"Five Boys, Ten Dozen Eggs and a Path of Messes"

Raising boys has left me with a multitude of memories needless to say.  A lot of those memories involve a mass of messes along the way.  Messes are what boys do best, right?  Oh dear have my precious three made some messes thru the years…….along with the help of their cousins, Andy and Blake.  I was a patient mom…..I think….but there have been a few messes that tempted me to loose my cool.

There was the time I came home from the grocery store and the youngest son was tied to a tree.  The video camera was set up on a tripod and the other two were filming him as they threw left overs from the refrigerator at him.  Bless his heart, the older two had him convinced that he was adopted until he was a sixteen.

Then there was the time I ordered a set of spring dishes to use for Easter dinner. The two large boxes of bunny dishes were tightly packed in white styrofoam peanuts.  I had removed the dishes and sat the boxes on the porch to carry off.  It was a windy day and my three yard apes were in the front yard playing along with their cousins, Andy and Blake.  My sister arrived and came in all excited because the boxes had been dragged off the porch.  I remember her saying, ” You better get those boxes away from those boys or you are going to have a mess on your hands.”

At that point we looked out the front window…..a little too late….. it literally looked like it was snowing.  The windy March day was carrying the peanuts as though it was a gift to all our neighbors.  We had one hateful neighbor who had the habit of making all dog owners whose pet had fertized his yard (with biodegradeable waste)….. to remove said waste.  Even though he truly did not know who’s poo was whose…..he would impolitely insist you remove it…..stating the size of the poo was appropriate for your pet.   I started to panic as I looked in the direction of his house sweetly looking like the front of a Christmas card.   We had time on our side as he was still at work so we pulled out the rakes and shop vacs and frantically proceeded to retrieve the windy mess before he made it home.

Then there was the Easter at my parent’s house when we hid eggs till exhaustion had overtaken us. Between the five boys there were about 10 dozens eggs that we had colored for the occasion. We came in and settled in the family room to rest.  My parents read the newspaper as my sister, brother-in-law, myself and my husband all took light naps.  My boys along with the two nephews went upstairs to play.  We heard them giggling and having a good time for over an hour. Someone even made the comment….”Those boys are having a good time up there.”  After all the joyful giggles, gasps, snickers and flat out belly laughs, my mom’s curiosity got the best of her and she decided to go see what they were doing.

Words cannot describe the shrill scream she made upon the discovery of their chaos.  We all jumped to our feet and ran to the scene of crime….which was the foyer.  Our precious five had gone up to the second floor balcony and had throw every single egg they had down into the foyer.  There were broken eggs everywhere.  On the steps…..on the foyer floor….on the walls….they had even scattered into the living room due to the force of the throw.  There were oily patches on the walls with specks of crushed eggs….there were broken yellow yokes making a sunny contrast to the blue grey carpet. There was egg on pictures, the double front doors, in the detailed notches of extensive wood work and trim.  To say there was egg everywhere is an understatement.  That mess took everyone to clean up and to this day we still don’t have a clear understanding as to who started it.  The little ones blamed it on the older boys…..while the older ones blamed it on the younger ones. 

I could go on and on telling you stories about the messes my boys have made through the years but it would literally take me days to share them.  This morning I got to thinking about those messes…and how we big people can make messes in our own lives.  Heavens knows I’ve had some messes of my own through the years.  Some have been accidental and some have been flat out foolish missteps.  Some have been spiritual and some have been with relationships. I know there have been some messes that have not pleased my Lord, for sure.

Some people are like a tazmanian devil……spinning through life leaving a trail of confusion and debris…..along with a pile of consequences that many times affect others.  It got me thinking…..what kind of trail do I leave for others to step over or dig through?  What about you?  Does your trail have several piles of loose words or bitter actions?  Or is there a mountain of hurt you left with someone who just doesn’t have the heart to even begin climbing? Is there emotional wreckage that has been splintered beyond repair?  Is there a rubble of unforgiveness or fragments of a wounded spirit that avoids you and you know it?

I don’t know about you but I don’t want to look back at my path and see messes everywhere.  I don’t want to leave a legacy muddled with debris of hurt or confusion in my relationships.  Oh Lord…..I pray that you show me any messes I need to clean up and give me wisdom to keep a clean heart.    My how patient my heavenly father is.  How full of grace he has been with me….. and all my messes.

