Monthly Archives: April 2011

a Royal Wedding recap… sort of

a Royal Wedding recap… sort of

In keeping with the theme of the day…
You’re invited to a Royal Wedding… of sorts!
{The keepers of the Bride}
{Not the Queen Mum but my mum}

{Just to prove I was once as skinny as Kate!}
{My keepers not having very much fun…}
{Grand entrance…}
{Not Pipa, but Dionne, Juanita, Janelle, & Elizabeth}
{The kiss… he couldn’t wait for the balcony!}

{The Royal Family photo}
{My carriage}
{The ring… not his mother’s, his grandmother’s}

And just in case you’re wondering, the Royal Couple (after nearly 14 years) are still going strong, still living and loving our way through spoken vows. Never have they meant more to us than now.
{The keepers of the bride are looking a bit happier here and still keep watch over their momma.}

Precious, sweet love all around. Thank you, Jesus. 

faith gives a good offering to God…

I’ve been writing this morning, trying hard to edit and rewrite portions of my current work-in-progress. In particular, I’ve been focusing on Hebrews 11:4 and Abel’s great contribution to our walkabouts in faith. The title of the piece is “Faith Gives a Good Offering to God {Abel}.” All characters mentioned in Hebrews 11 make their own personal contribution to the definition of faith. My goal is to broaden our understanding of faith by giving each person and his/her story a tangible characteristic that can be applied to our daily living. Accordingly, with this particular piece I examine what a “good offering” is and how faith is connected to the process. I wanted to share with you a bit of what I wrote this morning, and then I want to connect it to something else. Here’s a portion…
“…Good offerings initiate from a pure heart. A heart that is willing to release the best to God’s altar—the fat portions, the first yearlings, the choicest lambs… even the diseased flesh— is a heart ready to see the exponential increase of the Father’s kingdom. Such lavish surrender reaches the portals of heaven and burns as sweet aroma before the throne. As it arrives and moves into the loving heart of the Father, it then becomes a sacrifice for all humanity, which begs a further question.
How is faith connected to a good offering?
Surrendering for surrendering’s sake—as a formality or as good, religious practice—isn’t an offering of faith. An offering of faith believes forward, beyond the act of surrender to take hold of God’s bigger picture. Good offerings made in faith understand that, in God’s hands, the law of multiplication is at work. When faith gives with God in mind, an enlargement takes place, not just in our own hearts but in the grander scheme of God’s greater purposes. When we release our best to God, he takes the gift, breaks the gift, and begins to share it with the world. Our small sacrifices seed largely into God’s soil of increase.
We may not be privy to the resulting grace around us; God’s work and ways are mysterious to most. But we can be certain that as we lean into our good surrenders, God willingly uses them for his good, his glory, and his gain. The kingdom increases when we give our good offerings to God. Not only are we changed, but the world around us reverberates with the witness of our sacred contributions.”(ElaineOlsen.4-26-11.allrightsreserved.)
With that being said (actually being typed), here’s the connection I want to make today as it pertains to good offerings and the law of multiplication.
Friends, you have blessed me in recent days with your good offerings. Many of you know that Sheri started a scholarship fund for me to attend P31’s She Speaks this year. Because of your generous contributions, I’ll be able to attend and to share my heart and work with other women and professionals in the publishing world. Given our family’s strained budget in recent days, I wouldn’t have felt comfortable attending this year’s conference. You have made the difference, and in doing so, have invested in God’s work through my life. Who can fathom the increase to come? I cannot, but I certainly believe that whether small or large, the gain is a direct result of your loving, good offering to God on my behalf. Thank you.
Secondly, I want to thank Kathie for sending me this beautiful table covering. I saw one that she had made over at her blog and commented about its loveliness. A few weeks later, this one was waiting on my doorstep. Thank you, friend, for the good offering of your hands. Your sewing love will grace my dining room for many seasons to come.
Lastly, I want to thank Deborah for writing this song for me. Several weeks ago she contacted me about writing such a gift. I heartily agreed; Deborah has been a reader of the blog for a long while, so she already had a good sense of my heart. She spent a lot of time reading and reflecting on my posts before writing the song. I’m so tickled to be able to share it with you today. Please make sure to visit this post for a listen. Thank you, friend, for the offering of your hands. Your musical love will rest in my mind, heart, and soul for many seasons to come.
Good offerings. I have been the recipient of many of yours. Offerings, first made to God and then trickling downward to me. I am blessed to be a part of your faithful “increase.” May God continue to multiply its witness in me and through me in the seasons ahead. Some day soon we shall all be privy to how our “good offerings made in faith” have genuinely and exponentially impacted the kingdom of God.
Keep to it, friends. I love you each one. As always…
Peace for the journey,

nighttime desperations…

Nighttime desperations…

Inclinations of the mind, heart, and soul that bend in the opposite direction of God’s peace as darkness begins its descent upon a day’s worth of doing. Hidden agendas that bury beneath the brilliancy of the sun’s witness but that overtly and willingly take the stage to blanket the landscape of the moon’s illumination.

