Insurance vs Assurance

Insurance vs Assurance

It’s been a long and emotional week. My 17 year old son lost control of the vehicle he was driving on his way home from work last Friday night, and even though he ran off the road, knocked down a telephone pole and two mail boxes, he literally walked away with only a few scratches, caused by the airbags deploying. It could have been so much worse.

After he got his license, we needed a third vehicle for him to drive to school and work. It was a necessity, with my husband and I working full time. We paid cash for an older model Subaru with all-wheel drive thinking it would be a safe choice, and only insured it with basic coverage. Luckily, he wasn’t driving that vehicle, he was driving mine, a Jeep Grand Cherokee, with full coverage. That night before he left, we discovered the Subaru had a headlight out, so I told him to drive my car so his Dad could change it for him.

Getting a frantic phone call from your teen at 11:15 pm is every parent’s worst nightmare. I always wait up for him, but that night I was so tired, I decided to go to bed early. I texted him and told him to be sure to wake me when he got home so I knew he was safe. When I got the call, he was upset and kept saying how sorry he was. I kept assuring him I didn’t care about the car as long as he was okay! My husband jumped in his truck and headed to him a few miles away. When he arrived it was so much worse than we could have imagined, it’s a miracle he wasn’t seriously hurt. It seemed like forever before they got home and I kept asking myself why I didn’t go with my husband? It was all a blur and everything unfolded so fast!

When I finally got to see him with my own eyes, we embraced and it felt like he was my tiny baby boy all over again. He was telling me the story of how it happened and I will never forget what he said to me, he said, “Mom when it happened, I was so afraid, but then I literally felt God wrap his arms around me and hold me tight.” Instant tears. I’ve been thanking God everyday since then that he protected my son.

A few days later, I was talking to our insurance agent about the steps we needed to take filing the claim and replacing my totaled Jeep. At the end of the end of our conversation, I asked the dreaded question, “So how much is our insurance premium going to go up after this?” I mean, he was still on a restricted Jr. driver’s license. He answered, “You’re premium isn’t going to go up at all. You have been loyal customers for a long time and you have, (cue deep voice from the famous commercial) ‘accident forgiveness.'”

Accident forgiveness.

Forgiveness, what a beautiful word. Just when you are expecting the worst for messing up, all is forgiven…. isn’t that a wonderful feeling?

Have you ever felt terrible for something that you did, that you’re not proud of? I have, but thankfully, as a Christian I know I am forgiven because Jesus Christ loved me, a sinner, so much that he died on the cross to save me from my sins. Even when I think God could not love someone like me, after messing up over and over, His love and grace never end, His mercies are new every morning. For that, I am incredibly grateful.

I have paid a premium every month, for many years, for my car insurance policy, and after having an accident, we are forgiven. However I’m certain that if we continued to have numerous offenses, neglected to pay them for a few months or tried a cheaper company, then wanted to come back, that policy certainly would change; it is conditional.

God’s love will always be unconditional, no matter how many times we need to ask for forgiveness. When I think of God wrapping his arms around my son in that crash, that is so much better than any insurance policy, that is an assurance policy.

 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” ~ 1 John 1:9

The Priceless Anniversary Gift

The Priceless Anniversary Gift

Marriage Log, Day 6,205…..

Today is our 17th wedding anniversary. Many couples our age have been married twice that long, but this is a second chance at love for both of us.

I got up at daybreak use the bathroom and my husband, a.k.a Superman, is lying on his stomach on a twin-size mattress that is clearly too small for his man-size frame. He is sprawled out and it looks as though he exhaled and then just melted into that spot. I know he is exhausted…

I am 9 days post ACDF surgery in which I had a cervical disc removed and then fused. My activity has been very limited and he has been there to care for me every step of the way.  He chose to sleep on the floor next to me so he could hear me and tend to my every need. He didn’t want to disturb me by sleeping in our bed.

The first day home he got me cleaned up from the blood, goop and sticky stuff all over me. This included showering me and washing my hair, then using baby oil to wipe away the sticky patches. He put lotion on me, dressed me and carefully got me situated in our deluxe king size adjustable bed. He tucked pillows, blankets and raised my feet. With super-human strength, he placed thigh-high compression stockings on my legs. No easy feat, I assure you! He continued to monitor my elevated blood pressure due to my body’s response to pain.

He organized my medication regimen and set his phone every two hours to check on me. I had water, ginger ale with bendy-straws along applesauce at the ready to take my pills. He alternated ice packs and sometimes heat depending on my needs. For two days he didn’t allow me to walk unassisted.

