Monday, September 11, 2017

End of Summer

I have to say, this has been an awesome summer for me.  As much as I love autumn, it is going to be difficult to say goodbye to the summertime of love and family that we’ve been enjoying. 

For the first part of summer, I was able to take our lively 8-year-old granddaughter to see my own mother in another state.  We took my Charger on a trip halfway across the country together, stopping whenever we felt like it, learning things about each other.  I think, for me, the best part was seeing all the things I grew up on in new ways through her eyes.  To see her interact with my Mom was amazing.  Sweet Thing was so gracious to want to help take care of Grandmom’s needs.    She also got to hang out with her Aunt and Great-Aunts and Uncles and get to know them.  For me, watching a new generation form and take its place in our family fills me with hope and joy. 

This summer, I was also able to spend a lot of time with our grown children.  When Man of the House and I were first married, we decided to start a family early so that now we can enjoy life together with them.  Sitting with Panda while she tells me about her job and her friend’s wedding delights my soul.  Seeing her giving and giving and giving again to those she loves, her family, blesses me and plays a little with the guilt strings in my heart. She fills my soul with grace and joy, and time spent at a poolside picnic table will never be enough, but will have to do for now.

I also spent much quality time with Cowboy. Just to see him growing into manhood amazes me.  His interaction with his own family brings peace and joy to my heart.  His hugs are always so good, all the way to my bones. A perfect day on the lake at the end of summer just made my year. I truly did not want It to end. His S.O. brings out the best in him, which is how it is supposed to be, right? I thank God for her daily, too.  And, oh, yes, there was music! 

Man of the House and I just returned from a vacation to the West Coast where we toured, boated and walked together for four days. We were never more than a mile from the Pacific Ocean.  Such a dreamy time for us; another wish of our honeymooner-selves come true. God has been good to us.

All I ever wanted to be was a wife and mother and to live inside that dream for 32 years and counting is a real blessing from God.  I’m not saying it’s all been beaches and roses, but I’m saying the work, worry, struggles, love and blessings all mixed together are definitely worth another 32 or more years. By the grace of God, I plan to live in every minute He allows.  

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

I’m feeling lazy today, like I just want to sit here with my coffee and listen to summer coming on.  Summer is the season for laziness, isn’t it?  The neighborhood pool is open, the shade trees are full and picnic-ready, and the birds are singing to each other. 

Man of the House has been diligently working on our flowerbeds, redoing the stone around each one.  We were very blessed to move into a beautifully landscaped yard.  Most of the plants are succulents, too, so we haven’t had to worry about upkeep too much. The trees in the backyard are out on the edge of the property, which gives us a big empty yard full of grass for the kids and dogs to enjoy.

As beautiful as it looks from the road, up close we found some issues that needed attention. The felt liner under the ground cover was torn and showing through in all four beds and around the side yards. There were weeds amongst the ground cover and areas that had once had clean edges were now a mix of weeds, grass, and ground cover.  The hostas needed thinning, as well as the irises. Missouri rock that was once a stone path for rain run-off needed to be bulked up.  English Ivy had taken over one corner of the house, which looks beautiful but can bring unwanted guests and hide any problems that need attention in that area. 

Oh so diligently and purposeful, Man of the House made his plan and has worked on it a little each weekend as he can.  We’ve also received a little help from some of “our kids,” which is more than appreciated.  People walk by and remark how nice it looks, even though it was so pretty before. 

I think sometimes in life we have this same experience.  We go along daily, doing our thing, whatever that may be.  We take care of ourselves, we engage in our community, we take care of our responsibilities.  People might praise us and tell us how great we are doing and how nice our life looks.  We take pride in our accomplishments, as we should.  We get busy in doing the big stuff and forget the maintenance involved in keeping up with the little things. Attitudes creep in and we may become hardened to the soft answer.  A closer look would take time, and that is a commodity we just don’t have in abundance. 

And so, as we found with our yard, the “moles” come in.  First just one mole, maybe someone said something negative about a project you helped with at work, and you decide you aren’t going to try that hard next time just to be criticized.  That mole tells his friends, and soon you have a “mole party” in your yard.  You begin to see everything at work through that first offense and now everything at work looks criticized and you begin to gossip about the motives of your bosses or coworkers.  You realize you may have a poor attitude so you decide to look for the good and just do your best.  However, you still harbor those feelings of criticism deep inside.  You fight the complacency that wants to set in until you just can’t fight it anymore. The situation has become too overwhelming.

