Monday, April 28, 2008

Once upon a time...

Rebecca’s second wedding anniversary is this week. She’s celebrating by sharing on her blog the story of how she met her husband. She’s invited and inspired others to share theirs too, so here is mine. Once Upon a time…

One of the first jobs I had after graduating from college was as flight attendant for a commuter airline. My home base changed with the tourist traffic, so during the winter months I lived I in Florida, at home with my parents. During the summer months I lived in Cape Cod, Massachusetts with a house full of other flight attendants.

After spending the summer months in New England, I returned to Florida just after Labor Day. The very next Sunday I went to church and learned they had hired a new staff member while I was away. Scott was the new Minister of Music and Youth. He was fresh out of seminary and this was his first full time ministry position.

There were a few other singles at the church, most of whom I knew quite well having grown up with them. In a brief conversation with one of the girls, I gathered that she was interested in Scott. I put my matchmaking skills to work.

The Trivial Pursuit board game was really popular then, so I set out to set up a social game. I don’t really remember how it actually came about, but it wasn’t long before several of us ended up at Scott’s apartment (he was the only one with his own apartment at the time) to answer stupid questions and fill our game pieces with colored pie wedges. The ulterior motive of the game night was to get Scott and the other girl some face time somewhere other than church.

At one point in the game, one person went to the bathroom, one went out to their car to get something, one went to use the phone, one went to the kitchen to get a drink. Everyone had stepped away from the game board for one reason or another. Everyone, that is, except Scott and I. He didn’t waste any time. While it was just the two of us, he asked me out to dinner.

I was a little stunned and totally not expecting that from him. After all, I was there to fix him up with someone else. I think my response was something like, “Where did that come from?”

I did eventually agree to go to dinner with him. It was early in the week when I agreed and we set the date for the following weekend. Apparently Scott was having difficulty waiting until the weekend because by Wednesday he asked me to go out for dessert and coffee. I am not that fond of apple pie or coffee, but I went.

We dated for a couple of months. Scott got anxious again and it wasn’t long before he said to me, “I want you to be my wife.”

I told him that was nice. As far as I could tell, that was not a question.

Thus began a lifetime of learning to communicate in a whole new way. Me, learning to hear what he meant instead of what he actually said. Him, learning patience as he waits through my long pauses as I take inordinate amounts of time to formulate into words what is really going on in my head.

After some coaching, he did actually offer a proposal in the form of a question.

It took some convincing for me. It’s that hesitation thing I do. Being one who has difficulty jumping right in, my answer was, “I can’t say no.”

He says it was love at first sight for him. He’s like that. When he sees something that hits the spot, he’s never satisfied with anything else.

That was in September. The wedding was the following June.

That was over 20 years ago.

It has been, and still is, a wild and crazy ride with all kinds of ups and downs. The one thing I know for sure now after 20 years of marriage is that there will never be another. This is it and I'm going to hang on to it as tightly as I can. And that is not just because of my commitment to Scott, but my commitment to Jesus. Following His directions is what has held us together for so long.

Wives, understand and support your husbands in ways that show your support for Christ. The husband provides leadership to his wife the way Christ does to his church, not by domineering but by cherishing. So just as the church submits to Christ as he exercises such leadership, wives should likewise submit to their husbands. Ephesians 5:22-24

Friday, April 25, 2008

Pumpernickel, please

“All the bread is hot. Would you like a wrap?”

That is one of the most confusing things anyone has said to me all week.

Now, I know I’m not much of a cook. I’ve never baked my own bread so I will admit I might be a little ignorant on all the culinary processes necessary to achieve yeasty yumminess. I have, however, probably eaten way more than my share of loaves and rolls. I have eaten so much of it, in fact, that I have become a connoisseur. That’s just a fancy way of saying I’m a bread snob. I don’t really like sliced white bread all that much anymore. I’m all about the dark breads with seeds and grains in them.

I also think the bread making people that supply buns to fast food restaurants try to fool us by putting sesame seeds on plain white bread rolls to make us think they have added class and elegance to a hamburger. Hmmmpf, I won’t be fooled to lower my standards any more (I’ve already sunk to eating the white bread bun - - isn’t that enough of a compromise?!!) I usually pick the sesame seeds off, or trade my top bun for my husband’s bottom bun. I end up with two bottoms and no sesame seeds.

