Tuesday, March 30, 2010

"Ante Up"

[to] ante up v. 1. to put forward betting takes before cards are dealt. 2. to give something of value in order to be included or participate in a venture. 3. [for our purposes here] to give something of value in order to be included or participate in the mission.

Seems to me that not getting into the game isn't an option if I'm to be the woman Papa has created me to be. So what do I do on "those days" when I don't feel like taking my place at the table?

First of all, I acknowledge that a godly woman doesn't live by her feelings, she walks out her life in the Spirit, by faith (Galatians 5:25). [Yeah, I know, that's good preachin' and hard livin'.]

Secondly (and I know this may sound cheesy, but I need "jingly thingies" to help me remember my own strategies sometimes, so just bear with me) I can choose to follow this pattern:

Read and Pray
Ante Up and Play
Let Papa Purvey

[Oh, stop groaning -- I warned you it might sound cheesy, but at this stage of my life, I need all the memories joggers I can get!]

Here's what I mean by that:

1. Read and Pray -- Choose to communicate with Papa by reading His words and by pouring out your heart to Him and listening for His response. [It's the listening part that I, personally, have the most trouble with.] (See Job 4:4; Psalm 18:30; 51:12; 119:160; 139:23-24; 2 Timothy 3:16-17.)

[I don't know about you, but I've caught myself trying to "pretty up" something before I tell it to Papa, and then, of course, I have to laugh at myself because He already knows what I'm thinking and wanting to say. So, I've learned to just SAY IT! We can tell Him honestly that we don't feel like getting in the game, that we're tired, that we're feeling rebellious, that we're depressed . . .
whatever! Of course, telling Him doesn't mean He lets us bow out of the game, but sharing our raw, naked hearts somehow enables us to then receive the encouragement from Him that we need in order to walk in the Spirit, right on past those feelings that would otherwise sideline us.]

2. Ante Up and Play -- Choose, as an act of obedience -- regardless of how you feel -- to then invest in the mission, playing out your hand as Papa leads. (See Romans 8:5, 8-9a, 14, 26; 15:13; 1 John 4:13; Galatians 5:25.)

[Note that the key to playing out our hands successfully means letting
Papa lead. Guide. And Direct. Of course, it would be scary if we had to play on our own, but the point is that we don't. One of the Delaware Divas shared that one of the scariest things for her is not knowing, when we ante up, what cards we'll be dealt or what cards someone else at the table may have. None of that matters, though, if our focus is on how Papa is leading us to play our hand. "Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith . . . so that you will not grow weary and lose heart" (Hebrews 12:2,3).]

3. Let Papa Purvey -- And then rely on Papa to provide what you need to finish the game, whether it's emotional resources, spiritual or physical resources. (See 1 Corinthians 2:4; 2 Corinthians 9:9-11; Ephesians 2:10; Philippians 4:19.)

[To be honest, I didn't even know what purvey meant until I needed this little saying, but it means "to supply with provisions." Cool, huh! So even when I come to the table and ante up, strictly out of obedience, and my emotions still don't seem to come along, and I'm tired, frustrated, insecure --whatever -- I can depend on Papa to provide out of HIS bounty, not mine! Whew! What a relief that is to know that whatever I need in the midst of the game,
He will provide! ]

Sure, some days it's easier to ante up than on other days, there's no denyin' that. But still, if I'm going to answer the call to invest in the mission (and, Sistah, that's a call we all get), then there's no other option.

Deal me in!

Grinnin' and playin',


PS I'll try to be funnier next post!

Texas 'treat!

I told ya'll a few posts ago that I had a fabulous time "retreating" with some Divine Delaware Divas over spring break and that I'd write more about it later . . . Well, it's later!

When my sistah-friend,
Beverly, and her husband, The Colonel, were transferred to Delaware a few years ago, she connected with the most fabulous group of women in a Bible study at the church she joined there. "These women were so real," she explained. "They 'd had it with playing church; what they wanted was Jesus, Himself. And y'know, once you get the Real Thing, you can't ever go back to the other!"

The whole time Bev was in
Delaware, she talked about how fun it would be to plan a mini-retreat -- a kind of weekend-long slumber party -- with these women, but before she could make it happen, Bev and the Colonel suddenly found themselves heading back to Houston's Bay Area.

