Friday, March 28, 2008

"What don't you love, Kavanagh?"

In one of my favoritest (is that a word?) fiction series, Father Timothy Kavanagh asks his wife, Cynthia Coppersmith Kavanagh, “Kavanagh, what don’t you love?” Cynthia then proceeds to give him a list of her "don't loves."

I often say, “I love something”, like Moose Tracks ice cream when I don’t actually mean “I LOVE it” but actually that I like to eat it. In thinking about Father Tim’s question of Cynthia, I thought I would make a list of my “loves.” You do the same and if you want, e-mail me your list. I’d love to read it.

I guess I’ll begin with the Mitford books by Jan Karon, the inspiration for these “loves.”

I love good bye and hello kisses.

I love 2 p.m. phone calls.

I love Karen Kingsbury and all her books but especially the “Redemption” series; “Firstborn” series which continues the Baxter family stories; and “Sunrise” series which will conclude the story of the Baxter family.

I love sunrises over Paris Mountain and sunsets toward Pickens.

I love Biltmore Baptist Church and the ride there every Sunday and Wednesday.

I love my job and working with Lonita.

I love being “Mema.”

I love memories.

I love Italian food especially Portofino’s and their garlic butter rolls.

I love playing Scrabulous with my sister.

I love Maggie’s good mornings and good nights.

I love Abbie’s jumps into Tim’s lap when Maggie is trying to get her to go to bed.

I love suppers from Country Ham House and breakfasts from Cracker Barrel.

I love lazy weekends and shopping in Pigeon Forge.

I love early spring when the crocus and forsythia bloom; late spring when my gerbera daisies begin to bloom; hot summer when my yard is so beautiful; fall when the leaves turn to golden yellows, reds and browns; winter when the purity of a snowfall blankets the earth and everything is so quiet and still outside.

I love sitting with a fire in the fireplace and reading a good Karen Kingsbury book.

I love picking up the phone and somebody on the other end saying, “Mom?”

I love a pedicure!!!

I love “for nothing” gifts. All gifts are nice but when I get one “just because,” it is especially nice.

I love a car that starts when I turn the key and I would love one that has air conditioning and that the electric windows will go down (mine doesn’t and won’t right now).

I love our bed.

I love sandals.

The real love of my life is loving the Lord with all my heart, soul and mind. And I like to think I love others more than myself. This is one of God's greatest commandments to us.

1 Corinthians 13:13 "And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love."

And oh yeah, I really really do love Moose Tracks ice cream.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Worry is Like a Rocking Chair...

…it gives you something to do but it doesn’t get you anywhere. ~unknown. - Custom comment codes for MySpace, Hi5, Friendster and more Over the years, I have been the world’s biggest worry wart. As a child, I’d get deathly carsick when riding in the mountains but I didn’t want my parents to go riding through the mountains on Sunday afternoon because something might happen and I wouldn’t be there.

After I married and Don began to experience the eye side-effects of a lifetime of diabetes, I began to worry about whether he would see Diana and Kristy marry, never even thinking about whether he would even live to see them marry. My biggest fear was that he would experience some health problem while he was working in the garden or was away from me; therefore, I was making myself sick with worry and didn’t want him out of my sight. If he were 3 minutes late coming from dialysis, I’d be in the bathroom with diarrhea. I was “playing” the part of God in His life…wanting to be in control of every moment and every movement.

After much prayer and giving it over to God numerous times, I finally got over my fear for Don’s safety. The last 18 months of his life, I was able to let go and let God be his caretaker. I found a quote today that says “when I look back on these worries, I remember the story of the old man who said on his deathbed that he had had a lot of trouble in his life, most of which had never happened.” In looking back, I realize now that most of the things I worried about never happened. I spent years “wasting” my worries. I realize also, that the worst things that happen in life are not the worst things when they actually happen. My biggest fear was being left alone to rear two teenage daughters. How could I do it alone? How would we survive? When Don died, and over the next months, I realized that alone we couldn’t do it but with God’s help anything is possible.

