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Loving Hands: “A Tribute to Moms”

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Hands of Love

Hand of Love

And he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them.” Mark 10:16

“Well, bless your heart,” is a Southern saying for sure, and one that has graced my ears throughout the years. After skinning my knee while chasing my brothers, I would run into the house with tears running down my cheeks, and mom would always say, “Well, bless your heart,” as she gave me a hug, followed by a trip to the medicine cabinet to get the Mercurochrome to clean my “devastating” injury before placating me with a Barbie Band-Aid. That red magic potion would burn like the devil, but she gingerly blew on my knee to help take the sting away. She would lovingly pat my little stubby hand, and I truly believe her touch did the healing. Mom’s youthful hands gradually became spotted with age and eventually disfigured with arthritis as the years went by, but the love she gave with her priceless touch never diminished.

It wasn’t until I slowed down long enough to examine my new blue nail polish that it came to me, “I’ve got my mother’s hands!” The vivid memories came flooding in, and I thought to myself, “This is one sign of maturity that I truly don’t mind.” I realize the appearance of my hands is not a flaw at all — it’s a gift!

When I look at my hands, not only do I see Mom’s hands, her smile travels across my mind. I hear her exuberant claps as she proudly applauds following my lack-luster recitals. I see her holding her trembling hands high up in the air, wearing her crooked cowboy hat, as she played banker and handed over all of the bank’s money to her grandsons, wearing their bandana masks, before they rode away on their stick horses. I see her sitting in her chair, lovingly stitching with her hands each square of material, as she made the many quilts we have cuddled in throughout the generations. Even today, I can still feel the warmth of her hands leaving her body as I held on to them tightly, selfishly not wanting to let her walk away into the arms of Jesus. I was truly blessed by her hands, her touch, and her love.

Now I get to share the blessings of mom’s hands with my grandchildren. Taking walks holding on to their soft little hands, folding my hands into “prayer hands” as a little one says the family prayer, and even taking a squirmy fish off of a hook is the best way I know to pass on the love. At the end of the day I get my reward when bath time comes, and I get splashed with bubbles from little ones as they play with trucks, sheep, cows, and whatever else may find its way into the tub. Being baptized and blessed by a grandchild’s love is the very best.

Jesus took the little children in His arms and touched them and blessed them. Little children, mature adults and even those pesky teenagers need a loving touch. The joy of a mother is taking our children into our arms, reaching out when they need a hand to hold, or clapping to encourage even the worst performance. That is our joy. If you’re not with your mother today, remember her touch, breathe in those treasured memories that will make your heart sing and feel the many blessings that Jesus gives each of us. If you are with your mother, walk over to her and just sit closely and hold her hand. Blessing her with your touch is the best gift of all as you celebrate her day.

Pray with Me:

Dear Father of Loving Hands,

You reach out to us and hold us so many times as we walk our days. Thank you for giving us the women in our lives who molded us by their touch.

Reaching out to You

Points to Ponder:

Mothers come in all shapes and sizes and come and go in our lives, and I was blessed to have three wonderful mothers whose hands touched my heart and soul. My mom, Lanore Austin, who gave me life, my precious mother-in-law, Mary Frances Moses, whose hands taught me how to needlepoint and make a great chocolate pie, and my other mother, Billie Johnson, who came into my life in the form of a friend, and created joy wherever she went.

  1. Who are the mothers in your life?
  2. If you can’t name one, is there someone in your life who needs a child?
  3. What’s your favorite memory of your mom? Share it with someone and continue her story.

“Chicken Fried Steak” Psalm 51:21

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“Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.”  Psalm 51:2

A Real Mess

A Real Mess

Look at that stove.  How did I ever get myself into this mess?  Just three hours ago if you walked into our home the fragrance of pine floated through the air but now if you sniff, you are greeted by the greasy scent of a country diner.   This lovely odor is entirely  my fault.  After I lost my mind this morning with a mysterious desire to clean the house, including the stove messy from a weekend of pancakes and bacon, my  “Suzy Homemaker” mode somehow continued.

As my husband entered the back door home from a hard day at work, I asked the dumbest question of all, “What do you want for supper?” You have to understand that I don’t cook that often. I mean really cook. I might grill outside, or gather stuff from the local grocery store, even warm something in the microwave on occasion, but that’s it.