So, when someone tells me the bread is hot, I think that’s a good thing. Mmmmm, fresh out of the oven. The aroma. The butter-melting warmth.

Apparently, there are times “all the bread is hot” means it is not fit to eat.

Scott and I had a long day and had not had a chance to eat dinner until late. As I said, I’m not much of a cook, especially when it’s late in the day and I’m hungry. We headed to Subway for a sub sandwich. The greeting we received…

“All the bread is hot. Would you like a wrap?”

I asked the young woman to repeat what she said. She did, “All the bread is hot. Would you like a wrap?”

I had to ask, “Is that a BAD thing?”

Someone else behind the counter piped in with a little more explanation about hot bread being too hard to chew. Well, my goodness. I never knew.

I guess the greeting sandwich artist and I both assumed the same thing….that I knew more about bread than I actually did.

Then Jesus declared, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.”
John 6:35

Monday, April 21, 2008

Do What?

In case you missed my previous post about how much I love signs that make me think about everything else EXCEPT for the purpose they were intended, I have discovered another one. Yes, again, right here in my little town, on the corner of what is probably the busiest intersection just a mile or so from the interstate.

OK, so, DO NOT…..???? Do not what????

Hmmmm, let me think.


…let your shrubs be the boss
…waste your money on signs
…pass go or collect $200
…try this at home
…go gentle into that dark night

A few other things come to mind.


…murder, commit adultery, steal - Mark 10:19
…covet - Romans 13:9
…judge - Luke 6:37
…be discouraged - Joshua 1:9
…be afraid - Isaiah 44:8
There are sometimes when the best advice is just don’t do it!

"Do not follow the crowd in doing wrong.” Exodus 23:2

Could you repeat that, please?

Have you ever had one of those days when every time you turn around, there IT is? One of those days when there’s reminder of whatever IT is everywhere you go? You begin to sense that someone’s trying to tell you something. There’s a message intended for you and you keep missing it, so it keeps getting thrown in your path.

I had one of those days recently, and the repercussions are still affecting me.

A week or so ago Scott bought a book that I promptly hijacked so I could read it first: Gripped by the Greatness of God by James MacDonald.

In the very first chapter the author wrote commentary on Isaiah 6:1-7, the scripture that says, "…and one called out to another and said, 'Holy, Holy, Holy, is the LORD of hosts, The whole earth is full of His glory' ”…

He said:
“God does not present His holiness as a horizontal prescription for human activity. God displays holiness as the central and defining essence of His character. I know some people think that God is defined by love, but I would beg differ. If love was at the very center of God’s nature, then He could have welcomed us into heaven without the atoning death of His Son, Jesus. Fact is, God’s holiness demanded that sin be paid for, and then His love compelled Him to pay the price Himself.”

I am often marked and stirred by other people’s words and this was no exception. I guess I have been one of those people who thought, or really just assumed, that what I had heard all my life was the absolute truth: God is love. After reading that first chapter, I began to see that, yes, that is true, but there is more.

As I always do when I read something that leads me to think a little differently, I have to percolate on it a while before I formulate how I really feel about it personally.

A couple of days went by as I continued to think about this holiness thing. I read a little further in the book. Several pages over from my previous reading, James MacDonald continued his description of Isaiah 6:3 saying:

“So these burning ones call back and forth, back and forth, back and forth, never ceasing: “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of hosts, the whole earth is full of His glory.”
“And this never stops. This praise never ceases. It goes on and on through countless eons of time. This brings to mind a well-known Bible teacher who recently visited our church and ridiculed modern worship (music) as a collection of repetitious ditties. How strange that such a good man would not be fond of something God not only appreciates but had ordained, namely the endless, changeless chorusing of a great single line of certainty. When the truth is significant, there is great power in repetition, especially if the subject is an attribute of God.”
That paragraph tickled my ears enough that I had to read it out loud to Scott. That was Tuesday night.

Wednesday morning I turn on the TV to Wednesdays with Beth Moore on Life Today (you can see that video for yourself here). She was teaching on the Almighty being the God who was, and is, and is to come. She read from Revelation 4: “Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under his wings. Day and night they never stop saying: "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come."

