My husband preached a sermon today about taking out the garbage. Now, I know that that is not a job most of us love to do. I know I don't. I hate taking out the trash. I hate the smell, I hate the weight of the bag, I hate the mess it makes...but still it is a job that has to be done. We continuously make trash.....but that was not exactly what his sermon was on. His sermon started with with a story told by Max Lucado about a tired, weary woman who was carrying around a bag of trash....and meeting other people carrying around trash as well....finally she meets a man....who tells her what is in the trash....regrets, shame, anger, ....all kinds of nasties. He then tells her to meet him at the dump on Friday to get rid of her trash.....she does....and there are many other people there....with trash to get rid of....each person dumps their trash on the man...and he cries out in agony....til they can see him no more.....no one leaves...they wait....finally....on Sunday....he appears again....clean, neat, and whole. Well, I don't know about you but I have never heard the crucifixion story told like that....and it bothered me....a lot. I wiped away a couple of renegade tears as I sat there and listened to the rest of the sermon...on the edge of my pew. If we don't unload our trash....it just gets heavier, smellier, nastier...and harder to handle....So Frank asked the congregation...."What is in your trash bag?" Well....if someone were to look inside mine...what would they find? I can assure you it is trash that I have been carrying around for years....and buried deep down in the bottom of my trash bag....is a box of special trash....it is the trash I have hidden away so no one can ever find it...and look at it. If they did...they would be ashamed of me....you see...it makes me ashamed of myself. In my life there have been many things I have said, felt, done....that I am not proud of....and over the years they have kept me from being the Christian I should be. Jeremiah 3:25 tells us that "We lie down in our shame-and our reproach covers us for we have sinned against the Lord our God."....yet I know I am not alone in this fact...Romans 3:23 tells me that "All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God!" It does not say some, or a few, or Karen only....it says A-L-L!...so with that being said....I should, can, will, must....dump the trash I carry around on a daily basis. Philippians 4:6-7 tells me to "be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." ...Hello...that is a simple command to get rid of it!!!! Jesus died for my sins....all that trash I have carried around for so long....so why should he pay for nothing. I personally am going to get rid of my trash today! I am tired of carrying that stinking mess around. I hope you will choose to do the same thing. I will be praying that you let it go right now and follow me away from the landfill called Mt. Calvary. God Bless You This Week!
We are adding new members to our extended family in February and I am so excited. My cousin, best friend, singing partner, Amanda's children....both of them are going to have babies in February. Ramona is due Feb. 15th and Suzanna, David's wife, is due Feb. 20th. How cool is that! Cousins will be almost like siblings and that is my topic today, Amanda and her sisters. I am a very fortunate person to have the family I have. We are so close that I can't imagine a family not being like us. My brother died in 1963 at the age of almost 6. I was 9. It was a very sad moment in my life and I don't think I could have gotten through it if it had not been for my extended family. My aunt Shirley, my mom's sister, has four girls....their dad died the same year my brother did....so we just kind of adopted each other and became a big family. Terri is the oldest daughter and she is just a year younger than I am. Terri is a mega A personality but I adore her. She speaks her mind and takes charge. During my life as a child, teen and adult there have been many times that she has had to help me take charge of situations in my life. Terri is a great deal like my mom. Amanda is the next daughter and she is 2 years younger than me. We share a lot of common interests and sing together...and share just about everything with each other. She calls a spade a spade and has always been there to pick me up when I have fallen. I don't know if I could have gotten through my first marriage and my divorce without Amanda and her husband Randy. They opened their home up to me....and several others....it became a joke that they were running a home for wayward women there for a while. They are awesome. Linda is daughter number three...she is like me...more a type B personality. We really make wrong choices sometimes....but she is such a loving and dear soul that I cannot imagine my life without her in it. Melissa is the baby. She is ten years younger than I am....and I adored her as a child and teen....but love she and her husband Clay to death as an adult. The girls were always there when we would arrive in Alabama and always wanted me to go home with them to the Valley. Many nights of skating, dating, and doing a few other unmentionables filled my visits with wonderful memories. Amanda and I began playing guitars and writing music and having children about the same time....so we bonded quickly. We are traveling, singing, sharing, crazy acting adopted sisters. She fills my life with special moments and I am so very proud to be part of her life. She shines on stage and shines in life with her effervescent personality. When you meet her...you feel as if you have known her forever....and you want to be around her all the time. As a Still Magnolia she dominates the stage with her presence....and for that I am grateful....because believe it or not...I am the shy one of the group. I just want to sing....and Rebecca and Amanda sometimes have to make me talk....but Lord when I start talking....something takes over and I can't shut up.
