Tired of Trying to Fit In? Why It’s Time to Start Acting Like a Child

When my grandson, Arthur, was born, and because his older brother’s name is Henry, one of my very good friends when she heard the news, exclaimed, “How precious! Now you have two kings in your family, King Arthur and King Henry.” I hadn’t thought of that, but because I love the C.S. Lewis series, The Chronicles of Narnia, my brain went immediately to the first book where the most lovely and sweet proclamation was heralded over the main characters of the story as they were crowned kings and queens. “Once a king or queen of Narnia, always a king or queen of Narnia.” Thinking of my two grandsons, and my granddaughter, Lucy—also the name of the youngest girl in the story who becomes royalty—I asked my friend who made vinyl imprints items for fun if she could make t-shirts and a little dress with that quote from the book written on them.

When my daughter, the mother of Lucy, and my daughter-in-law, Henry and Arthur’s mom, got together recently, they did a photoshoot with their kiddos wearing their new duds. The results, so sweet—two pictures to be hung proudly on any wall—but it’s those other twenty-three proofs, those failed attempts to get all three looking at the camera at the same time, that are most dear to me. For it’s in these shots, the personalities of my grands are truly seen. And they are hilarious!

Tired of Trying to Fit In? Why It's Time to Start Acting Like a Child

Lucy, Arthur, Henry

As I sat chuckling, actually downright laughing over the antics of Lucy, Henry, and Arthur, it hit me how their craziness, goofiness, and silliness made them all the more endearing. How they were just themselves, nothing held back (as you can see from the pics). How they felt free—they didn’t know how to act any different—to be who God created them to be.

Truth be told, we all start that way. Somewhere along the line though, living in this upside-down fallen world, we become less and less our true selves, often imprisoned by the self-inflicted need to be accepted. Trying to please the world, we let go of innocence doing what we know we shouldn’t do, betraying the child within. No longer trusting we are loved for who we are, we try on different faces, hoping that one will be the one that wins approval. Continue reading

How to Keep Our Hearts from Wandering

how to keep our hearts from wandering

The summer of 2012 was one of the hottest and driest times I had ever witnessed since moving to Middle Tennessee in 2004. That Spring, barely any precipitation had fallen. The ground was so parched that patches of dirt began to appear in what had seemed from summers gone by, to be a never-ending lush of green. On Independence Day that year, a rogue Roman Candle caused much excitement for our family as it blazed a streak of fire across our lawn.

But for the past two summers, we have had a LOT of rain. So much so, it feels like we no longer live in Middle Tennessee but now reside in the tropics. Tree frogs, crawling up the outside of our house, are more the norm than not. Soaking showers, gulley-washers, and soft mists, seeming to be non-stop have made this July one of the greenest we’ve seen.

So it was odd to me—it truly did stun me—when my friend and neighbor, whose family had been dairy and hay farmers since the mid-1950s, announced the other day, “We surely need the rain.” I could hardly believe those words were coming out of her mouth. But in continuing to listen, rainfall, unless it is more perpetual than not, will not do the trick. The wet and gray which from my viewpoint had seemed to be constant—making me feel like mold was creeping up my walls at record pace—was to her, barely sufficient.

Her words, were not lost on me as I began to think on the truth of what she had said. Rain one day, followed by days without, will never be enough. The same holds true concerning food and water. Without both of those, we would eventually perish. But what about those things less tangible? Do we give them the same needed attention? I don’t think we do. Friendships, even relationships among family members, taken for granted or no longer nurtured, can fade and be lost when some sort of connection is not maintained. And our relationship with God, if not tended to, can become so distant, it feels nonexistent. Continue reading

Why It’s So Hard to Let People Love Us

Why It's So Hard to Let People Love Us

My dear husband does not like to get gifts. Not birthdays or holidays. Not even Christmas or Easter. Not anytime or anywhere. Nope. Nada. Nyet. The other day—mind you, it’s only June—when I surprised him with the complete DVD series of Hogan’s Heroes, which he truly loves, while thanking me, he quickly deemed it his early birthday and Christmas present adding that there was absolutely no need to get him anything else. I just have to shake my head and smile because my kids and I love to give gifts. And we especially love birthdays. It’s a celebration of life.

Giving and receiving. It’s not so hard to do. Or is it? For some, giving is a way of life. Making someone smile. Bringing that ray of sunshine into a cloudy day. Loving. Ministering. Caring. But flip the switch and be the one given to, and whoa, hold the phone. It’s been said, “It’s better to give than to receive,” but I would submit it’s a whole lot easier to be the one bestowing than it is to be the one accepting. In a world where according to The Beatles, all we need is love, why then is it so hard to be loved on? Continue reading

The Real Reason We All Fight Change

Kid Hiding from Change

My daughter, Laura, doesn’t like change. Most of us don’t for that matter, but when she was a little girl, anything great or small that altered her universe, would send her into a tailspin for exactly two weeks. You could bank on it.

One time that stands out, happened when we made a major move from Missouri to northern California. We found that because of overcrowding in the public schools where we were going, it would be better for Laura, an upcoming fourth grader, to make the switch and attend private school.

