Caterpillar Purpose

While I was on my retreat several weeks ago I had a fun experience.

I had taken a walk and spent some time praying. I was relaxed and enjoying nature. As I walked the gravel road I looked down to see a small caterpillar. We call them “wooly worms”. He was marching a long at a fast clip – for a caterpillar. As if he was late for an appointment. Nothing distracted him.  He was determined to meet some deadline he had. In a hurry – as caterpillars go. He maneuvered gravel, dirt, cow pies…or this “giant” that was walking beside him watching. He was focused.  Nothing discouraged him. He just kept marching along.

I began to think about him…as he maneuvered his caterpillar obstacles around the gravel and dust…did he know that he was a butterfly in disguise? Did he know one day, very soon, he would have wings and fly? Did he know he would soar above it all?

I doubt it. Onward he marched. But it didn’t alter the reality that he was going to be changed. He would rise above the dust and gravel in beauty  – floating upon the breeze to see the glory of the floral world and spread the pollen for all that God created him to be.

We will too. No matter the circumstances – and we may be marching as fast as we can – but God has built into us a beauty and purpose that perhaps we cannot even imagine in our daily “march”. God has built into us an amazing purpose that He will fulfill in us. Let us yield and not be impatient with our caterpillar stage. God has a glorious future for us.

4th of July pictures

I hope you each had a great and safe fourth of July. I certainly did. I drove back down to N.C. to be with my 3 children and all 8 of my grandchildren. We had fun at the Montreat parade which is a typical small town event. Everyone comes out in festive wear and almost anyone can be in the parade. You see people you haven’t seen in a year or more. The town is so small that the parade circles back around on itself! The favorite for my grandson was the fire truck! And the fact that the paraders could throw candy…and did.

I ate too many hot dogs! But I enjoyed each bite! Late that night we sat in my father’s front yard and watched the fireworks in the valley below. We had perfect seats and no crowds.

We were joined by friends from Waynesboro, Glen, Kim and Kristen Holmon. He pastors the First Presbyterian Church in Waynesboro which was the church that sent my grandparents to China as missionaries.They seemed to roll with the punches – mass confusion, laughter, cheating at Rook, family “stuff” and antiquing! And I was so happy that my father finally had the opportunity to meet them. They have been special in our lives.

My son-in-law, Todd, was kind enough to go up the night before and park his van along the parade route – under a trees so we’d be in the shade. He is thoughtful and always up for adventure. Perfect husband for Windsor.

I enjoy my children and wish they all lived closer. I keep trying to talk Windsor and Todd into moving south.

Pictures: watching the parade (Walker, my oldest grandson is in the cowboy hat) little Payson being held by his mother, Windsor, is leaning out the window, the Holmons are in the very back, picnic on the front lawn, family with Daddy but I have to get a picture of Windsor and her fmaily from someone else…mine didn’t turn out well. Plus her husband has great photos of my family with Daddy. I’ll post them soon.

Quotes I Enjoy and Happy 4th

These are a few quotes I have stumbled upon in my reading that I want to pass along. I wish I had written down who said them – if I ever knew.

“The goal in prayer is to give oneself away.” Emilie Griffin

“True service isn’t an act but an attitude.” Dan Millman

“Do not envy one more successful than yourself, or you will be convicted of murmuring against the appointment of God.” F.B. Meyer

“You can’t drive forward looking in the rearview mirror.”

“Somethings are ruined when broken but the heart is at its best when broken.”

“Christianity isn’t a big ‘do’ but a big ‘done.'” Mark Stibbe

“Tha absence of inwardness is the central neurosis of our time.” Karl Jung

“Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away.” Phillip K. Dick

“God gives hope to your past.”

By the way, have a wonderful celebration of our national freedoms. Happy and safe 4th of July. I am going back to North Carolina to be with all my children and enjoy the Montreat parade and family picnic.

 

 

Father’s Day

I had a wonderful Father’s Day with my father. My 2 sisters were here as well as my brother Franklin. My brother, Ned, was with is father in law.

Daddy was so thrilled to have four of us together. Instead of going to church, Anne and I watched Dr. Wilton’s service from Spartanburg – that is Daddy’s church and so we three “attended” together.

Anne prepared a big roast dinner with all the trimmings. Especially the Southern string beans. I haven’t had those for years – I am not sure they have much food value – made with sugar and bacon and cooked for hours – but they are delicious and were a staple at family gatherings.

It was a wonderful day. Lots of memories to file away for a rainy day.

We have had terrific thunderstorms! And it’s been quite cool in the mountains. I go to Dallas tomorrow where it is HOT!

I’ve been thinking about grace. Most of us have heard the definition, “God’s riches at Christ’s expense”. That is what He gives us…But it is also Who He is. We love to ask for and receive grace but it is difficult to give grace to someone who has wounded us. But if we keep receiving grace day after day and not giving it out we will soon become stagnant. Grace is something we must pass on. And when we do, wonderful things happen.

My precious father is a man of great grace. He has shown me so much grace over the years – it changed my life. No matter how badly I messed up he gave me grace and unconditional love. And he makes each of us feel as if we are his favorite! (I know

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Spiritual Retreat

I am going on a “spiritual retreat” today at 10 AM until Tuesday 2 PM. This will be a new experience for me and am asking God to speak to my heart and mind. As you all know these have been busy, stressful months and I desperately need quiet down time. There is a nearby monastery that provides quietness and privacy. I am looking forward tot he solitude. I am only taking my Bible, journal and  Into the Depths with God by Calvin Miller.

I ask that you pray I would hear God’s voice as I seek His direction and wisdom. I need rest and refreshing.

It would be good to hear from those of you who have done such a retreat to write and tell me of your experience and what God taught you through it. I certainly will report back to you.

