A Life Well Lived

This weekend was one of the most heartbreaking times I have lived through. From hearing the news from my son Friday night through the services on Sunday I, like so many, had to try and process the reality that the world would be much dimmer because Sharron Fuller had gone to be with Jesus, the result of a tragic automobile accident.

I knew Sharron impacted so many people in her 47 years. But the impact of her outreach really hit me as I sat through her service at Trinity Methodist yesterday. I listened to how she hugged, loved and served the youth at her church. People told stories of her commitment to her church’s Mexico mission trip, from fundraising to paying for others to go and going herself many times. And I could go on and on about what other people said, but I wanted to share a few memories and the lessons I have learned from a life well lived.

My father and Sharron knew each other for many years, as they were in related lines of work. Daddy is a master at building furniture, and Sharron knew this about him. So last year when she wanted to build a headboard for her son Houston as he was moving out to attend Auburn she asked daddy if he would teach her how to use the saws, how to put it together, sand it and stain it – the whole nine yards. And he did. Sharron lost her father when she was only 35, and she often talked about the gaping hole it left in her heart. She always hugged my daddy and called him “Pops” even though I had repeatedly told her it was “only 1 Pop,” (and I think daddy secretly liked her nickname for him). I would like to think Sharron gave daddy what I couldn’t – an engineering mind who wanted to learn how to build things. And in return, I think he gave her “daddy time,” since she had been without hers for so long. They created a new bond over beautiful headboard for Houston, a tangible piece of her heart that he can keep forever. Daddy and Sharron had plans to build more furniture together because she was determined to learn and do it on her own one day. Here are the pictures I took that day and the words she wrote on Facebook:

Sharron & Daddy

❤️❤️What a great day!! My daddy would have been so proud of the headboard I (and Pops) made for Houston!! Thank you Pops ( @trip3 – Don Triplett)!!! I am so thankful you gave me a woodworking lesson! I had the best day!!😁❤️❤️— with Donald Lee Triplett, Leigh Triplett Thompson and Sue Robinson.

This spring was very difficult for me, as our family was moving from our home in Auburn of 17 years to Saint Simons, GA. On the day of our garage sale (which was more like a warehouse sale) she took time to come over towards the end and check on us, to see how we were doing and to simply tell us we would be missed. She had an innate sense driving her to know who needed a friend and when. I sure could use her big smile always painted in her signature red lipstick today, checking on me as I grieve the loss of a close friend. She would hug me, love on me and probably bake me one of her awesomely delicious strawberry cakes (which were absolutely the best in the world).

My son didn’t like to spend the night out when he was younger, but he would spend the night with Mrs. Sharron. She took him to the beach, we drove to pee wee football games together and watched 6 years of state championship golf tournaments with each other. When I needed someone to put together a slide show for the golf banquet I knew who to ask, because Sharron was never without her camera. And she gleefully said she would handle it, as she did whenever I asked her to help with anything. She chaperoned every school dance our boys ever attended from the 6thgrade sock hop to the senior prom, and loved every minute of it.

Davis & Sharron

The last time I saw Sharron was just a few weeks ago when I came back to Auburn to see my parents. She was eating dinner with her husband John, their daughter Kathryn and Kathryn’s roommate. We promised to grab lunch the next time I was in town. I had no idea the next time I would be in Auburn I would be attending her funeral…

I knew how much she loved her family. I knew of all these missions and groups she was involved with, and I knew how contagious her smile and laughter was. But Friday came like a thief in the night, stealing a precious wife, mother, daughter, sister and friend out of our lives.

As Reverend Earl Ballard said at her service Sunday (and I’m paraphrasing), the question isn’t “Why?” because we will most likely never understand why she was taken home to heaven Friday night. The question is do you know where your eternity lies? Sharron did. She knew Jesus. She loved Jesus. And her life is a glowing example of how a person lives when they embody the words of Jesus found in Matthew 28:19-20 ~  “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

I, like so many, will greatly miss you Sharron. We will endeavor to carry on with big hugs, contagious smiles and for some of us some bright red lipstick. We will be better spouses, parents, friends because of the example you set. We will continue to fulfill the great commission, as you would do if you were still here. And some glad morning, when this life is over, we will fly away and meet you at the gates of heaven.

“Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.” 1 Peter 5:2-4

~Amen~

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Excuses, Excuses

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“Go make up your bed.”

“Put your toys away.”

“Clean up your room.”

“Come home right after school.”

“Be home by midnight.”

How many times did I tell my children to do something when they were growing up, living under my roof? Countless. It’s part of raising children to become healthy, functioning adults. And I didn’t tell them to make their bed or empty the dishwasher simply for my benefit – learning to be obedient is a Biblical concept that is paramount to living the life God has for them.

