A lot can happen in a decade

A lot can happen in a decade. Ten years ago, I hardly knew myself. I was 29, a new mother, I suppose I was also still a relatively new wife, having been married only five years. I lived in a town that was not my home, after moving through several other towns that were not my home.

I had gotten up that morning of June 25, 2001 and gone to my regular doctor’s appointment. I was two days past my due date. They gave me an ultrasound and estimated Jaxon’s weight at ten pounds. After I fell off the table, I calmly said, “How about we get some pitocin on board and get this show on the road before Tom Turkey here gets any bigger?” My doctor agreed and admitted me to the hospital. Jaxon was born at 10 PM after much pushing and some pulling too. He weighed just under nine and a half pounds.

When they roused me from my demerol induced coma, I was astounded to look into those deep blue eyes and feel the grip of those tiny fingers. My awe and adoration only slightly diminished when he latched on and began nursing. Yikes!

But seriously, my world changed that day, and so much for the better. What a gift my child is. What a treasure, what an awesome responsibility. I thank God for bringing him into my life and giving me the honor of being his mother.

Happy Birthday to my son, Jaxon Walker Mize. Welcome to the double digits, buddy!

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Coffee conundrum

I never finish my second cup of coffee. I always have good intentions . . . I always say to myself, “Yes, I need that second cup. One is just not enough.” And then when I get about halfway through it, and I am nearing the end of my getting-ready-for-work process, I don’t finish it and I leave it on the bathroom counter. Or if I’m feeling very OCD that morning, I’ll take it to the kitchen sink.

If you’re aware at all of my monumental cheapness, you will understand how this waste of the precious nectar of life is unacceptable.

Well, I have had a revelation.

Remember how I told you I was sleepy and kinda funky between 4 and 6 in the afternoon? How about iced coffee from my leftovers, and save myself the $5 that I would have spent at Starbucks? It’s hot out, iced coffee is good, iced coffee is free, iced coffee is yummy.

I realize a smarter woman would have figured this out already, but I have never professed to be smart.

Here’s what I did. Put the half a cup in the refrigerator before leaving for work and when I get home, fill a big glass with ice and a sweet-n-low, then pour the coffee over it. It’s already got cream in it so it’s perfect. Mix and enjoy. And then I blog while I’m enjoying my big iced coffee.

Aren’t you glad I shared this? I am so crafty. Not.

Happy weekend to you all!

Sometimes we just need to listen

So I taped a little TV today for Oral Roberts Ministries. Yeah, that’s something I really didn’t think I’d ever say. But it was actually pretty fun. It was a “Man on the Street” type of thing where I stopped people in downtown Tulsa and asked them questions about God and the devil and Heaven and Hell and all that jazz. The answers I got were fascinating; people are twisted, man!

I have to admit I was really nervous about the whole thing, but not because I was afraid to approach people. Face to face soul-winning on the streets of Montego Bay, Jamaica cured me of that fear, thank you Terry Mize. I even had a strange urge to approach the ones that looked like tough cases, but alas, that was not my job today. I was only supposed to interview the ones that my producer brought to me. And he did a wonderful job selecting people. We got a good cross-section of opinion from Bible-believing Christians across the board to atheists. There was this one guy who expounded on what he thought the Rapture was all about. He got a little bit X-rated, I chuckled a lot and thanked my lucky stars we were only taping and not live.

It was kind of difficult enticing people to stop and talk to us during their busy day, but when we did get someone, I was surprised at how my questions instantly mellowed them, and they opened up and shared their thoughts about these weighty issues. A few were defensive, daring me to disagree with them, but I was not there to debate. I just wanted to hear their hearts.

People don’t know what’s going to happen to them after they die. They don’t know if Jesus is really coming back for His Church. They hope He is, they hope they’re part of that great Catching Away, but they’re not sure. The whole experience made me sad that people are not more confident of their salvation, confident of eternity. I’m so confident in it myself, it made my heart ache for those that wonder what’s going to happen.

And people are hurting, hurting bad. We all know this, this is not news, but you can see it in their eyes, you can hear it in their voices. And they were genuinely open to talking to me because I did nothing but listen, I listened and smiled and then thanked them and sent them on their way.

We don’t always have to engage everyone we meet in a battle of words, a battle of theology, a battle of brainpower. Sometimes people just need you to shake their hand, look them straight in the face and smile and listen.

I hope that in some small way, the people I met today felt the love of Jesus flow through me. I hope they walked away and thought, “I know that girl works for a Christian ministry, but she just smiled and listened and it seemed like she actually cared what I thought. Hmm, that was refreshing.”

