Krispy Kremes and other miracles

Today, I just want to thank God for Krispy Kremes. You may think I jest, but I’m serious! I think He knew how much happiness they could bring when someone first thought of them. The Bible says God gives good gifts to His kids, so there you go.

September 29th is National Coffee Day, and I treated myself to the free doughnut and coffee Krispy Kreme was giving away. Wow! Was that good! It’s been a while since I had a real old-fashioned glazed yeast doughnut, and I enjoyed it, down to the last little bit of flaked off glaze. (If you’ve ever had a Krispy Kreme doughnut, you know what I’m talking about!)

Eating that doughnut brought back some of the best memories I have from my childhood.

I grew up, the youngest child of a large family, in a tiny town in southside Virginia.

Here’s a somewhat recent picture of me and my siblings, all but my sister Becky.

Our town was so small, it had no stoplights at all. In fact, I think there may have been just one traffic light in our entire county, and it was a flashing light meant to slow you down. We had one public high school and a middle school, known as the junior high — just one of each for the whole county. My graduating class had about 150 students. All this is just to let you know the place where I grew up.

When I was still in elementary, my teenage brother and sisters would always be raising money for something – usually band uniforms or class trips. Sometimes they would come home with about a thousand candy bars they were supposed to sell. They sold most of them on the bus ride to and from school and many of the rest to the members of our little country church. We usually ended up spending a good portion of our allowance to buy some goodies for ourselves, too.

My favorite fundraisers were the ones where they sold Krispy Kreme doughnuts. “How did this work?” you may ask.

Being from a tiny town in the middle of nowhere, we had no fast food to speak of. As far as I can remember, the only place nearby was Tastee Freeze, which was the small town version of Dairy Queen.

So for the annual fundraiser, the band took orders for dozens of Krispy Kreme doughnuts. They collected orders for weeks. Then, on the appointed day, someone would drive to Richmond, I think, and fill up a van with the boxes of golden goodness. The goodies were handed out to the students for distribution as soon as the van arrived back at the school. I think the band charged twice what they paid for them, and so they made a tidy little profit for their cause.

Although we had a tight budget, our family would buy several boxes of Krispy Kremes and store them in our big freezer. We would open one box the very day they arrived, but we saved the rest for some time in the future. On those glorious winter days when we would finally pull out a dozen doughnuts, we would revel in the lovely smell of warm sugar as my dad heated up the frozen ovals in the oven. Even after spending weeks or months in the freezer, those pastries tasted amazingly delicious.

We called this “having a treat.” You know, like “Trick or Treat.” And it was a treat in the real sense of the word because we did not have them everyday. They were special.

Sometimes I wonder if our kids, kids that grow up with so much  — of everything, will remember anything as special. Is Halloween candy really a treat when kids can get it any time they go to the store?

I’m sure our parents thought the same thing about things like driving a car, seeing a movie, making a telephone call, or maybe even going to college. Is it still special when it is so easily accessible?

I really don’t know. I hope so! I hope that each generation has something special to remember from childhood and something exciting to look forward to in the future. I pray each day for God to open my eyes to the beauty of that day. Everyday is a miracle. Oh, yes, it is! Life is a miracle. Just to be here to taste the sweetness, to hear the birds and the waves, to see the sunrise and sunset, to feel the breeze and the rain on my face.

So today, I just want to thank God for Krispy Kreme doughnuts.

 

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And Just a Little Bit More

Mel and I have two sons. A couple weeks ago, we took them both to college. My older son, Nathan, is a senior this year, and my younger son, David, is a freshman. So, this begins our first year with them both out of the house. They are attending the same university, about an hour’s drive away.

 

Blogger’s note: there was a long, long pause between the last paragraph and this one, as I exhaled deeply, feeling the space between me and my boys. Yes, it was a long, silent pause and an exhale, but there were no tears this time. I’m making it through the hard transition from home full of lovely, lively, busy noise and to home filled with a peaceful silence.

We moved the guys over on a Thursday because David’s freshman orientation was to begin that evening. We moved Nathan in that day as well since he and David are rooming together. The school cafeteria was open, but the “free” meals were only for freshmen orientation students. Nathan’s paid meal plan would not start until sometime on Sunday, so he was on his own for meals for two and a half days.

The first night’s meal was covered. Nathan was invited to eat dinner with his former roommate, Keith, and Keith’s lovely wife, Michaela. A free home-cooked meal — there was no way he was turning down that offer!

