Nothing to Say, But Can't Shut Up - haha! That's what I thought I should call my blog! What I write here might not mean a thing to you and I'm pretty o.k. with that. However, I have an active mind and like to sort things out out loud, so to speak. I also like to have deep conversations so feel free to jump in and comment. I'm glad you showed up and took the time to read. Welcome!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

And life goes on...

I walked in the door and there, right at the moment I crossed over the threshold, the flashback hit me. So quick! My eyes spotted the kitchen island holding the teapot. That teapot has been around my whole life. All 52 years and who knows how many before. I can't tell you if it's black or really dark brown, but it has red flowers of a sort on it. It's distinct, so it's not like I'm mistaken. Nope this is the teapot that was always used to make the tea.. unsweetened tea that we repeatedly and totally unsuccessfully, tried to sweeten in our glasses. And since sugar won't dissolve in cold water, we always had a big thick stack of sugar sitting in the bottom of the Fostoria glasses.

The Fostoria.. When you go get a glass, that's just what you get. And yes, they're still there. Some in the china cabinet that has been in that exact location as long as I remember, and some in the kitchen cabinet, next to the brown bowls, next to the gray coffee cups, near the gold trimmed, floral-painted, just the right size for ice cream dessert bowls. Where they've been my WHOLE life... and this is the 2nd set of built-in cabinets, but the dish storage remained the same. I remember (barely) when the first new sink and the built-in cabinets came... I was born in 1961. A few years have passed.

I'm at my grandmother's house. Let me work through the math... My grandmother died in 1995 (maybe 96) and was 79 years old. She would be about 96 now. The house was built when she was 10, if memory serves me right. That would put it about 1927. My great grandfather worked the railroad and always had work during the depression. My "Granny" (great-grandmother) fed hungry folks on the front porch. She always had some "extra".

My father was raised in that house. His parents divorced when he was young and his mother moved the 2 of them in with her mother. Somewhere along the way, my great grandfather died and Grandmothers siblings grew up and moved on, as did my dad, leaving my Granny and Grandmother living together. My grandmother was working woman and kept that house in tip-top operating shape. When she died, her younger sister moved in, bringing many of her own things, but thankfully, keeping many of the old treasures.

When I married, my grandmother gave me 6 sets of her china with the promise of me receiving the rest upon her death. The china had been purchased bit by bit from Woolworth's. Grandmother's promise was kept and when I was home for her funeral, Aunt Betty gave me the rest of the china. She didn't like seeing it leave the house, but she sent me home with it anyway, honoring my grandmother's wish.

I'm back in town now because Aunt Betty is dying. It hasn't been a long process. Thanksgiving she was "fine" - having some back pain, but "fine". She didn't really know (or want to know) until very recently that she was full of untreatable cancer. It's all been very fast. So I'm home. I want to say "Goodbye" to her face. It's a joy, a privilege. I'm going to miss her, but it is an honor to get to help see her off. I've massaged her arms, wet her lips, offered water (such tiny sips), sung to her, looked deep in her eyes and told her I love her and thanked her for loving me. What more can you do?

I've roamed through the house today, and, with my daddy, laughed and laughed as we found beautiful reminders of who Grandmother was. She's the one who ran that house for so long and her fingerprints are all over it. The boxes, paper boxes from the office, neatly packed with items - this and that, then tied with string, each carefully labeled and the contents actually match the label... after all this time! She wasn't a hoarder by any stretch. Her house was uncluttered. But she saved things. Funny things. She didn't waste anything. One box was tied with several pieces of ribbon patched together with knots to make it long enough. Another contained perfectly shaped, non-smashed bows from packages (how I remember her neatly cutting them off the wrapping w/ little scissors!), ornaments (and Christmas lights! so vintage they're actually vintage!), her nativity set that my brother always played with, a picture (just one) of my Granddaddy (her ex husband), my wedding invitation - in perfect condition, with the invite to the rehearsal dinner and the placard and my thank you note. I even heard that they found (this week) a pair of her stockings in a neat piece of plastic labeled "Do not wear. Hole in toe." Now, why oh why did this neatie keep that? To tie up the roses? She died 17 years ago. My. My.

The Pollyanna Game we played. Have you played Pollyanna? This one has wooden pieces. The Old Maid set labeled "full deck". The carefully wrapped saw (to protect you from the blade, you know). Her bed in its always place. There is more stuff in the house now, since Betty moved in 17 years ago, but the old stuff is still there and in pristine condition. Most of it doesn't matter to anyone, I guess. I want my brother to have that nativity. I hope for the table linens for my son's wedding., but I've been given the china already, so I don't want to be greedy. I'm thrilled my daddy was there to identify his old art box - no, no paint in it, but rather paintings he did when he was a boy! Oh boy! The real treasure is all of the memories. Sliding down the stairs. Pasting Wildlife Federation Stamps into a spiral book (Grandmother's idea of fun for kids). The comfort of knowing where to look for a glass and what it will look like and feel like. The scrambled eggs, served in a small bowl that never, ever stuck to the iron skillet.

