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Super-Sized Blessings.

March 15th, 2015 by stephanie

super-size meWe live in a culture, at least in 1st world countries, where you can pull your car up, order a super-sized option, and drive away with what you requested, immediately meeting your wants…(forget your needs). It’s all about gratification. We can upgrade (or trade-in) most anything these days at any time. And we’re used to that. We expect it and we’re, in all honesty, a bit cocky about it—getting our way on demand, that is.

But have you ever found yourself in a place where you weren’t getting what you want. Perhaps, you woke up one morning only to find that what you once loved, or cared for, had been stripped away. Never to be seen, or heard from, again?

That’s what happened to Job.

He was minding his own business, and then in one day, he lost everything. Gone. Without a trace. And no explanation, or “word” from the Lord on the matter. Just silence…and deep pain. Clueless as to the grand master plan that was going on in the super natural world behind the scenes, as beautifully played out, in Chapter 1 of the book that boasts his name.

Job’s “godly” friends sat around him, waxing eloquent, trying to explain to him why this had happened to him and what he’d done to bring it all upon himself.  And too, what he needed to do to fix it and how he needed to handle himself while going through this horrific ordeal. (So easy to tell someone how to feel or what to do when we aren’t the one hurting.)

Funny how those “words of wisdom” didn’t take away Job’s agony. They only made it worse.

One thing I hadn’t noticed before in the last chapter was a particular verse (Job 42:10). Not sure how I have missed that my whole life, but here it is…

When Job prayed for his friends, the Lord restored his fortunes.

In fact, the Lord gave him twice as much as before.

Job 42:10

Did you catch that, when Job prayed for his “friends”…yep, the ones who criticized him while he was down and out, the ones who abandoned him in his time of need, who didn’t want to deal with his mess…those “friends.” I honestly don’t know how he did it. But yet, I do.

God and Job had just had a little…no big, “Come to Jesus meeting” as they say here in the South…and Job had nothing left. Remember, in fairness, God never let Job in on the “By the way, I threw you to the proverbial lion,” scenario. But, Job realized who God was after that chat, he saw his own humanness, and had one of those, “I got nuthin’ ” moments.

God also chewed out those “friends” of Job’s and let them have it as well.

Perhaps, when Job saw that, maybe that is when he prayed for them. Interesting. I guess at that moment, they were all on the same playing field. No one of them was any “better” or “godlier” than the other. They were on one side of God, and He was on His throne—staring back at all of them. A bit disconcerting I might add.

Anyway, after that, God super-sized Job’s blessings. I don’t recall Job even placing an order? But he got one. And it was a whopper (pun intended). Everything he’d ever once owned, or had, was doubled. If you look close, you’ll see that he even lived an extra 140 years after the fact so that he was given time to enjoy it all.

Now that’s a cool story.

If you’re in a tough spot in life and can’t figure out “why” (or know someone who is) perhaps take a moment to look at the first and last chapters of Job.  It might shed some light on the situation, or if even for a bit, bring some fresh perspective to the matter—to all parties involved. Jus’ sayin’.

🙂

Just my thoughts,

S.

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The Story of D-Day. May We Remember Well.

June 3rd, 2013 by stephanie

On June 6 we will remember…

Sitting in a hotel room that lay on the coast of England, allied commander Eisenhower knew that a small window of opportunity was all that he had with which to work. Weather was terrible. But if it broke, as they had been notified it might, 150,000 Allied soldiers would be deployed to land on the shores of Normandy.

The General’s 5000-vessel armada stretched as far as the eye could see. Over 150,000 men and nearly 30,000 vehicles were now making their way across the channel to France.
There were:

  • Six parachute regiments with over 13,000 men. These guys were flown from nine British airfields in over 800 planes.
  • More than 300 planes dropped 13,000 bombs over coastal Normandy before they got there to prepare the way.
  • Paratroopers would drop at 1am. But, would the weather hold? At a height of only 300 feet, in complete darkness, they would have think and move fast!
  • Men in PT boats were racing towards the shore as well. Many would get close. Some would fall short. As soldiers poured out into the waters, the 70 pound packs would sink and drown many who thought the sand lay directly beneath their feet.

