Friday, May 29, 2009

Reaping the Harvest

May 29, 2009

(This is my June devotional for my women's ministry newsletter.)

Growing up, I used to pick buckets full of blackberries at my great-grandparents’ house. I would suffer the scratches and cuts that the thorns would inflict on my tender little arms to get the sweet reward of the delicious berries. (I probably ate more than I managed to provide to my Momo for cobbler-making.) I enjoyed reaping the harvest that my Momo and Popo had pain-stakingly planted.

Flash-forward 25+ years…I now have my own blackberry bushes on the back of my driveway. I just happened to discover them one year when Jason had been a little lax on weed-eating one summer. I did not plant these bushes, yet my family gets to enjoy the labors of someone else’s hands, just like I did when I was a child.

As Christians, you and I are the harvest of the work of many seen and unseen hands. As you think of all the people who had a hand in your spiritual development, you probably think of pastors, Sunday school teachers, parents, grandparents, etc., that helped you mature in your faith. You get to reap the harvest of all the work they put into you. Your faith is the product of their time and labor.

In John 4:37-38, Jesus says “Thus the saying 'One sows and another reaps' is true… Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labor." Aren’t you glad that someone put their effort into you? I am so thankful to all the hands that helped shape me into who I have become in Jesus Christ. I pray that the lives that God has seen fit for me to touch will be filled with the harvest of faith and love for Jesus. What kind of spiritual legacy are you planting for those around you and for generations to come?

God Bless You!—Lianne

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Mission Impossible--or NOT!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

My nemesis:Our battleground:
The intended beneficiaries:My solution:The result:Oh yeah! The ol' greased pole trick works! He looked like a tiny, hairy fireman sliding down that pole. The look on the squirrel's furry little face when he slid down was priceless. He tried about 7 times during breakfast this morning and then took his slippery little paws elsewhere. It was awesome.

If this story was not interesting to you, maybe these pictures will be:

Luke with a big booty (Yes, that's what we call it. What about you? And, no, he wasn't pretending to be me.):A baby riding in a dump truck:No? Well, you can't say I didn't try.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Last Day of School Celebration

So my awesome, wonderful, relaxing, nap-filled, productive, quiet and lonely days as a SAHM with kids in school are now officially OVER. The kids are out for the summer! Yea!

We headed to Guthrie J. Smith Park in Fayette, Alabama to celebrate.

We started out with a picnic.We fed the ducks.Emma and Luke started a rock collection.We thought deep thoughts and contemplated life.We may or may not have located Pooh Bear's tree in the Hundred Acre Wood.We took a goofy family picture.They ran. (I watched.)Luke learned to use my camera.They played on the playground.The sky started to look threatening.They crashed--HARD.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

"Under His Wings"

May 21, 2009--I have not had a chance to post this week, so I thought I'd share a devotional I wrote last May. I hope you enjoy it. It's my favorite one that I've written.

We have a little red birdhouse in our backyard that my Daddy built for Luke last year. We were delighted to see a family of bluebirds take up residence in it earlier this Spring. We anxiously awaited the hatching of five tiny eggs and daily checked in to see how things were going since the babies hatched. We continue to watch the parents’ tireless efforts to keep those five mouths fed.

We have particularly noted how diligently the Daddy bluebird works to feed his hatchlings. He is constantly flying in and out of the house with a meal for his children. He watches us warily and closely when we peer in at the babies. Their well-being and safety seem to be his number one priority.

Whenever the Daddy flies in to feed the babies, they chirp for all they are worth. They continue to cry out for him long after he has flown off in search of more food for them. The babies have to trust that he will soon return and satisfy their most basic need. In my mind, I imagine they eagerly anticipate their next encounter with their Daddy.

