Screaming Fits

My friend and I went shopping and I purchased new hangers for my closet. I absolutely love these hangers because a) they all match, and b) the clothing does not seem so crowded together when I use them. We also found a new Christmas store that had absolutely lovely things in it that I can only dream about because they are not in my budget (not to mention I already have WAY too much Christmas stuff!).

After shopping we decided to dine at a Chinese fast food restaurant. We were enjoying a leisurely meal when the door was thrown open and a lady stormed into the restaurant. She threw her hands up in the air like a referee calling a touchdown and began to yell. When I say she began to yell, I mean she was screaming at the top of her lungs at the staff. Things like, “You are fired. You are a lazy bunch of people who are not doing your job! The drive-through is extremely slow and there is no excuse for that.” She was taunting the staff to come over and face her.

photo by bowie15

Initially, I thought maybe it was a store manager who had totally lost control, because she had a red apron on similar to what the workers were wearing. But then I noticed it had a totally different logo. My friend and I assumed she had gone through the drive-through and they were too slow for her. She became inappropriately angry–or dare I even say, full of rage.

As she continued her rant, finally a young man came up to her and politely asked her to leave. She was screaming in his face and at that point he escorted her out the door. She left, but we watched as she continued to pace up and down the sidewalk outside the restaurant.

My friend and I decided it was time to leave. As we started to exit, the young man was extremely polite and asked us if he could get us anything else or even a drink to go. We declined and then he offered to escort us to our car since the woman was still agitatedly walking up and down the sidewalk. We told him it was not necessary, but we did not tarry getting into the car!

My friend and I discussed what had happened, and quite frankly, we were glad she did not have a gun in her hand. I suspect if she had, we might all have been injured or even dead, she was that out of control. In all honesty, most of us have been in a slow drive through line at some point and may find ourselves becoming irritated. I am grateful that our action is not to come in the store and scream at the top of our lungs. Frankly, some of us have watched YouTube videos showing unacceptable incidents that have taken place in drive-throughs. But I had to wonder what happened in that woman’s life that made her so full of rage.

In all honesty, in my younger years, I struggled sometimes with anger and as a result acted inappropriately on occasion. It was only after I truly focused on letting God take control of my words and actions that I started becoming less hateful and more kind. I am grateful that as we become Christians and let the Holy Spirit do his work in our lives things like rage no longer control us. If we truly let ourselves be ruled by the Spirit, we are going to be focusing on love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control–all fruit of the Spirit.

The fact is anger is an emotion all of us experience at one time or another. But when we let that anger fester and boil over, it is harmful to both ourselves and those around us. By learning to recognize and appropriately respond to our anger, we avoid enacting scenes like the one we witnessed in the restaurant.

Proverbs 29:11 says, “A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control.” So my prayer to God is to not foolishly let anger lead me to sin against God, but to instead practice using the fruit of the Spirit that God has gifted to me.

A Father’s Arms

This past weekend I attended a worship night at our church. Of everything we do at church, worship nights are one of my favorite things. I came early so I could sit in a row close to the front and on the outside of the aisle, because of, well, short girl problems. If I am farther in the row and someone tall sits in front of me I may as well have saved myself the time of coming early.

As worship began and we were singing in earnest a father with his son nestled in his arms slipped into the row ahead of me. It was obvious the young boy, who was well past toddlerhood, was tired. I noticed when his eyelids gently shut and he snuggled deeper into his father’s arms. Soon he was sound asleep and even the enthusiastic singing all around him did not wake him up.

I watched as the father continued to hold his child tightly while he was singing praises to God. He held him during our entire worship service–sometimes when he was standing, and sometimes when he was sitting. But through it all he continued to lovingly hold him in his arms.

As I watched the son put his arms around his father’s neck when he finally stirred, it hit me that he had a lot of trust in his dad. I don’t think he was concerned about falling, or being abandoned while he slept, or any other myriad of things that a person can think about when they put themselves in someone else’s hands. He just cuddled up to his dad and slept, and all was right with his world.

Isn’t that the way it should be with our heavenly father? We know our father loves us and we should be able to trust that he has us when we are weary and tired. He will hold onto us and not let us slip from his grip. Jesus says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11:28-29). In 1 Peter 5:7, it says “Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.” (NLT)

For some reason, seeing the young boy and his father reminded me that we have a heavenly Father that cares about us and when we are tired and weary, we can trust him to hold us in his arms and not let us fall. Until we take our last breath we can trust God to be holding our hand. What a beautiful reassurance I have when I read Isaiah 46:4 “I will be your God throughout your lifetime – until your hair is white with age. I made you, and I will care for you” I am grateful for a father’s love and the knowledge that he will not let me go.

