Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Oreos and Fruit

When I was younger, I remember my oldest brother, Steve, had an obsession for Oreo cookies.

And my second oldest brother, Jeff, had an obsession for anything that wasn’t his.

One evening, my mom drove to pick up my brother, Steve, from his summer job. He had left a package of Oreos in the car and was anticipating eating them after work.

Jeff was along for the ride, sitting quietly in the back seat. When Steve got in the car he said, “Jeff, hand me my Oreos.”


Steve turned around to see Jeff’s face smeared with a dark gooey substance.

“Where are my Oreos?” Steve asked accusingly.

“I don’t know.” Jeff replied, with a sheepish chocolate grin and empty cookie package crumbled in his lap.

Steve was livid. I don’t quite remember what happened after that—maybe a little bloodshed or rubbing of knuckles—those things that brothers do.

Do you ever totally blow it in life and hear God ask, “Where are my fruits?”

Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

Do you sit in a stupor with the evidence plainly smeared from your actions and sheepishly answer, “I don’t know.”

I’m sure I have. But the great thing is, God forgives a repentant heart and will continually fill it with His fruit for us to share with others.

So when God asks, “Where are my fruits?” let us be quick to respond, “I want to experience You, Lord. Give me opportunities so Your harvest will be revealed.”

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”
Galatians 5:22-23

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Washing Windows

When I was about nine or ten, my mom and dad purchased a service station. "Moore's Apco" was located at a prime spot on Summit Street and was considered a “full-service” station. A quick check under the hood and a clean windshield was expected while customers waited to get their gas tanks filled.

One lazy summer, I begged my mom to let me “help out” by washing the customers’ car windows. I was thrilled when she finally agreed—eager to prove my excellent window-washing skills and earn a few extra dollars.

The day finally came—I  was excited and ready. I had slipped on my most comfy tennis shoes, pulled my long hair back in a ponytail and practiced my winning smile. I was determined to be the best windshield washer in town!

It wasn’t long when my first customer, an older gentleman, drove in the bay.

This was going to be a piece of cake! I thought to myself.

I eagerly rushed out the door and was at the side of his car like a seasoned pro. After greeting him with a polite “Good morning!”, I began cleaning the driver’s side windshield with precision while taking care to periodically flash my winning smile.

Satisfied, I moved to the passenger side and began again.

As I stretched on my tip-toes to clean the windshield, the car’s antenna somehow slipped through the backside of my ponytail, firmly holding me hostage. My soapy hands instantly flew wildly at my captive head, tugging forcefully to free myself.

After a few agonizing moments, I paused and sighed. I was a helpless immobilized window washer impaled by a measly car antenna.

My eyes slowly peered into the vehicle hoping the older gentleman hadn’t noticed my awkward predicament.

He had.

A smile spread to the man’s face as he exited his car and rushed to my rescue. He gently maneuvered my soapy pony tail mess over the antenna, freeing me from my restraint. I was mortified—but grateful for the release.

That was the first and last day of my windshield washing job. I vowed never again to beg my mom into washing windows.

Sometimes in life, we have the best intentions in doing good, but in our own strength we fail miserably. Without the help of Someone greater, we can end up like an impaled puppet, wildly flapping our arms and getting nowhere fast. We look helpless, awkward and can even become immobilized.

But if we stop and look to our heavenly Father, He waits with delight to gently rescue us from our restraints. He is our Rescue and ever-present Help.

“Because he loves me,” says the LORD, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.” –Psalm 91:14

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Stupid Head

Several years ago, my family and I were eating at a local restaurant. All I wanted was a salad. I’d been thinking about it all day…already had it planned in my head…and could almost taste each bite just thinking about it. (Please tell me I’m not the only one who does this.)

I grazed through the salad bar, strategically placing the lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes, cheese…and so on…you get the picture—until I had the “perfect salad.”

It was beautiful.

As I sat down at the table, I placed my napkin in my lap and grabbed my fork, ready to begin the feast. The rest of my family had ordered their food and began to eat, as well.

My daughter, Lindsay, who sat across from me, picked up her fork and noticed a small patch of dried food on the handle.

“Gross!” she muttered. “There’s food on my fork!”

“Oh, wipe if off.” I said. “It’s just on the handle.” (Please tell me I’m not the only one who does this.)

She began to pick at it with her fingernail.

Just as I was about to take a bite of my beautiful masterpiece, I looked up to see Lindsay flick the bit of dried food from her fork. As if in slow motion, it propelled to the wall and ricocheted—you guessed it— smack dab in the middle of my salad!

I couldn’t believe what had just happened. My salad…my beautiful, masterpiece salad…ruined! And I hadn’t even gotten to taste it yet!

