Friday, December 5, 2014

A Good Start

I start most every morning with my "quiet time." Since God saved me from my sinful self way back when I was 9 years old - since the blood of Jesus did work in my life - I've known time alone with God sometime during a day was critical. For me, it's first thing in the morning. Because I want to know and love Him more; because I want to "to number my days, that I may gain a heart of wisdom." (Psalm 90:12); because I want to love people more and live well the few short years I have on this earth;  the alarm goes off a little early, and I start my day with God. I read the Bible and I pray. I may have a devotional book handy and Bible websites up and I go back and forth between all those resources.

No two mornings are exactly the same because, well, because, I'm a person and God's a person and we are communicating and communication isn't rote but real and organic. And yesterday morning, it was as real and organic as it gets. He met me in such a delightful way, and I want to share it here.

Because I'm attending a Bible Study Fellowship class, I have a daily reading schedule. Yesterday, it happened to be the day assigned to read the notes provided by BSF on a section we had just studied about the life of Moses. I jumped right into them with barely a "Help me understand this, Lord." However, not far into it,  I felt a check in my spirit. Time with God isn't something to check off a list, but a person to be with. So I stopped and picked up a small devotional book recently given to me by a friend. It's title is His Name Shall Be Called, and it's a Christmas inspirational book that focuses on the names of Jesus.
The fact that it's a beautiful book is a bonus:)

The focus I read was from Jeremiah 50:6

Now for full disclosure.

I read that and causally thought that was nice - and true. Yes, Jesus is our resting place. I even closed my eyes and took a few deep breaths to try to think about it all a bit more. The thoughts expressed in what I just read were good, but they hadn't sent me soaring to new spiritual heights. But at least I had attempted a more relational moment. I didn't know it then, but God was going to use this attempt later. He's good at doing that kind of thing.

I went back to my BSF notes, which I love reading, by the way. They are not a chore at all. So with highlighter in hand and cup of coffee nearby, I began.

I came across a discussion of different levels of knowing someone.

While reading this, I thought of someone I know - one of my heroes in the faith, Elisabeth Elliot. I've only met her briefly at a couple of conferences, but I feel like I know her because I've read almost everything she's written. Because she's elderly (she'll be 88 on Dec 21st) and not in the best of health (and because I'm easily distracted sometimes), I decided to quickly check her website to see how she was doing. I stayed there long enough to see she is still being beautifully cared for by her loved ones and to thank God for her many years of speaking to me through her books and lectures.

Elisabeth check done, it was back to the notes.

It was in this next section of note reading, that I marveled at the tender care of God - the One who knows me best and still loves me most. His taking of my feeblest attempts at devotion and my note reading and my quick website check and then more note reading and weaving them all together to teach me about himself is such a gift from His great and mighty heart. At the early hour of 6:30 a.m., my tired face broke into a ready smile when I read the following:

The reference in those words to the "five young missionaries" refers to Elisabeth Elliot's first husband, Jim, and the 4 other men he worked with. I know this story well. Elisabeth told it in her book Through Gates of Splendor, and it found its way to the big screen in End of the Spear and Beyond the Gates of Splendor.

So, in my notes on The Life of Moses, God brings me back to Elisabeth Elliot and her story and strong testimony just a few minutes after I "checked" on her. If that wasn't enough, God topped it off with the words to a hymn written way back in 1895. Words echoing - reinforcing -  the concept that I had tried to grasp during my devotional time.

Jesus is my resting place.

There it was, printed in black and white. Five missionary men sang that song and rested in those facts as they faced a very uncertain future as far as this life was concerned.

We rest on Thee  -  our shield and our defender!
We go not forth alone against the foe;
Strong in Thy strength, safe in Thy keeping tender,
We rest on Thee, and in Thy name we go.

I was blown away at this point. I wouldn't let my Lou walk out the door until I told him about it. I'm still marveling at it. It wasn't a happy coincidence. It was God meeting me right where I was. 

He's still speaking to me through these truths. He's reminded me in the day since reading all this, that the living of life on this earth - our future - is uncertain. We don't know it. We don't know the joys ahead. We don't know the sadness ahead. 

But we know the One who does. And we can rest on Him and His sure care and love for His redeemed.

