Friday, August 31, 2018

What Exactly is Concrete?

what exactly is concrete

This may sound like a repeat from last week but no, because this week has been rougher than last! . So many downs. Very few ups. I'm writing these words from the confines of my mom's hospital room. She continues to struggle for breath due to multiple blood clots in both lungs. You know the dread you feel when a close family member has a serious illness. I'm give thanks to our gracious God she is improving slowly. 

I have a couple of thoughts to share this week. Mom was visited by a hospital chaplain this morning. He asked "Can you have fun in a hospital?".  He shared some anecdotal stories with us that were somewhat fun, but not as funny to me as the stories I want to retell on my parents:
  • My dad was hospitalized in March after his fourth stroke. A couple of days had passed when he requested to shower. "I can do it myself" he said. I insisted we call a nurse to help him. His face lit up when a young beautiful blonde-haired nurse walked in. He quickly agreed with her help! She went to gather some bathing supplies. I asked him, "Have you ever showered with a blonde?" He giggled and said "No! But I'm about to!"  His bathing experience is a standing joke at our house.
  • My mom's doctor came to explain about placing her on blood thinners. He said "I want you to take Coumadin because it's tried and true." He waited for her approval. She answered him saying "That sounds good to me. I like spices!" Although she wasn't joking because she was thinking of Cumin, her reply has become a standing joke as well. The doctor was gracious and asked if he could use that one. 
  • Here's a couple more funny stories that are medical jokes at our house. Just click the link to read them. Sloane's kidney stone experience entitled "We had our very own Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day"  and Tammy's kidney stone experience entitled "Pande-"monday"-ium of Laughter"
Yes! We do believe you can have fun in a hospital. We do admit, however, we'd rather have fun almost any place else. 

My second thought this week involves the concrete picture. What exactly is concrete? Concrete is such an everyday term; yet do we really know what it is made of? As I was thinking about how rocky my path has been for the past couple of weeks, God caused me to visual concrete. I immediately thought Ah! yes! Concrete. I love concrete. Concrete hurts most folks' feet but it is absolutely the easiest surface for me to stand on. It is firm and solid. The non-rigid surface of concrete makes my feet and gait so happy. After a moment of sheer joy thinking about concrete, I asked why the image of concrete Lord? I looked up this explanation of concrete at Concrete consists of Portland cement, sand, gravel or aggregate, small rocks, and varying amounts of water. These ingredients are blended together to generate a paste, which is then poured into a frame, and dries hard with time. A chemical reaction occurs between the water and the cement to create a solid foundation.

I began to ponder how you can take jagged rocks and create a smooth, solid foundation. I recalled many of my struggles during the past weeks. I felt every single problem or "rock" my feet had walked over the past two weeks. I remembered the way my feet turned over when they encountered the rocks. The twisting of my feet made my back hurt. Then God whispered, "Tammy, for every rock you walk over and get tossed here and yonder, you're making concrete. I am your solid foundation. You may have to walk over a few rocks but trust me, you'll always find your footing on my concrete." Praise Jesus! I said "God, you have the biggest concrete trucks because you're pouring it out for me all the time!"

Just like the chemical reaction with concrete, a spiritual reaction occurs between my Savior and me. He takes all the rocks, gravel and sand of my life and puts them in my frame to mold me. He smooths them all out so I can walk firmly on his foundation. The process takes a while but the end result is smooth and pretty.  How firm a foundation ye Saints of Lord, is laid for your faith in his excellent word....That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake, I'll never, no never, no never forsake.

Standing firmly 365,

Saturday, August 25, 2018

5 Things I Learned from Divorce


My week has been rough. My week contained so many variables; some favorable and some unfavorable. (I'll admit it, I have an accounting background.)  I've been blessed. I've learned things. I've been schooled. I've lost my temper. I've exercised self-control. I went to the movies. I ate out too many times. I weeded my pool fence. I broke my left prosthetic. I made me a new left prosthetic. I could go on, but you get it. It has been a week! 

