Friday, October 31, 2008

A lot can change in a year

Last year was Oooooooo, VERY scary......

I don't think I've ever laughed so hard as I did over my husband as the Burger King.

Until this year. This year, he had enough courage to leave his face unmasked.

You can't see it but clutched in his right hand is a remote control which operated....sound effects.

It was such a hoot! Or maybe I should say, a toot.

Enjoy today.

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Can you hear me now?

Dear God:

For several days I have tried to articulate this but I just can’t seem to get the words out.

I know that you know.

I know that I don’t have to say a word and that you are already aware of what’s on my mind and in my heart. But I haven’t been able to really rest because there is the something inside of me that needs to be released.

The reason I’ve just got to spit it out is because of what you’ve impressed on me lately about my voice and your words.

I know you have been trying to show me how to let those two things be the same thing.

You started this lesson back in February when you spoke to me through a visiting minister at a local revival. It was the message from Acts 2 when the Holy Spirit came with what appeared to be tongues of fire and somehow broke the language barrier so that the your gospel message could be shared to everyone there. The minister said it was kind of like eating jalapeno peppers. Your eyes water and you can’t help but say out loud to everyone around just how hot and powerful it really is.

Out loud.

A couple of months ago you put some more of your Words in front of me that made me take notice again. It wasn’t from a workbook or anything I had been studying. You surprised me out of the blue with a message from a speaker on TV. I haven’t heard too many messages from 2 Chronicles, and especially not on TV. Well, you’ll do anything to get me to listen, won’t you? That whole story about Jehoshaphat leading Judah and Jerusalem to defeat a vast enemy army by using their voices as their only weapon, and I believe you said they used LOUD voices, well, it has been ringing loudly in my head ever since.

Loud voices.

And you know me so well. You know I have to read and re-read and study and stew and steep on things. So you brought that visiting minister back to town this week to speak at a different location, had him preach that same sermon from Acts 2, and made sure I was there to hear it again. You certainly are thorough, aren’t you? I think you must really want me to get the message about the tongues of fire and about saying out loud whatever words you put in my mouth.

Tongues of fire.

And you didn’t stop there. I turned on the TV this morning and heard another message about words. The broadcast was a re-run. I had seen and heard this one before too, but you knew it would fit the theme of what you’re trying to get across to me right now, so you played it again too. You know the story, the one from Acts 16 where a possessed woman was speaking the right words but they were coming from the wrong source and being used for the wrong purpose. Paul and Silas ended up getting thrown in jail because they used your name to cut off her evil source and power. And then Paul and Silas spoke up. In prison, they prayed and sang out loud and the others listened. And lives were changed.

People are listening.

The thing is, I’m more comfortable with the listening part. You know better than anyone that I’m basically a quiet person. I am a bit noise intolerant. I don’t like the volume level on the TV very loud and I don’t like my music loud. I don’t do a lot of talking. Silence doesn’t bother me. You know all that. My ears are my dominant sensory organ. So why do you keep bringing up the issue with my mouth?

You don’t seem to want to let me forget what happened a couple of weeks ago when there were extra people at my house. They brought a significant amount of their own personal drama with them. I tried to do what I thought was the best thing by keeping my mouth shut and just listening as they all worked through their issues that were really none of my business anyway.

You know better than any of us that they were struggling with a decision that would affect several lives. You and I had several conversations about them and I asked you to show up in their lives and speak to them so that they could hear and respond.

They were in a vulnerable state and I didn’t want to inappropriately influence any decision they might make. You knew that too. I tried very hard to look for the positives in it all and to speak only those things or else just be quiet.

But after about the second day, something happened. We sat through an entire meal without me saying a word. Then, the control was no longer mine and you took over. Words started coming out of my mouth that had not been processed through my read and re-read schedule yet. The words were not planned or premeditated even though I’d had a couple of days to mull it over. They just came out.

They were words of hope when there seems to be no hope. They were words about how much Jesus loved us to sacrifice his life for us. They were words of your awesomeness beyond our comprehension. They were words about your covenant love.

I have no idea what I said. I just know that it was you and not me.

You used me. You used me because I let you take over. I see now that that is what you are after. It thrills me that you can do something so amazingly loud with my quiet-natured self.

I want that every day. It scares me to death, but I want it.


I said it.

Out loud.

I want it. All the time. I want it.

To your praise and glory. Amen.

How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!" Romans 10:14-15

Monday, October 27, 2008

No wonder they close in September

We traded our hurricane threatened weekend at the beach in September for a cooler, less crowded, post-season couple of weekdays in October.

