Has anyone seen my ATM card?!

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Confession time!  I am a chicken!  I mean I’m a real scaredy cat!  You’re probably wondering what an ATM card, a chicken and a scaredy cat all have in common.  There is a correlation here, just give me a few minutes to gather my thoughts.

It’s almost embarrassing to admit that I struggle with fear.  Fear of heights, fear of being left alone, fear of falling off high places, fear of getting lost, fear of failing at my job, and fear of being a bad mother (Kenny, Sarah, and Kaitlyn: your feedback is not needed!)   A few years ago, I had to fly back from Milwaukee by myself as Mark was staying behind to attend meetings in offices in New Berlin, WI.  I almost didn’t go with Mark on this trip because I knew that I would have to fly back home by myself.  But then I got thinking “What would that say to Kenny and his family if I choose not to go visit them in Milwaukee just because of my irrational fear?”  The fear of flying alone has so many components:  What if I don’t like my seatmate on the plane?  (Yeah, let’s make this all about my comfort!!) What if I get a window seat and I have to use the loo?!  I’d have to ask everyone in the row to move so I could get out!  What if I get on the wrong plane and end up in Istanbul…because that happens daily!! Ugh.

And then…the Holy Spirit tapped me on the shoulder and asked me “What do I have to say about ‘fear’?”  Ummm, good question but I’m not sure I want to know the answer because that would mean that I’m being disobedient to your Word!

Psalm 23:4 Even when walking through the dark valley of death I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me, guarding, guiding all the way. (Living Bible Paraphrase)

Even when I walk through the dark valley of death!! Or as in my version: “Even when I walk through the terminals of an unfamiliar airport I will not be afraid of getting on a plane bound for Istanbul, for you are close beside me, guarding, guiding all the way!”

Oh, and then the Holy Spirit tapped me on the shoulder again, because I tend to be a slow learner, and He asked me “Now what do I say about ‘Courage’?” Ummm, can I just work on the “fear” issue first and then we can work on the “courage” thing?

Do you know how many times the word “courage” is used in the Bible?  Me neither, but it’s a lot!! And it’s usually preceded with “Be strong!”

Joshua 1:9 “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” (NIV)

“Have I not commanded you?”  Yeah, this being brave and courageous isn’t an optional thing!  We, as believers are commanded to be courageous! Ouch!

Matthew 14:27 “But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” (NIV)

“Take courage!” Not, “Well…if you feel like it, why don’t you try to be a little more brave.”  This is a command! Not a suggestion.

I’m a visual learner.  You can tell me something over and over again but until I see it or can get my hands on it, I probably won’t retain it.  So with the whole “courage” thing, I like to think of it this way:

God has a big bank and each one of us believers has an account in this bank with our name on it.  And in these accounts, there is everything we need to live a successful spiritual life.  I believe that God has deposited a huge amount of “courage” into each one of our accounts and all we need to do is make a withdrawal.  It’s like having millions of dollars in the bank and living like a pauper! God tells me to “Take courage!” or “Make a withdrawal, kid!”.  I have, at my disposal, an unlimited amount of courage but I live life like a scaredy cat.  How much does that frustrate God?

So, with all that being said,  I need to use that debit card (oh and mine won’t have a chip.  I really don’t like the new cards with the chip.  It’s much more fun swiping that card than just inserting it and waiting for the beep of approval!) and I need to be constantly withdrawing from my spiritual account.

So the next time any of my friends see me looking like a deer caught in the headlights because I’m dreading something or fearing something, just remind me that I need to pull out my atm card and take out some courage!

thbq2w7xm0

What is that smell?!

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Fun fact for you:  Did you know that the sense of smell triggers the most vivid memories?  There are so many times that I get a whiff of wooden slats and I’m instantly taken back to my Grammy Brown’s house and I can smell the green wooden blinds on her front porch.  Or the smell of lilacs reminds me of our wedding day and I remember my mom and I placing bouquets of my favorite flower around the sanctuary of the United Baptist Church in Peru, Maine.  Walking into my mother-in-law’s house when she is preparing homemade spaghetti sauce and I’m reminded of the time when we lived with them and how comforting it was knowing that supper was going to be so yummy and so worth the wait!

