2015 in a Nutshell

Wow! I can’t believe it’s been almost a full year since I have posted anything here. I have got to get more regular with that!!

A lot has happened over the past year and I’ll not bore you with all of it, just a few highlights.

At this time last year, our church was still seeking a pastor. I am so happy to report that we have found our guy and he has been with us about 6 months now, and we are starting to see a lot of people returning who had left, as well as seeing many new faces! It’s really very refreshing to look around and see filled pews, and smiling faces greeting one another with hugs and handshakes. Bro. Gary Weaver and his wife Carrie have brought a lot of eye openers to Peachtree! And I, for one, am so thankful to have them there!

I have a new granddaughter! Her name is Elizabeth Grace and she is the red head that I prayed for when I was having children. I’m so thankful to God for giving her to us! She makes #8!!

IPAD pics January 2016 1031

That’s our little angel. She just rolled over and has started sitting up by herself over the past couple of days.

I guess the next big thing in our lives would be my husband’s job. He is currently serving as the Interim Police Chief in our town, and we do have hopes of him getting the position permanently. God’s will be done.

I started my own business back in August!! Well, I became a consultant with Scentsy and I am loving it!! I’ve done fairly well, earned my first trip on them! I’m going to Nashville in July for a week, all expenses paid!!! I am so very excited about that!!

A little background on the whole ‘Scentsy thing’. This is something that I had thought about doing for years, but the time just never seemed right. Well, this time when the opportunity presented itself, I prayed. I asked God to open a door if this was something he wanted me to do. Then I texted my husband and told him I was thinking about doing it. His reply to me was “if it’s something you want to do, go for it. If nothing else, it might give you a little spending money.” He is usually against things like this, but something this time was different. We also, like so many Americans these days, live paycheck to paycheck, with very little extra between. Add in that my husband, the very AVID hunter, was preparing for hunting season, and basically, we had no extra money. So I asked him in my reply how I was going to pay the $99 for my starter kit. We have one credit card that we try to only use for emergencies and the occasional frivolous item or two. I had no idea how far from our limit we were, but my husband’s reply came and nearly knocked me out of my chair!! “Use the credit card”. WHAT?? He was actually TELLING me to use the card. Then it hit me. OK God. I see the open door now!! THANK YOU!!!

Well, since signing on, I have made and reached goal after goal. I signed on in mid-August and currently hold a title that on the average takes almost four years to reach!! Tell me God’s not in the details!! You better believe He has been in every detail of this wild journey!! Well, shortly before Christmas, I slowed down for the holidays, and am just now getting back into the swing of things! And now I’ve been hit with a horrible upper respiratory bug that just won’t let go!!

When I received my paycheck for the month of December, I was seriously disappointed. But, it was no one’s fault but my own.  I took time off for the holidays and didn’t work my business like I needed to. But most importantly, I forgot who was actually leading this business. Not ME!! I wasn’t depending on God to send my my customers and lead me in the way I was to go. I was trying to do it myself. I realized today that if I am going to have a business that is fully dedicated to the Lord, I have to FULLY depend on Him to lead me. So today I begin anew, rededicating my business to God. His will be done!!

A few other things that happened over the year were not so good.

One of my sons went to jail. We knew it was coming. It was just a matter of time and his dad and I both agreed that he needed to go. Hopefully this would be the straw that would wake him up so he would turn his life around. Thankfully, he was not involved in drugs. He stole money from an employer. Initially, he had been put on probation and ordered to pay so much for fines, restitution, etc. Well, he decided that the probation system wasn’t working to suit him, so he stopped paying his fees. He stopped reporting to his probation officer. Next thing we know, he is listed as one of Jasper County’s top 10 most wanted!! Yep. His dad caught a lot of flack over that, but our reply has been the same to everyone. He’s a grown man (27 years old) and he knew what he did was wrong and now he was going to have to pay the penalty. I cried my eyes out many times over the thought of him possibly going to prison, but God prevailed and he was allowed to stay at the county jail. He is due to be released next month. I took his son to visit him last weekend, and when my son turned the corner and saw HIS son, he did something I have never seen this “tough” guy do. He got tears in his eyes. There’s a long story behind the relationship of him and his son, but I won’t go into that. As we talked though, at one point I pointed at my grandson and told my son, “This is your reason.” At first he didn’t understand what I was talking about, but when I repeated it and added that this (my grandson) was his reason to change and improve his life, he agreed. It amazed me that he could not take his eyes of his little boy the entire time we were there. I have begged, cried, and ached for him to have that kind of relationship with his son, and it looks like God is stepping in once again. I have really been praying for this boy!!

