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Thursday, February 28, 2013

Down the Rabbit Hole: Chasing Down Idols

A Rabbit Hole

Last week I made the confession that COMFORT and CONVENIENCEare two idols in my life – and probably in the lives of many others.  Why do I think they are idols?  I think they have become idols for the simple reason that they prohibit me from full obedience to God.  I feel that they are powerful enough that I have set unconscious limits on what I would even consider doing if called.

I often read about bloggers going to other countries with organizations that I whole-heartedly support (or do I really?).  My first thoughts are more often than not:  What would I eat there? Could I leave my family for that long? I don’t think my back could endure that much air travel.
Y’all, I have really gotten myself into something here.  I’m finding that nearly every choice that I make comes back to these two issues – and it is growing!

I am beginning to really start examining how each decision I make can be approached from multiple angles. 

Food is a primary example and one that I will dive into deeper in the near future.  Do I spend the extra money upfront to achieve certain goals I feel worthy, or compromise my preferences?  In compromise I am able to free up resources that I can apply directly to those same goals.  These are not easy questions to answer, and I know that my answer may not be your answer.  There may not even be one right answer at all.  Doing anything at all may be good enough.  That’s a hard resolution for me to accept.

I’ll tell you right now that I think this is going to be my main focus on here.  This is the rabbit hole I'm choosing to follow.   Sure, there will still be the random story that I hope makes you laugh.  There is no way I can fully abandon my Five Minute Friday sisterhood, either.  But I want you to journey with me. 

Share your struggles.

Share your solutions.

Hopefully we will all learn a better way of walking out this Gospel and all its implications in a fallen world.

34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” 
John 13:34-35 ESV

Are there areas that you would like to see addressed?  I’d love for you to share your own reactions or questions.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Mama Made Bread

This week Lisa-Jo has been inviting friends to recount the lasting memories of their mamas. I cheated and wrote my memory ahead of time and in a little more than five minutes. I’ve thought of this often since Monday.  What would I say, what wouldn’t I say?

My momma (the word we use) worked hard!  She was a machine operator in a sewing factory that made women’s underwear.  The din and fiber dust wore at her daily, but she did it to provide for us along with our daddy.  We weren’t latchkey kids, our granny (her mother-in-law) moved in with us around my 3rd birthday.  So while my granny stayed at home, my momma went to work every day on the first shift.

Each day around 3:30 she’d come in and sit on the sofa to catch her breath and release the noise as The Guiding Light spun its tales.  Some days we’d head off to the grocery store or she’d go alone and we’d help unload.  These Mondays to Fridays were like clockwork, generally the same routine.   Then, the question of the day: what are we going to have for dinner?

Fast food or carryout wasn’t an option.  Eating out was reserved for the weekends and normally meant Western Steer after church with other families, if we didn’t head over to my other granny’s house for dinner.  We ate simple country food, a lot of it from our own garden. The rest came from the Piggly Wiggly or A&P.  We were Cracker Barrel before Cracker Barrel was a thing.

Whatever the meal, excluding spaghetti or tacos and the like, we had bread.  I’m not talking about yeasty bread that had risen, been kneaded and turning golden brown in a pan.  We had biscuits or cornbread.  Momma never measured.  She used the same bowl and knew what it should look like in that bowl.  I got to help, but never new how to do it on my own.  Any biscuit I ever ate was compared to my momma’s.  Any piece of cornbread had to meet that same bar.  Heaven forbid cornbread had sugar in it!  How could you eat that stuff crumbled in a cup with cold buttermilk poured on top?

I measure my biscuits by hers, I come close now.  Cornbread has been a different story.  I finally thought to ask again a few months ago what she does different and got her secret – flour.  I’m not there yet, but I have a high standard to meet.  My iron skillet glistens black from the shortening that coats it with each new attempt.

So many other things my momma did: chicken & dumplings, snow cream, badminton, sewing for us… but one of her bests and my first thought is that…

Momma made bread!

What will my son remember about me?  What Memory comes to mind of your own Momma?

