Smile for the Joy of Others

Smile for the Joy of Others

Friday, August 31, 2012

Carpool vs Whirlpool

Boys: "Momma, can we get a bath in your carpool?"

Me: "It's called a whirlpool."

Boys: "Whatever..."

Me: "Oh, no you didn't just 'whatever' me about carpool vs whirlpool. Carpool stresses me and the whirlpool relaxes me. For the sake of my sanity.. you need to get this right!"

Boys: "Well, can we?"

Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Old Rugged Cross

Please Note: This blog is strictly based on my convictions.  It's not meant to judge or criticize others for their choices.  I know not all think like me and that God convicts everyone differently.  This is my story of one of many convictions God lays on my heart.

Several vacations ago at the beach I saw a Bama t-shirt that I almost bought.  This t-shirt was really cute and really wanted it.  I wanted JB to be proud of me for supporting his beloved Crimson Tide and this shirt was the way to go.  It screamed Roll Tide.  It even sported a cross amongst the "Roll Tide", "Go Bama" slogans.  The cross was decorated in the sacred houndstooth pattern. I could show my religion and Bama loyalty at the same time.  I needed this shirt for the right reasons, so it seemed, Jesus and Bama.

I lingered around it vacillating back and forth on whether it was worth the price tag and JB's approval and pride. After the mental battle of price vs Bama pride...the $40 price tag was enough to leave it hanging on the rack.  But I couldn't get that shirt out of my mind.  I couldn't decide if it was because I really liked it and regretted not buying it or if it just intrigued me that much.  I kept thinking: "Jesus and Roll Tide...Jesus and Roll Tide...Crimson and's cute...the cross, it was was trendy, it was was was was cute, trendy, fashionable with little meaning."  That's IT...IT was all of the following: cute, fashionable, trendy, popular, cool...BUT most of all...the cross lacked meaning.  I had come to the revelation, if you will, that the cross on the shirt had little meaning. It was overshadowed by Roll Tide and houndstooth.  It shared the spotlight with other and fashion. It was cute, it was fashionable, it was trendy...all the characteristic man has made the cross what it is today.  All the characteristics that compromise, minimize and belittle the true meaning of the cross.  And then my reasons for not buying it changed.  The price tag of the shirt no longer mattered but the price of the cross was overwhelming to me.

And that's when I was convicted.  That's when God broke my heart of what I had made of His cross to be in my own world.  I had monogrammed and appliqued his cross to sell as fashionable, trendy and cute accessories and furthermore, I wore and used his cross for those same reasons. Yet, I rarely shared the true meaning to those who needed it.  I displayed his cross for the world to see as nothing more than a fashionable trend of decor.

For me, there are 2 realities of the cross. One being no greater than the other. Both needing to be remembered for the reality of its own meaning. And neither being fashionable, cute or trendy.

The first realities of the cross: it's rugged, harsh, cruel, heavy, gruesome and ultimately stained with the blood of an innocent man.  It was taken on by a Saviour in my place by a way of death.  It was where I should have been but instead saved from it because Christ found me worthy enough to take my place.  I deserve the death on that cross.  I am no better than the thief who was next to Jesus.  Now tell me, what is cute, fashionable and trendy about that? In understanding that I deserve the very death that Christ sacrificially took from me, I can't fathom the cross to be cute, fashionable and trendy. My sins put him on that cross and nothing about that can be deemed cute, fashionable or trendy. 

The 2nd reality of the cross: it's sacrificial love, it's life everlasting, it's victory over death.  It's freedom from eternal damnation, it's peace, it's joy, it's faith, it's hope and the greatest, it's love.  It covers the sins of all men.  It forgives and even more it redeems.  It's truth, it's healing, it's merciful and full of grace. When you treasure these realities and live with them in your heart you will find that nothing about them are cute, fashionable or trendy either because cute, fashionable and trendy are superficial, conditional, in the eye of the beholder and not the heart. They are ever changing and evolving with the culture. And sadly, this is has been done to the cross; not by God but by man, himself, including me.

Until next time,
The Old Rugged Cross

Monday, August 27, 2012

Oh, Deer!

Looking at CB's picture from school: "What is this supposed to be?"

CB: "It's 2 deers with a moth pooping on them."

Getty-Up Horsey

JB calls me: "After Walmart, the boys and I are gonna pick up some Chic Fil A.  Do you want some?"

