LollipopandPearls Theme Song

"Lollipop and Pearls" - Jared Kraft

Saturday, March 30, 2013

New Life and Resurrection

(NOTE:  Please turn the volume down or off on the embedded player in this blog, so you can fully enjoy the song again!

Mother Nature and Father Time cannot make up their mind about the seasons this year!  Officially it is Spring; however, our Tennessee weather doesn't necessarily show it...albeit a few buttercups here and there, blossoms on the Dogwoods, blooms on the Bradford pears...and allergies galore!  New life is springing forth and soon the south will be a vibrant array of tulips, iris, varying primary and pastel hues and artist's delight from the hand of the Master Creator!

My granddaughters and I went down in our valley recently to search for Spring.  We found a few remaining sparks from a trash fire the day before, good "Girl Scouts" we blew on the embers, added small twigs and leaves, and reignited the fire.  That process led to roasting marshmallows on sticks (couldn't make Smores, as we had no chocolate or Graham Crackers  :-( ). We hiked a bit, found one mealy little buttercup, bright red leaves on our Firebush and a few green leaves dotted here and there!
Last week I went to my daughter's house (who herself is expecting new life on April 9...we will welcome to our family Kya Mae Anderson!!!  Can't wait!!!) and laying in the driveway was what she thought was trash that had fallen out of an old chair her hubby had hauled away the day before!  But that was not it at was...
So pretty!  I am always intrigued and amazed at how precious little birds creatively take found materials to make their protect their young from the elements and predators!  Stuff...junk...dry...ugly...dirty...woven into a dwelling of safety and comfort, sheltered from the storms in the covering of Mama's wings! 

While photographing this oddly beautiful abode, my precious little Skipper decided perhaps he should show who was "King of the Mountain"!
So there you have it, Mr. Skipper!  Like we hear often around these parts:  "Bird, bird, bird, bird is the word!"  YOU, little buddy, certainly are beautiful in my eyes, even if your cheeks are rosy orange!

Tomorrow is Sunday...EASTER SUNDAY!  RESURRECTION SUNDAY!  HALLELJUAH!  Christ the Lord is risen!!!  Only 3 days between the worst day in Christian history and the best day in Christian history! 

 Praise God that HE DID rise again...and He will come again to take His people back!  May you have a most happy and blessed Easter this year and every year!

Oh....and one more thing...can any of you Moms with younger children guess what these are?  If so, please leave a comment letting me know!  And...please leave a comment anyway!


Monday, December 17, 2012

Processing the Grief

"Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these" (Matt. 19:14)

Friday, December 14, 2012 twenty little children and six adults took possession of the kingdom of Heaven.  Today they are whole and happy and healthy.  Yet, today, their families...and the world...are wracked with a raw grief encompassing every fiber of our being...body, mind, soul and spirit!  Words escape us...tears consume us...questions proliferate with no logical answers...why?  Why, God?  Why young innocent children?  Why loving dedicated school staff just doing their jobs?  Why now?  Silent screams pierce our psyches, searching for rational and logical motives.  Yet, they don't come!
Opinions run rampant...the need for new or better gun laws; additional and more specific attention to mental disorders...better school much do we expose our children to the specifics of tragedies such as this....some unbridled opinions, as in the case of the supposed Morgan Freeman views through social media (check it out on Facecrooks) continue being reposted...

All of those issues are pertinent and important to discuss!  But now?  Really?  People want to know why? and where was God?  The other legislations, regulations, and policies will come in time.

So why did this happen?  Why did the shootings in the mall in Oregon happen?  Why did the shootings in Tucson occur?  WHY?  Because evil exists in this world!  Plain and simple!  When God created the world, behold He looked upon it and said it was "good" (Gen. 1: 10, 12, 18, 21, 25, 31).  He created man and woman and it was good.  But then SIN entered the world?  WHY?  Because God gave man free will, the option to choose good or to choose bad.  God set the ball in motion and allowed man to choose...and man chose evil.  So evil exists in the world even today!

In our state of "free will" over the years we, as a country, have chosen to remove God from just about every governing document or body, our schools, buildings, athletic events, etc.  The pledge to our flag still contains the words " nation, under God..."; yet, who's to say those words will remain in our pledge.  America has become a self-focused, self-reliant nation.  The New Age movement has ushered in the idea that we can do everything FOR and BY ourselves; that we are most important; that we are able to do for ourselves and need no one; we are all interconnected, and we can, through positive thoughts, heal ourselves and one another; "the human mind has much greater potential than that ascribed to it and can even override physical reality" (Wikipedia, New Age) other words, we are big, we're cool, we're in control; we don't need God...we ARE God!  In the realm of religiosity we have either removed God or moved Him down on the hierarchy UNTIL and UNLESS a magnanimous tragedy occurs!  THEN we want to reach across party lines, across religious divisions and cry out to God for help, fully expecting and anticipating His rapid response!  HOW AUDACIOUS!  HOW ARROGANT!  