Watching this father with his children reminds me of our relationship with our Heavenly Father. Psalms 91:4 says “He will cover you with his feathers, and under His wings you will find refuge; His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.” How many times we cry out to God and He holds us close in His comforting embrace! He tirelessly watches over us and protects us from those who seek to do us harm. We never have to worry about Him not satisfying our needs. He has already given us everything we need and provides for us bountifully. We should always eagerly anticipate our next encounter with our Abba (Hebrew for “Daddy”), our Father, as well. He eagerly awaits us.

God Bless You!--Lianne

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Is it just me...

or does my son look like that kid on that Hallmark card?

That's what I thought, too. (p.s. Do you know how hard it was to get the boy NOT to smile in the picture?)

I'll be back later when I have time to write an actual post.

Look out! Here comes Monday!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Just an observation.

This plastic clock is hanging on the wall in the Fellowship Hall at my church. Oh, how I wish it wasn't!

If you actually have to print on your product that it is "high-class," it probably isn't. The clock hands in the middle of Jesus' chest skeeve me out pretty bad, too.

Happy 50th post to me. I'm not sure this one should count.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Saved by the bell.

I went to the closet Tuesday morning and tried to find something that made me look authoritative, but not mean...  Confident, but not bossy...  Comfortable, but not clueless.  Okay, outfit done.

Time to go... school.

I'd already dropped the kids off before 8:00 a.m.  It was time for me to go fill in for an hour for Emma's teacher, Mrs. Leathers, while she went to the middle school for her son's awards day.

I prayed, "God, please let me at least look like I know what I'm doing.  Please help me not to be nervous."

I won't lie--I was scared.  I have had people tell me that they thought I should be a teacher.  I have always said that I didn't think it was for me.  The truth of the matter is that the idea of teaching has always scared me.

I walked calmly to the end of the hall.  Mrs. Leathers smiled a greeting to me as I walked in.  The kids were still in homeroom, so Emma and her classmates were there.  She grinned and turned her face away from me.  I guess it's never too early to be embarrassed of your mom.

Mrs. Leathers gave them an assignment, told them to be respectful or else, and told me what time they went to reading and what the assignment would be for the reading class. 

"Easy street," I said to myself.  "I can do this."  I plastered a pleasant smile on my face and kept going.

At 9:15, Emma's class left to go to their reading teacher.  Emma waited until everyone else had left and meandered over to me and smiled up at me and gave me a big hug.  She had to break it off abruptly because she saw some of the next class starting to come in.  Wouldn't want to get caught hugging Mom...

After I introduced myself, I handed out the test papers and watched the young minds at work.  One boy handed me his copy of Diary of a Wimpy Kid, "in case you get bored," he said.  I watched those kids like a hawk.  No one's cheating on my watch!

When the first boy turned in his paper 10 minutes later, I was a little uneasy.  Had she told me what to tell them to do when they finished?  I think she did...what was it?  I drew a blank.  Luckily, little Mr. Speedy Reader went back to his desk and put his head down. 

"Okay, I still got this...16 more papers to go...surely they won't all finish that fast."



They all finished pretty quickly, save for 2.  They asked me if they could read books from Mrs. Leathers' shelf.  I asked the cute, freckled red-haired girl if they had a reading story in their textbooks to do.  With wide, blinky eyes, she shook her head and said, "No ma'am.  We are finished with our books."  When I asked if they had vocabulary or something they were supposed to work on, she just shrugged her shoulders.

I let them get some books to read, but the nagging question of assignment kept dogging me.  I looked around the class...who looks trustworthy to ask about this? 

Not the one picking at his scab..."Here's a band-aid, buddy.  Let's cover that up."

Not the one drawing Star Wars fighter crafts..."You've got serious talent there, mister."

Not the one who's been sharpening his pencil for 4.5 minutes...  "Hey, I think you've got it now.  Have a seat."

Not the cute red-haired girl...I think she's trying too hard to look innocent.  Is she pulling one over on me?

Finally, a little girl came up to me and said, "You know, you look just like Emma's mom."  I replied with a smile, "I am Emma's mom."  She said, "Oh, I thought you looked like her.  I saw you out with your kids one day.  You look different."

