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Mama’s Soul Markers

There are moments in life that are Markers on my soul.

December 1981, I held in my arms my first child, Melissa Anne. Allen tells me that
I was in labor for over 31 hours without any kind of help for the pain. I only remember how beautiful she is and has always been. A perfect beautiful little red head who reflected back all the adoring looks we gave her. Fiercely loyal and strong, she demands peace and will settle for nothing less. Her daddy laughingly told her once to put a 55 gallon drum in the back of his truck while he ate lunch. He was being funny but when he went back, she had done it. It never occurred to her that she could not. That remains her attitude about anything she intends to do.

March 1984, I had the shortest labor ever and I say truthfully that Holly Elizabeth has never given me any pain since the day she was born. The medical personnel forgot to come back for us so I lay in the recovery room alone with her, clutching her to my chest, amazed at this tiny and perfect little blonde baby. Faith-filled and confident of provision from the day she was born, she refuses to worry and never lets her circumstances dictate what she will do. She once travelled with a mission group across three countries without a dime in her pocket and typical Holly, she called to say she was bringing home a few friends for Thanksgiving. She brought home, fed and housed 27 people.

February 2, Allen Lynn was taken to NICU and I could only hold his tiny toes as they took blood and kept him in his special bassinet so he could breathe. Praying and believing that the LORD would heal him for two weeks before they finally placed him in my arms, a miracle and my first son. We took him home in a little white tuxedo onesie. We call him the perfect man because he controls his tongue and never wastes his words. His siblings count on what AJ says because he does what he says he will do. He expects no less of others and if he shows up at the house, things that need doing will be done. He never leaves without giving both of us a good strong bear hug, a gift from this child who does not give affection or smiles liberally or lightly.

May 22, Thomas Glynn made his premier, happy and friendly from the moment he was placed in my arms. He was named for favorite uncles on both sides of our families prophetically –he is a family man, a loving father now himself. My favorite memory with Tommy was the day he took his Daddy and I on a tour of his school. Only in Kindergarten, he knew the names of not just his teachers, but the cafeteria ladies and the people up and down the halls. He greeted them all by name with compliments and favor flowing from his lips. Every one he meets matters and family is blood.

September 17, Jackie Leon was tiny and Daddy and oldest sister had to take care of him while I recovered in the hospital from a serious infection. Named for my daddy, Leon, and his daddy’s best friend. My favorite picture of Jackie Leon is the one where he is standing in his daddy’s boots. We all made our way to South Carolina to watch him graduate from Basic Training. He serves his country and his family, following in his daddy’s footsteps. Like his daddy before him, sleep is not important if there are things to be done and it is not unusual for him to have three jobs if that is what it takes.

January 19, Sandra Denise made her debut into our family and into stardom. She was the only one born in the hospital her Dad was born in and starred in a television commercial when she was only hours old. A little girl after three boys, she was a girly girl and petted by parents and siblings alike. She is positively positive and gave me my iconic “Never Give Up” poster and attitude. Times got tough but she was my built-in personal and family cheerleader. Her naturally nurturing nature will come in handy now that she has started her own family.

September 13, Matthew Ryan was born on Friday the thirteenth. His umbilical cord had a square knot tied so tight that the doctor sent it to a lab because he could not believe this healthy bouncing baby boy could have gotten any blood through that cord. Blessed of God, Young King. He is the only boy that looks like his Mama. Matt takes the initiative to do what needs to be done and has the kind and gentle heart that befits a King.

June 8, Sarah Michelle was the only child that loved Mama more than Daddy. She was my little Princess with her Daddy’s thick curly brown hair and big beautiful eyes. She was my ego boost because she adored me for no reason at all. Quiet but not really shy, she developed her own personality and strong individuality in spite of being eighth of ten. Drop her into a crowd and she becomes the center, making everyone think she has been their friend for a long time even if she just met them. Sarah is my sidekick; she loves to work outdoors beside me and also loves to sit and read for hours at my beloved public library.

March 2001. Jonathan Hunter. It was hard to understand how people could think that losing this son would not matter since I had so many other children. We have no physical mementos at all to remember him except the note to my employer from my doctor saying I had lost him and a sympathy card from one close friend. My last son was the first child to go to our LORD but I look with hope to the day I will at last meet him in Heaven.

