Monday, June 12, 2017

Crazy trust

It drives me crazy,
the wondering.
An event in my life.
One where I know how it turned out,
but not why.
And not if I was right.
I go 
back 
and forth,
back 
and forth,
back 
and forth.

It drives me crazy!

It doesn't really matter.
I tell myself that.
And I'm right.
It doesn't.
But still I wonder.

You see, one way, I was simply a foolish woman.
The other way, I was foolish and wrong.
And there is no way to really know which it is.
It bothers me.
A lot.
And satan just loves that!

He is the author of confusion,
self-doubt,
crazy.
When this issue comes to mind,
it gives him great pleasure.
And for a long time,
I have been unable to figure out how to stop it.
Yesterday it came to me.
I can't!
Only God can!
But . . . 
Here's the thing . . . 
I have to let Him!

You see,
unlike satan,
God is a gentleman!
I have asked for clarity.
He said "No".
He said I don't need to know.
He said I can't be in control of everything.
Or anything.
He said I have to trust Him.
Or satan.
The choice is mine. 
He won't force me to have peace in this!

I can trust Him and trust that He alone knows the 
"why" and "what if" and "rightness" 
of the situation.
Even when it's crazy!

Or I can fall prey to satan's taunts
and waste precious time and energy wondering.

It's up to me.


You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You, 
because he trusts in You. 
~~ Isaiah 26:3



Saturday, May 27, 2017

Today

Today, my grandsons graduated from high school.

Nearly 43 years ago, my dear grandmother went to Heaven.
I was 17.
The day before the funeral,
we had all gathered at my grandparents' home,
as families do in times of sorrow.
I came running down the stairs and when I hit the floor
there, in the living room, was my precious grandpa,
his head in his hands,
sobbing.
His heart was broken.

Flash forward 20 or so years.
Three years after my grandma's death,
grandpa remarried.
Seventeen years later, we were in Phoenix
for his 75th birthday.
Everyone was there.
Siblings, children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, aunts, uncles,
everyone.

We were doing what families do at reunions -
a dozen different things.
Some gathered around the table snacking and talking.
Some outside splashing in the pool.
Some sitting on the patio visiting.
Some watching a sports event on TV,
rooting for opposing teams and harassing one another.
Some playing a game.
My grandpa and I were sitting on the fireplace hearth,
holding hands and chatting.
A moment of quiet companionship had settled in
as we looked at all the activity and people around us.
And then I noticed.
Tears trickled silently down his cheeks.
He turned to me and said,
"You know Jeanie (family name for me),
I love Grandma Margie with all my heart,
but on days like this,
I miss your grandmother."

Instantly, I flashed back to that other day
and those two moments in time became forever fused in my mind and heart.

Today,
I fully understand.




Sunday, May 14, 2017

I am a daughter

I am a daughter.
And this is why we have Mother's Day.
Every single one of us is a daughter or son.
And this day is only one of two that are biblically insinuated.

"'Honor your father and mother.'
This is the first commandment with a promise'"
                                                                 ~~ Ephesians 6:2 NLT 

This is a day, set aside for honoring our mothers.
We have another for Father's next month.
I am very blessed to have had a mother who was easily honored.
Not everyone does, I know.
But that does not negate the fact that we are commanded to honor them.
Some simply must do it differently.

So, while we are to honor our parents daily,
today is a special day set aside for that purpose.
And today, I want to honor the mothers in my life.

My own mother has been in Heaven for just over 36 years.
I was not quite 24 when she died.
But what a mama she was for those 24 years!
The last nine years, she struggled with the ravages of cancer.
And before that, her life was difficult.
But what a woman of God she was - 
and became even more so over those cancer years!
She was not perfect.
She was a terrible housekeeper.
But that was because she worked long, hard hours to provide for her family.
And she spent time with us when she wasn't working.
She nursed us when we were sick.
She played with us when we were littles 
and as we aged, she continued to play with us, 
just differently.
She loved practical jokes and was very good at them!
She loved to sing and had a lovely, soprano voice.
She had a temper and there was no doubt when we'd pushed her buttons -
and we loved to push her buttons! 
She was a brilliant woman.
And she loved her children with her whole heart!
I miss her so much!

