Thursday, June 27, 2013

A Story from GUIDEPOSTS and a Weekend Wish

Dear Friends,

Today I'd like to share a story from this month's issue of Guideposts.

It's my prayer that you'll have a wonderful weekend.

May you rest in His love and stand in His grace.

Shawnelle

"Embracing a New Family of Faith"
http://www.guideposts.org/faith/stories-of-faith/embracing-a-new-family-of-faith?int_source=front_page&int_medium=HPBlocks&int_campaign=EmbracingaNewFamilyofFaith

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Standing in the Shower

The boys and I are on the front porch again. The Mississippi valley sky turns dark. It's a small darkness at first, but it isn't long before the blues and purples and greys ink everything that is above us.

A squall is coming.

We see it in the clouds.

"Look, Mom," Gabe says. "It's beautiful."

He's right.

The air is cooler on our skin. The rockers are still. We're watching. And waiting.

Then the rain comes down.

It's an easy shower at first, that soft, gentle-soak kind of rain. But it turns fast. The sky opens and the rain is a curtain. We're dry under the roof of the porch, but the rain surrounds us. It falls around us, rushing down, but we're safe and boxed in.

And I notice my geranium. My favorite kind. Deep red and dark. It's hanging in a basket from the porch roof. It's thirsty. The leaves are a little curled. I've neglected my watering duties and the evidence  is visible.

So I sit and I watch. I watch the rain fall so hard it's like a clear wall. But the geranium is too far in. It's thirsty and dry and it's ever-so close.

But it cannot reach the water.

It's just inches from what it needs. The refreshment flows down. But it can't get there. It can't receive the gift of this rain.

Makes me wonder about my spiritual life. Sometimes I feel so close to an abundance. Sometimes I feel a sliver or a stitch away from exactly what I need. But sometimes I don't quite get there.

Maybe it's busyness.

Maybe it's distractedness.

Maybe it's just that my life is crazy full of so many wonderful things.

But the Lord offers an abundance of life-giving water when I'm thirsty and dry. I just don't take the time to plant my feet firm and stand in the rain. And I have the choice. I can move toward the richness of His grace.

Gabe's hand slips into mine. Thunder claps above us now and the sky streaks bright with light. Time for us to go in. Time for us to take refuge inside.

I look once more at my thirsty, longing plant. It will have to wait. The rain will stop or maybe just slow and I'll untether it from the porch. Maybe I'll sit it in the yard. Or mercy will come from the watering can.

But my soul has stirred.

I don't want to exist just close to the abundance. I want to be showered on. I want my thirsty heart to open wide and drink it all that the Lord, in His great compassion and kindness, will offer me.

The conviction alone refreshes me.

And the best part?

I think the Lord wants me to stand in the shower of His abundance, too.

Lord, please remove anything in my life that keeps me from living in an abundance of your grace. If it's a sin issue, let me see and help me come free. If it's busyness or the distractions, help me order my priorities and time.
Let me stand, as fully as I can, in the shower of Your goodness. Amen.





Monday, June 17, 2013

Words Fitly Spoken


A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver. Proverbs 25:11

 
           “The bathroom walls look great,” I said to my friend Sarah.“Please tell Matt thanks.”

Sarah smiled. My husband Lonny and I had recently hired her husband to do some drywall work in our family bathroom. 

“Lonny usually doesn’t want to hire work out,” I said. “He’s a perfectionist and most of the time, when he hires someone, he’s not satisfied. But the walls are beautiful,” I said. “Awesomeness.”

Sarah took a sip of her warm tea. “That’s pretty much my husband,” she  said. Then she gently placed her mug on the table. “All the way around. Awesomeness.” Her warm, brown eyes reflected her heart.

I wrapped my hands around my own mug and thought for a moment. It was so good, so sweet, to hear my friend affirm her husband. To declare his goodness. To celebrate his workmanship and character and a job well done.

I thought about my own husband. There are many things that he does well, too. Caring for the needs of our five sons. Maintaining the upkeep of our century-and-a-half-year-old-home. Working hard at his job. Encouraging my writing or jumping in, even after a long day at the chemical plant, when I’m needing help on the home front.

And hearing my friend verbally celebrate her man made me want to celebrate my man, too.

Later that night, after Sarah left, after the coffee mugs had been washed and dried, and after a bevy of boys had been tucked into bed, I wrapped my arms around Lonny as he worked over his laptop at the dining room table.