So all is well and good when I would receive a “Yes ma’am” and the task would be completed without hesitation. But around age 13 is when the eye rolling started and the sighing or mumbling under their breath could be heard during the task at hand. (Can any of you parents out there relate?) They would do what I asked, but it wasn’t with the happy, obedient heart that they had when they were younger. (Thanks, preteen hormones.)

And somewhere along the normal disobedience of preteens and teenagers comes the ability to throw out an excuse as to why the thing I said needed to be done didn’t get done.

“I’m too tired.”

“My friend needed a ride home.”

Or my least favorite: “I forgot.”

This morning I was reading in Jeremiah 1 the passage that so many people have painted on the walls of the child’s bedroom or used as comfort when life isn’t going the way you planned:

The word of the Lord came to me, saying, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart…” (v. 4-5)

Ah, how comforting.

However, it was the next 2 verses that caught my attention.

“Alas, Sovereign Lord,” I said, “I do not know how to speak; I am too young.” But the Lord said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am too young.’ You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you.” (v. 6-7)

Uh, hello.

It struck me that I could take verse 6 and use it as a fill-in-the-blank. “I do not know how to speak, I am too ________________.” Young, old, tired, sad, busy, broke – you get the picture. I, too, can be full of excuses when God is telling me to do something.

I expected my children to be obedient, to complete the task without grumbling or giving me excuses. God expects that from me as well. Verse 7: “The Lord said to me, ‘Do not say, I am too __________________.’”

I am not to give God excuses. I am not to roll my eyes, grumble and reluctantly be obedient. God wants to teach me, grow my faith every day. How can He do that if I’m a reluctant, disobedient child?

So enough with the excuses! When God gives you or me a directive, let’s respond with the “Yes, Lord! Send me!” attitude! How pleasing it will be for God to have an army of obedient children, ready and willing to go where he sends us, speak to those around us and show others the way, the truth and the life!

Blessings!
Leigh

ToLaPho

Last week my husband and I had the opportunity to go watch my son play in a golf tournament in Dallas, TX. I rarely fly anywhere but for different reasons I’ve actually flown to Dallas out of 2 different airports 3 out of the last 4 years. And I flew one other time last year, so it isn’t like I’m new to flying.

Delta

A lot of people have a strong fear of flying. The flying part isn’t my fear. It’s the taking off and the landing that totally freaks me out for some reason. I call it ToLaPho – Take Off & Landing Phobia. (And I’m sure there’s probably a more legit name for this phobia but I like mine better.) And it’s real. I figure the flying part is pretty straight forward unless there’s major turbulence in the air or some crazy unruly passenger on board. But those take offs and landings to me seem pretty dicey.

So last week on the way out to Dallas my husband and I were on the back of the plane. I don’t mean somewhat on the back, like row 30 out of 39. We WERE row 39. We were so far back we didn’t even have a window on our row. So I’m in the corner of row 39 and as we start to push back from the terminal I can’t see out, the air cuts on and off, I start thinking about taking off and so of course ToLaPho starts to set in.

I start praying but I feel it creeping in. And then all of a sudden I look like a crack addict about to claw through my clothes because I can’t get the dang A/C to crank out of that tiny tube in the ceiling of the plane. I’m sweating a little now and so I take a gulp of water which causes me to start coughing. Great. The people all around me are going to think I’m spreading swine flu or something. But I’m prepared. I dig in my purse and find the 1 Ricola cough drop that I keep for emergencies. (THIS WAS AN EMERGENCY.)

I keep coughing and sweating and fiddling with the air vent to the point my husband looks at me and says, “Are you OK?” CLEARLY NOT OK. But I’m praying the whole time. “Lord, let me stop coughing. Lord, give me air. Lord, please let this plane get off the ground…” You get the picture. My husband took my hand and gently said, “It’s going to be OK…”

We obviously took off just fine, made it to Dallas and back, all take offs and landings pulled off exceptionally well (because we lived).

To get to a new destination in life we sometimes have a scary beginning on the journey. And all too often we let ToLaPho paralyze us into either panicking about the journey or not taking it at all. We let outside forces beyond our control dictate our emotions, our attitudes and out decisions.

If I had let my emotions, attitudes and decisions get the best of me last week I would have been the unruly passenger freaking out and pushing past passengers, carry-ons and flight attendants to get off that plane. But through prayer and the calming presence of my husband I settled down and made the journey.

We can’t get through life’s journey alone. First and foremost we need Jesus who is always accessible through prayer. Think about that. The God of this universe, creator of every star, every planet, every person – that same powerful God is accessible to me and to you whenever you need him.

