Friday, November 17, 2006

Where were you in 1986?

Me? In 1986, I was a 16-year-old high school student with big hair, big earings, big belts, mini-skirts and leggings (of which my mother highly disapproved), little keds shoes, a cordless phone and stereo in my own room, and lots of drama about one social situation or another. I listened to Madonna, Wham!, Erasure, Duran Duran, INXS, and all the fun "New Age" music. I was thrilled that my parents had allowed me to switch from private to public school. I loved my French class, and I dreamed about leaving small-town New Mexico. I subscribed to ELLE magazine (how fitting, I thought, that my name coincided with it!), and I really believed that all French women dressed like the pictures in the magazine. When I became an exchange student two years later, I learned first-hand that my French classmates were even more conservative in their appearance than Americans.

In 1986, I had just gotten my driver's license, but, to my great dismay, my parents had not gotten me a car for my 16th birthday. And worse, my parents both drove station wagons. And even worse, both station wagons had fake wood paneling (one was peeling). So, of course, I rarely offered to drive my friends around in the banana-mobiles. What humiliation!

A friend convinced me to join the speech team that year. I don't know why I did, as I was always very quiet and shy around groups of people. I opted for dramatic interpretation and barely made it through the first round of my first competition without passing out. Afterward, I cried incessantly because I was so embarrassed of my nervousness and mangled performance. But, practice and perseverence paid off! At the regional competition in Durango, Colorado, I won FIRST PLACE, beating long-reigning dramatic interp. star, Amy Y.!

What carefree times those were! How funny it is now to look back and remember how easily embarrassed I was. Who did I think I needed to impress? Sometimes I wish I could re-wind and experience it all over again... but with the 20 years of added wisdom.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Getting Older and Maybe Wiser!

Well, today is my birthday! Taking time to post on my blog page is one little splurge I'm allowing myself. I also took time out to go to lunch with one of my girlfriends, a local chiropractor, after we helped with a university fundraiser this morning. Friends who make you laugh are priceless. For me, it has been a day off!

Now that I am thirty-something, with two rambunctious boys, working nearly full-time (at the office, not to mention the never-ending laundry, etc. at home), it seems that days flow into months that turn into years. Am I the only one that has to think twice when writing the year on the check? It seems just as natural to write 1996 as 2006! Now, that makes me feel old! Especially since some of my tennis shoes were purchased in 1996.

My friend asked me at lunch what my dream birthday present would be. I was actually stumped! For those of you with young children, I'm sure you can relate. It is so easy, as a mommy, to think only of others that you get yourself lost in the shuffle. I no longer want a "dream car" since it would get covered in muddy shoeprints and spilled sippy cups. I don't have time for hobbies, like painting, since I'd rather treasure the time I have with my boys. I'd rather spend any extra money getting hardwood floors to replace the carpet since my littlest boy has allergies. When my older son asks me what DVD I want him to get me for my birthday, I'd rather tell him that I want "Over the Hedge" (just out on DVD this week) since I know he would love to watch it. As for me, I'm just content knowing that those who mean the most to me still love me and still let me know that they love me! Maybe that is what it means to get wiser as we get older.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Lessons From My Dog

Some days I think that I have HAD IT with my dog! She is the cutest little brown thing, and her name is Scout. She looked just like Benji until I took her to the groomers and now she looks like a pretty little chocolate Schnauzer. It must be her "teddy bear" haircut!
Anyway, as much as I love my doggie, she has an attitude problem! She thinks that she knows what is best. She runs out the front door if I leave it ajar for more than a second. She turns up her nose at boring, 0l' dry food (especially if she has received tasty people-food on a regular basis). She thinks the living room couch is her personal bed. And she would much rather chase cars than stay on her leash.
But how many times do I do have that exact same attitude toward God?! All the time! I really do know how God should let me live me life, don't I? I want an exciting life, new experiences, comfort and fulfillment. But as I think how silly my dog acts, when I am just trying to protect her, I think how God may be doing the same thing to me. How many times does God give me a rich blessing, just for me to expect a constant stream of rich blessings and become ungrateful for the simple daily provisions He has given me (kind of like Scout and her dog food).
When I become whiney and ungrateful, thinking that God really should take my advice, I must remember this verse:

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,"
declares the LORD.
"As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts."
Isaiah 55:8-9

Just as my little brown "Scout-y dog" should cut out the attitude and trust that I know best, I, too, should trust that God knows best and be grateful for ALL that He has done and continues to do for me!