“I think you’re wonderful,” I whispered into his ear.

“What do you want?” He smiled and I kissed his warm neck.

“Not a thing,” I said. “I have everything I want right here.”

 
Father, thank you for the opportunity to share kind, encouraging, uplifting words. Remind me to encourage my husband regularly. Amen.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  An Announcement and Invitation:

Local friends,

I'm excited to share that Rick Hamlin, executive editor of Guideposts magazine and author of 10 Prayers You Can't Live Without, will be sharing the morning message at my church, Wildwood Baptist, on Sunday, June 23rd. Services are at 9:00 and 10:30. Please come join us. You'll surely be inspired!

Rick's website: http://www.rickhamlin.com/
Wildwood's website: http://www.wildwoodchurch.com/

Hope to see you!
Shawnelle

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Loaves, Fish, Prickly Children and a Prayer

The boys have been sharp with one another. There are rough edges, and the rough edges are mostly unkind words.

Words cut.

Cuts hurt.

It happens every summer and every fall - this state of falling apart. I'm not sure why. Maybe it's the extreme shift of schedule from home-schooling to more free time and then the swing back again. I don't know. But there's an adjustment period. We have to find our beat. I wish we could find it in a more peaceful way.

But that's not where we're at.

So this morning I wake and I'm hungry for His Word.

And He takes me to feeding of the five thousand.

He takes me to a remote place churning with people. Jesus showed compassion and  healed the sick.

But it was late.

And the crowd was hungry.

And the disciples wanted Jesus to send them away.

That's not what Jesus did. He took a small amount of food, five loaves of bread and two fish, and he gave thanks. He broke the bread.

Then he gave the food to the disciples and the disciples fed the people.

And we know that five thousand bellies were full. And it didn't stop at full bellies. There was an abundance. A twelve-basket overflow.

In Jesus' hands even a small amount brought leftovers.

So I'm thinking of my household and my heart fills with prayer...

Jesus, you provide more than enough. Your blessings flow and people and baskets fill with good things. Take the kindness, the patience, the brother-goodness in my home into Your hands. It seems like a small amount this week, a five loaves and two fish amount of kindness. But multiply it, Lord. Fill our hearts to the brim. Let the goodness flow over.

Let there be an abundance, an overflow, of truly loving, good things.

I hear activity above me. Movement. The bones of this old house creak.

 The boys are awake.

The day is a clean slate.

And in Jesus' hands,  I'm expecting good things.



Monday, June 10, 2013

Trust - Baby Teeth and Beyond

A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity. Proverbs 17:17


We're at my in-laws, visiting, gathered in the living room.

And Zay is wiggling his tooth like wild.

We talk. Laugh. Connect. And he sits, fingers in his mouth, eyes full of hope, tugging and pushing wriggling away.

Then he extracts his hand from his mouth. And on the soft pad of his finger there's a pinkish smear of blood.

Isaiah starts to cry. Conversation stops. We watch him bolt to the bathroom for a look in the mirror.

"It's okay," I say when I catch him. He's perched on the counter. We both look at his open-mouth reflection. His tooth is cocked at an unfriendly angle. It juts out of place, an unsettling change in his sweet, pleasant face.

Zay is scared. He knows he's past the point of no return. He's never had a tooth plucked from his head.

So the tears come fast.

That's when we hear brother. Logan has come beside us. He's gentle and peaceful and his hand goes to Zay's shoulder in a brotherly way.

 I watch their reflection.

 I watch mine.

"Let me help you, Zay," Logan says. "C'mon. It's okay to trust."

Big brother is somewhat of a master at pulling teeth. As a kid, on a car trip, he'd torment a non-loose tooth until it lifted from his gums.

For a moment Zay questions this deal. I watch it wash over his face. I notice Logan's calm. And my own reflection? I'm lost in hope and wonder.

"Okay," Zay says.

Logan scoops his brother from the counter. They move to the living room, and Zay is wound around Logan's neck tight.

And they sit down.

Zay opens his mouth.

Logan offers soft words of encouragement. Then his fingers are in his brother's new smile and in a moment the tooth, this sweet pebble of childhood, is in Logan's big palm.

There's a celebration.

The whole family cheers.

A brother's trust has saved the day.

