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

Blessings,
gs


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. 

Blessings,
gs

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Thursday, February 4, 2016

Practical Friends




I grew up with practical parents. A mother, God love her, who washed aluminum foil after she cooked in it, then reused it. She was the original recycle queen, before they had a name for it. A daddy who was happier getting old shoes fixed than buying new ones.Their marriage was good, their dreams focused. Their best friends lived barely a wave away. They worked hard to make a living and, at the same time, enjoyed life. Even in the tough times, my dad had a joke to create laughter. 

I can see them now, Dad in work pants, shirt and a hat and Mom in a house dress, broom in one hand, and dish-towel in the other. It was the time for fixing things. A curtain rod, the kitchen radio, screen door, the oven door, the hem in a dress, things we kept instead of replacing. 

It was a way of life, and  sometimes it made me crazy. All that re-fixing, eating leftovers, renewing, I wanted just once to be wasteful. Waste meant affluence. Throwing things away meant you knew there'd always be more. 

Now don't get me wrong, I never knew we had needs, always felt we had plenty. But just once, I wanted to feel it was ok to get rid of something.

But then my mother died, and on that night,  I was struck with the pain of learning that sometimes there isn't any more. Sometimes in the darkest hour, the truth slowly reveals itself. 

Sometimes, what we care about most gets all used up and goes away...never to return.. So... while we have it..... it's best we love it.... and care for it... and fix it when it's broken......... and heal it when it's sick. 

This is true. for marriage....... and old cars..... and children with bad report cards.....and aging parents..... and grandparents. We keep them because they are worth it, because we are worth it.
 
Some things we keep forever, like a
 best friend that moved away or a classmate we grew up with.

There are just some things that make life important, like people we know who are special........ and so, we keep them close! Good friends are like stars.... You don't always see them, but you know they are always there.  

You are probably thinking of those friends now, let them know you care by telling them. Don't let time pass you by and then have regrets. 

Enjoy life now, do it while you are able and ready to see what else is out there! It is ok to be wasteful, but only if it can be replaced. True friends cannot be replaced! 

Love to you....all my friends!

Blessings,
gs


Sunday, January 24, 2016

The Bike Ride

All of us have memories of childhood deep inside the wrinkles of our minds. We just have to think, or have a smell, or a sound, to bring the flashback of that memory. 

Watching the children in our neighborhood go out and ride their bikes brought back a sweet memory of mine. I am sure you will be able to relate to this story.

At one time we lived in a community where folks knew everyone and spent time chatting, not only on weekends, but during the week. Life seemed to go at a slower pace. 

We lived in a house that sat smack-dab in the middle of a very long block. The street in front of our house went up the hill, around the corner, back down the hill, and around the corner again, coming back up to our house. 

When I first started riding my bike, I was given utility poles as my boundaries.
"Don't go past the poles!" mother would say as I rushed out the door for the day. Then as I grew older, on occasion, with special permission she would allow me to ride to the top of the hill with my friends! We would come flying down the hill, so fast we would not be able to keep our feet on the pedals! We would just stretch out our legs and scream with delight! 

One day my cousin, who lived across the street, was brave enough to ask could we ride all the way around the block. For what seemed like an eternity for an answer, my mother slowly replied, "Yes, but come back to the house and let me know you are back.' 

Needless to say, we were excited as we road up the hill and then slowly we made the turn to go around. Our little hearts were pounding as we had never been this far, alone, without our parents. We were excited, but yet so afraid. 

After the turn we could see the hill, just like our hill on our own street, but we had never gone down this hill before. We stopped at the top and looked at each other. Neither had the courage to go, neither had the courage to turn around. What were we to do? We must complete our mission and go around the block or we would never be allowed to do it again! So go we did......pushing our bikes down the hill!! Well, we actually held them back as we walked down the hill!

At the bottom we smiled at each other, hopped back on our bikes and rode back home. We went into the house and told mother we were back, neither said a word about our new hill. We did not even go back out that day and ride our bikes, but we felt an exhilaration of accomplishment. We had been stretched and it felt good. 

God often puts us at the top of a new hill. Sometimes the climb to the top is slow and we wonder do we really want to do what He has called us to do. We are stretched, out of our comfort zones some would say. 

We only get one chance at childhood....and we only get one chance at life. God does allow us 'do overs' on occasion, but we have usually missed the ride down the hill, maybe we even pushed our way down. 

God has a job and plan for everyone of us. He has called us out, to do His Will, to give Him glory. 

Yes, we did go back around the block, several times in fact, as years past. We grew more comfortable and actually rode down the hill! But never as fast as we did on our own home street. 