What does your path behind you look like? 

“Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.”  Psalm 51:10

The Messy Fabulous Five!
L to R
Andy, my nephew and the oldest grandson, Matt, my first born and second grandson, Blake, my nephew, Aaron, my middle son, and Spencer the baby.

"Confessions of a Recovering Helicopter Mom"

Lunch after church today consisted of myself, my hubby and my first born, jokester son.  I love being with my boys whenever possible and mysteriously they will always come along for a free meal.  Upon finishing our lunch he was ready to get home.  He leaned across the table and kissed me on the cheek, then headed out.  My nest is two thirds the way empty now and some days its very nice, but at other times, I miss my little boys.  My grandmother Millsey once told me that there was no higher calling than to be a mother.  I have taken that calling very serious, probably to the extreme if you asked my boys.  Through the years they have told me that I am just like the mom, Lois, in the popular TV show “Malcolm in the middle.”  Although I have never seen the show, I’m pretty sure it’s not a compliment from the observation of their giggles.

Raising boys has been pretty hard in my view as they haven’t made anything easy for me.  It seems they enjoy aggravating me to whatever degree they can.  My oldest enjoys calling me “mother,” and started doing so at the tender age of 8.  My mistake was the confession that “mother” made me think of an old woman….. so he calls me that just to mess with me. One time he called me woman.  When I scolded him, his reply was…..”Jesus called his mother, woman.”  Needless to say I informed him that he wasn’t the son of God and I certainly was not mother Mary and he was to never call me that again.

My middle son seemed to inherit the sarcastic side of my husband.  His dry, wry one-liners with a bit of smugness, still rile me a bit.  I have to work hard not to let them get under my skin.  He is the worship band director at a large Christian school teaching middle and high school students how to prepare worship music for their chapels and events.  Recently I told him that his beard was too long and bushy for the professional look and he informed me that the bible teacher’s beard was longer than his.

When I go on to explain that I have worked in a professional setting requiring me to hire employees and if a potential job applicant came in looking like “Grizzly Adams,” they usually did not get too far in the hiring process.  He then proceeded to quote the scripture from 1 Samuel 16:7 about  “the Lord looks not on the outward appearance…… like man does……but HE looks at the heart.”  Sometimes he knows his bible a little too good and quotes it well.

My youngest son was the first to jump out of the nest.  I am afraid he is my match when it comes to being stubborn.  Needless to say he has always been one to follow his heart…..just like me.  He started working at 15 and was terribly independent…..he has been since he was a toddler.  He got married young, landed a great job…… and with his sweet, younger bride they live life their way…..which brings me comfort in a way that frees me of worry to a certain degree.

Worry…gosh…..worry is what a parent does isn’t it?  Although my boys are all in their early to mid twenties….there are still certain elements of their life that I worry about.  They are far from perfect kids but they have been pretty good boys…..even amidst all their aggravating tendencies……quirks…….. questionable decisions…..mistakes……and victories.

Every time they leave my presence they kiss me goodbye and I immediately ask God to protect them.  In the past if sirens screamed past my house I would give everyone a call to make sure they were okay.  They give me a hard time about that.  When they would leave on road trips I would always instruct their friends that happened to be driving that they were carrying “precious cargo.”  This would always result in red faces with steely glares from my sons….and giggles from their friends.  If looks could kill…..well….I would have been deeply wounded let’s say.   I would tell them to let me know when they had arrived…..usually that fell upon deaf ears and upon return there would declarations of no cell service available.  Yeah….right.  At times I honestly thought I would have a nervous break down when  all three would be on the road at the same time.

When they would get up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom…… it’s like I had a built in radar that automatically would wake me…… I often found myself yelling out into the dark…..”Wash your hands!”  Hygiene….boy that’s been a prickly subject through the years.  Boys just don’t get the need of using soap on one’s hands before eating.  Just last weekend we all gathered to celebrate my hubby’s birthday and we played a game that required using money.  Quarters, nickels and dimes would either go into the pot or passed off to a neighbor.  Upon completion of the game….in full helicopter mom mode I cautioned…..”Make sure you all wash your hands cause money is one of the dirtiest things you can have in your hands.”  There were snickers and the standard roll of eyes….along with a fresh comeback from  my first born….” I’m pretty sure holding a turd would be dirtier than holding money, mother.”