So what do you think Bev did? Why, she just invited them all to her house
here for a "Texas 'Treat!" And they accepted! Yup! EI8HT of them jumped on a plane and headed here to the Lone Star State for four days and three nights of everything from Beth Moore (LIVE at First Baptist Houston!) to Texas Preacher Woman to Houston Livestock and Rodeo to shopping on Harwin (it's a Houston girl thing) to Cajun Cookin' at Cheri Cheryl's and then more Texas Preacher Woman. (And they even stopped at Hobby Lobby before going to the airport on the way home! I'm tellin' ya, these were seriously my kind of women!)

We knew from the start that this would be a different kind of retreat 'cause first of all, obviously, we were NOT secluded from the rest of the world by any stretch of the imagination with all of that comin' and goin'. Our theme for the retreat was a little different, too . . .
Texas Hold'em: Learning to Play the Cards You're Dealt. (Well, c'mon, you knew we had to come up with somethin' Texas-y!)

Now you might be wonderin' how in the world we came up with a Bible study based on poker, but we did, and it was wonderful! And I'm gonna spend the next few posts letting ya'll in on some of it.

The first thing we learned was that ya gotta
"Ante Up" . . .

y first year of college (right out of high school) I loved playing poker on Friday nights with the guys in my dorm. We'd play all night and then hit the dining hall for breakfast just as the sun was coming up Saturday morning. I was the only girl they let join in, probably, as much as for any other reason, because I was absolutely no threat to their winnings. In fact, i don't know that I ever had a night where I broke eve, but it was okay because I was right where I wanted to be -- smack dab in the middle of the action. And for that reason, it never occurred to me to not ante up just because I might lose. That idea never even crossed my mind. I knew from the get-go that being dealt-in to the game required a certain investment, and, to me, being one of the players, regardless of the outcome, was worth that cost.

I still feel that way. I want to be smack dab in the middle of what Papa God is doing -- so much so that I'm willing to ante up in order to be dealt-in on every hand. I want to play hard, taking risks, meeting the challenge when the ante's upped, taking the cards I'm dealt as far in the game as I can, following Papa's lead, and then leaving the final outcome to Him. If I play with that kind of abandon, then every hand becomes a winning hand, whether I'm holding aces over kings or a simple pair of deuces.

Okay, that's just a little bit of an intro for now . . . tomorrow, I'll talk about what to do when we don't feel quite as "spiritual" as that last paragraph because . . .

IN THE INTEREST OF HONESTY . . . I confess that I don’t always want to be smack dab in the middle of what Papa God’s doing – instead, I find myself leaning toward what I want to be doing without consulting Papa at all. (Or I want Papa’s outcome, but I want to accomplish it on my own, in my own way, and in my own sweet time, to boot -- no pun intended.)

And of course, I’m sure this has never happened to you, but there are days when I just don’t want to ante up – I want to be a no-show!

What about those days?

Tomorrow we'll talk about that.

Meanwhile, deal me IN!


Wednesday, March 24, 2010

". . . so I can dance!"


"Take the shackles off my feet so I can dance!" (Mary Mary).

I am a big woman. Not big-boned, just big. And while I’ve grown used to being a big woman, I’ve never gotten happy about it. I try to buy clothes that are flattering with an emphasis on colors that are good for me, I take the necessary medication to keep my blood pressure in check, and I’ve learned to laugh at myself. Still, I’ve known for a long time that I really need to lose some of this weight (like enough to make a whole other person).

The problem is that I really like food. In fact, I love food. And that really is the problem. I’ve loved food to the point where I’ve been willing, at times, to do just about anything to get it; I’ve spent more time with it than I should have; it’s been more important to me at times than it should have been; and I’ve allowed the pleasure it gives me to outweigh (no pun intended) the harm it does to my body.

I finally decided that it was time to seriously deal with the problem. I say “seriously” because for a long time I’ve “played” with the idea of dealing with the problem, but, take it from me, playing with problems doesn’t get you anywhere. You just end up sitting right it the middle of them. Soaking in them. Marinating in them.

So I recently started eating healthier. (I refuse to say I’m on a diet because, from past experience, I know my mind always sees a diet as a short-term fix. Learning to live out healthier habits means making a lifestyle change. I don’t need a short-term solution, I need a permanent one.) I’m doing some things that are working for me, and I’ve lost about ten pounds so far, but that’s about the size of a newborn (granted, a large newborn, but an infant, nonetheless), and as I mentioned earlier, I need to “deliver” a full-grown human (a chubby human, even). Obviously, I’m looking at long-term commitment here, and that’s hard on some days. In fact, I’ve already had a couple of days where I experienced what can only be described as a mild case of depression.

