Wednesday, November 28, 2012



Belonging.....what does that mean to you?  I have struggled for my entire life trying to figure that one out.  I was a chubby child and was always being put on one diet or the other by my Momma.  I have always had strong opinions, but wasn't secure enough in who I am to express my opinions.  I struggle with feeling 'good' enough or  'smart' enough or 'important' enough.............ENOUGH!

I accepted Jesus at the age of eleven.  I thought I would instantly change into this confident child who would no longer struggle with so many issues.  Unfortunately, the things that happened to me along the way didn't boost my self-esteem, rather they conspired to make it even worse.

I met and married a wonderfully imperfect man who loved me perfectly.  Now, surely I would have 'it', that elusive 'it' that would make me feel as if I belonged.  Again, it didn't happen.  I was totally comfortable with him, had no qualms about making my point decisively with him!  I was semi-confident with my immediate family.  Outside of that very small circle, I was never 'me' because I didn't know who 'me' was.

Me with my biological sisters
Smoky Mtn. Sister Vacation
April, 2012

I was constantly changing myself, my beliefs, my way of being in this world.  I thought I would change enough to finally find 'me' and live confidently.  It did not happen.  I needed acceptance so much that I would make myself over into whatever image seemed acceptable at the time.  I lived behind an elaborate facade.  My poor husband didn't know who would be awaiting his return at the end of the day.  He often told me I could 'flip' my personality quicker than the blink of an eye.

I didn't have a personality disorder.  I was always in control of that, but too insecure to assert myself.  I didn't like 'me'.  I didn't want to stand out, I wanted to shrink into the woodwork.  The real dichotomy is that I had (have) such a LOUD personality.  I continue to struggle with that.  It made no sense to me that I hated being in the spotlight, but I was so aggressive that the spotlight was exactly where I ended up.  I was (am) very dramatic.

Then, God rained his mercy on me by bringing a group of women into my life that have changed me forever.  The Sisterhood of the Traveling Scarf..............they love me like Momma, Daddy and my sisters loved me.  They love me like my husband loved me............unconditionally with no judgement. 

My 'other' sisters!

When I'm with these women, I can speak my mind and they understand.  They support me with that same type of acceptance as those closest to my heart always have.  With these women, I BELONG.  They accept my dramatic personality and love me anyway.  When I agree with them AND when I disagree with them, they just love me.  I no longer feel the need to be aggressive.  Assertiveness carries my message and they accept me WITH my message.

So, now I have these two wonderful biological sisters who love me AND these sisters of my heart who love me as does my family.  Their love and acceptance has helped me find myself in the Lord.  After the death of my parents and my husband, I feared I would be forever lonely.  Nothing could be farther from the truth.  The love of all these sisters, both biological and heart sisters, in my life has opened me up.  My heart loves more freely because of their loving acceptance.

In my 55 years of being on this earth, I now know I BELONG.  God always sends what I need the most when I need it the most.  I wish I had accepted that fact earlier in my walk with Him.  I wish I had sought Jesus more personally instead of blaming others for my lack of understanding of God and who He is and how He loves me.

Belonging...............what a wonderful feeling!

And this same God who takes care of me
will supply all your needs from his glorious riches,
which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.
 Now all glory to God our Father
forever and ever! Amen.
Philippians 4:19-20   (NLT)

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Showers of Blessing.......With A Catch

There shall be showers of blessing............

The Lord will open up the heavens.
That’s where he stores his riches.
He will send rain on your land
at just the right time.
He’ll bless everything you do.
You will lend money to many nations.
But you won’t have to borrow
from any of them.
The Lord your God
will make you leaders, not followers.
Pay attention to his commands
that I’m giving you today.
Be careful to follow them.
Then you will always be on top.
You will never be on the bottom.
And, here's the catch............we must follow his commands and not turn away.  The blessings are ours, but only when we obey him.
Don’t turn away
from any of the commands
I’m giving you today.
Don’t turn to the right or the left.
Don’t follow other gods.
Don’t worship them.
Deuteronomy 28:12-14  (NIRV)

