Category Archives: Life

Whatever’s left after I give to God and my family.

It’s my Anniversary…and yours too!

IMG_1444Last week my husband and I had an empty nest for about 36 hours.  Our daughter was going to a football game and then spending the night at a friend’s.  We decided to make the most of our time and plan a near-to-home getaway.  So, after she got on the school bus, we loaded our bikes, visited our parents and headed out for a beautiful autumn day.  We found a trail and admired the falling leaves and the creek and scenery along our 10-mile bike trip.  We then went to our river house and relaxed (I relaxed by reading, he relaxed by mowing the grass…but he says that’s how he relaxes!)  We decided to dress up and go out to dinner at a new restaurant.  I donned my black dress and we headed out.  We made a quick stop at the Widnoon Ice Cream stand to catch our last bit of ice cream before it closed for the season and then we went to the restaurant and had a lovely meal and some really fun conversation.  It was a really nice date.

The thing about the entire date though was that when we called for the reservations, the host at The Meredith Inn asked if we were celebrating anything special.  I thought about that a lot during the evening.  Were we?  Anything special?  This was definitely a date that felt like it should’ve been an anniversary.  (We’ve celebrated anniversaries before with very little fanfare.)  So, what were we celebrating?  Since it felt like an anniversary, I decided to call it that and in fact, it was my anniversary.  Since I journal daily, I can tell you exactly what it was the anniversary of!

In 2018, I was spending time with friends in Florida….so it was the anniversary of a wonderful trip. I could’ve also been celebrating the 9th anniversary of a day when I pitched a fit and I was in a bad mood (yep, I wrote that down too.)  Other years I attended college visitation with a child, hosted Godly Girls, watched George fix plumbing, listened to political banter (and prayed about it.) This date was the 2nd anniversary of a lunch date with a friend, the 8th anniversary of receiving the call giving us an adoption date and the 7th anniversary of the new porch at the Petroleum Valley Youth Center. So, I wonder, if we had responded to the host that yes, we were celebrating something special, would she have agreed?

This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. 
–Psalm 118:24
The fact that this actual day didn’t have any special meaning to us, did not mean that we shouldn’t have been celebrating something special.  Each day is a gift and we need to take some time to recognize it.  We should celebrate each day like it is something special…because it is.  Thank you host, for reminding me!
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Tuesday News Day!

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Sarah is working on a new procedure at work, Nicole bought a TV, Lori had her friends build a human pyramid, Kevin made a new friend, Paul saw a movie, Linda was sick with the flu, Kaylee had a school snow day, Cale bought a couch and George has been busy cleaning up after the house flooded. These are all examples of the latest news in our family.

Starting in January 2019, I wanted to come up with a way to stay in communication with all of my kids who live in varying parts of the country and to try to keep them in contact with each other.  Hence, the creation of Tuesday’s News Day!  The group text is sent to Seattle, Denver, Richmond, New Castle and to some within the same house.  I begin with a short recap text of what I’ve been up to in the last week and invite the rest to chime in.  It’s been such a fun, easy way to learn more about each other and what our typical or less than typical week looks like.

Scrolling past over the last 8 weeks I see where I finished reading Little Women, George is grateful for the book Cale bought him for Christmas, Nicole spent time in Florida, Kevin has been trying new recipes, Sarah binged on a podcast, Cale is trying to walk more, Lori took a Lyra class, Kaylee was cast in a musical & Paul went with his Dad to see the movie Escape Room.

Though I wish we all lived closer, I take comfort in knowing that on Tuesday, my phone will chime multiple times as people report in.  Gone are the days of waiting for handwritten letters in the mail, even live voice phone calls are sometimes hard to fit in, but the well-timed Tuesday text brings joy to all!

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“How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace,
Who bring glad tidings of good things!”  –Romans 10:15 NKJ

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I’m so grateful to those who bring glad tidings!!

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Halfway There

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The plans are made, or at least the plans were made. We are all going, we are inviting friends, everyone is excited, “let’s do this!” Then, one by way, attitudes change, things come up, schedules conflict, fatigue at the end of the week, the excitement wanes and instead of enthusiasm, you are met with obligation. We are all going, but only half of us want to. The “want-tos” have to tolerate the “have-tos” and the whole event has changed. This event is no longer something even the “want-tos” want to attend.

