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Posts Tagged ‘Texas’

Almost everyone has treasures and traditions surrounding their Christmas celebrations.  Some of these get handed down generation to generation.  Others get left behind as children grow up, leave home, get married and make their own treasures and traditions.

These things play an important role in reminding us of family, loved ones, heritage and why we celebrate Christmas.

Here are a few of my treasures and traditions (more…)

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I have many times found myself awestruck at the beauty of God’s creation.

You may live in a place of vast panoramas, or majestic peaks, or lush forests, pleasing the senses at every turn.  Or you may be surrounded by desert, or squalor or darkness, and you have to search for the beauty.

If you have read my blog for very long, you know I’m from Texas.  It makes me sad that most people think that great state is basically barren and dusty.  Yes, parts of Texas are barren and dusty, but there is so much more to the state.

Enjoy these photos of God’s creativity in just one part of the world He has made.

Big Bend National Park

 

Guadalupe River

 

Texas Wildflowers

 

Palo Duro Canyon

 

Padre Island

 

Lavender fields

 

Caddo Lake

 

Christoval, Texas

“One thing I ask from the LORD, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple.” (Psalm 27:4)

What about you?  Where do you see the beauty of God’s creation?

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My daughter Michelle and I just put together a family tradition.

I am with her awaiting the arrival of her first child—any day now.

Her baby boy will have the privilege of sleeping in a cradle his great, great grandfather slept in.

The cradle was handmade in 1887 for my grandfather as a baby.  It rocks, with a simple locking mechanism when it shouldn’t rock.  It is still beautiful and trustworthy.

My father and uncle and my sisters and I all spent our first months sleeping there.  Since then it has traveled from Texas to Colorado and back several times, to Montana to Florida and now back to Colorado so that all of the latest generations have rested there as well.

I love this tradition.  In our very mobile world, when families have to fight to maintain connection and traditions are disappearing, this is a beautiful long line of connectedness from generation to generation.

So this new little boy will be tangibly connected over 125 years with five generations of family.

Pretty awesome!

What about you?  How do you maintain family traditions and connection?

C2012 Judy Douglass

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I have always been amazed at the idolatry of the children throughout the Old Testament.

The prophet Isaiah repeatedly mocks them for carving idols to worship out of half a log, and cooking dinner with the other half.  How could anyone think that “god” could save them?

I was sure I could never worship an idol.

Until I discovered I had serious idolatry problems.

The reality:  Sometimes I thought I had to have something to be happy, or fulfilled, or satisfied.

That something could be a thing.  Like a car.  Like my red Mustang convertible.

Or like a house.  Big enough, nice enough.  With a red kitchen.

Or a place.  Like getting to live in Texas again.

Or, most often, a person.  Like my not-yet-husband, when he decided in summer #2 of our 5-year dating relationship that we should take a break.  It was a hard summer.  I lost weight.  I got very little work done.  I cried a lot.

These are idols?  Yep.  Anything that I put higher in my affections than God becomes an idol.  Anything that I think I must have becomes an idol.

We know that God told us not to have any gods higher than him—that is, no idols.  Over and over He reminds us that He is El Elyon, the most high God.  He says these beautiful words to us:

“’To whom will you compare me?   Or who is my equal?’ says the Holy One.  Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens:  Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one and calls forth each of them by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength,  not one of them is missing. (Isaiah 40:25-26)

Yet we are so like the children of Israel, constructing our own idols, pursuing what we think will satisfy or rescue.

I know.  I just did it again.

Our most common idols are people.  No, not those celebrities—how ridiculous is that!  But the people we love.

Our son is going through a hard time.  I thought he was doing well, making good progress.  But I see he is making some choices I don’t prefer.  My response:  Oh no!  He can’t!  I can’t bear going back to what it used to be like!  I can’t stand for him to not choose God’s best!  I can’t do this.

There he is again—up on the throne of my heart.  His becoming the man God made him to be had become, once again, an idol.

Fortunately, God has given me a very visual response when I become aware of my idolatry, when something or someone replaces God as King of my heart.

I choose to visualize my actually lifting this idol off the throne of my life and placing it on the altar as an offering to God.

It is a powerful picture for me.  This time it took me a little while to make the transaction.  And I have had to do it several times.

But oh the freedom when God is in His rightful place in my life—on the throne, in control.

And my idols?  Still important in my life.  But not an object of worship.

How about you?  Do you have any idols that need to move to the altar?

C2012 Judy Douglass

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Texans are often characterized as independent, strong, loners.

Maybe that’s where I got it—growing up in Texas.  Or maybe God just put it in me.  I like to be independent.  I love to be by myself—even for weeks.  I have always had to deal with wanting my own way.

But God has refused to let me live in my independence.

He has repeatedly clarified for me that I cannot do anything all by myself.  He has created me for community and he has amplified the holes in my life so that I will be forced to let others in to fill in those many gaps.

