Monday, August 21, 2017

It Only Takes a Spark to Get a Memory Going

Over the last few days, I’ve been attracted to watching some PGA golf (certainly not my usual choice for TV-watching). Maybe it was because my son was playing in a golf tournament this weekend. When I turned on the TV yesterday afternoon and the women’s 2017 Solheim Cup was on, my mind was flooded with so many memories that brought precious “in-the-now” moments. BTW – the Solheim Cup is a biennial golf tournament for professional women golfers with teams representing Europe and the United States. The men’s event is the Ryder Cup which is played on the off year from the women’s Solheim Cup. This year the Solheim Cup was in Des Moines, Iowa. The U.S. won yesterday for the 2nd year in a row – 2015 & 2017. I watched the final shots that secured the U.S.’s win and I saw Juli Inkster, the Team Captain, cry tears of joy.

It was in 2003 when our car dealership manager called to ask if we'd like tickets to the LPGA Tournament the next weekend at Tulsa Country Club. Of course we did -- we loved watching Annika Sorenstam, Juli Inkster, Nancy Lopez, Kerry Webb, among other women's golf greats. He went on to say, "And, oh, by the way, Ron, how about playing in the Mercedes putting contest? We need one more for 50 entrants. You and your wife have a current passport, don't you? You could win a great prize!" We didn't know what it was, but my mission was to get him practicing his putting every day until then. And, Ron's Mom gave him some great advice "When you get up to make your putt, take your time, pray, and picture that hole like Goliath's head, then like David, take aim and sink that ball like David sunk Goliath!"

It was the day of the 50-yard putting contest during the LPGA. There were 50 contestants who putted in alphabetical order. Yay -- at last to be grateful for a name at the end of the alphabet. They had to hit the ball in an upside down L (a dogleg left) to the hole. The closest to the hole was 3-feet when it was finally Ron's turn. Like his Mom told him, he took his time. The Golf Network was televising this whole event. Ron stood there, looked at the course, then looked at the ball. He looked at the course, and he looked at the ball. The announcer said, once again "And now, Ron Wuerch!" Like his Mom told him, he had been praying. When he finally took his stroke, it was as though that ball was on a laser course......it made its L-turn perfectly, and.....that ball went straight into the hole. The cheers went up in a roar, and Ron held his arms and hands up like he was a pro golfer winner. What a moment of achievement and celebration. But the best part? That hole-in-one merited us a prize of an all-expenses-paid 8-day trip, flying on the 747 jet with the entire LPGA Team the next day to Barseback Golf & Country Club, Skane, Sweden, for the 2003 Solheim Cup. where they would be playing the European Team. We were beyond grateful, exhilarated, and truly felt God's favor over our lives. It was one of those “pinch me to be sure I’m not dreaming” moments. I’ll never forget my never-met-a-stranger husband chatting with Juli Inkster on the flight to Sweden and expressing that she had always been his favorite female player. So, of course, seeing her as captain of the winning U.S. team yesterday, played that memory in my head like it was on a giant cinema screen.

Since the official games didn't start until Thursday, we became adventurers and went to Denmark, and if that weren't enough, we decided to adventure to Germany, my husband's country of origin. After riding the bus, the ferry, the taxi and train, we made it to Berlin. It was a thrill to see the remains of the Berlin Wall that heralded not only the last days of communism in Eastern Europe, but also the emergence of a reunified and reinvigorated Germany — a country that is now Europe’s economic leader. What a blessing it was to be at the site of the fall -- to be able to put our feet on the place where history was made and a new day and a new beginning began.

So, thank you, Heavenly Father, for giving me that little window from the past that I peered through with such gratitude. We celebrated life when we could. We didn’t hold back for another day. We took on this day and another day and another, and I continue to live with that mentality.

I'm so grateful for the treasured memories of the past.....as well as the brand new day, today! What a sweet life it's been -- and as sweet as the journey was in the past, I still get a thrill out of God’s surprises and mercies that are new every morning. Stay tuned – I’ll be sharing about the ones I make today, for some time in the future!

Sunday, August 20, 2017

JUST LOVE

I had the most precious grandmother who was known for the love she had for everyone. My grandfather was an "Old Time Gospel" Baptist Preacher. He could out-preach the best of them with his "hail, fire and brimstone" sermons. And, my precious polar-opposite grandmother would temper his words by saying, "JUST LOVE". I still remember her standing up in church and looking around at everyone and say “You just gotta’ love.” If those sweet words were relevant to us back then – how much more are they needed today?

I heard such a beautiful message last night that stirred my heart so much. It was all about LOVE -- God’s love for us and the love we should have for each other. Luke 10:25-37 was read where Jesus had been approached by a lawyer trying to put Jesus to the test. He said, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.” Then the lawyer asked Jesus “And who is my neighbor?” Jesus commenced to tell him the “Good Samaritan” story. A man had been robbed, stripped, beaten and left half dead. A priest saw him and walked on by. A Levite saw him and passed on by. But a Samaritan known for their own questionable ways, came to where the man was, and when he saw him, he had compassion on him. We know the rest of the story where he poured oil on his wounds and took him to an inn and told the innkeeper to take care of him and he would pay for everything. Jesus asked the lawyer, “Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.” There lies the answer for all of us. Whether the people in our lives and in our world are close friends, family or enemies, as children of God, we should show mercy and love for everyone.

How can we LOVE when there is so much wrong in the world? Grace. God treats us -- not with what we deserve, but He treats us with loving-kindness and mercy. GOD IS LOVE -- and that means He is good to those who deserve it as well as to those who don't deserve it. His love embraces saints AND sinners. As His children, doesn't it make sense that our love for others should be marked by the same kindness and mercy that God has given us?

