May 30, 2014

Where Are the Political Posts?

Some of my long term readers will recognize that the Abigail and Dolley of today bears little resemblance to the blog of 2009/2010.  Born out of the Tea Party, Dolley was actually launched on a collaborative site founded by several conservative friends.  That blog was literally stolen and this site was born.  So you may wonder, "Why don't you write political posts any longer?"

The short answer is that I no longer believe that it makes a difference.  I began to cool off considerably after the rally of 2010 failed to produce a halt to the destruction of the country.  2011 was an extremely trying and difficult time for me personally and I had enough ageda of my own without rallying around the flag.  I engaged for the 2012 election and fought hard for my candidate, Newt Gingrich.  Toward the end, I even got on board the Romney train and supported his candidacy.

Two major occurrences soured me on politics forever.  The first was about a week before the election when I posed the question to my fb friends if anyone was actually still undecided.  The answers were amazing... I realized that all of my writing, all of my persuading, all of my educated had been for naught.  I had dozens of friends who had not been positively influenced by my four years of crusading.  The second occurred about 2 am on election morning, I wept for my lost country but have never looked back.

You see, I believe that the only hope for this lost world is found in the salvation of Jesus Christ.  The 24 hour news cycle is not going to save us, the turning of the tides is not going to happen because we are simply too close to the end of the church age for that to occur.  Daily we are seeing the fulfillment of prophecy and the foundations and systems for the last kingdom are being laid before our eyes.

I now view world events through the lens of a Watcher.  I stand on the wall and call warnings but even these are now quieter.  My prophetic zeal changed no one's minds either, it was simply just more noise to my friends and family.  So I simply write about my journey, about our business, about my life walking with the Lord.  At the end, it is Christ and Him crucified that has the power to save, I am merely a humble servant trying to make it through the day.

May 28, 2014

Partnering With God in the Garden

The Bible uses agriculture to teach dozens of lessons to mankind.  Allegories and stories swirl though my mind, add to that my love of gardening, and the stage is set   Yesterday I was gazing at the Back to Eden Garden whilst sipping coffee and felt the Lord's sweet presence.  I realized that my life, like my B2E Garden, is a partnership with the Lord.  That might not seem Earth shattering but walk this path with me, perhaps the Lord will bless you in the journey.

Several years ago, my original perennial garden was absolutely full.  To continue to add plants would have moved it from a garden to a collection of plants.  I turned my attention to a sun baked spot in the back yard where even the grass and weeds struggled to grow and determined it was the perfect spot for a vegetable garden.  I trudged out there one February morning and began the arduous process of double digging the patch.  Holy Cow, this soil was a mess.  Silt on top where a stream has once run, light yellow compaction full of every tree root that had been left in the clearing of the lot, and underneath saturated red clay that weighed 20 lbs a shovelful.  It was brutal work.  This plot represents our lives before Christ, our flesh.  There is no good thing in it.  We have been baked by the sun where even weeds struggle to thrive.  Our sin runs like dead tree roots and we are weighed down in our spirits like the soaked red clay.

As I dug, the neighbors dogs barked... and barked... and barked.  I became madder by the minute.  Garden time was supposed to be peaceful and full of life and relaxation - this was filthy, muddy, stumbling work punctuated by yapping.  Finally, after two hours, I threw down my shovel and stormed up the street.  The clueless neighbor was no doubt shocked at my appearance at her door, sweaty in the February brisk air, liberally smeared with dirt, hair gone wild in the wind.  She gave me a rather confused look and mumbled, "I wondered what they were barking at..."  This did little to calm my ire but I stomped away to relative quiet.  The dogs in the story, well they are the demons and naysayers who like to condemn, gossip, and torment us.  They were sounding the alarm that good work was being done in my backyard.  Barred from the property, they could do nothing but make noise and aggravate.

The job I assumed to be a day or two, turned into three full weekends.  Having read that turning the clay and letting it sit in the weather would help to turn it into good soil.  I waited.  Weeds began to thrive, clods of clay baked in the winter sun and turned into terra cotta pottery.  I spayed weed killer all over the pile of dirt and waited a little longer.  April came and I brought in 20 bags of top soil, compost, and manure.   I sprayed the weeds again.  This phase is like the person who thinks if they dig down and unearth all the bad things in their lives that the airing out of everything will turn them into good soil, instead they are exposed, grow weeds, and certain parts of them harden like pottery.  They bring in pretty dressing that they buy and haul it in arduously spreading and augmenting the soil.  This temporarily covers the mess and for a little while it looks like mission accomplished.  To the outside world, hard work and money have accomplished the desired results.  Until the weeds start to emerge.  

