Yo, Adrian...

Finish the sentence, can you?  Even if you aren't a Rocky fan (which I can't even imagine), you can likely complete the thought....
Yo, Adrian...
I did it
Yo, Adrian...
We did it

Either answer is correct - Rocky (no number in the title) released in 1976 - I was a freshman in high school.  That first movie introduced us to a small-time endearing boxer who was eventually "chosen" to fight the world champion, Apollo Creed.  In case you are wondering, it wasn't until Rocky II that those famous words were first uttered, "Yo, Adrian, I did it!"  She was at home with their new baby, so in an overwhelmingly emotional scene, Rocky raised his newly acquired World Champion belt, screaming those words directly to Adrian.

So, fast forward through Rocky III, Rocky IV, Rocky V... all the way to 2006... 30 years after the original movie.  Rocky Balboa, in his late fifties, stepped back into the ring.  Adrian had passed away, and this movie ends after the fight concluded in a split decision win for the opponent.  Rocky visited Adrian's grave reminiscing that he couldn't have done any of it without her... then before he walked away, he almost whispered... "Yo, Adrian, WE did it."

Okay, so you get it, we are big Rocky fans... we grew up with him, we introduced our children to him.... Clay left the latest movie, Creed, saying it was life-changing!  :)  So much nostalgia - so many references to earlier movies... chronicles of Rocky's life.  We lived forty years with him.  (Yes, I do realize he is a fictitious character...well...)  So we move on.

And 2015 comes to a close tomorrow, and immediately 2016 rolls right in - not much time between to prepare or plan.  

In my recent reflection of 2015 I have literally written down each month of the year - all 12 of them.  I spent some time thinking through events, memories, joys, challenges, sadness, excitement...  Some of those moments sparked laughter while some sparked tears - tears of sadness and tears of exhilaration.  I would have never imagined all that has happened in our lives in just the past 364 days.    Paul gives me a simple reality as I reflect from 1 Thessalonians 5:16-17,
 "Rejoice always, 
pray continually, 
give thanks in all circumstances, 
for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."

That simple reality changes everything setting ALL "things" in the perspective of the fact that I am a child of God... I am a sister in, and because of, Christ Jesus.  Not one moment of 2015 came to pass except through the filter of my Heavenly Father.

2016 will be here in hours.  Can I challenge you to take just a few minutes to look back before you look ahead?  Thank God for His faithfulness in the days that you clearly saw and even felt it, and then thank Him for His faithfulness in the day that you didn't.  His promises are true, and He is trustworthy.

When you do begin to look ahead, would you take a few more minutes to read, really read, Ephesians 6:10-17.  Paul begins by encouraging us to be strong IN THE LORD and His mighty power. (Not our own)  Then he walks us through the putting on of God's armor.  I can attest to the fact that I need that armor... everyday - even on the days I feel that it too heavy to even pick up and begin the preparation for the day.  After I just read again about each piece and the purpose of each, I am simply thankful - God continues to provide, doesn't He?

As we look ahead to 2016, join Paul and me as we add Ephesians 6:18 to our goals, plans, and resolutions...

in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.  With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord's people..."

Yo... Adrian... we are going to do it!!  And thankfully, we never have to do it alone!

One More Thing...

Last Thursday evening we built an entire Christmas Women's Event around those three words... ONE MORE THING.

Just a few weeks ago as Frank and Clay sat down to dinner - Clay said, "come on, Mom, we're ready to eat."  I was standing in the kitchen, looking for... oh, yes, one more thing... the ketchup, that's it.

Clay continued, "you know, that's what I remember about family dinners when the girls were all still home.  We would all be at the table, and you would still be rushing around in the kitchen getting something for someone."  Now I could quickly respond that maybe, just maybe, I was still in the kitchen because I had not properly trained all my children to help get everything to the table before dinner was ready, but I do understand what he meant.  There did and honestly, there does, still always seem to be just one more thing to do before stopping to sit, listen, and enjoy conversation.

Our discussion on Thursday evening led us to Mary and Martha and Jesus' visit to their house.  Poor Martha - most famous for her distraction, her worry, her concern of unfairness as she prepared the meal, and Mary sat at the feet of Jesus.  I love the way the King James version of the Bible offered Jesus' response to Martha concern.