II Timothy 1:12b says, “because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day.” I can’t be God to anybody; I can’t be any person’s protector but He can. My part is to commit my family and friends into God’s hands every day and then place my trust in Him to do just what He has promised to do.

I found another quote today that says, “worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrow, it only saps today of its joy.” I pray that I portray joy to those around me so that they will wonder at the joy I have in the midst of trials.

Galatians 5: 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness and self-control.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Our Heritage

For my family who checks in here occasionally, I thought you would like to see these photos. I've been working on them in photoshop, taking out the creases and "dirt" stains. Enjoy!

Beulah Lee Bates Stroud, mother of Oscar Lee Stroud

(back row) Lillie Mae Stroud Bridges, Floyd McDuffie Stroud, father of Oscar Lee Stroud, Beulah Lee Bates Stroud, Kathryn Bryant Gossett Stroud, Adith Richardson Stroud, wife of James Stroud
(front row) Morris Stroud, Norwood Bridges, husband of Lillie Mae holding, Norma Jean Bridges, Oscar Lee (Flip) Stroud holding Elizabeth Lee Stroud, Mays Stroud, and James Stroud.

George Bryant Gossett, Sr., father of Kathryn Bryant Gossett Stroud

Mary Gossett(Cartee-left) and Kathryn Bryant Gossett (Stroud-right)

Nora Elizabeth Whitted Gossett, mother of Kathryn Bryant Gossett Stroud

Front Row (L-R): Billy Cartee, son of Mary (Gossett)and Ray Cartee, Uncle ?, Jean Cartee, daughter of Mary and Ray Cartee, Uncle Harmon, George Bryant Gossett (Grandpa), holding Martha Anne Stroud, daughter of Kathryn Gossett Stroud, and Elizabeth Lee Stroud, daughter of Kathryn Gossett Stroud

Back Row (L-R): Nora Elizabeth Whitted Gossett, Mary Gossett Cartee, Aunt?, Kathryn Gossett Stroud, and Aunt ?.

Nora Elizabeth Whitted Gossett, George Bryant Gossett, Kathryn Gossett (on right knee) and Mary Gossett (on left knee)

George Bryant Gossett, Nora Elizabeth Whitted Gossett

Monday, March 24, 2008

What a Love...

Our worship leader, Carl Setterlind often says that our desire should be to sing to an audience of One. We should desire to get out of the way and let Christ take center stage. However, the choir wouldn’t be able to do that without strong leadership. Praise to Him, we see that week after week on Sunday and Wednesday when we hear Carl's heart and know the heart he has for worship.

Several years ago, I was in a church where our music was a “show” and never a worship experience. At that time, I knew there was much more to worship than we were doing. I had read The Power of Praise and Worship by Terry Law, Lifting Him Up : How You Can Experience Spirit-Led Praise & Worship by Ron Kenoly, and Extravagant Worship by Darlene Zschech. I knew there had to be more to worship. We had worshipped with Ron Kenoly and Don Moen at services in Greenville. I had experienced a deeper and more real worship and so much desired that for every day and every corporate worship setting. I remember once saying to friends that I desired the same level of worship at church in a corporate setting that I had in my bedroom during my quiet time. But, that wasn’t happening at our church. I wanted that because I loved the people I worshipped with and wanted them to know this kind of intimate worship…the kind where you may be in a room of 3,000 people but in your heart it’s just you and God.

From the first day we walked into Biltmore to the present, we are reaching that level of worship and even more. Carl leads us right to the throne room and face-to-face with Jesus. It is a wonder to me that we aren’t all falling prostrate on the floor on Sundays. I loved what Carl said a few months ago about falling on our knees during the music time. I love Jim Henry's sermons but the music portion of worship at Biltmore leads us to worship and softens and prepares our hearts to receive that which God speaks through Dr. Henry in the spoken word.

I also love what Carl said recently about going deeper and further than we’ve gone before. There is so much more which God desires of us and I think we can go further and further and deeper and deeper all the way until we are actually standing in the throne room of heaven one day. When we go “between the lines” of the printed order of worship, we are being Spirit-led and we will definitely go places we haven’t been before.

