Thursday, February 18, 2010
Ever have one of those days where plans get botched and you're sure it's going to be a bust, and then the day turns out to be unbelievably full of blessings? That's how my day was today. I had plans to get to meet AHealthierJan as she headed back home to Tennessee. Last time she came to Louisiana my oldest got sick and I had to gather her up from her university and get her to the doctor. I was really excited for the opportunity to make up for missing her last time. Not one but BOTH the kids that are still at home (17 and 12) woke up sick and worn out from a long night of discomfort. I was just heartbroken. Why do we never assume things are going to get better? Human nature dictates that when things start rough, they'll only get worse. Isn't that dumb?!
Despite not getting to hug this SparkFriend who has become so dear to me and having to disappoint her yet again, I made the conscious decision to remember that this is the day the Lord has made and I determined to rejoice in it. I really believe when we turn the tables on disappointment, we open the door for blessings to flow toward us. Flow they did!!
A friend from church (they are worship leaders for our congregation) has a plumbing service. We've had some issues with pipes under the sink and with a bath tub that won't drain properly. Her son and another fellow came over and spent more than an hour working on these things. Her son, by the way, was a contestant on American Idol and made it to Hollywood in Season Seven but didn't make it all the way to the end. These guys were so pleasant and sweet. It was a delight to have them here. When they were done, he called his mom to ask how much to charge us so I could pay them. She wouldn't allow me to pay for any of the work they did. I protested. A lot. (I can do that well, too. lol) They were determined to bless us. How do you bless someone like that? I guess you don't. The best I can do is pray for God to bless that family in ways only He can accomplish.
Another friend is a painting contractor. She is amazingly good at what she does. It's sad to see that she is denied jobs simply because she is a woman in a man's world. That is SO their loss. She came over with color charts and informed me she is going to paint my bathroom and kitchen/dining room for my birthday. (They are in horrible shape.) She refused to give me a price other than to let us purchase the paint. That is a HUGE job, given in love, from the sweat of her brow. That is truly giving of one's self. Could there BE a more special gift? It really makes the StarBucks gift card we gave her for her birthday look cheesy! (But I know she'll love it just the same! lol She's a worse coffee hound than I am!)
Another friend spent most of the day making my entire heart smile by texting me back and forth, sharing the day's events, sharing hearts, sharing praises unto God, encouraging, laughing, caring, even crying a bit, sometimes just melting, all those things the heart does when it's extraordinarily happy. (Thank you and I love you!)
These are the things that make the heart overflow. These are blessings we can't orchestrate. Only God can grin down upon me and whisper: My child, keep praising me. Keep unlocking the windows of heaven by shunning the grumbles and murmurs and complaints. Keep opening the doors of my bounty by rejoicing in me and I will rain blessings upon you that are beyond anything you could imagine in your wildest dreams.
I am BLESSED, rich beyond measure.
Saturday, February 13, 2010
Numbers 13:33b "We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them." (NIV)
Our enemies often look larger than life. The Hebrew spies saw what stood between them and their goals and realized the obstacles were huge. And they were. They were likened to Nephillim, godlike in stature, thoroughly intimidating.
A lifetime of being overweight, of overeating, of being sedentary, of being unable to overcome these obstacles causes them to appear larger than life, larger than my life, anyhow. That's the first thing that happens, perceiving our roadblocks as impossibly large, undefeatable.
In the face of such disheartening foes, a mystical (Shazam!) happens whereby we shrink in size, morphing into near-nothingness. Our abilities diminish. Whatever faith and confidence we possess, however robust, deflates. Our courage to fight disappears. Those things which stand in the pathway we must travel in order to obtain the things we desire reduce us from the strong, intelligent people we are, people who are assured of God's help, to something so small, so ineffective, so frightened that we no longer even resemble our true selves. That's the second thing that happens. Our perception of ourselves dwindles so pitifully (and unrealistically) that it drives us downright buggy.
Once we begin to see ourselves as insects, easily stomped out by our hindrances, in very short order we are convinced others perceive us as grasshoppers, too. So we don't want to be around them, and we isolate. While we and our enemies are in agreement about our stature, our character, our posture, our value (again, all unrealistic, based in perception, not fact), we resent them for thinking we are a non-entity as an adversary. (Remember, our enemies may not believe those things but we are, nonetheless, convinced they do.)
So now, in addition to feeling alone, alienated, afraid, resentful, we add bitterness and anger to the mix. Who could possibly fight with all that emotional baggage weighing them down?!
What if, instead, we kept things in proper, realistic perspective as Caleb did in verse 30? What if we beheld our obstacles and said, "We can certainly do this"? That changes everything. We boldly march forward and achieve the goals set before us. We overcome. We are triumphant.
No more grasshoppers for me!!
