Saturday, July 16, 2016

Stay Between the Ditches

As many of you know, I learned how to drive in a hay field on our southern farm. I drove the tractor or truck, pulling the wagon along for others to throw and stack the hay. I would slowly roll along, dipping down into ruts and up on little hills. It was a big challenge for me to watch through the big side mirror on the truck to see when the wagon was beside the hay bales. I did everything I could to make it easier for the men working so hard in the Alabama summer humidity. On occasion, the hay baler would leave the bales far apart, due to the turn at the end of the field, so I would try to drive between the rows to get it closer to the wagon. It was an obstacle course for a young girl who could barely see over the steering wheel and had to practically stand to put on the brakes! 

It was always a treat for me to be included in the hard work. I always enjoyed being outside working more than inside cooking or cleaning. I learned a lot from watching men do a hard day's work and there was a lot of joking and laughter that kept them going. Even when one hay bale had a snake wrapped up in it, the laughter rippled across the field as the one young man gave a big "Yikes, it's a snake!" holler! 

But then one day, my daddy said I was going to move onto the road and drive the truck to the barn. I was scared as he told me, "Just stay between the ditches."  I drove and I can imagine my eyes were round as headlights, looking over the hood, watching those ditches! 

Then, he came to me another day and tossed me the keys and told me to drive him to the store to get gas. Now I was terrified as I climbed into the truck, but again he said to me, "Stay between the lines and the ditches." I sat straight up, really high, to be able to see and we set off. I was fine as long as daddy was there with me. 

A few months passed and we were going on a trip to Chicago to see our relatives and he said he was tired and I needed to drive for awhile, so he could take a nap in the back seat. Mother sat in the front with me as I drove down the highway. When I drove up behind a trailer truck driving very slow, she encouraged me to pass him. I drove slowly behind him a long way, before building up courage to go around. The road was straight and I could seen nothing coming, as I eased out around the truck.
My knuckles were white with fear and my eyes were huge as I watched the lines and the ditch! I passed him and remember my pounding heart in my chest. My mother smiled as she said, " You did just fine." (I have often wondered was daddy really sleeping in the back or was he sighing with relief!) 

These memories are very similar to when I was young christian starting to walk with God. I enjoyed being at church and loved to watch others work and I could see them enjoy serving Him. Then one day, God pushed me to move forward. This helped me to learn about Him and begin my growing process. He often times seems to be sleeping as I serve and I have wondered if I was going to make it. Often I am reminded, He is always watching over us. 

Sure we get stretched out of our comfort zones, but that is how we learn and grow in Him, just like driving a hay truck. We need to trust Him to get us out of the ruts, so that we can move on around the big stuff. If we keep our eyes on Him, we will stay between the lines and out of the ditches. 

God's love for us is like that of my parents, even greater. He wants us to grow in Him everyday, not just in seasons. He allows things in our lives, not to overwhelm us, but to help us trust Him more. 

Ephesians 4:14-15Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)

14 Then we will no longer be little children, tossed by the waves and blown around by every wind of teaching, by human cunning with cleverness in the techniques of deceit. 15 But speaking the truth in love, let us grow in every way

2 Peter 3:18Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)

18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity.[a]Amen.[b] into Him who is the head—Christ.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Summertime Travels

When I was a young girl, I remember the excitement building as we packed for our vacations.
We were the average family, not a lot of extra money to spend to take elaborate trips, but every trip to me was an adventure. Mother would pack a cooler of drinks and snacks for a roadside table lunch, while daddy would throw his tackle box and crab traps in the trunk and his fishing poles would be hanging out the window. Just a few clothes would be packed in a bag to leave room for Florida's oranges, souvenirs and sea shells coming back home. 

The old radio did not receive reception well as we traveled, so there were many songs to be sung by the family. One of my daddy's favorites was 'On the Jericho Road' because he knew the lead part pretty well. We always sang old hymns and then on to Christmas carols! We laughed and played games in the car and on occasion stopped at a roadside alligator farm to get a cool drink of Florida's fresh squeezed orange juice. Life was good!

The planning of a trip and the travel has always been a time of adventure and enjoyment for me, usually as much as final destination itself. Some like the excitement of putting up Christmas trees and preparing for the holidays, I like the adventure of travel. 

