The night my grandmother died I drove home from the hospital crying loudly in the car. I was 26 years old and was so focused on myself. “I don’t think I can do this! She was my rock, my spiritual mentor, my prayer warrior, the best grandmother in the world, and my best friend. I don’t know how I can carry on and move forward without her and the wealth of wisdom she shared so graciously. Oh, God, what am I going to do?”
At that moment God spoke to me, not audibly, but in an unmistakeable way. I know it was God because the thoughts that came to me were not my own. For me to collapse over Annie’s death would be blasphemy to who she was and how she lived! She never encouraged me to put my confidence in her. She never drew attention to herself! She never imposed her opinions on others. Rather, I realized in that moment, she was like a mirror.
She was like a mirror.
When you were in relationship with Annie you were getting a glimpse of Jesus. The things she did, the words she spoke never focused on herself, but reflected Jesus’ love and grace. Her life was spent putting others and their needs ahead of herself. She was not the source; but, rather, she directed us to the Source.
The baton was now passed. I could either mourn for the rest of my life over the loss of her earthly presence and example or I could take up the baton and live out the truths she had taught me and demonstrated by her own life. The best way I could honor her was to love Christ more and depend on Him for everything.
The baton was passed.
I determined to make it my goal to be a mirror, hopefully one that would reflect various aspects of the life of Jesus. That did not mean to eliminate fun and laughter and light-hearted moments from life. But it did mean that I would be conscious of the impact of my words and actions 24/7.
Having a goal is a good thing. Sometimes we set a goal but we don’t tell anyone. The reason we don’t tell is that we don’t want others watching our choices and holding us accountable! We all know that setting a goal does not insure that we will attain it. But to declare it does prompt us to make it a priority and it also invites those who are watching to call us out when we go off course.
So I want to go public with my goal. How about you? When others look at us, do they see a reflection of bad stuff or do they see a reflection of things that are good and honorable? Of course we can re-direct our mirror daily so that sometimes our lives reflect good and sometimes bad. Perhaps just by saying this out loud we can become more intentional to catch ourselves and ask the Holy Spirit to control our actions and reactions, our words, and our responses. For sure, either earlier or later, we come to realize that we cannot do this faith walk in our own power. But if we submit to the Holy Spirit’s presence in our lives and trust in God’s promises and timing, we will experience His control over the direction our mirror is pointing. He will stop us in mid-sentence; He will convict us and give us strength to make things right; He will fill us with kindness and love towards others, even those we do not like. We, like Annie, will not be the source but we will point others to the true Source.
Of all the Scripture passages Annie quoted to me, I remember how often as I was leaving her house after a good visit, she would put her hands on both of my cheeks and say, “Remember, Shugie, ‘unto whom much is given, much will be required.’” Those were powerful words that have challenged me for years.
Let’s check our mirrors today. What do others see when they look at you? What do they see when they look at me? Do we need to make some adjustments? Worth considering ….
Today is February 12, 2014 and in Newnan, Georgia it is sleeting like crazy. Things are shut down and most people are staying indoors and hoping the electricity does not go off. The tall pine trees in our back yard are covered with ice and swaying in the ever-increasing wind. Our neighbor even came over to report that they were watching the trees and fear one might fall on our house. We pray that does not happen.
Thirty one years ago on this date JB and I got married right here in Newnan. I’m glad the weather was better that year and we were able to leave the church in the horse-drawn carriage he arranged, no sleet or rain in sight. It’s hard to believe it has been thirty-one years and especially that we find ourselves now currently in Newnan! We have lived in many cities over the years and have made some wonderful memories. We’ve had our fair share of bad ones too! But that’s life, isn’t it?
One of my favorite things to tell a group when I am speaking or teaching is that it is best to focus on things we can be grateful for, even when things may seem upside down or backwards or just plain awful. While circumstances in life will often be difficult, at the same time, there are things to rejoice over. So, today, as I look back over the past 31 years, I am going to share some things I am definitely grateful for.
I’m grateful JB has put up with me and my quirks for 31 years. I will spare you the details….
I’m grateful we had a beautiful wedding – thanks to my wonderful parents and all of our family and friends who made it so. I am thinking back on it today.
I’m grateful for the three wonderful children God gave us. I won’t focus on or question the miscarriage, but be thankful for our healthy babies.
I’m grateful for the jobs JB has had and the fact that he has allowed me to “stay at home” most of our married life. Those short periods with no job certainly made me appreciate all the years of job security.
I am grateful for JB’s cool head and decisive attention to details in the crises of life. I tend to freeze when something scary or unsettling happens, but JB is great when the “fire is hot.”
I am grateful JB is an initiator. He has thrown us into some fun relationships and adventures over the years. My life could have been oh so boring….
I’m grateful for JB’s attention and care for my parents. He was wonderful in helping get my Daddy home from Florida on an air ambulance shortly before he died, and he is so sweet to my Mama who now lives with us. He is willing to give her the master suite in our house and welcome the care-givers who are in our home 24/7. That is a good husband and son-in-law.
I am grateful JB is easy to feed. He will eat (and not complain) most anything I offer him. Some days it is a great meal; other days, not so much! If he comes home and sees no lights on in the kitchen he just says, “where do you want to go for supper?” I know this is a blessing I don’t deserve.
I am grateful JB has been willing to go to the beach so much over the years. I love the beach; he loves a lake. Since my family has a condo at Daytona, that is where we have gone the most. Years ago he said, “I hope to one day have a place on a lake.” My reply was, “we’ll miss you!” Just kidding! I’m grateful he goes to the beach with me and also let’s me go by myself.
