Friday, May 29, 2009

Sista's at the Beach

Tanning lotion. Toothbrush. Swimsuit. Flip flops. Big Sis has condo at the beach. The sisters are going. All five of us. For the weekend. Sun, sand, surf, and sisters. What more do you need? Will let you know how things go. Sweet dreams, Deb

Thursday, May 28, 2009

A Summer Day

She says, "On your march. Get set. Go!" We take off running. Down the sidewalk. Around the big pine tree. Through the azalea beds. When we get to the day lilies, we stop for her to pick a leh-low one. And then we race back to the front steps. She wins. Of course. So far this morning we've run a marathon in the yard. Painted masterpieces with washable Crayola water colors. Built castles out of orange, green, and red plastic blocks. Made up silly stories about scary lizards. The slimy kind. The ones that want to take up residence on our deck and hold us hostage inside the house. She loves the scare factor as long as she has her blankie for security. I cook her favorite for lunch. Noodles. After lunch I let her eat chocolate chip cookie dough. Just a few squares. With milk. But don't tell her mother about the unbaked dough. Ok? That can be our little secret. I mean God made granddaughters so that their nonnies can indulge them. Right? Gotta whisper. Korie's napping. Sweet dreams, Deb

Wednesday, May 27, 2009


Sometimes, I doubt the dream. I don't want to waver, but I do. I try to walk in faith. So, believing. I write in my journals. Write blog posts. Read. Study. And pray. Things go along ok for awhile. Then one day I wake up, and there's the doubt. Inside me. Drowning all hope. Leaving desperation. Despair. Depression. I don't want to live like this. Is there a way out? I remember what He said to me almost two years ago. I wrote His words in my journal. I am your Strength. I am your Fortress. I am your loving God. Watch me. Let me show you that I am your strength, that I am your fortress, that I am your loving God. Give me control so that I can show you that I am all of these things and more. Give me control. Watch me. Let me make you into the writer that you desire to become--that I desire for you to become. Incredible, isn't it? I'm just an ordinary woman. Who am I that the Lord God--the Creator of the universe--the great I AM--should stoop to address me? Should speak to me personally. But He did. So, why do I still doubt Him? I mean that's who I'm really doubting. Because He's the One who put the dream in my heart. I just do. I believe Him, but I still struggle. Does that make any sense? And for me doubting usually leads to pouting. Then to pity. But when I go to the Word. Cry to Him. Confess. He hears. He comforts. He's been near the whole time. "Be not far from me, O God: come quickly, O my God, to help me" (Psalm 70:12). God is near to you, too. He wants to help you. He has words for you. He has a plan for you. Jesus said that He wants to give us life. Life to the full. No doubt about that. Sweet dreams, Deb

Saturday, May 23, 2009

The Main Thing

It can be really hot in Alabama this time of year. But not this morning. Weather forecasters predict rain. That's ok. A little rain won't interfere with my race plan. My strategy for this 8K is to start at a steady pace, then gradually accelerate, and finish strong. I've never run this course before; but I've heard it's tough. Early into the run, I experience just how tough. Way more hills than I expected. Killer hills. I try to let my legs do the work going uphill so that my heart won't have to work so hard. Instead, my heart pounds. The pavement pounds into my legs. And I'm not even half way. Too late, I realize that I've made a big mistake. I neglected the most essential element of training for a race that includes hills. Hill workouts! I complete the race. But not with that strong finish that I envisioned. A little disappointing. I've experienced similiar disappointment in other endeavors because of that same reason. I want to stay strong, but somehow along the way, I miss the main thing. And as a result, I fizzle out at the end. Biblical writers sometimes compare life to running a race. According to scripture, "The race is not to the swift" (Ecclesiastes 9:11a). This means that to God, the race isn't about running fast. Or breaking records. God says that the main thing in life's race is the relationship. Ours with Him. It's in spending time with Him daily that we get to know Him. His love. His forgiveness. His grace. His mercy. His promises. We spend time with Him so that He can reveal Himself to us. That's how He trains us and strengthens us for the race. He wants to be the main thing in our lives. Sweet dreams, Deb

