The Blessing of Having (and Being) an “Aunt Bibby”

Do you have an “Aunt Bibby” in your life? Do you even know what one is? 😉  I say that with a smile on my face this morning because today is my Aunt Bibby’s birthday, and I could think of no better way to celebrate her than to introduce her to you.

Aunt Bibby is my mother’s sister, and though she never had any children by birth, she lived with our family when I was a tiny girl, and treated us as if we were her own.  She made sure that I had ballet lessons, fancy dresses, and knew the important details of life – as in how to eat shrimp cocktail and fondue, how to drink from a china teacup and saucer, and most importantly… how to shop with layaway. (And all of this was before the age of 5!) Haha.

I remember her taking me out to do what we would call “Strealing” – which was our version of window shopping and browsing through some of our favorite stores: Goldsmiths at Oak Court (with the candy counter), and the vast retail variety in the Summer Shoping Center {If you’re from the Memphis area, remember… think 45 + years ago ;-)}.  Often our Strealing would end up at Baskin Robins on Summer Avenue for a scoop of Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream – which is still the best ice cream out there (in my humble opinion!).

When my family moved to Mississippi from Memphis, she married and bought our Memphis home, and still lives there today.  She has been involved in numerous interesting things over the years, but the most fascinating to me has been her making of miniature scenes (like tiny doll houses, but smaller and better… where the place settings are real china and silver and cost the same amount or more as one of our life sized china plates!) Yep!

Look at some of these rooms she has created. If you didn’t know they were only 12-18 inches wide, and couldn’t see the glass reflection or the shelves, wouldn’t you think they were life sized???  I mean… look at this food!

Miniature 1920's Dining Room. SmellingCoffee.com

1920’s Dining Rom

 

1920's miniature dining room. SmellingCoffee.com

Look at the details on this food!

 

 

Miniature Farmhouse Kitchen. SmellingCoffee.com

Miniature Farmhouse Kitchen.

 

Miniature Formal Parlor. SmellingCoffee.com

Miniature Formal Parlor

 

Miniature formal dining room with authentic English hand painted china and silver. SmellingCoffee.com

Miniature formal dining room with authentic English hand painted china and silver.

The next time I visit, I’m going to uncover others and take pics of everything to do a whole post on her art. It truly is amazing!!

My mom is a wonderful mother, but like every mom, I’m sure she needed a break from time to time. And looking back from the viewpoint of a mom myself, I’m also sure that when Bibby would take me Strealing, sometimes it was to give my mom that needed relief. But at the time, I had no idea! She made me feel like this was “our thing” and it never occurred to me that anyone would be helped because we were doing it.
She met a need in my life by being another person to pour love, acceptance, and time into me. And, I’m sure that we met a need in her life too.

My question is:

Do you have an “Aunt Bibby”
who pours into you or your children? If not, maybe you can begin to pray for one. You certainly don’t have to be blood-related. She may be a Sister-in-Christ, or a neighbor, or someone you’ve yet to meet. She may not be able to provide dance lessons and fancy dresses for you, or share the sport of shopping… 😉 But she will have something to share. And it will be something you or your children need.

This kind of sounds like modern day mentoring, doesn’t it??
As my children have grown, God graciously filled my empty arms with some precious children I’ve had the privilege to “Bibby” over the past 6 years. (I would do this with my own nieces and nephews if we lived closer!!!)

These are the children of my heart, children of our friends and pastor – and I’ve known and loved them all since birth. So has our whole family. And do you know what? Sometimes to give their mom a break, I take one somewhere or to my house. But I also do it because they fill my heart with joy!!

 

 


James and I decided we didn’t want them to call us Mr. James and Mrs. Jennifer, but a more personal name. So after tossing around lots of options, I came up with the name “Coco” for myself and we landed on Poppy for James.  Now even my nieces and nephews call me Coco. And so do most of the children at our church!! I love it!!!!!

Is this not the sweetest look on her face???

