Every Day’s a New Adventure

July 25, 2014 — Last Friday I was on a jumbo jet flying home from Italy. Today I was on the Megabus. Every day’s a new adventure! I have seen the big blue and yellow bus and have heard people say it is a good and economical way to get from point A to point B. But I never thought I would need this service. Famous last words….

While JB and I were on a trip overseas our son Wes accepted a job in Nashville which meant a move from Lexington, KY. He called and asked, “Mom, when you get home can you come help me move?” Now, let me say, “Shugie’s Moving Service” tried to go out of business a few years ago. With three young adult children, there have been many moves, and for years I was available to help pack, heave, shove, load and unload – usually up and down many flights of steps. After some back trouble I knew that had to stop, but the organizing, packing, directing and driving were services I could still do. Of course I told Wes “yes.” I planned to drive to Lexington and carry some stuff in my car to Nashville. But then he informed me I really needed to fly to Lexington! He would drive a loaded Budget truck and he needed me to drive his car.

Our daughter, Mary Margaret, lives in Nashville also so the reality of having two of our three children in the same city is very exciting. Add to that the fact that Wes is getting married in November and Taylor will be joining him there makes it even sweeter!

IMG_3133 Haven’t you found that when we make plans we have to always be ready for things to go sideways? This little trip was no exception! The flight to Lexington was fine and we picked up the big truck right away and then finished packing his things. That part went well as he had done lots of packing before I arrived (thanks, Taylor!). Good friends came and helped load the truck and we were ready to head to Nashville on Thursday afternoon. I planned to stay a few days to help Wes get settled and then have a visit with Mary Margaret who was returning from a business trip on Saturday evening. Wes was going to drive me to Chattanooga Sunday afternoon to meet JB who would pick me up there. BUT, as the things of life happen, Taylor’s granddaddy died a few days ago and the funeral is Saturday in Ohio. The night before I flew to Lexington, Wes said to me, “Mama, I am driving to Ohio Friday morning to be there with Taylor and her family.” While I totally support his care for Taylor and her family during this difficult time, I had to ask, “Well, Wes – what about me? How am I going to get home?” “Uhh – we will figure it out,” was his reply.

The next morning I volunteered to get a ticket on the Megabus to Atlanta. He was not excited about that idea but it was the only option and I was really okay with it. Of course I did have certain expectations….

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The drive from Lexington went well and we made it through Nashville late afternoon with only a small slow-down in traffic. We arrived at the storage unit place and new friends from Rolling Hills Church showed up to help unload. Wise Wes chose the right size truck and the right size storage unit. He is a smart guy and I am so proud of him.

Late last night we pulled into the 24-hr. drop-off place for the truck. I had to laugh and immediately texted Mary Margaret – “Wes and I are returning his rent truck and just pulled up to the same place we returned yours two years ago when you moved here! Haha. I should get a job here!” Wes and I were fading by the time we arrived at the home where he will be living the next few weeks.

Up early this morning Wes drove me into downtown Nashville where I was looking for the Megabus STATION. We drove to the address and landed in an industrial, sketchy part of town, coming to an old rundown parking lot where a few people stood with suitcases – no sign, no station, no building, nothing – just an address! Maybe this is how they can keep the fares so low!

Since we were very early Wes just kept driving and said in a low, commanding voice, “Mama, I am going to stay with you till the bus arrives!” We found a Chick fil A close-by and had a quick breakfast and then eased our way back to my point of departure. More people were waiting and I got out and queued up with the others. I had some friendly conversation with a few other people waiting and found that many have ridden Megabus numerous times and are big fans. The nice, clean, sharp bus arrived right on time and the driver loaded our luggage and welcomed us aboard.

I had never noticed the Megabus is a double decker. Several people recommended I go upstairs, but I headed toward the front of the bus, downstairs, and took the first seat I could find. Riding the red double decker bus in London was an adventure a few years ago with my family, BUT, I decided I would fare better on the lower level today. I was seated next to a quiet young girl headed to Atlanta from Chicago. She put her hoodie completely over her head as soon as we “took off” and I did not force her to have conversation with me!

Just when I was about to say “so far, so good,” we came to stop and go traffic north of Chattanooga, mostly stop. Checking my maps app I noticed red dots all along the road for quite a while. Oh well, what’s the hurry? Finally the traffic started flowing and we made it to Chattanooga. Our stop there was in the parking lot of a rather old shopping center. At least there was a Megabus sign (more than Nashville had), but still, this was a hilarious new concept for me. I felt (and looked like) an odd duck on this trip!