So, do we go or cut our losses? Completely discouraged, I try to decide.  I turn on my computer and see the video link of my son’s cross country bicycle trip.  I don’t bother playing it, I’ve seen it a million times and can visualize it completely.  It usually inspires me, but I’m not even sure I want to be inspired.  How would it make me continue on in making plans for this failing event? The video shows a lot of close-up footage of his feet on the pedals going round and round. Spinning sprocket, he just kept going. However, today, though not in the video, I think I’ll join him in the times he sat at the side of the road and cried.  (I’m sure he did.) I’m sure as he pedaled on and on, at times he stopped and sat. “Nope. Not going any further. Not doing another thing.”

What now? How long can I sit here? What do I do or think while I’m not moving forward and not going back? Can I just stay here? I wish I could, but decisions need to be made and plans need canceled or carried out. I’m halfway there and it’s not a good place to be. The start was fun, halfway there is hard, who knows what the finish will be? My son kept going…he kept pedaling….in the end, I believe he was blessed, but geez, halfway there must’ve been really hard.

Halfway there, Ugh. I guess I can’t sit here any longer. I will make the best of the plans.  Maybe change the goal a bit, lower the expectations and concede that the “have-tos” are probably not going to change their position, but, the intent was good in the beginning and if we just keep going, we may actually win a few over and have a good time.  Sometimes when you are halfway there, you are at the top of the hill.  Let’s hope so.

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Photo by suzukii xingfu on Pexels.com

 However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.                                    –Acts 20:242 

 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.      –2 Timothy 4:7

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GLUT!

img_7687I used this word in my last post.  Glut.  I used it without even thinking and then I thought, “Is glut a word?”  I was excited to see that it was:

glut  [ɡlət]    NOUN  –  an excessively abundant supply of something.
VERB  (be glutted)  – supply or fill to excess.

Not only is it a word, but I believe that I used it correctly! Wow!  OK, so it’s a real word and apparently, it is a real problem at my house.  I believe that I have a glut of pens in my junk drawer, a glut of jeans that don’t fit in my closet, a glut of ketchup in my pantry.  WHY? Where does it all come from and how do I get rid of it?

This weekend I am blessed to get to host Dr. Maudlin Mesedieu.  A physician I met in Haiti.  He will be spending a couple of nights in our guest room downstairs. The room is adequate and knowing that Haitians aren’t a pampered sort, I’m sure my home will be fine for him.  What concerns me is the fact that he will have to walk past the open shelving I refer to as my second pantry. On these shelves are the duplicate grocery items that I have that won’t fit in my overfilled upstairs pantry. An extra box of rice, multiple cans of green beans, and enough cake mixes to go into the cupcake business. I’m embarrassed or more accurately, ashamed that he will see the glut on these shelves. The food that is sitting unused on my shelves could feed his village for a week.  Not his family, his village. He comes from a place where the fortunate people have a meal once a day and sometimes have to wait and eat every other day and then there are the less fortunate who aren’t even able to have that.

When I mentioned my discomfort with this situation, my daughter suggested we hang curtains over the shelves….even a 12-year-old knows that we have too much and should maybe try to hide it.

There is not much I can do about the food situation in Haiti and I certainly can’t ask Dr. Maudelin to put a can of black beans in his suitcase, but I can donate some of my surpluses to the local food cupboard.

My husband has told me that we should be “uncomfortable with how comfortable we are.”  I think it’s official. I am. In case you haven’t heard, I have a newfound passion for the country of Haiti and one community in particular. I have friends in Mombin Crochu , Haiti who need me….who need us.  So, if you ever find that your glut is making you uncomfortable, give me a call, we will try to figure out a way to have you pitch in and make a difference in a country that speaks a language that probably doesn’t even have a word for “glut.”

Check it out: Hearts4Haiti.org

Your people settled in it, and from your bounty, God, you provided for the poor.

Note: This blog was written in October and published in January.  We had a lovely visit with Dr. Maudelin and unfortunately, we have even more ‘glut’ to start the new year.

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Remind Me

may-the-glow-of-christmas-fill-the-hearts-of-you-and-your-loved-ones-all-year-longChristmas is coming….just a few days away.  I have tons to do and the recent days have been full of obligations and to-do lists.  Things I have to do and those things that I feel I have to do and moments of not being able to figure out which is which.  I’ve struggled this year with a minor lack of holiday cheer and I even admitted to someone that I find that I am a better Christian and more charitable and giving other months of the year and I’m not even sure that is a bad thing.  This time of year is full of expectations and the fact that I am so busy doing Christmas prep, I don’t have as much time to be as giving as I am at other times.  My door is always open and my kitchen table is always welcoming anyone who will sit for a cup of tea, but right now, you’d be hard pressed to find me at home to enjoy it. I like to surprise people with unexpected note cards and letters, but this year, I don’t have time to prepare cards. I’ve been known to bake treats and deliver them to friends and neighbors, but gift shopping has taken up my time for that.  So, you see, this year, I’m just not “feeling it.” I long for more leisurely days and quieter times.

