Sunday, January 31, 2010

LIFE is Really NOT All ABOUT Me....DARN !

I had something really goofy happen to me at the end of last Summer, something that made me realize how ridiculous and vain we all can be...but mainly me this time as I tell you what happened on my back porch.
I had been working in the yard, very hot late Summer day, hair put up, camisole top and shorts. Plus lots of sweat and dirt from my garden added to that ensemble.
I walked up to my back screen door, and I saw my reflection in an old 1930's mirror I had hanging by the door. I had put it there to reflect my yard back to me and so I can see my garden when I go in the house. Well, I glance at my reflection in the mirror , see an Ok-looking sweaty gardener-lady looking back at me...and open my screen door, still looking at myself...and,
  hit the door right into my forehead.
I grabbed at my forehead, rubbed it , and then broke out laughing at myself ...
and felt God reminding me, " WHAM, it's not All about YOU Missy !" 
That admiring of myself got me good.
 My vanity had whopped me in the head too.
Now don't act like you wouldn't have looked at yourself in my mirror by my back door. Everyone looks in mirrors when we pass them, especially  if they are right in front of you. They reflect back all about YOU , and sometimes those ' mirrors' may not actually be mirrors, but the eyes of someone else, or the opinions of someone else , your worth in their words or their eyes...reflected back to you.
All of this ' looking ' at ourselves , pointing at ourselves with words or actions or is a ploy the devil loves to use to draw our attention away from God.
And on ourselves.
and I.
And we are a pretty easy group here in America with all of the excessive ways we can now point to ourselves, and not point to God.
My Space.
blogs ( guilty ).
The media
Numerous other avenues for self-promotion and attention we have created, and more added yearly , are making US the main ' thang ' in our eyes.
In the Bible it warns about the ' end times' in 2 Timothy 3:1-4:

" But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come:
For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters. proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,unloving,unforgiving, slanderers,without self-control,brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong,haughty; lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God. "

I would venture to say without a smidgen of a doubt that is where we are today.
Again, awareness of all this SELF, ME , Over-indulgence can make us step back , and instead of magnifying ourselves so much,
magnify our magnificent God.
He alone is worthy .
Through our words, through our actions, through our work , and through our love.
Something to ponder for you today, be a blessing to just one person this week...
Make THEIR day.

Bless you ,
" For He know our frame; He remembers that we are dust. "
Psalm 103:14 

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The PEOPLE Who LEAD Us to GOD vs The Ones Who DRAW Us Away

I heard something interesting the other day on the radio, I cannot recall who said it...Joyce Meyers, Charles Stanley, Chuck Swindoll...maybe some other preacher...but it was a comment that was telling who Christians should keep in their lives, and who we should not.
It was not an exclusive, meaning excluding some person as if we were ' better " , than they were. It was a comment that had to do with who we spend the majority of our lives around. Like our spouse, our friends...and more importantly, making us stop and consider who we allow to be close to us.
The statement was , " Do the people you associate with or want to be friends with , or consider to they draw you closer to God, or further away from God? '
The speaker then said , " That should be the biggest questions you ask yourself, for the rest of your life, because the right people in your life can encourage and keep you close to God."
And the wrong people in your life, can draw you AWAY from God.

Now this brings me to the car wash incident that happened with me and my little boy the other day.
Let me set the scene, car wash and oil change 29.95.
Great deal.
We go one day after I pick him up from school, I tell him to bring his backpack and his homework ( always way too much home work for a third-grader lately ), and we pull in...drop off my car...and go inside and sit and wait.
My little boy spies some Oreos for sale, I give him the money to go get them, he throws his backpack down...and I sit back in my chair with my Antiques & Art magazine...ready to relax for a bit.
But no.
Because I spy out of the corner of my eye...a salesman.
That set off my first defense mechanism.
He was walking around from customer to them his business card and chatting for a few minutes.
He had a strong Northern accent , in a Southern car wash...which I thought was amusing. His hair was slicked back with something shiny, and he had a briefcase. 
I immediately did NOT want this man to come over to us.