It was hard when I let them go live on campus at Carson Newman College.  At one time they were all three enrolled there and a couple of semesters they roomed together.  I would call every night about 11:30 to make sure they were all in for the night.  The conversation always went something like this; “Hey son, what’s going on?” ( I envisioned them hard at work, studying). My first born;  “Ah…you know mom…curfew’s over so the hooker’s just left and we’re out of weed.” I would hear the giggles in the background.  I always told them what my daddy used to tell me…..”Nothing good ever happens after midnight…..so you boys need to be in before then.”  I recently found out they made numerous miscellaneous runs to Walmart at 3 and 4 o’clock in the morning.  They have always been intent upon torturing me.

Well let me just say…..I’m tired!  I have raised my white flag!  I give up! I am at the point in life where I might as well shut up, right?  I reckon.  It’s so hard to let go……to let go and let them make their own decisions even when experience has taught me they may be making a mistake.  It’s so hard to see them walking out the door into a big, mean world that isn’t always fair or righteous.  It’s so hard to go through my day knowing that they really don’t physically need me much anymore.  They don’t ask for money and if we offer they are very resistant although sometimes mom or dad just wants to be good to them.

I miss our nighttime family prayers and devotions when they all piled on our bed with smelly feet and hairy legs.  I miss our holidays when we would all wake up under the same roof.  I miss being a spectator on the front roll of their lives like I was throughout their school careers.  I miss everything about the memories of their childhood experience.  It’s very bittersweet to “look up” at my man sons with beards, car keys, homes, obligations and busy lives.

Letting go has been very hard for this “hands-on mom” that at times ventured over into excessive parenting.  I say that with a laugh because I know I’ve made mistakes.  I can relate to the mom in the “Old Spice” TV commercial.  I know I didn’t do everything right out of either ignorance or stubbornness…….but one thing I know for sure…..I have loved them with all my being……and perhaps that is why I have won the title of  “helicopter mom extraordinaire” from my gregarious and humorous three.

So I finally came to a point that I knew the Lord was telling me…..”let go Mel…..for your own peace of mind….let go.”   It came about in the scripture Psalms 50:10-11.

“For every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills.  I know all the fowls of the mountains; and the wild beasts of the field are mine.”

The earth belongs to God….he created it.  The animals belong to God…. the birds of the air…..absolutely everything….belongs to God.  Just like the scripture says……HE knows the cattle…every beast…all the fowls…He knows my boys.   HE has their best interests in mind….HE knows their hearts…..HE knows exactly what HE wants for these magnificent three……and one more thing…HE loves them infinitely more than I could ever love them.  That’s pretty hard to fathom…..cause I am crazy, snake-nuts (as my friend, Alice would say) about these boys.

Who better to turn my kids over to….than my heavenly father who created them, to begin with?
He can bless and do far more for them than I could ever do.  HE can instruct, teach and nurture exceedingly better that I could imagine.  HE can protect them in his perfect wisdom much greater than I could ever in my feeble earthly power.  HE just gave them to me for a while….to raise them up for the kingdom…..for HIS purposes…..for HIS glory.

I feel that we are still parenting in a sense.  We still pray with them and offer spiritual guidance.  If they have a burden or problem….they have been taught to pray and they are always eager and willing to pray with us.  I am trying really hard….since the turd remark….to throw caution to the wind and let them eat with dirty hands.  I am attempting to bite my tongue on all the motherly nuances and statements that are just second nature to me.  Old habits are hard to break….but I am resolved that I will hold my tongue when “no shave November” rolls around this year.

So if I can give you any parental advice it would be this….. 

Just pray….. pray….. prayWe can do far more for our children on our knees than anything.

I don’t just pray for them….but I pray for myself as well…..that God will give me insight….peace….and wisdom to be all that I need to be for them at this stage of their lives……because whether they know it or not…..they still need me and the old dad, a little.

L to R  – My first born, Matt, my baby, Spencer. Spencer’s bride, Kayla, and my middle son, Aaron.
 Sweet Memories

Just for fun…..enjoy the Old Spice “Mom” song.


"Bloomers and Sin Hidden in Plain View"

Panties, underwear, undies, bloomers, drawers, tidy whiteys, unmentionables…..I struggle with what word to use.  What is appropriate to say being this is a public forum?  For the purpose of this story, I think that I’ll just keep it authentic and go with what we actually called them at the time the incident occurred….which is “bloomers.”   A very common term in the deep south and one I fondly say with a grin since thats the word my witty daddy called them growing up.  He would often interchange it with “drawers” as well, although I never really understood why anyone would call them that?