 And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things.   But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.
In her busyness Jesus simply reminded Martha... You have need for ME.  You are full of need for ME.  Let's keep in mind who is speaking here - He is:  Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6)
Oh friends, we have need for Him, even when we don't see it, don't feel it, or don't acknowledge it.  We were made in His image to be in fellowship with Him, to bring glory to Him.
His mother, Mary... I think she "got" it.  After the shepherd's visited, the Bible allows us just a quiet moment to peek into the heart of Mary.  Luke 2:19 says, But Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart.  Even after the indescribable journey to Bethlehem, the birth of her precious baby boy, the visit of the shepherds...she found some amount of time to treasure all the things that had happened and ponder them in the tenderest place... her heart.  To ponder is to consider something deeply and thoroughly... it takes time.  
Twelve years later when Jesus had been left behind in Jerusalem.  Mary and Joseph rushed back the minute they realized he was missing.  They found him, of course, in the Temple responding with his simple reply, "Didn't you know I would be in my Father's house?"  His parents did not fully understand His statement at that point, but even still... Luke again uses the same phrase, "But His mother treasured all these things in her heart."
I just have to believe that even though Luke only used that phrase, "but Mary" twice in his gospel, the phrase must clearly characterize Mary a bit.  She found the time, she created the time, she knew her need for the time to ponder and treasure her son, ultimately her Savior, and so, my friends, must we!
During every season, but especially THIS season, these next 20 days, would you find the time, create the time, see your need for the time with Jesus.... just 20 minutes a day... maybe by the Christmas tree early in the morning.  Read the story of His birth... from Luke 1 and 2.  Read it over again each day, or just read a few verses of it a day, and just allow a little time for God to speak to you through His word.  
But Mary... treasured... the Necessary... the ONE THING.  His name is Jesus.

A flood of Thanksgiving... in my basement

It is inevitable, isn't it?  Your home has a basement, it WILL flood... maybe just a matter of when?  On Friday I had my day well-planned - some shopping, blog writing, some studying, and the big time killer... cleaning my house.  So I began the morning with a sweet time with the Lord, then thought, 'hey, I will just carry this time onto my cleaning'... so I headed down to the basement to find my favorite Christmas worship CD... skipping down the steps... and then I hit the basement floor... no better word.... SQUISH, SQUISH, SQUISH...  Covered, soaked, flooded... MESS.  So, of course, I did exactly what you would think... I walked right back upstairs, found my phone.. and just like Lucy would call Ricky... I called... FFFFFRRRRRRAAAANNNNKKKKK! (Frank)

Yes, I realize as you look closely at Clay's schoolbook, we have missed a few years.. maybe as we dig we will come across a 6th grade, a 9th grade and an 11th grade picture - is this an "epic-fail mom reality??!!

As you can imagine we have spent the last few days, digging out cardboard boxes that are turning to mush, retrieving shoes that have been stored for years, papers that we will never look at again, clothes that need to be given away... and pictures and memorabilia.... valuable on to us, tender moments of precious memories and time stopping floods of thought, memories and tears of a lifetime.  

So this week as we continue to discover some new and some forgotten memories, we will remain thankful... for the perfect presence of a thoughtful Heavenly Father in our lives.  He knows our day before it begins...  there is a peace in that thought for me that is overwhelming, at the very least.  Join me this week, as we just simply thank HIM.  Most all can quote at some level, Philippians 4:6, 

Do not be anxious about anything, but in EVERY situation by prayer and petition, with THANKSGIVING, present your requests to God.

Nothing is too big or too small to pray about…
God, through Paul, wouldn’t have instructed us to pray in every situation if every situation wasn’t affected by prayer.

The Bible gives us beautiful examples of how to pray with thanksgiving.  A favorite of mine is Psalm 138.  Would you just take a few minutes and use the words of David to guide your thankful heart.  You insert your family, your situation, your concerns, your joys...

Like Paul, I so often say of you, my beloved friends... I thank my God every time I think of you!

