It’s just a rock…

I am on vacation.

Just me.

No husband. No kids. No grandkids.

Superman thought it would be a great idea for me to get to spend some time with my sisters and my parents.

Without distractions.

For those of you who know me, or think you know me, or just WANT to know me…;) You know that my life is very full of little people with lots of “learning experiences” and “opportunities for growth”…

All of those opportunities tend to crowd out quiet time and time to write…I almost gave up blogging. It became so hard to find time to write, and I felt so guilty NOT writing, and the internal struggle was more than I had time to deal with…

So…I write infrequently. And it frustrates me.

Superman knew that I needed some true R & R, and off I went…to SUNNY SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA!

One of my sisters lives near San Diego, the other lives in tornado alley near Oklahoma City…fortunately, my parents live just ten minutes from my house.

But THIS week, we are all together…under one roof. The nephews tease about our cackling laughter when we get to be together. There is a lot of cackling.

We also have very serious conversations, though. We have each gone through some very hard times with some of our children. We cry together and encourage each other and share the joys and sorrows and glimmers of hope that God allows to foster hope in our lives.

I love rocks, and usually collect rocks wherever I travel to display in dishes around my house. The rocks are not special. They are just rocks. But I love them and can almost always remember where each rock came from and what I was doing when I found them.

My beautiful daughter...

My beautiful daughter and granddaughter…

My daughter, whose children are Froglegs, Dancing Eyes and Curly Top, doesn’t share my love of rocks. They are merely part of what she would call my hoarding disease.

But I love my rocks.

Yesterday, I had a call from my daughter. She sounded very animated and tense.

“Mom! Where is that verse about the husband cherishing his wife like a jewel???”

“ummm, do you mean Ephesians 5?”

I read her the verses.

Ephesians 5:25-30
(English Standard Version)

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body.

“Nooooo. That’s not the right one,” she sighed. Clearly frustrated.

“Well, what about this, in I Peter?” And I read her the verses.

1 Peter 3:7-8
(English Standard Version)

Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.

“No. That’s not it either. On Sunday, the pastor preached about this and read these verses about how the husband should love and care for his wife like she is a precious jewel…”

“Well, Proverbs 31 refers to the virtuous woman being worth more than rubies…”

She looked it up and read it…

“Yes!! That’s it. Oh wait…” pausing as she read more…”No, that’s not it either.”

I suggested she call the pastor and ask him what it was. Oh no, she could NEVER do that. Of course, I told her she could, but she refused. Or his wife. Oh no. You just can’t do that. (Can someone please explain to me WHY one cannot do this???)

We talked a little more. She said she was so stressed trying to find it. I asked why it would be so stressful? And she informed me that she had been up until the wee hours of the previous night trying to find it, and her DAD didn’t know and if I didn’t know…well, she was stressed.

So, I suggested maybe Song of Solomon had something like that…She looked it up. Apparently for the first time. She started reading…

“Oh my goodness! That man’s a pervert!”

I started laughing. She continued to exclaim about the details she read. She was clearly SHOCKED that those verses could even BE in the Bible. She did not want to read any further.

“Well, in the context of marriage, it is beautiful,” I said.

I shared that maybe the preacher had used several different passages and created a composite of them with an explanation that she THOUGHT were actual verses, but were really his words.

Then I had an idea.

“Why don’t you check to see if the message was recorded and listen to it again? Then you will hear it again.”

“Oh, mom. You are so SMART!”

I almost fainted. How many years had I waited to hear those words! And NOT said dripping with sarcasm!

We got off the phone, and I started thinking about the conversation.

Superman and I have traveled a very painful road with our daughter. She has learned many lessons through a lot of pain that left a lot of scars. We have learned more about ourselves, and about God, as we have been on this journey. But mostly, we have learned how very much God loves His children, and works in our lives for His glory.

That God even loves us at all is such a gift.

That He is patient and long-suffering, well, that is just His grace and mercy.

That He doesn’t leave us is a promise I know I can believe.

So when my daughter was stressing over finding some verses, I could see how much God had done in her heart.

Kind of like rocks.

Diamonds and rubies and other precious jewels are not mined out of the ground in a condition to wear and show how valuable they really are.

diamonds

The rocks ARE valuable because of what can happen when a master stone cutter takes that raw stone and chisels away those things that detract from its value and beauty. As the stone is hammered and polished, it is transformed into something so beautiful.

That is what God does to a hard heart when it is yielded to Him. He loves that heart. He molds it. He creates a thing of beauty out of something that wasn’t before.

