A Crazy Little Thing Called Love

It’s made me drag myself out of bed on a rainy Saturday morning to drive my daughter to a volunteer event at school.

It’s made me spend time and money in a counselors office to enhance my marriage and motherhood.

It’s made me give away my last piece of pie, my last French fry, the last of the milk in the jug.

It’s made me drive fast and slow, reckless and extra careful.

It’s made me ask God to take a suffering person who was precious to me and broken my heart when He did what I asked.

It’s made me stay awake when I was too tired, keep walking when my feet hurt, and open my arms when I’d rather be alone.

It’s made me braver than I ever thought I’d be able to be and it’s made me the biggest coward on the face of the earth.

It’s made my cry tears of sorrow and just as many tears of joy.

It’s made me cook and made me eat, made me go out and made me stay in.

It’s made me give everything my body and mind have to offer and more.

It’s been my lowest low and highest high.

And this was all in the past week!!!

It’s a crazy little thing called love and I’m grateful tonight to have a life full of the stuff.

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Iced Tea and Hot Romance

There’s no such thing as a perfect marriage.  Even if there were, mine would be far from a candidate for the title.  We’ve got our moments of crazy, and we both carry plenty of baggage.  So does everyone!  That’s life!

But every once in a while, the most romantic moment will come along and I’m just overwhelmed at how incredible love is.  Today, a glass of tea ushered in one of those moments…

We work together, me as director of marketing and he as executive chef, at an upscale assisted living home.  We’ve been SO busy at work lately, and today was as intense as ever.  I was working hard, deep in concentration, and focusing completely on how I can best serve a family who is looking at our home as a possible residence for their dad.  As part of the process, families often eat a meal with us, and today was such a time.  I gave our drink order to one of our care managers, Kathleen, and she headed to the kitchen.  She returned in a few moments with salads and drinks. Everyone else had water, but I had asked for iced tea.  Normally I’d have water because I like my tea sweet and we serve only unsweetened tea at work.  But I felt the little caffeine would be just what I needed, so I went for tea, figuring I’d drink it plain since I don’t do packets of sweetener.  When Kathleen put down our drinks, I was deep in conversation, focused on the issues this family is facing with their father.  In mid-conversation, I took a sip of my tea and…


Cold, and sweet, and wonderful.

Not the kind of sweet you get from a pink packet.


Washing down my throat, and over my heart, was the knowledge that my husband had just stood in the kitchen in the middle of his busy lunch service, made a simple syrup, and sent an authentic glass of sweet tea to me.

A few seconds later, he popped in with the food.  I wanted to run across the room and tackle him, kiss his face and tell him how incredible it is to be loved like that.  I couldn’t.   I had to maintain my professional composure.  But inside, I was being melted by a glass of iced tea. (I *might* have sent him a “for your eyes only” text later… you know… just to express my sentiments.)

We might not have much.  We’re working extra jobs and stretching our pennies and our time and our emotions to make this family work.  Really though, it doesn’t take much.  I don’t need diamonds, don’t need prestige, don’t need exotic vacations.  What could be hotter than a man who not only would make me a glass of tea, but  is willing to spend thirty seconds of the busiest, most intense part of his day to make sure mine is sweet?

That’s sexy.  It’s love.  It’s incredible.

Feel free to print this and pass it along to any significant other who may need to consider making a glass of tea. (Here’s a link to a great article showing you how) Or maybe you should make one for someone yourself???





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Mama’s Peace

Her fingers clicked across the keyboard as she typed a few words.  Then, just as many times, she tapped the delete key.  How to pull some kind of coherent thought from the fragmented bits that swirled incessantly in her head?

Lists.  She could make lengthy, detailed lists of all the things she needed to do.  She could bullet the bills, errands, library books, phone calls, emails, notes to teachers, and plans to arrange.  Grocery lists, menu lists, and birthday gift lists.  She could jot forever the undone tasks that haunt her mind at night, keep her from focusing at work, and steal her miniscule lunch break time.

Laments.  She could wax poetic about her stress and shortcomings.  She could write long complaints about the way things are, and paint wistful pictures of how she wishes they were.  She could give in to the longing sob that lurks in the back of her throat at every thought of her mother, father, sister or brother.  She could explain why everyone should cooperate with her plans, and expound on the misery that results when they don’t.  She could compose a heartbreaking account of betrayal and brokenness, nearly drowning in the sorrow of it all.