I am so grateful for those he has put me in community with.  Here are just a few and some of the life lessons I have learned:

My family:  Steve believes the best of others—and especially me—all the time.  He always tells me I can do it—whatever it is.  Debbie loves what is right and has often called me on less than stellar behavior.  Michelle has helped me to enjoy the journey and appreciate the process.  And Josh has revealed to me God’s unconditional love, that He never gives up on me and that He loves to meet with me on my knees.

Some very close friends:  Susan floods my mind with her ideas and holds me accountable when I get too independent.  Jan has walked and worked by my side for many years, loving me and my children amazingly well.  Tricia has listened and encouraged and prayed through dark times.  Dayle has reminded me to laugh even when life hurts.  And many others…

Special mentors:  I had the privilege of working with and observing Bill Bright for 39 years.  He lived out  real faith and great compassion and a passion for excellence.  Vonette Bright has demonstrated such faithfulness and astounding energy.  In so many ways God has used them to transform me.

The staff of Women’s Resources:  They have been amazing servants and helpers and prayer warriors.  But most of all they have owned the vision to help every staff women be and do all God has for her—and have pursued that best contribution in their specific arenas.

Our mission’s Executive Team and Area Team Leaders’ wives:  These women have broadened my understanding, given me global eyes, stretched my faith, become my friends.

My prayer teams:  These warriors have held me up, interceded, encouraged, advised.  They have been faithful partners in my life and ministry.

And I’ve only just begun.  There are so many more on the job, in my church, next door, around the world.  Can I live just “me and God”?  If necessary, of course.  But God has put us in community, in His body, needing each other in so many ways.  He wants us to lean on and learn from and walk with others.

Yes, He is the source of all I need for life, godliness, ministry.  But most often His Spirit is poured out into our lives, filling our gaps, by the sisters and brothers God calls us to live among.

What about you?  Who’s in your community?

C2012 Judy Douglass

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It’s been 15 years since my father, James T Downs III, went home to heaven.

Father’s Day seems a good time to reminisce.

I remember my daddy as a very hard worker—at work, around the house, out at the farm. Always working.

He delivered babies, and many times a middle-of-the-night phone call got him up and off to the hospital.

Sometimes on Sundays he would take me with him to the hospital for rounds to visit the new mommies.  I loved seeing the babies, but it never made me want to go into medicine.

I always loved horses and was so grateful for the times my daddy took me to the Dallas County Charity Horse Show. I got to stay till the end and watch the jumpers.

I was especially grateful for his partnering with a doctor friend for me to ride Diane, a beautiful Palomino saddle horse.  For two years Diane and I learned together–and had adventures that have made great stories for my grandchildren.  When Diane left, my daddy bought Dawn, a huge, crazy horse who could have killed my sister and me.  What parents don’t know….

Once he took me fishing in Christmas Bay near Freeport, Texas, in a small motorboat.  We didn’t catch any fish, but it was quite exciting when we pulled a big sting ray into that tiny boat.

My daddy was a frequent hunter.  I didn’t like killing animals, but I loved shooting.  He taught me to use the .22 rifle and the .410 shotgun.  For target practice we sank cans in the stock pond at the farm–I’m sure that lake still has many of my rusted soda cans.

My father surely deserves some credit for my editing skills—he corrected our grammar every night at dinner.  I loved it—it was a game to me.  I still love grammar, and have been known to correct my children.  Now they find great pleasure in catching me in a grammatical error.

One of my favorite memories of my daddy is coming into the den late at night to find him reading one of the Great Books of the Western World.  I imagine that is some of the source of my love of reading.

Happy Father’s Day and thanks for the memories, Daddy.

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Dying of Thirst

Most people think that most of Texas is dry and deserty.  And that would be true of some of the western half of the state.  The eastern half is filled with green, rolling hills and pine forests.  The southern portion is subtropical, lined with citrus and palm trees.

Central Texas is the meeting place for east and west, with rugged rocky hills, fields of bluebonnets, and dozens of lakes and rivers all the way to the Gulf Coast.  Mesquite and cedar cover the hills, and oak and pecan trees provide the shade.

But not now.

A four-year drought has climaxed in the hottest driest year in 100 years of record-keeping.

Lakes are dropping a foot each week.  Boat docks are far from water.  Rationing is increasing. Normally green pastures are brown and bare.

Pedernales River/Lake Travis

Brittle mesquite and cedar are kindling for raging fires.    Even oak and pecan trees are dying.  Deer are starving.  Varmints and vermin are scarce.

Jarrell, Texas

Life requires water.

Without water, the land has no life to give.

Jesus said the same thing:

Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water… whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” ( John 4:10,14)

Is your life in drought?  Are you dying of thirst?

Jesus extends this thirst-quenching invitation:

“Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” (John 7:38)

C 2011 Judy Douglass

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I’m a Texan.