How can we possibly love those who are just plain evil? With the response that He had for Saul and Zaccheas and the thief on the cross. "WITH GOD, all things are possible." Matthew 19:26. In our own strength, it will be impossible, but in His strength and in His love, our hurts, fears and prejudices can be conquered. Only the cross of Jesus Christ can free us from the cruelty of malice, hatred, revenge, and resentment. His cross gives us the courage to return evil with good.

We have a choice. To be a hater or a lover; to be angry or joyful; to be a finger pointer or a forgiver.

"Do not be overcome with evil, but overcome evil with good." Romans 12:21
In the words of my sweet grandmother....."JUST LOVE!"

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Back to School Routines

When my community was buying school supplies for children in need, I joined in with them -- buying spiral notebooks, crayons, binders, pencils, pens, notebook paper, glue, and other school supplies. It brought back memories of buying school supplies for my own two kiddos -- backpacks, lunch kits, and all the essentials from the school’s list of supplies. Please indulge me once again, with one of my favorite photos of a new school year for them when we lived at Lake Keystone, Oklahoma. Actually, it was Staci’s first year of school

Here we are with the lazy days of summer almost over. The Fall school routine is well underway for my Frisco grandchildren and next week, the Austin two will begin their routines. Soon they’ll all be in the swing of things with their new courses and loads of homework.

Here’s the best advice I can offer from a “Nana’s” point of view. We can either worry about what this school year holds or we can follow the lead of Mary and Joseph in the Gospel of Luke 2. Four areas are mentioned that Jesus grew in as a young boy: “And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and with man (people).” Our Lord grew wiser each year. He physically grew. His relationship with His Heavenly Father continually strengthened. Jesus even gained favor with people who saw Him day to day.

The verse that precedes Jesus growth in Luke 2:51 is this one: “His mother kept all these things in her heart.” When Mary was mothering Jesus, she tucked thoughts (some Bible translations say she “treasured” them) of her son safely in her heart. In none of those descriptions do we see Mary fretting, worried and anxious. She pondered about her son and his growth, but she didn’t allow her mama heart to ever become rattled.

I’m so pleased that my kids follow Joseph and Mary’s lead by instructing and instilling in their kids those things that will increase them in wisdom and favor. Early yesterday morning, I went over to their home for morning devotion (one of their “must-do’s” before heading out to school). They take 30 minutes to an hour each morning to pour God’s word into their hearts. Words that talk about honor, integrity, doing the right things, praying, trusting God, being a friend, etc.

I can hear some of you saying “We don’t have that much time in the mornings!” Then take 5 minutes to speak affirmation, God’s love and “I can do all things through Christ Who gives me strength” motivation into them, and then pray with them for wisdom and favor. School mornings can be quite hectic but there is nothing more important than starting each day with putting God first. When He gets first place, then He promises to make their paths straight. “Seek first the Kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Matthew 6:33.

It’s a new season at the Wallace’s as Payton is driving now, so he and Alexia headed out the door for school on their own. That’s enough reason to have a little extra anxiety. But, no matter whether it’s their first year of school or, in Payton’s case, his Senior year of school, we can turn all our anxieties that we have for our children into treasured prayers for their safety and know they are being held fast by our loving Father — the One who knows our hearts and loves our children even more than we do.

When we turn our concerns into prayers, we create space in our hearts to treasure and ponder like Mary did. During those times when God is teaching our kids – whether it’s in arithmetic or obedience or establishing friendships, let’s realize that we parents and grandparents are also learning beautiful lessons of trusting and treasuring – completely confident that God is always in control and FATHER KNOWS BEST for our children AND us!

Friday, August 18, 2017

What's the First Song You Think of With a Color in It?

This post today was prompted by someone’s FB post I saw yesterday. They said, “What’s the first song you think of with a color in it?“ I didn’t respond on the post but my mind started racing with songs with color in them. My first thought was to one of my favorite singers in the 60s, Bobby Vinton, and his song, “Blue on Blue – heartache on heartache”. Oh me. I didn’t like the negativity of that one and so I thought about another of his songs “Blue Velvet” but, in that one, he’s thinking about blue velvet through his tears, and then I thought about Bobby Darin’s (same era) “Red Roses for a Blue Lady” , but it talks about the silly quarrel he and his girl friend had. Then I thought about “Yellow Submarine” – a hit by the Beatles (same era) which was an imaginary song of living under the sea – a little more positive than singing the “blues”! LOL! I guess the older I get, the more I think about the "oldies", and the closer to God I get, the more I don't sing those songs anymore.

I grew up in an evangelical, traditional church and sang most songs from hymn books, which presented a stark contrast to those 60s "bluesy" songs. Being a Christian back then was all I knew because of my Bible-toting, church-attending, prayer-praying family. My faith experience included being around other faithful men and women of God who taught Sunday School, (my dad was the Sunday School Superintendent) and my mom served on many committees and led many prayer groups. I don’t ever remember not wanting to go to church I grew up loving God’s Word and His church.

Before long, a new style of Christian music was introduced to me. My boy friend (who eventually became my husband) and I fell in love with Andrae Crouch and the Disciples’ and Bill and Gloria Gaither’s music – catchy songs with choruses that inspired passion and emotion. Those songs depicted a faith in God that was alive and relevant to what we were going through at the time. Something stirred within me as I listened to that music. Something was happening in my heart, beyond the love I had for my cute boy friend. My faith was expanding from head-knowledge to life-changing, heart knowledge.

I still can picture us at a sold-out music hall before a live “Jesus” concert as people were swaying and waving their hands in the air for love of Jesus. It wasn’t the “traditional” way of singing. Quite frankly, it was undignified, but oh so liberating and I knew I wanted more of that all out abandonment love for Jesus and wanting to express it so much.

We were “extreme” Dallas Cowboy fans back then – when they first became a franchise – and we were completely undignified in our support of “our team”. We would whoot and holler and carry on as we watched the games like crazy, fanatical people. So praising God for Who He was in our lives -- from the tips of our toes to the tips of our fingers – made perfect sense in support of “our God”! We didn’t worry at all about what others thought.

