Thursday, November 29, 2012


While my child-rearing days are over, I realize many of my readers are right in the middle of it.  My advice to you is do not kill your kids.  One day, if you both survive, they'll give you grandchildren, God's reward for enduring these years.  

I remember correcting them and saying no constantly.  Someone gave me some good advice that changed my negativity:

Say yes to as many things as you can.

I read another mother's blog recently and her advice exceeds mine so I yield my platform to her today.

Lysa TerKeurst
August 30, 2012
Move Over Mean Girl
By Lysa TerKeurst

"Then Jesus said to his disciples, 'Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.'" Matthew 16:24 (NIV)

Last year, we logged over twenty hours in the car during the joy-filled excursion called family vacation. It was family bonding at its finest. Here's a little glimpse of the sweet conversations heard coming from the backseat.

Ashley: "Mom, Brooke just licked my hash brown! Ewwwwww!"
Me: "Brooke, why would you lick your sister's hash brown, for heaven's sake?"
Brooke: "Because my arm hurts."
Me: "Oh. Well, that just makes complete sense."

And that's just one little exchange. There may have been 127 other instances when the soundtrack of my car-traveling life was, "Mom ... she poked me, and she is on my side, and she just spilled her drink, and she took my iPod."

And, on occasion, I may have wanted to jump in the backseat and remove every shred of candy from my little tweenager's hands and dump it out the window. But I really didn't want my 
mean girl or my mean mommy to come out on the family vacation.

Have you been there? Honestly, the last thing that pops into my mind in those frustrating moments is: What does Jesus say about this?

I wish it did. So I'm trying to think about this now, in a non-heated moment. That way I can be better prepared for the next time my mean girl tendencies surface.

According to our key verse today, Jesus says we must do three things. But these aren't three easy steps. They are three shifts of the heart: we have to deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Him (Matthew 16:24).

Deny myself ... I have to deny myself the momentary satisfaction of the quick comeback, the rude response, and the full-out yelling. Over-sugared children can elicit craziness in a mama. Not that I have any personal experience with such things. No, not at all. And if you believe that, I've got some Easter candy off on the side of the road somewhere I could sell you.
Deny myself. It's hard. But it is the way with Jesus.

Then I must take up my cross ... My cross. Stop the blaming and finger-pointing and wishing everyone else would change and see my sinful reaction as a contribution to the problem at hand. I must take my issues to His cross and see my sin for what it is—sin. And I must be disgusted enough by my sin to truly want to do something about it.

Take up my cross. It's hard. But it is the way with Jesus.

Finally, I must follow Him ... Really follow Him. Follow who He is and how He is. I must close my mouth, pause long enough to let Him interrupt my eruption, and let His Spirit redirect me.
Yes, my children need to be corrected, but I can let the consequences scream so I don't have to. Only a calm mama can think of rational, reasonable consequences that instruct.

Follow who He is and how He is. It's hard. But it is the way with Jesus.

It's amazing how quickly my mean girl vanishes when I deny myself, admit my sin, and choose to let Jesus interrupt me.

Just don't be licking my hash brown if your arm starts hurting, okay? I have to draw the line somewhere.

Dear Lord, I don't want my mean girl to come out when I'm angered or aggravated. Give me the self-control to deny myself, stop blaming others, and choose to follow You. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Friday, November 23, 2012


"Morning, Tom!  How are you this Sunday?"

"Not go good.  My leg still aches and I think I'm catching a cold again."

I hugged him.  This was our regular routine as we greeted each other at church.

After service I closed the piano lid and stepped onto the stage to get my regular hug from Nellie, a precious widow.  Her husband and Doug fished and talked about Jesus for many years.  They used to come greet me together.  After he died of cancer, she continued to climb those few steps. We cried sometimes as we hugged now.  But whenever I ask, "How ya doing, Nellie?" she finds something good about her week to share.

Why do some people give you an organ recital ("my back aches, my stomach's acting up, my head hurts") and others count their blessings?  It's not because of their circumstances.  Some of the happiest people I know have real problems.  Often complainers have pretty comfortable lives.  The perspective seems to be an internal thing.

