The Awakening

A couple months ago I randomly showed up to an expo with various businesses.  I stumbled upon a church’s booth, a denomination that I associated with in high school and college (I currently attended and consider myself “non-denom”).  They were giving away free coffee mugs and cookies, so I grabbed one.   I also saw they had a newsletter so I picked that up too.    I was just curious.  This denomination has a tendency to be….weird.  I wondered what they were about.

As I read through the newsletter, it was full of stuff going on at the church.  They have several very active ministries in the community and there was constantly activity with a vibrant fellowship (I saw that at the booth).  I read the Pastor’s letter and I was drawn in: in a few weeks they were going to have several services dedicated to sanctifying the church, to grow stronger in the Lord and thus be a shining beacon to the surrounding community.  Rock on, I thought.

Through my quiet time, I felt a pull from the Lord to go to these services.  It was pretty strong.  I kept checking their website, trying to see when the services were listed – mainly for the time – and it never was.  I had every intention of calling the church office, but I ended up dreaming it instead.  I dreamt I went to this church and it was really odd, the pastor in my dream was very elusive and strange and I asked him point blank what time the services started and he said 7pm.  It wasn’t that much of a stretch — most evening church services start at 7pm.  I never did call the office.  I was just going to show up at 7pm.  And that was that.

I explained to The General the best I could on why I wanted to attend these 3 nights at a random church where I knew no one and wasn’t sure what their worship style was.  I went alone, as The General is much more sensitive to religious experiences — he grew up Catholic like me — and I wanted to scope it out before I brought him into the fold.  He doesn’t mesh well with church services out of his comfort zone.

I arrived and sat towards the back.  I was greeted by several people and the pastor came up and introduced himself to me.  I miss that.  I go to a rather large church here and one-on-one time with the pastor is nearly impossible.  The church was a carbon copy physically of the church I attended in college as well as high school, down to the color of the pews.  It was comforting.  As the service started, it was pretty much what I expected it to be.  There was a lot of hand raising and expressive worship — and everyone hugs each other.  I’m a midwesterner at heart with my personal bubble, so this was a bit awkward for me.  The sermon was a guest speaker, so I didn’t hear the pastor speak, but he closed the services in prayer and his prayers were so elegant, deep, and powerful; truly a man of God.  I could feel the Holy Spirit in that church — it was really a strong presence.

After the last service, the Pastor asked me my name and my family status.  I told him I would be back.  I got home that night and The General and I talked about it.  I wanted to go the following Sunday to the morning service and think about joining this church.  I again was going to go alone, because The General had to work Sunday morning.  After talking to him about it, I decided not to.  Despite my being drawn to this church, I cannot go and make decisions like this without him present.  While this church may be perfect for me, I am not in this alone, I have The General to consider.  He did agree to attend with me one Sunday after a bit of coaxing.  Sometimes my independent streak gets the best of me.  That’s one thing I love about our marriage: I can still maintain my independence.  But on other hand, as we discussed, I can’t let my independence trump what is best for us.

So I’m not sure where this journey is headed, or what’s next, but I’m really excited on what the Lord is going to do.


Greetings from under the bed!

I am reporting to you live from under the guest bedroom bed.

The doorbell keeps ringing (incessantly at some points) and kids, with the average age being 12, keep yelling TRICK OR TREAT!  So the cats and I are camping out until all this craziness settles down once and for all!

My Halloween costume this year?  I’m a techie.  Dark skinny jeans with a tailored black t-shirt from my favorite store of all time, H&M.  I’m just a ClearCom and a flashlight short.

Not much has been going on, hence the blog silence.

Some things that have gone on….

  • I got some serious peace from the Lord concerning the “thorn in my side.”  By earthly standards, I have a snowball’s chance in hell of the tides turning in my favor, but I have relaxed in the Lord that He will somehow bring it all into fruition in His time and under His will.  How?  No idea.  My faith is being tested for sure.
  • I have recently rediscovered my all-time favorite bra type: the balconette.  Random?  Yes.  But that’s me.
  • My new boss started at work.  My co-workers and I had a lot of apprehension about her; she’s not only sweet, but fair-minded, fun, and smart.  And someone who can pull her own weight when it gets crazy.  It will be a positive change for us.
  • I’ve got to spend some awesome quality time with Miranda and Samantha.  We’ve gone to costume balls, fancy restaurants, Emergency Vets followed by dinner (puppy was okay!), and crazy conversations.  I love my girls!
  • Spent a weekend in Detroit visiting family for my sister’s wedding shower.  It was amazing and I felt I really clicked with that side of the family, so different from the years past.  I even explored some graveyards and found my great-grandmother.
  • Oh, I turned 32, somewhere in there.  I still feel like I’m 25 with 7 years experience.

I haven’t been to the beach in quite some time and I am missing the ocean.  Perhaps if there are good waves one of these days, I’ll don the wetsuit and head out to the breaks….

His Words

I love how you can read something in the Bible 100 times, but at certain moments in life, those words suddenly take on a new meaning.  That happened to me the other day.

I’ve still been struggling with anxiety, it’s better controlled that what it was, but it’s still an effort on my part to keep it in check.  It hasn’t gotten to the point where I need to seek help for it – yet – but I am willing to do that if this keeps up.

The verse came out of Proverbs 31 — you know, the passage that describes the most amazing godly woman/wife.

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

A godly woman should “laugh at the days to come.”  Why?  Because the Lord is taking care of it.  She’s not concerning herself with it because her strength and dignity come from Him.  It covers her, like clothes.  I don’t always feel very strong or dignified, and honestly, I fret at the days to come — especially at work — did I do this right?  Should I have done this instead?  What if I didn’t catch something I needed to…..blah blah blah.  It’s quite exhausting, really.  And as a Christian woman, I need to change my internal dialogue to giving it to the Lord and resting in Him.

Continuing with my German reading, I was further amused to see the German translation of this verse:

“Kraft und Schoene sind ihr Gewand, und sie lacht des kommenden Tages.”
“Power and beauty are her garb, and she laughs of the coming days.”

In English, it says she “can laugh” – like it’s a choice whether to laugh or not.  In German, it’s present tense and active: she laughs.  Sometimes German speaks so much more emotion than we can ever fit into English translations!

I also appreciated God’s Word translation:
“She dresses with strength and nobility, she smiles at the future.”