I  decided when our youngest son headed off to college, cooking was entirely overrated. I can’t deny it, the only time I really cook is when we have guests or the kids come home for a visit. So you can imagine how taken aback my husband was by my inquiry. Totally shocked, my sweetheart meekly asked, “What are the chances of chicken fried steak?” I now reverted back to my normal self and responded, “Chicken fried steak,” three of the dirtiest and most dreaded words in the dictionary of any sane cook.” You’ve got to be kidding. The kids aren’t coming home so what possible reason do I have to cook that greasy, stinky concoction? It’s a mess and besides it’s Monday and my kitchen is sparkling clean.”

At some moment in time I vaguely remembered my Bible verse for the day, “Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.” That morning, not being a Bible scholar, I looked up the definition of “iniquity.” Well believe it or not it means “sin or transgression, something done to hurt another.” So I rethought my actions, rephrased my words and said,  “What was I thinking, there’s nothing I’d rather do that cook chicken fried steak for you.” Crazy words for sure, but I certainly am glad when God looks at me some days and sees a mess He says, “Bring me some water and I’ll wash her clean AGAIN!”  And I am so thankful that He doesn’t say, “Not tonight, I can’t deal with a mess now, after all it’s Monday.”

Just in case you want to get messy here’s my recipe for Chicken Fried Steak…

You’ll need: cube steak, flour, salt, pepper, an egg,  milk and the most important ingredient, oil.  Pour the oil into the skillet and let it get sizzling  hot. Salt and pepper the meat, roll it in flour, dip it in the egg and milk mixture and roll it in the flour again.  Then place it in the hot grease.  When it’s brown and rising to the surface and the kitchen smells really tasty, you’ll know it’s time to take it out and get ready to chow down.  The most important thing to do after this is to offer a prayer of thanks that you didn’t burn down the kitchen.  Everything else is just gravy.

Points to Ponder:

1. What have you cooked lately? Did it warm your soul?

2.  Do your Bible lessons stay with you throughout your days?  What keeps them close to your heart?

3. Do you ever feel like a spiritual mess?  Why?

 

Pray with me:

To the Real Mr. Clean,

Thank you for being with us to wash us and clean up our messes.  We don’t always have to ask, because you know our hearts and a gentle reminder is enough.

I’m busy degreasing my life.

 

What’s Your Number? – The Book of Life

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iStock_000004258414XSmall

TEAM!

Guest Author:  Dr. John Austin

I’ve been “wandering” this summer, but he’s been steady and on the right TEAM. I thought you might enjoy his wisdom.

Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.”     

I Corinthians 9:25

Paul was urging all his readers to strive for an imperishable crown given to all who die in Christ. There were big Olympic Games held in Corinth, Paul knew that everyone would know what he was talking about. The winner of the race was crowned with a laurel wreath that would soon fall apart.

Football season is back again. The local high schools are playing their first games. The teams are all decked out in their new uniforms with numbers and their names on the back of their jerseys– they are in different colors so that we can tell the home team from the visitors. They say there is no “I” in team (TEAM) each player sacrifices his desires to be a member of the team–not all the players can be the quarterback–but all make their unique contributions. While there is no “I” in team–there is a big “I” in WIN. The individual team members play as a unit so the team can win the game.

WELL I HOPE YOU ARE WAY AHEAD OF ME!

We Christians have a uniform on earth and you should be able to tell that we are different than the rest of the world. We pray, we give, we joyfully serve and hopefully, we show our true colors as soldiers of Christ. We know who we are and to whom we belong. Our number is not on our back, but is written in God’s book of life that assures us that we have won the race and will receive our crown of righteous that will last forever.

In the mean time, we need to play the game, to serve, and to invite other players to be a member of Christ’s earthly team so that their number might be found in God’s book of life.

Let us Pray:

O Lord, as the football stadiums are filled with fans this fall, help us to be Your loyal fan and remember that we all have gifts that we can use in your service. Let us press forward as your servants to win our everlasting crown.

Amen

The Scent

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iStock_000002316993XSmallAs she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.” Luke 7:38

“Is that Shalimar I smell?” asked the gracious woman. “It’s been a long time since I’ve smelled it.” I had tried so hard to follow the strict guidelines as I prepared for my visit to the Dawson State Jail as part of the Texas Hope Literacy worship team. No jewelry, no cell phones, closed-toe shoes and the list continued. I don’t remember anything about perfume on the procedures, but in retrospect I guess that should have been common sense. I didn’t remember applying my usual squirt of perfume that morning, but perhaps it was on my clothes. My “Debi” response would have been, “Yes, it is. Do you like it? It was a birthday gift from my husband.” That would have been the wrong answer in so many ways in this situation. I stumbled over my words for a minute and simply replied, “Yes, it is.”