Me: "No thanks, I've already eaten a sandwich."

Me asking the boys as they enter the house: "Where's the Chic Fil A?"

CB: "Well, it's kinda hard to explain."

Me asking JB as he enters the house: "Where's the Chic Fil A?"

JB, who is most frustrated: "I told them if they act good in Walmart, we would get Chic Fil A"

Me: "Well, were they that bad?"

JB: "CB riding BB like a horse was the final straw!"

Friday, August 24, 2012

For Reader's Only

I haven't always been a reader.  I guess because in high school and college I had to read out of necessity and not entertainment.  It wasn't until after college and married that I became an avid reader.  My mom doesn't care for reading books and my dad and sister read sporadically but no one else in my immediate family is as enthusiastic about it as I am.  But I do have an aunt, whom my mother says I should have been her child, that is an avid reader.  So I like to think I inherited this honorable hobby from her.

I mean, I like it so much that I have to monitor myself when reading a good book or I'll spend hours escaped into another life and become oblivious to what is going on around me. The first time JB walked in on me crying while reading, he asked with great concern..."What's wrong. Are you ok?"  And my only reply was, "this book is so good!"  Now when he sees me crying over a book, he just asks, "Another good book?" and walks away bewildered at how a book that makes me cry can be so good.  A book that can make me express emotion as deep as crying or laughing out loud... is what makes a good book.  

So it is with much excitement, possibly quite more than the others, that I look forward to the new adventure of starting a book club with several ladies in my Sunday School class.  We all like to fellowship with each other and realized that some of us love to read.  So what better way to fellowship with other avid readers...a BOOK CLUB!!! And even better, a faith based book club.

Our first meeting will be late September hosted at my home.  We are going to try and meet at least once a month with food and hopefully plenty of discussion.  Even more exciting, we are starting off with the absolute classic book, Redeeming Love.  This book is part of the reason this club is starting.  When I mentioned that I was reading it, many in Sunday school commented on either having read it or wanting to read it.  So, the obvious book to start with is Redeeming Love. 

I'm not gonna mention much about the book until after the club meeting but if you are an avid reader and haven't read this book, I can't recommend it enough to do it justice.  It has become my all time favorite encompassing many years of reading. 

If you are in a book club or have been, I welcome any comments for suggestions or advice. 

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Commitment through Redeeming Love

In a culture that encourages, supports and justifies that we throw our marriages away like yesterday's trash, below is a quote from the current book I am reading, Redeeming Love, that I want to share.  It hit me like a ton of bricks of conviction when you reflect the culture's view of marriage. 

This statement is made by the husband.  He is the provider, the forgiver, the supporter and the leader in this book.  He loves unconditionally, selflessly, whole heartedly with the love of Christ.  You see, only someone with these qualities can lead a man to make this statement; a statement that is more than just a line in a fictional book but a statement of such conviction and truth that can be applied to the very core of real life marriage. Especially, for the husband who loves his family in the same way Christ loves us... with a love that is sacrificial, willing, forgiving, unconditional, eternal but most of all redeeming. When a man enters into marriage with the kind of commitment shown in the statement below, she has become one blessed wife that even this culture can't influence. 

As for us wives, be a wife that makes him want to live out this statement with no regret, no burden, no shame but instead with an eternal love, happiness and joy that made it all worth it for him.

"It's a lifetime of commitment in my book, lady.  It's not an arrangement you nullify when things get a little tough to bear."

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Thoughtful Priorities

BB: "Mama, I miss you when I'm at school and I think about you."

Me: "Awe, BB, that is so sweet.  That makes my heart happy."

Me: "CB, do you think about me, too?"

CB: "No, mam. I just think about the Wii."

Presidential Campaigning....

...teaching it's ok to publicly bully especially when it's political and someone is paying money for it.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Kindles, Nooks, and Books, OH MY!

This past January, I bought a Kindle Fire.  I crossed over to the other side of reading with an eReader which I never thought I would.  But I saw so many offers for free or reduced priced books.  And if you are an avid reader like me...this becomes an attraction that is even harder to resist...FREE BOOKS, REDUCED PRICED! sign me up...

Don't get me wrong, I still have many, many, (ok) and many more books sitting on my shelves waiting to be read.  So what's the harm in having just as many saved on an eReader waiting to be read, especially if they are free or deeply discounted.

