Bloom Where You Are Planted

I can’t believe it has been since September that I have posted, but I know it has been that long that I have been struggling.

I’m going to test your memory. Remember the test that you have taken to know what spiritual gift you have? You may have the gift of  teaching, serving, giving, etc. Many people have more than one. Do you think that God changes these gifts in your life? This is an honest question.

I have had several gifts for many, many years and I have felt a tug from God to go in another direction. How in the world do you say NO to using your gifts? This has caused sleepless nights, bad dreams, stress, until I began to pray about this certain activity.

I was given an amaryllis plant at Christmas and I put it on my desk and I have watched it miraculously grow, produce what would turn out to be the most beautiful blooms. I walked into work last week and saw the plant in full bloom.

I was doing my bible study last week and this jumped off the page at me:

Because we have Christ, no matter WHAT is going on around us, there is always a reason to rejoice. Because Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever;…”

“Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever;…” I looked at the plant again and this phrase came to me – Bloom Where You Are Planted. Okay, so, what? I listened a little closer.  This plant requires NO water. It is not in a pot and is not in the ground. It made me ask the question of myself, where am I planted that I can pour out the beauty of Christ? I immediately started with the area I was struggling and a peace came over me to let it go.

I have two areas right now that I feel responsible to concentrate on in my life; home and work. I have struggled over the last six months to be the person that writes the gratitude list, the person that journals in five colors (and spent too much money to try), that studies from three bibles, that is committed to two bibles studies, and even rearranged my dining room to have a study area.

To be honest, my name is Lisa and I have tremors. I can barely write study notes anymore. I work 60 hours a week (hard). My husband and I need each other desperately during this time in our life to make it through his cancer battle and my migraines.  We just found out today he has another melanoma and there will be more surgery.  My son needs me and he is growing into a wonderful young man and I am SO proud. I need to be on top of my game at Burch, Porter & Johnson for many reasons.  A smile goes a long way.

Bloom Where You Are Planted. . .

“God has planted you where you are that you might be a blessing. He wants you to take deep root. He wants you to bear rich fruit. And if you will draw upon His spiritual power, He will enable you to be a blessing. Bloom where you are planted and bear fruit to the glory of God and the enrichment of others.

God has blessed you with certain abilities so you may invest them in others and bring glory to Him. As you use your God-given talents, you glorify Him and bless others. Draw from God’s spiritual resources and let Him use you to enrich others. (Ps. 80:8-13)”

                                                                                          The Baker Publishing Group

Yes, Lord. I hear you. I will strive to bloom where you have planted me as a wife, mother, and employee. Do not be afraid to step back, look, and bloom.

(Yes, this is my plant pictured)

flower

I’m Only Human

You have to admit it. You started singing the song, right? “… of flesh and blood I’m made.” Human League from 1986. That is exactly what I thought Monday when Jay called me after seeing Dr. Fleming and told me his biopsy returned as cancer in his neck.  I will tell you, I was angry.  It was a throw your hands in the air and scream – What the hell? – kind of anger.

Then I crashed. Rock bottom. Do not look at me; do not talk to me, kind of crash (at work).

Trust me, God was not on my radar to run to for answers. Why? Because I have done it time after time, occurrence after occurrence and still…cancer. I am not even the one fighting it! Jay has to endure more than I do. So much more. His words ring in my ears, “I hate this.”

I put my foot down and said enough.

That might have been when God laughed. Or maybe when I was spilling my guts in the office of one of the attorneys I work for at Burch, Porter & Johnson.  My kind friend, as tears streamed down my face said, I’m glad you are in here. No, I do not really think God laughed at me.  I truly believe He saw my hurt and understood that I was hurting for my soulmate that He had so graciously given me. He knew the crushing weight of emptiness I felt because I could not and still cannot help my husband.  I also believe He was preparing someone else to minister to me also.

Monday nights are when I attend a high school bible study and help as a small group leader. I immediately thought, there is NO WAY I am going there and act as if I have it all together, because I obviously do not. I might cry or yell in front of one of those precious kids and I just could not take that chance.  So you text the leader, right? I did not want to hear her words either. I think she knew that, but she was persistent.

