Category Archives: Life

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

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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I Hate This Shirt…or Do I?

IMG_4020OK, so you all know I’m a Mom and as much as I hate to admit it, I often do such stereotypical Mom things that I’m embarrassed.  My favorite commercial currently is the Progressive Insurance commercial and my favorite line is “Why is the door open? Are we trying to air condition the whole neighborhood?” It just makes me smile to think that we all do share some of the same memories.  Today, though, I may have struck out some new ground of my own…or maybe not.  Do you other parents sometimes make things disappear in your house? Maybe it’s your kid’s cell phone that is overused and you just hide it under a newspaper for a while just to have some face to face conversation? Maybe you hide that last candy bar and say that they all must have been eaten? Do you ever pretend to NOT see the remote for the TV when they are looking in hopes that the kids will find something else to do for a bit? If you don’t, maybe you should give it a try. However, the above tricks of the trade in the parenting business are harmless, but my following confession may not be. Here we go…

Do you ever permanently make clothes disappear? The too short shorts? The too tight T-Shirt? The stained jersey? The handmade school spirit shirt? The one with a beer ad on it (that was “accidentally” worn to church?) and the ever-popular mismatched socks? Well, I do.

Today, the harmless T-Shirt that is pictured above almost met its’ demise. The threat was made the last time she wore it. “I am so sick of that shirt that the next time I see it in the laundry, I will make it disappear!” There is was today. Clean, fresh, appropriately crumpled in the laundry basket. I picked it up, began to fold it and realized that my chance was right there. I could cut it up and make a dust rag or I could throw it in the bag for the Salvation Army. With it in my hands, I paused and then I decided to fold it gently and put it on her pile of clean clothes to put away. What’s the big deal? What is so wrong with that shirt? It won’t fit forever. I’m sure she’ll decide to stop wearing it someday. Why on earth would that harmless shirt be something that I allow to upset me?

We are heading into the teen years. I will need all the help I can get and I need to work now on a relationship that will weather the real storms that we may face. This shirt cannot have the power to upset me and potentially cause a rift between my daughter and me. The next time I see her wear it proudly (which I am certain will be tomorrow when she sees it on the top of the pile,) I will say a prayer that we will be very careful in choosing our battles. I will be grateful for my healthy daughter and the blessing she is.

Now, I think I will go and let down that cuff on those jean shorts that I think are too short…I don’t think she’ll even notice.

Take a minute to be grateful for the battles you choose not to fight and also click on the commercial link above and have a laugh. I hope it makes you smile as much as it does me!

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give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.                                                                                                                         –1 Thessalonians 5:18 

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A Community Mourns

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I woke today, just another day. Tuesday. I headed to Bible study, the chiropractor, took my mom to an appointment and went to the grocery store.  Everything pretty typical.  Just another day.  Yet, it wasn’t just another day.  It was a day that I was super aware of the gift of this day, of this time.

A family in our community lost their son/brother/grandson/nephew. A real tragedy.  A family of 6 became 5 overnight. In an instant, their world changed.  My world didn’t change…or did it? Today I mourned along with my entire hometown.  Everyone I know knows someone in this family & we would like to help, but unfortunately, there is nothing we can do. We are at a loss, but we long to find something we can do. The town can think of little else and as we go about our “normal” day, we know that inside the walls of that home there are tears, hugs, and folks poring over photos of happier times. This family is surrounded by love and I have no doubt that they will survive, but right now they are in pain and the community wishes we could take the pain away.

Not having a better idea, I decided to buy some paper products and drop them off at their home. When I pulled into their driveway, I noticed their garage doors were open. I got out of my car with my packages and walked up to a garage full of drinks, cases of water, paper plates, jugs of juice, etc. I was struck by the overwhelming amount of items that people had been dropping off. I didn’t see a family member and I didn’t need to.  They know that people are heartbroken on their behalf because they would be hurting if it happened to any other family.  They would be the first ones there with gifts and prayers. No words can express our deepest sympathy and paper plates and cases of water can’t either, but maybe the love behind all of them will be felt and ease the burden a tiny bit.

Today was just another day, but as I went through my normal routine, I was aware that there is nothing normal for them.  They will need to figure out their new normal and it will take a long time, but from the looks of it, they will have enough paper plates and love to get them until that time.  Until then we will keep on praying.

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“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.”        2 Corinthians 1:3-4

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”         Matthew 5:4

 

 

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Lenten Blessings

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I have had the privilege of hosting Wednesday evening suppers throughout Lent. Our community is pretty unique in that we celebrate Lent together among denominations.  So, on one Wednesday,  the Presbyterian pastor preaches at the Lutheran church, another one the Reformed Pastor will preach at the Methodist church, etc.  We all worship together and grow and learn with different congregations.  It was truly a blessing and as we head into Holy Week, we will have a few more opportunities to worship together.

This year, my husband and I decided to host supper before each service.  It has been a fun time to get together and socialize a bit before church.  It was a huge blessing for me.  And, speaking of blessings, I printed out a couple and made table tents of them so that they could be on display so if someone arrived late, they could say their own prayer before eating.  As the season progressed though, we started just holding up the printed cards and everyone prayed together. We used two different blessings.

The first one was handed down to me from my mother’s father. John Dunlap Wise.

Dear Heavenly Father, We thank you for the many blessings that are conferring us from day to day. Bless this food now to us. Watch over us and guide us through life, and at death, accept us. Amen.   I can hear his voice and his cadence as I pray it.

The second one I found online:

For food that stays our hunger, For rest that brings us ease, for homes where memories linger, we give our thanks for these. Amen.

They are great blessings to share. Happy Easter!

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This is Us….Really

This_is_usThe television show This is Us played after the Super Bowl last night.  A night we’ve all been waiting for.  Not the Super Bowl, but the show. Spoiler alert: Jack died. We knew he would, but we just didn’t know exactly how.  (Isn’t that true to life…we will all die, we just don’t know when or how.) I don’t usually stay up past eleven, but for this show, I had to.  I actually wanted to get it over with.  These teenagers were about to lose their father and I wanted to get it over with. As you may have seen, a young, vibrant, healthy father died of a widow maker heart attack. Sometimes these things happen.  I know, because it happened to me.

I was 16 when my father died of a heart attack and the show This is Us portrayed the gamut of emotions that those teens faced pretty true to life. I’ve wondered about my last words spoken, I’ve mourned my father not knowing my husband, and I’ve talked to a tree to tell my father my troubles. Yep, I’ve done it all and though those characters were fictional last night, the pain they emoted is real for many. I cried along with them….but not as much as I expected I would. I’ve relived the moments that I shared with them and I’m sure I’ll relive more as next week’s episode promises funeral scenes, but I didn’t actually relate as well with them as I expected. You see, their grief is new & raw, mine has been with me for 38 years. Time really does heal, but it never erases. I found myself watching the show and then comforting myself that the “Jack” character wasn’t really gone, he’ll be reappearing in flashbacks for months. In real life, that is not the case, or is it? Actually, the thing I remember most about the night my dad died was not wanting to close my eyes because when I did, I was afraid that I wouldn’t remember what he looked like. What if he vanished from my mind and my memory? How can I preserve the images?  Well, Kate (the daughter on the show), even if you lose that videotape of him, he will remain. My dad was only a part of my life for 16 years but he, too, reappears in flashback scenes. A saying he used, a smirk, even someone jumping to the front of the line at the grocery store will make me think of him. I didn’t forget, I won’t forget, so that fear is gone. Thank God.

This is Us.  This is many of us. This is some of us, yet to come. I don’t know exactly how Kate, Kevin, and Randall are going to cope with it, but I now know how I did. I can do all things through him who gives me strength. –Philippians 4:13 

 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.        –2 Corinthians 12:9

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Daily Bears Our Burdens

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Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior,

who daily bears our burdens.

— Psalm 68:19

I know that praise means to express warm approval or admiration of, I know bears means to carry or support and we all know what burdens are and indeed we have them daily so it’s good news to hear that the Lord is daily bearing them. But, what does it look like for Him when He hangs out with me?

In this week alone, my burdens have looked like a washer full of bubble gum, a trip to the ER, making dinner, preparing notes for a meeting, disciplining children, laundry, a sick cat, sixth-grade homework, chauffeuring to scouts, administrative paperwork, and making plans for a bathroom remodel. The Lord bore all of that!

When I wanted to take a look at my daily burdens, I consulted my to-do list.  As I looked at the items I crossed off, I immediately felt blessed that with the Lord’s help, I accomplished many of them. I also felt blessed when I looked at each item and tried to determine if it truly was a “burden” and realized that most of them weren’t. My list included:

  • Prepare Sunday School Opening Lesson
  • Email Pastor Joe
  • Write Katelyn
  • Write Martha
  • Send books to Diane
  • Make Ice Cream cake
  • Virginia Christmas plans

It also included some pesky paperwork items, but when I looked at the items individually and tried to decide if, in fact, my to-do list represented my daily burdens, I realized that wasn’t the case. Most of what I do each day isn’t a burden, it’s an honor, it’s an opportunity, it’s a blessing. I recognize that I unintentionally turn some of my blessings into burdens by listing them as “tasks” to do when in reality they are incredible gifts and opportunities.  Writing to a friend in the service, sharing an enjoyed book, making a cake for a celebration and studying God’s word for a lesson are all incredible opportunities for me! The burden is not the task, it’s in the heart of the one who does it, my perspective of it. Is it a chore or a gift?

I think I need to be more aware of this new insight and celebrate those blessings and cling to the truth that God is available to help me daily bear my burdens. Thank God, HE is here to help me clean the kitchen

 

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