Month: November 2013

In Everything Give Thanks

I’ve been thinking a lot about Thanksgiving.  And I’ve been thinking about all the things I’m thankful for.  But, do you know something?  As I was thinking about all the blessings for which I’m grateful, I also remembered that there are some things that I’m not that excited about.  There are some things in my life that I probably wouldn’t count as blessings.

Our culture tells us to sift through the circumstances in our lives, pick out the good ones, the pleasant ones, the easy ones, and give thanks for them.  What do we do with everything else though? What do we do with the things that aren’t good or pleasant or easy?

Well, we give thanks for those, too.

“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

–Thessalonians 5:16-18

Give thanks for it all.

Give thanks for the turkey made by your Mama.

And give thanks for the burnt cookies made by your sweetest niece.

Give thanks for the leaf in the table that makes it wider for all the extra smiles.

And give thanks for the card table you sit at with all the sticky-fingered gems of the family.

Give thanks for the laughs you share around the table.

And give thanks for the tears that come when you see the empty seat that ought to be filled.

Give thanks for the gathering of family.

And give thanks for jobs that might be hindering the reunions.

Give thanks for the friends.

And give thanks for the enemies.

Give thanks for the money in the bank.

And give thanks for the bills you have to pay.

Give thanks for the spring in your step.

And give thanks for the ache in your knees.

Give thanks for the promotion at work.

And give thanks for the prognosis at the doctor’s office.

Give thanks for good.

And give thanks for the bad.

Give thanks in the light.

And give thanks in the dark.

Scripture doesn’t give a filter through which we can sift our circumstances and sort them into piles of good and bad.  “Give thanks in ALL circumstances.”

Why?

Because the Lord is worthy of all the praise and all the thanks in every situation.  He does not sway with our circumstances.  And that, my friend, is enough to cause thanksgiving.

County Road 8

I was going to write something deep and theological for this post.  I was going to wow you with all my learning and stuff.

But I can’t, y’all.  I just can’t.

I am currently working off of 2½ hours of sleep.  Why, you ask? Because of The Super Big and Important Project that was DUE TODAY.

I woke up this morning at 6:35, and it took me all of five minutes for me to realize that I had somewhere to be at 7.

The somewhere was prayer meeting.  I forgot about prayer meeting.  Go ahead; throw your stones.

I was absolutely frantic.  I had no time for makeup.  No time to make my top knot look more like messy chic and less like a mushroom cloud explosion of hair.  Seriously, it’s a miracle that I made it out of the house with pants on.

So because of this, my mental capacity has been teetering precariously on the verge of total expiration due to The Super Big Important Project and I probably should avoid any and all things that require a deep thought process.

(It’s actually probably a bad idea for me to be participating in any sort of communication until I’ve had a nap.  But hey, who needs reason right?)

So instead of deep and theological, I give you, ladies and gentlemen, the shallow and meaningless account of

Eight Marvelous Things I Saw on My Journey To and From County Road Eight

Some of you know that I work for a local State Farm agent taking pictures for insurance claims.  For those of you who didn’t know…now your life is complete.  While out taking pictures yesterday, I saw some things that just tickled me to absolute pieces.

  1. A Hearse: The first house I stopped at was a sweet little one level building, tucked in behind a few pine trees.  When I got out of the car, I saw the front end of a vehicle sticking out from behind the other end of the house.  I walked to the back of house to get a better picture when I stopped short.  That was not a car.  It was a hearse.  I. WAS. DONE.  I had visions of being the new screaming protagonist in the next Stephen King novel.  NO THANKS.
  2. Miss Patti’s Day Care Center: In case you didn’t already know, Florence is really Stars Hollow.
  3. The Dog From Because of Winn Dixie: There she was, just trotting down the road.  I was star struck.  It’s not everyday I come across a celebrity of that stature.  But let me tell you, I have some shocking news.  She’s still in the grocery store biz but has actually changed her stage name to Piggly Wiggly.
  4. A Chicken Who Had Run Away From Home:  That’s right.  Just a lone chicken, strutting his stuff, exploring the great, wide-open spaces.  Why? Because this is America, where chickens are free to roam.
  5. The Fattest Basset Hound I’ve Ever Seen: Strolling prestigiously down his driveway, he might as well have been wearing a top hat and an eyeglass.  I presumed he was just going to get his mail.  Because I promise y’all, HE OWNED THAT HOUSE.
  6. Iron City International Airport: I’m just going to give you a visual on this one and let it be.

