Sunday, January 26, 2014

GROWING SEEDS: "Church Library"

Raise your hand if you didn't know our church had a Library…….  

I admit; we had been coming to this precious church for 3 years before I knew it had a Library.  Seriously.  I am the least observant person you'll ever meet…Ever.  But my lack of awareness aside, I have been pleasantly amazed at what I have stumbled on this week.  Our First United Methodist Church here in little old Mt. Vernon has a top-of-the-line, computerized, color-coded magnificent Library!  Yep, its got books for everyone from 1 to 99 years of age and it has amazing people making sure it stays that way.  Let me explain….

This week, I met a lady by the name of Lena Mae Reeder….aka Head Librarian of our "Debra Earl Library".  Have you met her?  If not, you need to.  I fell instantly in love with this darling lady.  She has been volunteering in the church Library for years until recently, when care giving duties at home have taken precedence.  Fortunately, Lenora __?___ stepped up as Assistant Librarian and has been filling the gap.  For years, they have been organizing donated books, checking them for condition, color coding them, labeling and logging them into the computer.  I dare anyone to find a church library better than ours anywhere within 100 miles.  You seriously need to check it out.

And while you're in there checking it out, check out the quality of the bookshelves….hand-crafted by none other than Harry Earl.  Yep, he and JoAnne provided the conference table and comfy leather chairs and his children even donated some of their Christmas money in years past to purchase books for the Library.  Tom and Susan Samples provided the very first Library computer which was later replaced by one purchased by Lena Mae's six kids when the original computer maxed out its storage capacity.

We may be a small church as church's go, folks, but we are HUGE in hard-working, behind-the-scenes, wonderful people.  What started out as a small, simple church Library many years ago, has turned into a beautifully hand-crafted, God-filled room of knowledge that we all benefit from.

But Lena Mae and Lenora can't do this alone; they need VOLUNTEER(s) who can donate a few short hours of their time each week to assist in computer input, sending thank you cards, printing labels and other Library duties.  Won't you consider giving the blessing of your time to keeping the Library alive and vibrant?  You won't believe the blessing you'll receive in return!

GROWING SEEDS: "Pebbles in Your Path"

Nobody trips over mountains. 

It is the small pebble that causes you to stumble. 
Pass all the pebbles in your path 
and you will find that you have crossed the 

Do you ever just lay on your back in the grass looking up at the clouds watching as they pass above you….their shadows slowly shading the earth your laying on?  You reflect on your life so far……the experiences that have molded you into the person you are today….the very person laying on the grass staring up into heaven.  

Moments of whitespace.  
Breathing rest into your soul.

For me, these moments are memories of how I arrived at this juncture in my life.  My everyday life.  My everyday life that has included hearing those agonizing words "You will never have that child you always dreamed of" and a failed marriage to an alcoholic and eventual death of that alcoholic……an alcoholic who died alone…..the gruesome details of that death I will let die with him.  

The dark seasons of our lives…….

I am haunted by that time in my life….questioning whether circumstances would have been different had I only gently guided his heart to Jesus….if I had only gently guided MY own heart to Jesus.  Questions of whether he got to know God before he breathed that last breath……all alone.

There's nothing special about my story……it's the same as yours.  This infertility and deceased alcoholic was a pebble I stumbled on as I climbed this mountain….and it is one of those soul conversations I have with myself as I lay, flat out on the grass looking into the heavens.  And like the hand of a good friend, I feel God's hand resting on mine as we lay quietly on the grass together……watching the clouds go by…..and he whispers, "Be-loved….if you falter, I'll just keep whispering it, close to your ear……this is the way - beloved - walk in it."

"I look up to the mountains - does my help come from there? 
My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth!
He will not let you stumble, the one who watches over you will not slumber."
Psalms 121:1-2, 3

Monday, January 20, 2014

Goodbye Dear Friends, Phyllis and Earl

Oh how you will be missed.....and never forgotten.

You have shown those of us who have had the privilege of knowing you, what true love and commitment is for each other.  You may not realize it, but people watch you......they watch you, you gently hold Phyllis' elbow and carefully guide her, ready to catch a possible stumble at any moment.  And Phyllis.they watch the courage you have and how you handle a difficult disease such as Parkinson's with a smile and determination.  You never give keep moving forward, never letting the disease define who you are.  I have never seen a better husband caregiver as I have Earl....ever.....and I have never seen a more determined, faithful wife as I have Phyllis.  You two go together like macaroni and cheese.

