Page 3 of 8

Adventures at the Lawrenceburg Fair: Part 2

Other than the animals and the food and the strange characters one can find, I go to the fair for the rides. I love the adrenaline, the speed, the heights and flips. Naturally, the first one I hopped on was the ride characterized by all of the above. The contraption looked very similar to those little colorful plastic windmills.

I watched for a moment as the base turned and twisted, causing the rows of seats to spin and flip dramatically. Screams from riders echoed from the top as I tried to convince my friends to join me. One brave soul agreed and moments later we were strapped in tightly to our seats, legs dangling over the edge.

The ride started, lifting us higher with each turn. Our row spun and twisted. The machine threw us in the air then dropped us dramatically toward the ground below. In one particularly impressive plunge, I had a thought.

In the middle of my screams and laughs and squeals, it occurred to me that I was trusting my whole life to this blundering contraption that had, only a few hours ago, been in pieces in the back of a trailer. My security was resting on the dirty bars strapped around my shoulders and the accuracy of the bored worker who had come by to lock me in. At any moment, it could fail. At any moment, I could be flung across the fairgrounds if the engineering should fail even in the slightest.

And, as it most often does, the Lord’s voice echoed quietly inside my brain.

Why are you so willing to trust this piece of equipment, but struggle to trust me with the details of your future?

As the idea rattled inside my head, it suddenly seemed absurd to me that I had so thoughtlessly surrendered my safety to this man-made machine, when I regularly fight to trust the One who created me.

So many times, I end up placing my trust in other people, in plans I’ve made, in my own ability. In a radical display of ridiculous logic, I trust in things that have failed me time and again, instead of trusting wholly in the God who has never once failed me. Never once.

As absurd as it is to surrender total trust to someone (or something) who doesn’t deserve it, it is equally illogical to assume that our Creator, who has never failed us before, would abandon His creation in the future. He won’t. He just won’t.

He is a God who knows us, sees us, loves us in spite of us. And let me tell you, He is a God who can be trusted. Every time. Every season. Every circumstance. He will never fail.

 

 

Adventures at the Lawrenceburg Fair

Fall is here, bursting through our doors with over-enthusiastic promises of cooler weather, pumpkin-flavored everything, and a glorious vanishing of the mosquito population.

Though, in Northwest Alabama, the weather is never as crisp as it should be, thus leaving a few lingering summer fiends behind. And making a gourd into a dessert is never quite as thrilling as I remember it. But, even so, I am grateful fall has arrived.

One of my favorite gifts fall brings along is the fair. You know, the excessive number of bright lights and carnival workers calling out for you to stop and play their games. And the clanging, metal contraptions meant to sling you around in the most terrifying and exhilarating fashion.

And the smells. Oh, the smells. The caramel, the kettle corn, the animals in the stables nearby, the fresh scent of mud and grass twisting together beneath hoofs and boots.

I went to the Lawrenceburg fair a few weeks ago with some friends of mine. When they invited me to tag along, I was so excited. I’d never been to the Lawrenceburg fair before, but had always heard stories of its superiority to the Florence production. It had become a sort of legend in my mind.

And I must admit, it lived up to its reputation. The Lawrenceburg fair was indeed a marvel.

Though most fairs have some sort of animal display, I had never seen one as large as this one. There were sheep and cows and horses and rabbits and goats, and I wanted to stop and pet every one. Talk to every one. And my kind and patient friends sweetly indulged me.

10996136_10206241401446384_3902548924439226759_n

As we walked toward the stables, I caught a glimpse of two men standing in the doorway, heads bent over something curious held by the man on the right. The back of the man on the left was obscuring my view, but I was determined to see what was so interesting. As I stepped around, the man on the right caught my eye and quickly tucked his prize back into his jacket pocket. But not before I saw a flash of squirming fur.

So, naturally, I had to ask.

“What’s in your pocket?”

