Thursday, September 25, 2008

Lighten Up

The bed in my daughter’s old room is covered with blankets and pillows. And curtains and bedspreads and lengths of fabric and silk plants.

It all started about six weeks ago when I was cleaning out closets in preparation of storing my son’s belongings during his exchange-student year in Japan. I found more than I remembered being there.

Then twice in two days I’ve come across stories of people who decided to clean their homes of excess. I sat down to my Scripture-of-the-day calendar this morning: it was about offering back to God so that He can re-offer it to others. When there’s a subject God hits that often in that short a period, I’ve learned to take heed.

Here in Charlotte, there’s a place called The Butterfly Bin. (Actually, they are in the process of moving to a new warehouse in Huntersville.) It’s a place where we can donate all the things it takes to set up house: furniture, bedding, linens, dishes, kitchen essentials, small appliances, curtains, d├ęcor items, etc. People who are setting up their homes and are in need (for example: young folk who have aged out of the foster care system, women emerging from prison, homeless families getting back on their feet- all pre-screened by various organizations) are given vouchers to “shop” for free there.

What better place to donate my good-but-unused-and-doing-no-good-in-the-closet stuff? Here, it’s just taking up space. There, it can warm a home and a heart.

How about your cabinets and closets? Are they like mine, crammed full of things you can let go of? I found a pretty set of dishes and three mixing bowls to add to my pile. And I’m going back in.

Saturday, September 20, 2008


Hi, y'all.

I haven't been posting much. It has been a busy season:

All three of my children moved within days of each other. One went back to college, one went back to Georgia and the other is now in Japan. Yes, Japan, as in halfway around the world (or thirteen hours ahead). Helping your children move can make muscles ache- and hearts, too!

I've gone back to work part-time as I have been relatively asymptomatic. It's crazy there, since I've taken off so much time due to illness. I am still not caught up. Plus, I'm the administrator for our group chiropractic booth at the Southern Women's Show (this weekend)and have spent mucho hours on that. Try getting eight doctors' offices and schedules into one cohesive format! My head hurts. Good thing I know a chiropractor... or eight. Wait. That's WHY my head hurts. :)

I've been writing, but it's mostly been scripts. Our church has a drama team that performs short (2-4 minute) sketches on some Sundays, generally to reinforce a sermon topic or series. We've needed fresh scripts and God has been sitting me down to give them to me. Sometimes it's during my "designated" writing time. Sometimes He gets me out of bed in the middle of the night. (As if He's on Japanese time!)

Then there's my ongoing search for answers to my health issues. My immunologist agreed that Mayo Clinic is a good "next step". However, as of October 1, Mayo is not participating with my primary insurance. They have suggested Duke instead. Duke does accept my insurance. So all the necessary referrals and pre-certs are in the works. It's waiting time again.

We did find out that my illness is NOT related to my high Epstein-Barr virus titers. There was no DNA evidence in my blood that EBV was active. There is also no blood evidence of lymph system cancer. So we ARE ruling things out and narrowing the possibilities. Of course, it's gotta be something quirky and unusual. That's just par for my course! :) Good thing my blood type is B+ (be positive!)!!!

OK, consider yourself updated. Now I have to finish reading about tomorrow's Sunday School lesson, write in my FAITH journal, do my Precepts homework, mop the bathroom, do a load of laundry, make out the grocery list, skin some tomatoes and chop the rest of the salsa ingredients, prepare and can the salsa...

Oh, and whadda ya know... another train just blew its whistle and flew on by! I'm taking that as a reminder to pray!

Y'all got your tickets?

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Can You Hear the Whistle?

It’s 1:00 am.

I had been asleep for about two hours, but God woke me. I could hear the approach of one of the forty-nine freight trains that pass our house every day. It sounded angry and out-of-control, as if it were heading for the house. The whistle blew and it passed on by, but I was left with the thought of what would happen if a train derailed nearby. We live within 100 yards of the tracks. Rail cars could easily buckle into our home and our lives would end instantly. I shook off the image and returned to sleep.

I dreamt that I had been stung by a bee and my throat was swelling closed. It was so vivid that I awakened coughing, alarmed that my tongue was thickening. It was not so, but it was enough to understand that God was getting my attention.

The message? Our perch on this planet is precarious. It could be over in a second.

I could not go back to sleep. When God wakes me, I have learned that I need to get up and go to the computer and write. This time has an urgency I cannot ignore.

Am I sitting here in the middle of the night because there is someone searching in the middle of the night?

Do you know Him?

So much of my life I thought I did, but it was a superficial relationship. He had to bring me through heartache to show me that I needed Him, to alert me that, yes, I had accepted Him but had not allowed Him into the control room. I was still trying to run my own life. It was like driving with my eyes closed.

Do you know Jesus? Are you prepared to meet Him?

Life could be over in the next ten minutes for any of us. It is only by the grace of God that we have breath in our lungs. We cannot take the risk of not knowing Him. Death comes at its appointed time and waits for no one. Not you. Not me.

It begins with the knowledge that we cannot reach Heaven on our own. Good deeds won’t get us there. Every one of us has missed the mark, has messed up. We might not think it fair, but God demands perfection from us in order for us to come into His presence. We are without hope… condemned. The price for our sin is death. The price must be paid. And that’s where Jesus comes in.

When Jesus died, He paid the price for our sin. And He didn't stop there. He conquered death and left that grave. What hope that is for us!

Now we can come into God’s presence. All we have to do is accept that gift that He paid for with His own life. We come to believe in Him, His death and His resurrection. We acknowledge our need for a Savior because we understand that we cannot save ourselves. We ask Him to do that for us. We confess that we’ve made a mess of things trying to run our lives without His direction and we ask Him to take over. We stop going down the path we were traveling, stop doing the things we already know in our hearts are not pleasing to Him, turn around and allow Him to lead. We step out in faith.

And that’s the first step, but it’s a big one.

That’s the step that keeps you from having an eternal address in Hell, where there is no God, where there is no Savior, where there is no hope, where continual torment has no relief. You think things are bad right now? At least there is hope while you still live. There is no light within the black jaws of Hell. No torch to keep evil at bay. No Indiana Jones. No one, no thing to save you, forever.

Are you ready? Or are you on the path towards destruction?

Accept Jesus. That’s all I can say to you. Do it now. I may not be here tomorrow to tell you again. You may not be here tomorrow to hear it again. And when you’ve finally given up and given in and given it to God, tell someone. Did a person just now come to your mind? That’s the Holy Spirit telling you who to tell. That’s the person who’s been praying for YOU, specifically, by name. And tell me, too. That’s why I’m writing to you. That’s why I’m now sitting here at 2:00am.

I’m awake, and I hear another train.