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7. The Chicken Community That Was Missing a Sister: Fifty chickens in their little upside down, blue barrel houses, all looking around confused. Only the second time I passed this scene did I noticed the leashed, crazed-looking mountain dog, pacing back and forth amongst all those clucking, emotional females.  Bless him.

And finally, my absolute favorite find from the whole day…

8. Hillbilly Dave’s Backwoods Recording Studio: My new single, “County Road 8,” will be landing soon.  Be looking out, yo.

Okay, now I’m out of fun things to ramble about and the Dr. Quinn episode I was simultaneously watching has ended so, I think I’m done.  Excuse me while I go sleep off my anxiety about Sully’s latest injury and try to subconsciously process all the drama happening “out west.”

Remind My Soul

This semester has been a blur.  A long, hellish, never-ending blur.

Write this paper.  Edit this blog.  Work this job.  Blah, blah, blah.  The only thing that seems to be consistent in my life is the emotional breakdown that typically happens about once a week.  And truth be told, I’ve been feeling pretty sorry for myself lately.  And I’ve felt justified in my pity party because, hey, I’M DROWNING HERE, PEOPLE.

There have been other times in my life that I have had some pretty stressful days.  Days when I didn’t know if my sanity would live to see the sun set.  Days when I wondered if the Lord had forgotten me.  When I wondered if He really did have plans to prosper me.  Because there were days when I didn’t feel very prosperous.

Am I all by myself on this?

We took The Lord’s Supper at The Well on Tuesday night.  From the very beginning, my heart was ready for the presence of the Lord.  I was ready to see Him.  To hear Him.  To feel Him.

After we sang a few tunes, Allen got up, read Scripture, and asked us to get still and quiet before the Lord for a few minutes.  The band played softly and in those moments, I realized that was the quietest my life had been in weeks.  It was nice.

In the silence, my heart began to swell, completely overwhelmed.  I was surrounded by a crowd of people, all in love with Jesus, all loving Jesus in that moment with me.  I choked back tears as I drank in the blessings that I so often overlook.  I could see them, clear as daylight dawning after a very long, dark night.  And they were beautiful.

I heard a voice, still and small, echoing inside my heart.

“Do you remember how hard you fought Me about staying at UNA?  Do you remember how hard you tried to push open doors that I was closing?  Do you remember when I promised to be faithful to you?  Do you remember when I promised that I had a plan to prosper you?  Look around, dear one.  This is it.”

I smiled, because I did remember.  I remembered the moments when I  balked against God’s direction in my life.  I remembered the moments when I couldn’t imagine the possibility of anything good coming out of where He was sending me.  And I remembered all of the times I doubted Him.  All of the times that I placed higher priority on my to-do list than on my time spent in His presence.  All of the times I allowed the busyness and the stresses of this life to overwhelm me.

But in this quiet moment, the Lord reminded me that even in the busyness, even in the blur, even when I can’t see the end result, He is always faithful.  Always.

Sometimes, the soul just has to be reminded.

Feeding the Fish

Hey! Do you remember that one time that I went all summer without blogging?  That was a blast wasn’t it?  Not really.

It’s kind of a bummer that I didn’t write this summer (call me Dr. Seuss) because it was really a huge time of growth for me.  The Lord taught me so much and during that time I actually made a list of all the possible blog topics I could use if I ever did decide to touch the keys again.

(The list itself is actually a pretty hilarious sight.  With words and phrases like “cookies” and “circling the block,” I shudder to think about the theological gems I lost in forgetting their meaning.)

Well, as you know, I did decide to touch the keys again.  And even now as I type this, I wonder why I was so afraid.

So now, though it is a little dated, I’d love to tell you about one of the moments in which God spoke truth to me last summer.

A family in my church asked if I could house-sit for them while they were out of town, i.e. I needed to keep their pets alive.  Cool.  I could do that.

