Feeds:
Posts
Comments

The Great Humbling

I first saw the phrase this week; The Great Humbling.  The term was in reference to the many American’s who’ve lost jobs and have been forced to take less paying/less prestigious jobs from the one they lost or perhaps even downsize their homes.  A neighbor of mine made sure I knew she wasn’t accustomed to living in such a small house.  She was used to a much larger home and the transition had been challenging.

These adjustments hit a nerve called pride.  We bristle at the thought of lowering ourselves.  I’ve worked to hard to get where I am.  What will people think?

But imagine this: imagine you are strong, powerful and live in the most pristine of worlds where dirt, illness and all things unpleasant are not allowed.  Then willingly you give up your powerful position and allow yourself to be taken to a less than desired area of town, in a cold, dirty, smelly cave surrounded by farm animals.   You’re no longer strong and powerful, but helpless; unable to even feed yourself.  And worst of all (for us people pleasers), someone in a high position wants you dead.

That’s exactly what Jesus did for you and me.   He left the glory of Heaven to a low of lowlies, born to an unwed teenage girl in a cave housing farm animals.  The King of Glory became a helpless baby, to live a sinless life, die a humilitating death and live again in victorious resurrection; all so that we could become the children of God.

THAT is THE Great Humbling that brings me to my knees in overwhelming gratefulness and praise.

CMA Summary

Darius Rucker – love him.

Wynona – fell into some red clay just before walking on stage. yikes.  Trying the MJ in reverse?

Martina – class act and deserves a better song

Jamey w/ Kid Rock – I have no words.

Daughtry:  heavenly

Taylor (and several others) – where’s the Auto-Tune when you need it?

Dave Matthews – could have listened to you all night.

Taylor Swift- fits well into the songwriter category.

Kellie Pickler –  adorable

Brad & Carrie – well done.

Over all: nice show, but too many ballads.  Coulda used less whine and more YeeHaw!

This may look long, but I know you read fast.

I’m predisposed to happy.  I go with the flow.  Maybe a little drama for humor’s sake, but I truly am a contented, happy person.  So when a smoke alarm started beeping due to a low battery I was just mildy annoyed b/c was 6:30 on a Saturday morning.  

I staggered downstairs to the kitchen; but the beeping was not coming from the kitchen.  It was coming from the downstairs bedroom.  I walked in the room looking for the alarm I never knew was there.  I slowly crained my eyes up, further and further only to see the flashing light at the very top of my 18 ft high cathedral ceiling.

Because smoke at 8 or 10 feet isn’t a concern?  We have to wait for it to waft up to the rafters of a two story home before it is “alarming”???!!!

I started processing my options. My ladder barely allows me to change the lightbulbs in the ceiling fan; so that won’t work.  It’s too early to call anyone for help.  I couldn’t shut the door to the bedroom because Chloe’s litter box is in the bathroom of that bedroom (did you get that?). Might as well go back to bed.  I pulled the door closed just enough for Chloe to get through it then went back to my room upstairs; shut my door and pulled a pillow over my head. 

I could still hear the beeping. 

I turned the radio on hoping music would drown out the noise. 

Found myself humming along so I switched to talk radio and well, was asleep in no time.

(Random conclusion; If my professors had sang their lectures, my grades would have been much better.)

I digress.

I got back up at the planned time and put the word out for an extension ladder and a friend w/ no fear of heights.   One of my friends came over with her ladder and my (tall) neighbor came over to help.  He reached the alarm but he couldn’t get it apart to remove the battery.  After struggling with it for a while I thanked him and let him go.  At least the beeping had finally stopped for some reason; so we decided to let it go.

Oh, alas, but it had NOT!

The beeping returned around 1:30am Sunday.  By now I was cursing the builder’s name and seriously considering calling him on the phone to share the joyous music with him. I resisted by reminding myself he probably owned a gun and obviously knew where I lived.  So I just turned the radio back on and grabbed the extra pillow.

By the time I left for church I was having Prozac cravings.  After lunch I stopped by the Fire Department.  I do NOT like being the ‘damsel in distress’ but I was desperate.  After a few questions as to the layout of the house, they decided they could come over with a ladder and help.  I figured they’d throw a ladder in the back of one of their trucks and drive on down.

Oooohhh NOOOOO.  My eyes were big as saucers when I saw BIG RED in my rear view mirror.  

Dear Lord, can that thing even fit on our little road?

I’ll have you know….yes, yes it can.

3 firemen (for my single friends, let me clarify; 2 were older than my Dad and the 3rd was married.  So you can drop those hopeful, raised eyebrows.) anyway, the 3 firemen came in with a 24ft ladder (by now I’m taking not-so-discreet photos with my phone camera.  I’m cracking up at the big production.  They were able to fix it with little trouble. And not so subtly told me they liked sweets.  (I’ll be taking desert down to the heroes of Ladder 28 this week.)

