He sees me…

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6:15am.

Awake to make the boys sandwiches for their Deep Sea Fishing trip today.

Coffee has brewed and its aroma fills the kitchen. I fill a mug and head to the balcony.

The sun is just beginning to display it’s beauty, barely showing itself with its pinks and orange and gold.

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I look out into the ocean and the only sense I can use is sound. Wave after wave rolls in, crashing against the shore. I can’t see it but I know it’s there. I can’t feel it but I know it’s there, doing what it does. I know that each time it rolls in, it’s bringing with it an abundance of sea shells. Some are perfect little specimens while others are a bit fragmented. But the ocean has cared for them all.

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I can’t physically see my God, but I know He’s there. I see him in the sunrise and in the ocean. I see him in the faces of my family. In the recent birth of our first Grand. I see Him in the friends who are loyal and faithful and real. In our crew who work hard, especially in our absence. I feel Him. I see Him.

And He sees me. His perfect creation, like a beautiful unaltered seashell cast upon the shore with wave after rolling wave. He sees me when I am a fragment of that shell. Broken, hurt, betrayed, fallen. He sees my broken pieces and loves me in spite of the jagged edges.

El Roi. He is the God who sees me.

Genesis 16:13The Message (MSG)
13 She answered God by name, praying to the God who spoke to her,   “You’re the God who sees me!
“Yes! He saw me; and then I saw him!”

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The sun…..

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Most of us go through our lives taking the simple and sweet things around us for granted.  Coffee….the pot is there.  The grounds… in a little pod or a grinder. The mugs carefully put away in the cabinet for the next visit.  Steaming hot and flavored and the mug fits easily in your hand. You sip and all is right with the world.  I take that for granted.

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I take it for granted that each day my family will wake up from their slumber healthy and raring to go.  It’s not always going to be that way but I don’t go there. Yet I don’t appreciate enough that we are up and at it again.  I look across the table at my frail 90 year old Granny and am really trying to focus on not taking things or people for granted.

This morning, I woke up 5 minutes before the sunrise was scheduled to appear at the beach. I hurriedly got downstairs with my husband and we made our way to the beach. With coffee in hand, of course.

What was right before us was none other than majestic.  The clouds were surrounding the sun like they were protecting it.  The beautiful orange and pinks breaking through.  The waves on the beach rolling in to shore. It was a sight. A most beautiful sight.

I realized this morning that I take the sun for granted.  It’s there. Even on a rainy day, it eventually appears.  It sets at night and rises in the morning. It warms our bodies and darkens our skin. It can be dangerous if not respected. It doesn’t complain about the work to be done each and every single day of it’s existence. It. Just. Is.

Today, I am not taking the sun for granted.  Join me?

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Orange Beach, Alabama

Being “Made Well”

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Jenny can write about loss, heartache and disappointment because her life has been filled with such. As you read her words, you relate to those times in life when your heart was broken because we have all experienced it. Some more than others, but we all have had disappointment and heartache. But what you walk away with when you read Made Well is the overwhelming and abundant message of hope. Beautiful soft, sweet hope!

Jenny shares with the reader about family tragedy and loss. You will cry when you read it. And you will cry when Jenny speaks of Paul McCartney and the healing that came from a concert filled with his music. You will laugh out loud when “worm poop” is mentioned and you will cringe and make an “ewwww” face when scabs are brought up. (I’m “ewwing” as I type this!!).

Jenny is one of the most real, vulnerable and honest authors I have ever read. There are no pretenses and you see that in every word written.

Being made well isn’t easy. We all have burdens, heartache, loss, frustrations and more than we have to process through. Because of Jenny’s book, I feel as though some loss that my family and I personally experienced earlier this year is beginning to seep out. I feel as though I am on the road to being made well. I’m trying to look for those little glimmers of hope and happiness that are sometimes not as obvious as other times. As Jenny says in her book, “ If my eyes are open and I am looking, I will see that the whole world is full of tiny particles of healing pointing me back to the Healer.”