Never Give Up!

One of my favorite sci-fi comedy shows is Galaxy Quest. The saying: “Never give up! Never surrender!” is used by a tv character who actually ends up with an alien encounter. The aliens believe he is truly his character rather than a has-been actor. Throughout the movie they use the phrase, “Never give up! Never Surrender!” The phrase is pivotal in the final plot line. Buzz Lightyear, one of the beloved characters from the Toy Story series, also uses this term frequently and indeed, he used it before it appeared in Galaxy Quest.

Photo by Milad Fakurian on Unsplash

I had the privilege of speaking at an assistant living facility and spoke about patience and perseverance. Patience or perseverance is mentioned 44 times in the New Testament. Not only is it mentioned in Galatians 5:22-23 where Paul talks about fruit of the Spirit, it is also mentioned in 1 Timothy 6:11-12, and 2 Peter 1:5-8, along with other qualities we need to be cultivating in our lives.

As frequently happens when I speak, the issues I addressed hit me squarely where I am. It is easy to get discouraged and quit. Honestly, there are times when I am trying to work on my book that I am ready to give it all up. This week has been one of them. But I realized as I spoke that maybe this topic was more for me than for the people I spoke to whom I was speaking.

It is a lot harder to get up and try again when we find ourselves failing at something, than it is to just quit and go on to something else. But people who are successful in life are those who can face odds, make mistakes, have failures, and still persevere. If you study the histories of people like Michael Jordan, Harry Truman, Louis Pasteur, Helen Keller, Rudyard Kipling, and yes, even Abraham Lincoln, you will find individuals who overcame odds and obstacles to have huge accomplishments.

The fact is challenges and troubles help us develop perseverance in our lives. It is hard to acknowledge, but trials and testing are actually good for developing our character. James 1:2-4 says, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

In Romans 5:3-5 Paul notes, “We also glory in our sufferings because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”

So today think about the things in your life you have overcome so far, and keep on going. Develop perseverance in your life because good things can come from it. As for me, after my speech I realized it was just the motivation I needed to renew my determination to write on my book again!

I have always like the poem “Don’t You Quit” by Edgar A. Guest. So here it is.

When things go wrong, as they sometimes will,

When the road you’re trudging seems all uphill,

When the funds are low and the debts are high,

And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,

When care is pressing you down a bit,

Rest, if you must, but don’t you quit.

Life is queer with its twists and turns,

As every one of us sometimes learns,

And many a failure turns about,

When he might have won had he stuck it out;

Don’t give up though the pace seems slow

You may succeed with another blow

.

Often the goal is nearer than

It seems to a faint and faltering man,

Often the struggler has given up,

When he might have captured the victor’s cup,

And he learned too late when the night slipped down,

 How close he was to the golden crown.

Success is failure turned inside out

The silver tint of the clouds of doubt,

 And you never can tell how close you are,

 It may be near when it seems so far,

So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit

It’s when things seem worst that you must not quit.

Not Good Enough

I realized that I have not written a blog for a while. In all honesty, I have been in a funk lately and I sometimes wonder why I have started this journey of writing. Do I really have anything to say that my readers have not heard a hundred times before? I frequently ask myself, what am I doing here? Sometimes doubts plague me and Satan shouts at me, “You are not good enough for this.”

Photo by Hello I’m Nik on Unsplash

I am going to be vulnerable here and share my doubts. When I struggle to sit and write another page in my book, I think maybe I am not creative enough and my characters are not real enough and my plot is not developed enough. I am not good enough to do this.

When I write about the hurts that my main character has had in her life, I remember hurts I have had in mine. And I think–I can’t do this God. I cannot revisit the pain that I hid for years. But I cannot reveal my character’s pain without acknowledging my own. And my past sometimes shouts at me that I am flawed and not good enough.

The reality is, I am NOT good enough. But today once again I was reminded that God is. God has whispered to me that he is enough. All of my sins, all of my flaws, all of my doubts and insecurities, can be given to him. Because this book is not about me. It is about God and his ability to redeem a person’s life.

