Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Giving Out of Need

I firmly believe that you can't out-give God.  As a single parent who provided the *sole* support for my son for 13 years, I had some hard times.  When the AC unit needed to be replaced, I was the one who had to take out a loan to pay for it.  When the septic tank had to be pumped, that was my responsibility.  When toilets and sinks needed to be fixed, the bills came to me.  The list goes on.....

As a result (of these and divorce bills), I accrued a lot of debt.  What God has been doing in the last year is nothing short of amazing.  He has provided the means for me to pay off two of those debts--the latest one today!  The others are slated to be paid off in the new year.

He enabled me to double up or triple up on payments in the last six months.  I was looking at my tracking sheets today and am amazed at how He has provided for this!  All the while, He provided the means for me to continue to do for others less fortunate.

A few years ago I made the comment, "I give out of my own need."  There definitely have been many times over the years when I really couldn't afford to give or tithe, but I did it, sometimes by rearranging bills.  I knew that God would honor my giving and that He would provide....both for me and whomever He called me to bless.   He always has, sometimes in the most surprising ways.

You can not out-give God

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Hope, or is it Faith?

I have a problem with the words hope and faith being used synonymously.  In my mind, the words  hope and faith seem to be at odds with one another.  For a believer to say she "hopes" such and such will happen, she questions whether it will; therefore, her waffling is in contrast to faith.  The Bible tells us that faith is the "substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen."  Because it is impossible to please God without faith, I think believers have to go beyond the "hoping" stage; they have to believe it with certainty as though there can be no doubt. 

Let's look at the word substance in the "substance of things hoped for."  Dictionary.com lists this as one definition of substance:  "the actual matter of a thing, as opposed to the appearance or shadow; reality."  I like the last word:  reality.  So, I read that faith is the reality of what we hope for.  Think about that.  We are to accept that what we hope for is reality.  Maybe it has not come to fruition yet, but we are to treat it as though it will. 

Now, let's look at the second half of that verse:  "the evidence of things unseen."  Faith is to be the "evidence," or proof,  of things we haven't seen.  To me, this means we are to take that explanation above one step further:  We are to accept that what we hope for is reality that has not become known to us yet, but not only will it become known to us, but it is already real.  Our attitude is to treat it has already happened.

I suppose this is why I refuse to listen to my mother's negativity, and for the most part, she has stopped such talk around me.  I believe God is going to act on a certain issue in the future; in fact, He is setting things in motion now.  We forget as humans that God has His own timetable; we tend to want what we want when we want it.  So, in *my* mind, the issue is a done deal; I am merely waiting on Him to reveal what He is doing to the rest of us.

This, my friends, is the essence of faith. 

Friday, December 25, 2015


Christmas was different this year.  First of all, wearing a tank top on Christmas day and swatting bugs the moment I step outside does not put me in the Christmas spirit.  Almost everything about it was different.  Besides the unseasonable heat, this is the first Christmas without my son.  In June I put him on a plane for Colorado to let him  know his father, whom he had not seen since 2002.  (You can do the math and infer the rest.)  For the last many Christmas Eves, he and I went out to eat:  sushi, Outback....various places.  It was a tradition that has now died--perhaps with no chance of resurrection.

Fast forward to Christmas day.  The last few years we had gone to my parents' house, bringing the repeat Thanksgiving feast that I had toiled to prepare Christmas morning.  I mean, I have had turkey and the trimmings for *every* Thanksgiving and Christmas since I was a child.  It was t-r-a-d-I-t-I-o-n.  Traditions, by definition,  are not supposed to change.  However, last weekend my mother announced, in only the *way* she can, "I want no more turkey brought into this house!"  That did it.  Another tradition's coffin nailed shut.  The one bright side is that her edict freed me from cooking.  They came up with the idea for Beaufort Boil/Low country Boil/Frogmore Stew.  I helped Dad a little in the kitchen, but he pretty much cooked it himself.

My brother and sister-in-law came this morning as they always do.  I was shocked when they said they would stay for lunch, but I think that helped my feelings because it gave me someone else to talk to and made the day go quicker for me.

I  normally love this season, but I am quickly approaching the time of year I hate the most:  January and February.  Those months have always brought on seasonal depression in me, or at least that is what I attribute my feelings to.  The tears came today, but they were not as bad as I anticipated.

So, aside from seeing my brother and sister-in-law, the day was not a total loss.  I was there when my son called my parents, so I was able to talk to him.  I also focused on thinking about a few other people to take the focus off of myself and my feelings.

Christmas is but one day, so if you are reading this and have felt the doldrums today, remind yourself of that; it is but one day.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Update on Mother

For those who know me well, you know my mother has been under hospice care since March 1 of this year.  When she came home, she was placed in a hospital bed in her dining room.  She was hooked to oxygen, and her fingernails were purple.  Fast forward to last week.  She is now out of hospice care and under care of a small lowcountry home health care company.