Surprisingly, I have actually enjoyed my eReader yet I still enjoy my 'hand held' books. 

If  you own a Nook or Kindle or you are contemplating on purchasing are 2 sites that offer daily free or discounted priced books. 

Inspired Reads

Pixel of Ink

If you decide to buy a Kindle, order it directly from Amazon.  You don't pay taxes and shipping is free.  This saves you a few extra dollars then buying it from a local retail store. 

If reading this and know of any other sites that offer free or reduced priced books, I'd love for you to leave a comment with the site.  I can't turn down a good book, especially if it's free.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

New Year, New School 2012/2013

This past Wednesday started our new year at our new school.  1st grade!!!  When your children are born you know these times are coming, you just don't know how fast they get here.

CB had a morning melt down with tears of pleading and begging for summer vacation not be over: "But, Mama, I'm just used to summer"

BB's take on starting school: "I'm gonna miss eating all day."

I fully grasp the importance of an education and support it but I'm with CB on this one...I'm just used to summer, too.  I enjoy the "do nothing, no routine, no schedule, do whatever you want days of summer vacation."

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Chicken: Do you eat it only or Do you serve it, too?

I've seen this picture floating around the web and Facebook since last Wed. And I'm sure most of you have heard or read about the controversial, Chick Fil A (CFA) appreciation day. I had a friend and family member to post this on their Facebook page. I appreciate them posting it because it made me think about the statement on the picture and motives for that particular day. I, personally, try not to follow a popular movement only because it's just that, popular. I try to form my own opinion and reason as to why I should or should not support such a 'movement'.

When reading the statement on this picture, I can't help but agree with it. It is correct in saying that you don't see that many Christians lined up to help food banks or homeless shelters or many other facets of serving "the least of these" as Christ commanded. And we should all know that being a Christian, we serve Christ by serving others and we should be eager to do whatever is called of us to serve. Christians as a whole, dramatically fail when it comes to serving the least of these with excuses such as but not limited to: "I don't have the time"; "I don't have the money"; "I don't have the talent"; and sadly for some "They are not worth my time". We judge those who need to be served thinking they should do better for themselves, they need to learn to help themselves or they should have made better choices. While this is true to an extent we forget that Christ doesn't put a limit on 'the least of these'. And we forget that serving doesn't always come outside the four walls of church or we think it only comes within the four walls of church. Some of us don't even serve within our own church on any given Sunday while others refuse to go outside their church on any given chance. And we certainly don't see this many people, Christian or not, waiting to worship on any given Sunday.

But I do have my reservations with the picture above. I, personally, find a few prejudices with this statement. Some may agree but others may think I'm overly analyzing the statement and missing the bigger picture. I think it's prejudice to assume that everyone of those people pictured and those not pictured who ate at CFA on that particular day were Christians. I also think it's prejudice to assume that everyone ate there for the same exact reason. No doubt, the majority ate there for 2 reasons: either to support Mr. Cathey's biblical stance on homosexuality or to support his freedom to speak it. It's also prejudice to me to think that the only requirement to serve at a food bank or homeless shelter is to be a Christian or of the Christian faith. To serve the less fortunate can be one of the most neutral outlets for many faiths to come together in unity. So if one is gonna judge Christians for not serving, it's only fair to judge other faiths, right, since this photo seems to be about judging what Christians should be doing instead. Now, if one chooses to serve at a Christian only mission than obviously the Christian faith will be promoted but there are many missions that would welcome different faiths to do nothing more than to simply serve by feeding, teaching, mentoring, clothing or giving. However, as critical as I just was of the church as a whole, there are many, many individuals within the church who passionately serve for the cause of Christ in their community, nationally and globally. And there are many churches who serve their community and the globe with a passion and unconditional love that one can't help but be drawn to Christ when a witness to it. And because of these people and these churches, it's not fair to place all Christians and churches into the category of the above picture.

For me the bigger picture is this, we as Christians, are called to serve in some capacity without conditions when it comes to the 'least of these'. And eating a chicken sandwich for whatever reason one chose that day, doesn't make up for the lack of service we fail to do. Christ doesn't require us to change some one's life but through our serving 'the least of these' he can change them. And just as amazing, we are changed. We become a blessing to someone and we become humbled when we finally realize that it's not about us but through serving others, it's all about Him.