I, too, smile towards the future.  What will it bring?  God’s promises, that I’m sure of.  His plans are better than mine.  Come what may, I have the Lord to uphold me.

In the meantime, I’m going out shopping today.  I need to find some strength, dignity, power, beauty, and nobility to wear.


With My One Word for 2013 being Today (or “heute” in German), I wondered what the Lord would do with it.  I know what I want done…..but what about Him?

So far it’s been a month into the new year and I’m quickly figuring out what He means by Today:  Oh, you have that planned?  Yeah, you’re not doing that.  You’re doing {insert something completely different here}.  As someone who loves surprises, I’m all about random side adventures.  Unfortunately, sometimes, these aren’t always the fun flavor of adventures.  They have included comforting a friend, learning a prediction I made came to pass (not the happy kind), reassuring a parent that their daughter’s lab work doesn’t mean cancer, walking with someone on a road they never intended to be walking on, and having a sex talk with my Dad from a medical standpoint.  There’s been awesome stuff too like exploring downtown Fayetteville, trying out a new restaurant on a whim – Chipolte – super excited one is arriving in Wilmington soon – their veggie tacos are beyond amazing, getting to rock climb again and realize how much I miss it, reminiscing about my long past college days, showing up randomly at a panel discussion/movie, and hearing from an old friend.  It’s been quite a month.

And strangely enough, I should be exhausted.  But I’m not.  While my heart breaks for a few situations, I’m not overburdened or feeling hopelessly overwhelmed.  I truly believe it comes back to Philippians 4:19, “And my God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”  He will give me everything I need to accomplish His purposes.  Today.  Just today.  I have coffee with Jesus every morning, which has deepened my relationship with the Lord.  “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9:23)  For me, in this moment, this “cross daily” bit means not doing what I had planned – and I’m sure as the year wears on, that will change as I change, as situations change.  I’m someone who worries about the future and what it holds, I must admit I am a bit nervous.  But I know His plans are much better than what I have drawn up.   The good, the bad – it’s all for Him.  And so I walk, I carry, knowing that His yoke is easy.

I did not make the following cartoon and I was unable to find a source for it, but I took it off a random webpage.  It really does speak true.

The Cross Walk 02The Cross Walk 03

….and more prayers answered

Because changing jobs is not enough change in one’s life, The General and I have decided to change it up even more.

A friend of ours from one of the churches we’ve been visiting (whom we met before going to this church), is in need of a place to stay. She works a bunch of odd jobs and is on track to get a teaching degree so she can do mission work overseas full time.  She has a huge heart for the Middle East and is learning Arabic as I’m learning German — she’s already been over there, but had to come back because of visa issues (I think).  So in the interim, her current roommate is moving back to the other side of the world, and she doesn’t have the money to live in an apartment by herself.

The General and I bought our dream house. I’m not going to lie: it’s pretty big.  It’s bigger than what 2 professionals without kids need, I suppose. ~2100 square feet of living space.  3100 if you count the unfinished part (no AC/electricity/drywall/floor in some parts).  Ever since I saw this property on the MLS report, this address has been on my prayer list.  If we’re going to get this awesomely neat house, we need to steward it for God. It’s my prayer for the house: use it for the kingdom.

Our prospective roommate, let’s call her Pricilla — like the one who ran around the Middle East with Paul — posted on Facebook she was looking for anyone who might be able to help her out.  I saw it, briefly thought about having her here, and as soon as the thought came, it left.  A few days later, The General mentioned Pricilla’s post.  “Think we should offer her our spare room?” he asked.  “Yes,” I replied.  You’d think we were talking about putting a pizza in the oven.

She came over the other night – she’s a ball of joy.  Seriously.  She can light up a room with her spirit.  She’s one of the most unshakable REAL Christians I’ve met.  Girl is on fire.  Even upon meeting her for the 1st time, I thought, “Wow, this one’s the real deal.”  We gave her a tour of the house and she was in awe.  “Can I think and pray about this?” she asked.   We haven’t heard back from her yet, but hopefully soon.

We’re doing this to help her out: while she’ll help pay the utility bills, obviously, she’s not going to help pay our mortgage.  We’re doing this to help someone along the way.  It was done for us.  And on top of that, we are so incredibly blessed, I want to share that.  I believe this will be a symbiotic relationship: we’ll help take care of her physical needs while she can help us with our spiritual ones.  Since both of us have not ever had a good example of a true Christian marriage, I believe having someone of that spiritual caliber in our home can help facilitate a better relationship with Jesus. Everybody wins.  And God gets the glory.  Can I get an amen?

I will admit a part of me is a bit apprehensive: new job, new roommate — it’s a lot of change all at once.  I love my privacy.  I love walking around naked (there, I said it).  But if I can help someone achieve their dream?  It’s so worth it.  We’ve decided to do this for a couple of months and see how it goes on both ends.  Playing it by ear.

My life motto is the same as Monty Python’s: and now for something completely different.

This verse has often rung in my head.  Isaiah 54:1 is well known among those woman of my station.  But the rest is a bit telling, and we do have a big tent.

“Enlarge the place of your tent,
And let them stretch out the curtains of your dwellings;
Do not spare;
Lengthen your cords,
And strengthen your stakes.
For you shall expand to the right and to the left,
And your descendants will inherit the nations,
And make the desolate cities inhabited.
(Isaiah 54:2-3) 

Until it sleeps

What is it about June?  This one and the one previous both involved death.  This time, my friend Sam’s dad died.  It was a GSW, as we call it in the medical biz.  Gun. Shot. Wound.  The words of suicide echoed in the conversations that followed.

It threw me for a loop.  I don’t do well with death – especially suicide – it has touched my life one too many times.  I’ve attended, technically 2 “funerals” or “wakes” or “celebration of life” type things: both of my grandfathers.  I wasn’t particularly close to either of them.  I was 8 and 22.  Neither of their deaths were unexpected or tragic; they just were.  And they were old.  Outside of checking people in and out of the morgue at one job I had (and the grandfather bit), I haven’t experienced it.  I still feel too young and immature to take on such heavy things like this.  Nonetheless, I knew I had to step up and be there for my friend.  Charlotte’s boss, the federal government, wouldn’t let her leave so Miranda and I travelled to Vance County, North Carolina – the homeland of our Samantha.  Adele, Miranda’s GPS system, accompanied us on our journey, but even she wasn’t 100% sure of where we were going.  If US 17 is the “backlot” of North Carolina, Vance County is No Man’s Land.  Suddenly I felt like I was back in Illinois – the scenery changed into this poor rural section of the Piedmont.  We drove for miles until we found the road the church was on — Adele got us that far — and then we were on our own.  The road was paved, mind you, so I took that as a good sign.