I'm not surprised when two days later, Zay's tooth's front-line twin is jutting at a weird angle, too. It needs to be pulled. It wobbles and moves with a thrust of the tongue.

"Logan," he calls. "Can you take care of my tooth?"

What he's really saying, I think, is will you take care of me, brother? Will you make it all okay?

Logan comes. He pulls Zay to his lap again. The tooth is there. Then  it is gone.

And the household celebrates again.

I've learned, this week, watching this sweet interaction between my big and my small. There
is a relationship.  An understanding. As Logan said, a trust. It goes deep. It stands in the face of fear and it brings comfort and joy.

I hope, as my boys grow, that there will be a sweet web of trust among them. I hope that they'll stand together. I hope they'll link armor. I hope that they'll be brothers, no only in the blood way, but in the "I choose you" way, as Jonathan and David were brothers of the heart. I hope that my boys will trust one another and that they will be trustworthy, too.

It's my prayer that this trust-in-troubled-times will be a lifelong thing.

That it will stretch deep into my boys' lives.

Baby teeth and beyond.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Porch Nights Again

O LORD Almighty, who is like you? You are mighty, O LORD, and your faithfulness surrounds you. Psalm 89:8


We're on the front porch.

The warm nights have returned.

"Can we all have ice cream?" Gabe asked after dinner. "Ice cream on the porch?"

Sounded like a good idea to me. But the big guys had plans. And Lonny had something at church.

So it's just the little boys and me.

On the swing.

And they're digging deep in to big bowls of chunky chocolate fudge.

I've missed these evenings. Ice cream on the porch has been tradition for our family. It been our coming-together time after busy, full days.

I watch Zay and Gabe spoon sweetness while their mouths ring a rich brown. The sun is getting low. The day is coming to a close.

It wasn't too long ago, really, that almost every night every chair on this porch was full. The two rockers on the end. The swing. The two deep wicker chairs. And the tiny, black rocker that had been mine when I was a girl.

Now we're a little more scattered.

Now we're a little more grown.

"Want a bite, Mama?" Zay asks.

I have a hard time resisting a man with a chocolate river down his shirt. I nod and he scoops. I taste the ice cream and he smiles.

It's quiet tonight.

The air is still.

The river flows.

It's just my two little men and me.

The swing creaks and I watch my sons. They curve into one another though there is plenty of room. They look up at me and I notice that their faces are taking on the slightest shade of summer brown.

Life changes.

Time goes on.

But moments like these?

They're different than they were before.

But they're every bit as sweet.

Thank you God, that when life changes a bit, You are faithful. Your blessings still come, and Your kindness remains.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Night Music

May the glory of the LORD endure forever; may the LORD rejoice in his works. Psalm 104:31


By the time I hit the bed my thoughts are tough knots. Worry has tangled many concerns into a twist of charged-up strands.

I usually don't get this way.

But tonight I'm wound tight.

"You okay?" Lonny asks.

I curl against his side. "Sure," I say. But I'm not being honest, really.

I'm not sure why I've given myself over to worry tonight. There are just concerns I have for the boys. Different things. From the oldest to the youngest. Needs. Concerns. A hundred reasons to fret.

I try to find the off-switch to my thoughts, but my mind seems to have taken on a wild life of its own.

I flip over. Fluff my pillow. Think about charging from bed to find a good book.

Then I hear it.

The windows are open because the night air is cool. And it has started to rain.

The rain is gentle. It's a soft rhythm ebbing into my room. It's a pattering. The kind of rain my dad calls a "soaking rain". I can hear it, kind and soft, falling on ivy outside my window. I think of it, refreshing the flowers and the spring green grass.

Then comes the frog.

He's croaking. The croak is deep and it's coming from somewhere behind the house. I can hear it through the bedroom window that opens to the pool.

Everything else in the world seems quiet, except for this rhythm.

Even my thoughts go quiet, and I understand that this is a music of praise.

Nature is offering praise.

I lie still for a few minutes and listen. My fists uncurl. I hear Lonny beside me. His even breath has joined the rhythm, too.

And my own heart joins the praise.

Thank you God that You are faithful.

Thank you that You meet our needs.

Even in this song I see Your kindness.

And there is peace.

The rain continues to fall and the frog continues his song.

In some strange way I feel safe. Hemmed in.

And I understand, in that foggy-warm place before sleep, that this night music has become a lullaby, and in the Lord's sweet goodness, I am going to rest.