Monday, May 27, 2013

A Rock Climbing Rescue

I'm about to recommend you do some work.

Some serious, but satisfying, life giving work.

I plan on doing this work the rest of my life.

The fruit of this work is like no other.

What could I possibly be talking about?

Memorizing Scripture. 

I make myself memorize scripture.

Most of the time, initially, I don't want to. At the moment when I decide I should be working on the verse/passage I've chosen, I realize I'm at a pivotal place in the book I've downloaded from my Audible account. Or, there's a song I'd really like to listen to, or I suddenly need to check twitter, instagram and facebook and...fill in here with any other diversionary activity.

I don't know if memorization has ever been super easy for me, but I can tell you that at 51 years old, it is not easy for me now. It is work.

But it is absolutely some of the most beneficial work I do. And I want to give it my highest recommendation here.

The verses I'm memorizing now have so fed my heart and soul that I had to write about them in the hopes that someone out there might be encouraged to do the life producing work of scripture memorization. The words in the Bible are true, and eternal. I want to fill my mind - I want to fill my life - with true and eternal words. Life giving words.

So what are these latest words that have so moved me?

Psalm 61: 1-2 (NKJV)

Hear my cry, O God;
Attend to my prayer.
From the end of the earth I will cry to You,
When my heart is overwhelmed;
Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.

Memorizing something makes you go over, and over, and over the words, ad infinitum. You start really thinking about what it says and, how it is said.

For instance, in these verses, we've got some imperatives going on. "Hear my cry, O God; Attend to my prayer." "Lead me to the rock that is higher than I."

I don't know anything about Hebrew verb tenses, so I might be butchering this to pieces, but on the English level, we've got an example of telling (respectfully and politely, of course) God to do some things for us.

Hear my cry.

Attend to my prayer.

Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.

Does that hit anybody else as incredibly amazing? As incredibly powerful? I am given the example in Psalms to use the imperative tense when I pray to the creator of the universe. These are not meek and mild, timid imperatives, either. "Attend to my prayer" is basically saying, "Get with it, God, and take care of this..." 


It may be my southern roots, but I silently added "please" on those. But "please" or not, that's a very direct statement to say to God.

The last imperative here, "Lead me to the rock that is higher than I," took on new meaning as I ruminated on it. 

First of all, I noticed that that imperative was preceded by the confession that we humans can have overwhelmed hearts. Can I get an "amen?" I've had my share of overwhelmed hearts, with more certainly lurking in the shadows of my future. How good it feels to say such words out loud, knowing that I'm not condemned in any way for having such a thing. On the contrary, I'm validated and rescued. 

How am I rescued?

I'm told to go rock climbing.

This hit me as quite strange at first. Could God be prescribing a literal cardiac workout for an already overwhelmed heart?

Yes - at least as Part A of this rock climbing rescue.  

When you rock climb, you expend physical energy. Lots of it. If you were to ask my hubby what I do when I am at my wit's end - when my heart is overwhelmed - he would tell you I have to pound the pavement. I go for a walk, typically, but any rigorous exercise fits the bill. Something about that is so incredibly therapeutic and stress relieving, and now, I believe, Biblical. God knows physical exercise helps us when we are overwhelmed. 

Part B of God's rock climbing rescue involves "a view." I'm not a seasoned rock climber, but I am a seasoned hiker, so I've hiked to some high places. I've seen some views. When you get to those high places, you can see a couple of different things. First, you can see where you've been. At this high place, the trail looks different. The twists and turns you had to take to get where you are now make sense. Secondly, you can see breathtakingly beautiful sights that were unimaginable when you were sweating your way up the trail earlier.

Your perspective has changed. God leads us higher into himself, into his word. That is the rock that is higher than we are. When were are there, we can see all, or at least more, of what is really going on. He give us a true view.

Right, true perspective does wonders for overwhelmed hearts.

Glory! Those are truths you can hang your hat on!

The truths in these two verses have increased my faith and made me love God more. I am completely convinced that they would have gone undetected had I not been doing the hard work of memorizing. That discipline is worth every hard second you put into it. When you know you've heard from the God who made you - the God who saved you - there's joy that is uncontainable and deep all at the same time.

And I'm here to tell you that it is worth it.

Leaving the lowlands...
Almost there...

Worth it.

Saturday, May 11, 2013


This Sunday will mark 51 Mother's Days I've celebrated with my mom. She's been a mom 6 years longer than that, but I'm the caboose of 5, so I wasn't around for the early years.

I am around, however, in a very unique way, for these later years. My mom (Violet Marea Petty Vaughan) turns 87 on the 29th of this month and has been living with us since April of 2012. She had a serious illness last year that ended her days where she could live alone.

The days since April 2012 have been a gift. A good, hard, priceless gift. Maybe some time I'll write about some of the things I'm learning during these days. But not today.

Today, I want to express my gratitude to God for the mom He gave me.  Never once in my life have I doubted that she loves me. Never once have I not known that she was in my corner. Those are real gifts to a child. Those are real gifts to an adult. Thank you, God. Thank you, Mom. I love you.

I  also want to share some pictures of my mom. They are completely random -  just ones that I pulled out of some of her albums and some of my albums very quickly before we left for our weekend in Arkansas. I used to love looking at these when I was a child. I still love looking at these as an adult.

My mom grew up in the heart of the depression in the Bootheel of Missouri, the daughter of a farmer and the baby of seven kids. She has some stories to tell of desperately hard times. A favorite of mine is about her dad, Samuel Andrew Petty. Because meat had to go a long way around their table, he would tell them, "You guys eat that," pointing to the lean pieces. "I like the fat."

My grandpa died when I was three. I was always sorry that I never knew him.

Grandpa, Grandma (Minerva Bell), Victor Shirley, Ruth, Mom

The 3 sisters: Ruby, Ruth, and Mom 

Mom, Ruby, My Grandma, Ruth

In keeping with the season this month, here's Mom's high school graduation picture.
Campbell High School graduate
I think this next picture was taken when Mom was in nurse's training. It is also proof that everything eventually comes back in style. Saddle oxfords must have been "in" then, and they are "in" now.

My mom and dad didn't have professional pictures taken at their wedding, just a few snapshots. I always thought her dress was so pretty.

Love her smile on this one. And her skinny waist.

I picked this next one because she was holding me. I'm kind of a sucker for those pictures. The boy scout isn't one of us, and I can't remember his name.

?, Andy, Hugh, Mom, me, Kathy, Keith

Think the sun was a little bright the day this next picture was taken? And we've been Cardinal fans for a long time.

My dad's mom, "Mama Trudy," Mom, Dad, Keith, me, Andy, and Kathy

And now, fast forward a few years....

August 1, 1987.

I've always liked that picture of us. A happy picture on a very happy day.

I'm anticipating another happy picture tomorrow. I'm grateful that my mom is my mom.

Mom, you are a gift.