This past month, I got three new girls added to my tribe, daughters of our new youth minister. We’ve already bonded and Coco’s arms are blessedly full!

I think this is what God means when Psalm 113:9 says

“He makes a woman who is in a childless home a joyful mother.”  Psalm 113:9 (GW)

That’s certainly what God has done in my life as I’ve invested in these He has brought into my heart and home.

How about you? Can you be someone’s “Aunt Bibby”?
Is there a young mother who could use a  few hour’s break? Are there some children who could use some extra pouring into? Could your arms and heart use a little extra fullness and Joy?  Just something to think about on this day, on my “Aunt Bibby’s” birthday. 🙂

Aunt Bibby, thank you so much for the 49 years of love and investment you have made in my life. I am blessed to have you, and I love you!!

Happy Birthday.

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When You Don’t Understand What God is Doing

When you don't understand what God is doing. SmellingCoffee.com

It’s something we often wonder about, isn’t it?  Especially these days when so many are hurting, flooding, burning, and there’s nothing we can do to stop it.  Where is God in the midst of all of this suffering?

God answered enough of that question for me a little over seven years ago, when my family was going through our own kind of suffering.  Since then, I’ve often been blessed and encouraged by re-reading this timeless truth.

The reality is that we will rarely understand all that God is doing… But I’m praying that today God will bless and encourage you with enough of a peek into His ways as you continue trusting His heart of love for you, especially when you don’t understand His answers (or lack thereof) to the What and Why questions that may plague your present.

SmellingCoffee.com:dividerPost from March 2010:   “What are You Doing, Lord?”

Have you ever asked God this question?  I find that it’s often on my heart and mind these days.  And today, the Lord sweetly revealed part of the answer to that lingering ponder.

On Friday, the Lord gifted me with a day in the presence of a group of women who have faithfully loved and served Him for many years. Even though they wouldn’t call themselves by this name, many were what you and I would call “Spiritual Giants”. God called some of these ladies to blaze a Bible Study and Ministry trail that has impacted millions of lives. And others He called to quietly serve Him behind the scenes. All of these dear women are just living life, one day at a time, faithfully serving God right where He has placed them.

Every story shared, whether at the podium or around the luncheon table had the same theme: God’s faithfulness and goodness, and His blessings poured on us in, through, and sometimes because of our trials. These are just a few of the life situations that surfaced through casual conversation during the day:

  • A single mom of two sons, who never expected to find herself in this position
  • A mother of a precious seven year old son battling cancer
  • The mom of a daughter, who instead of celebrating an engagement right now is grieving an unexpected break up
  • A mother whose son and family has been looking for a job for over 16 months
  • A wife and mom who survived breast cancer
  • A woman whose husband had been without fulltime employment for 4 years
  • Several moms whose hearts are desperate for their children to stay on God’s path
  • And then there is us… unemployed, uninsured, and completely unaware of what next week holds.

Every story spoke of a trial, but each was told with an Undaunting JOY in the Lord and the assurance of His faithfulness and love. Through laughter and tears, we rejoiced in the Lord and in the awareness of His presence over, in, and around our lives.

I awoke with these beautiful women on my mind this morning, and as I thanked God for their joy, I just had to ask Him:
“What are you doing, Lord?
What are you doing in each of these difficult situations?
What are you doing in these lives?
What are you doing in our lives?”

Then I thought about you. You precious friends whose lives intersect with mine on the blogosphere. I thought about what I’m aware of that many of you are dealing with. And I realized that I don’t even know a fraction of the whole of it. So I wondered the same thing to the Lord about you, “What are you doing?”

This is the answer that came to my mind and heart:

“I’m teaching my children to trust Me. I’m teaching all of you to look ONLY to me. For your answers. For your lives. Because I love you, I’m drawing all of you to My side so that you will learn to joyfully walk hand in hand with Me for the rest of your earthly lives. I’m teaching my children that I AM, and there is no other, and that nothing can separate you from my love… no matter what!”

