O Taste and See…..

“O taste and see that the Lord is good”  Psalm 34:8a 

“This is the best chocolate you’ll ever put in your mouth” my friend told me as we stood in the Lindt store in Orlando, Florida.  “The best?” I asked.  “I thought all chocolate was the best…”  We both laughed.  “No, really, taste and see how good it is!” The words from Psalm 34 that I had read a few days earlier rang clear in my mind.  I popped the chocolate in my mouth.  My friend was right, it was the best chocolate I had ever tasted!  As I savored the amazing flavor, I enjoyed the sweet aroma that surrounded me.  Just as I chose to indulge in the delectable confectionaries and breathe in the overwhelming sweet aroma around me, I must choose to taste and see that the Lord is good every day!  I must resolve to reach out to sample and savor the delicious sweetness of His Word, then close my eyes and relish in His presence that surrounds me when I allow His truth to penetrate every fiber of my being.  His goodness is new every day.  I cannot simply allow the truths I have consumed in the past be the extent of what I know of our great God.  I must taste His Word every day and encounter a new flavor of truth to enhance the taste buds of my life.  Open His Word today and “taste and see that the Lord is good.”


Big Words Don’t Make You Seem Smarter….

I sat at my desk today, bright and early, for it was Monday morning….well, to be truthful, it wasn’t so bright and early, it was 8:30am, and I hate early morning conversations that don’t involve a flavored latte, soft lighting and comforting music!  Anyway!  A woman came into the office, obviously a born and bred Springhill-er (as we non-Springhill-er’s like to call those genteel ladies who wear name brand fashions, have perfect hair, shoes and children and drive expensive SUV’s)….a proprietor of a Springhill décor boutique that is overpriced  but quite thrilling to stroll through  and see fabulous unique items I cannot afford.  But I digress.  I sat there, trying to appear busy with something on my computer, as she read over a document she had to sign, she used words like ambiguous, subjective and convoluted.  I tried to melt into the background, suddenly feeling inferior; intimidated by her display of obvious higher education and apparent knowledge of interior decorating (I am sure she does not shop at Target or Wal Mart!).  She signed her papers and with a dramatic flair whipped her beautifully embellished black trench coat type coat around her slim body, flipped her long blond hair back with her well manicured hands and exited into the slow drizzle that continued to coat our thirsty southern landscape.  But, as she walked across the parking lot, I noticed that her jacket had inadvertently become tucked in the back of her white linen pants (she would say trousers, but being the true southern gal I am, I’ll call them britches!) in an awkward way, making her look like a little black hen waddling through the rain.  I snickered as she realized that it was tucked in her britches (thankfully it wasn’t toilet paper, because she probably would have killed over dead with humiliation), glanced both ways, and tried discreetly to dislodge the coat.  Her action did not go undetected by the passing car, which, to my delight, beeped its horn!  So, big words, small words, linen trousers or blue jeans, we all put our britches on the same way, one leg at a time.  As one, very intuitive woman once said “No one can make you feel inferior without your permission.” – Eleanor Roosevelt.  So, today, put on your britches (be they linen or blue jeans) and enjoy the day the Lord has made, rejoice and be glad in it!


He thinks of me!

Psalm 139:17-18

“How precious also are your thoughts to me, O God?  How great is the sum of them!  If I should count them, they would be more in number than the sand, when I awake, I am still with you.”

Sitting in my beach chair, I lift my feet slowly out of the sand digging up with my toes.  Sand, thousands of grains of sand, smoothly slide between my toes and down my feet and back to their home on the beach joining the infinite number of other grains of sand that cover the warm Gulf Coast.    Imagine that the precious thoughts of our amazing God for you and for me are more in number than the sand that covers every beach in the world.  I lean forward and scoop up a handful of sand and try to separate out the pieces to count just a few, but I grow weary after I reach one hundred and the number only takes up a space smaller than the eraser on a pencil!  His thoughts of me are more than the numbers of grains of sand!  As I look down the beach at the miles of beach stretched out before me, basking in the sunset that God has painted perhaps just for me, the miles of beach that stretch out before are illuminated by the pink glow of the setting sun.  No one can begin to number the grains of sand that it takes to cover just this one beach.  Neither can anyone, especially me, begin to number the precious thoughts my sweet heavenly Father has for me.  I am amazed at this very thought.  What are those thoughts He has for me?  What does it matter?  He thinks of me!!!