Al's mother has been in heaven for four years this month.
She was my "mom" for longer than my own mother was.
Even before we were married, she mothered me.
So, at the time of her death, she had been my mom for 42 years.
She was a helper and advisor and friend.
I called her mom from the day of our official engagement forward.
And she treated me like a daughter.
Sometimes that wasn't fun when she didn't approve of something I'd done,
but it made me know that I was hers!
She raised a good man who became a good husband and daddy!
She was a good mom and I miss her! 

My Grandma was a mom to me as well.
In my early childhood, she was a great grandma
but with my mother's cancer diagnosis,
she came to help and became a mom.
How she loved her daughter!
And how she loved her grandchildren!
She once saved my life when my mouth got me in trouble,
resulting in a smack on the bottom from my mother,
which may or may not have resulted in an impulsive smack back from me.
This is not something I would recommend!
Anyway, Grandma saved my life that day I am certain.
At the same time, I knew undoubtedly that she was disappointed.
And that really hurt for I never, ever wanted to disappoint my grandma.
Grandma went to Heaven three years ago today.
I miss her!

My other grandmother was a preacher's wife.
And she always smelled of leather and juicy fruit gum.
She was a gentle, loving woman.
She taught me to sing hymns from memory,
to memorize scripture,
and that prayer and time with God was really important!
I always wanted to be like her when I grew up.
She has been in Heaven for nearly 43 years
and I miss her!

My mom's best friend, Karen, was a mother to me.
She was and is a trusted friend and advisor.
She is fun and funny and a joy to know!
I love her deeply!

I had several step-moms but the last, Jackie,
was a treasure!
I cherished our friendship and the hope she gave me for my dad.
She has been in Heaven for seven years.
I miss her.

Finally, my new mom.
What a blessing my Lanny Love's mother is to me!
She raised her son in such a way as to provide his children
with a wonderful daddy,
and me with a wonderful husband.
And she has opened her heart and her arms to me,
welcomed me wholly and completely into her heart.
Not only me, but my children and grandchildren are hers now as well!
She is a wonderful, godly example of the Proverbs 31 woman!
I love her so much and pray for many, many more years to enjoy her!
So, I have been blessed in my life with Godly, loving women
who have mothered me.
They have each and every one helped to mold me
into the woman I am today. 
Without their influence, direction, and love,
my life would be vastly different.
It is my joy, my privilege, 
to honor them today!

Thank you, Lord, for so blessing me!



Saturday, May 13, 2017

I am a mom

I do not remember wanting anything in life
more than I wanted to be a mom.
I mothered my dolls.
I mothered my siblings.
I played house.

More than I wanted to be a nurse
during my Clara Barton phase.
More than I wanted to be a detective
during my Trixie Belden phase.
More than I wanted to be singer
during my Karen Carpenter or Sandi Patty phases.
More than I wanted to be an attorney or teacher or ....
whatever.
More than anything,
I wanted to be a mom!

And, joy of joys,
I am a mom!

But, this part of Mother's Day,
while my fondest dream come true,
is not without sorrows.
I struggled to get my two girls.
Seven pregnancies.
A still birth.
The loss of their precious daddy.
Sorrow.

But my dreams come true,
my sweet Chrys and her son-to-me, Craig,
and my sweet Kim and her son-to-me, Dusty,
(Oh, are the guys their husbands
not just my sons???
Whatever.....)
have brought indescribable joy to my life!!!
How I adore them!
From the moments I knew they were coming,
through the difficult pregnancies,
the moments of their births,
the first time they said "mama",
their first steps,
their first sassy talk (there was a LOT of that to follow...),
their first dates,
first formals,
their weddings,
their pregnancies,
from the very first moment,
I adored them!
I adore them still!

We have come to a fullness of relationship now.
No longer simply mother and daughters,
we are friends.
I confide in them,
and they in me.
During the early days of my grief,
they mothered me.
During my time of dating,
they supported me.
When I announced my engagement,
they thrilled with me -
and grieved with me that I was free to remarry.
We play together.
Sometimes we work together.
We disagree with one another sometimes.
We share life together.

