Desire, Disipline, Delight  
Desire, Discipline, Delight

I missed the Cedar Island Ferry in North Carolina by 15 minutes. I pulled in behind another car to get in line for the three-hour wait. Looks like Iím not the only person who missed this boat.

The car ahead of me was taking forever. Why are you annoyed? I asked myself. Itís not as if you have anywhere to go. I sat back and relaxed. To my surprise, the driver got out of the car with a statue of an elf and handed it to the toll taker. Great, I thought. They are passing drugs inside the ceramic statue. Theyíll realize I saw it and murder me.

Then, the driver put her head next to the tiny toll window, smiled a ridiculous smile, and a passenger snapped a picture of the toll taker, the elf, and the driver. Why would a drug carrier want her picture taken? I realized Iíd been watching way too much television.

I pulled Hapless (the camper van) into the first slot, turned on the generator, and began preparations for dinner. I know youíre not supposed to feed dogs from the table, but Belle looked so hopeful that I slipped her a lima bean. There is going to be no living with this dog when "we" get home.

I donít know when I started thinking of Belle and me as a "we" but Iíve found myself calling us "we" to the people I meet. I used the term at the last campground and the registration person said suspiciously, "But I thought you were traveling alone." They charge more for 2 people.

"I was referring to my dog and me."

I got a look that said, "Oh, you are one of those." Am I going to turn into one of those people who humanize their dog? Will I be cooking her eggs and bacon by the time I get home? Iím already talking to her and sleeping with her.

After dinner, Belle and I decided (there I go again) to take a walk on the beach. There, sitting on a sandbar, out about 20 feet into the ocean, was the friendly elf holding a branch. I looked around to see 3 young women, who looked very much alike, snapping a picture of the elf. Gingerly, an auburn haired woman with a full head of curly hair frizzed from the wind and salt water, tiptoed out to rescue him. I recognized her as my suspected drug carrier. I suppose the elf was a he. Iíve never seen a female elf.

"Watch out for the jelly fish, they sting," yelled her brown haired duplicate. The "drug carrier" slowed down as she headed to the elf. I looked down to see jellyfish everywhere. I jerked Belle back away from the water and she looked at me, confused.

"I have to ask," I said to the two women remaining on the shore. "What is the deal with the elf."

"Weíre young and silly," said the brown haired duplicate of the drug carrier. OK, I know she really wasnít a drug carrier but I didnít know their names yet and I love nick names.

Iím a story teller. I canít help it. I launched into what I think was the short version of this true story. "I had two girlfriends that stole a yard statue of a lamb and took him on a trip across the country. Everywhere they went; they took pictures and mailed them back to the owners of the lamb, as if the lamb were writing home about his vacation. He even got married on the trip. When the trip was over, they snuck him and his bride back into his yard. He arrived bearing souvenirs for the owners. The owners were so charmed by this creative practical joke that they called our local television station, which did a story. I enjoyed watching the story, knowing the secret identity of the jokesters."

"That must have been the one I read about," the duplicate said.

"Weíre just being silly," the third woman assured me, indicating that the elf really did belong to them. I didnít ask anymore questions about the elf.

I did ask, "Where are you from?" These women were sisters, on vacation together, along with their parents. All were originally from California but Jenny is now living in North Carolina. Kathy, the duplicate, was feeling free as a bird because she had left her two children home with Daddy. Marilyn, the erstwhile drug carrier, had her three year old on this trip to North Carolina but had left him with the grandparents for the day. Brown haired, bright eyed, Jenny who also looked like the other two, was single with no children.

"I live in this area," Jenny explained. "I moved here to work with Teen Challenge. My girls are my children."

I had heard of Teen Challenge but didnít know much about them. I asked about their focus. "We help troubled teens. Most are struggling with addictions. Iím a product of Teen Challenge so when I recovered, I began working for them. Iíve been there for 10 years, but only moved to this area a year ago."

