Thursday, May 26, 2016

A Hand to Hold

I can well remember my Mam-ma’s hands. 

So much of my time with her was spent watching those hands serve. 
Cooking, baking, making me a sandwich. 
Playing cards, sewing, holding my hand in church while I sat on her lap.
I’d know her hands anywhere by sight and by feel.
Her hands loved me. Which is why I think of them so often…

“The poor and needy search for water, but there is none;
their tongues are parched with thirst.
But I the Lord will answer them; I, the God of Israel, will not forsake them.
I will make rivers flow on barren heights, and springs within the valleys.
I will turn the desert into pools of water, and the parched ground into springs.
I will put in the desert the cedar and the acacia, the myrtle and the olive.
I will set junipers in the wasteland,
the fir and the cypress together,
so that people may see and know,
may consider and understand,
that the hand of the Lord has done this,
 that the Holy One of Israel has created it.”
Isaiah 41:17-20

I do not enjoy being thirsty.
I do not like to be in need.
But it happens. Sometimes.
All the time.
It is possible to reach the end of every visible resource.

God knows this. And He sees.
Not only that.
He has BIG plans.
Plans that may make absolutely NO SENSE.
A desert pooled with water, growing giant trees?
Rivers on barren heights?
Parched ground producing springs?

To be truly thirsty and parched, one must go without for some amount of time.
How long? What’s the threshold?
We aren’t assured of that knowledge unfortunately.
The thirst and longing may remain well into a very scorched dehydration.

“I will not forsake…” is the promise that we have.

The reason?

So that people may see and know the hand of the Lord.
A hand that creates and acts FOR US in big ways.
A hand that expresses relationship poured out to satisfaction.

 “So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
Isaiah 41:10

There are moments when I need to be reminded.
 Our God reigns in the midst of impossible.
A transformational quenching is guaranteed.
We will know it by His Hands.

Renew confidence deep into our spirits that fear and dismay have NO PLACE in us.
You are our God and you are WITH!
You strengthen, help and uphold.
We cling to your right hand.
Open our eyes wide in every season of impossibility.
As you have promised, do not forsake.
We wait for your answers.
We name the answers we have already seen!
Thank you for your love, Father.
Because of Jesus and in His Name—Let it be so!

Sunday, May 08, 2016

Some Stuff About My Mom

 Sometimes memories spin so commonly in my brain I forget that I am not acknowledging them out loud. My Mom’s influence in my life is constant in what I remember and what I value. Here are some things I think about more often than I say:

*One summer, when I was 10 or 11 Mom drove me to the county library, registered me for my very own library card and then patiently waited while I wondered the aisles of books for as long as I needed. She did this weekly that one summer before the responsibilities of youth ministry claimed our summers entirely. I don’t remember ever feeling rushed in the library on those visits. Mom loved for me to read.

*Mom talked me into the big wedding I had always wanted but for a time was practically willing to set aside. Our wedding was one of my favorite and very best days. All of our people were together in one place that day. It wouldn’t happen that exact way ever again. I’m so thankful we had that moment.

*Mom defended a space for me to make my own decisions about church. As a minister’s family,  we were always aware of certain community expectations about our participation and involvement. Mom held space in the sacredness of our private home for me and my sister to decide for ourselves. That must have felt scary. But the freedom was so important.

*My Mom served as a sponsor for cheerleaders and band, and she led entire school musical presentations that we were involved in.

*My Mom has taught cradle roll (Bible class for babies) for many, many years. She delights in watching the miracle of learning from the earliest stages of infancy and teaches beautifully into that season. It is no surprise that my first word was "Bible." It is still my very favorite book. 

*Mom went back to college, while working as a teacher during the day, and received her bachelors degree in social work the same year I graduated from high school.

*Mom hosted the best and most creative parties. The supper club she and Dad were always a part of took meal planning and celebration to a whole new level.

*Mom really enjoys scary movies.

*My Mom doesn’t care a lick about watching most professional sports but she loves Nascar to the depths of her soul. She garnered this passion from her Dad.  

*Mom has played bunko monthly with the same group of ladies for many decades.

*Mom is still actively engaged in relationship with people she went to kindergarten with. My Mom is a good, good friend.

*Mom worked for the State for two decades to bring comfort and rescue to hurting children and families.

*Mom spent years courageously healing from the physical toll that specific service cost her.

*Mom shops for and packs up over a dozen boxes a year full of some American goods we miss and she and Dad mail them to us for special occasions or just because we need it.

*My Mom loves my Dad.

*I know my Mom loves me.

*My Mom arranged and decorated our homes (we’ve lived in many) to make them welcoming. At dinner parties that Mom hosted it was very common to find folks’ shoes discarded here and there. People felt at home in the space Mom designed. She has always been good at that.
Especially for her own. Years have passed since Mom and I lived in the same space (or on the same continent for that matter!) but I always know I am welcome where she is. Even if I just show up. My place will be ready. That awareness comforts me deeply and I find myself thinking of it often.

These are just some of the Mom-memories that weave into my unique story and life purpose. Moments and glimpses and character and commitment that shaped me for the good. I could never write them all. Love as vast as a mother’s will never be wrestled into the confinement of mere words.

Nevertheless, I will keep using these: “I love you, Mom.” And “Thank you.”

For everything.

Saturday, May 07, 2016

Remember When by Kinley Cash

today's post by Kinley Cash

Remember when you had a dream
Remember when it wasn't what it seemed

Remember when you met a man
Remember when he introduced your heart to a far-away land

Remember when you thought you knew
Remember when God called you

Remember when Home was far away
Remember how different that is today

Remember when you had a dear little dream
Remember that first heartbeat

Remember when one became two
Remember when our everything was you

Remember when two became three 
Three times the fun. "Another blessing."

Remember when three became four
A Mommy forever. A Mama of four.

Remember when we never knew how
Remember you know everything, then and now

Remember when I wanted to know
Remember when you told me so

Remember when I was lonely and sad
Remember when I was happy and glad

Remember every fun movie/game night
Remember those frustrated fights

Remember the laughter
Remember the tears
Remember when you prayed away my fears

Remember the smiles
Remember the fuss
Remember the stories of each of us

Remember the competition
Remember the teasing
Remember the sand castle we couldn't think of eating

Remember the goofy voices 
Remember the stains
Remember the joy filled crazy days

Remember when this life made us who we are
Remember how our dreams take us far

Remember how you told us that that is okay
Remember how you cry anyway

We will remember your love wherever we go.
And you must remember that we love you so!