We found the church relatively easy – how can one miss a building among fields?  We arrived far too early, so we kept driving off the map until we hit the Virginia boarder – I made Miranda pull off to the side of the road so I could snap a picture of the tobacco plants.  Despite being brought up in a farming community, we only grew soybeans and corn; tobacco and cotton are still a novelty. We laughed about how crazy it was and I even took a picture of the road at the boarder – you can totally see where North Carolina ends and Virginia begins.  It’s always an adventure with us!

We continued on to the church.  It was a Methodist church and my 1st time at this particular denomination.  I’ve decided that I’m lumping the Methodists with every other Protestant religion I’ve encountered: they preach the Gospel.  And that’s good enough for me.

We stepped into the church and took a seat towards the back.   It was an open casket.  Totally didn’t expect that, given the circumstances.  No sooner did we arrive and Samantha and her sister entered in.  Many people went up to say their condolences, but we hung back.

The room was heavy; abnormally heavy.  I’m not sensitive or anything of that nature, but I do have a bit of the gift of discernment – there were many people in that room that were unseen.  It’s happened with my family and I am most certain it was happening then.  I don’t have any memory of the air as thick as it was in that church. I could feel the weight of the heaviness on my chest, it was difficult to breathe in.  It was a strange feeling that I’m not likely to forget anytime soon.

A choir and piano were on hand to lead the congregation in hymns – my favorite was “I’ll Fly Away.”  A dirge in a major key.  It seemed fitting.  Isn’t that the way it should be?  The pastor had a voice like a Broadway actor and he gave a eulogy that was beyond perfect — for a man who apparently shot himself and was a long sufferer of mental illness, which he touched on — he kept the dignity of the man and used his life’s work, a road construction worker, as a metaphor.  I can’t do it justice to paraphrase here.  He also assured the congregation that he was a Christian.

After a small graveside service a luncheon followed and we were finally able to speak with Sam.  I totally lost it.  I never cry, but I was so overtaken by the grief she was experiencing, it just flowed out.  I told Sam of how I took a picture of the roads at the NC/VA boarder and how I had no idea they bridged the counties he was born and died in, and just so happened to make his career out of NCDOT.  That was a weird coincidence.  And then, out of no where, I found myself in a made-for-TV movie miniseries, or quite possibly a Lifetime movie: Sam dropped the bomb. “It may not have been a suicide, but a homicide.”

While the plot holes were gaping and not enough information, it was impossible to string the events together.  So many clues lead to suicide; yet so many loose ends and events said otherwise: the pendulum of indictment was swinging wildly.  Miranda and I exchanged looks.  The grief of losing a loved one compounded by a possible murder?  It was almost too much.  “Where is the relief?” cried Sam.  Where indeed.

Miranda and I stayed with Sam, her sister, and her mother for the afternoon.  We talked about the crazy events and tried to figure it out to no avail.  Sam spoke of the family going back to her father’s house to find the wheel.  Wheel?  I finally asked what was so special about this wheel they were looking for and Sam laughed.  They were looking for the WILL but with the southern twang it sounded like WHEEL to this carpetbagger.  Everyone had a good laugh about it, including me.  They spoke of happier times with their dad – his love of cars, music, church – when the dragon of was sleeping.  I never knew this man, but I think it was therapeutic for them to talk about it.

It’s hard to work through the mourning process without a firm cause of death.  And all I can do is pray for Sam and be there when she has a low day.  Sam is strong and she will lean hard on the Lord to get through this season.  A true ending has yet to be written.

Faith of a stargazer lily

My favorite flower in the world is a stargazer lily.  I had them in my bouquet at my wedding.

And last year, I planted some stargazer lily bulbs around my mailbox. They were small little things with giant blooms.  They only flowered once and were gone.  As the warm spring approached this year, I was very excited to see if my bulbs would come back.  We have lot of crazy squirrels in the neighborhood.

I waited and waited.  Nothing.  Sometimes my logical side overrules my faith, and so I began to dig.  I dug down to where I had planted them last year to see if the bulb was still there and if it was waking up.  Still nothing.  The bulbs were gone!  I was a bit sad.  The next time I was at the store, I picked up pot of blooming stargazers.  They were perfect and graced the pots on my back deck, right outside our bedroom.  They stayed like this until the squirrels destroyed them.  Stupid squirrels.

Pretty nifty, eh?  I loved the vibrant color – they speak to me.  Despite the fact that I wasn’t really pleased with the whole wedding day bit (but am super happy with the outcome!), this flower symbolizes that union between The General and I.  ::happy sigh::

Fast forward a couple of weeks.  I was walking around the property when I saw it:  right smack dab in the middle of a rehabbing pansy (pansies didn’t like the 1st place they were planted) was a stargazer lily.  WTH!?!?!?  I LOOKED for this, physically got out my trowel and dug deep for signs of bulbs.  But sure enough, it’s one from last year.  It’s the only one that came up, well, so far.  It made me laugh with joy.

This made me smile.  The Lord’s blessings turn up when we don’t expect them; right when we move on, thinking it wasn’t meant to be, BAM! it appears.  Why does He do that?  Maybe so He will get the glory and that it wasn’t of our own doing.  I wondered what kind of metaphor this is for my life.  In what places am I placing a sick pansy when the flower of all flowers will grow?  How much faith do I really have if I must see something?  Or try to replace it?  I stand in awe.  How amazing is the Lord we serve!

“Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.  Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?” (Matthew 6:28-30)


It’s Easter.  I should be at church.  But I’m not.

I got up early yesterday to freeze my butt off in my 1st 5k of the year. Early is 0630.  It’s especially early when you don’t leave work until 2300. I attempted a nap, but sleep failed to come.  The weekends at work tend to be crazy, and I need sleep.  I would have loved to have gone to a sunrise service at the beach – something I’ve never done – but going on a few hours sleep when my day off isn’t for another 5 days didn’t sound fun.  So while Jesus and the sun rose, I slept.  It doesn’t help that The General is at work.