We knew the electricity of the beach atmosphere was going to be reduced to a dim glow and we were looking forward to the peace and quiet.

It turned out to be full of mystery and intrigue. Appropriate, I suppose, for the month of October and Halloween and all.

There was no hurricane this time. We didn’t, however, plan on it being the monsoon season.

The interior walls of our 18th-floor hotel room shook and rattled as the wind swirled and howled off the ocean. And I mean it literally howled. It wasn’t just the sound of wind. It actually had a creepy, wailing voice that was loud, constant, and went on all night long. The horizontal rain blew in and pecked hard on the sliding glass doors. It was a bit scary.

The storm we we experienced didn't even make the news. I can't imagine being there through a hurricane. Oooooo, shivers.

The wind was so angry that some time during the night it washed a small sailboat up on shore. The next morning the beached boat drew a crowd and a lot of intrigue. Where did it come from? Was there someone on it when it washed ashore? If so, where were they now? How will it get back to its rightful mooring? Oh, my, all the suspense.

It was still stuck in the sand when we checked out.

At least the rain and wind had ceased and sun was shining by the time we checked out. Just in time to head home.

The TV in the room was all about the mystery too. At first we couldn’t figure out how to turn it on. Scott finally discovered a switch on the wall that did the trick. Weird, I know. I picked up the remote to try and figure out which channels were associated with which numbers on the remote. I was trying to find the news channels to get a weather report, of course. I pressed what I thought was the MENU button hoping it would show all the channel listings. All that did was mute the sound.

Can you see why I was so confused between MUTE and MENU?

Obviously I don’t speak the beach lingo. What is a METU anyway? Am I missing something here? Will one of you please explain this to me?

Scott didn’t get to ride a roller coaster since they were all closed for the season, but he did get to ride something that went around in circles, both forward and backward. Those kinds of things make me sick, so I took pictures. His love for those kinds of thrills is a mystery to me. Just watching him, the only one on the ride, go round and round got me tickled. I think I enjoyed that as much as he did.

It was actually very good to be somewhere else for a while and to eat different food and talk about something else other than all the junk we drag around all the time here at home. Now, I just have to get back into life here as we know it. I’m resisting a little.

"I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home." Mark 2:11

Thursday, October 23, 2008

It's 40 degrees outside and I'm going to the beach

Back in September we had to cancel our beach trip thanks to Hurricane Hanna. The reservations we had were non-refundable but they did allow us to reschedule. We changed the dates to this week. Of course, we made that change the first week in September not realizing what else would be going on here in the third week of October. Including the nippy weather.

The last seven days have brought many extra activities, extra overnight guests, and extra drama to my house. Much of it unexpected. None of it was really my personal drama; we just happened to be the safe house for others to ride theirs out. I REALLY need a mini-vacation now!

All the guests are gone now and the delicate dynamics of it all have subsided, just in time for me to pack the suitcase. Not in time, however, for me to get the laundry done. So, I pulled some clothes from the dirty clothes basket, threw them in the dryer with a Snuggle fabric softener sheet and fluffed them up a little bit. They at least smell fresh now and they're packed in the suitcase. Dont' tell anyone my secret.

I'm off the beach to recover from the last seven days. See you next week.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Hats off to the Gardener

I grew up in the big city of Jacksonville, Florida. That’s about 875 square miles of big. It is the city with largest land area in the US.

Who knew my big city upbringing would lead me to the rural, swampy, South Carolina lowcountry?

I went to college at in the historic town of DeLand, Florida at the small, private Stetson University. Go Hatters. Even after all this time, I still think a hat for a mascot is a little odd. Way back in the 1880’s, Mr. DeLand thought changing the name of the school from DeLand University to Stetson University, honoring the hat maker Mr. Stetson, would enhance the school’s reputation. So, go Hatters. Wear it proudly; your reputation is at stake.

Who knew my sophisticated education would lead me to blogging in the rural, swampy, South Carolina lowcountry?

Phyllis grew up in the South Carolina lowcountry, right here in this little town where I live. She returned here after college - - at Stetson University in DeLand, Florida.

She was a couple of years ahead of me at Stetson. We were there at the same time (which was, oh, so many years ago), but I never knew her then. I’m sure we probably crossed paths in the Commons or in the Sampson Hall art building but we never met, even on the small campus of only 3,000 students.

It was at a dinner party shortly after we moved here that the subject of college came up and Phyllis said something like, “Oh, I went to a small little school in Florida that no one’s ever heard of.” She wouldn’t even say the word “Stetson” because it didn’t really mean anything to anyone around here. After I quizzed her a bit more and we realized the Stetson connection, I squealed with delight. I remember talking really loudly after that about the whole Hatter atmosphere.