My Interesting Experience at the 2009 Southern Christian Writer’s Conference….been sitting on this one!

I made it through those first moments of anxiety before opening the door to the building where the conference was being held!  When I was about to get out of the car,Lynnasked if I was okay, I said “No, I think I’m gonna cry, I’m scared!”  Of what, I wasn’t sure.  But he prayed for me and I could breathe normally again.  As I walked in, I took my sister’s advice and channeled her and Mom’s outgoing-easy-to-meet-people- personalities and I didn’t frown at everyone I came in contact with or remain speechless.  Now I won’t say I shook hands and passed out business cards to every poor soul that walked past me or sat near me.  I can’t even say that I initiated most of the conversations.  The part of me that likes to sit and size people up first still was strong.  But, I didn’t answer with just a yes or no, when asked questions.  I smiled a lot, because quite honestly I was thrilled to actually be at a writer’s conference.

Exciting moments:  Gilbert Morris spoke.  He’s nearly 80 and has written around 270 historical Christian novels, amusing in itself that an 80 year old man is the author of novels about  swooning females and handsom leading men who save the day, but his sense of humor stole the show…he was a hoot!  I took Angela Hunt’s class….awesome!  And the biggest moment was having a one-on-one conversation with Bucky Rosenbaum (Rick Warren and Beth Moore’s agent…yeah, I was freaking out on the inside).