My book is about redemption and reconciliation and yes, even, reckoning. And the process of writing this is a reminder that in my weaknesses and feelings of not being enough, his grace can be sufficient and he is enough.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. – 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 (NIV)

Sitting at the Table

Today I attended the funeral of a friend of mine. I tried to remember the first time I met Nancy. Our paths first crossed at a retreat put on by the Christian Campus House of Missouri University. That was in 1971. I did not meet her again until 1978, when I returned back home from living in Cincinnati for four years after college. It was then that I went back to Ferguson Christian Church, where I had helped with Jet Cadets during my college years. That was where Nancy and I first became friends.

Our lives continued to connect as we both moved to the same city, attended the same church for decades, and were recently in the same Bunco group. Over the years, we shared many meals together and when she cooked them–oh, yummy.

At her funeral it was noted that she was a marvelous cook (and she was), and she had a knack for hospitality (and she did). For years she served quietly behind the scenes helping with potlucks, cooking fabulous desserts (her chocolate pecan pie was a hit), and taking meals to the sick.

But the thing that impressed me most was from the time she learned she had pancreatic cancer, in her quiet and understated way, she was an amazing example of staying the course with her faith. She never wavered in her faith that God was a good God. All of those who visited with her came away with the same knowledge that her faith was what sustained her. On my last visit with her, her quiet certainty that heaven awaited her shined through. While I was tearful, she was calm and in her inimitable way, totally Nancy. Her organizational skills were always somewhat amazing, and true to form, she told me she had put everything in order so that her sisters would know where everything was and would not have to go searching for things.

It is a strange thing as we get older and see death more often, watching loved ones and friends succumb to that inevitable fate we all face, that we think about the legacy we will leave when we pass. I think about that more as each day draws me closer to the day when I will see my Savior. In all honesty, I do not feel old, but when I think about it, more of my life is behind me than in front of me!

God has been good to me. And while I have had some ups and downs in my life, the knowledge that He loves me sustains me. I can only hope that when I face my final days and I finally take my last breath here on earth, that I am found faithful and am confident with the same kind of assurance of heaven that Nancy had.

For Nancy, the most difficult thing about being sick was her inability to eat. Nancy enjoyed food, but also worked hard to stay healthy and at a good weight. She lost weight rapidly after becoming sick and ended up with a feeding tube. She told one of our friends that she would frequently dream about eating and she looked forward to being able to eat in heaven.

For centuries the church has taught there will be a great banquet in heaven. That teaching dates all the way back to Messianic teaching in Isaiah 25. I do not know if it is true, but if it is, I know that Nancy will be sitting at the table.

Chocolate Pecan Pie

½ c. margarine                                                 1 tsp. vanilla

1 c. sugar                                                          1 c. pecan halves

1 c. light corn syrup                                         ¾ c. semi-sweet chocolate chips

4 eggs

Melt ½ cup butter. Combine 1 cup sugar, 1 cup light corn syrup (Karo), 4 slightly bean eggs, 1 teaspoon vanilla, 1 cup pecan halves, and ¾ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips. Mix well. Pour into unbaked 9-inceh pastry shell. Bake at 350 for 45-50 minutes. Cool. Serves 8.

Remember Your Why

I recently watched the Today show and they interviewed a running coach, Ryan Walsh. One of the first points he made was that anyone starting something new should always remember your why. Think about the reason you started, why you wanted to make this change, and what were the benefits of doing it. This resonated with me as I have started two large projects in my life.

My first project is eating healthy. My why was primarily for health reasons, but part of it is also vanity. Quite frankly, I am tired of buying plus size clothing and needing to stop a minute to catch my breath when I am walking any distance farther than a block. Some days are better than others when I make my eating choices. But on my recent vacation? All bets were off! I came back four pounds heavier and I really did make good choices, except for, well, maybe the ice cream. (and I have lost two of it in the first week back).

My next big project is finishing my novel, The Porch Swing. I have picked it up and set it back down more times than I can remember. But this year I picked it up and sent my first eight chapters to a friend, whose judgment I trust. Now she is waiting for the rest of it. I am attending the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) in September and I want to have my first rough draft finished. So I had to think long and hard about my why for this book.

My why is to address the amount of abuse that happens in a church and how we respond. Do we believe the person who says she was raped by her youth minister? Or do we hide it and pretend nothing happened, because why would we ruin his reputation like that? I have found this process for working through my writing has been cathartic to me. I was abused by a cousin as a child and it did not stop until I was old enough to realize he was not going to tell anyone (a threat he used with me). Even after the abuse stopped I felt dirty and ashamed. My salvation came from the Lord and all of the old me was wiped away because I knew that Christ did a marvelous thing when he made me brand new.