God knows our tender, earthly frames, and remembers that we are but dust. None of these trials that seem to overtake us have taken Him by surprise. God knows how wearisome it is to be troubled about tomorrow, so He tells us NOT to worry, and He teaches us to trust in Him and His love for us in that Romans 8:37-39 kind of way.

Yet amid all these things we are more than conquerors and gain a surpassing victory through Him Who loved us. For I am persuaded beyond doubt (am sure) that neither death nor life, or angels nor principalities, nor things impending and threatening nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Romans 8:37-39 (Amp)

Oswald Chambers had this to say about this passage and subject:

The bedrock of our Christian faith is the unmerited, fathomless marvel of the love of God exhibited on the Cross of Calvary, a love we never can and never shall merit. Paul says this is the reason we are more than conquerors in all these things, super-victors, with a joy we would not have but for the very things which look as if they are going to overwhelm us.”

Then he goes on to say one of my all-time favorite Oswald Chambers quotes:

The surf that distresses the ordinary swimmer produces in the surf-rider the super-joy of going clean through it. Apply that to our own circumstances, these very things – tribulation, distress, persecution, produce in us the super-joy; they are not things to fight. We are more than conquerors through Him IN all these things, not in spite of them, but in the midst of them.

The saint never knows the joy of the Lord in spite of tribulation, but BECAUSE of it… Undaunted radiance is not built on anything passing, but on the love of God that nothing can alter. The experiences of life, terrible or monotonous, are impotent to touch the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

My Utmost for His Highest, March 7th

Undaunted Joy – that’s us, friends…. It’s what the Lord, because of His love for us, is working in each of our lives… not in spite of our circumstances, but because of them… when we trust Him.

{An Instagram pic from last year when hurricane Matthew left destruction in its wake… When we never dreamed about Harvey or Irma… or any other disaster faced over this past year.}

How thankful I am that Jesus is Lord over the literal and figurative storms!  I’m praying for you, my dear SmellingCoffee.com friends~

 

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My Children, Baby Moses, and the Public School System

Are you sending a child into a new school situation this year – from preschool to college?  Do you need a reminder that God is watching over the ones He has entrusted to you, as you entrust them to Him in this new school year?

I do.  And my children are in college now!  After all of these years, the words of encouragement the Lord gave me before my college junior began his kindergarten year still bring peace to my soul.  In fact, I’ve counseled my anxious heart with these Truths as we’ve transitioned from one stage of schooling to the next, and these Scriptures have been the guide for my prayers over my children and their teachers from Kindergarten through College.

The Lord gave me this particular gift from His Word the summer before Nathan started Kindergarten. God had called us to place our children in public school. I thought for sure that I would homeschool, but that was not God’s plan for my family. Even though we knew God had called us to entrust our children to Him through public school, and knew He had a plan for all of that, my heart was still heavy with concern.

One day, I was studying in Exodus and came upon the passage about baby Moses and his mother. As I prayed through that passage, The Lord brought me great rest and peace about what He had called us to do.

If God has called you to send your “baby” to any type of school this year, I pray that He’ll use the words He gave me to encourage you as you pray for your child, and bring you peace as you trust Him in your obedience.  This is what He gave to me so many years ago – and it’s still a comforting truth for me as each new school year begins.

PS: Though it’s entitled “…and the Public School System” of course, it applies to any school situation.  This was my personal struggle at the time, so this is how God so graciously addressed it to me. Now that that’s settled… read on. 😉

SmellingCoffee.com:divider
My Children, Baby Moses, and the Public School System. SmellingCoffee.com
My children, Baby Moses,
and the Public School System

Exodus 2:2-10 (God’s Words are in bold, my prayer response is in italics.)

 

2) And the women became pregnant and bore a son; and when she saw that he was exceedingly beautiful she hid him for three months.

