Hands Off Girl

Standard

Danica PatrickI am coming out of the closet for the blog world so I can openly admit I am a huge NASCAR fan! I have kept it in long enough and it’s time to write about the life lessons one might learn on or at the race track. I grew up going to the Nashville Speedway as a child. Instilled in me at an early age is the love of fast cars, loud engines, the checkered flag, and cheering fans. My memories as child include the dirt track residue bouncing into the stands, bouncing off me and the other spectators.  I still remember my inside shaking when each car passed. I didn’t shake from fear but from the reverberation of the sheer horsepower and sounds that shook my little girl body. Whether I watch on television or go to the track, I still get goose bumps when those engines fire.

I feel better sharing that part of my life, now on to the first lesson. A few years ago a successful driver, Danica Patrick, left the INDY circuit to join a NASCAR team full-time. For the most part, NASCAR had been a male dominated sport.  The male commentators and drivers were a little skeptical and most had a few comments about her ability to compete at that level. Danica did well but many chalked it up to beginner’s luck or the fact that she joined a successful racing team.

 On race day, hand's off drivers are selected to have an onboard camera in their car during the race. Unfortunately, the day Danica had the camera in her car, she also had a serious wreck. The camera recorded the entire spin and crash. But it also revealed, she took both hands off the wheel when her car was out of control and in a full spin. It didn’t take long before she faced criticism for removing her hands. The media commented about how the female driver took her hands off, let go, and put her hands in front of her.

The press didn’t waste any time asking her why she let go of the wheel. She didn’t make any excuses but she did make the media look foolish when she explained her actions. As a former INDY driver, she had been trained to let go of the wheel when you start a spin that cannot be recovered. The experts tell the drivers to take their hands off and totally let go. This move keeps your wrists, hands, and lower arms safe. If your hands stay on to the steering wheel you can break bones, or at the very least pull a muscle or tear a tendon.  She didn’t let go because she lost control or because she was a weak girl, she let go because it was in her best interest to do so. As a professional driver there was a reason for what she did and guess what? Now many NASCAR drivers are taking their hands off when they are about to crash. That’s one of those times when I am very proud to be a female race fan! Go “Go Daddy Girl.”

Wouldn’t it be great if we could be trained to know when to hang on and when to take our hands off? I would love to be a professional, experienced enough at life, that when everything spins out of control, I would simply take my hands off, surrender to the situation, and let the Lord be in control of the outcome. Psalm 20:6, tells us we can trust the Lord to keep us in the race and that His hand is always on the wheel, “Now I know that the Lord saves His anointed; He will answer him from His holy heaven with the saving strength of His right hand.” There is danger in keeping our hands in places that really belong to the Lord.

Where in your life are you hanging on to an out of control situation? Will you join the team and wear the “Hands Off Girl” racing uniform? I’m joining and you can know for sure, I’m going to paint Psalm 20:6 on my race car somewhere. See you on the track!

 

 

Advertisements

I’ll Take My Coffee With Cream

Standard

coffee barI enjoy a good cup of coffee first thing in the morning.  I like mine with a splash of real half and half. I am definitely not a coffee snob who requires specialty blends, weird milk, or a certain expensive machine to brew it. My sweet husband spoils me by bringing my coffee to me each morning.  He quietly places it on the bedside table. Then he runs, because he knows I am grumpy until I have that first cup!

Occasionally, I meet a friend for coffee at one of the local coffee places in town. Each time I go, I am amazed by all the different orders. There is usually a long line to the counter and I have fun listening as each person orders their own concoction. They step up to the barista and spout their order quickly and with expertise. For example, one might say, “I’ll have a caramel mocha with almond milk and raw sugar, make it a tall.” When they receive their order the customer seems delighted.