The second evening home, he was in the garage with our son and he didn’t hear me calling for him. My daughter came to my rescue and I told her I needed Daddy. When he came in, I needed to used the bathroom and was terribly uncomfortable. I took this opportunity to spew some fiery darts of unkind words at him, but he didn’t even flinch. He stood me up and walked me to the bathroom and asked if there was anything I needed or that he could do to help me.  He then helped me back to bed, held my drink for me and saw to it that I was put comfortably back to bed again. He leaned over to kiss me and asked if that was all I needed from him. I opened my eyes to see his face inches away and he smiled at me. I melted and big tears fell from my eyes. I said how sorry I was for being so mean. He wiped away my tears and told me once again he loved me. I can’t remember what he said next, but it made me laugh! (that is so Eddie!) He smiled at me again and I knew all was forgiven.

Meanwhile, he got the kids out the door every morning for school, arranged their transportation to various activities, did laundry, cooked, cleaned and managed it all. It was odd listening to all this activity from behind my bedroom door. That is where I am usually front and center. I smiled knowing Eddie could handle it- probably better than me!

Before this planned surgery, I tied up a thousand loose ends at work and at home, trying to make things easier on everyone. I trained a woman at work to do my job and arranged my schedule so there wouldn’t be as many commitments. At home, I filled out paperwork, audition forms, trip forms, yearbook forms, doctors’ forms, wrote out checks, paid bills and checked the calendar to be sure I hadn’t forgotten anything before the surgery because I knew I would be unable to help and I didn’t want to forget a thing!

Then, I discovered the one thing I forgot, was our wedding anniversary. Maybe I figured we would go out one night in a month or two, but I didn’t even get him a card or present. How did I miss that?

This year however, I received the greatest anniversary gift a wife could ever imagine. It wasn’t diamond earrings or red roses and chocolates. Eddie showed me how devoted he is to me by how he cared for me. His tenderness, compassion and understanding were felt infinitely. He looked at every detail to see what he could do to help or make things better for me. He’s so resourceful and smart. He was always smiling at me. He called me beautiful when I knew I looked like hell. When my appetite wasn’t good, he made tons of soft foods only to have me turn up my nose at them. Then I mentioned that chicken-n-dumplings from Cracker Barrel sounded good and I had them in front of me within twenty minutes. There isn’t a minute that goes by that I do not feel 100% loved by my sweet Eddie.

A3918A84-07B2-47DE-B1BB-830507BCC4FFHappy Anniversary honey. I love you so much!
I know this man would move Heaven and Earth for me and that kind of love is just priceless. If I didn’t think I could love you any more, I was wrong, but this is on a whole new level. As we look down the road to our Golden Years, I hope I can be as good to you as your are to me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Bit Unfit

A Bit Unfit

My husband got a new Fitbit when the company he works for started a health initiative. He was constantly updating me about his heart rate, how many steps he had taken that day and his sleep patterns. I usually answered, “That’s nice honey…” It seemed to motivate him to be healthier and I was happy for him.

Not long after he got his, he asked me if I wanted one. “Nah, I’m good,” I said. A few weeks later he asked again and I thought, “Okay, why not? I could stand to be healthier. I’ve wasted money on worse things…” So I said, “Sure, get me one.”

We looked online and I picked out the model and the color I wanted. I even ordered a ‘dressy’ band for when I want to wear my Fitbit out to dinner or to a party. (Lol.)

After receiving it, I followed the instructions and downloaded the app and set my goals. I went with the recommended 10,000 steps per day, 8 hours of sleep per night  and exercising 3 times per week. Reasonable goals, so I thought…

The first day, not only did I not reach my 10,000 step goal, I didn’t even reach 2000. This was eye opening to say the least! Okay, it is cold outside and I work a desk job, but man, that is not good!

My husband soon noticed that my average resting heart rate was 84 bpm. I was in ‘fat-burning mode’ all the time, even while I slept. “Is that bad?” I asked. His was 54 bpm. I then said, “Well, your a man, I’m sure it’s different for women, right?” So we Googled it and it was definitely on the high side.  I researched why a high heart rate wasn’t healthy and how to lower it. Reduce stress, exercise, meditate…

Many people have told me I am such a calm person. They enjoy talking to me because I have a quiet, soothing voice. In reality, on the inside, I’m wrapped tighter than a rubber band. I require a night guard wile I sleep because I clench my teeth. My mind races non-stop with all the things I have to get done and worry about daily, and now I’m worrying that I’m not doing enough to care for my health…

So, having a Fitbit has been eye-opening and is a good reminder to take better care of myself.  I love when I get a little vibration on my wrist and glance down to see the little stick figure guy jumping up and down saying, “Let’s move!” I decided that I’m going to start using the  bathroom at work on a different floor, so I  can get more steps – plus bonus stair points! I also like the reminder to take a break and do some deep breathing exercises for two minutes. I’m looking into Yoga. These are all good motivating factors to change.