Then came August 30. This was my twins birthday, one of them is the above mentioned son. They were turning 27 years old! WOW!! Where had the time gone? My husband and I were getting ready for church. Well, I had just gotten out of the shower and I had a message on my phone from my mother’s number. I listened to the message and heard my brother’s voice on the other end telling me my mother had passed away. We live 3 hours from them. So, with what little strength I could muster, I woke my husband from his morning nap and told him we had to go and why. He went to get his shower and I began to notify my kids. As I was doing this I realized that there was one that I could not call, and I felt I HAD to let him know! My kids were not close to my parents, partly due to the distance we lived apart, and partly due to other things I won’t go into, but I wanted them all to know. So, when he got dressed, my husband made a phone call and we were granted a special early visit with my son. (It was visitation day) Normally, our visits were in a room with 5 other people visiting their loved ones with a glass wall between us and our loved ones and we have to talk on these awful phones. You can usually only hear about half of what is being said. But on this day, the jailer, knowing my husband and what was going on, was kind enough to grant us a contact visit. As I grabbed my son, I couldn’t speak for the tears flowing that quickly turned to sobs as he was wondering what the heck was going on! I told him his grandmother had passed away and we were going to where she had lived. I told him I wouldn’t be there to visit today and all I had wanted to do today was wish him a happy birthday!! We were allowed to visit and hug as long as we wanted, and I thanked the jailer and God for that because I so desperately needed that at that time!

Then on October 20 my uncle Skeeter passed away. He was the last of my mother’s brothers. She still has one sister living, but we live about a 15 hour drive apart! My uncle’s funeral was tough, but I did get to spend some time with some cousins that were not able to make it to my mom’s funeral. I think we all needed that time to visit.

So….that is my 2015 in a nutshell! Or at least most of it. There were good times and bad, happy, joyful times and sad ones. But through it all, I know that God was, and is, in control. He carried me when I couldn’t carry myself. He has lead me to an opportunity to contribute to our family finances and our dream of building a home.

Whatever happens in 2016, I know that God’s will, will be done!! To Him be all glory and honor, always!!


Looking For A Good Book? Give Patsy Clairmont’s “Twirl” a look-see

Patsy Clairmont shows just how artistic and humorous she truly is in the pages of “Twirl”. The simple fact that each chapter of this very easy, smooth, and gentle read stands alone makes this a book that can be enjoyed at any time and in any place. “Twirl” invites you to look to find enjoyment of life in the simplest of things as Patsy reminds you just how much fun twirling used to be. As you spend time among the pages of this wonderfully uplifting volume, you will realize that some of the things in your life that you allow to cause you tension can be made much more tolerable, if you simply think of them as you twirl around. The words on these pages will bring you many moments of unadulterated joy. So much so, you will find yourself with highlighter in hand, marking favorite passages for future reference. As you spend time among the beautifully written words of Patsy Clairmont, an original “Women of Faith” speaker, you will notice increasing numbers of people coming to mind that you want to give a copy of “Twirl” as a gift. You can rest assured, “Twirl” will be a gift very well received. This is a book that you will retrieve from your bookshelf many times over as you find yourself rereading it time and time again.

Why does God allow suffering?

These days it seems there are so many tragic stories, so much pain. Between school and mall shootings, children and babies suffering and dying, and currently the flu epidemic and the fear that goes with it. There’s illness, abuse, broken relationships, betrayal, sorrow, injuries, disappointment, heartache, crime and death. All of these leave many people asking the question, “Why? Why does God allow this?”

Just last night, a tiny, newborn baby girl, beautiful and precious, left the loving arms of her mother and father and went to be with Jesus. This little girl being so close to my family that she may as well of been. She is the daughter of my son-in-law’s cousin, a young man we have had to our house often, eaten many a meal with and shared holidays and family celebrations with. I’m sure there are several members of this family currently asking those questions, “Why? Why me? Why, God?”

That “why” question goes back thousands of years. It was asked in the Old Testament by Job and the writers of the Psalms, and it was especially relevant during the 20th century, where we witnessed two World Wars, the Holocaust, genocides in the Soviet Union and China, devastating famines in Africa, the killing fields of Cambodia, the emergence of AIDS, the genocide in Rwanda and the ethnic cleansing of Kosovo.
Things didn’t get any better in the 21st century. There was 9/11 and now the Syrian slaughters, and on and on. Why is all of this happening if there’s a loving and powerful God? Why do bad things happen to good people?

Several years ago, a national survey asked people what question they’d ask if they could only ask God one thing. The Number One response? “Why is there suffering in the world?” Interestingly, married people were much more likely to want to know why there’s so much suffering.

But if you’ve never asked why our world is infected with pain and suffering, you will when you or someone you love is struck. And Jesus warned us those times would come. Unlike some other religious leaders who wrote off pain and suffering as just being imagined, Jesus was honest. He told us the truth. He said in John 16:33, “You will have suffering in this world.” He didn’t say you might – he assured us it would happen.

But, why? If you ask me point-blank, “Why did God allow that precious baby, and now her parents to suffer?”, the only answer I can honestly give consists of four words – “I do not know.”

I cannot stand in the shoes of God and give a complete answer to that question. I don’t have God’s mind. I don’t see with God’s eyes. 1st Corinthians 13:12 says, “Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.”

