Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Just Give Me What You Have

As soon as Jesus heard the news, he left in a boat to a remote area to be alone. But the crowds heard where he was headed and followed on foot from many towns. Jesus saw the huge crowd as he stepped from the boat, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick.

That evening the disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away so they can go to the villages and buy food for themselves.”

But Jesus said, “That isn’t necessary—you feed them.”

“But we have only five loaves of bread and two fish!”
they answered.

“Bring them here,” he said. Then he told the people to sit down on the grass. Jesus took the five loaves and two fish, looked up toward heaven, and blessed them. Then, breaking the loaves into pieces, he gave the bread to the disciples, who distributed it to the people. They all ate as much as they wanted, and afterward, the disciples picked up twelve baskets of leftovers. About 5,000 men were fed that day, in addition to all the women and children!

Immediately after this, Jesus insisted that his disciples get back into the boat and cross to the other side of the lake, while he sent the people home. After sending them home, he went up into the hills by himself to pray.
Night fell while he was there alone.

Meanwhile, the disciples were in trouble far away from land, for a strong wind had risen, and they were fighting heavy waves. About three o’clock in the morning Jesus came toward them, walking on the water. When the disciples saw him walking on the water, they were terrified.
In their fear, they cried out, “It’s a ghost!”

But Jesus spoke to them at once. “Don’t be afraid,” he said.
“Take courage. I am here!”

Then Peter called to him, “Lord, if it’s really you,
tell me to come to you, walking on the water.”

“Yes, come,” Jesus said.

So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. But when he saw the strong wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink.
“Save me, Lord!” he shouted.

Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him. “You have so little faith,” Jesus said.
“Why did you doubt me?”

When they climbed back into the boat, the wind stopped. Then the disciples worshiped him.
“You really are the Son of God!” they exclaimed.

Matthew 14: 13-33  (NLT)

These verses give account of the time immediately after Jesus has heard the news of his cousin John's beheading by Herod.  Jesus is understandably grieved and needs time alone to pray.  However, the people would not allow that time.  Even in his own grief, Jesus had compassion on the people and took time to attend to their needs.

The disciples become concerned when the evening draws near.  They want Jesus to dismiss the crowd so that they may go into the surrounding towns and villages and buy food for their evening meal.  When Jesus directs the disciples to feed the crowd, they state the obvious in that they don't have enough food to do so.

Jesus calls for the food to be brought to him, blesses it and passes it to the disciples to give to the crowd.  The five loaves of bread and two fishes continue to replenish themselves until all are fed to their fill, leaving 12 baskets of left overs.

I wonder how many times in my life I've confronted Jesus with my 'not enoughs'?  Not enough money, not enough compassion, not enough time, not enough energy, not enough motivation, not enough........NOT ENOUGH.  How often have I used my own pain or burden to excuse myself from service for Him?  How often have I worn my pain like a halo, thinking "Well, if they only KNEW what I was going through"?

What an incredibly selfish woman I am!  Just as with the crowds gathered here, Jesus has always extended my 'not enough' into more than enough if I but surrender what I have to Him.  Just how often does that need to happen before I understand that my little becomes His abundant supply when surrendered to Him?

The disciples stood and witnessed the supply of the Lord meeting the needs of the crowd in more ways than one.  They saw the sick healed, the hungry fed, the dead raised, the sinful forgiven.  Have I not witnessed just that supply from the Lord in my own life, as well as in the lives of others around me?

You would think by now I would know that all Jesus asks of me is to give Him what I have.  However small and insignificant that may be, He can expand it into His abundant supply.  There will not only be enough, but more than enough.  The abundant supply of the Creator God, the God of MORE, is always more than enough.

From the mountaintop experience of the feeding of the crowd of 5000+, Jesus sends the disciples out in a boat on the lake.  He prays and then descends to the lake.  It is the middle of the night and a storm has risen on the water.  The disciples are now in the middle of the lake, far from the shore, and afraid.

