LollipopandPearls Theme Song

"Lollipop and Pearls" - Jared Kraft

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Out of the Desert

I’ve been in the desert all week, except for a couple days on the mountain…in Arizona…visiting our Dominican daughter, Viviana, and her sweet family!  It’s been a welcomed time of r & r for my man and me.  The unfortunate part is that I started the trip ill with a horrible respiratory infection and, while it has been tempered a bit with a z-pack, it lingers still.  My throat is dry and parched~ like the desert...
They did not thirst when He led them through the deserts. He made the water flow out of the rock for them; He split the rock and the water gushed forth.” ~ Is. 48:21 (NASB)
There is something oddly beautiful about the desert.  Mountains and valleys, hills and plains of Umber, Sienna, Indian red…dirt, and dust…and cactus of various sorts!  Prominent in Arizona are all sizes of the Saguaro Cactus.

The Saguaro blossom is the state flower of Arizona. These cacti take up to 75 years to produce a side arm.  The arms are grown to increase the plant’s reproductive capacity.  Some specimens can even live 150 years. They can grow from 15-50’ and begin by seed, not from cuttings. When the rain falls, the Saguaro sucks up the water and visibly expands, storing the water for use as needed.  The fruit of this cactus is ruby red, each one holding about 2000 seeds and sweet fleshy connective tissue.  These fruits are highly prized and edible.  In Arizona it is illegal to tamper with the Saguaro cactus. (Wikipedia)
Intricately designed by the God of the Universe for a specific purpose, and in spite of their peculiar appearance, the Saguaro Cactus  represents the state of Arizona.  Like the Saguaro, there are folks within each of our concentric circles of concern who, also, were intricately designed by God, but feel as though they are wandering in a desert of their own…alone!  Maybe they don’t feel attractive…or talented…or smart…or lovely…or likeable (worse yet, maybe they feel unlovable)…or needed…or wanted…or desired…you fill in the blank.  Yet, everyone has a unique and specific purpose in this life, and represents something (or someone)!  The sometimes daunting task is that of discovering who we are and whose we are!
In Christ, the old is gone and the new has come!  As believers we are dead to the world and alive in Christ Jesus!  Yet knowing that in the head and feeling it in the heart can be diametrically opposed.  There have been times in my life that I have felt as though I was wandering in the desert, all alone, with no real purpose or meaning to my life…feeling worthless and a failure…feeling that  I had so disappointed God that He could never or would never forgive me…NEVER would I be useful to His service.
“Behold, I will do something new, Now it will spring forth; Will you not be aware of it? I will even make a roadway in the wilderness, Rivers in the desert.“  ~ Is. 43:19 (NASB)
BUT GOD…in His infinite wisdom and mercy and His unfailing love…found this parched and dried up ME…and He refashioned the mold of my life to be the best me He wants me to be!
“Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for special purposes and some for common use?” ~ Rom. 9:21 (NIV)
I am not “there” yet; but I am on my way, step-by-step, moment-by-moment, day-by-day, from glory-to-glory!  Praise God from whom ALL blessings flow!
Please listen to “Desert Song”  by Hillsong United….and be richly blessed!  (The lyrics are listed below)

This is my prayer in the desert
When all thats within me feels dry
This is my prayer in my hunger and need
My God is the God who provides

This is my prayer in the fire
In weakness or trial or pain
There is a faith proved
Of more worth than gold
So refine me Lord through the flame

I will bring praise
I will bring praise
No weapon formed against me shall remain
I will rejoice
I will declare
God is my victory and He is here

This is my prayer in the battle
When triumph is still on its way
I am a conqueror and co-heir with Christ
So firm on His promise Ill stand

All of my life
In every season
You are still God
I have a reason to sing
I have a reason to worship

This is my prayer in the harvest
When favour and providence flow
I know Im filled to be emptied again
The seed Ive received I will sow

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

From the DR to Arizona

In 2001 God began weaving a tapestry of love in my life that continues to amaze me today. I spent a week in the Dominican Republic on a mission trip . One of our translators, Viviana, and I instantly connected…on a deeper level than just a working relationship. She is the same age as our middle daughter; Dominicans call her “Bebe” for short (they pronounce “v” like a “b”); my middle daughter’s nickname when she played travel softball for years was “Bebe. Vivi is beautiful, sweet, fun, funny, gives great massages (my goodness! Those hands on such a tiny little body can really go deep into the shoulder and neck tissue! It hurts so good!), and has a strong faith in God. As I left to return home from that mission trip in 2001, I handed her a note and guess what! She handed me one back, neither of us knowing the other was writing notes! I boarded the ministry bus fighting back tears as she stood below the bus window, releasing the floodgate of tears. As the bus began to pull away, she smiled, waved and with a trembling lower lip said, “I love you, Mama!” And my heavy heart broke!

