Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Generous {the giving and the receiving}

It is has been on my mind so much lately.  What does a heart of generosity look like?  I peruse definitions in the Greek and Hebrew and find that it basically all says the same thing...being generous means this:

to bring in abundance
ready to distribute

God tells us that He will enrich us in every way so that we can be generous in every way. (2 Cor. 9:11)  I think being generous goes so much farther than just financial resources.  It can encompass our time, our prayers, our willingness to enter someone's grief, and even our words (one Greek definition of generous was eulogia, which is to speak a blessing over someone.)  Being generous can simply mean sharing with others what God has revealed...passing around the loaf of living bread as everyone is invited to take off a big chunk.

I think the phrase ready to distribute resonates the clearest for me.  It means that once any money hits my hands, I must willingly give it back to God, declaring that even though I worked for it, it has never been mine but always God's.  Isn't it Him that grants us the varying talents and ability to do good things?

If I am always in a mental state of being ready to distribute, then I think I will see opportunities more clearly.  Vision will be granted as I seek His everlasting Kingdom and not my own temporary earthly shack that I sometimes want double dipped in gold.

Vapors.  We are only a mist...what if we lived like it?  Would we hold all things with outstretched hands to the nail pierced hands?

God says He loves a cheerful giver.  I sometimes wonder if He was full of cheer the moment His Son, who had never left His side in all of eternity, stepped into the hidden recesses of a mere woman's womb.  I wonder if He missed him and was upset that this was the way grace had to be played out.  I would like to think that in that moment-the moment of no return-that God was cheerful in His lavish generosity towards mankind.

So I wonder how one gains a heart that is bent toward being generous toward all men, like our Example.  Perhaps Grace is the only way.  If we are truly overflowing with gratitude for what our Savior did, then perhaps that gratitude spills over into the form of generosity towards others.  We simply must bless others; hiding all the goodness would be the death of us.

Grace allows our cups of abundance to slosh out and soak everyone else around.

I am reminded of King David, who desired to bless the building of the temple.  His offering was one of freewill, flowing out of a grateful heart to the True King.  "...I have a treasure of my own gold and silver, and because of my devotion to the house of my God I give it to the house of my God." (1 Chron. 29:3)  He gave out of grace.  God had been so merciful to him and he simply had to act or he might writhe under the weight of the glory.

So, what do we give to?  Besides a tithe to the local church, I think the opportunities are endless.  A fire has been ignited in you by the Holy Spirit that consumes you with passion...give to that!  2 Cor. 9:7 tells us to have a purposed and deliberate plan for our giving instead of being consumed by emotional appeals.

Am I at all times ready to distribute?  When the phone rings, and I am harried, am I ready to distribute my time and energy?  When the bank account is low, am I ready to distribute our last funds?  When I would rather speak ill of someone, am I ready to distribute kind words?

On the flip side of giving is the art of receiving.  I think it takes as much grace to receive as it does to give.  Perhaps pride deflects us from receiving...receiving a Word from God via a friend, receiving money from someone that wants to bless, receiving prayers from someone (which means opening our heart enough to let them in.)

Am I stealing someone else's joy of generosity if I choose not to receive?

I long for grace to freely distribute and grace to freely receive.

I wonder what a life of generosity would truly look like.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Decorated Up!

The trees are up.  My new kick awesome Christmas wreath has adorned my front door (thanks to my very talented sister...pic coming soon.)  The sled has parked itself under the big tree...where Santa and his single reindeer are awaiting the big day.  The stockings have been hung on the threshold of the doorway.  And this Momma needs to kick it in gear...Christmas shopping and Christmas pics must get done!  Are you done shopping? 

I have a question for you!  I have been pondering what it means to be generous and to live a life of generosity.  How would you define this?

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Fayetteville Lights!

I love downtown Fayetteville during Christmas!  There seems to be an extra dose of magic in the air.  I love the carriage rides, camel rides, and pony rides.  I love the crisp air, cotton candy, and colorful lights.  I especially love the fact that my husband proposed here almost 14 years ago!

 The sweet bench where I said I would forever be his...

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Thanksgiving Day

Our family grew by leaps and bounds this year!  Scott (Mini's husband) and Jen (Kirby's wife) joined us this year, yay!  Also, Maximus, Jen's puppy Christmas gift to Kirby came and kept us laughing.  We feasted on prime rib, shrimp, fried cabbage, green beans, brown beans, rosemary rolls, crab potatoes, dressing, cream corn, grape salad, mandarin orange salad, pumpkin pie, pecan pie, pumpkin chiffon pie, butterfinger pie, pumpkin delight, chocolate pie, chocolate silk pie, coconut pie, and who knows what else since I am still in a food coma!!!