As Jesus approaches on the water, their fear kicks into high gear.  They think it is an apparition, a ghost, and say so.  Jesus announces himself and calms them.  Peter, being the outspoken one he is, immediately speaks up and asks that Jesus call him to the water.  Jesus does so and Peter steps out of the boat.

The waves are dashing, the roar of the waters reverberate in Peter's ears.  He feels himself begin to sink into the watery depths.  He cries out "Lord, save me"!  Jesus reaches out to him and lifts him up.  Immediately, Jesus reaches out to him!  What a picture of what Jesus did for me when I called out to Him for salvation and at every call I've cried out to Him since!

There have been so many times throughout my life when accepting that I belong to the King of Kings has been difficult for me.  I felt as if there must be MORE I have to do.  It is then the sweet Holy Spirit reaches into the depths of my heart and reminds me of that moment in time when I cried out to Jesus and He reached down to me!  He lifted me above the depths of sin in my soul and washed me from the stink it had left on my heart.

When I allow myself to wander off into some sin or the other, I have but to cry out again and again Jesus reaches out and lifts me up.  Again, He washes the stink of my poor choices and my sin from my heart and renews my soul.  It is then I can cry out with renewed strength and understanding "You really are the Son of God"!!!

What is it the Lord asks of me?  Just what I have, that's all; nothing less and nothing more.  He wants my fear, my pain, my unforgiving heart, my doubt, my haste, my lack of ability, my abundance of excuses...my ALL. 

Afterall...........He gave His ALL for me.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

I Believe........

"That no matter how good a friend is,
they're going to hurt you every once in a while
and you must forgive them for that."

“If you forgive those who sin against you,
your heavenly Father will forgive you.
But if you refuse to forgive others,
your Father will not forgive your sins.

Matthew 6: 14-15  (NLT)

Then Peter came to him and asked,
“Lord, how often should I forgive someone
who sins against me? Seven times?”
“No, not seven times,” Jesus replied,
“but seventy times seven!"

Matthew 18: 21-22  (NLT)

I tell you, you can pray for anything,
and if you believe that you’ve received it,
it will be yours.
But when you are praying,
first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against,
so that your Father in heaven
will forgive your sins, too.”

Mark 11: 25-26 (NLT)

Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves,
you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy,
kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.
Make allowance for each other’s faults,
and forgive anyone who offends you.
Remember, the Lord forgave you,
so you must forgive others.
Above all, clothe yourselves with love,
which binds us all together in perfect harmony.

Colossians 3:  12-14  (NLT)

Friday, March 25, 2011


I have to tell you, I love Cracker Barrel!  I love their food and their country atmosphere and I love shopping in their store.  I rarely go in there without leaving with a package. 

Charlotte and I visited there on Thursday on our way home from Nashville.  I had the chicken and dumplins with sweet potato casserole (LOVE IT!), southern style green beans and a biscuit.  I swear it makes my mouth water just to think of it!  The only person I've ever known who could out do them on chicken and dumplins was my Momma.  I try so hard to do it like Momma, but it just never quite makes it. 

Me, Charlotte and Debra
October 2010
Great Smoky Mtns. National Park
Our Sister Vacation!

As we were entering, we noticed some very cute little spring dresses for a very reasonable price.  Charlotte couldn't help but buy one for her 4 year old granddaughter, Allyson.  We looked for one to coordinate for the 9 month old, Kayleigh, but didn't find one.  We'll have to make another trip for hers.  No problem, Charlotte and I like to shop!  And, perhaps we'll talk Debra into making that trip with us!  Three sisters out to shop.....sounds like a near perfect day to me!

I saw the sweetest picture frame.  It had the first verse of "Time In A Bottle" by Jim Croce imprinted over a graphic print of some sort with an area to frame a picture.  My heart almost melted when I saw it; that was 'our song'.  I can't tell you how many times Terry sang that song to me over the years!  I wanted it so badly, but it was more than I felt comfortable paying.  I can't stop thinking about it.  I just think I may have to buy one the next time I'm in one of their stores.  Life just isn't worth it if you can't splurge every once in a while for something that is special to you!