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Bowing Down

I’ve been avoiding writing because I don’t want to face the words that have been in my head for over a week now.  That crazy letter C is showing up again – this time in a really ugly I-don’t-want-to-admit-it kind of way.  I don’t even remember the spark that started this fire, but it’s still burning. I think maybe putting it out there is the first step to extinguishing it.

I have two really big idols in my life.  I’ve never really considered myself the idolatrous type, but apparently I am.  Forget Carrie Underwood or anyone else, I have a feeling these are the two real American Idols: Comfort and Convenience.  I bow at these two daily and look to them to meet most of my felt needs.  Am I alone here?  Probably not.

The problem is that I don’t know where to start to do a darn thing about it.  How do we endure in this society and not succumb to the habits that permeate every single facet of it?  The harder question is do I even want to?

I’m at a loss as to what this means for me, my family.

It’s like I just took the red pill from Morpheus, or was it the blue one?

Either way, I feel like my eyes have been fully opened to a conspiracy that I had an inkling was there all along.  I’ve said for as long as I can remember that God knew the exact right time and place for me to be born for these exact two reasons.

The thing is, I don’t think that God’s main purpose for me in this life is to enjoy comfort and convenience as the “be all end all” of this world.

So that’s where I’m at and where I’ve been lately.  Knowing me this struggle will wax and wane in my mind and heart.  I may never come to a good resolution.

Sorry to leave this so up in the air, but such is life and the big issues before us.  Rarely are conclusions reached in less than four hundred words.  Suffice it to say much prayer is ahead of me.

Is this a conflict you have dealt with or considered?   I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

(in)Courage Community Groups - Spring 2013

Last October I was privileged to become an (in)CourageCommunity group co-leader with one of my dearest friends – Becky Daye.  Please go visit her to read more about our group.  We have a wonderful group of women who are all ministry wives in our (in)Couraged Flock.  They reach from Canada to the Caribbean, the Pacific to the Atlantic.

Our group “meets” in a closed group on Facebook.  It is a safe, confidential place to receive and give support with others in a similar situation.  For our group that means women who are often part of a congregation but, because of their husbands’ positions, have a certain level of isolation simply due to their roles.

I’m a banker’s wife instead of a pastor’s wife, but my friendship with Becky and others has opened my eyes to the loneliness that is often felt and the inability to just “let it all out”.  We both saw this group as a great need, and were not surprised when nearly each lady who joined expressed that this was exactly what they were looking for.

Maybe you aren’t a ministry wife, but still need that connection, someone to just hear you and say, “me, too.”  You might be the mom of a special needs child, maybe your nest is empty now; you might be dealing with moody, unpredictable adorable, cuddly teenagers.  You might even be the woman who is in fact working in ministry.  Are you a writer, an artist, a dreamer? Are you a caregiver?  Do you understand more about name, rank and serial number than longstanding neighborhood feuds because of the military lifestyle and its constant upheaval?


Please go to (in)Courage today to read more about all of the groups that are available and how to join for the next session that begins TODAY and continues through April 28.

All you have to lose is the isolation and discouragement that tends to find each of us at some point in time.

To join (in)Couraged Flock send a Facebook message to me or Becky to request and invitation.  Each group will have its own separate “meeting place” and method of enrolling.

I hope you find what you are looking for – (IN)COURAGEMENT!

If you participated in a community group in the fall, please tell me about your experience.  Are you joining a group for this session?

Friday, February 8, 2013

The Bare Essentials

It’s Friday, which means I join forces with a troop of fearless writers who fly with abandon for five minutes across keyboards to spill their hearts onto the page.  We receive our word, maybe ponder, set our timers, and GO!  We link up with the ever-lovely Lisa-Jo Baker and seek out each other.  We most definitely visit the one who linked up just before and leave some comment love, then journey here and there finding hidden treasures behind each face.  Join us, encourage, and be encouraged.

Five minutes on: BARE

What is really needed in this life? According to Jesus, “only one thing is needed”.  Yet we have become so accustomed to excess that we no longer understand what is actually required to survive, even to thrive.