Feeling relieved and a little giddy I decided to pick up a screen door for the patio so I could take advantage of the beautiful cool breezes on this lovely Sunday afternoon.

Bought the door, confirmed installation procedures w/ the Home Depot guy and drove home. 

According to the directions only a Phillip’s head screwdriver was needed.  However, a phillips head, a flat head, a knife,  2 spoons (don’t ask) and one hour later, that dang door isn’t sliding. 

It is at this precise moment I start to cry.  I’m refusing to call my Dad b/c I want him to know he’s more than a handyman to me.  I don’t want to keep using him for stuff like this.  And even though I know he’d come over as soon as he could; it’s time for me to do things myself.

Then it begins; wrestling with God.

“If I had a man in my life, this wouldn’t be a problem!  I’d have someone to help me!  A partner that’s SUPPOSED to help me with things like this.”  

“If you’re going to keep me single forever, you’re going to have to equip me a little more!”

“Ok, I’ve got this independent thing down for the most part.  Now do your part and show me how to fix this stupid door!”  

The internal war ensues.  The struggle to be an independent single woman because of my pride and there’s no other choice vs. the option NOT to be.  It would be nice to have the option of being a woman in need.  I wonder what’s it like to have someone say “Honey, let me help you with that”? 

Don’t get me wrong; I know marriage is NOT about what the other person can do for you.  Just allow me this weak, sleep-deprived moment of raw honesty.  Most days, I will tell you there are certainly worse things than being single. 

But the truth is somedays it stinks.  

I should have seen this pity party coming.  The enemy loves to come in after a spiritual high.  I was just thanking God for the opportunity to minister to some hurting girl friends. Encouraging them in their journey, telling them they are valuable, priceless women simply because they are God’s creation. Their value isn’t based on what they do or don’t do; whether or not they are in a relationship or are good at being in one.  

Nor is it based on their ability to reach 18ft high smoke alarms or installing screen doors. 

God is good.  It’s nice to know I’m not alone. 

I know I’m not alone b/c of the sudden scratching noises in my attic. 

Guess I’ll call Critter Control in the morning.

I watched her wipe her tears as she struggled to decide which bachelor to send home.  Warnings of a particular young man had risen several times, but she had no choice but to ‘follow her heart’ and keep him around.

How many times have we heard that timeles bit of “wisdom?”  How often have we quoted it to a dear friend at a crossroad or even used it to justify our own actions inspite of the warning signs presented to us? 

But hang around long enough and you’ll see the tragic results of practicing such nonsense. When the relationship falls apart, when we can’t pay the bills, when the collateral damage piles around our feet, do we then say…”well, at least I followed my heart”? 

What we should be asking ourselves is ‘”at what point did my brain disengage? ” 

Why are we surprised by the consequences of leaving common sense behind?

We women should be especially cautious.  Know thyself, girlfriend!  We are emotional, fickle and at times a little flakey.  It’s an aspect of our sex that can be charming.  But more often than not, it reaps consequences for which we didn’t plan (and OHHHH how we do plan!)

God has warned us in His Word, “the heart is deceitful and desperately wicked, who can know it?”  And think about it, how often have we said the words “what was I thinking?”, “why did I buy this outfit?” ‘” why did I go out with them?” “why did I agree to organize this party?”  You can fill in your own blanks here.

We are human; fallen creatures born with natural selfish tendencies that can justify…well… just about anything.  But we don’t have to live that way.  We can choose to live wisely.  Admit what we would LIKE to do and then set it aside long enough to ask God for wisdom. 

There are a few guidelines I try to live by when faced with making a decision. They’re not original to me but I can’t really remember where I got the information.  Nevertheless, it’s good stuff.

Never make a decision when you are: Hungry, Tired, Lonely, PMS-ing, Mad or Depressed. 

You are NOT at your best during any of these times.  Bad choices often come from moments of desperation and attempts to fill a void.

Speaking of time; it is your friend.  Perhaps you were given a specified amount of time to make a decision.  Think about the perameters given to you.  Is it a reasonable amount of time? Ask for more, if possible.  Is the pressure you’re feeling truly coming from an outside source, or your own impatience?  How big of a role are your emotions playing in this?

Lastly, check your motives.   This statement speaks for itself.  It requires us to be brutally honest with ourselves.  God already knows our motives.  It’s we mere humans, that prefer “blissful ignorance.”  But getting to that point of truth gets us closer making right choices that affect not only ourselves but those around us.

