Saturday, October 23, 2010

Happy Mother-In-Laws Day

This Sunday, October 24, is Mother-in-Laws Day. Did you forget to mark it on your calendar? Do you plan on buying flowers for that special lady in your life? How about a card?

For so many, the notion of a mother-in-law and a celebration just don’t go together. A recent poll showed that 51 percent of the women surveyed would rather clean their house than spend time with their mother-in-law. Almost 30 percent would rather have a root canal than spend time with the mother of their husband. The stereotypes and jokes about mother-in-laws abound. Some in-laws are outlaws—

Friday, June 18, 2010

My Heavenly Home

But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body. Philippians 3:20-21

“At death you won’t leave home—you’ll go home.” –Rick Warren, Purpose Driven Life

At various times in my life, I have lived overseas. I have lived in Spain and England. For that time period that I lived in those foreign counties, they were my “home.”

Friday, June 11, 2010

Being Trained to Reign: The Blessing of Obedience

“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” John 10:27

We have welcomed a new member to the Fountain family. He is cute as a button and thank God sleeps through the night now. He likes his Winnie the Pooh toy and is still a baby in many ways--except this baby likes to chew his rawhide bone and nip at my son’s pants’ leg.

Our new family member is of the four-legged canine variety and the last few weeks have been devoted to training our puppy. I have read booklets and online guides on everything from housetraining your puppy to teaching him how to follow commands, walk on a leash or go to his bathroom spot and go in an expeditious manner (which will really come in handy when these warm summer days turn into cold winter ones).

One thing that keeps coming across is that consistency and repetition are key to training a puppy. You have to say the same command and expect him to do the same thing every time. The puppy has to know that you’re the boss, the Alpha dog, the one that’s in charge. He has to learn your voice and your command and follow your directions every single time. And then you have to reward the puppy for the correct behavior, whether that reward be praise or an actual treat to eat. He has to know your voice. He has to learn that there is a reward in obedience.

We also have to know our master’s voice. We have to do exactly what he tells us to do every time. God is in charge. Jesus is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. The Holy Spirit is our guide and leash, teaching and leading us to truth. The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof. He is the boss.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Name Calling

“Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.”
Philippians 2:10-11

Whenever I visit my elderly cousin, she quizzes me about my children’s names.

“Your kids have them African names?” she says.

“Yes,” I reply.

“But they’re American,” says my 92-year old cousin.

“African-American,” I say.

We laugh and I once again explain the meaning of their names and the hope that my husband and I have for them in the names that we have given them.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Christmas Lights and Daffodils

“In him was life; and the life was the light of men.” John 1:4

Outside my living room window two symbols of seasons have converged. Christmas lights and daffodils.

Christmas lights still adorn my bushes—reminders of the holidays and the season not so long ago when snow covered the grass and bushes and most of the trees were naked or wrapped in ice.

Now the yellow heads of the daffodils have poked out and bask in the sunlight. The trees are starting to bud. But my evergreen tree is still decked out with Christmas lights.

Now that the warmer days have come, one day I will take the time to unravel the lights from the bushes and put them in plastic bins until the season rolls around again. But for now I smile as I look out and see the lights and daffodils and contemplate their meaning

Monday, March 22, 2010

When Things Fall Apart: Part II

My closet is on the road to recovery. A few months ago, my closet collapsed. As I hung up an item of clothing, everything came crashing down. For about a week, a mountain of clothes lay at the side of my bed as I sorted what should go back in the closet. It took me much longer to sort my clothes than it did for my husband to fix the shelves in my closet that had buckled under the weight of too much stuff.

My husband was amazed when he went into the closet to fix it. What he found was a makeshift system of empty shoe boxes that I had rigged to support the shelves. You see, the first shelf had broken many months before, possibly even years ago. But I had kept going, finding a temporary solution that became permanent until it just didn’t work anymore.

And then another shelf broke and rather than bother my husband (or maybe hear him fuss about the state of my closet), I propped another box under the broken shelf to keep it steady. It seemed to be working just fine.