Jenny never shared what her addiction was, but she discussed her struggles with it. "I was doomed to do things that werenít good for me. Teen Challenge saved my life."

"Do you work a 12 Step program?" I asked.

"I do, but I donít go to meetings anymore. We use the 12 Steps at Teen Challenge so I work them with my girls."

Her not going to meetings worried me and I shared my concern. "Most people I know in recovery, say they need their meetings, no matter what. If they stop going, they eventually relapse." Kathy did admit to having 2 relapses in 10 years.

I looked at the other two sisters. "Have either of you struggled with addictions?" They shook their heads.

Jenny spoke up. "I am the oldest sister and took the brunt of the family problems. My father drank and they got divorced. It was too much for me at an impressible age."

"You must be grateful for your sisterís recovery," I said to the other two sisters.

They heartily agreed. "Weíre proud of her," Kathy said.

"What about church?" I asked. "Did the three of you grow up in church?"

They confirmed that they did. All of these loving sisters are Christians. Marilyn teaches children in her church and writes her own curriculum. Kathy is active in her church and part of a Bible Study. Jenny works on Sundays and hasnít yet found a church in the area but loves church. "My meetings with my girls are my church for right now."

I told them a little about what I do. "When I meet Christians, I always ask about their personal relationship with God. I find that many donít spend regular time in prayer, Bible Study, and meditation."

Jenny was quick to respond. "Because of my recovery, I have to. I get up every morning and spend time with God."

Kathyís response was, "I pray regularly. Iím very disciplined September through May because Iím in that Bible Study at my church. It has lots of homework. In the summer, Iím not as disciplined as Jenny." I could tell they had talked about this before.

Marilyn stammered for a moment and Kathy teased, "Donít lie."

Marilyn confessed, "I spend a lot of time in Bible Study because I have to write my curriculum, but I tend to do it in clumps rather than daily. I need to be more disciplined about it."

I told them of my theory about Christians. "Most Christians I meet say theyíre not having the abundant life they want and believe is possible. These same Christians also confess to needing discipline in their prayer, meditation, and/or Bible Study. I believe there is a link to regular disciplined time with God and the promised abundant life. I find that very few people meditate, even though it is mentioned many times in the Bible. I believe prayer is talking to God and meditation is listening."

I hoped I wasnít preaching a sermon. I continued, "My experience is that when people start having a regular quiet time, everything gets in the way and works against them. If they discipline themselves, after a while, it becomes a habit and things settle down. Finally, when theyíre in a habit, they reach the point where they wake up in the morning excited about their quiet time. It just takes a while to get there," I encouraged.

Jenny spoke up, excitedly. "Desire, discipline, and delight! Thatís what I tell my girls. First, you have to want it - the desire. Then you have to discipline yourself to do whatís right. Finally, you are delighted by it."

As we parted, Kathy said, "Youíve inspired me. Iím going to be more disciplined with my time with God. Maybe the reason you missed that ferry is that you were supposed to talk with us." The three of them braved the jellyfish and waded out in the ocean. I snapped a picture as I left that can be seen in the Photo Gallery under North Carolina - Cedar Island Ferry.

I also was inspired. I had met three Godly women who seemed happy, joyous, and free. Jenny is a miracle. Belle and I left to go back to Hapless to write. Iíve really got to work on this. Belle sits next to me when I write but as of yet, she hasnít touched the keyboard. Maybe sheís my muse.

Prayer
Ps 5:3
In the morning, O LORD, You will hear my voice; In the morning I will order my prayer to You and eagerly watch. NASU


Meditation
Ps 119:15-16
I will meditate on Your precepts and regard Your ways. I shall delight in Your statutes; I shall not forget Your word. NASU


Bible Study
Josh 1:8
This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. NASU


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Cheryle M. Touchton is the Director of Pocket Full of Change Ministries. For more information or to schedule a speaker for an event, go to www.pocketfullofchange.org or call Cheryle Touchton at 904-614-3585.

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