We always take a fam photo the day of Thanksgiving...Mom and I have to switch out taking the pic!

 This is what the men do all day...hop on the couch and watch football.

Scott, Amelia, and Kiwi
 Jennifer, Kirby, and Max

 My newest "nephew"...who loves to eat my hair!

Hope you had a great Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 21, 2011

A Grateful Heart

Desperate for a big gulp of joy, I have been recording the small things this year that have brought a smile to my face.  Isn't God the God of all gifts?  Some just come in smaller packages.  Some just take a little grace to really see.

Here are some of my favorites from the year...

1. Long threads of weeping willow dancing to the rhythm of grace
2.  Games of tic tac toe played with the youngest while in the pick up line
3.  The peaceful dance of rain on the windshield
4.  The hilarity of me trying to text
5.  Dark chocolate laced with almonds
6.  A cookout among good friends...sharing burgers, struggles, fears, and dreams.  Being able to celebrate when our definition of good actually matches up with God's
7.  White pants that still fit after 5 years
8.  God's ever-working in our lives
9.  Skill to do my sister's bridal portraits
10.  Pride that wells up when I watch Cade pitch
11.  Finally being with Mom on Mother's Day
12.  Siblings finding their true loves
13.  Sonic Cherry Lime-aids
14.  Wooden picket fence adorned with pink roses
15.  Boys racing on fresh cut moonlit grass in their jammies...without a care in the world
16.  A sister who persevered through college during a hard phase of grief
17.  A blown transformer...forcing me to sit with You
18.  Different versions of the Word to savor and enjoy
19.  Fat drops of rain that dare to fall while the sun shines away
20.  Having lived long enough and suffered enough to have the pages of my heart lined with the words:  "Jesus is Peace."
21.  No car debt
22.  Boys can talk about Jesus at school
23.  You have loved me from everlasting...I can't quite wrap my brain around that...but it makes my heart so happy
24.  Comfort of an heirloom quilt straight from the dryer
25.  You always give what is right
26.  No matter where home is, You are my impregnable castle, you are my fortress
27.  Boys bathed in afternoon light while making up swim games in the jacuzzi
28.  You have placed all my tears in your bottle
29.  You allow us to freely sacrifice to You...out of a heart of gratitude not legalism
30.  The smell of a gardenia bush in full bloom
31.  Fresh herbs
32.  Sam praising God on my birthday that I am finally 14 years old!
33.  A new sister with bright red hair, thick lashes, and a zest for life
34.  The smell of water sprouting from the garden hose during summer
35.  Husband getting to see China, Finland, and London
36.  Ivy gracing an old chapel
37.  Barefoot flower girls
38.  A groom's tears
39.  Goats in the getaway vehicle
40.  I am your Hephzibah...Your delight is in me
41.  Being able to look forward to the future with my husband
42.  Hope
43.  Treating a family to see a movie
44. Rain...the promise of former and latter rain
45.  Pool party with friends
46.  You make crooked places straight
47.  I am part of a Kingdom that cannot be moved or shaken
48.  Clean sheets for all
49.  Tickling the oldest
50.  Treasures of darkness stored in the secret places
51.  Craving You
52.  Constant friendships that span time
53.  Suds and smiles erupt at the front yard car wash
54.  Shalom
55.  Washing the feet of your daughters
56.  After a drought, watching the rain and lightning on my parent's back porch while all the rest slept away
57.  No allergies or dietary restrictions in our family
58.  Trees that sway to grace notes
59.  Grace to see the grace all around
60. You turn the Valley of Achor into a door of hope
61.  Final rent house sold
62,  A friend's ultrasound...sweetest cheeks I have ever laid eyes on
63.  Whatever is right is weighted with your glory and has staying power
64.  Ministry of Pitza 42
65.  transformation a can of spray paint can bring
66.  childhood memories
67.  solitude by the lake
68.  chazaq---to be of good courage and to take my beautiful confirmation
69.  a return of laughter
70.  Satan is vanquished

I think the Word is right...when we pause to rejoice (even if we don't feel like it) it brings us tremendous joy.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Sparks Flying

Well, I am still alive.  I am pretty sure that after this morning, that is a plain miracle.

We have a house circa the 60's.  There are many things we love about this home, but the location of the electrical outlets in the bathrooms is not one of them.  The outlets are located below the lights, which means I can't plug in my hairdryer without an extension cord. 