Think about the story of King David dancing before the Lord. He sure didn’t worry what others thought. David had overseen the return of the ark of the Lord, and as it neared, he couldn’t contain his joy. He replaced his kingly attire with a simple outfit and danced with all his might. His wife, Michal, didn’t approve of David’s behavior. She was disgusted with him and told him so. David wasn’t fazed and responded with words that encourage me today: "It was before the LORD, who chose me rather than your father or anyone from his house when he appointed me ruler over the LORD’s people Israel — I will celebrate before the LORD. I will become even more undignified than this …” (2 Samuel 6:21-22).

That’s my hope and prayer for myself. I want my longing for more of God to help me completely release my fears and worship with uncontained joy. Someday, some folks may look at me and think that I’m too old to dance and whoot and holler, but I hope I’ll still be lifting my wrinkled hands in praise with my gray head bobbing and my body swaying in worship — still wanting more. And then one day, beyond that, all my longings will be fulfilled because I'll be completely and totally in His presence and worshiping Him face to face. Oh, what a day that will be!

John 4:23, “Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.”

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Jesus Loves Me – This I Know!

Life happens. You hit and fractured your toes when you ran into the end of the door and have to go to the ER. You were attacked by woman-sucking mosquitoes and now you must carry an anti-itch “After Bite” oil for relief. You have to call an Exterminator to get rid of the pests. A pre-cancerous area on your leg has to be removed by the dermatologist. Your garage door didn’t close because it came off the chain. You thought it closed behind you, but didn't. Your neighbor tried to close it for you and your home alarm goes off and you don’t get the call from the alarm service so the police are summoned. You lose your key fob and have to replace it. You forget the tickets you printed out to a very important event. A crazy looking bump shows up on your foot and a big red blotch shows up on your leg. Your washing machine is making squealing noises. All of that happened within a week.to ME!

But…..Jesus loves me – this I KNOW! God is always there to tap me on the shoulder and give me His gentle reminder, deep within my soul, in spite of my "issues". "Jesus Loves Me” -- that simple little song that I learned many years ago in Sunday School is so very simple, yet so powerfully profound. That one statement grounds me in the truth of who God says I am and the best news is it’s not based on how well I perform or what I look like or what concerns me. The Awesome Creator of heaven and earth AND me, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, the Great “I Am” loves ME!

No question -- we really won’t feel accepted all the time. “Likes and Loves” on our Facebook or Instagram page will never truly make us feel secure. Life is full of surprises -- good and not so good. Life happens and "issues" occur. Having lots of friends and family around us doesn’t mean that we won’t sometimes feel lonely. And chocolate ice cream, as much as I love it, doesn’t satisfy the longings of my soul. There is no person, no diploma or award, or pats on the back that can fix us from the outside when we need to be rewired with fully knowing and embracing….Jesus loves me this I know. Only God can do that.

When my world gets topsy turvy and it seems I’m in the spin cycle of my dryer (which is over 25 years old and I pray it keeps spinning a while longer), I turn to the ONE sure constant that is never questionable. He is my Everlasting, Prince of Peace, Emmanuel — God with us. I draw close to Him so He can separate His solid truth from the shifting emotions and concerns that face me daily.

When life happens, I can choose to let it overwhelm me and perplex me, or I can recall that sweet song once again – “Jesus loves me, this I know”. We are so dearly loved by God. His love causes us to release our woes and cares to Him, and in turn display compassion, kindness and patience even when we don’t feel like it, to someone else. Colossians 3:12, “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience”. When we do that, then the Jesus in us will cause others to start to sing “Jesus loves me this I know.”

Jesus really does love us. The Bible tells us so. Little (and big) ones to Him belong. They are weak but He is strong. Yes, Jesus loves me. Yes, Jesus loves me. Yes, Jesus loves me. The Bible tells me so.

“The LORD has appeared of old to me, saying, Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love: therefore with loving kindness have I drawn you.” Jeremiah 31:3

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

At Least Take the First Step

In my “No Fear” post yesterday, I shared how proud I was of my granddaughter when we were at Six Flags Over Texas. Against her initial concerns about the wild rides that were there, she conquered her fears and in fact, exceeded our greatest expectations for her. After the first ride (her first step), she became an ambitious and relentless rider and wanted to keep riding more – long after Staci and I were ready to call it a day.
While that “no fear” story described overcoming fears about amusement park rides, I know that nowhere compares to certain fears that may be looming before you today. I know it sounds easy to say “Have no fear!” until we are facing some situations that have created fears of gigantic proportion.

In June this year, I had the time of my life and dream-come-true experience when I was riding in a boat on the Sea of Galilee and walking all over the region where Christ performed so many miracles – among which was the story of those seasoned fishermen (aka disciples) who knew the sea and everything there was to know about fishing. They had seen, survived and lived through many storms. But for all their experience and nautical knowledge, they needed to experience what it was to BELIEVE audaciously in Christ who was daily demonstrating to them on how to live with NO FEAR.

The story went like this in Matthew 14:22-33: Jesus was on the shore praying while the greatest storm of the disciples’ lives was upon them in the Sea of Galilee. They were scared out of their wits and at the end of their ropes when there came Jesus walking on the water to them. He called out to them “Take courage. It is I. Do not be afraid.” We know that Peter, as shifty in his faith as he was at times, had the courage to at least take a FIRST STEP. He didn’t have to get out of that boat to walk to Jesus. But he did. He took a chance. That was courage – holy audacity. He got out of the boat. I admire that courage and I sure can’t fault him for noticing the winds and waves even though Jesus was right in front of him. How many times have I shook from the winds and waves in my own life instead of staying constant in my laser focus on Jesus, the Peace Giver?