January 8, Zelma Grace. Named for Allen’s mother and for the comforting joy that she brought so soon after our loss. She has a different mother than all her siblings because the loss of Jonathan changed me completely. Zelma is proof that Grace nurtures us into our full potential and my only sadness is knowing that my other children were not reared in the same freedom that has caused her to flourish. She is creative, invincible and boldly expectant of favor as we all should be.

My children. Markers on my Soul. I cannot love you less. I cannot love you more.

You have all my love always.

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A Short Parable about a Tree and Fruit

My mother tells a story on her blog over at BlantonSharplinFarms.com about one of her neighbors stopping to meet her because of her fruit.

Mama planted a peach tree but she cut the limbs and fruit off each year for quite a while. Mama pruned it so it would become strong enough to carry the fruit well. Finally one year the tree was strong and Mama let the peaches grow.

The neighbor had seen the tree but to her it looked like any other tree. She had never talked to Mama about the tree until she saw that fruit. She was attracted to the sweet fruit on the tree. It prompted her to stop and ask Mama if she could have some fruit. Mama told her all about the tree and invited her to come back when the fruit was ripe.

To the neighbor, the tree was like any other tree until the fruit appeared. She wanted the fruit that Mama had grown and Mama was happy to share and tell her all about the tree.

Keep pruning your tree until it is strong enough to grow good fruit and soon your neighbor will stop by to ask you for some fruit. Then you will have an opportunity to tell your neighbor all about your tree.

Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. [ John 15:4-5 ]

Five Really Easy Ways that You can Build a Strong Relationship

Scriptures: Use an Inspirational Verse to Remind you that Love is Eternal and to act in a loving emotional way toward your partner. Love Never Fails is a great one but My verses were Ephesians 5:33 & 1 Peter 3:2. These are the verses written into my husband book beside one of my favorite pictures of Allen.

Admire Him

My Husband Book

In the picture, he is dressed in his biker gear and I particularly admire him for how he looks in the photo and also because of what he was preparing to do, go minister with the Christian Motorcyclists Assocaiation. It reminds me of a moment when I respected him, admired him, enjoyed him. Although he is preparing to leave me at the moment the photo was taken, he was being all the things I (in the human sense) adored about him. It reminds me of other moments when I can indeed act out this verse with regards to my husband.

Time: Invest minutes to Earn years. Do something that takes a moment that will build up long term value in the relationship. When Allen left for work every day, I stood and watched him until he was completely out of sight. I watched for him when it was time for him to be home and jumped up to run and greet him when he came home every day. I really did not take it for granted that each moment would not be our last. It became something much more than just a few moments each day. It became a routine he depended on as he realised just how important he was to me. Those few moments every day became a cornerstone that represented loyalty and faithfulness over our years together.

Romance: Be what He saw and See what He can Be. Let yourself Enjoy both Planned and Spontaneous phyisical Pleasure. Share your Vision of your Relationship at Opportune Tender moments but Relish Touching and being Touched. Say Yes even when it is Inconvenient and Surprise yourself with some Exciting memories.

Now: Just like the manna, Today is the only day that this moment can Nourish your relationship. Treat REGRET as a Strength Building exercise instead of Endurance Training. Let it build Muscle in an area that needs improvement instead of spending time with it just to build up your stamina. How can you live in the NOW moment with the lesson it gave you? How will you act NOW differently than then so your relationship can be improved? Never let what you or your partner did in the Past keep you from having the day you want Today.

Grace: Give what you need; compassion, forgiveness, romance, passion. Give what you need to your partner but also Give what you need to yourself. Ask instead of assuming your Significant Other knows what you want. If you need a romantic moment and your partner really just wants to watch television, then spend a little time with your memories of other great moments instead of spending it with bitterness or regret. Instead of nursing a grudge or expanding the gap with indifference or anger, Use the time to rehearse your Victories by going through photos or meditating Successes.

Rehearsing Victories

Rehearsing Victories


[My Husband Book was created Just for these Growth Moments. More on that in another post.]

When your partner does give you what you ask; time, romance, passion: Enjoy it and Encourage it. Give up your preconceived notions of how it should go and make the effort to Just Enjoy what it is.