We treated the mole problem in our yard with a home remedy that seemed to work for a few weeks.  But then, Mr. Mole and his friends came by, just to check on things, and found that the yard was yummy once again.  Someone in your community or family asks a question and that insecurity comes rising up in you and feels criticized once again.  Only now, you feel worse than you did before because you never really took care of the issue the first time.  You only delayed correction.

We had to get a professional involved.  He was kind not to laugh when I told him of the home remedy we tried.  He acknowledged that it could work in some instances, but we had evidence of twelve or more moles tearing up our yard. (I know, right!) They were having way too much fun at our expense.  I had visions of them all coming out in the dark of night and snickering at us as they dug new trenches for us to find in the morning.  Perhaps they even sat around the fire pit and put their feet up.
The professional mole guy finished his treatment yesterday.  Now the moles just have to take the bait, all the while snickering at us, until they find they can’t make it back home.  Muahaha!  And that, Mr. Mole, is the circle of life. 

In life, we must ask for help as the deep hurt that sin or something someone has said or done continues to haunt us.  Many times, we may even have to pay a professional to do the deep, hard work with us. 

What I have found that is a much less expensive solution is to keep up with the gardening daily.  Pull a weed when I see it instead of thinking I will do it later.  The first sign of a mole and the pro is called in.  If I read my Bible intentionally each day, talk to God and admit that I need His help and expertise, I can usually fend off the weeds of bad attitudes and wearing my emotions on my sleeve.  With His Word in my heart, I see things differently.  With God’s grace as an example, I am more prepared to give grace to others. 

It’s a matter of diligence. Due diligence.  Stay ahead of the weeds and moles and look at your bad attitudes and say, “Be gone!  In the name of Jesus, you are not a part of MY circle of life!”

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

It is deliciously cool outside today; a coffee-on-the-porch kind of day.  Man of the House and I have lived in so many different climates in our years together, and each place, each home, has had those days when I just want to curl up with a hot drink, a blanket and a really good book. 

It had been twenty years between the time we had left the Desert Southwest and our return.  It surprised me how much I had forgotten about the desert.  The sights, the people, the different cacti, and the smell.  We were blessed to have a deep back porch on our condo where my sweet poodle and I could sit and enjoy the outdoors together, even on a rainy day.  In the South and Midwest (think Kansas), It can rain sideways, in circles, in sheets, and if you are on the porch or deck, you are definitely going to get wet.  However, in the desert, when it rains, it rains straight down. 

I remember that first good rain after our return.  I saw it moving across the desert from the south toward our neighborhood.  I could smell the dust that precedes the storm.  It brought back memories of monsoon season as a child, when we would have to go in the house from playing. Mom might have popped some popcorn and we would play board games or watch TV.  (Remember After School Specials?)  The rain never lasted very long, and with the windows open, we could feel the air cool off almost instantly. But it was the smell AFTER the rain that stayed strongest in my memories. The smell of greasewood and wet earth.  Memories of breathing deeply and smelling that fresh air all the way to my lungs and back.    You can’t bottle that smell. 

As my faithful companion and I sat on our porch the afternoon of that first rain, my mind rushed with memories.  My lungs were so happy to breath the fresh air.  I already had my coffee and a good book, so while the rain lasted, we just enjoyed every second of it.  I didn’t get up to get a sweater; the rain wouldn’t last that long.  I didn’t even warm up my coffee.  I just sat in that deliciously cool moment and thanked God for being so creative as to make even the rain in myriad ways.

And I also gave thanks for the memories. 

Thursday, May 18, 2017

(Actually written on January 1, 2010)

Proverbs 4:20-27

I have thought many times about what legacy I would like to leave for my children. I know that a legacy is so much more than the material things we leave behind. I am blessed to have been given a legacy of loving and knowing God and His Son Jesus Christ. My parents were determined to raise us in a Christian home and I, too, have been given that legacy of determination.