God may call you to just ride your 'bike' on your own home street. But on occasion, He may call you to go around the block. He stretches us to grow us. He is with us, encouraging us to ride the best we can ride. We only have one lifetime and He wants us to ride it with Him. 

According to your faith will it be done to you. Matthew 9:29 (NIV)

Consider the following when it comes to the ways God may want to stretch you:

  • God may want you to DO something.
  • God may want you to STOP DOING something.
  • God may want you to GIVE something.
  • God may want you to SAY something.
  • God may want you to STOP SAYING something.
  • God may want you to SELL something.
  • God may want you to BUY something. (presumably for a person or ministry in need)
  • God may want you to START something.
  • God may want you to END something.
  • God may want you to LOVE someone.
Get out there and ride your 'bike of life' that you can enjoy the thrill of Him and His Plan for you!! Just stretch out your legs, scream with delight, as you follow Him and His blessings! 

James 1:22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. HCSB

Blessings,
gs







Thursday, January 14, 2016

Life or Death on the Ride

The other night, my husband asked me how I knew something about what was going on in our community. Being a chaplain, I don't always disclose information, even to him, so I responded, "If I told you I would have to kill you." Now we all know I would never do that, but the truth was I could not tell him my resources. He knew I was joking, but yet serious. 

When I actually started thinking about life or death, the thought came to me, which came first? 

Being a christian, I believe I will live for eternity in a place that Jesus has prepared for me. However, I also believe that life will be much better than the life here on earth!

Pause for just a minute and think along with me as we go into life, living and death:

We are conceived---beginning of life or existence as we know it as a human Jer 1:5 
We live in the womb---beginning of formation of human Psalms 139:13-16
We are born into the world---life on our own as humans Genesis 1:28
We live our life ---- own choices Joshua 24:15 Joshua 24:15
We die a fleshly death -------end of life on earth 

 Ecclesiastes 9 says this:
 I thought about all these things. I realized that those who are wise and do what is right are under God’s control. What they do is also under his control. But no one knows whether they will be loved or hated. Everyone will die someday. Death comes to godly and sinful people alike. It comes to good and bad people alike. It comes to “clean” and “unclean” people alike. Those who offer sacrifices and those who don’t offer them also die.
A good person dies,
    and so does a sinner.
Those who make promises die.
    So do those who are afraid to make them.
Here’s what is so bad about everything that happens on this earth. Death catches up with all of us. Also, the hearts of people are full of evil. They live in foolish pleasure. After that, they join those who have already died. Anyone who is still living has hope. Even a live dog is better off than a dead lion!
People who are still alive know they’ll die.
    But those who have died don’t know anything.
They don’t receive any more rewards.
    And even their name is forgotten.
Their love, hate and jealousy disappear.
    They will never share again
    in anything that happens on earth"


After reading this, do you understand about 'life and death?' I am thinking that this is like a merry go round, literally called earth. We get on as a baby, we ride the up and downs of life, and yes, some of the riders horses are prettier than the others, but that is the ride! We do make our own choices. 

Then, as the music slows, the ride slows down, slowly, so slow. Some get off by themselves, others are helped off. 

But one thing I have noticed about this ride of 'life or death,' some get off the ride excited and smiling to go into the arms of those waiting to take them home. Others cry, not wanting to leave the ride yet, because home is not as much fun as the ride had been. 

Life, death, life.....round and round, then it is over. I have realized, during my ride, that it doesn't seem as long for some as others. You never know when it is going to be your stop, when the music will quit. 

The joy of getting on the ride at all, should be one that we know is exciting! John 10:10 He gives us life....ABUNDANT life! (often we don't choose the best horse!)

But, the joy of getting off and going home will be even greater!
 "In My Father's house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also. " John 14:2-3

Watch for me on the ride, I may wave at you! If not, I hope to see you 'at home!' 

Blessings,
gs

Monday, January 4, 2016

Life Can Be Messy

As most other families, we had children and grandchildren here during the holidays. We enjoy family so much, setting the time aside to enjoy and laugh together. Some say we have an unusual family, because all the daughters-in-law and son-in-law get along so well with everyone. The three brothers and their sister chatter well into the night. They all just pick and joke and laugh together, setting an example for the little cousins playing together and sharing their new toys. 


Yes, there were toys, shoes, socks and a total disarray in my home, but oh the joy! Once the parents started packing up, the barbie dolls were packed and racetracks put into boxes for the return trip to home, the floors appeared once again. 

