Hate It, Love It

I am conflicted. This is a week to hate with passion but to love with even more passion. It’s a fact of history that Jesus walked this earth and that he fulfilled the messianic prophecies laced all through the Old Testament. His life and ministry changed everything in our world. Some people recognize that reality; others don’t, at least not yet. But God is God, and his truth stands, regardless of what some may think or speculate.

At this time of year it is appropriate to pause and remember what Jesus went through on our behalf. In 2004 I went to Newnan to spend time with my Mama and celebrate her 80th birthday on March 8. The movie, Passion of the Christ, had just been released so we saw it together. Walking out of the theater, we were both just speechless. This movie clearly depicted the agony, pain, and suffering that Jesus endured. It was not just the physical pain he bore, but he took on the wrath of God against sin and that was fierce. Visualizing it was heart-wrenching but it was mostly accurate according to scripture and history. I learned that there are some things I may read but actually skim and never let the words really sink in. Passion of the Christ made Jesus’ willing sacrifice very real to me because I saw it with my eyes. I was devastated and humbled, because I knew in my heart he suffered this cruelty and death for all mankind, including me, an underserving sinner. Once again this week I am reflecting on that painful week in the life of Jesus.  I just hate it.

devastated and humbled

But the story does not end there. God raised Jesus from the dead and many people saw him after the resurrection. While it is true, many people just don’t know what to do with him. Jesus is the savior of the world. We all know deep down that sin comes naturally, though perhaps differently, in all of us. Hard as we try we cannot do enough to ever redeem ourselves from the burden of sin. But here is where God’s plan is most beautiful. His grace is overwhelming, his love is unending, his provision for us is next to unbelievable. He is God and he is reliable and faithful. His plan for us is Jesus – to accept his payment for our sin and be made whole and free. That victory over sin and death, aka salvation, is made possible by grace alone (not works) through faith alone in Christ alone. So painful for him but so easy for us. I just love it.

by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone

My heart is tender again this year during the Easter season. The bunnies are fine, the egg hunts are sweet, but the real meaning of Easter cannot be up-staged. Jesus rose from the dead; Satan is ultimately defeated, even though he still is on the prowl trying to deflect individuals from Jesus. We now have access to freedom, joy, peace and everlasting life forever in heaven. Thank God for Jesus and his indescribable gift for me … and for you. Have you read the whole story, realized its impact for you and accepted God’s grace? If not, be assured he is ready to receive you and make all things new. No sin is too great, no past is too ugly, no time is too late, no offense is an exception. God’s arm is not too short to reach us right where we are; his grace is sufficient for every predicament; Jesus’ gift of death on the cross paid the price for our sin. And God confirmed his power and the defeat of sin and death when he raised Jesus from the dead. Now will you receive this gift? The choice is yours; the ball is in your court.

God’s arm is not too short

Becoming a Christian does not make us perfect. Nor does it ensure we will be spared of the pain and cruelties of our world. But it changes everything because we have the presence of Christ living in us. He gives us strength, direction, and peace that is way beyond ourselves. Life is new when Christ is Lord.

I urge you to watch the movie Passion of the Christ this week. What have you got to lose? What have you got to gain?


Beach Days – The Good, the Bad, and The Awful

Our family loves to go to 104 – the condo my Daddy bought at Daytona Beach. We have many traditions and special memories that are associated with vacationing at Daytona. Some of the memories are good; many are funny; and a few are awful. Today I made one of the awful ones, but you’ll have to read on to find out what it was.

The Good

This week JB and I made a spur of the moment trip to the beach. It’s nice to be at the age and stage where we can occasionally do something spontaneously. I suggested that we load the car Tuesday night and leave at 5:30 Wednesday morning. Being a morning person, I assured JB he could sleep and I would do most of the driving; we could be at Our Deck Down Under in time for a late lunch! Not being a morning person, JB came up with Plan B; he suggested leaving late Tuesday afternoon when he got home from work. I wasn’t going to argue since more time at the beach is more time at the beach, but did tell him I would have to drive first and then give it to him when it started getting dark. He agreed and off we went at 5:10 Tuesday afternoon. Things went fine for a while …

The Funny

We switched seats in south Georgia and soon saw the sign “Welcome to Florida.”  I should never have looked down but started reading something and had my head down for a while.  When I looked up, something wasn’t right; I could just feel it.  ”Oh, no, JB, you missed I-10 again!” This is not the first time this has happened; he swears the signs for I-10 are very small, but I just think his creative mind gets on other things and does not take notice. He’s really a good driver, but does make his navigator feel needed at all times. At least it was just the two of us and no one would ever know … right? After finding an alternate route we eventually got back on course and arrived at 12:30 am, just 20 minutes off our original ETA. One more for the memory book.