By nightfall, more than 9,000 Allied soldiers would be dead or wounded, but… more than 100,000 would make it ashore! They would manage to secure French coastal villages previously held hostage by Hitler’s regime.

These were depression-era kids. Teens really. The scrappy boys that had learned to make it on their own. Those innate tricks of survival that only come through hard times. Could there have been any better training ground to prepare them for the day ahead? Horrible conditions, impossible orders, and a ruthless world tyrant to boot. Truly, an awesome task.

Survivors and those wishing to remember will gather once again on those French beaches. To honor. To think. It will be a very solemn day.

May we remember, as well.

S.

Keep Moving Forward.

April 21st, 2013 by stephanie

Our country experienced some great losses this week. The Boston Marathon. The explosion in West Texas. Great loss. Leading to great pain. And the temptation to freeze, give up, do nothing…

I remember a conversation a few years back with a colleague. They had lost a person. Not through death. They simply were no longer a part of their life. At times like these, it’s easy to question everything you feel and believe. At least I have a tendency to do so.
Interestingly, a message came across my desk that read like this: Don’t try to open a closed door. Just leave it alone.
So hard. We don’t want to hear that. We try to fix the door. Or get it unstuck. Or…something! We argue with God, and question, and argue some more. Needless to say, the door, many times, does not re-open.

Maybe it’s a job, a friend, a family member…

There’s a verse that comes to mind.

Do not call to mind the former things,
Or ponder things of the past.
(Is. 43:18 NAS)

a more modern translation says it like this:

Forget about what’s happened;
don’t keep going over old history.
(The Message)

If we’re honest, most of us would admit that we struggle to let go of “what was”. Whether it’s our past or someone else’s. Sometimes, it’s just simply hard to move on. Perhaps it’s a grudge or a personal grievance that we feel quite justified in holding. Whatever the case, there is one piece of advice I think you’ll agree is good to not only hear, but to adhere. It goes like this: KEEP MOVING FORWARD.

Basically, let go of what was or whatever is holding you back and keep moving. Just because our path takes a detour doesn’t mean we should read it as a STOP sign. Keep moving. I know you’ll be glad you did.

Just my thoughts,
S.

Reboots, Reflections and Resolves.

December 27th, 2012 by stephanie

We will now spend this week watching TV recaps of 2012 and hearing about New Year Resolutions. Shows and commentators will play out the best of this, worst of that, the most memorable moments of celebrities, politics, sports and more. But for each of us personally, it will be a time to reboot our lives. A chance to reflect on what we would like to change for the New Year, and to find the resolve to make those dreams come true.

If you’re anything like me, letting go of the past and moving forward can be tough. As much as I would like to think I do it without much effort, at times I struggle. I have a really good memory. Especially if things have not worked out the way I thought they should, or if someone has done me wrong, or been unkind. I am not proud of that characteristic, but I would be lying to you if I did not admit that part of my humanity. Sometimes, things for me just die hard. But I am working on it. And I think I am making improvements!

Maybe for you the new year holds a new normal or a life transition or change. Perhaps it is the reality of letting go of something near and very dear to your heart. Maybe it’s something that simply needs to go away from your world as you know it.

Think of it this way. There are certain things in life that we just cannot understand and other things that we will not be able change. Like a spouse who has left, or a child who has died unexpectedly, or perhaps a disease that refuses to be cured. At those times, it’s best to stop trying so hard to fix things or figure them out, and just let things be.

Maybe you were hoping for a situation to be resolved or a prayer request to be answered before midnight on December 31 — but the solution or the answer has not yet come. You fear that the chimes from the clock tower will ring then come and go like the fireworks. And as you seek your resolution, once the smoke clears, you will find yourself, alone, left in the fog to carry on in 2013. Maybe, privately, you question God.