We gathered in our groups, shared Bible verses, prayer requests and gave thanks for the spirit-filled music that we sang. But the scent of Shalimar and this tender woman’s days gone-by hung in the air. You see, this gray-haired lover of Christ, wearing a white jumpsuit like all of the other women with whom she lived, had a past that is not my business, a future that is not mine to direct, but a present that we honored together.  This time was ours to share because of a scent. As we prayed, I felt like the woman who wept at Jesus’ feet, unworthy to worship with these women – women whom the love of God poured out through the words of their songs, in the light of their eyes and as they clutched their worn Bibles.

As we finished, my tears could have wet the feet of this woman. Not tears of sorrow or despair, but in celebration of knowing that we share the same Lord. The One of hope, not despair; the One of community, not loneliness; her Jesus, my Jesus, He’s the same for all. I wanted to hug her that night and slip her a bottle of Shalimar in exchange for the gift that she gave me, but I couldn’t even touch her. Another rule, but I pray the scent of my clothes found its way into her worn jumpsuit, or into her hair, because the scent of her love for Christ found its way into my heart.

Points to Ponder:

1.  Where is the last time you have truly seen Jesus?

2.  How would you describe your days gone-by?

3.  How would you describe your Lord?

Pray with Me:

Dear Lord of all,

Your essence follows us as we live with You in our lives. Open our noses so we can breathe in this heavenly gift.

Sniffing the air…

 

 

 

Its a Hot Flash!

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He asked them, ‘What are you discussing together as you walk along?’ One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, ‘Are you the only one visiting Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?’”  “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.”  Luke 24:17, 18, 34Businesswoman in Menopause

It came on me like a hot flash.  Minutes earlier, I had strutted into First United Methodist Church in Ft. Worth with my family, parading down the aisle in my Easter finery, reveling in the compliment given to me by Alice, the greeter.  I could tell Alice was definitely a fashionista because of the lovely royal-blue hat with a snappy yellow bow that adorned her head.  I must admit that I felt a moment of envy, but since it was Easter, I quickly dismissed my covetous thoughts and continued my strut down the aisle.

When the minister began the service, we stood up, and I heard those words that we hear every Easter morning, “He has risen, He has risen indeed.”  Suddenly my lip began to quiver, and tears streamed down my face.  I was puzzled and asked myself, “What is the source of these unexpected and overwhelming emotions?”  I wasn’t sweating like my normal hot flashes, so I chalked it up to nostalgia of Easter holidays gone by.  Then when we began to sing “Christ the Lord is Risen Today”, the tears flowed again, and that same warm feeling surrounded my heart.  I couldn’t figure out what was happening.  Strangely, the answer came to me as if Cleopas and his traveling buddy were talking to me on the road to Emmaus.  “Where have you been, Debra Jean?  I can’t believe you don’t know what’s been going on!”

I guess an honest response would have been, “Well, if you must know, at the mall of course, searching for my dress and these essential purple shoes that I was told added a “pop” to my Easter finery.  Then I was assembling Easter baskets for the kids and sending cards to my friends.  What a dumb question!  It’s Easter after all, what am I supposed to be doing?”

But then I would have added that this year I also made time to go to church during Holy Week to hear the sermons, read the prayers, and thank Him for loving me.  Amongst the eggs, the bunnies and my new shoes, I managed to put Jesus smack in the middle of my life.  So what was it about this year that made my heart burst so?  Could it be that I fell in love with my Savior again?  I never thought it was possible to love my Lord more, but if this feeling were a true hot flash, I would have been fanning myself with the program, not drying my tears.

On this resurrection Sunday Jesus appeared to me like He did to Simon.  He came alive in me with three simple words, “Christ has risen.”  The thought of Him giving His life for me stirs my heart and penetrates my soul like the nails in His holy hands.

So there you go, Cleopas, I’m not so unaware after all.  I’m just reveling in His glory and love.  May He continue to be alive in all of us.

Points to Ponder:

1. Do you have a  Resurrection day story?

2. Is there something that makes your heart burst?

3. How is Christ alive in you? Do you feel Him or share Him with others?

Pray with me:

Dear Risen Christ, we strut through our lives sharing our glory, but how often do we strut for You? How often do we show the world Your glory?

Guide us to be walking advertisements of Your love, so others may see Easter in us everyday.