We know about first steps. It’s bold for a woman who is being abused to take the first step to get help. It’s bold for a man to quit his job or attend school for a better job. It’s bold for students to take the first step and stand in front of a room and give a speech. It’s bold for someone who has never traveled in an airplane, to take a flight. It’s bold for a couple to buy their first home.

Dear, try-to-do-good Peter has received so much critcism thrown at him for his failures, but you’ve got to hand it to him – he got out of the boat. He took the first step. We all need to get out of the safety of our boats. I’m not saying we should take wild chances or throw caution to the wind, but I am saying “If we hear the Master calling us to take a chance or change something in our life, then we need to get out of the boat." And when we get out of the boat, and stay focused on the Master, He will see us through to the other side. Peter met the storm head on, fought the waves and the winds and felt the awesome experience of touching the very hand of Christ – because Peter was the only one willing to get out of the boat and go toward Jesus. Peter had the courage to take that FIRST STEP out of the boat.

There are storms in every life and sometimes they feel like they’re drowning us, but in every storm, Christ is waiting with outstretched arms, to save us. If we really want water-walking faith, then it's time to get out of our boats of comfort and ease and take that FIRST STEP!


Tuesday, August 15, 2017

No Fear! You Only Live Once

It was the yellow Mustang convertible that I would have for a week while my car is being repaired, that energized the idea of the 3-generations (Me, my daughter and granddaughter) to take to the road. "The Road" was only around here in Frisco and over to Arlington TX, but we sure had a "Girls Wanna' Have Fun" couple of days.

Alexia was the master planner. After all, it's soon to be her 16th birthday month, so we followed her plans. First, we went to see the "Spider Man" movie (again) and then with the top down, we drove around Frisco, to the pet store (one of her favorite places) where she cuddled an adorable cocker spaniel that looked just like "Desi", a dog that Staci had when she was younger. Then it was going for Mexican food. We made it back to my home for a sleep-over and chartered our course for the next day (yesterday).

Our big road trip turned out to be to Six Flags Over Texas. Who knew that this would be the perfect day to go. It was cloudy all day, the crowds were minimal, so the line waits were minimal. In fact, often, we would just walk right up to the ride and get on.

This was my-kind-of-day. I think it must have started when I was young and enjoyed all the thrills of the rides at the Texas State Fair. I was fearless on any ride and the faster, higher, and the more up and downs it had -- the better. My two children were the same way. So, naturally, Staci plotted the course for our day with the "Extreme Thrills" rides first. Alexia made it very clear that she wouldn't be going on most of those. Oh, not so! FEAR isn't in our genes. We began to speak faith and excitement into her. We spoke into her about not speaking, acting, or even implying fear. YOLO -- you only live once, was repeated over and over. Staci asked "Will you trust me? I'll plot the course for working our way up to the most extreme." Alexia agreed but when we approached those rides, I could see she her reluctance. As we were headed to what looked to be a milder ride, Alexia said, "Look, there's hardly any line there. Let's ride that one." I saw it and thought "Oh, that's a 'sissy' one. Let's not do that one first." Staci said, "Mom, let's go ahead and ride this one with her." And, "this one" happened to have been "The Riddler" -- one of the craziest, wildest and fastest. Late, Staci told me that it really was one she planned to work up to, but since Alexia said "Let's go!", then "Let's go!" That FIRST STEP. That bold STEP of FAITH -- opened up Alexia's wild side -- that "no fear" side, because for the rest of the day, she wanted more and more -- and even did repeats on most of them. By the end of the day, Alexia and Staci waited to get the front seat on each crazy ride! NO FEAR!

And, the Roaring Rapids ride was by far the most hilarious because Staci had seen how soaking wet some of the riders were that rode it, but we kept saying "YOLO" to her and she came, but ended up sitting in the very seat that gets the greatest amount of water in it. She was soaked head to toe, but took it like the resilient champ she is and, in fact, presented those of us in that boat with a comedy show.

I'm making several points with this post today:
1) Live with no regrets. Be spontaneous. Plan a road trip near or far -- but do it with those you love and those who have memories from where you're headed. We sure did.

2) Help and encourage someone, who has some fears that keep them from enjoying the fullness of life -- to face those fears and take the first step. They'll be so grateful to you for helping them conquer their fears.

3) YOLO -- you only live once. What are you afraid to do? What do you hide behind that keeps you from getting the most out of this life. After all -- this is the only one you get on this side of heaven -- YOLO -- you only live one.

4) Keep making memories. We talked a lot about my sweetheart today. He loved Six Flags. He always won big prizes for Staci at the games. He loved the shows, especially the Crazy Horse Saloon and the show girls! LOL! We talked about Larry and how his Mom used Six Flags for child care for him. And, we made our own memories today -- laughing so hard at some of our shenanigans that we'll remember for years to come.

Go ahead.....take the first step! YOLO! How appropriate were the t-shirts being sold at the Texas Giant roller coaster: Be a Chicken or Be a Giant.....it's your choice!

Monday, August 14, 2017

If You Stumble -- Make It Part of the Dance

I was quite the awkward child and teenager. Oh, how much I wanted to dance, or be on the drill team or be a good athlete -- in any sport. But I never pursued or worked at any of those desires. My husband and I took a few ballroom dance lessons to be prepared for the ballroom dancing on the 15 cruises we took. And those steps came in handy when we attended wedding receptions where nice, easy slow dances played. Indeed, those were sweet and romantic opportunities to look into each other’s eyes, hug and tightly hold onto each other. I’ve always enjoyed watching others perform and excel at their dancing and athletic abilities.