More of The Good

We spent the next few days doing a whole lot of nothing – it was wonderful. We always laugh that packing for a trip to the beach we bring too many clothes and too many projects. The down time always wins out and the projects and excess clothes usually just go back home in the same bags they came in. Getting up for the sunrise everyday, walking on the beach, and sitting in the sun take lots of time and allow for much needed reflection — nothing beats these traditions. God’s revealing of himself, his creation and his compassion is truly new every morning.

For years our family has laughed that the biggest decision we have to make every day is where we will eat supper that night. Seafood is our favorite so we hit all the old spots and occasionally try a new place. Preparing a few meals at the condo has also become part of the family tradition, especially some good boiled shrimp with our special family shrimp sauce. On this short trip JB and I enjoyed three great meals out but never got around to our shrimp dinner at home. Today he flew back to Georgia; instead of my driving him to the Orlando airport, he insisted on riding the DO bus – the Daytona-Orlando shuttle bus directly to the airport. I delivered him and then stopped at Publix to get some fresh steamed shrimp to bring home for my lunch and supper.

The Awful

Two ladies in front of me at the seafood counter bought a little bit of everything and had to have much conversation between each choice made. I was waiting and waiting, but finally got impatient and turned to the frozen seafood section just behind me. There I saw the frozen shrimp you just have to thaw and eat – the ones we had purchased for a party a few months ago. I grabbed a bag thinking, “this will have to do this time.”  All the way home I was regretting not waiting to get the fresh shrimp. When I arrived at the condo I was hungry and looked at the instructions on the bag to confirm I just had to run cold water over the shrimp for about five minutes and then they would be ready to eat. While they were thawing I made the special shrimp sauce and could hardly wait. I drained the water off, patted the shrimp dry then dipped one and took a big bite.  It tasted awful — gooey and gummy and sticky. Of all times to get a hold of some bad shrimp. Thinking it might have just been that one shrimp I tried another one, but had to spit it out. These were just turrible! I quickly wrapped them in paper towel and put them in a plastic bag to throw away. I drank some cranberry juice to try to get the awful taste out of my mouth. Starving, I grabbed two eggs and scrambled them for my late lunch.

While putting the scrambled eggs onto my plate I suddenly had an ah-ha moment. Surely not … oh, no … oh, yes … oh, gag….  I opened the freezer to look at the bag again, confirming my worst nightmare. Those shrimp were raw! They were not the pre-cooked ones; no wonder they were gray and slimy and gooey and gummy. Retrieving the shrimp wrapped in paper towels, I sautéed them in olive oil and Old Bay seasoning. They turned a lovely shade of pink and were actually delicious – once they were cooked! I could not wait to call JB and tell him what I had done. This would never have happened if he had been here. That boy knows his shrimp and he would have saved me from eating them raw. Even after eating the cooked ones I still kept thinking about how the raw ones felt in my mouth. I ate an Oreo thinking that would make it go away; I drank more cranberry juice, I even brushed my teeth with Arm & Hammer toothpaste. Still I have been gagging a little all afternoon. Sure hope I don’t get the toe-mane poisoning!

More memories for the beach collection ….


Painting My Thumb Green

If painting my thumb green would help, I’d do it. Every year I go through the same routine and since Spring has sprung, here we go again. Yesterday I went to buy groceries – mind you, groceries – at WalMart. The first mistake was parking near the garden center and going through that entrance. Then things got crazy. I saw some red impatiens and immediately thought how beautiful they would be around a tree in the back yard. Never mind that the ground is hard clay and some old azalea roots surround the tree – I still envisioned beauty. Knowing some garden soil would be necessary I beat it back out in the parking lot where all the dirt bags (literally) were stacked. Seeing the difference in price between the 1 cubic bag and the 2 cubic bag I could not resist buying the huge bag which provided “more for your money.” Two bags should be enough to cover the area around the tree. Of course I was beginning to wonder if we would need to provide some edging or pavers to keep the good soil contained, but decided that was just an unnecessary detail for me to worry about – I’d just ask JB to take care of that.

that was just an unnecessary detail ….

