Things I Wish I Had Known

Hey y’all… how’s your mama and ’em?

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29_11How quickly the past year has flown by!  This time last year, my oldest was a freshly minted, high school graduate and by this time next year my second oldest will be, as well.

Graduation is a time filled with mixed emotion. The end of what you’ve always known and the beginning of the rest of your life will cause feelings of happiness,/sadness, excitement/ anxiety.  (These feelings apply to graduates and parents alike!)  As students become adults and embark on this new chapter of life, I would like to share some of the things I wish I had known when I was graduating.  Here goes:

  1. Keep God first. The busier life is the easier it seems to let God take the backseat. Make time daily for prayer and Bible study.  (Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.  Matthew 6:33 NLT)
  2. Bad company corrupts good character. Bad influences tend to tear down more than good influences build up. Choose your friends wisely.  (Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.” 1 Corinthians 15:33 NIV)
  3. Friends come and go. Family stays. Make sure your strongest bonds are with those who have your best interests at heart.  (But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God.  Ruth 1:16 NIV)
  1. Pride goes before a fall. Have a teachable spirit and never stop seeking wisdom.  (Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall. Proverbs 16:18 NIV)
  2. Doing the right thing isn’t always the easy thing. Being able to do the right thing
    regardless of what it costs you defines integrity. (The Lord has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.  Micah 6:8 NLT)
  3. Day one of college is level playing ground for all Freshmen. Everyone else feels just as lost and confused as you will. Find your groove, find your people, and don’t be embarrassed to ask for help. (Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble.  Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 NLT)
  4. Nothing comes easy. If it’s worth having, it’s worth working hard to attain. Just
    because it seems insurmountable doesn’t mean it isn’t possible. (For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.”  2 Thessalonians 3:10)
  5. There will always be nay-sayers. Let words of discouragement challenge you to
    prove them wrong.  (Saul replied, “You are not able to go out against this Philistine and fight him; you are only a young man, and he has been a warrior from his youth.”  The Lord who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine.” Saul said to David, “Go, and the Lord be with you.” 1 Samuel 17:33, 37 NIV)
  6. Your parents will always be your biggest fans, supporters, and cheerleaders.
    Treasure them.  (“Honor your father and mother. Then you will live a long, full life in the land the Lord your God is giving you.  Exodus 20:12 NIV)
  7. Have fun. Breathe. In the words of Walt Disney, “Keep moving forward.”  ( I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.  Philippians 3:14 NIV)

I pray as the Class of 2018 prepares for their future, they will find happiness and peace as they seek the Lord and His will for their lives!


Have a blessed week, y’all!


Of Dogs and Men

“Dogs are quick to show their affection. They never pout, they never bear a grudge. They never run away from home when mistreated. They never complain about their food. They never gripe about the way the house is kept. They are chivalrous and courageous, ready to protect … at the risk of their lives. They love children, and no matter how noisy and boisterous they are, the dog loves every minute of it. … Perhaps if we husbands imitated a few of our dog’s virtues, life with our family might be more amiable.” – Billy Graham


The Ties that Bind

Hey y’all… how’s your mama and ’em?
Screen Shot 2018-05-08 at 10.52.13 AMHer children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: “Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.” – Proverbs 31:28,29
Happy Mother’s Day! When I think of the women God chose to mold me into the woman that I am, I feel overwhelmed and humbled.
I was blessed with two very different, but very strong, very Godly grandmothers. They have both gone to be with Jesus, and I sure wish I had spent more time with each of them. I would have loved to have learned both’s cooking and gardening skills. To an extent, I feel like I was blessed with the best of both of them – I have a heart for people like my Nannie and all the feistiness and charisma of my Grandma.
Nannie raised my mother as a single mom in the 60’s – a task that at the time was not respected as it is today but rather looked down upon. She worked hard to provide for my mother and worked even harder to make every occasion both special and memorable. On Easter she would dye pearls to match my mother’s dresses. On Christmas each gift was wrapped with special, decorative, themed paper. And every rodeo that rode through town, she provided my mom with new matching boots and hat. Yet, her own shoes were often worn and the sole of them replaced with cardboard or tape.
When I was a child, she worked just as hard to spoil me and my brother. Though she lived far away from us, each visit proved that we were never far from her mind. During the months since she’d seen us, she’d have filled up “goody bags” from each trip to the store she’d taken. Coloring books, colors, clothes, toys, and my very favorite – paper bags filled with Brach’s candy, would fill our bags to overflowing. It was an impressive display of love as she lived on a limited income.
Each summer trip to visit her included countless visits to a nursery where each year she’d buy my brother and me a fern to take back home, trips to the dairy freeze up the road for an ice cream cone each evening, and multiple trips to the library where she would buy us used books. Perhaps my love of the written word comes from her.