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Black Friday

Yesterday was, depending upon your viewpoint, either celebrated as a day of bargain shopping, endured as a day of hoping to find a bargain AND purchase it without mortal injury to your person or enjoyed as a day of relaxation after the large gatherings of Thanksgiving and enjoying the leftovers of said gatherings. 
Black Friday, so named because it is supposedly the day during which retail businesses' profits finally flip over into the black side of the ledger, finally actually show a profit for the year.  Frankly, I'm not convinced of that, but I digress.
For me, it was actually neither.  I didn't celebrate anything, I wasn't about to endure the frenzy at the stores and I didn't have leftovers.  Instead, I passed my day reflecting on how we can go from being so "thankful" and "family-centric" during the earlier hours of the day to the hoopla and frenzy of all that shopping before the day is even over.
We must be, in some manner, mentally incapacitated.  How do we reconcile one extreme with the other, and all within a 24-hour period of time?  It seems somehow wrong to me.  But, I'm no judge.
Of this one fact I am sure, as the image depicts, there was a Black Friday when the balances of eternity hung between heaven and earth.  The God of the universe looked down from heaven as His Son hung on a cross, suffering an horrific death.  A sacrifice so freely made that it boggles one's mind to imagine that this man would actually go through with it.
Yet there he hung, this God-Man who had the power and authority to call the angelic armies of heaven to his rescue.  He did not.  He hung there, suffering, bleeding and dying for each and every human being from Adam to the last individual to be born before eternity begins.  As surely as he did it for all humanity, he would have as willingly done so for any one of us.  Just one.........
From all human perspective it was, indeed, a Black Friday.  Yet from the heavenly perspective, it was the fulfillment of every promise God had ever made to humankind.  That Black Friday changed everything.  Did it change anything for you?  I pray it did.  If it has not, it still can.  You need only to invite that man who died on that cross to reside within your heart, to forgive your sin and empower you to walk with Him.
Just something to reflect on......
“For God loved the world so much
that he gave his one and only Son,
so that everyone who believes in him
will not perish but have eternal life.
God sent his Son into the world
not to judge the world,
but to save the world through him.
“There is no judgment against anyone
who believes in him.
But anyone who does not believe
in him has already been judged
for not believing
in God’s one and only Son.
And the judgment is based on this fact:
God’s light came into the world,
but people loved the darkness
more than the light,
for their actions were evil.
All who do evil hate the light
and refuse to go near it
for fear their sins will be exposed.
But those who do what is right
come to the light
so others can see
that they are doing what God wants.”
John 3: 16-21   (NLT)

Friday, November 23, 2012

55 --- Caressed In Love

Baby Di

Yesterday, I joined the 55 Club....yes, I am now 55 years young.  For some reason, I expected 55 to feel different than this.  Then again, I'm not quite sure what I expected it to feel like?  I told my sister that I didn't feel 55, that my mind still feels 16.  She said "I don't know, I think my mind has caught up with my body"!

I know I must be the oddest individual on earth, but when I walked outside yesterday morning and saw the fog laying deep and thick over the pastures and forests; it gave my heart a lift.  You see, strange!

I like thunderstorms.... I like lightning storms.... I like gloomy, rainy days, and I like deep, heavy fog...too fruity for a salad, I’m tellin’ ya!


When I saw the fog, I couldn’t help but think that the Lord was laying just that deep and heavy in my spirit….heavy, not in a bad way, but heavy in a comforting, holding-me-close, caressing me kind of way.
I still feel 16 when I listen to 70s music and think about those early years with my then boyfriend.  I can hear the 8-track blasting Lynard Skynard, soothing me with Jim Croce or waxing nostalgic with John Denver.  I can hear the roaring of his car engine as we drove down those country lanes.  I hear the sound of his voice "singing" (quotation marks are for emphasis since he couldn't actually "sing") those songs as he drove and drummed the steering wheel or the dashboard.  I hear the sound of our laughter and our easy banter as we came to know each other and then as we found ourselves falling in love.

August, 1974

Those are beautiful memories.  Suddenly, I'm no longer the girl of 16 but the young woman in my 30s and the music has changed, but the boyfriend has now been my husband for about 15 years.  He still "sings" to me, we even dance around the living room every now and again.  We laugh, we cry, we dream....we're still falling in love.

 More beautiful memories.  Now, I've moved forward to the middle-aged woman of my 40s.  Our lives have changed so much; he suffers chronic pain and the laughter is often dimmed by the endless pain.  His eyes still laugh, he smiles, he "sings" but we no longer dance.  We sit together, thankful to still have the privilege to do so.  We talk about the dreams that didn't come true and the dreams we've exchanged them for.  We're still falling in love.

June, 1995
Our 20th Anniversary Party

Precious memories.  From the middle-aged woman of my 40s I now see in my mind's eye the woman of 51.  He is dying.  There's not much time left....exactly 65 days from my 51st birthday, he crosses the river and rests in eternity.  I sit beside his bed and hold his hand in mine.  I caress his face and kiss him one last time.  There are no more dreams, only memories of how we lived them.  From the day we met when I was 15-1/2 until the day he crossed over, we were falling in love.