I will praise you, Lord, with all my heart;
    before the “gods” I will sing your praise.
 I will bow down toward your holy temple
    and will praise your name
    for your unfailing love and your faithfulness,
for you have so exalted your solemn decree
    that it surpasses your fame.
When I called, you answered me;

    you greatly emboldened me.
 May all the kings of the earth praise you, Lord,
    when they hear what you have decreed.
 May they sing of the ways of the Lord,
    for the glory of the Lord is great.
Though the Lord is exalted, he looks kindly on the lowly;
    though lofty, he sees them from afar.
 Though I walk in the midst of trouble,
    you preserve my life.
You stretch out your hand against the anger of my foes;
    with your right hand you save me.The Lord will vindicate me;
    your love, Lord, endures forever
    do not abandon the works of your hands.

That really hurt...

It was a typical Sunday afternoon at our house... several had been here for lunch... there was conversation, there was some sporting event on television, there was a nap or two.

I had a full week ahead having just started a new position, so I was reviewing the calendar of upcoming meetings and activities.  It was a gorgeous, warm July afternoon, so... of course, I said yes when asked to "fill in" for an unnamed daughter in an evening coed softball game at the park - it was a sweet little church league... it'll be fun!  I had played for years... through high school, college intramurals, church league...

I was happy as a clam to be placed in right field... hmmm.. it had been a while... surely like riding a bike, the rhythm of the game would quickly envelop me.  The first inning was going well, and then, I heard the ping of the bat, and saw the ball coming my way... I knew it was going to bounce in front of me.. a low line drive it was - so I tried to slow my momentum... but my slick running shoes so appreciated the damp grass and I "slid" toward the ball.  My memory of scooping a ball right up was quick... but somehow I didn't time it so well, and as my right gloved hand made an attempt to scoop, I felt a significant pop.  (So, yeah, I heard the pop, too.)

That really hurt!

I was determined to continue playing... surely with a little ice later, I would be fine.  I batted a couple of times... even got on base.  My confidence was increasing, and I was up to bat again.  Even with the challenged strength in my hand, the hit was solid.

I hustled toward first... I was almost there... I was actually going to make it... I might even need to think about making the turn toward second... I still got it...

Uncertain that a throw was coming, I was taken by surprise when the ball collided with the left side of my head.  You know, those cartoons that show the little character getting hit by the bus... yeah, that's how it felt - like being lifted off my feet and flattened to the ground.  My right compromised hand wasn't much help to break my unexpected crash.

That really hurt!

So, sports fans...  there is a strong possibility that this particular "Casey at the Bat" may certainly be hanging up the bat and cleats.  My hand was broken, and the ER doctor confirmed a concussion.

I probably should have listened to the other players, my sweet husband, and my family in attendance, and stopped playing after the first inning.  My hand really hurt!

Firmly believing and always acknowledging Romans 8:28 that "in all things, God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose", I am aware of how the Lord used the weeks that followed in teaching me about listening carefully and quietly to Him, about resting in His timing, about His perfect provision, and about learning from this experience even in the future.

With that said, as I am a few months away from this event, the reminder of my decision to keep on playing after significant warning encourages a bit of pondering.  Nehemiah is fast becoming my favorite Old Testament book.... the beautiful prayer of Nehemiah in chapter 1, the building of the temple in Jerusalem with opposition, the building of the temple with resolve, the sincere confession and repentance of sin... and then...

Nehemiah 9:16, "But they, our ancestors, became arrogant and stiff-necked, and they did not obey your commands."  Nehemiah was recounting the story of the Israelites as they wandered in the desert, continuing over and over to doubt God's provision, to refuse to listen, to fail to remember the miracles they had seen, and to rely on their own strength.

Some synonyms for stiff-necked -obstinate, intractable, willful, pigheaded.  Just sayin'

Not thinking I would list "stiff-necked" in my bio for an introduction, BUT I'm afraid it just might be a noted quality of mine.  I know best in this situation; I can handle this one; I don't want to give this up; I got this...

The middle letter in the word, stiff is "I"... just noticed that...

So, my prayer today... that I will be in such close communion in His word, in prayer, in thought... that He will lead (just as He promises) and that I will clearly listen and obey ... the first time.

Who was... the father of Methuselah?

