Sister to Sister: Still Using a Little Dixie Cup?


Looking at all of this water as I sit here watching the waves roll in on this beautiful Alabama Gulf shoreline brings to mind my two-year-old grandson, Ezra. It was a painstaking task for such a little one who  loves splashing in a puddle even more than I love putting my toes in this deep and expansive one.  But he was determined to make his own puddle for splashing in my bathroom floor with a dixie cup and a tiny stream of water running in my bathroom sink. I saw him pour the meager ounce of water on the hardwood and I asked him “Ezra, why on earth are you pouring water in Mammy’s floor?” 

“I make a puddle. I can spwash.”

“Well, you may NOT make a puddle in the floor, but you are welcome to make one in the bathtub, if you like.”

He smiled broadly. That was even better! He would get to carry the water in his little Dixie cup, that with each fill held a little less of its shape and got a little more crumpled. Tirelessly, he went back and forth from the sink to the tub, pouring his little purple and yellow cup half-full of water into the big garden tub, barely even making a wet spot for jumping. In truth, he was spilling more on the floor en route than he was collecting in the tub. 

It occurred to me that we, finite little creatures in the workings of an awesome God, are a lot like Ezra. We keep doing the same futile things over and over again, trying to make our own “puddles”. We painstakingly try to collect the things that will make for happiness in the end. We often spill and make messes in the process and what we ultimately accomplish is  small and temporal. We fail to realize that we have a Helper, who could give us unbelievably effective and permanent results if only we would come to know His ways for our lives.

See, Ezra didn’t think about the fact that there was a big and powerful source of water in the spout of that tub. What would come out of that waterspout, if I but turned a lever for him, would fill up his tiny Dixie cup hundreds of times without the trip he was making back and forth. In fact, he would not even need the crumpling cup. There would never be a mess on the floor and the danger of him slipping in that mess would never threaten. Not only that, but there’s a stopper in the bottom of that tub. With the turn of a big knob, I could plug that reservoir up, so that none of the water would be wasted. None of that big stream of water would go down the drain where his little trickle of a puddle of water had been slowly disappearing. All of the resources were there for Ezra to not only jump in a “puddle” and have a splashing good time, but there was enough ingenuity there for his little Scuffy tugboat to sail or even for him to have a heated sauna swim, had he preferred, as I would have if I were his two-year-old size. 

Sometimes the blessings and opportunities are all around us, but we keep carrying the Dixie cup, spilling the contents along the way and processing through the same futile routines over and over again. We think we can work our way to desired goals only to find out in the end that our dreams are disappearing down the huge drain that only our God can plug. He has every resource we need to achieve what really will make us happy and fulfilled, but we fail to investigate His Will. We fail to ask for His wisdom. We fail to understand fully His resourcefulness. He controls all the levers and knobs and he freely offers His limitless capability for our ultimate progress and benefit. But often, like Ezra, we just go on about our vain tasks with impotent precision, expending life’s time and energy in fruitless pursuits. (In this case, it was profitable for me to allow Ezra to be “entertained” for a while before I showed him the “puddle” I could so easily make for him. See, I needed to dry my hair and put on my make-up. But God is never too busy to turn on the living water for those who are seeking it [John4:10].)

I know many people who have thrown away the Dixie cup and turned on the waterspout. Can I help you know His will for your life? You can stop living small and messy and start basking in His spiritual abundance!

Then I looked on all the works that my hands had wrought, and on the labour that I had laboured to do: and, behold, all was vanity and vexation of spirit, and there was no profit under the sun. (Ecc. 2:11)

Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. (Ecc. 12:13)

Sister to Sister: An “Aunt Clara” Day

images-17Yesterday it was my privilege to speak to sisters at the East Main church in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. It was one of the best planned days of which I’ve ever been a part. Those ladies had anticipated just about every possible scenario and each transition had been carefully organized. I have never seen a smoother ladies event. There were 60 churches from four states represented.

I almost wished they could have had some trouble with the power point or with the sound system. Maybe they could have at least pitched a song too high or run out of food or something— because their perfection was a stark contrast to my repeated and public blunders throughout the day.

First I came in with two purses, one on each shoulder. Now one of those purses was the little striped purse that pretty much matched what I was wearing—the one that’s cute, but can’t possibly hold all the stuff that I need to take on a road trip. That’s the one I meant to bring in the building with me. But, in my preoccupation with getting my books and props in, I somehow  grabbed both the little striped purse AND the very big, very old, very full blue and purple paisley bag that definitely clashed with the grey and beige ensemble. Those two clashing  bags made their way through a lot of meeting and greeting as this “bag lady” proceeded through that wonderful group of women.

Then as I got up to speak, I somehow got that ear-wired microphone thing on backwards, so that, instead of being in front of my right cheek, that microphone was on the back of my neck. Having remedied that, at last, it was only a few more minutes before the whole microphone apparatus fell crashing to the floor, taking with it one of my dangle earrings, which bounced and rolled toward the right aisle.

Having received instructions to meet some ladies at a side exit following the third presentation, so that I could reach the fellowship hall before the crowd, so as to give me a little prep time for the upcoming Q and A session, I followed them to a large stairway, where I promptly dropped my purse (the striped one) which had become entangled in my microphone cord. The microphone dangled and fell, too. Then, while a sweet young sister was helping me get untangled, I also proceeded to drop my Bible which went flip-flopping down the stairs as papers fell from it and scattered all up and down the stairs.

The sweet girls helped me get it all picked up, proceeded to help me get some food and took me to the elders’ office (where my laptop had been placed so that I could take a few minutes to look over some notes)…This is where I spilled a big cup of lemonade and ice all over the elders’ desk and its accompanying notes and materials, and all over the carpeted floor.

And in that very office is where I accidentally left my laptop as I drove off a few hours later.

And finally, on the way home, I got into fairly familiar territory, and began ignoring the voice on my GPS, in deference to those phone calls I needed to return.  I got into a conversation with my sweet mother-in-law about my sweet Baby G and, before I knew it, about 15 minutes later, I realized I was revisiting every scene I had passed 30 minutes prior. Sweet Baby G had just waltzed into my mind again and taken all of my sense of direction and logic away.

I felt like Aunt Clara. Does anybody remember that bungling, stuttering old woman from the 1960’s-70’s “Bewitched” sit-com? That’s who I was yesterday! The harder I tried to be  dignified and poised, the klutzier I became. The greater my determination to be productive, the more directionless.

Some days are like that. Here are some lessons that I need to learn from my “Aunt Clara” days which may possibly become more frequent as I embark on grandmother-hood (but let’s hope not—three out of every five is enough, already).

  1. Sweet sisters do not look at “bag ladies” and say “You sit down by my footstool.” They hug you and welcome you and, instead, say “You sit here in a good place” (James 2). And that’s a good thing.
  2. Fashion is far less important than getting the Word out there. (You can let the earring go ahead and bounce down the aisle, but you have got to get that microphone off the back of your neck and in front of your mouth.) The ladies at East Main were on target with getting the Word out. Five lessons in one short day on the things in our culture that are “all mixed up” was a Word-dissemination marathon! I loved it! We should all be on target about getting the Word in the “microphones” of our lives!
  3. Don’t use your Bible for a purse or a filing cabinet. My husband has said that many times to me. On that stairway, I wished I’d listened.
  4. If you are having an “Aunt Clara” day, choose water. It’s better for you on any day, but but if you are pretty sure you’ll spill it, it’s the best choice. (And always, ALWAYS choose THE water [Revelation 21:6] It’s the remedy for ALL life’s biggest messes.)
  5. Always re-visit every room you have visited before leaving a place and scan for lost items. That rule, applied diligently, could have saved a nice belt, a phone cord, and a diamond ring for me this year. But those are just things. Most importantly, before leaving the planet earth, we should all be revisiting our places of influence, constantly scanning for lost people and diligently trying to retrieve them for eternity.
  6. Don’t allow distractions to outdo directions. It’s just a very common spiritual mistake that we make. We start listening to the wrong conversation. We start allowing our minds to get fully engaged in what’s happening here and now and forget where we are going. We listen to the phone rather than the GPS. We start traveling away from the target destination of heaven rather than toward it (Colossians 3:2).
  7. If you are going to have one of those days, it’s nice to be on theme. At least the ladies day theme was “All Mixed Up”!

Have a great and focused day for Him!