Laugh.  She could throw up her hands and laugh at her ineptness.  She could give in to the cheshire cat smile that would make anyone wonder what she’s up to.  She could let out the giggle that erupts instantly at the sight of her two year old boy.  She could snort with her ten year old son at words like “fart” and let herself thoroughly enjoy that his presidential candidate choice is based on that candidate’s opinion of McDonald’s.  She could roll her eyes with her soon-to-be fifteen year old daughter and enjoy the inside jokes just the two of them share.  She could send her husband a steamy, silly text message and wait with baited breath for his reaction.

Love.  She could let herself feel the painful tidal wave of love that threatens to burst her heart each time she kisses her children goodnight or good morning or goodbye.  She could plan an unforgettable birthday celebration for the husband whose love overtook her life.  She could try… just try to love that someone she just can’t stand.  She could bake something, write something, give something to try to show her adoration for those friends that see her through the best and worst.  She could mail something to her mom and dad, Fedex something to her sister, fix up the guest room for when her brother comes to stay.  She could forget the remark, overlook the mistake, let go of the offense.  She could remember a name, remember to hug, remember to look an old person in the eye.  She could let the tears fall because she knows no way to contain her affection for a God who loved her first.

Her chest heaved a sigh and she did the thing she hadn’t yet dared to consider…

She let go.   She let go of it all and let it fade with the daylight.  She loosened her grip and let the load she’s carrying settle into a pile that will still be waiting for her in the morning.  She dropped the notion of perfection and propped her feet up on the ottoman of “good enough.”  She popped the top of something cold and slipped into a tub of something warm.  She kicked back and let Jesus take the storm of wife, and mother, and professional, and writer, and sister, and daughter, and friend, and citizen, and believer, and somehow bring about….


Night moon


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Origins: Journeying On

For three years now, I’ve been on a journey.  A pilgrimage, if you will, into my own heart.  Three years ago, we began what is now called Origins, a group of house churches who lean on one another for support and encouragement.  For most of the three years, my house has been the meeting place for “house church.”

By now, I’m accustomed to the double-takes and odd looks when I tell people my church meets in my home.  I’m confident about what we do and why.  I’m able to easily tell another person what a house church is and why it’s a perfect fit for our family.  Three years seems to be a milestone of sorts.  In a human life, the first three years are crucial to setting beliefs, behaviors, and “bents.”  After three, most kids are out of diapers, moving toward school, and asserting more and more independence.  Babyhood is definitely over and toddlerhood is quickly nearing its end.

So what about our house church journey?  It’s three years old now.  Infancy has passed, and I look around and think “Hey.  We really ARE doing this!!”

So what has house church meant to me?  Here’s my top three:

1)  House church has given me confidence in my faith.  When we began, there were many scary moments for me as I let go of things that were part of brick-and-mortar church.  Would I “stick it out” with God if no one was expecting me to play the piano, teach a class, or show up lookin’ good on Sunday morning?  Would I love God as much without the “game” to play that I was so accustomed to winning?  Could I separate myself from the things I’d always used as outward proof of my love for God?  The answer is:  YES!!!  Yes.  With 100% confidence I can now say that I am God’s daughter.  He is my Father.  I love Him more than ever.

2)  For the first time in my spiritual life, I have experienced unconditional acceptance for who I am as a person, not for how well I play, sing, speak, look, or what I know about the Bible.  That is not to say I haven’t HAD this type of acceptance.  There are many beloved friends, teachers, pastors, fellow believers who have extended this acceptance to me in the past.  I simply could not let myself experience it while still attempting to earn it by playing well, lookin’ good, and being the poster child.  There have been moments in my living room when fellow believers have prayed for me, and I for them, we’ve struggled and celebrated, and kept on being there for each other, all without the trappings I was used to.  I NEEDED to know, deep down, that not only would I still love God if stripped of my church “position” but that other believers would still love ME.  And they do.

3)  It’s OK to let God take care of me.  In the past three years, people have come along who’ve needed what house church offers… the healing, the acceptance, the rest.  But for the group that meets in my home, there hasn’t been an explosion of numbers.  No one’s beating down the door to get in.  Not that I expected or was shooting for a group that is bursting at its seams.  We do not have a goal of building a church building to house our meetings.  In all seriousness, I… we have needed the past three years to let God work in us, care for us, and knit us together with Him.  I’ve learned that it’s ok to let God teach me and lead me, even if the steps are miniscule.  I’ve learned that big crowds, microphones, offering plates and the latest tunes are not necessarily evidence of God’s presence or His blessing, or His work in my life. 