And they are good, fine women!
They love God,
their husbands,
their children.
They loved their daddy and treated him with great respect.
They love their bonus dad and treat him with great respect.
And they love me and treat me with great respect!

And my sons-in-love!
Finer sons a mother-in-law could not want!
They treat me as their own!
And they are mine as surely as are Chrys and Kim!
They love me,
and I love them!

Yes, I am a mom!
I could not ask for finer dreams come true!
Thank you, God! You have truly blessed me!


 
 

Friday, May 12, 2017

I am a step-mom

I am a step-mom.
This Mother's Day fact brings me great joy.
And sorrow.
You see, I am a step-mom because of great loss.
I grieve for my two bonus children whose momma is not here.
Her absence is a gaping wound on days like Mother's Day.
I grieve for my Lanny Love who loves and misses his beloved
and misses celebrating in person with the mother of his children on Mother's Day.
I grieve for my bonus daughter who has a strained relationship with her mother
and longs for what should be - and isn't.
I grieve for myself as I miss the man who made me a mother.
And I grieve for my children and grandchildren for whom
Mother's Day is a reminder that their daddy isn't here to celebrate with us.

And so, the joy I feel in my bonus children
is tempered with sorrow.
Because without the sorrow,
I would not be a step-mom.

Step-mom'ing is very different from mom'ing.
And yet it is the same.
It is different in that I did not raise my bonus children.
I don't have memories of childhood to share with them.
I don't know them well.
They don't know me well.
But we are learning each other!

It is the same in that I love them!
I love them as my own!
I often wonder that this is possible!
How can I love adults that I did not birth,
did not raise,
as if they were my own?
God!
That is the only explanation!
Just as He loves me
- and you -
as His own!
Isn't that just amazing???
He loves us as His own!
Despite the fact that we have hurt Him!
Despite the fact that we love Him imperfectly -
or not at all in some cases!
He loves us as His own!
We are brothers and sister to Jesus Christ!
Fully His!

And so, I joyously celebrate being a step-mom!
Not just in spite of the sorrow!
Not just through the sorrow!
Certainly not because of the sorrow!
But because being a step-mom is a great gift!
A gift of bonus children!
A gift of love!
A gift of restoration!
A gift of beauty from ashes!
A gift of learning more of the character of God!
A joyous, delightful thing,
being a step-mom to these marvelous people,
this Tiffany,
this Aleisha & Blu,
this Zach & Jamie,
these wonderful bonuses of Mother's Day!




Thursday, May 11, 2017

I am a grammie

This week is Mother's Day.
It is a day of remembering and celebrating
having and being a mother.
For some it is wholly joyous.
For some it is wholly sorrowful.
For most it is a mixture of the two.
I fall into the latter category.

Wholly joyous is the fact that I am a grammie!
I have four wonderful grandchildren:

Hayden is my oldest.
He is 18 and graduating from high school this year.
It does not seem possible!
Just the other day he was watching "Bob the Builder"
and fascinated by "big trucks"!
I will never forget the day my daughter told me he was coming!
I was at work and ran up and down the hallways telling everyone,
"I'm going to be a grandma!!!" 
And when he was born -
oh the love that filled me the moment I heard his first cry!
He is a marvelous young man,
responsible,
smart,
kind,
compassionate,
athletic,
resourceful,
handsome,
and so much more!!!
I am so glad to be his grandmother!!!
I am so proud of him!

Ashton is the next oldest.
He is 17 and also graduating from high school this year.
Again, it just doesn't seem possible!
I had the wonderful privilege of seeing Ashton come into the world!
What a joyous experience!
Ashton came unexpectedly and with some physical issues.
He is truly a miracle!
You see, he was born with a heart defect.
One that required a heart transplant.
Which he never received.
At not quite two years old,
as he neared death,
God performed a literal overnight miracle of healing!
He went from a dying toddler
to a healthy, active one overnight!
And he's been on the go ever since!
Ashton is also a marvelous young man,
smart,
funny,
tender,
caring,
compassionate,
responsible,
handsome,
and so much more!!! 
I am so glad to be his grandmother!!!
I am so proud of him!!! 

