Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Arm of Protection

When I was a child, and probably when you were too, and riding along in the passenger seat of the family car, you had more protection than a seat belt. Your Mother's arm of protection. Like an automatic reflex, when she would have to stop quickly, that right arm would swing out to hold me back and protect me from jerking forward. The ironic thing was this reflex happened even in the smallest of stops where no real danger was about to ensue. But Mom's instincts were to protect her precious cargo from any pathway of harm. I thought this reflex developed after becoming a Mom, but not so. After I began driving for a while and began to be a shuttle service to friends and other's children, I realized my own instinctive reflex was there. Yes, I've turned into my Mother. Not a bad thing to morph into.

Last week during one of my devotions, this passage was used....

"Moses answered the people, "Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the LORD will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still." - Exodus 14:13-14

The first part of that passage talks about deliverance and not just that the Lord will bring deliverance, but the very irritant you are being delivered from (for the Israelites, those pesky Egyptians) you will see no more. How many times when I'm in the midst of difficult people or difficult circumstances do I pray for deliverance, or for the Red Sea to swallow them up? This promise to the Israelites is just as true today. The Lord wants to deliver us, we just need not be afraid and stand firm. Easier said than done sometimes.

The second part really spoke to me "The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still." Sweet! I've got the LORD going to battle for me!! But, oh, wait, I have to be still? Are you kidding? Surely the Lord needs me to sharpen His Sword, load up his slingshot with some sharp rocks, or just scream "Boo!!" at the enemy. I can't just be still, He needs my help! He may need my guidance and instruction. My nature isn't to be still....being still is for when I'm sleeping. And, then the Spirit convicted me...."My child, you need ONLY to be still." Only be still? Really? Yes. The Lord doesn't need my help in the battle; He just asks me to not be afraid, stand firm and be still. Simple instructions, difficult to follow. Until I remembered my earlier visual....

When danger comes, God swings out His Arm of Protection to cover us. No matter how big or small the danger ahead, He simply instinctively swings out that Arm of Protection to guard us, turns to us, gives us a wink and says, "I got this one." And He always does.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Top Ten Lessons Learned on the Fourth Annual Trip to Adel

For the past four summers, Christie and I have made the trek to the great city of Adel, Georgia, located in sunny and smoldering south Georgia to visit our good friends, Chad and Tracy. This year, we had an addition to our trip, Allison, the newest member of the Todd family. It's hard to sum up the trips, but Tracy always looks forward to my blog post recap. Our first visit I was enamoured by the small town wonder. Being a city girl, the slow pace of a small town for a few days was refreshing. The second trip was like going home again and we began a yearly tradition. Last year, I noted all the funny things overheard during our stay. This year, straight from the home office in Sparks/Lenox/Adel, Georgia....somewhere between Harvey's, Peebles and the Piggly Wiggly is tonight's top ten list...

10. "The best travel days are Wednesdays and Sundays." - Every prior trip had us leaving on Thursday and returning on Monday. Last year we had quite a few traffic challenges. But, this year, due to vacation schedules, we had to shift up a day. Although we hated missing attending FBC Adel on Sunday, the drive was a breeze. I think it was the easiest travel we've ever had heading south.

9. "A large Bearno's Pizza can travel 10 hours in a cooler and still be edible at arrival." - Bearno's is a Louisville delicacy. Chad had asked us if we could surprise Tracy and bring Bearno's pizza. I ordered it the night before, let it cool, then packaged it up for the journey. Christie was able to get it all in a small cooler and insulated bag. Even with the heat of the summer, the pizza was delicious and Tracy was one happy girl.

8. "When acting out in charades and your partner guesses 'Driving Indian', that won't be easily translated as Jeep Cherokee." - Chad and I were partners during the visit for all team games. We played a game called Name Dropper that requires one round of Charades. I thought I was so ingenious to act out an Indian driving a car for a win! Unfortunately, my vibes with Chad were off and we missed that one...and ultimately lost the game. Tracy, of course, being the competitive spirit, was thrilled for her and Christie's victory.

7. "Avent baby bottles are better than Dr. Brown's" - This revelation by new Mom, Tracy. And she can give you three reasons why they are better. First, the Avent spout is wide enough that the formula scoop can easily dump the measurement in without spillage. Second, Dr. Brown's bottles come with way too many moving parts. And, third, the light blue logo and bottle decor of Dr. Brown's bottles clashes with her red kitchen. All valid and logical reasons, don't you think?

6. "Even with a bullet, I still come in 12th when playing Mario Kart." - I love video games. But loving them and being good at them are two very different things. And, I'm so competitive that I would probably play 24 hours by myself to get better to truly win but I'm trying to shake my obsessive tendencies. My favorite part of Mario Kart was when I'd get a "bullet". For you non-Wii players, that's when your vehicle hits a box and unlocks a way to get ahead. Bullets were my favorite because I'd speed past my competition...until I missed that curve in DK Summit and ended up in the red and white snow....or, over a cliff in Mushroom Gorge. Sigh.

5. "Bath time is my favorite time with Allison" - It's hard to pick just one Allison moment, but I loved bath time. Allison loves getting a bath and once she's all clean and cuddly we get to slather her up with that sweet smelling pink Johnson's baby lotion...I love the smell of that stuff! Then we'd get her all diapered up, in her pajamas and snuggle time for her final bottle. She is just too cute for words. I miss her already....and her parents too, of course.