So, that's my ramblings for this late evening.  Oh, and I forgot to mention, Charlotte bought Ricky (my NIL) a box of GooGoo clusters, one of his favs, and her boys some vanilla almond coffee (think that one might have been just a bit for her!).  I, for once in my life, managed to walk out empty handed.  Will wonders never cease?!

Praise the Lord!
Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good!
His faithful love endures forever.

Psalm 106:1  (NLT)

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

One Flesh...............

March 23, 1997
Vow Renewal Ceremony
Momma and Daddy's 40th Anniversary

Today marks the 54th anniversary of my parent's wedding.  Although Momma has now been with Jesus for almost 5 years, Daddy still feels the need to celebrate this day.  I understand that.  He has loved Momma for more than half of his life.  The fact that she has moved on to be with Jesus didn't stop that love, it only enhanced it.  Their love, like that of any couple who are Christians, now lives in eternity. 

His heart is a bit heavy today, but still joyful for having known Mommas love.  Again, I understand that.  So, I'm celebrating with Daddy today.  Happy Anniversary Daddy.  Momma still loves you with her whole heart, even more perfectly than ever before!

...‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother
and be united to his wife,
and the two will become one flesh’
So they are no longer two, but one flesh.
Therefore what God has joined together,
let no one separate.

Matthew 19: 5-6

Sunday, March 20, 2011

I Believe...........

"That our background and circumstances
may have influenced who we are,
but we are responsible
for who we become."

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger
by the way you treat them.
Rather, bring them up
with the discipline and instruction
that comes from the Lord.

Ephesians 6:4  (NLT)

Dear friends, you always followed my instructions
when I was with you. And now that I am away,
it is even more important.
Work hard to show the results of your salvation,
obeying God with deep reverence and fear.
For God is working in you,
giving you the desire and the power
to do what pleases him.
Philippians 2:12-13  (NLT)

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Roots and Wings.............

Grandpa and Grandma Howell and their nine children

 Elbert & Lula Sisco Howell
Momma (Thelma), Aunt Glenda, Aunt Sandra and Aunt Shirley
Uncle Kenneth, Uncle Bobby, Uncle Cecil, Uncle John, Uncle Donald

When I was growing up, we were very close to both of my extended families.  We lived closer to my paternal family, but went home to Grandpa and Grandma Howell's place every Sunday afternoon.  Momma had eight siblings so there was always more than a house full of us.  Kids running and playing in every direction; adults scattered around the house and spilling over into the yard.  Meal time was like a feast. 

Grandpa and Grandma were not church going people, at least not that I ever knew.  I'm not saying they weren't Christians, only they and the Lord knows that answer.  They were hard working people who loved their family.  Momma says that she can remember times when Grandpa would work in the fields all day, come in and take a nap in the chair, then get up and go to the factory to work the late shift, never even removing his shoes during the 24 hour period.

I remember them as cheerful, loving grandparents.  Grandpa always wanted to play a game of checkers or Rook and Grandma just liked to sit and talk.  I regret not having spent more time with them as I grew older.  I spent many hours in their home as a child.  I remember those times with such fondness and love.  I can hear Grandma laughing and see her belly giggling as she did.  As children, we thought that was so funny...that her belly giggled everytime she laughed!  Grandpa was always pulling pranks on us.

Grandpa and Grandma outlived two of their sons.  Uncle Cecil died in 1993 of heart disease and Uncle Donald died in 1996, also of heart disease.  Grandma died in 1999.  She had Alzheimer's Disease, as well as heart disease.  Uncle John and Grandpa died on the same morning, in the same hospital, in rooms next door to each other.  Uncle John had visited Grandpa on Sunday afternoon and had sat at his bedside crying and telling us that he and his Daddy would go to meet Jesus on the same day.

On Tuesday morning, about 7 a.m. we received the call that Uncle John had passed.  Then, about an hour later, another call came saying that Grandpa had passed as well.  Uncle John had heart disease, diabetes and had developed liver disease as a result of the diabetes.  Grandpa was 93 and had enjoyed good health all of his life. 