I’m so grateful for the simplicity, the straightforwardness, the purity of BEING the church.  I in Him and He in me.  In us.

Our hands in His, we journey on.

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Never Disappointed

“I’m disappointed in you.”

Ever heard that from your parents?  Said it to your kids?  Felt like that’s what God would say to you?

Evidently, there’s a child-rearing Bible study out right now that justifies the use of the above statement with children.  The very idea gives me what my Granny would have called the “heebee jeebees.”  My parents, thanks be to God, never said those words to me.  Somehow I still always knew when I’d made a mistake. I’ve been talking with my 14 year old about this when she recently expressed she thought God was disappointed in her.  My heart broke to find she actually thought that, and yet the more I think it through, the more I wonder how many people use this method, and further, how many think God uses it on His kids?  Think about some things with me:

How effective could the statement, “I’m disappointed in you.” actually BE?  I say, not effective at all.  Unless, of course, you are attempting to accomplish humiliation, irritation, and ill feelings between you and your child.  Perhaps some say this phrase and really mean, “I know you can do better.”  or “I wanted better things for you.” or “I expected you to make a better choice, and I’m surprised you chose this way.”  But when “I’m disappointed in you.” comes out, what it REALLY communicates is:  “If you performed better, I’d be happier with you.”  and “I’m in a certain class, and you, because of your choices, no longer qualify to be in my upper crust group.”  and “I’m embarrassed by you because you aren’t as good as me.”  and “You’re just not as good as I thought you were.”

If I desire to parent my children as God would parent me, then I can’t say “I’m disappointed in you.”  You see, God, no matter how big my mistake has been, hasn’t been disappointed in me.  He hasn’t been disappointed in you.  Disagree?  Then I would ask you, how, if Jesus knew of your every sin when He died on the cross for you, could he possibly be disappointed?  Disappointment, by its essence, includes an element of surprise, an element of expecting one outcome and actually receiving another.  Yet God in His omniscience knew every bad choice you and I would make and still gave His only Son to be sin for us, to bear our punishment.  He knew EXACTLY the outcome.  You and I have never once surprised God, even with the most outrageous of our antics.  And without some element of surprise, you can’t have disappointment.

But I’m not omniscient like God, right?  Right. I still feel upset when my kids make bad decisions. However, unless I think that God has waited until now to create the first three perfect humans since Jesus and given them to me to be my children, then I must expect that these precious ones WILL make mistakes.  I should expect that they’ll have the same drives, same temptations, same flaws that all humans have and will, on occasion, fail to measure up to standard as they fight to handle their frailty.  More than wanting my children to know how upset I am that they messed up, I want them to learn from their mistakes, and I want them to know they don’t have to be perfect to be LOVED.

How very grateful I am that God is teaching this idea to me, His daughter.  His grace wasn’t given to me because I earned it, but because He loves me.  I’m so glad He isn’t waiting until I’m good enough to give me His approval, but gave it to me for free, based on the perfection of Jesus Himself.  I’ve striven many years to be “good enough,” to be as perfect as I could be, and yet I’ve always come up feeling like my best just didn’t make the cut.  What a freedom to be loved by God in spite of my flaws!  With that belief, I’m free to be me, to love God back, and continue getting to know Him through my own good and bad times.  The temptation to just quit, since I’ll never measure up anyway, is gone.  I’ve already “measured up” because of Jesus, so now I can get to know God and myself and explore who He made me to be.

I want that so much for my kids.  I want them to know that kind of love.  I want them to know the One who IS that kind of love.  I want them to climb higher than I ever dreamed they could, because they have the confidence to try, knowing they’ll be loved whether they succeed or fail.  That’s what I have in God, it’s what my parents lived for me, and what I want my own babies to know above all else, even as I try to believe it myself.



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Screaming Hussy

Yesterday a resident at the assisted living home where I work came to me for help.  He asked if I had a dictionary.  I had none, but there was a thesaurus on my desk, so I offered it to him.  “I just want to look up the meaning of a word,” he told me.  This gentleman has very poor eyesight, so after trying to read the tiny word and its synonyms, he asked if I’d read aloud to him.  The word?  Bimbo.

This gentleman is also VERY hard of hearing.  He must be spoken to loudly and slowly.  So, I proceeded to read the synonyms for “bimbo” to him.  I sat there, screaming “HUSSY, SLUT, WANTON, JEZEBEL, JADE, WENCH…” and so on.

