Monthly Archives: September 2013

Vanilla Ice Moments

I struggle with anxiety.  Not the hand-wringing, fidgeting kind.  The mind whirling constantly, while looking completely calm on the outside kind.  And it’s not usually even whirling with crucial information, just the everyday needs of a family that have a tendency to overwhelm moms.

The other day I was experiencing anxiety, and simultaneously a song popped into my head.  Embarrassingly enough, it was Ice Ice Baby, and I had what I’m now calling a “Vanilla Ice Moment.” 

This was no coincidence, for me this was a God moment.

If you are a person who struggles with anxiety–or even if you don’t–you need to know how to have a “Vanilla Ice Moment”, too.  

 In light of my anxious state, I needed to heed the lyrics and literally “STOP. COLLABORATE AND LISTEN.”  To my body and to my God.

Killin' my brain like a poisonous mushroom.

This outfit is killin’ my brain
like a poisonous mushroom

When anxiety sets in, I would encourage you to stop whatever you are doing.  Just stop.  Do a physical body check, the unique way you were created isn’t like anyone else.  Your physical condition alone can be a great indicator of stress.  Spiritually speaking, stopping is complete yielding, and God can work with a yielded heart.  

Next, collaborate.  Think about your role in life and examine how your daily tasks line up with that role.  For personal example, my role is that of a stay at home mother with young (wild) kids.  If I am attempting to do things that don’t fit the role of a “mom with young (wild) kids,” I’m sure to regress into an anxious state.

To collaborate also means to get on the same page as God.  Maybe you are in the same book, but are you in the same chapter?  When you are speed-reading or flipping ahead into chapters you aren’t ready for, you’ll be anxious.  Trust me.

And finally, listen.  Pray and ask God to lead you beside still waters, where you can meditate on His plan and His order of things.  Ask Him to guide your steps, so you can place what matters most back at the top of the list.

Anxiety isn’t of God, but don’t be ashamed that it sometimes resides in you.  It is an emotion that should drive us to God.

I’ve come to understand I may battle anxiety my entire earthly life, but I also rest in the fact that God has power over my emotions.  Reading His word, the Bible, proves He has the best things for my to-do list, whether that be for the day or for coming years.  And as Vanilla Ice says, “Anything less than the best–”  Well, you know the rest.

Psalm 85:8

I will listen to what God the LORD says; he promises peace to his people,

his faithful servants– but let them not turn to folly.

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Being Remade

I’m so excited to start featuring artists I love!  And by “love” I mean I love their work, but even more I love their HEART!  This week I want to spotlight Jacquelyn Berry Rogers, of ReMade in Mississippi.

The last time I saw this beautiful girl, she was about six years old sitting still while I painted her face at the Wesson flea market.  Reconnecting with her as adults is fascinating, and seeing how she’s embraced life is why I knew–even way back then–great things were in store for her.

I asked Jacquelyn to tell me about why she pursues a creative path, specifically in working with jewelry.  I know you’ll be as blessed as I was and feel her charming, warm spirit just oozing through her words.

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jacqueline berry

For the life of me, I cannot recall a time when I wasn’t a crafter. I grew up watching my mother and grandmother sew, quilt, crochet, and embroider. In his free time, my father repaired his own arrows and reloaded his brass casings and shotgun shells for hunting. Hands-on work appeals to me and always has.

At a young age I began simple cross stitch and–bless her heart–my mother attempted to teach me to use a sewing machine. I could spend hours in my room with a hot glue gun, popsicle sticks, construction paper, and empty Coke bottles. I, of course, went through the “glitter everything!” phase, and over my high school years I painted and repainted every piece of furniture in my room. Multiple times.

I have dabbled in pottery, ceramics, woodwork, and metalwork. Every morning I wake up with a new project in mind, but most of them never make it past my sketch/ideas journal. Time and space are limiting factors for me as they are for many crafters with lofty ambitions, so our journals get thicker and heavier.

This is what brought me to jewelry. My hands stay busy and my compulsive need to create is satisfied while my two year old plays “big trucks” at my feet or naps in the next room. Is jewelry a passion for me? No, but creating is.

The “remade” aspect of my craft, however, I am passionate about. While I am not a super-environmentalist, I try to do my part. I recycle, try to buy local produce, cook as many “meatless Monday” meals as my husband will allow, and only buy sustainable sourced seafood (you don’t want to have a conversation with me about salmon or tuna). With that being said, reusing and re-purposing materials is my way of trying to contribute to the “green” movement by making something desirable out of another something that would otherwise be forgotten in a drawer or thrown away.remade in MS

My ReMade in Mississippi jewelry is the beginning of a journey I am pursuing with the support of my loving husband and amazing family. I hope that one day what started out at a tiny work desk in my living room will end up pushing my skills and patience to the limit in a workshop filled with sawdust, tools, a pottery wheel, and all sorts of broken, dented, cracked, and rusted materials begging to be ReMade.