Finally the time came to plant.  Most of the plants were purchased at the nursery but a few seeds were sown.  A few weeks later, a light dusting of pine straw covered the soil and the result was glorious.  I was so excited.  This was prior to my Abigail and Dolley days but I wrote extensively about how excited I was.  I companion planted everything and eagerly awaited the results, which were fantastic... at first.  This represents what we can do on our own, through hard work and money.  We can try and force what we want in our lives.  We sit back and enjoy the fruits of our labor and investment.

Then, the last blog written that year is titled, "The Dog Days of Summer".  The unrelenting sun beat down, the rain did not fall, the weeds took over, the pests moved in, and everything fell apart.  I vowed that I would hold back the forces through hard work and recounted a five hour day in the sun pulling back the mulch and fighting the weeds, to no avail. This is where we vow to keep it together, that our hard work WILL pay off through sheer force of will but in the end the forces beyond our control beat down upon us and devour what we have tried to do.  These are the businessmen you see at dinner who can not put down their blackberry long enough to have a conversation with their colleague sitting across the table.  When it is up to you to keep your head above the waves.

In the end, the garden baked to stalks.  I took no picture of this desolation, we do not show off our failures.  We don't document and share pictures, we hide them and hope no one will ask.   My hard work, my money, my time was for naught but toil.  This represents a life lived our way, by our own efforts, and minus the blessings of the Lord.  I doubled down the next year.  I hired a man with a big tiller and had 40 bags brought in.  The results were the same.  Sadly, I repeated this process for two more years before abandoning the entire enterprise as a money pit of toil.  This is the epitome of just working harder, just try harder, just pour more money into it - if it fails it is because YOU have failed.

Years passed and I began to once again speak of my desire for a vegetable garden.  My husband suggested that he would build me one as my Christmas present.  I was as excited as ever but this excitement was tempered by my previous bad experiences.  I determined that this time would be different and I began researching what was new in vegetable gardens.  The Lord led me to the Back To Eden Garden Film and I was enthralled.  This is gardening done God's way, with His methods, and is blessings - without the toil and the hard work I always associated with vegetable gardening and with a blessed return on my investment which would get better with age.
Back To Eden Garden the First Spring
The difference is day and night.  We did not garden in the same spot, which was still sun baked and barren.  This new garden is huge, triple the original plot, and full of periods of shade from the unrelenting Carolina sun.  Yes, it still took time, hard work, and money but there is a partnership in this endeavor that was missing before.  Most of the plants thriving in the garden were grown from seeds instead of purchased transplants.  The weeds are few and can be plucked with a small pinch and a tug.  The wood chips hold the water from the rain and the plants are thriving.  I look upon the creation and I realize that there is a harmony in this garden as there needs to be in our lives.  I am doing my part and God is blessing the efforts.  I do not know if the harvest will be as magnificent as the young plants signal, after all it is up to God to continue to protect and to grow the plants.  We are a small family and it will be more than we can possibly consume or store, so we plan to bless others with the bounty.  I rest in the assurance that past experience don't always dictate future results, especially when you do it God's way.

May 25, 2014

Cool Down Now

Cool Down Now is my invention but the company and the creation, which is the recipe moving from the kitchen table to an actual product, well that's all my husband's doing.  One day we will write the story, I am sure it will be one of struggle and triumph.  After all, we love a good underdog, American Dream narrative.  We love the melodrama of the tale as it unfolds before our eyes, knowing at the end there is a happy ending.   We are not particularly interested in the first chapters of the story without the last but Cool Down Now has all the makings of such a story!  If realized to it's full potential, it boggles the mind to contemplate.   1 Corinthians 2:9 "Eye has not seen, nor ear has not heard, nor have entered into the heart of man, The things that God has prepared for those who love Him."

One of the many obstacles to overcome is exactly who to market the product to... at the end of the day, how to you market to "People who get hot"?  Seriously, ponder this, how do you market a product that every human on the planet has the potential to use?  It is a unique problem but one you have to solve because if you try to market to everyone, you end up marketing to no one.  

Think about it for a minute, when was the last time you got hot?  What were you doing?  How did you feel?  How long were you hot?  Did you stop doing whatever that was and go get cooled off or did you suffer through it?  Were you grumpy in the heat, did you snap at those around you? 

Cool Down Now makes you feel better.  Cool Down Now can last for hours so you can enjoy your activities or be more comfortable doing your hard work.  Cool Down Now has the secondary effect of improving your mood because if you are not sweltering in the heat you are happier.

So who is going to be the first group to embrace this revolutionary product?