The other day I bought some bars of Ivory Soap and as the scent of the soap hit my nose,  I was mentally transported back to a little Sunday School room where Esther Russell was our teacher.  One Mother’s Day, Mrs. Russell taught us how to wrap Ivory Soap with cloth to make them look like little Bibles.  We were all so excited to give these gifts to our moms.  After all these years, that’s what stays with me. I wish I could say that Mrs. Russell’s lessons stuck in my brain or that I remember all the verses she taught us.  But no, it’s the smell of Ivory Soap.  Sorry, Mrs. Russell!

While I was inhaling the clean scent of Ivory Soap, I got thinking “What scent do I give off?  What stays with people long after I’ve walked away?”

In the book of  The Song of Solomon in the Bible, Jesus is referred to as “The Lily of The Valley” and “The Rose of Sharon”.  Wouldn’t it be lovely to be referred to as a Lily of the Valley?  One of the sweetest smelling flowers ever.  I read online that the lily is one of the tallest flowers but hangs it’s head low.  So much like our Jesus.  He humbled Himself and came to earth as a helpless baby.   Am I content to humble myself when I feel like I deserve recognition for a job that I feel was done well?  Do I consider others above myself?  Do I leave a sweet scent after I have left a room, or a conversation, or an interaction with someone?  Do people know that I’m a follower of Christ?  Do people remember me as one who spoke words of love and kindness?  Or do I leave them with the scent of a less than desirable fragrance?  A scent of bitterness, anger, or discontent?

Ephesians 5:1 & 2 basically sums up what I’m trying to say:  Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children  and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

I fail miserably at times but I’m thankful for grace and second chances.  So I’m trying to be less like a Trillium (Stinking Benjamin) and more like a Lily.

Confessions from a broken crayon!

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You’ve heard the saying “Confession is good for the soul”, right?  Well, it’s time for a confession from me…a broken crayon.

I have a tendency to be a wee bit of a Type A personality.  Just a wee bit!  There are some things that I just need to be perfect or pretty close to perfection. Beds: I like the bed made a certain way: tight fitting with hospital corners.  Silverware: patterned silverware belongs together, not all mixed up. Money: all facing in the same direction.  Books on the shelf: lined up tallest to shortest.  Just to name a few of my preferences.

Oh, there is just one more: Crayons: I don’t put broken crayons back in the crayon box, only sharp, unbroken crayons belong in my box. Yes, I know I’m not a 5 year old anymore but there is just something exciting and nostalgic about a box of crayons (Crayola Crayons only, if you please!)  This morning as I was doing some deep cleaning in the living room, I found some crayons that our grandson Liam had been playing with and that had rolled under my cabinet.  One of these crayons was broken in half….I remember that I didn’t speak to Liam for a couple of hours after he broke it!  (Just kidding! lol) As I was putting his crayons back in the box, I kept this broken orange crayon out intending to just throw it away because it wasn’t perfect and up to my standards.  And then…I felt the Holy Spirit tap me on the shoulder and ask me “Aren’t you a little like that broken orange crayon?  Don’t you sometimes feel like you aren’t up to other’s definition of “perfection” or up to other’s “standards”?  Don’t you feel unworthy to serve in the way that I designed you or created you?”

Psalms 139: 13&14:

“For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.”

I love this verse but how well do I believe that last line:  “I know that (all that has been written in the previous verses) full well.”  Do I really believe that I am fearfully and wonderfully made?  Or do I live as though the verse reads “I’m okay and so-so made”?! Do I live in victory or defeat?  Do I live as though I couldn’t possibly be used because I don’t look like the other crayons in the box?

I may not look like the other crayons in the Crayola/Christian box but I am unique.  I’m a unique “color”!  God has given me legs that work, eyes that see, a brain that works..occasionally!  He has given me a heart to feel deeply and love others.  A spirit to adore Him and want to become more like Him even though I mess up daily.