Breakfasts were good for him. We bought Nathan a coffee maker his freshman year. He usually has a ready supply of protein bars to snack on between meals. But what would he do about the other four or five meals? What inexpensive way could he deal with that?

Nathan had decided to have lunch or dinner on Friday at the local Chinese take-out place. We’ve eaten there on some of our visits, and the food is really good, cheap and the entrees large enough to take home sizable leftovers. He could store the extra in his mini-fridge for another meal.

So after Mel and I helped the guys move in, we offered to go by Walmart for those few last minute items people always need. I asked the guys to make me a list.
Here it is:

– shower curtain, any color but clear
– hooks for the shower curtain
– black duct tape (to reattach veneer to the desks and shelves)
– extra long IEEE cable (for their electronic connections)
– peanut butter
– bread
– vanilla caramel creamer
– milk

These are the items they requested. Nathan was sure the peanut butter and bread would be plenty to fill the gaps between the breakfast coffee and snack bars, the leftover Chinese food and the “caf” meals that would start on Sunday. Mama was not so sure.

So, I added these items to the cart:

– grapes
– Gouda cheese
– honey ham slices
– a shower mat

I would really have liked to add more, but the mini-fridge is quite miniature.

Anyway, I love my sons, and I want the best for them. So I gave them what they asked for and a little bit more.

For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.
John 3:16 NLT

We have a heavenly Father who loves us enough to pay the price for our sin by His own son’s death, to make a way for us — the Way for us — to come home to Him. And if He loves us that much, wouldn’t He also give us every good thing we need?

Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else?
Romans 8:32 NLT

My sons only had to ask, and we gladly picked up the few things on their list. But we also added in a few things we knew they needed and would enjoy having.

 

Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.
Ephesians 3:30 NLT

 

That’s how God is, too. Only He is able to go far beyond giving us just a little bit more. He is able to do exceedingly abundantly more than we can ask or even imagine!

He is the Prodigal God.

So ask Him for what you need. And don’t be too surprised when He gives you more than you asked or even imagined!

 

Remembering my father’s love

This has been a particularly hard week for me and my husband. We just took both our boys — I guess I should really say young men– to college. My older son is in his senior year, my younger in his freshman year. They are going to the same school and rooming together. This is a blessing and a . . . challenge. God will grow us all this year in more ways than we can imagine!

As many of us do, I find myself drawn to pray and pray hard during times like this. It seems that times of joy always include some fragments of sadness — weddings, births, graduations, first jobs, friendships, and the list goes on. And I would add, when you love deeply, you open yourself up to also hurt deeply, or be hurt deeply, or feel great pain or sorrow. There are so many verses that speak to this, but the one that comes to my mind right now is this one:

There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
John 15:13 NLT

So, I am HAPPY for my sons as they start this new year at college, this next step in their life journeys. But I am also sad that this is the next step in their leaving our home to start their own lives, separate from us.

Another verse comes to mind, and after I share it, I promise I will quit my pity party!

The LORD is close to the brokenhearted;
he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.
Psalm 34:18 NLT

I’m not sure why, but my dad has been in my thoughts a lot lately. A little background — I’m the youngest child of 8, and my father was 36 when he married my mama. SO needless to say, my dad was always old to me. He was not a perfect man, but he loved Jesus and he loved our family very much. He did not always have the answers I wanted, but he would have given his life for God or for any of us if we needed him to. Of these two things, I have no doubt.

When I was little, I had long blonde hair. In the winter, I would go out to play in the yard or in the woods behind our house, and return hours later with my hairs in knots from the hood of my coat creating havoc. Mama called them “rats’ nests.”

Being the mother of 8, Mama had little time to sit down and get the knots out of my hair. She was busy cooking, and cleaning, and sewing our clothes, and caring for the poor in our community, and taking care of my Grandma who lived with us. My father was a pastor, so he was also busy, but he seemed to have more free time in the evening than Mama did. So he would frequently be the one to comb out the knots in my hair.

Daddy would sit down in our green vinyl living room chair, and I would sit on the floor in front of him. He would take a brush and a comb and alternate slowly sliding them through my hair, starting at the ends and working his way up the length of my hair. Brush, comb, brush, comb, brush, comb — and on and on it went for what seemed like hours. He never seemed in a hurry to finish, and he worked on my hair until it was smooth again. Because he was so gentle and thorough, I always asked him to comb out the knots. And he always did it with a smile. What a wonderful memory for me of my daddy’s love.