 I am amazed at how they know exactly what to order. I am the lady in line who says, “What do you have?” The frustration is evident and the person behind the counter says something impatiently like, “Read the board lady.” I become fearful of making an order mistake so I simply say, “I’ll have a small cup of your regular coffee, please, if it’s not too much trouble.” Then the coffee experts standing nearby are shocked. They suck all the oxygen out the room because of the words I just uttered. I am amazed as they hand me an empty cup as they shoo me away and point out the lonely carafe of house blend in the corner. latte

The last time I left one of these places, I thought to myself. Wow, those people really know how to order their drinks. But later in the day, I thought about it more. Wouldn’t it be great if we knew how to order our lives like we know how to order our coffee? As Christ-followers we never need to fear making a mistake in the way we order our lives. Scripture tells us in Psalm 37:23, “The steps of a righteous man are ordered by the Lord and he delights in his way.” The word “ordered” in this verse is complex but clearly defined in the Hebrew language. It means “established, to be steadfast, firm, to be ready and prepared.” Because the Lord orders our lives, we can be confident that He directs each step we take. Don’t be troubled as you try to order your life. Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.” 

Rainbow Shooters

Standard

rainbowA couple of years ago a friend of mine was going through a particularly difficult time. She had weathered numerous storms in her life but this time, there were several stressful things happening all at once. Trials with her health, difficulties with her children, and even family issues were taking a toll on her. She was suffering spiritually, physically, mentally, and emotionally. She said to preserve her sanity she had pulled away from a lot of relationships. This young woman who was always an outgoing, sanguine personality had to set distinct boundaries in her life in order to survive during this time.

As she poured out her heart to me, she explained the hurtful conversations she had with others when she tried to maintain relationships with her friends and family. Through her tears, she told me that being around people with seemingly perfect lives made her angry and sad. She said, as she was looking for hope and mercy just to survive each day, those people complained about everything. To make matters worse, she said they offered her meaningless advice and empty platitudes, to try to help. I asked her how that made her feel and I will never forget how she described those people. Her voice broke as she cried, “They are nothing but a bunch of rainbow shooters!” At that moment, I totally understood. 

Later I spent a lot of time pondering her description. I decided you could take the term “rainbow shooters” a couple of ways. Did she mean they offer a shot of something to make her feel better, like the “rainbow shooter” drinks that are served in a bar? Maybe a quick, “you will feel better soon” or “this too shall pass.” rainbow shot A small shot of mercy that might deaden her pain for a while.

Or did she mean, while she was looking to the Lord for hope and mercy (like the Biblical promise in the rainbow)  they took aim at her heart and shot down her rainbow? Were they shattering  the Lord’s promises which was all she had to hold onto during this time?

To this day, I am not sure what the meaning is but there is one thing I know for sure, I don’t want to be a “rainbow shooter” to my rainbow gunfriends and family. It is always hard to watch someone struggle in their lives as they face things beyond their control. But, I am learning to be slow to speak and quick to lavish others with my love and prayers.

God gave the rainbow in Genesis 9 as sign to Noah and to us, so we will remember God, His promises, His mercy, His hope and His everlasting covenant. Genesis 9:16, “Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.” The question for us is this, will we point others to God’s promises or will we be “rainbow shooters?”

  

Scarred for Life

Standard

bandaged ladyHave you ever seen anyone who has terrible scars due to illness, accident, or trauma?  I remember seeing a young woman on a talk show who was terribly disfigured because her father poured acid on her face and hands.  The burns healed but she would need numerous plastic surgeries. Through her tears, she said, “I’ll never be the same on the inside or outside.”

This courageous lady, broke down and cried when she talked about her life. She openly admitted that the hardest part was going out in public where others could see her scars.  She said people either gasp and stare, turn away shocked, or they approach her, ask questions, and offer her their compassion.

Not many of us escape this life without an event or trauma that leaves us changed forever. All of us are scarred in some way. For most of us, our scars are on the inside, not visible to others. I wonder what it would be like to go out into public where everyone’s internal scars are exposed? Imagine walking down the street and actually seeing the visible scars of mental abuse, failure, public sin, disappointment, loss, depression, and persecution.

How would we respond and react to one another if, we knew their scar filled story?  Would we stare and secretlyhands compare our wounds to theirs?  Would we be thankful that our hurts aren’t as bad as theirs? Would we turn away shocked to see someone so exposed and vulnerable? Or, would we take time to approach them, ask questions, and extend heartfelt compassion and care? 