Momma went to be with Jesus on April 20, 2006.  She joined her parents and three brothers in heaven, as well as her precious baby girl, whom she never got to see while residing here. 

My family gave me roots that still run deep and wings to reach out and find my own path in life.  Grandpa and Grandma Howell didn't go to church, but they lived honest, sacrificial lives for their family, lives of integrity. 

Roots and wings............what more can a family really give you?

A good life gets passed on to the grandchildren;
ill-gotten wealth ends up with good people.

Proverbs 13: 22  (The Message)

Grandchildren are the crown of old men,
And the glory of sons is their fathers.

Proverbs 17:6  (NASB)

A righteous man who walks in his integrity--
How blessed are his sons after him.

Proverbs 20:7  (NASB)

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Growth Spurts.........

Me and Charlotte @ Wal Mart
Growing....putting away the pain
and learning to laugh again.

I seem to have expended my strength today before I even rose from the bed.  I suppose it's all the antibiotics and other medications I've taken lately.  It is always so strange to me how they can make you feel so bad but be so good for you. 

As I was on that train of thought, I began to consider how much that parallels with my relationship with Jesus Christ.  Sometimes I feel as though my walk with Jesus certainly is painful even when it is good for me.

When my sisters children were small (especially the boys), they went through a period of various aches and pains which the pediatrician diagnosed as simply 'growing pains'.  I'd heard of them all my life, but thought they were just an old wives' tale.  Apparently not.  The kids all seemed to experience these mysterious pains as they were experiencing growth spurts.

Quite frankly, I think I must be in a spiritual growth spurt.  I have been on such a tremendous spiritual 'high' that I was totally unprepared when that high crashed.  Suddenly, I felt so dry and empty inside. 

I have been writing my personal testimony for another blog.  It has been painful at times and has taken all my emotional and spiritual strength to push forward.  I'm worn out. 

However, I know without doubt that it is the right time in my life to share my experiences with others.  I am committed to finish this course and complete the task.  Just what God has planned and how He will use my testimony, or me, in the future is unknown to me. 

I am persuaded that He will use me.  I'm just sitting still right now and waiting.  Isn't that the worst part?  When He sits us down and just says "Wait"?  I've decided to make it easier on myself and just not fret.  I've been with the Lord long enough to know that I can't do anything to speed up the process anyway, so why waste energy on it?!

Sooooo, yep, I'm waiting and renewing and sharing whatever the Lord places on my heart.  I'm not sure where the road will take me, but I know where it ends.  I've been traveling for too long to stop now. 

Trials have beset me on that road, but the trials were never greater than the supply of my King.  They never will be!

But those who wait upon God get fresh strength.
They spread their wings and soar like eagles,
They run and don't get tired,
they walk and don't lag behind.

Isaiah 40:31  (The Message)

I am warning you ahead of time, dear friends.
Be on guard so that you will not be carried away
by the errors of these wicked people
and lose your own secure footing.
Rather, you must grow in the grace and knowledge
of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
All glory to him, both now and forever. Amen.

2 Peter 3: 17-18  (NLT)

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Women of Faith

June, 1975
My Bridal Shower
(L-R):  Daisy (Mammommie) Shearon {my grandmother-in-law}, Me,
and  Ilene (Maw) McDonald {my paternal grandmother}

These precious ladies are both in heaven now.  They were two of the most important influences on my life.  Each was a woman of strong faith and great courage.  Having lost their husbands at just about the same time, yet never having met until the day of my Bridal Shower, they produced a strong influence on me and I'm quite sure neither ever knew just how much I loved her.

Maw McDonald loved me from before I was born and always had time for me.  The days of my childhood are filled with happy memories of Maw and time spent with her.  She loved Terry from the day she was introduced to him and always enjoyed his picking on her.  I can still hear them laughing together.  He loved her just as dearly as she loved him.  She encouraged me and continues to do so even though she has been with the Lord for nearly 16 years.