Next is Xander.
Xander is 9,
but he is my newest grandchild.
He came with my Lanny Love.
I have not known him from his birth,
rather, I met him not quite two years ago.
But what a joy he is in my life!
Xander is a marvelous young man,
smart,
energetic,
inquisitive,
funny,
dramatic,
handsome,
and so much more!!! 
I am so glad to be his grandmother!!!
And I am so proud of him!

Finally, my little princess, Kylie.
Kylie is 8,
and she was a surprise blessing.
My daughter had tried for several years to no avail.
Then suddenly, she was expecting.
What a great blessing Kylie is!
The only girl in a sea of boys,
she is all girl!
She is a marvelous young lady,
smart,
inquisitive,
tender,
funny,
energetic,
imaginative,
beautiful,
and so much more!!!
I am so glad to be her grandmother!!!
I am so proud of her!!!

I purely love being a grandmother!!!



I look forward to the grandchildren yet to come
and celebrate those who are part of my life now!
How I love these four precious gifts from God!!!




Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Awareness

Most of you probably aren't even aware there is such a day.
I wasn't until 2014, the first time I was one on this day.
It is National Widows Day.
And I really don't get it.

It is certainly not a celebration!
It is intended for awareness as near as I can tell.
Most of us know a widow
 - or widower - 
and are aware that they have lost their spouse.
Widows and widowers are certainly aware and don't need to be reminded!
And a "day" won't make anyone understand the depth of loss until they experience it.

So what exactly is this day supposed to do for the widowed?
Are there runs for the cause?
No.
Are there events to benefit those left behind?
No.
I don't get it.

Many of my new widow friends embrace this day.
They post about it and advise their FB followers to hug a widow today,
do something kind for them.
Shouldn't we do that daily?
Do we need a day,
once a year,
to know that widowed people are lonely,
that they've lost more than a spouse,
that they crave someone, anyone, to hug them?
Maybe so.
Maybe we do need to be reminded.

As I said, no one can really understand until they've been there.
I didn't.
I had no clue!
Even as I prepared for Al to leave this world,
walked him to the veil that separates this world from the next,
I didn't know!
Widowhood changes everything!
Right down to one's very personality.
And the losses don't stop with the death of your spouse.
You lose your lifestyle.
You lose income.
You lose friends.
Why is that?
Widowhood is not catching!
And we don't want your husbands or wives,
we want our own!
We need you more now than we ever have!
You lose your sense of identity.
You lose your handyman.
Or your cook and housekeeper.
You lose your bookkeeper and bill-payer
- men and women both -
and financial advisor. 
You lose your lover.
You lose your friend.
You lose yourself
- more so the longer you've been married.
You lose your parenting and/or grandparenting partner.
You lose your travel buddy.
You lose your confidant.
You lose your sense of being.

And it doesn't stop after the first year.
Or after falling in love again.
Or after remarriage.
It doesn't ever stop.
Love doesn't die, people do.
You will always be widowed.
A piece of you will always be missing.

So, today -
and tomorrow -
and next week -
hug a widowed person
- women AND men.
Talk to them about their loss.
Even if they have begun Chapter 2,
they still feel the loss.
But especially if they are still alone.
Mow her lawn.
Make him a real, home-cooked meal - 
and share it with him!
Take them out to dinner and a movie.
Send them flowers once in a while.
Talk to them about who they are becoming -
because the stranger across from you 
is the stranger in the mirror too!
Love them!


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.
                                                                                             ~~ James 1:27 NIV 



Sunday, April 16, 2017

Resurrection

"After the Sabbath, 
at dawn on the first day of the week, 
Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.
There was a violent earthquake, 
for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, 
going to the tomb, 
rolled back the stone and sat on it. 
His appearance was like lightning, 
and his clothes were white as snow.  
The guards were so afraid of him that they shook 
and became like dead men.

The angel said to the women, 
'Do not be afraid, 
for I know that you are looking for Jesus, 
who was crucified.  
He is not here; 
he has risen, 
just as he said. 
Come and see the place where he lay.'"