My little guy is the perfect reflection of this dilemma.  He has more toys than he can play with, more socks than he can wear and more food than he actually wants to eat.  Yet everyday there is a new bauble that catches his eye and he wants it.  Needs it.  NOW!

I’m like that.  I’ve gotten spoiled and I know it.  I justify it for the sake of quality and occasion – or resell value!

What craziness has taken over our lives?  We’ve traded the Bread of Life and Living Water for cinnamon crunch bagels and Keurig machines.  I’m not sure how we stop it.  I’m not sure we need to entirely, but I do think I need to reset my lenses and expectations to have a truer understanding of the bare essentials because somehow they have gotten lost under all my clutter.

Do you, like me, feel you’ve lost sight of the essentials? Have you begun to refocus?

Disclosure: this photo was taken during a home search

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

29 Things You Didn't Know That You Wanted to Know About Me

 A while back my friend Alia Joy wrote a post of 29 random things about herself.  In honor of the anniversary of my 29th birthday I give you my offering.  The only order here is the one in which they popped into my little scattered brain.  Enjoy!
1.    I am an unconfirmed supertaster and don’t like can’t stand certain foods – water chestnuts, cilantro, Thai, almond extract, caraway seeds, alcohol. Gorgonzola… just to name a few.
2.    I love certain foods, but am very picky about them (see #1) – chocolate and coffee for example.
3.    I love fiber!!! We’re not talking whole grains here.  Cottons, wools, burlap, alpaca.. anything that gets turned into yarn, felt or fabric.
4.    I’m a big planner, but not a big finisher.  One glance at my craft stash and drafts folder will attest to this.  Can I get a witness?
5.    I dabble – lots – nearly professional you might say. I’ve welded, soldered, ground metal, rubber-stamped, embossed, tatted, quilted, fussy-cut, shadow-boxed, sketched, sewn, crocheted & knitted.
6.    I enjoy painting – not so much on canvas, but on walls! (This gal is not afraid of color)
7.    When necessary, I am the primary lawn mower in the household.  I don’t do weedeaters, though.
Different Mustang, but are you getting the idea?
8.    I sliced into the web of my left thumb with a Swiss army knife once.  I was cutting a seat bolt hole in carpeting for the hubby’s ‘65 Mustang he was restoring.
9.    I didn’t live with my husband full-time for the first 2 ½ years of marriage.
10. For 21 years I lived within 100 yards of RT 11 in VA in 3 different locations – including college over 200 miles north!  GO DUKES!!
11. I’ve called 13 different places home – a lot for not being a military family.
12. I love techno-pop music.

13. We have a small farm in the mountains that we hope to eventually call home.
14. I really do enjoy working out at the gym, playing tennis, or riding my bike.
I once broke my left hand skiing – on the bunny slope – on the first run of the day. 
15. I would rather do 30 loads of laundry than 1 load of dishes.
16. My next personal goal is to learn to drive a tractor. (See #13)
17. I bought my last pair of boots at a Tractor Supply!
18. Hello.  My name is Amy, and I am a paper-aholic!
19. I have a superpower. I can nearly perfectly match colors from memory.  My sister has this same superpower.  Comes in handy when you need to buy thread or a new throw pillow.
20. I adore and often share obscure bits of trivia.
21. I have dreamed in Spanish and sign language and do dream in color!
22. I am simply mad about small independent hardware stores!  You never know what you will find.
23. Interesting grocery stores fascinate me.  Bridge Market in Manhattan, Zytinia in Wilton, CT, Treasure Island and Fox &Obel in Chicago are some of my favorites.
24. I may be the only southerner who has NEVER:  read To Kill a Mockingbird, nor watched Gone with the Wind.  Don’t tell.  They may revoke my citizenship.
25. Sephora is my happy place.
26. I love shoes, but HATE shoe shopping.  Size 9 1/2N, especially narrow at the back of my ankles, makes it less than fun.
27. I used a chainsaw for the first time around Thanksgiving – it was underwhelming.
Killer chocolate, coffee and desserts at Juliette et Chocolat in Montreal.
28. I’ve only been out of the country once – to Quebec, and we drove!