The story starts on a Christmas eve at my parent’s house and the whole family was gathered to celebrate the season.   That particular year my boys, along with my nephews, were exuberant over the zany gag gift they had purchased for my dad.  It was tradition for the Porter and Ramsey boys to pick out and purchase a spectacular off the wall, sometimes distasteful, present for their grandfather.  I truly think they enjoyed his reaction more than anything.  Daddy would always make a big deal and over exaggerate his reaction with wide eyes, silly chuckles and sidesplitting antics.  The gift of choice was a 10 inch stuffed, little granpa sitting in a recliner with a pointing finger. The stuffed character’s name was “Pull my finger Fred.”  I can still hear the giggles from that Christmas eve.  To add to this spectacular gift, imagine Fred with sound effects. What can I say….there is just something about natural body functions that give boys, young and old, the giggles.

As the adults were enjoying the giggling, my sister and I had started picking up the torn papers, boxes, and bows.  With each layer of debris there would be another…….and another until suddenly there was a white pair of ladies underwear lying all alone.  My father was the first to speak; “Whose bloomers are those in the floor?”  Everyone’s attention was then shifted to the lone silky unmentionables making a glaring contrast against the red shag carpet.  My sister responded next as she picked them up for all to see….holding them by the elastic on both ends.  “My goodness, where did these come from?”  We were all giggling at that point and reassuring each other that even though they were quite lovely and somewhat new, the undies had not been a gift opened by anyone.

My very perceptive mother spoke next;  “Well they’re not mine…heavens those would swallow me up.” Though she was smaller than my sister and I both, it still stung as I watched the animated indignation rise in her face.  This whole time my father was just horse laughing at every gesture and word.  “Well I don’t think they are mine, I wear cotton only”……I added.  My sister looked closely and wrinkled her brow…“I don’t think their mine either” …..she said with a seemingly confused face. 

At that point my ever amusing husband addressed my sister…...”They have got to be yours.”   “You don’t know if their mine”….. she said defensively.   “Their yours…. they’ve been hanging out of your pants leg all night”…….  he enthusiastically said with a grin.   The room exploded with laughter as my sister stood there in humorous disbelief, half laughing and have in shock.  At that point there was no denying that the “bloomers” were indeed….. hers. The unmentionables had gotten stuck in the leg of her pants when she had done laundry earlier that day.

We have often remembered the underwear story with the same enthusiasm we shared then, it’s just always funny.   Thinking about it this past Christmas made me stop and think….how many times is there something (SIN) hiding under the surface that we can’t see at first glance?   Whatever sin we tuck away may be fooling everyone around us but we’re not fooling God…..and eventually it can and will come out in some shape or fashion.

It is so hard to live an authentic Christian life.  One that is real in God’s eyes and in private.  There are so many sins that encompass living authentically.   Let’s face it …..living out the fruit of the spirit and the ten commandments in a faithful manner is difficult in this day and time with all the stresses and temptations that abound.  One thing is for sure, we can’t live authentic if we are not opening our bibles and spending time with God on a daily basis.  Nothing about our secrets can change if we don’t allow the spirit to work in us and change us.  It concerns us all to recognize our weaknesses and deal with them…..or our sins will come out sooner or later.

How many times have we been caught repeating gossip and are exposed?  How many times have we been caught in a lie?  Or our less than favorable actions have been revealed?  Almost daily in the media we see celebrities, politicians and even Christian’s with a public platform, fall from grace when some deep, dark secret is brought to light.  It’s never pretty when our sin is laid out in a public fashion.  My daddy used to quote a portion of scripture from Numbers 32:23 that still makes me shudder…..

“Be sure your sins will find you out.”
This reminds me of the story of David and Bathsheba.  David sinned against God and slept with another man’s wife.  After Bathsheba became pregnant with David’s child, he proceeded to manipulate and hide his trespass.  David sinned further by sending Bathsheba’s honorable husband, Uriah, to the front lines of war and instructed the ranks to pull back and abandon Uriah so that he would meet certain death.  David then took Bathsheba as his wife.  (2nd Samuel 11:27) 

 In 1 Corinthians 10:13 it says…..