And only a Master can do that.

And I am so, so, so thankful that He chooses to transform us, day by day, moment by moment.

God is so good.

Advertisements

Froglegs Had a Dream…

Froglegs is growing up. Fast. Way too fast.

The boy is seven now, and tomorrow is his last day of First Grade. I know…such a huge milestone. Do you remember all the things you learned in First Grade? What was the most important thing? For me, it was READING.

And for Froglegs, learning to read has been liberating and validating as the Big Brother.

Sean and Cadance

Somehow reading is a lot more fun when you read to your little brother…do you see a little bit of hero worship here???

Froglegs used to be a little stinker. He still CAN be, but he has adopted a new role…man of the family. Without a dad, he feels a lot of responsibility for his brother and sister. He almost panics when they are out of sight. That is an awful burden for a seven year old. But Froglegs is adamant about watching out for them and making sure that they tow the line on staying safe.

And how he loves his brother and sister…when he isn’t trying to throttle them for something. But somehow, he just needs to let them go to Sunday School without him…seriously, they will be ok.

But the reason I am blogging today is because of his dreams. For a little boy, he has some pretty mature dreams. And that is not really a blessing…

Last week, he had a very bad dream. Not the monster kind, or the zombie kind. No. This dream was very realistic and very bad. He dreamed that his little brother died. I know. What an awful dream, no matter how young or old you might be.

He was moaning and thrashing in his sleep, and breathing really fast. His mom was afraid he was having a seizure, but he woke up and out spilled the description of the bad dream.

My daughter tried to comfort him, but he was not to be comforted until both his little brother and sister were in bed with him.

He told his mom, “Put Dancing Eyes in bed, right next to me, not by the edge. I want to be able to check on him.”

So, all four “slept” the remainder of the night in that not-so-very-big bed…and Froglegs continued to check on Dancing Eyes until morning came.

When Froglegs woke up, he told me about his dream. This Nana gave him an extra big hug and reminded him that there is Someone else who truly watches out for all of them…his Heavenly Father.

Froglegs is learning that even in the absence of his earthly father, he has the perfect Heavenly Father watching out for him. He is omniscient–He knows and understands everything. He is omnipresent–He is everywhere. He is omnipotent–there is no end to His power. Those attributes bring a lot of comfort to a little boy with a big heart with a huge chunk of hurt.

As we discussed his dreams and how much his Heavenly Father loves my dear little Froglegs, he said very softly, “But Nana, I really want a dad.”

And I just hugged my little grandson a little tighter and didn’t say anything else.

Birthdays and Anniversaries and Special Days…

February 9th…

Not a national holiday.

Not a religious holiday.

Not my birthday. But it IS my nephew’s birthday. Happy Birthday, Sean!!!

Not my wedding anniversary. BUT…it is the first anniversary of MY BLOG!

But those, as special as they are, do not come close to my number one reason for loving this day.

February 9th is a special day because…

Still so happy together

Still so happy together

On February 9, 1979, my now-husband of almost 33 years promised to marry me with a little ring from Woolworth…symbolic and pure…and its worth was not borne in the cost of the ring, but rather in the cost of that promise.

Little did he know what all that promise would bring to his life…a mixture of great joy and great sorrow…trips to unexpected places…laughter and tears…a life of changes for a man who liked things to stay the same.

With that promise two lives began a lifetime of change as we have been woven together into something we never could have even imagined. Neither one of us really resembles the people we were at that time–not physically nor in any other way.

Gone is his afro–and pic. Streaks of gray are now faintly visible. Gone is the mustache (he kept THAT for a lot of years!) and wide leather watch band that he custom made for himself.

Gone are the crazy clothing combinations (well…that may be an exaggeration since just yesterday he dressed as if he were color-blind…). His ginormous glasses are a bit more contemporary these days.

As for me…let’s just say that I am a more well-rounded individual. In more ways than one. 😉

Just yesterday, Curly Top assured me in her tender, special way–“I am the Curly Top, Nana. You have gray hair.” Ahhhh…the honesty.

But the things that I loved about him so many years ago, I still love today. He is FAITHFUL. He is FORGIVING. His love is UNCONDITIONAL (and believe me, I have tested that one more than once). His smile is still always on his face.

Those things matter so much to me. My love for him is based on things that endure and grow, not on things that disappear or fluctuate. Each and every day I know he will remain true to me because he continues to remain true to His Savior and Lord.

Family members still laugh at all of our “special anniversaries”…the first meal…the first, second or third ring…first kiss…we have a lot of special days. And I hope we never forget any of them. They are mile markers of the love that has grown and mellowed. It is a love that endures.