Perhaps I could complain about this week, but I would much rather count all the things to be grateful for:

  • Wes is the new Technical Director at Rolling Hills Community Church in Franklin, TN, just south of Nashville. We are so proud of this promotion for him in the career he loves so much!
  • Rolling Hills is Mary Margaret’s church! She has been there two years and loves her church. She had nothing to do with his connection there but what a joy that they will both worship there and share friends.
  • The weather was beautiful for loading and unloading and for the drive – even unseasonably cool! Having done this type work on rainy days and very hot days makes me especially grateful for the weather we had.
  •  What great friends in Lexington and in Nashville! Wes is blessed to have friends who care and show it by offering time and labor.
  •  I love to talk with strangers and the Megabus experience provided a few new interesting people to meet!
  • Some friends of JB are willing for Wes to live in the apartment in their home the next few weeks while he gets settled in the area – thank you God for your detailed provisions!
  • I love making memories with my children! All these moving experiences have been some of the best and have provided great stories to be retold for years.
  • While riding along today a blog has been written. It is tough to discipline myself to focus and write. Perhaps this is the beginning of a writing office on wheels – more Megabus trips to follow?
  • JB arrived just minutes after I got off the bus and was standing on the sidewalk in downtown Atlanta. Thank you, honey. Yay – I made it!

Shugie

There Is Nothing New Under The Sun!

The title sounds catchy and I’m sure you have heard it or have said it yourself. Did you know it comes straight from the Bible – from the small, power-packed book of Ecclesiastes? Just this week my “reading the Bible in a year plan” had me read this short book. I was blown away at its relevance to our world today. The notes in my study Bible brought even more clarity to the message Solomon delivered. Most everyone acknowledges that Solomon was the wisest man who ever lived. Even so, he was not perfect. But doesn’t it make sense to read and learn from his wisdom and experience?

Here are just a few highlights that caught my attention:

  • All efforts to find happiness and contentment apart from God are dead ends. True in Solomon’s time and true today. We may find short-term happiness but not lasting peace and security apart from God. On the flip side, acknowledging God as God provides hope and security even when circumstances of life are challenging.
  • God is the giver of wisdom; trying to out-smart Him ends in disappointment. Our world is filled with people of great intelligence. The “very smart” often consider themselves too smart to believe in God. But reality is that God is the giver of life and intelligence. Solomon confirms that all theories have “holes” without God. Human achievement alone is never enough.
  • Self-indulgence is tempting but not satisfying. There is nothing wrong with pleasure, but seeking pleasure solely for self leads to emptiness. “I searched with my heart how to cheer my body with wine… I made great works. I built houses and planted vineyards for myself. I made myself gardens and parks,…I had also great possessions…I also gathered for myself silver and gold….”  Sound like anyone you know? Trying to draw satisfaction purely from pleasure will never work. Becoming “great” according to our culture’s definition often leads to destruction. Why do so many “successful” and “high profile” people in America commit suicide, have drug and alcohol problems, fail at family life? And why are they portrayed as role models? Something is wrong in our culture. Solomon’s message of truth is on target. We would be wise to read and heed!

Something is wrong in our culture!

  • Searching for fulfillment and reward totally in work is also a losing proposition. “I hated all my toil…seeing that I must leave it to the man who will come after me, and who knows whether he will be wise or a fool?” We live among workaholics, but at the end of life “you can’t take it with you.” There is much more to life than work and Solomon strongly recommends acknowledging God and enjoying life according to his directives while trusting in his sovereignty.
  • “To every thing, turn, turn, turn; there is a season, turn, turn, turn. And a time to every purpose unto heaven.”  Obviously the Beatles did not write all their songs on their own! These lyrics came straight from Eccl. 3. God designed us to set goals and work hard, but to acknowledge that he is the ultimate keeper of the world’s timetable. “He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.” He is God and we are not. Apart from God our efforts will always be inadequate. We are much better off when we recognize and honor him with our lives. So Solomon said to his generation, and it is a message our generation desperately needs also.

