Of Mice and Shopping.

The streets are empty and the parking lots are full. It must be black Friday.

I ventured out once today. I went to the corner drug store to buy mouse traps. Lots of them. That’s all. No clothes, no gadgets, no 50% savings from a 1000% mark up, just traps.

Mice have started their annual hunt for warmth and have traveled to my home like shoppers hit the mall the day after Thanks Giving, hard, fast, and early. I hate mice. And now I have traps. I’m happy again.

I have several friends who were up and at the mall at 4 am, saving money. I’m all for saving money, I’m just diametrically opposed to waking early. It’s just not in my genes. I prefer to be asleep at that hour and there is no sale worth sacrificing something so sweetly rare and beautiful as sleeping soundly. To be honest I avoid the mall at Christmas unless absolutely necessary.

Not that I don’t like shopping, I do. I like to go on hot summer afternoons and spend my time cooling off and visiting my favorite fantasy stores.

You know the ones. “The Petite Woman.”, “The Organized Closet” and let’s us not forget, “The Pampered Chef.” Ah yes, on those glorious days when I can walk through the mall, unencombered by kids and holiday shoppers I am, at least for a little while, Skinny, Organized, and I know how to cook.

Happy Shopping ya’ll. Bring me back a catalogue will ya?

Don’t Buy That Gift Card

Here is a list of stores that were given to an employee of Wal-Mart as a warning about buying gift cards from these stores. As we all know a lot of stores will be closing. Some of these stores will close altogether everywhere and others may close a store in your area making a gift card from that particular store difficult if not impossible to use. Take this information as a heads up and use it as you see fit. This was not given to the employee as a way of increasing sales of Wal-Mart gift cards though it could be construed that way. This list is not necessarily complete and you should check into the viability of the store or company before buying and giving a gift card during our financial uncertainties. I checked some of this info and found it legitimate but I don’t guarantee it is all accurate. Once again, you need to check yourself about the store you may buy a gift card from. From the list I was given the following information was included and I quote:

“Stores that are planning to close after Christmas are still selling the cards through the holidays even though the cards can be worthless January 1. There is no law preventing them from doing this. On the contrary, it is referred to as (Bankruptcy Planning).”

Circuit City (filed for chapter 11) – but it’s still open btw.

Ann Taylor 117 stores nationwide closing

Lane Bryant, Fashion Bug, and Catherine’s to close 150 stores nationwide

Eddie Bauer to close 27 stores and more after January

Cache will close all stores

Talbot’s closing down specialty stores such as J. Jill (all stores), Pacific Sun wear (owned by Talbot’s) not all stores but shoes stores are listed. (NOT J. JILL I LOVE THT STORE – my husband will be thrilled. )

Gap closing 85 stores

Footlocker closing 140 stores and more after January

Wickes Furniture closing down

Levitz closing down remaining stores

Bombay closing remaining stores

Zales closing down 82 stores and 105 after January

Whitehall closing all stores

Piercing Pagoda closing all stores (with a name like that, no wonder)

Disney closing 98 stores and will close more after January

Home Depot closing 15 stores

Macys to close 9 stores after January

Linens and Things closing all stores

Movie Galley closing all stores

Pep Boys closing 33 stores

Sprint/Nextel closing 133 stores

JC Penney closing a number of stores after January

Ethan Allen closing down 12 stores

Wilson Leather closing down all stores

Sharper Image closing down all stores

KB Toys closing 356 stores

Lowes to close down some stores

Dillard’s to close some stores

Gratitude


Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.
– Melody Beattie

The Habit of Over Explaining

I’m a student of many things these days, not only comedy, teaching and speaking, but writing as well. When I attended Speak Up Communications Seminar in Grand Rapids Michigan this past summer, I learned a lot of things about aim, rapport steps, transitions, and how to make a point in three minutes. Actually, what I learned was I’m a bit on the over achiever-try-too-hard edge where making one point in three minutes isn’t so hard, it’s the 20 extra that I try to cram in that gets me in trouble.