Thank goodness God does not answer our prayers because we have been good little boys and girls. It would be a terrible shame if He worked off of a naughty or nice list. If He did, it wouldn’t be grace at work. And His sacrifice for us at the cross would have been in vain.

God works in His time. In His way. And, fortunately, in His wisdom. He doesn’t decide if I am worthy or not of the requests and prayers I make. Best of all, He doesn’t hang on to my past either. He lets it go. I am so grateful that God truly moves on even if I can’t.

If you’re feeling that God is so far out of reach or that the angelic operators have placed your calls on eternal hold, I pray that you will look to the heavens with palms up and say, “O.K. I don’t get it, but since you are everywhere and can see everything…though this is not clear to me, I choose to believe that 1) You know what is going to happen in this situation and, 2) that You, and You alone, can handle this and take care of me.”

Let’s commit to remember together that He is not only the Lord of the past, He is the Lord of the present and the future. Our future. And with that, let’s reboot our mindset, reflect on positive adjustments that can be made, and then, resolve to make this the best year…ever.

Hugs and Happy New Year.

Stephanie
Phillipians 3:13

It’s Patriot Day. But did you know this?

September 11th, 2012 by stephanie

There’s a story I never tire of hearing about. But it may be a bit new to many of you. A tiny town came to America’s rescue on one of it’s darkest days. More here…

When Americans hear the words “New Foundland”, we usually think of the breed of dog that bears it’s name. But a small community on this Canadian island to the north of our American border played a major role on 9/11 that most folks don’t know about.

As you may remember, every American plane was grounded that day. All International flights were diverted to Canada. Pilots recall seeing planes do complete 180s in airspace in order to return to their European destinations. Air Control Central sent tons of planes to the tiny colony of Gander, New Foundland. Pilots concerned that their flights might contain terrorists, told passengers they needed to land due to mechanical problems. Gander was only prepared for their usual 8 flights. Instead, 38 jumbo jets with 200 people on each plane landed that day. Gander landed 167 planes in all without incident. The 10,000 residents suddenly found themselves sheltering and feeding thousands of unexpected guests. Most passengers had no idea where they even were.

Ironically, Gander was an airport before it was a town. During WWII it was a take off place for our American military. (Not built to house Jumbo jets, it sat rather silent until 9/11/01.)

In a matter of hours, Gander doubled their population that day. The only vehicles that could be found to transport the new guests were school buses. As luck would have it, the bus drivers were on strike! Without a thought, that afternoon, each driver showed up and did what was needed.

No one was allowed off of the planes until each and every passenger was processed. Basically, checking for terrorists. Passengers weren’t allowed to retrieve their luggage due to safety reasons. Some sat on places for 19 hours not really knowing what was going on in the outside world.

It wasn’t until 30 hours later that the passengers got their first look at the footage and the photos of the devastation. New York fire fighter Kevin O’Rourke’s parents were on one of those places that landed in Gander. Praying their son wasn’t working that day. Unfortunately, he was. Beulah Cooper, also the mother of a firefighter, but from Gander, did what she could do befriend the grieving mother. Sadly, the O’Rourke’s would soon learn that their son, of Rescue 2, was one of the brave first responders.

What is hard to believe, but what is truth, is that good things happened that day too.

Residents threw together home cooked meals to feed their new friends. But there just wasn’t enough food on hand to feed the stranded masses. So, it was hauled in from other areas and stored on the town’s ice rink. Which was quickly dubbed the world’s largest refrigerator.

Pharmacies, worked day and night, filling all prescriptions at no cost. People were sent into stores and were told to take what they needed off the shelves.

An oil man from England noticed a woman from Houston sitting on one of the Army cots their group was living on. Something inside told him that day that she would be the woman in his future. And so, it was to be. When the entire ordeal was over, he returned to England, requested a transfer to his company’s Houston office, and they were married a year later.