I pray I would be like Jesus. He was an advocate for the down and out.  He came to the rescue of those with internal, as well as, external scars. He reached out to the demon possessed, those caught in adultery, and even prostitutes who sold their self-esteem and reputation for a bit of bread. Psalm 145:9 says, “The Lord is good to all, and His compassion is over all that he has made.” May we follow the example of Jesus, the one who extended compassion with perfection.

Women of Iron

Standard

woman lifting ironTuesday night I took a giant leap of faith and I attended a local writer‘s group called WordWeavers. Several months ago a friend told me about them but I couldn’t muster up the courage to go. I didn’t feel like much of a writer anymore. I wasn’t seeing  growth in the blog and it had been a year since I had posted anything.  About the time I was going to give up on my writing dream, I felt this gentle nudge. The nudge was soon followed by a strong desire and then the desire compelled me to act.  I emailed the friend who previously invited me. Guess what? That day was their regular monthly meeting. I don’t believe in coincidence but I do believe the Lord nudges us through His Holy Spirit‘s presence and His timing is always perfect.

As I prepared to leave for the meeting, I noticed I had butterflies in my stomach. These weren’t ordinary butterflies but those that flip, flop, and flutter. I didn’t need to be nervous. When I arrived, the members were friendly as they welcomed each new person.  The writer’s group has male and female members but on this night only women were present. The first thing I noticed about each author was her passion for her craft. These women were all ages and their writing styles were as diverse as their personalities.

After they took care of the evening’s business, the president led the group to a time of short story review. These stories were written by members of WordWeavers. As each author spoke, they offeredwoman with computer honest, constructive feedback and criticism. They exchanged ideas with civility instead of hostility. They encouraged instead of discouraged, they were building up instead of tearing down. I noticed the absence of pride, as those, whose work was critiqued; accepted each honest assessment with great humility and gratitude.

I sat quietly. I watched, listened, and learned. By spending time in the presence of these wonderful women, I became better, sharper, more focused, and definitely inspired to chase the dream that the Lord planted deep in my heart many years ago. I can’t wait to become friends with this group of gifted people. Proverbs 27:17 says, “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” Based on this verse, I quickly came to a conclusion. The women I met are “women of iron.” As iron sharpens iron, the “women of iron” will sharpen me with great  skill and their tools of the trade will be pen, paper, and a computer. I promise to keep you posted (weekly I hope).

Thank you Jesus for stirring my heart once again.  

 

Fill My Mouth With Worthwhile Stuff

Standard

My friend Linda B. gave me this little prayer written on a 3×5 card. I have repeated it numerous times. “Lord, fill my mouth with worthwhile stuff and nudge me when I’ve said enough.” Amen

A few months after Linda gave me the prayer, my son was diagnosed with cancer. That’s when I realized Christians say the darndest things! When someone is facing the crisis of cancer, well-meaning Christians struggle to find something worthwhile to say and they always say way more than enough!

Last week a friend sent me a link to Jon Acuff’s blog, Stuff Christians Like  http://www.jonacuff.com/stuffchristianslike/2012/06/what-not-to-say/  the title of the post is What Not to Say When Someone Has Cancer by Tracey Solomon.

With humor and honesty, Tracey painfully pinpointed the wrong things to say to a person when someone has cancer.  I personally heard the same remarks when my son was ill plus a hundred more of the  insensitive platitudes.

Proverbs 10:19 says, “When there are many words, transgression is unavoidable, But he who restrains his lips is wise.”

You might ask, “What is the right thing to say?”  I am not sure there is a right thing to say. What gave me comfort during those hard times was when a friend simply said, “I love you, I am here for you, and I am praying.” Knowing that people were  using their lips to talk to Jesus about healing my son meant more than any words spoken to me.

Who in your life has received a cancer diagnosis?  How generous will you be in offering prayer on her behalf? What wise words will you speak  to bring encouragement to her life?

Heavenly Father, Fill our mouths with worthwhile stuff and nudge us when we’ve said enough. Amen

Would You Do It Again?