We don’t know what we’re missing until we realize we can’t do without it

I’m a huge fan of British Period movies; Jane Austen, turn of the century stuff, and anything made by Masterpiece Classics. Oh, I’m such a sucker. Lucky for me, I can watch them to my heart’s content on Netflix, and I can do it from the privacy of my laptop and Bose headphones and neither of my boys can complain.

For the last two nights, I’ve been engrossed in a seven-hour miniseries called Downton Abbey. I cannot tell you how entertaining it has been to me. Something about a slower time and gentility and fancy dresses and corsets giving you a fantastic figure . . . I don’t know I just dig it.

Anyway, Downton Abbey is the name of a grand estate which is home to the Earl of Grantham and his family. The film is set just before World War One breaks out between England and Germany and his lordship and her ladyship were just having their first telephone installed. They had only recently gotten electricity in the house and nobody was used to it. In fact, they didn’t even appreciate it. They just knew it was the latest and greatest thing, so they had to have it.

There was a scene where the Dowager Countess of Grantham, aka Grandma, shielded her eyes dramatically upon entering the drawing-room as if the new-fangled electric light would blind her. It was quite comical.

I was pondering this today and it struck me; telephones and electricity changed the world. We couldn’t possibly do without them now. Can you imagine being stuck with candles and the Pony Express in 2011? And yet, they were perfectly content to sit in dim parlors for evenings upon end, not being able to see across the room. But after some time went by, they realized the usefulness of these things and quickly adapted.

They didn’t know what they were missing until they realized they couldn’t do without it.

It’s just like spending time with God. You may be going along thinking life is great and while you have your share of problems, you always manage to get through them and you don’t really realize that you could be going through these issues with back-up! Back-up like the Holy Spirit and the Word of God, which Proverbs 4:22 says is life to those who find it, and health to all their flesh. The Holy Spirit is the Advocate, the Teacher, the Helper. Who wouldn’t want that? And once you get a taste of walking through life with the help of the Helper, why would you ever want to go back?

But we do. We fall off in our bible reading, we slack off in praying in the Spirit. We go weeks at a time and realize we haven’t asked the Lord for help, we haven’t thanked Him for any of our blessings, we have turned to friends or food, or substances, or a myriad of other things that are only a poor substitute for what God can and wants to do for us.

We don’t know what we’re missing until we climb back into the comforting presence of the Lord and we wonder, what was I thinking?

My silly British miniseries about an aristocratic family and all their foibles reminded me of this. I’m not sure that’s what PBS had in mind when they filmed it, but I thank them just the same.

To condemn or condone

Remember¬†Deep Thoughts by Jack Handy? Well, these are some of mine. Don’t ask me where it’s coming from. I have no idea. Yesterday I got a pedicure; maybe all that scrubbing and scraping got my neurons firing, who knows. But this is my blog and I can opine if I want to. (Insert smiley face here so people won’t think you’re a jerk.)

We all think differently, we all believe differently. And none of us have it right across the board. We can’t simply adopt someone’s total viewpoint and make it our own, nor can we be so opinionated that we close ourselves off and won’t hear someone else’s heart.

So how do we think like Christians? How do we get it right? Do we just ask ourselves, “What would Jesus do?”

Well, here goes the opine part: “What would Jesus do?” is a dumb question.

Come again?

In my opinion, the whole WWJD thing is flawed because people vary so immensely on what they think Jesus would actually do. And we are smart enough to argue our viewpoint that Jesus meant this, or Jesus meant that. Heck, we can find it ten ways in ten different translations.

Personally, I think fancy bible words make Jesus seem more meek and mild than He actually was. Remember, He did call the Pharisees a brood of vipers (Matthew 12:34), and He did overturn the money changers’ tables (Matthew 21:12). What’s the difference in that and walking into a store at the mall and calling all the people in there snakes, and kicking over the mannequins and dumping all the neatly folded shirts in the floor? Nothing, really. But bible language somehow softens the blow.

I think Jesus was tough when He had to be, gentle when it was appropriate, and called a spade a spade when it was necessary. He turned the question back to the accusers in John 8 when the scribes and Pharisees brought to Him the adulterous woman. He drew in the dirt while they contemplated His question, until finally they all went away and He told the woman, Go and sin no more (John 8:11). We know He didn’t condemn her life, but we also know that He didn’t condone her life.

How can we not condemn but also not condone? How can we find that balance of not bowing to sin, but not alienating the sinner?

I know that question has been asked a million times, and I’m sure that many, many ministers and Pastors struggle with it because they want people to come to their church, but they don’t want to be soft on sin. And let’s face it, when you preach Hell, fire, and damnation, people don’t really come flocking to your church.

I don’t believe you can be Switzerland either, because there is an absolute right and an absolute wrong. You can’t tell me that sin isn’t sin. Nor can you defect to Oprah-land and say that whatever is right to you, is right. I don’t believe that cuts it either, especially in terms of our salvation. There are NOT unlimited ways to Heaven. No one comes to the Father, but by me (John 14:6). That’s pretty black and white. Jesus is the way in.