Now that I’m in this 55+ active adult community, I’ve been doing my usual running and walking around the neighborhood or using the treadmill at the fitness center. But I saw all these dance exercise classes and decided to add another fun and active way to stay fit to my daily fitness routines. I thought I’d add to my repertoire of “dance moves” – LOL – so I took some dance exercise classes that included the Charleston, Lindy, Rumba, Samba dances and some line dancing. I’d like to think that now I’m this limber, coordinated, and flexible dancer. I definitely have a ways to go! In fact, I find myself lagging way behind the group. There are folks in these classes that have lived in this community since its beginning 10 years ago, and have got the “moves” down. I’m impressed with them. Everyone tells me “Give yourself at least a couple of months to catch on. Don’t expect to have it all down in two or three classes.”

I have a sweet young 14-year old friend who is relentless in her pursuit to be a professional ballet dancer. She knows that dancers don’t achieve seamless performances without careful and consistent practice -- over and over again. She knows it will take her years before she develops the expertise to perform professionally. Dancers must have the characteristic of persistence or perseverance to keep rehearsing their moves and routines until they are perfect -- with the ability to learn quickly and retain information. A "can do" attitude is the only one that ensures dancers succeeding at their craft. They can't give up until they achieve the goals of their choreographer or producer, and then must persist in learning the next step or routine for their next audition.

It’s crazy in this post of me to compare myself to accomplished dancers, but in the few weeks I’ve been with this group, I’m starting to keep up a little better. I didn’t give up after one or two times, like I was told others did. Initially, I found myself frustrated when I watched all those other folks moving and grooving and could have said “This is too difficult. I just don’t have the ability or the coordination to do this.” But I didn’t say that. I know about "self talk" enough to not sabotage my abilities. Dreaming and wishing and hoping is not the stuff that makes things happen. It's the ACTION we put into our dreaming and believing. James 2:17 says: "In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead."

Dancing or a sports activity or computers and many other various technologies require persistence and a willingness to learn. A simple set of directions isn’t what makes someone successful. It’s the never quitting and the never giving up and the willingness to be our own cheerleader.

I do a lot of “self talk" – to help me daily grow wiser, more knowledgeable and stronger in many ways. I don’t beat myself up when I make a mistake or falter at something. I “self talk” myself into believing I’ll do better, get better and succeed at whatever I’m attempting.

Here's my self talk for today: "I can do this (whatever “this” is)! I am a winner (at whatever I’m attempting)! I will not quit! There is no limit to what I can accomplish! I am prosperous and successful! I am bee-u-ti-ful! I make a positive difference in many people's lives. I am a conqueror. I am strong and courageous. I am faith-filled and my ACTIONS speak louder than my words, so TODAY, I will ACT like I'm already there!"

Sunday, August 13, 2017

The Dis-Ease of Busy-ness

This last April, I moved into my home in Frisco. Because I’ve been traveling so much, I haven’t been able to get really integrated into this amazing 55+ community of Del Webb’s Frisco Lakes. Until last week, I hadn’t even been able to attend the newcomers’ Frisco Lakes 101 that gives a great overview of everything that this community offers. Besides over 85 clubs and groups (Bible Studies, Game-Playing Groups, State Groups (people from your home state), various seminars, travel groups, bowling, bocce, pickleball, horseshoes and dance groups, there is the fitness center and fitness programs that provide every way possible to stay fit. No excuses! This month of August has afforded me the opportunity to “Dance the Pounds Away”, “Line Dance the Pounds Away”, “Cardio Sculpt”, “Outdoor & Indoor Swimming Aerobics”. Whew!! And, while that’s all awesome to keep a gal out of trouble and in to shape, one could sure get carried away with so much busy-ness. It reminds me of the cruises my husband and I would take. The schedule of activities was so full, and we didn’t want to miss a thing. We would need a vacation from our vacation.

I know I’ve blessed in this season of my life – to enjoy the company of other mature people and to celebrate that “we’re still here so we’re not done”. But, as with any age, busy-ness can be a huge distraction from the most important things. I remember, as a young child, how slow-paced our lives were. In fact, Mom and Dad made sure they’d go sit with the people we loved so much and have slow and meaningful conversations about the state of our heart and soul -- conversations that slowly unfolded, conversations with gentle pauses and silences that we were in no rush to fill.

How did we create a world where we have more and more to do, with less time for reflection, less time for community, less time to just… be? I remember Zig Ziglar quoting “We are human BE-ings – NOT, human DO-ings!”

How are we supposed to live, to reflect, to ponder – TO BE -- when we are so busy? This dis-ease of being “busy” (Let’s call it what it is -- the dis-ease of being busy is when we are never at ease) can really be damaging to our health and well-being. It saps our ability to be fully present with those we love the most and keeps us from quality one-on-one communications that we all so desperately crave.

Since the 1950s (my beginnings), we have had so many new technological innovations that we thought (or were promised) would make our lives easier, faster, simpler. Yet, we have no more “free” or leisurely time today than we did decades ago. And, instead of real communication with each other, we are on our devices. All. The. Time. Cell phones and laptops mean that there is no separation between the office and home.

I saw my daughter’s email inbox a couple of days ago – over 8500 emails awaiting her attention. Whew! Isn’t it time we re-evaluate this time, this place and this space? Isn’t it time to ask the meaningful questions of those we love? When we ask, “How are you?” shouldn’t that be what we really want to know. How often do we ask someone how they’re doing and the standard reply is “I’m so busy!” We don’t need to know how many items are on their to-do list, or their email inbox.

Personally, for me, I want to know how your heart is doing, at this very moment. Tell me. Go ahead and tell me your heart is filled with joy or tell me your heart is aching. Tell me you remember you are still a human being, not just a human doing. Tell me you’re more interested in me than the next item on your to-do list. Look me in the eye. Disengage from your electronics. Ask me how I feel and give me the time to explain “Great” or “Fine” or “In pain”. Put your hand on my arm, look me in the eye, and connect with me for one second.

Philippians 2:1-5 “So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility, count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus.”