U.S. Airspace reopened on 9/13. And the passengers were allowed to return home. One passenger, once the groups were finally airborne, asked to make an announcement. She suggested the plane take up donations and create a scholarship fund for the children of Gander where they had lived during their unexpected detour. It is now up to one million dollars!

Though many lost faith in humanity that fateful day, our Northern neighbors proved that good can still be found–in the most unexpected places. We should look for that in the dark times. It’s not easy, but this wonderful story may be a helpful reminder to you this weekend…as we look back and remember.

Just my thoughts,
S.

More here. http://www.cbc.ca/canada/newfoundland-labrador/story/2009/09/17/brokaw-newfoundland.html?ref=rss

Betrayed by “Braveheart”.

August 8th, 2012 by stephanie

If you haven’t seen the movie Braveheart, with Mel Gibson, you should. It’s just plain great. And, it’s even more powerful knowing it’s based on a true story. One famous clip from the film has become quite popular. William Wallace is rallying the troops, preparing the men for the battle of their lives. He races up and down the line on his white horse, fist raised, crying out that this moment could change the entire face of history. They only have to be willing to lay down their lives, for him, and for their beloved country, Scotland.

The inner circle of men, that became his personal band of brothers, remind me of a group known as “The 30” or David’s Mighty Men. I didn’t grow up knowing about them, but they were right there in front of me all along, buried deep within the Old Testament. (See 1 Chronicles 11 and also in 2 Samuel 23). These guys were definitely some of the original super heroes. They truly had the Jason Bourne kinda-thing goin’ on.

These ancient roughians had gathered to David early on while he was being chased down by King Saul. And by the time David was finally seated on the throne, these war torn heroes had been together through thick and thin.

What I didn’t notice, until recently, was one name buried within this special list of warriors. You may recognize it: Uriah the Hittite. Yes, the man who was married to Bathsheba. The woman that David slept with, and well, as they say, the rest is history.

We can’t begin to imagine what raced through Uriah’s mind the day he was ordered to step to the front line. As a professional soldier, and leader, he knew what it meant. “But, why?” Perhaps someone broke rank and shared the secret just before his demise. We’ll never know. Whatever the case, he was loyal and brave to the end possibly never knowing what evil had actually placed him there. We’ll never know. Knowing this tidbit, however, gives the story a fresh and stronger sting.

Now, when we see in 2 Samuel 11 how Uriah refused to go to the comfort of his home and to his wife (while his band of brothers were out in the battlefield) choosing instead to sleep on the steps of the palace regardless of David’s frantic urgings, we find ourselves a bit more angered. This noble, loyal brother was true to the core, and we watch as he is very wrongly led to his ultimate betrayal.

Perhaps you too have experienced a similar event. Maybe from within your own ranks. Perhaps you didn’t fully understand what was transpiring until all the damage was done, and the bitter end was staring back at you. Whatever the case, it may be of interest to you to fully hear and see that you are not alone. You were not the first, and you definitely won’t be the last.

Know this too: Wrongs do not go unpunished. Such was also the case in this tragic story. David and Bathsheba watched the baby born of that incident, sadly, die. And the King himself knew exactly the reason as to “Why?”

Take heart, knowing, that God sees you where you are. He hears your heart’s cry. And, he is with you in this journey.

Stand strong to the end. There truly is a place called “the other side”. And you will not only get there, you will find peace when you arrive.

Just my thoughts,
S.
PS: Called on the carpet. Here.

Easing My Way…after Sweet Baby J.

April 26th, 2012 by stephanie

As the text and Facebook messages rolled in, I was not only touched, I was blown away by the compassion and concern and the prayers. I found myself responding to their “How are you doing?” inquiries with, “I’m just easing my way into my new normal.” They seemed to understand. And it meant a lot to me that they did.

