Sunday, December 29, 2013

A Cord Not Easily Broken

I think about it every day.  Him.  His character.  His spirit.  His ways that are so different from mine and yet so appealing to me.  I know it's because all the ways that God made him different from me are like balm to my soul. Pouring into all the cracks and filling in the empty spaces. He is what I am not and God in his infinite wisdom knew that was exactly what I needed.

The feel of his hand resting in the small of my back as he guides me across a parking lot or on my arm as he leads me into a room is his way of expressing respect and protection and I love the feel of that.  It makes me feel safe and cherished.

When he works beside me in the kitchen or dusts a piece of furniture or when he has one end of a sheet and I have the other and we begin to fold... meeting in the middle... sharing our tasks....... 
 It is in these moments that he is loving me.

When he looks at me in a room full of people and our eyes meet we can exchange a thousand words without one being spoken.

When there is a need for words, he often finds the right ones and whispers them gently providing comfort or advice...affirmation....and sometimes even a gentle rebuke.

We are not saints.  We, like everyone else are sinners in relationship.  Every day isn't a scene from "Leave it to Beaver."  We aren't June and Ward.  There are times that we disagree, see things differently, yell, cry, slam the door.  We too look at our finances and wonder how we will pull it off.  There are days that I don't like myself, so I'm sure he's struggling to put up with me..and yes there are moments that I am having a hard time seeing him in his best light.  EVERY DAY in marriage is not easy.  Believing that you will live with someone for the rest of your life and never disagree, be angry, be tired, face trials, be fed up is not realistic.  It happens.

He may want to make me happy by taking me camping because he knows I love it, but after loading 50 gallon totes of decorative pillows, quilts and blankets plus the chalkboard I insist on bringing while I continue following behind him asking 1001 questions while sweat is beginning to form on his forehead....his desire to make me happy may begin to evaporate.  It may begin to dim even more once we arrive at the campsite and he begins to unload everything he just loaded with the knowledge that in two days we will be loading it again.  Yes, people, it is in times like this that life happens and fairy tales end.

There are times he needs ESPN and I need HGTV. I need a book, he needs the remote.  He needs the thermostat on 74 and I need it at 68.  He wants a hotel with air conditioning and I want a camper with none.  He thinks my being quiet so he can sleep late is better than me talking to him at 7:00 a.m...... on his day off.... and then proceeding to tell me exactly that.
 I am now going to take a time out and quote him my friends......... ("Sssh..silence is better."  )  Can you believe that?!
Somehow regardless of all of our differences, obstacles, quirky family members, life and hard core reality, we keep choosing "us."  The "us" changes.  We aren't the same people we were when we were 15 and 18..or even 15 years ago for that matter.  We may not always be the best "us."  But we keep choosing "us."
Because "for better or worse" is FOR REAL.  When the scale climbs higher, when the hair starts thinning, when you don't feel worthy or beautiful or he feels less make a choice.  We don't just choose a dress, a color for our brides maids, a cake.  We don't just committ to one day.  We also choose this man (or woman)...this life.... and all the days that will follow our wedding day.  They aren't always perfect.  Alot of times it's more complicated than just "me and him." 

However I've found that keeping our eyes on Jesus helps us with choosing.  He set us apart to be a help mate to each other.  To build up, to encourage, to believe in and support each other.  Sadly many times this is not what we choose.  We choose to belittle our husbands or wives, gossip about them and comunicate with others regarding their shortcomings.  We would rather talk with everyone else rather than gathering the courage to speak to our mate and work together regarding the issues in our marriages.  Unfortunately this gains us nothing but a place in the local gossip mill and does nothing to improve our relationships.  Our marriages are not bringing glory to God because we are not looking to him.  We choose the world and it's way of resolving our differences instead of  choosing "us."  The "US" that God ordained as a covenant relationship.

We can be different and still be successful in our marriages.  We can overcome if we are willing to put God in the center and speak with him regarding all the changes that need to occur in our marriages...on both sides.   We can become better at this marriage thing if we stop asking God to just change our mate and ask him to change us as well.  We can start building a team.  A team that consists of us and God.  A three strand cord....not easily broken. (Ecc. 4:12)

O.k. friends on a lighter note...I'm off to organize my 50 gallon camping tote for spring and praying that the Lord will send the comforter to my husband as he prepares to deal with me and my "stuff" and that he will move in my heart to downsize to the 25 gallon tote as a compromise :) 

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Christmas 2013

 We just washed the last dish.  Everyone has slowly returned to their own nest.  The rush of the season has settled to a peaceful quiet and we are resting.  Enjoying the last few hours of being together as a family in the glow of the Christmas tree and the glimmer of candle light.

I requested to host at our house this year and I had a wonderful time getting everything ready for our family to arrive.  When our son was small we hosted Christmas at our home a lot but since he's grown up we enjoy Christmas dinner at my in-laws house and she is a fabulous cook!  It was a little daunting taking on the meal but I swallowed the lump in my throat and set about planning a menu.

My mom is such an awesome southern cook.  We had the privilege of sliding our feet under her table Christmas Eve.  Of course I turned to her for advice in attempting to replicate her dressing.  Epic fail people..Epic fail.  I'm kinda out of practice fixing dressing since it's been years but if you poured a lot of gravy over could get it down :)  All the food at my mom's was AMAZING! We had 12 hands pitching in to help clean everything up before we headed back home and my mom was so impressed how fast it all went.  I on the other hand thought the pile of dishes would never end today.  Six hands is a lot less than 12.  Thank goodness for my sister-in-law and my husband.  We finally found the end of it all.
Mac looked so handsome all dressed up in red.  He was pulling out all the tricks for his Christmas treats and to have a chance to fetch his new Christmas balls.
One of the reasons I asked to host this year was to help me stay focused on the season and not so much on the fact that this is our first year without my dad at Christmas.  He went on the ventilator last year on Christmas Day and went to be with the Lord three days later when he asked us to take it off.  It was important for me to incorporate some of his things in our décor to honor him and this red truck was perfect for that.
I also used his blue onion dishes at each place setting.  I know that would have made him happy.  He loved food so much and eating Christmas dinner off of his antique collected plates just seemed appropriate. 

We started off the festivities this morning with these. 

And quickly got focused on unwrapping all the beautiful gifts we were so abundantly blessed with.

There were smiling faces all around.  We are so fortunate to be surrounded by our families and blessed beyond what we deserve.  God is so good.

Of course the most important gift is found between the pages of this very special book.  You can read all about it in Luke Chapter 2. 

We've created so many wonderful memories.

Memories surrounded by our faith.

Good food.

And family.

Even those who are celebrating Christmas with Jesus this year.

Because we never know when memories are all we will have left.

Merry Christmas

The Taylors

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

How Do We?

 I've been thinking a lot about this question lately.  HOW DO WE?  I've read the verse...a couple thousand times.  Lately though I've been wondering not just about what Jesus said but more about what he wants us to DO with what he says.

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.  Matthew16:24

I guess the problem I and most people have (if we are honest with ourselves) is the whole "deny yourselves" part. 

I mean I pray and I ask the Lord to guide me, to lead me, to show me what he wants me to do and basically he already has.  DENY YOURSELF.

Stop making it about me..what I'm comfortable with...what is convenient for me....what doesn't disrupt my life..what doesn't require anything but me showing up (if I even decide to do that) timing, my preferences, my limits, my will. MY..MY...MY... MY...MY.

I imagine the Lord sitting up there shaking his head as we run around in circles trying to figure this whole thing out and saying exactly that :)

The next part is kinda scary too. 

"Take up your cross"

What's that all about?

What is my cross?  What is the purpose of my cross? Where am I suppose to take it to?
I wonder maybe if I think about his cross and it's purpose and where he took it, I might find the answers to the questions about mine.

Because the next few words spell it out plain and simple.

"Follow me."

Follow him where?
Okay..I'm going to go out on a limb here and throw this out there....

In giving up our will?

Remember that moment in the garden?  When Jesus faced the cross and he was so distressed at the cross he knew he would soon take up?
Nevertheless, he said..."Not my will but thine be done."
He knew it wasn't going to be easy, he knew it meant pain and agony and a major disruption in his earthly life. (Literally)
But he obeyed.  He didn't make it about him.

He made it about us.

And I want to follow him in that.  I want to make my life count.  To make it about someone else.  To really go about BEING a disciple and not simply reading about being one.

I want to take up my cross, to follow him into the world and off my pew to make a difference in someone's life.
I want to stop making excuses about how it's going to affect me and more about how his kingdom and the people he created are affected by my obedience.

Who knows what he may do?  He may turn my whole comfortable life upside down.

Psst.....Can I confide something?

That scares me! 

 I kinda like my life :/

But ya know what scares me more?

Doing NOTHING at all.

 22Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25 But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.

James 1:22-25

Monday, August 19, 2013

21 Birthdays

We celebrated Blake's 21st birthday this weekend on Table Rock Lake in Branson, Missouri.  Our family and a few of our friends made the trip to share in the celebration.  We camped and cooked and loaded up on the boats to spend the day on the water.
Even though it was only in the 80's, the water was a very comfortable temperature and we enjoyed ourselves as we looked forward to our lake adventure.
We looked awesome in our hats and sunshades
And we enjoyed watching the tube and wakeboard activity.
Unfortunately that didn't last long.....
and the party started to get crashed...
The first boat shut down about an hour and a half into our adventure and we towed them into the dock to check out the problem.
It didn't take long to fix that mishap...and everyone was smiling
 and ready to head back out on the water.
but as fate would have it that just wasn't going to happen.
The pontoon we had rented wouldn't start again and the owner couldn't figure out what the problem was despite the fact that he had help from the greatest minds around.

So he refunded our money and we headed back to the pool and entertained ourselves with $2.00 water guns and a huge purple ball.
 Some of us passed on the water volleyball and went for the hot tub.
Still a good choice.
We wrapped up the evening in Springfield at Bass Pro where Blake made a small dent in his birthday money. (His birthday tradition for years)
And then we came back to the campground and cooked steaks at 10:00 p.m. and sang happy birthday and ate cake and went to bed with full tummies
........................and thankful hearts.
Twenty one years ago we held our son as he struggled to breathe hooked up to tubes, oxygen and had needles in his head, and it was hard to imagine that we would be here celebrating his life, his health and his future.
..........................21 birthdays later.
We prayed over him then.
We prayed over him this night.
I held him tight as he embraced me and whispered reminders in my ear that he has not forgotten how far the Lord has brought him.
And I cried.  And I thanked God for the gift of him.
I fell asleep looking at the stars and thinking how blessed his dad and I are that he was sleeping peacefully beside us in the camper surrounded by the people who love him.
And I thought how it would take more than a couple of boats not working to ruin these moments.
Happy 21st Birthday to you son...
Most importantly....8029

Thursday, July 25, 2013

When He Calls

I am really disturbed by what the Lord has been speaking to my heart lately.  I've talked to my husband about it.  About what we can do as a couple to rise up from our pews and actually walk out into the world and begin to make a REAL difference in our community, our world.  My soul is longing to put my hands to something, to love on someone, to heal, to be the hands and feet of Jesus.  I'm not disturbed because I don't want to...I just don't even know where to start.  I wish he would show up with a mega phone and say "Go here."  "Do this"  "These people"  But he doesn't (or hasn't yet) and I'm left wondering which direction to go.  I do know when I read these types of things...
I realize (or should I say I'm reminded) that there is a whole big world out there of hurting people and that yes, it is messy but it's real.  I've been thinking and questioning if the Lord is pleased with how I/we serve.  Is he content that we show up every week and sing the doxology, two hymns, one praise song, listen to the sermon and go to Sunday lunch with our friends?  Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying this makes us bad people.  I'm just wondering is that all there is to it?  Is it enough?  And if it is why I am felling like it's not. 
Are we suppose to get together and talk about other people who are doing mission work or are we suppose to actually be getting together to DO mission work.
I'm not waiting on my "You're going to Africa" call.  I realize that there are a thousand  things right here in my own city limits that the Lord might use me/us to do. I just wish it was more clear what that is.  Am I the only one who struggles with this?  It seems as though I'm just sitting around waiting on the plane to fly over with the sign attached while all these things go undone.  I know in my heart it's in the small things as well as the BIG.  It could be a phone call, a card, a hug or a smile, an invitation, or maybe just to show up.
Speaking of showing up....
A friend of my brother's/fellow church member showed up one night at my dad's home when it was potentially going to flood to dig a trench to keep the water at bay.  He got the call at the last minute and he dropped everything and came.  He stayed from early afternoon until almost dawn on a back hoe in the rain.  I remember thanking him but what I remember most was his response.
"It's what we do if we are Christians...we show up when our brothers and sisters need us." 
It wasn't a haughty response...just a "is there any other way to be attitude."
He served our family lunch at my dad's funeral.
I bet Jesus smiles when he looks down on Brother Rick.
He's so selfless.  A less of me, more of him spirit. 
I don't know...maybe it's just another "deep thinking session."  Maybe it's the Lord pressing upon my heart.  I just know that he created us for a purpose and I'm positive it wasn't to keep a pew warm.
When I read verses like this:
Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: "Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.
Mark 8:24
I get the feeling he means REALLY.
I don't pretend to know the mind of God.  His ways are so much higher than my ways.  But from what I've read in THE BOOK, I think he wants a relationship with us and not so much organized, program religion from us
I don't want to be standing in the throne room of God at the curtain call and he say
"What did you do with me Mary Anne?" 
And the only thing I got is the weekly doxology I sang and the fact that my space in the church was occupied each week.
So God if you're listening up there...and I know you are....
Could you please knock me over the head or something..
Spin me around and point me in the right direction where you can use this mess of me?
That would be awesome cool and I wouldn't be wasting so much of your precious time.
You can find me on the front row of that little church out in the middle of nowhere.
Or even more amazing is that I know you know right where I sleep.
I've got my ears tuned and my heart open.
Do your thing.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013


Our pastor preached a message last Sunday on compromise.  He used Revelation Chapter 2.  I promise you I have thought of it constantly the past few days. I felt as though he were leading me by hand down the garden path.  No distractions, no detours, just a straight shot all the way.  It was perfect.  It was a story unfolding, a picture created by scripture and the words God had given Jay to share with us.  It was convicting and it motivated us to consider that we might need to change.  At the end he asked us to close our eyes and think of all the ways we were compromising in our walk with Christ.  I have to tell you, we really needed more time because my list was long and time was relatively short.  He then asked us to remain in our seats if we had no areas of compromise and come forward if we did.  It was a different invitation..but different is good sometimes.  We can get stuck in routine. There should have been no one left in the pews. The altars should have been packed.  Self examination and honesty are  powerful tools for spiritual growth. That invitation could have ignited a revival.  If I'm being honest I have to admit to myself and you that I compromise all the time.  I'm not near what Christ created me to be.  My language compromises his will for me, my attitude, my commitment to study his word and my prayer time.  My choices for entertainment leave areas for improvement, my giving, my pride..I mean I could go on and on. 
The scripture Jay shared talked of us being an adulterous people.  Unfaithful to God, to Christ and our relationship with him.  We as the bride, being unfaithful to the covenant relationship we have entered into with him, the groom.  He created a picture of Jesus holding out his hand and asking for our hand in marriage.  We accept his proposal and yet we return to our friend the world and it's sinful ways, compromising what we know is right in God's eyes.  I've witnessed that this week.  Reading commentary from a pastor of a large church questioning the truth of God's word versus culture and changes in society and his perception of what the future holds for the modern church and how we will realize what the "heart of God is" as times are changing and surely what God said then was just a product of the times and that audience.
We can't even know if we are compromising if we don't know what his word says.
We can only trust those around us to indicate what they feel is right and wrong.
And that is a scary place to be.
Right and wrong is subjective in humans.
There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.
Proverbs 16:25
We must examine ourselves against the standard of Christ.
Sanctify  yourselves therefore, and be ye holy: for I am the LORD  your God.
Lev. 20:7
Will we be the church of Pergamos?
Are there areas you may be compromising?
Is Christ saying "I have a few things against you." Rev. 2:14
If so, he has a solution.
Repent..Rev. 2:16
And I have been doing a lot of that for the past few days.................
What about you?

Sunday, July 14, 2013

50th Wedding Anniversary Party

Saturday night we celebrated my in-law's (Charles and Ruth Anne) 50th wedding anniversary.  My sister-in-law and I had so much fun planning this party.  We started almost a year ago making lists, gathering supplies and purchasing all the little things that would eventually come together to create our vision.  We put our own spin on what "50" looks like.  No gaudy gold and black for us.  We wanted a country theme but we also wanted elegant and I think together we achieved exactly that.  We merged our ideas, my mother-in law's beautiful homemade wedding dress, my flea market finds, items borrowed from friends, Christine's mad skills with the Cricut machine and half of my house...literally... to create a very special evening for two very special people.
Aren't they ADORABLE?  It's such a beautiful love story.  One that I hope to exemplify.
The evening was shared with family....
and many friends...
Speaking of friends......We have our own cake boss here in the south.

I have no other words for this man except...AMAZING!  He took two different versions of wedding cakes and created this work of art that we had hoped he could bring to fruition. Randy is a very special man.  In more ways than one.  Cakes are just one of his many talents.  I could be here all day talking about his character.

The candy bar was a huge hit with the little kids....and the big kids alike.

Instead of gifts, we asked our guests to contribute a covered dish.  We ended up with a huge spread of good southern cooking.  Better than ANY catering people...but that's just my humble opinion.  We washed all this good food down with sweet tea, and lemonade.  Strawberry lemonade if that's what you prefer.

It was a magical evening celebrating love and family, good food and friends.  Many people came from out of town.  A testament to the legacy these two have created over the years.

 Everything is packed away and cleaned up.  I'll be spending the next few days weeks trying to find a place for all these things I somehow stored before this party.

But it was SO worth every minute.

Special thanks to Christine for her co-hosting skills.  I couldn't have pulled this off without her!
There are so many others who helped out in big and small ways and I appreciate all their efforts as well and everyone who came from near and far and brought their best dish and spent a few hours with us celebrating with these two wonderful people.

And as always, my husband, who always executes my visions and tirelessly keeps the magic coming.

He's the best part of me.