When you’ve been where we’ve been in a church with division, strife over which songs/hymns/choruses are being sung and which are not, how many verses of each hymn are and are not being sung, there is no comparison to what we experience at Biltmore in true worship of the Living God. I am so grateful for our worship leader and for his leadership and willingness to follow His leading. We are often asked why we’re driving 45 minutes from Travelers Rest, SC to worship at Biltmore three times each week? My answer is always that it is truly a God-thing. We are going for no other reason than God is blessing us and He led us there. I praise Him for his leading and for His anointing on that place. I don’t want to be anywhere He hasn’t led me. I praise Him that He is allowing me to be a small part of something so wonderful.

This weekend at Biltmore will never be forgotten. Saturday night with a SRO crowd, all in one accord, was one of the most awesome experiences of my life. God truly came and dwelt among us as He inhabited the praises of His people. Then to have Him revisit us again 3 times on Sunday morning was truly awesome. A friend of mine posted on Facebook that "All I have to say about the services is 'Glory, I've been to church.' How awesome all of the services were. It was summed up well after the 11am service when our singles minister said 'all morning it just kept building and building.'" Unless you experienced it, there are really no words to describe what God did. During the song, "His Name," the congregation stood with arms upraised, not because the choir was good, but because they knew the presence of a Holy God and they stood in reverence of His presence.

I wish all my friends and family could have experienced it. It was a powerful and holy experience.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Death is Crushed to Death

Until her death, our mother loved to laugh. She loved to pull her share of practical jokes and even loved to be the brunt of one. She got so much fun out of doing silly (and yes, sometimes dangerous, i.e. just ask one of her girls about the cardboard spools from Carolina Blouse) stuff to people to make them laugh. One of the things she would do to us as children would be to hide behind a door or on the opposite side of a wall and "jump out at us" as we would enter the room. I remember often saying to her, "you scared me half to death."

When you actually think about the statement of being scared "half" to death, you realize that's not possible. Death is fully, totally dead to life on earth. There is not such thing as being half dead.

One of the songs that our choir is singing on Resurrection Sunday is "The Power of the Cross" by Keith Getty. A line in the song says "death is crushed to death." What would that mean? As I said before, there is no such thing as half dead. The finality of salvation is death being crushed to death through the death and resurrection of the Savior. There is nothing more that needs to be done except for us to accept the gift that was given on the cross as Christ became sin for us.

The entire final verse and chorus points us to just what this means to us as Christians.

Oh, to see my name
Written in the wounds,
For through Your suffering I am free.
Death is crushed to death;
Life is mine to live,
Won through Your selfless love.

This, the pow'r of the cross:
Son of God—slain for us.
What a love! What a cost!
We stand forgiven at the cross.

Praise Him from Whom All Blessings Flow! We stand forgiven at the cross.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Pierce My Ear, Lord

James 1:1 "James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes scattered among the nations: Greetings."

Upon reading James 1:1 and contemplating the statement James made regarding his servanthood to his half-brother, Jesus, I immediately thought of another scripture: Exodus 21:1, 2 and 5, 6: 1 "These are the laws you are to set before them: 2 "If you buy a Hebrew servant, he is to serve you for six years. But in the seventh year, he shall go free, without paying anything…. 5 "But if the servant declares, 'I love my master and my wife and children and do not want to go free,' 6 then his master must take him before the judges. [a] He shall take him to the door or the doorpost and pierce his ear with an awl. Then he will be his servant for life.

and I also thought about a song that our former worship leader sang called “Pierce My Ear, Lord”:


Pierce my ear, O Lord my God
Take me to Your door this day
I will serve no other God
Lord, I'm here to stay

For You have paid the price for me
With Your blood You ransomed me
I will serve you eternally
A free man I'll never be

So pierce my ear. . .
© 1980 Dayspring Music (BMI) (a div. of Word, Inc.)

As Americans, the thought of human-slavery turns our stomach. However, as Christians, our goal should be to be so submissive to the will and mind of Christ, that we would desire He would pierce our ear. We should desire that we would never be free to our own self-will but always in every action, attuned to His heart and mind for ourselves. Slavery is absolutely appropriate as we choose to be the slaves of the Lord Jesus, whom we love and long to serve for all their lives.