I mean, after all, to some folks, (I can only imagine) they were probably thinking, “Gosh, it’s just a dog!” But to me, my Judgers, The Judge, Sweet Baby J, had been in my home for a third of my life! I had never been in this current house without him. And I had only slept there two or three nights total without him by my side. Nights when I couldn’t get to the kennel in time after a late flight home.

The days I had with my furry friend meant more than I could ever express in words. I pondered. I would never see his face at the french doors waiting for me again, the curtains swishing back and forth due to the movement of his happy body upon seeing me drive in. I would never hear that sweet bark that announced to the neighborhood, “She’s home!!!!!” Now, when I reach to turn out the light, he is no longer stretched out along the floor by my bed or curled up on his big pillow. When I awake, he’s not there to yawn and greet me (before we both stumbled down the hall and into the kitchen). The hardest part has been not having him by my side during my morning coffee and prayer time. Each morning when I hit that particular line in my prayer book, I’d reach over, grab his tail and pray out loud, “and health, healing and long life to The J.” I guess my prayers were answered…he did after all make it to 13 years and 9 months. Not bad for a 100 pound dog. But never long enough to a pet owner.

In a way, I guess it’s a small connection to what it must have been like for the disciples when Jesus finally left them. Once and for all. It was never how they expected it to end. They were all too young! How could this have happened?! While in shock, they found themselves having to navigate, or better yet, ease their way into their “new normal”. When you’ve been through a tragedy, or experience pain or loss, it just takes some time.

Interestingly, Jesus didn’t give The 12 that much time to make the transition. They were actually up and running pretty fast. We’ll hear more about that in the days ahead. Stay tuned.
In the meantime, just know that I personally am easing my way…after Sweet Baby J.
Hugs,
S.

One Year Ago…and then some.

May 3rd, 2011 by stephanie

For those of you that watch the Weather Channel, you were quite aware, no matter what part of the country you live in, that during the first weekend in May 2010, Nashville recieved 3 months of rain in a 48 hour period. DownTown Flood

I will never forget turning on the TV that Sunday afternoon, only to see the subdivision where one of my single gal friends lives. All one could see was the roof tops of her condominiums surrounded by water! Little red islands in a sea of brown. I was horrified. I kept flipping the channels while saying out loud, “This can’t be right.” I placed a few frantic calls to her — but no answer.

When I did finally hear from her the next day, the worst was confirmed. She had fled her condo. Her car was a complete loss, and so was the entire first floor of her home. I was in shock. “It happened so fast!” were the words one heard repeatedly all over Nashville.

It’s a year later, but last week, our southern states were hit–again. This time by horrific tornados. 190 of them in one 24-hour period alone. I hardly know one person who isn’t connected in some way to the tragedy and the loss. It’s been a very odd time when one looks back at last year, and now faces the devastation of this past week too.

Yet, we have to remind ourselves, these situations are not new. Those of us in Nashville are now on the other end of the experience. Yes. It was tough. But we are still here. And we are OK. I believe the same for the folks in the Alabama and the surrounding regions. This is a difficult time. But they will come through this. They will survive. And they will come out of this strong.

Let’s keep them in our prayers at this time.
Just my thoughts,
S.

Does the Butterfly Bring Us a Message?

July 24th, 2010 by stephanie

A few weeks ago I was sitting in a glass lobby and noticed a butterfly alight on the door outside. I can’t say as I have seen that happen before. Or, if I had, not sure why this particular occasion stuck with me. A week later, as I was pulling up to a stop light, I noticed a butterfly land on the passenger side window. Again, I took notice. Since then, I have had numerous other butterfly sitings. So, I knew it was time to pull out the laptop. Perhaps it was simply Butterfly season?

As many of you may already know, the butterfly is quite symbolic to many peoples and cutltures. Apparently, the Mandarin Chinese say the insect symbolizes long life. 70 years, actually. They also feel it is telling of young men in love.

The Japanese see it as a sign for young maidens and marital bliss.