Fretfulness. Tearfulness. Anxiousness. Tensions. Confusions. Consumptions. Considerations. Manipulations.

When was the last time your “tucking in time” gave way to nighttime desperations? Why do they seem to wait until the cover of darkness to speak their witness? What is it about a night’s pause that offers up fertile soil for our desperations to take root and breathe and flourish into a stress far grander than the daytime will allow?

Why did mother always say, “Things will look better in the morning.”?

I’m not sure she knew the reasons behind her proclamation. I think, perhaps, she spoke from experience. I think we all could… speak from experience. Many of us could testify to the difference between a night’s wrestling and a morning’s peace. Some of us closed our yesterdays with full-grown and on display desperations. Most of us probably woke up to our todays with a lesser portion of struggle, less angst, less confusion, and more tempered understanding. The dawning of a new day has brought better perspective, not always perfect answers and certain peace, but better perspective.

A perspective not so cluttered by the night’s quiet and cover of darkness, but instead, a perception bathed in the radiancy of the morning’s crescendo.

There’s a holiness that surrounds the birthing of new day… a sacred mention of the Creator that cannot be overlooked or shrouded by our desperations. The light is too bright to miss; too big to hide; too loud to silence. It will not be trumped by the dark deliberations of a night’s pause. Certainly, we can pull the covers over our heads, keep the lights off, and close the blinds to the announcing of a new day, but doing so won’t change the fact that the light has come to lay hold of the night.

And with the light, comes life… another day to flesh out sacred understanding beneath the watchful gaze and warmth of a sun’s embrace.

A Son’s embrace.

Not long ago, there were a few disciples who understood the length and breadth, width and depth of a nighttime desperation. The silence and cover of darkness held their hope captive and threatened to claim previously held truth. Their “tucking in time” gave way to fretfulness; tearfulness; anxiousness; tensions; confusions; consumptions; considerations; manipulations. Their night perspective was too shallow to contain the possibility of the morning’s promised light. Instead, they gathered their fears, collected their tears, and hovered beneath darkened perspective, certain that the night was too long in its witness. Long forgotten were a Father’s words about things looking better in the morning. Their night stood in stark contrast to his previously spoken truth.

But as with all nights, regardless of their desperations, morning broke through. Light came, and the Son rose to take his rightful place above their cluttered considerations and painful conclusions. Christ shattered the darkness with the witness of his illuminated presence, and heaven’s morning crescendo has never birthed more brilliantly.

An Easter morning to replace all nighttime desperations. A once-and-for-all reasoning to bridge understanding regarding the difference between a night’s wrestling and a morning’s peace.

How thankful I am for that morning. How thankful I am for this one… these early, beginning hours that breathe easier than the closing ones I experienced last evening. With the sunrise, the Son has risen to his rightful place in my mind, heart, and soul, and things are, indeed, looking better. How I pray to live in that better throughout my day and into the night hours. Resurrection living is intended for them both. Thus, I pray…

May the light and witness of Calvary’s crescendo illuminate our days and penetrate our nights with the truth of your Son’s embrace, Father. Fill our desperations with the promise of morning’s arrival. You are the candle that keeps company with our days and nights. You are the flame that blazes the path before us, marking our way home to you. Even so, come Lord Jesus and light your fire in our hearts this day as we pilgrim to the Easter cross and fall beneath the weightiness of your truth and grace. And grant us your peace… always Peace for the journey ahead. Amen.