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

My Prince

Him. I want to dance before. My Prince of Peace. My King. Dance. Like David, wearing a linen ephod, dancing and leaping as the Levites carried the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem. Risked being misunderstood. Willing to be undignified. To be humiliated if necessary. All because he was compelled to celebrate what the Lord had done for him and for all of Israel. I want to dance like that. Maybe not quite as vigorously as King David, but with the same kind of humility. The same celebration. The same heart. I want to dance. Hands lifted. Soft stance and slow. Swaying. His Word and my words of praise and thanksgiving. Interwoven. Creating the cadence for our waltz. Son of Man. Man of Sorrows. Took my pain, my heartache. Did not know sin. Until He took mine. Gave His life for me. So that He could then give life to me. Eternal. Abundant. With Him--always. I must dance. Love is the reason. His for me. My heart says of Him, "Seek His face. Your face, Lord, I will seek." Lover of my soul. I will not neglect Your word. I will not reject Your word. I hide Your words in my heart. They are life and breath to me. And healing. And forgiveness. I dance. My Bridegroom comes. With a double-edged sword. And bearing a name that He alone knows. Having purchased boys, girls, men, and women from every nation, every tribe, every language. The Faithful Witness. Lamb of God. Lamb who was slain. The One who has overcome. Alpha. Omega. Jesus Christ, God's only Son. For Him, I dance. Sweet Dreams, Deb

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


I dream of writing--kamikaze style. Just get the words down. Wild and free. Trample caution. No concerns about content, clarity, and cohesiveness. No worries about syntax and semantics. The message is what it is. I am who I am. Sounds great. So, why can't I do that? Well, some kind of glammed-up goddess seems to get into my mind. Calls herself Perfection. And wants me to believe that everything that I attempt--to write or to do or to be--must meet up to her standards. She's like that, you know. Insistent. Imposing. Honestly, she gets on my nerves. Like, for example, last year. I trained for five months to run a half marathon. I was getting up at 4:30 each morning to get all of my runs in before going to work. I mean, great effort. But I never entered a 5K or an 8K or a 10K. Not even a one-mile, fun run. Know why I didn't make a single attempt to race? Her. She started slinging insinuations: "Run a race! You've got to be kidding! I mean, seriously. What if you're not as good as everyone else? What are people going to think? What if you fail?" And, I acquiesced to her mental monologue. I paid homage to her that time. But no more monarch manipulating my mind. Instead, I'm learning the truth about perfection. I'm not perfect. We're not perfect. Never will be. But the Savior is perfect and so is His word. Perfection is a self-imposed mandate that He never issued. All that He requires is that we follow Him. In faith. Not in fear--fear of not being good enough--fear of what others will think--fear of failure. No fear. No perfection. He's such an amazing God. A loving God. John knew that. He writes, "There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear" (1 John 4:18a). God loves us perfectly. We don't have to be afraid of Him or of anything that He calls us to do. I dream of following Him, the one true King. With abandon. In reckless obedience. On the wild side. Of His perfect love. Sweet Dreams, Deb

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Gas War

Bad things seem to happen to me at gas stations. Gasoline pumps confuse me and make me nervous. Sometimes, I can't figure them out at all. Fortunately, I have learned to operate the ones at Murphy USA. Insert card. Remove card quickly. Select debit or credit. If debit, enter PIN. Processing. Authorized. Select grade. Remove nozzle. Pump fuel. Driving home from work, I see that the gas light indicates that my car needs fuel. So, I swing by Murphy. I know the routine; this should be an uneventful task. However, it appears that everybody in town needs fuel as well. At 3:45 in the afternoon, the place is wrapped up tight. Maneuvering through these busy lines will require attentiveness, skill, and patience. Right now, I'm negative in all three areas. Because my tank is on the passenger side, I pull up to the lane going in the opposite direction of the truck that's already there. I leave the driver enough room to pull forward. He finishes and then drives away. It's my turn. But before I can pull into position, another driver swoops in, gets out of his truck, and fills his tank. The smirk on his face reveals that he knows that I was in the lane first. How rude! Then, after pumping the gas, he gets back into his truck, pulls up next to my car, and rolls down his window. For some bizarre and unaccountable reason, he's angry with me. He admits that he got ahead of me, but he doesn't apologize, He accuses ME of causing confusion. I reply, "I'm not confused." He continues to berate me. "Why didn't you back up to the pump like that woman over there did?" Like that's his business. With total disdain and complete disregard, this stranger drives off shouting at me, "You're just a WOMAN driver!" A what kind of driver? I know that he didn't say "woman" driver. He got ahead of me. He insulted me. I am indignant. But I manage to control my emotions, and in a drawl as sweet as cane syrup, I say, "Wayull, you have a blessed day." Right? Absolutely not. True to my for-such-a-time-as-this-feisty personality, I retort,"And you are just a jerk!" As soon as the word "jerk" leaves my mouth, I hear a sweet, little angel's voice coming from the booster seat in the back of the car, "Nonnie, what's a jerk?" That little angel would be Korie, my granddaughter. So now, I have to explain my use of a reckless word to a four-year-old. And my ridiculous, prideful behavior to God. I have so much pride to surrender. I have so much to learn about humility. Jesus provides us with the ultimate example of humility. He was and is the Darling of Heaven. But He left that sanctuary to come to earth for us. He suffered humiliation and rejection and many other things because of His great love for us. Paul points us to Christ's humility and His love. Paul writes, And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to death--even death on a cross! (Philippians 2: 8). Christ humbled Himself because He loves us and because He loves the Father. Obedience to the Father requires that we humble ourselves and that we love others. Not easy. But so worth it when we try. Sweet Dreams, Deb