So how do I figure out what side to be on?

To me, the side I want to be on is the side that lines up with the Word of God. The side I want to be on is the side that hates sin, but loves the sinner. The side I want to be on is the one that chooses to love people, and pray for them, and bless them, and forgive them, like I want to be loved, and prayed for, and blessed, and forgiven.

I know there is a way to love people, embrace people, learn from people, and be a blessing to people, but not compromise my heart or my convictions.

It’s a tightrope, for sure, but I am willing to walk it. Jesus died for people. People are worth it.

Reach out and grab it

There’s a glitch in my world today. A hitch in my get-along. A fly in my ointment.

I’ve had something stuck in my eye for a day and a half, and I can’t see well enough to find it and remove it. My beloved puppy dog got into the trash while we were sleeping.

Do you ever have a weird morning, for no good reason? You can’t say there’s anything wrong, but something is definitely out of whack? My morning was out of whack.

I had deja-vu twice, my matrix must have caught a virus.

But I’m going to fix it. First stop, Starbucks. Second stop, pedicure. Third stop, grocery store, and final stop, back home so Lynn will grill us up some dinner while I sit on the deck, sip some iced tea and admire my toes.

Impressive happiness is fast approaching. Reach out and grab yours!

Don’t jump the gun

It was 95 degrees this afternoon. My three exits from work were down to two and each one about 6 cars deep. There was road construction everywhere. People were agitated, you could just feel it. I pulled up to a stoplight and the guy in the car next to me jumped out and started yelling at the guy behind him. The dude didn’t even acknowledge him. When I finally found a stretch of relatively open road and I unclenched my hands from the ten and two position, I sighed in relief, glad to be headed toward home.

All these people around me seriously needed to chill out. They needed to get out of the cycle of hitting the gas only to slam on the brake a moment later. The stop and go, herky-jerky phenomenon didn’t get anyone home any faster; it was pointless.

While this road rage was going on around me, I was lost in thought.

Why do we push so hard to make things happen in our lives? Why do we find it so hard to be patient and wait for God’s plans to be realized? We want it now, we want it fast, and we usually think our way is the best way.

We jump the gun.

How do we not jump the gun?

Jesus told the waves to be still. He took authority over negative circumstances.

Jesus continually told His disciples not to fear. He refused to allow fear around Him.

Jesus confounded them with His wisdom. He was full of the Word of God for each and every situation.

Jesus never jumped the gun. His timing was, is, and always will be perfect. We have to get on board with His timing. When we’re going through a storm, or when we’re searching out an answer, or when we’re seeking direction, we have to settle down, ask Him our questions, and then be quiet long enough for Him to give us the answers.

God doesn’t operate on our time-frame.

The Bible says to be still and know that He is God (Psalms 46:10). The Bible says that He has plans for me, to prosper me, to give me a future and a hope (Jeremiah 29:11). The Bible says God will show me His salvation (Psalms 91:16).

God’s answers are the right answers and they come at the right time. I know I will get where I need to be, I know I will learn what I need to learn and do what I need to do. I will fulfill His plans for my life and so will you, if we just don’t jump the gun.

An observation and a commitment

I am a morning person. Just ask Lynn. He’ll tell you I’m such a morning person that it’s annoying. I can’t help it. It just so happens that I have a big burst of energy first thing in the morning. I want to talk, I want to clean, I want to drink coffee and watch the news and wiggle my feet and then talk some more.

I feel productive and invincible and ready to conquer the day. Unfortunately by about 4 o’clock in the afternoon, I am wiped out. I get a second wind in the evening, but those afternoon hours are tough for me and I’ve let myself dread them. I associate the hours of four to six as cranky, mean, do nothing, Oprah hours. Not that I watch Oprah; I don’t. I don’t speak Oprah. Egad!

So I was thinking about it today and realizing I have been NOT enjoying my afternoons for too long and I need to make a change. So I complained internally for a bit and then I told myself to get over it.

Try this little exercise with me and you’ll see how I arrived at this conclusion. After each of these statements, say, “Get over yourself.”

I am in an afternoon rut.

I am tired when I get home.

I don’t want to cook dinner or do laundry.

I want to take a nap.

Will someone take me out to dinner?

Blah, blah, blah.

Do you see what I mean? Yuck. Get over it, Juli!

So, here’s my plan: I am going enjoy my afternoons!¬† I don’t know exactly how I will accomplish this, but I commit to you that I will figure it out. Heretofore, I will enjoy my afternoons immensely. The hours of four to six will be the most joyous of my day. Even without Oprah.

The End.