Back in September my dad hired a part-time sitter to help Mother get up with the walker and to help him out some to allow him to come and go and to do light housekeeping.  She strengthened Mother's legs enough that she has been sitting up for hours each day for over a month.  Hospice released her last week.

Now, a physical therapist will come a few days a week to strengthen her legs to hopefully have her more mobile.  She is a worrier by nature and is worried her long-term health insurance will stop paying for the part-time sitter.  Of course, if she gets mobile enough, they won't need the sitter any more.

When she went to see her family doctor last week to get his ok for this new company to take over, he did not recognize her; he recognized my dad.  She has lost so much weight.  Once he remembered her, he told her she was lucky to be alive; that's how sick she was.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Degenerating Before My Eyes

I am bewildered, perplexed, confused; I really don't know which adjective is most apropos.  My country is degenerating before my very eyes.  Our Presidential primaries have not even begun, but what I am seeing disturbs me to the core.  I begin this by saying I am not a registered democrat or republican; I have voted both ways.  However, I am disheartened (and all the aforementioned adjectives) that the republican front-runner is a racist.  Not only is he a racist, but he flaunts it...an "in your face" brashness that demeans anyone other than white men.  Yes, I said he demeans anyone.other.than.white.men.  He disdains Hispanics, Muslims, women....anyone.other.than.white.men.  It disturbs me because in spite of this, or perhaps "because" of this, he is the front-runner.  

I was talking to my good North Carolina friend this evening, and he broached something I had not thought of---hadn't wanted to ponder.  This "candidate" is so popular because he has brought out the hidden racism in millions of people.  He is their candidate of choice.  This same friend said that contrary to uniting the country, the election of the first African-American President brought racism out of the closet (my paraphrase/interpretation of his words).  Where are we as Americans when a rabid candidate spewing hatred against all the above groups is a major party's current run-away favorite?

Another scary thought is that "if" he is the republican nominee, millions of self-professed "Christians" will vote for him..... simply because they would NEVER entertain voting for a democrat of any flavor. 

So, through this circumlocution, I come to this point:

If Jesus Christ were alive on this earth today, what would he say to this candidate and his millions of followers?  What would Jesus say about the hate-filled speech?  What would he say to the millions of alleged "Christians" who are following this man or will vote for him if he is the nominee...simply because they would NEVER vote for a democrat?   Would he rebuke them and say, "Depart from me; I never knew you," or "If you vote for him, don't do so under the guise of following me"? 

Getting Started

Some of you may want to begin helping others in a personal way,  beyond giving money to charities, but you may not know how to start.  It can be overwhelming to think of what to do.  The main thing I can say is to keep your eyes and ears open for *need*.  If you have a heart for helping those in need, God *will* place the need before you.  The key is to have your ears and eyes tuned in to listen, hear, and see.  

Some people carry Ziploc bags of personal hygiene products in their trunks to give out when they see a homeless person or others in need on the street.  Others carry nonperishable foods in their trunk for the same purpose.  When we think of buying food for the needy, it does not have to be cumbersome.  I have utilized the Dollar Tree, B1G1F offers at BiLo and Publix, and now a discount grocery store in my parents' town.  I begin with any protein products, then I look for bulk rice, canned fruit and veggies, and some treats for the children.  Now, let me relate a true story of how God placed a need in my face.

A few months ago a colleague of mine down the hall brought a girl to my room to eat something the colleague had brought from home.  She knew I had no students at the time.  When she called me into the hallway as the sixth grader was eating, she asked if she could periodically bring her down to eat.  Then, she related the child's home situation of the step-dad being out of work due to an injury.  The girls would get two meals a day at school, but there was not much for the weekends and at night.  Bingo!  God sent her to me for me to fulfill that need.  

Now, some people may discount that notion.  However, that was the one and only time Y has been sent to my room to eat.  That was simply a time God used to alert me to a need.  Once he shows you, He will show you what to do. Giving to world missions is fine, and I know churches who focus on that.  They tend to think homeless and poor people here are lazy, but I digress into another post topic. 
However, there are people amongst us every day who need help...truly need help.
Let's open our eyes and hearts to see.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Why are we here?

Why are we here--as in "Why are we on this earth"?  Some would say we are here to have as much fun and get as much as we can while we are here.  Very selfish, self-absorbed people feel this way. I used to wonder why I was born.  It has only become clear to me in the last few years that we are here to help others.  This is a harsh, cruel world, and it is just getting worse.  At times I feel I am on the outside looking in.  I see people obsessed with the latest gadgets and getting, getting, getting.  A couple of weeks ago there was a picture making the rounds on Facebook of a woman's Christmas tree that appeared to have all of Walmart under it.  She bragged on how all of that loot was for her handful of kids.  She defended her gluttony by saying she bought gifts throughout the year to get to this point.  So??  What??  That makes it alright?  There are kids going without Christmas gifts this year, and there are entire families homeless.  THAT is reality.  Last week our social worker told me that some of the angels on our angel tree were getting only what we provided; their mothers or families had nothing else to give them. So, while it takes that woman's kids hours to open their presents, there are those with nothing or those with nothing beyond what someone provided for the family.