…and let the wife see that she respects and reverences her husband [that she notices him, regards him, honors him, prefers him, venerates, and esteems him; and that she defers to him, praises him, and loves and admires him exceedingly]. | …When they observe the pure and modest way in which you conduct yourselves, together with your reverence [for your husband; you are to feel for him all that reverence includes: to respect, defer to, revere him—to honor, esteem, appreciate, prize, and, in the human sense, to adore him, that is, to admire, praise, be devoted to, deeply love, and enjoy your husband]. [Amplified Bible]

Just say JESUS

‘And he was clothed with a vesture

dipped in blood:

and his name is called

The Word of God.’

In fact, I’ve discovered that the Name of Jesus–just the Name alone– is effective when spoken by a Word-abiding believer.

Revelation 19:13 says the Name of Jesus is the Word of God!

So, when an evil spirit is trying to bring sickness, poverty, depression, or any other garbage into my household, I don’t have to quote every scripture I know to stop him.

I can just point my finger at him and say, “Jesus!”

That’s like throwing the whole Word of God in his face at one time!

-Kenneth Copeland, Your Daily Faith to Faith for May 26, 2014

Philippians 2: 9-11
9 Therefore [because He stooped so low] God has highly exalted Him and has [f]freely bestowed on Him the name that is above every name,
10 That in (at) the name of Jesus every knee [g]should (must) bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 And every tongue [[h]frankly and openly] confess and acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

*SPOILER ALERT* There’s noBunny coming to our house for Easter!

No Bunny is Coming for Easter

No Bunny is Coming for Easter

Our family has created some special ways to celebrate our LORD’s resurrection.

In our worship and study of the Bible, we believe the LAMB represents the Son of God during the Feast of Passover. At our house, we use LAMBS, not bunnies, to celebrate the JOYOUS occasion of the Resurrection of our LORD after His crucifixion.

Although we do have some wicker and plastic baskets now, our treats and egg collections were more often placed in baskets of our own creation.

HERE’S HOW:

Roll down paper bags (usually free) and gently shape to look like a bowl.

Spray paint ($1 can) with pastel colors.

Shred colorful junk mail (also free) to create compostable grass/padding for your new home-made basket.

Fill with boiled oatmeal cookies and fresh fruit and, of course, the more traditional dyed boiled eggs.

Another ASHLEY tradition is to carefully construct and decorate paper LAMBS.

Glue curled papers (quilled) or cotton balls to simulate wool.

Let the children spend time making their LAMB very special.

Don’t forget:
Have them write their name and the year somewhere on the body of their LAMB.

On Friday night, we read about the crucifixion of JESUS.
Discuss how JESUS’ disciples and loved ones must have been feeling: the fear and disappointment.
Carefully place your crafted LAMBS into your basket.
Cover it with a red cloth to symbolize His shed blood.
On Sunday morning, when the children wake, the red cloth is gone and so are their own hand-crafted LAMBS.
In their baskets are all their treats- and usually some other form of lamb (chocolate or stuffed).
Discuss how JESUS’ disciples and loved ones must have celebrated when they discovered that JESUS had been raised from the dead.

We do hide and hunt dyed boiled eggs with the children. It is a good time to discuss with the children how some pagan traditions got mixed into the Christian celebration of the Resurrection. The pagans may have used eggs to symbolize life and resurrection or eternal life. Our LORD has freely given us the Gift of Life. (John 3:16)

Instead at Passover, the family tradition is to search the house to remove any leaven, symbolic of sin.

Donna of toteallyreal.blogspot.com tells us:

The days before Passover begins are spent cleaning the house and getting rid of anything with leaven in it. We have a “bread hunt” the night before Passover, where we search for leaven. I hide 10 pieces of bread, and my husband leads the hunt in the dark with a candle. The bread is swept into a paper bag which is burned the next morning. This is a wonderful illustration of getting rid of the sin in our lives. The leaven represents sin, and we need to search our hearts in order to make sure there’s nothing hiding in there that we need to get rid of. God’s light helps us in this search and reveals the leaven. Then we need to get it out of our lives and totally destroy it. It’s really quite a job finding all the leaven and getting it out of our house. There is leaven in the most unexpected places!

It is with GRATITUDE that I realize: We don’t have to search for LIFE (what the eggs symbolize)- JESUS has provided it for each of us.

We are all offered abundant life through the atoning work of our LORD and SAVIOR JESUS CHRIST.

To learn more, read a LOVE LETTER.