There are so many scriptures that give us encouragement in our spiritual growth--our sanctification. I have considered many for this legacy that I wish to leave. My children are just now in their young adult years, making those life-decisions of career, marriage partner, spiritual depth, etc. Today being January 1st also causes me to reflect on what is "most important" for me to say or leave for these awesome young adults God has placed in my life.

I could tell them about being careful in decisions because each one can take you to a whole different outcome! I could make lists and give them something to check off and measure their growth. I could remind them of their spiritual heritage and exhort them to good deeds. However, as I look through scriptures today, I see one theme standing out: Love the Lord your God. Love for God inspires us to all the other things we "should" do. Love for God focuses on HIM, not me. Love for God makes decisions based on HIS pleasure, not mine. Love for God brings repentance for relationship's sake, not to ease MY guilt.

And so. my dear children, I leave the words of this scripture for you as 2010 begins. Enough said.

Making Lists

I feel like I am sitting on the edge of something. I feel the restlessness that springtime brings; trees are greening, flowers are blossoming, rains come softly on some days and angrily on others. We’re waiting, mostly impatiently, for the days to stay warm and get longer. I feel the need to make a list; is that funny? I’m making a list of all the things that are swimming around in my head, things I want to do before the sun goes down and the leaves fall once more.

• Take a family vaca to Washington DC and the beach
• Take a trip to Savannah
• Spend time with my Mom
• Spend time with my adult children
• Go through the junk in the basement
• Get the basement finished
• Fence the backyard and get Man of the House’s shop building up.
• Spend more time outside than in
• Lose some measurable weight
• Take the kids to the Grand Canyon
• Make all the recipes in one Pioneer Woman Cookbook

Realistically, all of these cannot be done in one season. I have already planned some of these and others are in the works, like the yard changes that Man of the House has been working on. However, as we are planning, dreaming, implementing our ideas, I can’t help but feel like I’m having an out-of-body experience. We’ve been dreaming of having our own home for over 30 years. We’ve dreamed it so much that it seems almost surreal for us to actually be able to do it!

I believe that, at times, we all have dreams and ambitions that we are afraid will stay right there, in the dream box. Like my Pinterest boards, where I have three separate categories for different levels of home pins, we have the things we wish we could do, the things we can do “someday,” and the things we know we can and probably should be doing right now. I also think that procrastination is a response to fear: fear that I can’t really do these things well, or perfectly, or for others to see and criticize, so I procrastinate until it’s too late. Sound familiar?

It has taken me many years of fighting perfectionism that leads to procrastination to realize that it is okay to have list left over at the end of the day. You may have noticed quite a bit of time between today and the date of my last blog post. I took a few years hiatus due to a traumatic brain injury that I suffered. You want to talk about circumstances and experiences that will choke a perfectionist, this would be one. It is quite humbling to be in a situation where you cannot take care of your own personal needs, then to realize there are things you have enjoyed that you may never be able to do again. I know that others have it worse, don’t get me wrong. Change, no matter how life-altering, is difficult for most.

So, back to my list: Spring is coming on, and with it comes the hope of a new view, maybe even a new reality. Hang on, My Friends! By God’s grace, a new future is opening up for me, and I plan to share as much of it with you as is possible. Because, under all of the excuses, the procrastination, and the fear, is just imperfect Me splitting infinitives for posterity, if nothing else.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Letting God Really Lead

Psalm 119:105 keeps coming back to me again and again throughout my life. No kidding! In my five-year-old Sunday School class, we were given 5 verses to memorize in a month and if we did so, we would be given a full-size Bible. I took that challenge, memorized those verses, and still remember them today. One of them was Psalm 119:105: Thy Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. Over the years, I have contemplated that verse many times. What strikes me most is that the lamp and the light are neither one spot lights. A lamp, especially in Biblical times, was an oil lamp, small and carried by hand from room to room. It could only light the small area where it was being held. Even now, to have a lamp in the room serves to light up the corner where it sits. We put a lamp by our bedside so we can read at night, but we do not intend to see clearly what is across the room.

“A light to my path” gives me the idea of a flashlight. The first overnight camp I went to as a youth was in the pines of southern Arizona mountains. The cabins were filled with beds and we had to go outside to the “bathhouse” to take showers and use the restroom. We took flashlights, but at night, the path to the bathhouse was still scary. The only thing that flashlight lit up was the next step we were taking. It did not shine bright enough to let us know if there were bears or other critters out in the trees. (There probably weren’t, but a young girl’s imagination can go wild!)

