You’re the best God’s got

I have a precious pastor friend who lives in Missouri who ends all his conversations with people by telling them, “You’re the best God’s got.” He’s so right. We’re all God’s got. We are his special creation, the ones made in the image of Him, the family that He started in the Garden of Eden with Adam and Eve to whom he said, “Multiply and be fruitful.”

I have been thinking a lot lately about this concept; we are the ones He chose to create in His image and be His family. He could have made any kind of being, but he chose to make human beings, with all our foibles and flaws. He gave us free will so that we could choose to love Him. Can you imagine the faith He must have had to create beings that had the ability to choose whether or not they wanted to love Him? Talk about a good self-image. He made these squirrely people and we’ve screwed things up all over the place, and yet God accomplishes what He wants accomplished. He uses what He’s got to make it happen.

Look at all the flawed people throughout the Bible and how God used them. Jonah was a racist, David was an adulterer, Saul killed Christians for a living before God called him into the ministry and changed his name to Paul. Jonah ended up saving a nation, David was called a man after God’s own heart, and Paul wrote two-thirds of the New Testament! These are some pretty important “flawed people.”

God uses flawed people . . . because He has to. We’re the best He’s got, we’re all He’s got. Don’t ever look at yourself and say God can’t use me. God can use you, and He will if you’ll let Him.

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A smiley cup of sunshine

Are you ever so tired you look at the clock and you just know it’s going to say midnight, but it’s only 8:30? Yeah, that’s how I feel tonight. I’m a little jealous of the dog; he’s already sleeping. He doesn’t have to throw that last load of clothes in the dryer or brush his teeth. He doesn’t have to wash his face and lay out clothes for tomorrow. He doesn’t have to set the timer on the coffee pot to automatically brew himself that 6:30 AM cup of Praise the Lord in Heaven Above for Inventing Coffee.

Aren’t you a little jealous of your pets? They’ve got it good, man.

Lynn and Jax and I hosted a blow-out cousin bonanza at our house this weekend. We had three medium-sized nephews on Friday night, then we traded them in for a pint-size, 2T-wearing, smiley cup of sunshine on Saturday morning. Later that day, Little Pants was joined by the cutest little blue-eyed, blond-headed, purse toting, pink and black zebra toenail polish wearing niece you have ever seen.

Although I looked, I didn’t find a partridge in my pear tree.

There were tents and pedicures, and sippy cups and flashlights, and I believe a good time was had by all.

This may actually be the first time my son has recognized the beauty of being an only child.

My hat is off to all you Moms and Dads that have three or four or five kids in your house every day. I commend you, I applaud you, I don’t envy you. You must run your dishwashers three times a day, and your poor washers and dryers! I bet you get your money’s worth out of those. Don’t get me wrong, I have my fair share of laundry, but if it were tripled, I think I would just cry. I can’t imagine how big your basket of unmatched socks must be.

So tonight I’m thankful for my husband, (singular) and my son, (singular) and my dog (singular). They are my life. I have the most precious nieces and nephews in the world, they are a joy to me and I’m very proud to be their “Auntie,” but it’s wonderful when they all go home to their Mommas and this Momma can call it a day. This must be what it feels like to be a Grandma; won’t that be fun?

Goodnight, my fellow Moms and Dads. Sweet, uninterrupted dreams to all of you.

Beef bourguignon and other life lessons

I loved the movie, Julie and Julia. Not just because I love cooking, and I love writing, and that’s sort of my name, but I absolutely loved the concept that no matter how difficult the recipe may be, if you just take it step-by-step and tackle each task head-on, you can accomplish something truly amazing.

I was inspired by Julie Powell’s two attempts to make boeuf bourguignon (Yes, I had to Google that because I do not parlez français.) That had to be incredibly intimidating not only to make this intense, intricate recipe, but she was preparing it for some high-level foodie muckety-mucks. Talk about pressure! The first (and only) time I have ever attempted to make it, I didn’t have anything like that sort of scrutiny.

