Monday, January 30, 2012

I was fortunate to go to Dothan, Alabama at the end of January for the Among Friends Conference with Kathe Troccoli. It was a fantastic time and we really enjoyed ourselves. I can't wait to go to the Ewomen's Conference in Pensacola at the end of April!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Emptying Out Your Apron Pockets...

There was once a time that putting on your apron was synonymous with putting on a bra. It was part of a women’s arsenal to get her daily work done. As she went about her daily chores, finding things out of place, she would put them in her apron pockets. At the end of the day she would empty out her apron pockets and put everything in its proper place. She would put Billy’s toy car in his toy box, Bob’s pipe in the den and her ear rings in her jewelry box. Then hang her apron on the hook in the kitchen, ready to face another day. It was a signal that her day was done and she would go to sleep knowing that things were in their proper place.

As women, we have “Apron pockets” that we don’t even realize are there. Our day goes by and we pack things in there like worry, fear, anxiety, saddness and stress. Packing away the fear about our youngest going to school for the first time or worry about your “baby” taking their first real adult job. You may be storing away worry for your family’s main source of income, fearful of what the doctor may say at your next appointment, have so much anxiety that it can be paralyzing at times or stressed about how you will be able to mend a family relationship back the way it once was. You may be anxious for your son becoming a father or totally stressed out that your 16 year old passed their driver’s license test. All these and things like this we store away, not realizing that each thing (both the positive and the negative) is like a stone weighing us down. They are things that are commonly placed in the “that’s life” category, shoved into our apron pockets and then ignored.

We assume that these little stones of fear, worry, anxiety and stress are ours to contend with. No place for them to go and we just have to suck it up and carry the burden with little to no complaint…after all we don’t want to add our burden to our sister’s load. So day after day, week after week, the stones are piling up. We don’t always realize we are carrying these stones around with us. Occasionally some spill out in the form of “snarkiness” or “unexplained tears”. A body ache that just has no explanation (probably had a stone land on it or we slept funny on the stones) we just know we are weary, snippy, snarky and sore, maybe withdrawn or intentionally staying as busy as possible. All the while trying to avoid or ignore the stones into oblivion.

Don't Worry I have Great news! God knows us well and has already given us a way to empty out our apron pockets. The author says to us in Psalm 68:19 “Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens.” In the New Testament Jesus tells us in Matthew 11:28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Then Paul reminds us in Galatians 6:2 “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ”. There are three important things I hope all of you realize in these scriptures:

First: In Psalms it does not say our God only carries our big burdens and that He is only available Sunday evenings at 6pm. In Matthew Jesus didn’t invite us only to bring the things we think we can’t hide. If it is a burden to you God wants you to bring it to Him. He DAILY bears our burdens and wants to give us rest. Empty out your Apron pockets. Take every worry, stress, anxiety and fear at the end of the day and hand it over to Him. He is waiting for it and wants to give the weary(YOU!!) rest!

Second: Paul tells us in Galatians to “carry each other’s burdens”. It doesn’t mention to only notice what’s convenient for us or to avoid the icky stuff. It is a trick of the enemy to have you thinking you shouldn’t give her a hug because it may embarrass her or that you shouldn’t share your burden because it is yours alone to carry. Pray and God will show you who to talk to! What do you think is easier? Carrying a boulder by yourself or having 5 sisters circled around the boulder and lifting all at once?

Third: Here is the awesome part of how these scriptures work together. The burdens we carry for our Sisters… We can hand over to God! As we pray for them sharing their fears, worry, and concerns with God we are able to hand over the stones. Not only attaining a rest and a peace for ourselves but for our sister that was able to lighten her load by talking to someone about it. When we share our burdens we have help lifting them up to God who is willing and waiting for them.

So as we go about our day remember... You can "Empty Out Your Apron Pockets" anytime. Be watchful for the woman that may need your help empyting her pockets and ask for God to help you see her. Stay unburdened, God's grace is unfailing and He is waiting for us to trust Him enough to hand them over.

God Bless!

This is a Ladies Night out we had with this as the theme. It was great!
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Saturday, January 7, 2012

A Daddy's Arms

It amazes me that at the ripe young age of thirty-ish the solace I found last night crying on my daddy's shoulder. My heart was finally given permission to mourn my grandma and as the saddness welled up I just walked over to my dad, laid my head down on his shoulder and bawled. He put his arm around me and softly murmured the token sayings "It's going to be ok, I know honey I know, "and it was like balm on a wound.

At a time when there are so many unknowns coming, so many "This is the first time we have done this without Gigi" coming, the comfort and strength I was able to get from my dad was soothing. It was my constant in a storm. A lighthouse that was always been there to keep me from crashing into the rocks. So often not realizing how badly you need it until suddenly you do, and like any good constant he has always been there.