I think recording my stats and giving me reminders, when I get too busy to keep myself in check, may be just what I needed. Sometimes I can get lost for hours sitting at the computer or on my phone. Looking up, stretching, walking, breathing fresh air and drinking more water shouldn’t be something I need to be told to do, but I’m astonished at how much I wasn’t doing. Perhaps since it is a new year, I can make a fresh start and make 2018 a better year for my overall health.

So, thank you Fitbit for helping this girl, who is a bit unfit, get back on track.

 

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Laughing All the Way!

Laughing All the Way!

My husband can make me laugh like no one else. As a matter of fact, I believe it is his life’s mission to make me belly-laugh at least once, every single day. This makes life fun for sure! He loves this if he is intentionally making me laugh, but not so keen with it if I am laughing at something he did unintentionally….

Life has been busy. It’s Christmas and we are planning to move in January. I have been trying to pack things in boxes, and at the same time unpack Christmas decorations. Frustrating to say the least! I would forgo decorating at all this year, but the kids would never forgive me.

We usually make going to get the Christmas tree a family outing. Most years, we go to a farm and cut our own. A few years ago, we picked the kids up from school and surprised them by going straight to the Christmas tree farm to get a tree. I thought they would be so excited, but my 10-year-old son said, “Oh man, why couldn’t you have just done that while we were at school?”

Then two years ago, there was the incident at the Christmas tree farm when Eddie laid on the ground to cut down the tree, and suddenly we all got the whiff of something stinky. Of all the acres on that farm, my husband managed to lay in a pile of dog poop under the tree. Yuck! We all had to ride home in the truck with the windows down in 30 degree temps trying not to gag!

This year however, time just didn’t allow for this. If we didn’t get a tree today, it wasn’t going to happen. Eddie had to drop Ethan off early for a wrestling scrimmage and I told him to just go to the Home DePot and get a tree. I had no worries because Eddie is a bit of a perfectionist. I did tell him however, to not get an overly large tree because I just wanted to do things simple this year.

He had one job.

A few hours later he arrived home. It was starting to snow and I was playing holiday music. It felt so Christmas-y!  Eddie yelled upstairs for me to come and help him, so I put on my Carhart coat and work gloves and helped him haul it to the living room. He stood it up, and that’s when I got a little nervous. The top didn’t quite clear our NINE FOOT ceiling. I thought to myself, “I thought I told him small…” And although the tree was still encapsulated in that tight, orange netting, I was thinking it seemed awfully full. While still holding my tongue, he began to cut off the netting. Next was the scene we’ve all seen from the movie, Christmas Vacation. As the branches were freed, this tree opened up to be extremely wide. Luckily, I had move our end tables. I mean if a tree could be pregnant, she was expecting twins.

Eddie excitedly looked at me and said, “What do you think?” I think he could tell by the look on my face, but I wanted to be careful with my words. So I said, “Um, wow. It’s a little bigger than I expected, but I guess we can make it work.”

We tried to adjust the balance but the crooked  trunk looked like it could have been out of a Dr. Seuss book. I couldn’t seem to find ‘up.’ I stood back while he laid under the tree to turn it, so I could find it’s ‘best side.’ Every time he turned it a fraction of a turn, the view got worse. Her pregnant belly traveled across our living room like a sundial. After the third adjustment I started to giggle. With each consecutive turn, the laugh got harder until I was bent over with my legs crossed, so as not to do ‘the thing’ women my age can’t help doing, when they laugh too hard. I could not control my laughter and my husband was not amused in the least. The more annoyed he got, the harder I laughed. I was trying get the words out to explain why I was laughing, but it was impossible!

The next thing I knew, he announced he was “taking the tree back.” Now I’m lying on my back with tears running down my cheeks and can’t catch my breath. I managed to compose myself long enough to spout out, “You can’t take a Christmas tree back!” To which he replied, “Watch me.”

As he dragged the tree down the stairs and out the door into the snow I vaguely heard him mutter something about ‘dumping it in the woods…’

I’m dying!

After he drove away to return the tree to Home Depot, I immediately texted my bestie. I knew she would understand the hilarity because we get each other. She is a photographer so her first question was, “Did you get a picture?” Somehow I had managed to snap a pic with my phone and sent it to her. She said, “It’s pretty.”  I said, “It is not pretty! It is a Charlie Brown Christmas tree the size of Texas! He just felt sorry for it and brought it home!”

Laughing emojis for miles….