We received text messages as they were getting close to home, or had arrived, after a long day of travel with children. We woke up to a quiet house in the morning, no snugglers coming sleepy eyed out of they beds. No chocolate chip muffins were to be made and our cups of coffee were drank with silence around us. 

In the middle of the morning, we received word that a dear cousin had passed away in the night. She has arrived in heaven after her journey here on earth. 

It seemed that life paralleled the week we had just spent with family. I am certain she is in heaven rejoicing with family. 

Heaven will be a great experience, it will be eternal, no one has to leave! But, the experiences we miss here on earth can and should be like appetizers to heaven. 

Some people carry grudges and 'cool' feelings toward others and cannot enjoy being around family. Some actually refuse to go to family affairs, especially if 'in-laws' are going to be there. 

Folks, you are missing life and what blessings God has in store for you. He has put people in your lives to enjoy the benefits each one can bring to the table. It is true we are not going to get along with everyone we meet, we are not going to have the same likes and dislikes, but can't we find something nice to say and begin to figure out why God put them in your life? I am sure God did not do this to make you miserable, but maybe to learn something? Maybe we should ask the Lord to change us instead of them! 

Let's just step back and think about when the next meeting, with a person you don't like to be around, will be. Plan ahead, think positive thoughts and pray for this person. Ask God to allow you to see the good in them. Ask God to tenderized your own heart, so you may be open to hearing His voice in each situation. 

God cares so much for us, He sometimes stretches us out of our comfort zone to help us grow in Him, learning to love and forgive. 

Relax, it is going to be alright if toys are spread out among the guests, it is alright if the glass of milk is spilled. It will only take moments to clean up the physical mess, while it will take a lifetime of cleaning up hurt feelings in the family. 

You will enjoy the times coming up if you begin praying and preparing now. Learn to pray for others as well as yourself. Who knows you may even find a new friend in your very own family! 

Oh yes, get ready! Easter is coming soon!! :) 

1 Timothy 5:8 Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. 

1 Cor. 13:7
Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things

Blessings,
gs

Monday, December 7, 2015

Is He Here Yet?

While growing up, my dad was a police officer and worked the 4-11 shift and usually got home around midnight. On Christmas Eve, my mother would help us put out cookies and milk for Santa and then hurry us off to bed. Usually I would try to stay awake as long as possible, so I could hear Santa when he arrived. I was always hoping to just get a peek at him and our new toys. No matter how hard I tried, I never could stay awake for long.

But I do remember on one occasion, I heard a noise. What was that? I sat straight up in bed and rubbing my eyes asked, "Who's there?" It was my daddy coming in the front door. After realizing it was him, in my sleepy, childlike voice, I anxiously asked him, "Daddy, has Santa come yet?" He took his flashlight out of his policeman's belt and shined it all under the tree, so from my bed I could see there was nothing there. He said, "Go back to sleep honey, old Saint Nick's cookies are still here and there's nothing under the tree." 

Disappointed, I lay my head back down on my pillow and squinched up my eyes so I could go to sleep quickly. The sooner I got to sleep, the sooner morning would come. 

Looking back at this time of being anxious for Santa, I now can compare that night and feeling with the anxiousness I now have as a Christian waiting on the return of Christ. The excitement of knowing, without a doubt, He is going to return far exceeds the excitement in a child's heart of waiting on Santa. 

As a Christian, I can compare my life with that same little child of long ago. Yes, I had chores to get done, my mama made sure there were plenty of them. There were manners that were expected, the 'yes mams' and the 'no sirs' were not options at my house. From early childhood I remember being told to be of good character, because you belong to this home and we expect nothing less, that people would talk about you...good or bad...and it better be good. 

Aren't these things paralleling my childhood with my life as a Christian? God does not expect us to sit and do nothing for Him as we wait the return of Christ. He expects us to act like children of the King, with good character, because we belong to Him. Yes, people may talk about you, but hadn't you rather it be that you are reflecting Christ than one who has never met the Savior? 

As we experience the excitement of the Christmas season, let us reflect on the return of Christ. His birth was splendorous thing long ago. His death on the cross for our sins was for our forgiveness and mercy. His resurrection was nothing short of a miracle for us to live eternally. His soon returning to take us to our heavenly home is expected and foretold. 

"And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am." John 14:3

May we all get into the Christmas spirit this year, that of a child of the King, not looking for Santa, but looking for our Savior. I can feel the excitement in the air! I can feel His Presence in my very soul! Look up, not for a sleigh, but for the Savior! He is not a myth, but the very One and only reason to celebrate! 

"So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him" Matt 24:44

Merry Christmas!! 

Blessings,
gs