There it was again. Holy, holy, holy. Even though it was two different scripture references, it was the same three words that had been at the top of my thoughts the last couple of days.

Later that day, I got in my car and turned on the CD player, streaming from my speakers was the contemporary worship song…

Holy, holy, holy,
Holy, holy, holy
Holy is the lord, God Almighty.
Worthy to receive glory,
Worthy to receive honor,
Worthy to receive all our praise today.

Praise him, praise him and lift him up;
Praise him, exalt his name forever.
Praise him, praise him and lift him up;

Praise him, exalt his name forever.

Over and over they sang it.

I thought to myself, surely God must be trying to tell me something. He keeps putting this holy, holy, holy business in front of me, over and over and over again.

Later that evening when I got to choir practice and surveyed the table where the new music is laid out for us to pick up, there it was again. An arrangement of the traditional hymn ...
Holy, holy, holy,
Lord, God Almighty
Early in the morning my song shall rise to Thee….

Again with the holy, holy, holy. With all the repeated reminders of this repetitious phrase, surely there is something in it for me.

The holiness of God goes on and on. That's worth repeating.

OK, I get it now and I pray that’s one little ditty that I never get out of my head.

"Holy, holy, holy..." Revelation 4: 8 and Isaiah 6:3

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Monday, April 14, 2008

Anybody got a pen I could use?

The past couple of days I have had a feeling or a sense of just being overwhelmed by life. There have not been any major or dramatic circumstances to deal with, but all the little, tiny, everyday life things seemed to be adding up. Like the dust bunny over the front window, all the smudges on my bathroom mirror, clothes that need to go to the cleaners, watches that need new batteries, a laundry basket full of stinky towels, dirty dishes in the sink, leaves covering the yard, the checkbook. Ahh, the checkbook. That’s where my meltdown began.

I needed to make sure all those debit card receipts I had been carrying around in my wallet were actually recorded in the checkbook register. I then had one check to write (to the IRS; tomorrow is April 15). As I always do because I make lots of mistakes when it comes to math, I was using a pencil to write the debits in the register. I needed a pen to write that one check.

A pen. One little pen.

I went to the drawer in the kitchen that is directly below the counter where the phone is located. That drawer contains a couple of phone books, several note pads, and keys to the storage building out back. And pens. About 40 or 50 of them.

If we’ve written down something while we’re talking on the phone, when the conversation is over we put the cordless phone back on the base there on that counter and then drop the pen in that drawer. It’s a matter of convenience. No matter that we picked a pen up somewhere else. Over time, the number of writing utensils in that drawer multiplies. The pen population had grown so large that it was time for an intervention.

The overgrown pen colony was just too much for me to deal with in my vulnerable state of overwhelmdomness. I scooped up all but about 2 or 3 pens from that drawer and set out on a mission.

I headed to the little table by my bed. The top of that little table is loaded with books I’m currently reading, books I’ve started but haven’t finished yet, and books I haven’t started yet but want to read next. Seldom do I read a book without a pencil in my hand as I like to underline, highlight, and make notes as I read. So, again because of convenience and its close proximity to my books, that little drawer was also loaded with pens and pencils. I gathered up about 25 or 30 from that drawer.

From there I went through the plastic organizer on the small computer desk, the cup on the end table in the living room, my purse (why does any woman need 5 pens and 1 pencil in her purse?), the large tote bag I use for a briefcase, my car, my Bible, and the dining room table.

Two people, one house, 4,365 writing utensils. It’s ridiculous.

Part of why this is all so crazy is that we do have an official permanent location for writing utensils in our house. The bottom right drawer of the large wooden desk in our 3rd bedroom/office is dedicated solely for this purpose. There, separated in Ziploc bags, categorized by type and ink color, are gel pens, ball points, mechanical pencils, wooden pencils, highlighters, permanent markers, on and on. There is no random chaos in this drawer. It’s easy to find any kind of pen, pencil, or marker you might want. And might I just say what a joy it is to open that drawer and see all that color coded organization. Oooooeeeee.

Truth is, I seldom go to that drawer unless I’m looking for a very specific type of writing instrument. Usually, I just grab what I can find wherever I can find it.