So follow my heart?  Hmmmm, not so fast.  Let me check in with common sense and the God Who Loves Me FIRST!

Just a few thoughts from my journey so far….

God has taken me on an interesting Journey over the last 12 months.  I don’t know what it’s all about, but I do know He has a plan and it’s a good one.  One of the things that has always helped me process life has been music.  In college, my time with God was often at the keyboard of a baby grand in a particular building on campus.  I am so thankful for the talented people that willingly go through (what to me would be) a painful process of writing a song.  I reap the blessings of their talents.

This song by Shaun Groves sums up my day, and well honestly my entire life on this planet.  I need a good house cleanin’ about now.  So basically this song was my prayer tonight. 

Welcome Home by Shaun Groves

Take, me, make me
All You want me to be
That’s all I’m asking, all I’m asking

Welcome to this heart of mine
I’ve buried under prideful vines
Grown to hide the mess I’ve made
Inside of me
Come decorate, Lord
Open up the creaking door
And walk upon the dusty floor
Scrape away the guilty stains
Until no sin or shame remain
Spread Your love upon the walls
And occupy the empty halls
Until the man I am has faded
No more doors are barricaded

Chorus:
Come inside this heart of mine
It’s not my own
Make it home
Come and take this heart and make it
All Your own
Welcome home

Take a seat, pull up a chair
Forgive me for the disrepair
And the souvenirs from floor to ceiling
Gathered on my search for meaning
Every closet’s filled with clutter
Messes yet to be discovered
I’m overwhelmed, I understand
I can’t make this place all that You can

repeat chorus

I took the space that You placed in me
Redecorated in shades of greed
And I made sure every door stayed locked
Every window blocked, and still You knocked

repeat chorus

Take me, make me
All You want me to be
That’s all I’m asking, all
 I’m asking

 

I don’t know about you, but I can related to prideful vines, hidden messes, souvenirs from the search for meaning and being overwhelmed at the enormity of needed repairs.  The good news is that He’s busy at work; even when I don’t see the evidence, or much progress.  But I’ve got to do my part and open the doors, unlock the windows and let Him in to do the cleaning. 

Tonight, I turned the key.

 

 

***Note: this entry is a raw, honest account of a tough night for my family.  If you are in need of something light and happy, please refer to posts from the more fun categories of my blog. Thanks for understanding my need to document this night.****

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

I can imagine the brass bands playing the familiar tune down the streets of New Orleans on this particular Tuesday night, before Lent.

But I could hear it in my head for different reasons.

I got the call at work.  Grandpa was having trouble breathing so the Nursing Home/Rehab Center felt he needed to go to the hospital.  He’d been in the facility for less than 2 weeks to recover from a fall.

I assumed it was the effects of yesterday’s indigestion. I was not ready for what I encountered.

“It’s bad, Christa.”  Mom stated looking at me through red, swollen eyes.   Then she turned to my Dad crying “I can’t do this! I don’t want to do this!”  “This” was deciding whether to put her Daddy on life-support.  I immediately pleaded with the Lord to not put her in that position.  He didn’t.  The doctors came in letting us know it was double pneumonia.  And in his case it would be fatal.

“Time?”  was all I could sqeak out.

The answer was between the next 20 seconds and two days.  But closer to the former.

So we stayed by his bed.  Mom, Dad, Aunt Della, Uncle Lloyd and me, his only grandchild.  The doctors closed the curtains to give us privacy.

He was restless, uncomfortable from the oxygen mask and distended stomach.  He tried to talk to us, but it wasn’t clear.  What we could understand were the “I love you’s” in response to our “I love you’s” to him.  We patted him, kissed him, stroked his head, face, arms and hands.  Telling him what we so desperately wanted him to know in these precious last moments.

“I love you, Grandpa”

“You’ve been the best Daddy in the world”

“God is so proud of you,  you’ve served Him so well”

“Everyone loves you so much”

“So many people know Jesus because of you”

“So many people are ‘hitched’ because of you”

“Remember when you were going to baptize me in the lake?  I asked you if it would be ok with God if I peeked under the water to see if I saw a fish.  You said, yeah, you reckon it would be ok with God if I peeked.  So, I peeked.  And my memory tells me I did see a small fish.”  I was seven years old.

He was becoming more still.  His eyes were open but occasionally they’d get wider.  I knew he couldn’t see us anymore, but he could hear.

“Do you see Jesus, yet?  What does His face look like?  What’s it like to look into the eyes of your Savior, the one who made you?”

All of this was said and done while simultaneously watching the monitors.  The waves on the green monitor were getting smaller and less frequent, the numbers lower and lower.  It was a count down with no certain time frame.