Thursday, May 14, 2009

If Some Day Comes

Because of family history with Alzheimer's Disease, I wonder if some day that big, bad boy will huff and puff at my mind's door. Snarling. Insatiable. Lusting for every page of my life's story. I don't live in fear. Not paranoid. But I do care about how it could affect my precious children and grandchildren. I wonder what if... What if they call me on the telephone and in a ten-minute conversation, I tell the same anecdote three times? At first, they will feel a sense of consternation and in vain attempt to correct me. Trying to be helpful, my son will say, "Mama, you just told me about the time that Daddy was out of town, and I took the remote control apart. Then neither one of us could put it back together. Don't you remember?" No, I don't recall, and every time I tell the story, I laugh heartily. They talk to each other about what's happening to Mom. Soon, they learn to listen and to respond to my repetitions like they're hearing them for the first time. What if I call my daughter and ask, "Do we cook the ground beef before we make chili? Or do we just put the meat into the pot raw?" Panic will flood her heart as she replies, "Mom, there's no reason for you to cook. You don't need to be in the kitchen. Just rest today. I'm making a pot of chili, and I'll bring you some this afternoon. But stay out of the kitchen. Ok? Promise me, Mom." What if the time comes when I can't remember my telephone number. Or theirs. Or how to use the telephone. What if I begin to sit on the porch for hours, completely disengaged from normal, family activities? My son asks, "Mama, what are you doing?" "Just watching the clouds," I answer. What if they visit, and they tell me about all of the things that are going on in their lives, and I listen to them. But not really. Then I look into their eyes and blandly, innocently ask, "Now, who are you?" They tell me, and I steel myself to conjure just a flicker of what was once upon a time. Forcefully, I say, "Yes. Yes, of course. I know that." However, I fool no one. I know my children. They will weep. What if they kiss my cheek and I fail to respond? I just sit, devoid of the kiss's meaning and emotion. They hold my hand. They talk to me. Desperately wanting a sign. Something. Anything that will assure them that I know that they are bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh. Nothing happens. Seemingly, everything that has made me mother to them has been erased. No connection. End of story. Hopeless. They feel so hopeless. Their hearts break. What if when they hold my hand, they slip their hand around my wrist. They feel my pulse, aware of my heartbeat. My precious children, if that day comes, listen to my heart. From the moment that God formed you reverently and wonderfully inside my womb, my heart has beat only for you. The villianous disease took the stories of my mind. But not my heart. No one--nothing--no matter how covetous can steal that. My heart tells the true story: I will always know you and love you there. Sweet Dreams, Deb