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   Browse ReMade in Mississippi jewelry at  www.etsy.com/shop/ReMadeMS 

Thank you, Jacquelyn, for sharing your story. The image of forgotten things being found, cherished, and made into something beautiful reminds me of our own Creator. What a picture of God’s heart for us your jewelry is: making something desirable out of something that would otherwise be forgotten.

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Bone-Tired

I’ve always liked the book of Proverbs, so in choosing a key Bible verse for A Little Happy, naturally I turned there.  Proverbs 17:22 captures my purpose of encouraging others in the ups and downs of life.   It reads,

“A cheerful heart is like good medicine,

but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.”  

Have you ever noticed how many people quote the first half and leave out the rest?  I’m guilty, heck I even drew a picture of it!  But it’s the second part that rings true with many of us living in this broken and harsh world.  cheerful heart

A crushed spirit dries up the bones.  This is a word-picture of suffering, as it doesn’t just hover over us– like a cartoonish black cloud–it settles deep into our core.  In our bones.

Taking this word picture a step further, the marrow–in the center of the bone–is a source of life.  Countless cells and life-processes stem from this fearfully and wonderfully made anatomical location.  If it is dried up, life simply can’t exist.

Although the cheering heart is cute (if I do say so myself) this is actually a very serious verse to meditate on.  What God is saying is a happy heart is good medicine, but it’s not the cure.  The cure can only come from life being breathed back into the bones.  

There’s nothing fun about suffering, be it emotional, spiritual, or physical.  But there are wondrous truths for believers to cling to when we are in that state.  God’s loving mercy is shown in Psalms 34:18,

“The Lord is near to those whose hearts are humble.
He RESCUES those who are crushed in spirit!”  

Rescues!  I love that word.  When your bones are dried up (disintegrated) and your spirit is crushed (pulverized), “happy and cheerful” isn’t gonna do the trick.  We need the Rescuer Himself to breathe life into what’s dead.

Does this mean your suffering will magically disappear?  Will ailments flee and depression cease just by believing this magic potion of a verse? Possibly not.  But that’s not because you aren’t being rescued. You are just being rescued in a way unlike that of this world.

So how in the WORLD is He rescuing us?!  Who wants a rescuer that won’t (notice I didn’t say can’t)  just take away my pain and let me be happy all the time?  I’m so glad you asked!

 He is rescuing us from a life without hope.  

When my body fails me and my emotions lie to me, I have a sure and solid HOPE that God stands in charge of this world, and is allowing me to experience exactly what I need to bring Him glory and make me more like Him.  When my physical being is worn, and my mental being is wrought, I have the HOPE of an eternity that God says will be under His rule and order.  No.  More.  Suffering.

Let me tell you friend, I know suffering, and so do you.  I understand your weariness well, and I’d much rather not have to deal with it.  But I can attest to this: through my suffering over the years, my faith in Christ has become my ONLY true hope of rescue.

I love my husband, he’s supportive and catches me when I fall.  My children bring me joy with their giggles and liveliness. Medications help me cope with different ailments I endure.  But nothing RESCUES me from this harsh world like the knowledge that God is giving me exactly what I need to be more like Him. 

Peace to all of you who suffer.

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But we glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance;

perseverance, character; and character, hope.

And hope will not disappoint us.

Romans 5: 3-5

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Brain Battles

Yep. “Moves Randomly From Task to Task”
pretty much sums me up.

When God inspired me to start a blog, I feel He led me very precisely.  You can read all about that in my first post, “Are You A Little Happy.”  In a nutshell, I long to encourage other weary women through writing, and for fun, feature like-minded artists.

Like most right-brainers, I have the tendency to get lost in the periphery and lose sight of the central focus.  Lately, I’ve been spending more time molding clay and washing paint brushes than penning my thoughts.

Expect to continue seeing my doodles, though :)

Expect to continue seeing my doodles, though 🙂

Although it’s been fun to play around with art, the baby may have eaten a bead or two, and definitely ate a few bites of paint.  For now, I’m putting the art supplies back on the “hobby shelf,” so I can focus on the absolute thing God’s called me to: mothering (not poisoning) my children.  And writing.

I honestly didn’t expect such a positive response to the blog, and it’s nice confirmation to a new writer.  I also find joy in writing, unlike most who have bad flashbacks of college term papers at the mention of the word.  A wise mentor once taught me when we feel God’s pleasure in our work, it’s assurance we are in His will.

So I decided there is nothing better than to enjoy food and drink and to 

find satisfaction in work. Then I realized that these pleasures 

are from the hand of God. Ecclesiastes 2:24

If you haven’t already, please tell a friend about A Little Happy.  Building a site where women can be refreshed and encouraged by God’s truth is going to be an adventure.  I have guest writers on standby and artists from around the country I’m tickled to feature.

Thank you for following my blog, I feel certain God has asked me to do this.  Not to mention, writing is much less stressful than cleaning up spilled paint and mining beads from Ben’s diaper.

Has anyone seen  my paintbrushes?

Has anyone seen
my paintbrushes?