I gleaned as much wisdom I could during the short conference, but most importantly I learned that I’m not so strange after all!  I met some strange little people among the writer-wanna-be’s that weekend.  People who really haven’t written all that much, don’t know if they really want to write, and quite honestly had some unusual things they had dreamed up to write about.  I sat in on a “break out group” the last night that was supposed to be a chat group on writing children’s books.  There were five of us in the room, given no format or idea of what we were supposed to be doing.  It was 9:15pm at this point.  Next to me sat a pretty young college student fromAuburn.  She was 19-ish, perhaps 20 (who knows!  they look so young these days!! :))  Across from me, engrossed in a conversation were two older ladies and then another red-neck (and I say this in the kindest way) looking lady to my right.  We were sort of spread out, a little awkward, just waiting.  The college student asked me if I wanted to write children’s books.  I nodded yes and gave her an awkward smimle.  She wasn’t sure what she wanted to do, be a journalist, an English teacher or an astronaut.  Actually she didn’t say that, but she was a little giggly and scattered with her thoughts.  The ladies that had been engrossed in their own conversation, suddenly stopped and decided to initiate our “break out” group (at least I thought that was their thought process).  The first women, in her late fifties I’m guessing, suddenly said she had the answer to Hello Kitty.  I looked at her, trying very hard not to let my face show what I was thinking and trying hard not to laugh at her comment.  I said “Really, Hello Kitty.  cool.”  She never really made much sense after that, she rambled about finding this kitten coming out of the drain outside her house and that he was her baby, because once you feed a kitty with a bottle, they are like your own baby.  It seems she has written about this “kitty” and his many adventures.  Then she suddenly switched gears and began randomly talking about her horse and going out one morning and finding a tooth lodged in his neck.  The horse was okay, but she had the vet come out and remove the tooth.  It was canine. (Just in case you were wondering).  She and the lady next to her began discussing whether it was coyote or wolf.  I’m smiling, and cutting my eyes to my left and right at the redneck lady and the college student, wondering if they are feeling a little awkward.  They’re both nodding and smiling, as if they are totally into her conversation.  While I’m not paying attention, I realize the kitty lady is asking me a question.  “Have you written anything?” I said “Oh, me, well, yes,” I realize at this point all eyes are on me, “Um, well, I’ve been writing curriculum for Lifeway for the last year and I’ve written a children’s book that I’m trying to get published.”  The lady over to my right spoke up in a sort of loud, husky voice.  The kind that evokes the visual picture of a newscaster interviewing neighbors who live next to the house where a drug bust has just occurred and they look straight into the camera wearing an old t-shirt that says “Hell Yeah” on the front and never have all their teeth.  She tells me, “Well I haven’t written a lick in ten years pro’ly, but I think I got what it takes to write a kids book, I’ve raised 5 of the little rug rats!!  I figure I can get some idears and write a book and use the contacts I get while I’m here.  Whats your kiddy book about?  You been writin’ long?”   At this point I pulled my cell out of my pocket, innocently checking the time and praying Lynn will return my call so I can tell him to get his bootie to the conference and pick me up!  I am quite certain I have entered some other dimension and do not want to get lost in it!  I am sure I was losing ground on controlling my facial expressions and I could still feel the others staring at me waiting for me to continue.  So, I have to confess, I pretended that my phone vibrated and answered it “Yes, okay, I’ll be waiting out front”.  I gathered my things, but sat for a minute or two so as not to be rude.  I looked at the four faces staring intently at me, and as I tend to do when I’m nervous, I began to ramble “Yes ma’am, I’ve been writing since I was a teenager.  I was able to be on the school newspaper and magazine, as well as the yearbook staff despite our constant moving as I was growing up.  However, after failing English twice when I started college, I dropped out and decided that writing was not my career choice.  However, last year God opened the door for me to begin writing for Lifeway and I have written a children’s book that I am working on getting published.  It is about an 11 yr old girl named Hannah, who is inspired after hearing The Good Samaritan story one Sunday morning.  She decides to form her own club that helps people “no matter what the cost” and calls it The Good Samaritan Club.  It is basically about the forming of the club and then the search for their first mission.”  You could have heard a pin drop.  Then the kitty lady speaks up and says, “I’ve written about a rooster that gets kicked into another dimension by my horse and has all kinds of adventures.”  It was time for me to escape!  I said “Well my husband is probably downstairs waiting for me.  Good luck with your writing, nice to meet you” And I ran for my life!