Mammommie Shearon took me as her own on the very first day Terry introduced me to her.  She took up for me and loved me as though I were hers.  I was with her just one day prior to her going home to be with Jesus.  As weak and sick as she was, her only concern was for me and that Terry and I were doing well.  The last words she ever spoke to me were how me she loved me and was thankful the Lord had given Terry me for his wife.  She went to be with Jesus only three short years after Terry and I married, but her influence on me was much greater than the few years I was privileged to know her.

Where would I be today without the love and acceptance these precious ladies gave to me?  I shudder to think!

Similarly, teach the older women
to live in a way that honors God.
They must not slander others or be heavy drinkers.
Instead, they should teach others what is good.
These older women must train the younger women
to love their husbands and their children,
to live wisely and be pure, to work in their homes,
to do good, and to be submissive to their husbands.
Then they will not bring shame on the word of God.

Titus 2: 3-5  (NLT)

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Look at the hands............

I love nice hands on a female, always have.  Unfortunately, I have never had nice hands. Since early childhood, I have had the embarrassing habit of biting my nails.  After I grew into a teenager, I determined to stop. 

Over the years, I have had varying degrees of success.  From time to time, I still have trouble with disciplining myself in that area.  Over the past few weeks, I have bitten all but one nail almost into the quick on my left hand and one on the right hand.  ~~SIGH~~

My left hand...
please excuse the sore, I ran into the wall!

Tonight as I sat typing, I noticed something I found interesting.  On my right hand, only my 'pointing' finger nail is bitten off.  The others are of medium length, about the length I prefer.  On my left hand, only the 'ring' finger nail has survived the onslaught from my kisser.

My right hand....
so masculine looking, not like a lady's hand at all!

I began to think, how appropriate.  My 'pointing' finger was the only messed up finger on my right hand.  Perhaps because I've been guilty of pointing out other's faults too often?  And, amazingly enough, only my 'ring' finger on my left hand had a nail that looked remotely acceptable.  There's an old legend that might just explain that.

In ancient Egypt, brides were instructed to wear their wedding rings on their left 'ring' finger because of the belief that the vein in that finger connected directly to the heart.  That vein became known as the vena amoris, even unto this day.  The tradition has followed into western Christian cultures and is where most western Christian couples wear their wedding rings today.

Now, I'm not a medical expert and I have no idea if the legend contains one iota of truth.  Frankly, I don't want to know and don't care.  It's a good story and I'm stickin to it!  If you know, don't tell me.  It works better for my post if I don't know!

However, as I contemplated that further, I thought how appropriate that the finger connected to my heart would be the one to thrive.  After all, my heart is where my source of life dwells, it is the home of my Saviour! 

Vena amoris, the formal Latin  name of the vein, means "the vein of love".  How about that?  Love is the thread that holds us all together....husband to wife, parent to child, friend to friend, neighbor to neighbor...Christ to sinner!  It is the source of our being, the reason for our existence.

So, I'll go to church tomorrow a little bit less embarrassed by my hands.  Instead, I'll look down to be reminded that love is the key, the thread that holds me to Jesus.  I'll think of His nail scarred hands.  It is His love that reached down to me even before I was born.  When I am so unlovable, He never walks away.  I could never do anything to deserve His love and that is the beauty of it.  It's mine just for the asking.  Praise God for His matchless love!

"Look at me. I stand at the door. I knock.
If you hear me call and open the door,
I'll come right in and sit down to supper with you.
Conquerors will sit alongside me at the head table,
just as I, having conquered, took the place of honor at the side of my Father.
That's my gift to the conquerors!"

Revelation 3: 20-21

Friday, March 11, 2011

Too Blessed To Be Depressed!!!!!

A bit different than my marquee,
but you get the point!

I saw this bold statement posted on a church marquee today and I must say, it stirred within me some thoughts that I pray will not be mis-interpreted or offensive to anyone.

This was my first thought "AMEN!  Praise Jesus!  Thank you Lord!"; my next thought was that someone who could make that statement had either (a) never suffered from clinical depression, or (b) was suffering from depression and was in denial about it.

I don't want to be offensive to anyone, but I have been a Christian since I was 11 years old and have had major battles with clinical depression.  I could never admit that for many, many years in my early life.  I had been raised in a church that taught that a Christian who was living for Jesus could not suffer from depression.  Through the storms of life, I tried hard to believe that and chided myself often for the feelings I had.