March 8, 2008

It's now 4 years since that birthday, the last birthday I shared with him.  The memories are bittersweet but the realities are more precious than any dream could ever be.  The love we built now lives in eternity.....and I go on.  From the moment I met him, I knew I would love him forever.  I was right.  From my 16th birthday until my 51st birthday, he shared each one with me.  He held me in his arms, squeezed me to him, kissed the top of my head and said "I love you punkin', more every birthday".  We were falling in love.

Earlier this is what it is!

Yep, watching that fog laying in over the hollows felt like the Lord was wrapping me in His arms and holding me close because He knows how much I needed to feel that on my birthday.  I will never get over how much God loves me!  How He goes to great lengths just to give me little moments of pure joy.  Now you tell me, why would anyone want to turn away a God like that?

For I assisted the poor in their need
and the orphans who required help.
I helped those without hope,
and they blessed me.
And I caused the widows’ hearts
to sing for joy.
Everything I did was honest.
Righteousness covered me like a robe,
and I wore justice like a turban.
Job 29:12-14  (NLT)


Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thank You, Lord

"In everything by prayer and supplication,
with thanksgiving,
let your request be made known to God."
         Philippians 4:6 
As we set aside a day to give thanks for our many blessings, may we not forget those who are suffering, who have lost jobs and haven't been able to find another, who have lost their homes, whose meager existence makes them feel inadequate or anxious.

May we lift our hearts in prayer to our Provider not only for all we have to be thankful, but for those whose hearts are broken due to illness or the loss of a loved one. 

For all that we have, and all we may have lost, we are incredibly blessed.  May the Lord grant each of you peace of mind, joy in your heart and contentment with what you have. 

I pray we won't forget the men and women who are defending our freedom, both at home a abroad, and their families who wait for their return.

May God bless each of you and may GOD BLESS AMERICA.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Thank You, Lord

Even though I keep my eyes closed
against the morning light
as long as possible; thank you, Lord,
that I can see.
Many are blind.

Jesus then said, “I came into the world
to bring everything into
the clear light of day,
making all the distinctions clear,
so that those who have never seen will see,
and those who have made a great
pretense of seeing will be exposed as blind.”

 John 9:39  (The Message)

Monday, November 19, 2012

Thank You, Lord

Even though I clutch my blanket and growl
when the alarm rings;
Thank you, Lord, that I can hear.
There are many who are deaf.

Be cheerful no matter what;
pray all the time;
thank God no matter what happens.
This is the way God wants you
who belong to Christ Jesus to live.
I Thessalonians 5: 16-18  (The Message)

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Life on a Rutted Dirt Road
Final Installment

And so, the question now looms….what did I learn about God, about myself, about people, about life…from my experiences on the rutted dirt road?

It has taken me virtually all of my life to come to a place of forgiveness toward my molester. Though I had accepted Christ at 11, I was raised in a very legalistic religious environment.

I was a very young Christian when I was raped. I was angry with God on so many fronts.  The anger with God grew until I simply ignored it and pushed it deeper and deeper within me.

I began to confront my negative emotions when my husband became permanently disabled.  I started a very slow process of dragging it all back to the surface and trying to repair some of the ruts.

I started to try to find God in all that was going on.  As I did so, I found something I had not bargained for…God is not interested in my comfort; He is interested in my growth as I draw closer to Him. 

I had no time or energy for church. I spent 24 hours a day, seven days a week doing nothing but taking care of my husband.  We were judged harshly by our former church, which made it even easier to pull away.

As I pulled away from the church, I decided I didn’t care what they thought about me.  The moment I came to that conclusion, one very deeply embedded rut began to collapse on itself and I found a degree of peace and comfort in knowing that the repairs had begun.

During that time of pulling away, I began to realize that God was with me.  In ways I had never imagined, God was there.  He had not left me, walked away from me or turned His face from me.  I noticed that I was beginning to feel the joy of the Lord, not glee or giggly, not happy, but joyful. 

You see, I realized that happiness and the joy of the Lord are two very different emotions.  Happiness is a surface, fleeting emotion; it is an emotion you choose and accompanies good times in your life.  The joy of the Lord is an awareness of peace settled deep within in the time of great happiness OR great sorrow. 

The joy of the Lord isn’t something you choose, it is a gift instilled within your heart when you accept Christ.  It is always there in spite of your circumstances.  It may become deeply hidden as experiences are confronted during a lifetime.  As hidden as it may be, it remains in the depths of your heart; it does not leave you, you walk away from the joy.

I also came to understand that, when Jesus told His disciples that they should love their neighbor as themselves, He wasn’t talking about ONLY the good neighbors, He included ALL neighbors. 