                   ~~ Matthew 28:1-6 NIV ~~



Friday, April 14, 2017

Friday (Reprinted from 4/3/2015)

"Then Simon Peter drew a sword 
and slashed off the right ear of Malchus, 
the high priest's servant...
Simon Peter followed along behind...
Peter stood outside the gate... 
[but the woman watching at the gate] let him in. 
The woman asked Peter, 
 "Aren't you one of Jesus' disciples?" 
"No," he said, 
"I am not."... 
                           ~~ John 18:10, 15-18 NLT ~~

He loved Jesus.
So much that he had declared allegiance unto death.
So much that he attacked a member of the government,
a "police officer".
So much that when others scattered,
he followed.
He loved Jesus with all his heart!
But when push came to shove,
Peter denied even knowing Him,
rather, passing himself off as a curiosity observer,
a rubber-necker.

Jesus had washed his feet!
"Wash all of me!" Peter had impassioned!
Jesus had saved him from certain, harsh punishment just minutes earlier
when He healed the soldier's wound.
But fiery, passionate, dedicated Peter denied his Saviour.
Three times in quick succession.
Because he was afraid.

Jesus had said he would.
Peter had vehemently denied it!
And when he had denied Him the third time,
Peter's guilt and shame most likely nearly crushed him!
As he looked into Jesus' eyes,
he quickly looked down.
He suddenly remembered Jesus' prediction.
And shame and regret and grief washed over him.

As he watched the rest of the story unfold,
the guilt increased.
He watched as his shame ran down the beams of the cross
in Jesus' blood.
And then it was over.
And disappointment and sorrow joined the shame.
And Peter was changed.
Forever.

You know the "Friday feeling"!
We all know it!
We do things,
say things,
feel responsible,
disappointed,
crushed in spirit,
unforgivable.

But Jesus!
Jesus knew Peter!
And He knows us!
And Peter's "Friday" rolled down that cross!
And so did ours!
And we are changed by Friday.
We walk away,
confused,
dejected,
heartbroken,
angry.
But Friday wasn't the end!
Glorious Sunday was coming!
And when it did,
Peter was changed again!
And so are we!

Monday, April 10, 2017

Holy Week (Reprinted from 3/30/15)

"The next day, 
the news that Jesus was on the way to Jerusalem 
swept through the city. 
A huge crowd of Passover visitors 
took palm branches and went down to the road to meet Him. 
They shouted, 
'Praise God! 
Bless the One who comes in the Name of the Lord! 
Hail to the King of Israel!'" 

                                                   ~~ John 12:12-13 NLT ~~


Imagine it!
The adoration!
The love!
The Worship!
It would have been heady stuff!
It would have been easy to grasp hold of and hang on to!

Yesterday's adulation was still fresh that Monday morning.
And as Jesus walked the streets of the city,
people likely still cried out,
"Look! There He is!"
Some likely became followers that day.
While others began to murmur.
"The pharisees are right! Who does He think He is!"
It had begun.
And Jesus knew it had!
He could have stopped it!
But He didn't.
He walked among the people,
wooing them,
looking into their eyes
knowing He would soon die for them,
knowing they would cry for His crucifixion.
And He went forth anyway!
He loved them anyway!
He loved you anyway!
He loved me anyway!

"Truly He was the Son of God!"

May God fill you with wonder
at His sacrifice for you as this Holy week begins!
May you look into His face,
gaze into His eyes,
and watch as your sin disintegrates under the power of His mighty love!



The Lord is my strength and my shield;
my heart trusts in Him,
and He helps me.
My heart leaps for joy,
and with my song I praise Him.

                                                                 ~~ Psalm28:7 NIV ~~

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

36 years

Thirty-six years ago today,
my mommy went to Heaven.
I have learned that we are never old enough
to stop needing our parents.
And I have learned that we never stop missing our loved ones
and grieving their loss.

But that's not what this post is about.

This post is about the woman I grew up with
and the one who entered God's presence
just after midnight on March 28, 1981
and heard those wonderful words,
"Well done, good and faithful servant."

