A PERFECT DOOR MAT

A perfect door mat.

A perfect door mat.

By Lisa Huddleston

Sometimes it’s easy to confuse words that we have heard repeated as truth with the “capital-T Truth” we read in the Bible. Today those truths collided as I listened to my pastor teach from the Gospel of Mark (9:30-50 to be exact.) His points were as follows:
1. True greatness is self-giving not self-aggrandizing.
2. Holiness doesn’t just happen: sin must be avoided at all cost.
And … there was probably a third point, but it somehow didn’t get recorded in my notes. However, that’s okay because it is the first point that I really needed to ponder today. Yeah–that nasty one about serving.

Honestly now, do you really like being a servant? I know there are some of you reading this who genuinely do enjoy serving others, and I am so thankful that there are people like you. But me, oh boy, not so much. Okay, there are definitely some times when I love to help others; but there are definitely times when I don’t, and it’s those “don’t” times that are really giving me trouble. And God surely has been giving me a lot of good practice in those “don’t” kinds of service opportunities lately.

It’s probably because I’ve been in that kind of a cycle that today’s sermon hit me so hard. I kept wanting to say, “Yes, but, Pastor Jim, you don’t know how hard it is to …” or “But I haven’t had any time to …” and so on. And that’s when my “truths” collided: “Sure, we need to serve others as Jesus did, but that doesn’t mean we have to be door mats.”

Really, Lisa? Where do you read that exception in the Scriptures? Jesus just took your sin on His innocent, holy self and died on the cross for you. So what’s your definition of a “door mat?”

Ugh. Yes, Jesus took it upon Himself to suffer and die in my place–He chose to do it, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t more difficult than I can ever imagine. Although He deserved all the glory, He took all the shame and derision instead. He came to serve rather than to be served, and that was exactly what He did.

AND He is my example! In spite of what nearly everyone says, maybe we are supposed to be door mats. Maybe we really are supposed to love others as ourselves, to turn the other cheek, truly to be salt and light in a decaying and darkened world. Yes! Truth hurts sometimes–especially when it crashes into my own self-centeredness–but that certainly doesn’t make it any less true.

Please, forgive me and help me, Lord, to serve as You serve–selflessly. Then, just maybe, I can become the same kind of door mat as You, one that proclaims, “Welcome!” to a hurting world.

REPENTANCE CAN BE HARD TO DO

Chuck and me at the start of the BRAWC 2013.

Chuck and me at the start of the BRAWC 2013.

By Lisa Huddleston

I’m two weeks into a time of chaos. I’ve been to Indiana, Kentucky, East Tennessee, and back home to welcome guests from Colorado, New Jersey and East Tennessee. I haven’t exercised–except for bicycling the 30 miles in the Bike Ride Across Wilson County last Saturday. I haven’t done a good job in watching what I eat (Fair food, caramel corn, pralines, homemade ice cream and so on). And I am not feeling A-okay–unless A stands for anxious.

We all know that I know better than this; but, it is just so darn easy to let life get out of control, and so darn hard to get it back to where it needs to be if I am going to be much good to anyone. But that’s what I have to do. This short post is a part of that return to the right direction. I guess we could even call it “repentance.” Yes, I’m turning away from the chaos and returning to the order I need. Just as soon as we get tomorrow’s concrete poured and this weekend’s guests settled and the upstairs bedroom redecorated and some progress made on the chicken coop and … no, really, I promise! Just as soon as I can I’ll be back on the “Long obedience” trail, back to the “Quiet Life.”

But right now, I’m off to meet my sweet daughter for lunch, to buy some more towels for the guest rooms, and back to do some laundry. Shalom?

HOT NEWS FLASH

What a great guy!

What a great guy!

By Lisa Huddleston

I guess it had to happen sooner or later, but I really wasn’t adequately prepared for this. Sure, I’ve heard friends complain about it; but, honestly, I thought they were being overly-dramatic. Truthfully, how bad could it be? It’s just a natural season of life after all. I mean it couldn’t be such a big deal–if it even happened to me at all. Well, it’s happening–HOT FLASHES–and it’s a royal pain in the patootie! Fan on, fan off. Blankets on, blankets off. Freshly showered, need another shower. Ugh! And complaining, oh yeah, just ask my husband, family, and friends. What a big baby I am! Oy vey!

Thankfully I know that this too shall pass–if I live long enough. But I hope that this lesson sticks around for a while. You never know what someone else is going through until you walk a mile in his or her moccasins. I tried to remember this truth as we visited with my dad and his wife this week. Dad has Progressive Supranuclear Palsy (PSP), and Hazel is doing what she can to care from him in their home. It’s very hard for both of them, and way too easy to walk into their difficult situation and start saying how I would do things if it were mine. Thankfully my constant hot flashes kept my judgment in check and served an ever-present reminder that I had no clue how I would really react in their situation. It kept me humble, and for that I am grateful.

Brief post, but lasting learning. Now will someone, please, get me a glass of ice water and turn up the fan?