Totally.

Legitimately.

My family helped settle the state.  On my mother’s side they came with the first wave of settlers led by the father of Stephen F Austin.  A grandfather of several great degrees fought in the battle of San Jacinto for Texas independence and helped chase down Gen. Santa Anna.  On my father’s side they came early to Dallas and contributed to the growth of that great city.

On our mother’s side we are Texan.

I haven’t lived in Texas in several decades, but if you ask my children about their heritage, they would say, “On our father’s side we are Swedish and on our mother’s side we are Texan.”  After all, we have a Texas room in our home.

I have always loved the statue of a John Wayne-look Texas Ranger at Love Field in Dallas. It carries this identifying slogan:  One Riot, One Ranger.

One Riot, One Ranger

I am in Texas right now, on one of my too seldom visits.  Had a Texas-shaped waffle for breakfast.  Stars are ubiquitous.  If I wanted to swim, I know I could find a Texas-shaped pool.  Many still think of it as the Republic it once was.

Our bragadocious reputation is well deserved.  It’s a rich heritage, if a bit too much for many.

I love my Texas legacy.

Another heritage

But I also have another heritage.

I’m a Christ follower.

His Kingdom is bigger than Texas.

Jesus paid an incredible price so I could join His family.  Even though I was a foreigner and alien—truly—my heavenly Father adopted me as His own daughter.  And conveyed to me all the privileges of God family membership.

With that invitation—I just had to accept it—I found brothers and sisters, friends and co-workers.  And I was given an amazing opportunity:  to join God’s Kingdom-building team.  To use my words gift to write and talk about this wonderful family.

Unfortunately, sometimes, some of the followers of Jesus sound a little too Texan.  Pride taken to an extreme.   Holier/better than others.  Even judgment of those not so privileged.

In reality, though, Jesus calls His followers to a different attitude. Truth and holiness, yes.  But He says we should also be marked by these qualities:  love, humility, kindness, gentleness, peace, grace, mercy….

And that is a heritage I am grateful for.

c 2011 Judy Douglass

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If you know me, you know I love Texas.

Surely you know about the famous bluebonnets, state flower of Texas.  Driving through much of the central part of Texas in March and April will mean driving through carpets of blue as far as you can see.

But you probably didn’t know that Texas also has lavender–a major crop–and a beautiful one at that.

Take a look and enjoy:

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Space.  I love space.

Maybe it’s because I grew up in Texas.  I love having a spacious house and neighborhood.  I love the expanse of the beach, the height of the mountains and the vastness of Texas.  But far more important to me than physical space is the non-tangible space of privacy and solitude.

I think it would be easy for me to build a protective wall around myself to make sure that I had plenty of emotional space.  So the Lord has constantly sent people into my life–usually people I love–to challenge both my physical and emotional space.

Over the years God has sent several people to live with us and challenge my space.  First there was my father-in-law. Then at two different times, my brother-in-law.  His different values really pushed me, especially as he influenced my children.

Certainly children filled lots of space–and Debbie and Michelle were great tools in God’s hand for my growth.  Josh was an incredible “space invader.”  The noise and mess that he and his friends generated seemed to fill the entire house.  And his need for constant supervision and encouragement frequently pressed my time and my emotions.  Now my precious grandchildren are doing it all over again.

For a while my mother-in-law lived with us.  She brought lots of pleasure and lots of help, but her neediness could also be a challenge.  Then there are the friends I love and care  for, many of whom have  needs. I care—very much.  I love—deeply.  But sometimes I just want to escape.  I want some space.

There’s so much that the Lord seems to want to do in my life in this arena, and I am a very slow learner.  Certainly it’s okay for me to establish a protective space with appropriate boundaries, both physically and emotionally, but even that will be infringed on sometimes.

Just look at the model Jesus has given us. He gave up the vast space of heaven to limit Himself to a human body in an oppressive, sinful world.  While here He let people—needy, hurting people–invade His space every day . He told us to love as He loved, that is to lay down our lives for those we love.  Maybe that will mean death, as it did for Him.  But primarily, for me, it seems to happen where I live–in time and space.  So to love is to willingly give up my time and space for another person.

So how do I, a space needy person, survive this constant sense of “space invasion”? Again, Jesus models the answer. He sought His Father. He took wonderful, private moments with His Daddy. In God’s presence is all the space I could ever need. When people and circumstances close in, His presence opens the doors and windows of my soul. Then light and fresh air and freedom pour in and fill me up. When I make Him my space, only what He allows in permeates my borders.

This is my prayer for myself and for you if you want it:

“Oh Lord, be my space. Allow me to let in all those You send me. Enable me to find my solitude and refreshment in You. May I not resist anyone seeking to enter my space, but rather welcome them to join me in Your presence.”

© 2010 Judy Douglass

en español: Amo Mí Espacio.

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