Monday, July 26, 2010

Trust and Obey

It's been a rough day here on Chandler Hill.  I was up all night on Saturday night throwing up.  I was too worn out to go to church on Sunday, which always leaves me bummed.  On a bright note, I did get a great surprise on Sunday afternoon!  My youngest nephew, Caleb, who is in Basics at Ft. Leonard Wood, MO called me.  I was so shocked and so happy to hear his voice.  It was definitely a gift from the Lord at a time when I really needed cheering up.

I tried not to eat too much during the day because I didn't want to be up all night again.  Well, so far, not doing so well in that area!  However, I did sit with Daddy and listened to a recording of Dr. Steve Gaines, Senior Pastor at Bellevue Baptist Church in Memphis, TN.  I always record his Sunday sermons on my DVR.  He preached about the right relationship of the man and woman within the parameters of God's plan.

As he was preaching, I had a sort of epiphany regarding the way I have been feeling since Terry's home going.  As a Christian woman, I have sought diligently to have a right relationship with God and to maintain that relationship through a right relationship in my marriage.  As Dr. Gaines was speaking about the roles of men and women in the Christian marriage, I realized exactly what I've been feeling....not in my right place!

My place was always as the submissive in our marriage and in our spiritual relationship.  It is God's plan to make the husband the head of the family and to hold him responsible for the well being of the family.  I was not always good at that, I will be the first to admit!  It came to me honestly, first because of my sin nature and it's natural rebellion against anything of the Lord; and second because my own Momma struggled with her submissive role in her marriage to Daddy.

Over the years, it was something I had to work very hard at in order to be able to submit lovingly and with a good attitude about.  Some of that was probably due to the fact that Terry didn't understand his role as the spiritual head of our household.  He had not been raised in that kind of environment and found it foreign.  As the years went by and we both understood our roles better, it became easier and easier to live the life God planned for us.

The rewards of doing it God's way were many.  One of the greatest was the absolute trust it fostered between us.  We always discussed issues in our marriage, but we both came to understand that, when it came down to decision time and there was any disagreement whatsoever,we did what Terry thought was right.  I came to accept that the responsibility at that point was his and he came to understand that being responsible wasn't such a burden when he gave it all to the Lord.

It made for a wonderfully harmonious relationship, especially in the later years of our marriage.  Then, when Terry became so ill and unable to function mentally, that paradigm began to shift and I came to understand that the responsibility was now resting on my shoulders.  Even at that, I still had him to talk things through with.  He often was not able to even think clearly enough to offer an opinion, but he always listened to hear me out and help me talk it out until I reached a decision.

That's why I find it all so overwhelming now.  I no longer have my spiritual head to guide me.  Of course I know I have the Lord and goodness knows, I couldn't make it without Him.  It is, however, a very difficult thing to transition from the physical presence of your head to that of a spiritual presence only.  There have been a lot of major decisions car needed 4 new tires, I need a new roof on the house, my well is having troubles, my HVAC unit is perhaps on it's last leg AND I would like to do a small addition. 

All of these things are not inexpensive things to be considered.  The new tires were a given, as are most of the other projects.  The only optional project is really the addition.  Financial decisions were never difficult for me.  I prayed over them, I talked them over with Terry and then I made a decision.  Suddenly, I feel paralyzed at the that final stage.  I seem unable to actually make the decision.  Dr. Gaines teaching tonight helped me understand why.

I am always so amazed at God and how absolutely perfect His timing is.  I had absolutely no idea I would hear Caleb's voice again until August 13 at his graduation.  Yet, there he was today on the other end of that phone line just when I needed a lift so very badly!  I am struggling so hard with all of these financial decisions and BOOM!, just when I need it, the Lord speaks through Dr. Gaines and gives me the reassurance I need to understand my reluctance.  He also sends confirmation that I am only experiencing this because I had a right relationship with Terry and this transition is normal for me.  I love the first verse and refrain from the old hymn Trust and Obey:

When we walk with the Lord in the light of His Word,
What a glory He sheds on our way!
While we do His good will, He abides with us still,
And with all who will trust and obey.

Trust and obey, for there’s no other way
To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.

Walking with Jesus is a journey.  We let ourselves suffer much more pain than is necessary because we fail to trust Jesus and obey His Word!

Monday, July 19, 2010

I Am A Sinner

Yes, it's true.  I am a sinner.  Last week I sinned.  Not just those everyday sins you commonly commit.  It was a biggie!

I am passionate about many things, one of which is politics.  I am a Right-Wing Social Conservative and I am proud of it!  I believe in morality and doing things the way the Bible teaches.  It matters not to me whether it's my private life, a politician or entertainer's public life or the political life of my country.  Right is right, and wrong is wrong.  Period!  I'm usually not shy about voicing my opinions, nor am I shy about telling someone else why I disagree with their opinions.