The God inside of us, coming to surface even when a cure doesn’t happen as we’d like, the end result brings sadness or life comes unraveled…..He is true and His imagine is deep inside of us all. He is there “bypassing my desire for cheap grace and quick fixes. He invites!”

Thankful to Jenny for writing this book. For sharing her heart yet again (The Road to Becoming is her first book) and for helping us realize that being made well happens in the every day little things and the big things, the tiny glimpses and the fireworks overhead. May the healing begin!

Order Jenny’s Book Here

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Where do you have church?

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The alarm was set.  I had a pile of things to take to church with me that morning.  My empty egg cartons to give to Amelia. Money for fresh eggs. (I don’t care what anyone says….(husband)…there is a difference!)  The book we are reading through in Lifegroup. My bible.  And cans of pumpkin to take to the Cafe to make Pumpkin Glaze for the Beignets.  Yes, it is amazing.

The alarm went off and in my typical fashion, I hit snooze. A couple of times.  The snooze button is one of the best inventions ever. Am I right?

Shortly after the 2nd snooze my daughter came in to plug in her iPad. If you have ever read anything I’ve written then you know I have a 26 year old daughter who is a person with autism.  Although she looks about 15 or 16, she has the developmental skills of a 7-8 year old and sometimes the behaviors of a teenager or a toddler. Depends on the size of the moon!

When Megan was born, she detested being swaddled.  Holding her tightly?  Nope. Not unless she was sick. And I have to say that there were times when she wasn’t feeling well that I was so happy because she allowed me to cuddle her on the rocking chair.  I could hold her close, sing to her and she let me.  My baby let me hold her in my arms. My little girl let me cuddle with her.   For most, that is an every day occurrence.  For my girl with autism, it was a very special occasion.

So this Sunday as she enters my room, she reaches over me and feels the bed. “Where’s Dad?”   He’s at work, Megan!  So she climbs over me and gets into bed next to me.  Lately she’s been laying closer to me than usual. She likes it when my right arm is under her and we share a pillow.  But don’t even think about touching her with the left arm.  I try…and fail.  And try again….and fail.  And she usually says “I lay by myself”, even though she’s not really since she’s cuddled up against me and laying on my right arm.

This Sunday was different though.  She spooned up against me, pulled her blanket she carried downstairs up over her, laid her head on my pillow, with my arm underneath.  And then I put my left arm around her waiting for her to fling it off.

But….she didn’t.  She didn’t touch it. I’m certain she noticed it because this child doesn’t miss much, but she didn’t flinch, didn’t say “I’m okay now” or “I lay by myself”.  She let me cuddle her. She let me hold her!

Outside of sending two text message (“Megan won’t be there today” and “I’ll get the eggs later”), I didn’t move a muscle.  I have asthma and probably because I was overly excited, I needed my inhaler.  But to reach for it meant taking my arm off of her. So instead, I did what my brother, sister and I called “breathers” when we were kids. Simple breathing exercises to help calm the panic.    I had an itchy nose too but scratching it meant lifting my arm up so I suffered through it.

She fell asleep in my arms and it was pure joy!  If you have a child with special needs, you know that you have to rejoice in the little things.  And sometimes, the little things are the big things.  This was huge.  This was church.img_5859

A fun, yet wet day at Tate Farms, Meridianville, AL.

Arnold Palmer….

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I grew up in a home where if my Dad was home, sports were on the television.  Didn’t matter what sport…..he loved them all.  But he had a special fondness for golf. He watched, he played, he built custom golf clubs.  He was in sales and in sales, deals are made on the golf course. And even if it wasn’t about a deal or networking, he was on the golf course.   An entire day was spent on the green and then a few drinks in the bar.  When Dad and my Other Mom moved to South Carolina, he spent some of his retirement working at a golf course. He loved it.  Was there all day, got to know the pros and played when he wanted to. Perfect retirement job.

In growing up with golf on the television, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus were a really big part of my childhood.  I didn’t know them. They didn’t know me.  But we sure knew who they were because of Dad’s obsession.

Today, Arnold Palmer passed away at the age of 87.  Dad passed away ten years ago at the age of 67.    We’ve often said that Dad is playing all of the golf that he wants and we are certain there is a beer somewhere near by.  I’m asking God now….let Dad play a round with Arnold Palmer. And someday, I can’t wait to hear all about it!!