The unexpected and the unknown, followed by the lasting memories, is what life is all about!
Life itself is an adventure from one day until the next. We never know what tomorrow will bring, whether it will be a happy day or a sad, hard time in our lives. 

But you know, nothing happens in our lives that God doesn't already know about. Just like mother packing that cooler, because she knew her husband and girls would be hungry down the road, she prepared for us. Daddy, on the other hand, knew we would need something to do at night, so he packed crab baskets and fishing equipment to take us all to the pier to enjoy the cool evenings. 

Now I will tell you that on more than one occasion we ate a soggy sandwich because the ice melted and water got into the loaf of bread. There were many nights on the pier we did not catch anything and went home carrying empty crab baskets. But the joy of being with those who had prepared for us, even when it did not turn out perfect, is what I remember. We did not complain, we usually laughed and skipped and made the best out of a bad situation. 

Those times remind me of trials we live daily. God plans and prepares for us to have the best life we could have in Him. Then something in life happens, choices are made, things said, illnesses, death, things out of our control. We need to remember Who prepared the day for us, He is still there. He prepared for good, but evil is in this world. Evil seeps into our lives like water on soggy bread. We may have to live through the day, but we know He is still with us and loves us beyond measure. 

Now going back to the trip, I don't guess I will tell how I survived many trips sleeping in the back windshield of the car, while my sister slept in the seat! God surrounded us with His protection and just maybe it was my daddy's singing kept Him close! 


Monday, May 30, 2016

Yellow Rose Surprise!!

This afternoon I had an unusual, pleasant, never seen before surprise! I went out to water my roses that we had transplanted to a sunny spot, since they apparently did not like where I had planted them two years ago. They had struggled to live the past 24 months and were about to give up. My husband was going to dig them up anyway, so might as well give them another chance. 

They have perked up, reaching upward as the sunrise catches them each morning, rising to the noonday sky. They cool for a bit in the shade of the trees for about an hour before the setting sun peaks through and bathes them again in it's light. 

Today, as I walked around the house lugging the hose pipe (water hose for those of you in the north, lol ) to spray them with the cool water, I almost tripped over my feet with surprise!
There among the little red rose buds and a couple of weeds, bloomed a beautiful yellow rose! Now how in the world did that yellow rose come up from those transplanted red roses? I am so excited!! For you see, the yellow rose is my very favorite rose of all!! 

The yellow rose stands tall and proud...any rose can be a red rose, but it take something special to be different and be yellow. My daddy only gave me one rose in his lifetime. I was riding around with him one day and he had to stop at Roper's Florist, because he had been doing some work for Mr. Roper. He told me to stay in his truck and he would be right back out. He came out with a tissue paper and handed it to me. As I unwrapped it, it was a long stem yellow rose, a moment I will never forget! 

As I stood there, staring at this rose today, I thought about we as Christians, living among the thorns and weeds in this world. There were other roses there, ordinary red roses, budding and blooming as they do. But then, there among them was one that was different, it stood out with it's glow and grace. The yellow rose had somehow come forth after the transplant and bloomed right among the reds! 

We should be like that rose, we should bloom right where we are planted. We are God's flowers and He gives us all we need to be nourished among the ordinary people. But we as Christians should stand out with a glow and grace as we reflect the light that shines on us. 

I just pray that one day I will have the beauty inside as much as the yellow rose does on the outside. I will never look at a rose again without thinking about my own life and am I growing for Him. 


Friday, May 20, 2016

No Greater Love

When I hear sweet songs about the great love of God, my heart would almost stop if it wasn't leaping in the spirit! God's love is far beyond imaginable to our little earthly minds. 

When we were deployed to Louisiana once, a man came up to me and shared about his death experience. First let me explain that I do believe in these experiences because I too believe in life after death. However, I am always cautious to not let the devil take me on a trip down the wrong path when someone starts to share their stories with me. I can often tell the difference in the beginning when it is too much of 'I did this' or 'I know this' stuff. Because I believe when you die and go to heaven, the love and focus is so much on God, you forget about yourself and bask in Him. 

Now, back to this gentleman's story of heaven: He said to me, "Ginger, you just cannot put into words or imagine the love that is felt there." He continued, "I love my wife very much, but that love is nothing compared to the love of God which surrounded my very being. My soul was full of Him from the top of my head to my toes, I could feel the love. I felt like I even breathed in the love and it exhaled from my nostrils!" His eyes watered and tears slowly trickled down his cheeks as he remembered the experience. 