Apart from God our efforts will always be inadequate

  • Looking out for Number One will not bring desired results. Among the self-sufficient, self-seeking ones in our world, many render death more appealing than the oppression of life. Others fall into envying everyone around them. That was true in Solomon’s time and it is true today.  “…his eyes are never satisfied with riches.” Can’t we learn from those who have gone before and see the wisdom of turning our lives completely over to God?
  • Going it alone is not a good plan. “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow.” We all need friends and companions; we need to be able to give and to receive advice.
  • “Let not your mouth lead you into sin.” Enough said.
  • “God is the one you must fear.”  Solomon urges people to remember who God is and to honor and respect him with their lives. We need a good dose of that today!
  • “He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves wealth with his income; this also is vanity.”  There he goes again with the clear message that money does not buy happiness. Yet, here in America, what is the typical response of young people when asked about goals?  “To be happy and make lots of money.”  How is that working out for us?

Isn’t human nature amazing? Seems we don’t change much and there is truly nothing new under the sun! We tend to make the same mistakes generation after generation. God’s word is even more amazing! His plan and instructions are clear. Will you choose to follow the culture or follow God?


Shugie

Give Up or Surrender? Which Will You Do?

Currently there are several “situations” surrounding me that could easily be discouraging. Among these are a few prayers that have been prayed for a long time and yet no progress is evident. Additionally, something has happened at my house that is disappointing and concerning. The details aren’t important, but maybe you can understand and relate. Do you have any “situations” that are nagging at you and pulling you down? In conversation yesterday with someone who is dear to me, we considered, “when do you give up?” Maybe we misunderstood a promise or did something wrong. Maybe our expectations were just too high. Maybe we deserve the disappointment or unanswered prayer. In a matter of minutes we were tempted to go down the path of a good old pity party in our desire to give up.

BUT GOD!

But God, in that very moment, brought to my mind the idea of surrender. What is the difference in giving up and surrendering? Giving up is quitting and is all about me – I can’t do it, I’m not worth it, I deserve the bad stuff, etc. Giving up means no hope; it is despair.

On the other hand, surrender is giving the situation to God. When we surrender, we choose to trust God rather than ourselves. Surrendering means we place our “situations” into the hands of almighty God and believe him to work things out, regardless of whether we understand his ways. He is God and we are not!

There is a reason why the Bible has been the bestseller for centuries. It is true and it is God’s word to humanity. I believe God and have found him to be faithful, trustworthy, just, loving and caring. His word is the bread of life. To surrender all to him is an act of the will and brings relief, comfort, strength, and joy – even in the midst of not understanding some situations.

Let me remind you of a few stories from the Bible and a few verses that encourage me not to give up but to surrender all my worries, fears, longings and situations to God:

  • Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers and suffered many injustices. BUT GOD, after many years (l-o-n-g wait) used him to save his family and his people. He surrendered his situation to God, did not give up, and later said to his brothers, “you meant evil against me BUT GOD meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive.”
  • Paul went from trying to destroy Jesus to serving Him in total surrender. He faced rejection, prison, beatings and asked the Lord for relief. The Lord answered him, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Don’t give up! God’s power is available but we must recognize our weaknesses in order to receive it. His grace is realized through suffering and waiting. Thus, in surrendering to God and trusting Him we ultimately see Him work, even through long waits and painful situations we do not understand. In the end, trusting is much more valuable than understanding.
  • God is always working things ultimately for our good. Believe him, trust him, and don’t give up! “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” All things are not good, but God can and will work all things for our good if we surrender our will to him and trust him. Easy to say but hard to do.
  • Remember God’s promise, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” We don’t want to miss this!

Our plans and God’s plans are not always the same. That is just the way it is. But, as for me, I’ll take God’s plans over mine any day. I mess things up too often, even when I have good intentions. God, on the other hand, is perfect and his ways are best, even when I do not understand.

So, I will keep praying, trusting God’s plan as well as his timetable. I will surrender to him not only my hopes and plans, but also the uncomfortable “situations” that I do not understand and long to be resolved. A good thing about surrendering is that the issue is now “off my plate” and into the hands of one far more capable.

A hymn we sang often when I was growing up takes on new meaning today:

All to Jesus I surrender; all to him I freely give

I will ever love and trust him, in his presence daily live.

Will things always work out the way we want? Probably not. What are you going to do when things seem unmovable or just not right? Give up or surrender to “him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us ….”


Shugie

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