A little while later, I heard the diesel engine as he backed the truck in the drive. I peeked out the front window and watched him emerge from the cab and drop the tail gate, my anticipation rising. I notice how adorable he looked in his red and black buffalo print flannel shirt, and his thick beard. He was dressed perfectly for this occasion.

I cautiously opened the front door and peeked out. Eddie spots me and gives me a sideways glance as he pulls the tree from the bed of the truck.

“Hi honey. How’d we do?” I say. He says, “I don’t know, you’ll have to answer that.” He’s still pouting. I feel slightly bad so I give him my sad puppy face and say,  “Come on babe, don’t be mad, let me see the tree.”

I admit, when he stood it upright, it was significantly smaller. “Perfect!” I say. We bring it upstairs and set it up. He announces, “My job here is done.”

It will be up to the kids and me to decorate it.

He goes to busy himself with something else and I feel like I need to make amends for laughing at my husband’s first choice of tree – even as funny as it was to me.

Last year, our two children wanted their own Christmas trees in their rooms, so I bought them each a small tree to decorate. “Twins!,” I think to myself. I tell the kids to bring their trees downstairs. We finish decorating the tree and set the twin babies beside her. I think this will be a funny and cute way to end the Christmas tree story for 2017.

Later, we show him the little Christmas tree family and I say, “Doesn’t she look great for just having twins?” He just shakes his head and chuckles. He knows we love him.

I hope your Christmas season has been full of laughter amidst the chaos. I am so grateful that I have someone who can make me laugh everyday, because I love to laugh. Laughing is my favorite.

Merry Christmas!

 

 

 

Let It Go

Let It Go

Forgiveness has been an issue for me. I want it when I’ve done something wrong, but when someone hurts me, I’m not as eager to let it go. I may act like I’ve forgiven you, or even believe that I have, but it’s the letting go part I need to work on…

I harbor resentment. I think that is a protective mechanism we all share. It has been said, “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.”

We don’t like to be hurt by others because, well, it  hurts. Pain is something we are programmed to avoid. That make sense to our physical selves. We are careful when handling hot items, or going down stairs, to prevent physical injury, but when we are hurt by another’s actions or words, that pain isn’t as evident. We might pretend we weren’t hurt, but those wounds affect our heart, and that’s when the internal battle begins.

Satan would love nothing more than to convince us that the person who hurt us, doesn’t deserve our forgiveness. He will feed us lies and tell us we are somehow better than they are. He wants us to point the finger at others and forget to look at our own faults. We become arrogant and forget about grace.

God’s grace….

It is because of grace that we have been set free. The gift of grace is an unmerited favor bestowed upon us when Jesus died for our sins. Our sins, not just my sins. None of us are perfect and none of us deserve forgiveness. We could never earn our salvation. It is only because of Jesus’s blood and sacrifice that our sins are forgiven.

In the movie, The Shack,  the main character, Mack, struggles with forgiveness. Forgiveness for the way his father abused him as a child, and forgiveness for the murderer who killed his little girl. The Holy Spirit shows him what it looks like from God’s perspective by asking him to choose between his two remaining children, who would be saved and who would be condemned to hell. Mack can’t do this, and his answer was, “Take me instead! I will take their place.”

Convicted.

I would never promote allowing ourselves to be continually hurt by another person. That is abuse, and we do need to protect ourselves from that. I am saying, however, that there may be more behind why others hurt us.  They may have built a wall of protection around their own fragile heart. Therefore they may lash out and hurt us, to keep from being hurt.

I am a work in progress. I struggle with letting go; letting go of resentment when someone hurts my feelings. I know I am super-sensitive, but I am trying to see others through the eyes of Jesus, and to not stand on the throne of condemnation.

2 Peter tells us that, “God is not willing that anyone should perish, but that all come to repentance.”

If I had one thing to share with the world, it would be to forgive; and then, let it go. Do not harbor resentment. I believe if the world forgave each other daily, the way Jesus does, all of our conflicts would dissolve. There is nothing more refreshing than to know someone has forgiven you when you’ve hurt them, or when you don’t deserve it. When someone withholds forgiveness from you, it plants bitterness in both parties. These roots grow deep and strong, causing division, and hinders any spiritual growth.

Colossians 3: 12-13

“Clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” 
Lord, I ask that you give me your heart and your eyes, so that I would be more forgiving, so that others would know, through me, your great love. I ask that I would let go of resentments and let your peace wash over me. Help me to let it go….. all of it. Amen.