I’m grateful he made me go to President George Bush’s Inauguration and Black Tie & Boots Ball in Washington D.C. I hate to be cold and don’t like to be in big crowds, but he insisted and we went. It was fun and I’m glad I went but must admit I was most happy when it was over!
I’m grateful JB insisted we send our kids to Kanakuk Kamps. They had incredible, life-impacting experiences there and we made wonderful life-long friends through Kanakuk.
I’m grateful for the many mentors in my life that I met through JB. I love to tease him and say, “she was my friend first!” when really it is someone he introduced to me.
I am grateful for JB’s sensitivity to people and the way he has reached out and loved people, even the ones who may have seemed unlovely or unimportant. I have learned much about God’s mercy and grace through his example.
I am grateful that when I had a wreck in a rent car on a cold, icy winter night in Texas, his first question was “are you okay?” rather than, “what did you do?”, which probably would have been my response if the shoe had been on the other foot.
I am grateful that JB is full of ideas and solutions. When I am stumped over a problem he usually has a good solution or suggestion. When Rob was in living in Birmingham and his health was not stable at the time, his roommates all left for the summer. JB said, “you will just have to move to Birmingham.” ”How?” I asked. Well, JB called a hotel suite and secured a good deal for me to stay there long term, and I did. I would never have worked that out! It was a blessing.
I am grateful JB is a man of great faith, not trapped by logic, which is often my downfall. He is willing to step out and trust God with the details; I am still learning in this arena.
So, there you have it — many reasons today I can honestly say to JB, “Thank you, honey, and Happy Anniversary!
From the day of her birth Mary Margaret has filled our lives with surprises, blessings, and lots of joy. She was due in late May but made her debut on 5/13, making me a mother on Mothers’ Day, 1984! We should have known then what a fun ride this was going to be.
I am so proud of my daughter! She is strong-willed, smart, adventurous, a great problem solver, and quick to get tasks done. I love who she is and who she is becoming and the honest truth is that I can’t take any credit for it. Many special people have influenced her over the years but her Dad and I know, as well as our close friends and family, that God is the one who has done an amazing work in Mary Margaret’s life and he alone gets the credit.
“I don’t want anyone telling me what to do!”
It has not always been smooth sailing. Mary Margaret’s strong will about did us in when she was young. When she was only 2 years old I was talking with a 16 year old girl in our youth group who was pregnant and mad and confused. I shared with this girl the truth about Jesus and how much He loved her and had a plan for her life. I encouraged her to accept Jesus’ gift of salvation and allow Him to guide her next steps. Mary Margaret suddenly came over and announced, “well, I never want to give my heart to Jesus because I don’t want anyone telling me what to do!” Oh, my! For years she resisted authority and tried to do everything her own way. While good at school, she was difficult at home. My Mama was smirking, “you are getting what you deserve,”(which was true!) and my daily prayer became, “Lord, you are our only hope!”
God answered that prayer and some years later Mary Margaret gave her heart, life, plans and desires to him. She had discovered the truth that fighting for control all the time does not turn out so well. It was a miracle to watch, literally! Only God.
Here are some specifics today that illustrate why I am so proud of my daughter:
She loves Jesus with all her heart. She understands the simplicity and the power of the gospel and she has a burning desire for others to know Jesus personally and walk in his strength, trusting him alone.
She loves others and is giving and caring. (These characteristics are evidence of the change God made in her heart and life.) She has many friends and knows how to laugh and/or cry with them. She is not one to judge, but really cares, and people can tell because she is transparent and genuine. Recently Mary Margaret started training for a half marathon. Really? A few days ago she signed up with St. Jude Hospital to Run for Bennett, the 18 mo. old son of her friends Ben and Megan Coleman, who is fighting cancer. As she put it, “I’ve found a reason bigger than myself to run.” (see http://www.marymargaretc.blogspot.com/2014/02/running-for-bennett.html)
She is willing to do the hard things. That strong will is a big advantage when it is submitted to the will of God. I have watched MM weather heart-ache and disappointment. I’ve watched her get up and go again after making mistakes. One year things did not go down as planned and she wound up with some unexpected debt. Finally she came to us, admitting the dilemma and asking for advice. Her dad took her to the bank to arrange a loan. For several years she faithfully made that payment and now is proud to be debt-free with plans to stay there! Lesson learned. Another example: Some years ago she told me God had put it on her heart to do a 40 Day Fast. I asked,”are you kidding?” I just could not see that happening … no way, Jose! But she insisted God kept bringing it to mind and she determined to be obedient. Long story short, she did the 40 Day Fast and now says it was one of the richest chapters in her life so far! What God calls her to do, she does. And He gets the glory because it is not something she could or would do on her own! And here we go again with this new running hobby! I can’t wait to see what God does in her and through her as she continues to obey Him with wild abandon!
Mary Margaret’s life thus far has been full and exciting. She has worked in student ministry and loves teenagers. Just like the “light came on for her” regarding Jesus, she loves sharing the gospel with others and helping them grow in their faith. She has been on mission trips from coast to coast and she has back-packed in Europe, worked in orphanages in Russia, and also traveled to Kenya, Costa Rica, and a few other far-flung places. Currently she is an event planner in women’s ministry and new opportunities to serve and love others are coming her way every day!
Did I mention that she loves her family? Mary Margaret has two younger brothers, Rob and Wes. They are close and enjoy doing things together. Our family is made up of all chiefs and no Indians, so there is lots of banter when we are together. Not much can make parents happier than this.
Not a perfect family. Not a perfect girl. But as her mother I just can say this: