Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The Devil's In My Pocketbook - Part 2: Gas Pump Adventures

The Devil's In My Pocketbook...And Other Things I Learned From Grandma (Part 2)
Gas Pump Adventures

Several years ago, (and by several I mean probably 15 or so) my cousin and my Grandma were out together and Grandma noticed that her car was in need of gas. She pulls up to a gas pump and my cousin (who was probably around 12 at the time if that old) hops out of the car to pump her gas for her.  He quickly notices that she has pulled the car up on the wrong side so he tells her that she is going to have to pull around to the other side so that he can get to the gas tank.  Grandma puts the car in gear and literally drives the car in a full circle ending up directly where she was at first...with the gas tank of the opposite side of the car from the gas pump. 

My cousin, no doubt giggling a little, tells her that she is still on the wrong side and that she will have to pull the car around to the other side so that he can get to the gas pump.  So, she once again puts the car in gear and makes a full circle around the pump ending up exactly where she started...still with the gas tank on the opposite side from the pump.  By now, my cousin is laughing full out and Grandma is quite confused.  Finally, after at least one more failed attempt to circle the gas pump (I'm not certain how many tries it took because I was not there) Grandma realized what had happened and got the car's gas tank next to the pump so that the gas could be added.  But, her misadventures with that gas pump are a part of our family lore to such an extent that if ever I am driving a car and pull up to the wrong side of a pump (which has happened to me on more that one occasion), Grandma's adventure is the first thing I think of.  :-)

It's funny to think of Grandma driving around that gas pump in circles.  Each time she thought she was in the right place and each time she had ended up exactly where she had started and with the same problem she had started with.  But as I think of her predicament (and I must admit that I have done the same thing she did before) I am reminded that we often do similar things in life. 

How many times have you found yourself running and running only to find that you keep ending up in the same spot with the same problem you started with?  We seem to get stuck in something that we know is going to be a problem, but each time we try to change it on our own we end up in the same place we started...and with the same problem.   And it could be a myriad of things that causes us to feel this way.  It could be financial issues, a destructive habit, a relationship that is harmful in some way (physically, mentally, or spiritually), or any number of other things.  Some people run when they hear God calling them to something outside their comfort zone.  Some run when they realize they need God, but are afraid to trust Him.

But thankfully, we do not have to stay in that same spot.  Just like my cousin was there to point out that Grandma was on the wrong side of the gas pump, God is right there willing to help us through our struggle and when we follow His guidance, he will lead us out of that circle and help us continue down the path He has chosen for us.  But unlike my cousin, God will never laugh at our problems.  God understands our struggles and wants only to reach out and say, "This way...follow me.  I'll show you the way out."  Jesus says in Matthew 11:28-30  “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.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”  

We often try to run away from our problems, but that tends to bring us back to where we started.  All of our running in circles gets tiresome.  What a blessing to know that it isn't necessary.  We need only to run to Jesus and let Him be our guide.  And with Him leading us, though the path may not always be an easy one, we can trust that He will lead us down a path that is exactly where we need to be...and we can say goodbye to that frustrating circle where we had once found ourselves.

It's another lesson God has taught me through my Grandmother's life.

Monday, July 14, 2014

The Devil's in My Pocketbook...and Other Things I learned from Grandma (Part 1)

Grandma and Alex.  I can't wait until he can enjoy these stories too.
For years my family has been saying that we were going to write a book about Grandma and include all the funny things she has done.  We always told her that we would have to publish it in the fiction section because no one would believe that it was all true.  However, as good as our intentions have been, we have yet to finish said book.  So, I thought I'd start it in my blog.  It won't be completed in one blog, but will be a series of them that I'll post from time to time.  Though these stories are funny, they do have something to teach us...well, some of them do.  Some are just a scream and had to be included.  :-)  So, if you see the above title, you'll know...there's some humor ahead.

So, first I'll explain the story of the title of this book.  "The Devil's In My Pocketbook...and Other Things I learned from Grandma."