She kept her child to herself because she saw the beauty in him, and knew that the “world” would neither see nor nurture her precious child.“O Jesus, you know how much I love my children, and how I want the very best for them. They are beautiful not only to me, but also to You. You have blessed me beyond my ability to describe when you allowed me to stay at home and “hide” my children these early years of their lives. Thank you, Jesus.”

3) And when she could no longer hide him

In other words, it was time for him to go to Kindergarten… (or middle school, high school, or college…)

“Lord, the time to put ‘faith into action’ is at hand. You have called my family to public school, and we can no longer ‘hide’ from it. Just less than two more weeks…Help us, dear Jesus, to trust You.”

she took for him an ark or basket made of bulrushes or papyrus,

She built a basket of protection for him with great care.

“Jesus, you have led me to build that basket every day as I love and invest in my children. Thank You that You have helped me build this basket with Scripture prayers for them, time, patience, play, laughter, Godly teachings, acceptance, and joy in my children. Because of You, my son’s basket is almost ready. Thank you!”

making it watertight by daubing it with bitumen and pitch

She made the basket “watertight” where no outside element could easily harm him.

“O Jesus, because of Your love and training of me, You have graciously allowed me to train and love and build healthy self esteem, based on the teachings of Your Word, in my children. Please help them to be ‘watertight’ and ‘insulated’ from the worldly influences trying to seep into their hearts and lives. Please call them to know you at an early age and to be ‘sealed’ by the redemption of Your blood.”

Then she put the child in it

With her heart wrenching, she placed her son in the basket, making him secure in the surroundings she had built for him, trusting that she had done all she could for him.

“Jesus, you know how my heart wrenches when I realize that now is the time to place my son in this basket we have built together. Please help me to believe – I mean REALLY BELIEVE- Your Word that promises You will “never leave, nor forsake” my baby. I am placing him in the basket with You, and covering him with a blanket of prayer.”

and laid it among the rushes (reeds) by the brink of the Nile river.

The reeds: Webster defines “reeds” as the grass stems growing at the edge of the river, and/or “a person or thing too weak to rely on; one easily swayed or overcome.” She placed her cherished child in the midst of, at best, a weak support system.

The brink: The beginning – in my case, Kindergarten.

The river: The public school system influenced heavily by the currents of the “world”.

“I lay my precious child at your feet, surrounded by the ‘reeds, brink, and river’. Thank You that You are going with him, before him, behind him, between him, and through him in this new era of his life. Thank You for the deep peace, joy, and great expectations that this knowledge brings to my wrenching heart!”

4) And his sister stood some distance away to learn what would be done to him.
“Lord, please give me ‘sisters’ in You to watch out for and over my children in every one of their schools.”

5) Now the daughter of Pharaoh came down to bathe at the river, and her maidens walked along the bank;

Pharoah’s daughter and maidens: The teachers and assistants at the school.

she saw the ark among the rushes and sent her maid to fetch it

She saw the basket and rescued it.

“O Jesus, please help my children’s teachers to see the treasure-filled baskets we have placed in the river. Please help them to be drawn to those baskets, seek them out and rescue them.”

6) When she opened it, she saw the child; and behold, the baby cried. And she took pity on him and said, this is one of the Hebrew’s children!

“Jesus, help the teachers to really see our children, their personalities, their strengths, weaknesses and needs. Help them to hear the individual cries of our children, take sweet pity on them, and to realize how valuable they are to You, to us, and to Your work in this world.”

7) Then his sister said to Pharaoh’s daughter, Shall I go and call a nurse of the Hebrew women to nurse the child for you?
8) Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, Go. And the girl went and called the child’s mother.
9) Then Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, Take this child away and nurse it for me, and I will give you your wages. So the woman took the child and nursed it.

The mother is given an unexpected opportunity to have additional influence on her child’s life.

“Lord Jesus, please help me to see and obediently take every additional opportunity You give me to ‘nurse’ my children. Jesus, please help me with my priorities. Please show me the way that I should go (Ex. 33:13), and help me to walk in it. Please help me not to get ‘side-tracked’ and miss the ‘best’ by being distracted with the ‘good’. Please help my focus to be off of me and onto You and Your best for our lives. Please help me to remember that time spent investing in my children’s lives is a ‘gift’ of great ‘wages’ or value”.

