Friday, April 20, 2012

Praying, and getting an answer!!

Okay, some of you nay-sayers are going to say what happened to me was a coincidence.  "You perceived the answer because you WANTED to, not because it was an actual answer from God."  Well, you can believe that if you want.  I shared a comment made by my five year-old earlier this week; he said, "Mom, did you know that God can do miracles?  Even right now, He can do them anytime He wants to!"  And if He can do miracles anytime He wants to, He can certainly send me a sign!

Here's what happened.  I had just gotten groceries at Publix.  It was lunchtime, so there was a lot of traffic in Athens.  I moved to pull onto Barnett Shoals, and saw a man sitting on a bucket on the corner.  He looked clean, had a small drinking cooler with him, and a sign that said, "Please help; homeless. Looking for work, too-Landscaper."  Now normally, I don't even think about stopping to give them money.  I've heard of ones that are just panhandling, those that have a house and everything else and do not NEED to be on the street corner begging.  But this time was different...

I pulled into a different lane so that I wouldn't be pulling right up next to him, but he stayed on my mind.  I started to drive off but then felt like I needed to pull over and pray about this.  I sat for a few minutes, and Jessie started saying, "Are we getting out?"  I told her I didn't know; I was at Rite Aid, and thought about going in and buying a pop, getting cash, and taking it back to him.  I doubted what I was feeling, though, so I started praying.  "God, if you REALLY want me to give this man some money, please send me a sign.  I know you've got better things to do, but I really need to hear from you.  I need to know for sure that I'm doing the right thing."  When I stopped, nothing was any clearer.  I still felt conflicted.  I was listening to The Fish (Christian radio station, for those who aren't local), and they had been advertising.  The next song that came on, though, stopped my doubts completely..."Lead Me to the Cross".  Why would that song make it clearer, you ask?  It's the song I'm singing for the invitation on Sunday morning at church.  "Lead me to the cross, where your love poured out..."

Needless to say, we got out, I got $10 cash with a pop at the register, and took it back to him.  I even told him, "I prayed, and God told me to give you this."  He thanked me profusely, told me "God bless you," and also told me that he's starting college classes soon to try to get back on his feet.  I pulled away in tears, feeling like I had done the right thing, hearing Laura Story's "What a Savior" playing on the radio.

I struggled with whether to post about this, because I did NOT want to toot my own horn, so to speak; I know we should give without any thought or expectation of renumeration, whether material or through admiration or approval of others.  But then I thought that maybe, just maybe, someone reading this needs to hear about what happened.  Sometimes we need reminding that GOD ANSWERS PRAYER.  Sometimes it might be very evident; sometimes it might happen right away.  Honestly, this is probably the absolute quickest it's happened for me, ever in my life.  Sometimes it might take days...months...even years.  Even if the answer is no, be faithful--when it's the right time, you will know, beyond a shadow of a doubt.

And if you think I sound like I know what I'm talking about--I'm a mess.  If you know me, you know that.  That's why this incident, this answer, just floored me--I'm flawed!  I'm a sinner!  Why do *I* deserve to hear directly from HIM??  Because he loves me, that's why.  Be faithful, my friends; know that God loves you, too.  He wants to help you with everything.  Big things, like job choices and who to marry, but also small whether to give a stranger money.  Say a prayer for that stranger, would you?  Whether he's truly in need or not (and if you know he's not, please don't tell me!!), he needs it!!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Where'd my boy go? Oh, there he is!

Sometimes, my son (who’s 13) drives me absolutely bonkers. He wants to negotiate every.single.thing I tell him or ask him to do. He feels like he is entitled to everything, even though we didn’t raise him that way. Is it something in the water filtration system at the middle school? I don’t know, but it’s there! It’s like once he turned 13, he turned into a different child. He and his brothers are at each others’ throats all the time. I’m sure it’s normal brother stuff, but good grief, I get tired of being a referee!! The other night they were throwing BOOKS at each other. Books? Honestly? And let’s not even talk about the whole “No, I don’t have any homework!” line, with the corresponding blowup three weeks later, when nothing’s been done. Y’all with teenage boys, you know what I’m talking about.

The only person he doesn’t treat differently? His little sister. She is three years old, and she thinks that the sun rose and set in her biggest brother. He helps her get dressed, plays with her, takes care of her; he soothes her hurts, distracts her when she’s mad, and reads books to her at night. I have to MAKE them stop playing sometimes, because they just enjoy each other so much!

So even though he has apparently turned into an alien toward the rest of us, I can still see my true son when I see him with her. I see his sweet spirit, his playful nature, and the way he genuinely cares about people and wants to help take care of them. Now if I could just see it when he’s trying to angle for more time on his iPod…

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Great Equalizer

I would venture to say that out of all things small that can affect our lives, the common cold is the greatest equalizer. Anyone who gets a cold deals with the red, runny nose, the coughing that disrupts things, the body aches that make you hunch in on yourself...all of it. Even the most beautiful, put-together people look like...well, crap, when they have a cold.