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am our God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. “  Isaiah 41:10

But we also need people around us who can help us get through hard situations when they arise. We should surround ourselves with wise, spiritual friends who have our best interest at heart and can speak spiritual truths into our lives.

“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up… A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”  (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12)

Get to know Jesus. Really know Him. Pray continually and surround yourself with people of faith and experience the victory over ToLaPho during your life’s journeys!

Blessings!
Leigh

The Cone of Uncertainty

My husband’s new job brought us to the coast of Georgia. Literally we moved to the right edge of the United States – we can’t get any farther east on land.

When I lived in East Alabama we would occasionally get winds and rain from a tropical storm once it had moved up through the gulf. Never, ever did I worry about a direct hit from a hurricane.

Until now.

Last week Florence popped up in the Atlantic and started marching her way to the east coast. Day by day, and sometimes hour by hour, I watched the Weather Channel to see where she was going.

Can I just say that the meteorologists and hurricane specialists struggle with their predictions? They are trying to apply human knowledge, experience and expectations to a force of nature with an unknown agenda. The spaghetti models they create are their best guess at where a hurricane will travel, but much like cooked, slippery spaghetti these storms go where you don’t expect them to go.

After analyzing all the spaghetti models they come up with the official NHC Track Forecast Cone or the Cone of Uncertainty as we more commonly know it. The cone is only as good as the information fed into it, and since that information changes frequently the cone shifts, causing some to breathe a sigh of relief while others start to panic.

NHC-cone-florence-9.8.18-15Z

Locals typically don’t panic. So I didn’t panic when Florence started to shift south, but I did get prepared. I now have a plastic tub full of batteries and matches in plastic bags, cleaning supplies, a solar-powered-hand-cranking-no-batteries-needed weather radio and enough Chef-Boyardee ravioli to make it through a nuclear attack.

The Cone of Uncertainty. Isn’t that our lives in general? We think we know the path in front of us but then a change in outside pressure or internal strife can veer us in a different direction.

I now have to be aware of and prepared for trouble in the tropics. I may not need that tub of hurricane supplies today, but I most likely will one day. In the same sense we need to be prepared for trouble and problems that head our way by being entrenched in the Word of God. Commit verses to memory. You may not need a particular one today, but chances are in your future you are going to hit a roadblock and need a promise that can only be found in Scripture.

For the past few years I have asked God for a word for the upcoming year. Late in 2017 God gave me the word “thoughts.” And then He gave me these verses: 2 Corinthians 10:5, Romans 12:2 and the favorite of so many people – Philippians 4:6-7:

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

I didn’t particularly need those verses in December, 2017 because my cone of uncertainty was quite narrow. But once we put our house on the market in February of this year the cone widened out and these verses became a crucial part of my quiet time. God was preparing me for the year to come – a year where I would pack up my home of 17 years and move away from family, friends, church, social circles, etc. to a new place as an empty-nester, essentially starting over. He knew I would need to be a mental giant this year, trusting in Him as the source of my future and my peace.

I am so thankful for God’s Word! And there’s no need to panic over your cone of uncertainty. Spend time memorizing Scripture so that when you are steered in a different direction you will be prepared!

Blessings!
Leigh

All Cleaned Up

Back in July I wrote about going to see my son’s future collegiate apartment so that I could get some measurements, check out the closet configuration, figure out how many black-out window treatments we would need, etc. If you read that post (Can’t Un-See That) you’ll remember how freaked out I was upon entering what looked like a place a pack of wild coyotes had lived in and destroyed. Forget the measurements – I just wanted to walk out of there without contracting some communicable disease.

Fast forward several weeks to Tuesday, August 7th, the day before his “official” move-in date. I cleverly scheduled the mattress I had ordered to arrive on Tuesday and sweetly requested an employee unlock the door to the unit so that we could move only the mattress into the apartment, thus giving me time to inspect the apartment and make sure it had been cleaned, patched and painted. The leasing office agreed to open it for us on Tuesday so I could get a sneak peak at what had (or had not) been accomplished inside his apartment.