This is what she shared: (We are studying Exodus) She said, “I don’t know if you have read chapter 5 yet, but it is good and right where you are.” (I am thinking yeah Moses, come on down, join me.) “And in 6:1 God doesn’t shame him or condemn him or even strike him dead, but just gently reminds Moses…just watch what I will do.  It has nothing to do with you Moses, it is all about Me and when it is done…I will be glorified and it will be for your good.”

As you can imagine, by this time I am in tears reading her text.  Her words were hard, but truth, as we both agreed. Sometimes the truth, especially the word of God, is hard to hear or read. However, when it is delivered in a loving, caring manner, God can change the heart of the receiver. Isn’t that why we pray for others?

She went on to share:

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever!” Ephesians 3:20-21

Yes, that anger was fleeting, but it was there.  As I said at the beginning, I’m only human; of flesh and blood I’m made. Anger, frustration, worry, and anxiousness, all things that cause us to drift from God were filling my heart.  Nevertheless, God did not drift away from me or from Jay. I cancelled all commitments for the week (except women’s bible study), and we did what we always do, we have watched television together, ate pizza, and talked football (oh, and maybe Big Brother).

Jay and I are registered to participate in the West Fight On Run/Walk tomorrow.  We both have agreed to stay home and do a little cleaning before football. (He does not know about the cleaning part.) We know that only with God makes us stronger together.

Jay has his PET scan on Monday to see if his cancer has spread. He will then see Dr. Tauer and decide which specific chemo pill he will take with the plan to eventually have radiation.  Things always change.

We ask for your prayers as we file insurance claims, juggle this and that, and mostly for Jay to endure the side effects without missing work. We have a good group of firefighter family and growing in Living Hope Church. I also have other friends battling cancer that need prayer.

When someone steps in to speak truth, listen. You may not want to hear it at the moment, but it will eventually soak into your soul and feed you where your heart is aching.  Be thankful for those that speak truth to you and remember they are human also.

#cancerstillsucks

Only Human

Married or Single?

My sweet boy:

I have to tell you Buddy, your Aunt Donna and I saw Hamilton last week. Oh, it was something you would have loved! Almost as much as Wicked.  As Aunt Donna and I sat outside on a bench, I asked her, “What do you think Trey would be doing at 23?”  She had no idea. I think, as many “girl” friends as you had, you would have been married. We had a good laugh about that.  Well, look at all your male friends! They are just about all married!

Ms. Shawn (I know, you don’t know her, but you know Taylor), said something to me after the anniversary of your death.  She said I seem to be handling things with more strength.  She couldn’t put her finger on it.  I told her I knew.  I’ve allowed myself to grieve for you. I’m not letting anyone influence me anymore.

I had a rough time one week and I talked to Papa K.  I just didn’t know what to do.  They lost Oreo, Trey. And he told me that just like Oreo will always be a part of them and they will miss him as they walk through life, so will be the same with you, but to a greater grief.  I will always walk through life with an amount of grief as a mother with you beside me.  It was like a light bulb went off.

How can I not grieve? I’ve thought about it a lot this week. I’ve been in the bed and tried to remember the feeling 23 years ago and how massive my belly was.  You kicked the fool out of me. Sometimes it really hurt. As with labor pains, so does death of the child.

God has put us at Living Hope and Trey, it has been such a blessing.  I met someone who lost their child many years ago. They were able to share with me that missing your baby just doesn’t go away and no one should ever tell you to get over it. I felt SO much better! It was like a weight was lifted. God has put many in our path.  Remember Ms. Anita and Ms. Janice?

Honey, I know you didn’t want us upset.  But on earth, we don’t have the ultimate joy you have in heaven even though we try.

Sometimes, things are pitch black, as if I’m looking down a dark tunnel.  I feel as if my heart will break and there is total emptiness.  But, the goodness of God fills my soul somehow.  I do ask Him why.

Why God are you still forgiving my anger?

Why God are you still loving me after crying with jealously of other parents?

A friend of mine posted this and it’s so true:

“We tend to stay away from mourning and dancing. Too afraid to cry, too shy to dance…we become narrow-minded complainers, avoiding pain and also true human joy…While we live in a world subject to the evil one, we belong to God. Let us mourn, and let us dance.” Henri Nouwen

Trey, I still mourn. But buddy, I do dance.  And I’m so thankful for the people in my life that are still willing to walk beside me and your daddy and mourn with us when we need it.  You know the 24’s take care of us! You know God understands.