Though I'm generally an optimist, I can slip into that griping mode pretty quickly.  It's a fast spiral down to the mulligrubs!  But I found the cure.  It's not a pill but the answer is found in a song.  This one is by a very young Hovie Lister and The Statesmen.

This old hymn contains a truth about counting your blessings even when life is discouraging. There are several ways to do that and change habits and perspectives.

1. Keep a daily journal and list 3 blessings.
2. Before you get out of bed, find one thing to praise God for.
3. As you lay your head on your pillow, count the day's blessings aloud again.

When I go to the front door to lock it each night, I step onto the porch and speak to God.
"Thank You for those beautiful stars."

"Lord, I appreciate my piano students.  Thank You for them."

"It's been a hard day but I know You walked with me.  Thank You for You!"

"I really blew it today but I thank You for a fresh start and new mercies tomorrow!"

If you have trouble finding those blessings, let Chuck Swindoll get you started.  He named a few benefits we enjoy because of others to whom God gave creativity.  

Above my head is a bright electric light. Thanks, Tom
On my nose are eyeglasses that enable me to focus. Thanks, Ben.
In my driveway is a car ready to take me wherever I choose to steer it. Thanks, Henry.
Across my shelves are books full of interesting and carefully researched pages. Thanks, authors.

My list could go on and on. So could yours.

That's enough to spur me on. How about you?
There will always be problems in our lives.  While we can't necessarily change the circumstances, the Lord can change our perspective. There's always good in our lives too.  We can train our brain to praise and see the daily blessings of life. 

Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits—" Psalm 103:1-2 (NIV)

Philippians 4:8

King James Version (KJV)
Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

You won't forget the message from this child.  And a child shall lead them:

You make beautiful things out of dust, Lord.  Open the eyes of my heart to see them!

‎"It is good to praise the LORD and make music to your name, O Most High, proclaiming your love in the morning and your faithfulness at night..." Psalm 92:1-2

Friday, November 16, 2012


Sometimes ya gotta learn new things just to communicate with your kids and grands!  Like texting.  I'm getting there.

On the other hand, I think they need to learn a bit about our senior citizen acronymns.  While I'm not yet using these, I am memorizing them, because learning new things is my own version of Altzheimer prevention plan. 

Here's your crash course in Nana's Future Texting Code 101:

ADT - At The Doctor's
BFF - Best Friend Fell
BTW - Bring The Wheelchair
BYOT - Bring Your Own Teeth
FWIW - Forgot Where I Was
GGPBL - Gotta Go, Pacemaker Battery's Low
GHA - Got Heartburn Again
IMHAO - Is My Hearing Aid On
LMDO - Laughing My Dentures Out
OMMR - On My Massage Recliner
OMSG - Oh My!  Sorry, Gas
ROFLACGU - Rolling On Floor Laughing And Can't Get Up
TTYL - Talk To You Louder

I used to dread hearing my folks or grandparents begin a sentence with, "Now in my day we. . ."  I knew I was about to learn (whether I wanted to or not) some useless information.

Now in my day, since it's passed, we had rock music that today is sleepy elevator music. However, rock music is here because of us.  I'm not sure if that's a good thing or bad but we do accept full responsibility.  "Rock on!" for us now has more to do with rocking chairs.

Now in my day, we were saturated with good music as well.  Classical music was part of our Saturday cartoons. Violence?  Yes, but the quality music negated the effect on us. This is known as justification. You didn't invent that either!

Now in my day, we had dreams too but were taught to work and wait for them. We didn't expect others to hand them out for free. We knew we weren't entitled. We don't stop dreaming when we age.  But our aspirations are realistic and practical. Here's one I may find in my future!

I'm so thankful I didn't kill my kids that year I had three teenagers under the same roof. Because they gave us our beautiful, handsome grandkids, now numbering 13!  It's God's reward for wading through motherhood and reaching old age.

So please be patient with us.  We were with you. Mostly.

Friday, November 9, 2012


The story goes that a cop pulled the old lady over for speeding.  He approached her open window and noticed both her hands on her steering wheel at 10 and 2, a signal in that state, that she had a concealed weapon.

So he asked, "Ma'am, do you have a concealed weapon?"