Our paths still don’t cross that much here in this little lowcountry town, but there is certainly a connection that links us. It’s more than just a college campus and a hat mascot from several hundred miles away. Phyllis has a heart for God that is unique and special. Her eyes always have a little twinkle, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen her when she is not smiling. Even in the difficulties of life, she’s learned how to find hope. She’s one of those people that you can see their faith, even without her saying a word.

She’s also passed that legacy on to her daughter Laney. Laney is a teenager that has that same sparkle. Laney’s had her own share of personal struggles, but I see her growing stronger and more beautiful every day.

For some reason only God knows, my name had been on Phyllis’ mind so she and Laney came to my office yesterday and brought me a gift. It is a Garden Club project that was intended to be shared.

After a brief visit, they left my office and I just sat there rubbing the leaves and inhaling the scents of the rosemary and sage and mint. I thanked God for Phyllis and Laney and this little garden they brought me. I asked God to bless both of them greatly for the little seed of thankfulness they planted in my heart. And I know God will honor that request because He really likes gardens, you know.

And if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday. The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail. Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins and will raise up the age-old foundations; you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls, Restorer of Streets with Dwellings. Isaiah 58:10-12

Monday, October 20, 2008

Noodles with Attitude

Yesterday our church celebrated the 150thanniversary of its founding. It was a big day with lots of special guests, period costumes (including men growing beards just for the occasion), food, old friends, music, and on and on.

A lot of planning and preparation went into the events of the day. I was involved in some of the preparation. One of my requisites for agreeing to do some of this work was that I did not want to be doing any of it at the last minute. After all, we’ve had 150 years to get ready, right?

Those that held that power in their hands faithfully delivered what I needed to do my part back in August. I worked on the multi-media presentation that included pictures, audio clips and video segments of former pastors. With the help of Jimmy and Scott, we got it all together.

A couple of weeks before the actual event, we had a rehearsal with the narrator and chief historian. There were only a few minor kinks to work out after that. Those were taken care of in just a couple of days, so for more than a week ahead, we were ready.

I was so ready, in fact, that I wanted it to be over with. I had been looking at those old black and white photos long enough. I was ready to move on to something else. Stick a fork in me, 'cause I was done.

Part of the celebration, of course, included food and as most church gatherings do, it was an everybody-bring-a-dish kind of event. A couple of days before, Scott asked me what kind of salad I was planning to make and take.

I told him I wasn’t making a salad and that I felt like I had already done my part. I had already contributed as much or more than everybody else. I was going to have to be their early on Sunday to get everything set up. I’m tired and busy and I’ve already been working for months on it, plus, I have visitors staying at my house. Haven’t I done enough?!

“Oh, so you’re going to be one of ‘THOSE’ people,” he said. “The ones with the bad attitude.”


Pasta salad it is.

I worked through my steaming bad attitude standing over a pot of boiling hot water.

Add a little oil, spices, and multi-color pasta spirals and ta-da...a great big bowl of what is now known around my house as Bad Attitude Salad.

There were a LOT of people at the anniversary celebration Sunday. More than they expected, I think. So I guess maybe my big bowl of Bad Attitude salad was one little, unnoticed thing that made the food and the blessings go a little further.

Even when I think I’ve done all I can do, God always shows me how He can squeeze out a little bit more.

"Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?" Jesus said, "Have the people sit down." There was plenty of grass in that place, and the men sat down, about five thousand of them. Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish. John 6:9-11

Thursday, October 16, 2008


My friend tells me that she did NOT understand my last post. Never fear, my sweet friend, I think you got it more than you realized. The idea of the previous post was just how confusing all these words we use can be. So, if by the end of it you were confused, you got it!

Today, let's simplify.

Here are a couple of sentences from a Bible study I'm working on (Discerning the Voice of God by Priscilla Shirer)
The Enemy's discouraging voice tells us what we could do "if."
The voice of God tells us what we should do NOW.

The Enemy's voice will focus on the past and the future while the voice of our God will focus on today. He is the God of right now

Today, what do you think about that?

Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. Go near to listen rather than to offer the sacrifice of fools, who do not know that they do wrong. Do not be quick with your mouth, do not be hasty in your heart to utter anything before God. God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few. Ecclesiastes 5:1-2

Monday, October 13, 2008


I think the Hardees sign in the previous post (which is physically right across the street from my office, so I see it every day, several times a day) has bent my brain on the word thing again.

