Saturday, February 28, 2015

Newness of Life

I'm going to kill my grass this year. I've spent hundreds of dollars and countless hours, trying to weed, feed, and water my way to a plush and beautiful yard just like my neighbors' yard (I'm not coveting because I don't want her yard just want my own to look good too). In fact I put in so much effort to make my grass healthy and thriving that I neglected to take a good look at what I was nurturing. At the end of it all I've found that my yard hosts five different types of grass, non of which look good standing side by side. Prior to this discovery there were enough weeds mixed into the real grass that it all looked the same. But after the weeds started to die off the difference in the grasses became apparent. Once the right ingredients were added to enhance the desirable and diminish the undesirable; I saw what I really had.

I was married to the same guy for 26 years.We were together a total of 28 years. Whether up/ down, good / bad, in/ out I thought our love would withstand anything and I trusted him with everything. Not only was I confident in his love for me and our family but I was confident in his love for the Lord. I had the utmost respect for him as a husband, a father, a man, my closest friend, and my brother in Christ.

Even when I discovered he was having an affair I didn't believe that he wouldn't snap out of what he was doing and make everything right, after all he was a man of God and he kept saying he didn't want a divorce. I fought tooth and nail for four years to save our marriage while feeling like the life was literally being ripped from my body until finally, brokenhearted and devastated, I filed for divorce. I mourned the deaths of our friendship, our family, and our marriage, as if he had been killed in some terrible accident, or was murdered.

That was  nearly three years ago. It took every ounce of strength I had in my being to move forward without him. Sometimes it was like walking through a fierce storm with cold rain and wind pounding in my face blocking my ability to see clearly, but I kept moving. Eventually it stopped raining and now I can see clearly what I really had. In all reality, that wasn't the first time he cheated on me. That wasn't the first time he cheated on me with that same woman. I realize that  our last years together had been such a web of lying, cheating, deception, and manipulation that I didn't have a clue of what went on behind my back with him, that woman, and his family who (it was revealed) were part of the deception, even allowing them to rendezvous at their home many times. That was particularly painful because I loved his mom and dad and his brothers (and I thought they loved me).

 It took a long time to get here but I'm finally ready to let go of all the pain and hurt. Sin, whether yours or someone else's can cause you to lose focus of where and who you are in Christ.  I am ready to  walk in the newness of life.  It's kind of like killing the grass; once it's all gone, I'll be able to start fresh with good, rich, black soil and plant new seeds that grow healthy, strong, beautiful blades of grass.

Romans 6: 3-4
3 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?
Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Losing Leslie

I often ignore the front sitting room area in my house. That room has my nicest furniture, my best area rug , and ninety- percent of my tropical plants; all of my best "stuff".  I literally forget the room is even there. I do this for two reasons: 1. It's the first area you see when you enter my home so family is banned from lounging in that area. 2. It's my clean space (hardly anyone enters the area so when I clean it, it stays clean). The only people allowed to sit and spend time in that particular area are honored guests and us, when we have them. Even I rarely go in there other than to dust, vacuum, or water the plants.

As is my routine, on the way to the mailbox,  I rushed through the entryway barely glancing into the room , until something strange suddenly caught my eye. My favorite plant, a Peace Lily that I had received from my cousin years ago after my aunt's funeral, was drooping over so severely that all its leaves were touching the floor! I suddenly realized that I had been so caught up in my day to day activities and problems, that I had spent hardly any time attending to my plants. In the summer they are outside in the fresh air. I spray and water them regularly, excited about how they thrive in the cool shade on my front porch. In the winter, the dry air created by heating system and the less-than-ideal light actually makes them require a little more special attention. The Peace Lily was an obvious sign of a bigger issue. I was so focused on what was in front of me that I lost sight of what was around me.

I recently lost a very dear beloved friend. She died suddenly, without warning, from a massive heart attack. She was only 45 years young. We spent a lot of time together. She had been such a great source of support and comfort to me during my separation and divorce that, I don't know how I would have made it through the last few years without her. We saw each other often, usually several times a week; going out, having lunch, or just sitting around talking and watching Lifetime.  The last week of her life, however, we could not seem to find time. We spoke almost daily, trying to sync our schedules to make our promised trip to Red Lobster for crab legs (something we used to do regularly for lunch when we worked at the same company, and suddenly wanted to do for old time's sake). But, that week, no matter how we tried, we couldn't get it together. When I got the call about her heart attack, I had just hung up from calling her... one final attempt to have our lunch date. I wish I had just stopped whatever I was doing that week, and spent that time with my friend. It would have given me one more time to hug her, one more time to say "Love you girl" because as I look back, nothing else seems that important.

I filled the plants with water until they overflowed into the trays. The Peace Lily had a few brown leafs but overall is recovering nicely. All of the other plants are a little more drought tolarant so they held up better, only losing a few leafs here and there. I make it a point to go into that room daily now, not only that, my family, including the dog is welcome to enter. Although they still have to keep it clean for guests, I want my family to know that every inch of our house is to be lived-in, and that they (my family) are more important than "stuff".