And other than this recent spree, I don’t know when I have ever opened that drawer to put a pen back after using it. I usually just drop it wherever it is most convenient.

So they pile up and clutter the spaces that could be better utilized for other things until I just can’t take it anymore.

I think I treat a lot of things in my life that way. Like friends I need to email, thank you cards I need to write, birthday cards I need to send, family I need to visit. I drop them here and there thinking I’ll go back later, pick it up, clean it up, put it in its rightful place on my priority list. Then new things begin to sprout and start to crowd the limited personal space I have and I realize I can no longer keep up. I try to move forward but am distracted by all the piles strewn by my own hand all over my life, causing me to scramble around, stumble, and sometimes retreat. Oh, to think of the volumes of blessings I could have written if I had been paying attention and not been so reckless in dropping them here and there, picking them up only when it was convenient.

…Obey me, and I will be your God and you will be my people. Walk in all the ways I command you, that it may go well with you. But they did not listen or pay attention; instead, they followed the stubborn inclinations of their evil hearts. They went backward and not forward. Jeremiah 7:23-24

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Got anything good to eat in there?

My husband and I are complete opposites.

He’s always sweating. I’m always shivering.

He’s spontaneous and jumps right in. I have to ruminate first and I prefer having a plan before I do anything, even if the plan changes.

Our tastes for food are completely different. He says puh-tay-toes. I say poe-tah-toes. Actually, it’s more like he calls ‘em taters and if they’re fried I just say no thank you.

When we get older we will never be one of the little old couples that goes out to a restaurant to eat and orders only one entrĂ©e and an extra plate. Yes, two entrees may be too much food and too much money for a couple of senior citizens, but it’s either that or one of us will go hungry. We just don’t like the same foods.

Because we live in a very small town and it only takes five minutes to get anywhere, we usually eat lunch together. People ask me if I have lunch with him every day and I always tell them, “Only when I don’t have any better offers.” So, pretty much, we eat lunch together every day.

Earlier this week he was out of town for the day so I was on my own for lunch. It was a perfect opportunity for me to get broccoli and white rice take-out from China Wok or a grilled chicken Caesar salad from McDonalds. Scott would never even entertain the thought of either one of those.

So, what did I do?

I was at home standing at the kitchen counter making my lunch when the phone rang. It was Scott. He asked me if I was making a salad (which consisted of opening a plastic bag, of course) with leftover turkey on it for my lunch. Why, yes, yes, I was.

Scott knew I would go home for lunch, he knew what time I would be there, and he knew exactly what I was going to eat. I am so predictable. He knows it all too well.

I think that’s why God put us together. God knew my boring, predictable ways and my dominating common sense nature would lack adventure and challenge. He knew my bland bag-o-salad and leftover turkey ruts would need a spicy distraction every now and then. Scott is king of that distraction domain and always manages to open my eyes, or my mind, or my mouth to something new and tasty. It’s nourishment that encourages me to grow and I’m thankful for it.

Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him. Psalm 34:8

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

It's not just a job, it's an adventure

I live in South Carolina where the unemployment rate is 6.1% and climbing. That’s the third highest in the United States.

Given where I live, I’m fortunate to have a job, regardless of what it is.

It’s not what I want to be doing, but it is what I have been given to do for now.

I’m working on being a better steward with all that God has given me.

If you ever hear me moan and groan about my job, please remind me of this.

"His master replied, 'Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!' Matthew 25:21

Friday, April 4, 2008

Oh, My Word...

I subscribe to Word of the Day. Every day they send out an email featuring a word along with its definition and a couple of quotes in which the word is used. Sometimes it is a word I already know; sometimes it is a word I think I know but after reading the definition realize I do not. At any rate, it is one of those daily emails I enjoy receiving because every now and then I learn something new. However, I do not think I will use many of those words on any kind of regular basis. I mean, why would I describe something as "recherche" if it is exotic or rare? I would just say it was exotic or rare. Still, it's kind of a daily game for me to see if I can find a use for the word during the day. I usually don't, and I've forgotten the word by the time the next day's email shows up.