  • Will it be athletes?  Imagine some Texas High School Football Coach discovering Cool Down Now.  Picture Friday Night Lights and Cool Down Now... what a great potential episode, right? 
  • What about Roofers - the ultimate hot job, will they be the ones who recognize the value of the product and buy it by the caseload?
  • How about Hot Flash Relief - will the female over 40 crowd get some relief from the internal volcanic eruptions that are so innocuously called a Hot Flash? 
  • Maybe it will be my fellow Gardeners who read my invention story and buy the product from their sister in dirt....
  • What if it's some obscure group or niche market like car salesmen who have to be on the black top in the sweltering heat and stay unruffled and pleasant?  Perhaps I will ask them to sit at my desk while I go talk to the sales manager...:)
I have never written Abigail and Dolley to become famous or sell product.  Until this month, I have never even mentioned Cool Down Now.  Google Analytics tell me that this little humble blog has been hit over 100,000 times, so perhaps faithful Abigail and Dolley readers, you will be the tipping point!

Remember, "Everybody Gets Hot, So Everybody Needs Cool Down Now!  It's Air Conditioning In Your Pocket!"

May 23, 2014

Lessons on Waiting From Sarah

Abigail and Dolley readers in the first grade, my teacher wrote on my report card that I was a bright student and a sweet girl but that I needed to learn patience with others.  It was a Christian School and I have no doubt that those words were given to her by the Holy Spirit.  God loves and disciplines His children and apparently this was an area He felt I needed to work on the most!  From that moment on, He began to put people and situations in my life that would develop patience.

Four decades later, I am still learning.  My idea of a patient person is one who is patient in all things, who waits in serenity and peace, and who casts cares upon the Lord with nonchalance.  The question becomes does such a person really exist or are we patient by degrees or in certain situations?  If utter paragons of patience are at one end of the spectrum and toddlers (both physical and spiritual) are at the other, where might you fall?  Further, are there some situations/people where your patience is inexhaustible but others where you fly off the handle at the least little thing?

What about long term desires and unfulfilled dreams?  I like to use Sarah as my model for patience in the Bible.  I identify with her.  We always focus on the fact that she waited 25 years for the promise of the Lord to come true but we do not consider that she had always been childless, that the longing and wishing for a child went well beyond 25 years.  I am sure there were many months she cried with every show of blood and then for years she dealt with the pain of an unfulfilled dream and desire.
Sarah Laughed
On a certain level, it seems harsh for the Lord to reveal to such a woman that she would bear a child and then ask her to wait.  Would we speak less of the miracle of Isaac if it had occurred when she was 75?  Or was the Lord making doubly sure that He got the credit and was He using Sarah to show us that if He promises something, He will eventually do it?  Did she suffer so 4000 years later we would still be talking about it and looking to her as an example of how to abide but also how not to abide? Is she also a model of what not to do when your long awaited dream comes true?  For by the Biblical accounts, she did not behave very well after Isaac was born.

It can be a scary place, out here in the deep with the Lord.  I am certain that people scoffed at her, laughed at her dream, and caused her to question that she had really heard from the Lord.  Sarah laughed herself when the Lord told Abraham she would give him a son.  I do not judge her too harshly, as someone who has had to wait upon the Lord for decades, I understand.

May 22, 2014

What I Learned From Being Unemployed

Abigail and Dolley readers one of the hardest things I have ever experienced was unemployment.  The emotions, the fear, the anger, the embarrassment, the financial implications, the isolation, and the sheer upheaval can be overwhelming.  The subject is so broad, dozens of blogs could be written addressing any number of subjects from finances to finding a new job to dealing with the stress; consider this blog a strong arm around your shoulders, a warm cup of coffee, and some advise from somebody who has been through it.

Have a plan everyday, something you are going to accomplish and only focus on your goal for the day.  It could be something like this:  Prayer and Scripture of the Day, Exercise, Clean the Bathroom, and Grocery Shop.

Another day may focus on a job search item so it could be:    Prayer and Scripture of the Day, Exercise, Fill out Unemployment Application, and Update Resume.

Batch your job related days and do not look for a job everyday.

Insure that your plans fill the "work day".   The work day was brutal.  I seemed to relax after 5:00 because I was used to being home and the "work day" was over.  My tough times were in the day.

When some well meaning soul asks you "What are you going to do?", you can reply, "Well, all I know is that today I am cleaning out the garage and that's about all I've got right now.  I will figure out tomorrow, tomorrow."

May 20, 2014

Spontaneous Moment of Praise, Singing 'Jesus Messiah' at Atlanta Airport

Abigail and Dolley readers there is a video that has gone viral on Facebook of a group of gospel singers that break out in praise in the Atlanta Airport.