“There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.”

This verse tells us that he will help us run from temptation so that we don’t fall into a pit of deception riddled with sin and secrets.  God gives us what we need to always make the right choice….even when we don’t.

Living a double minded life can and will catch up with us.  HE knows when we are faithful and when we are not.  HE doesn’t tolerate unfaithfulness forever…..and HE will always be our final judge.

It wasn’t long until the prophet, Nathan, confronted David with his sins.  If we continue living secret sins whatever they may be…..make no mistake……God will confront us.  David faced the consequences of his trespasses in the public arena for many years. The child born in sin was struck down by God and David was publicly humiliated by his off spring even years later.  (2nd Samuel 12:1-25)  But the story doesn’t end with condemnation.  After David repented God forgave him…..and restored him.

May we all desperately seek God’s word and learn from the mistakes of our bible heroes.  May we all fall on our face and reject our secret sins…..begging God for forgiveness…..restoration…. and favor.

I am so thankful that when my stinking thinking or flesh causes me to sin….My God is full of grace.

Living authentically with no secrets should be every Christian’s goal.  God help us all to live in truth….and to never live a double life that could lead us to ruin.

"Blah Days are for Jesus and Random Thoughts"

I’m not having a good day….at least that’s been my mindset most of the afternoon.  To start with I don’t particularly feel good physically. My nose has been dripping like a faucet and I’m not really sleeping all that great.  I’m fighting those hot flashy things they say happen to women who are middle age.

RANDOM THOUGHT….(humor me please)…. I honestly don’t know who came up with the term…..middle age? I prefer just saying young or old but I guess I am neither.  Why not call that middle part of life …..the heart of life….or the heart of existence….or the heart of living?  I truly think that’s better than middle age.

Anyway, are the hot flashes happening because we women of a certain maturity (in the heart of life) have finally arrived and that means we’re so hot we’re smoking?  I wish.  Melt is more likely the correct term.  In these frigid temps we have been suffering, I decided to pull out some lady long johns since I am a whiner when it comes to being cold. I wore them comfortably yesterday, but today is another story.  Can I just say….a female (in the heart of life)…enduring hot flashes….as the temperature rises…..sporting two layers of clothing…..with a sweaty neck, palms, and pits is not pretty.  If you passed me on the ride home you probably thought you passed a happy cocker spaniel driving and hanging out the window at the same time.

The hot flash element was only a snippet of my “blah” day….the discomfort of my socks that were too short to meet my lady long johns has greatly distressed me all day.  There was an inch wide portion of my round little calves that felt neglected on what has got to be the longest work day in my entire life.

RANDOM THOUGHT……(I’m sorry…)….I am not cooking supper tonight.

Where was I? Oh yea…my “blah” day keeps getting better.  I needed to get gas on the way home but it was just too dad blamed cold to stop….even though I am emitting heat capriciously at any given moment….it doesn’t take long for me to erratically start freezing.  I guess I’ll coast to work in the morning cause it’s going to be cold tomorrow morning too…..and I’m not wearing the lady long johns.

I could go on and on whining about my day…..I mean there was last nights leftovers for lunch today that left me with a vicious case of heartburn.  My thoughtful husband uses way too much grease for porch chops. There were inconveniences and forgetful moments and frustrations…..and can you believe that yesterday somebody threw the box of chocolates that were on my desk away?  That was probably a God thing although I am still sulking 24 hours later.  Anyway, I think you get my drift.

Ever had a day like this?  It starts out ok but one little discomfort or aggravation and it all goes down hill.  I caught myself whining about my discomforts and pretty soon I had talked myself into a bad attitude…..and invariably a bad mood.   When we get in a fog and only focus on the negative, its hard to see the positive isn’t it?  What bothers me the most is…..I spent time in prayer and bible study this morning just like I always do before I leave for work.  How in the world could I end up with a bad attitude mid morning after I had started my day with Jesus?  That is so frustrating to me. 

It was not until I walked in my door that I realized I had been brooding all day.  Immediately my little pup, “Cool Hand Luke” aka “Lukie” came running to greet me as he usually does.  Now this is the sweetest most affectionate puppy that we have ever owned.  He is the perfect child.  He is always glad to see me.  He doesn’t talk back….and he doesn’t ask for money! Perfect!  Anyway, I came in and basically ignored him because I was having a……

 RANDOM THOUGHT.  I seriously think I am the only person in this house that feeds and waters this dog. 