Rest in peace Arnold Palmer. Thank you for the memories!

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Photo from nolayingup.com

Arnold Palmer passes away at 87

Made Well……

 

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I am on Jenny Simmons launch team for her new book, Made Well and have to mention, especially with so many different things that are going on in each of our lives that her new book is for so many of us! Some of my favorite quotes:

“When we finally come to accept the fact that we are madly, deeply, fully known and enjoyed by our Creator God, we are set free to begin our journey toward wholeness.”

“Healing happens when we entrust ourselves to God’s care and become aware of the miraculous ways He is at work in our midst, binding the wounds. While we yell, “Fix it!” and shake our fists at the lack of response, God is often quietly at work behind the scenes answering in ways we would never expect or pray for. The ways that come small, steady and whispery in the dark of night, in the depths of pain.”

“If we are to be made well, we must learn how to silence the voice that seeks to tear us down with the voice of truth.”

I invited Jenny to speak at our women’s gathering back in April of this year and y’all, God has anointed this young woman in the area of music and word. She is an author who doesn’t have the big bucks supporting her and completely counts on the support of people like us…..who love the written word, who want to read to grow and who support others in their gifts. If you haven’t read Jenny’s first book, The Road to Becoming, add it to your list. And think about pre-ordering a copy of Made Well. It’s on sale right now at Amazon!

To read my write up on Jenny’s first book, The Road to Becoming click here:  This weekend……..wait…..

To pre-order Jenny’s new book, Made Well, click here:  Made Well by Jenny Simmons

Simple? Yes! Action required? Yes!

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When I heard about this book I thought, hmmm….wonder if this will be one of those books that guilts me into things. Far from that! You may come away feeling convicted. You may come away feeling motivated. But you’ll definitely come away feeling inspired.

Chris Marlow is a regular guy who had big dreams. He followed his Holy Spirit nudging and created Help One Now which has done an amazing amount of good for people in difficult situations. This book is about realizing that it truly is simple to do good for others. “We must have the conviction to take an action; we must do something.”

One of my favorite parts of this book was this:

“I’m a big fan of commitment. Popping into a country, doing a service project, and popping out will not make the impact necessary to see lasting change. Again, doing good is so much more than a seven-day trip or the occasional check. It’s hard to make a real impact if you’re not connected to real people. I can’t tell you how many times I have listened to stories from people who went on a mission trip. They talk about what they did as opposed to who they met.”

That section resonated with me because of my commitment to Guatemala. It was a good reminder to focus on the “who” rather than the “what”. The “what” is important, too…but the “who” is everlasting!

I’ve not read a book in a very long time where I have underlined and highlighted so many things. It’s an easy read and you really feel like you’re sitting down in a hipster coffee shop in Austin, Texas having a conversation with Chris Marlow. How cool is that?!

To end with another quote….”You need a willing heart and a clear understanding of why you exist and how you can help in big and small ways; you already have the gifts, now you just have to use them!”.

A good start would be to read this excellent book!!

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Missing out on one thing can lead to something else….

This was such a special moment!

~rejoice in the little things~

This morning. My husband and I are exhausted. Our days have been filled with the usual running around that adults have times 300 recently. Running a business, growing a business, catering a wedding, hosting a party and lots of renovating. Just this week.  Not complaining whatsoever. It’s all been wonderful. But we’re a wee bit tired.

So last night we went to bed and I neglected to set my alarm. The exhaustion won out and we stayed in bed until too late to get ready for church. (the service is starting now as I type).  I don’t like to miss church.  I don’t like to not be there each week, hear what my Pastor has to say, see my church family. I just really enjoy being there.

But as I sat here with my girl and we are drinking some iced coffees, I’m looking through Facebook and I hear “Hi…

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My introduction to the LGBT world….

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Yesterday, the deadliest mass shooting in US History occurred in my hometown of Orlando, Florida.  49 victims confirmed dead and a multitude of others wounded.  The shooter is dead, but let’s not talk about him.

