. . . through grace alone

I’m not the answer!

It’s been waaaaay too long since I’ve posted anything on here.  And it’s not that there haven’t been things rattling around in my brain that I could have written about.  But many of the things making brain noise for the past several months have been of such a nature as to cause possible misunderstanding if I wrote transparently.  So I chose to temporarily withdraw from the blog world, and share my thoughts/feelings/struggles only with those very close to me.

(Sorry if all that nebulousness — is that a word? — irritates or concerns you.  Trust me, everything is more than okay!)

Today I’m overwhelmed with how God works.  And overwhelmed that He even chooses to work.

One of the things that I struggle with is wanting to be everyone’s answer to every problem.  My mama (a wise, wise Southern lady) told me many years ago that I wasn’t put on earth to make everyone happy — the very words that my father had said to her at one point during their married years.

Compounding the problem is that I find myself wanting to be the center of the universe . . . . an “it’s all about me” mentality.  MAJOR struggle.  Because if you can be the answer to everyone’s problems, then that makes you the center of the universe, right?  And that makes you important, right?  And everyone needs you.  And your life is worth something.

The only problem is, I wasn’t created to be the center of the universe.  Or to solve everyone’s problems.  And God is slowly, albeit painfully, teaching me that.

Is this something that I will battle for the rest of my life?  I don’t know.  But this I do know — I’m not the answer!  Hallelujah!

Two times forty-one

She’s my Mama.  And she’s beautiful.

I entered her life when she was twenty-six years old.  She already had two children, and one more was to follow me.  We were six people living in a modest-sized house, learning to do life together.  I can’t even begin to name all that she taught us kids.

Today, she’s having another birthday.  I wish I was there to celebrate with her.

I love you, Mama.

Mama with her dad, 'Pop'

with friend

and more friends

I wonder how many books she's read in her life?

Beautiful!

Wedding December 31, 1948

At Grand Canyon, June 2009

Two chicks and a car, June 2009

With Truman and Ida Mae, September 2009

With Liam, one of her ten great-grandchildren

Barbara, Carroll, Mama, July 2011

I love you, my Mama!

Happy 82nd birthday!  🙂

I was reading in 1 Chronicles this morning, and this passage really caught my eye:

1 Chronicles 9: 28-32 (ESV):  Some of them had charge of the utensils of service, for they were required to count them when they were brought in and taken out.  Others of them were appointed over the furniture and over all the holy utensils, also over the fine flour, the wine, the oil, the incense, and the spices.  Others, of the sons of the priests, prepared the mixing of the spices, and Mattithiah, one of the Levites, the firstborn of Shallum the Korahite, was entrusted with making the flat cakes.  Also some of their kinsmen of the Kohathites had charge of the showbread, to prepare it every Sabbath.

I don’t know why Mattithiah was mentioned by name.  But, leaving him out of the passage, notice how everyone else is listed:  “some of them,” “others of them,” “others,” “some of their kinsmen.”

I lived too many years working behind the scenes yet wanting the recognition.  Doing my part, yet craving for someone to notice me and speak words of affirmation to me or about me.  I once had someone tell me, “that’s just how God made you.  It’s okay if you need a pat on the back.”

Baloney!  (Sorry, it’s the best word I could think of to describe my attitude about that comment.)

We are here to bring honor and glory to God.  Not to ourselves.

So I’ll continue to work behind the scenes.  But not for me.  For Him and Him alone.

All glory and honor and praise

to the King who forever reigns.  

Holy, You are holy.  

Worthy, You are worthy.

it’s family

I’ve just come home from an incredible weekend.  There are so many thoughts going through my tired mind.  I apologize in advance for any disconnectedness, and for what may be a lengthy post.  My heart is full and overflowing.  🙂

I loved my Aunt Jonnie.  She was married to Carroll, one of Mama’s brothers, and was an absolute joy to be around.  For many years she battled Alzheimer’s, and on Tuesday of last week she passed away.  I remember how, as a child, she always made me feel so special, as if I was her favorite.  She was always funny, always the “life of the party.”  She was a wonderful artist.  I didn’t get to see her but once (maybe twice) a year while I was growing up, but I remember always looking forward to when her family would visit.

Jonnie and me, August 2010

Last year, when Danny and I took a vacation to Savannah and Charleston, we stopped in Summerville and visited with Jonnie and Carroll and their two daughters Cheryl and Chanda.  It was a wonderful time of reunion and reminiscing.  Jonnie told me, “don’t talk about anything that happened more than 30 minutes ago, ’cause I won’t remember it.”  We looked at pictures of my kids on my laptop, and she oohed and aahed over each one.  She said of Andy, “I think I’d like him.”  She made me feel just as special as she did when I was a little girl.  I am so thankful now that Danny and I made that visit!