Nannie’s greatest love was Jesus. She would share Him with strangers at the laundry-mat. She hid the Word of God in her heart and could quote it at a moment’s notice. She gave willingly to others in need – even when her own needs were greater. She was the hands and feet of Jesus wherever she was – truly “salt and light” in an often flavorless and dark world.
Grandma was a lot different. She was spunky and full of sizzle. When asked to take a picture or when she caught sight of my camera, she’d say, “M-an-dee, you’re going to be carried out in a body bag.” (Grandma always called me Mandee and always pronounced it in three syllables.) We shared a very similar taste in men – both totally crushing on Bo Brady and John Black back in the day. When I introduced her to my husband (then boyfriend) she said, “M-an-dee, if I was sixty years younger, I’d wrestle you for him.” She wasn’t joking. And she would’ve totally taken me!
Grandma always had a fresh homemade cake, sweet potato or pecan pie resting on a ceramic cake plate in the kitchen for whoever might happen to stop by. She refused to allow anyone to help wash dishes and would run us from the room with a broom if we attempted. I remember early mornings of her cleaning house while listening to a local country music radio station. Lunch time brought the noon news followed by Days of Our Lives and then Another World. Grandma was also passionate about watching wrestling, going fishing, and drinking hot beer from a glass jar that she’d tell us children was apple juice. She loved Thanksgiving as that was usually the day that would draw all of her children and grandchildren together. When Grandma disapproved of you, you were called a “T-A” – which affectionately refers to a turtles rear end. Grandma figured you couldn’t get much lower than that.
And my precious Momma. Where do I start? I’m sure Proverbs 31:29 refers to her specifically, “Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.” My Momma has always been my best friend, closest confidant and my rock. She trained me from a young age in the Word of God and has nurtured me in that walk for all of my years. During my unruly late teenage years, she met my rebellious streak head on with prayers and with grace. She perfected being a “Nana” from the day my firstborn came into the world. My Momma has made countless sacrifices for me, my brother, and my children over the years never once asking what’s in it for her. She lives her life in devotion to Jesus with a quiet fortitude that carries her through each day. She is my role-model, and I hope to become half the woman that she is.12814190_10153229516691511_1744000826478023758_n
These precious, God-fearing ladies worked together to shape who I am today. They taught me that faith and family are what really count in this world, that good food makes for warm hearts, and hard work rewards itself. They taught me integrity, character, and perseverance. They taught me about the kind of mother (and one day grandmother) I want to be. I am forever grateful.
Have a blessed Mother’s Day, y’all!

Hush Your Mouth, Honey Child!

Hey y’all… how’s your mama and ’em?

White_squareGrowing up I tended to take things literally, so I never quite understood the old saying, “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.”  Words did hurt.  A lot. I tended to be at the receiving end of not so nice ones more times than I care to remember.  As a result, I built my own arsenal of words so that I could deliver blow by blow retaliations.  All that served to accomplish was separating friends and adding a degree of guilt to my already hurt feelings.  

James 3:7-9 (NLT) reads, “People can tame all kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, and fish, but no one can tame the tongue. It is restless and evil, full of deadly poison. Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the image of God.”  Ouch!  James continues in verse 11, “Does a spring of water bubble out with both fresh water and bitter water?”  Jesus said it like this in Matthew 12:34, “For whatever is in your heart determines what you say.”  When you listen to yourself talk, does it reflect the person you think you are?  The person you want to be?  If not, you need to work on your heart.  

Before you can change your heart, you have to begin by taking account of what you are feeding your mind.  Philippians 4:8 reads, “Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”  When you fill your mind with things that bring glory to God, your heart and your mouth will follow.  But when you continually listen to other people, movies, or music that tears down, your mouth will spew the hatred it has heard.  

Even cartoon animals are taught, “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.”  For many, (myself at times included) that is a difficult task indeed.  Proverbs 17:28, “Even fools are thought wise when they keep silent; with their mouths shut, they seem intelligent.”  Abraham Lincoln summed it up like this, “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.” 31819302_10155116422876511_1533972459101880320_n

This week use your words to encourage and to build others up.  As you listen to yourself, be aware that your words reflect the status of your heart.  If you don’t like what you’re hearing, hush your mouth, honey child.  What goes in, will come out.  As you spend more time in prayer and Bible study, your words will reflect more and more of the character of God in your life.  As for me, I think it’s going to be a quiet week as I reflect on the person I am verses the person God has called me to be.       

Have a blessed week, y’all!