I think I mentioned before about my subscription to’s Word of the Day (alas, in a post about another fast food sign!). Words amaze and amuse me. It is, after all, the main way we communicate. It is fascinating to me how what we hear sends signals to our brain which causes us to understand someone or something.

I know there are other methods to get your point across. Words, even though they are often misunderstood and abused, are by far the most effective and efficient way. (again, the Hardees sign says way more than just “try our new hamburger”).

You can learn a lot about how things are written.

For instance, I don’t have children, but if I did I don’t think I would want to take them to a day care or preschool that has spellings like “kidz” or “kollege” or “skool” in their names. I know they’re trying to be cute, but learning your ABCs and forming them into words is difficult enough without daily reinforcement of the incorrect way.

And by hard enough I mean that, even after 4 years of college and having a job as a copywriter, there are some spellings and pronunciations that bewilder me.

For example.

Onion is pronounced UHN-YUN

Based on that, the word “on” might should be pronounced “uhn” instead of “awn”.

Other words that begin with that same sound, “uhn”: unknown, unleash, uneasy, ungrateful…

Oh, but wait. Those are words that begin with a “U”, not an “O” like onion.

If we spelled it like we pronounce it, the word that is the moniker for that pungent bulb that makes us cry when it chop it up, would be union.

But we have another pronunciation and meaning for that word, union (YOON-YUHN).

Is there wearing anybody else out?

No wonder we’ve resorted to reducing polysyllabic words down to a couple of letters for the sake of saving time and money. AKA text messaging.

Talk about confusing.

Did you know there are websites that will translate your words into a text message? Ahh, but do you have to spell it correctly first in order for it to translate correctly? ( )



Well, then, NM

Tigger started it with his TTFN. He most likely got his start at Kidz Kollege.

I too will have my say; I too will tell what I know. For I am full of words, and the spirit within me compels me; inside I am like bottled-up wine, like new wineskins ready to burst. Job 32:17-19

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Hey y'all, looky here

Take that corporate marketing campaign and bring it down to the local level. Reaching your local audience is the key to success in selling your product. Bringing those high and lofty plans down to where we, the people in the real world, live sometimes requires scaling down and eliminating some of the extras.

So here you have it:

Does anybody else see the humor in this?

"Come, eat my food and drink the wine I have mixed. Leave your simple ways and you will live; walk in the way of understanding. Proverbs 9:5-6

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Quips, quotes, and zingers

With the presidential and vice-presidential nominee debates recently televised, all the news reporters and political pundit types waited for the one-liners and zingers from the candidates that would become the sound bites they played over and over and over.

So far, I think they have been a little disappointed. I don’t think there have been as many quotable quotes from any of the candidates in these debates.

That is OK with me. I’m already weary of the campaign trail and frankly, don’t want to hear any quip over and over from either one of the candidates. Only twenty-seven more days and we will have a new national leader.

In Gripped by the Greatness of God (I read the book a while back, now I’m currently working through the study) on the discussion of sovereignty, James MacDonald quotes Thomas à Kempis, “Man proposes, but God disposes.” Ah, how true. That’s a one-liner that hits right on the mark, especially in light of political leaders.

James MacDonald goes on to say that no political leader anywhere will ever be elected or put into power without God’s permission. God will allow it because He can use it for His good. Even non-Christian leaders. Even the president of the United States. Even a republican. Even a democrat. God can use him/her to bring about His purposes. For me, that is a very reassuring thought in all these uncertain times.

And speaking of one-liners, a friend of mine sent me an email this week that had some interesting ones about the Christian life. I thought they were worth sharing:

Don't let your worries get the best of you; Remember, Moses started out as a basket case.

Many folks want to serve God, but only as advisors.

It is easier to preach ten sermons than it is to live one.

When you get to your wit's end, you'll find God lives there.

People are funny; they want the front of the bus, the middle of the road, and the back of the church.

Opportunity may knock once, but temptation bangs on your front door forever.

Some minds are like concrete thoroughly mixed up and permanently set.

A lot of church members who are singing ‘Standing on the Promises' are just sitting on the premises.

Be ye fishers of men. You catch them - He'll clean them.

Coincidence is when God chooses to remain anonymous.

Don't put a question mark where God put a period.

Forbidden fruits create many jams.

God doesn't call the qualified, he qualifies the called.

God grades on the cross, not the curve.

Prayer: Don't give God instructions -- just report for duty!

The task ahead of us is never as great as the Power behind us.

We don't change the message, the message changes us.

The best mathematical equation: 1 cross + 3 nails = 4 given.