Overwhelming sadness and feelings of extreme isolation....

Overwhelming sadness and feelings of extremem isolation would overtake me for seemingly no reason.  Nothing seemed to set if off and nothing seemed to help.  I spent a week in the hospital when I was only 16 due to stress headaches.  Still, my parents could not see that I needed the medications the doctor prescribed.  After a while, the doctor very bluntly told Momma that I needed the medication and that my thoughts were very near suicidal.  That scared her enough to allow me to take something, but not what the doctor wanted to give me.

So, I suffered on....through the years of early marriage and the heartbreak of infertility and 3 miscarriages.  Through the inevitable hysterectomy that followed within 3 years of the third miscarriage.  Through the loss of my precious Maw McDonald, who was so dear to me.  Through the loss of my Grandma Howell and three uncles.  Through years of battling with my insecurity regarding my salvation.   Through years of battling a chronic health condition that was becoming more and more debilitating.  And finally, through an auto accident that left my husband flat of his back and hospitalized for five months and in out-patient physical therapy for nine months after being discharged from the hospital.

I finally went in to see my doctor and just burst into tears when he walked in smiling to ask what he could help me with.  I blurted out that I did not understand what was happening to me.  Terry was doing remarkably well, walking with only minimal assistance when we had been told he most likely would never walk again.  He was healing both physically and emotionally from the disappointment of being told he could never work again.  Life was better than it had been in many months and yet here I was falling apart!

He was very understanding and began to explain to me that he thought I was suffering from clinical depression.  He explained that this often happens when something life changing has happened to an individual, and yes even a Christian!  He explained it this way....suppose I gave you a one hundred pound pack and told you to throw it over you back and go out and walk up and down the highway until I tell you to come in.

At the end of a year, I call you in, take the burden from your back and tell you to be on your way.  Would you be surprised if your back was in a mess after that?  I answered "No".  He then asked why I was surprised that my emotions were having a hard time adjusting back to a 'normal' life after all we had been through?  For the first time, it made sense to me.

He went on to say that the known causes of depression were: (a) a spiritual condition and (b) a chemical imbalance in your brain caused by stress, (c) an inherited predisposition to depression or many other causes.  He went on to tell me he felt sure I was a Christian but still thought it his duty to ask if I were sure I was a Christian and was I walking daily with the Lord?  I answered that I was a Christian and did feel that I was doing my best to walk as closely with the Lord as I knew how.

He then turned his attention to the chemical imbalance and told me that stress is a real factor in depression and that it has real consequences with respect to causing the imbalances that lead to depression.  He then asked if he could pray with me and proceeded to pray.  He asked the Lord for His guidance in prescibing the right medication for me; he asked Him to continue to heal Terry and to help me deal with my depression and understand that it wasn't my fault, that I had done nothing wrong.

He prescribed an anti-depressant and explained that it may take a while to adjust the dosage properly and that we might even have to change to a different drug completely but that we would find the answer.  Within several weeks, I had gotten my dosage adjusted properly and was feeling so much better I didn't quite know what to think!  I had dealt with depression for years, since my early teens, and never knew I could ever feel good again.  I felt as though the weight of the world had been lifted from my shoulders and I could finally be free to laugh again.

Things that make you go "Hmmmm"

So, perhaps we should think more seriously about the things we post on our church marquee.  I would hate to think some poor depressed individual would drive by and be driven into deeper depression because the church had told them the fault was in them.  After all, isn't that what that sign would say to you if you were deep in a depression?  Wouldn't it tell you that you simply needed to count your blessings, not your problems?  That's another one of those little euphemisms we use sometime!  Hmmmm, perhaps we should think about that one too, huh?!

"I can't stand my life—I hate it!
I'm putting it all out on the table,
all the bitterness of my life—I'm holding back nothing."

Job 10: 1  (The Message)
(So, don't you think Job was a bit depressed?!)

Hope deferred makes the heart sick,
but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.