I’m in between churches at the moment too.  I’m not sure where I belong.  I need more information about the new church before I really become invested.  My old church is awesome, but there will be about 12,000,000 people there for each of their services and I don’t feel like being the salmon trying to go upstream.  And I’m a bit sick of being alone in a crowd.

As I’m waiting for my coffee to be done, I feel like I should have gone somewhere.  Why?  It’s Easter.  I don’t go to church on Christmas because of the crowds (and that work thing).  As I’m sitting here thinking I should have gone to the one in my backyard, and my phone bings.  My Bible app messaged me.

While the Bible I read is in English, I changed the app settings to be in German – I figured I could navigate it and learn some new German words at the same time.  The text was in German.  I was able to translate the 1st part, but needed translation software for the 2nd.  It read:

“Er ist auferstanden!  Lies den Benricht und feiere!” — He has risen!  Read the report and celebrate!

The Lord makes me smile.  Stop sitting there hemming and hawing about where you didn’t go for church!  Pick up your Bible, read the accounts and be joyful that Jesus died for yours (and everyone’s!) sins!  And I’m going to do just that!

It was also nice to wake up and come down to an Easter basket filled with all sorts of chocolate and a card from my General, thanking me to for helping him walk with God.  Melted my heart.  I got him an Easter basket, too.  While I didn’t put any candy in there (his weight is starting to concern him, since he’s not running due to a nerve in foot injury), I did put 2 plastic eggs and 2 of his newly favorite craft beers from a local store he couldn’t stop raving about.  I wrote a note on a piece of scratch paper: He has risen!

The General wrote back: the Easter bunny and Jesus loves us both.

So true.

“If Christ hasn’t come back to life, our message has no meaning and your faith also has no meaning.” (1 corinthians 15:14)

Holy Saturday, Batman!

Today I read the Gospels take on Jesus’s burial.  Mark’s take really struck me, and I believe it was because it spoke of what else was going on: Pilate marveled he was already dead.  He was surprised.  He even got a soldier to come over and confirm it.  What a random thing to put in there!

Maybe it’s my love for adventure novels (I’m looking at you, Mr. Cussler), but I am always curious to know what else is going on at a major event.  Who else was involved?  What did they think?  What did they do?  While it’s not recorded in the Bible, I can’t help but wonder.

What was going through the mind and heart of Peter and the disciples on that Sabbath day?  I don’t think it was restful – physically or spiritually.  What did they say to each other?  Did they say anything?  Or did the look in their eyes  tell their companions everything – which was echoed in theirs?

What was going through Pilate’s mind?  Did he ever come to know that Jesus was the Lord?  Did he repent?  He had his part in the Easter story – a story that continues through all time.  Did he just shrug it off as some weird Jewish mystic that caused some ruckus during that one feast that one time?  Did his life change after this?

As a people pleaser, I can understand why Pilate did what he did.  And I understand that Jesus had to die as the sacrificial lamb – just like the 1st Passover in Egypt.

When I get to heaven, this is the 2nd question I’m going to ask.  The 1st is the whole story about JFK.

As a friend posted on Facebook: Sunday’s coming.


So… went well.

The church meets in a building I’ve gone past 100 times, but never actually went inside.  I was blown away by the sheer architecture of the building.  Did I mention I’m easily amused?

This is also a hipster church – I’m still warming up to how I officially feel about it – but so far so good, minus a video which included some seriously major cheese.  I liked how the guy who warmly greeted us at the door had sleeves (that’s tattoos from shoulder to wrist) and an eyebrow piercing.  So much for avoiding the hipster churches.

There were about 30 people in the congregation this morning. “This is the smallest church I’ve ever been to,” exclaimed The General.  Outside of the coffeehouse service I attended in NOLA circa 2001, this was also the smallest I’ve ever encountered.  It was nice.  People spoke to us.  It was intimate.  People shouted “Amen!” and they really hit it home on their message.  It’s not a Pentecostal type worship, but they encourage you to worship however you feel the Spirit leading you.  Everything they said could be backed by Scripture (yay!) and they’re against the prosperity gospel (wealth = you’re blessed from God; poor = not blessed).  Major kudos.  It’s far from traditional,  the Southern Baptist in me sometimes freaks.  I compare everything to Pastor Richard and the church of my youth after I left the Catholic church — it’s not the same, but they’re teaching out of the same Book.

<insert techie rant>  Oddities included LCD parcans/broads.  If you don’t know what a parcan or broad is, just ignore this.  It’s a great way around having a dimmer rack,  I must say!  They had in-ear monitors, though, and a decent mixing board with people who balanced the sound nicely in the small venue.  <end techie rant>

We’ll go back.  I think I need to warm up the situation, as I am with everything else.  The General is ready to volunteer and get involved.  Whoa!  He’s excited to go back.

I will say this: I totally felt the Holy Spirit at the service today.  I just need time to take it all in and process it.  Us introverts need our space.

I’m excited to see where this will go.  While our old church is still very awesome, it’s been since Illinois since I’ve felt part of a church family….that’s…..2005?  Too long.  Lots of prayer and an open heart and mind.

Dear God, I need a buoy. Thank you. Love, Me

The other weekend, The General and I, after spending nearly a month without a day off together, did a mini roadtrip into Brunswick County.  We did a wine tasting at Silver Coast Winery, and took the very awesome bridge to Holden Beach, as neither of us had ever been there before.  Instead of taking the mainland back home, we decided to take the ferry from Southport to Fort Fisher.  I just got a new camera and I’ve been trying it out at every possible photo opportunity.

In the picture, the background is Fort Fisher.  The buoy is a red navigational tool.  I looked it up on the internet and I’ve found that the red means starboard, the right side of the ship.  When returning, the red is on the right.  Green means on the left or port side.  The number means miles from the start of the channel.  In other words, don’t get between the buoy and shore.

I need a buoy in life.  I’m not sure which direction is next.  I’m not even sure what channel (or boat!)  I should be on.  I haven’t heard anything on the job front.  I don’t know what steps to take in life.  The Lord has been strangely silent with me.  I’m not sure why.

I would gladly move forward if only I knew which way to go….which way my heart needs to go.

I hate not knowing what is next.

It touched my heart….