Many years ago, my cousin was ill and had to go to the doctor.  On this occasion, my Aunt was working and could not take him, so Grandma took him to the doctor.  Since my Aunt didn't want to miss what the doctor said, she sent a small tape recorder with Grandma to record what the doctor said.  No big deal...except come Sunday, Grandma still had the tape recorder in her purse.  Sunday morning Grandma heads out to church and as she drives along she starts to hear this low growl and isn't sure where it is coming from.  She checks her radio and realizing it isn't on, she continues on to church, but the low growl and grumbling continues.  By the time she arrives at church she is convinced that the devil is in her car.  When she drove up to the church and handed her car off to a young person to park her car for her (a service offered for the elderly at that time) she warned them that something seemed to be in her car.  The young person parked the car without incident and Grandma headed into the sanctuary.  As service began, she could hear the low growl continue and was becoming concerned.  Those around her had easily realized that the sound was coming from her purse and eventually she realized it too.  She gingerly started opening her pocketbook, unsure of what she would find.  When the pocketbook was opened it was found that that small tape recorder had turned on, but in the 1/2 speed setting, which of course made the doctor's recorded voice sound quite ominous.  When Grandma turned it off, she turned to her friend next to her and said in a very relieved manner, "Oh thank goodness.  I thought the devil was in my pocketbook!"  

Now, it is important to note, that during all of the above story, except for when she got to church, Grandma was alone and none of the family was sitting with her in the service.  We would never have known of this hysterical escapade except that she shared the story with us during lunch.  We laughed and laughed.  We could just picture her confusion and concern.  My Uncle asked her, "So, really...of all the things that sound could have been, the only thing you thought it could be was that the devil was in your pocketbook?" To which Grandma replied, "Well, I had already checked the radio!"

We have laughed about that story for probably 20 years now.  But as I look back on it, I realize that she probably isn't too far off in some ways.  Though, I am certain that the devil is NOT in my pocketbook, he sometimes uses the things in my pocketbook to try and keep me "too busy" for God.  My calendar gets full, my to do list lengthens, and my wallet is constantly wanting more money in it.  Plus in this present day and age, the internet, the phone, my music, tv shows and even movies will all easily fit into my pocketbook.  If you stop to think about it, if I'm not careful, the devil could indeed worm his way into my pocketbook.  Grandma's funny story reminds me to be ever careful.  He's not there now, but he's always going to try to get in...only I won't hear a low growl warning me he's arrived. 

So, that's Part O
ne!  There's many more to go, but that's all for now.  Have a great day everyone!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Peace in the Midst of the Storm

As anyone who knows me could attest, I am not a fan of summer in the slightest, but I do enjoy the rain.  I like hearing the raindrops hit the roof and windows.  I enjoy how calm and peaceful a summer shower can be to listen to.  But with Summer, we also get storms. 

Now, I am not as big a fan of storms.  I like them fine until they get an attitude and start busting out tornadoes and such.  Storms have a way of putting us on edge and making us alert to our surroundings all the more so we can watch for the strong winds and sometimes flooding.  Not much of a fan of those kind of storms. 

Because we were in evangelism, my family lived in a trailer or a motor home for most of my childhood.  When a storm came, not only could you hear it, but often you could feel it because it would cause the trailer to sway some.  The wind used to scare me in those situations.  But, my Grandma James, used to always call the wind her friend.  She liked to listen to it come through the trees and she would smile.  Or we would hear it outside the house and she would say, "That's my friend saying hello."  So when it would get windy, Mom and Dad would say, "Don't worry.  That's just Grandma's friend" and somehow it didn't seem so scary anymore.

In life, we also will have storms.  They come in all shapes and sizes.  Some are small and easily dealt with, but some are so strong that we wonder if we will make it through.  But through the storms, big or small, there has always been a constant.  We are not alone.  Jesus is always in control.  Even when life seems out of control, it is never out of His control. 

I love that old song, "Peace in the Midst of the Storm" by Shirley Ceasar.  Many times over the years the lyrics of the chorus of that song will cross my mind.  Today they came to mind again:

"There is peace in the midst of storm-tossed life
There's an Anchor, there is a rock to build my faith upon
Jesus Christ is my vessel, so I feel no alarm
He gives me peace in the midst of the storm"

No matter what goes on in my life, I know that I can trust Him to guide my path...even when the path veers off to places I didn't really want to go.  He's still in control and I trust Him to guide me to wherever I need to be. 

Today is one of those times that the path is going a bit off of where I'd like.  My Grandma James (who I live with) has been quite ill as of late and this morning we are taking her in for a Heart Cath.
I am praying that they are able to fix the issue that she is dealing with...though we aren't quite sure what issue that is yet.  But even as we take her for this procedure, I am trusting that the Lord will guide the doctor's hand and that all will be well. This storm isn't forever, and this storm isn't bigger than God's umbrella.  I'll just hold a little tighter to Him until it passes. After all, giving peace in the midst of the storm is His specialty.  Thank you Jesus.