She is gone, but her life has continued with us in our wonderful memories. Betty will go, too. But these beloved people will not be forgotten. I've shared them with you and you will help me remember.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013


Oh, Lord, give me the words. Help me express the things you're teaching me. May the words flow in a way that is clear.

I know or have spoken to some famous and/or powerful people. There. I said it. Brushes with greatness  as they say. I've had them. I like them and yes, I'm fairly enamored by them. Please don't judge me for being honest about it.

I'm questioning it, though. Judging myself. Trying to understand why I'm impressed by the perception of power. I know none of those folks are going to tap my shoulder and say, "Come. Let me make you famous and help you get lots of money." Truth be told, I don't want that really. (well, not always) Increasingly, I think what I want is a platform. I have to check my motives here and be sure that I'm being honest about that. I remember craving some type of fame, some type of notoriety... for what I don't know, I have nothing particular to offer - no remarkable talent, skill or wisdom ... I used to want people to be impressed by my singing and want me to make albums. I remember that. In my youth. But now... no. I'd do it, but I don't crave it or dream about it. Still... I am impressed by celebrity... kind of... I think...

2 years ago I volunteered for a position of no prestige. I was serving at a big event. The big event was being led by a family member and I was asked (by someone totally outside the family) to man a section near the stage because "they needed someone who wouldn't be starstruck". I remember saying "Don't be mistaken. I'm still star struck."

Still thinking here. Pondering. Searching for the words. What do you need to know? What do you need to think about? What do I need to say?

Sunday, a woman approached me. She spoke to me about my business and another woman in my business. Upon hearing my name, the other woman said "She's not anybody. I'd know if she was." Peeved. That's me. Peeved. But the thing is, I am most certainly "not anybody". No one whose name you'd know. Just a girl. Next door. Selling cosmetics. Going to church. Normal.. Not a world changer.

Now, one more story for the foundation I'm building for my actual point. Yesterday, our famous family member was honored with the invitation to deliver the prayer at the Presidential Inauguration. Not at the Lions' Club or Rotary Club, but of the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. Yeah. That inauguration.

I'm closer. Narrowing in. Focusing. The words are coming.

HE IS A NOBODY, TOO. Was. Wants to be. Has spent his whole life in ministry seeking ONE THING: To make the name of Jesus known and to lose his own and now his own is known. How. Do. You. Process. That. ?

I lay awake on my bed thinking on it. Listening for the still small voice. I've been listening for a few days leading up to all of this. One thing is becoming more and more clear: All of the "somebody"s  were once nobody's. They were normal everyday guys who took one step and then another and made great discoveries. Steve Jobs - a 10 year old who got into computers. Mary Kay Ash - a retired woman who was sick of women not being treated fairly in the workplace. A 3 Star General in my family - a boy from a little town in North Carolina who later served as Multinational Corps Commander in Iraq. The founder of a ministry that fights against sex trafficking - a middleaged woman in a normal church. Beth Moore - an Army brat, I believe.

My brain, stirred in the middle of the night - World changers started somewhere - not seeking fame or fortune, but doing the small things they were called to do in their area of influence, in faith, leaning on God, in His power eventually being used for God's "immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine". Moses. Paul.  Rahab. David. Peter. A guy in our family who loves Jesus - steps out with one clear mission: to raise up a faceless generation for the reknown of Christ, with a vision for seeing 1000's of collegiate-age kids praising the name of Jesus, believing a large gathering of Christians should impact their local community and work together to do something bigger than one can do alone...

How do I say it? What are you hearing?

Here is where I want to get: WE CAN BE THE CHANGE. As one individual, we may not have much influence, but using what we have, joining forces with others around us, we can each individually and certainly corporately can make a difference. How? Well, when 5000 were gathered together and hungry, a boy gave some loaves and fishes. Combined with Jesus' power that small offering fed 5000 with 12 basketfuls leftover. A woman gave her last 2 cents - It was considered more valuable than larger contributions. David, considered "not anybody" took down a mighty opponent with a stone and a slingshot, "with what he had in his hand" (Beth Redman).

What is in your hand? What can you influence? What would Jesus partner with you to change? A (sorry, Louie) scrawny boy from Atlanta GA whose claim to fame could be that his dad designed the Chick Fil A logo, my husband's first cousin, whose chosen passion and vocation seeks to hide his own name and offer up, unashamed, the name of Jesus is being noticed for bringing together a band of activists and a bunch (!) of college kids to raise awareness and even seek to end slavery in our world today and as such, has garnered the attention of the President of the United States and will now be praying over our entire nation before so very many people. He's been given one of the largest stages to be the voice for 27,000,000 slaves. And he was just a normal guy - like you. like me. "not anybody"

I want to be a nobody like that - not for myself (Lord, please may that be true) - but to change one small but ever-growing circle. What's in my hand?

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Unexpected Blessings & Opportunities to Bless

Lots on my heart and mind today and I'm having some trouble figuring out the best way to tell this story... I'll just act like you are here; I'll start talking and see where we end up.