My son comes back and rips open his cookies, while I keep watching over my magazine this salesman going around.
My defense mechanism, my quills , if I was a porcupine, were now in full alert mode.
He was getting closer to us.
I look down, start reading my magazine, figuring he will take the hint , and not come in my SPACE.
Not bother me or my son.
Not a chance.
Within just a few minutes, there he is , above my magazine, very politely asking me if I would take his card ? He replaces windshields in cars for free and he would appreciate me calling him and keeping his card if I ever needed that service.
He was about 1 foot too close to me and my son for my comfort level.
He had set foot in MY inner circle.
Guess what Ms. IMPERFECT Christian bad example for her son did ?
I looked up at him, no smile, you see he was physically in MY SPACE.
( I went to a therapist many years ago  that told me I was territorial, which she thought was fine...just how I was wired).
Anyway, I take his card, again feeling he is too close to me and my son, all defense mechanisms and postures ( as much posturing as a woman in  workout clothes and tennis shoes can project ), and I put the card in my purse, nodded at the man , he said thank you and walked off to someone else.
The ridiculous thing was I was the ONLY one that I saw that did not say Thank You back to him, or smile at him or be that sweet Southern polite person that is fairly common here in the South.
Nope, I was the one person, with the little gold cross around her neck...who did not want this man in her SPACE, to get close to her.
The other absolutely ridiculous point of all that is I was a terrible example to my son about how nice Christians are supposed to be to people. He saw , as he was watching too, that other people around us were fine with this man in their space, just not his Mom who likes to talk to him about God and Jesus all the time.
How we are supposed to be kind and polite and show love.
Again , God is up in heaven, wanted to thump me on the forehead and say, " Wake up Woman ! "

Getting back to the decision we have concerning who to allow to get close to us...I was off-kilter with this salesman...but in real life , the day to day choice of who I know or they draw me nearer to God or further away from God  is a sobering question.

My son trying to pull me over backwards at our State Fair

The other questions we need to ask ourselves is does that person inspire us to learn about God , do they make us consider the things of God, or do they make us consider the things of this world more ? 
Who do you allow to get close to you ?
Who are you willing to let in your very personal space ?
What kind of conversations do you have with this person ?
What kind of places do you go with this person  ?
What kind of thoughts do you have about them ?
So many questions we can ask ourselves about any person or circumstance or action that can draw us to God or far away from God. 
Letting that be a barometer is difficult , as Christians we are supposed to go where the sinners are ( and most Christians know that they are sinners as well ), and be with them and witness there.
This statement does not negate that we minister or associate for brief periods of time, or help someone who does not draw us close to God...because the act of ministering to their needs can draw us close to God. It is the habitual fellowship, or ' hanging-out ' , with un-believers that can draw us very far from God.
We are not as strong as Jesus was to dis-associate ourselves from the world's lusts and pleasures and people , to keep putting ourselves smack in the middle of sin and expecting to come out clean.
We are told to guard our hearts and minds , to stand strong.

I am trying to do this, and it is easier than I realized to discern who draws you close to God or further away from God.
The hard part is the actual ACT of putting it into action.
The lust of the flesh , of the world , is a hard , relentless adversary.

But now I can ask myself that question , and be aware.

Mrs. Territorial wishes you many blessings today,

" Hear my son and be wise; and guide your heart in the way. Do not mix with winebibbers, Or with gluttonous eaters of meat; For the drunkards and the glutton will come to poverty.." Proverbs 23:19-21

Sunday, January 24, 2010

For MEN Only : What will be Your LEGACY ?

Sunset at Edisto Beach, SC

This may be an odd topic for a woman to write about , but it is something that has ' hit ' me when my husband came home about a year ago and said it was a topic of a Men's study series he was taking at church. One of the very few times I saw him get choked up, as it is truly a BIGGIE for men's souls. 
We have 4 children , 3 grown and out on their own and a late blessing , a little rowdy boy still at home with us. The topic in his study at church was, What will you leave behind of your life ? What will you teach your children ? What kind of example of marriage will you leave  them with ? Of your work ethic ?
What will they have , deep in their hearts and souls, part of pass on to their children ?
What will be YOUR legacy ? 

Here in America, most men are struggling simply with either keeping their head and house above water...or working so hard to keep up with whomever they think they need to one-up, that they are confusing their net worth with their worth to their God and their families.
Children have become too big of the focal point in most marriages that they eclipse most people's relationship with their spouse . The children's accomplishments and even their myriad of problems can suck the vitality out of the first priority God wants us to focus on, after our relationship with Him, is our relationship with our spouse.
Your wife is a gift from God.
So the first component of a man's legacy is the example of love and commitment he displays through good and especially bad times with his wife. Your children , your neighbors, your extended family, your co-workers and your friends, all watch how you treat your wife. How you talk about her when she is not around. What you look at when she is not around.
People notice, your children notice...and that example will be a big part of the legacy you leave one day.
The words , the actions, the gifts you give to her will guide your children in how to treat their wife or how a woman expects to be treated by a man.