First, there was the digging-her-heels-in and wrinkling-her-nose-in-protest-phase, followed by the argumentative, why-this-couldn’t-possibly-be-good-for-her-life, angle. (At that time, I was convinced if she had chosen to be a lawyer by profession, any firm would have gladly welcomed her.) Continue reading

What Submission is Truly About and Why We Need to Do It

What Submission is Truly About and Why We Need to Do It

My husband, Jerry, loves to go to the dentist. Unlike anything I’ve ever seen, he goes willingly into the office, full of glee, grinning from ear-to-ear. Not me. Not anything close. In fact, not at all. To get me there, it’s almost as if someone has to push me from behind, fighting firmly-planted feet and heels that are digging trenches as I’m forced to go. But when I’m in the chair, I know the fastest way out of there is to open my mouth wide, relax every muscle I can think of, and let it happen. The funniest thing—my dentist always tells me that I’m one of the easiest patients to work on. Little does he know.

Submission. That’s all it is. Letting something happen to you that you would not normally yield to willingly. Like letting the dentist put that medieval tool in your mouth to drill out decay—a horrible thought to shudder at in itself. Or following the not-so-wanted-diet your doctor has prescribed to save your life. Or letting the spouse who wants to plant a kiss on you when you’re not quite finished with the discussion even though they are. That’s what it is to submit. Continue reading

Propensity to Worry

Worry

I have been there before and visit far more often than I want. That place where my natural self has the gifted propensity to get tangled in knots. To go to the worst case scenario. To land in the mud puddle of worry, only to crawl out dripping with anxiety. To end up with a topsy-turvy bag full of unsettled emotions like Sebastian the crab, in Disney’s Little Mermaid when he announced with much drama, “My nerves are shot.”

My latest and greatest—even though sadly it seems to be quite commonplace, although for me was a first-time experience—landed me in the world of cyber-theft. Unaware of what was happening at the time, whether it was online or at a business I visited, somehow, my credit information was lifted allowing some dear person in a different state to live the easy life, enjoying gift cards, pizza, and a tank of gas at no cost to themselves. But on this end when all came to light, uneasiness began to creep into my mind, the what-ifs muddling my thoughts. Continue reading

What Happens When We Give Up Control

What Happens When We Give Up Control

When I was eight years old, my mom, younger sister, and I went to hear my older brother’s high school choir’s Christmas performance where he would be singing a solo. From the first note that came out of his mouth, I was mesmerized, for I had never heard such a rich, wonderful sound. If it were something that could be touched, that beautiful voice I was hearing would be akin to a deep, burgundy velvet. I’ll never forget it. To this day, when I think back on that night, I can still see my brother on the stage—the lights low and the spotlight on him—and can still hear him singing.

So it was no surprise—when we were spring cleaning our home (and my mother had us doing that, on what seemed like a weekly basis)—that as I was caterwauling the tune of the day that was floating through my head while hand buffing the hardwood floors, my brother who was begrudgingly doing the same, in his most loving, sibling way told me, “You sound like a frog. PLEASE stop making that noise.” Wilting like a flower without water, because surely, he would know better than anyone if I had talent or not, I tucked away my dreams of having a beautiful voice like his. End of story. End of singing for me. Forever. Continue reading

What Happens When We Wrestle with God

What Happens When We Wrestle with God

We finally have it. A name for our home. After six and a half long years of several attempts—”The Farm at Gosey Hill,” “The Dog House and The Menagerie” (partly because of the many comical moments here with the animals), and even the more eloquent, “Grace Abounds,” —none have seemed to be the right fit. It wasn’t until the name “P’Niel,”—which Jacob named the place where he saw God face-to-face, yet his life was spared—added to the earlier possibility of “Grace Abounds,” that Jerry and I, with a sigh of contentment and relief, felt the quest had finally ended. Continue reading

How Would You Wash Judas’s Feet?

My husband, Jerry, has told me of the fun-loving antics of his Uncle Gideon, but what his uncle did one Sunday to his mom, Jerry’s grandmother, whom everyone called Granny, is one of the most humorous and endearing stories I’ve ever heard.

Granny was a member of a primitive baptist church in Hatley, Mississippi, located right outside of Amory. Every three months, as an act of service and humility, this congregation participated in a foot washing ceremony, with everyone taking part in it.

Back in the 1890s, women did not wear nylon stockings, but thick black scratchy woolen ones. The night before this particular Sunday, after everyone had turned in, Gideon confiscated his mama’s stockings filling them with soot from the fireplace, emptying them back to remove any telltale sign of his mischief. The next morning in front of God and everyone, Granny removed her stockings revealing black sooty legs. Without a word, she turned and amidst the snickering congregants who were trying hard to hold it in, knowingly pointed her finger at her son. Taking full responsibility, he threw his head back in impish delight. Even though she wasn’t pleased with him in the moment, and probably spanked him across the county line and back again, later she might have broken into a small chuckle herself, for she was like that. And Gideon was known for his pranks. Continue reading

What Prayer Teaches Us About Trust

Every year at this twitterpating time, (according to Bambi and friends), we get a host of bird couples making their newlywed nests in our gutters, atop beams, or as safe-as-it-seems-to-them, any nook or cranny. And without fail, there is usually one couple that for one reason or another, seems to be a half a bubble off plumb in their choices.

There was the kamikaze bluebird who inexplicably would follow Jerry from room to room, flying so hard into each window leaving feathers as he went, that his sweet wife would watch from a nearby branch or window with a somewhat stunned look of “what are you doing?” Or there were the doves who nearly died of heart failure every time we walked onto our side porch because they had built their nest in the heart-shaped grapevine wreath that hung right beside the door. Or there’s this year’s winner, Mr. and Mrs. Sparrow, who have already tried and failed in four separate attempts in three different locations, to build their home, the first unsuccessful site, my fault. Continue reading