I also learned how to trust God through all of the shaking, doubting, and questionings. The “are you sure God?” doubts and fears. yes, he’s sure, and so he kept telling me every step of the way. Just be willing to learn. I’m still learning, I’m still willing, and I’m still trying.

I want to get better. In order to get better, I have to be out there, and willing to either strike the ball or strike out. But I have to be on deck for a chance at both.

My prayer journal on Matthew 23 is no different. There are many things I believe God showed me, but getting to those points? I’m over achieving in my blogs and not making sense. So.. if I were to make a basic outline, where would I begin?

I’ll find the aim, the point, and the message in time. But rather than slaughter it on my blog, I’ll leave with you with these points for now.

1. – My cup was full of distractions and disguises (Hypocrite is from the Greek – an actor in a play who wears masks.)
2. Therefore (as an adult convert) it should be no surprise that after Christ’s triumphal entry into my life that he would restore the temple (my heart) to a house of prayer.
3. It really helps if you believe his conversion, moving in, is permanent and not a live in lover temporary until you mess up kind of deal like I did.
4. There will be those who sit at the seat of moses, LISTEN TO THEM, just don’t copy them.
5. Don’t confuse Christ with a Pharisee – he won’t add to your burdens and do nothing to help carry the weight.
6. Set up no one as judge over your (my) life. There is only one Christ and it’s not them.
7. If your going to teach (speak, preach, lead, whatever) – do it as a fellow traveler – do not sit at the seat of Moses as Judge or Lord over anyone else.
8. Pay attention to the bones, be yourself, follow Christ,
9 – Don’t argue with a pharisee – but don’t forget that even Christ longed to gather them in his arms like a hen gathers her chicks. He wept over them as well.

10 – Psalm 103:12 “as far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed our transgressions from us.”

Ponder this with me – one who redeems the life from the pit (vs 4) and crowns us with love and compassion says this about our sin “as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.”

Do you know what that means? Can you picture this?

Look out your window – and think, if you or I were to walk out our front door and start walking Straight north, sooner or later we would come to the north pole. Right? What happens when we keep walking? Do we keep heading North? no. We start heading south.

If you (or I) were to walk out our front door and start walking East – we will circle the globe and never walk west. THAT’s how far God has removed our transgressions from us.

No dirty cup,
No need for fillers
No need to be a copy cat
or sit in the seat of moses.

Just grace. From the one who knew us first, and knows us best.

I’m still over explaining, I know. but you know what? I’m not going to quit learning how to find my aim and make my points. I’m not going to quit trying to teach, to speak, to laugh, or to sing. Because he has set a new song in my heart that cannot be silenced.


Psalm 103
Of David.
1 Praise the LORD, O my soul;
all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
2 Praise the LORD, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits-

3 who forgives all your sins
and heals all your diseases,

4 who redeems your life from the pit
and crowns you with love and compassion,

5 who satisfies your desires with good things
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

6 The LORD works righteousness
and justice for all the oppressed.

7 He made known his ways to Moses,
his deeds to the people of Israel:

8 The LORD is compassionate and gracious,
slow to anger, abounding in love.

9 He will not always accuse,
nor will he harbor his anger forever;

10 he does not treat us as our sins deserve
or repay us according to our iniquities.

11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his love for those who fear him;

12 as far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

13 As a father has compassion on his children,
so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him;

14 for he knows how we are formed,
he remembers that we are dust.

15 As for man, his days are like grass,
he flourishes like a flower of the field;

16 the wind blows over it and it is gone,
and its place remembers it no more.

17 But from everlasting to everlasting
the LORD’s love is with those who fear him,
and his righteousness with their children’s children-

18 with those who keep his covenant
and remember to obey his precepts.

19 The LORD has established his throne in heaven,
and his kingdom rules over all.

20 Praise the LORD, you his angels,
you mighty ones who do his bidding,
who obey his word.

21 Praise the LORD, all his heavenly hosts,
you his servants who do his will.

22 Praise the LORD, all his works
everywhere in his dominion.
Praise the LORD, O my soul.

In the Face of Angels and Chariots of Fire.

