Through the Rain

For almost two years now life as most Americans had previously known it has ceased to exist. The carefree days of living uninhibited by the restraints of our safety and health no longer exist. Fear if we aren’t careful can consume our thoughts and steal every ounce of joy we have.

Having been mostly house bound and fear bound since the beginning of the pandemic I have begun getting out a bit more the last couple of weeks. I have taken up the quote “faith over fear.” I attended a live church service; went into some grocery stores and shopped at local shops.

Our daughter who lives in Marietta invited me to attend our oldest grandson’s basketball game in Atlanta this weekend. I must admit I was apprehensive and unsure if my faith would be stronger than my fear. I hadn’t driven to Atlanta in over two years, and it was supposed to rain on Saturday the day of his game.

Saturday morning came and it was so foggy outside when I woke up, I could barely see past the front porch. I had already checked the GPS to see how long it would take to get to the school. My GPS estimated one hour and nine minutes. I knew with it being the weekend before Christmas traffic would be heavy with last minute shoppers. Factoring in rainy road conditions and construction on I-85, I-285 and 400, I knew my GPS time prediction was highly inaccurate.

The game was scheduled to begin at 2pm. I left my house at 11:30am, stopped and filled up the car, went by my youngest daughters work and picked up an item, then picked up a sandwich and drink from Arby’s drive through. I pulled onto the already backed up I-85 entrance ramp and began literally just inching my way towards St. Ann Catholic Church School Atlanta (Marietta). It was 12:05pm.

An accident just before the Braselton exit had caused the sluggish traffic. Once I snail crawled past it, I was able to pick up my speed. “This isn’t bad at all,” I thought, it was only drizzling rain and the fog had already lifted. When I got to the Buford exit, I had expected traffic to be really backed up with cars headed to the Mall of Georgia but going South there wasn’t a backlog at all. Smooth sailing. I was enjoying listening to Christmas music and all was good!

Suddenly as I got to the Sugarloaf exit as they say “the bottom fell out”, it was raining so hard I could barely see my windshield wipers! I got in the middle lane and slowed down to a creepy crawl. “Lord, help me Jesus,” I prayed “please don’t let a transfer truck run over me.”

As I was driving through the rain the song “Too Faithful” by Moses Bliss began playing.

You are who are yesterday 
Today and forever more 
What You say is what You do 
You never fail You never change 
You are faithful till the end 
Faithful God, I worship You 
I worship You

You’re too Faithful to fail me 
You’re too Faithful
To disappoint me 
You’ve Proven Yourself in my life 
And I’ve come to Realize 
You are too Faithful to fail me

I began to just praise the Lord for his faithfulness! Through every storm, through every heartbreak, through all my sickness, even though I have failed Him, He has always remained faithful! He has proven Himself over and over. I do not have to live in fear.

We do not have to live in fear because we serve a faithful God. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. “Hebrews 13:8. When we concentrate on His faithfulness, when we remember who loves us and protects us our faith is strengthened, and we have peace.

📖 Romans 5:1-2 (NKJV)

“Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand,and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.”

It kept on raining hard all the way to Jimmy Carter Boulevard then it slacked up. Traffic was slow but steady and me and the Holy Spirit had a wonderful time rejoicing and remembering all of God’s faithfulness. My spirit was renewed through the rain and a long car ride.

I arrived at St. Ann Catholic Church at 1:55pm.

God Never Fails

I witnessed another miraculous intervention from God today.

You notice I said “another.”

I have been blessed to have seen His Hand move mightly in many situations. 

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:6,7.

So many times doubt and fear causes us to wonder, “Will God help me?” Not because we don’t think God is able, but because we don’t feel worthy of his help. 

We doubt HIS faithfulness, because of our own failures.

God’s faithfulness is not based on your failures.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16

Does this mean we can do whatever we want as long as we believe in Jesus? NO!

“Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.” 2 Timothy 2:15 

“Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap.” Galatians 6:7

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9

Remember the woman caught in adultery? 

Remember the woman at the well who had five husbands and was living with a man who was not her husband?

Remember the thief hanging on the cross beside Jesus?

Now, think.

How much does God love you?

Comfort Hug

Two years ago, after attending the 10 a.m. Service at The Jefferson Church —Bobby, Memaw and I went to eat at the Braselton, Cracker Barrel. We were feeling great after a powerful sermon and were sure we would beat the church crowd and just slide right into a table at the Cracker without any hesitation.

WRONG! OH! MY WORD! It was only 11:22 a.m. and the place was covered up like ticks on a Madison County coon dog. Bobby let me and Memaw out to get on the list why he searched for a parking place.

I see the little hostess upfront, tell her we have three in our party and give her our name, “Standridge, yes, Stand – ridge spelled just like it sounds.” She replies back “It’s going to be a 35 to 40 minute wait, we have a party of 19 ahead of you.” Memaw needs to go to the bathroom, Bobby is still circling the parking lot like a police helicopter trying to run down a criminal so I just say – “thank you,” and rushed Memaw to the bathroom.

When we came out of the bathroom, I finally spotted Bobby, but there wasn’t anywhere for us all to stand together. Everywhere I went somebody was touching me, bumping into me. I was having a hard time trying to keep up with Memaw. She’s only 4’11’ and she has shrunk a little at 80 years. I literally couldn’t see her over all the people and merchandise for sale.

Lord, knows my good sermon feelings was done flying right out of me. My anxiety was kicking in. I was so agitated. Bobby asked me a question and I near took his head off with my sharp answer. I began to pray and take deep breaths, “God help me to relax.” I moved back to the baby section of the store and began looking at little boy shoes. I spotted a pair of Choo Choo Train Sneakers. They were so cute! I picked them up and thought’ “these will be perfect for Calum .”