One of the blogs I read is “Stuff Christians Like” by Jon Acuff.  It’s satire, but it has a message and is never blasphemous.  Usually I skim over it, but this really hit me.  So I thought I would share.

The beautiful reason God might not be talking to you right now.

January 4, 2012

Do you ever feel like God is ignoring you?

Like he’s screening your calls and hitting decline when he sees your name pop up on his iPhone?

You keep throwing out the same question to him and you’re getting nothing.

No nudge from the Holy Spirit. No wise counsel in the form of friends. No handwriting on the wall.

I have and I’m in the middle of one of those moments right now.

I feel a great self-imposed sense of urgency to figure out what I’m supposed to do next. Maybe it’s because I turned 36 a few weeks ago. I feel like everyone has a clear plan for their lives but me. (Whenever you feel this way, you always run into people who say things like, “I’ve got the next 20 years of my life mapped out. What do you mean you don’t have a 20-year mission statement?”)

I told my wife a few days ago, “I’m 36 now, which means I’m exactly 40 years from the average life expectancy of U.S. males. And we only have 10 years until L.E. graduates from high school and is out of the house. I need to figure out a 40/10 plan for my life.”

That might sound a little ridiculous. But at some point, all of us come to a place where we feel a little lost. You get a divorce and the person who was a big part of your identity for 8 years is no longer even part of your house, and you suddenly have to figure out who you are all over again. You lose your job and are unemployed way longer than you anticipated and restlessness sets in, followed by sadness and eventually apathy and hopelessness. You’re staring graduation in the face as the New Year comes and don’t know what to do next. You bump into a bruise from childhood that you had hoped time would heal by now, but it hasn’t. If anything, it’s shaped your adult life in ways you’re only now beginning to fathom.

In moments like that, we turn to God. And we ask questions. We call out. We cry out. We plead.

And sometimes in response, we hear … nothing.

God is silent.

He does not answer.

No response comes.

And our first thought when that happens, is this:

“God is mad at me. He does not care about my hurt. He is distant. He sees me as a failure. He is not answering me because he is disappointed in me. If he really loved me, he’d talk to me. He’d answer my questions and my prayers. A loving God could not possibly go silent at a time like this.”

I am not immune to that thinking. Those are not words I’m writing about you, those are words I am writing about “we.”

But I saw something recently that had always escaped me. I’d looked at it 1,000 times and missed it. It was right there all along. A lesson about silence, a lesson about love, a powerful secret hidden in my favorite story.

I’ve written about the parable of the prodigal son too many times to count. After I finish my next book, I hope to write a book about that story. But until I do, this will be the space I share a few ideas.

You know the story of the prodigal son. A young son asks his father for his inheritance, leaves the farm, spends all the money and falls on hard times. In a pigpen, he comes to his senses and returns home expecting to work as a servant on the farm. Instead, the father sprints to him when he sees him on the road and throws him a lavish party.

It’s an amazing story, but do you know what the father, who represents God, says to the prodigal son in those verses in Luke 15?

Absolutely nothing.

The father does not say one word to the prodigal son.

We read the story like he does, but he doesn’t. Check the verses, it’s true. In Luke 15:12 when the son asks for the inheritance, it just says, “So he (the father) divided his property between them (the two brothers.)” The father doesn’t speak to the prodigal son.

But what about when he comes home? Doesn’t he run to the son and say in Luke 15:22-24, “Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.”

He does say those things, but not to the son.

Verse 22 says, “But the father said to his servants…”

He wasn’t speaking to the prodigal son. He was talking to the servants.

What does that mean for you and me?

Well, here’s what I want you to consider the next time it feels like God is not talking to you.

Instead of thinking that God’s silence means he is mad and disappointed with you, what if he might be quiet because he’s too busy planning a party for you?

What if, even as you come home dirty and fallen, God is not ignoring you? What if he’s embracing you on the road back home, and he’s not talking to you because he’s so focused on planning a party for you?

Can you imagine a God like that?

I can.

And when God goes quiet, that is the hope and the truth I am going to cling to.

Pretty powerful, huh?

I picked the wrong week to stop drinking

Imagine, if you will, a computer system that takes on all the characteristics of an unmedicated schizophrenic.  That’s what I got to deal with at work.  All week.   Everyday there was a new episode to deal with.  Sometimes it was up.  Sometimes it was down.  And there were even times when I compared it to a wounded animal: alive, but not moving (i.e. I can access information, but it refuses to talk to other components).  Our boss described it by saying our servers were conjoined twins.  One of the twins died, hence the living hell I’ve been in.  When your entire field revolves around a computer and you have to go back to pencil and paper, things get crazy, especially when it’s a 3 person job and it’s just you.  And the phone calls.  I love talking to upset people on the phone.  Especially when I can’t do anything. “Can’t you just look it up?” they plead.  “No, because when I attempt to log into my system it says I do not have any user functions.”  And they still yell at me.  Look, honey, I’d love to help you but I can’t see the orders you have listed.  In fact, I have about 2 hours worth of work looking at me that I have to do one by one and oh, there’s another unhappy camper on the other line waiting to yell at me after you do.  It’s really hard to get work done at all when you’re constantly on the phone defending yourself and the poor IT guy who’s furiously trying to figure out why the mainframe crashed for no apparent reason.  YES WE ARE WORKING ON THE PROBLEM.  It’s harder for me, I actually have to do all the work.  You just look at pretty spreadsheets.

Like I said, I picked the wrong week to stop drinking.

My lack of R-OH is two fold: the main reason is to fast from alcohol to hear from God about our next steps in life – I want to go one way, The General wants to head in the other.  And so we wait to hear from Him.  I’ve never fasted before and my Bible study leader spoke of how she fasted from certain things she enjoyed when she was preparing for mission trips or waiting to hear something.  Interesting concept.  The other, more shallow reason, is to keep my body in shape.  Alcohol is a lot of empty calories and they usually end up somewhere around my mid-section (never the boobs for some reason).  It’s not that I had a problem or anything, I am the quintessential cheap date; I don’t drink large quantities nor do I use it as an escape.  It’s up there with nutella.  I enjoy it.  A lot.  A glass of wine after a hard night at work is a way to unwind and take the edge off.  There is the rare occasion where Captain Morgan and I will go off dancing into the night…..but that’s another story all together.