I've just finished my participation in a pretty noteworthy event called Passion 2013. Passion events are organized for college age students (18 - 25) and have been going on for about 16 years. This year 60,000 students filled the GA Dome with very few empty seats and 3000 (older) volunteers all leaning in to make this a stellar opportunity to proclaim the name of Jesus, teach from the Bible and ignite students to go out into the world and make a difference, in this case to raise awareness to END IT (modern-day slavery).

Passion events take place around the world, 5 per year, in places like South Africa, Uganda and Vancouver. The organizers are Louie and Shelley Giglio and the speakers usually include the likes of John Piper and Beth Moore along with others. The music is always invigorating, inspirational and top-notch written by well-known Christian artists like Chris Tomlin, Matt Redman, David Crowder and LeCrae, among others.

Now that you have a brief and totally inadequate description of the nature of the event, let me tell you what is exciting and why I desire to be a part. First of all, I'll just name drop for a moment and say that Louie and Shelley are family. We know them; we love them. We know their motives are pure and that they can be trusted. Their desire to get people to live passionately for Jesus is what drives them. They are willing to go quite literally to the ends of the earth to share the message of freedom in Christ. We, the church, are to be alive in Christ and Louie believes that we should be able to muster up the kind of excitement for Jesus that we have for football. I can stand behind that. Jesus gave Himself for me, paying the penalty for my sin, which was great, breathed new life into me and raised me to walk in newness of life. He enables me to live my life in a way that I'm quite sure I couldn't and wouldn't without Him in my life. It's worth some joy and excitement!

Other reasons, I like to be present and serve are:
  • It's just plain exciting to see thousands of college students raise their voices to hymns as quickly as they do rock music. And while some of those new hymns are pretty rocking, the kids are just as moved and moving when they sing less "rocking" ones. 
  • I get to be part of something bigger than myself.
  • I find that I can be slap worn out and still invigorated, even energized by serving these "kids".
But the main reason I like doing it, is the unexpected part. My job both times I served has been to be in the arena, part of the Touch Team, seating people, keeping lines moving, picking up trash, encouraging people as I have opportunity, putting on a big smile and making everyone feel welcome and important. Each time, I've been presented with unexpected blessings and opportunities to bless. 

The blessings most often come directly from the kids and you never know when. Suddenly a beautiful face appears and one says "Thank you so much for what you're doing." Big burly boys come in and offer great hugs, high fives, knuckle bumps. Another says, "I don't mean to be forward, but can I just pray for you?". This happens all day, each day. 

One of my blessings led to an opportunity to bless. I was cleaning up the trash: water bottles, granola wrappers, paper airplanes (goodness! paper airplanes!!) and I noticed, on the back row, 2 girls still sitting in my section. A soft voice, smiling eyes, a tentative demeanor: "You're pretty." I say, "What did you say?", 3 times just so I can hear it again. We laugh, we visit. Her name is Shundreka. I don't remember her friend's name.

The next day Dreka is back in my section and she's hanging out with me. We're getting to know each other while I'm seating the others. "The floor's full, start filling the orange seats. No seat-saving after 10:30." "Yeah, I'm working on my GED." "That's great. How old are you? Come on in. Welcome. The floor's full. Start filling the orange seats. Bathroom's that way." "Nineteen. I want to go to college."  "Aw. That's a great plan. Hi, guys! Welcome! Hope you're ready for the day!! Get any sleep??". More conversation. Bits and pieces. A family separated. Family broken up. Foster homes for some, but not for her: an institutional facility. Turned 18 - had to leave. Mom got her out. Mom went back on drugs. Wants to help women learn to be good mothers. Learned about kids by taking care of some of her siblings. Her birthday is in September. She's learning about me, too. She figures out she's a year and a month younger than my daughter. We talk more. 

I meet Dreka's Transition Facilitator, Tabitha. She got the money to bring 4 kids in a car from Little Rock AR to Atlanta GA. I get the name of the organization that's helping, Immerse Arkansas. "When did she have to take care of the family for 3 weeks on her own?" "When she was 5." How does your heart not break? Tabitha tells me she can tell far worse stories than the ones we've heard from former slaves (www.enditmovement.com). I give my card. I get contact information. Now what? I don't know. But I believe I've been chosen to influence this young woman. Please pray on this point!

Other opportunities came my way:
  • Please pray for Tori. She was in a bad car accident last night and is in a coma.
  • I can't find the boy I'm supposed to drive home. *tears*
  • My mom would've let me go around looking dumb with that tag hanging out.
  • Getting to seat 6 people on row 2 and the hugs that came later.
  • The Dome security guard who I find investing in Shundreka, telling her how to find grants for college. Encouraging her. Believing in her.
Now you just tell me... who got the biggest blessing? I've never been so tired and so simultaneously invigorated. Yep, I'll go back - God willing. And I earnestly pray for God's blessing to fall mightily on Shundreka and pour out some of His "immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine" that we read about in the Bible.