Rambling over....now back to Ramona and David. When Ramona was born I thought there could be nothing anymore perfect on the earth. She was the most beautiful baby ever...and the first time she grasped my finger with her little baby hand....I was hooked....line and sinker. She was precious. Then came my own daughter, Kat....she was 2 years younger....and they were so much alike...and so different...it was like having two daughters....and then came David....he is 6 months younger than Kat....and he was all boy....from the start. He had a twinkle in his eye that was hard to resist....Years passed....they grew....made choices....went to school....and then one day David met this glorious creature named Suzanna. She was breathtaking. I knew the first time I met her...that she was David's life mate...even though they didn't. They married and are now at seminary in Louisville, KY. I miss quick access to them both. They are such fun...David is very musically oriented. He sings like an angel....and Suzanna....she is my crafting counterpart....I know that God has His hand in their marriage....just like I know His hand is in Brian and Kat's....it is just one of those prayers that was answered....and you know it! Ramona....met Dustin.....and He was Mr. Incredible! She referenced him to the cartoon character....Mr. Incredible...and the first time we met this remarkable young man....I knew she was right....and that he was her lifemate. I have never in my life met anyone like Dustin. He is funny, loving, and FSU fan....from Florida....he is smart...and a doll. I cried through their entire wedding out of shear joy that someone would love My Ramona like I wanted her to be loved. He is Amazing! Now the generations are continuing the cycle...and there will be babies in both households. I could not be more excited for Amanda and Randy....coming off of a very sad few years....this...this is what life is all about....Life Goes....and Life Goes On....We truly are part of a bigger plan...and My God is Amazing! I love you Dustin and Ramona and David and Suzanna....and of course...Randy and Amanda....let the baby showers begin!
Webster's dictionary defines the word freedom like this:
Main Entry: free·dom Pronunciation: \ˈfrē-dəm\ Function: noun Date: before 12th century 1: the quality or state of being free: as a: the absence of necessity, coercion, or constraint in choice or action b: liberation from slavery or restraint or from the power of another : independence c: the quality or state of being exempt or released usually from something onerous d: ease, facility e: the quality of being frank, open, or outspoken f: improper familiarity g: boldness of conception or execution h: unrestricted use 2 a: a political right b: franchise, privilege synonyms freedom, liberty, license mean the power or condition of acting without compulsion. freedom has a broad range of application from total absence of restraint to merely a sense of not being unduly hampered or frustrated . liberty suggests release from former restraint or compulsion . license implies freedom specially granted or conceded and may connote an abuse of freedom .
As I began to search the web for something about freedom....religious....national....just freedom in general I came across a devotional by Mike Pohlman who is an editor for Christianity.com and I had to share it with those of you who read my blog from time to time. The words were very powerful and I added a few of my own thoughts as well. His devotional is entitled:
Another Declaration of Independence: Freedom in Christ
by Mike Pohlman, Editor, Christianity.com
So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”John 8:31-32
Like millions of Americans this week, my mind is on the Fourth of July holiday and what it represents: our freedom as a nation. This freedom is a precious thing, bought with the sweat, toil and blood of countless Americans who initially fought to obtain it (Revolutionary War), as well as those who have fought to secure it in the centuries since that fateful day in 1776.
