Friday, December 31, 2010

2011... Behold, I Make All Things New

 I am not one to go shoe shopping.  As a matter of fact, it took me a year to fork out the money to buy boots that I had been longing for.. and trust me, I don't often "long" for shoes, boots, etc....  But a great sale.... called my name, and I fell victim.  The shoes in my closet reveal the fact that the outer covering of my feet, truly don't make a huge impact on my comings and goings.  Of course, the older I get the more I hear.. it's not the look but the feel, it's not the feel but the support.  How much support is there in flip flops??

It's New Years eve... I hear that's a special day.   For the past several years, for me it has come to mean the beginning of paperwork.  Taxes... paperwork... checkbooks... taxes... and more taxes.  It's a mindset.  Everyone does taxes... don't they?  no.

But the beginning of a new year is a chance to make things different.   People still have big celebrations.  They make resolutions and promises with good intention.  Memory over-load of the year before.  And a ball drops in New York city.

While looking for a "suitable" marque for the  church where I work (how did I get that task???), I came across a small paragraph about the new year.  It caught my attention.  It didn't fit our marque but it made me think.  And thinking.. I appreciate it, especially since it seems to be more of a challenge for me these days. 

The bottom line was that the new year was an "unspoiled page".. an opportunity to do better than the year before. An opportunity to practice what has been learned.  An opportunity to renew allegiance to God.

Over the past few weeks, I have fallen back in love with a scripture from Zephaniah.  It reminds me that I am His... He is with me.  He delights in me.. even quietens me when I am afraid.  And the most tender portion of this scripture to me.. is that he sings over me!

I find comfort in that... knowing that my heavenly Father blesses me with a certain rhythm.  A rhythm .. I didn't earn or deserve.  A rhythm that was birthed purely by grace.. and grace alone.  His rhythm.

I'm tired.  I'm just really tired.  I've got new boots... and I'm tired.  It would be easy to stay in the safety of my home and just enjoy my boots by myself and honestly that would satisfy my soul.   I'm adjusting.  I'm accepting.  It is what it is.

But I took a day (a day in this instance means a few hours...) away from being "focused" and "driven" and let myself relax.  And it was "weird".  I liked it.  It hit me that something really is wrong.   I found myself wanting to be BFF's with the sales clerks that looked me dead in the face.  I made sure I saw their name tag and called them by name.  They smiled .. and liked hearing their name.  And I really liked that!  Maybe I am still relational.  God did create us that way.. right??  I'm more than a blank slate... safety is sometimes in a blank slate.   There are some jobs that it just pays to be a blank slate.  It is safer.  That's bizarre.  Shouldn't be that way.   It's really weird when you work at a church and people think you have just one long devotional day with God.  I mean "He is your boss.. right?? How awesome can THAT be??"

Tomorrow's a new day.. oh yeah, it's new year's day.  I'm going to a wedding where a young couple will begin a new life as husband and wife.  A mother will give birth to a 19 year old daughter-in-law.  She will instantly become a grandmother to a precious little boy.  "In-laws" will become prayer partners for this young family.  "Behold, I make all things new."  I pray that God will be this couples focus as 2011 begins.  What a way to start a new year... (and no, it's not the RED NECK wedding down the road.. arrghh!!)

All things have an opportunity of being  new.. even the tax forms.  January will be a blur as has December.  I look forward to February.

As the digital clock lights up the new year, I'll be asleep and I really like that, remember I'm tired!!   Bring on a lullaby Lord... and in return, let me wake up with a song for You.  Because it really is my desire.. underneath this blank slate.

"The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing." Zep 3:17

I woke up this morning feeling very guilty about this blog...  so many people have reason to keep the blank slate...  stay inside  and they don't even have a pair of new boots.  And worse, some people don't understand the rhythm of God's grace.  The words of Zephaniah don't grab their heart like they did mine.  So much I do not understand about the things of God, but I am learning that His purpose will stand... providence will prevail.  I'll leave this blog up ... I heard His rhythm while I wrote it and I liked that.. I really liked that.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

The Purple Fairies have left...

I am embracing today.. it's Saturday. Not because I have nothing to do, the good Lord knows there are many things that need my attention!  Not because I'm going to the beach, the pool or even the mall!  This past week was a whirlwind of Vacation Bible School! It's the great amazing race, to share Jesus with all the kiddos of our small community. Actually for our children, it was Saddle Ridge Ranch... Roundin' Up Questions.... Searching for Answers.