Upon arrival at the apartment on Tuesday my son and I slowly open the door… scared of what might still be lurking inside. My first glance up the stairs showed the mounds of dog hair that previously rested at the foot of every stair were gone.(Good start.) We travel down the hallway to see the kitchen and den had been thoroughly cleaned, and the bowl of the toilet in the powder room was now free from the previous black interior. (So far, so good.) We climb the stairs and see nothing but clean bedrooms and bathrooms with all nail holes (including the ones that supported a loft with a suspended bed from the ceiling in one of the rooms) patched and painted. All in all, it looked 98% better than when I saw it a few weeks ago. Whew! There’s one less fight momma bear was gonna have to engage in with someone at the leasing office…

Davis' Room.jpg

Speaking of the leasing office, in the middle of winding our way through the maze of leasing office stopping points that you must get checked off to claim your coveted key to the unit (Have you signed the lease agreement? Paid your rent? Hooked up water and power?) we were held up trying to locate proof that one of my son’s roommate’s mother had set up water and power. During that time of calling and emailing back and forth I tune in to hear a dad letting one of the employees have an earful because – can you guess – his daughter’s apartment that they drove up to with a U-Haul full of stuff (because it was his daughter, after all – we all know girls bring WAY more stuff than boys) looked like a place a pack of wild coyotes had lived in and destroyed. Brother, did I feel your pain (only I felt a few weeks before and emailed the office so I wouldn’t feel it the day we were moving in).

I felt so bad for that family – really bad – because moving in any way, on any day, for any reason is stressful. In the last 5 years I’ve been involved in 12 different moves. TWELVE. That’s a lot of packing, purging, hauling, unboxing and resituating, especially when one involves moving your entire house you lived in for 17 years.

I do everything possible to prevent the unknown from happening. I research, plan and follow up to the point I drive most everyone around me crazy I’m quite sure. I hope that my diligence will lead to the best outcome instead of the worst case scenario.

But just because I do everything in my power to make sure life goes smoothly doesn’t mean it will. Sometimes the actions of others can totally throw our best plans and intentions out the window. We occasionally see problems coming and get in front of them, but others can throw curve balls into your life that blindside you like a defensive end pancaking a quarterback.

The question is not what is going to blindside us. The question is how will we respond to what blindsides us?

It’s taken me 51 years to develop a calm response to the curve balls. Now I still struggle with this, but thanks to relentless prayer about how I respond to crisis situations (I have a temper, I know) I’m not perfect at it but I’m better. I could never change on my own. If it were up to me alone, I’d be just like the dad up in the leasing office giving that poor employee a piece of my mind (not that I can spare it) because my daughter’s apartment was still filthy instead of providing comfort on what has got to be one of the most stressful days of the year for her.

But I’m not alone. I have the one true living God with me 24/7, in every good and bad situation. And how I respond doesn’t just reflect on me, it reflects on Him.

Every day I thank God for the fruits of the spirit that I know lives inside me, whether I show them or not. I thank him for the list found in Galatians 5:22-23: But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” By thanking God in advance I’m convinced we have a better chance at showing them during times of crisis instead of behaving the way our flesh would like to behave.

Give it a try! Pray the fruits of the spirit into your life every morning and see how you handle the next crisis. Hopefully through persistent prayer the next time we are confronted with a difficult situation we respond the way God always intended us to respond – as a reflection of Jesus himself.

Blessings!
Leigh

Can’t Un-See That

When your children go to college you can count on moving them – a lot. Over the past 5 years we’ve moved our children a total of 10 times, and we’re approaching move #11 on August 8th. Throw in moving into a condo while we looked for a home in our new city last year and then the big move of our entire world from Auburn to Saint Simons earlier this year and, hey – we’ve learned a thing or two about moving.

One of most crucial steps to take when you move is to go and see the space first before moving a bunch of furniture, accessories, etc. that you won’t need in the new space. No sense in spending all that time and sweat in the unrelenting southern heat if there’s no need, right?

A couple of weeks ago my son and I were in Athens, GA at a golf tournament and I had the timely idea to go see the apartment that he’ll be moving into on the 8th. We signed a lease sight-unseen last fall (isn’t that how all you college parents make the decision on where your child will live?) and before I haul anything other than a bed I wanted to see how much space he would have.

So that Monday we roll up to what looks like a very neat, very well kept condo on the outside. But then we opened the door. And you know how there are some things your mind can’t un-see even though you desperately wish it could?

I’ve heard how boys live in college. I’ve been told the horror stories. I just had never seen what could only be described as the aftermath of a category 5 hurricane on a third world country in person.

Until that Monday.

I was so taken aback that I honestly couldn’t focus on the task at hand. I truly couldn’t believe human beings lived like this. (Was it humans living in there? Or was it some type of human-animal combo?) We took a look in every bedroom but after seeing one bathroom I just couldn’t go in any of the others for fear of being sucked into a void of darkness, forever lost in the filth. And forget about opening the blinds to get some light on the subject – the visual was bad enough in the dark and I surely didn’t want to see whatever would show once the sunlight hit those bedrooms.

You want to know the funny part?