My life has been enriched over the past months with my high school bff, Mary Ann. I credit Mary Ann for my marriage to Steve. God placed her exactly where she needed to be in my life to accomplish his goal for Steve and me. Shortly after the "lost my temper" stage this week, Mary Ann sent me the picture above with the following message. "I bet God finds our efforts to do anything amusing. These are plants I threw in my trash pile that wouldn't grow in the greenhouse. They are not even planted and look how pretty." God used those words to teach me but also to show me some things divorce has taught me. Here are the top 5 Things I Learned from Divorce (in no particular order):
  1. Divorce hurts. It hurts everyone it touches, especially this ex-mother-in-law. Divorce is one of those excruciating hurts like a kidney stone. You know you have a stone. You wake up feeling pretty good and BAM! Within the next five minutes the blood supply is cut off to your kidney! You immediately find yourself rolling around in the floor begging, screaming, praying for comfort, even if it's only for the shortest while. The pain subsides. You think it's over but here it comes again...worse.
  2. Divorce is necessary. My parents' 60th wedding anniversary was yesterday. Kudos to them! Steve and I will celebrate 33 years in November. Divorce was not in my vocabulary until God showed me, sometimes, it is so necessary.  I couldn't even ask him to stop it. 
  3. Divorce is ugly.  I can't find one thing pretty about divorce. My daughter's tears of sorrow are ugly. My grandchildren riding off for the weekend is ugly. The destruction of the completeness of my family is ugly. The mistrust and resentment are ugly. Being wronged is ugly. Period.
  4. Unconditional love is unstoppable. It is difficult for me to understand why I still love my ex-son-in-law so much. He makes me so mad I could rip his head off! But, I can't stop loving him. I can't stop feeling for him when he creates his own demise. I can't stop making concessions for him when he deserves none. God's love in me for him cries out for mercy, grace and above all, forgiveness. If unconditional love were stoppable, Jesus would have succumbed under the weight of the cross. He fell, but got back up, not once but three times. Praise be to Jesus for his love for us!
  5. I can't change things. This is the hardest lesson ever.
Today, when Mary Ann sent me the photo of her trash pile, it hit me. Mary Ann threw out what she couldn't get to grow. She gave up. Her plants flourished. God showed me I must give up my ex-son-in-law. Quit hoping he will grow. Stop wishing he will be different. I'm asking Jesus to help me release him so he can find his way into the good God has prepared for him. I'm praying my release will somehow help him find a better life. I can do nothing but God can morph a caterpillar into a butterfly. And that, is a beautiful thing!

Overcoming 365,

Friday, August 10, 2018

My Next Endeavor

My next endeavor is to speak Spanish. I never dreamed at the ripe old age of 54 I would wish to learn another language. We had VBS 2018 last week at First Baptist Chatsworth. I had no idea the theme of VBS would "play out" in our Kindergarten Boys classroom. It truly was "Game On" when our class of three Latino boys; Jorge, Jake and Paschal, didn't speak a word of English!

Sloane and I were dumbfounded but not defeated. My next endeavor was making Google translate our friend. We tried our best to teach them about Jesus leaving the 99 to find one lost sheep. This is harder than it sounds. Google translated the word sheep for us as orvejah. Thankfully, Google also speaks the word through their translator. I learned animal sounds are the same in any language. Have you ever thought about that? I find it quite interesting! So, in a manner of minutes through body language and an iphone, Jorge was crawling around the floor acting as if eating grass repeating the phrase "orvejah baaaaaaa"! Sloane and I giggled as the sheep imitation caught on and all of us were being sheepishly silly.

Our little guys came to VBS on night three of five. The boys were giddy after crafts the second night. My next endeavor was to communicate Jesus loves you. I taught class alone. I left wondering if anything I said stuck. I didn't even attempt to use Google without Sloane. I spoke to them from pictures nodding my head up and down looking for a knowing nod back. Not happening! No knowing nods just dancing brown eyes. After about five minutes, I said "orvejah, baaaaaa". We laughed. The boys finished their crafts.
The next night a surprising and welcome event happened that is not explicable by natural or scientific laws. I consider it the work of a divine agency. In other words, a miracle from God happened right there in our classroom. Sloane used Translate again to ask our three amigos a question. "quien ta ama?" The artificial intelligence repeated. The boys finally understood Sloane when she asked them to listen to what her phone was saying. "quien ta ama?" Who loves you? As quickly as Paschal understood the phrase, he immediately raised his small arm and pointed straight at ME! I almost burst into tears. YES! Yes! I do love you, I squealed! I'm not sure what happened during our three days with those darling boys that made Paschal feel loved. I'm just so happy it did! How amazing our God who loves us is. For people who say it's not nice to point, they've never overcome a language barrier through the holy spirit of God. Paschal's pointed finger is a blessing I will remember forever. I pray my next endeavor is half as successful as these three nights of Vacation Bible School.

Thanks to Benny Huggins for use of the photos.