Gratitude without measure wells up in my heart when I consider the brave men and women of the American military who, this Fourth of July, will be fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan to combat the tyranny of terrorism. These soldiers stand in the train of valiant warriors who fought in the Revolutionary War, Civil War, two World Wars, Korea, Vietnam and the first Gulf War. Each of these conflicts—while unique in themselves—shared the common goal of protecting American freedom. Today’s battles are no different.
But even as I prize my freedom as an American, I am moved to consider a greater freedom—my freedom in Christ. It is the freedom that comes with being a disciple of Jesus Christ. “If you abide in my word,” our Lord declares, “you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:31-32).
This statement was shocking to Jesus’ audience. These proud men thought they already had all the freedom they needed by virtue of being “offspring of Abraham” (8:33). Jesus proceeds to point them beyond any national, social or religious freedom they might enjoy to the freedom that comes through His person and work: “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin … So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (8:34,36). Contrary to what Jesus’ listeners thought, they were in bondage to sin and subject to the tyranny of it.
Commenting on this passage of Scripture Leon Morris writes, “People do not always, or even usually, realize that they are in bondage. They tend to rest in some fancied position of privilege, national, social or religious. So these Jews, proud of their religion, did not even know their need to be free.”
Even as Christians we can fall prey to the temptation to trust in other things for our freedom from the tyranny of sin: status, money, good works, associations, etc. But the true disciple finds freedom in Christ and Christ alone.
What am I trusting in today?
The Fourth of July is a wonderful time to consider our freedom—as Americans and as Christians. Our national freedom is precious, but our freedom in Christ is of infinite worth. The great hymn writer Charles Wesley was undoubtedly moved by his freedom in Christ when in 1738 he penned this stanza:
Long my imprisoned spirit lay, Fast bound in sin and nature’s night; Thine eye diffused a quickening ray—I woke, the dungeon flamed with light; My chains fell off, my heart was free, I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.
The saving truth that Jesus speaks of in John 8:32 brings ultimate freedom—freedom from sin and death and the devil; freedom from a life of futility and an eternity of wrath. It is freedom from the tyranny of hate and bitterness and cruelty. It is the freedom to love God and neighbor. May this “Declaration of Independence” be on my lips and in my heart this Fourth of July holiday
Wishing you all a wonderful 4th of July. Spend time with your families, eat too much, and remember to thank God for this day. Our country was founded on Him, so He should be present in the celebrations.
Have a blessed day and thank you Mike Pohlman for giving me this insight today! God Bless You today and always!
Back in May, Memorial Day weekend to be exact, I took my parents on a long trip. We returned to West Palm Beach....a place that they lived for over 30 years and now don't even recognize. Nothing was the same....but the one memory I have from the trip is a very sad one. We arrived in West Palm on Saturday evening. The folks were staying with their friends the Geigers and I was going to spend a couple of days with my cousin Barry and his wife, Joyce. I left them with the Geigers with plans of returning the next evening for a big meal with old friends still left in Florida. I was excited. Sunday morning I got up and went to church....at a church that contained what used to be my church....but in a different building....in a different part of town. My old church is now a museum called the Harriet. There are zodiac characters where the once beautiful stained glass windows stood. Sad....After church I went to Publix to get the stuff to make a killer fruit salad...and we all got ready to go to dinner. It was fun...but my mom was acting weird....like she was scared. When we were alone on the couch after dinner she informed me that on Monday we would be going to see stuff....AND she wanted to see her other friends...."What other friends?" I asked...."You know" she replied, "the ones who used to live in the blue house...two doors down....who had the daughter who was my friend....the one named Carol." I tried to explain....that we were at those people's house....she did not agree....so the next morning Joyce and I picked them up and we went sightseeing....she kept mentioning those friends she wanted to see....during lunch...Joyce and I realized....she was talking about the YOUNG Geigers....not the ones she was staying with. No wonder she was scared. I had taken her to a strange place and left her with strangers. She had not seen the Geigers in over 25 years and did not have a clue who they were. My dad...he was cool...he knew them and was very content with his old buddy Harland. When we returned to the Geigers (the old ones)....we got out Mrs. Geiger's photo albums....and aged the Geigers for my mother....once we did....she was fine with where she was and who she was with.....Joyce and I wanted to cry on the way back to her place...how sad to lose that much information. It really put an ashy taste in my mouth for the rest of the trip and believe me....we were all ready to return to Alabama on Weds. morning. Return to the familiar. My parents enjoyed the trip....we probably won't make it again....and I learned a valuable lesson....things change and you cannot return to the past. Que Sera Sera! Happy Traveling to you all this summer!