"Yes, sir, I do."

"Please place it on the seat."

She reached under her seat, pulled out a small hand gun and put it on the seat beside her.  But her hands went right back to the steering wheel.

"Ma'am, do you have another concealed weapon?"

"Yes, sir, I do."

With his permission she retrieved a Colt 45 from her glove compartment and placed it on the seat too.  Her hands went right back to the steering wheel.

Shocked, the cop repeated, "Ma'am, do you still have a concealed weapon?"

"Yes, sir, I do."

She reached behind her and pulled out a 20 gauge shotgun to add to the seat collection.  But once again her hands gripped the steering wheel, 10 and 2.

"Ma'am, you have got to be kidding me.  You have another weapon?"

"Yes sir, I do.  In the trunk."

He nodded and she went back to pull out her AK-47.

Incredulous, the stunned officer asked, "Ma'am, what in the world are you so afraid of?"

"Not one darn thing, sir!"

~     ~     ~
Fear is the product of worry.  Not many of us can say we have neither. Worry gives small problems big shadows and robs us of joy, peace, security. Anxiety holds the gun to our head and even threatens to rob us of our health!

But there might be a better way to protect ourselves than getting our own gun license.  Christ offers us another arsenal, more effective than speeding bullets. The Bible speaks of 150 different kinds of fear.  Obviously God knows it's a big part of being human.  But the most common command is, "Fear not."

Give us this day our daily bread.

Live life one day at a time.  We spend a lot of fret fuel on the future.  It takes us nowhere bur drains our energy, spinning our wheels in one place.  Corrie ten Boom said, "Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrows; it empties today of its strength."

Cast all your cares on him for he cares for you.

We can shift gears and give our concerns to the only One Who can actually manage our lives.  Or we can choose to worry and bear burdens too heavy for our shoulders.  We were never meant to lift such weights.  He loves us and that's enough motive to trust Him.  Trust.  Moment by moment.  Step by step.

Delight yourself in the Lord, yes, find your joy in him at all times.

Worry often stems not from what we need but from what we want.  People filled with worry and fear are usually unhappy.  By focusing on our source of joy, Christ, He can restore calm to heavy hearts.  It takes time with Him though, often and alone.  Then our thoughts align with His and truth conquers worry.

Bear one another's burdens.
Everyone needs a Tonto.

God designed us to live in community with our Christian brothers and sisters.  We tend to play at it though, hiding our true hearts.  Lone Rangers seem to suffer with stress more than folks with close friends.  

In sharing our struggles with a trusted friend, some of the worry chains drop off.  

Confess your faults one to another that ye may be healed.

Admit the sin and call it that, whether it's worry or something else that grips you and holds you hostage.  Yes, taking it to God is vital but this verse says healing comes when we choose transparency with others.  Shedding pride seems to be connected to release from strongholds.  Even leaders need a safe place and person with whom they can be real.  No masks here, Kimosabe.  Burdens shared are halved and new perspectives heal.

Focus on your GIANTS and you stumble.
Focus on God and the giants tumble.

Simple formulas but not easy to maintain.  Choose.  God's plan or an AK-47.  His way works!

Friday, November 2, 2012


Mama and I sat in the Raleigh courthouse years ago.  Ricky and Bert were taking care of business and we waited til they came back for her signature on some paperwork.  Daddy had died unexpectedly two days earlier.

Puzzled by it all, she asked, "Where are the boys?"

"They're with the lawyer, Mama, they'll be right back.  You still call them the boys.  You do know they're old men now, right?"

"Yes, but they'll always be the boys to me."

Just last week our son, Kent, said, "I'll call the girls this week."  I knew he meant his sisters. Although one is almost 40 and the other 34, they'll always be the girls.

Our phone will ring in two days and a deep bass voice will say to Doug, "Happy birthday, Bro!"  His twin, Don, always remembers their birthday!  They'll always be the twins.  Happy birthday to you both, old men.  (They're turning 65 and Doug will do so 5 minutes before Don.)

Simply for preserving Henderson history, I share pictures of the twins and family through the years.

Even as newborns, Doug's fat cheeks (R ) contrast to Don's angular face (L.)