And they'll know we are Christians...

When I was in high school, our church youth choir often sang those words,

We are one in the Spirit,
we are one in the Lord,
we are one the Spirit , 
we are one in the Lord,
and we pray that all unity may one day be restored,
and they'll know we are Christians by our love...

Not too long ago, I hung up the phone with a disgusted sigh.. well, maybe it wasn't exactly a sigh... maybe it was an extremely unladylike grunt!  It was only a cell phone, so the real frustration that we felt back in the day when we could actually slam the phone down on the hook would have been much more effective in addressing my aggravation. 

In my defense can I just tell you I was RIGHT!  This was my third call to the Collection Agency - we had paid this bill in full months ago.  Somehow there had been a breakdown in communication as the doctor's office agreed with me that there was no outstanding balance.  From the second phone conversation, I was assured that the mistake had been noted and would be corrected - no further action required on my part.  But... here we were a month later with me holding the same accusatory letter requiring my immediate response and action.  In my rational mind, I do realize that this is form letter received by many... not just me.  BUT, remember, I was RIGHT - I didn't "deserve" that particular form letter - I had done my part; I had completed the paperwork.  I HAD PAID THE BILL! 

I had taken a deep breath before I even dialed.  The young man on the other end was just not getting it.  No matter how I explained it, his screen did not agree with my information, therefore I must surely be mistaken.  I realized my words and my tone were escalating...and rightly so, he must just not be hearing me correctly, so I needed to speak with firmness, clarity, and a bit more volume.  We left the conversation unresolved, but with a plan of action to "investigate" the matter.

Please don't hear me say, we as Christians are to be that proverbial "doormat" that we often agree is unacceptable.  As I plopped down on the couch truly fuming with frustration, that song I mentioned above came to mind.  I hadn't heard, sung or thought of that song in [gulp] over 20 years.  Did he know I was a Christian?  It was my own little moment of conviction.  I had not screamed at him or spoken words that would not be allowed in my house, but I don't believe he left the conversation sharing with his co-worker in the cubicle next door, "I just spoke with the kindest lady who is trying to resolve a mistake that has been made."  Reasonably sure that wasn't his take away...

I seem to be much more aware lately of own my demeanor... when the line to check out is too long... when the person in front of me in the "15 item" lane has... oh, maybe 57 items, when the baby next to us in the restaurant is making a not-so-joyful noise... you get the picture.

Cinderella sang... "In my own little corner, in  own little world, I can be whatever I want to be..."  My thinking lately has reminded me that in my own little corner of this world, I want to be known by WHOSE I am.... I am a daughter of the Creator of the Universe, the King of Kings, the Beginning and the End.  In my own little corner, with HIS constant help, I want people to know I'm a Christian by my words, by my actions, by my love...

Do you think I just might be able to get to that same cubicle with a phone call.  Hmmmm...

"So now I am giving you a new commandment:  Love each other.  Just as I have loved you, you should love each other.  Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples"  John 13:34-35

Too many good things...

I love being involved!  I love being a part of whatever is going on... whether in our family, in my job, in my church, in my community.  There are so many "good" things to do, aren't there?

Clay was a just a baby, maybe four months old.  With four children - ranging from baby to middle school, our list of activities was extensive, but they were all good things.  :)  I loved to sing in the choir - like many churches, we practiced on Wednesday evening after all other activities were finished.  Frank knew how much I loved to sing, so he graciously agreed to take the girls home and begin the evening routine of finishing homework and moving them to showers and baths.
Clay was only four months old, remember - he wasn't totally in my routine...