Hair finally dry, I was about to turn off the hair dryer when a loud pop exploded and sparks started flying.  I jumped back, dropping the hair dryer.  It had shut off by itself.  I looked down and saw that the cord part of the extension cord had literally burned off of the part that lets you plug something in.  It was literally in two parts. 

I can't believe I wasn't electrocuted.  I am still shaking thinking about it.

Later, I remember what I had been thinking about.  I was telling God that I didn't feel worthy to get on stage and lead worship.  He is so beautiful and so gracious and who was I to get up on that stage.  God told me I was worthy...simply because when He looked down at me, He saw me as His daughter, washed in the blood of His Son.  I had been set free to praise Him, and Satan shouldn't convince me into thinking that I shouldn't worship.

I am pretty sure it was at that moment that the sparks started flying.

Satan doesn't want us to know our position in Christ.  The same power that raised Him from the dead is the power that is inside of us right now!

This morning just confirmed something that has been on my mind lately.  In Jesus, we live, move, and have our being.  Every breath I take, every step I take, every time I drive, every conversation I have...everything is in Him...and He can take it away and bring me into His eternal presence at any moment He desires.  In Him is my very life.

Anna and I were talking this morning and she told me she learned that when Jesus destroyed Satan, the word means that Satan was rendered ineffective.  He hasn't disappeared, he has just been rendered ineffective.  She said she likened it to going into the boys' playroom and finding a toy that had a missing part.  The toy was very much still there, but it had no use.  It had been destroyed.

I'd like to think that my Destroyer had been rendered ineffective this morning as the sparks were flying.  In God, I guess I'll continue to have my being...at least for another day.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

I Can Almost Feel A Sigh Coming On...

I think if I can hold off for a few more days, I will be able to catch my breath!  So excited about the possibilities of a blank week on the calendar!  So thankful for downtime that is headed our way!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


My heart cries out for it, perhaps the same primal scream of the blind beggar who cried out to Jesus.  In compassion, Jesus asks him what he desires.  Lord, let me recover my sight.  The desperate man wants one thing: anablepa.  He wants to simply see.

I am redeemed, but am I walking around aimlessly, stumbling blindly, oblivious to the Kingdom of God all around?

He could have begged for money.  Another daily provision of bread.  But, he believed Jesus could do bigger than just bread, so he asked for what had been taken away.  He asked for restoration of sight.

Was my sight stolen the day Eve took the fatal bite?

I see it all over the words of 1 Samuel Chapter 3.  This play on words, play on the word see.  There was no frequent vision in those days.  Eli, the head priest's eyesight had literally failed.  The lamp of God had not quite gone out.  Samuel later tells Eli the vision that would be the end of Eli and his family.

There was no open vision in those days...no chazown...no mental clarity or sight.  The lamp of God means literally to see...God was to bring about Samuel as his prophet before the lamp went entirely out.  Samuel, in terrified obedience, showed Eli the vision...vision is mara...which is to hold up a mirror to another so that another can finally see.

So many word plays on this concept of sight.  In grace, God was raising up young Samuel so that He might manifest Himself to him for the purpose of shedding the light of God's literal word to the nation of Israel. 

Samuel proved faithful and God kept revealing.  At the end of the chapter, we get yet another play on words.  We learn that the LORD appeared again at Shiloh, for the LORD revealed himself to Samuel, at Shiloh by the word of the LORD.  God appeared...it is raah...to see.

When God appears, our sight is restored.

You and I are the light of the world.  This same Lord that appeared so that people could once again see makes our inward and frail pots of clay his dwelling place.  If God has in mercy revealed anything to us regarding reality, then we shouldn't hide it or become mere spectators.  We must pass it on.  Wouldn't He stop revealing Himself if we kept all the good hidden?

Lord, let me recover my sight.  Give me grace to see that everyone is created in your image and worthy of dignity.  A bowl of soup.  A pair of socks.  Forgiveness.

When You reveal Yourself to me in grace, tell me who to share your riches of truth with.  I just want to see and tell others that you have to come so that they can see.

Monday, November 14, 2011


The word courageous is everywhere I turn.  I see it in movie titles and the Word.  I heard it at the retreat.  It jumps off the page of everything I read.

I don't consider myself a courageous person.  Somewhere along the way, I associated courage with being a risk taker and risk taker I am not.  I am safe.  I like stability.  I don't enjoy venturing down paths that will require something of me that I didn't even know I possessed.

So, for a long time, the word courage kind of scared me.

And then, I looked up the Hebrew.  To be of good courage (Is. 41:6 and Ps. 31:24) can mean this:
courage:  chazaq "to fasten upon, be confirmed, persevere"
good:  towb "good, beautiful, bountiful, joyful"

I think sometimes courage is simply walking in faith and accepting our beautiful confirmation.  God seems to provide little hints along the way that we are on the right path or that He indeed promised a certain thing.  Courage has a lot to do with waiting.  As we wait, He sends strength into our hearts as we have the courage to hope.