Christ gave each of us free-will to make choices in life, however, as Christians we should love our Christ so much that we want to be made a bond-servant to Him. We are under no obligation to stay but we should want to cling close. Having an ear pierced by the master was not just an agreement. It was not about the master hiring the servant. It was an act of one who voluntarily said to someone he had come to know, love and trust, “I am yours. I belong to you and want to spend the rest of my life fulfilling your wishes.” The ear-piercing ceremony became a public show of surrender. The decision of the servant was not reversible. He would always have that hole in his ear to remind him that he was not his own and never would be again.

What a beautiful example that is of how I desire my relationship with my Master to be. I want people to look at me and see the marks and attributes of Christ when they look at me and see my interactions with others.

It is obvious that James desired that same thing. Why else would he have humbled himself to servanthood status when he could have said, “James, brother of Jesus.” The first verse of the book of James is a small little verse but is packed-full of wisdom for us in our relationship with Christ.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

If You're Not Dead...You'll Live

We’ve all heard the quote, “that which does not kill you will only make you stronger.” However, I add, “that which does not kill you will only make you stronger” if you lean on and gain strength from Him who is Strength…Our God. God promises that he walks with us through the valleys of life. His promise to us is that we will make it and we aren’t left to struggle through it alone.

My co-worker told me recently about their asphalt driveway. She had started up the drive to home and saw something pink poking it’s head up through the asphalt. She didn’t stop then but the next morning the pink blob was much larger and she just had to stop to see what it was. Lo and behold, the pink blob was a mushroom that had grown up through 4” thick hard as concrete asphalt. Think of the strength that fragile mushroom had to exert to work its way through that asphalt. Sometimes our life seems so fragile that we’d break down at the drop of a pin but that’s when we should stop and think about the mushroom. It kept pushing until it broke through that black barrier and into the light. We need to do the same until we push through into the Light of Him who loves us more than we can even imagine.

1985 was my year to be in the black hole. I had gallbladder surgery, experienced the death of my husband and the father of our two young teenage daughters, had a hysterectomy due to massive tumors with the possibility of malignancy, and the open-heart surgery and subsequent stroke of my dad. I was thrown head-first into a deep dark pit. I am living proof that He does bring us through the valley and besides that He uses those valleys to draw us to Himself and mold us to be more and more like Him. I can honestly say that now, I am so grateful for the valleys of my life. If it weren’t for those valleys, I wouldn’t have the sweet intimate relationship with my Heavenly Father that I have. I would have gone on living life in the middle and never getting to the edge of the cliff. My faith would have been the faith of a marginal Christian. Instead, today, my faith in Him is so powerful that I know that I know that I know that He is in control and will take care of me no matter what storms I may experience. Since we live in a fallen world, the storms will come. We can blame Adam and Eve for them…not God. He is the Almighty who walks us through. He is Jehovah-Rapha, our Healer; Jehovah-Jireh, Our Provider; Jehovah-Shalom, Our Peace; El-Shaddai, Our God Who is Sufficient for the Needs of His People.
Take heart, friend, until the day of ultimate healing when we all gather in praise to Him around the throne.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Frigeraders, Bubba King, Succofate and Little Turtles

Occasionally Maggie gets in a mood as she did this weekend and wants me to tell her funny stories, particularly funny stories involving her. Over the years, she has been a great source of amusement and downright hilarity. She is forever getting her English words mixed-up and once we laugh at her, she ever-after will say the English word the funny way.

When Kathy and Billy lived in Richmond, Bibby, Curt, Hali, Maggie and I visited them. We were on our way to Williamsburg to see the sights and Bibby was with Maggie in the back seats of the van. As she usually does, Bibby was kidding around with Maggie and Maggie told her to "stop it, you're succofating (suffocating) me." Just thinking about the fun we've had over that one brings a smile to my face.