I think it is very important to celebrate the big moments, days and years. Every single day should be worthy of celebrating another day of life. So often we squander the opportunities to celebrate those little things and we take for granted those little, seemingly insignificant details that make up our daily lives. They need to be celebrated, too.

We forget the miracle of every. single. breath.

So join me today…celebrate the most wonderful gift. Life. Abundant life.

2 Corinthians 9:8

 And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.

1 Timothy 6:17

 Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God,who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.

Ephesians 2:1-10

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy,  made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.  And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus,  in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.

I have not disappeared from the face of the earth…yet

For those who follow my blog, you will notice that I have been MIA for the last few weeks.

It is not writer’s block.

Nor is it due to a lack of live writing material taking place before my very eyes.

It really isn’t even because of the chaos of the holidays (although there was a LOT of chaos).

No. The reason is actually quite mundane.

My laptop screen fried.

Again.

For the second time in one year. (And no, it is not under warranty.)

I managed to cobble together a system that worked…sort of. By hooking up the laptop to a traditional (old)  monitor, I was able to use the laptop.

Yea, yea, yea.

But…there is always a “but”, isn’t there?

The contraption was set up in my so-called sewing/craft room (that in itself is a topic for another day). The room also serves as sleeping quarters for a napping toddler.

Hmmmm…access was an issue.

(And at this point, I will digress momentarily.)

Yesterday, we took down the Christmas tree and packed away the decorations inside the house. This freed up a wee bit of space in our not-so-spacious living room.

As a person who strives for perfection, this defect also applies to the positioning of furniture. Somehow I keep thinking I will find the perfect configuration for all the necessary pieces…if I just keep trying.

So, Superman helped me. With a smile, I might add. (Those of you who know him have never seen him without one, so it won’t carry the same effect as those who don’t. So don’t tell them, ok?)

Given all the things that go on in my house (gymnastics, battles for the highest spot in the room, trapeze flying, fort building, building block olympics, camping, dance competitions, along with an assortment of other activities that should probably not be enumerated), a good flow and jumping capabilities from sofa to love seat to whatever is essential.

I should probably add that I have long since given up on the “no more monkeys jumping” rule…enforcement became a full-time job. I know, I failed.

Sooooooo, we shifted our furniture around. And lo, and behold, there was just the perfect spot to move a desk that could house my laptop contraption in the living room!

Joy, joy, joy!!!

So, I am back. I bet you were all just holding your breath!

Today would be a great day if…

Remember this? Just give it a listen…

Do you have an ear worm now?

Well…that is how this day has been. It just has gone on and on and on…

Even now, it’s still dragging on. This will be one of those nights when I will ask if it’s late enough for me to go to bed. (And there will be a unanimous “Yes” from my family…)

Some days are like that…

Kids that just won’t cooperate…

A calendar that is just too full of “stuff”…

And a whole lot of “holiday cheer”… that really isn’t so cheery…

It is one of those days that a career change comes to mind…RETIREMENT in a seniors only community! Or living off the grid in an RV…

But then I think about it…do I really want to understand shuffleboard? Am I ready for my husband to wear white leather walking shoes? Do I want blue hair? (Actually, my son-in-law has a blue mohawk, so maybe blue hair isn’t so bad???)

But in all honesty, some days are just a huge reminder of the glorious future awaiting me in the presence of my King and Redeemer…far away from the trivial and irritating things that sneak into my day and try to steal my hope for the future and joy for THIS day.

I am hoping that I can correct my course now and try to end the day well…kind of the way I would like to see my life’s course at its end…ending well. Achieving that “well done, good and faithful servant”…

How do YOU handle those not-so-great days?

 

When cooking up a storm is not a good thing…

The house smells awesome…

Chicken baking in the oven…

Corn cooking in the crockpot…

Beef stewing meat being browned…

Onions and garlic sauteing…

Is your mouth watering? Are you wondering what the big occasion might be? Do you want directions to my house?

Actually, it is a very sad event that is responsible for all the wonderful smells…my refrigerator bit the dust.

We initially blamed the kiddos…all that scaling up the doors and leaving the doors open.

But…nope…it just stopped working. On a Monday morning. With a houseful of children and guests on the way and the annual Christmas caroling event at our house on Friday and the Christmas program on Sunday and getting ready for traveling North for Christmas and…

Timing, after all, IS everything. Right?