As quiet times go, this one was slightly on the dramatic side. But dramatic or not, it's still a time totally worth getting up for.  Meeting with the God of the universe always is.  It's a good start to a day. 

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

A Note to My Sons: Rush to Help

The first call I got from our 18 year old college freshman on Saturday made her dad and me smile and shake our heads at the folly of the young.

At 3:30 p.m., she called to tell us she and a couple of her University of Arkansas friends were already in line for the 7:00 p.m. "Battle of the Boot" game between the Razorbacks and the Tigers of LSU. She was pumped because, the way it looked then, they had a really good chance of being on the front row of the student section.

Since I knew the thermometer was hovering around freezing in Fayetteville, I did my mom thing and asked if she was dressed warm enough. She sent me the following picture as proof she was. 

She ended by reminding us to watch for her when the ESPN cameras scanned the student section. She'd have a good chance for a couple of seconds of fame since she was on the front row

About an hour and a half later, she sent another picture showing that, yes indeedy, she was on the coveted front row of the student section!

That's a sturdy looking railing there...
Kelsey and our Elizabeth

This was a big game. The Razorbacks were looking to break a 17 game SEC loosing streak with a win over LSU. The crowd was excited and hopeful.  I texted our 21 year old David, who is a junior there, and asked if he was at the game. Here's our exchange.

As you can see, he wasn't on the front row. He was a long way from his sister. 

My Lou and I settled in to watch the game from a comfortable couch in front of a warm fire in our family room. We rooted for the Hogs and replayed on slow motion any scanning of the student section hoping to get a glimpse of our front row girl. That never happened, but our excitement grew as the clock ticked and it looked like the losing streak was going to be broken. In the final minute of the game, when we knew it was in the bag, it suddenly occurred to me that the U of A student section was probably going to storm the field. 

And one of my babies was in the front row

Now if you've ever watched a student section storm the field on T.V., you know how fast and furious that is. I've always watched with interest and a little fascination at that whole phenomenon. I've also felt for those in authority at those events and can only imagine their frustration at a crowd out of control. But I've never seriously considered the danger to life and limb that happens at that moment - until the last minute of the game I watched on Saturday.

As we sat there, I don't remember my exact words, but I prayed out loud something to the effect of: "Oh Lord, please keep our Elizabeth from getting hurt."

The game ended and the storm began. It looked innocent enough. Lots of fans running and jumping up and down and cheering. Lots of smiling faces. We watched a little while longer, but were soon busy with other things. I honestly didn't give the storming of the field much more thought.

Then, about an hour later, Elizabeth called again.

"I almost died tonight."

Not really, but kind of.

Then she relayed the excitement of the final seconds of the game that was soon followed by fear and near panic as the game ended. She said it was surreal. As the seconds ticked down, there was a forceful and completely unavoidable surge on her and over her. It was so strong that the metal fence between her and the field leaned forward and gave way as the storming student section leaned and pushed and ran onto the field. She sent me this Vine (posted by Johnny Lombardi) of the madness:

It's a miracle someone wasn't seriously hurt.

Here's what was left of those sturdy metal barriers.

She said she was on the ground screaming and people stepped on her as the "storm" rushed the field. And then  - a Knight in shining armor - or more accurately, in Razorback Red  - stopped, yelled for people to stop and did his best to shield her from the crowd. He grabbed Elizabeth under her arms and helped my girl to her feet.

I wish I knew who he was.

Elizabeth says she didn't know who he was and after he helped her up and down onto the field, he was gone. He went back toward the collapsed rail to help others. I'm so very grateful for a guy who will stop to help when someone is in need.

I know our David, had he been anywhere close to that front row, would also have been on the scene to help. No one can foresee how such an event plays out. He was as helpless as I was. By the time he was at the railing, all were up and on the field. Hindsight is always 20/20.

But now we know.

I know I will forever be grateful to that young man who stopped to help my daughter. Lots of other "men" rushed on by, ignoring the cries of a girl being trampled. He didn't. I wish I could thank him. I wish I could call his parents to tell them how grateful I am for their son.

I know that I want my boys - my Luke and David - to do the same as this young man did whenever they witness someone in distress.

Stop, drop, and help.

Stop to help those in need.