And before you think I’m about to tell you how I destroyed this precious family by forgetting to feed their fish or dog, think again.  When they came home, the animals were still alive and well.

It was a simple task.  Come in, let the dog out, feed the dog, let the dog back in at night.

And feed the fish.

I opened the top of the tank, sprinkled a pinch of fish food over the water, and walked away.

But one day, I stood for a moment and watched the fish after I gave them their food.  I could see them perk up as soon as the flakes hit the water.  (I don’t know if you knew that fish could show emotion, but they totally can.)

They swam frantically back and forth across the bottom of the tank but the flakes still floated at the top.  I was confused.  Had they forgotten how to get the food?  They would have to swim to the top to get their breakfast.

I tried informing them of this but they didn’t listen.  Because fish don’t have ears.  And because they don’t understand English.  But that’s beside the point.

I stood there, my stress level increasing by the second, wondering if the fish were going to starve because they couldn’t find the food.

And then He spoke.

“That’s you, Elizabeth. You are the fish.”

In that moment, I realized how often I end up swimming frantically in all horizontal directions looking for peace.  I try to hold my crazy busy life together all by myself.  I cover all the corners of my tiny fish-tank life looking for answers.  And all the while, the Lord is waiting for me to change the direction of my gaze—waiting for me to look up and see that He has provided everything I need.

I spend too much time fretting over the horizontal problems and stresses in my life, that too often I miss the vertical blessings He so graciously provides.

Maybe I’m the only one.  Maybe.  But maybe I’m not.

Look up today, friend.  He’s given you grace enough for this day.  All you have to do is take it.

 

21

I am beginning the process of mourning the loss of my birthday weekend! It was so perfect and wonderful that I hate to see it end!  I suppose I did celebrate my 21st birthday for a solid five days so I guess I should let it go…

But not before I tell you all about it! I began the festivities on Thursday by taking a trip to the salon after class.  I wasn’t planning on turning up any alcoholic drinks this weekend (or ever, for clarification) but I still wanted to do something drastic to mark this occasion.  So I dyed my hair.

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The birthday girls with their sopaipillas at Rosie’s

Friday night, I celebrated small town America by strolling around First Friday with a few friends, one of which is my birthday twin.  We had loads of fun eating our fill of Mexican food and strolling past the endless booths of locally made crafts.  Also, if you’re a fan of the People Watching, First Friday is the place for you.

I spent the better part of my Saturday smiling at customers and taking their money.  When I got off, I met up with a few friends who had come into town to help me celebrate.  Oh how sweet it was to see their faces! It had been a whole two months since we were all together so we had an absolute blast!

After dinner, we went to Publix and bought a cake and candles and headed back to my house to make ourselves sick off of cookies and cream cake.

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  My girls and my cake

On Sunday, some friends from church took me out to eat at a local restaurant of my choice. Upon later reflection, I realized that was the third time this week that I chose to eat at that establishment.  Have I finally accomplished my life-long goal of becoming a regular?  Oh, happy day!

On my actual date of birth, I woke up early and had a birthday breakfast with Dad at  the  Donut Shoppe.  I ended the day with family dinner at Longhorn’s Steakhouse where one of our party stood and requested, in a loud voice, that the whole restaurant sing to me.

I told the people sitting at that table that I had read several places that a person’s 21st birthday was really important.  Like the biggest birthday ever or  something.  So I had begun to think that maybe I was unprepared to adequately step across the threshold of this monumental year  of my life.  I had begun to worry that maybe it wouldn’t be that exciting.  But I told my family  the same thing I will say to those of you who sent me sweet words of well wishes for my  birthday:  There is  nowhere else I’d rather be and there’s no one else I’d rather be with.

When I look back on this  moment in my life, I will remember the overwhelming feeling that  stirs now in my heart as I  realize just how greatly God has blessed me.  It is almost too much  joy for any one soul to bear.  I love you all so terribly much, it makes me ache sometimes to think on it.

Life is crazy a lot of the time.  Things are busy and fast-paced and due dates are everywhere.  But this life I live, it’s a good one.  And I cannot help but smile at the thought of it all.