When we adopted Maggie, we had no idea what the next few years would bring. The teen years brought many tears and much heartache. Then at seventeen, she got married and I was unsure if the relationship we had then was all there ever would be. I didn't know if there would ever be healing for our troubled hearts. Then in October of 2006, she called me terrified and crying. She had to leave her husband and had no where to go. Of course, I knew where she could go. I went immediately to bring her home to our house. What joy these last 18 months have been. Those months have given us the chance to have a relationship that we never would have had if she hadn't moved back home with us.

All days are not rosy; all times are not smooth-sailing but overall, it is a great privilege for Maggie to be living in the house with us again and I wouldn't have it any other way.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Found Fond Memories

Last night I was looking through some old pictures and came upon two that bring back fond memories. A few years ago, Tim and I found ourselves to be completely empty-nesters. As that is not the case now, this is a particularly fond memory :). It was nearing vacation time and Tim made reservations at Destin Pointe in Destin, FL. It was probably the best vacation we have ever had. Not only because it was just the two of us and we didn't have to plan activities to please anybody but ourselves, but the weather was perfect. While there that week, we walked and talked and walked and talked some more. One of our excursions took us out all the way to the point at sunset. The scene was almost surreal because of the three crosses that were left there from a local church's Easter sunrise service. As you can see from the photo, between the middle and left cross in the background is an American flag. The photos not only reminded me of a wonderful week but speak to me of the freedom that we enjoy as Americans and also an even greater freedom that is found in the grace of God. The cross is representative of the freedom that is spoken about in Romans 8:21 " that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God." We are free from the bonds of sin. We are free to approach the very heart of God with our praise and prayers. One of my favorite worship songs is "I am Free" by the Newsboys. The lyrics speak to the freedom that we have as children of God.

Through You the blind will see
Through You the mute will sing
Through You the dead will rise
Through You all hearts will praise
Through You the darkness flees
Through You my heart screams 'I am free'
I am free to run (I am free to run)and
I am free to dance (I am free to dance)
I am free to live for You (I am free to live for You)
I am free (I am free)
yes, I am free (I am free)
I am free!

I recently saw a poster that reiterated the life of freedom we have in Christ. It said: I am accepted. I am secure. I am significant. I am free. Lord, help me to remember and be thankful for that freedom today and everyday.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Who Wants to Know?

When I thought about writing a blog, I thought it would be easy. When I actually sat down to write it, it's a different matter altogether. Who cares that we went to the doc yesterday and there's fungus among us again? Who cares that "the girl" was late getting to my office and that made us late to the doctor or that I kinda went beserk because she was late? Who cares that they took two vials of blood but had to stick her five times to get them and that she nearly squeezed my hand off while they were sticking her? Does anybody care that we went to choir practice last night or that I didn't really want to go and was so glad I did after I got there? Do you want to know that we ate at Chick-fil-a after choir practice and then I got sick during the night last night about an hour after I went to sleep? Do you care that I drove the girl to her Thursday morning house-cleaning and traffic was horrible so that made me late to work? Do you want to hear about the 7-8 phone calls she's made to me this morning?

What a mundane life! Some might even say boring life! Maybe just writing the blog is going to keep my life from being boring. Maybe I'll look for the life-lessons in the everyday happenings. Maybe I'll look deeper for what God is trying to teach me. Will I think twice before going off the deep-end when I get so aggravated with the girl? I really want to be a role-model to her as my mother was to me. Granted my mom got angry, but I never saw her lose it like I did yesterday with M. I am really going to try harder. I'm really going to try harder to be a mother worthy of honor. I want her to see that I love her no matter how she acts/does/says.

I saw a quote by Rosaleen Dickson this morning that I added to my facebook quotes that says, “Whatever they grow up to be, they are still our children, and the one most important of all the things we can give to them is unconditional love. Not a love that depends on anything at all except that they are our children.” I don't want to keep remembering yesterday's, last months or last year's hurts. I want that to be put behind me so that she can understand my unconditional love and maybe better understand the love Jesus has for her. At this point in her life, I don't know if she does...but maybe if I can keep my end of the bargain, she will soon.