Standard

Last week, I couldn’t bring myself to write the usual Mother’s Day devotional. I couldn’t find the uplifting pretty words to talk about the most difficult job in the world. While it is wonderful to honor mothers once a year, I can’t help but think about the mothers who are hurting because of their children. When our children are born we watch them struggle as they learn to talk, walk, and run. We watch them struggle with separation anxiety as they go to school for the first time. In new surroundings, they have their feelings hurt and their knees skinned. As they grow, they experience the pain of the first break up and they realize there are people who don’t like them.

Some mothers are hurting because they lose their unborn babies and they spend a lifetime mourning that loss. Every day young moms lose their children as babies before they have a chance to know them. The loss of a child can be experienced when the young man or woman walks away from their family and decides to walk the path of the prodigal. Accidents, illness, drugs, and war take countless children from us. 

So, I have to ask you a week after Mother’s Day, would you do it again? Knowing about the hurt, the pain, the loss, the tests that come with mothering would you do it again?

I wonder how Jesus’ mother, Mary, would answer that question. She was given the ultimate responsibility of carrying and caring for the Son of God. She watched Him grow as a child. How did she feel when he skinned His knees and bled down to His toes. Did she panic when He lagged behind at the Temple and they couldn’t find Him? When He neglected nutrition and rest to serve in ministry did she question the call on His life? When He chose to spend time with twelve men instead of His family, did she feel neglected and abandoned? What went through her mind when the persecution started and He was arrested and nailed to the cross? Did she lose her breath when she saw with her own eyes her beloved son hanging on the cross agonizing and writhing in pain?

So Mary, would you do it again? Without hesitating, I think she would say yes!

In Luke 1:46-53, Mary rejoiced at the prospect of carrying God’s Son. For most women, motherhood is a time to rejoice. Carrying a child and giving birth is an honor.

In Luke 2:33-35, When Jesus was dedicated at the Temple, His mother and father were amazed at the things being said about their son. But Mary was also warned about the pain this Son would bring to her heart, “and a sword will pierce even your own soul-to the end that thoughts from many hearts be revealed.”  It doesn’t take long to find out that our children experience pain in this life and that breaks our hearts.

Mary had the joy and privilege of carrying God’s Son but she also had the duty to bear the pain of His loss. I think if we asked her personally, “would you do it again?” She would jump at the chance to reassure each one of us as mothers. She can reassure us because now her perspective is an eternal perspective. I like to imagine that she might look each one of us in the eye and say, “it is hard being a mother but…like my Son, Jesus, each child is born with a purpose and a plan for his/her life. It hurts to watch them struggle with the hardest parts of life. But even in the pain, there is purpose.”

What in your child’s life has caused you pain? If you knew what you know now, would you become a mother again?

Heavenly Father, Touch the hurting hearts of mothers today. Please give us a glimpse or even an eye full of your eternal perspective. It’s an honor to serve you by serving our children. In Jesus Name, Amen

Young Moms Are Important (Answering the Everyday Question Everyday)

Standard

Many of you who read this blog are young mothers. I thought of you this afternoon and I knew what I wanted to write about this week.

Today I had the privilege of playing with a not quite twenty-two month old little girl and a three-year old little boy. We jabbered kidspeak to each other, played with cars, nibbled on treats, and bounced on an ottoman during a women’s ministry brunch. I love it when the kids get to come to meetings. They bring such joy and teach me so many lessons. Thanks Emma and Luke.

My children are grown and my grandsons are growing up quickly and sometimes, if I am honest, I miss my little ones. Those were the best of days and the most tiring of times.   

I read something this week that I hope you will find encouraging. It will be worth your time to go to this link (below). This is a profound pensee…it also parallels the recent blog post I wrote “Pour Out Your Life.” Enjoy and send me your comments and thoughts as you joyfully pour out your life as a fragrant offering before the Lord for the benefit of your children?