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Join Hairs With Jesus

I grew up in a Southern Baptist Church, which means the choir wore robes with reversible collars, and I annually wore new Easter shoes.  It also means I went to “big church” with my parents, and had a tight grip on the terms sin, repentance, and eternity well before I completed kindergarten.  

It was around that age–over a Sunday lunch at Maw Maw’s–I was showing off my church bulletin artwork to my family.  One drawing that lives in Smith Family infamy is that of a big Jesus with two little girls, all joined together by their pigtails.

Jesus and his posse

By the way, it’s join HEIRS. I think.

My favorite part of “big church” was the end, mainly because it was over, and partially because that’s when the whole congregation linked hands and sang a closing hymn together.  One of my favorites was “Family of God,” but until I unveiled my drawing that day, I didn’t realize I’d belted out this hymn incorrectly my whole existence.  As it turns out, that hymn wasn’t the only part of my religion I’d misunderstood, regardless of my proper Christian raising.

There is no set age for baptism in the Baptist denomination, because quite frankly we are keen enough to figure out when we need Jesus.  For me, that was the tender age of 11, and after the pastor announced for everyone to close their eyes and bow their heads the Spirit moved in me.  I knew people were rebelling against the closed-eye rule, but I gathered up my courage and made my way down the aisle anyway.  

During a home visit that week, my pastor realized I was more interested in hell-dodging than Christ-following.  I think it had something to do with his closing inquiry, “Now, Macie, do you have any questions?”  To which I responded, “Yes, if we are finished, can mama paint my fingernails now?”

Fast forward a whopping two years.  I definitely saw a fork in the road, and wanted whole-heartedly to choose God’s way over the world’s.  Understanding the 3 key terms–SIN, REPENTANCE, and ETERNITY–I earnestly wanted to quit sinning, repent for good, and spend eternity in Heaven.  I was baptized in November of 1992 in a frigid baptismal, due to a broken heater.  If I wasn’t a native Baptist, I’d say it was a sign.

For many years thereafter I stumbled through life, much like that child that thought she knew the lyrics.  I went through seasons of rebellion and renewal, but mostly rebellion; confusion and confidence, but mostly confusion; faithfulness and faithlessness, but mostly faithlessness.  I watched other teenagers and young adults love God with all their heart, and had just about decided I wasn’t cut out for it, that it was for folks who were good at being good.

That was a long time ago.  And although I still battle this rebellious heart–and suspect I always will in this mortal body–I now know what made “being” a Christian so unreachable for me.  I’m convinced my schizophrenic spirituality stemmed from a most basic problem–the lack of understanding.  And without understanding, there was no lasting pleasure for me in pursuing the things of God.  Proverbs 2:1-5, 9-10 tells it like this,

My child, if you receive my words
and treasure up my commandments with you,
making your ear attentive to wisdom
and inclining your heart to understanding;
yes, if you call out for insight
and raise your voice for understanding,
if you seek it like silver
and search for it as for hidden treasures,
then you will understand the fear of the Lord
and find the knowledge of God.

Then you will understand righteousness and justice
    and equity, every good path;
for wisdom will come into your heart,
    and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul.

Yes, I had attended church, sang in the children’s choir, been baptized and had even gone on youth retreats and mission trips.  But my journey was never about seeking understanding, quite frankly I just wanted Jesus to fix me.  But the Proverbs-promise says if you seek understanding you’ll find knowledge and then–and only then–will you find pleasure in your soul.  Once I found pleasure in Christ, well let’s just say wild horses couldn’t drag me away, fixed or not.

Doctrinal questions I’ve sought–and continue to seek–answers to are the foundation for many posts in my blog.  Some of you may read and think, “Well I thought everyone knew that.”  But the more Christians I meet and know, the more I hear people singing the wrong lyrics.  There are lots of great Christians wondering why they aren’t “fixed”, when it’s not even about that at all.  Christians are weary and worn from dragging Jesus around by their pigtails.

There’s always talk about Christians not “living-out” their faith, but I believe there’s not so much a problem of Christians living-out their faith.  I believe there’s a problem of Christians–like me–understanding their faith.  In other words, I think our faith is suffering not from a problem of want- to, but a problem of know-how.

Sometimes I’ll tackle serious faith topics via my blog, and when I do, I pray you’ll see my heart and know it’s in humility I share.  I’m not trying to “enlighten” you, if you are a Christian, or convert you if you’re not.  I’m simply writing down the ways God’s drawn me to Himself, and pretty-much blown my mind.  There truly is pleasure at His right hand, when you sit and beg for wisdom and understanding to come into your heart.

  

Dunked me and married me off. You're the best!

Dunked me and married me off.
You’re the best!

This post is dedicated to my childhood pastor, Brother Mike Carr, who patiently pastored me–knowing all along I had spiritual schizophrenia.  Who stood by me as I continued to run from understanding.  And who can now wipe his forehead and sigh in relief that I’m finally starting to get it. Thank you.

 

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