29.Through all my moves and adventures online, my greatest treasures I’ve collected have been friends like YOU! (In my onsetting senility this got deleted.  Duh!)

So there’s my list.  I know you are fascinated and wish I had gone on and on and on….

Now, I want you to tell me one random thing about you in the comments. What do we have in common here?  Go!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Looking Back, Moving Forward

We’ve been friends since sophomore year of college. This friend has pushed me, made me stronger and even hurt me at times.  I’ve suffered injury to be together, I’ve abandoned this friend for years at a stretch.  Yesterday, however, this friend taught me a lesson when I least expected it: a very profound lesson. 

Photo credit

My old friend is the Concept 2 rower in all its various shapes over the last 20+ years.  I found it again yesterday morning at the gym.  I was too late for a class but still wanted to get a good workout.  I warmed up on a treadmill then meandered through the weight machines and free weights. There it was!  At a window looking out onto a winter landscape of bare trees through full height windows.

Photo credit

I sat down, selected my distance and started the familiar push, pull and return. The hypnotic sound of the fan and chain allowed me to focus on imaginary waters still as glass but for the ripples from my strokes.

I thought about how in a regatta you always see where you have been but not where you are going.  The start fades from view and the finish is not in sight until it has been passed.  So many images and sounds rushed to mind.

We often row through this life with others, as a team.  When oars are in sync the power is exponential. Oars would hit, the boat would be less stable, and progress would be hindered if one were to stop rowing. Thankfully, there is the coxswain to call out encouragement and mind the cadence.  There has been coaching and training before all of this.  Likely within each rower is a competitive drive and ambition to reach the goal.   These all work together for success.

Much training happens alone on a rowing machine not going anywhere.  Studying the numbers on a small screen becomes the only indication that any development has taken place.  The strength we develop in our bodies is nearly imperceptible until it is put to the test.

It seems entirely appropriate to me that I look back today.  There are past challenges I’ve completed. There has been a lot of time spent not going anywhere, but getting stronger all the while.  There have been seasons when all training and discipline was all but ignored. There has been triumph, celebration, defeat, pain, exhaustion and rest.

This life of faith has been the same.  I’ve had the pleasure of serving and growing with many amazing people.  If you are reading this, the odds are high that you are one of those teammates!  Thank you all for pushing me, setting the bar high, and helping me up when I’ve fallen short.

Tomorrow I celebrate the start of another year of an incredibly blessed life.  I can’t imagine why I been so favored other than the simple fact that I am the daughter of the One High King who is able to do immeasurably more than I could ever ask or imagine possible.  Is anything too difficult for Him? Can I get a resounding” NO!”? 

Is there a better gift I could ask for? I think not!

Friday, February 1, 2013

Afraid of the Dark?

Five Minute Friday

Lisa-Jo’s rules of engagement:
1. Write for 5 minutes flat for pure unedited love of the written word.
2. Link back here and invite others to join in {you can grab the button code in my blog footer}
3. Go leave some comment props for the five minute artist who linked up before you {and if you love us, consider turning off word verification for the day to make it easier for folks to say howdy}

Here are my five minutes on: AFRAID

This Christmas brought two fuzzy, light-bearing creatures into our home.  One a little turtle with a hard shell back now named Twilight and the other a light brown puppy now named PuttPutt.  

They are here with the intent of offering comfort.

And sleep

To us all!

Has it worked?  No!

The blue and green and yellow stars that light up the sky of my little guy’s room, much like Max’s room that becomes the wide world all-around before he sails off to the wild things, are there to calm.

But every morning, or earlier, we awaken to a small body planted firmly on our mattress.  He doesn’t seem afraid most nights, but who really knows the mind of a 4 year old, anyway.
So I dream that these lights will one day help him to stay in bed all night.

I’m afraid it may take a while, though!


Now it's your turn!