I know you would be so proud of Collin.  He’s growing up and trying to find his way. He’s wanting that truck that you wanted to buy. So when he gets it, I know he’ll think of you.

I need to stop the tears and end this Happy Birthday.  Another year of healthy in heaven.  Please hug Jimdaddy for us.  We miss him so.  I know you were glad to see someone else to play basketball with!

Dad and I still cling to James 1:2-3 “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 endurance.”  We endure many trials and we continue to grow.

Love you Buddy.

Iphone 2017 1153

 

30 Years Unplanned

img_2668Climbing the ladder.

That is exactly where I was 30 years ago.  I was working at Union Planters National Bank where I had been for 5 years.  They had graciously paid my tuition to State Tech were I earned an Associate’s Degree in Banking and Finance.  I had my life planned out.  I was going to work my way up the ladder.  But, for some reason, I kept finding myself hitting dead ends.

I was moved from department to department.  I was promised one promotion after another.  I even had a position created for me because they did not want to see me leave.  I worked with the best people.  I even worked with a man named Jerry Erwin.  Yes, my future father-in-law (which I did not know at the time).

In the summer of 1988 at age 23, my mother said to me, if you do not stop living the way you are living, you will need to find another place to live.  Well, talking about ruffling feathers.  I wasn’t doing anything wrong except struggling to find my independence.  A couple of days later, my mother said to me that she had prayed about it and told me that I could stay at home.  I didn’t know what had changed.  She just said she had prayed.

Prayer.

Gradually, Union Planters was finding less and less work for me to do.  I was not happy in my job and my spiritual life was in the tank.  My personal life wasn’t too bad because I was juggling three relationships – none of which were Jay.  Until one day, my sister called me at work in late October 1988 and said that her friend had to quit her job at a law firm and she thought I would be perfect.  It was a small office and only two attorneys.  I jumped at the opportunity.

Change.

I must have wowed them with my long brown hair, black plaid suit with satin purple blouse, and black stilettos.  I got the job immediately.  November 1, 1988, I began my career in the legal field with Henrich and Jetton.  Yes, 30 years go.  Everything I had worked for, dreamed about, and gone to school for I threw out the window and pursued the legal field.

During my ten years at Henrich and Jetton, I received several certifications and I have a lengthy resume from serving on local and state legal association boards.

I don’t want to let it pass that my first date with Jay was December 10, 1988.  In the early years, his dad and I had plenty to talk about when he would come on from work before he retired.  But I knew I had done the right thing by leaving Union Planters and banking in the past.

On March 1, 1999, and very pregnant with Collin, Burch, Porter & Johnson hired me to continue to work in the estate planning and divorce field.  I had many friends at Burch, Porter & Johnson at the time and the fit with Joe Duncan just seemed right.  Even though I was told – “You better not work for him.” Almost 20 years later, I am so glad I didn’t listen to them! I work for a christian, compassionate, loving, praying man – and yes, he IS an attorney! He has mellowed, trust me.  There are many jokes about THAT!

Purpose.

I have watched God move in the most amazing ways over the last 30 years.  I have befriended many divorce clients and felt that God has used me to be their “light at the end of the tunnel” when they have felt they could not go on.  Since I have experienced the deepest groanings with death, I have been able to share with my divorce clients that divorce does mimic death.  There is grief.  There is mourning.  There is change.

This also applies to estate planning.  When appropriate, many have such a hard time deciding life-ending decisions.  I truly believe God opens the door for me to mention Trey and his peace at the end of his life.  The client usually always know who Trey is and our story.  God is so good to give me the prompting to share our story.

Lesson.

Listen to God. Be ready for change. You might have that piece of paper, but that might not be where God wants you.  I never thought that I would be at this same desk 20 years later trying to keep the same man organized (and a few others – Charlie Newman and Scott Crosby – whom I love dearly).  I never thought I would experience the loss of my first boss, Ernie Jetton, who taught me so much in 10 years.  Then there is Ed Mullikin.  We shared an office.  “Ed, what’s a NTBF!” “ED! GREG COTTON CALLED YOU AGAIN!” And that’s where my journey began.  November 1, 1988…30 years ago.

Always be ready for a journey.  Your life is a journey.

(P.S. Can you tell I have a migraine in this picture? Ugh. – with Joe Duncan)