In Loving Memory of : Leslie Renee McLendon  April 1, 1967 - December 18, 2013
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Matthew 6:19-21

New International Version (NIV)

19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Surviving the Drought

Surviving the Drought

As I looked across the patio at my beloved garden, I felt an overwhelming sense of despair.  This summer’s drought, unlike any I’ve ever seen, has really taken its toll. Most of the things I’ve planted and nurtured over the last ten years are either dead or dying.  Excessive heat, unemployment, and an ever increasing water bill forced me to stop watering. It was a losing battle anyway. It’s been very painful to watch plants and flowers that I held so dear, struggling for life without enough water, slowly fade from vibrant colors to straw-brown. I finally got to the point where I had to stop looking; it reminded me too much of where my life is right now.

After nearly four years of struggling, trying desperately to keep my marriage alive, I finally had to let go. It was not an easy decision. I prayed about it, I lamented over it, I begged God to turn it around, but try as I may, my husband made choices, and God will not take away his (my husband’s) freewill . It was impossible to be in a marriage by myself. Twenty eight years together, married twenty six; I thought we could survive anything. Divorce was not what I wanted. I loved my husband very deeply; still do. But to stay in a marriage while he continued to sin against me, I think would make me an accomplice to the sin. The Word of God says there are times when we have to turn someone in continual sin over to Satan (1Timothy 1:18-20, I Corinthians 5:9-11) meaning remove whatever spiritual cover or protection that comes from association with you. (Yes, there are biblical examples of unbelievers being blessed just because of the prayers or close proximity of believers including 1Cor 7:14)

There are also times when God himself turns people over to Satan for various reasons including; punishment, discipline, testing, strengthening, learning, to strengthen others, to build character, to bring glory to God, to prove God’s sovereignty, etc. In his sermons, “Delivered to Satan” pt 1 and 2, John McArthur (Grace to You, gives an in-depth lesson on the biblical reasons and justifications for giving someone over. I particularly like the part where he talks about those that have gone out returning. My prayer is that my (ex) husband will one day return to God.

I went into the garden today; the first time in weeks. We’ve had a little rain, but nothing significant. To my surprise, I noticed that many of the plants and flowers I thought where completely dead, had new little shoots growing in at the base under the dead stems! I got so excited that I silently apologized “Sorry for your suffering” then I broke out the old water hose and gave everyone a good drink! It’s almost September now. Maybe they’ve survived the worst of it. Not all of them made it, but the strongest, the ones with the deepest roots are coming back.
1 Timothy 1:18-20
New International Version (NIV)
The Charge to Timothy Renewed

18 Timothy, my son, I am giving you this command in keeping with the prophecies once made about you, so that by recalling them you may fight the battle well, 19 holding on to faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected and so have suffered shipwreck with regard to the faith. 20 Among them are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan to be taught not to blaspheme

 1 Corinthians 5
New International Version (NIV

9 I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— 10 not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. 11 But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister[c] but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people.




Sunday, March 4, 2012

Up in Smoke

Last summer I followed an ant trail determined to find out how they were getting into my house. There were only a few, who seemed to be scouts looking for food or safe passage or a place to set up camp. Whatever the case, there was no way I was going to let them move into my home.  The scouts were scattered at first but eventually they scurried to the same area and disappeared into a tiny space behind the cabinet in the master bathroom.  Spraying worked temporarily but after a few days, more ants would appear, so I decided to use ant bait. An unwitting scout would enter the bait house and thinking it had found food would take pieces of the bait back and poison the rest of the ants in the colony.  It only took a short for them all to become infected and die.

My best friend didn’t smoke, I did. For years I fired up cigarette after cigarette in her presence as we talked about life, love, and the pursuit of what we thought would bring us happiness. When she got pregnant with her second child, she said she “craved the smell of cigarette smoke” Within a year of giving birth to that child, she stared smoking full on. If I never regret anything else in life, I will always regret the people I influenced to smoke from my bad habit. There is my youngest son, an avid smoker. My youngest brother, who always looked up to his “big sister” and followed in her footsteps of smoking cigarettes and several other bad habits. And then of course there is my best friend.  At a recent visit to her home, I noticed that, although I quit many years ago, she continues to smoke and so does her second child, and her other children as well. My heart ached every time one of them fired up a cigarette, the same way it aches when I see my son, or my brother or his son smoke. The negative impact of my unhealthy habit spread far beyond whatever self-inflicted damage it may have caused me.  All I can do now is pray they may be influenced by my kicking the habit, and that they won’t suffer any long term or permanent damage as a result of smoking.

I felt sorry for the ants; after all, they were just trying to survive,  like the rest of us. Unfortunately for them, entering my home was the wrong thing to do. It not only brought about their destruction, it caused the destruction of the entire colony.  The consequences of our actions rarely affect just us, it often brings pain and destruction to everyone around us, especially those closest to us; the ones we love and care about. Remember, it’s not just about you, you are your brother’s keeper.Bottom of Form

Romans 14:21 (NCV)
It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that will cause your brother or sister to sin.