Then he asked me to repeat it, of course, more loudly and slowly.

Several individuals walked past, including a brand new resident’s family.  What to do???  Nothing for it, I forged ahead and continued screaming, “HUSSEEEE…”

It seems to me that often life brings situations when doing what we are called to do makes us look foolish, even crazy.   Sometimes others might think we’re odd when they catch a glimpse of us going about our God-given tasks.

I’m not easily embarrassed, so it’s not that I was bothered all that much by the words I was saying.  However, I do love to maintain the illusion of perfection, and what, I ask you, is perfect-looking about a woman screaming at the top of her lungs, “SLUUUT, WENNNCH…”??? Part of my job is to maintain some sort of professionalism and yelling such words is hardly professional.  However, a more important part of my job is to love the people God brings my way.

As the meaning of the word was heard, an enormous grin passed across this man’s face.  He began to chuckle, since he now understood the punchline of whatever he’d been told that got him wondering about the word “bimbo.”  Imagine a man who, since he can hardly see and hardly hear, has almost no social interaction.  He lives most of his days in silence, finding it too frustrating to continuously ask others to slow down and speak more loudly.  A man who once had a successful law career, a wife, and no doubt an interesting life, now hardly has any interpersonal contact.

But not yesterday.  Yesterday, we laughed like old friends.  We shared a silly moment, and I got to see a rare smile and even rarer mirth from this guy who normally gets by on necessary contact, but almost never enjoys a friendly chat.  Sometimes loving another person isn’t the normal sugary sweet stuff.  Sometimes taking advantage of the opportunities God gives us to love means we might end up doing something seemingly foolish.

Yesterday, I loved someone by screaming, “SLUT!!!” at him.  I ignored what I feared others might think, gave this one person my undivided attention, and in turn, made his day and mine.  It’s the funniest thing I’ve been called upon to do in a while, but it’s had me thinking ever since how much I want to be able to seize opportunities to love, even the weird opportunities.  I want to do what I’m called to do, what I’m MADE to do, no matter how it looks to passers-by.  I want to have the guts to own my life, use my gifts, and pour out all I have.  No holding back.  Even if it means screaming “HUSSY!”

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Offense and Defense

Origins NOLA has been studying the books of 1, 2, and 3 John.  Again and again as I’ve read these books, my attention turns to one subject:  Love.

God is love.  Love one another.  We love because He first loved us.  All these ideas are repeated throughout 1st 2nd and 3rd John.

The bottom line is, believers should be marked, above all else, by their love.  As I’ve been pondering this subject, I’ve been asking myself:  How am I doing in this area?   If Jesus’ main command to me as a believer is “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and love your neighbor as yourself,” then it’s high time I take stock of my ability to love.  One thing I’ve found is that I’ve never really spent much time purposefully searching for ways to grow in my ability to love.  I wouldn’t say that meanness is a defining trait of mine, but that’s not the same as being a person who loves excellently.  I know how to be a nice girl, but that doesn’t automatically mean I’m great at love.

As we were talking Sunday, discussing the idea of loving others, it occurred to me that when it comes to showing love there are two main directions, if you will.  I’ll call them offense and defense.  (Thanks to my Dad, my brother Bud and beloved New Orleans Saints for a good grasp of the game of football.)

Offense love I’ll define as active, purposeful things done to show love.  Defense love I’ll define as countering whatever comes our way with love.  Showing love through reactions, patience, and the ability to recognize and capitalize upon unexpected situations where love is needed.

Saving my pennies for months to surprise my husband with something special?  Offense.  Dropping my plans to listen to a friend who calls?  Defense.  Planning a special day for my daughter? Offense.  Setting aside my book when my little boy asks me to watch his latest trick? Defense.

There are times in loving that I take the initiative, the offense if you will, and make some love happen.  Then there are those constant moments when love should be the rule that governs whatever situations come along, a sort of defense played as life brings along bad days, stressful times, or needy individuals.

I’m planning to explore these ideas a bit more.  I’m excited at the possibilities that come to mind when I think of improving my “game” as I seek to obey Jesus’ command to love.  I’ll be writing a few more blogs on this subject, but for now I wonder if anyone has some thoughts for me…  Which is more difficult for you, offense or defense love?  Why?  And, why do you think there isn’t more specific direction about HOW to love?  Has anyone else been going along as I have, sort of assuming love would come naturally to a believer but not really purposefully seeking to learn HOW?