When they were growing up, we first began this kind of discussion in relation to their sisters. We told them they were to do all in their power to care for, help, protect, and defend their sisters. We told them the story of the HMS Birkenhead where the call, as the ship was about to go down in shark infested waters and lifeboats were limited, was, "Women and children first to the lifeboats!"

That's what men do. They sacrifice for their women. We wanted our boys to hear this, know this, and do this.

I expect them to. On Saturday, our unnamed knight was wearing Razorback red. I don't really care what color my boys wear. My prayer is that they are Knights who are always ready and willing to rescue.

Thankfully, neither Elizabeth or any of her friends were seriously injured. Thank you, God for this mercy. They did suffer (are suffering) from bruises courtesy of the metal fence that they were pushed against and went down with. Pretty. Darn. Scary.

If I think about it too much, I can feel myself getting stressed about what could have happened. That does no one any good, though, so I try to bounce those thoughts away as quick as they come.

The University of Arkansas is thinking about this whole ordeal, also. We read today about a whopping $25,000 fine handed down by the SEC for that little hazardous celebration. I hope other colleges take note of that and avoid the dangers as well as the dollars.

I know I've titled this post "A Note to My Sons." But it just occurred to me that there's someone else who might need to take note of this post.

She's a cute little college freshman who may need to think twice about where to sit and where not to sit at big rivalry football games. I'm thinking the front row is not such a good idea...

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Sunday Review

On Friday, the girl at the deli counter probably gave me a funny look.

While she was slicing my mesquite turkey, I was checking Instagram. I follow a comedian named John Crist, and one of his pictures made me laugh out loud. I immediately looked around - not because I was wondering who saw me laughing - but because I wanted to see somebody I knew so I could show them why I was laughing.

I wanted to share it.

I like how good things are not diminished when we share them. They are multiplied. (Conversely, hard things - sad things - are not multiplied when we share them. They are eased, but I'll save that discussion for another post).

Sharing some of my good things (hoping that in sharing mine, you'll think back on your week and remember yours) is one of the reasons I blog. My weeks certainly aren't all smiles and roses, and I share that part of my life here, too. But I rarely need help remembering what's hard about my life. That usually screams pretty loud and clear. Because it's so loud, it can drown out the melody of all that has brought me joy during a week. I'm typically surprised when I look back over my pictures on my cell phone at a week's end. I see a snapshot and go, "Oh yes! That was this week! That was fun...or good, delightful, hilarious, nice, happy, etc..."

And delightful is the word I'd use to describe our night at Morsel's Java Jam Celebration. Unlimited desserts and good music? Uhmmm... yes, please.

Grace and Mary Grace - lifelong friends enjoying the festivities

Issak and Faith were part of the musical entertainment

This chalkboard is near the java area in our house, and I caught myself glancing at it more these past few days.

I first read this quote on my niece, Angela's,  Instagram - it was one of her "take-aways" from her week at family camp.  It spoke to me, so I had my Elizabeth work a little chalk magic before she left for school in Fayetteville. Looking at it actually served two purposes. It reminded me of good truth and my good, off-at-college Elizabeth, who we kind of, really miss - a lot and a bunch.

As I write this post on an 83 degree Sunday afternoon at the end of October, it's hard to believe we've had cool enough weather for this:

Actually, I think it was only in the low 60's when we did this, but our Mary Grace pleaded for it, and we caved to the begging of the baby of the family like all parents tend to do.

This week also brought some much needed cleaning out of some cracks and crevices. I found a couple of treasures.

First, this school picture of David.

Poor, adorable guy.

I'm glad he grew into those teeth:)

Second, I found the invitation to an Open House my parents had when they built their new house back in 1969. I don't remember seeing this before, and I really liked the peek-a-boo action they employed on the invite.

"WynRea" (pronounced Win Ray), was the name of our home and land in Munford, TN.  I always thought how they came up with the name and how they decided to write it was so clever. Dad's full name was Hugh Wynn Vaughan. Mom's full name was Violet Marea Petty. They took the first three letters of Dad's middle name, and the last three letters of Mom's middle name and combined them.


When my man and I built our house, I tried to do just the same with our names.

Louis Blan Harris
Shelley Marea Vaughan


"Blah Ray,"    "Blay Ray,"    "Blah Ree ah,"    "Blah Ray,"    "Blay Ree"

Oh, dear. No matter how we accented and pronounced that syllable combination, it just did not work. Like, seriously, did not work. So, we say something that is not original, but more pleasing to the ears. We call our home and land, "Home."