Today I was a little frustrated about being an only child. I was surfing the internet to find some information on caring for the elderly, dementia, and alzheimers when I cam across something far more valuable. There...in bold letters was a section called Beatitudes on Aging. I read each one and sat at my desk feeling very small and kind of sick at my stomach. I had just had a feeling of frustration for having to take my parents visiting tonight when I really wanted to just read....but....then I read the following words: "Blessed are those who understand my faltering step and weakened hand. Blessed are those who know that my ears today must strain to catch the things they say. Blessed are those with a friendly smile who just stop by to visit a while. Blessed are those who never say "You have already told that story twice today." Blessed are those who make it known that I am loved, respected, and not alone. Blessed are those who through love and care ease the days of my journey home in so many ways. " I felt very small after reading this. I like to think I am a patient person...and have become a much more patient person since my parents moved in with us three years ago....but the last few weeks have been rough. I know most of it is because I am not at work....I am off for the summer....so I have no where to run. My mother and father are both faltering more and more each day. They walk like elderly people. When did that happen? When did the vibrant parents I remember....grow old? I have to repeat most of what I say....at least twice...sometimes even more....especially for my father. His hearing aids sit in a jewelry box in the bedroom instead of his ear canals. I wish THEIR friends WOULD stop by and visit them....but during the course of the three years they have lived here....their friends seem to have forgotten them. That breaks my heart....people that they did so much for when they were active in their community...don't give them the time of day. My parents spent many afternoons....delivering tapes of their church services and visiting the shut ins....and now the tables have turned and no one brings them even a bulletin. They have not been to church in two years. These are parents who raised me in a Christian home....where we always went to church....I go....they stay at home....it is so sad. My mom says she does not feel up to going to church....my dad does not even know what day it is. My dad repeats himself a lot....I have decided to get a mike for my lap top and get him to start recording his stories....they will be gone when he is. My parents are so appreciative of anything....feeling needed, feeling loved, just getting up....and I know that when they are no longer with me....I will grieve deeply...being an only child is hard. My husband Frank is a saint. It is not easy to let someone come live with you....we were basically newlyweds when they moved in....yet, he just takes it in stride. Oh....he gets angry sometimes....so do I....but he is a loving man....when he told me I do....he never realized...how much that would involve. Some day I will be old too....and I have one daughter...what will become of me....of us. Kathryn and Amy will be in charge...better not make them mad....they will be the ones picking out our nursing homes. I want a nice one. Remember that girls!
I am a woman who wears many hats and loves them all. I am a singer - I sing with the group Still Magnolias. I was part of the original First United Methodist Church Arbor Praise Team until we moved. After 24+ years of teaching English 11 and Spanish I - II at Benjamin Russell High School I decided to take a job closer to home. I now teach Spanish I & 2 at Randolph Co. High School and Wadley. I thought I was getting close to retirement and looking forward to it, but decided to move my cheese and try something different. I am a preacher's wife and a preacher myself. My husband Frank is the pastor at Rock Mills United Methodist Church and I am the pastor at Midway (Wedowee). It has made our conversations interesting, to say the least.