My mama was a unique woman.
She was incredibly shy and insecure.
She was brilliant.
She was fun and funny -
she loved playing practical jokes and was really good at them.
She had a beautiful voice.
She had a beautiful face.
She was compassionate and loving.
She was kind.
But she had that Irish temper and could be dangerous when provoked.
She loved her family passionately.
She was a nurse in the newborn nursery and she loved her babies.
She was gentle but when angry, she could make a sailor blush.
Like most of us, she was very complex.

My mom did not have an easy life.
She was a child in a single parent home,
the result of divorce,
in a time when that was shameful for the entire household.
Her marriage was a bitter disappointment.
At 34, she was diagnosed with cancer.
She spent the last nine years of her life having surgeries and chemotherapy.
Over the years, she had become understandably bitter and cynical.
She expected the worst from life and was not often surprised.

My mother was raised in church and,
in the early years of their marriage,
my parents were in ministry.
My mother spent years loving and serving God.
But the stress of her life took it's toll on her spiritually.
Her emotions and weariness began to take over
and she came to believe that she was a disappointment to God
and there was no point in trying any more.
She worked nights and slept days.
It was a convenient excuse to give up going to church.
And she settled into a sad and lonely existence.

Then cancer.
Now, one would think that would have made her more bitter,
would have made her more distant from God.
It didn't.
Cancer changed her.
I believe it gave her the ability to allow herself
to become the woman God created her to be.
She lost her bitterness.
She became a woman of great forgiveness.
She became a new creature.

The last nearly nine years of her life were physically hard.
Facing death, the knowledge that she would not likely
get to finish raising all her children was emotionally difficult.
But she thrived spiritually.
She began to trust God.
She trusted Him to take care of her children.
She trusted Him to take care of her mom and family.
She trusted Him to take care of her friends.
And she finally, finally began to trust that He loved her,
just as she was.

My mother and I are emotionally similar.
And God has taken us on a similar journey spiritually.
He has chosen a different learning tool for me.
But I am learning.

Thanks, Mama, for being a good example!
I miss you!

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Perspective


Yesterday afternoon,
my Lanny Love and I
spent a couple hours in deep,
theological conversation.
I won't go into the details of our discussion
for it is too intimate and personal to share publicly,
even with you, my therapist readers.
It had to do with God, growing, learning.


If you are a regular reader,
you know that I experienced a frustration a while back
and made the statement that I was tired of learning
and just wanted to "be" for a minute.
That feeling has persisted over the weeks
despite the fact that I have continued to feel
that God has me in a growth spurt.

Now don't get me wrong!
I want to grow!
I want to be all that God asks and expects of me!
But I feel weary of being put in my place.
And I think that may be what the Lord is trying to get across to me.


I don't have to wear myself out
trying to learn what He is trying to teach me!
He will teach it to me in His own time and His own way.
And my frenzied search to correct what is wrong with me,
my constant quest to discover how to better myself,
my time and energy spent trying to learn where I have failed,
wastes my time - and His!

You may also remember my revelation a few weeks ago that

I am a gift!

But in my realization of that,
I have continued to seek out the faultiness
of the gift
God
has given 
to my Lanny Love
and the others in my life.

Oh, I have faults all right.
We all do.
But, despite what I have believed about myself
for all the years of my life,
I am not a disappointment to God.
And while I have certainly disappointed people,
I am not, at my root, a disappointment.
This is hard for me to swallow.

This morning, our preacher talked about our perceptions
and how who we are, our life experiences,
color how we view things.
Three people, sitting next to each other, watching a play,
will have completely different views of what is going on around them.
One, a drama teacher, will notice the lack of enuciation in a spoken line,
the misplacement of a prop,
the poor interpretation of a scene,
and will think it a wasted evening.
The next, a lawyer,
will notice the lack of railing on the stairway prop,
the missing declaration from the author
of the book upon which the play was adapted,
to use the story,
and he will miss the entire first act thinking about the possible lawsuits.
The third person, an accountant,
is busily counting seats and multiplying in his head
the number of seats by the ticket cost,
the number of program sales by the cost of the book,
and speculating the cost of the theater rental.
He thinks the evening's performance highly successful.
Perspective.
[Loosely translated from
Allan Stanglin,Preaching Minsister
 Central Church of Christ]