Scott is equally amused by words. I see it manifested in him as he leads choir rehearsal. In singing, holding out notes while joining the ending of one word with the beginning syllable of the next word can be tricky sometimes. When Scott tries to explain this technique to our choir, he often ends up making up new words. For instance, "was lost" becomes "waaa slohst." 'Waaa' would be the word on the note held out; 'slohst' would be the word on the quick, short note (think of the lyrics of Amazing Grace). After these funny sounding words come out of his mouth, he will then offer some wild explanation about its origin, like, it's an old Yiddish term that means your grandmother smells like a goat.

Scott also finds comedy in words on signs. If a sign is illuminated but a letter is burned out, he will read the word out loud pronouncing it using only the letters that are lit. For example, if the 'M' were burned out, he would read it as "Wal art." Then he will make up a story about all the lovely art they sell over at Wal's place. Clever, he is.

Since I'm in daily contact with the folks at, and because I sit under the tutelage of such an enlightened and creative minister of music, and since I passed the English 101 exemption test in college, I feel sure my grasp of grammar is secure. Here's my rationalization to prove it... defines the word 'ire' as intense anger or wrath. Using the common rules of English grammar, adding an 'i - n - g' to a word often changes a noun to a verb. If you add and 'i - n - g ' to the word 'ire' (and, of course, dropping the silent e --another English grammar sticking point), you get 'iring.' Which, I would assume and conclude, would mean 'angering' or 'making someone really mad.'

So, imagine what I thought when I saw that word on a sign this week.

At least they're honest about their customer service. Or lack thereof.

Now, lest you begin to think of me as a garrulous polyglot , I will cease my spewing. At least until the next Word of the Day shows up in my inbox.

Simply let your 'Yes' be 'Yes,' and your 'No,' 'No'; anything beyond this comes from the evil one. Matthew 5:37

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Secrets of the Universe

When I started this blogging adventure a couple of months ago, one of the first persons to leave a comment was my college roommate, Lynne. In her comment she reminded me of something I had almost forgotten. It seems she remembers me as the Athena of the dorm. You know, the great goddess of wisdom. Well, OK, maybe not exactly like that, but it gave you a lovely visual, didn’t it?

A university campus is a thinking environment and you can get very philosophical living there. You think you know it all. I must have indeed thought that and was not afraid to share my “secrets of the universe.” That’s what Lynne remembered. There is no telling what kind of golden nuggets came out of my mouth back then. At least Lynne remembers it favorably. She truly is a good friend!

I think what was going on back then, although I probably didn't realize it at the time, was discernment. Discernment was in the top 4 on my Network spiritual gifts inventory (and maybe a post for another day). Maybe I did exhibit a little sagacity about our college lives. But, oh, dare I say it…if I’d only known then what I know now.

What I know now is that I don’t know anything. My keen insight and delicate discrimination show me that there is so much more to learn. With me, a lot of it starts with things I read. Below is a quote from a book I just finished. These words struck me as simple, yet profound. The concepts are pretty much straight from scripture, but putting them all together on the same page struck me.

"The Christian believes that in Christ he has died, yet he is more alive than before and he fully expects to live forever. He walks on earth while seated in heaven and though born on earth, he finds that after his conversion he is not at home here...That he may be safe he puts himself in jeopardy; he loses his life to save it and is in danger of losing it if he attempts to preserve it. He goes down to get up. If he refuses to go down he is already down, but when he starts down he is on his way up...He is strongest when he is weakest and weakest when he is strong. Though poor he has the power to make others rich, but when he becomes rich his ability to enrich others vanishes. He has most after he has given most away and has least when he possesses most...He may be and often is highest when he feels lowest and most sinless when he is most conscious of sin. He is wisest when he knows that he knows not and knows least when he has acquired the greatest amount of knowledge. He sometimes does most by doing nothing and goes further when standing still. In heaviness he manages to rejoice and keeps his heart glad even in sorrow...He fears God but is not afraid of Him. In God's presence he feels overwhelmed and undone, yet there is nowhere he would rather be than in that presence. He knows that he has been cleansed from his sin, yet he is painfully conscious that in his flesh dwells no good thing...He feels that he is in his own right altogether less than nothing, yet he believes without question that he is the apple of God's eye..."
Those are the words of A. W. Tozer in the book The Radical Cross, Living the Passion of Christ.

He told them, "The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you."
Mark 4:11