I think our God is like that, a good father. We can bring our problems to him, like my hair that was so knotted up I thought I would have to cut it off to get rid of the rats’ nests. And our God, our loving Father God, will take our knotted up lives and work through them patiently, thoroughly until all the tangles are smooth. And He will do that with a smile on His face because He loves us beyond measure.

 

New year, new heart!

Hey, y’all!

Just wanted to share another song that’s got me smiling — and crying, depending on the day!

It’s “Tell Your Heart to Beat Again,” sung by Danny Gokey. I’ve been hearing it on the radio and looked it up on Youtube. I found this video where he explains the story behind the writing of the song. And now, I love the song even more!

As you know if you read my blog regularly, I’ve had some serious health issues in the recent past. A year ago, my brother also went through some life-threatening medical issues, some of which were related to his heart. So when I heard the story of this lady whose heart was repaired, I immediately thought of my brother.

When you’ve been through a hard thing, sometimes it is difficult to move forward and allow yourself to heal. We tend to sit there in the ashes of that hard thing, and relive it and relive it, and it prevents us from moving on and growing.

Our loving heavenly Father brings the healing…

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.
Isaiah 43:2 NIV

and He tells us He will not leave us or forsake us,

The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”
Deuteronomy 31:8

…we need to tell our heart to beat again. He has already fixed it — now we need to let it live again.

“Yesterday’s a closing door. We don’t live there anymore!” Praise God!

 

 

 

New Year – He makes all things New.

Hello, there! Is anyone still out there? If you’re still listening (or reading), I have a few things to tell you.

Today I went back to my exercise class for the first time this year. I am in a lovely jazzercise style class called Body and Soul. We dance and do crunches and a bit of weight training to music that is “positive and encouraging.” The music is my favorite part. It wakes me up and gets my spirit in gear and headed in the right direction!

I do my crunches in a chair — it’s still a bit hard for me to do “floor work” on the floor. It has to do with my balance.

So this morning I was doing my crunches and bum stretches at the end of the workout when I noticed a foul odor. It smelled like dog poo. As I leaned into the stretch, I realized the odor was coming from the soul of my shoe. This has happened before. My first thought was, “Wow, that smells bad!” My second quickly followed. “I hope no onethinks it’s me!”

Can anyone relate?

This reminded me of my birthday last week. That morning had started out really sweet until I walked into the master bathroom just in time to hear my husband say, “The toilet is acting weird again.” Sometimes it doesn’t want to flush completely. This was one of those times.

I quickly asked my husband not to flush again until I used a coat hanger to clear out the clog. Alas, I was too late. Flush he did, and the toilet did overflow.

ON. MY. BIRTHDAY.

What? Really, God? Today? Of all days, TODAY you want me to deal with an overflowing toilet.

Oh, and I had walked into the bathroom in my pajamas and socks. Socks — yes, now they were soggy socks.

Dramatic eye roll.

Sometimes life stinks!

I spent about 30 minutes clearing the clog, plunging and flushing over and over until the toilet finally worked correctly. THEN I spent about an hour soaking up the spillage with towels, mopping the flooring and then using disinfectant cleaner to mop again and clean the toilet inside and out.

That bathroom has never smelled so clean!

When life stinks, you have choices to make. You can feel sorry for yourself, and sit down in the stinky mess, and cry and complain about it. Or you can take off your soggy socks, roll up your pajama sleeves, and fix whatever it is that is causing the stink.

It is so easy to sit down and feel sorry for ourselves. And we do that. We love to nurse the stink or hurt or offense like we would a stubbed toe.

But what a difference it makes when we decide to take on the challenge and make positive moves to correct it. Granted, sometimes try as we may to get rid of it all, some of the stink still lingers. More time and clean up … and prayer … are required.

And the one sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new!” And then he said to me, “Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true.”  Rev. 21:5 NLT

We can clean up the stink, but Jesus makes all things new. And this is a really great thing to know as we start a new year.

I think if there are things we can fix, we should do it. Fix it, clean it up, get rid of the trash and move forward.

But. if there are things WE CAN’T FIX, we need to bring them to Jesus, give them to him, and let HIM make all things new. He can do that. He created everything in the first place. I mess things up, and sometimes I can fix things. Sometimes I can’t. Jesus can make all things new.

I cling to that as I move forward into 2016. My trust is in the Lord.

Those who live in the shelter of the Most High
    will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
 This I declare about the Lord:
He alone is my refuge, my place of safety;
    he is my God, and I trust him.