So I had all my groceries lined up, I had the recipe pulled up on the laptop on the kitchen counter, and I assembled the various pots and utensils I knew I would need. I was ready to rock. I made a plan and then I just dove in, proceeding through each step of the process, chopping veggies, browning meat, and on through to the beautiful moment where I put the lid on the pot and let it do its thing for several hours. I felt fantastic! I had done it! The house smelled incredible, the pot was simmering away with indescribable beauty. And it was a triumph, it was incredibly delicious. I’ve never made anything so rich and heavenly before or since. I felt like I had killed a bear.

But how did I accomplish this? What made the difference between this night and regular old meatloaf night? I was prepared. I had a plan. I was ready. I thought through the entire process and got everything I could think of lined up and ready for my use before I needed it. I made sure I was fully prepared before I walked into the boardroom.

Just today, a new and soon to be dear friend in the Lord encouraged me with these words, “Be ready.” She told me to be prepared for what God has for me to do, because when He asks me to do it, there will not be time to prepare. Just like the parable of the ten virgins in the Book of Matthew, the five virgins that had their lamps full and ready were invited to come into the marriage supper of the Lamb when the call came. But the five foolish virgins were not prepared and could not come in and the door was shut. I’m sure they wanted to be there, I’m sure they had every intention of participating, but when the call came, they just weren’t ready.

I don’t want this to be me. I want God to look at me and say, she is ready when I’m ready for her. When I need her to act, she will do it. Nothing will make her late to dinner, she is my girl, she’s prepared! And I want to be prepared in every area, not just in the physical realm. I want my heart to be ready, I want my will to be ready.

So I choose to set everything in order that can be set in order. I choose to line up everything I can so that when God calls on me, I am reliable. I want Him to be pleased with me, and I’m willing to do what He asks. And not that I can fix every squirrely area in my life, but I can definitely work toward getting all my ducks in a row, so to speak.

Life is messy and I’m not naive enough to think I have it all together, or anybody has it all together, for that matter. But I will do my very best to be ready to answer His call when it comes.

Do memories have a why?

Christi and I grew up in the same home but I’ll wager that she has very different memories than me. We are only a year apart, but when she was 16 and going to prom, and I was sunburned, wearing shorts with a grape Nehi stain on them, I felt a decade younger. Her date was dreamy, her dress was cotton candy pink, her lips were glossy and her smile was radiant. I remember being happy for her and very impressed. Not jealous, just wistful. I didn’t go to a prom for another 3 years.

I remember the smell of hamburgers grilling at the ninth hole snack shack and Baskin Robbins chocolate mint ice cream. The heavy pine scent at my grandparent’s house in Oregon. The damp musty smell of the cellar underneath the Franklin house, where I would play hide and seek. The creak the floorboards would make as I walked across my bedroom. Swinging from the metal spiral back staircase. The lazy summer mixture of fertilizer and chlorine by Munna’s pool. The very soft fur of Peter, the neighborhood stray cat that always came to visit me.

Powerful memories conjured up by smells and tastes. Why is this so? Why do we remember the smell of something so much more than the emotion of an experience? Or maybe we do remember the emotion, but it’s our nose that triggers it.

What triggers your emotional nose?

I don’t remember what perfume I wore at my wedding. I don’t remember the smell of the hospital room where my son was born. I don’t remember much of anything about the time when I first met Lynn. But I caught a whiff of something the other day at work that transported me in a split second to my Grandpa Ernie’s home office down the hallway of their old house in Wilsonville. It smelled like Grandpa and books, and adding machine paper. And it had a poster on the wall urging people not to smoke. Grandpa had smoked when he was a younger man and suffered from emphysema for many years before he finally passed away in 2003.

Grandpa was very special to me.

The Franklin house was very special to me.

The memory of that cat . . . well, I may need therapy on that one.

There are entire years that have vanished from my memory, yet I remember the names of obscure bands such as Orchestral Maneuvers in the Dark and El Debarge. Go figure.

I have been accused of having a selective memory. If that’s the case, it doesn’t seem like I’ve selected very well.

Hmmm . . . I will have to give this some serious thought and report back to you with my findings.