I asked her about the reading textbook and she assured me that there wasn't anything left for them to do there.  (Boy, I hope she was telling the truth!)  I thought about what she'd said about me looking different.  Was it because I was dressed up in my teacher outfit, wearing make-up...or was it the fact that I was smiling? 

I hadn't stopped smiling in about 90 minutes at that point.  My jaws ached.  I hadn't done this much smiling in a very long time.  Granted, no one smiles ALL the time when they are with their own kids, but how much time do I spend barking orders, sighing, and complaining that I'm not being listened to?  Oh, gracious, if that child saw me at Wal-Mart with my kids, she probably is scared to death of me!  She's probably waiting for me to start yelling impatiently at her, too.

Ouch.  Self-examination time.  What I see isn't pretty.

So, I guess that I learned something at school today.  The kids I kept an eye on may or may not have learned anything, but I sure did.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

What Luke learned this year...or not.

Luke brought home this paper last week.  It made me laugh.

Don't fear the LukeR.  Isn't he friendly looking?  He's not usually bald, though.

 Not true.  He was already doing math in four-year old preschool.  He amazed his teachers when he told them what 16 x 13 was.  (Figure it out yourself.  I can't do it in my head like he can.)  I like that he demonstrated how he can do math, too.

Again, questionable truth here.  He was reading in preschool, too.

He learned how to "writi."  Apparently, he did not learn to spell this year.  Oh, well.  Notice how "Dad" got a shout-out in the school work and I did not.  Guess who's having lima beans for dinner?  (Insert evil laugh here.)
**This paper reminded me of one of my favorite blogs, What I Learned Today.  (Just in the title of Luke's paper--Billy doesn't usually post in crayon.)  Billy Coffey is very insightful, wicked in his use of subtle humor, and a very talented blogger overall.  Check him out.  You'll be glad you did.

Monday, May 11, 2009

The Mystery of the Nibbled Berries

I like to garden. I'm not that good at it, but I like to do it. The problem is I'm sporadic about watering...and sometimes just the process of getting the plant out of the store container and into the ground takes much longer than it should.

But that's not why I'm writing.

I have strawberries growing in my garden this year. They are beautiful! Granted, I only harvest a "crop" of about 6-10 of these beauties per day (don't laugh), but that's enough for a bowl of cereal, right?

Well, lately, I can't even get that many.


(Cue suspenseful music--"Dun, dun, dun!!!")

Some critter comes in the dark of night and nibbles my strawberries.

This makes me so mad! I don't know what it is, but it has decided that my strawberries are fantastic. Worst of all, it doesn't eat just one strawberry.

Oh, no.

It takes a little bite out of ALL the ripe strawberries, effectively ruining them all. I can't quite make myself just cut that spot off either. It could be some crazy, rabid squirrel sampling my fruits. You can't eat after a crazy, rabid squirrel, can you?It reminds me of a story that my friend Rob told me in college. His mom had sent him a giant bag of miniature Snickers bars for Halloween. Rob and his roommate, Ted, were enjoying some Snickers one afternoon when Ted noticed that his Snickers had been previously enjoyed by some sort of rodent (that may or may not have been wearing a hula skirt and lei).Rob began examining the rest of the mini-Snickers in the nearly-full 3 pound bag, only to discover that the rodent, which he not-so-affectionately deemed the "Snicker-rat," had taken a bite of each and every one of the candy bars.

Rob was so frustrated. He threw out the bag of candy, but not without shaking his fist and screaming at the top of his lungs, "Why couldn't you eat just one whole one? No! You just had to eat a bite of all of them! ARRRGGGHH!!!"

I am feeling your pain, Rob. Sorry I laughed so much. I guess this is payback.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Mothers & Others Luncheon

I wanted to do a quick wrap-up post for my Mothers & Others luncheon last Saturday. It was a huge success! It gets bigger and better every year. This was our fourth year to have the luncheon. I find myself stressing less with each one we hold.