He closed his eyes.  I couldn’t take in enough of the details.  It’s strange the things that randomly run through your brain during these desperate moments.  It’s not like ER or Grey’s Anatomy.  The ending is slow and undefined.  No sudden flatline.  No dramatic music.  Just a surreal silence.  Your brain trying to reconcile the reality of death, but not fully comprehending it even as it’s happening before you.  My hand had been over his heart, inspite of not being able to feel the faint beating for several moments.  Then his breathing  had slowed so, I couldn’t tell if he was breathing at all anymore.  The lines on the green screen were pretty flat.

7:43pm

The nurse confirmed it.  He’s gone.   Mom let out what I can only describe as a soft wail.

It had been less than two hours since the ‘fatal’ word had been given.  He did not suffer long.

I belive God.  I believe His Word is true.  This is where the rubber meets the road.  Do I truly believe what I’ve claimed for years?   Yes, but why the constant tears, the sharp pain? 

I can relate to the father that said to Jesus, “I believe, help my unbelief.”

This life is all we’ve known.  It’s all we’ve been seeing, touching, hearing, feeling and living.  Eternity hasn’t been experienced yet.  God knows this and has sweet mercy on us in our weak state.  “He remembers we are dust.”  I’m so incredibly thankful for that.  Because nothing can truly prepare you for this.  It doesn’t matter how long someone has been on this Earth, you’re never ready to let them go.

We can only imagine the sights and sounds he was experiencing at that very moment.   What was happening these first minutes in heaven?  Had he seen Grandma?  Was he catching up with his old preacher buddies?  Or was he simply bowing at his Saviour’s feet?  A man who had been preaching the Word for 73 faithful years, was most likely doing the latter.  I can still hear him quoting the Scriptures on up to the end.  He wanted to go home.  Not back to Oakdale, Tennessee, but to his “home on high” as he told Mom Sunday night.

Thursday, February 26

Grandpa had lived in Morgan County for more than 70 years.  He came from Arkansas to start a church with some of his friends.    And he left an amazing legacy.   The stories we heard as people came through the receiving line at the funeral home were those of a community tightly-knit from spending your entire life with the same people.

“Brother Fred married us 63 years ago.  And he tied knots well because I can’t get rid of my husband.”

“Preacher Copeland drove my school bus and my Mom’s too.”

“Mr. Fred married me – both times.”

“Bro. Fred baptized me.”

“I’ve never heard a bad word about Mr. Copeland.  And never heard him say a bad thing about anybody.”

“He never had an enemy in his whole life.”

On and on the stories came.   What an honor to be a decendant of such a great man.   

Some out of town guests stopped for a snack at a market down the road.  The person behind the counter looked at them and said, “You must be here for Preacher Copeland’s funeral. ”   They were taken aback by the accurate assessment.  We also learned that when the singers got together to practice songs for the service, they spent the first hour crying before they could start practicing.   Fred Copeland was a loved and respected man.

He had a great sense of humor an nicknamed everyone.  I can still hear him calling out to me when I’d visit him, “Come on in here, Heavy!” (Yes, he called me Heavy.) “How’s my graaaaand youngin’?”  He would be wearing his overalls with a thumb tucked in under one of the straps.  If you had been introduced to him, he would say “proud to know ya” as he shook your hand.  And you would have loved him instantly.  Everyone did.

Saturday, February 28th. 

We burried Grandpa today during a cold, rainy drizzle.  Our family has been overwhelmed at the out pouring of love from friends and family.  Sitting with us at the hospital, offering shoulder massages, bringing chess squares, sending love and prayers with Facebook, email and text messages, buying cat food and feeding the cat, driving to East Tennessee, loading flowers & plants in their cars b/c there was no more room in ours.

I just hung up from talking with a precious friend who knows all too well what this week has been like.  She understands that sometimes you want to talk about things and sometimes you just don’t feel like talking at all.    God is so good with the blessing of friends!

Witnessing a loved one leaving this life is a painful blessing.   But life on this earth is not the main event.  This is not “all there is.”  We have the hope of forever with our Savior and our loved ones. 

Grandpa, you are loved and I’ll hug you again, “drectly.”

img_1040

What’s so great about a job at Kirklands

10.  I’m employed!

9.  My evenings and nights are my own again.

8.  8-10 minute commute.  Oh yeah.

7.  A Commute that goes against the heavy rush hour traffic.

6.  Two words: Sample Sale!

5.  Checks where my name only appears once.

4.  Friday is Jeans Day!

3.  Beautiful Home Decor items all over the place.

2.  The distance from my Car to my Desk = about 40 feet. (That one is for my LifeWay friends.)

1.  Did I mention Sample Sale?