Proverbs 13: 12  (NIV, 2011)
(A longing fulfilled, or a yearning for peace in your soul,
becomes a tree of life, or a branch to cling to,
when you feel hopeful once again.) 

Thursday, March 10, 2011

A Stallion on Eagle's Wings

If you are interested in watching The Waltons re-runs,
they air M-F on the Inspiration Network,
channel 364 on DirecTV.

I watched a re-run of an old Walton's episode recently. It was entitled "The Wild Mustang".  Like most of their episodes, at least two stories are told in one episode.  This one was no different.  This portion of the episode was about a wild Mustang stallion roaming free on Walton's Mountain.  The stallion was captured by a towns person and held in a pen for onlookers to see, at a price of course. 

The Grandfather, being the naturalist that he is, is furious and demands that Sheriff Epps return the stallion to Walton's Mountain.  The Sheriff reluctantly explains that he cannot do this because the stallion isn't owned by the Walton clan and tells the Grandfather that he must possess a Bill of Sale for the animal or the animal must bear a brand that indicates ownership. 

The stallion inevitably escapes and returns to the mountain.  After hearing this, the Grandfather formulates a plan to catch the stallion and brand him with the Walton brand.  So, the Grandfather sets out to fashion a branding iron and puts his plan into action.   The Grandfather, the Father, John Boy, Jason, Ben and Kurt (the son-in-law), head out for the mountain. 

While the Grandfather and John  Boy construct a holding pen and build a fire to heat the branding iron, the other men manage to capture the stallion.  With some fuss, they cajole the stallion into the holding pen and within minutes, the deed is done.  The stallion is now official Walton property and can never legally be removed from the mountain. 

As the episode closes, the wild Mustang stallion gallops off into the forest running freely where he pleases.  At last, the stallion has true freedom, free from the worry of capture and removal from his home against his will.  His freedom comes from the fact that he now has a benefactor who 'owns' him and guarantees his freedom.  Anyone who comes upon the stallion will know immediately of his benefactor because of the brand placed on his hind quarters. 

I see the parallel of this stallion to my own life.  I was free to roam in this world as I pleased.  I felt safe within the home of my parents.  Then, one day that sense of security, stability and freedom was shattered when my innocence was stolen by a man who refused to respect my boundaries and honor my place in my family. 

For many years, I felt confined within the 'pen' of guilt and shame left by this man's sin.  I felt as though my life had been stolen from me.  The bars of an unforgiving heart held me captive and kept me from returning to my life of freedom.  After a lifetime of living within those bars, I finally found forgiveness in my heart for that man.  Once I did, it was as though God reminded me that He had placed His brand on my heart long before that individual entered my life.  The deeds of another stole the joy of the freedom that experience brought to me. 

When I was willing to forgive that person, my life was returned.  The joy of that refound freedom is so much more dear to me.  I now feel as that stallion must have felt, free to run among the beauty of the life God has given me.  Free to enjoy the blessings He has placed in my life and secure in knowing that His brand is on my heart.  I can choose never to allow anyone to steal my life from me again.  I can choose never to be confined in the 'pens' of this world again. 

Bad experiences may again come into my life, but I can choose to confidently claim my brand and walk freely from the bars those experiences may attempt to place on me.  I am bought with a price; my benefactor made my place in His family secure.  No one can take that from me and no experience can rob me of the joy of that relationship unless I allow it.  I am free to run with the winds of the Holy Spirit buoying me as I go.  I can ride on eagle's wings into each new phase of my life with joy unspeakable and full of glory!

For the one who was a slave when called to faith in the Lord
is the Lord’s freed person;
similarly, the one who was free when called
is Christ’s slave.
You were bought at a price;
do not become slaves of human beings.

1 Corinthians 7: 22-23  (NIV, 2011)

Though youths grow weary and tired,
And vigorous young men stumble badly,
Yet those who wait for the LORD
Will gain new strength;
They will mount up with wings like eagles,
They will run and not get tired,
They will walk and not become weary.

Isaiah 40: 30-31  (NASB)

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

HELP! I'm home and I don't wanna leave........