So I have cooked everything I could salvage. And it is safely stored in the freezer in the basement. But not everything made the cut and I had to throw out a LOT of food, and that just irritated the socks off my feet.

We went shopping for a new refrigerator last night…and now I must give you a lesson in compromise history that comes back to bite me big time. Again.

We moved into our house less than five years ago. It came with a fairly new WHITE refrigerator. With an ice maker and water IN THE DOOR…high tech for me.

We knew we had to buy all the other appliances at the time, and I really wanted to get BLACK. Including a NEW refrigerator. In BLACK.

Mr. Practical thought it was not reasonable to get rid of a perfectly good refrigerator just because the color was wrong. And I could not reconcile buying all new BLACK appliances.

An impasse.

I had to agree with Mr. Practical, being so practical and all, so we bought a WHITE dishwasher, stove and microwave. (If you are ever in that predicament–GET BLACK!!!)

My appliances have not been white since they entered the kitchen.

So last night we went to purchase my unexpected Christmas present. And the color dilemma reared its ugly head. Back and forth. Black or White?

In all fairness to Mr. Practical, he let me choose the model I wanted and any color I wanted.

Yeah…right. I currently have a kitchen full of WHITE appliances. I really wanted BLACK. Still. And I got a scratch and dent discount. And the identical model was available in both colors. And it was up to me. Again.

Gag me, please!!!

“I really want Black. But it will bug me if the others are white. And I just want to be able to be content to have a refrigerator that WORKS. But I really want BLACK.”

“Get what you want.”

Ummm, I don’t think all new appliances is budget friendly or wise…do you? Neither did he. And he actually made me try to determine a time-frame wherein I would not be perturbed by said mismatched appliances. He is all heart, that man of mine.

So…I got white. And I am a little bummed today, but trying very hard to just be thankful that I was able to get a new one. And I AM really thankful for it (it isn’t here yet, but I am still thankful), even if it isn’t what I really wanted.

And, of course, there are so many verses about contentment and having a thankful heart…and don’t forget about the “lust of the eyes” either…I know…I had to preach myself a sermon. And it was a really good sermon. I used lots of verses and anecdotal stories taken from real life situations to drill the point home.

I need to be a better listener of my sermons.

“Those” Women

I am away from home for a few days, visiting family in California. It is an exciting time because my nephew is getting married TOMORROW–

12-2-12 at 2:22 PM…see anything special about those numbers?

Anyway, I had to take two flights to arrive here, leaving home at 4 AM. I know…way too early. I will share more in a different post about all the challenges I faced trying to be efficient getting through security. Major fail.

I was SO RELIEVED when I was finally seated on the plane…I had all three seats in my row to myself. Oh Joy!!! I began planning an immediate nap.

I settled in, followed along dutifully while the flight attendant explained how I should behave if the plane were to crash suddenly. Yeah, right.

The plane was quiet and dark. Perfect for a nap.

Except for “those women” seated behind me.

It was an elderly woman and her daughter, who seemed to be about my age or a little older. Apparently they had an awful lot they needed to discuss at 5:30 AM. In FULL VOICE.

“Charlie is awfully sweet, isn’t she?” said the elderly mother.

“Oh yes, she always SAYS the right thing,” came the slightly biting reply. “But she DOES whatever she pleases.”

There was a long conversation about a family trip to Disney World. Details I chose not to remember. But there was one over-arching theme that just kept recurring.

The mother kept trying to be positive and her daughter successfully countered every statement with something negative. After awhile, the two of them just shredded each person they discussed.

The mother had been dissuaded from her positive outlook and joined her daughter’s incredible negativity. It was actually almost heartbreaking for me to observe.

How easily we allow ourselves to join the baser side of situations when a little pressure is applied. What would have happened if the mother had confronted her daughter and gently suggested that she was a little bit too negative and maybe things weren’t as dark as she expressed?

How often are we swept into the negative frenzy rather that remaining like a rock that is unshakable? Are we like a tree whose roots are so deep that the tree can withstand any storm? Or do we topple at the first or second gust of wind?

I know women get a pretty bad rap for being gossiping, tale-telling beasts. It is not limited to women…just a reality check for my male readers.

There will be many opportunities during the holidays for people to be together and sharing stories…this would be a good time to prepare, in advance, for HOW you will approach “THOSE WOMEN (or MEN)” who try to steer every conversation into the  realm of the negative.

James 1:25-27

But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.

Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless. Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

I really don’t want to be one of THOSE women. I want to be one who reins in the tongue and devotes my efforts to looking after orphans and widows…and not being polluted by the world.

What kind of person are you?