That said, this year is a bit different than other years. My kids are growing and/or grown and traditions we once held dear don’t really matter as they once did. Three of my kids live out of state so the shopping and shipping make gift giving a challenge. My oldest has recently graduated from college and is moving to Seattle on Christmas Day. Throw in a few general concerns and situations on the home front and I’m fighting the urge to say “Bah Humbug!”  I won’t though, because I know the true reason for the season AND, I just have to remember what I’ve celebrated so far this season. I’m writing this publicly so when I get sad that my Christmas Holiday gets cut short by my oldest moving to Seattle on December 25th (Yes, I said that again. I think if I keep saying it, I might get used to the idea?)…remind me.

Remind me that:

I had a wonderful Thanksgiving with family, a full house of laughs & good food and too much stuffing.

I went on an annual Christmas Shopping outing with a friend on the day that our town didn’t have any electricity.  The mall decorations and lights were a real treat when I didn’t have any at home.

I attended Chicora Light -Up Night where Kaylee was able to perform her solo even though she was fighting a major sore throat and cold.

I made 8 batches of hard tack with my Mom and all of my daughters. We even went out of the box and made a Cotton Candy flavor.

I kicked off the Salvation Army Kettle Drive in our community.

I visited my Aunt Garnet with my mom and sister.

I went to Volant and donated books to the Amish for them to use as Christmas gifts.

I painted a Christmas Canvas with a friend.  I just love my Red Truck with a tree in the bed!

Rehearsals were held and I was able to spend some time with some of the cutest Shepherds, Angels, and Mice I know!

A morning was filled with laughs and discussion at book club as we discussed a Christmas Fiction.

I had lunch with a friend.

Kaylee wowed me with her solo at the Jr. High Christmas Concert & the music those kids performed was amazing….and really fun!

I decorated and enjoyed a Christmas dinner with 30 of the women from church.

I hosted a dinner party. I figured I wanted to invite others over to see and enjoy my Christmas decorations. We had a fun time!

I enjoyed a tureen luncheon and Children’s Christmas Pageant at church.  I couldn’t have been more proud of that gang!  They did a wonderful job!

George & I have had fun shopping. (Always a great excuse for a meal out!)

I taught a 4 week Sunday School Class on A Christmas Carol.

I went out for dinner and to see the Christmas lights with George, Paul, and Kaylee.

I had a Christmas lunch out with my Mom, my Aunt Jean, my sister, my daughter, and 7 cousins.

I’ve baked cookies, made snacks and made hard tack with George, Kevin, and Nicole.

I invited my Brother and Sister in Law over for an evening of Hallmark Movie Bingo. We watched until someone got bingo and then we started a new movie. (We didn’t need to watch the end to know what happened.)

I had a nice lunch out while Christmas shopping with my brother.

Today, Kevin left to finish packing up his house, Nicole has gone to a friend’s house, Paul is playing video games and George and Kaylee are at lessons.  It’s the first time I’ve had a minute to think in days.  And, as I ponder how I am going to “get through” this Christmas, I’ve finally had a chance to think about what I’ve already done. I’ve already celebrated Christmas many times and I have been filled with joy at each of these things.

I hope you have a chance to take a minute to remember all the things that you have already done that lead up to the actual big day.  Christmas is definitely more than just a single day.  It is even more than just a season. We truly should try to celebrate it all year long.

 

 

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A Good Commercial

51088684-blank-billboard-with-urban-background-advertising-commercial-frame-advertisement-blank-outdoor-boardYears ago George and I were invited to travel with 2 other couples.  These childless couples traveled a lot for business, so they were flying first class while George and I were flying coach. This was back in the day when First Class was really something special.  At the airport, the one man asked if there was any way that George and I could be bumped up to first class using his frequent flyer miles.  There was only one seat left in first class, so George allowed me the treat of sitting up front.