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Calibrate the Course

Someone fires a gun into the air. Approximately eight hundred men, women, and children spring to action. Running. Walking. Waddling. The Polar Bear Run, a 5k race, has just begun. Filled with adrenaline, my friends and I take off as well, at what I discover is a way-too-fast-for-me pace. Ordinarily, I start slowly and gently increase speed. But because I don't want to get left behind, I foolishly attempt to match Leigh and Stacey's pace. I run with them until we reach Gin Shop Hill. Gin Shop Hill, not a steep hill, but one that gradually goes upward--almost forever--and then winds around to the right before finally leveling out, poses a significant challenge for me. Not quite half way up the hill, still running hard, my heart rate soars--my lungs burn--my chest hurts. Need more air. Can't make it. Must slow down. I'm unable to sustain the pace; my friends pass me. And that's when I hear the Man and the Boy running along behind me. The hill intimidates the Boy, and he, too, slows down. But his dad has calibrated the course and knows how to handle the situation. The Man: Son, Gin Shop Hill is a tough one. But I've run this course before. I know that you can run it, too. Here's the plan. We'll walk for awhile--you can catch up on your breathing--then we'll run again. Together. That's how we're going to conquer this thing. They do exactly that. Run. Walk. Run. Walk. All the way up that uncompromising hill. As we cross Autauga Creek, I see them. They alternate between running and walking. The dad adjusts his pace to his son's. He speaks encouraging words. The Man: You're doing so good! I'm proud of you. You're really hanging in here with me. I'm thinking: Wow, what a daddy! I know that this dad can easily blow past both the Boy and me and finish the race in record-breaking time. But he doesn't. He shows compassion for his son. Turning right on Washington Street, our home stretch, they catch up with me again. My legs feel weak. I'm tired. I want to give up. The Boy must have felt the same way. He stumbles. The Man: Son, don't stop now. We're almost there. I hope Mama and Sister have the camera ready--they're not going to be expecting us to cross the finish line this early. The Boy: But Dad--I'm tired. Can we walk? The Dad: No, Son! Not now. Look, there's the finish line. See! We've almost made it. Come on! You can do this. Let's crank it up! Are you ready? The Boy: No, Sir. I hear the desperation in the Boy's voice. He's torn between disappointing his dad and wanting to give up. The dad expresses confidence in his son. The Man: Son! I know you can do this! Almost there! Let's rev it up a knotch! Are you ready? The Boy: Yes, Sir! With an amazing burst of speed--they charge ahead--crossing the finish line together! I almost feel jealous of the relationship between this father and child. I start wishing that I had a father like that. One who would guide me, have compassion for me, and have confidence in me. Then my loving, heavenly Father reminds me that I do have a Father like that. He Himself is that kind of Father. He calibrates the course for me. Shows compassion toward me every day. Expresses his confidence in me. Do you long to have someone to come along beside you the way that dad walked and ran beside his son? Calibrating the course for you. Showing compassion to you. Believing in you. There's good news: The heavenly Father wants to walk and run together with you. Even when life seems to be nothing more than a rat race. Hundreds of years ago, the writer of Lamentations also experienced the Father's unfailing mercy and unending love. Through the LORD's mercies we are not consumed, Because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness (Lamentations3:32). I hope that you are experiencing the Lord's tender mercies. His compassion. His faithfulness. Allow God the Father to calibrate your course. Acknowledge His compassion. Accept His confidence in you. He's our Abba. Our Daddy. Let's thank Him. Let's worship Him! Sweet Dreams, Deb

Monday, May 11, 2009

Core Strength

"Add some weight. Pick up your bar. Knees are slightly bent. Tummy in. Shoulders up. Ready?" My exercise instructor clicks the remote control, and the music starts. "Here we go," she says. She spits out commands: "Singles!" "Wide grip. Triples!" "One more set!" "Don't quit on me now!" "Almost there!" The students obey and that's how in one hour, twice weekly, Body Pump 69 transforms our weak, less-than-perfect bodies into skinny, but strong ones that have six-pack abs, firm biceps, and taut triceps. Ok. Ok. So I'm not there yet. Not even close. But I am getting closer to my goal. I'm a runner, and I want to becomer a faster runner with greater endurance. Running strengthens my legs; however, I have to cross train so that other important muscle groups get a work out. Together, running and cross training provide a balance that strengthens my core. As disciples of Christ, we need to strengthen our spiritual core. How do we accomplish that? How do we become stronger believers? In Hebrews 12:12 the writer instructs us, "Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees." The best way to change weakness into strength is by listening to God. We listen as we study His word daily. God reveals Himself to us through His word. His word strengthens us. We cross train by talking to Him. Talking to God includes offering Him thanks, praise, and worship. We confess and repent. We call on Him. We cry in His presence. No detail is insignificant to Abba. Peter writes, "Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you"(1Peter 5:7). Our loving God desires to be intimately involved in our daily lives. Will you take some time to listen to the Savior? He has so much to say to you about His love-- His peace--His promises. Have you talked to Him lately? If you answered no, it's ok. Talk to Him now. More than anything else, He wants to hear your voice. His strength is made perfect in our weakness. He's the source of our strength.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Missing Mama