Kick fear in the rear

Things that make me see red: Someone cuts in front of me and steals my parking space that I have painstakingly waited for, the manicurist nicks me and draws blood while trimming my cuticles, or the trash men leave my upturned cans in the middle of the driveway and I back into one.

These things have happened to all of us . . . perhaps a smaller percentage of you men have experienced the manicure part. But there are a thousand things, even little things that can take us from zero to sixty in 2.8 jigowatts.

Personally, I admit to having minor bouts of road rage. I am a careful and relatively slow driver. I usually have children in the car with me and even when I don’t, I’m just not that aggressive. But when someone cuts me off, or runs me off into the shoulder, or tailgates me, I am like a cornered bear. I can feel the heat surging up inside me and a string of really ugly words threaten to hurtle out of my mouth. I think the real reason I get so mad on the road is that I get scared. And I think fear may be the reason that many of these issues make us see red.

My first thought when I hit that trash can is, “Oh, Lord Jesus, I have hit a child!” Or when I’m on the road and someone gets aggressive with me, I feel the danger of a possible accident and I get scared. The manicure part, well when that pain comes, it hurts and it ticks me off and I get scared she’s going to gouge the rest of my fingers. So each of those instances boil down to fear.

We get in a big fight with our spouse . . . fear that it will never be reconciled and that we’re stuck with this person who has so many flaws. Money pressure . . . fear that there won’t be enough money to take care of our needs. Job pressure . . . fear that we can’t get the job done or fear we’ll get fired or overlooked for promotion. Depression . . . fear that life will never get better and things will always be bad. I could go on and on.

Fear is a killer, fear is a four-letter word. Fear can cause heart attacks. Fear can make your hair turn gray. Fear can destroy your family. Fear can destroy your marriage. Fear can worm its way in and before we know it, we can find ourselves totally paralyzed.

Fear won’t fix anything. Fear won’t soothe a wound. Fear won’t heal a hurt. Fear won’t mend a fight. Nothing good will ever come of it.

Kick fear in the rear.

I used to struggle with really bad dreams and I said and did some weird things in my sleep. It was just the devil trying to torment me and mess with my head. Over the years I have developed an arsenal to fight back when fear comes; which is still tries to do. It’s not a battle you just win one time and then the devil leaves you alone. It’s a constant battle. But it’s one that we can and must win.

My choicest weapons were these: I wrote down and memorized every scripture about sleep and rest and peace that I could find. Then I swung those words out there like a sword. I prayed in the Spirit, and spoke those verses over myself before I went to bed. And if I awoke in the middle of the night, I would do it again until I’d fall back asleep. Eventually, I had that battle licked.

With daily stresses in life, I was prepared with scriptures that reminded me of God’s promises to never leave me nor forsake me, Hebrews 13:5, and I would cast my cares on Him because He cares for me, 1 Peter 5:7, and I would say that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me, Philippians 4:13, and the big mama, the mack-daddy fear buster, God has not given me the spirit of fear, but love, power, and a sound mind, 2 Timothy 1:7. I had Jaxon saying that one when he was just a little tiny guy.

I encourage you to recognize fear when it tries to come against you in its many forms. Understand that it’s the devil and it’s not of God, and know that you don’t have to put up with it. Read The Manual; develop your arsenal, sharpen your knives, don’t go into battle naked. Suit up and kick fear in the rear!

Abiding in the shadow

When it comes to my son Jaxon’s budding social life, nothing feels better to this mother than knowing her child is safe and having fun and feeling included in a group of great kids.

Well, he has found a new group of kids in the neighborhood and begun hanging out with them, riding bikes, shooting airsoft guns, blowing up frogs . . . boy stuff. These boys are a little older than Jaxon, which is very cool. And they have older sisters . . . with friends. Double cool.

It made my heart sing when he called to check in with me from one of their houses and told me they were going to a movie. I had been puttering around the house and the yard and the garage, taking advantage of the first day it actually felt like Spring and I got to thinking about how the Lord must feel when we’re doing good, and how His heart must sing when He sees His children successful, fulfilled, and belonging.