The first thing I noticed was his empty water bowl.  There it was….the negative….there I was…ignoring this sweet little thing that was jumping all over me and wanting to love me.  He kept jumping and jumping and I couldn’t ignore him any longer.  I picked him up and suddenly realized the pathetic state I had been in all day.

As Lukie squirmed and wiggled in my arms trying to lick my face I asked the Lord….”What is wrong with me Lord?  What is wrong with me?   Why have I murmured all day?”  And as sure as I’m typing this word this very moment…he answered….

“Because you shifted your focus from me….to yourself Mel.”

Yep….in all my physical discomforts…..the inconveniences ……the nuisances…… I relegated all that misery to highlight all the negatives around me.  Everything in my environment was getting worse by the minute because my attitude was getting worse……all because I was focused on me. Has that ever happened to you?  Gosh…I’m pretty sure this isn’t the first time I have fell into this slimy old pit of self, self, self.

Immediately I told the Lord I was sorry.  I had to spend some time renewing my mind.  I had to put my focus back on him.  I asked him to give me wisdom to catch myself the next time I started having sour thoughts.  HE reminded me of the scripture; “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever  is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable….if anything is excellent or praiseworthy….think on these things.”  Phillipians 4:8
There was absolutely nothing true or noble…right or pure in my thoughts today.  I had a bad case of stinking thinking for sure.

“When we allow our focus to shift from God to self, our mind becomes fertile ground for the negative thoughts to take root and grow.”

God please help me to remember this….help me keep my focus on you….. to think your thoughts about all the negatives that I may face in my life…..at all times.  The next time I have a “blah” day….I’m giving it to you Lord.

RANDOM THOUGHT…..I need some ice cream.

                                                                 “Cool Hand Luke”

"A Spirit of Excellence for 2014…. with a Dose of Discipline"

New year’s day flew by me like a hyper puppy running through my legs….. there was no way catching it… and it’s gone! In fact, it seems the whole week was a blur now.  That’s what happens to busy people with a lot to do. For the first time in my life, I failed to make a resolution list.  You know….the list of things that we want to accomplish or start doing but in truth we are lucky if we can mark off one?
I wouldn’t say I am a total failure with my previous lists….there have been victories through the years; therefore, I always sit down and make “the list.”

To me it was always more of a list of goals rather than resolutions. You see I am an eternal optimist….I always choose to reach for the things I think would make me happier rather than fix the things that made me unhappy.  See the irony?  Anyway, having always been somewhat of an over achiever, I have consistently had a list of goals my entire life.  Haven’t you heard all the self help guru’s say that you are more likely to accomplish your goals if you put them in writing? I put little credence in those life coach experts who have it all figured out, I prefer to consult Jesus for the life coaching.   I do confess though….I thought I had this goal thing figured out in my younger days.   If there was something I wanted to achieve….by golly I set my mind to it and usually made it happen in my own strength.

There was a scripture that I misapplied to my life many years while updating and marking off my goal list often.  “Where there is no vision the people perish, but he that keepeth the law, happy is he. Proverbs 29:18  I misunderstood this verse to think that the Lord wants me to set goals but the correct interpretation is that unless we hear from God, we will languish. You see the word “vision” actually means a revelation or word from God.  I totally misinterpreted that verse for many years, silly me.

So having said all that, I still feel the need to make goals for my life.  Yes there are things that I know HE wants me to change …..in my spiritual life….my personal life….my future.  There are accomplishments that HE wants me to achieve…..financial goals that HE wants me to reach…..good and bad habits HE wants me to conquer.  There are dreams I have.  HE gave me those dreams and I truly believe when God was splitting my DNA he gave me a massive dose of  “BIG GIRL DREAMER.”  I’m proud of that!  It’s all well and good to have the dreams and write them down but unless we seek God’s will for our lives…..nothing of kingdom value can really be accomplished.

So heavens….where do I start Lord?  There are some areas in my life that I need discipline like a new born baby needs milk!  I need discipline like a fish needs water!  I need discipline like a pizza needs pepperoni! Did I mention I need discipline?  It’s funny how some aspects of diligence in my life are good….while others need a measure of attentiveness.  Am I alone here?  We are all made of a million different components that relegate our personalities, habits and outlooks.  We are fearfully and wonderfully made to be originals and being an original means we all got our quirks, our hang ups, and our weaknesses.