This was never more clear to me than yesterday. I've been dealing with a cold for the last few days, so I'm a little the worse for wear, to say the least. Yesterday was one of those days where you can only breathe from one nostril, but the one that's stopped up, that won't sniff or blow, is the one that runs. I don't know how "normal" people deal with this, but my solution (at home, anyway) is to put a piece of toilet paper up my nose. I know that's not the prettiest picture in the world, but it is what it is and serves its purpose well. Yesterday was a day of toilet paper up the nose. And it didn't bother anyone; Jessie looked at me kind of funny, but I told her it helped me keep my nose from running, so it evidently made sense to her.

But then...the cable guy showed up. He knocked on our door to tell me that they were going to bury the cable they'd rerun several months ago (FINALLY), and got the unspeakably beautiful sight of me: rumpled, red watery eyes, and red peeling nose complete with toilet paper "plug". I tried to be inconspicuous and act like I was rubbing my nose in order to remove the toilet paper, but the damage was done. My secret was out.

Maybe the next time he gets a cold, he'll take a cue from me, and stop his nose from running MY way. Who knows?

Monday, February 27, 2012

I've Always Been a Smelly Person

No, not in the sense you're thinking, wink wink...

Okay, we’re all aware that scents can trigger some of our strongest memories, right? Most times, it’s a good scent triggering a good memory, and a bad smell triggering a bad memory.Well, I was thinking about this the other day, and thinking of the smells that reminded me of home. I came up with some good ones. The smell of chicken frying and angel biscuits in the oven will always remind me of Granny’s house. And fresh-cut grass reminds me of life before my parents divorced, when I’d be in my room at our first house, windows open, the scent of the grass pouring in while my parents were mowing.

And then I started thinking about…cow poop. Yeah, that’s right, I said it. My Grandpa raises beef cattle, and the smell of grass-fed cattle leavings reminds me of being on their farm, walking out to the end of the ridge to look over the cliff at the farms and houses on the other side, and the beautiful view, especially in the spring.

Thinking about my Dad’s parents and their farm led me to thinking about my Mom’s parents, my Mammaw and Pappaw. We lived with them after my parents divorced, and the smell that reminds me of them is…wait for it…smoke. Two kinds: cigarette smoke and wood smoke. They both smoked, so everything in the house smelled like smoke, all the time. I didn’t even realize how much like smoke I smelled until I went to college and could smell the difference. Then in the fall & winter, we fired up the wood stove. I can’t even tell you how many times I had to plug up the crack under my door and open my window because Pappaw had stoked the fire up so much it had gotten to 80 degrees inside. At Thanksgiving and Christmas, there would always be several people standing out on the porch, cooling off.

Some of these smells are ones I can experience down here in Georgia. I get all at once nostalgic and disgusted when I am behind someone in traffic and smell the smoke coming into my vents from their car. I will admit to inhaling deeply, wanting to remember. I know it’s not the prettiest (or healthiest!) picture in the world, but I do it! Plus, we don’t get to smell wood smoke much down here, because it rarely gets cold enough for that. Even the fresh-cut grass smell is different here because of how dry it stays. I have to grab my memories when and where they’re available.

What scents bring back memories for you? And are your memories fleeting ones, like a passing memory of a place or time? Or are there some scents that make you as deeply nostalgic as mine, putting you back into a specific spot, making you wish you could relive that moment in your life just one more time? I know I’d give anything to smell the smoke and feel the heat of the wood stove at Pappaw’s again, because that would mean he was there in the house, throwing wood on the fire, ready to tease me about something or even just ask me how I was doing. At least I have lots of good memories to “come home to”! Here's a picture of him...his birthday would've been this month, on the 15th; were he alive this year, he would've turned 94. My Pappaw, Jesse Willard Back (who my daughter, Jessie, is named after)...

Friday, February 24, 2012

Missing My Home

Yesterday was a beautiful, unseasonably warm day here in Georgia. The humidity was low, and it was breezy and in the mid 70s. We were driving down the road in the late afternoon with the windows down and the music up, and it was just perfect.

It reminded me SO much of Kentucky in the late Spring that I started to get very, very homesick. The more I thought about it, the more I missed my home. At one point the longing got so powerful, it was like a physical presence on my shoulder, whispering old memories in my ear, nearly making me weep.

Yes, Georgia is my home for now, but Kentucky will always be my home. It’s where I was born, where I lived for 32 years. I love where we live and wouldn’t change it for many different reasons, but Kentucky will remain the place I long to be.