Depression? Why in the world, when I’m obviously having some success at something I need to do, would I develop a case of the blues? Because in order to succeed, I’ve had to say goodbye, at least for a while, to some of my best friends: Domino’s; McDonald’s, Blue Bell . . . Tough stuff for sure.

Change is never easy for any of us, is it? Even when the change is for the better – heck, for the best, even – it’s still hard. But being willing to give up the things that are dragging us down, that are hurting us, that are sometimes downright killing us (morbidly obese is, after all, the medical term for "you so fat, girl, you gonna die.") – even when they are things that we’ve loved – is the only way we’re ever going to have the life that our souls long for, the life we know God designed for us and wants us to have.

Yeah, it’s tough stuff for sure. But it’s life-giving stuff. And we are not alone. Our brother Paul writes, "Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us" (Hebrews 12:1).

Jesus said that He came that we might have life and that we might have it to the fullest (John 10:10). And I desperately want that kind of life.

"Take the shackles off my feet so I can dance!" (Mary Mary).

Grinnin' and dancin'


Thursday, March 18, 2010

Fellowshipping and Feasting!

I am have a fabulous Spring Break "retreating" with some Delaware Divas who've flown in from the second smallest state to fellowship and feast on Papa God's word with some of us women from the second LARGEST state . . . and we are having a blast! (Tonight we're even throwing in a little Louisiana with a Cajun style dinner over at Chez Cheri Cheryl's, another Houston-based sista -- Yummmmmm!)

I'll write more later, but here's a little peak at some of us . . .



Friday, March 12, 2010

Hot Water, Anyone?

Next time you find yourself in hot water, you might ask, “God, is this my time to be a tea bag?”

© Marek Uliasz 2006

Okay, I know this has probably never happened to any of you (well, of course not), but let me ask, anyway: Have you ever forgotten to pay a bill? I mean, like really forgotten? Like big time forgotten? Like “they” turned off one of your utilities because you forgot to pay the bill? (And, yes, I know it takes real effort because of the many notices that come in the mail -- and now E-mail, even -- but, trust me, it can be done!)

I once accidentally allowed the gas at Casa St. Michael to be shut off. (Note the word accidentally – no one actually plans to do such a thing.) As I explained to the good folks at Entex, “I was the only person in hot water at my house last night!”

To make a long story short, at that time an Entex office was located in La Porte (where I was teaching at the high school), so that fact, combined with the wonderful concept of “teacher conference periods,” enabled me to get the gas turned back on before the day was out. (I love small towns!) However, let me also say that the “situation” did cause me to take a long hard look at my bill-paying system, or rather, my need for one. I am also proud to say that I have not had a utility disconnected since. (Okay, so I’m not counting the telephone, but that’s another story.)

Even if you are not as disorganized and absent-minded as I am, chances are you, too, find yourself in hot water, so to speak, every once in a while. How do you react when that happens? Do you boil over or steep? If I’m honest, I have to admit that I’ve done both. I also have to say that boiling over creates one big mess while steeping creates refreshment. (Comfort in a cup!)

When we read through the Old Testament (what some readers call The Old Covenant), we see that from time to time, God allowed His people, the Israelites, to get themselves into hot water. Often times, Israel chose to boil over, leaving itself scorched and barren. I hope we can look at Israel ‘s example and learn from their poor choices. God doesn’t want our mistakes to leave us permanently parched or dried out. God ’s desire for us always is to allow our hot-water-situations to bring about change in our lives: Repentance, renewal, and refreshment. A powerful brew, don’t you agree?

The next time you find yourself in hot water, ask yourself what you want to come out of that situation. As for me, I’m choose to “pay up” and then “keep the change.” Repentance. Renewal. Refreshment. Yup, it’s a powerful brew – life giving, in fact, if we choose to drink up.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Letters and Words

Whew! It's been one of those runnin' crazy kind of weeks, and my writing has consisted primarily of making comments on student papers . . . time to get grades entered, uploaded, and exported for progress reports . . . and then on to district benchmark testing . . . Yippee!