It's a time of tilling the soil, planting, watering and then hopefully an opportunity to continue an investment inspired and created by none other than the Creator himself, God. But today is Saturday, and it is work day at home. My attention is needed here.

As I came home from work on Friday, I remembered that .. wow.. I had totally neglected all the flowers that I had just planted and prayed over from the week end prior. Not that my hubby, wasn't busy himself.. with those darn chickens and criminals... but his attention hadn't crossed over to my sanctuary of beautiful bliss scattered across our plot called "home". As I began my pilgrimage, my heart sank. For nearly, all that had been planted had suffered from the extreme South Georgia heat, and to my dismay, many appeared to be long past resuscitation.

My greatest pride and joy was a hanging basket I had placed in a bird bath in the front of my yard. I loved it so.. for it reminded me of purple fairies. Why? I could just imagine purple fairies leaving remnants of themselves throughout. (Disclaimer: I don't believe in fairies, angels yes.. fairies no.. but it was just a nice but totally absurd thought.) The plant was fresh, airy and pleasing to my senses. However, after my afternoon pilgrimage.. my purple plant looked more like a forgotten cemetery arrangement.. you know the kind I'm talking about.

The week of early to rise... late to bed... had played havoc on my friend of only a week. For death was amongst us.. due to neglect. VBS had killed my plant.

I couldn't help but see myself in this pitiful plant. I knew exactly how it felt.. as probably many other VBS workers. Now please don't get me wrong, but I saw many faces on Thursday evening, (the last night of VBS) , that looked worse than this plant.. and mine was one of them. As I began my journaling this morning, it occurred to me that I had not written, read God's word or cracked a book on spiritual growth since Wednesday. By Thursday evening, I was full-blown in my flesh. I have been a follower of Christ long enough to know the connection of working in the "over-flow" of God's love. My over-flow had flown out.. much like the fairies in my hanging basket. I knew it was happening and over and over again in my head I kept saying "as a deer panteth for water, so my soul panteth for You". However, I couldn't seem to get to the "Water". How easy it is to get caught up in the vortex of the busyness of the church and not take care of the starvation of the soul.

How can I share .. that of which I do not know?

I had told myself I wasn't going to blog today... I had too many things on my plate. I actually had a delightful blackberry messenger conversation with someone last night and it reminded me all that I had to do today.. i.e. pay bills, wash clothes, pay bills, buy groceries, pay bills, clean house, pay bills and last but not least SIT IN MY FATHERS LAP. I knew I was in trouble (and it wasn't just the credit card late fees.. it was so much worse.) For the last several days, I hadn't done anything to KNOW GOD, which for a believer and follower of Christ is what makes life worthwhile and our greatest objective in life.

Oh how I pray that there were some little cowboys and cowgirls that were drawn close to the love of Christ from VBS...that they could taste and see that the Lord is good, not just a slice of pizza or corn dog nugget. The decorations were awesome.. the games were fun... but the Word.. yes the Word, it will not return void. I know they will need watering along the way... and just like my tumbleweed that now sits in the hanging basket, we all need Living Water....

"O Lord, I have longed for your rescue,
and your instructions are my delight.
Let me live so I can praise you,
and may your regulations help me."
Ps. 119: 174-176

Monday, June 7, 2010

Ear Flies...

How many times have you wanted to ask someone.... "Have you listened to a word I have said??"
It is often the case scenario for parents with their children, children with their parents, employers with their employees and teachers with their students. I even find myself so preoccupied with current technology that a simple conversation with my husband is a challenge. How have did I become a partner in crime with media technology frenzy?? It's become normal for me to have at least 3-4 conversations going on at the same time, while trying to listen to my husband. I can text, twitter, facebook, read and totally give my "full attention" to my husband whom I haven't seen all day. NOT. I wish I could say that I've got this down pat and that my multi-tasking has successfully met the challenge of talking, listening, comprehending and offering quality feedback. But I haven't made it. And I doubt many of us have.
So much interference. How did simple conversations get so complicated??
I was reminded while reading J.I. Packer's Knowing God, that "God has spoken to man, and the Bible is His Word, given to us to make us wise unto salvation." I wonder what God's thoughts are on our multi-tasking when it comes to listening. I understand that a whisper is enough, but in today's world, a whisper could easily be drowned out. Is our media frenzy, cramping out the still-small voice of our Creator? Wouldn't it just be easier if He had a facebook page or did the twitter gig??
Maybe it's time we evaluate the conversations that find their way into our ears. Put down the computer, the blackberry. Manage the ear flies.
Now what was that you were saying honey??