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Most Dangerous Place in the World

The Burmuda Triangle? A bad lightning storm? Lost in a blizzard? Swimming in shark-infested waters? Of course, when asked what you think the most dangerous place in the world is, you automatically think of a spot where your life is threatened, where physical harm is imminent. But what about harm to your soul? Where is the most dangerous spot in the world for your soul?
Over and over again the Bible refers to the illustration of the lost lamb who has strayed from the rest of the flock and from the Good Shephard. Isolated and alone, the lamb is easy prey for a hungry wolf on the prowl.
If you are like me, I don't consciously think about protecting my soul the way I do my body. But we should! It will far out-last these mortal bodies! When I think back to the times I have fallen prey to my own desires and to temptation, it has always been when I am lonely and out of close fellowship with other believers. I can breathe a sigh of relief to know that, even when I am so lost that I cannot find my way back, my heavenly Father will come and find me and bring me home!
Ezekial 34:11-12, 15-16a
" 'For this is what the Sovereign LORD says: I myself will search for my sheep and look after them. 12 As a shepherd looks after his scattered flock when he is with them, so will I look after my sheep. I will rescue them from all the places where they were scattered on a day of clouds and darkness. [...] I myself will tend my sheep and have them lie down, declares the Sovereign LORD. 16 I will search for the lost and bring back the strays. I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak."
Isn't this unbelievable? When I've strayed from God, I usually think that I have to come crawling back before He'll remember me... But, actually, God is seeking ME out! I hope that you will remember (and I hope that I will not forget!) that God loves us so much that He will come looking for us and won't stop until He brings us safely home, if we'll let Him!

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Almost Dog Days of Summer...

I first heard the expression "Dog Days of Summer" when I moved to Birmingham, Alabama. And for those of you who live in the South, ya'll know that the hot, steamy summers can make you feel like layin' around, panting just like a dog! Well, I never did figure out what that phrase really meant or where it came from until I did a little research just now.
Some say this expression signifies hot sultry days "not fit for a dog." Others believe it is the hot weather that makes dogs go mad. But the "dog days" are defined as the period from July 3 through Aug. 11 when the Dog Star, Sirius, rises in conjunction (or nearly so) with the Sun. As a result, some felt that the combination of the brightest luminary of the day (the Sun) and the brightest star of night (Sirius) was responsible for the extreme heat that is experienced during the middle of the summertime. Hmm... I never would've guessed!
It's not officially "dog days" yet, but it sure feels like it where I am in Georgia today! With this humidity and 90+ degree weather, I feel like joining my fuzzy brown dog under the table on the cool linoleum floor next to a water dish!
As I considered how much I need both physical and spiritual refreshing today, I came upon these verses:
Proverbs 11:24-26
One man gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty.
A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.
People curse the man who hoards grain, but blessing crowns him who is willing to sell.
Isn't that so true how sitting around moping, focusing only on self, gets you nowhere! But turning my focus onto helping or encouraging others really lightens my load. God's way is so paradoxical! According to the world's reasoning, God's commands make absolutely no sense. How could taking on someone else's load actually make my load lighter? For me, it pulls me out of my pity party and makes me realize that my own situation is not that bad; in fact, I have it pretty great!
What will you do this summer to refresh yourself? I pledge to follow the advice given in Proverbs 11. I will give freely and generously, and I will not hoard. I have accumulated so many possessions over the years that have cluttered up my house! What a refreshing thought to get rid of them! Garage sale time!
May you be refreshed, despite the approaching Dog Days of Summer!

