Less Is More

Less Is More

We have less money than we used to. Some days, I’m just glad to flip the switch and get a rewarding burst of light. Sorry, Oprah, I know you said everybody should visit New Zealand in her lifetime, but seeing the kiwi bird will have to wait. Not only that, we have less time and energy because we sleep less. It’s not because we’re having more fun; actually, we watch less television, read fewer books, walk fewer miles, vacation less, and spend less time together as a couple. We probably have fewer acquaintances based on the smaller pile of Christmas cards we opened last year, and I talk to my mama less often than I should. Why? Because of all the more in my life. We have more little peeps who insist on eating regularly, having fun, and going to college of all things. We have more house to clean, more blogs to write, more teaching and preaching to do, and more food to cook. Don’t even talk about the dog whose favorite treat is bacon. We have more schedules to consolidate, more places to go, more needs to meet, more “yeses” and “nos” to dole out, more ways to serve. Simply put, we have more Jesus. So the “less” is actually more. The less I have of the world—money, energy, time, answers, myself—the more I really have of God. He just has more wiggle room in my heart and mind, and as He stretches out to His full height He kicks out what I don’t need. The less I listen to the clamor and whispers of distracting influences, the...
December 10, 2017

December 10, 2017

After church today, Songbird and Hubby’s conversation turned to green peas. Don’t ask me why. I don’t eat green peas. Neither does Hubby. We’ll eat them with the corn, beans, and sausage in our soup. We’ll tuck them under the crust of our chicken pot pie with the other veggies. But plop a spoonful of plain green peas beside our pork chops, chicken, ribs, or roast? Perish the thought. Not my fam, Sam-I-Am. My mama cooked field peas or black-eyed peas with ham hocks or other meat, but she didn’t make me eat a lot of green peas. So, I didn’t develop the habit or the taste buds to eat them. And since neither Hubby nor I eat green peas, our little people don’t eat them, and it’s unlikely they’ll serve them to my grand peeps. It’s going to take the love of a son- or daughter-in-law to introduce the hidden beauty of green peas into their life. Now, what does this have to do with Jesus (because you know it does)? I don’t really care if they eat green peas, what some call the “world’s healthiest food.” We supply enough collards, cabbage, green beans, kale, zucchini, and broccoli to make up for it. What I care about most is that they serve the greatest God. I want to witness the blessings of Jesus coming out rather than the benefit of peas going in. My folks passed down a healthy helping of faith. They took me to church—dragged me, if you will—on Sunday mornings, New Year’s Eve, and Wednesday nights. I sang in the junior choir, sat through Sunday school, and attended VBS. I admit I...
Best-Laid Plans

Best-Laid Plans

So, I’m sitting in the Chick-Fil-A parking lot, enjoying chicken minis, hash browns, and coffee. An unexpected contribution to my hips and thighs. My plan was to start the day with a tablespoon of peanut butter spread across a slice of wheat bread, chased down by a cup of grapefruit juice. God’s plan was different—and much tastier, as it so often is. This all started at the kitchen table. I was reading e-mail and gathering the gumption to make “breakfast” when I thought I heard a knock. Did that sound come from upstairs? Then I heard it again, but more persistent, demanding—rap, rap-rap-rap-rap! Lone Ranger peeked through the foyer entryway and came running, “It’s the police!” I trooped to the front door, wondering about unpaid tickets, mistaken identity, and ending up on the evening news: “Woman in silky black hair cap and pin curls arrested today for…” But it wasn’t anything like that. Instead, the officer asked for my address and informed me there was a gas leak in the neighborhood (Is that what I smell?) and we all had to evacuate. Immediately. No time for peanut butter, a comb, or my phone. I did yank Hubby from the shower, the little people out of the study, and my handy dandy Macbook off the kitchen table. I didn’t expect to go to Chick-Fil-A this morning, or fill up the truck at Costco, or pick up bagels at Panera, killing time until we could safely return home. But it seems like God had intended for Hubby to wear his bright orange t-shirt with the John 3:16 scripture on the back that attracted the...
April 30, 2017

April 30, 2017

We love birthdays around here—the cake, the food, the attention. Somehow, we make them stretch out for days before and after the actual day. With nine folks in our family, it seems like we’re always celebrating. And life should be celebrated—meaning life, that eternal gift Jesus Christ gives those who believe in His birth, life, death, and resurrection, not just that special day you first entered the world. We’ve been partying around here for several weeks, honoring births, rebirths, and new life, and Sunday morning we continued the celebration by studying these verses: Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.’ Nicodemus said to Him, ‘How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?’ Jesus answered, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.’” John 3:3-8 Of course, no party is perfect without a delicious menu. Sunday morning, a big bowl of fruit salad graced our table (see the recipe below), along with a few other goodies. But as usual,...
March 19, 2017

March 19, 2017

This morning, while I cooked breakfast, Hubby read Matthew 24:29 in Sunday School and then he talked to Lone Ranger and Brown Sugar about one of their biggest fears—the dark. Every night, they keep their door open wide so the light from the hallway will illuminate their room. This might’ve seemed an odd discussion to have while basking in the almost-spring sunshine as our block potatoes sizzled on the stove. But the setting and the timing were perfect, for Think Tank had just read, “The city had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God illuminated it. The Lamb is its light.” (Revelation 21:23). The little people should rest assured—literally: they might need a nightlight now, but one day, Jesus will provide all the light we need. He will take away every fear and wipe away every tear. (Revelation 21:4) God often uses the dark moments in our life to speak to us, as He spoke to Jacob in Genesis 46:1-4, the subject of today’s sermon. He illuminates those midnight hours in our life, when we’re at our lowest, most afraid, or most confused, bringing meaning and understanding to our circumstances. Yet, sometimes we just need to go, do, or stand still, especially when we don’t fully comprehend the wheres, whens, whys, and hows. We struggle over here with the fear of failure and the dread of the unknown. The perfectionist in me over-analyzes every scenario; I’m paralyzed by every “if…then.” Pastor Livingston explained how God uses what we see as failure to shape us and fit us for service. He...
March 12, 2017

March 12, 2017

“I think bacon is the only meat you can wrap around any other meat to make it taste better, including more pork,” Songbird observed today. “I mean, you don’t hear people wrapping baked chicken around fried chicken.” Ain’t that the truth? It works on everything from pork loin to steak to Brussel sprouts. If you need some convincing, check out the recipe for “Bacon Maple Crack,” a recipe that made its inaugural visit to our kitchen last Thanksgiving. (Yes, it’s as addictive as its name.) Sadly, we didn’t have time for any special recipes this morning since Crusader’s leave-taking hijacked breakfast and Sunday school. We just had time for plain old Oscar Mayer, and it had to work overtime to lift our spirits. Brown Sugar was sad about placing just eight mats around the table. Songbird mourned the last day of spring break and the return of early nights and mornings. Even our daffodils drooped once they heard an approaching snowstorm was threatening their early fling with spring weather.  But bacon isn’t the only thing that makes things better. I’ve been anxiously awaiting word from a literary agent for the past two weeks. Every email alert on my phone causes heart palpitations. I worry my manuscript isn’t good enough or that its message isn’t “Christian” enough. These worries lead me to believe that my meager faith just can’t do enough—which makes me worry even more. But today, Pastor Livingston taught about the “mighty man of valor,” and I felt better even before I ate my bacon. I don’t need to wonder if my faith is strong enough to win my war with...