We had 12 tables, each decorated as a particular month of the year:

This one is mine, including roses out of my garden. (I had the month of June. I decorated with butterflies.):

How awesome is this? This was our August table/kids' room: This was our fabulous speaker, Corrie Clay, of Filling the Gap Ministries. She had just the right balance of stories of personal battles, humor, and thought-provoking/divinely-inspired Biblical teaching to keep our ladies' rapt attention. She shared with us the importance of leaving a spiritual legacy, not just for our families, but for the lost in our world. She even told us her address--which is on WET CAT ROAD in Alabama. If God can use a precious, sweet girl who lives on a road with that name, He can use anybody! (Says the girl whose closest thing to Divinity School was working in a church office...) If you are in the market for a wonderful, inspirational speaker, let me know. I'll get you in touch with Corrie. (p.s. She's as much a teacher as she is a speaker. She knows her stuff!)

We are trying to figure out a theme for next year. Someone has suggested doing 12 different countries. I'm not sure how I'd pull that off. Anybody got any ideas for that or anything else?

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Jesus in a Box Devotional

(This is my May devotional for my Women's Ministry Newsletter at my church.)

If you've ever driven Hwy 13/43 to Tuscaloosa, you've likely seen the life-sized statue of Jesus in a lighted plexiglass box with a roof. I am as fascinated by it as I am confused by it. I wonder what prompted the idea of putting out the statue, and I wonder where you’d buy such a thing. I pondered, also, why they decided to put the Jesus statue in a box. The most obvious reason I came up with was to protect it from the elements and mischievous passers-by.

Do you put Jesus in a box sometimes? I know I do. I have a way of categorizing my life into little compartments like family, church, things I can handle, things I “let” God handle, etc. That’s not the way that God intends for us to do things. He intends for Jesus to be at the forefront of everything we do or think about.

We don’t need to keep Jesus in a box, only to turn to Him when we encounter trouble. Rather, Jesus should be what others see when go through the day-to-day issues of life. He can handle the everyday situations. There’s nothing too big, too boring, or too routine for Jesus to handle. There’s no reason to try to hide Jesus away or to put Him in a place where He can’t be seen—or see us, since He sees us anyway. If you know Him, you should want for everyone else to see and know Him too!

In John 8:12, Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.” Don’t try to hide that light in a box—Let His light shine through you!

God Bless You!—Lianne

Monday, May 04, 2009 so

Historically, May has always been a month of anticipation for me. As a child, I remember anxiously awaiting the turn of the calendar to that month. It never seemed to get here fast enough. I couldn't wait for summer break and the lazy days with no homework.

May brought different anticipation my senior year of high school. I couldn't wait to be done with schoolwork and was excited about entering the next phase of my life, but I felt pangs of sadness when I knew that since I'd never move back to my hometown after college (*snicker,* we moved back in 2004), I'd likely never see a lot of my classmates again.

When I was in college, I worried what I'd do after the semester ended in May. Would I get a job? Where would I live when the dorms closed? When I reached my senior year of college, May was a terribly scary month. Life as I knew it was going to change forever! I had to get a REAL job (not at the mall) and an apartment.

A couple of years after college, May held brand-new meaning, but still anticipation. May 1999 was the month before my wedding. I had to get wedding details wrapped up, I had to pack, and get ready to begin my life in another brand-new way.

In May of 2000 and 2003, I had another phase of life to anticipate. First, in May 2000, I was thrown a baby shower for my daughter, Emma, who was born in August. In May 2003, I was one month away from becoming a mother of two children, as Luke was born in June of that year.

I am not entirely sure if I should expect any big changes for this May. I guess I've come full circle in that I am eagerly anticipating the end of the school year and all the fun that is planned for summer. I still get a little giddy just looking at the calendar, though.

What does May mean to you?