Not having time to really write only reminds me of how much I love words and miss them when I don't have time to play with them. (Oldest Daughter shares this love of letters with with me and gave me one of those adorable antique typewriter key bracelets you can find on Etsy.) I say, play, but as any speaking, reading, or hearing person can attest, words are powerful things. And once they're out there . . . well, they're out there. One can forgive the occasional careless word and even -- with Supernatural help -- those thought-out, loaded-weapon words hurled with skillful aim, but it's the forgetting that's hard, if not outright impossible. Words, regardless of how or why they were spoken, linger long after arriving at their intended destination.

It was thinking about words that caused me to pull up this post from last year . . .

Mama Bug. Mama Bear. Mama Muz. Muz. Rev. Queen. Queenie. Pam'la. Pammy.

Just a few of the names I readily answer to, along with Jaja ("Grandmother" in Runyankore, a southwestern Ugandan dialect), Senga ("Auntie" in the previously mentioned language), Preacher Woman, Booger. (Don't ask.)

When I worked construction, the field engineers dubbed me Space Bandit. (Those guys knew I was blonde before I was.) My youngest daughter sometimes calls me Pammster Hamster, and my father used to refer to me as Daddy's Mess (which he acknowledged as a reflection on his parenting skills rather than on me).

Still, I don't suffer from multi-personality disorder. Maybe because I once read an Indian proverb that said, "The child with many names is much loved," and I guess I believed it. Probably, too, because my own "many names" have always made me feel loved. Even Daddy's Mess and Booger. (I told you not to ask.)

In my head, each name brings with it a certain inflection, a tone -- a memory chip, if you will -- that evokes the faces and voices of people who've made me laugh, cry, giggle, sometimes raise my own voice, or sometimes just grin a little.

I don't know if no one ever really called me anything bad or if my sanguine brain just refuses to remember. I mean, I do recall the night a man jumped out of his little red sports car at a stoplight and raged, "Bitch!" directly at me because he'd finally passed and pulled in front of the truck he thought I was driving too slow. And I know "the girl with the big boobs" was an all-to0-common description of me in high school by the guys who couldn't remember the new girl's name. Still, all in all, I've never been verbally tattooed with something ugly enough, often enough, to have needed emotional laser treatment to have it removed.

Never been repeatedly called Bitch, as if it were my name.

Or Stupid.

Or Nigger.

Nigger Lover.





Worthless Pig.

Hurts to even write those words, but I know that there are those who live with those names daily -- or have lived with them so long that they still hear them everyday, even when there's no one around any longer to spew them. They are the walking wounded among us. Some are still oozing from open sores, some hemorrhaging from gaping holes. For others, the tourniquet is temporarily tightened while awaiting surgery yet to be scheduled.

Those of us who bear smooth skin, those who are unmarked those kinds of scars, or who perhaps do bear the marks and memories of past battles but now walk the road of healing and recovery, must choose to to look to our left and to our right for those who are not yet with us. We must train our eyes to see those who stand, dazed, just off the path, those who are waiting for someone to stop and pour the oil and wine over their wounds, bind them up, and then gently lead and guide them to a place of sanctuary. A place where old names are replaced with new ones. Beloved. Precious. Mine.

And we must choose also to stop the hurling of hatred where we are able. We must not look the other way when weapons of words are used against those who are vulnerable to such attacks.

Sound lofty and noble?

Good for a "devotional" thought but hard to put into practical practice?

Not at all. How about we start by stopping the forwarding of E-mails that flail against the short-comings -- real or imagined -- of one group or another? That pit one group against another?

How about refusing to listen to jokes that depend on the humiliation or stereo-typing of one ethnic group or another for their "punch"?

How about correcting the kid in the grocery store who slurs another kid or group of people, even when we're not that kid's parent and not a certified teacher? (We teachers already take license to correct kids everywhere, in and out of the classroom. You should try it; it's actually quite fun.)

How about being sensitive to the inferences we make in front of our children (and grandchildren) about those who differ from us.

How about refusing to publicly choose a political party for Jesus? (Believe it or not, I happen to know some fine folks in each party.)

Little things, people. Little things. But we can all start somewhere. One word at a time.

Beloved. Precious. Mine.

Loving you for who you are,


PS I love that the bracelet from Oldest Daughter has the "SHIFT" key as its centerpiece. It's a visible reminder that I often need to "shift" my thoughts before I open my mouth.