Another component is what kind of father were ( are ) you ? The biggest example you have to look to is God, as He is all loving, forgiving , teaches us what is right and what is wrong,  and let's us learn from our mistakes...without always rescuing us right away. A Father needs to teach his children how to TAKE CARE of themselves , teach them how to do a task correctly...not perfectly, but to the best of THEIR ability. Don't be too hard on them when they are young , but also teach them responsibility.
We had 4 children , as I mentioned earlier, and probably the biggest benefit they received is us insisting they get a  PART-TIME JOB by the time they were 15. They did baby-sitting before that age, but afterward, they all were employed somewhere. It makes them accountable for their time, accountable for their money, and promotes personal responsibility.
Teach them to get to work on time, to dress appropriately, to be polite and  respectful of their bosses.
Then step back and let them succeed or fail at that job..on their own.
If they lose a job, and they will....ask them what they learned and tell them to get another job.
They eventually will figure out this is how the real world is.
You as Fathers will not be around forever, but your work ethic and balance of work and family will teach them how to be successful in whatever they do.
Daddy constantly paying for everything in a child's or young adult's life is a growth-inhibitor for their success. I have not known ANY really successful man ( or woman ), that did not have a job when they were still a teenager.

Another component of your legacy is a real biggie. So big it appears to scare most men , because I can honestly say I do not see this very much...even in  church.
Ready ?
Being the Spiritual leader in your home. Talking about God with your children, your wife, and finding a house of worship for your family. Not being the one that your wife has to drag to church, not being the one that rarely if ever mentions what God says to do in a situation in life . Buy a Bible , let your wife and children see you read it . Being the moral compass in today's world for your children, is getting harder and harder...every year.
Be discerning with what you allow your children, and yourself , to watch on TV or in the movies. Be discerning with who they hang out with, their language , what they read or what internet sites they post to ( and boy will it shock you what they start posting !).
Express your approval and your disapproval with their moral and ethical decisions..with love.
God can guide and support you here . Show them that God is IMPORTANT to you, and them. Tell them to pray , tell them when God answers your prayers, when God guides you.

Know your moral convictions, know what is right and what is wrong. 
Stand firm and stand STRONG , and teach your children this.
Another component to your legacy is what they see you put ' first '. For alot of men , this is work. Men need work, God made you to desire to work, to accomplish for your family . The problem with work today , is not simply that men are working to pay bills, but many are working to pad their egos. Women also do this, I know I did when I sold Real Estate many years ago.
The problem is all that time you devote for work , means less time for God and your family.
Balance your desire for work , with your desire for God and your family.
Your children will grow up in the blink of an eye, I can attest  to that unequivocally. They need you NOW, to support, encourage, and love is the paramount quality of your legacy.

Your legacy, what is left of YOU when you are gone , should be rich with respect for God, love and respect for your wife, being a good steward of the money God showed you how to earn or blessed you with the ability to make, rich with love and encouraging words for your children ,and gratitude to God for how He has blessed you.
Speak these words to your family, don't simply be a silent witness with your actions.
Speak your love , demonstrate your love ...daily.
None of us knows how long we will be on this earth. That is a fact that becomes very hard and clear as we age.
But that fact alone can cause men to consider what legacy they want to leave their children...and the clearest way to do this is through the channel of love.
Look at your life backwards, and see where you want to end up.
Know that you can be one of the biggest blessings God ever gave to your children.
They will want to walk in your footsteps.
Stand Strong.