No matter your political affiliation, please listen to this blatant yet candid statement by Mike Huckabee: 

Wonder what would happen if, just for a while, we were to allow God to re-enter our lives in all capacities, public and private?  HE is a good God!  He is a righteous God!  But He also is  JEALOUS God...and He WILL NOT force His way into any place He is not welcomed!  
So, since this way is not working for us (in the wording of Dr. Phil) then should we keep doing the same thing expecting different results (the definition of insanity); or should we perhaps try something maybe the "old fashioned" way of doing things like when I was growing up?  You know, like prayer in schools, at athletic events, the display of the 10 Commandments, etc. 
And...where was God throughout this whole incident?  Right where He always has been!  On His throne, looking down on the senseless and tragic incident, His heart hurting...for the deranged mental state of the gunman, for his mother whose life was blotted out, for his remaining family who will re-live this every single day for the rest of their lives, for the precious victims whose lives were stolen from them, for the families of those victims, for the first responders, for the fellow teachers, administrators, and other students, for the community of Newtown...and for the world at large.  Jesus was weeping along with each of us.  Could He have intervened?  YES!  Why did He not?  We don't know...and we will never now this side of Heaven. 
 Yet, in the words of my pastor, Pete Wilson, this is what we DO know:  " Ps. 34:18  The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.
I know in confusing times like this many people wonder…
God where are you?
God why aren’t you answering?
Do you know?
Do you care?
We wonder if there is anything that STILL holds true. Even in the face of unexplainable circumstances like this I do believe certain things still hold true.
I believe…
Love still defeats hate.
Hope is still stronger than despair.
There is a God who still answers prayer.
His mercies are still new every morning.
His forgiveness is still stronger than sin.
His guidance is still greater than human confusion.
His promises still remain more certain than human fear.
The cross is still sufficient for grace for us.
The tomb is still empty.
All this is true because 2,000 years ago, a baby named Jesus was born in a town named Bethlehem. Governments, economies, civilizations, and cultures keep coming and going, but the kingdom Jesus started is still spreading, and his light shines brighter today than it did when it started."  (Pete Wilson, Dec. 17, 2012, Cross Point Community Church).
I am clinging to those that that baby who went to a cross and rose again!  I am clinging to the only One I know can supply the comfort so desperately needed by countless people the world over.  I do not know what tomorrow holds for any of us....but I DO KNOW the ONE who holds tomorrow, and so I press in to Him, I cling to His Word and His love...and I cry out, "Abba, Father, have mercy, bring healing, and provide peace in the midst of this horrific storm!  For You along can bring hope, peace, comfort, and joy again!  And we WILL offer you ALL praise, glory and honor for every little provision along the way!"

As I end, I share the names of those precious lives lost, to honor their life and death...and I ask you to choose even one name and pray for that family throughout the holidays and the coming months, even years!

Believe it or not...PRAYER DOES CHANGE THINGS! We don't change things or people!  GOD DOES and He embodies the prayers of His people!  

My prayer for each of you reading this is that you will know the One whose birth we celebrate during this season!  If you have not yet relinquished control of your life to His control, I beg of you to do so now.  For, as in the words of our pastor to his boys during this tragedy, "None of us chooses how we die.  But we do choose how we live".

Live deliberately!  Live obediently!  Life hopefully!  And life the only one who matters, Jesus!

Merry, Merry Christmas in spite of and through it all!

Principal Dawn Hochsprung, Psychologist Mary Sherlach, Teachers Lauren Rousseau, Victoria Soto, Anne Marie Murphy, Rachel Davino (Adults) ("Kinders",  Principal Hochsprung's pet name for these six and seven year olds: Olivia Engel, Emilie Parker, Charlotte Bacon, Daniel Barden, Josephine Gay, Ana Marquez-Greene, Dylan Hockley, Madeleine Hsu, Catherine Hubbard, Chase Kowalski, Jesse Lewis, James Mattioli, Grace McDonnell, Jack Pinto, Noah Pozner, Caroline Previdi, Jessica Rekos, Avielle Richman, Benjamin Wheeler, Allison Wyatt

Sunday, December 9, 2012

A Royal Birth

A royal baby is Prince William and Kate Middleton!