What about you?  Do you ever feel like this little broken orange crayon?  Feeling like you’re not worthy to even wear the title “Daughter/Son of the King”?  Not deserving to claim to be a Christian? Or do you feel that you need to become like those perfectly sharpened other crayons before you can even begin a relationship with the loving Artist?  Feeling like you are so far away from the crayon box that you’ll never get there?  Thankfully, God, the Great Artist can use all of His little crayons: broken or whole.  And unlike me, He loves all of His “crayons” no matter what they look like or how they perform.

As I was looking up the verse from Psalms 139, this was the verse of the day on Bible Gateway:

Ephesians 2:10 (NIV) “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

Coincidence?  I don’t believe so. So with that being said, I’m logging off to finish cleaning the living room.  Ooooohhhh, is that a coloring book under the couch?!  Maybe I’ll just grab my box of imperfect crayons and color for a while.

 

 

 

Rest Stop Ahead, Please Pull Over!

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I think Mark and I may be part gypsy! We love being on the road looking for a new adventure or a new place to explore. On our travels to Maine and New Brunswick, Canada, it seems as though we like we stop at the same rest stops or visitor’s centers: there’s the visitor center in Kittery, West Gardner, Bangor and Medway.

In the summer of 2014, Mark, Kaitlyn and I drove from Kenny and Kelly’s place in New Berlin, WI to Chambersburg, PA in one day. Fourteen hours of driving! It was the longest distance that I’ve ever driven in one day. Trust me, we took plenty of stops for me to get out, stretch, get a caffeinated drink and get some fresh air. There were times during the day when I would tell Mark “I don’t think I can drive another mile!” or “I think I’m going to doze off if I don’t stop and get something to drink!” We were so eager to get as close to our destination, Gettysburg, that I was pushing us to get as much distance covered as possible.

Hang on because I’m switching subjects rapidly but you’ll see where I’m going in a couple of minutes.

Lately, I feel as though this road trip called “life” has been too long. I’m feeling drained, worn out and just ready to hop off the next exit and hang up my keys. Yesterday I sat down to read my Bible. I’m ashamed to say that it’s been 9 days since I’ve read it. I took out my reading plan (I’m reading through the Bible this year) and opened up to 1 Kings. The reading covers the ministry of Elijah. What a guy. You know it’s amazing what God can accomplish when just one person listens and obeys the word of God….but I digress.  Elijah was a prophet of God. He wasn’t always popular with those who were the recipient of God’s message. In 1 Kings, we see Elijah feeling a little concerned about his life and his standing in the popularity contest with Jezebel, King Ahab’s wife. Basically he wasn’t even in last place in the contest, Jezebel wanted his neck!

I Kings 19: 7 & 8a

                The angel of the LORD came back a second time and touched him and said “Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you.” So he (Elijah) got up and ate and drank. Strengthened by that food, he traveled forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God.

Now, in no way am I comparing my life or my struggles with Elijah! But what spoke to me is the message from the angel to Elijah: “The journey is too much for you! You need to eat and drink.” And then I feel God tap me on the shoulder and whisper, “Terry, this journey of life is too much sometimes. That’s when you need to pull over, eat and drink and rest!” Going 9 days without reading my bible depletes me. My spiritual gas tank needs to be filled daily. I wouldn’t start out on a journey in my van without filling up, how much more important is it to start off my day with my spiritual gas tank filled?! Elijah’s food was actual food and drink. In my spiritual life, my food is the Word of God and my drink is the Holy Spirit. Why do I think that I can go through the days without those key elements helping me out?

I can tell when my tank is getting dangerously low and I’m getting weary. Why do I use my bible and the Holy Spirit as my own Spiritual AAA? These tools I’ve been given shouldn’t be used “In Case of Emergency”! They should be used as preventive maintenance. Ugh, I feel as though some days I’m back in Drivers Ed. Instead of exhibiting the skills I’ve learned over the 40+ years of driving this road called the Christian Life. I’m so thankful that God is a God of patience and that He never gives up and stamps a big “FAILED” on my spiritual driver’s license.

 

Hello, my name is…..