Downstairs in the kitchen sat a Swiffer WetJet in the corner. I know it had never been used because I could knit a new dog out of the hair lining the stairs and my shoes were sticking to the faux-hardwood floors. But there it sat, longing to do the one job it was created to do.

 

Swiffer1

Isn’t that the way sin exists in our lives? We would rather live in it or with it than reach in the corner and grab the one tool that could clean it up – the Word of God. We ignore the filth, push it to the side and walk around it rather than taking the time and doing the work to clean it up.

Two passages of Scripture came to mind as I tried to forget what I saw that morning. In Matthew 23:27-28 Jesus says, “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy an wickedness.” So even though we can show up to church all pretty and put together, we still have areas inside that need a thorough cleaning.

The second is 1 John 1: 7: “But if we walk in the light, as he (God) is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin.” So we have a way to clean up those areas in our lives – repenting in the areas where we fall short.

Repenting of sin is actually fairly simple and by the grace of God forgiveness is always available through the blood of Jesus. But rooting out sin – doing the work of really cleaning that area out of our life permanently – takes time, energy and effort. The good news is that we do not have to do the work alone – nor could we! Jesus came to help us, walk beside us and set us free from the filth that keeps us from living this life to the fullest.

You have a choice. Live in the filth of sin, or grab the Word of God, be faithful in prayer and do the work to live a life free from that area that holds you back. Let today be the day we all start a deep clean of the soul!

Blessings!
Leigh

Picture This

When I was a young mom (wow, does that feel like a reaaalllly long time ago) I was determined to be very intentional and organized with the pictures I took of my children. (Now this was back in the day when people actually took pictures with a camera of some sort, removed the film out of the camera and had them developed at a photo processing store. What a hassle, right?)

I stuck to the plan. Printed picture after picture, roll after roll. I bought album upon album and had my children’s lives laid out in chronological order just as I envisioned (well, sort of).

Yes, I produced album upon album full of printed pictures. But when one album would fill up I often couldn’t find the same one, so over time my album collection – although organized – was mismatched in size and shape. And because I was so thorough in documenting our lives in pictures these albums began taking up a whole lot of space in a closet. But they were safe and sound, not hurting anything, even forgotten at times, so I wasn’t really thinking about all of the issues with having so many photo albums until…

It was time to move. Oh great, what to do with all these books of pictures? Where will I put them in the new house? Turns out I didn’t have a closet to stuff them in like I did in the old house, so after we had unboxed everything else in the new house the boxes of photo albums sat upstairs in the bonus room, all alone, unpacked, making a mockery of my goal to be boxless. Those organized albums of life became my nemesis to declaring our home box-free after the move.

I needed a new plan. As I may have mentioned before, I didn’t think I was a hoarder until I had to clean out all the stuff I had saved in my parents’ rather large basement “for one day when I need it” or “for the kids when they move out.” Well, well, well, the last time I was visiting my parents I found some white photo boxes that I used for – hmmm, what did I use them for originally??? I had saved them so long I don’t even know what I used them for when I bought them – but with those boxes I devised a new plan for my pictures.

I brought all those boxes to the new house and am now taking out all the pictures from the mismatched, falling apart albums and placing them (in chronological order, of course)in these picture boxes. Those will take up far less space, still be organized and will be uniform in their appearance (ahhh, music to an OCD person’s ears!).

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I’ve been looking – examining – every picture as I remove it from an album and put it in a box. I’ve noticed details that were long ago forgotten, such as furniture we had when we first got married, horrible paint colors I chose, and I don’t even know what I was doing with my hair in the 90’s but it wasn’t a good look.

Sometimes it takes a major life event to reevaluate areas that have been tucked away, safe and sound like my photo albums. Sometimes we just need to spend time examining our lives and relationship with Jesus to see where we can make improvements. Just because an area hasn’t been looked at or dusted off in awhile doesn’t mean we can’t make it better.

Let me be real for a moment. The latest (I say latest because I will always be a work in progress) area the Lord has revealed to me to work on is the words that come out of my mouth. A couple of weeks ago the Holy Spirit spoke to me Ephesians 4:29 – “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”

Mmmmm hmmmm. Let that marinate awhile.

My goal is to be a huge encourager, nothing but good words coming out of my mouth. I fall short every day, but I’m working on it. I say that verse every morning in the hope I will recall it when needed.

So let me encourage you to take some time to be still and listen for the gentle whisper of the Holy Spirit to convict you in an area that may have become bulky and forgotten but through the power of Jesus can be renewed and redeemed. Take a fresh look at an old or perhaps forgotten problem area in your life and let Jesus guide you to a new and fresh start!

Blessings!
Leigh