This past week Denny and I were watching a Christian television show and they spoke of Abraham going to the mountain to sacrifice his son, as God had commanded him to do. Now Abraham was obedient in what God had asked him to do, even when he loved his child beyond measure, he was willing. I love my children and grandchildren so much. I am thankful God does not ask us to do this act. 

Gen. 22:2 "Take your son," He said, "your only son Isaac, whom you love, go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about." 

Other gods had been given sacrifices in the past that included humans, even children, during that era. 

But, notice one difference here with Abraham, God stopped him from giving his son back to God. God gave him an animal for the sacrificial blood. 

As this was being shown on television, my mind ran off again in another direction as it often does. It dawned on me of this scenario of Abraham and what I had never seen before! (now I know you probably already know this, but I am going to share it anyway!)

God asked (already knowing He was going to tell Abraham to stop) for his son, Isaac, to be sacrificed. 

God knew He would provide the temporary sacrifice, a ram in the thicket.

But further more, I think God was thinking some things....

He knew Abraham's son was not the supreme sacrifice, it had to be, HIS SON, Jesus!

He asked for Abraham's son, but then He gave His own son for all of us to be the supreme sacrifice! 

That is how great His love is for us here on earth. I just can't imagine heaven, if it is greater there like they say!

Maybe that is why He tells us to love each other. So we can get used to the love overflowing He has for us. 

I am going to try to make a habit of loving people more and sharing His love by doing this. So you all better watch out, I have some loving to do! Hope you all will take this and do the same. 

Please respond to this in love!! :) 


Thursday, May 12, 2016

Traveling Around

For the last couple of weeks, we have been traveling the southeast and even dipping down into Florida. We have done some sightseeing, as I have been doing interviews, and meeting some wonderful people. We have been encouraged and blessed by those we have crossed paths with along the way.

We have seen times when we have been anxious to move forward to see what the next hour holds for us, but we have also longed to stay in the moment other times. 

One day we met up with some friends (also Billy Graham Chaplains) and played a round of golf. The wind was blowing so hard that day, no one knew where the ball was going until it hit the ground, or sand I might add! We laughed when the men decided on the third hole that they were not going to even keep score! They acted like it was for the women's benefit. But after looking for their balls a couple of times or finding them in the sand, we knew better. It was a day of fun in the sun with good friends. 

The next day we met a new friend that showed us around the area. We found out that she now lives in FL, but her family lived only a few miles from our home in Alabama. Lisa and I will have a lasting friendship and I am looking forward to meeting her mother and dad. 

These past few weeks reminded me of life itself. We have traveled through this world, renewing our relationships, making new friends and sometimes longing to stay right in the moment. However, there comes a longing and a time to go home. 

While we were on this trip a dear friend of ours passed from this earth to his heavenly home. We have no doubt about his rejoicing in heaven, even though he enjoyed his journey here. He was always laughing and greeting people with a smile. He had lasting friendships and made new friends. But, there was a time to go to his heavenly home.

We have enjoyed our trip, here the past few weeks, but also our journey on this earth.

My prayer is that you take this journey with joy and peace He gives you, being ready to go home when He calls. 

Meet up with old friends, play in the wind. Meet new friends for a lifetime. Be ready for the final journey, our heavenly home, it will last forever. 


Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Mirror of Time

This past week I rearranged the pictures on the walls in my home. Nothing new to put up, but due to the fresh paint, why not give a change to the sayings and plaques that cover them? 

It all started with replacing the large mirror over the mantle with the large clock that had previously been on the wall between the kitchen and the den. Nice, we can see what time it is without getting up to look around the wall! But the question now is where to put that large mirror. 

We have put it, temporarily I might add, over the sofa in the front room. It just has not found it's home yet, so I am continuing to struggle with it everytime I walk past it.

What is amazing is how often we get up to look around the wall to see the clock! Here it is, right before our eyes, but we look back to the old wall. There replacing the clock is a group of crosses, that our friend painstakingly made for us. It is actually a layout of the Lord's Supper, but at each place there is a cross that represents each disciple.
We have a large cross in the center, representing Jesus and even Judas is a black cross, sideways of the table. 