Heavenly Father, Please encourage each young mother today. Give them Your eyes to see the beauty of these simple days. In Jesus Name, Amen

http://us2.campaign-archive1.com/?u=94431c7fc1ffa54485d1c84fe&id=990c0d8c80

Crossing the Line

Standard

Okay, I have never shared a pet peeve with my readers but there is a first time for everything! 

Here is the first pet peeve. I hate meeting cars head on and then notice that the driver is texting. How do I know a driver I am meeting head on is texting? Well, they cross the line right before they pass me and then they look up horrified (like a deer in the headlights) when they realize they are about to hit me head on! Then, they swerve and nearly side swipe the car next to them. That’s how I know!

It happens all the time.  My route to work everyday is also the main route to the local high school. This week, I actually saw a teenage driver crash into the back of a man’s car because she was looking down texting. The man did not slow down to turn or anything, she was so distracted that she hit him full speed without ever using her break. She was still holding her cell phone when she got out of the car to see if the man was okay. And guess what she did? She actually finished the text as she walked to the man’s car. No, I am not kidding!

I did a little research to find out that teenage drivers are ending up in more accidents than ever, the Department of Motor Vehicles blames the increase on cell phone usage while driving. Head-on collisions in some states have doubled due to texters crossing the center line.

Some states have passed laws against using a cell phone to talk or text while driving. They have added paved areas for drivers to park so they can talk or text while traveling on some of the major highways. The no texting laws are in a driver’s best interest. It is dangerous to text and drive, breaking this law could cost someone their life. 

I couldn’t help but think this lesson can apply to us as Christ-followers. As we go through our daily lives, living life in the fast lane, we get distracted with the ways of the world. God has given His Word to direct our actions. But it is easy for us to ignore or break  God’s laws or rules. We can easily get into the habit of disobeying God’s Word and pretty soon we cross that deadly  line of sin and disobedience.  If we are not careful our lives are destroyed.

Just like the civil law, God’s Word gives rules and laws for our protection. Deuteronomy 30:19-20, God is speaking to Israel but He is also speaking to us, “I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants, by loving the Lord your God, by obeying His voice, and by holding fast to Him; for this is your life and the length of your days,…”

What worldly things are distracting you? What from God’s Word are you ignoring? Where have you crossed the line? What steps will you take to start obeying God’s Word?

Heavenly Father, Thank you for protecting us when we are driven by disobedience and distracted by the world. Forgive us when we cross that dangerous line and put us back on the track of obedience and life. In Jesus Name, Amen

Stumbling Over Easter

Standard

My friend Tracy was enticed by a bag of brightly colored Easter candy at the local grocery store.  Little did she know when she took the bag of jelly beans from the shelf, that the bag had a big hole in it. The entire bag of candy scattered all across the floor of the store and down the aisle, creating a huge commotion. Tracy was afraid the jelly beans might cause an elderly person to stumble and fall so she desperately tried to clean up. She told me that’s what she gets for giving into the sweet temptation. The good news is no one tripped and fell in her Easter mess.

My friend’s jelly bean dilemma reminded me of something that has crept into our American culture. When I look around at the various stores and watch the ads on television, Easter is becoming more commercialized each year. Easter break is now called Spring Break. Easter is about bunny rabbits, eggs, flowers, candy, ham dinners, and new clothes. Easter is no longer a Christian holiday and our pagan society entices us away from the true meaning and message. Our worldliness tempts us to forget the centrality of the Cross and makes an Easter mess of the single most important event in history.

Scripture says in 1 Corinthians 1:18, “For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”  Most people don’t want to hear the message of the cross anymore. Liberal thinkers stumble over Easter and say the cross represents weakness and a mean-spirited God. They trip over the message of the cross and it is foolishness to them.

But to those of us who know, the cross is the ultimate statement of love, sacrifice, and grace. And what followed the cross, the resurrection of Jesus Christ,  that event is the ultimate statement of power!  

What part of Easter is causing you to stumble? What part will you play in cleaning up this Easter mess?

Heavenly Father,  Remind us daily of the true meaning of Easter. Show us how to clean up this mess so no one else will stumble. In the name of the Resurrected One, Jesus Christ, Amen