Monday, August 15, 2011

A Prayer for the Mamas

"How precious to me are Your thoughts, O God!  How vast is the sum of them!  Were I to count them they would outnumber the grains of sand."  Psalm 139:17-18 (NIV)


For Moms there is the inescapable reality that time moves on and that everyday our children journey one step closer to the place where apron strings must be loosed and eventually untied.  We will always be the Mama, but our roles change as we allow our children to press on toward independence and finding their place in the world.

My youngest entered Middle School today.  I watched as she took charge of making sure that her supplies were in order.  She chose her first day outfit independently.  And then she stood at the mirror straightening her hair.  The reflection I saw there caused my heart to skip a beat.

How did that transformation happen?  Where did the years go?  Wasn't it just yesterday that we brought her home from China?  How did that little baby with sparkly almond-shaped eyes and chubby cheeks and kissy lips become this beauty straightening her long brown locks?  Without a bit of help from her Mama?

Oh, we've been down this road before.  We've witnessed the move to high school, then to college, and then that walk down the aisle that joined our girls in marriage with the man they love.  Each passage was met with conflicting emotions, joy at the women they've become and longing for the little girls they used to be.

So I figure that there are lots of us Mamas on the threshold of a new season, somehow mustering up the courage to face the day with a smile of confidence, denying those impulses that tempt you to take those apron strings and tie that child tightly to the security of home.  We must brave the new day.  And trust in the One Who fashioned that child, Who knows the plans He has for them, and Who holds them in the palm of His hand.

Whether your child is skipping into preschool, entering the doors of a Kindergarten classroom, moving into the tumultuous years of middle school or high school, moving their belongings to a college campus, or preparing to walk the wedding aisle, know that you are not alone.  And there will be great joy in the days ahead!

Lord, lots of us Mamas are fighting the tears today.  Our arms want to cling tightly rather than opening wide to let our babies go.  And Father, we know You understand.  You watched your Son leave the beauty and security of the heavenly home You shared to come to this earth.  To grow from a tiny baby into a man.  To make His way through the milestones toward adulthood.  Hold us in Your arms today.  And even more importantly, hold our children.  Lord, You promised that if we train up a child in the way he should go that he will not depart from it.  Please help them to stay on Your path.  Protect them from the evils of this world.  Draw them to Yourself through Your Holy Spirit.  Help them to remember to Whom they belong...not just us, but You, the Creator of everything, the Omniscient, the Omnipotent, the Omnipresent.  We know that You love our children even more than we do.  Thank You for Your promises.  We love You.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Pop on Over to Write2Ignite's Blog!

Hey all you writers out there, please visit our Write2Ignite! Blog.  I had the privilege of writing the latest post called Got Inspiration? !!  Perhaps you'll find some there...inspiration, that is.  Write on!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Beach or Mountains...Mountains or Beach?

"Let the sea resound...let the mountains sing together for joy..."  Psalm 98:7-8 (NIV)

Summer is drawing to a close as the school year sneaks up on us.  Leisurely mornings and spontaneous roadtrips will soon cease.  But ah, the memories of summer will last a lifetime.

This summer we've had the privilege of visiting both the mountains and the beach.  And they were equally delightful. 

The brilliance of God's creation displayed uniquely in each location tickled our, crisp mountain breezes enjoyed from the rockers on the screened porch, brushing over our skin and carrying the scent of earth and summer flowers...the grandeur of the mountains in shades of purple and blue...the sounds of trickling streams and music of dulcimers and fiddles...the taste of Famous Louise's fruit pies and morsels of perfection from The Chocolate Fetish and "Daddy burgers" fresh off the grill.  Then there's the aroma of the ocean and suntan lotion, all coconut-ish...and the sights of the majesty of the ocean and its creatures great and small...the flavors of fried shrimp and Mamu's home cooking and desserts...the mixture of warm sunshine and cool air on your skin...and the giggles of children and families frolicking in the sand and water.

Mountains or beach?  I'm torn.

The salty breeze off the water stirs childhood memories.

Like the anticipation of that first glimpse of the ocean.  Eyes practically boring a hole in the windshield, focused on the horizon.  Waiting.  Watching.  Hoodwinked occasionally by the mirages on the road ahead.  More waiting.  More watching.  Finally cruising down one of the numbered avenues it appears!  Just a little slice between the cottages on either side.  Grayish blue stretching infinitely.  Then a whitecap.  "We're here!"

More waiting for check in at the familiar pink stucco lodge.  Then unloading the car.  Begging to get on our swimsuits and get out to the beach.  At last, crossing the highway, plodding through the mounds between the sea oats that give way to the long awaited sight where smooth, moist sand and warm saltwater meet.  Hoping there would be tidal haven for little ones easing into the magnitude of the ocean and its waves.

Spying a treasure from the sea, a perfectly formed conch...the tinier the better...reminds me of God's attention to detail.  Sand fiddlers tickling my hands still can make me squeal with delight. And you can't help but experience a thrill when the surprise of a wave that sneaks up on you from behind and momentarily takes your breath away.