In Germany, butterflies having once hovered around the butter churn became known as “stealers of the cream”.

Greeks saw the butterfly as a symbol of the soul. They even considered white butterflies as the souls of those who had passed away and gone on to the great beyond.

In Western culture, the creature has become a symbol of Freedom.

According to a Blackfoot Indian, the butterfly brings us our dreams. A tribal member might say after the fire burns low and the people began to make up their beds about the lodge, ‘Well, let us go to bed and see what news the butterfly will bring?” Interestingly, The Native American Indians also use a cross, similar to a Maltese cross, as a sign for the butterfly.

Which brings us to the topic of the butterfly and its connection to the Resurrection in the Christian realm. I was surprised to learn that butterflies were actually engraved in the stones of many a Christian’s tomb centuries ago. A sign that the person who had, having died and entered the tomb, had now departed their earthly cocoon only to have experienced release into life eternal.

Regardless of your particular thoughts on butterflies, one thing we can all agree on is that they truly symbolize change. A massive transition. From an, earthbound groveling worm to a free-flying, creature of beauty.

In truth? I’d love to think something wonderful is heading my way. But for now, it’s enough to be reminded of the freedom I do cherish and enjoy. Both here on my native soil and the freedom that I will someday enjoy in heaven above.

Just my thoughts. Yours?
S.

JUNE 6. D-DAY. May we never forget.

June 6th, 2010 by stephanie

Back by request. May we remember…

Sitting in a hotel room that lay on the coast of England, the allied commander, known as Eisenhower, knew that a small window of opportunity was all that he had with which to work. Weather was terrible. But if it broke, as they had been notified it might, 150,000 Allied soldiers would be deployed to land on the shores of Normandy.

“An invading army had not crossed the unpredictable, dangerous English Channel since 1688 — and once the massive force set out, there was no turning back. The 5000-vessel armada stretched as far as the eye could see, transporting over 150,000 men and nearly 30,000 vehicles across the channel to the French beaches. Six parachute regiments — over 13,000 men — were flown from nine British airfields in over 800 planes. More than 300 planes dropped 13,000 bombs over coastal Normandy immediately in advance of the invasion.” (http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/dday/sfeature/sf_info.html)

Paratroopers would drop at 1am. Would the weather hold? At a height of only 300 feet. In the dark. The wet. Think fast.

Men in PT boats would race toward shore. Many would get close. Some would fall short. As soldiers poured out, the 70 pound packs would sink and drown many who thought the sand lay directly beneath.

By nightfall, more than 9,000 Allied soldiers would be dead or wounded, but more than 100,000 would make it ashore, securing French coastal villages previously held hostage by Hitler’s regime.

These were depression kids. The scrappy boys that had learned to make it on their own. Those innate tricks of survival. Could there be a better training ground to prepare them for the impossible? Amidst perilous conditions? And a ruthless world tyrant to boot? Truly, a fearful task.

Those who made it through the depression learned to have a great deal of resilience and learned how to make due with what they had or could find. Older men today, if you spend time with them, are proof still that people back then were able to make the most amazing things our of the littlest stuff. What they were able to come up with was nothing short of impressive. No wonder we call them The Greatest Generation. Shaped by The Great Depression

One vet, Jim Norene, a member of the 502nd Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division, had come alone for one last anniversary, despite having stage-four advanced cancer. Though gravely ill, he was determined to make it back to France for the 65th anniversary of D-Day. Just one more time. After he landed (in a fashion much different then his first landing), he was able to visit the American cemetery the evening before Saturday’s ceremony. Jim never made it to the ceremony, that night, he passed away in his sleep.

This man, who returned to remember and honor his buddies would not have wanted it any other way. How poignant that he was able to return to the same shores where he and his pals had said good bye only to have the ironic privilege of rejoining them from the same soil that had prematurely taken their very young lives. Now, this ailing veteran and his band of brothers could truly rest in peace. Together.

May we remember.

S.

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