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It’s been a while since I’ve written on my blog.  Trust me, it’s not because God hasn’t been “tapping me on my shoulder”!  He’s been teaching me a lot lately.  Some of the things He’s been trying to teach me…well, let’s just say that it’s basically same lesson, different day!  I’m such a slow learner.  But one lesson that I’m learning over and over is the voices in my head are not what God would want me to be hearing. Following is a testimony that I gave at church recently.  I think there are many of us that struggle with what I’m about to share.  Hopefully the lesson that I am learning encourages you.  🙂

Recently, I shared with a “sister” of mine an error I had made at work and apparently I was pretty hard on myself. She stopped me and said “You put yourself down quite often.”   Really? I took this to heart and told her that I was going to work on correcting that. She is now holding me accountable.

That evening, I told Mark what my friend had said. On several occasions, Mark has told me that “You are not what that family member said you are!” I think when you are told something enough times, you start to believe it and not question it.

The next morning, on my way to work, I drove by a young man riding his bicycle. It was an extremely cold morning and I noticed that he was not wearing gloves and his hands were bright red from the cold. As I drove by this young man, I heard God say to me “Give that man some gloves.”   What?! I’m already running kinda late and if this guy didn’t know enough to grab some gloves on this frigid morning, well, I’m sorry but I needed to get to work so I just kept going. And then I heard God say again “Give that man some gloves.” So I turned around and drove back past where I had seen this man riding his bike. I turned around once again and pulled over on the side of the road. He had “just happened” to pull over and was standing by his bike. I rolled down my window and said “Ummm, excuse me. Would you like some gloves?” He asked “Excuse me?” Again I asked him if he would like a pair of gloves. After looking both ways, he approached my van and I passed him Mark’s gloves. He told me that he really appreciated the gloves and that he was going to pray for me! I told this young man that I would pray for him, too. And then he asked me “Are you a believer?!” I told him that I was and he told me that he was also a believer. I waited to make sure that he was safely back across the road and then I continued on my way to work. And then it hit me! The Creator of the Universe spoke to me! God! God speaks to me. Who am I to tear down or put down someone whom God loves and wants to interact with.

About 4 months ago, Pastor Jeff was preaching on the power of the tongue. He shared with us that he asked his staff “When you do something that isn’t wise, what’s the word that comes to you about yourself when you do that?” He used the words “Idiot” “Dummy”. Pastor said that we use these words because we have probably heard these words spoken to us. That really hit home as these are just some of the words that I had heard growing up by some family members. After the message, I shared with Pastor what had just happened that past week with my boss, the bicyclist and the gloves.

I am not who people say I am. I’m not even what I say to myself. I need to remember that I am a Child of the King! And the King speaks to his daughter.

Trust me, I’m still struggling with this lesson.  Weekly I have to remind myself that I’m not who people have said I am. It’s a constant battle to erase those names that have been written on my “Hello, my name is…” name tag. But thankfully, I belong to the One who has given me a new name.

 

 

You won’t need your checkbook in Heaven!

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I feel as though I bring a lot of Breaking News to you, my readers!  But it’s true…there will be no bills to pay in Heaven.  Let me back up a little so you can see how I came to this amazing conclusion.

The other night, while Mark and I were sitting around the fire pit, relaxing and enjoying some end of the summer down-time, I got thinking of my sister, Naomi.  I think of her often, as you can imagine.  I wonder what she’s experiencing at that moment, what is she seeing, what is she thinking, etc.  On this particular evening, I told Mark “You know, Naomi never has to worry about paying another bill!  She doesn’t even have to worry about what’s in her bank account.  She will never have to worry about where her income will come from.”  The more I thought about this, the more I got a little annoyed with her!  🙂  And then…you guessed it! The Holy Spirit didn’t just tap me on the shoulder!  He picked up a good piece of firewood and hit me over the head. (Not really, but just humor me, okay?) And then I heard that still, small voice tell me “You don’t have to worry about those things, either!”  Wait! What?!  Did I just hear Him correctly?  I couldn’t have!  Maybe He had forgotten that Mark has been out of work for 17 months!  Maybe He forgot that I’m no longer working!  Maybe He forgot that our income has taken a drastic hit.