When I first heard that there was a shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando, my first thought was “Was it the Parliament House?” on Orange Blossom Trail?  To be honest, I don’t even know if that club is still there but way back in the day….like way back…..it was THE club for the gay community to go to.  And I went. Twice.  Those who know me may wonder why on earth did I go to a gay club?  In all transparency, I asked myself that question, too.  Here’s why…..

In junior high, I fell hard for a boy. Let’s call him G.  He was beautiful. Still is beautiful.  He was a close friend and I adored him.  There was a little kissing that went on a couple of times but nothing more than that. We were friends who were involved in your Youth Group. His sister was one of my besties and we all saw each other Wednesdays and Sundays and during any activities in between.  Youth group was the best.  They were some really good years!

One night, G and I were sitting in the parking lot at the local pizza place our group often went to after church and he said, “I have something to tell you.  You are going to hate me. You’re probably going to cry and you might even hit me.”  My reply?  “I’m not going to hate you, hit you or cry. Silly. What is it?”

He went on to tell me that he was gay. He liked boys.  I didn’t believe him at first. I didn’t want to believe him.  I cried.  I hit his arm.  I told him I hated him.

Of course, I didn’t hate him.  But I was so heartbroken.  And my hopes of love, marriage and a baby carriage were dissipated all in one evening in a Sunbird car in a pizza parlor parking lot.

G told me that I was the first straight person he had told.  I felt honored. I think.  And after a few weeks of sulking (that would be me, not him), I wanted to know more.  So G invited me to go to the Parliament House with him to see what it was all about.  I rounded up one of our other youth group friends, K and off we went with much fear, trepidation and curiosity.

It was apparent that G had spent a bit of time here. He knew his way around. Knew many of the unbelievably gorgeous men that were there.  This was the early 80’s and the gay scene was beginning to become a bit more known.  When I was a child, you’d know kids who had gay tendencies, people would call them rude names and you went on your with your day.  But you didn’t actually really know someone who liked someone of the same sex and if you did, it wasn’t out there for the world to know about.

This club was a safe haven for the men who lived this lifestyle.  And whether you believe it’s genetic or by choice/environment, they found safety here. They found community.  They found a shelter from the onslaught of mean words, beatings and abuse that would happen outside of the doors of that club.

I watched a Drag Show and my eyes most certainly bugged out of my head seeing these men dressed as women.  And many who looked better than a woman would in the same outfit (how unfair is that?!).   I laughed and crazily enough, enjoyed the evening.  And went back a second time because I wanted to know G’s world. I loved him. He was my friend.

Fast forward to today and the Pulse Nightclub, where the LGBTQ community goes for fun, community, dancing and safety was attacked by a mad man. Why did this happen?  What point was the gunman trying to make? Why there?  So many why’s but not enough answers.

I grew up in this city. In fact, I spent more than half of my entire life living in Orlando. The nightclub is right next door to the spot where my Father’s Sunoco Gas Station was. My Nana and Aunt and cousin lived up the street. This was home. These are familiar grounds. Precious grounds loaded with memories.

Our hearts break with our hometown.  To see the app on Facebook where survivors can check in saying that they are “SAFE” rips my heart apart every time it appears in my newsfeed.  We have so many friends and family there. And even though we don’t know any of the victims personally, our heart is broken for them. For their families. For the community that we love so much.  For our friends and family who live there still and are truly feeling the effects (much like we did while living in Boston during 9-11).

The hate needs to end.  Agree to disagree.  Love without judgment.  Grieve with our friends in the LGBTQ community.  Mourn with them.  Be present.  Tell them you see them.  You understand. They exist. Show love. They are enough.  

It’s not our job to tell someone if we agree with their choices. Yes, it’s hard to keep those lips zipped sometimes, but let me say it again. IT. IS. NOT. OUR. JOB.  Leave conviction to the Holy Spirit.  Be open to our own growth and changes.

Just love!

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Sidenote: The use of the phrase “gay community” is due to the fact that in the 1980’s, that was the coined phrase. I recognize that it is now LGBTQ and this is reflected as my blog moves along in time.