By the time it all fell apart I probably had three shoe boxes, very sturdy ones, holding up the shelves.

But one day, it all just fell apart.

I thought about how much our lives are like my closet. We use temporary fixes to prop ourselves up rather than deal with and correct the real problem. What is intended to just hold things up for a minute, become permanent fixtures in our lives. After a while, we have so many props that we just get used to them and even forget that we have put them there. Or maybe we don’t want to do the work that’s required to sort out the old stuff we have carried around since high school. Things we don’t wear anymore but for sentimental reasons, just can’t seem to let go. Maybe we don’t want others to see the state of our lives, how messy it has gotten and how many boxes are holding us up, that instead of asking for the help we need, we just go on. It’s working for us—or so we think, until it all falls apart.

What are the boxes propping you up? Is it the anger or bitterness you hold on to? Is it a memory or hurt from the past that binds you? Perhaps it is fear of failure or of the unknown that paralyzes you and keeps you from stretching out and trying something new? Maybe it is denial or just choosing not to deal with the mess you have accumulated in your life. Is your box a diversion like drugs, alcohol, sex or shopping that keeps you from dealing with the real issues?

Sometimes the box was a good temporary fix at one time, but now you have the resources to make a change, but complacency and comfort have kept you in those patterns of behavior. Boxes keep you from tackling the task of cleaning out the stuff that really needs to go. What are the boxes that make you complacent?

I’m glad my closet fell apart. It looks much better now. My husband has replaced the hardware and fixed the shelves with the warning that they weren’t made to withstand all that stuff.

It reminds me of another admonition from Hebrews 12: 1 ,2: “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

Let the Master mend you, clean out your closet and get rid of any boxes that have been propping up your broken places.

Monday, January 25, 2010

When Things Fall Apart

My closet collapsed this morning. I was hanging up a suit I wore yesterday and as soon as I hung it up, my closet fell down. Although the suit was hanging there just yesterday, I guess the hooks that held up the shelf said, “I just can’t take it anymore.”

As a result I had to take all of my clothes out of the closet. They are spread out across my bed. I have been meaning to clean my closet for years. Now my closet falling apart has forced the situation. Things that I have not worn for years will go into the garbage bag headed for the Salvation Army. Instead of clogging my closet, they can be a blessing to someone who needs it.

As I look at my now empty closet, I see it as an opportunity. An opportunity to get rid of the old, maybe bring in a few new. A chance to see what I really have and to start using those things I have forgotten I had.

When things fall apart in our lives it also can be an opportunity. It can be frustrating and a lot of hard work. As I look at the pile of clothes that now occupy my bed, I think --another thing to do that I hadn’t really planned on doing today. But it can be a blessing to me and others.

When things in our life break it may be a chance to get rid of the stuff that was loading us down and crowding us out. When the things that had been holding us up say, “I just can’t take one more thing,” it can help us remove the clutter and focus on what’s important. When things fall apart it help us see what’s really in our lives and what we need to get rid of and the important things we need to keep or maybe take to the cleaners, sew on a new button and restore. It might help us get organized or force us to face something that we have been meaning to get to for years, but haven’t had the heart or courage or fortitude to face. Maybe we just didn’t know where to even start.

But when things fall apart, we have no choice. Will we let our “stuff” lay in ruins on the floor or will we pick it up, sort it out and start again? Will it be a never-ending tragedy or the start of an opportunity?

Divorce, sickness, relationship problems, tragic circumstances, the death of a loved one, just plain old life--all of these things can bring our world crashing down like my closet. What will we do? Will it become a blessing eventually or will it become bitterness, fear or complacency?

My husband will fix my closet shelves. I will also buy more storage and take a lot of stuff to the Salvation Army or give it to others who need it or will use it. But when things are stabilized again and I start putting my clothes back in the closet, the load will be lighter. Someone else will be blessed from the bounty of my closet. And after I’ve done the work, I will smile when I open the closet and turn on the light.
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