Every human being walking the face of this earth is worthy of my love and forgiveness because Jesus commanded me to give those gifts to them.  No other requirement must be met; He loved them, I am also to love them. Love and forgiveness are not choices; they are commands from the Lord.

I’ve often heard different people say “but for the grace of God, there go I”.  I started to get a glimpse of just how much I needed God’s grace; how much the human race needs God’s grace.  The man who raped me repeatedly that night did not deserve love or forgiveness, but I have no choice but to give those gifts to him if I expect to be of real use to the Lord in Kingdom work.  I didn’t/don’t deserve God’s love and forgiveness; He freely gave both to me.

You may be reading this and thinking “wow, this chic is S-L-O-W; I’ve known that all my life”!  Yes, I had known it all my life too, in my head.  Knowing God from your heart is a totally different kind of ‘knowing’.  You know ABOUT God in your head.  That knowledge is useless to you unless you come to know Him in your heart. 

I am also aware that many Christians would question my salvation because I did not learn those lessons during my development as a young Christian.  I held those attitudes against so many people for so many years.  I came to realize I must forgive those people too.  I didn’t WANT to forgive them, but Jesus commanded me to do so.

As I opened my heart to loving and forgiving others, I found it easier to forgive myself.  I remembered that Christ had instructed His disciples to love their neighbors as they loved themselves.  How can I ever love and forgive my fellow man rightly if I have not learned how to love and forgive myself? 

So, I started to work on that and let me tell you, it was the most difficult of any of the lessons I learned.  I would never approve of having feelings against someone else that I held against myself.  Our first and most important journey with God should be learning to see ourselves as He sees us; to love ourselves as He loves us.  Not the type of vain self-absorption the world attempts to convince us of; but real love and appreciation for the individual God created.

Once we see ourselves the way God sees us, we can love ourselves the way He loves us.  Once we love ourselves the way God loves us, we can love others as we love ourselves.  Any other attempt at love will fail because true love begins in God.

You must love him
with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.’
The second most important commandment
says: ‘Love others as much
as you love yourself.’
No other commandment
is more important than these.”

 Mark 12:30-31   (CEV)

Stop being angry and
don’t try to take revenge.
I am the Lord, and I command you
to love others as much as you love yourself.

Leviticus 19:18 (CEV)

Thank You, Lord

"Every day be thankful
for what you have
and who you are."

Always be glad because of the Lord!
I will say it again: Be glad. 
Always be gentle with others.
The Lord will soon be here. 
Don’t worry about anything,
but pray about everything.
With thankful hearts offer up
your prayers and requests to God. 
Then, because you belong to Christ Jesus,
God will bless you with peace
that no one can completely understand.
And this peace will control
the way you think and feel.
Phillipians 4:4-7  (CEV)

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Life on a Rutted Dirt Road

Part IV
Even a rutted dirt road looks good
underneath a snowy blanket!

Ruts left unattended over the seasons turn into treacherous roads.  The longer the ruts are unattended, the worse the travel becomes.  The ruts grow deeper, slicker and more difficult to fix once you try.

The same is true with the spiritual ruts of our lives.  If old pains are avoided, buried, left attended, they become worse with every passing day.  If those ruts are unattended for years, they can become almost unfixable.

They take on a life of their own.  New hurts pile on top of old pains, burying them deeply in your heart.  After some period of time has passed, you begin to be unable to recognize the origin of the pain.  You see your current pain as the source of your woes.

Such was the problem in my life when my late husband and I began to want to have children.  We had talked at length about having children prior to our marriage and continued to discuss it as the years began to pass after our marriage.  We had had a sort scare in our first year of marriage when we were afraid I was pregnant.  We both knew the timing was not right, but that we would love and give our best to the child were I to be pregnant.

As it turned out, I was not pregnant and we were both relieved.  Although I must admit to having had secret feelings of sadness when we learned I was not pregnant.  In the fall after our second anniversary, my youngest sister and her husband had a son.  He was beautiful and we all doted on him.  He had some birth defects but the doctors began surgeries to repair his face when he was six weeks old.

That same fall, my doctor had told me that I had a disorder known as poly cystic ovarian syndrome.  It caused my ovarian walls to become thickened and ovulating wasn’t happening.  He advised that we should begin to try for children if we wanted to have children.

I was scared to death at the prospect of not having children.  I thought Terry and I were on the same page regarding that issue, but it turned out he wasn’t ready to have children just yet.  Even with the doctor’s advice, he just was not ready for children at that time.  So, we put it off.

The medical condition became worse and my doctor told us very directly that, if we did not begin trying very soon, the likelihood of achieving pregnancy was very low.  Terry still was not ready, so we put it off again.  Once we finally began to actively try to get pregnant, the chances were very low that it would happen.