But as I sat at the fire pit, I was reminded of several verses that command me to not worry.  Thinking that God must certainly understand my situation and there just must be some verses that justify my angst, I started looking up verses. I was thinking that clearly some of these translations must have left out a verse that would help me out.  So I checked different translations to see what they said about worry.  I was actually looking for a verse that would say something like “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? Unless your husband has lost his job and you also are no longer employed, then by all means worry! Oh, and definitely worry if your bank account is lower than it used to be. And don’t forget to worry if you don’t know where or when your next job will come.” (Matt. 6:25-24…and a little more added!) But you know what? For the life of me, I couldn’t find those verses anywhere in any of the translations I researched.

You know what’s sobering and a wee bit convicting?  The very beginning of those verses…the part that says “Do not worry…”?This isn’t a suggestion.  It’s a command.  And by me not obeying, I’m being rebellious! And what’s even more scary is that there is a verse in I Samuel 15:23 that states that rebellion is like the sin of witchcraft!  Yikes!  That makes you sit up and take notice.

Over and over again, I am reminded of how faithful our God has been to Mark and I.  He DOES supply all of our needs.  He knows exactly what we need and He’s never too busy to hear the prayers of a sniffling, weak daughter who, once again has taken her eyes off of Whom she belongs to and starts to focus on the woes and troubles of this world.  He is so faithful when I continue to be so unfaithful.

So, with all that being said, I’ve forgiven my sister for being so carefree and worry-free in her present state and I’ve stopped being jealous of her and I’ve decided to obey the One who knows me and my situation better than anyone else. So, for tonight, I will not worry.  And then tomorrow morning, I will ask the Holy Spirit to help me not to worry. And probably Wednesday, I’ll ask for the same thing!

Oh, and I really am sorry that I won’t need my checkbook in heaven!  I just ordered the cutest checks with squirrels on them!!

I’m only a soldier but I do know the 5 Star General

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I know this will come as a shock to most of you but I’ve never spent a day in Basic Training. I know! I look as if I could be the military sort of person. The only Basic Training that I’ve really accomplished was three years at a bible school in New Brunswick, Canada. See, I am a soldier in the Lord’s Army. And, boy oh boy, do I feel as though I’ve been on the battle field these past couple of weeks! The enemy is busy hurling spiritual bombs my way and I’m pretty sure I have some wounds to prove his accuracy.

Why don’t you come over and sit down and look at what I carry around in my Rucksack. It’s pretty heavy and pretty full so this may take a few minutes. Feel free to grab a coffee before we go through this. Ready? Okay first I have several cans of World Issued containers of “Worry”. These aren’t issued by the General. Oh, and it looks like many of these containers have been opened these past few weeks. Oops. Wait, what do we have here? Oh…tins of “Doubt”. Yeah, these have been dipped into, also. And here’s a Tupperware container of “PIty Party Cake” (do soldiers carry Tupperware? I digress!) Oh and look! There is still confetti stuck to the cake….that must have been some Pity Party! Okay, now I see why this rucksack has felt so heavy! I’m carrying around a drum of “Fear”! And the drum looks like it’s almost empty. I must have opened this one quite a few times.

As I’m rummaging around in my rucksack, I hear the 5 Star General approach. But when this General approaches, it’s nearly impossible to stand at attention. I find that I automatically fall on my face before Him. And as I’m laying prostate in front of Him, He gently taps me on the shoulder and asks me where are my General Issued Items. Ummm, I think I forgot to pack those, I’m so used to carrying these things. And as He helps me to repack my rucksack with the items He’s issued, I find my load lighter. I guess that’s what He means when He tells me “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matt. 11:28-30) I serve a gentle General. He only wants what’s best for me.

I go all gung ho into these battles, waving my puny little sword (not the Sword that the 5 Star General has issued: His Word) and it doesn’t take long to realize that I’m in over my head. And then I realize that I’m only a soldier trying to act like a general. I’m gently reminded that “The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but victory rests with the LORD.” (Proverbs 21:31)

So, I don’t think I’ll be needing these tins in my rucksack for a little while. I wonder if the commissary has a Buy Back Program? Ahhh, who am I kidding? Knowing me, I’ll be dipping into these rations again and then wondering why my sack is so heavy? Maybe I need to do Basic Training all over again. 🙂

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