As I sat in disbelief looking at my tarnished mound of happy, my eyes began to squint and jaw tighten. Before I could even think clearly, my squinted eyes veered across the table at my daughter and I spewed the words, “You Stupid Head!”

Now, let me take a moment and say that I don’t ever recall calling my kids names, and I have never in my life even said the word “Stupid Head”—ever. I have no idea where it came from. I couldn’t help it…it just flew subconsciously out of my mouth. Lindsay said fire shot out of my eyes, too, but I think she’s embellishing just a little.

What happened in the next few moments was priceless.

Wide-eyed, Lindsay looked at her brother, Mathew—then back at me—then at her dad. And as if planned, the three of them harmoniously burst into a guffaw of laughter. And then I whole-heartedly joined them.

It was beautiful.

Being called “Stupid Head” is now considered a term of endearment in our family.

This should be my life’s motto:

Then our mouth was filled with laughter and our tongue with joyful shouting; Then they said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.” Psalm 126:2

God really does do great things for us. Just the fact that He created laughter is soothing to the soul.

Enjoy each momentand laugh—the rest of your life.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

The White Cloud

My high school set of wheels was a 1960 white Ford Falcon. Driving it was a trip! It had a couple of highly noticeable fender dents, bright blue polyester seat covers to hide the worn interior, and when I would turn the steering wheel to the right, the horn would automatically honk. (I got really good at waving.) But I didn’t care—the “White Cloud” was mine and it got me where I needed to go…well, mostly.

One of the things I had to be careful of was the gas tank. The gauge didn’t work. But back in the 70s, with the price of gas at $0.57 a gallon, it didn’t take much to keep it full.

One winter evening my brother, Jeff, borrowed my car to do whatever ornery teenage brothers do. He must’ve driven it all night, because he left the gas tank practically dry. But do you think he had the sense to tell me? Not hardly.

The next day I had to perform with a singing group I was involved with at school. It was an evening performance and I was decked out in my formal wear with high heels. After singing I headed toward home—about 2 miles west of town—and just as I passed the Arkansas bridge, the White Cloud chug-a-chugged its last gas fume and slowly coasted to the side of the road.

My heart sank. It was cold, dark, miles from home and I was dressed in a silk dress with open-toe heels. Ugh!

My brother knew I had always kept careful watch on my gas tank, and he was just ornery enough to put me in this predicament on purpose. The thought of Jeff snickering at my situation made me even angrier as I trudged home in the dark. Thankfully, I made it home just fine.

When I am in God’s word, praying and filling my spiritual tank, my level of trust, faith and walk with Christ is steady. But if I’m not careful and miss a few days of fellowship with God, I tend to lose momentum, sputter along and eventually coast into the world.

Proverbs 4:26 says, Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways.”

Let these words encourage you to be in daily fellowship with God. Keep careful watch on your spiritual tank and you’ll never find yourself sputtering or coasting to the side of the road—but instead, walking in a strong, steadfast relationship with our Lord.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

The Segway

Several years ago, I went to Branson with some girlfriends. While there, we had the bright idea to ride Segways. If you don’t know what a Segway is, picture standing on a skateboard with big bike-like handles that you hold on to. It actually sounded like loads of fun, so naturally I was game.

The Segway instructors were patient and very professional, training us how to use the vehicle properly. Before being released at top speed, you had to pass an “operational test” at a slower speed. After passing the test, you were given free reign of the track.

The key to power was leaning forward with your body into the bars—standing straight up would slow you down. After about 10-15 minutes of tootling around the track, I thought I had it mastered—piece of cake—and was released from my training session.

Several of us girls wheeled around the curves as if we were power-shopping on Black Friday. It was great fun. We laughed and giggled at how silly we looked until our faces hurt. Then all too soon, our time was up and the instructors motioned us into the pit stop.I wanted to take one last spin on my power board, so I maneuvered myself quickly around the curves before coasting into the pit.

As I slowed to stop, I stepped off the board. My body accidently leaned forward which caused my Segway to leap forward…with me still holding on. I began to spin in circles as I held on tightly to the handlebars. All the tootle training I’d mastered earlier instantly vanished. As I made circle donuts aside my runaway Segway, I could see my girlfriends out of the corner of my eye laughing hysterically. They were all shouting, “Just let go! Let go!” All I could think of was, they’re all laughing, and I’m gonna die!

Somehow I managed to maneuver my body upright enough for the contraption to come to a halt. The instructors rushed to my side and quickly took possession of the beast—rescuing me from my awkward display of spinning aerobics—and what dignity, if any, I had left. Afterwards, I realized how silly I must’ve looked and joined in the laughter.

Sometimes we go through life and want to hold on to things that aren’t necessarily good for us. We hear the words, “Just let go!” It sounds easy enough—but instead we tighten our grip, lose focus of the instructions, causing us to spin in frustrating circles.