Bless you,

" Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, having done all, to stand. " Ephesians 6:13

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Discipline vs the BULL in the FIELD

Watch out

When I was a young girl in Texas, I used to visit my grandparents in Bandera, Texas quite often. I had two sets there, my well-off set, and my much less well-off set. One lived in a very nice, well -decorated expensive home, ...and the other set lived out in the country in a small wood house . I loved them all very much, but always preferred to spend the night out in the small country house with the tin roof, and the large acres of land and Hills in the distance.
 My grandfather, Papa, had some sheep and chickens, a few cows roaming around in a fenced off area beside the there was a small barn/chicken house/food shed combo to the far end of the area.
I would get the feed and help him feed all his animals.
That small barn was directly in front of another fenced off area, leading to vast acres of pastures.
That is where I chose to be very disobedient.
I went in one day when my grandmother was cooking something in a giant iron skillet on the stove. I asked her about the cows in the big open field behind the small barn back there. I thought they maybe were their cows, I was about 9-11 years old . She wiped her hands on her apron, looked at the way...she was one TOUGH-cookie of a woman, and said, " Those are our neighbor's cows, but don't go over there as there is one mean BULL in that field. "
Well, apparently that was all it took,
for my first big un-disciplined moment to take flight.
I said , "Ok. "
Turned, went flying ( I was always running when I was young ), hit the back screen door hard ,  running out to the field.
Then I went to the back wire fence behind the shed, I cannot recall if it had barbed wire, most of their property did, but I do recall that it did not seem to matter to me.
Gina was going to do what Gina WANTED to do.
No matter.
Which meant climbing that fence, and laying down in the soft , tall grass, and watch the cows in that field.
No matter that someone who knew better than me warned me, no matter that I knew she loved me and was a very smart woman.
No Matter.
I do recall her warning, but the pull of the field called me softly, it was a Texas wind blowing...a sunny day...and I climbed that fence fast...and went and laid down behind the shed in the grass.
I deliberately laid behind the shed so they could not see me from the house.
You know how children lay in the grass, no care about getting dirty, no care what will crawl in their I remember distinctly, laying back with my arms behind my head, looking up through the limbs of a small tree,
Up in to the beautiful sky.
I told myself to remember this moment, I have always done that since I was even younger ( and still today ), and I was blissfully happy.
I knew my grandmother could not see me back here, it was a cool, secret spot that was mine and  I could do what I wanted and not be seen.
I was one cool kid.
Then her words came back to me.
One MEAN Bull.
Now for my tough grandmother who once killed a barn rat with one hand while she was milking... ( kept milking and then shook him out of her overalls)...and barn rats are as big as some cats...then I knew he really had to be REALLY mean.
So I looked up at the field, with one eye I was still in my blissful moment...and guess what ?
There he was , a pretty good distance away from me...grazing.
Then he stopped and looked up at me.
I sat up a little straighter, opened both eyes...and looked at him too.
Small warning signals were going off in my young brain, but I did not move, get scared...or run and jump the fence to safety behind me.
I sat and watched that bull for a few minutes, looked around at the field we were in...and then got cocky and laid back and closed my eyes.
A few minutes went by, I opened one eye again , and looked back at him.
He was a little closer this time.
Still, young and dumb , laid back and closed her eyes again.
No matter.

I then opened my eyes,  looked up at the beautiful big sky and clouds, glanced back at him ... now he was grazing a little closer now to me. I was still a good distance from him , and for some reason , I do not recall...( probably God ), I got up, brushed the grass off me, smiled at the bull and jumped the fence back to definite safety.
I think often about that bull in the field, because I struggle with discipline, discipline in doing EXACTLY what God instructs us to do in almost all circumstances in life. He tells us in un-compromising clarity, do this, don't do that.
Stay away from this, reach for that instead.
Run to the safety of His protection.
He knows what is good for us, he only wants what is best for us.
But I know there are things in my life that remind me of that bull.
Things or situations I get close to , things I KNOW God tells me to stay away from, fields ( sins ), I should stay OUT of.
So when I remember that time in my life, and I can still see that bull in my mind , God seems to want me to remember it , for the lesson it can teach me.
To not even CONSIDER the thought of ' jumping over a fence '.

The lesson of listening to God, to strive to be a much more disciplined Christian.
To study and learn what He says for all our lives.

To learn to completely, absolutely and resolutely TRUST Him.

I need to know deep in my heart and soul that God truly, really,  knows what is best.
I hope your day is good, I hope you can stay away from the ' bulls' in your life , I hope you
 Don't jump that fence for God's sake alone.

Bless you,

" Your word is a lamp for my feet and a light for my path. " Psalm 119:105

Sunday, January 10, 2010


My favorite coffee cup

My little boy grabbed a cup out of the overhead cabinet the other day, turned and glanced at me behind him...and his eyes got big.
He then got himself some cold water out of the fridge...and turned and looked at me again.
I smiled at him, but knew he was acting a little strange, and then I saw it !
The little stinker was drinking out of my favorite coffee cup that I haven't seen in over a year !
He knows that I don't let him drink out of it, as he may accidentally chip it, and I am very particular what makes me happy in a coffee cup.
I got it out of his little hands, and switched it with another.
This one was perfection to me.
No other cup made my coffee taste as good as that cup did.