I am the LORD, and there is no other; apart from me there is no God. Isaiah 45:5

Monday, October 6, 2008

Come on, sing along

Yay! My boss is out of town all week, so that means I’m in charge at the office. First order of business, play my music really loud.

Before I could do that today, though, I had to get all my music in order. I had some tunes on my iPod, but not on my computer at work, and I had some CDs in the car but none of those songs were on my iPod or my computer. And I had some things only on the computer and nowhere else.

All of that is good if what I need is variety. As it is right now, however, I have a lot of choir music to learn between now and Christmas. I need to be able to pull up the song I’m currently trying to sear into my brain no matter where I am – in the car, the office, or at home.

So, whew, it’s all synched now.

Yay, again.

I love music. I always have. I sing in the choir at church and in a ladies’ ensemble because I love it so. It’s another one of those things that God knew about me so He made a way for a musician to fall in love with me and want to marry me.

I love music, but it is not my gift. It doesn’t come naturally to me. I have to work at it and all in all, I’m not that good at it. But, oh, the blessing I get from it when I let myself get swallowed up by it.

Music is one of the main sources God uses to speak to me. I can be desperately seeking to hear from God and nothing else will soothe my searching heart like the Christian music playlist on my iPod. Or, I can be happy and feeling as free as can be, singing along to the radio, when, WHAM! The lyrics hit me with a sudden impact, even though I have heard the song a thousand times before.

Most of the scripture I have memorized, I learned from a children’s song, a hymn, or a choir anthem. “Beloved, let us love one another…,” “Better is one day in his courts…” “And He shall reign forever and ever…” Oh, I could go on and on. How about you?

And, it doesn’t even have to be Christian music to move me. When people who DO have the gift use it like He intended for them to, it usually blows me away. I am so thankful God has seen fit to surround me with people like that.

Since I’m in charge this week, and because I’m editor-in-chief here anyway, let me share with you some of the people around me that do just that. Just because I can…

Makes you want to stand up and salute, doesn't it?

And, then there's this guy...

Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Ephesians 5:19-20

Friday, October 3, 2008

Checks and balances

The economy. It’s on everyone’s mind.

Earlier this week I had my own sort of financial crisis.

At work, I tried to handle a financial transaction online. It was a task that I had done before. This time, however, broken and outdated web links kept me from efficiently doing what I needed to do. The account is on a locally owned bank, not some giant conglomerate, so I thought calling them on the phone would be my next best option. All I really needed was the updated, correct, web address. Surely someone at the main branch just down the street could give me that, right?


Once I got them on the phone and posed my problem to them, I was transferred to at least three different people and put on hold at least twice by each of those three people. After all that and still no answer to my question, the exchange ended mid-sentence. As I spoke, they hung up on me.

To them, I was the idiot. To them, I was the one with a ridiculous request. To them, I was not worth their time because I was asking a question about something that was not in their current database of knowledge. Never mind trying to help find an answer, which in the end would benefit not only me but them and any other online customers as well.

I don’t think any of the people that I spoke with on the phone were idiots. I do think that they were not really listening to what I was asking. They tried to get me to sign up for online banking. They wanted me to fill out an application for a credit card. No thank you, I already have all that, I just need a correct web address to make a transaction. I wasn’t even asking them to make the transaction for me. I just wanted a web address that worked so I could do it myself.

They were providing solutions that were well within their current knowledge database, but had little to do with my question. Mostly, they had not been properly or thoroughly informed or trained. That part is not really their fault.

What IS their responsibility is how they direct themselves based on what they know. And, how they use what they do know to learn more about what they don’t know.

I have that same responsibility. One thing I DO know is that what I do and say often affects other people. My words or actions may not change the course of someone’s life, but it might affect their feelings or their attitude. I could ruin or make someone’s day without even trying. I want the small deposits I make into other people’s lives to earn high dividends.

Which is why I thought twice about dialing the number right back after they hung up on me, and asking to speak to the bank president. After all, it is a local bank; the president is a local man that everybody knows. It wouldn’t have been hard to get him on the phone. I wanted to make that call so badly, but I couldn’t do it.

That responsibility to others is also why after cooling off from the phone call and resisting the urge to call back, I wrote and re-wrote a letter to the bank president, and then finally ended up deleting it without sending it. I just couldn’t find a way to express my problem without saying something negative about someone.

I know I would be miserable if my boss received a phone call or a letter about me that was critical and unflattering. I don’t want my life to cause people to do things like that. I want people’s lives to be better because of me.

So, I let it go. I didn’t want to, but I let it go.

It’s gone. And you can take that to the bank.

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Ephesians 4:29-30