Ignore the scribbled "Z" at the top

A couple of other treasures were shown to me by my cousin, who my sister and I enjoyed visiting this month. She showed us this quilt block my grandmother had made and signed.

And she gave us these pictures of my mother which I'd never seen before. Treasures, indeed.

One of her engagement poses
Mom, her brother, Elvis, and sister, Ruth

A week is always better when I get to take walks with my favorite guy. We were on the tail end of a 5 mile loop when he graciously agreed to sit down on the sidewalk to get just the angle I wanted for this picture.
I like this picture of us
We also sat down at a really fun wedding that showcased a couple of ideas I had not seen before. The guestbook consisted of a bench and a Bible!

I underlined Romans 8:38-39, which is the reference we had engraved on the inside of Lou's wedding ring.

Speaking of rings, do they give those out to the winners of The World Series? Can you tell who I'm rooting for?

And, speaking of the end,  I can think of no better way to do that than with some pictures of the fall beauty we've been enjoying here. It has been breathtaking and stunning and I'm grateful for eyes to see it.

Thanks so much for stopping by.

Many blessings to you as you begin a new week!

Monday, October 13, 2014

The Writing On the Wall

We've got couple of places in our home where there's writing on the wall.

Thankfully, the words on our walls are not as ominous as those found in a very dramatic chapter in the Bible - Daniel 5. If you aren't familiar with the story of King Belshazzar's great feast for a thousand of his lords, I encourage you to read it. Very thrilling stuff.

We have two places in our home where there are wall words. Ours were most definitely written by human hands that had human bodies attached to them. In fact, our basement wall was actually written by a gazillion human hands.

Since 1997

up close sample

When we first moved to Bolivar in 1988, we visited a house with a signature wall in their basement. We thought it was the coolest thing ever and said then that if we ever built a house, we'd have one too. In 1997, we built what still feels like a new house to me and designated "the wall."  It really is such a fun part of the basement, and first time visitors to our home still make a trip down the stairs to leave their mark.

The second place you'll see writing on our wall is not down any stairs - somewhat out of the way. These next set of words are purposely front and center - in the heart of our home.  I want to see them every day so I am a reminded of their great good truth.

I was sitting at this table Saturday morning when I got a phone call from my sister letting me know she was on the road heading my way for her planned four day visit. After I hung up, I remembered I hadn't made her bed or prepared the guest room for her. Knowing when she left and how long a drive it was, I had a good idea of when she'd pull into town. I knew how long I had to get ready for her. As I was thinking about this, I happened to glance up and read these familiar words - words that had been up since 2006.

I bet you can see where my mind went and where this post is going. My sister is not the only one coming soon. We've just got to consider different degrees of the word soon.

Almost every old person you talk to - heck, almost every person you talk to - remarks how fast time goes. How they blinked and whatever stage they just went through is over and done before they really knew what happened. The next stage of their life came all too soon.

The Bible teaches many truths about Jesus, one of which is the fact that He is coming back someday soon. We have this one short life to live before that happens. It matters what we believe and how we live. We want to be ready for that great day.

This writing on our wall came from the last book in the Bible - the second to last verse. Revelation 22:20.

He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!

I echo that "Amen."

Friday, October 10, 2014

Flashback Friday

My high school daughter came home from school yesterday saying tonight was "Senior Night" at the football game. At the last regular season game of the year, the seniors and their parents are recognized.

It's one of the many little "good-byes" you experience when you've got a senior.

My very first senior night was at a football game - a very similar Friday night back in 2007.

A couple of fellow senior moms: Peggy Curts, [me], Kim Stanek

Luke and Lou
Those were some fun and nerve-wracking days. Luke, among other things, was kickoff and punt returner. My stomach would be in knots every time those plays had to happen. Talk about a praying woman! First it was, "Catch the ball. Catch the ball. Catch the ball." That morphed to "Hold on to the ball. Hold on to the ball. Hold on to the ball." By this time my body is contorting as he was weaving and bobbing his way down the field and I was screaming, "Go Luke, Go!!!"

I was completely annoying to sit by, I'm sure.