I have to have the inside of my cup be white, I like to SEE my coffee, the color has to be just perfect. The level of the coffee in the cup has to be just right. Plus this one has the Bible verse, " This is the day the LORD has made, let us REJOICE and BE GLAD in it. " Psalm 118:24
I had thought I either mis-placed it, or it seemed to just disappear.
The funny thing about it, is that is WAS ALWAYS there.
I just couldn't see it.
Lost in plain sight.
So many choices of mugs and cups in my cabinets, I actually have two shelves of coffee mugs and cups. Always thinking I can find one that is better than the last one. Most I never use. I believe when we have too many options in life, we lose sight of what is right in front of us.

If it was a snake it would have bitten me, a term I remember my grandparents in Texas used when something was in plain sight that they had been searching for.
What came to mind to me when I realized it had always been there, and I was over-looking it, or never noticing it, was how we humans search for recognition, or meaning in life, but especially love...and many times, it is already there.
Close to you.
Waiting on you. 
Sitting in the back of a shelf.

God has usually put someone in your life, your spouse if you're married, or if you are not...someone else that you do  not even there to love you and be loved by you.
By loving what God has blessed you with ( that person that is right there) , we in turn bless ourselves.
Love is God's greatest conduit.

In the palm of my hand.

I felt like God was telling me that day, that He had already given me JOY ( like my cup says ), that it was always there waiting for me.
I just needed to open my eyes and SEE it.

Look around your home today, look at the person that God blessed you with, do not take them for granted. Be thankful , express that to them and God.  If He has not placed someone there for you are either single , divorced, widowed...have assurance that He has Joy waiting for you.
But keep your eyes open , because it may be hiding in plain sight.
Bless you today !

" I came that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. " John 10:10

Sunday, January 3, 2010


Starting off the New Year I decided to write about some advice that an older friend of mine gave to a small Bible Study group I was in a few years ago. We were all sitting around , discussing problems, our feeble solutions, our frustrations with ourselves, our spouses, our lives...and she was sitting in her chair , listening to us and about to give us some very sage advice.
Her name was Marjorie , she had four sons...her husband left her when they were all under 5 years old. She worked hard all her life, and she was a very knowledgeable Christian and happy person to be around in general .
She would be 70 years old that year.
She waited until we were all through talking,  leaned forward in her chair...and said these words,
" I have lived longer than most of you, and what I have learned is what you all need to learn, Be more gentle with yourself. "
I remember that really struck me, as I am pretty hard on myself..especially in the " Not-being a good enough Christian" department, but also the
Not being a good enough wife department
Not being a good enough Mother department
Definitely not being a great housekeeper department
Not being a good enough friend department
Community volunteer
School volunteer
Church volunteer
I could go on and on.
I think that women , even more than men, try to measure up to a standard of beauty, righteousness, domesticity, graciousness, intelligence, servant hood, self-sacrifice...and we end up falling so short of our goals or our ideals for ourselves ( and that society expects of us ), that we then can come down very
HARD on ourselves.  
What Marjorie was trying to teach us women, and there were women in their 20's, 30', 40's and 50's in that room...was when we focus on being tough with ourselves...we end up sapping our strength from what we ARE
doing a good job at in life.

I believe the devil is always working on us to shift our focus on us and our weaknesses, our sins...and robbing us of our JOY in our special selves that God created.
If we focus on what we are not good at...we lose sight of God and how He can use us , at what we ARE good at doing. 

I have actually told many young women , in their 20's, to be more gentle with themselves, because that is where it starts...being hard on yourself when you are young.
No one ever told me to be gentle with myself until Marjorie did that day.
Women need to be more gentle with themselves physically , mentally and emotionally.
I hope your New Year begins with gentleness towards yourself...I think how to learn to do that more is pretend you are a friend that is doing whatever you are doing that causes stress or excess energy to drain from your life...and what would you tell that friend ( which is you ), what advice would you give her ?
I'll bet is is different than what you tell yourself most times.
Remember how very important you are to God today,
Bless you,

" Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. " Matthew 11:29