Now temptation is a fierce nag when you got weaknesses. I used to tell my boys….”If you make up your mind to not cross the line before you are faced with the temptation, all you have to do is turn and walk away when the temptation comes along.” Funny how that doesn’t work when I want a Zero bar and I’m trying to watch my weight because I’m on diabetes medicine.  I wonder how many times my boys thought I was a quack? Numerous I’m sure. Spiritually speaking that concept works much better for me when I have been faced with fleshly sins.  Because I fear the Lord and I don’t want to disappoint him, it’s easier for me to turn from the carnal sins.  Now if your a sex addict I guess that’s another story but one’s addiction to sex is really no different than my addiction to chocolate is it?  See what I mean about the various different components of our divine framework?  We all got our own quirks, hang ups and weaknesses…. bad habits…..bad thoughts….bad anything if it keeps us from living out our divine purpose. 

So this year I don’t think it was no slip of mind that I didn’t have time to make “the list.” God has been specifically speaking to me about two very “big verbs….discipline and excellence.”  It started a few months ago while I was preparing for the Christmas play at church.  My mindset is to always ask myself….”What can I do to make this production better?”  I strive for a certain level of excellence in the Drama ministry because I am so passionate about the cause.  But what if I lived out every area of my life with excellence?  How pleasing would that be to my Jesus?  What if I took my diet and health more serious? This discipline probably would extend my life so that I could be used further for his kingdom. What if I got a little more organized now that my nest is almost empty? What if I spent more time honing talents?  What if I did my laundry on a set day instead of when I run out of clean underwear?  (I detest doing laundry) What if I spent more time in prayer? More time with Jesus?  What if I did every little minute, aggravating or even enjoyable task with the level of discipline or excellence that I give to the Drama ministry? How pleasing that would be to God. How much joy and blessing would this practice bring me?  What about you?  What area in your life do you rock?  Do you put the same effort into the things you don’t enjoy or necessarily rock?

HE has sweetly been pressing upon my spirit that my life would be so much more peaceful and joyful if I approached every area in my life with discipline and a spirit of excellence….because only then would I be doing his perfect will. I guess you could say I have finally started to truly live out Proverbs 29:18.  You see we all do enough to get by don’t we?  But that’s not what HE wants from us.  Just getting by.  HE tells us in Colossians 3:23, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as to the Lord, and not unto men.”  We can’t be in perfect fellowship if we are not obedient in all areas of our life….even the tedious menial tasks.

 So this year my list is somewhat simple in comparison to previous years.  I am desperately going to try to incorporate more discipline in all areas of my life and to do it with excellence.  I will share with you in future blogs and try to authentically live out this practice of discipline with excellence in my life as God teaches and coaches me along.  In the mean time, think about this……I can feel his pleasure smiling on me when I have pleased him just as I can feel his convicting spirit when I have failed him. I so long for more of his pleasure in my life, what about you?

 Share if you dare….what goals or resolutions God is impressing upon your life for 2014?

                                Enjoy the video by Steven Curtis Chapman…..”Do Everything”

          Happy New Year from one “HIP” family!
                                The Porters 

                May God bless you all in mighty ways in 2014!

 “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.”  1 Corinthians 2:9

“A Season To Mourn”

I stood at the graveside of my dear friend’s father today.  I watched the cold air sting her face as the tears clouded her eyes.  Oh how my heart hurt for her.   Death….we are never ready for you, yet you come to us all….. eventually.   This season of Joy has been peppered with death.  On December 30th, a sweet girlfriend from high school observed the one year anniversary of the passing of her 23 year old handsome son. A tragic accident on Christmas night claimed the life of another high school friend’s niece.  A precious young mother at our church lost her hero….her daddy. Other dear friends of mine have lost loved ones as well in the last ten days. Such a sad event for such a wonderful season…the celebration of our Savior’s birth.  It will be two years on January 26th, I lost my father unexpectedly.   In the days and months following I became very depressed.  I had to take iron because I became anemic from not eating. I couldn’t write, read, or concentrate.  I didn’t want to do anything but curl up in my bed and sleep. There are so many thoughts runnin through our heads when we lose a loved one. The thoughts are usually flooded with “if’s” and “only’s”.  We recall the last coherent moments and what final words were exchanged. We think about the things that brought joy to our loved one.  We recall funny story after story offering a much needed moment of laughter in the midst of heartache.  Oh if only we could turn back time.  If only we could talk to them just one more time.  If only….if only….and so on it goes  

For months I clung to a verse that literally gave me just enough strength to function daily. 