P.S. Chuck says to remind you of the second part of that maxim about criticizing someone only after walking a mile in their shoes … “It’s safe then because you’re a mile away, and you have their shoes!” Oh my goodness.

STARING AT GOATS

Baaaaaaad idea? Hope not.

Baaaaaaad idea? Hope not.

By Lisa Huddleston

Sometimes weird stuff happens. And sometimes we think these weird things are signs from God. Sometimes they are, and sometimes they aren’t. And sometimes we just aren’t sure.

Last Saturday Chuck and I decided to ride part of the course for the Bike Ride Across Wilson County (BRAWC) which is coming up very soon. It would help us get better prepared and calm our nerves a little. We parked our car at the Mormon-Church-That-Looks-Baptist that is situated right next to the Wilson County Fair Grounds and decided to ride out for 10 miles before turning around.

It was a relatively cool day, and the ride was going really well; but when we reached 10 miles, we found ourselves at an awkward turn-around spot with three barking dogs in the road and a yelling man on the porch. Maneuvering around the hounds, we decided to ride one more mile then stop and split a candy bar and drink some water before heading back passed the dogs who we hoped would be inside when we returned.

It seemed like a good plan so we pedaled on a short bit and stopped at exactly 11 miles. There was a gravel driveway on the right side of the road, and we pulled off there to share our Payday.

(Okay, here is where you need a little background information. Chuck and I have been considering starting a “Backyard Barnyard.” He wants chickens, and I think I want goats. He has fond memories of collecting eggs at his grandmother’s house, and I just have always loved goats. Okay … back to Saturday’s tale.)

As we unpacked our “picnic” we looked into the pasture right in front of us and saw about 100 goats of different varieties. We chuckled about its being a sign, and then we heard a voice beckoning us to come on up the driveway to get a better look. The woman calling us was very friendly and hospitable, and she offered to show us around her little farm. She introduced us to the different breeds she kept and called each animal by name. She showed us her milking stands and a momma with a brand new kid in the shed. So adorable! She also had a big chicken house, pigs, and Great Pyrenees dogs. It was such fun petting the goats and peppering our new friend with questions. We were totally astounded by our good luck!

On the ride home we kept remarking on how unbelievable it was to have landed where we did. And how friendly the farmer was. And how cute the goats were. And it almost seemed like a sign. And on and on.

But does that make it more than a weird coincidence? I don’t know. Probably not … but maybe so? I have to say that I am a little scared about entering into this little venture. I grew up in the burbs. I only saw barnyard animals when we took field trips from school. But if fear rules, then I will miss out on a lot of good stuff. And as I wrote about in my last post, perfectionism is paralyzing. Will we make mistakes? Sure we will. Will things get messy at times? Sure they will. But will we learn a lot–maybe some important things that God wants us to know? I’m pretty sure we will.

Chickens and goats. Who knew? Life’s an interesting trip, and we never know what’s just one more mile down the road. But God does, and He’s already there saying, “Would you like to get a closer look?”

WHAT’S IN YOUR LUNCHBOX?

Clumpy, wet grass.

Clumpy, wet grass.

By Lisa Huddleston

I only have a few minutes to write today so a few minutes is what I’ll take. Some days are like that. For example, because of the unusual amount of rainfall in the Southeast this year, my yard HAD to be mowed today. I simply couldn’t put it off any longer. Even though it was still too wet to mow. Even though I couldn’t make it look as pretty as usual. Even though there are still nasty looking clumps of grass everywhere. The grass had to be cut today or we’d soon need to bush hog it!

Do you hate doing cruddy work as much as I? Often instead of doing something that I’m afraid won’t turn out well I simply won’t do it at all. Perfectionism can paralyze me. But doing something is usually better than never doing anything so I have to push myself to go. A recent example of this is the beautiful loom my husband bought and assembled for me. I sincerely wanted this loom. I had wanted a loom for a very long time. A thoughtful friend had even taken me to a weaving class to learn the process. But I still was afraid to even try to warp the thing. Finally, I bought beautiful yarn, got out my instructions, and went to work. I loved the process as well as the product! So glad fear and inadequacy didn’t hold me back forever.

First solo weaving project begun.

First solo weaving project begun.

As I mowed and pondered both of these examples I remembered good words from a recent sermon by Jim Thomas as well as something I read just this morning in Mere Christianity. First, Jim’s sermon from Mark 8: Jesus asked his disciples an important question. When it was time for the many people who had gathered to eat, the disciples wondered how they could feed so many, and Jesus asked, “How many loaves do you have?” Great question! How many loaves do I have? Today I’m running short on bread, but I can still make the most of what I have by sharing these words with you.

Then from C.S. Lewis: “We see only the results which a man’s choices make out of his raw material. But God does not judge him on the raw material at all, but on what he has done with it.” Awesome! God provides the material, but what we do with it is up to us.

Okay, so the grass is cut, the first weaving project is on the table, and these words are about to be published just as soon as I add some pictures and push the button. Hope you enjoy the snack from today’s lunch and that it will feed your soul at least just a bit. How many loaves do you have?