Chuck and I know all too well how difficult it is to close a chapter you aren't ready to close and to start a new chapter with only empty pages staring back at you.  There's something about the unknown.....about what tomorrow will bring when you are fighting to stay in the present, that brings you to your knees.  Don't ever forget that you are not alone in this next chapter; you have a gazelion friends here in Mt. Vernon who would be by your side in a moments notice.  That's the thing about friends; you have to BE a good friend in order to HAVE good friends.....and both of you, have been the best friends anyone could ever ask for.

So as you start the next chapter of unknowns, just know that we are sending you off with our love, our friendship and our prayers.  

We love you.

Chuck and Liz 

Sunday, January 19, 2014

GROWING SEEDS: "Your Journey"

"Your journey has molded you for your greater good, and it was exactly what it needed to be. 
Don't think that you've lost time. 
It took each and every situation you have encountered to bring you to the now. 
And NOW is right on time." 

Asha Tyson


Do you sometimes wonder how you got to where you are?  How did you get to Mt. Vernon, Texas?  Born and raised here or maybe running from the city?  How did you get to First United Methodist Church Mt. Vernon?  Was it a fluke that you parked your car in this parking lot?  How did you come to marry the person you married?  Did you just decide to get married one day and grabbed the first person you saw?

See, I believe when we are true Christians, everything happens right on time.  What does it mean to be a "TRUE" Christian?  So often we call ourselves Christians, but are we really?  Would you sell everything you had if God asked you to?  Would you leave your family and serve as a missionary in Timbuk2 if God asked you to?  Would you talk about God to the card-carrying atheist down the street if God asked you to?  Awwww.....kind of makes you tremble a bit, doesn't it?  I know it does me.

But that's exactly the question we all have to ask ourselves.  Sometimes we struggle just getting dressed and making it to church on time much less serving as a missionary somewhere where the roaches are the size of a Jeep.  It's tough enough adding an extra $50 to our church giving much less selling everything we own and walking in faith.  But isn't that what Jesus defined a Christian as being?

I remember years ago, my prayers went something like this, "Dear God, forgive me where I have sinned and help me to serve You better.....but not in Africa or someplace dirty like that....Oh, and you think You might encourage my boss to give me a raise?  I sure could use a new car."

Yep, I'm ashamed to tell you, that was my exact prayer.  But I also believe God knew I needed to go through this idiotic selfish time in my life to get to where I am today.  I'm a far cry from being all God wants me to be; a FAR FAR cry.........but I know that BECAUSE of my past experience, I can now answer "YES" to the questions above. 

It took each and every situation I have encountered in my life to bring me to the now......the good, the bad and the ugly......
and NOW, is right on time!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

GROWING SEEDS: "Fall Forward"


I remember when I was in the 5th grade, riding with my Mom one May as we drove down Central Expressway in Dallas heading towards downtown.....towards the church school my parents worked long hours for so us 3 kids could get a Christian education.  I had my big poofy dress on, my hair up in a tight bun and my new black shoes buckled tightly.  We were headed to my piano recital and I was bawling.  I wanted to throw up. 

Mom's reassuring words fell on hollow ears as I cried my scared-witless tears.  "Why did I have to play in a stupid recital?  What if I forgot the music I had spent months memorizing?  What if.....what if??"  And almost as if I had "willed" it to happen, that is exactly what happened.  As I sat on the black bench of that baby grand piano that night in front of a few hundred souls, knees shaking uncontrollably, halfway through the second page of "Moonlight Sonata", I forgot the next note.  I found myself starting over.....and over.....and over.  I could feel my heart pounding through my chest....hundreds of eyes staring at me and holding their breath almost "willing" me to find that next note.  And then I felt it......I felt the hand of my piano teacher, MaryZeline Winsett......resting on my shoulder.  She leaned down and whispered in my ear what the next note was.  And as quietly as she came up on the stage that night, she was gone.  And I finished Moonlight Sonata with a roaring applause.

MaryZeline Winsett taught me that terrifying night so many years ago that when a piece starts to fall apart - fall forward.  Don't worry about the music behind you - keep moving forward.....don't look back.  Don't keep repeating past stuff......move forward.

A very wise woman once said, "Fear is always the first step of faith.
We are all going to botch it some days. We all sometimes get the notes wrong. But the song only goes wrong — when we keep thinking back to the wrong notes.”

As I reflect back on 2013 and all the many mistakes I've made over this past year......those words are going to be my wisdom words for 2014: 


Past mistakes are experience
Forward is always the way Home.

"But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind
and straining forward to what lies ahead....

I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus."
Phil. 3:13-14