Psalm 91 tells us that if we dwell in the secret place of the most high, then we will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. To me, that word abiding says chilling out, hanging out, chillaxing. That is exactly what my son was doing today, he was hanging out in the shadow of the Almighty. He was safe, protected, successful, and fulfilled.

Just like we are covered with the protecting warmth of God’s feathers, Jaxon had made some new friends, some older friends, some cool friends; friends who would raise his hip factor as he walks down the halls at school exponentially, friends that would give him that extra layer of protection from any junk that might get thrown at him. (Jaxon has always been a cool kid, but having older friends at school is a major bonus. We all know this, right?)

It just made me smile to think of my boy hanging with these bigger kids. And it made me happy.

I was trying to think of a picture that might encapsulate this little Saturday afternoon post, and I took a look over at my dog. The dog was snoring so loudly, he was drowning out the Spring birds and neighborhood lawnmowers. Now this is what I call hanging out in the shadow of the Almighty. A freight train would not have disturbed him.

Jump or dive

My sisters and I used to love this game called Jump Or Dive. It was a hilarious game that our Dad played with us when we would go swimming where ninety percent of the time, someone would end up doing a belly buster . . . or five.

Dad would sit by the pool and one of us would stand on the diving board, all the way at the back. We would take our running start and spring into the air, and at the moment we would get airborne, Dad would yell either Jump! or Dive!

You can imagine the myriad of disastrous entries into the pool we would achieve.

It was nearly impossible to not try to guess what he was going to say, and no matter how hard you tried, you would have your decision made by the time you got to the end of the diving board and bounced. You were either going to jump, or dive, or land flat on your face, or a combination of the three.

I was reading a blog today, (imagine that!) Actually, it was a blog about blogging and knowing your audience, and providing them what they want, and all that jazz. It was a little “selly” for my taste, but it had a winner of a one-liner that has stuck with me all day. This blogger encouraged writers to, “Be willing to zig, even if you are 100% certain you are going to zag.”  I immediately thought about this game.

It’s a question of commitment! You have to be totally committed to obeying a command with only a split-second warning. You are literally in the air and the water is coming up to meet you quickly, and you have to hear the instruction and do it. It’s kind of like being a minister. And not just the kind that stands in a pulpit or travels the world preaching the Gospel, but a born-again believer who knows the Lord and shares Him when the opportunity arises.

The Bible instructs us to, “Preach the Word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.” (2 Timothy 4:2) We need to be ready to move if the Holy Spirit tells us to We never know when our paths might cross someone who desperately needs what we have. The Jesus we show that person with a smile, a kind word, a hug, might be the only Jesus they ever see. (I try to remember this concept when I run to the grocery store with no make-up on.)

So I’m reminding myself as well as you, be ready to jump or dive. Be ready to zig or zag. Be ready for the open door to share the love of God. The more you are ready and willing to be a blessing, I believe the more opportunities will come your way. People can sense when you’re open to sharing with them, they can also sense if your door is closed and your blinds are drawn. Keep yourself in ready-position in the spirit and in the natural. You never know who God may use you to influence for eternity.

God doesn’t play the Toys R Us card

Do you ever promise your child that you will take them to Toys R Us? Do you ever wave that in front of them like a big carrot in the hopes of getting them off your back for a moment? Have you ever even used it in desperation? Am I the only one who occasionally manipulates my child?

Oh, for shame.

As painful and embarrassing as this may be, I stand before you and confess that I have used Toys R Us as a bargaining chip with my son, and possibly my husband as well.

I admit this to you in the hopes of creating a picture of how untrustworthy people are, and how trustworthy God is. In the book of Isaiah, the prophet says of God . . . So shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it. (Isaiah 55:11)

God will never tell you He is going to take you to Toys R Us and then not do it.

God doesn’t manipulate. God doesn’t bargain. God doesn’t tease or beg. God means what He says. If God says He’ll do something, then you can rest assured that He will do it.