Years passed. And each summer I returned to the DR with eager anticipation of loving on Vivi and many other Dominican friends…well, family, really! One day Vivi told me that a dentist from Arizona named Kent, who had been there a couple times on a mission trip, had fallen in love with her and she with him. Soon after he asked her to marry him. Now, this is no small feat when you are Dominican and a Gringo wants to bring you to the USA to marry and live. For the better part of 2 years Kent and Vivi worked tirelessly to get the American Embassy to agree to let her come, with rejection after rejection after rejection! Finally, thanks to a senator from Arizona and our good Lord, Vivi was allowed to leave the DR and marry her Prince Charming in the USA! Unfortunately her mom and siblings could not leave the country to come for the wedding. Vivi honored me so by asking me to be her “mother-of-the-bride”! One of my daughters, who had also been with us on several DR mission trips, was asked to be a bridesmaid, as well, so to Arizona we went!
 God, in His infinite wisdom and mercy, had been intricately weaving the tapestry of our lives for a number of years, but neither of us knew it! Then seven days of being in the DR and Vivi translating for me and all the rest of our team, formed a deep and a forever bond!

Vivi and Kent were expecting their first child at the same time my eldest daughter was pregnant with her youngest child. Vivi flew to Tennessee to spend some time with us, and how delightful that was to have my daughters together and 2 of them expecting little ones! Kent and Vivi’s Luke, now age 3, was born on my birthday~ another beautiful thread in the tapestry of my life!

This past summer Vivi was a bridesmaid in my other daughter’s wedding . This was another precious time for all of us to be together! My husband and I are in Arizona this week visiting while Kent is on vacation. We all leave tomorrow for the mountains to spend a couple of days sledding, snowmobiling, and having snowball fights! Living in the desert doesn’t afford many opportunities to enjoy the crisp cold snow and the fun it brings. So we will surely make lots of memories this weekend!
 (Playing with the Thomas the Tank Lego toys we brought him--he was in heaven!)

Being treated to some Dominican (and American) food here is super special! Anytime I don’t have to cook its super special…add the Dominican factor in and…well…it’s a win/win for me. Look at this beautiful breakfast we had this morning (not shown: crisp fried bacon):
 (Silver Dollar Pancakces and Huevos Rancheros)
My God has showered me with blessings abundant and I sit in awe of the creativity with which He weaves the tapestry of my life more and more beautifully every day. What blessings has He showered upon you today?

Friday, January 20, 2012


In perusing the blogosphere I’ve discovered many folks declaring a “word for the year”. (Check out some at The Lettered Cottage). So I have decided to claim a personal word, as well. Are you ready? Drum roll please!!! F.L.E.X.I.B.I.L.I.T.Y. There! I said it! WHEW! That was rough!!!! Not really…but kind of!
Flexibility is: “Stiffness" or "flexibilityy" is the pliability or rigidity of an object — the extent to which it resists bending. They are complementary concepts so the more flexible an object is, the less stiff it is (Wikipedia)”. I grew up in a home with a gentle, patient and level headed mother who preached “rules were made to be broken! In fact, I don’t like the word ‘rules’. I prefer ‘guidelines’”. Conversely my father, an alcoholic, was a “no” man~ “Daddy, can I…” “NO!” And he rarely even knew what it was I was asking. For example, I was told to be home at midnight on a very snowy evening; my actual arrival times was 12:05. I was grounded for the entire Christmas vacation albeit my sorority formal and a couple hours on Christmas Day with my boyfriend)! Really? Yeah, really! I determined right then that, when I became a Mom, I would never be that vague, that strict, that unreasonable with my children! NO WAY!!! Well…

I like the comfort and security guidelines offer. I need them and want them…I thrive under detailed guidelines. However…or should I use the proverbial “but”?... I also need/desire/want/expect flexibility within those guidelines. For example: we expect our 18-year old son to be home at a certain time, even though legally he has no curfew. However, he lives in our home; he is financially dependent upon us; he is a part of our family. We expect him to abide by (i.e. “honor” the rules of our home. However, if he cannot or will not be home at that time, and he lets us know, all is well! That’s called flexibility! Another example: for the past 10 years I have gone on a mission trip to the Dominican Republic. At the beginning of each trip we are told the “guidelines”, the “expectations”…the “rules”. The first one is always “Be flexible! If we tell you in the morning that we are doing construction after lunch and something more necessary comes up, we need you to be flexible with the change in schedule!” Because I am a detailed planner, that can mess with my head a bit! But you know what! I have learned flexibility in the DR and it has helped me be more flexible at home!

Scripture outlines God’s laws…His rules…His standard. The 10 Commandments were the blueprint for the Israelites lives. Strict laws! Specific laws! Laws about clothing, and food, and character, and behavior, and worship…laws impossible to fully comply with! Much of The Word is God’s road map for the Christian life…His expectations and promises. Call the “rules” or “guidelines” or “expectations”…He loved us enough to help us know how to live a life pleasing to Him; He loves us enough to forgive us for our failure to comply. IF God does that for me, does He not expect likewise that I will offer the same to others? YES! Yes, He does! He says in Scripture (Ephesians 4:32). That seems so reasonable …yet, it is often difficult for me to do!

So, I will work tirelessly this year to become more flexible! Will you please pray for me, that I will practice what I preach and will achieve my goal?
Many thanks and abundant blessings on your year,

Monday, January 16, 2012

The Beginning of the End

"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."
~Martin Luther King, Jr.~

What things matter to you?  Will you/do you speak up...or will you/do you remain silent?  My Daddy used to say:  "Sometimes it's better to keep you mouth shut and be thought a fool than to open it and remove all doubt!"  I ask:  who determines a fool?  

Thank-you, MLK, Jr., for risking speaking up rather than silencing your voice!  You made a difference...and that difference continues today!