 

 

My Beautiful Mother

My Beautiful Mother

My mother turned 80 years old last week. All five of us kids had a big party for her and she was surrounded by so many family members and friends that love her. She is easy to love. Her smile is welcoming and comforting. Her spirit is gentle and kind. She will make you feel well cared for with her conversation and concern for you, over a warm cup of tea. I’m her daughter, but she shares this gift with everyone. I’m not the least bit jealous.

I was fortunate to be the collector of the RSVP’s for the party, because whether our guests were coming, or unable to make it, everyone felt the need to tell me what a wonderful person she is and that they would love to celebrate with us. I loved hearing those things about my mother. It brought back people to me from my past that I hadn’t seen or heard from in such a long while. They sent cards and photographs in droves. Family traveled from Florida, Indiana, Missouri and Ohio to be here. My mother is the best at keeping in touch with her friends and family. She is a gifted letter writer and I’m certain that everyone who signed the guest book will get a personal, beautifully handwritten and heartfelt thank you note.

I enjoyed the preparations for this party. My brothers and sisters and I were in frequent communication and we all had recollections of past memories coming back into the present. My sister Kim amazingly remembers everything in great detail and wanted to talk about all things funny. It made me happy that she keeps all of these stories tucked away in her brain, because she makes us laugh. Kathy is the oldest and is a talented cake decorator. She cares about all of us and lavishes over all of the details, making everything beautiful. She would do anything for anyone and loves when we are all together. I consider my sister-in-law, Missie, to be more like a sister. She and my younger brother Larry were high school sweethearts, so she has been part of our family for a long time. She has blonde hair like the rest of us girls and fits right in to the picture. She is great at putting together a spread and I was thankful to have her help! She lost her own mother when she was in her twenties and my mom has compassionately cared for her, so I know she was just as eager to honor her on her birthday. My brothers Butch and Larry are quiet, and mostly let the girls do the planning, but I admire the way they love our mom. They, along with my husband Eddie, and brother-in-law John, were all helpful the day of the party, carrying TONS of food and decorations, setting up tables, figuring out the sound system and obediently doing whatever orders us girls barked at them!

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My mother has 19 grandchildren and 13 great-grands! The grandchildren (led by Allison and Andrew) put together a precious, creative gift for my mom, whom they affectionately call “Nana.” It is a large, framed crossword puzzle with all of their names intersecting to form the grid. The corresponding clues are how you figure out the answers for each grandchild! What fun they had coming up with the clues! Andrew, my nephew, also put together a slideshow of 80 years of photographs to run during the party. My daughter, Charlotte sang a beautiful song to my mother titled, “Love Will Be Our Home.” 

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I know my dad was proud to honor her as well. She is a faithful and loving wife. They have been the best example of love through everything life throws at you. They’re an adorably cute couple!

I had planned to say a few words about my mother the day of her party. Both of my sisters did, but honestly, I couldn’t utter a sound. I definitely would have ended up in a puddle of tears. I am so grateful and blessed to have her as my mom. She has been with me through everything; teaching me as a child about God and laying the foundation for the person I would become. I share her love of creativity, entertaining, cooking, sewing, crafting and compassion for others. We love to laugh together. Even my teenage years weren’t that bad. Although I’m certain I did a lot of eye-rolling, and possibly closing my bedroom door firmly. (My bedroom door wouldn’t slam! There was some sort of invisible vacuum preventing it! As hard as I tried, it just whooshed and stopped right before impact. Do you know how frustrating that was for a teenage girl?) I married young and I was in constant communication with her about life, marriage, cooking and motherhood. When my daughter became ill, she never left my side. She helped me physically, emotionally and spiritually and I couldn’t have done any of it without her help. When my marriage ended, she supported me again in all of those ways. When I made decisions she didn’t approve of, I knew how she felt, but she never stopped loving me. She let go of me when she knew I needed to spread my wings, but she was, and always has been, there when I needed her.

She’s a good mom, the best a girl could hope to have. When I think of my mom, I see a beautiful and graceful pillar of strength, fueled by faith. A quiet, introspective person who thinks before she speaks. Sometimes, she never speaks at all; she doesn’t feel the need to. She lives out the adage, “If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”  Maybe I get my “pondering heart” from her. As Mary, the mother of Jesus observed and pondered things in her heart, so does my mother; knowing that God has a plan for whatever happens in our lives. When she does choose to speak, it is full of wisdom; wisdom that only 80 years of living a life of faith can give you. There’s not much she hasn’t seen. There’s not much that she hasn’t experienced, but through it all she chooses to love, and love us well.

Happy 80th birthday to my beautiful mother! Not only are you beautiful on the outside, but most importantly on the inside. Your smile even makes your eyes sparkle and is a constant comfort to me. I am honored to call you my mother and am blessed beyond measure to have you in my life. I love you so much!