I have a particular friend whom I have known since childhood.  She is a really sweet lady...until you begin to discuss politics!  She is as far left as I am right.  I don't understand her and she does not understand me.  I try very hard not to be ugly to her, although it is so easy to be so!  You see, I told you, I am a sinner!

Last week, we entered into a couple of discussions on Facebook; one on my sister's page and one on my friend's page.  It had been a rough week.  I was struggling emotionally to weather yet another onslaught of grief, as well as dealing with some medical issues and the inability to find the doctor I needed due to cuts in Medicare reimbursement rates.  I was emotionally and physically drained.  When I am in that state, I know better than to involve myself in debate with this particular friend.  Unfortunately, I have a bad habit of doing what I should not do.

We engaged and exchanged comments for a while until I got so frustrated that I just could take it no longer!  I deleted her from my Friend's list and called it quits with her!  I felt so good!  I was thinking to myself, that just shows her!!!!  Strangely though, I didn't' feel well about the whole exchange.  I couldn't understand why it kept bothering me.  I didn't have to take her abuse!  It's MY Facebook page and I can add or delete whomever I choose!  How DARE she upset me like that?!

I raged on and on and all the while growing more and more tense in my spirit.  The Holy Spirit tried so hard to speak gently to me.  But, nooooooo, I was having none of that!  Look God, I'm a Christian.  I know right from wrong.  You don't have go sending the HS to help ME out here!  I have a right to feel this way.  This chic treated me badly!  You just don't understand!

Then, it hit me.  Hard, with the impact of a boulder when it hits the ground after a long fall down a mountainside.  That sweet, gentle little voice inside me saying very quietly, very gently "Yes, I know child.  They treated me badly too.  They mocked me; they spat upon me, they beat me, they hung me on  a cross and vilified me before my own mother.  I know how you feel, but you won't make things better by treating her the way she has treated you.  You have to love her in spite of herself.  I love her and if you love me, you must love her too."

There it was, as plain as the nose on my face....I have to love her, I must treat her well no matter how she treats me, I have to forgive her whether I want to or not.  I so hate it when He puts me in my place!  I was already suffering, I didn't need this from Him right now!  I needed understanding and encouragement!  Why was He doing this to me????

"Jesus replied: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart
and with all your soul and with all your mind. 
This is the first and greatest commandment.
 And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' 
All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments."

Matthew 22: 37 - 40  (NIV)

Love your neighbor as yourself.  I try very hard to treat myself very well.  I listen to my opinions, I respect my right to express my opinions.  Why would I treat my friend any differently?  I don't agree with her, but how can I ever influence her if I cut her out of my life?  Or, how can I influence her for the better if I treat her badly?

I was so convicted in my heart!  You would think the very first thing I would do is repent, right?  WRONG!  I continued to wallow in my self-pity and argue with the Lord.  Every word said at church on Sunday was directed right at me!  I couldn't walk away from it when I tried!

So, tonight I did what I should have done three days ago.  I made her my friend again and took up the debate where we left off!  I warned her that I could not debate often, but never to take my silence for agreement!!!  Now, I just have to remember to trust the Lord for my strength when I enter those debates and stop depending on my own might!

"Then he said to me, “This is what the Lord says to Zerubbabel:
It is not by force nor by strength, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies."

Zechariah 4: 6  (NLT)

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Independance Day --- What Does It Mean To Me?

"O say does that Star Spangled Banner yet wave,
O're the land of the free, and the home of the brave."

I've been thinking a lot about Independence Day and what it means to me.  As some of you know, I love genealogy.  I have made it my passion over the past several years to investigate my roots.  So, when thinking about Independence Day, I cannot help but think of my ancestors and what they sacrificed in order for me to sit here on this early July 4th morning and write what I feel and expect others to read it without fear of persecution from my government.

I think of my 8th Great Grandfather, William (Willie) Stephens II, born 1711 in York Co, VA and died 1781 in the harbor at Beaufort, NC on a British Prison Ship.  History teaches us that conditions on board the British Prison Ships were atrocious, with most prisoners dying of disease or starvation.  The few who survived the ordeal told stories of atrocities too offensive to be repeated.