When I was younger, he kept me off the rocks with a stern look and then a deserved spanking. As I grew, precious priveleges were suspended - things like "No TV or Friends for a week" almost comical now at how life ending and harsh it seemed to teenage me... Then as I grew up and started to flirt with adulthood his tone changed. Acknowledging that he had to let me hit the rocks a couple times but always putting a cushion around me so that I would merely get bruised and not broken. Never wanting a life lesson to do me permanent harm and feeling it as his own when it did.

I believe that as parents we are our children's first glimpse of God. His Love, His Mercy and His firm hand when necessary. During the most troubled time of my life, teenage hood, my dad and mom had to put me into a hospital and as we were driving there I angrily said I was going to run away again the first chance I got. My dad very camly turned around and said "I want to catch you more then you want to run". He gave me a glimpse of God's love then and has been an awesome example of it my entire life.

Thanks to my dad's love I have no problem counting on God's love to be there and comfort me. I am forever grateful for my daddy's arms and the security, unconditional love, and laughter we have shared all these years.

God Bless!

Friday, January 6, 2012

A Heavy Heart

The time is getting closer to my grandma's memorial and I am dreading it with every ounce of my body. There is a part of me that knows I need to go. To say Good-bye to such a major influence and part of my life, but then there is a part of my that wants to run and hide. Make up some excuse why I can't go, as if by avoiding it all together I can avoid the pain I have been flirting with all week.

I am going by myself. I know that will be frowned on by some but Matt was willing to do whatever I wanted. With our usual babysitter out of town until 1/10 or going to this memorial I decided to have him stay with the girls. I will feel better he's home and will have everyone under control and in bed by the time I get home. I won't have to worry about it.

I am trying to lay all of this in God's hands. I need to let go of it first so he can actually take it from me.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Goodbye Gigi

My grandma passed away.

I know what I should be feeling. Sad. Lost. Empty. When I go searching for the emotions I know are there all I find when I think of her is a numbness. As if my heart knows it has to take her passing in little bites or stop beating altogether. I just don’t know what to do with the knowledge she’s no longer there. I can’t remember a time that she wasn’t here and trying to wrap my brain around it is proving impossible. My heart’s desire is to mourn and my brain's biggest fear is to let it, this causes for poor sleep and groggy days.

My grandma died.

I thought of a lot of ways to write about this. I could write about how I am feeling but it can be summed up in one word ... Numb. That does not make for a good story nor is it one I want to write about and share with others. Then I thought about why my grandma would be so missed. These are my reasons, the way I remember. Others may have more or less but these are mine:

My grandma was the definition of a strong woman. She would speak her mind with her southern drawl and expect you to thank her for the opinion. She had a way when we were younger of demanding your attention and the absolute expectation she would get it. Happiest with my Papa beside her she could put on a family gathering with a buffet of everyone’s favorites and commanding what she needed her troops to do. No one questioned her authority and if anyone did my papa was quick to defend and demand respect for the love of his life. No one questioned.

She took great pride in every single person in her family. All of them deserving her praise and she would tell any that would listen of her prodigy’s latest accomplishments. She made me feel like I was a precious child and made me feel like my daughters were even more special then I suspected. I loved to call and tell her about the girls latest “doings” because she had a way of being in awe with confidence. She was always properly amazed at her wonderful great grandkids but knew they had the abilitly to be amazing. Her confidence in them was contagious.

As she grew older we would have long conversations about her great-grandaughters. She would share stories of when she was raising my mom, aunt and uncles, followed by stories of them raising their kids. It was her suggestion that led to Katie getting her first nibble of Peanut Butter toast around 6 months.

She made me feel precious. Initially amazing for being her granddaughter and later completing the awesome accomplishment of giving her 2 more great-granddaughters. She always knew I was capable of more then I thought and supported the choices I made for my life.

The tears are waiting to come. They haven’t yet but I know they will. I hope you have a small glimpse of the woman who was best known as Gigi in her final moments. I believe that she’s wrapped in my Papa’s arms with a reunion second only to the one with God himself. My greatest sadness is that my youngest will only know her through stories and not with the same excitement my oldest had at the mention of Gigi and that they have one less person that truly took joy in every step of their life.

I take comfort that Emily shares her middle name. Making me feel like a small piece of her will carry on. Now I can remember all the good, share the stories and hold onto the things she taught me. How to Love fully, to care for and raise your children with a firm but fair hand and how to truly appreciate the people God has blessed you with.

"Blessed are those that mourn, for they will be comforted" Matthew 5:4