James 1:22 (The Message) "22-24Don't fool yourself into thinking that you are a listener when you are anything but, letting the Word go in one ear and out the other. Act on what you hear! Those who hear and don't act are like those who glance in the mirror, walk away, and two minutes later have no idea who they are, what they look like."

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Man's Best Friend....

Wow.. It's been over a year since I have waltzed on to this bloggin' dance floor. I almost feel like a stranger in my own blogger house... weird. I haven't been "home" in a while for several different reasons. First and foremost, my "inspiration well" has been dry as dust.

I'd like to totally blame my oldest son, Justin for this lack of inspiration. I mean.. come on son!!! It was your photography that fired up my creative juices and you have just left your mom out to dry.? Okay, the blame game isn't always the "Christian" way to play, but it's always been one of my favorites.

So Justin has put down his camera to tend to his own life. I will let him have that I guess. I pray that one day soon, he will pick his camera back up. He has a god-given talent, but it's not his season of life for photography.

True writers have to have motivation. I don't consider myself a "true writer" but I do know enough to know that if the motivation isn't there for me, then neither are the words.

Over the past several weeks, I have felt a tugging in my heart to return to this bloggers life. And there has been .. okay.. a tinge of motivation. I felt it when I saw this picture that my youngest son, Jordy took. I could feel my fingers tappin' on my best friend, Mac... tappin' a few words of reflection.

That particular picture was taken on the evening before Justin, Jordy and I headed out to Louisville, KY. It would be moving day for Justin within a few hours, and our family had decided to "bond" one last time before the pilgrimage. Our destination ... The Red Lobster in Savannah. We would also celebrate May birthdays.!! "May babies are the best" has always and will always be my motto especially since Justin, Jordy, James, Amanda, Terry Parker, Shelly, Maclain, John (plus a zillion other people) and I have May birthdays!!

So before the descent to Savannah, we had a brief photo session. Ironically, it wasn't the pictures of the family that stirred my heart the most. But this one.. this one particular capture of a man and his dog.

I do not know of two better friends than Randall and Bandit. The saying... "A man's best friend is his dog" is to say the least .. true in the Tippins household. Our Bandit is a pure breed Boston Terrier who has been a part of our family for 13 years. In case you don't know, there is a new formula to determine dog years in comparison to human years. The formula is: 10.5 dog years per human year for the first two years, then 4 dog years per human year for each year after. Good gosh, excuse me while I calculate that. (why do we humans always have to complicate things!!!)

Okay, so Bandit is practically 65 years old. This means Bandit is eligible for medicare, social security and membership in AARP. (Okay, so Randall and I are both eligible for AARP as well.)

But Randall and Bandit have a bond that is so very precious. The boys and I have always known that we take second place to Bandit. Possibly it has something to do with the fact that Bandit continues to shake his tail when Randall comes through the back door. I quit shakin' mine years ago, although I do try to force "hey honey, how was your day" in between farmville and twitter.

Bandit is so very loyal when it comes to helping out on the farm. Bandit never misses an opportunity to ride with his daddy to the chicken houses. When those magic word's "let's go" are spoken.. Bandit makes his way to his masters feet. The boys on the other hand... there is no other hand. They are gone and in their own corner of the world. Not that they wouldn't help if destruction was on the horizon, but the everyday monotonous routine of the farm, has not peaked their interest in ... years. Bandit, even at 65 still wants to ride side-saddle with the Sheriff.

As soon as I saw this photo, I was reminded of Proverbs 12:10, "Whoever is righteous has regard for his beast." (ESV) I love that particular translation, because I personally think Bandit would choose it above all the rest. Beast.. yes, Bandit our little beast.

I have started pondering what will happen when our little beast is gone. What will my man do.. without his beast of a best friend? Will I have to learn how to wag my tail?? Will the boys have to come home to comfort their dad.. and jump on board the mule at his beckon call. I don't know what that day will hold. How will I encourage Randall? For believers, "in death there is not sting".. but what about our beasts?? I wrote of Palin when I first started blogging. She was a beautiful lab that was taken from us way to soon. The sting still hurts when I think of her.

I have to resign myself to the fact that God created Noah. Noah built the Ark. God called all the animals of creation to come on board the ark. Obviously, He made a place for them.

But in the meantime, I won't dwell on that. I will just enjoy the friendship that these two have with each other. I love this captured moment...

and it's good to be back.