What are you thinking????

Thanksgiving, or any other holiday time when families get together, seems to always offer an opportunity for a walk down memory lane.  Now if your siblings are at all like mine, we have realized that we don't always remember each story exactly the same way!
Just this week I was reminding my sisters of how often we would "play" Gilligan's Island.  You see we watched the show almost every day, and we would then recreate our favorite scenes.  There were three of us... so Carolyn, the eldest sister, chose her character first.  And, yes of course, she got to be Ginger.  I was second, so I opted for the fun-loving Mary Anne.  Sharon was probably the ripe 'ole age of 5 or 6, so she made the perfect Mrs. Howell!  :)  I think I remember us trying to find her a fancy hat to help convince her that Mrs. Howell was a great character to play.
One of our favorite episodes was when the islanders ate some berries from a certain bush and realized they could read each others' minds.  The effect was great fun at first... and then they begin to "hear" what everyone else was thinking - it was a hilarious episode and memorable, for sure.
So we began to mimic the actions from the show.  We used M & M's as berries, and then the fun began.  We would think the thought, then the other would "read" the thought... no words, of course, and then the reaction of indignation would come.  We "knew" the thought must be hurtful or unkind, so we retaliated with a "worse" thought, so then the other would react accordingly.  Still no words, but I can tell you our faces and our hands on our hips were telling.  Can you see the picture?  It makes me giggle even now.

Truth is that God knows our thoughts even before we think them.  Not sure whether that brings me comfort or challenge or maybe even shame.  Luke 6:45 says this,

  A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. What you say flows from what is in your heart.

So what is in my heart... and how does/did it get there??  What is in my heart is what I put in my brain through my eyes, through my ears, which comes right back out through my mouth.  Psalm 119 tells us, "Your word have I hid in my heart, that I might not sin against you [God]."
2 Corinthians 10:5 reminds us that: 

We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets 
itself up against the knowledge of God, and we 
take captive every thought
to make it obedient to Christ.

I simply have to know HIM and know HIS word so that I can build that treasury in my heart... so that I know what arguments and pretensions set themselves against my knowledge of God... so that I can take that thought captive... before the thought become a word or an action or even "just" a thought that lingers in my mind in disobedience to Christ...

So, grab a handful of M & M's, and let's think about our own thoughts... I prefer the red ones!  :) Oh, yeah, and grab your Bible, so we build our treasury as we go!!!

Pain, Pain, Go Away... and what do you do when it doesn't?

Well, friends, that question has plagued my mind for several years now.  Honestly, it is not in a poor pitiful "us" way, just in a true question of what do we do if/when pain does not subside.

We've been at this pain game for more than 10 years now... One fifth of Frank's life; one third of our married life.  Depending on which of our children you choose to identify, this reality ranges from way more than half the life of one, just under a half for another, and so on and so on.

So I guess you could say, we are not amateur pain dwellers.  For those of you who don't know, Frank began experiencing unexplained lower back pain late in 2003. The explanation came in March, 2004 - Between 2 vertebrae L5-S1 (that's where the spinal column meets the tailbone... for you medical whizzes like me!), the needed disc had disappeared... not an amazing magic trick that would impress the crowd.  We all need that very important disc for cushion, for movement, for protection, for a painless life - at least a painless lower back life.

And so began our journey to "fix" and alleviate his pain.  The journey began with prayer and surgery, the journey was bathed in prayer by others and more surgery, and the journey continues with much prayer and pain management options.  Prayer began for answers, prayer continued for relief, moving eventually to prayer for acceptance for circumstances... not giving up, not giving in, not quitting... Paul, contentment in all circumstances.

We have been there a few days... we have stayed there a few days... so as we look to another bump in this pain road, with an upcoming surgery to replace Frank's broken pain pump, we are thankful...

Thankful for family that loves constantly, that supports with immediate response,  and that laughs out loud and cries out loud...

Thankful for seasoned friends who have walked this road with us faithfully from the very beginning, praying and caring for us all the way.

Thankful for new friends who listen graciously to the very long story... with thoughtful understanding.

Thankful for our God who loves beyond our understanding, who knows every pain  - both physical and emotional... and who sent HIS only Son just for us... painful or painfree.

Thanks be to God... with Paul as he wrote to Timothy...  I am thankful for you!

I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. 
Ask God to help them; 
intercede on their behalf, 
and give thanks for them.

So... what is YOUR story?

When Clay was a little boy, we spent a significant amount of time in the car.  One sister in high school, one in middle school, and one in elementary school offered numerous activities and events for our attendance.  Our car time became our story time.  Barely buckled into his car seat, the words came with gusto, "Mommy, tell me a story!"  He loved fairy tales, tall tales, fables, but his favorites were family stories and Old Testament stories.  When you think about it, the Old Testament is filled with intrigue, blood and guts, battlegrounds, nasty plagues, brothers killing brothers, sacrifice... what more entertainment could a little boy ask for!

So I told stories over and over again.... Creation, Cain and Abel, Noah and the flood, Abraham and Isaac, Jacob and Esau, Joseph and his coat of many colors, Moses and  the Exodus, Queen Esther, King Saul, King David, the judges, the battles... and on and on.  Honestly, I had to brush up on my Old Testament to stay ahead of him.  As you might imagine, David and Goliath's story of battle was one of his all time favorites.  The little guy with the sling who chose not to wear the heavy "safe" armor of King Saul.  It truly is a "God-sized story".  At one point in his soliloquy  to Goliath, David shouts, "You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel... the Lord saves, for the battle is the Lord's".
Quite a story David was able to share of God's triumph over the Philistine giant.  Knowing more of David's life story, we know this is only the beginning of a life filled with mountains and valleys, some of his own doing and some that totally blindsided him.