2 Kings 6:15-17 (NIV)
“When the servant of the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city. “Oh, my lord, what shall we do?” the servant asked.

“Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”

And Elisha prayed, “O LORD, open his eyes so he may see.” Then the LORD opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.”

Elisha was outnumbered. The enemy laid in wait from every side, and yet he wasn’t afraid. His servant? Well that was a different matter. It wasn’t the first time that Elisha had chariots. He was there when his mentor Elijah (2 Kings 2:12) was taken up in a chariot of fire. He knew they were there – and he prayed that God open the eyes of his servant that he might also see.

Sometimes we miss the chariots that surround us – sometimes God uses the faith of a servant/child to open our hearts to the possibilites of faith. Open the eyes of our hearts Lord, that we like Elisha may see your chariots.

When my boys were born, I kept the baby monitors on full blast so that I could hear the slightest sound and run in, should they need me. When they were sick, I slept on the floor next to their crib. You might say, I was a zealous new mother. I don’t know who learned how to sleep through the night first, me or my boys. Even today, I still have one ear cocked just in case.

My youngest son has epilepsy. He had his first grand mal seizure while napping in our bed at six-years-old. (If you don’t know what Grand Mal means, it’s where the whole body convulses. Pretty scary stuff. ) He’d had a migraine that morning and we were resting. The seizure took me by total surprise and I called the paramedics in a panic.

I would try to sleep in our bed after that and would invariably wind up on his bedroom floor listening. I kept this pattern up for about a month, before finally letting go. A year went by before he had another seizure.

On Father’s Day 2000 Dillon woke up with slurred speech, short term memory loss, and substantial muscle weakness on the left side of his body. The paramedics said it was a TIA or “mild Stroke.” The neurologist called it “Epilepsy” which really just translates to “seizure disorder.” or more simply put “Out of Mom’s Control.”

I don’t think so.

Both Dillon and I were afraid to sleep at night. My maternal instincts kept me awake listening for the slightest noise, so that I could run in and be there should he need me. I did not have the strength to sleep. My friends and I prayed continually for healing and for peace.

Every night our family would pray together that Jesus would hold Dillon while he slept and that God would send his angels down to watch over us and keep all of us safe. And we would try to crawl in to His lap for peace and comfort. Everyone, in their own beds, and no sleeping on the floor.

One night while we were sitting on our back porch swing rocking and singing together, Dillon asked me how I knew God would send his angels. I told him I just do, that it was about faith. But he looked up and said, “No Mommy. How do you KNOW He will.”

What happened to the easy questions, like “Where do babies come from?” That one I had an answer for. So I said a quiet prayer for the right words to say. How do I explain that I heard that prayer somewhere – I had no idea if it’s real or not, or where I heard it. I just did and thought it was cool.

It was one of those crystal clear Oklahoma nights where the sky just goes on forever, and I pointed at the stars and asked him what he saw. (My intent was to say if God can hang the heavens then surely he could send a few angels to watch over a child.) Dillon looked at the stars and said something only a child could say,

“EYES!”

“Eyes?” I replied. “I see stars.”

He said “Yeah Mommy, ANGEL EYES!”

With that he ran out to the middle of the yard, threw his head and his arms back and said, “Wow Mommy! Look at all the angels God sent to watch over me!” Then he gave me a quick hug and a kiss and ran back to bed, sleeping soundly for the first time in ages.

I of course, did not run straight to bed and sleep soundly. I fell flat on my face before the God of the universe in my backyard and asked him to see what my son sees.

Elisha saw Chariots, Dillon sees angels and I am learning to see the hand of God at work in ways I never imagined.

It is so easy in today’s world to feel outnumbered.
Feeling isn’t the same as real.
Sometimes we need our eyes opened
Sometimes we just need to look for chariots.

(February 10, 2014) – Dillon is seizure free today – five years, six months, and counting.

And Elisha prayed,

\”O LORD, open his eyes so he may see.\”
Then the LORD opened the servant\’s eyes,
and he looked and saw the hills full
of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.”