The hanging ferns on display were beautiful so one went into my buggy. (Poor fern – it has never taken long for one to become brownish and straggly under my care.) Then I spotted the vegetables. Although I’ve never had good luck with tomatoes, I do love to eat them, so I bought three healthy looking plants and decided to trying planting them in pots this year. That meant I needed potting soil. Same pricing on the potting soil led me to choose the huge bag and it seemed best to go on and buy two bags since I will probably plant lots of flowers in pots also. Becoming more optimistic by the minute, I even bought stakes, assuming the tomato plants will grow tall and healthy and need support. Some healthy cilantro made its way into my buggy and I thought how nice it will be to just go outside and pick cilantro every week rather than buy it at the store.

By this time I realized there would be no room for groceries in my cart or in my car, so I paid and tried to load my purchases. That’s when I starting thinking about my terrible back trouble two years ago. At that time I swore I would never do ANYTHING to risk throwing it out again. BUSTED! Getting two huge bags of dirt in the trunk was hard – I’m sure it would have made a great awkward WalMart parking lot video. Even harder was loading the other two enormous bags of potting soil in the back seat, around the flowers and vegetables in trays. Of course on the drive home, even though driving very carefully, at one slow stop for a red light I heard the bag slipping and down it plunked onto the tray of vegetable plants. Just my luck — grrrr.

We need a wheelbarrow.

I’ll spare you the details, but getting all of this out of the car and to the back yard and back deck was another ordeal. Our next purchase needs to be a wheelbarrow.

So here’s the update today. The tomato plants are in the pots and positioned to get the most sun. The stakes are in the garage, ready to be put in place once the MiracleGro potting soil does its magic and grows them tall and strong. The cilantro is potted and I sure hope it flourishes – we use it all the time! The hanging basket fern is beautiful — for now!

I placed the bags of garden soil near the tree and asked JB what he thinks. Of course I just want to dump the soil around the tree and plant the red flowers and hope for the best. He assures me the new dirt (and my flowers) will just wash away with the first good rain. But due to his allergies and everything completely yellow with pollen in the back yard, he doesn’t even want to go out there to help figure out what must be added to hold the good soil in place. Oh good grief! Gardening is hard work and sometimes complicated. I may have to find another shady place to plant my impatiens.

Gardening is hard work … and complicated.

Did I mention the next trauma to prepare for in my gardening experience? We have rabbits, chipmunks, and squirrels that chew off many plants down to the roots – hydrangeas, pansies, other flowers, etc. One night JB took a picture of three deer in our front yard eating my pansies! The little animals even get up into the pots to do their damage. A liberal amount of red pepper on each plant sometimes keeps them away. What a nuisance and after all my hard work.

Back to WalMart!

Just in case you are interested, I did have to return to WalMart to get the things on my original list. I was exhausted at the end of the day and had to take Advil for all my aches and pains – no serious back problems though – PTL.  A few things I plan to remember as I go forward with my gardening:

  • Do Not – repeat – Do Not EVER buy the big bags of dirt again. A few dollars more per bag is much cheaper than potential hospitalization, surgery, physical therapy, chiropractor visits, etc.
  • Do not buy things to plant in areas that are not prepared. (I’m still trying to figure out where to put those impatiens….)
  • Do not buy more than you are able to plant right away. I learned this lesson a few years ago when I bought 12 big flats of flowers to plant in my yard. What was I thinking? It took me forever to plant them all.
  • When you get to be my age, hire someone to make your yard look pretty unless you really know what you are doing and are very, very strong. Save for yourself just a few pots to plant on the back deck. In other words, know your limits.

If the above mentioned plants do well in the next few weeks and months I may give you an update or even pictures. In the meanwhile, here’s hoping you make your own wonderful memories watching things grow.


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