The guy looked back at me with no expression of response and a tinge of suspicion in his eye, which to be honest, I found kind of ironic. I mean he’s the one who is carrying a tiny animal in his windbreaker. I just want to know what it is.

I realized he was trying to make me believe he had nothing to hide. That his jacket was just naturally a little squirmy. And I guess that should’ve been a warning sign, an indicator that this man might not be sitting squarely on his own rocker. But still I pressed.

“C’mon, man. I just saw you put that thing in your pocket. I know you’ve got something in there. What is it?”

Another moment of him staring at me, no response, just carefully considering his options. My friends stood behind me, trying to suppress snorts of laughter, glancing back and forth to each other in confusion.

Finally, realizing I wasn’t stupid enough to believe he had nothing to show, he pulled out his treasure to show us. As his left hand emerged, a trembling squirrel came with it, tucked firmly in the guy’s fist.

A squirrel. Garden-variety yard rodent. Immediately, a dozen questions filled my brain.

Does he carry it with him everywhere? Was it captured for this specific occasion, or had it been transformed into a kind of domestic pet? How did he come to acquire this little creature? Did he chase it down? (That image I found comical considering his age and build.) I had to know.

So, naturally, I asked.

Still I got no real response. I gave up with my questions, content with just ‘oohing’ and ‘ahhing’ over the tiny thing. I figured his squirrel, his business. As my friends and I leaned in to look closer at the shaking captive, the man spoke.

“You can pet him for a dollar,” he said in a low voice, his eyebrows lifted, seeming to suggest that he was offering us a real deal.

Unfortunately for him, we were all pretty uninterested in petting his contraband rodent.

It turns out that characters aren’t always fictional. Some are as real as the squirrels in their pockets and are oftentimes far more interesting than any invented personality.

 

**P.s. Stay tuned for Adventures at the Lawrenceburg Fair: Part 2 . Apparently, the fair’s got more to say.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some Things to Celebrate

Hold on to your hats, ladies and gents, because I am posting a blog for the third consecutive week. This is big news, people. To be perfectly honest, I am patting myself on the back just the tiniest bit. I feel like this should be celebrated considering that, before these last few posts, my most recent blog was from May.

While we’re having a party about my short-lived consistency, here are a few other things I think should be celebrated:

  1. This fall weather, though. It feels like the world just let out a breath it’s been holding in all summer, don’t you think? I love it. There is now a need for me to wear fuzzy socks at night, and you won’t hear me complaining about that.
  2. The Woodpecker Café. If you haven’t made it to this new breakfast and lunch spot on Court Street, you are missing a good thing. I’m not even a little embarrassed to tell you that I have been there twice this week. The food and coffee are fresh and delicious, and the customer service is ON POINT.
  3. Miss America’s hair. Y’all. HAIR GOALS, RIGHT THERE. Miss Georgia was talented and brilliant for sure, but that hair is what carried her through. Not even Brett Eldredge’s stupid question was enough to stop that kind of volume. (P.S. who invited him?)
  4. Kate Morton’s The House at Riverton. Last summer, the very kind owner of Ms. B’s Used Books & CD’s in Hendersonville, TN, introduced me to Kate Morton’s The Forgotten Garden. I loved it so much, that I recently picked up another of Morton’s books, The House at Riverton. Brilliant. Let me just say, if you like Downton Abbey, you will like this book. (If you don’t like Downton Abbey, you’re wrong.)
  5. Salted Caramel Latte Doughnut from Krispie Kreme. Let me tell you, these are good days to be a fan of the salted caramel. Pumpkin spice gets all the attention, but this little salty-sweet flavor is really the best fall taste. And in doughnut form? Why, yes, please. Don’t mind if I do.
  6. It’s Friday. Hey, guess what. You made it to Friday. Go buy yourself a doughnut.

**P.S. Here’s a tune by Us The Duo I’m obsessed with these days. I’ve learned from experience that it’s a good dancing song, and dancing is really the perfect way to celebrate Fridays.