Whether Clay remembers it or not, I often reminded him that he, too, would have a story to tell.  His question often centered around whether his might include a sling and a giant... I remember one particular day, as I must have been feeling particularly contemplative, I responded, "Oh, son, I feel sure you will have your share of giants to battle."  He giggled with glee at the thought.
We all do, don't we... have battles, have giants that challenge us, have fears, have questions.  I have found that as I listen to the stories of others, I am encouraged.  Realizing that the "armor" others wear doesn't fit me so well, I have discovered, that as I listen, I am reminded to take up my own armor.  Sometime a piece of a friend's is just what I need to get started with mine.  Does that make sense?  You have a story... how the Lord has strengthened you, has encouraged you, has comforted and guided you.  Yours doesn't look or sound just like anyone else's.  If God chooses to keep count of every hair on each of our heads, how can we not acknowledge HIS activity in our lives as we seek Him.

So who can you tell... who knows your "faith story" better than you.  Someone might just be waiting to hear the exact words you will say.  None of us has all the flowery words, the perfect scripture verse to fit every situation, but we all have our own personal experience with the Living God who promises, in Isaiah 43,

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you, and through the rivers, they will not overwhelm you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned or scorched, nor will the flame kindle upon you.

The Kentucky Baptist Convention is offering unique way to share your story - Click on the link below to hear mine and find out how easy it is to share yours through any social media, as a text from your phone... and anyone who chooses can listen to your story at their convenience.... check it out, and let's get the word out.... our story points to HIS story - Praise the Lord!!

or go to

Fight... Flight.... Scream... Freeze

According to prominent psychologists and extensive research, the Fight or Flight response is a  "physiological reaction that occurs in response to a perceived harmful event, attack, or threat to survival".  

Having raised three daughters, I might offer an additional likely response ... screaming... usually for D.A.D.  He could, after all, save them from anything, fix any problem they had created, and somehow always make them feel that everything would be just fine.

On one especially dark January evening new meaning to the word and the feeling of FEAR came for Katie, Mollie and Clay.  Frank, Kellie and I were attending a High School Youth Retreat in Gatlinburg for the weekend.  Katie was in college and was certainly capable of running the house for that time.  Everything was going great, and as we remember it, our worship time that evening was so meaningful - it was clear that God was working in the lives of several of our students, so we actually had an extended time of worship and prayer.

As we were concluding our time, another adult tapped me on the shoulder whispering, "your children have an emergency and desperately need you to call home.  Visions of disasters filled my head as I quickly retrieved my cell phone... 26 missed called... most from Katie and a couple from my neighbor.  The visions in my mind just intensified as I dialed Katie's number.  Bless her sweet little heart, at the time, Katie was not our "calmest under pressure" child (remember,, this is the young woman who now manages her home with 3 boys born within 3 1/2 years!)  So as she tried to relay to us the events of the evening, her words were anything but clear.  Our pressing questions... are you all okay, is the house still standing, is the car wrecked... were met with yes, yes and no.  We sighed a moment of relief.

We finally managed to hear the story.  They had  just settled down in the den to watch a movie together.  Katie had gone into the kitchen to fix ice cream for everyone, and she saw "HIM"with his face pressed against the window staring into the house... at her.  She screamed, and Mollie turned from her vantage point in the recliner to "HIM" standing there peering at them both.  She screamed, too.  My understanding is that Clay, who was still in the den, just screamed because everyone else did.  The "HE" then disappeared from the window leaving a small hysterical group behind.  Their dilemma was real, what to do, who to call, where to go.  Katie sprang into action calling us (no answer), 911, and our neighbors.  As I think about it now, I shudder... and then I giggle, picturing my brave neighbor, whose husband was out of town.  In order to get my distraught children, she ushered them from our door to hers... carrying a baseball bat, and believe me, she would not have been afraid to use it!!   

It had been snowing, and the police officer discovered footprints leading to our window and then away from it.  That was the last that we knew or heard of our peeping tom... although the fear that he left behind took months to overcome.  Frank was sick that he hadn't been there to protect his babies!

Our instinct in any fearful or difficult moment is to fight it, run from it, or scream about it, right?  Once again in my recent Bible study, God has reminded me that often in my moments of fear, uncertainty and even panic... HE has a different plan for me.  When the Israelites were faced with, in their assessment, the most disastrous moment of their lives.  They were up against the Red Sea on one side and the angry mob led by Pharaoh pressing in on the other side.  God's answer to them, from the Living Bible (Exodus 14:13-14)

 "But Moses told the people, “Don’t be afraid. Just stand where you are and watch, and you will see the wonderful way the Lord will rescue you today. The Egyptians you are looking at—you will never see them again. 14 The Lord will fight for you, and you won’t need to lift a finger!” 

I just wonder... is there something in your life right now - that you have feared, you have fought, you have flown away from, that you've just found yourself screaming about.  I KNOW I hear HIM speaking to my heart...."Stop... just FREEZE, just stand right where you are, I AM fighting for you."

So... just FREEZE with me!