Scripture tells us that Jesus prayed in the garden right before his arrest. He asked if there was any way to avoid what he knew was coming. There wasn’t. His why was for our salvation. He knew his mission in life and stuck to it even when it meant his death on the cross.

So my why? In actuality there are many of them. How about you? What do you think about when you ask yourself why you have started a project or why you want to do a major challenge. Do you get discouraged and want to quit because things are not happening fast enough? Do you find yourself getting easily sidetracked? When that happens take a step back and remember the why.

Gaining a New Perspective

I recently posted about a “dry fire” I had at my house on Mother’s Day. (https://lindadelaywallace.com/2022/05/13/smell-that-smoke/) It was quite an experience and because there was no soot or ash–only a house full of smoke–insurance would not cover anything. That meant that everything in my house had to be cleaned by yours truly, and luckily some faithful friends and family! It was an interesting two weeks following the incident.

Photo by KWON JUNHO on Unsplash

As I washed every cabinet and closet (and everything in them) in my house, I noticed that I had items I never used taking up space. Some of them were beautiful pieces of crystal that just sat in my upper cabinets the entire six years I have lived here. Some of them were clothes that I wondered what was I thinking when I purchased them. I have a fairly neat house, but when you must take every single thing out and clean it and evaluate it, it gives you a new perspective. My daughter cleaned my spice cabinet and ended up with about half the items I had before, because, well, you do not want to know how many expired spices I had!

After I disposed of expired items, gave away some of the crystal, and took bags of clothes and unused household items to the thrift store, I felt like a burden had lifted. I was unhindered by all of the things in my house that had been bogging me down and I look forward to not needing to “spring clean” or sort through clothes or cabinets. For now. Because no matter how careful I am, somehow clutter starts again, spices get expired, and laundry still needs to be done. But for all the hard work, there is a great freedom in the process I went through after the smoke cleared.

With all of this, I was reminded of a scripture in Hebrews 12:1. The writer of Hebrews is talking about all of those who have gone before us and were witnesses of the greatness and goodness of God. He says, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” (NIV) Hebrews 12:1

I love the way it is paraphrased in The Message, “Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!” (The Message)

It took a house full of smoke for me to do some deep cleaning. In the same way, in my spiritual life, I need to always be evaluating where I have let sin in my life, always letting go of the things that tie me down to this earth, and racing toward the finish line to heaven. I love the part where it says, “When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls.” Maybe it will take some “dry smoke” for me to evaluate my life sometimes, but it will be well worth it in the end!

Worry Warts

This past week I was able to vacation at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. I have been two other times with my friend, who swears it is her happy place. And I believe her. She makes a better guide than most of the employees since she has been there so often! For a newbie like me that is a blessing, because she doesn’t get lost (unlike I would) and knows shortcuts to take through the parks.

Normally, I would be walking with her ahead of the vacation so that I am not utterly exhausted at the end of each day. About three weeks out, I was having a problem with my foot hurting, but assumed I needed new shoes. So I went to my favorite store and got fitted for my shoes. I picked out a cute (as much as tennis shoes can be cute) corn yellow Hoka shoe and was so excited. But alas, my foot still hurt when I walked.

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My Comfort Zone

Do you ever go out of your comfort zone when it comes to serving God? It seems that since I have gotten older I have gone out of my comfort zone more frequently than when I was younger. I think when I was younger I was more consumed with parenting, being a spouse, and serving at church, than I was concerned about being out of my comfort zone. I think I worried more about making it through the day without a melt-down–either my kids or mine– than I thought about challenging myself to step out of my comfort zone more!

Recently one of my fellow church members contacted me and asked if I would be willing to speak on a rotation basis at a nearby assistant living facility. That was a stretch for me. I had been asked to speak for their small worship service and believe me, that was way out of my comfort zone. I speak for workshops and retreats for women’s groups, but I had never spoken for a service with older people. I was not sure exactly what to speak about as I wracked my brain for the normal topics I speak on. I prayed about what these individuals would want and need to hear about God.

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Dinosaur Days

Today it is once again gloomy, with weathermen predicting anything from sleet, to snow, to ice, and to rain. And really, who knows? But I know on days like this I sometimes just need a little laughter in my life.

A few months ago, my grandson left his toy dinosaur at my house. I guess I was just a little bored, because I tagged my son in a post on facebook.

“Will you please tell your son that I have been trying to take good care of T-Rex after he left him at my house. But today I found him in my refrigerator trying to eat all my pepperoni. It was a tough battle to get them back, but I got ‘er done!”

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