A strange condition has overtaken me and I'm not quite sure I know when it happened.  These are my current symptoms:
  • an uncontrollable urge to sink into my comfy chair, kick my feet up and languish
  • a deep dread of having to leave my house
  • fighting the urge to lounge around all day in my jammies
  • waiting until the last possible moment before walking out my door
  • thinking and planning for hours in order to combine as many tasks as is possible into just one trip out
  • making a mad dash out of any trip out of the house
  • running through the aisles at Wal Mart in order to 'hurry up'
  • making wild and vociferous complaints against anyone who hinders a speedy return to my house
  • sighing when I pull my car into my drive
  • dropping clothing as I go in order to return to my jammies
If you are familiar with these symptoms and can shed any light on my condition, please respond with haste.  I fear the mad dash must return tomorrow and the angst has already begun.

God guards you from every evil,
he guards your very life.
He guards you when you leave and when you return,
he guards you now, he guards you always.

Psalms 121: 7-8  (The Message)

Monday, March 7, 2011

Forever's As Far As I'll Go.........

(You must disable my playlist before trying to listen to this song.)

When this song was released by Alabama in 1990, Terry told me it said exactly what his heart felt for me.  He was so faithful to the Lord and to me, our love lives on in eternity.  He was right, Forever's As Far As I'll Go.

I love you Terry, I miss you so much but I am healing.  Happy Birthday in heaven!

And He answered and said,
"Have you not read that He who created them
from the beginning
made them male and female, and said,
'For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother
and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh'?
"So they are no longer two, but one flesh.
What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate."

Matthew 19:4-6  (NASB)

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Twenty Years of Love

Caleb---The last of the GRANDS!!!

Caleb with his brother, Jacob

Twenty years ago today, this young man entered our world.  He is the youngest child of my middle sister and the youngest of all of Momma and Daddy's grand babies.  Charlotte always said he was the souvenir Ricky brought home from Russia with him!  If so, he's the BEST souvenir we've ever gotten! 

Caleb with his sister, brothers and cousin, Summer 1992.
Jared, Caleb, Katie, Adam, and Jacob
 He has been a joy to our family from Day 1.  He possesses a precious heart for the Lord and displays it in his life every day.  He is courageous, strong, determined, faithful, devoted and responsible beyond his years.  He always has been. 

Uncle Caleb and Allyson
She loves her Uncle Caleb!

So, Happy Birthday Caleb; more than you will ever know or understand, you have been a blessing in my life.  I will hold you always in my heart.  You cannot go far enough, get old enough, say something bad enough, act ugly enough or do anything so horrendous that I will not love you.  Caleb, I pray you will always abide by these words. I love you.

How can a young person live a clean life?

By carefully reading the map of your Word.
I'm single-minded in pursuit of you;
don't let me miss the road signs you've posted.
I've banked your promises in the vault of my heart
so I won't sin myself bankrupt.

Psalms 119:9-11

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Bounty, Beauty and Blessing............

Allyson & Kayleigh

These little beauties are my nephew's daughters.  Although Allyson has reached the stage of sometimes having a real problem with jealousy, she adores her baby sister.  They are precious to me, as are my niece's children. 

The Birthday Beauty!

Allyson has been such a big girl since her baby sister was born last summer.  This past week, she celebrated her 4th birthday.  It's hard to believe she's already four and so grown up! 

Smiling Allyson and her Barefoot Baby Sister!

Yep, these little ladies are just two of the little ones that make up the center of my universe.  I am so blessed to know their unconditional love and to experience the pure joy that comes when they wrap their little arms around me.  I love you Allyson and Kayleigh.  Happy Birthday, Sweet Allyson!  You light up my life!!!!

Don't you see that children are God's best gift?
the fruit of the womb his generous legacy?
Like a warrior's fistful of arrows
are the children of a vigorous youth.
Oh, how blessed are you parents,
with your quivers full of children!
Your enemies don't stand a chance against you;
you'll sweep them right off your doorstep.

Psalms 127: 3-5  (The Message)