My 5th Great Grandfather, John Thurman, born 3 Dec, 1757 in Prince Edward Co., VA and died 6 Oct, 1827 in Sevier Co., TN.  While residing in Albemarle Co., VA, John Thurman volunteered sometime between the years 1776 and 1779, served at various times amounting to three years in all, as a Private in the Virginia Troops under Captains John Miller, John Key, Sergeants Christopher Clark, Epperson, Brown and Benjamin Harris and Colonel Lindsey, was in several engagements, one of which was near Charlottesville, VA, and was at the surrender of Cornwallis at Yorktown, after which he was discharged in October, 1781.
I reflect upon my 4th Great Grandfather, Sanford C. Allen, born 1794 in Fairfax Co., VA and died Dec 1865 in Sevier Co., TN after losing 4 of his 5 sons in the War Between the States and after having fought himself in the War of 1812.
There was my  3rd Great Grandfather, William Allen, born 1822 in Sevier Co., TN and died 28 Feb, 1863 on the battlefield near Nashville, Davidson Co., TN of yellow fever while serving in K Co., 2nd TN Calvary, 14th U.S. Corp., Dept. of the Cumberland.  He left behind a  widow and 4 children between the ages of 2 and 15 years.  His oldest child, my 2nd Great Grandfather, Gideon A. Allen, left Sevier Co., TN about 1887 and headed west with his family to search for his father's grave.  To my knowledge, it was never found.  William and 3 of his brothers died in service to their country, 2 of which are buried at Stones River National Cemetery in Rutherford Co., TN
Another 4th Great Grandfather, William Nathaniel Atkinson, born 1769 in North Carolina and died 2 Apr, 1862 at the Battle of Shiloh in Hardin Co., TN.  He was carried to his home in neighboring Wayne Co., TN, where neighbors had gathered to construct a coffin for him.  His son-in-law and grandson had begun the trek back home for his funeral and were captured by Confederate troops.  After learning of their plight, the Confederates released the men, but refused to give them horses to make the trip.  The two men walked the 10+ miles back to their home place where William Atkinson was buried on the following day.
William's son, John M. Atkinson (my 3rd Great Grandfather), born about 1814 in Wayne Co., TN, also served with the 6th TN Calvary, Co., K during the Civil War.  John's son, David James Atkinson, my 2nd Great Grandfather, born 9 May, 1845 in Wayne Co., TN and died 17 Aug, 1928 in Hardeman Co., TN, also served with Hurst's Nation in the 6th TN Calvary.  Hurst's Nation was a group of Union sympathizers located within Wayne Co., TN. 
David James Atkinson
1845 - 1928
The War Between the States
There was my Grand Uncle, Ralph F. Newland, who served in World War II in Germany and received numerous decorations for his service.  Uncle Buster never spoke of his war time experiences once he returned home.  Heroes in my family include numerous and varied cousins who served in both World Wars. 
Ralph F. "Buster" Newland
1915 - 1998
World War II --- Germany
A cousin, John William Howell, born 27 Dec, 1949 in Hardeman Co., TN and died 15 Feb, 1971 in Quang Tri Region, Republic of Vietnam, South Vietnam.  Johnny was killed in battle by small weapons fire.  He served with E Company, 187th Infantry Division, 3rd Battalion, Light Weapons Infantry Division, U. S. Army.   He was a Sergeant and was engaged to Debbie.  I will never forget the sadness that befell our entire county when news of Johnny's death reached his home.  Debbie died in a motorcycle accident less than 2 years after Johnny's death.  Most people said she simply could not stand to live without Johnny.  This is a link to Johnny's Virtual Wall page:  .
My Daddy, Van P. McDonald, born 4 Nov, 1932 in Hardeman Co., TN, was drafted into the Army after being turned down as a volunteer for the Air Force.  He was due to ship out to Korea on the day the peace agreement was signed.  His orders were changed and he spent 18 months in Germany instead.  He was a Corporal and was offered a promotion to Sergeant upon re-enlistment.  He declined the offer.  He was a squad leader for a sharp shooter squad in Co. K of the 12th Regiment and received numerous citations for his abilities as a marksman.  He was notified of possible re-activation to Vietnam as an Army Reserve sniper, but thankfully that never materialized.
Van P. McDonald
1932 - Present
Korean Conflict Era
My nephew-in-love, Brian K. Eppers, served with the U. S. Army Reserve as a Medic and was deployed to Iraq for 12 months between Dec, 2004 and Dec, 2005.  He continues to serve with the Dept. of Homeland Security in a WMD Response Unit. 
Brian K. Eppers
1980 - Present

And, most recently, my youngest nephew, Caleb M. Watkins, has joined the TN National Guard and is currently in Basic Training in Ft. Leonard Wood, MO with a Military Police Battalion.  He was just appointed a squad leader, following in his Papaw Mac's footsteps.
Caleb M. Watkins
1991 - Present
TN National Guard
L-R:  Jake, Charlotte, Ricky and Caleb
These are but a few of the men and women in my ancestry who have fought, and many died, for the independence I celebrate today.  And, my ancestors are but a few of the many hundreds of thousands who have served and died from every corner of our nation in order that we might enjoy liberty.  What an awesome responsibility we have to honor those men and women and continue the fight to keep our nation free!
God Bless the U.S.A.!!!!!! 
And, God Bless those courageous men and women
 who continue to sacrifice so freely that we might remain free!!!!