When I was in college, God made me a promise. Of course the promise is found in the Bible along with many others, but this specific promise, I know the Lord spoke to ME and promised to ME. It was personal and I carried it in my heart for many years, still do. He told me, All your children shall be taught by the Lord, And great shall be the peace of your children. (Isaiah 54:13)

I remember laying in bed in my dorm room and reading those words, unable to imagine that one day I would have a child. I remember thinking it couldn’t be. I remember closing my eyes with my Bible splayed across my chest and my arms folded over it and praying for it to be true. Peace was something I wasn’t intimately acquainted with at the time. Thankfully, that is no longer the case.

I was no different from a lot of the kids I went to school with. We were angst ridden and confused and hormonal and angry. That also, is no longer the case, thank God.

My point is this. God’s promises are trustworthy. HE is trustworthy. He promised me peace for my child and I can honestly tell you, I have never met a more peaceful, secure, well-adjusted kid than my son. Jaxon has a peace in his little spirit at 9-years-old that I didn’t find until I was nearly 29. Anyone who has met him knows his amazing confidence and assurance in who he is. He thinks he’s the deal.

God made good on His Word. He always does. He always will. Don’t let go of His promises, no matter how long it takes, no matter how bad it looks. Don’t let go. Even if it takes 20 years, trust God to be faithful to His Word.

A nifty feature

Blogs have some nifty features. My favorite feature of WordPress, the blog platform that I use, is the fact that it tells me how people stumble upon my site. For example, if someone types my name into a search engine, and then click on a link, WordPress makes a record of it. It doesn’t tell me who searched for me, just how.

So every day I see Google hits for “Juli Mize.” Sometimes I see “Julie Mize,” but I quickly forgive those people. I have gotten lots of readers that were searching for song lyrics. The fact that I talk about Bon Jovi and Journey catches searchers in my Google net.

I have to laugh when I think of people searching for random things and they find me all preachy and goofy and talking about God knows what. I hope they get a chuckle, maybe a bit of insight, and I hope they come back!

Here are my favorites so far:

Slain in the spirit skirt

Truckstop

Stumped

Don’t people island

Personal point of view about housekeeping

Germs in water

My copy of God is great

German shepherd singing

Flukes

Winter babe

зимнее утро (My blog went to Russia!)

Fall over laughing

Mize special

Are we crazy

Pink camo truck

Prayer language phrases

Steve Perry awful singing

What to do if you have a bellyache

Meat fork

And my all time favorite . . . Boy crying because he has to pee.

juli mize 11
juli roberts mize 8
found a fork in the road 2
thoughts 2
thankful for you 2
us truck stop 1
language 1
bible fork in the road 1
my prayer language 1
londia 1
danielle lamirand 1
don’t stop believin journey 1
when someone says don’t go crazy 1
lynn mize ministries 1
julimize.com 1
prayer language syllables 1
baby grand piano living room 1
growing to do list 1
with my apologies 1
lynn mize tulsa 1
what to do if you have a bellyache 1
your prayer language 1
skirt slain in the spirit 1
children layer salad 1
“what the what”

My 100th post

In honor of my 100th post, I’d like to give away a million dollars. Oh wait, that would mean I must have a million dollars. Scratch that. What else could I give away? Twenty bucks? I have that. Some gray hair? I definitely have that.

In all seriousness, I want to thank you all for reading my little blog. You guys make me smile all over myself. You know, life can feel really lonely sometimes. It helps me so much to hear that you guys are going through the same things I am, and you have struggles too. It’s nice to know I’m not alone.

And while I know we are each unique individuals, the human condition is universal. People deal with tough stuff and it’s only the devil that lies to us and tells us we’re the only ones. His motto is divide and conquer. If he can keep us feeling alone and like we’ll never make it, then none of us can put either a thousand to flight, or ten thousand to flight.

This blog brings us together and that probably makes him mad. Well, as my sister-in-law Lori says, “Poop on the devil.” Yep, we stand in unity saying we serve a great God whose Word is the final authority, and together we can put ten thousand to flight.

So thanks for reading 100 posts. Thanks for laughing, thanks for commenting, thanks for thumbs upping me, thanks for telling your friends and sharing my posts, thanks for encouraging me to keep going. Thanks for being there; you guys are the best!