mountain living…

mountain living…

It’s becoming increasingly difficult for me to visit this place. Why? Because with each visit I make, it’s becoming more difficult for me to leave. From the moment I arrive within its boundaries, a gnawing ache begins its witness within my heart for my impending departure. Whether a weekend visit or a lengthier vacation, regardless of the allotted days, my stay never seems to be enough.
I love the mountains; not just any mountains… the Smoky Mountains; in particular, I have a strong affection for the Gatlinburg area. My parents first took me there as a child. Since that time, I imagine I’ve visited there at least a dozen times more. Truth be told, I’d move there tomorrow if money and health weren’t an issue.
It’s a good fit for me, mountain living. I like the people who come there, the eclectic gathering of vacationing souls who make pilgrimage to these hills throughout the year. Even more so, I like the people native to Gatlinburg—those who call it home and generously share its beauty with the rest of the world. In the past week I’ve met people from England, Canada, Alabama, Michigan, Ohio, New York—travelers, transplants, and locals. Like me, they’ve come to love the area and are more than willing to fork out a few dollars to purchase a little piece of some mountain peace.
Mountains may not be your thing; your heart might be more inclined to beach-living, desert living, prairie living, farm living. To each his own; we all need a peaceful place to relinquish our weariness. But as for me and my stress, I choose the mountains; not the curvy roads, icy winters, or growing bear population that coincides with mountain living, but the other part of it. The best part of it. The part that affords me the one thing that living in eastern North Carolina can never provide me—
a visual backdrop that moves my eyes and my heart upward.
The mountains supply a pinnacle or two for sacred focus. An ascending witness that punctuates a higher perspective—one that views life from the top rather than from below. There’s little room for flat living and horizontal visioning in the mountains. Instead, the mountains provide a gracious invitation for its inhabitants to look up… breathe up… think up… live up! Indeed, a perspective in keeping with eternal understanding.
Faith is a forward, upward ascent; perhaps the reason so many of us remain stuck in the valleys, the muck and mire of daily routine. When our eyes (our hearts and wills as well) stay focused at a horizontal level, we miss the breadth, width, and depth of the mountain’s witness. When life gets stuck on the parallel pavement of temporal understanding, our hearts do as well. Pebbles can easily become our irritation, not to mention the potholes that are more than willing to dismantle our forward progression. Whether or not we have a literal mountain to serve as the backdrop for our everyday living, keeping an upward focus is difficult if our hearts are easily troubled by earth’s impediments.
My heart can be… easily troubled by earth’s impediments. I suppose that’s one of the main reasons I love visiting the Smoky Mountains. When I am there, I see better; breathe better; think better; live better. It’s a welcome retreat for me, none more so than now. This has been a long season of stumbling along, friends. I am grateful for the reprieve.
I may never be able to call the Smokies “home,” at least not in the temporal; however, there is coming a day when God’s mountain will be my forever portion; I’ll pitch my tent alongside his and see life from his perspective. There will be no more gnawing aches regarding departures. No more worrying about money and health; no more pebbles or potholes to nail me down to earth’s perimeter. No more having to travel seven hours to get there.
No, when I get home to God’s mountain, I’ll join the thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly and claim a visual backdrop that will keep me living upward for all eternity. The loveliness in my rearview mirror will not reflect a joy once shortly lived. Rather, it will serve as a witness to the beauty that surrounds me, envelops me, enlivens me, and keeps me in constant awareness of the eternal bounty I’ve been given because of the temporal ascent I have chosen.
Today I make that choice again. To look up; to breathe up; to think up; to live up. Up is where God is. Up is where God lives. Up is where I, too, live as God intends for me to live. Mountain living is a good fit with my soul, whether in the “here and now” or in the “there and then.”
Even so, Lord Jesus, lift my eyes, elevate my heart, and raise my faith so that I might claim some of your mountain peace for the journey that lies ahead. I’ve got a few more miles to travel before arriving home to you; I want to walk them with the mountain in mind. Keep me to sacred ascent. Amen.
 {this one’s for you, Sassy}
PS: Answers to previous post’s questions: Gatlinburg, TN, my birthday, with Beth & Bill Endean, and the one answer no one guessed correctly… Kevin who makes earrings! He also has antiques in his store at the Smoky Mountain Bead Bar on Glades Rd. I loved seeing Kevin the most; his first words to me were, “What did you do to your hair?” I told him the story… both of us were moved with the telling. He holds a special place in our  hearts! So, for those of you who answered correctly, names were thrown into a hat, and the winners are Sita, Karen B., and Skoots1Mom. You’ll be receiving a pair of earrings I made; if you don’t wear earrings, let me know, and I’ll stick in another Gatlinburg treasure. Please send me your addresses, girls.
a guessing game and give-away

a guessing game and give-away

Time for a guessing game.
Where am I?
What am I celebrating?
With whom am I celebrating? (Billy doesn’t count…)
And a bonus for those who’ve been following me on the journey for a season or two…
What does this crazy guy do for a living that I have so much fun doing alongside him?
Leave a comment with your guessing; I’ll select two winners sometime upon my returning home. One winner for getting the first three right; a second winner for getting the first three plus the bonus right.
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