I was seated by a businessman and I started to read my Christian Parenting magazine.  He smiled at me and said, “Are you a Christian?”  I said, “Yes, I am.”  He said, “Well, what does that mean?”  I hem-hawed around and stumbled with my words.  I’m not even exactly sure what I said, but I know that I stuttered a lot.  He very kindly said, “Well, sounds to me, like you need to work on a better commercial for Christianity in case you get the opportunity to answer that question again.”  I’m not sure what I replied, but then he smiled, stood up and said something like, “Let me show you a good answer.”

He went back to coach and found George.  He told George that he wanted to him to go to first class and sit with his wife and he took the center seat in the back of the plane.

We still aren’t sure we have a good commercial, but we never forget his.

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But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,…           1 Peter 3:15

 

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Shaking My Head Again

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Shaking my head again…there are just things that happen that can’t be explained.  The care God and others have over my son is one of them. Yesterday, we were at our river house. The river was high and muddy from some recent rain so my husband and I decided to do some inside maintenance. He assembled bunk beds while I read a good book, but I was only an arm’s length away if he required assistance. (Which he did only once or twice for a couple of minutes.) But anyway, we were inside “working” while Paul was fishing on the dock. That boy loves to fish! He has spent hours this summer with a pole in his hand and a smile on his face.

Right as my husband was assembling Step 7A bolt into step 7A nut as listed on the IKEA instructions, Paul came in and stands at the bedroom door soaking wet.  After my initial, “Move! You’re making a puddle and I’ll slip and fall!” it dawned on me that my kid had been in the swift river.

“What?!”

Paul calmly says, “Let’s start with the good news. I’m safe and I got my chair but the bad news is that I lost my travel mug and ball cap.”

“What?!”

While he was standing on the dock, his chair blew into the water, he jumped in sans life jacket to retrieve it. He was quickly swept away with his chair in his hands (hard to swim when you are grasping your favorite fishing chair.) He realized he wasn’t going to be able to swim back to our dock so he floated downstream and got out at a neighbor’s dock. Aaaaah. Safe. Another disaster thwarted.

“Thank God you are safe. You have angels looking over you all the time buddy, do you realize that?”

“Yeah, but that was my favorite hat. Uncle Gary gave it to me last year from his work and he won’t be able to get another one since the plant closed.”

“Let’s focus on the good stuff. You are safe.”

“And my mug. It’s the only one I’m allowed to use on the bus and I was going to take it to camp this week. Can I borrow yours?”

“Sure.” (I love loaning my stuff to the kid who as you can see takes incredibly good care of all of his belongings. Insert sarcasm here.) Remember, you are very lucky! You are safe!”

“I know, but I think I’ll pout a while about the hat and mug.”

Oh, brother. I return to assisting George when I hear Paul talking to someone in the yard. I go out to see a man handing Paul his missing hat and mug. It seems this man was fishing on his dock about 1/2 mile downstream when the hat and mug floated by. He “wasn’t going to risk his life to go after it, but it went right by his dock” so he grabbed it. Paul’s fishing license was still attached and he said, “Well, I know where this kid lives.” Of course he does! Everyone knows Paul.

Our river house sits on a 1 mile stretch of the river with houses, camps, and campsites 3 deep in some places. We know very few of our neighbors, but the whole stretch knows Paul. Probably from a previous rescue mission.

After the bunk beds were completed, George and I took a bike ride. We left Paul to fish (with a life vest on!) and we took a little ride. On the way back a neighbor about 5 houses away called out to us for a visit. We stopped by and shared our most recent Paul story. John and his wife Chris have many of their own Paul stories. John started sharing some of his experiences with another couple that was there. We laughed. It’s always easy to laugh at these tales after time. (Not so easy to laugh while they are occurring.) John said, “Paul is going to be all right. He’s a survivor.” I commented that he will survive, but will his parents? We shouted out our appreciation to John for friending Paul and that it “takes a village.”

George admitted that a good sense of humor helps. As we were leaving, the new guy said, “I never met him, but I know I’d love him.” Shaking my head and smiling, I was assured of two things. He will get to meet him and he will love him. Everyone does.

As Paul ages, his special needs do too. I think he will always require some aid from others. (Don’t we all?) As he nears 20 years of age, I’ve been struggling with letting go, but meeting the angels who look out for Paul helps. There are so many stories like today’s story. Not just the part of him being kept safe in the water, but the bonus gift of the returned hat.

Paul isn’t’ just surviving as the Maker of Earth watches over him, he is thriving. I think it’s time for this Mom to back up a bit, resign as the Mayor and just become part of the village. I can attest to how God has used the village in the past and I look forward to being a part of it.

This Villager, however, will be enforcing a Life Vest Ordinance more often!

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