God sightings, Living in Faith, Thankful Thursday

Thankful Thursday: 3 Life Lessons Daddy Taught Me

I’m so thankful to both my parents for all the things they’ve taught me over the years – more things than I could ever list. The older I get – and the older my kids get – the more I appreciate those life lessons and the memories that go with some of them. Since yesterday was my dad’s birthday, today I’m going to share a few important things he’s taught me through some favorite memories.

thankful Daddy lessonsMemory 1: We went camping – a lot! – when my sister and I were growing up. Sometimes we went with a group of friends, but a lot of times we’d go by ourselves. One of my favorite spots was Indian Springs State Park because it had the biggest swing set I’d ever been on. I LOVED to swing – and Daddy was always ready to push me. He would get me going so high that he’d have to jump to grab the seat and push me again. I would laugh, he would laugh, and at some point Mama would start telling us that he was pushing me too high. I would yell, “Higher, Daddy!” and he’d keep me going as high as he possibly could.

The lesson from Daddy: Going high might be scary, but it might also be the best thing you’ve ever done. But you’ll never know until you have someone there to help push you.

Memory 2: Daddy is a man of few words. I think he’s always been that way, but living for years in a house full of word-loving women didn’t give him much chance to live differently. But, just because he wasn’t always in the middle of the conversation didn’t mean that he wasn’t listening or that he didn’t have his own opinion. Believe me, when he did speak up we all listened! And learned.

The lesson from Daddy: Open your mouth when you need to, not just because you can. I’ll be the first to admit I’m still working on this, but like to hope that I’m better than I used to be about listening instead of automatically jumping into the conversation.

BiblesMemory 3: My parents are Christians and they raised us in a Christian home, which included being involved in multiple things at church. During the rest of the week they both live their faith in quiet, everyday ways. All my growing up years, Daddy got up much earlier for work than the rest of us did for school. I’ll never forget one morning when I woke up and had to go to the bathroom. I padded down the dark hall and glanced through the den into the kitchen. Daddy sat at the table with his steaming mug of black coffee, reading his Bible. I’d never known that he read his Bible or had any kind of devotional time before going to work. I’d never thought about it, actually. But that image of him reading in the semi-darkness struck me in a special way and has stayed with me ever since.

The lesson from Daddy: No matter how early your day starts, no matter what time that alarm goes off, there can be a few minutes for God. And, faith should be a built-in part of your day and who you are, whether other people see it in obvious ways or not.

Of course, there are lots of other lessons I’ve learned from Daddy (and Mama, too). These three are resonating with me especially much these days, so that’s why I shared them. I hope my kids will someday realize that I’ve set a good example and taught them some valuable lessons, too.

Your turn: What’s a lesson you learned from a parent or other adult while growing up that has a favorite memory or still resonates with you?

Living in Faith, Thankful Thursday

Thankful for fun in unexpected places

Last Friday I did something that’s out of my comfort zone – I went to a networking meeting for local business people. Now I don’t say it was out of my zone because I don’t enjoy being around people. But I’ve never been much of a schmoozer so walking into a room full of strangers standing ready with hands full of business cards isn’t always my idea of fun.

But it could also be a good way to meet some local folks who might need a writer someday, so I put on my big girl persona and went.

About 50 people were there, which apparently was a bigger-than-normal crowd. The entire time was focused on networking – mingling beforehand, everyone taking a minute during the meeting to introduce ourselves and tell what we do, and more mingling afterwards.

I survived all the chit-chat, and then the unexpected fun happened.

AMS race
Photo Credit: Darrell Ingham/Getty Images for NASCAR

You see, different businesses in the county host the meeting each month, and this one was at Atlanta Motor Speedway. I’ve been to the racetrack quite a few times over the years, but this was different because we were meeting in the media center, which is smack in the middle of the track’s infield.

Driving through the tunnel from the perimeter road to the infield was kind of neat – because, really, how many people in all the thousands who are there on race weekend get to do that? Parking at the media center and taking a minute to look up at the stands was a little overwhelming. Being flat on the ground and seeing how steeply the track angles up and how far the stands reach toward the sky is a humbling perspective. It was all so much bigger than it seems on TV, or even on race day, because it was empty and quiet.

Talk about feeling small! Even if you’re not a race fan, you’re bound to be impressed.

The AMS staff people were great hosts and ended the meeting by inviting us to ride around the track if we’d not done it before and could spare the time away from work. I thought about the newsletter I was trying to finish and send out for approval. I thought about the other one that I should have been halfway finished writing but hadn’t even started.

And then I thought, “I’m doing it! I’ll probably never get the chance to do this again!”

That was a big deal for this list making, plan loving, deadline oriented girl. There’s a reason my family has a running joke that I never buy anything at the grocery store if it’s not on my list (though I really do – just maybe not very often). 🙂

AMS race 2
Photo credit: AJC.com

The meeting had already gone past the usual hour and I hadn’t planned on spending extra time away from work. But the day’s plan went on hold when I signed the waiver (!) and followed the others outside. That’s when we learned that “ride around the track” didn’t mean we’d be taking turns loading into a car with one of the marketing folks who’d done this before. No, it meant we’d each be in our own vehicle following a staff person in a pace car.