But be encouraged!

Psalm 48:14 says: “For this God is our God for ever and ever; he will be our guide even to the end.”

Even when our lives get crazy and spin awkwardly in circles, He is always there, ready to guide us to safety. Trust, obey, lean into God—and let go!

Sunday, June 8, 2014

The Burrito

I have been on a homemade Chipotle burrito kick lately...and it prompted me to write about one of my favorite teenage memories. I hope you enjoy!

It was back in the 70s and life was good. My best friend, Mary and I were joined at the hip. We did almost everything together. We sunbathed on rooftops, sang together in school and church, and shared our lunch hour most every school day.

One particular day, we decided to walk to one of the neighboring grade schools to eat. In those days, we had an open lunch hour—no cafeteria—so if you didn’t bring a lunch, you ate wherever your dollar bill would take you.

After walking several blocks to the school, we quickly went through the food line, found a couple of seats across from each other and plopped down with our food trays. The menu for the day was tasty burritos.

As we began to eat, we giggled and chatted in between bites about our cute hair and upcoming weekend plans—not paying much attention to anyone around us.

Not long after we had seated, a distinguished business man in a suit and tie sat down beside my friend. He offered no smiles or acknowledgements as he joined our table, and quietly began to consume his tasty burrito. At first we thought it a little La-T-Da! We exchanged mirrored smirks, but eventually shrugged off his disinterest and returned to our burritos and giggly-girl conversation.

Mary picked up her fork and proceeded to cut into the last half of her burrito. As soon as she took a stab at the little rascal, the burrito instantly jetted from her fork tines, soared with airborne momentum into a perfect sequence of rotation flips, landing effortlessly below her.

In disbelief of what had happened, Mary did a double-take—looking down to her side and then back across the table at me. Her eyes were wide as her hand nonchalantly cupped the side of her face. She leaned toward me and mouthed, My burrito landed on his leg!

I stifled a gasp and my eyes slowly glanced across the table at the man in the suit. He had finished his lunch and was now sitting comfortably reading a newspaper. The soaring burrito had not fazed him.

Mary frantically found my eyes once again and mouthed, What should I do? I mouthed back, Go get it! From her facial expression, it was obvious that was not the answer she wanted to hear.

As my friend’s hand slowly went to her side and reached toward the burrito, her head remained facing me; only her eyes followed her slight hand movement. I watched the man in the suit cautiously for any abrupt reaction. After a few long and agonizing seconds, Mary’s hand surfaced to the table. The burrito was wrapped safely in a napkin and the man in the suit miraculously hadn’t budged an inch. Success!

Mary and I couldn’t get out of the cafeteria fast enough. As soon as we hit the pavement we exploded with laughter—our giggles carrying us all the way back to school.

To this day, the burrito story is one of my favorite memories with my friend.

Proverbs 31:25 says: “She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.”

Life can be exhausting, but sometimes all it takes is a bit of laughter to lighten the load and refresh your weary day. And I believe God enjoys hearing His adored people let out a good belly laugh now and then. Even if it’s from the tip of a fork tine!

So go ahead…laugh. It may be provide the strength needed to carry you along your own personal journey.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Picture Barbies

Growing up, my childhood was fairly simple and carefree. As in most families, we had the basics of life: clothing, food, shelter…pretty much the necessities. But there was one thing my sister and I longed for early in our childhood that wasn’t on the “necessity” list.

Barbies. Yes, good old-fashioned Barbie dolls.

So not to be disappointed, my sister, Annette and I used our creativity by doing what we thought most 6 and 8 year olds would do. We used our older sister, Becci’s, friends’ school pictures as our “Barbie” dolls. Besides, what else were those little 3x4 black and whites good for, right?

Becci had loads of beautiful girlfriends, so we always had our choice of fashionable pretend Barbies. But in the male “Ken” department…the 3x4 pick of what we called handsome was desperately lacking. There was one picture in particular that was awkwardly squirrelly. And being the youngest, I always ended up with Mr. Squirrely as my “Ken” doll. But all-in-all, it was great fun.

Well, time passed, and it wasn’t long before Mom purchased us “real” Barbies. My sister and I were so excited. Even though we enjoyed our pretend dolls, we didn’t hesitate tossing the 3x4s to the side for the real thing. Especially Mr. Squirrely, in exchange for a handsome Ken doll!

Have you ever pretended, like me, about something you wanted differently in your life? I would imagine most of us have at one time or another.

But the great thing is, we have a God who loves us and desires to give us THE real thing—peace, compassion, joy…and so much more. He always has something better.

So whether it be a 3x4 picture Barbie—even a Mr. Squirrely—let me assure you, nothing can take the place of the Real Thing. And it begins with a relationship with Him.