Mama, Barbara, Carroll, Wayland, Pop and Mom

I went down to middle Georgia on Thursday, and on Friday Mama and I traveled over to Moncks Corner to be with the family.  A little bit of background — Mama, Uncle Carroll, and Aunt Barbara are the three remaining members of their immediate family.  (Their brother Wayland passed away in 2000.)

Barbara, Carroll, Mama

Here’s a picture from a few years back.  🙂  I love comparing this one to the one that was taken last Saturday after the funeral.

Barbara, Mama, Jonnie

Friday was a long day, both physically and emotionally.  Mama and I talked some, and rode in silence some.  I know she must have had a million thoughts going through her mind.  She and Jonnie were the same age, married the same year, had six of their combined nine children at corresponding times, and used to spend hours during visits just talking about things.  Jonnie was Mama’s sister-in-law, but I think she was really more like a sister.

We got to Moncks Corner, checked into the hotel, and headed for Carroll’s house.  The next few hours were spent reuniting with Carroll and Barbara, as well as with my cousins Cheryl, Chuck, Chanda, Chip, Chad, and Lee.  What a wonderful time it was!

Chip and me

My cousin Chip and I are the same age (okay, okay, Chip, I know you’re a month and 9 days younger . . . but who’s counting?), and we used to ‘pal around’ when our families visited each other during our childhood.  It was so great to be able to spend extra time with him during the three days we were there.  Mama and Barbara were able to have some ‘alone’ time with Carroll.

Chuck, Meg, Mama, Chanda, Cheryl, Chad, Carroll, me, Chip

Barbara, Carroll, and Mama

On Saturday we added my sister Meg and her husband Bob to the mix.  The funeral was Saturday afternoon, and there was more family time Saturday evening and Sunday morning.  Mama and I left MC on Sunday, returned to Forsyth, GA, and I came back to Anderson on Monday.  What a trip!

I know that we all view things differently when we are processing them through our own filter of personal relationships and family experiences.  And I’ve already rambled a lot.  But allow me just a couple of random observations:

Family is awesome.  I spent some time in my boy-crazy teenage years giving my parents trouble.  I spent more time as an adult rejecting my immediate family, and caused hurt to my parents that no child should inflict.  I’m still guilty of forgetting to call home/go home as often as I should.  But this weekend was a reminder of how precious and how valuable family is.  Those hours that I spent with relatives who carry the Watts genes gave me memories that I will treasure for a long, long time.  Family was hurting, and family came to help.

Carroll and Mama talking things over

Secondly, I just have to say that my Mama is incredible.  I know it was a hard trip for her, both emotionally and physically, but she was a trooper.  I can only hope that when I am eighty-one (oops, sorry, Mama), I’ll be able to attack life like she does.  I may not always show it, but I love you, my Mama!  🙂

a funeral and a wedding

Ecclesiastes 3: 1 – 4 (ESV)

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:  

a time to be born, and a time to die;

a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; 

a time to kill, and a time to heal;

a time to break down, and a time to build up; 

a time to weep, and a time to laugh;

a time to mourn, and a time to dance.

It’s been one of those weeks.  It’s hard to pin the right adjectives to the kind of week many of us have experienced.  Emotional.  Exhausting.  Trusting, even while not fully understanding.  Celebrating.

A few days ago, a dear man of God, Jack Dean, was called home to Heaven.  Many people have paid tribute to him in blogs and on Facebook.  (You can read my daughter’s thoughts here.)  I’m so glad I was privileged to know him, and I’ll always treasure the memories of “little things” . . . . all the pieces of the yummiest pound cake you’ve ever put in your mouth that he would deposit on my school desk in the mornings (often without saying a word) . . . . being able to locate where he was by listening for his whistling . . . . getting tickled over him using his short finger — from the choir loft, no less — to tell Anne Marie and me to be quiet when we were talking during church . . . . he and Mrs. Dean taking time to console and pray with me when a student had broken my heart with stupid decisions . . . . trying to keep his attitude toward the referees in check at ball games so that he wouldn’t get into trouble with Dr. Wilkins.  It was incredible to watch his relationship with students who were fifty to sixty years younger than him.  Age wasn’t a barrier.  They loved him, and he loved them.  Was he perfect?  No, and he’d be the first one to tell you that.  But he loved God, and he wanted everyone he came in contact with to know and love God just as he did.  We meet a lot of people in our lives, but, at least for me, ‘Papa’ was in an elite group.  It’s exciting to think of what he must be experiencing right now in Heaven, but here on earth we’ll miss him.  A lot.  We said goodbye to him at his funeral on Friday, but how comforting to know that we’ll see him again one day!