On perhaps a selfish note – I hope it isn’t selfish – would you please pray that my home sells. With Greg unable to work and do the manly chores I just can’t keep up with it all. It’s a huge burden and stressor. The housing market – like everywhere else – is not good here. It has to be God’s doing. Again, I’ll report back on what happens.

End of the World

I have  had a week at home! Hooray! I found someone to wash my windows – they hadn’t been done since we moved in, I’m ashamed to say.  Someone else cleaned the gutters. I have been able to get into the yard and pull, trim, plant…do all the things that needed doing. And I know with all the rain and warmth we have had I’ll have to do it all again! Things never stay “done”.

We had very heavy rain while I was away – the roof leaked causing damage to the kitchen ceiling…now I have to find a roofer and someone to repair the ceiling. Nothing seems to stay done!

That’s why Jesus’ cry from the cross is so remarkable. “It is finished!” Never to have to be done again. Our salvation is accomplished! Let us worship Him.

Just a comment on the “end of the world” expectation by some last week. I was sort of looking forward to hearing my name called and  the trumpet blast!  But no man knows the time or the hour – only God. So in the meantime, I know God’s timetable is right on schedule and He will call our names at the right time. Whether as individuals in death or collectively in the rapture. (Please no long dissertations about eschatology!) What we have to do is make sure He is our personal Savior and live for Him each day as best we can so that when He does call we are ready.

“We according to his  promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless.” (II Peter 3:13-14)

Lamps and Lamplighter

I am sitting in the middle of Lake Michigan (not exactly the middle) on Mackinac Island at the Grand Hotel. I am speaking for the Winsome Women conferences and having a wonderful time. The hotel serves up delicious meals – and desserts. They serve a pecan covered vanilla ice cream ball with fudge…to die for. I have resisted temptation and will order mine on the last evening – otherwise they’ll need a forklift to get me on the ferry. (You can only get here by ferry or tiny airplane.)

The theme this year has been, Psalm 119:105 – “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.”  I’m sharing the ministry with Thelma Wells, Laura Story and Frank Runyeon.

This morning I was up early and thinking over that verse. I turned to Psalm 18 since it is the 18th of May (!) which is one of my favorites – if you read it you must picture it in your imagination. Unbelievable what God does in answer to our cries, whimpers even our sighs. Read it! But tucked with all the dramatic scenery is verse 28, “You (God) light a lamp for me. The Lord, my God, lights up my darkness.”

So many ways we can go with that. This great, awesome God stoops to light my lamp. He takes care of the details for me. When I am hurting so badly and cannot even turn on the light, He’s got it covered.

God is the light. He gives of himself to us when we cry for help. He doesn’t send a substitute. Read again how He gathers Himself up to answer our cries. He lets nothing stand in His way. He is there for us.

He lights up the darkness. How? With Himself. He’s all we need. His grace is sufficient. For everything.

Thank you for praying for my father. He is very weak and the doctor has said that only the 5 children can visit him for the next two weeks.  get home and get Greg squared away with his doctor appointments, I’ll go to see him. Keep praying.

Postcards

Thank you for praying for my father. I dashed that blog so that you all would be praying. Let me fill in the blanks.

On Wednesday I was in the Portland, OR airport (that’s a great airport) in a bookstore looking for a book as a gift for my granddaughter whose birthday is this weekend. I love to haunt bookstores! But I had a particular book in mind. As I was browsing, my cell phone rang – I didn’t recognize the number but I did recognize the area code as the one for Western North Carolina, where my father lives. I answered the phone and it was my father’s “chief of staff”. He is always positive and up-beat. He began by saying, “I want to give you an update on your father.” Immediately, he had my attention.

He went on to tell me that my father had developed a case of pneumonia and the doctors thought it wise to treat it aggressively and keep him in the hospital. At 92, pneumonia is not something to take lightly. Like I said, my father’s chief of staff is always positive and up-beat and reassured me that all was being done and my father was in good spirits talking with the nurses and doctors. We said goodbye and hung up.

A pall came over me. I purchased my book and went to the gate…my mind was now filled with, “What if he gets sicker and dies?” Oh, I know he’d go to heaven and be so happy to be reunited with mother and see his Lord face to face. But I knew I was not ready to face my father’s death. I felt sick to my stomach, chilled. I love my father – he has always given me the unconditional love and grace I needed. It was a security for me – and I tested it many times.

Yes, he was gone so much of my childhood and the growing up years. Yes, he was often unavailable and distracted. And, yes there were times I resented it. As an adult when I tried to imagine God, I always saw him as busy with other people – and distant and preoccupied. Like my earthly father was. I had to work at seeing God as the Bible shows Him to be. Available, near, always listening, not preoccupied with others, delighting in me… And years ago when I wrote a book about my father, Legacy of Faith, I was surprised to find so many letters and postcards that my father had written to me in long hand – telling me he loved me, giving me encouragement and advice…parenting me as best he could from a distance . One was written on White House stationary – he could have been siting talking with the president but instead, he was writing to his daughter because she was important to him. It changed my view of my relationship with my father.

No, I am not ready for his death or the public’s grief. But my mother often said, “God doesn’t give dying grace to living saints.” So when the time comes, God will give me the grace to handle my father’s “home going”.

By the way, I always write a postcard to my grandchildren wherever I am just to let them know I am thinking of them.

My father

I got in from the West Coast late last night. Before I left Portland I was called with the news of my father’s pneumonia and hospitalization. I was told that the pneumonia came on fast so they are treating it aggressively. He was in good spirits and visiting with the doctors and nurses. I thank you for your prayers and concern.

My trip went well but I was glad to be in my own bed! Thank you for praying.