Today I read of a Dominos pizza delivery woman in Minnesota who started a Gofundme page for a homeless man who was living in a camper with no electricity or water.  That woman, who probably works paycheck to paycheck herself, was the impetus for that man now having a new home funded through donations to that website.  That is why we are here--to do what we can for the least among us.  For, as Jesus said, "Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me." (Matthew 25:40)

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Christmases Past and Present

I find that I am living in the past a lot; I know it has to do with my mother's illness this year, as well as the fact that my father is now 88 years-old.  More and more I think about how this life is so transitory.  So, while there are things in my life right now that would be heartbreaking if I stewed there, I dwell on the past a lot....reverting back to my childhood, if even momentarily, comforts.

So, it is not surprising that I have been thinking about Christmases past.  When I was a child in the early to mid-70s, we had a white artificial tree with some (now) antique ornaments as well as ornaments I made.  (My current tree still has those handmade ornaments.)  To me, it was magical--like instant snow.  It was under that tree for a couple of years that two special dolls were born to me.  I still have them boxed in my garage, and they may make an appearance here later this month.  As a child, I didn't get a ton of toys, but what I did get was special.  I spent months pouring over the Sears Wish Book, marking things I would like Santa to bring.  My mother and I made Christmas cookies with cookie cutters, and I had a joyous time frosting them.  Those memories are priceless.  That was such a simpler time. 

Years later, when I was on my own and even after my son was born, we went to a tree farm and cut our tree.  Both in Walterboro and here there was a tree farm within miles of my house.  Then, several years ago, it got to be too much trouble finding a tree that we could get into the stand and have it *stay*.  So, a few years ago I set out to find an artificial tree.  I came across a retro white one in Big Lots, I think.  It is perfect for me.  This year it is just me, so the tree is all that is up.  This season of my life is not my own; I spend each weekend travelling back and forth to my parents' house to visit and help them.  As a result, this year there will be no international Santas, no village....just this retro tree filled with my homemade ornaments and a few special ones throughout the ages.  As long as I can, I will have a tree....that is really all I want.  The older I get, the more I want simplicity and solitude.  That will make my holiday.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Miracles DO Happen

When my mother came home from ICU March 1, she had congestive heart failure, and the nurse told me how long she had was anyone's guess.  Hospice took over.  Now, a few days before Christmas she is slated to be removed from hospice and transitioned to home health care.  Both provide monitoring by Medicare, but my parents will have to provide her personal hygiene products, which they can do.  Next week Dad and my brother will get her in the car to go to her family doctor, Dr. Haynes, for him to sign off on this.  It will be her first time out of the house since Februaury.

ANOTHER MIRACLE is that my sister in law has a thyroid issue, not Alzheimer's.  Because of insurance issues, several years ago a doctor did not thoroughly test her and labelled her as having had a stroke.  That led to a host of other issues with doctors, but a neurologist here in Beaufort finally did an MRI, and there is nothing wrong with her brain!

Two Christmas miracles .  I await a third.

Sunday, December 6, 2015


Gratitude---being grateful for what I have and the blessings God has bestowed....

I used to be the most negative person I know.  When I was in my 20s,  I believed that if the worst could happen, it would.  I can't pinpoint exactly when I began to change, but it happened after my cancer in 2007, I think.  That and the sub sequent surgeries and chemo grew my faith.  It has gradually increased until now when it is in full-blown mode. 

At this point in my life, I can not tolerate negativity.  I would say I have made a 360 degree spin around.  My life is not without its problems, which very few people know about, but it is a blessed life.  I look at people I know who have some of the most plum positions at work, and they are ungrateful, complaining people.  I just don't get it.

At this point, I am looking at retirement in 18 months......18 months.  Up until this past summer, I didn't imagine it would be possible for financial decisions I made 17 years ago.  Then, God arrived on the scene, and He arrived in a BIG way.  Aside from setting me up financially to retire, He has blessed me in so many ways:

1.  I get to spend quality time every weekend with my parents, who are 84 and 88.  Dad has been blessed exponentially, and Mother is even making inroads in her health.
2.  I have a plum position at work where I a now teach 3rd-5th graders.  I am still in awe of God's sense of humor in handing me this position.  Me?  with 3rd graders?  Who would have thought?!  Not me in a gazillion years!  :)
3.  I can impact people at work (big and little) with my baking.  He has given me a passion for baking, and dare I say, a gift?
4.  I am in good health, and so are my family members.
5.  I have 3, yes 3, part-time jobs.  If I plan right, I can work them all in the same day with my regular job.  Never in a bajillion years would I have believed I could work at home from my computer in my pajamas in front of the fire with my catavisors (supervisors).

This is somewhat of a rambling, but it is what is on my mind right now.

God is soooo   good; I do not understand ungratefulness.