I plan to break the month and a half fast by toasting my family on Thanksgiving, as my entire side of the family is coming to North Carolina to celebrate – Mom, Dad, my little sister, and her boyfriend.  If the Lord says to keep my fast, I will.

The fast had been a piece of cake until this week — stress at work, lots of great moments with friends — and I couldn’t have a drink.  I’ve been sipping green tea instead, which is awesome. It’s soothing, it has antioxidants, and I can have multiple cups of it without worrying about how I’ll feel the next morning.  I’m working Cucalorus this year — the big film fest in Wilmington — which usually involves a lot of social drinking for me.  Not this year.  I can’t decide if I’m going to ask for water neat or a Shirley Temple.

This inconvenience that I have placed on myself goes much beyond the situational.  If by giving this up – for however long – allows me to hear God more clearly it will be time well spent.  A part of me wonders what if this fast is all for naught?  What if nothing changes one way or the other?  What if we get an answer clear as day….?  One of us will have to fold.  And I guess that’s where He comes in.

From Streams in the Desert, author not credited:

Child of my love, lean hard
And let Me feel the pressure of your care
I know your burden, child
I shaped it.
I balanced it in Mine Own hand
Made no proportion in its weight to your unaided strength
For even as I laid it on, I said,
“I will be near, and while she leans on Me,
This burden will be Mine, not hers.
So I will keep my child within the circling arms of my love.”
Here lay it down
Nor fear to impose it on a shoulder that upholds the government of the worlds
Yet closer come:
You are not near enough.
I would embrace your care
So I might feel My child reclining on My breast.
You love Me, I know.
So then do not doubt;
But loving Me, lean hard.

The Knuckle to the Thumb Tour

Where was I?  Oh yes, boarding a plane in Myrtle Beach.

The teenage gentleman sitting in front of me has his seat reclined before I got to mine, so it was a bit uncomfortable, especially since everything I had with me was under his seat.  I was a little miffed at his obvious lack of courtesy (it’s a 2 hour plane ride! Geez!).  I  ignored all this by reading my current book, Walden, by Henry David Thoreau.  When I got up to let my seatmate out, he saw the book in my hand and said, “Thoreau.  Nice.” with a head bob of approval.  It made me smile and completely forget he was more in my aisle than his.

Once on the terra firma of Illinois, my mom met me at the airport as we headed back to the old homestead.  We had  big dinner of steak and potatoes complete with my entire family plus future brother-in-law and my “aunt” who is really an old family friend.  Even better?  After dinner my sister showed me how to correctly apply eye make up and gave me a bunch of make up supplies!  Wow!  I’ve been experimenting with eye color and technique and am so thankful she showed me the ropes.  I had been correcting her papers for college (my sister: “Was there a lot of mistakes?”  me: ::head hits wall::) and after the 1st one with literately line by line corrections, her writing improved to just polishing what she had written.  I even asked her, “Where have you been all my life?”  It’s so weird we’re close now that there are 5 states between us, but when we lived near each other we rarely spoke.

Mom and I left the house at 5am the next morning.  Everything went fine until we got here.  And that’s when the trouble began.

Afew miles over zee boarder, there’s a new casino.  I’ve only been to casino once and I was 19….so, needless to say, at 0630, we were seated at slot machines.  And losing.  I highly suggest hitting up Four Winds Casino – it was quite the nifty place. I had no idea what I was doing, so some of it was lack of experience; some of it was sheer bad luck.  Next time, Gadget, next time!  When all was said and done, I lost $15.  I’m a bad influence.

We stopped in Paw Paw for coffee at That Coffee Place, which was across the street from St. Julien Winery.  OMG.  Michigan wine rocks.  I bought some for the General!  Their Blue Heron wine goes nicely with his tattoo of his totem.

Our 1st planned adventure was the Detroit Public Library special collections downtown for some genealogy research.  I didn’t hit the jackpot, but I was more successful at the library than I was at the casino (such is the life of a former honor student, eh?).  I found some more leads, figured out who some people where, and now I have a few more boxes filled out on the tree.  And I know which church they attended.

After staying the night at a 4 star hotel (my mom is an anti-camper), we headed up north for the thumb portion of our tour to Port Austin.  This was the place my family vacationed year after year when we were kids.  It seems so small now, after walking around downtown.  I guess I’ve seen more of the world since I was 17.  I bought a mood ring while I was there.  Ah, the simple joy of being a kid for a moment again.  This place is especially important to me on my spiritual journey: I accepted Christ here in July 1998.

We headed for the old cottage on Lake Huron to meet up with my second cousin, Austin, who had just lost his wife.  It was so good to see him again.  We headed out the the lake, sat around talking, and eventually headed out to dinner in the sleep small town of Pigeon.

It really made me homesick. I miss the small farm towns.  It was so wonderful, I wish I could have bottled it up to relive it every so often.  I love my ocean, but I found my heart longing for the homeland and snow accumulation.  We ate at the Main Street Cafe and Bakery – I had sauteed perch.  I love me some perch. You can’t get it down south.  For desert, their chocolate cream pie was out of this world.  Wow.  We came back to the cottage for wine and more laughter.  It was a good time.  The weirdest part?  “Austin, you have a message,” I said as his answering machine was blinking.  “I do?  Oh,” he said.  “I think I know who it is.”  Sure enough, it was an old message from Bea, his dead wife, letting him know where she heard the best fishing spots were that morning.  And to call her once he made it up to the cottage so she wouldn’t worry.  54 years of marriage and they were the best of friends.  I can only hope the General and I are like that in our upper years.

We left early afternoon the next day after farm fresh eggs and recently slaughtered bacon from the butcher up the road.  Amazing. We sat and talked some more and hit the lake one more time.  I was amazed at how far out I could walk (about 200 feet) and not have to worry about the current.  While the love of the lake will always be in my soul, my heart lies in the ocean now.  I’ll take my rolling waves and salt water over a lake.  Never thought that would happen!

Mom and I headed to our next adventure: Frankenmuth, Michigan.  It’s this cute little tourist town of German culture – shops, german family restaurants with chicken recipes that will make your mouth water.  Mom and I walked around and eventually ended up at one of their flagship stores, Bronner’s – a store that has wall to wall Christmas stuff – and it’s as big as 2.5 football fields.  Oh yeah!  As someone who suffers from OBD, Ornament Buying Disorder, this place is like a keg party to an alcoholic.  It’s a Christian run organization, slightly expensive, but it has everything Christmas.  Seriously.  There were even bulbs hailing my medical profession!  You can order stuff online, too — that was information I probably didn’t need to know.  I have 3 new bulbs this year to hang on the tree — and I have a feeling there might be more.