 

A Small Tribute to Lauretta

“She is clothed with strength and dignity;
she can laugh at the days to come.” 

I arrived on this earth a blessed little girl. Every one of my grandparents, great-grandparents, and one great-great-grandmother (my namesake) were still here to welcome me into the world. Among those patriarchs and matriarchs of my family was one Lauretta Tullos. In every bone, she carried strength, selflessness, and laughter. Lots and lots of laughter. At the beginning of this week, we gathered together—all of us, her legacy—to say goodbye to our beloved Mamaw Tullos. For on September 4th, 2015, she closed her eyes to this world and awoke in the presence of her Savior. And I have to tell you, though the sorrow was very present, I could not help but be overwhelmed by gratitude. I am grateful that the life we celebrated was intertwined with mine. I am grateful for the opportunity to have known her and loved her. For the opportunity to be known and loved by her. For hers was a deep, powerful love. One that was fierce and faithful.

In the printed program for her funeral, my cousin included the last seven verses of Proverbs 31. As I read over them, I was amazed by how accurate a picture they painted of Lauretta Tullos.  She had been clothed in strength and dignity. Without a doubt, she was a woman who feared the Lord. And she definitely was one to laugh at the days to come. Truth be told, she was prone to laughing at just about anything.

 *******

It was almost a year ago, I guess. Thanksgiving. Maybe, Christmas. I had my legs tucked under my aunt’s kitchen table, nestled between the table top before me and the window behind me. And everyone was laughing at something I’d said. I couldn’t tell you what came out of my mouth to garner such a reaction. The scene is too common for me to tell one from the other. But I will never forget what happened when everyone started to catch their breath and let go of aching sides. My dad leaned back in his chair, looked to another family member and commented on how much my sense of humor reminded him of his grandmother, my great-grandmother. The living, breathing comedy routine that doubled as our family’s matriarch.

All my life, I had heard story after story of things Mamaw Tullos had said and done that had caused a round of raucous laughter. During holiday gatherings and visits, I had experienced first hand her razor-sharp wit and quick tongue that was always waiting for an opportunity to send those around her into a fit of laughter. I had witnessed crocodile tears roll down my aunt’s cheeks after a muttered sarcastic comment had escaped Big Mamaw’s lips. My aunt and I both have laughs that could wake a graveyard. When Mamaw Tullos had us both laughing at the same time, I’m sure the ground shook beneath us.

She loved nothing more than to make those around her laugh.

When my dad compared my humor with hers, something inside me exploded with satisfaction. On the outside, I grinned and listened as others nodded and agreed. After all the stories and personal experiences with her hysterical sense of humor, my great-grandmother had taken on an almost unreachable, legendary quality in my mind. To be compared to her overwhelmed me with a sense of undeniable pride. It wasn’t for my sense of humor or for my ability to make a joke every now and then. I was tremendously proud of the fact that somewhere inside of me, there was a part of me that looked like her.

“Her children arise and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her…

Honor her for all that her hands have done,
and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.”

-Proverbs 31:25, 28, 31

 

 

 

A Few Thoughts About Waves

I love the beach. I know it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but I cannot resist a good trip to the ocean.

In May, a week after my college graduation, I found myself knee deep in the Alabama gulf coast. The wind was strong, and the waves were fierce but so much fun. I waded out into the water with a bright orange float wrapped around my waist, laughing as the salt water splashed my face.

It was fun fighting the waves, jumping the frothy water and picking the perfect one to ride in to the shore. It was fun, but it was exhausting. I could hear my muscles screaming, “No, no! Not any further! We’re not as young as we used to be!” Whiny things.

I was out with a friend of mine, and though my goal was to pick the biggest wave to hop aboard, her goal was simple. Get deeper. Get behind the waves.