And the remembrances that span almost 50 years, memories of it's grown...and even as we've lost loved ones that shared those beaches with us...treasures.

Oh, I still love that first glimpse of the vastness of the ocean. It will forever be breathtaking. And in the evenings, there's nothing like a moonlit view across the water.

And then there's the moonshine of the mountains...not the kind you drink...the shimmer that washes over the hills and valleys, cascading through your windows, the perfect blanket of night.

Though I lived in the mountains of Kentucky for a time in my childhood, I think that my appreciation of those grand peaks is a passion I've acquired in recent years.  It seems that you just can't help feeling a little closer to God up in those higher elevations.

My heart quickens as we draw nearer and nearer to mountain splendor spread before us.  Then I can feel myself unwind as we meander up the curvy, pothole laden roads toward the lodge...a haven for relaxing and playing games and spending sweet time with family.

Early mornings on the screened porch surrounded by birdsong and echoes of campers nearby, with Bible in hand, prayer and praise flow effortlessly.  A deep breath not only brings in fresh mountain air, but a tangible feeling of the Holy Spirit.  God just seems so close.  So vibrant.

No mountain trip (for our family) is complete without a trip to Famous Louise's for pie, and then a hike to Linville Falls to walk it off.  Climbing to great heights, settling on great rock formations, feeling the forces of the waters descending to the river below.  Climbing high enough to see eagles soaring beneath the overlook is majesty at its fullest.  Then retreating back down and venturing into the caverns, observing the miracles inside the mountains.  Stalactites and stalagmites and darkness that's the blackest of black.  Viewing animals that thrive in that cool darkness.  It's humbling.

We enjoy walks through quaint small towns with fun shops and ice cream parlors.  Sauntering past Mandevilla vines and ivy flocked fountains and trees meant for climbing.  Just pausing for a rest on a bench, watching people walking their dogs and chatting with family and friends.  Leisure, pure and simple.

Mountains or beach?  I just can't chose.  And I'm thankful that I don't have to.  There's nothing like being a North Carolina girl and being right smack dab in the middle of a state that harbors the best of both!

Lord, Your creation is astounding.  What fun You must have had as You fashioned every little detail.  Surely Your Glory is all around us!  Thank You for allowing us to be a part and to enjoy the fullness of all You have made.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Does God Still Speak Through Dreams?

"He answered their prayers, because they trusted in Him."  1 Chronicles 5:20b (NIV)

In those last yummy moments of sleep this morning, I had a dream.  Some of it was pretty random...being with Melea at McDonald's and her Kindergarten teacher (Melea is in the 6th grade now.) being one of the servers and making sure that she didn't get cheese on her hamburger because she knows that's the way Melea likes it.  Yeah, who knows where dreams like that come from...other than that we had Cookout burgers last night and they forgot to put the cheese on Mine and John's.  Crazy how dreams work.

The interesting part of this dream was that after the burger incident, as we were leaving McDonald's, there was this lady standing at our car.  She said that she needed a ride to Fayetteville.  I told her that I was sorry, but we were not going there.  However, she got in my car.  I prayed, "Lord, what is this lady doing in my car?  I'm not going to Fayetteville.  Please show me what to do.  Please get this woman out of my car and on her way to Fayetteville."  I drove past a couple of stores and stopped beside a hotel.  There was a group of women outside chatting beside their cars.  I asked, "Do you all know of anyone that might be going to Fayetteville?"  One lady turned around with a surprised look on her face and said, "I'm going to Fayetteville."  Happily, the two took off together.

As I rubbed the sleep from my eyes, I thought, "Wow.  That was simple.  A prayer...and an answer."

You know how usually you have dreams and you wake up and you quickly forget all about it?  Well, that didn't happen.  It wouldn't go away.  Somehow I knew that God wanted me to write it down. 

(And maybe it was just to get me back to my blog since I only wrote one post in July.  How did that happen??  Summer is supposed to be my best writing time!)

So I was thinking about how simply that prayer got answered in my dream.  Sometimes I see that in real life.  Sometimes not so much.  Sometimes it takes a lot longer.  Sometimes the answer is not so clear.  Sometimes the answer is even, "No."

But God brought to mind a couple of scriptures and a big reminder.

"Know therefore that the LORD your God is God; He is the faithful God, keeping His covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love Him and keep His commandments."  Deuteronomy 7:9

He is God.  He is faithful.  He loves us.  He sees the big picture.

The other verse is Hebrews 11:6, "And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him."

My faith fails sometimes.  Oh I always believe that He exists.  And that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him. I often fail in that too...earnestly seeking Him.

But you know what?  Even when I fail, He doesn't.  Ever.

The big reminder that He gave me was to look back to the very beginning of time and see Him at work.  To remember that He was faithful to Abraham, to Noah, a thousand generations.  Often not in their time frames...or ours.  But He is faithful.  We must have faith in that faithfulness.

Lord, thank You that even as we sleep You are in tune with the ramblings of our minds.  Thank You for reminding me of Your faithfulness.  Thank You for always hearing our prayers...and answering them in Your perfect timing and in Your way.  Help us to trust and to understand that Your ways are higher than our ways.  We love You.