Isn’t it time we insist on connections when one of us responds with saying, “I am just so busy,” we can follow up by saying, “I know, Love. We all are. But I want to really know how you are doing -- how you AND your heart is doing.”

Saturday, August 12, 2017

It's Not Always What It Seems and That May Be a Good Thing

From my vantage point, relaxing in my beach lounge, I saw this guy spending a lot of time looking and looking on the beach, then I saw him with some sort of stick and maneuver it all around this certain spot. I just knew he had a metal detector and was moving in on a treasure. When he started digging in that spot, I had to get closer to his big "find". I paced myself over to him and said, "Are you looking for a hidden treasure?" He looked up, smiled and said, "No, just trying to find a good spot to plant my umbrella!" LOL! It wasn't what it seemed.

Recently, I read this short story:
"Two men, both seriously ill, occupied the same hospital room. One man was allowed to sit up in his bed for an hour each afternoon to receive his daily medical treatment. His bed was next to the room's only window. The other man had to spend all his time flat on his back. The men talked for hours on end.

Every afternoon when the man in the bed by the window could sit up, he would pass the time by describing to his roommate all the things he could see outside the window. The man in the other bed began to live for those one-hour periods where his world would be broadened and enlivened by the description of activity and color of the world outside.

The window overlooked a park with a beautiful lake. Ducks and swans played on the water while children sailed their model boats. Young lovers held hands and walked amidst flowers of every color of the rainbow. Grand old trees graced the landscape, and a fine view of the city skyline could be seen in the distance. As the man described his view from the window in exquisite detail, the man on the other side of the room would close his eyes and imagine the picturesque scene.

One morning, the nurse arrived to bring water for their baths only to find the lifeless body of the man by the window, who had died peacefully in his sleep. As soon as it seemed appropriate, the other man asked if he could be moved next to the window. The nurse was happy to make the switch, and after making sure he was comfortable, she left him alone. Slowly, painfully, he propped himself up on one elbow to take his first look at the world outside. Finally, he would have the joy of seeing it for himself. He strained to slowly turn to look out the window beside the bed. To his surprise the window faced a brick wall.

The man called for the nurse and asked what could have compelled his deceased roommate to describe such wonderful things outside this window. The nurse responded that the man was blind and could not even see the wall. She said, "Perhaps he just wanted to encourage you."

I thought about the umbrella planter (my reality thought it was a hidden treasure) and this story about the blind man (his reality was a beautiful world to share with his friend). Another story is one of great faith found on the wall of a concentration camp. A prisoner had carved these words:
"I believe in the sun, even though it doesn't shine. I believe in love, even when it isn't shown. I believe in God, even when He doesn't speak." I can't even imagine how this prisoner had that kind of conviction about his faith. His eyes beheld horror. His spiritual eyes beheld God and His goodness. That prisoner, that man in the hospital bed by the window -- chose to see with eyes of faith, with eyes that chose to see the unseen.

Despite what we "naturally" see -- pain, sadness, reasons to worry and be afraid -- there is tremendous joy in seeing the world around us with faith, joy, optimism and gratitude. When our outlook and expectations include sun-filled days, blessings overtaking us, hope for tomorrow and appreciation for all we have, then we'll always be describing birds singing, children playing, blue skies, lovers holding hands, and we'll be singing "And I think to myself -- what a wonderful world!" Today is a gift, that is why it is called the present.

Psalm 119:18 "Open my eyes so that I will observe amazing things from your instruction."

Friday, August 11, 2017

The Fun Favors of God -- He Loves to Surprise Us

I texted this photo to my son "How do you like my new wheels?" Then I called and clarified the story to him....and now to you.

Last month my car was rear-ended by a way-too-close vehicle, when I slowed coming off the tollway to let a car go by that was coming way-too-fast on the service road. His car was not drivable. Mine had, what looks to be, minor damage. You just don't know until the body shop takes it apart. The other individual's insurance company is taking care of the damages as well as providing me a rental vehicle. Since my car is a Buick Enclave SUV, I requested an SUV. The comparable they could give me was a Chevrolet Equinox. Great! That would do.

When I showed up to deliver my car for the repairs as well as to pick up the SUV, I was told they didn't have the SUV and said they could get one in, or I could have another vehicle, among which was this "screaming yellow" (official color name) 2017 Ford Mustang convertible. Well, of course, I wanted that iconic Ford Mustang -- oh the memories I have of the 60's when the Mustang first came out. I laughed with the car rental gal about me driving this car (top down) through my 55+ neighborhood. I'd be the envy of those geezers who remember the 60s Mustangs, too. Of course, I had to go over, show my girls and take them for a little spin. While I, typically, wouldn't want to ride in a convertible because of wind-blown hair, this day, it didn't matter. I was livin' the dream. LOL! And, to top it off, there's a light in the wing mirror that projects a mustang on the ground when you open the door AND air conditioned seats!! Oh, that's a definite "must-have" in Texas. LOL! I told the body shop repair guys, who had told me it would take a week to repair my car...."Take your time!" LOL! Of course, I was singing that old 60s song all day "The Little Old Lady From Pasadena: Go Granny, go, Granny, go, Granny, go!"

Pope Francis talked about God's surprises in his May 26, 2017 message: “The Spirit is the gift of God, our Father, who always surprises us: the God of surprises. This is because He is a living God, a God who abides in us, a God who moves our heart, a God who is in the Church and walks with us; and He always surprises us on this path. Thus, just as He had the creativity to create the world, so He has the creativity to create new things every day. He is the God who surprises”.

We really do serve a God of surprises. He has surprised me in so many ways. He's answered my prayers right in the middle of when I was asking. He's given me far more graces than I deserve. He's given me friends that get me, and want me traveling with them (as far as Israel). And, as a matter of fact, God gave me a "surprise" friend and precious "sister-in-Christ" right here in my community. My grandson introduced us when he was working at her home. Now, I attend her Life Group and she was among the first I texted "Take a look at my rental "wheels" -- wanna' go drag Main?" Indeed, she did.