The day after Papa’s funeral, Danny and I went to the wedding of Scott Heter and Leah Lebo.  Scott and Leah attend North Hills Community Church in Taylors, where Andy and Anne Marie and their families attend.  They are also members of Andy’s shepherding group, and I have been blessed in getting to know them.  They are passionate in their love for Jesus.  I enjoy talking to Scott because, as I tell him, he’s not afraid of the “hard questions.”  I can ask him pretty much anything about spiritual matters and he doesn’t shy away from answering or from pointing out where I am wrong.  And he calls me Mom.  🙂  Yep, I love having another child.  Anyway, Scott and Leah’s wedding on Saturday was phenomenal.  I’ve never been to a wedding that exalted Christ as much as Scott and Leah’s did.  Suffice it to say that the pastoral challenge, the fathers’ prayers, and the vows all pointed to our Savior.  And as if that weren’t enough, once the ceremony was over, the bridal party came off the platform, joined the congregation, and worshipped with us in song.  “In Christ Alone.”  “Blessed Be Your Name.”  “Hosanna.”  And on the closing words of “Hosanna,” the bridal party exited.  Wow.  Revelation 4:11 (KJV)  Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.

So, thus ends another week.  And a new one begins.  And tonight, I am thankful beyond measure — overwhelmed in a good way — that God gives us friendships and relationships, and that He allows us to rejoice with each other and cry with each other, to lift each other up and carry each other’s burdens, and to be involved in each other’s lives.  Community.

again

Recently, I was grumbling over the lack of thankfulness that I perceived in someone’s life toward me.  I had, after all, done something for them, and I expected more feedback.  More “you are sooooo wonderful for doing this!”  “I don’t know what I would have done without you!”  “You’re the best!”

God’s Spirit quietly nudged me.

Ouch.

Yes, Lord.

I am unthankful.  I have the wrong motives for doing things.  Despite being a “background person,” I crave attention and accolades.

Romans 7: 15-25  (ESV)

For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.  Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good.  So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.  For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out.  For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing.  Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.   So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand.  For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members.  Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?  Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.

Thank you, God, for I John 1:9!

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.


for Doug and Melanie

I first met them shortly after Danny and I married.  I don’t think I was prepared for the world into which I had been thrown:  weekend after weekend of softball tournaments, and a group of people who soon became like “family.”  Danny played in the industrial league on LaFrance Industries’ men’s softball team, and Doug and Melanie Ford were two of the first people that I met in the “family.”

Thus began a friendship that included lots of fun, lots of travel, and lots of laughs.  Who could forget the trip to Norfolk, VA to play in the National Industrial League Softball Tournament?  Or the trip to Jacksonville, FL, to watch the Clemson Tigers play the Pittsburgh Panthers in the Gator Bowl?  Doug and Melanie thought that the nearby airport was the source of all the noise in our hotel room, when it was actually Danny’s snoring that was keeping them awake.  Then there was the time that we were installing a new showerhead in our master bathroom, and Melanie exclaimed to Danny, “You didn’t leave Doug alone back there with that hammer, did you?”  Almost on cue, we heard the sound of the hammer hitting the wall instead of the tool that Doug was aiming at.  At least the hole in the wall wasn’t too big.  And, of course, we’ll never forget Doug’s first ride in our brand new Datsun B210 station wagon . . . . trying to fold his tall frame into the passenger seat, he pushed against the glove compartment with his knee and cracked it.  I think we had owned the car for all of a week.

Andy and Mark were born into our family, and Doug and Melanie’s twins Chase and Tyler were added to theirs.  Danny left LaFrance, and our times with Doug and Melanie waned.  We added Anne Marie, and they added Cameron.  Years passed.  But, thankfully, God allowed our paths to cross again.  It’s awesome how friendships that were forged years ago can be reconnected and rekindled after the passage of time.

And now Doug is battling cancer.  We went to a Benefit BBQ in his honor last Saturday at Tabernacle Baptist Church in Pelzer.  It was evident from the size of the crowd how many people love Doug and Melanie.  It was a wonderful day . . . good food, good music, good fellowship.

Some of the guys from the old softball team were able to get together for a group picture . . . carrying a few more pounds (for some) and many more gray hairs, they laughed and talked as if the passing years hadn’t been so numerous.  It was good to see them together again.

For my friends and family who read this, Danny and I would appreciate your prayers for Doug and Melanie.  They both love the Lord and are trusting in Him for guidance in this trial.  Melanie’s latest post on Facebook indicated that for the second month in a row, Doug has maintained his weight, and his liver is “slightly less enlarged.”  They are trusting God for the results of next week’s tests, which will, according to Melanie, “determine if the numbers that indicate carcinoid activity have changed.”  Please pray with us!

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