What?! I’m going to actually drive on the track myself?! In my little Equinox?!


I was excited, but also a little nervous. What if I was the only one who did something really stupid or who was too chicken to go fast enough to stay on the track? What if driving at that crazy angle made me dizzy or sent my always-present tinnitus into overdrive?

They gave us three bits of advice:

  • It’s steep and pretty bumpy moving from the apron to the track, but you need to be on the track.
  • You’ll want to be going around 60 when we get to turn three.
  • The middle of the track or a little higher is the best place to be.

And that was it! We got in our cars and snaked our way through the parking lot and down pit road. Just before we started, I glanced in my mirror and saw the lady behind me taking a picture with her phone. I should’ve done that! But at least I did shoot a quick text to my husband letting him know what was going on. “Guess who’s about to drive on the track?” “You?”

Proof that wonders never cease.

Thankful ThursOur leader was right. Moving from the apron to the track was steep and bumpy, and the car did seem easier to control once I reached the middle of the track. It was strange to be riding at such an off-kilter angle – my car thought it was strange, too, and immediately popped up a warning light about checking my stabilizers (which fortunately cleared itself when I was back on flat territory). I definitely kept both hands on the wheel but dared to glance at signs and up at the stands a few times.

Four laps went by super fast, even at only 60 mph. And it was a blast! I can’t imagine what it’s like to be out there side-by-side at nearly 200 mph with thousands of screaming fans.

When the season starts back in a few weeks, I’ll have a new perspective and appreciation for what those drivers do. I’ll have a happy memory of my tiny taste of what’s happening. And it all started when I pushed myself out of my comfort zone and RSVP’d for the meeting. Maybe I should put down my list more often and look for a little more fun. Couldn’t hurt, could it?

Your turn: If you tend to be married to your lists and plans like I am, when was the last time you said “forget it!” and shook things up with an unexpected opportunity?

Living in Faith, Scripture Lessons, Scripture verses, Thankful Thursday

Thankful I can question God

One of my challenges to myself lately is to pay more attention to the little things in life and be grateful for them, even if they don’t seem that important. I’ve seen “Thankful Thursday” blogs posts and memes periodically and thought that would be a good thing to incorporate here. I already had some ideas and thought I knew what I’d write about … and then I read today’s First 5 devotion from Proverbs 31 Ministries.

First 5Just as background, Proverbs 31 is a ministry that focuses on building women up in their faith. They send out daily email devotionals, have published numerous books, sponsor a book club, lead online Bible studies, and host a fabulous yearly conference – among other things. One of their newer additions is First 5, an app with a 5-minute daily devotional. Instead of being about all sorts of things (like the email devos), First 5 goes through a particular book of the Bible by taking a closer look at a key verse from each chapter. You can even set it t be the first thing that pops up on your phone each morning so you’re sure to start the day with a few minutes with God.

Anyway … First 5 is currently going through the book of Exodus and today’s highlighted verse was Exodus 4:10 (“Pardon your servant, Lord. I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue.” NIV). Moses is trying to talk God out of the assignment he’s been given – to demand that Pharaoh set the Israelites free. Even though God had told Moses exactly what to do and assured him that He would be with Moses, even though God literally spoke the words aloud so there was no doubt in Moses’s mind who the directions were coming from. Even though God had filled Moses in on the plan, including that He would provide for the Israelites through plunder from the Egyptians.

Thankful ThursdayBut Moses still doubted what he was hearing and actually had the nerve to tell God that He must’ve made a mistake – Moses wasn’t the guy for the job. He let his insecurities get in the way of what God had already planned for him to do.

Sound familiar? Yeah, it does to me, too.

The doubts, the second guessing, the “what ifs” pile up and block what I think God wants me to do. Even worse, it happens when I KNOW what God wants me to do. I can be such an insecure girl.

So I pull a Moses, asking God if He’s sure that He’s sure about what I think He’s saying. Am I really understanding Him correctly? What if I’m wrong? What if I do what I think God wants me to do, but end up going off track from His plan? Could He send me a sign for confirmation? Or maybe another sign?

Sometimes the enemy has such a heyday with me and my mind, playing tricks and planting doubts. Like … a “real” Christian would listen and follow God without questioning … a Christian with stronger faith would step out and follow without asking for reassurance … God has much more important things to deal with than me and my neediness. Bah!

So that’s why, on this first Thursday of 2016, I’m thankful that God doesn’t mind my questions, no matter how silly or obnoxious they might be. He doesn’t mind my asking for help with my doubts, He doesn’t even mind when I ask if He’s crazy for doing what I think He’s doing.

I’m glad the Bible includes stories like this one with Moses. It reminds me I’m not alone when I have doubts or when I question God. It’s like I used to tell my middle school kids when I taught Sunday school all those years ago – talk to God about anything and everything, even when you’re almost afraid to bring it up. He’s big enough to take it.

And today I’m really thankful for that.

Your turn: What are you thankful for today? Share with us!