I've always loved surprising with children and grandchildren with fun ways of expressing my love. How much more does our Heavenly Father love to surprise His kids. The next time God surprises you, know it is His indescribable love, goodness, and faithfulness. Lift your hands to the heavens and celebrate. You are being lavished upon. You are being loved. You are being delivered. You are being transformed. And be thankful that since nothing can separate you from His love, there are more gracious surprises to come!




Thursday, August 10, 2017

"The Heavens Declare the Glory of God, and the Sky Above Proclaims His Handiwork" Psalm 19:1

Tuesday night (August 8th), Denise and I were playing Pickleball at the outdoor courts here in my community. The Texas heat means that we want to only play early morning or late evenings. While the wind is a factor for outdoor play, it also opens up the opportunities to be amazed at God's heavenly handiwork.

We noticed, to the East, the most beautiful orange/red moon just coming up behind the homes, pictured here. This photo doesn't do it justice. We remembered hearing about the solar eclipse that is happening August 21st. Suposedly it will be a huge astronomical event, with amazing visibility. When we googled this moon, however, we didn't find anything But this brilliant, scientific mind and zeal to know more (LOL!), checked it out the next day and I found it was Lunar Eclipse, not a Solar Eclipse. The 2nd photo here was taken in Spain.

So, what is a lunar eclipse? A lunar eclipse occurs when the Moon passes BEHIND the Earth and into its shadow. The Moon doesn't have its own light source; it is reflecting light from the Sun onto the Earth. So when the Sun, Earth, and Moon are all aligned, it means the Moon will pass into the shadow of the Earth. A lunar eclipse only happens during a full moon. A total lunar eclipse is often referred to as a blood moon. A solar eclipse is just the opposite. It occurs when the Moon passes BETWEEN the Sun and the Earth. A solar eclipse is also a lot shorter than a lunar eclipse and limited to a smaller viewing area of the world. You're welcome. I'm pleased to give a little scientific reporting to you, my FB friends. LOL!

But, Denise and I wondered (before I found out the next morning) why that orange/red moon Tuesday night, as we never heard about it. We, both, are in tune with what the Bible says about the moon being turned into blood in Joel 2:31, "The sun will be turned into darkness and the moon into blood before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes." And it also appears in the Book of Revelation 6:12 "And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood". So, along with the awe of the few minutes we had to look at this "heavenly sight", we both were saying "Come, Lord Jesus! We are ready to go! Take us up to be with You!" After all, Titus 2:12-13 says that the grace of God teaches us “to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the BLESSED HOPE — the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.” This night raised our awareness of that blessed hope we have as believers.

You might be thinking "Silly, delirious girls! You must be overheated by the Texas sun!" That's okay. I get it. But, for these two girls, we believe that just as Jesus came to this earth the first time as a baby, we also believe He's going to make a sonic boom re-entry in His Second Coming, because He said He would, "I will come again" John 14:3.

Max Lucado puts it this way. "As Christ came, He will come. But He won’t come as He came. He came quietly in Bethlehem. He will return in glory with a shout. “All who are in their graves will hear His voice and come out” (John 5:28). In Bethlehem, the just-born Jesus slept. Upon his return, “The Lord will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of an archangel and with the trumpet call of God” (1 Thessalonians 4:16). At the first coming, few people noticed. At His second, “All the nations of the world will be gathered before Him” (Matthew 25:32). In Bethlehem, Joseph placed Jesus in a manger. At his return, Jesus will be seated on a throne: “The Son of Man will come in great glory, with all his angels. He will be King and sit on His great throne” (Matthew 25:31). WOW, thanks, Max, for that awe-inspiring message on Christ's coming.

So, knowing all that -- why should we worry or fret about what today or tomorrow might bring on this earth? It just makes sense to be concerned when we live in a world of wars and conflict and where God is mocked and shunned. Aw! But not so for those of us who are devoted followers of Christ. We have nothing to fear or dread because as St. Peter said in 2 Peter 3:13 “What will happen next, and what we hope for, is what God promised: a new heaven and a new earth where justice reigns." So, go ahead, Lord, and perform Your wonders in the heavens and the earth and then, please come and get us!

Three times St. John recorded in the last chapter of the last book of the Bible, Revelation 22:20, Christ's wonderful promise: “I am coming quickly”. With St. John, and all Christians, we respond with deep yearning: “Even so, come, Lord Jesus!” In the meantime, we will be determined to be faithful, vigilant, hope-filled, devoted followers of Christ and continue to look up to the heavens at God's incredible handiwork.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

He Leads Me By Still and Rough Waters

How reassuring it is to know our great Shepherd is ever watching over His sheep (that's you and me) to guide, lead, protect and even discipline us when we need to be corrected.
If someone asks how I know God's not dead--I just tell them "I spoke to Him today, and He spoke to me." And here's an example of how I knew yesterday.

Yesterday morning, Alexia and I made a road trip that included an unexpected stop over. When Alexia got hungry for breakfast, and wanted a McDonald's breakfast burrito, I told her to watch for a Mc D's and I'd pull off to get her one. The next one we saw was at Camp Wisdom Road and I-35, just before leaving Dallas. Immediately, I had a sweet memory. Just a couple blocks from there was the first home that my sweet husband and I purchased. As soon as we drove to the home, I recognized it because of the opening on the front porch and the board that he made to put in it that described our little house as being Spanish. LOL.

My husband's uncles were in the construction business and took that little home in on trade. We purchased it from them for $7000. It's hard to fathom that that adorable little house could be purchased for so little back in 1968. My husband did so many upgrades to that little home. He learned the building trade from his uncles.