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Listen to Him!

Listen to Him!

I woke up this morning thinking about that funny, viral video on You Tube where a little boy named Mateo is arguing with his mom saying, “Listen Linda, listen…” (You’ve probably all seen it and know what I’m talking about, but in case you haven’t, click here to make your day better!) I wondered why in the world I woke up thinking about that, but I made a mental note to call my friend Linda because we are way overdue for a lunch date.

I then went downstairs for a cup of coffee and to say goodbye to my husband before he left for work. We were chatting about a few things and as I began to reply to a question he asked me, he interrupted me mid-sentence, already assuming he knew what I was going to say. I stopped and said, “That’s not what I was going to say at all; can you please just listen to me?”

Yesterday, I noticed a friend often starts her conversation with, “Hey listen….” She has been doing this as long as I can remember, it’s like her thing and I love it, but suddenly I was made keenly aware of it.

We are collectively, as a church, participating in a 31 day devotional titled, Be Still and Know That I Am God.

be still

This morning, the scripture reference was from Matthew 17: 1-7. It is the story of The Transfiguration:

Six days later Jesus took with Him Peter and James and John his brother, and led them up on a high mountain by themselves. And He was transfigured before them; and His face shone like the sun, and His garments became as white as light. And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him.Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here; if You wish, I will make three tabernacles here, one for You, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” While he was still speaking, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and behold, a voice out of the cloud said, “This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to Him!” When the disciples heard this, they fell face down to the ground and were terrified. And Jesus came to them and touched them and said, “Get up, and do not be afraid.”

I’ve heard so many times the scripture quoted, “This is my beloved son with whom I am well-pleased;”  However today, I immediately noticed the semicolon following God’s statement, and then God continued, “listen to Him!”  God wasn’t finished speaking. He certainly got the disciple’s attention! It says that the disciples were terrified. I would imagine that it is extremely terrifying when God himself tells you to listen!

Sometimes, when my kids aren’t listening to me, my husband may intervene with a bigger, scarier voice. It works! Daddy’s voice is strong, firm and demands instant attention.

Peter asks Jesus if he should build three tabernacles to commemorate this holy occasion and sacred place, when God interrupts him. Jesus is trying to show the three disciples something  – something amazing – and they were missing the point. Peter felt he needed to do something, but God wanted them to just listen to Jesus and understand what he was showing them through his transfiguration.

I have so much to learn from God. I’m always trying to figure out what God wants me to do, but all I need to actually do is be still and listen, so I can hear what He has to say.

As I meditate on the scripture, I am definitely receiving the word, ‘listen’ this morning.

Lord, help me to listen intently so I don’t miss the point. Thank you for getting my attention today. Help me to be still so I can hear what you have to say. Thank you for your word which is always perfect and timely.  Amen.

The Vexing Issue of the Yearly School Portrait

The Vexing Issue of the Yearly School Portrait

I am waiting for my car to be inspected, along with a part replaced due to a recall on my Honda Accord. The technician told me it would take about an hour and a half to complete the job. He shows me to the waiting area where the TODAY Show is playing annoyingly loud. I sit down and look at the other waiting customers who all have their noses buried in their phones. I glance at the variety of magazines, but am not intrigued. After a few minutes of listening to Martha Stewart show Hoda Kotb how to peel garlic without using her hands, I knew I couldn’t sit there any longer, so I decide to go in search of a cup of coffee. I find a vacuum carafe, pour a cup and stir in powdered non-dairy creamer.  I find a quiet table in the showroom to sit down and make a to-do list. It is the kids’ first full week of school and between signed syllabuses, multiple checks written for a variety of things, three-ring binders coming out of my ears, new sneakers and gym uniforms, I remember that tomorrow is picture day. It is only the sixth day of school and  I’m tired and broke. Who schedules these things?  Thoughts go through my head, “Should we get Ethan’s hair cut after school today?” He is in that in-between stage of the ‘summer buzz cut’ and  ‘no real style yet.’  Not the best look going at the moment, but that would add another $21.00 to the cost, so I think we’ll pass on the hair cut….

As I think back on Ethan’s school pictures, I fondly remember his third grade picture in which I sent him to school in a nice button down plaid shirt. He decided to take that shirt off at recess so he wouldn’t get it dirty. Good thinking on his part, but they went directly from the playground to the photographer. His picture is of a sweaty, red-faced boy in a white Hane’s undershirt. I have 2 8x10s, 3 5x7s and 100 wallets of this precious memory. The next three years, he managed to wear the same bright orange shirt. Last year, I opened his package and thought, “Finally, a great school picture!” His hair looked great and he had the best smile that showcased his new braces. At closer glance however, I discover they took the picture after lunch. Food in the braces – yummy. Another $45 down the tube.