As a child I looked forward each summer to a weeklong visit to Perryville, Kentucky.  There was certainly nothing spectacular about the week - it was simply a wonderful time to visit and learn from my very wise, encouraging grandparents.  My granddaddy was a carpenter by trade - he taught me that if I drank coffee, my elbows would turn black and a few other things, too!  My grandmother was a Godly woman filled with grace and wisdom.  She taught the same ladies' Sunday School class for 50 years... she gave me a love for God's word and an awareness of the tender understanding of the privilege we have in prayer.

So our evening ritual included a yummy home cooked dinner, then Granddaddy retired to the couch, Grandmother took the big brown chair by the lamp, and I jumped in the recliner ready and excited to watch Wheel of Fortune and... of course, Jeopardy!  My grandmother was a college graduate who had taught school for many years, so her answers were often right on.  She would always answer the correct way as the contestants did.... What is... __________  or Who is ___________.  You know the "answer" is really the "question".  

I've recently been studying with a group of ladies about prayer.  Our journey has taken us in several directions, and as I have prepared this week, I have again been struck by the faith of so many saints we are privileged to meet through the Bible.  Hebrews 11 once again reminded me of so many of those faithful saints, and how they followed God simply by faith.  

Bible trivia games everywhere use the question of who was the oldest recorded person in the Bible... do you know?  It is Methuselah... he was 969 years old.  (Genesis 5:27)  Even better trivia,  do you know who his father was?  Again Genesis chapter 5 offers the genealogy...  His name was Enoch.

21 When Enoch had lived 65 years, he became the father of Methuselah. 22 After he became the father of Methuselah, Enoch walked faithfully with God 300 years and had other sons and daughters. 23 Altogether, Enoch lived a total of 365 years. 24 Enoch walked faithfully with God; then he was no more, because God took him away.

Twice in four verses we are told that Enoch walked faithfully with God... and just in case you're interested, God just took him away - Hebrews says he did not experience death.... Now that's a trivia question!!

Don't you just wonder.... why Enoch?  What did he do?  What was his prayer life like?  How did he treat others?  What characterized his attitude... his thoughts... his words... his actions?  

We know that Hebrews 11:1 defines faith as "confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see."

So once again, we begin a new week... simply walking with God... by faith... assured only that we can fully trust the God with whom Enoch walked....

Pray like a child...

A few weeks ago I had all three of my grandboys.  Corey is 3 – and Thursdays are hard days for him.  It is his second day of school for the week, and he is just tired.  If I call my daughter, Katie, on Thursday afternoon, and I hear Corey seemingly upset or crying – I, of course, ask what is wrong.  Inevitably Katie’s response… it's Thursday.

So it was Thursday, and I had them for the afternoon.  All was going well – it was a beautiful day outside, so we were playing football.  Corey bent down to pick up the ball off the ground… and started screaming – now it sure sounded like a “hurt” cry to me, so I went to him.  He had fallen just a little – not to warrant that response… I reminded myself – it was Thursday.  As he tightly held his hand in his other hand, he continued to cry.  I took a look at his hand and realized he had been stung by some kind of bee – I saw the red dot in the middle and the circle around it.  I comforted him and said, “oh Corey, I am so sorry your hand hurts.”  

Before I could say anything else, he said, "Mimi – can you pray for my hand" – well, of course I will.  He stomped his foot a bit and said… NOW Mimi.  So I prayed.  He still whimpered but we went on with our day.  After playing outside, we headed in for a snack.  The boys were headed to our counter where the stools are set for each boy.  As Corey was getting up on his stool, he misjudged his height and raised up – hitting his head on the counter.  It is Thursday, remember.  I went to comfort him and before I could hardly get my arms around him, he said, “Mimi, can you pray for my head?”  Of course I can… and I knew he meant NOW.  SO I thanked God for helping his hand to feel better and I asked that God would help his head not to hurt so bad.  And so our evening went on.

Does Corey trust God?  Did he pray like he trusted God?  Did he follow the model of the Lord's prayer?  Did he follow the correct acronyms?


Corey just simply prayed where he was... what he was concerned about... how he felt... no "fixing" everything in his life... just honest... childlike faith... childlike trust...

I love to pray with purpose.  I love to study prayer.  I love to discover new ways to pray from scripture.  I love to read books about prayer.  Paul E. Miller has written a great book called, "A Praying Life."  The book is such a practical approach to prayer.  I heard him interviewed recently on a Christian Radio station.  

The question to him:  What are the three most important things to teach people about prayer?