But I still have no apologies  - I am my kids' biggest fan.

I'm also Lou's biggest fan, and he - much more recently - turned 55.

Birthday dinner with dear friends
We were in Minneapolis, MN, for a conference on his festive day. Being in a big city means you get to see some new and different things - like a building with music notes all over it and a wedding party getting their picture taken in front of it. 

and a very sweet lab - like a yogurt lab. Something tells me if the Periodic table was all about frozen yogurt, people would take a little more interest in it.

So clever.

We celebrated another birthday this month - a big one. Miss Mary Grace turned 16.

And while part of me still may want her to be putzing around in a Cozy Coupe, time and trucks wait for no mama, and she is doing her thing in her Papa Hugh's 87 Dodge Dakota.

She's also been doing her thing on the tennis court. She and her fellow Lady Liberators had a great season. A good group of young ladies led by a couple of good coaches.

If you put that 55 year old and that 16 year old together in a garage with an old Mazda that has a bad stereo, it will soon be fixed. Music is muy importante to those two.

Speaking of a very important thing - a bike ride comes to mind. A bike ride on a very beautiful fall day. A bike ride on a very beautiful fall day with very dear friends.

Very important, indeed.

Also important and completely delightful is seeing this girl around.

I loved the way her hair looked here and made her  "hold still" for a pic.
She humored me.

 Our Faith is attending Southwest Baptist University so we see her every once in a while.

She made our night by asking if her fellow "jumpers" from the track team could come over for dinner. A full table with good conversation and laughter was a highlight of our week.

It's been good to sit down - slow down - and remember the joys I've documented here.

I hope you take the time to do the same in your world. Look back through the pictures you've taken on your phone this past month. You have some things to smile about. To thank God for.

Thanks for smiling along with me as I "flashbacked."

Blessings to you and yours!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

God, Twitter, and Poetry to the Rescue

Anybody who knows me, knows I like Twitter. 

I ridiculously pride myself in being the first one in my family to have a Twitter account - way back in March of 2009. My first tweets were, as you can see, quite profound.

As a gift one year, my friend, Sue Roweton, gave me my tweets in book form - my Twournal. I'm kind of saying that means I'm published;)

Over the years, Twitter has inspired and encouraged me. It's made me laugh and it's one of my go to places for thoughts on breaking news. I also follow my family and friends, which means I get to share in their lives in some small way. 

On the left side of a "home" page on Twitter, there is a column called "Trends." 

It shows what a lot of people are talking about. When I checked that column this morning, I saw it was National Poetry Day. Of course myriads of people would be talking about that! And, I smiled, because I like poems. But who could have guessed that that Trend would save not only one, but two lives today? ;) #seepoem

Not long after I checked Twitter, I was looking at a couple of articles on the web. In one of those, I read some words that really upset me - and from a source that shocked me.  It was the kind of thing that has the potential to completely ruin your day because you can't quit thinking about it. I was thinking, praying, fuming, and everything in between - trying to think rightly about some wrong and hurtful words.

That's when my quirky, sometimes poetic brain started waxing. It strikes me as so funny what all God can use to help us. The hymn, "This is My Father's World," is technically about nature, but a line from it came to my mind when I thought about God's help. The last line of the 2nd verse says, "He speaks to me everywhere."

Today, in helping me sort through my frustration and hurt, God spoke to me through Twitter, National Poetry Day, a little humor and a lot of grace. 

He meets us right where we are.

A Rant

I read a piece of prose today
It made my glad face glower.
Now a beastly battle storms.
My attitude is sour.

Then Twitter tells me great good news;
Today's a day for rhymes!
I'll fume and vent right here, right now
And shun more serious crimes.

I want to bark, "What is up?
What happened to your brain?!"
Feelings flail to hear such hurt
Words cause such bitter pain.

You should have thought before you spoke;
But the damage now? It's done.
What is left is work indeed,
Time to preach to me a ton.

"Tell yourself the truth," I hear.
Opine the opposite thought!
I do. I pray. I try. I start.
God's help is not for nought.

My spirit slowly lifts a bit
The rhyme and time - a balm.
I feel my pressure dropping
And my heart becoming calm.

The offending mouth best be glad
That this process took this route.
My lesser self - my gut and growl
Was ready to take it out.