I saw her tonight for the first time since Mama died. That was almost four years ago. I knew that seeing Mama's youngest sister was going to be hard. It was. Mama and Aunt Evelyn were both diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease in the same month. I hate that disease. It steals memories. It wipes out life stories like they never even happened. It rips the personality right out of its victims. They're left sitting--heads slightly bowed--hands in lap. They struggle to join in conversation because they really don't remember the person who's talking to them. There's a slight sense of familiarity...but the reason for the love and the laughter are gone. Most of all, I hate Alzheimer's because it deceives. It deceived me. I thought that I had more time with Mama. I didn't know that the end was coming so soon. There were other complications--kidney problems, high blood pressure. I knew that she was sick. Somehow, it was like I thought that we still had all the time in the world. So I waited. I had plenty of opportunities. I was with her often, either at my house or at hers. I helped her bathe. Styled her hair. Made sure she took her medicine right. But I never told her what she deserved to hear. Why was I so stupid? So selfish? Why couldn't I bring myself to say those words. Such a simple thing. I thought about saying them. Then I would talk myself out of it. No hurry. No reason to rush. I waited too long. She lay on that hospital bed in her tiny bedroom in the house that she had lived in for forty years, and I told her then. But it was too late; she couldn't understand. So, I'm going to say what I should have told her a million times before. I know that saying this now doesn't erase my shame. But I've been thinking about her today and missing her so much. I want to try to honor her for the way that she lived and loved and forgave. Here goes. "Mama, you're the most wonderful mother in the whole world! I love you." Love, Deb

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

To Rest or Not To Rest?

I'm feeling a little bit guilty tonight. I was supposed to meet my running buddies, Leigh and Stacey, downtown this evening; our goal was to run three miles. We've been training together for several months, and right now, we're logging in about 12 miles total each week. Usually, I'm pumped about running. But this evening, I reluctantly confessed to them, "I'm getting tired and sleepy during the day at work, and I'm having trouble waking up when the alarm goes off. I think that I won't run this week. I need to rest." I just knew that they were going to call me a wimp. Actually, they thought that resting for a few days was a great idea. And the running experts that I've read concur: Rest is an essential component of a running program. So, why the guilt trip? Resting can make us feel guilty because, for some reason, we believe that we should, in fact, be able to handle all of our responsibilities-- take care of our families, be fashionably dressed and well-accessorized, cook (gourmet meals, preferably), do laundry, go to work, exercise and diet until we're all a size zero, drive our kids to school, ballgames, and gymnastics, and of course stop by the grocery store(tired kids in tow), etc.--without taking time to rest. Although our success will surely be short-lived, our calendars and our to do lists reveal that we're at least going to attempt to accomplish as much as possible without any down time. The reality is that none of us can run at race pace day after day and not encounter injury. Runners require rest periods because rest provides the body with a natural opportunity for recovery and repair. We all need time to rest so that our bodies and our souls can recover from the dings and bruises of our daily routine. According to the Bible, rest should be an integral part of our lives. Are you physically tired? Emotionally drained? Do you long for just a few minutes of peace, quiet, and rest? Do you feel a twinge of guilt at the thought of taking that rest? Jesus has extended a wonderful invitation to us. He says, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest" (Matthew 11:28). Listen. He's calling you. He knows your name. He knows that you're exhausted. He understands the weight that you carry. He carried a heavy weight Himself. He's asking you to come to Him. You can accept His invitation and be guilt-free. Be assured that when you come to Him, He will be right there, and He will give you rest. His words are true--He's irresistible--He's waiting for you to accept. Believe Him. Go to Him. Rest in Him. Sweet Dreams, Deb

Sunday, May 3, 2009

The Dreamer

Hi, Welcome to my blog. Getting this blog started is a part of the dream that God gave to me. Ever since I was a little girl and learned how to read, "See Spot run," I've loved the printed word. When I grew up, I became an English teacher. Now, I want to put a few words on paper. God gave me this dream, and I've given Him both the dream and my heart. So, today is a big day for me. I'm asking Him to give me some words that will encourage others and that will bring glory to Him. Sweet Dreams, Deb Carroll