After Frankenmuth, we hightailed it back to the Motor City burbs.  The next day was the day I had been waiting for all week.

Mom and I went back to her hometown: Grosse Pointe.  For those of you familiar with Wilmington, Grosse Pointe is like the more affluent older brother of the Mayfaire/Landfall area.  These people had money.  And extremely large boats.  And manicured lawns that would make a Landfall member green with jealously.  It was 30 years since Mom had been there – and 30 for me too.  I was an infant the last time I was there.  My mom was born here and moved away in 1972, in her early 20’s, as my grandparents relocated to the burbs because of work and my grandfather’s heart health.  We parked the car on her old street by the house and walked around the neighborhood as Mom pointed out things as she relived her childhood memories.  We grabbed lunch at a local cafe, went down by her old high school, grabbed wine down at “The Hill” – the cute shopping district.  We also stopped at the church where my ancestors worshiped: everyone on the line I am researching had this church mentioned in their obituary.  While it was closed and the lady who did all the historical stuff was gone for the week, the kind gentleman cutting the lawn gave us a church directory.  Inside, it has the brother and sister from one of the branches I was looking for!!!  Sure enough, they’re still in the area and I have addresses and phone numbers.  I am going to write them and include a early 1900’s picture of her grandparents with her dad as a baby.  Next on my list is to contact the lady who runs the historical records – she’s in her 90’s and may have even known some of my great grand aunts and uncles!

The best part of the trip was saved for last.  Just as we were about to leave GP (as I affectionally call it now), we drove one more time by the house my mom grew up in.  We watched it for a long time.

“Let’s knock on the door and see if they’ll let us in,” I said, seeing as how the garage my grandfather built was open with a car inside.

“No, we can’t do that!” My mom said.  “They won’t let us in.”

“Come on, let’s try,” I replied.  “Worse they can do is tell us to shove off and slam the door in our face. We won’t be back here – let’s do it!”

“I’m not comfortable with doing that.”

“Alright, let’s head out.”

Just as she has clicked her seatbelt, an SUV turned into the driveway.  “Let’s go,” was all Mom said and she lept out of the car.  I quickly followed.

A beautiful twentysomething stepped out of the SUV and Mom introduced herself as someone who used to live here.  “Would you like to come in?” she asked.  Would we?!  YES!

And just like that I got to walk into the house my mother was born in.  The girl, Mel, introduced us to her mom, Dar, who was in the house.  They ushered us through the house, detailing what was redone and what was still original.  My mom chatted away, pointing out things, asking questions.  A lot had changed.  The ground floor master bedroom had an addition put on it and was now a TV room.  The new master bedroom took up the entire 2nd floor (it was originally a bedroom with a half bath where my uncle had his room).  It was huge.  My mom’s room that she shared with her sister was now Mel’s room.  The bathroom had the tile my grandfather put in — it’s quite retro — but very nice.  The living room and dinning room have remained untouched as it was when Mom lived there.  The basement still had the tile and the “bar” my grandfather put in – the bar isn’t very big nor attractive and they plan to take it out eventually, as with the tile.  The fruit cellar is now a bathroom.  I got a picture of the fireplace – only because I have a picture of my grandmother standing by it on my mantle.  Here’s a look:

It’s not quite the same angle, but it still made my heart skip a beat.  I didn’t take too
pictures of the house, just the common rooms, as I felt a bit weird snapping pictures of someone’s private residence.  They were so kind to allow us to indulge in such nostalgia.  I sent them a letter thanking them and included the picture of my grandmother seen above.  Not only did I want to thank them for making my mom’s summer, but I wanted to prove to them Mom actually lived there and we weren’t casing the place.

Amazing!  We just kept saying, “Can you believe we did that!?” for the rest of the night.  So awesome, my mom was so happy about it.  We celebrated our genealogy successes and toasted our amazing trip at this great Mediterranean place in Northville, Le George.  The food was amazing, even thought the menu was hard to read — so many words I had never heard before — but the waitress explained everything so perfectly!  Dinner was fabulous, a chicken dish with perfect spices; it summed up our trip perfectly.

Saturday morning came too soon as I boarded a plan in Detroit bound for Myrtle Beach and a $50 parking tab.  Ugh.

So much research is ahead of me and I am so thankful I did this trip with Mom. Not only did she spoil me rotten, but we have these amazing memories that will keep us smiling for the rest of our lives.

Gifts from God

My friend Samantha and I were talking over upscale martinis the other night when I told her about something I have discovered about myself in the past couple of years: I pick up on vibes other people give out.  I still say I am a poor judge of character, but I can sense the atmosphere of people when I’m around them.  I know how people view me and I can usually tell if they’re being sincere.  It’s weird, I am not psychic, I cannot tell the future.  Just the present.  Most of the time I ignore it: sometimes I will meet someone and just not like them; I will have no reasons to back up my dislike.  And sometimes, their true colors are revealed (a cheater, a fake, etc.)

It came to a culmination some years ago when I sensed something was going on between 2 people of my acquaintance.  I saw them standing next to each other for a split second in time — they were standing much too close for 2 people who were married to other people.  They’re having an affair, I thought. I had no tangible proof and I was by no means going to confront them, it was just a weird vibe.  I let it go.  Several months later, I find that my suspicions were confirmed. How…odd.  Things like that happen and I wonder.  Same thing happened with my friend’s girlfriend.  I didn’t like her and I didn’t know why.  She was kind, beautiful, and made my guy friend so happy.  I figured I was just jealous because she seemed to have it all and I was single at the time and not happy about it.  Soon after that, she left my guy friend for a co-worker in the meanest way possible.

Samantha said, “Oh!  You have the spiritual gift of discernment!”  The what?  I looked it up and this is what a website said:

Discernment / Distinguishing of Spirits – The special ability God gives to some to know with assurance whether certain behavior or teaching is from God, Satan, human error, or human power.

The divine enablement to distinguish between truth and error, to discern the spirits, differentiating between good and evil, right and wrong.