Choir practice had been especially meaningful... I had enjoyed each song that we sang, but as we left the choir room, I realized just how tired I really was.  I thought if I could just get to the car, drive home, and collapse into my bed, all would be well.
I made it to the car, buckled in and started the engine.  I remember literally laying my head down on the steering wheel in exhaustion.  After a few moments of restful regrouping, I lifted my head.  While shifting into reverse to back out of my parking space... breathing the thought again... if I could just get home, I whispered.  As my head rested on the back of my seat, a sweet scene in the window of the second floor of the church caught my eye.  Oh my, there was Ginger (one of our wonderful childcare workers) gently swaying back and forth to seemingly calm an armful of baby... I think she may have been singing...  OH MY GOODNESS... THAT BABY IS MINE!!!!!!!!!!
I was mortified... I was horrified... I was... the worst mother of the entire year!  In one swoop I jammed the car into park, jumped out and ran back inside to the nursery.  What mother in her right mind leaves her darling baby boy at church.  What was wrong with me??
Frank and I sat down that evening after I recovered with his assurance that I really wasn't the WORST mother... just a "too busy with many good things" mother.  We talked through each weekly event that we were a part of... all those good things.  We agreed that for this very time, I needed to take a break from choir.  We looked at each activity that the girls were involved in and evaluated them based on time commitment, level of interest on their part, and effect of the activity on family time.

Who leaves their baby at church?  I did... well, almost.  He wasn't scarred for life.  He hasn't needed extensive therapy.  He is good... 17 years later.  I can also tell you that wasn't the last time, we had to sit down and review our time and activity commitments to determine not all the good things, but the best things for our family!

When I am tired....
Jesus says, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest."

When I am weak..
Jesus says, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.

When I need wisdom...
I am reminded, "If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.

Just one quick question... my dear friend, Dr. Eldred Taylor

We taught Sunday School classes for 12 years.  For most of those years, our classes were directly across the hall from each other.  When we began, he was 78, and I was 39.  I taught women; he taught men.  More often than not, we were teaching from the same material, so on Saturday morning as I was preparing and hit a bump in the road, I called my friend, Eldred Taylor.

My question was often the same, "Dr. Taylor, do you have a 'minute' to give me a little help?"

 I could him see him grin as his answer was always the same, "Susan, I have all the time you need."

He would graciously and patiently talk me through the passage complete with additional Biblical reference and rich history to give me full understanding.  I would thank him for his time, his wisdom and his knowledge.

As our class would begin the next morning, he would stroll in our classroom, give me a wink announcing just loud enough for my ladies to hear. "Susan, thanks for the clarification yesterday, I 'm ready to teach these guys this morning!"   And off we would go.

A gracious saint he was - His earthly body gave out on Friday, January 16th, as he quietly made the journey to Heaven.  He described for me once how he thought the gate into Heaven might look.  In one of those church hallway conversations... he just threw it out there:
"I think the sign above the gate will read, 'All are WELCOME', and then when we walk through the gate and turn back to look above the gate inside Heaven, it will read, 'WELCOME, chosen ones!'"... and the celebration of praise and worship will begin!  So he would remind me, "We've got work to do to bring 'em to Jesus!"

Now keep in mind, that conversation was not a planned theological discussion to end all explanation about our entrance into Heaven - it was simply a thought on a given Sunday.

Eldred joined a group of men on the day our daughter, Katie, got married.  The group included men from their Sunday School class, men from both our families, and additional friends.  As they gathered around Chris with each hand touching a shoulder toward him, Eldred's voice of blessing over Chris and their marriage was strong.  His words continue to encourage them and us each time we replay that precious video moment.

I think I'll go listen to it right now... my question for you, our dear friend and teacher...

Do you have just a minute to answer a question about heaven?

Author's Note:

Eldred Taylor, a noted Baptist pastor who once served as president of the Kentucky Baptist Convention, died Friday in Louisville. He was 93.
Taylor served most of his ministry as pastor at First Baptist Church of Somerset from 1958 through 1981. He was also pastor at Rosedale Baptist Church in Richmond; director of missions for Daviess-McLean Baptist Association; director of missions and evangelism for the KBC; a member of the Foreign Mission Board (now the International Mission Board); and executive director and board member of the Kentucky Baptist Homes for Children (now Sunrise Children’s Services).
He served as KBC president in 1967-68.