I have come to realize that no amount of my holding up that lamp or shining that flashlight out into the future is going to give me any more clear understanding of what is “out there” than the flashlight did at camp. What God asks me to do is trust Him for what is next. He shows me the very next step that He has provided for me. As I take that step, in faith, believing that HE IS WHO HE SAYS HE IS: the God Who Sees, He will then show me the next step, and the next, and then the next. And when I get to the end of that path, I will be able to see that HE has been faithful and taken me right where I needed to be!

If I had been able to shine that flashlight into the woods at camp, I may have seen raccoons, coyotes, bears, or even other campers heading in the same direction. I may never have stepped out of my cabin if I knew what was wandering around out there. But instead, I saw only the path to the place I needed to go. In the same way, God shows us only what we can process at the time. He takes care of what is “around” us and reminds us that if it were our business, He would tell us. (John 21:22)

So, the words of that first memory verse chime in with my first favorite hymn: Trust and Obey, for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus but to Trust and Obey!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


I already have tears in my eyes when I just say the word, "Daddy." So many memories come sweeping through my mind. I am a visual person, so my thoughts are also pictures, videos if you will, of times I spent with my Daddy. Some memories include sitting on his lap and trying to breath in the same rhythm as he did. I remember him spending countless hours in our front yard trying to grow grass in the hard Arizona desert clay. He was the "cool preacher" that went out and recon-ed amazing day camps for our young people's church group during the summers. I remember two of his three returns from Viet Nam. He looked awesome in his uniforms! I remember that terrible haircut I got just a week before senior pictures and how he let me sit on his lap and cry-again. I like to remember the caring, loving times because I know that above all else, my Daddy loved his children. There were five of us, but he was known to say that he wouldn't give away any of us. He served his country with honor and zeal, he served his Lord Jesus with honor and zeal, and he led his home with honor and zeal.

Was he perfect? I suppose not. I choose not to remember the imperfect times because God was always so evident in his life that any imperfections were covered by grace quickly.

Lately my mind has been really camping on the role of Daddies in our society. I don't watch sit coms for many reasons, but one big reason is the way men are portrayed. Have you noticed? Spineless, whipped, beer-dependent idiots. Men who do stand up for Christ are usually seen as predators or radicals in the media or in shows or movies. With so many absentee fathers out there, it is no wonder our sons are confused about their roles.

Dads, the way you treat your children is going to be their view of the Heavenly Father. Do you understand that? Think about the meaning behind these verses:

“What man among you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!" (Matthew 7:9-11)

It was natural for Jesus to liken the way we see our earthly fathers to the way we can view our heavenly Father.

Consider this: "And fathers, don’t stir up anger in your children, but bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord," Ephesians 6:4 and "Fathers, do not exasperate your children, so they won’t become discouraged." Colossians 3:21.
It would be a heavy burden to know that your children may have a harder time walking to the cross because of something we have done. Let me ease our guilty minds a little here by saying that this certainly is not referring to one (or a few) moments of out of control-ness. Jesus and Paul are referring to habitual actions that anger children and turn their hearts away from their dads. Out of control tempers, alcoholism, neglect, passive fathering, spiritual dehydration, emotional distance, you fill in the blanks.

My Daddy was not a perfect man. If he were still here, he would tell you this himself. But he was known for trying to serve Christ each day, each moment, of his adult life. He sought out the Lord and His ways, and in Dad's imperfection, he paved the way for his children to seek that same Lord. I have had the blessing of returning as an adult to some of the places he pastored when I was a child. People have told me:
"I still have notes in my Bible from your Dad's sermons."
"What I know about Scripture, I learned from your Dad."
"I still remember the things he taught us in Mission Workshop."
"All the sermons Granddad ever preached are right up there on that shelf."

The enemy of our souls really wants to take our families and make them into something different from God's plan because then it will be harder for our children and grandchildren to find Christ and eternal life. Take it seriously! I am SO GLAD my Daddy did! I hope my heart beats in time with his...and HIS.