Now, I’m not one who has ever been terrified of the ocean, but I do have my limits. I prefer for my feet to touch. My five-foot-ten frame can go further than some, but when my toes swipe and miss when searching for the sand, my caution flag goes up. I can swim, but so can a lot of other unseen creatures beneath me.

Yet, I am always bolder when I am not alone. So, as Amber swam further out, I followed right behind her.

Suddenly, we made it. I could feel my body relax against the float as the waves turned from fierce foes to gentle rockers. I put my chin on my arms and gave in to the waves as they swayed me back and forth.

We stayed out there for a while, talking and floating and watching the waves. It occurred to me that the waves had grown calmer the further out I swam, and from way out here, the waves didn’t seem as big as when they were crashing down around me.

In those moments of silent floating, I had plenty to think about. To wonder about. To worry about, mostly. I was a recent college graduate, unemployed, and unsure of where I was going next. As anxiety threatened to take over the quiet moment, I heard a still voice inside my heart speak to me.

“There is peace in the deep.”

 

Traditionally, the shallow end is the safe place, and the deep end is the one to be feared. But sometimes, it can be harder to stand where our feet can touch. Wave after wave of uncertainty hits. And just when we’ve recovered from one blow, we are hit with another. Each one looks so much taller from our vantage point of looking up. Every inch of the body struggles to stand against the aggressive water pressure. And with each passing wave, we grow more exhausted.

But why do we insist of planting in the shallow end when God has called us to the deep?

We fight for our spots in the edge of the water, digging our toes in deep in the sand for one simple reason: control. Our minds lie and tell us we have it. Our society says we need it. Our fear says we won’t survive without it.

But let me tell you what’s behind the waves. Buoyancy.

Behind the waves, the water does the work. Moving to the deep end requires a new level of surrender. Here’s where the problem comes in: surrender and control cannot coexist in the will of God. He hasn’t asked for you to give Him some of your fears. He wants them all. He wants to hold every expectation, every nightmare, every hope and every dream. He wants your heart, the whole thing.

He’s waiting patiently for you to surrender your spot in the sand, move to where your feet can’t touch, and trust Him to hold you above the waves.

For the Love of the Game

For the past fifteen years, I have spent a huge portion of my time perched on the bleachers of a baseball diamond. My younger brother, now eighteen years old, is the main reason I know almost every rule of the game.

He is the only reason I learned to love the game at all.

I have watched inning after inning in the blazing Alabama heat. I have watched games in dusty snowfalls. I have stood in mud puddles behind chain-link fences, with summer rain pelting the tops of my feet as I watched my brother round first for the umpteenth time.

And I have loved every moment.

I have loved the quiet stillness during the singing of the national anthem. I have loved the hearty cry of fans the second it ends. The crack of a bat meeting the red-laced ball has become my favorite song. My heart is stronger after skipping so many beats during a long throw from the plate to second. Somewhere along the way, the dust that stirred at home plate crossed the chain-link fence and seeped into my skin.

I don’t know when I began loving the game. It certainly wasn’t in the hot summer of my seventh year. Johnathan was three and preferred pulling grass from the earth to chasing a silly white ball. And I preferred reading to watching him stand in the outfield with his glove on his head.

But sometime between then and now, I fell in love with baseball.

Even more, I fell in love with the family that sat beside me in the bleachers. We share no DNA but are bound together as if by blood. Our ties that bind are living and breathing, standing with gloves on their hands and brave hearts beating inside their chests.

I often tease my parents about Johnathan being the golden child, the favorite in our family. Though I joke and know truly they don’t have a favorite among us, in my heart, I know I do. He is the golden child to me, my favorite baseball player to ever take the field. I stand close and hope some of his bravery and courage will drift from his heart into my own. My greatest pride is in telling others that I am his big sister.

He is the golden child to me.

In a few hours, he’ll stand behind the plate for the last time in his high school career. And I’ll be in the stands, covered in sunscreen and cheering my very loudest. Like always. I’ll be there, heart and soul. For the love of the game, for the love of Flame baseball, and mostly, for the love of number twenty-two.