Just a thought for today.... My youngest grandson, Corey, is obsessed with his basketball.  Honestly, all three of my grandboys... and my son-in-law, the high school coach, and my daughter, who is the team's and the coach's biggest fan, are obsessed with basketball.  Because of his brothers and his dad, Corey gravitated toward any ball before he could even sit up, but his basketball is the chosen one!

 What I have noticed about this "obsession" is that he always knows where his ball is.  Most often he knows exactly where his ball is because it is attached to him.  He can eat while he holds it; he can take a bath while he holds  it; he can ride in a car seat while he holds it; he can obviously sleep while he holds it!  It is a truly a part of him.
What can I learn from a toddler with a basketball?  What is my obsession?  Who is my obsession?  As you might imagine, it could be said that those grandboys are an obsession for me.  I look forward to seeing them at any time; I want to hear about their day; I love when they call to tell me about a game; I just want to sit beside them!

When Jesus was asked to name the greatest commandment, his answer was sure.  "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength."  That sounds like an obsession.
Obsession is defined as the domination of one's thoughts or feelings by a persistent idea or desire.
Am I allowing my thoughts and feelings to be dominated by my decision to Love the Lord my God with everything I have?  That is a thought to ponder, isn't it? 

 For today... on this Monday, my choice is to LOVE Him with all my heart, my soul, my mind and my strength!  

Ping pong champ

Ping pong has been a lifelong game for me.  My dad taught all of his daughters to play as soon as we could hold a paddle and reach the table.  Many discussions took place and many lessons were learned from the other side of the table.  My dad taught us the game, made sure we understood the rules, and always offered advice and encouragement to better our game.  But he never LET us win...  Not until we could really beat him.  The most often quoted reminder for us was simply... "Never miss a serve!" 
Fast forward just a few years... our family has had a ping pong table on and off for most our children's lives.  Just sayin'.... for many years, I WAS the ping pong champ.  Clay has continued to play; he was even in the ping pong club in Middle School!  :)  So we played on.  No matter who scored first, the reminder came from the winner of the first point... 7-0 equals a skunk.  Now for those of you not in the ping pong lingo know, a "skunk" means that you just aren't very good at ping pong, aka... you stink - you can't even score ONE point to the winner's 7 points.  For years we have played, and I would often use the same reminder that I had heard so often... Never miss a serve.  So, why is that such good advice?  From a bottom line perspective, the analysis is easy.  Your serve is your given point.  You have the control over the game; you can choose to place the ball at a certain weak spot on your opponent's side of the table; you can even try a fancy shot with an English spin... just keep the ball on the table... Never miss a serve.
Two weeks ago Clay won our game.  Honestly, I thought it must be a fluke.  It wasn't.  He can now consistently beat me, not easily, not with his right hand (He is left-handed!), but he is winning most every game we play. 
So what does winning a ping pong game have to do with living by faith and coffee?  Hmmm... do you remember the story that Jesus told in Luke 18 about the persistent widow, she is called.  She needed justice - we don't know exactly what justice she needed, but she didn't give up - she kept going back.  So much so that the judge replied to her pleas with these words from the Amplified Bible verse 5:
I will defend and protect and avenge her, lest she give me intolerable annoyance and wear me out by her continual coming or at the last she come and rail on me or assault me or strangle me.
Jesus followed with an explanation in verses 6-8 from The Message:
So what makes you think God won’t step in and work justice for his chosen people, who continue to cry out for help? Won’t he stick up for them? I assure you, he will. He will not drag his feet. But how much of that kind of persistent faith will the Son of Man find on the earth when he returns?”
Some of us have been praying for justice or understanding or relief or financial peace or _________, you fill in the blank, for a very long time.
Jesus' reminder to us is clear.  We serve and pray to THE God who cares about His children, His chosen people.  I  would never assume to know the plan for a particular prayer from God's perfect vantage  point, but what I do feel confident in saying that His desire is for our persistent faith.  His decision and timing are perfect.  Keep praying!  Don't give up.  God is so for you!

 Just so you know... our ping pong tournament continues...  I'm not giving up either!  :)