While we lived in that home, our Staci was born. While we lived in that home, she was so sick with pneumonia over and over again and was eventually diagnosed with cystic fibrosis. It was in that home that our faith grew as family members and friends joined us in prayers that reversed that diagnosis. It was in that little home that our faith begin to grow and see God perform miracle after miracle in our lives. It was at that little home that my husband not only worked for his uncles in their construction business, but went to college at Southwestern College in Waxahachie, Texas, and also worked at HL Greens department store so that we would make ends meet for our little family.

As I look back on that time I can't help but realize that was the start of a lifetime of living under the guard of our great Shepherd and He has not only led us during the times of still waters and during the times of storms and violent winds, but I'm still here to witness the faithfulness of my great Shepherd.

You ask me how I know He lives? Because He lives, I continue to face day after day with great resolve and determination to not only talk to Him but to see Him face-to-face one of these days. It is so worth the journey of faith.

He’s Rock Solid

I had written this post and then in my City of Frisco "Waterwise" email for yesterday was this paragraph: "Solid as a Rock". The long, hot, dog days of summer are upon us! Rain is less frequent and the high temperatures are taking their toll on our landscape. For many people not familiar with life in North Texas, the sight of their clay soil developing cracks is cause for concern and they start to wonder, “how will this affect my foundation?”

I love how God gives me a "thumbs up" to let me know I'm hearing from Him. But "He's Rock Solid" is a statement I've heard made about someone who is stable, reliable, confident, unlikely to change or fail. They have a moral compass that keeps them grounded with doing what's right and you know you can count on them -- at a moment's notice.

In the real estate business for years, we would confidently say about a property's foundation "The foundation on this house is as solid as the Rock of Gibraltar", and about a man, we might say, "Joe is such a dependable guy. His word is as solid as the Rock of Gibraltar.”

You may be scratching your head to try to think of who those people may be in your life. But my point is -- not WHO those people are, but are WE considered to be "rock solid" when others are asked that question about us?

If not, and if they see us as temperamental, moody, indecisive, unpredictable, and we shift from sad to glad and grumpy to happy like the changing of the wind, we can change that. Yes, we can!

We can be determined to be "rock solid" in our faith, our commitment to love others, our determination to be trustworthy and being reliable and unwavering in our attitude of who a true friend is -- and then being that friend who others can count on -- at a moment's notice. Every day is a new day to be the best version of ourselves that we can be, for ourselves and for others.

The best news ever, there is One who IS not just "rock solid", but He is THE SOLID ROCK that we can always count on . He is “the ROCK that is higher than I” (Psalm 61:2). He is reliable, strong, immovable, eternal and unchanging. In Him, we can find that place of comfort, shelter, peace and, above all.....the faith and strength we need to carry on -- strong and determined and with great expectation for joy and victory in our todays and our tomorrows!

Psalm 62:5-8 "But I stand silently before the Lord, waiting for Him to rescue me. For salvation comes from Him alone. Yes, HE ALONE IS MY ROCK, my rescuer, defense, and fortress—why then should I be tense with fear when troubles come? My protection and success come from God alone. He is my refuge, A ROCK where no enemy can reach me. O my people, trust Him all the time. Pour out your longings before Him, for He can help!"

This photo of my two little guys and me in Cabo San Lucas was taken just a week after my sweetheart went to heaven. I can't begin to tell you, from personal experience, how much God was my ROCK then, and continues to be my ROCK today.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

BAM -- Be a Miracle!

Jesus gave us a command "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation." Mark 16:15. Our world may be to our next door neighbor, our community, state and around the world.

Yesterday afternoon, our two young missionaries, Payton Wallace and Alexia Wallace, returned home from Guatemala (along with the other 51 who were with them) -- exhausted – wanting a shower and just go to bed to regain their bearings at home. But, not before we squeezed them for as many details as we could get about their trip.

They were beaming as they shared about the 31 different locations where they ministered through skits, singing and speaking. They went to several schools where young people were hungry to hear the stories of Jesus and the love He has for them. I’m so thankful the Guatemalan government welcomes the Gospel being shared. The latest report is that over 3,500 people gave their hearts to Christ during their week of ministry. And if that wasn’t thrilling enough, the ways our student missionaries were touched by God, themselves, was the icing on the cake. Lots of stories of life transformation from the locals, as well as our own young people.

Of course, our little blondie, Alexia, attracted those beautiful brunette girls wanting to touch her hair, asking her what shampoo she uses. Girls will be girls – everywhere we go!

I was overcome with joy as I watched their tired eyes glisten as they shared so many stories of faith, the students who were touched in so many precious ways and the excitement to go back again next year.

I talked about this before they left in my daily FB post, but just to re-emphasize how beautiful it is for our kids to have these kinds of opportunities. As parents (and grandparents), we want and hope many things for our children. We want them to be well educated, well-rounded, kind and compassionate, athletic, musical, and the list goes on. I sincerely believe that there are ways to grow our children in ways that no sports team or high dollar vacation could ever compare to. If we believe we were created to give glory to God with our lives, then we probably believe that about the lives of our children as well. God can and will use each of us right where we are, if we submit to His plans for our lives and seek to love God and others every day. We don’t have to go anywhere special to be used by God.

However, I have seen, with my own eyes, how going on a mission trip can change the course of a life. Going on mission trips changed me countless times, so I know that He can do that with our kids, too. When we leave the comfort of our homes with the intent of being a blessing and serving others, I believe that it pleases God to answer those prayers we have for the hearts of our children to be changed in the process.

We know from God’s Word that it is better to give than receive. So, what if we actually lived that out in our lives and took our kids along for the ride? I realize there are many valid points for staying home and serving those in our communities, but if a foreign missions trip comes up for your children (and even you), then seize the opportunity.

"Being a miracle" is not only a blessing to the ones we're giving to, but somehow, the satisfaction of having helped someone, brings rewards that money can't buy and no one can ever take it away from us. What could ever compare to "being a miracle" in someone's world?