I headed to the check out, got in line and when my turn came I proudly put the shoes on the counter and said “my baby girl is having her first baby and it’s going to be a boy!” The cashier congratulated me as I beamed with motherly pride, then she told me the total of my purchase. I reached in my purse and searched for my wallet.

No wallet! I had no wallet. I suddenly remembered I had left it on the dining room table. NOW PANIC sets in! I have no idea where Bobby and Memaw are I am anxious, but sane enough to realize I can’t beller out Bobby’s name like I do at home over the lawn mowers. The lady behind me says, “Honey, don’t feel bad I did the same thing the other day with a buggy full of groceries.” I ask the cashier could she void the transaction and Bobby would pay for them when he paid for our lunch. She agreed and placed the shoes behind the counter.

I quickly took my high anxiety, embarrassed self to the only place I could find that wasn’t filled with people —the hallway of the bathroom entrances. I stood there and thought to myself “Girl, what did the pastor ask in his sermon this morning? —”Has there been a marked change in your life?” I cried, Lord, help me to trust you. Help me to look to you for peace! Holy Spirit work a miracle in me.”

As I was standing there alone, I see a woman approaching me holding a bag. She hands it to me and says “This is for you. I paid for your shoes.” It was the woman who had been standing behind me in the checkout line. I hugged her as tears flowed from my eyes.

Now, I was dressed in my Sunday best! I did not look like I was financially struggling. I do not believe this woman paid for the shoes out of pity. I have no doubt the Holy Spirit led her to pay for these sweet baby boy shoes to show me how much HE loves and cares for me. He loves and cares for you and me even in the midst of our storm. He will do whatever it takes to speak peace to our hearts. He hears our cries. The last three days had been extremely hard on me physically, emotionally and spiritually. I had spent the last three days seeking God for wisdom and direction but, I also need his comfort. I needed a hug.

I am so thankful for God’s love and his compassion for me. My God is worthy to be praised!.

“I sought the Lord, and He answered me. And delivered me from all my fears.” Psalm 34:4

Nannie’s House

Nannie Jackson always had an apron tied around her waist. The apron was always the one she had made herself with two broad pockets in the front. One pocket always held her handkerchief, the other usually contained safety pins, a few clothes pins and a pocket knife. 

Her work room was the kitchen. I can still picture her rolling out dough and making pies.

I didn’t realize until she had already moved to live with Jesus that some of God’s  greatest ministry work had been done in that small simple country kitchen and home.  

Nannie didn’t hold any positions or titles at the United Methodist church she was a member of. She did not attend or participate in local social fund raisers or charity events.

She didn’t visit the sick in the hospitals or nursing homes. She was a poor widow woman who didn’t own a car, she didn’t even know how to  drive. She lived off of a small social security check that just barely covered her basic needs. She made her own clothes and was smart at being thrifty and resourceful.

Nannie’s only self indulgence was snuff. She dipped snuff. Similar to chewing tobacco, but dustier. I don’t know anyone personally who still does it now, but back in the 40’s it was popular to do! Yikes!

I do not remember her ever cussing, complaining about being poor or talking about how unhappy she was because she didn’t have fancy dresses, shoes or jewelry. What I do remember is how I and my baby brother felt when we were at her home. She always made us and all of our cousins feel loved and cherished beyond measure.  She invested unconditional love and attention in each of us. She cooked us our favorite food with joy and delight and she was never too busy to teach us about loving and sharing.

She always said a blessing over every meal. After lunch was her Bible time everyday, during this time we were to be quiet and listen as she read her Bible study and devotion. No exceptions. When bedtime came it was prayer time. We didn’t pray out loud. Each of us prayed silently, when one of us had finished we would say “Amen” out loud, but remain quiet until everyone had finished with an “Amen.”

Jesus called Simon Peter and his brother Andrew to come be “fishers of men” in Matthew 4:18-22.  Not everyone is called to be a Billy Graham, Beth Moore or Jentzen Franklin. I believe my Nannie’s calling was to be an example of faithfulness to God and a giver of love to those close to her. By doing so, she planted seeds of faith and prayers of protection in the lives of her family. 

Mark Mobley has a quote I love “The most important small group that you will ever be a part of is the one you sit at the dinner table with every night.”

Who gathers around your table? Being “fishers of men” should begin around our table.

No Idea

“I don’t want or need anything from you,” Cassie yelled, “You are pathetic to me!”

Beth realized with great heartache, her daughter Cassie had no idea who she really was. The anger and resentment that so easily spewed from her daughters mouth was all the confirmation Beth needed.

Cassie saw Beth as old, weak and out of touch with the real world. Beth feared for Cassie. Her greatest fear was that Cassie would make the same mistakes she had. Love blindly, believe without boundaries and then be abandoned and left to suffer the brutal consequences of her naive and foolish choices.

Beth’s words of warning and advice to Cassie were as futile as trying to drain water out of the pacific ocean one bucket at a time. Cassie had closed her mind and heart. She had decided she never wanted to be anything like her mother. She did not want or need her mother’s advice.

Cassie has no idea that the very things she despises her mother for believing in is what gave her the strength to survive. It doesn’t make Beth weak, but strong. Beth’s faith in God has carried her through more than loss love. It has sustained her through the death of her only sibling, her father, the terror of losing her own child, serious health issues and much, much more. She wishes Cassie could know how much she loves her.

The chapters of Beth’s life were not easy reading. How do you explain living in constant fear. How can your children understand how you really did do better for them? Why does it take so long for us to realize it?