2010 Youth Workers Conference Experience

I have observed that people are not really interested.  Interested in what, you are probably asking at this point.  I am beginning to believe, that in general, people aren’t really interested in other people.  I spent 4 days last fall at a National Youth Workers Conference, in which our small band of youth workers were jumbled together with some 8,000 other youth workers and youth pastors from across the nation.  After congregating together in the “big room” for worship and a speaker, we quickly dispersed to various seminars on a myriad of subjects.  We tried to spread ourselves throughout the seminars in order to gather as much information and knowledge as possible.  I found myself in a couple of classes alone, well not alone, but sitting among strangers.  I had tried hard to read name tags as people passed me in the convention center and in the classrooms, curious to see where all these people who must love working with students were traveling from to learn more about ministering to youth.  I noticed that we band of eleven from the heart of the south, the belt buckle of the Bible belt, were in the minority.  Most people seemed to hail from the north and west to California, then the East Coast, and a large group of mid-westerners.  I tried engaging some people in conversation by asking “Where are you from?” and usually I was given a short, quick answer.  I started to think my southern twang was hindering our ability to converse.  As I sat in one seminar, the instructor instructed us to turn to someone next to us and give three words that described our Middle School experience.  I shuddered inwardly, not wanting to remember those three years of torment.  I glanced at the young woman sitting one chair away from me, waiting for her to glance toward me to follow our instructions.  She stared forward for a moment, and then slowly looked toward my southern (albeit awkward) smiling face.  I saw her forehead give just a slight crinkle as if frowning.  With no expression, other than the brief crinkling of her perfect brow, she uttered three words in a distinct Midwestern accent, “They were great.”  Then she turned her face back toward the speaker, never waiting for my response.  Was she trying to be amusing, I wondered?  Did she misunderstand the assignment? I sat there staring at the side of her face, examining her perfect make-up, her long thick hair twisted into a perfect bun and clipped with some ornate hair accessory.  She wore a long dark fitted top with a gray lightweight coat and one of those wonderful scrunchy scarfs that only people with long necks can pull off.  Her long legs were crisscrossed and covered in dark tights and riding boots.  Her arms were crossed across her waist, adding to her air of superiority.  I was 49 years old and this 30 something young woman had just dismissed me.  Her body language and actions revealed her apparent belief that the activity was beneath her or that communication with me was unnecessary.  I was still disturbed by her response and by the fact that if you stood the two of us before a group of teenagers, she would be their obvious choice among the younger generation.  She was young and hip (that word alone ages me!), she was tall (I am not), she was beautiful, she seemed educated, for all accounts she was visually more appealing than myself.  I could see the scenario play out in my mind.  She would be surrounded by giggling girls and hormonal teenage boys.  I would be left standing alone, rejected and cast off.  I shook my head, clearing the scene from my mind.  I became determined not to be ignored.  I had worked with youth for 20 years in many different aspects.  I had seen and heard things that would have left this young woman speechless.  I had held the hand of many a crying teenage girl as she blubbered about a broken heart.  I had been roused in the middle of the night by a phone call from a student to come and pick them up or just because they wanted to talk.  I had endured sleepless nights at camp and retreats and the most feared – lock-ins!  I had had my house rolled and forked so many times that at one point I had decided to leave the yard décor left by students to make it easier for the next go around.  My car had been painted and saran wrapped on many occasion – no small feat when you drive a mini-van!  I had convinced many a student to come clean with their parents over secrets they were keeping or revealing an unplanned pregnancy.  I had prayed over and with students about small and big decision as they looked forward to life after high school.    I had taught the truths of God’s Word to every age from 12 to 18.  I had earned my stripes and the sprinkle of gray that was shining in my auburn hair!  I was not going to be discounted as some short, fat old lady trying to be cool by attending a youth leader’s conference.  I smiled my most charming southern smile and tapped the young woman on her shoulder.  She slowly turned her face toward me annoyed that I was trying to engage her in the assignment the conference leader had given us.  “Excuse me; I am sure you were wondering what three words I would use to describe my middle school experience.  And yes, in my day, it was called junior high, but nevertheless it was middle school.  The three words I would use to describe that time are Challenging, Abstruse and Empowering.”  I smiled at her again and turned my attention toward the speaker who had resumed her lecture.  I felt the young woman still staring at me but mustered up the most pensive expression I could and pretended to be engrossed in the speaker’s content.  I felt a sense of victory at having trumped her aloof manner.  She might be young and pretty, but I was old and experienced!


How Sharp is Your Sword?

Ephesians 6:13-17

How sharp is your sword?  Ephesians 6 is the familiar passage encouraging us to put on the whole armor of God:  the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, shoes for your feet for the preparation of the Gospel of Peace, the shield of faith and the helmet of salvation.  But do not forget your sword, which is the Word of God!  You can put on the entire armor, but if you have no sword, you have nothing to do battle with.  The Bible tells us that the Word of God is sharper than any two-edged sword.  It is only beneficial if we learn how to use this powerful weapon.  How do we do that?  By sharpening our swords daily as we study His Word, meditate on it and apply it to our lives.  We are useless soldiers in the Army of God if we do not practice wielding our swords before the enemy.  Let me ask you again.  How sharp is your sword?  Is it dull, tarnished and rusty?

 Ask the Lord to show you ways to sharpen your sword, in order that you may fight gallantly in His Army!