Monday, May 08, 2006

Baby-Pool Swimmers

Do you remember when you first started swimming in the BIG pool as a kid? I sure do. I was six years old and I loved playing in the kiddie-pool, splashing and jumping safely in the shallow water. Then my mother enrolled me in swimming lessons and I had to get in that scary, enormous, big-people pool! I remember choking back tears as I bravely walked through the humid, chlorine-scented locker-room to the BIG pool. The distorted echos bouncing of the tiled walls made me feel even more alone. Proudly, I gulped back the lump in my throat and joined the kids sitting by the pool. I refused to let them think that I was a scared-y cat.
Of course, despite my fears and despite all the stinging water that went up my nose, I learned to swim. Not only did I learn to swim, I learned that I LOVED to swim -- even in the deepest water in the pool!
Now I am at a point, spiritually-speaking, where God has pushed me out of the baby-pool and is nudging me on to deeper waters. How do I know? I can tell you that God has a way of getting our attention when He wants to us to move on even if we would rather just stay in the same ol' safe and secure spot. I am happy with my spot! I want to be in control of my life. I want to know how and precisely when money will come in. I want to be able to buy and do fun things. I want, I want, I want!
But submitting my wants to God's will means, for me, letting go and moving on to the BIG pool where I trust God to be my coach. I responded to God's call. I am ready and willing to deny my own desires to follow him. Already I feel like God has taken me farther out than I am able to swim. And my legs don't reach the bottom! Who will rescue me if I start to drown? I feel like I am drowning! God, are you there? Please be here for me!!!
I look back at the baby-pool and see others splashing and having fun. I am out here in the deep all alone, it seems. I want to get out and join them back where life is carefree and easy. But I know God wants me here, no matter the struggle. I pray for perseverence and wisdom, God, as I daily commit to follow You wherever you lead me. Even if it is in the deepest waters.
Luke 9:23-24
Then he said to them all: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it."
In 2 Samuel 22:16-18, David says of the Lord:
"He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters.
He rescued me from my powerful enemy, from my foes, who were too strong for me."
James 1:2-4
Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
Can you relate to the lyrics of Stephen Curtis Chapman's song, Dive, in your pursuit of God?
You can listen to a clip here:

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Welcome to Fall on the Grace weblog!
This new blog is named after a line in Rich Mullins' song, "If I Stand," which earnestly prays this line: "If I stand, let me stand on the promise that you will pull me through; and if I can't, let me fall on the grace that first brought me to you."
So many times I have "fallen" into bad habits, negative thoughts, or addictive behavior when life has overwhelmed me instead of falling on the grace of God. Only the grace of God can lift us back up to our feet again! Falling into sin at first seems to be a simple guilty pleasure, but it will ensnare us so that giving it up for good seems all but impossible.
How many of you can relate to this description in the struggle against our fleshly thoughts and desires?
"When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God's law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?"
Romans 7:21-24 (NIV)
Or, more succintly stated:
"For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do ... I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out ... it is sin living in me that does it." "Who will rescue me?"
Romans 7:15, 20, 24 (NIV)
Hooray for the answer!
"Thanks be to God - through Jesus Christ our Lord!"
Romans 7:24 (NIV)
"But thank God you've started listening to a new master, one whose commands set you free to live openly in his freedom!
"I'm using this freedom language because it's easy to picture. You can readily recall, can't you, how at one time the more you did just what you felt like doing--not caring about others, not caring about God--the worse your life became and the less freedom you had? And how much different is it now as you live in God's freedom, your lives healed and expansive in holiness?"
Romans 6:17-19 (The Message)
"So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed."
John 8:36 (NIV)
I just love this last verse! When I finally surrendered my soul to Jesus, I thought to myself, I understand that verse! I wanted to run through green pastures, breathe in clean air, and just rejoice in my spiritual cleansing!
The purpose of this blog is to encourage others to become --and stay-- free indeed! I have grappled with so many questions throughout my journey to spiritual freedom. Because I am part of the body of Christ, I want to be the arm to help lift others up to God. And if you cannot stand, let me encourage you to fall on the grace of God!
** If you would like to hear a clip of Rich Mullins' song, "If I Stand," just go to http://www.music.msn.com/artist/?artist=16072133# You can also purchase a download of this song there, as well.