Perhaps courage is perfected in the waiting.  It takes courage to trust God to make good on His word.  It takes courage to believe that He will bring about His plan when all else shouts otherwise.  It takes courage to persevere and be constant in your calling.  God is our source of chazaq and we can ask Him for it!

CS Lewis wraps it up:  "Courage is not simply one of the virtues but the form of every virtue at the testing point."

Are you being tested?  Be of good courage!  Accept your beautiful confirmation from God that all is well and keep persevering, sweet thing.  There is going to be a joyful bounty at the end of this.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Field Trip!

A whole lotta third graders headed to the big city to visit a nature center.  It is run by the AR game and fish commission.  My little animal lover, Eli, had a blast!  I think he was sold when the tour guide held a green snake in his hands during his entire speech.  We finished the trip with an awesome playground and a visit to Playtime Pizza. 

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Thwarts, He Does

At the risk of calling myself cheap, I will opt for the nicer term, frugal.  I don't get a kick out of spending lots of money.  This summer, when we decided it was time to upgrade to a better camera, I almost threw up after we climbed in the car with our purchase.  Eric and I had never spent that much money on me in thirteen years of marriage, and I was ill about it.

Even though it was a huge purchase, we felt like it was a wise one, one that God had His blessing in.

Earlier this fall, I ordered three pair of shoes off of an online site.  All three were a bit more than I was comfortable paying for, but I was in need of comfort with a dash of cute thrown in, so order, I did.  All three pair felt awful, so return I did.  For whatever reason, God seemed to thwart me having expensive cowboy boots.  sigh.  I'll just never know His ways.

This past Sunday, our vacuum decided to die.  Sick of buying cheap vacuums that only last a year, I sent out a poll on Facebook.  Dyson came back the winner.  Now Dyson and cheap frugal gals like me don't go together.  But, I was in hopes of a hot, powerful beast that could tackle the shedding of my own beast.

After researching online and finding the best price, I entered the dreaded store of Walmart.  I hate it.  Not familiar with the store layout, I asked a worker where the vacuums were located.  She looked at me as if I were an interruption (Walmart employees usually do) and then told me they were on the other side of the store.  I got a tad snippy and said, "you mean by the food?"  But, I still didn't get any clearer directions.

Happy to find the Dyson DC25 in stock, I loaded up the beast into the cart with Sam...who happened to be wearing pajamas, because it was PJ day at school.  I am sure he can add that to his list of things to get counseled on later...

I enter the express lane...after all, I only have one item.  My yellow beast rings up for $100 more than the online price.  I gently told her it was much much much cheaper online....could she just verify the price.  (All the while, I am getting a panic attack because I hate for people behind me to have to be waiting...call it the gift of mercy.)  She verifies with two other more official looking Walmart employees who both say the same thing:  you are correct, this vacuum is $100 cheaper online, but we don't honor our online prices.

HUH?  You will honor competitor's prices but not your own?  You have got to be kidding me.  I think Sam Walton is rolling over in his grave as we speak.

They told me to go home and order it, then I could come back and get it.  (Exact same one!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Does no one value a person's time anymore?  Does no one value cash anymore?)

So, I go home and try to order it and for whatever techno glitch reason, I couldn't ever get the order to go through.

Then, I got to thinking.  God, do you want me to have this vacuum?  Because He sure seems to be thwarting the idea!

I read of Compassion children and children in need of compassion and I shudder at the thought of spending so much money on a device that picks up dirt when most of these children sleep in homes with dirt floors.

I am American.  And undone.  And wondering how to live in this culture.  Crying because I know the cost of one nice vacuum can feed a family for a year in another part of the world.

Having clean floors or feeding another family.  I don't even know how to choose anymore.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

God was right...

It brings us cheer when we give.  This morning, I loaded up the cart full of goodies for our Operation Christmas Child boxes.  I prayed while in the store...that God would direct what I buy and that if there was something I was supposed to get, that it would literally fall off the shelf.  Sweet little baby dolls literally fell off the shelf, you guys!!!

While checking out, I was a tad nervous.  I had set aside a certain amount of money for the shoeboxes, but I hadn't kept track of how much I had been throwing in the cart.  I was just trusting God to meet the needs of these kids we were having the opportunity to bless and at the same time, bless the amount of money I had.

You would never believe it...I handed over my cash and was given 25 cents in return.

Praise Him!