Lean the Other Way

The final semester of college is just as difficult as I imagined it would be. The full schedule and list of deadlines have made it difficult for me to find my way back to the blog. As a small re-entry back into the blogosphere, I wrote this small piece on perspective. It’s my buzzword right now, because my perspective can be a little cloudy at times. I look out the window of graduation and see nothing. If you asked me where I will be in six months, all I could do is shrug my shoulders in uncertainty–another reoccurring word in my life these days. But the Lord is always faithful, and I am learning about the beauty of not knowing. I am learning that trust in a God who is certain is the silver lining to the dark cloud of uncertainty.

I found myself on a sidewalk a few weeks ago; the pavement was brown and made of a mixture of shattered pieces of rock and glass. I don’t know why I was looking down, but something caught my eye as I was staring at my shoes—a sparkling object in the middle of the mud-brown concrete. Lost in my own thought, I shifted my weight to my left foot, leaning forward slightly. The shining object disappeared. Rocking back on my right leg, it reappeared. I swayed back and forth for a minute or two, watching as the shine on the pavement came and went with every movement. At one angle, the sun splashed off the fleck of glass, making it look like a trapped diamond stuck beneath the surface. At the other angle, the fragment of concrete was impossible to pick out.

It occurred to me that all the variables in this scenario remained the same, save one. The concrete never moved. The sun never stopped shining. The only thing that changed was me. My perspective moved from one side to the other, revealing two different views of the same reality.

When we’re staring at difficult circumstances of our lives, it’s often hard to see the beauty in them. We’ve shifted our view too far one way or the other, and all we see is the muddiness of our current situation. But just because we can’t see the sun, doesn’t mean it isn’t there. Just because we don’t understand the purpose of the time we’re in, doesn’t mean it there isn’t one.

Maybe all we need is a little perspective. Maybe, all we need is to lean the other way.

Just a Dog

It never made sense to me why people would mourn their pets like humans. I never understood how the loss of an animal could rock a person so deeply. I mean, they’re just dogs, right?

I never understood until today.

My very sweet friend, Sunny Magnolia Brock, lived for the last time today. After being hit by a car this morning, she went to sleep on a veterinarian’s table.

And I didn’t know it would be this hard. I didn’t know it would hurt this much.

She was the faithful face waiting for me to come home late and the constant presence who sent me off to early morning shifts. She was my not-so-surefooted friend who slid across the hardwood floor at the prospect of a hotdog. She was my napping partner, my pizza crust sharer, and my ever-present pal.

Now there’s a worn out spot in my dad’s chair and a half-empty bag of marshmallows waiting to be handed out to the good girl coming through the back door. And when I leave the house tomorrow morning, before the sun awakes, there will be no golden face to watch me slip through the door.

She was not just a dog. She was my dog. And now I understand.

Repetition

O to grace how great a debtor daily I’m constrained to be!

As a writer, the best way for me to communicate is through the written word. Several years ago, I discovered that this was also true for my prayer life. I realized that I am most focused when I have a pen in my hand. The summer before my freshman year of high school, I began keeping a prayer journal. Over the past seven years, I have filled page after page with conversations I’ve had with my Savior. Sometimes, during my quiet moments with the Lord, I like to flip back through old journals to see what I was praying a year or two ago and be reminded of His faithfulness. After I started my prayer last Friday, I stopped to turn the pages of an old journal back in time to two years prior. On August 22, 2012, I asked the Lord to show me ways I could serve Him during the next months at school. I asked Him to give me opportunities to serve others throughout the day. At the end of the entry, a lump caught in my throat. My 19-year-old hand scrawled in black the same petition my 21-year-old hand had just penned in pink. “Fill me up to overflowing, today, Father, so that I may spill over onto those around me.”

Why does this matter? Why would I care so deeply about a recycled sentence? Why is this significant?