The expected due date is July.  Kate has struggled with acute morning sickness and recently spent 3 days in a British Hospital under intense security, while receiving "royal" medical attention.  All the world's a stage and at the center is the expected royal baby.  Surely Kate will set trends in maternity fashion; predictions on the size and name will headline every talk show and VIP Magazine; the nursery will likely be carefully and elegantly crafted...and then the son or daughter of the heir apparent of England's throne will make a grand entrance into the lives and hearts of us all!

Over 2,000 years ago another royal birth fashion trends were set; His name, Christ the Lord,  was announced by an angel appearing in the sky (Luke 2:11).  The wise men sought him, calling Him "King of the Jews" (Matthew 2); there was no paparazzi following Him with cameras or writing articles about His arrival; there was no stylish, well-designed nursery~ rather His birthplace was likely in a a King size bed....

                                                           ...or maybe more like this
                                                   (photo credit)

To be sure there was no Fluffo or Memory Foam mattress.  Mary did not receive medical attention fit for royalty.  

Virtually every part of THIS King's birth was non-traditional by our standards.  Mary and Joseph had no physical relations leading to pregnancy; yet, she was pregnant.  They lived lives in obscurity.  There were no celebratory baby showers.  "Mary treasured and pondered all these things in her heart" (Luke 2:19).  And while there likely was much chatter from sheer shock, I doubt there was much awe of this  baby who would be born a King, yet die the lowest of commoners death!

It's Christmastime...with Black Friday and Cyber Monday! Prolific parties, dazzling decorations, merry music, generous gift giving, family feasts...
 ...but how much wonder and awe and joy does the birth of the Christ child bring you at Christmas?  Do you, like Mary, treasure and ponder these things in your heart? 

"Sing my soul, the greatness of the Lord.
Rejoice my spirit, rejoice in God my Savior.
So tenderly hath he regarded me.
So wondrously hath he exalted me.
All generations shall call me blessed, all generations shall call me blessed.
For His name, His name is Holy.
He is the mighty One.
His mercy is ever sure, His mercy is ever sure.
Sing my soul, the greatness of the Lord" 
(Celebrate Life, Ragan Courtney and Buryl Red, 1973)

And Mary said: “My soul glorifies the Lord  and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
 for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me—
    holy is his name.
His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation.                                                                 
 He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
 He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble.
 He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful  to Abraham and his descendants forever,
    just as he promised our ancestors.” (Luke 1: 46-55)

From the cradle to the the cross...ALIVE forevermore!  That's the only royal birth we should truly celebrate.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Review of Because You Care: Spiritual Encouragement for CaregiversReview of Because You Care: Spiritual Encouragement for Caregivers

Review of Because You Care:  Spiritual Encouragement for Caregivers

by Cecil Murphey and Twila Belk

I am a Mother of 3 children, the grandmother of 2 with another on the way, the daughter of an 80-year old mom, and for the past 5+ years I have been a caregiver for a home-bound, bed ridden, now 99-year old beautiful lady, who still lives in the home she and her beloved built in 1956!  I have a deep sense of respect and honor for those in society who are "older" (and, for the most part, wiser). As a young person I volunteered in a local hospital and a nursing home so I could be around the older (and wiser) ones.

It is no wonder then that when this short, yet poignant little book Because you Care:  Spiritual Encouragement for Caregivers came my way I was intrigued. I absorbed it cover-to-cover in one reading.  What I found were passionate and precious people in Cecil Murphey and Twila Belk (along with a few others), both of whom have spouses who require long-term and continual care.  This is absolutely NOT a book of self-pity or of loathing such an awesome responsibility.  Rather, it is a story of love, of sacrifice, of commitment to be true to their vows of "in sickness and in health".  Neither Murphey or Belk purpose it is easy; rather it is a daunting task, only possible with God's help and through His strength.

The accompanying photographs by Betty Fletcher offer a sense of peace and calm in the midst of hurt, confusion, pain...even guilt.  The transparency of these authors creates a support group, of sorts, for those of us who have been, are or will be caregivers at some point.  Watching their loved ones struggle through serious physiological problems while attempting to balance some normalcy of life speaks directly to the heart and soul of fellow sojourners...offering hope where there seems little and comfort where it is most needed.

I encourage you to purchase several copies:  one to keep for yourself and others to give away.  This is a bittersweet kind of read~ tears of sadness coupled with the joy of memories!