School pictures are the worst, but such a tradition. They awkwardly pose our kids, make them smile on demand and you get what you get. I begrudgingly write checks every year to Lifetouch so I can send Grandma pictures that she treasures, so she can show all of her friends and hang them on her refrigerator door with cute magnets.

After four children, I have thousands of school pictures still in their original envelopes with the celophane windows. I have several friends who are amazing photographers, yet I continue to spend a small fortune on these packages year after year. Is it a mom-guilt thing? If I don’t buy the package, I’ll deprive my children of their ‘school-days’ memories? Will my kids feel left out if they don’t show up with their money envelope in hand?

I force down another gulp of my luke warm coffee and I try not to make an ugly face. I shudder and know a drive through Starbucks is in order as soon as I leave here. With thoughts of school portraits, a memory pops into my head of my fifth grade school picture.

Just look at this gem:

IMG_5635

I giggle as I recall the story of this photograph….

My mother decided it would be a great idea for me to wear my Girl Scout uniform to school for my class picture. Wearing your Girl Scout uniform to school wasn’t unusual back then- when your meeting was after school in the cafeteria- everybody did it. So when I showed up on picture day in my uniform, my best friend immediately noticed and then reminded me that we didn’t have a meeting that day. I told her I knew that, but my mother wanted me to wear it for my school picture. She then informed me that school pictures weren’t that day- they were the next day. What? Not only did I have to wear my uniform to school on a non-meeting day, but it wasn’t even the correct day for the school pictures! I was so embarrassed! I went though the entire day with people reminding me that I had worn my uniform on the wrong day. I could not wait to get home.

When I returned home that afternoon, I informed my mother what had happened. She could tell by my attitude that I had been completely mortified by the whole experience and that I was not at all happy. It would have been the perfect day to come home to some warm, fresh-baked homemade chocolate chip cookies, but that didn’t happen either.

My mother seemed unaffected by my drama, and then promptly told me to go to my room to change, and to make sure that I hung up my uniform so I could wear it again tomorrow. That’s when time stopped. Everything froze. She could not possibly be serious. I could not live through this indignity again tomorrow. I was panicking! This.was.not.happening.to.me.  My life was over. I could already picture the kids laughing at me in my predicament.

The thing is, I knew that I would not win this argument. I was the fourth child, and if I had learned anyting in my 10 years of life, it was that once my mother spoke something, she could not be persuaded to change her mind. Arguing or complaining only cinched the deal all the more. It was my sentence. I bowed my head in shame and slowly walked to my bedroom.

When I woke the next morning, I thought I could fake an illness to escape my fate. After some volleying inside my head, I knew that it was either today or prolonging the agony until make-up picture day. Maybe she would forget, but I knew that would never happen. I resigned myself to my degradation.

The funny thing is, I showed up to school in the same outfit- a Girl Scout uniform- two days in a row, and no one really noticed. At least they pretended not to notice. Other than my best friend who just rolled her eyes, no one said anything. Maybe they felt sorry for me or maybe they just didn’t care, but I walked in expecting to be humiliated and nothing happened.

I got my portrait taken in my Girl Scout uniform and despite my vast array of mixed dentition, I think I looked adorable. I know my mom was happy, she got her wish. When I got home there still were not any warm chocolate chip cookies waiting, but there were homemade brownies – and a big hug.

Touche’ Lifetouch.

Are Ya Sure?

Are Ya Sure?

My bestie lives in Arkansas. We met when we both lived in Maryland in 1991, and we were both pregnant with our second daughters. She only lived in Maryland for three years, but we have remained best friends ever since. Our friendship is easy. Although there have been many tears shed together, our favorite thing to do is laugh.

I’m not sure how long it was after she moved back to Arkansas, but one Saturday afternoon she called to chat and to tell me what had happened to her that day. I was laying on the couch as she told me her story…

She and her husband had gone to the hardware store to pick up something that they needed. While they were in the checkout line, a young girl at the cash register began to make conversation with her; southern folk are nothing if they aren’t friendly. This is how their conversation went:

(You have to picture this in your mind as being said with an adorably thick southern accent.)

Cashier: “Hey” (because people in Arkansas don’t say ‘hi,’ they say ‘hey.’)

Bestie: “Hey”  *smiles warmly*

Cashier: “How are ya’ll doin’ today?”

Bestie: “We’re good, how are you?”

Cashier: Suddenly and excitedly says, “Oh! When is your baby due?”