It isn’t really. It’s not anything profound or wise or new. It’s a prayer that I know millions have prayed repetitively throughout their lives. And the truth is if you were to flip back through my prayer journals, you would read that line over and over again throughout their pages. It is a daily prayer. But in that moment, I was reminded that, out of all the prayers and supplications I have uttered and written over the course of my life, this is the one that is the most important. My very life depends on the fulfillment of this request. My heart was stirred when I remembered that the Lord does not give me grace in bulk and ask that I budget it until He gives me another installment. His mercies are new every day. He gives me fresh manna for every morning. I never have to survive on stale leftovers of grace. He is faithful to provide for His children on a day-to-day, moment-by-moment basis.  And even on the days when I don’t take the time to ask for His fresh supply of mercy, He gives it to me anyway. What I needed two years ago is exactly the thing I need today. Two years from now, I will be praying for the same thing; I will never stop needing a fresh flow of His love. Because here’s the truth: my love will never be sufficient. It will never last long enough or reach deep enough. It will always come up short. If I am going to love the world like I have been called to do, it has to be His love. It has to be Him.

Streams of mercy, never ceasing, call for songs of loudest praise.

Hobby Lobby Response

I hate confrontation.  I really do.  You could not have paid me enough money to join the mix of demonstrators on the steps of the Supreme Court building this morning.  However, as much as I would like to run from any type of confrontation, it is inevitable.  When Truth meets Lie, sparks are bound to ignite.  The two cannot coexist.

Today is a great day for Hobby Lobby and for religious liberty.  This victory is extra sweet when we remember all the other times we’ve lost.  However, there is also a bitterness that comes to the back of my throat when I swallow this SCOTUS decision.  It is the sour reminder of the men and women who are trapped inside the lies of this world.  The ones who are ready to fight back against this decision.  The ones who truly believe this to be a fight against women.  Because that is untrue.  It is not a war against women.  Let’s look at the facts.  There are 20 different kinds of contraceptives.  Hobby Lobby takes issue with only four of those.  That means there are still 16 types of contraceptives that the corporation will cover in its insurance plan.

The mantra of the liberal feminists on Twitter is #NotMyBossBusiness.  They are right; it isn’t. It is not a corporation’s business to interfere with whether or not an employee chooses to conceive a child.  However, the four contraceptives they refuse to cover are abortive meaning that the medication will terminate an already active pregnancy.  If a female employee went to her employer and asked for him to fund a gun purchase so that she could kill her neighbor, would the liberals be so surprised if he told her no?  The Green family believes that supplying the four abortive contraceptives is equivalent to paying for an abortion i.e. paying for murder of an unborn human life.

Like I said, it is not a war against women though many seem to be stamping their feet and crossing their arms in pitiful protest for their “rights.”  It is not a set back for women.  It actually has nothing to do with feminism.  It has everything to do with the right of an evangelical business owner to live out his/her faith not just within the confines of the church but in the workplace.  It is an issue of religious liberty—a basic and fundamental right ensured to us as American citizens by the First Amendment.

With all that said, there will still be those who believe the wrong side.  I was talking to my mother this morning about the decision and about my frustration with those who were confusing lies with truth.  In her wisdom, she said, “The god of this age has blinded them to the truth.  The [SCOTUS] decision will create opportunities to speak the truth.  They will hear it.”

They will hear it.  The question is, will they hear it from us.  Scripture says that the rocks will cry out if we don’t.

As I said before, there is always confrontation when the Truth comes face-to-face with Falsity.  It cannot be avoided.  However, we do have a choice in how we respond.  Confrontation is not synonymous with hostility.  We are called to respond but in a gracious and loving manner as Christ responded to us.

It is a day that should be celebrated.  We should rejoice in the victory for religious liberty.  However, let us not forget that our celebration should be quickly followed by our knees pressing to the floor in prayer and intercession for those who are still blinded to the Truth.

« Older posts Newer posts »