“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” 
                                                                                                                    Psalms 34:18

 I read this verse over and over, day in and day out.  Some days all I could physically and mentally accomplish was opening my bible to this verse.  “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted, the Lord is close to the brokenhearted.”  I was certainly brokenhearted, so knowing the Lord was close to me, gave me the only comfort I could somehow muster.  I remember thinking how long is it going to take for me to feel normal again?  How long am I going to cry every day or look at his pictures? I became so agitated in my state of malaise, I was literally frustrated because I was still grieving the if’s and only’s months later. 

   I remember thinking what a terrible mourner I was. I specifically remember telling myself  I was lame and I had to snap out of it.  I questioned if I was mourning the right way.  I even talked to my pastor about my inability to pull myself out of the despondent state I was in.  But oh how thankful I am to have Jesus.  Oh how thankful. He was there on those dark days when I was so low at times I couldn’t look up. He was there even though I was so self absorbed I couldn’t focus on him.  I honestly don’t know how people make it through this world without Jesus?  It became ever so clear to me this time of deep mourning was exactly where God had placed me. There was no where I could escape this valley, no way around it….I had to walk straight through.  “Okay God, you have me here in this fragile place with a broken heart…..now what?” I started asking him repeatedly over the course of many months. And sometimes with a bitter tone.  And then I heard him specifically speak to me one morning during my quite time. I’m not sure how you hear from God but when he speaks to my spirit, I know it very well…..because he usually leads me to specific scripture and I can feel his presence heavily in the atmosphere and laying like a ton of bricks on my chest.  I heard his gentle voice speak to my frail spirit.             “It’s okay to cry child, but don’t forget to laugh.  It’s okay to lament, but don’t forget to smile.  It’s okay to withdraw, but make sure you fellowship too. It’s okay to grieve Mel, but don’t stop living in the midst of your grieving.  Don’t stop living in the midst of your grieving. Did you hear me? Don’t stop living in the midst of your grieving.”     It became ever so clear to me though my heart was still so fragile, the Lord wanted me to press on.  To let my faith kick in. To live. Immediately I turned to Ecclesiastes 3, scripture I had read many times but had no real significance to my life until then.  He sent this scripture just at the right time in my grief journey.   “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent, and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.”  Ecclesiastes 3:1-8  There is something so comforting in this scripture to me.  You see the way I look at it…..every detail of my life…… and your life is orchestrated to the detail.  Everything we go through….the good and the bad……it’s all filtered through his loving fingers.  We are all born into this world with an expiration tag and only the Lord knows when that expiration is up. We are all born into this world with a life to live, a song to sing, a hurt to heal, a laugh to share and a tear or several to shed. We are all born into this world with predestined seasons for our lives. We are all born into this world to live each day to the fullest even if it’s our time to mourn…..to laugh….. to plant……to dance…… to mend…..to be silent…. to love…. and eventually….. to die.  Knowing that he has my days…..and my life events planned out to the detail…. just for Mel Porter…… is mind blowing to me. This gives me incredible comfort because his agenda is so much better than mine.   Even though this old world is hard and we will all eventually experience every season listed in Ecclesiastes 3, our heavenly father gives the good and the bad…..but he never abandons us.  There is a time for everything….. He gives us both spectrum’s of life……the good and the bad…..there is a balance.  Forgiveness for sin…..mercy for disobedience….peace for turmoil….joy for sadness……..grace for unworthiness…..he gives it all….he gives it all with all the love that hung on the cross over two thousand years ago.     Trust in Jesus can be so hard when we are blinded with a broken heart……but trusting Jesus is all we got. My God has reminded me this week as I grieved with my dear sisters and brothers…. trusting him in every life event…every season….in everything….is his perfect will for my life.  In order to glorify him….I must press on and live….I must move on yet grieve….I must find joy among all the tears……I must praise him…in the valley’s….on the mountains….and especially by the gravesides….for these are the seasons of my life…..purposed by my God…..just for me.