10) And the child grew,

“You know the plans You have for my children. Plans to prosper them and not harm them. Plans to give them a future and a hope. (Jer. 29:11) Jesus, I know now that my children will grow through this, and they will be O.K. They will be even better than “O.K.” – they will be victorious! (PTL!!!) They will have been where You instructed us to place them – insulated by us, and protected by Your hands upon their lives. It will all be for their good, and for Your glory (Rom. 8:28). For You and for the remembrance of Your Name – this is our heartfelt desire! (Isaiah 26:8)”

and she brought him to Pharaoh’s daughter and he became her son.

“Jesus, I realize that a day will come when we will be asked to release our children to stronger ‘waters’ than elementary school. But when that day comes, Lord, I trust that You will help us to be ready. O Please help our children not to become ‘sons’ of the world, but of You.”

And she called him Moses, for she said, Because I drew him out of the water.

“Lord Jesus, please help our children’s lives to be significant for You, because of Your instructions to us to place them at this tender age into the ‘water’. Please help them to be known by Your name because YOU have drawn them out of the water and called them Your own. A men.”

God used Moses’ life in mighty ways, and did things through him that He did through no one else. I want God to use my children this way – their lives lived to His power and glory. Baby Moses, kindergarten, and God’s faithfulness ~ What a Trustworthy God we serve! 🙂

I’m praying for all of you who are sending children off to school this month.

“And the Lord said, My Presence shall go with you,
and I will give you rest.” Exodus 33:13


“And when they had done everything according to the Law of the Lord…the Child grew and became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom; and the grace (favor and spiritual blessing) of God was upon Him.” Luke 2:39-40

 

 

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AND – if you’re so inclined, here is a Smelling Coffee TV episode about this very subject.  The video is is below.  If you can’t see it below, it is on YouTube at this link.

Smelling Coffee TV – Sending Our Children To School With Peace and Prayers

 

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It’s “Fall Mix” Time!!!

The BEST snack mix for Fall. SmellingCoffee.com

Hi everyone!  First of all, if you are in the process of recovering from Harvey or evacuating from Irma, you are never far from my thoughts and prayers!  I even hesitate in posting something trivial here, as if we have already forgotten the tragedy in which you are walking.  But this post is actually in […]

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15 Bible Verses to Encourage You

As I watch the news and Twitter feeds and pay attention to those around me, this one thing I know: Harvey-caused or not, many people are either literally and/or figuratively flooded right now.   How about you? Are you overwhelmed by the flood of life’s circumstances? Do you need some encouragement today? Are you dry […]

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Hello?

You are loved, and the Lord is right there beside you! The Lord is in your midst. Zeph 3.17 SmellingCoffee.com

Is anyone out there? I sure wouldn’t blame you if you weren’t… It’s been months since I’ve been here myself. SmellingCoffee.com has been a bit neglected over the summer, and I’ve been missing the old girl… and I’ve been missing YOU! So many times I’ve thought to myself, “If I were blogging, I’d sure write […]

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When Father’s Day is Hard…

Encouragement for any of us who are missing a good daddy on this Father's Day. SmellingCoffee.com

Happy Father’s Day weekend, everyone!  First of all, I want to wish my dear husband and the father of our children, James Walker, a Happy Father’s Day!  He and Abigail are in Africa on a mission trip right now, and are loving it! In fact, come to think of it, in the 20 years that […]

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Wife School: An encouraging study for every married woman!

Wife School 2017 Info. FBC Cleveland

If you haven’t heard of or yet read Wife School, and if you are married (or are getting married soon) – this is truly a MUST READ!  Anyone who has read the book will tell you the same thing. We read this book as a women’s ministry ladies’ book club several years ago, and had […]

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