Psalm 91:1-2 NLT

 

I Know Whose I Am, and That Makes All the Difference

Just keeping it simple today.

A song has been playing over and over in my head the past few weeks. I’ve been meaning to share it.

The words are simple and hard to miss. Once you’ve heard the song, if you’re like me, you will know the words by heart. Words that ring true are like that.

I share this song with one warning: once you hear it, you will not be able to forget it. But that’s not a bad thing.

When I sing these simple truths, I cannot help myself. I am smiling by the end of the first verse, and I smile every single time I sing, “And I’m loved by You. It’s who I am — it’s who I am.”

Oh, I’ve heard a thousand stories
Of what they think You’re like
But I’ve heard the tender whisper
Of love in the dead of night
And You tell me that You’re pleased
And that I’m never alone

You’re a good good Father
It’s who You are, it’s who You are,
it’s who You are
And I’m loved by You
It’s who I am, it’s who I am,
it’s who I am

Oh, and I’ve seen many searching
For answers far and wide
But I know we’re all searching
For answers only You provide
‘Cause You know just what we need
Before we say a word

You’re a good good Father
It’s who You are, it’s who You are,
it’s who You are
And I’m loved by You
It’s who I am, it’s who I am,
it’s who I am

Cause You are perfect in all of Your ways
You are perfect in all of Your ways
You are perfect in all of Your ways to us

You are perfect in all of Your ways
Oh, You are perfect in all of Your ways
You are perfect in all of Your ways to us

Oh, it’s love so undeniable
I, I can hardly speak
Peace so unexplainable
I, I can hardly think
As You call me deeper still
As You call me deeper still
As You call me deeper still
Into love, love, love

You’re a good good Father
It’s who You are, it’s who You are, it’s who You are
And I’m loved by You
It’s who I am, it’s who I am, it’s who I am

You’re a good good Father
It’s who You are, it’s who You are, it’s who You are
And I’m loved by You
It’s who I am, it’s who I am, it’s who I am
You’re a good good Father

You are perfect in all of Your ways
You are perfect in all of Your ways
You are perfect in all of Your ways


Publishing: ©2014 WorshipTogether.com Songs / sixsteps Music / Vamos Publishing / Housefires Sounds (ASCAP) / Capitol CMG Paragon / Common Hymnal Digital / Tony Brown BMI Designee (BMI) (admin. at CapitolCMGPublishing.com)

Writer(s): Pat Barrett and Tony Brown

Amazing love — how can it be?

Have you ever had a day when you just wanted to cry?

Yes, I’m sure you have. Today is one of those days for me.

234

When I really look at why I feel like crying, I find it’s because I’m feeling sorry for myself. (Okay, I’m being really honest here.) I’m looking at the one or two or five or six hard or stinky circumstances that I’m facing, and saying, “Hey, what’s up? Why am I getting hammered this way?”

I have had several not so pleasant life events land on my plate this last week, and today I started to feel the brunt of it. Yes, driving through ridiculous traffic on my way home from picking up my son from school, I suddenly felt like crying…for myself.

That’s when I saw it.

The black SUV with all its windows covered in that white car window paint people use to write messages when someone gets married or graduates or is moving across country.

Only, the words on this car were not happy words.

Some wonderful, loving, desperate man had covered the windows of his car with a message that really did make me cry.

He is hoping someone will donate a kidney for his wife.

I have to say…that stopped me in my tracks.

Lord Jesus, please bring this man a kidney for his wife.
They need a miracle right now.

Will you pray with me?

This brings to mind a saying I have heard, and I’ll try to get it right.

“I cried because I had no shoes, until I met a man who had no feet.”

Thank you, Father, for all the gifts You send us daily. Help us not to take them, or YOU, for granted. You are the giver of every good gift.

A dear friend sent a message with the words of two scriptures that spoke to me today. I want to pass them on to you — you may need to be reminded of these truths, too.

“No weapon that is formed against you will prosper; And every tongue that accuses you in judgment you will condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, And their vindication is from Me,” declares the LORD.. Isaiah 54:17

Strength and dignity are her clothing, And she smiles at the future. She opens her mouth in wisdom, And the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
Proverbs 31:25-26

flowera

These verses are yet another gift from God that reminds me of His love and that He watches over me.

Such love fills me with an awe that overwhelms. Thank you, Jesus, for your love for each of us.

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.
John 3:16, 17