4. "Bidding in Rook would be easier if we just knew what was in the widow." - This was our second year to play Rook. Almost every round, someone would say "I wish I knew what was in there" referring to the 5 cards in the middle of the table that the high bidder gets to achieve their team's bid. There has to be a spiritual application in there....if only we knew what the future held, we would know how to bid exactly right and not have to take that risk. But, in life as in Rook, we must have faith. I'd like to proudly state that Chad and I won the Rook tournament. Tracy would claim it was tainted because of a round we had to toss out due to a missing card...but I called that providential....

3. "When you invest money, it hatches interest!" - One of Tracy's activities with 4-month old Allison is reading to her. Yes, to you that may seem early, but you see, Tracy is raising a genius, so we need to get started early. Allison's favorite book is The Berenstein Bears. But, not "The Berenstein Bears Safe and Sound" or "The Berenstein Bears Give Thanks"...oh no, it's "The Berenstein Bears Trouble with Money." The book teaches the principles of earning money, saving money and...hatching interest. Only Tracy...and that's why I love her and she's a great Mommy. Allison is going to be diagramming sentences at six months.

2. "Never hire a criminal to work at your restaurant or you'll be short a cook." - One night we headed to Valdosta to eat at the Smok'n Pig Barbeque Restaurant. While we were enjoying our dinner, we look out the window and see policemen handcuffing and taking one of the cooks away in the squad car. Thankfully we had our food already. Priceless.

1. "The best of friends can be honest, loving and endure the good, bad and ugly, and come out loving each other even more." - Tracy (and Chad as honorary) is part of my group of friends known as the OPCs. We are like the women from Steel Magnolias...we've been through birth, death, marriages, heartaches, name it. And no matter what we face, we weather the storm. I'm always reminded of that kind of precious friendship when I get to spend uninterrupted time with Chad and Tracy and realize how much I do miss them....but know that we have a friendship that endures the tests of life and time.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Musings for the Week - Reading, Road Trips, and Retreat

1. When I decided this was the year I was getting my groove back, one of my goals was to read more books. To accomplish that goal, I joined a book club at a local Barnes & Noble in January. I'm certifiably a book worm geek because I just attended my 8th meeting this week and get giddy every time that day rolls around. As of today, I've read 12 books this year, already two ahead of my 2008 total, so the numbers show I've accomplished my goal. But the whole book club experience is hard to describe in words of the fun that I have there. The group of ladies I meet with come from all backgrounds of life and we all share a common bond...we love to read. We talk about current events, other books we're reading, and, oh yeah, the book we chose to read the prior month. My goal of joining this club was two-fold...I wanted to also have an opportunity to expand my influence beyond my church and work to new people and be able to share my faith. I can attest that I have been able to do that while discussing plots of books and stories of characters that mirror our real life issues. I always come home and start the next book that very I sip on the Starbucks I buy when I'm at the Barnes & Noble Cafe'...another book club bonus.

2. Another of my goals for the year was to nurture relationships. This has been a stellar week with the friendships in my life. Words can't express what my friends mean to me. They love me, pray for me, hold me accountable and are there for me at a moment's notice. And, even with all my crazy quirks, they still endure my goofy ways when I know I drive them nuts at times. Even when conflict occurs, I know I can weep and go to them and mend our differences and we can love each other even more than we did before. As an only child, I need my alone time, but without my lifeline of friends, I couldn't survive. Oh so many people live a lifetime without even one or two good friends. I am blessed beyond measure.

3. I've developed a traveling trait this year of breaking free and enjoying life. I feel the need to live from trip to trip. After my recent weekend in the mountains, I'm about to embark on a journey to south Georgia to see Chad, Tracy and, the newest addition, Allison. Christie and I make this annual trek and I not only look forward to spending time with the Todds, but having quality time with my sweet sister, Christie. The 10-hour drive can be brutal, but it's one of the few times that Christie and I get uninterrupted time to bond, and a road trip is one of my favorite ways to deepen a friendship. My car and I have an agreement....I'll fill your tank and take good care of you. You keep your hood shut about all the deep, dark secrets that are shared within the four doors of your frame. As always, a Tracy-approved blog post will appear to recap our visit.

4. We are in the final stages of interviewing for a new member of my Inside Sales team. Interviewing can be a wearing process. Gathering resumes and narrowing down the batch to an acceptable amount to bring in for first interviews is just the first step. Then you go through the process of wasting much of your day interviewing folks that, for lack of a better phrase, we're just not that in to. The perks of this process are the funny stories that ensue from the random personalities that we interview. We had just that guy come in for an interview recently. Picture Dwight Schrute from The Office and you've got the visual. My interview time with him was short because I knew quickly, it just wasn't happening. The other member of my Inside Sales team, Matt, followed me and was privy to the humor that makes this grueling process redeeming. The interviewee recently worked for a local publication that dealt primarily with job listings. Matt asked him "So do you think the popularity of Craig's List is part of the cause of that publication's decline?" Fair question and on the mark. Dwight responded "People who are desperate use Craig's List." Ok, Dwight, thanks for playing. I felt sorry for him because he'll have a tough time finding a job with such a limited insight into reality.

5. The singles at our church are having a retreat over Labor Day weekend entitled, "One Life, One Story." The sessions will revolve around how we tell our story in various settings of how Christ transformed our lives. I was asked to lead a session on how to tell your story in the workplace. I'll be honest, I was humbled at the request because I see myself more as a discipleship girl and and not an evangelistic queen. I've got my outline, but I need to start building the content and I'm at an impasse. Maybe this spewing of a blog post will release some spiritual creativity to start pouring out the details I need. As a planner, I'd rather have things done sooner than later. But, God is teaching me more and more to depend on Him. And so I shall.