Endeavoring 365,

Friday, August 3, 2018

Does God Fulfill Our Desires?

Your relationship with God is yours. You own it. You possess it. You give it energy. Like everything in life, you treasure your relationship or trash it. You nurture and grow it by obeying what his spirit commands you to do. You, my friend, can be as close or far away from God as you want. You can use him as a "Get out of Jail free" card or you can surrender your life into his hands and wholly follow him. I'm opening with this thought to give God all the glory for the 1500 sf gray jewel pictured above, lovingly known as The Holiday House. Lisette gave it the sweet name and "it 'tuck" as Mil says! We enjoyed a glorious Summer 2018 at Mexico Beach. You might ask why I would give God the glory for our beach house? Does God fulfill our desires? I believe he does!

My grands: Milisende and Lisette.
My relationship with God began at age 19 when I asked Jesus to be my Savior. I surrendered my life to him somewhere around the age of 35. Saved, I felt free. Surrendered, I feel empowered. Empowered means to give someone the authority or power to do something. 2 Timothy 1:7 says "For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind." Empowered also means to unshackle, liberate, set free; make stronger and more confident, especially in controlling their life and claiming their rights. My God certainly empowers me! But does God fulfill our desires?

Many people will say God will not empower you to build a beach house. They just won't believe it. Oh, but he will and here's why. Psalm 37:4 is one of my favorite verses in the Bible and it goes like this; Delight thyself also in the Lord: and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Now you're getting excited because you want some things too, right? Have you ever considered that scripture and asked yourself "Does God fulfill our desires?". I DIDN'T desire a beach house. Let me say that again. I didn't desire a beach house. Building that house is one of the scariest things I've done in my life, trusting God fully. I'm not talking about prosperity gospel here. My household of two people living on disability incomes went from zero debt to the largest debt responsibility we have ever carried! Let that sink in also. My husband and I were debt-free when we accepted the challenge God laid before us to build this house. I, personally, would be scared to death if I didn't have the power of God making me stronger.

The Lung Institute has a great article about The Health Benefits of Ocean Air. You see, I didn't desire a beach house. My toes, real or silicone, have never been stuck in the sand. The desire of my heart is to spend as much quality time as God will allow with my husband who has a serious lung disease. When Steve was diagnosed in 2012, we spent a month at the beach upon God's direction. We saw improvement in his lungs. I've been wrestling with building this God-ordained house for five years. The house is unimportant. God orchestrating our lives is priceless. I have no idea how this house will fully play into giving me my hearts desire to spend as much quality time with my husband as possible. I do know God fulfills our desires and this beach house is part of his answer to fulfill mine.

I wanted to build in our subdivision the first time I laid eyes on it. Steve did not. How can you go wrong with an address of Ocean Plantation Circle? We ended up buying a lot in Port St. Joe instead of Mexico Beach. I could not get comfortable with the lot. Everything about it was annoying, although it was .08 of a mile closer to the beach than the lot we built on. The HOA was pushy. The neighbors were rude and pushy. Yep, they bombarded us every time we simply walked onto the property. One lady, behind us in a different subdivision, sent us a letter stating we had a tree on our lot that was "leaning" toward her house and she'd appreciate it if we removed it. We removed the tiny sapling.  This particular subdivision allowed weekly or monthly rentals until we submitted our house plans to the HOA whereupon they called a "special" meeting to deny all short-term rentals. Geez!!! Does God fulfill our desires? Not with an unreasonable HOA! We left that meeting and listed our lot. The lot sold profitable in two short months.

Now this monster is being built directly in front of that lot we sold in Port St. Joe. Our planned 1200 sf tiny home would have de-valued immediately in its shadow. God always knows best!
Last piece of God's orchestrated plan for our beach house. After selling the lot, we traveled back to Mexico Beach to look again. We rode all those small streets with a vengeance searching for our lot. I asked Steve to go back to Ocean Plantation to look one more time because that subdivision was my heart's desire. We were so disappointed and maybe a little devastated when no lots were for sell. I called Sally, our real estate professional.  Sally was such a saint dealing with all my questions and indecisiveness for five years! This time, persistence paid off. Sally told us zero lots were available in OP. However, she knew a gentleman from New Jersey that might sell his. Our little piece of heaven sits on that lot. And I'll add, there are four lots for sale in OP now at 40%-50% higher than what we paid. God takes care of us in so many ways.....IF we surrender our life to his plan. I can hardly wait to share all the ways God will use his beach house!

Click this link to see pictures of our kitchen/dining room...