanksgivings, pretty much any happy time of celebration when we’d eat our favorite family meals.  Some of that corn would no doubt appear on the table.  Harvest:  enjoying the end result of a season of long, hard, hot work.  It’s the time to dance, laugh, eat, sing and celebrate. 

But not every day is harvest.  In order to get to harvest day, there first must be planting day, then many days between of watering, hoeing, weeding, fertilizing, and dealing with insects and pests. There is no harvest without these in between days of sweat, work, heat, and monotony.

 Thankfully, every day isn’t a weeping day.  Just as times of happiness don’t last forever, neither do times of sorrow.  Slowly, surely, God has been healing my heart, and as He continues to mend it together again, I’m realizing that weeping or not, I must continue to sow.  I must continue to do the work He has given me, use the gifts He’s placed in me, and develop the passion He’s ignited in me.

A few weeks ago, I ran across Psalm 126:6 and God used it to speak to me.  “He (or she) who goes out weeping, CARRYING SEED TO SOW, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with her.” 

I might be weeping, or singing, dancing or dragging.  Regardess, I can’t stop carrying seed to sow.  I can’t stop doing what God’s put in me to do.  Weeping times will come, so will times of joy.  Sowing must go on, so that there may be times of harvest.

Today you might be weeping.  My challenge to you and me is:  Don’t let life’s times of disappointment stop you from planting your seeds, from using the gifts God has given you.  There WILL be times of joy again, and if you continue to plant, that joy can be accompanied by a harvest.

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