It's a moving moment; not because it is perfect and not because it is polished, it's moving because it is genuine.  The music touches the believer's heart with thanksgiving and praise.

I cried when I watched it, not simply because I was moved but because one day this will be outlawed and anyone who would dare to perform such a song will be executed.  One day soon, the church will be Raptured and this music will disappear.

May 13, 2014

Thou Hast Left Thy First Love

Abigail and Dolley readers sometimes the Lord brings things we thought were lost back to life.  I am gardener and have been for about 15 years.  During the course of time, I have planted hundreds of specimens and seeds.  Some have thrived and others have never sprouted. In my early years, roses were the predominant fixture in the landscape but seasons change and I determined that I no longer wanted to deal with prickers and the never ending battle of black spot.

I moved several roses out of the main flower bed and relegated them to an abandoned spot in the back where they languished for years without being tended.  They were puny and sick.  I dug up and disposed of several and when the time came to put in my Back to Eden Garden, on a whim I moved the three surviving things back up to the perennial garden.  I thought they were all a Freedom Hedge Rose but alas, I was wrong.  There was one special rose that survived, one I purchased 15 years ago and moved from one house to the other.

Coral Floribunda Rose
It is so old that I have forgotten it, name and all.  This morning as I was having my devotion in the garden, I noticed it there.  At first glance, it was just another Freedom but upon closer inspection I was shocked.  She had a heady scent that brought me back to a time of hope, grand dreams, and excitement.  Before I knew about fungus and black spot and Japanese Beetles - to a time when all things were possible to those who believed and were willing to put in the work.  To a time before rose gardening had become toil without reward.

Jesus told the church at Ephesus that he saw their hard work, he saw their faithfulness and endurance - but they had forgotten their first love.  As seasoned believers we can get so caught up in the work of being a Christ Follower, that we forget the joy of our first love.  We lose the faith of a child.  So God used a rose today to remind me that He can do much more than I expect and he reminded me of that first love.

May 9, 2014

Find the Balance

Abigail and Dolley readers the last few years have taught me that there is is a fine balancing act in this life and there is a path that we all walk.  I wrote pretty extensively about this last summer, I highly suggest that you read The Narrow Path to fully flesh this out.    So here we go... as I sit here contemplated the next words to write, it occurs to me that even in this there is a balance to be struck.  A balance between a full exposition of The Narrow Path for the reader who will not click through and for the other reader who has now returned to this post ready for more.  So let it suffice to say that the balanced, fruitful, and faithful Christian walk can be a tight rope in places and we must seek the Lord to help keep us on the right path.

As I've prayed this week, this balance has come back to the forefront of my mind.  Perhaps because someone recently chastised me for false modesty.  An honest compliment was given and I deferred.  In times past, proud as a peacock, I would have snatched that compliment up and devoured it like a chicken on a worm and then been pecking around for more.  Oh how times have changed!  I began to wonder, in my journey from pride to modesty have I again swung too far?

The extremes between two poles are easy to recognize but I am contemplating the nuance.  The line between realizing that no good thing lies in my flesh and assurance that I am living a life that is pleasing to the Lord.  Then immediately upon contemplating that I am doing well, realize all of the ways that I fall short and contemplating that I am a worm.  The swings between confidence and dependence; the false modesty where I put myself on the same level of the most debauched reprobate and then swing back to the full understanding that there go I except for the grace of God.

I have dissected my past mistakes ad-nauseum and as I contemplate moving forward I am loathe to repeat these mistakes of pride and self confidence.  I realize that I do not trust myself not to fall into the same trap again.  As the Lord answers prayer, can I pray in faith in confidence or will I become arrogant that the Lord is answering my prayers...I do not like being double minded nor can I put away a question that I have been gnawing at me, so I sought the Lord.

He gave me a Scripture that surprised me with it's simplicity and I have NEVER contemplated it in this light... this is a Scripture we use in times of suffering and trial, it is not one I've used to find grounding and balance but alas the Lord gave me, "I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me.

Thus, in the nuance, in the gray areas, in the deep, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."

The Beauty of the Lord
The Lord does not want us to stay the same, He delights in our growth.  He loves to show us new revelation, to give us glimpses of His character, His beauty, His power, and His magnificence.  To touch our hearts and flow through us like fire, wind, and water; to open our eyes to the deeper things of Him and invite us into the wildness of Him.  For I would rather spend one day in the presence of the Lord than a thousand elsewhere and I yearn with all that is within me when I shall finally be in His presence forever.