Friday, February 12, 2010
No, I'm not going to expound on the big win, yet... maybe not for a long while. I still can't even process it, really. It's just too grand to put into words. I do, however, want to share some photos with you from the Saints Super Parade. We're a parade town. We LOVE parades. And ours aren't like what most of you know of parades. I see people standing in other parts of the country waving nicely, smiling, applauding even. Here? We scream, we cheer, we howl, we hug, we dance in the street, we jump. We do parades like we do most things, full throttle.
It's Mardi Gras season here. How I wish each of you could experience the fun of it just once. Despite what you see on national television, Mardi Gras is not about exposing your body in exchange for beads. Beads are thrown off of every float in every one of dozens of parades. They throw plastic cups with the parade name and theme on them. They throw footballs and Cupie dolls and stuffed animals and plastic swords and Frisbees and even, for Zulu, gold-painted coconuts (though they don't throw them anymore, and it's a big event when you're handed one by one of their riders). It's really not possible to adequately describe what it's like to stand on the parade route for a couple hours before the parade, traffic closed, music playing from all over the place, laughter, strangers becoming friends, sharing whatever goodies brought to eat with the fine men and women in blue who protect our region, kids drawing huge murals in the street with sidewalk chalk, hopscotch games with adults actually playing with their children (and the children of strangers), football games striking up every few blocks, complete with mama-cheerleaders, grown ups holding the little ones, dancing, with huge smiles and big laughs, swapping stories, figuring out who knows whom, works where, attends what church, is related to whom. New Orleans is often called the biggest small town on earth. It is a rare, rare day that you don't know someone who knows or is related to or works with or went to school with someone this total stranger you're sharing the parade route with knows. Do they do that everywhere else?
Anyhow, that gives you at least a vague idea of what Mardi Gras means to the sane people who are not on Bourbon Street (which, by the way, has NO actual parades on it). It's a family time, a celebration time, a time when we remember the real song of Mardi Gras (If Ever I Cease to Love) and the true theme of New Orleans (The City that Care Forgot), and we live it. It was never expressed on such a grandiose scale as it was in the thrown together Super Parade to honor our beloved Saints in their Championship Super Bowl win.
Twelve different parade crewes (that's not a typo, either, that's how we spell it down here during Mardi Gras) donated use of one of their floats for the Super Parade. Marching bands (and their tireless parents who walk along with them) who had VERY full schedules for Mardi Gras took on one more route, this one 3.7 miles long, and what an honor it was for them to be included. I have to blow the horn (literally and figuratively!) of New Orleans' finest marching band, from the all boy Catholic high school, St. Augustine. They have many times proudly represented our city in the Rose Parade and Macy's Thanksgiving Parade. They ROCK. They lead most of the city's larger parades and are a highlight every time they play. Between 500,000 and 700,000 fans turned out in freezing temperatures to share this exciting moment in New Orleans history. Now it's my great joy to share it with you.
The star of the show, of course, was Drew Brees, our cute as a button quarterback and MVP of the Super Bowl, a man who is bold about his faith in Jesus Christ and his salvation, who has given God the glory for what he calls his calling, his destiny. Gotta love this guy!!
The Saints Flag
Great shot of the Super Dome in all her repaired, restored, reborn glory behind the alligator float donated by a Chalmette parade.
What a crowd!
Jeremy Shockey (I love, love, LOVE this man!! I am SO getting a Shockey jersey!) and Deuce McAllister (and I still don't understand why he's back on the team and didn't even play, presented the trophy, then retired... again)
As the New Orleans sportscasters have dubbed him, Robert "Money" Meachem
Neat shot of downtown New Orleans and the Jester float
Jeff Charleston, Will Smith, and Paul Spicer
Saints autographing stuff for the fans
An amazing man, the dreamy-eyed, adorably dimpled Coach Sean Payton
St. Augustine's Band
You might notice the conspicuous absence of a photo of Saints owner Tom Benson and his float. I haven't quite forgotten that he tried to move the Saints to Texas after Katrina, when we needed the Saints back in New Orleans desperately. I'm grateful that Benson DID bring our boys back home, but still, he leaves a nasty taste in my heart and I don't want his face on my blog.
Thank you for taking the time to read such a long blog. I hope you enjoyed sharing the parade with me!! I love y'all!!
Tuesday, February 09, 2010
Betcha you thought this would be a blog about the Super Bowl winning SAINTS, didn't you?! No. Not yet. I sill can't even THINK it without crying, yet. Ohhhh, but it feels good to win!!!
For today, I have to share some out loud, sincere, belly-ache kind of laughs. I hope you enjoy Dennis Swanberg as much as I did!! It would be impossible for me to decide which one of these is funnier, so I am sharing them both. Laughter truly IS good medicine!!
P.S. I found this one since I was there in the comedy section and couldn't resist. Ohhhh how my honey loves Home Depot! lol This is Mark Lowry.
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