Bestie: *Stiffens*

Bestie’s husband: *gets deer-in-the-headlights look*

Bestie: Smiles politely and through her teeth says,  “I’m not pregnant.”

Cashier: Looks confused, pauses for a minute and says: “Are ya sure?”

Bestie: *Begins to climb over counter as her husband physically attempts to restrain her*

The cashier said, “Are ya sure?” LOL! She was only a teenager, but still. I thought I would die laughing! Actually, I fell off the couch onto the floor from laughing so hard. My bestie wasn’t laughing, as she was still pretty sore about the whole incident. After a few minutes though, we were both laughing at the whole story, the unbelievable comment, her reaction, her husband’s reaction, all of it. Ever since then, I cannot think about this story without giggling. I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall to witness the whole thing.

My laughter was at the young girl’s comment. I mean she said, “Are ya sure?” to a grown woman after she told her she wasn’t pregnant. That’s funny, I would never laugh at my bestie.

I’m certain it was the way she was standing, or an unflattering top accentuating what my husband likes to call my ‘woman-ess,’ to make the girl think she had a tiny baby-bump. I’ve had days where I’ve felt bloated to the point of looking pregnant. However, the comment made her feel not-beautiful, and immediately she was hard on herself for not being what our world brainwashes us into believing we should look like. There are many shapes and sizes of women, and all of us wish we could change something about ourselves, especially our weight. Why do we do this? Embrace your ‘woman-ess” ladies. Don’t let the world take away from you what is beautiful, which is all of you; not only your physical body, but the beautiful person, mother, daughter and woman you are. My bestie is one of the most beautiful woman I know on the inside and out, and I want her to know that and believe that with all her heart.

However, never ask a woman that question unless you are 110% sure.

You’re welcome.

 

 

Hashtag Blessed

Hashtag Blessed

I recently read an article that a proclaimed non-Christian posted on her Facebook page titled, The One Thing Christians Should Stop Sayingby Scott Dannemiller. I was intrigued, so I opened it to see what he had to say.  In this article, the Christian author discussed the over-usage of the word ‘blessed,’ in response to feeling thankful or grateful for worldly or monetary possessions.  I emphatically commented, “Yessss!” in agreement after reading it. My husband was a little surprised by my comment, which led to a lengthy discussion on the topic. This once again led to me pondering…..

What does it truly mean to be blessed?

My husband asked, “Don’t you feel blessed when God answers your prayers? What about my job settlement?  Won’t you feel blessed if we win?”

I felt like I should answer ‘yes.’ After all, a win would secure our future financially and we’ve prayed for that. After more discussion, I asked him, “Will you still feel blessed if we lose?” That’s a tougher one to answer.

There are many definitions for the word blessed, but one definition is, “endowed with divine favor or protection.”

Is the person who is struggling with their health or finances less favored than someone who is financially well-to-do and healthy? It can often be misconstrued that a blessing is a favor not bestowed upon all. As if  it is contingient on our faith or goodness. When you are blessed with a child, is the infertile couple not blessed? Of course not, but it may seem that way to them. They may wonder why God hasn’t blessed them with a child when they have prayed so long for one.

In Matthew Chapter 5, Jesus preaches the Sermon on the Mount. Of all he calls blessed, none have anything to do with monetary or worldly things. In fact, most who he calls blessed are struggling.

He said:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
    for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
    for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
    for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful,
    for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
    for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
    for they will be called children of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.

12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Verse 4 resonates with me; “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” After losing my daughter to a brain tumor, I didn’t exactly feel blessed. If someone asked me how I was doing after her death, my first answer would not have been, “I am blessed.” I was definitley mourning, so why was that not my answer?

I think Jesus is telling us if we lean on him in all circumstances, we are blessed, whether our prayers are answered the way we want them to be or not. Whether we are rich or poor. Whether we are healthy or sick. By trusting fully in him through faith, knowing that no matter what, he sees us. He knows our heart, and he just wants us to trust him, always, and in all circumstances.

In verse 12 Jesus says, “Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in Heaven.” We are truly blessed because of Jesus and the grace he bestowed upon us. No matter what we face on this earth, our reward is in Heaven, and for that we are truly blessed.

Is it okay to respond and say, “I feel so blessed” or use the hashtag ‘#blessed’ when responding on social media, in regard to having or acquiring something? I think so, but I may replace it with the word ‘thankful’ or ‘grateful’ instead. I never want anyone to think God shows favor when it comes to worldly values or ideals. Our blessing isn’t of this world, he died for all and loves us the same. Our circumstances may be different and we may question the fairness sometimes, but life isn’t fair. That doesn’t mean that you are not blessed, because you are blessed just for being called a child of God.