After a year of trying, we were unsuccessful so we started to see a fertility specialist.  After 6-7 years of trying with no results, I had surgery.  After the surgery, we achieved three pregnancies, but lost each child in miscarriage.  The longest pregnancy was about 5 months.  My heart was broken in more ways than I can name.

The old pain of the abuse was buried so deeply but the guilt and shame began to show up in self-deprecation and blame.  Again, I began to think the abuse was my fault and not having children was my punishment.  All of the old pain pushed the new pain up in my heart and spirit like the lava of a volcano boiling up to explode out into the world and cause great destruction.

It shaded everything in my life.  I was angry with my husband because he had made me wait so long.  I was angry with my sisters for having children while I had none.  I was angry at those who took their children for granted and used or abused them.  More than anything, I was again vehemently angry with God.

The longer I went childless the more I was angry with God; the more vindicated I felt for holding a secret grudge against Him.  It was, after all, His fault.  If He really was God and He really did love me, He could fix this.  Yet, He did not.  Just as He had forsaken me in that man’s bedroom, He was now forsaking me in this gut-wrenching pain and loneliness.  I didn’t want any part of Him or His so-called love for me.  If this was love, I didn’t want it or need it and I didn’t want or need God!

The emotional pain was so deep and so all-consuming that I would huddle in the corner of my closet and wail and pull handfuls of my hair from my head.  I pushed everyone away from me, even my husband.  He was no better than God because He had been selfish and had made me succumb to his desires without considering my heart.

Understand that there were times of almost happiness; I think it is fair to say that no one, not even my husband, would have guessed all that was going on with me.  I kept my emotions very well hidden and lied openly if asked about them.  I worked; I continued to work in our church, played the piano for our church and went about my life as though nothing were wrong.  Everyone thought I was amazing.  How did I go through all of that stay so positive?  What a hypocrite I was!

As the years passed, I learned well how to appear very happy and well-adjusted while falling apart inside.  I was a Christian, no doubt about that.  I tried not to be, I got ‘saved’ at least 3-4 times during those years.  The truth was, I accepted Jesus when I was 11 and just tried so hard to be lost again so I could believe that God was just judging me so harshly because He was trying to get my attention.  I was so confused.

I was a non-person; I wasn’t a Mommy and then the stages of life changed and I learned how to be a totally different kind of non-person….I was not a Grandma, or Grammy or Nana or anything!    It was a new stage of pain, of being unimportant to God.

Then, April 13, 2000 happened….then God suddenly became important to me again.  My husband was involved in a tragic automobile accident.  He was hospitalized for 5 months and was in out-patient physical therapy for an additional 9 months after discharge from the hospital.  From April 13, 2000 until June, 2001 my every effort was directed toward making sure my husband was taken care of.  One phone call changed my world forever.

I often say BUT GOD……..that’s exactly what happened…..BUT GOD.  God stepped out of heaven and met me where I was, in the middle of my pain and despair, He showed me who He really was and how much I needed Him.

In Part V, I will tell you about some of the wonders of God I have come to understand because of my deep-rooted ruts.


I am frightened
and tremble all over,
when I hear the roaring voice
of God in the thunder,….
creating miracles too marvelous
for us to understand….

 God cannot be seen—
but his power is great,
and he is always fair.
And so we humans fear God,
because he shows no respect
for those who are proud
and think they know so much.

 Job 37:  1-2, 5, 23-24   (CEV)

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Civics and God

(Today, I am taking a break from Rutted Dirt Roads.
That series will return with my next post.)

Old Glory

Then Jesus told them,
“Give the Emperor what belongs to him

A Prayerful Heart

and give God what belongs to God.”
The men were amazed at Jesus.
St. Mark 12: 17 (CEV)
I cast my ballot yesterday and gave to my country what belongs to my country.

Both prior to voting and following it, I pray and give to God what belongs to God.

The fate of my country lies not in my ballot, but in my prayer. That, however, does not free me from the responsibility of casting my ballot; many have died that I might enjoy that freedom. For those who died, I have proudly performed my civic duty.

Though I am disappointed in the results of the election process, I know our future is held within the hands of a gracious God who expects obedience and will chastise those who are disobedient.

May we, as a people, repent and return to our God.

Then if my people who are called by my name
will humble themselves and pray and seek my face
and turn from their wicked ways,
I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins
and restore their land.

II Chronicles 7:14   (NLT)

Make this your common practice:
Confess your sins to each other
and pray for each other
so that you can live together whole and healed.
The prayer of a person living right with God
is something powerful to be reckoned with.
James 5: 16 (The Message)