So when you ask about specific individual events and want to know why this particular thing happened, we won’t get the full answer in this world. Someday, we’ll see with clarity, but for now things are foggy. We can’t understand everything from our finite perspective. And honestly, I don’t think any attempt at theological explanation is going to do anyone any good right now; any intellectual response is just going to seem rehearsed. What is desperately needed now is the very real and comforting presence of Jesus Christ in their lives. And I’m so grateful that this young family has a loving church and family helping them through this difficult time.

But for us, let’s focus on the big, overarching issue of why God generally allows suffering in our lives – your life and mine. People, this is important: even though we can’t understand everything about it, we can understand some things. So let’s try.

Imagine driving along a highway in the dark, when it starts to rain heavily and suddenly you hit dense fog. You can barely see the white stripe on the edge of the road and that is what you are using to attempt to stay on the road! You can’t stop because then someone might come along and rear-end you. Talk about scary!

Just as suddenly a truck appears in front of you. You can just make out his taillights through the fog. You guess he must have fog lamps in front, because he is traveling at a confident and deliberate pace, and somehow, you know if you can just follow those taillights, you’ll be okay, heading in the right direction.

I think the same is true in understanding why there is tragedy and suffering in our lives and in our world. We may not be able to make out all the peripheral details of why — they may be obscured from our view — but there are some key Biblical truths that can illuminate some points of light for us. And if we follow those lights, they will lead us in the right direction, toward some conclusions that I believe can help satisfy our hearts and souls.

What are those points of light? Let’s take a look at some that people have found helpful whenever they have felt prompted to ask the question, “Why?”
The first point would be that God is not the creator of evil and suffering.

This answers the question you hear so often: “Why didn’t God merely create a world where tragedy and suffering didn’t exist?” The answer is: He did! Genesis 1:31 says: “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.”

But if God is not the author of tragedy or evil or death, where did those things come from? Well, God has existed from eternity past as the Father, Son and Spirit, together in a relationship of perfect love. So, I think we can agree love is the highest value in the universe. And when God decided to create human beings, he wanted us to experience love. But to give us the ability to love, God had to give us free will to choose whether to love or not. Why? Well, because love always involves a choice.

If we were programmed to say, “I love you,” it wouldn’t really be love. Think of those dolls with a string in the back, and when you pull that string the doll says, “I love you.” Does that doll love the string puller? Of course not. It is programmed to say those words. To really experience love, that doll would need to be able to choose to love or not to love. Again – real love always involves a choice.

So in order for us to experience love, God bestowed on us free will. But unfortunately, we humans have abused our free will by rejecting God and walking away from Him. And that has resulted in the introduction of two kinds of evil into the world: moral evil and natural evil.

Moral evil is the immorality and pain and suffering and tragedy that come because we choose to be selfish, arrogant, uncaring, hateful and abusive. Romans 3:23 says “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

So much of the world’s suffering results from the sinful action or inaction of ourselves and others. For example, people look at a famine and wonder where God is. When in reality the world produces enough food for each person to have 3,000 calories a day. It’s our own irresponsibility and self-centeredness that prevents people from getting fed.

In other words: look at your hand. You can choose to use that hand to hold a gun and shoot someone, or you can use it to feed hungry people. It’s your choice. But it’s unfair to shoot someone and then blame God for the existence of evil and suffering. Like that old saying, “We have seen the enemy, and he is us.”

The second kind of evil is called natural evil. These are things like wildfires, earthquakes, tornadoes and hurricanes that cause suffering for people. But these, too, are the indirect result of sin being allowed into the world. As one author explained: “When we humans told God to shove off, He partially honored our request. Nature began to revolt. The earth was cursed. Genetic breakdown and disease began. Pain and death became part of the human experience.”

The Bible says it’s because of sin that nature was corrupted and “thorns and thistles” entered the world. Romans 8:22 says, “We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.” In other words, nature longs for redemption to come and for things to be set right. That’s the source of disorder and chaos.

To be perfectly clear, God did not create evil and suffering. However, He did create the potential for evil to enter the world, because that was the only way to create the potential for genuine goodness and love. But it was us, human beings, in our free will, who brought that potential evil into reality.

Some people may ask, “Doesn’t God have a plan? Couldn’t He have foreseen all of this?” And I have no doubt He did. But look at it this way: many of you are parents. Even before you had children, couldn’t you foresee that there was the very real possibility they may suffer disappointment or pain or heartache in life, or that they might even hurt you and walk away from you? Of course — but you still had kids. Why? Because you knew there was also the potential for tremendous joy and deep love and great meaning.

God undoubtedly knew we’d rebel against Him, but He also knew many people would choose to follow Him and have a relationship with Him and spend eternity in heaven with Him. He must have thought it was all worth it for that, even though it would cost His own Son great pain and suffering to achieve their redemption.

In my next post, I’ll look at another ‘point of light’, the fact that God can use suffering to accomplish good.