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A Crazy Reckless Legacy

It was late at night and everyone else was asleep.  She crawled out of her bedroom window to meet her boyfriend.  She was 16.  He was 26.  They drove to the next town and got married.  It was crazy.  It was reckless.  It made her mama really mad.  I didn’t know them at their start, but I was there 60 years later when they were parted by death.

That girl was my grandmother.  It always amazes me that the statuesque lady I knew did something insanely rebellious like elope at the age of 16.  It’s hard to picture that classy woman climbing out of a bedroom window.  Did my Papa catch her?  Did they squelch giggles and run hand in hand to the old truck?  What did she wear? 

However it went down that first crazy night, here I am because of them!!  They stuck it out and made it last.   They built a family and left a legacy.

Fast forward  around 80 years from their elopement and you’ll find me, their granddaughter, three years ago today…


It was crazy.  It was reckless.  It made some people mad.  But we’re still here!!

That sixteen year old girl grew into a major hero in my life.  I’ve always wanted, and tried, to be like her.  I’m most flattered when someone says I am like her in some way.  I know she had a daring side.  She crawled out of a window at sixteen for Pete’s sake.  She knew about taking a risk, she no doubt felt the passion and swirled in the vortex of a crazy attraction.  But she also knew commitment.  She knew how to stand her ground through life’s ups and downs. She knew her God and called on His name for her family. 

And guess what?  I do, too.

We may not get the sixty years they had.  (We started a little later than they did!) But we have the same kind of love and the same determination and most of all we know the same God.  We’ve crammed a lot of stuff into three years.  A surprise baby, two moves, serious illness, financial disaster, parenting a teenager and toddler simultaneously, wrestling with our faith and hosting a church in our home.  We definitely did not take the easy way.  Sometimes we feel like giving up.  But we won’t do that.  We’ll hang onto the crazy, reckless, passionate love that started all this.  We’ll look to God and keep going.

It’s definitely not the wedding that matters. (Even though I thought a crazy elopement was tons of fun!) It’s the marriage.  And marriage is what we are living every day.  Three years down, many more to go.

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Continue to Grow

Thanksgiving night our table was crowded with people, lingering over coffee and pie, laughing loudly at this story or that one, even crying a little.  Kids ran around, fought over toys, and asked for more ice cream.  Inside, I felt sad.  I missed my mom and dad, my sister and brother.  My inner pity party was practically a rave when I realized something…

My table just then looked remarkably like the one at my mom’s house.  The laughter, the stories, the noise of playing kids sounded just like the ones often shared and heard around my parents’ table for as long as I can remember.  Some of my sweetest memories are of my family and a few friends lingering around the table long after our stomachs were full , telling stories, laughing hard and loud.  Daddy always had a story or joke, and we’d all get started and before you knew it, the hour was late and we were all nearly ready to eat again.  There might be an occasional political debate or deep theological discussion, especially as we all grew up and began to wrestle with those things for ourselves.  Family legends (all true, of course) were passed down to another generation, friends were turned into family, and I’d wager some hearts were mended in the process.

I wasn’t at that table this year, but I had created another just like it.  There was, there is, something special at that old table we’ve gathered around for so long.  Though it nearly breaks my heart to be away from that place, I’m realizing that I’m never truly away from there.  I’ve taken that special something and brought it over seven hundred miles away to share it with more people who need the comfort and love it brings.

Around our table this year was a couple whose grown children are far away, a single mom with her two kids, another family of our dearest friends who live life along with us, and of course our family of five.  Me, Dwayne, and three great kids.  Hmmmm…. three kids.  Sounds like another family of five, only I was one of the three kids.  In what is, I think, the ultimate parenting success, my mom and dad raised children with generous doses of God’s love, laughter, and friendship.  And that love is so big, so strong, that I’ll never have to leave it behind.  It simply expands far enough to reach wherever God places me.  Now that I’m grown, I carry that love with me, pouring it into my own kids who will one day have tables just like that old one I grew up with.  Who knows where they’ll be, but the same love of God will surround them, just as it did at my mom and dad’s and just as it does at ours.

This is how it happens, the day-to-day sharing of our faith and His love.  This is how it expands, how it travels around the world.  This is my mother and father’s goals accomplished and me on the way to accomplishing mine.

Maybe I couldn’t be with my dad, my mom, my sister, and my brother this year.  But I took what I share with them and spread it generously around my own home, and in that way I was very much with them and always will be.  Some things need never end, thank God.  They only continue to grow.

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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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