His answer:  Pray like a child, pray like a child, pray like a child.

He continued that Jesus realized His need for the constant connection to His Father...

So Jesus explained himself at length. “I’m telling you this straight. The Son can’t independently do a thing, only what he sees the Father doing. What the Father does, the Son does. The Father loves the Son and includes him in everything he is doing.
 John 5:19-20

For just this week, will you join me in praying like a child...

Mark 10:13-16: People were bringing little children to Jesus to have him touch them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” 

Make a U-turn at...

Several months ago I took Clay and a friend to visit a college.  My instructions were clear - you guys sit in the front - one will drive and one will navigate... and I handed them an atlas.

It looks like this... inside there is a page for each state with roads and labels - there is no audio.  You can actually determine how to get from one city to another without speaking into it, and it doesn't talk back.  You must review your own decision to go north or south, east or west, then drive that way using only road signs and your determined plan.  

Both boys took one puzzled look at the unimpressive Atlas and spoke gently into their phones to their good friend, Siri, with a request for directions.  Siri, in a kind, gentle voice, began with an instruction to turn left to begin the trip.  We made it... without the Atlas.

Fast forward several weeks... Frank and I were headed to visit my parents in Cookeville, TN... a trip we have made hundreds of times even varying our route a bit.  Years ago, I "found" a little road on an Atlas that cut ten minutes off our trip.   We ran into some heavy traffic due to an accident this day, so we need to reroute.  Thinking our good friend, Siri, with the gentle voice might give us a quick easy detour, we began driving away from the intended route to find a state road that would take us around the accident site.  With every 300 feet we moved, our gentle Siri repeated the same words with the same inflection, "make a u-turn in 300 feet." She wasn't emotional; she didn't seemed bothered by our lack of response; she just continued to repeat "make a a u-turn in 300 feet".  No, friend, we can't make that u-turn, it will take us back "from whence we came", and that will cause us to repeat the same traffic stop - we need NOT to repeat - we need only a left turn... a new direction away from the problem to allow us to smoothly reach our destination.  We needed a different path... a change in direction....

Isn't our journey with the Lord like that?  We often find ourselves in a pattern of repeat... oh we try to head away from the problem... the temptation... the challenge... the SIN - the disobedience, but we "hear" the gentle whisper...of the enemy, make a u-turn, come on back, THIS is your path.  We may just sneak a few "feet" down that changed decision path, and then we hear... make a u-turn... this is just who you are... you aren't strong enough to stay this course.

Truth is... we really can't make that turn from sin (to the left) on our own.  Over and over the Bible tells us that we have the love of the Father, the example and fellowship with Jesus, and the power of the Holy Spirit - to turn away from that disobedience.  Let's be honest, there are the very big things that we need to turn away from, but there are so many daily things that we need to address.  Are my words, my thoughts, my actions pleasing to God - are my responses based on how Jesus would model for me to respond?  Takes WWJD to a new level of thinking, doesn't it?

 from The Laymen’s Library of Christian Doctrine: The Christian Experience of Salvation by William E. Hull:
“Repentance begins with the recognition that life is moving in the wrong direction – no matter how long we have been doing it, no matter how many others may be doing the same thing, no matter how contented we are with our situation. “  

Our first decision with Jesus and repentance comes with His simple command, and our decision/answer to that command:

Then He said to them all: "Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.  Luke 9:23

Once we have chosen to follow HIM, our lives should look different - our goal should immediately become to look more like Jesus.  I read an article from the Billy Graham Evangelical Association about what it means to conform to the ways of Jesus.  The title was simply, Do we look like Jesus.

The article ended with the following thoughts/questions.  As I reviewed the list, I was reminded of many places of needed repentance.  I so want to look like HIM... actually I want other to see HIM instead of me... 

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self control; against such things there is no law. – Galatians 5: 22-23
  • Do you choose to love the unlovable, even when you don’t feel like it?
  • Do bad circumstances steal your joy?
  • Are you at peace in non-peaceful situations?
  • How good are you at working with another timetable besides your own?
  • Do you seek that which is good (as defined by God’s Word)?
  • Do you waiver in your faith when times are hard?
  • Are you gracious in your dealings with others?
  • Who or what controls you?
Father, forgive me...