So now, when I cast my eyes to where time once hung, I now see the crosses. I stopped and thought about that this morning. The  crosses represent time that started the Christian walk for me. Each of the these crosses played a part in where I am today as a Christian. Wow! This made me turn to look at the clock over the mantle and how fast time was ticking in my own life. Have I, do I, make a difference? I am nowhere near where these men were and I know that I still am climbing to be acceptable to Him. 

The difference now in my life is that I can now see the cross, where time literally stood still, where my own clock once hung. This is a message to me focus not on my own time, but that of Christ.

We as Christians need to be focused on His timing, not our own, in daily life. We should look to each day as a new beginning and take it one day at a time. For no one knows what tomorrow will bring. Live each day to the fullest, seeking His face in all that we do. 

The mirror is just a reflection of what is on the other side of the room, it has no meaning, just hangs over the sofa. But we as Christians should be a reflection of Christ, shining His light across and around the world. 

"Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes." James 14:4


Thursday, February 18, 2016

The Old Homestead

My husband has always loved history and visiting the battlefields, history museums, and reading every plaque and card about each display. I, on the other hand, love to be set free from the past. Not that the past was bad, I just like doing something new and making new memories. 

The travel to the locations has always been the adventure for me, not always the destination. But the older I get, I am beginning to see the truth, not only in the future or the present, but in the past. The clear, cold fact is 'time stands still for no one.' 

We took a trip not long ago to my 'old' home place. Yes, it was old then, being built in the 1800s by Gen. John Coffey. But it was a place of grandeur in it's day, a big, white, southern home sitting upon a big hill, overlooking the Tennessee River. The bricks were painted white to match the columns and the tall ceilings were to keep it cool in the hot Alabama summers. The long, tall windows could be opened to let the night's breeze from the river come through the house. 

While we drove to Jackson County, AL, fond memories of working on the farm and in the garden with my mama and daddy flooded my mind. I grew more anxious to see the home and to walk around the big yard, where Denny and I had played croquet when we first met. 

The closer we got, the more anxious I was to see who might be living there and to meet them and share stories of the home. I was hoping to walk to the old cemetery, where the Coffey family was buried down from the house. 

When we pulled up into the driveway going up the hill, we could only go so far because of the grass and weeds literally came up over the bumper of the car. We got out and started walking the path I did as a teenager after school, up the hill. Step by step, my eyes searched the skyline for the roof of the house, gleaning for some sign of life. 

When we walked into the yard, my heart almost fell out of my chest. There in front of us was nothing but ruins of a broken down house, with windows out, bricks falling off, doors hanging on by a single hinge. We walked slowly up the crumbled path of concrete that used to be the sidewalk. 

Entering the home, it was if I had stepped back into time in my mind, but my heart and eyes told me different. Time had passed and this home was no more. 

As we looked closer, there were few remnants that showed us that everything here was man made. The bricks had been made by slaves in a pit near the river. The walls were built four brick wide, but still did not endure time. The once beautiful hardwood floors, made by hand, were now rotten and falling through, the cabinets my daddy had built were falling off the walls. 

As we walked around to the back, the garden that mama and I worked so hard in, was now filled with thistles and thorn bushes so high they were above our heads. The barn was falling in and too dangerous for us to try to enter. 

Time on earth stand still for no one. Look closely in the mirror and you will see for yourself. Look around, this earth has time and that time is passing quickly. Everything we own is made by man, nothing is going to last forever. 

There is a place called heaven where there is no time! The scripture says 'I go to prepare a place for you' which makes me think about time there. There is not going to be a big grandfather clock inside, there will be no alarm clocks going off, no daylight savings time, no time zones, but it will be a place where there will be no night, which means no time.

"Night will no longer exist, and people will not need lamplight or sunlight, because the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign forever and ever." Rev 22:5 (HCS)

I look forward to going to heaven for several reasons. One of them is not having to be somewhere 'on time' because of appointments or meetings. 

We live here on earth, because we have been given life by the creator. We each have an allotted time here on earth. "From one man He has made every nationality to live over the whole earth and has determined their appointed times and the boundaries of where they live.' Acts 17:26 (HCS)

Let's use the time given to us to the fullest, serving and honoring Him. Let's not become like the house we found, grown up with weeds and collapsing within ourselves. Lean on Him everyday for strength, courage and inspiration. Lift up your hearts, past time, to the One Who gives us hope, knowing when we pass through time we will see HIM. 


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