People with this gift:
– distinguish truth from error, right from wrong, pure motives from impure
– identify deception in others with accuracy and appropriateness
– determine whether a word attributed to God is authentic
– recognize inconsistencies in a teaching, prophetic message, or interpretation
– are able to sense the presence of evil.

Meh.  Some of it sounds like me, some of it no.  I don’t have much practice with “sensing the presence of evil.”  I’m not sure if my definition is the same as what it says here.  I dated Lys — no discernment there!  Maybe it’s because I was too immature to recognize it?

Curiosity took over and so I took a quiz (You can take it too. Scroll to the bottom to start.)

My top 5 results:


I also accidentally took the youth quiz and got these results:


I feel I better relate to the youth quiz.  I feel I do not have the gifts of poverty, wisdom, exhortation, or encouragement; I do feel I have more of a giving, writing, discernment, hospitality persona.  I was equally surprised to find that faith topped both lists.  I never saw myself as someone who has rock solid faith, but the more I thought about it, my actions and thought patterns do reflect someone with that gift.  Here is what they say about the spiritual gift of faith:

Faith – The special conviction God gives to some to be firmly persuaded of God’s power and promises to accomplish His will and purpose and to display such a confidence in Him and His Word that circumstances and obstacles do not shake that conviction.

The divine enablement to act on God’s promises with confidence and unwavering belief in God’s ability to fulfill his purposes.

People with this gift:
– believe the promises of God and inspire others to do the same
– act in complete confidence of God’s ability to overcome obstacles
– demonstrate an attitude of trust in God’s will and his promises
– advance the cause of Christ because they go forward when others will not
– ask God for what is needed and trust him for his provision.

I find all of this fascinating.  When I was saved at 16, I found my spiritual gift to be “service.”  Now, 14 years later, I’ve matured in Christ and as a person, I wonder if those gifts change as we change? I  am who I am at the core, but more fine-tuned now.

I plan to pray and research a bit more about this, so that the Lord can reveal more about all this.

Conversely, my  lowest ranking gifts are 100% correct:

Speaking/Understanding Tongues

What’s your spiritual gift?

The blood of Christ is O negative – anyone can get it

As I was working on my front yard (the war on weeds continues on), The General and I were approached by 2 older women.

Oh no, here we go again.  Jehovah’s Witnesses.

They were very kind and instead of trying to convert random people to their religion, it was simply a hand delivered invite to their Easter service.  They mainly talked to The General who nodded and smiled and let her say her piece about how Christ died and was raised again by the Father.  I was too busy wrangling a rather large weed to stop and make eye contact, but they were close enough for me to hear.

He explained we are Christians who walk with Christ, the church we attend, and politely declined their invite.  It was all very nice.

2 things occured to me:

1.  Maybe I should attend a JW service to see what it’s all about, more from a curiosity prospective — I’m non denomination Christian and that ain’t changing!  But it’s been awhile since I’ve been in a situation where I’m uncomfortable with the worship or completely out of my element.

2.  The Jehovah’s Witnesses should start hospitals, much like Catholics and other Protestants.  They don’t believe in blood transfusions and I’m not a blood banker by any means, so I could totally rock their lab as a director.  Granted anyone non-JW with a trauma, childbirth, anemia, gastrointestinal bleed, or severely low blood pressure probably wouldn’t want to go there, but still I think it could be an interesting business venture.

Next time they stop by my house I’m ready.  I’m going to ask them to explain to me, in their own words, what’s so terrible about blood transfusions and how their religious views contrast with basic Christianity.  Oh, I’m sure I could look all this up on the internet, but I think it’d be more interesting to hear it from them and dialogue about it.  I’m really bad at Christian apologetics, so I’d listen more than I’d talk.

My doorbell awaits.

“But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” (Ephesians 2:13)

Take me in

I was at church the other day manning the velvet rope into the 4 year old room when a problem arose: the ratio was off for volunteers to kids.  Without much second thought I raised my hand and said I would skip the service and stay behind to assist – I am not teacher material.  I’m still a bit intimidated by the kids: I’m used to adults, machines that don’t run properly, and angry people on the other end of the phone line: this is so out of my element, but I was up for the challenge!

Our Fearless Leader didn’t give me a chance to back out even when a few unexpected volunteers were wrangled in.  “The sermon this morning is about volunteering, so don’t worry, you won’t miss too much,” she said with a smile.  Awesome.  Not merely just hearing the sermon, but doing it…..nice.  We had almost 30 kids — all about 4 — so all hands on deck were needed.  I got into the room and it was surprisingly calm.  The other volunteers jumped right in; I was more like the shy kid who wasn’t quite sure what to do.  I kept pushing play-dough on everyone who walked through the door and helped distract a kid who was not real excited about leaving Dad.  “It’s only for an hour and I’ll be right back,” a mother said to her kid as she kissed them on the forehead and walked away.  Mom was right: this is only for an hour.  I can do this, I can do this.  With my game face on, I started picking up the bits of play dough that fell on the ground and talking with the kids.

Fearless Leader is awesome with the kids (she’s a mom), she got down on their level was so funny: “Do you want to color?  How about legos?  You look like a lego guy.”  I had to turn away to laugh.  I think I dated a guy once who was a “lego kind of guy.”

Everyone cleaned up and it was Bible Story time about how Jesus loves kids, kids in other parts of the world, and how they celebrate Jesus.  It’s hard to get them all to sit still and not talk.  Or fight.  Or redo their hair.  One kid took his shoe off and he was wearing Illini socks (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Illinois represent!).   He was from Illinois, too.  But in our conversation over tying shoes,  I learned that Illinois was 7 hours away from North Carolina (its actually 18, I drove it) and he was there with his cousins and there was snow.  He wasn’t sure what town they were in.  Classic.

The snacks, the coloring, the music – it was pretty cool.  I warmed up to the kids and they warmed up to me.  One cute little girl came up to me to tell me that this boy burped and didn’t say “Excuse me.”  Heehee.  Ah, boys.  I told her that’s how boys are sometimes…..what do you say?  She was very serious about it.  Our Fearless Leader had to remind me to break up some bickering boys – I don’t know what battles to fight!  I’m so inept at times with kids.  It was an experience, tho, and I did enjoy myself.  I had to run to work right after, but my spirits were lifted and I had a big ‘ol smile on my face.

“But Jesus said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.”  (Matthew 19:14)