Well, how we view
God,
others,
and ourselves,
comes from our perspectives as well.
Where and how we grew up.
What we were taught about God.
What we experienced from our parents and others who love us.
What we experienced from those who didn't love us.
How we experienced school and church.
All these experiences, regardless of how far past, affect our perspectives today.
And none of us can fully understand the perspective of others.
I can sympathize with my sister Rhonda, my friend Nan, and my Uncle Paul
all of whom have lost children whom they have nurtured and cherished for years.
But I do not understand the depth and breadth of their grief.
For I have not experienced it.
They can sympathize with me and with my Lanny Love and others who have been widowed.
But they cannot understand the depth and breadth of our grief.
For they have not experienced it.
A child raised in the United States of America,
even the poorest of children,
cannot understand the depth and breadth of poverty in third-world countries.
A child raised to adulthood by good, kind, loving parents,
cannot understand the lasting affects of a child raised in abuse and neglect.
And that person cannot understand that the friend raised in goodness
also has issues that must be dealt with.
Perspective.

So, my view of God, myself, and others
is based upon my life's experiences.
From the moment of birth through my current breath,
who I am is built upon not only what God built into me,
but upon the environment in which I have lived.
And yours is too.

Well, that's about enough to chew on for today.
Stayed tuned for where this is taking me.

Now may God Himself, 
the God of peace, 
make you pure, 
belonging only to Him. 
May your whole self - 
spirit, soul, and body - 
be kept safe and without fault 
when our Lord Jesus comes. 
You can trust the One who colls you 
to do that for you. 
                                                       ~~ I Thessalonians 5:21-24 NCV ~~

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Growth Spurt

Do you remember them?
When you were a kid 
and you had a growth spurt?
Your legs ached.
Your arms hurt.
And neither one cooperated with you!
That "gangly" stage...
UGH!!!

Ladies,
do you remember 
when you began to "develop"?
How your chest hurt!
How "in the way" it was!

It seemed those growth spurts lasted forever!
But they didn't!

Eventually,
things slowed down for a bit,
your body rested 
from all the sudden changes,
you began to become accustomed 
to the new sizes,
and things began to work 
as they should.

Well, I am in a growth spurt.
A spiritual growth spurt.
And spiritual growth
feels very similar
to physical growth.
It's uncomfortable.
Sometimes downright painful.

The larger understanding
gets in the way!
And it feels never-ending!
But it's not!

And just as 
when it was all said and done,
your physical growth spurts
resulted in a grown-up you,
spiritual growth spurts
result in maturity
in Christ!
However,
unlike physical growth,
spiritual growth 
does not come to an end 
with a finished product that,
just when it is completed,
begins to decay.
No,
spiritual growth
continues for a lifetime
with respites 
in between spurts
and completion in Eternity!


So here I go again.
Come on along for the ride!





Monday, March 20, 2017

March 20

Today is March 20.
The first day of spring.
The season of new beginnings.
The trees are budding.
The flowers are blooming.
The temperatures are warming.
The sun is shining.
Everything is growing and changing.
It is a soft, happy time of year.

It is also my wedding anniversary with Al.
Today would have been 41 years.
We were married for just six weeks shy of 37.
We always celebrated our anniversary.
I am a romantic and Al was careful to feed that part of me well.
So we celebrated.
It was spring,
celebrating new beginnings and love.
It was a happy day.

Then Al died.
And March 20 was no longer happy.

The first year after his death,
I was still in shock.
March 20 didn't hurt any more than any other day -
they were all excruciating.
The second year,
the shock had worn off,
and it was an exceptionally painful day.
But the third year was different.
My Lanny Love and I had been seeing each other for a few weeks.
That night, we had a dinner date.
I recall that I was a little more quiet than normal.
After dinner, he took me home.
We sat on the sofa in my living room chatting.
Then, several seconds of quiet.
Then, he slipped to the floor in front of me,
took my face in his hands,
and kissed me softly.
He pulled away and, looking me in the eyes, said,
"I told myself I wasn't going to say this yet but I love you!"
I replied,
"I love you, too!"
And just like that spring came!

Oh, I knew he was falling in love with me.
He had said a few days earlier that he thought he was.
And I certainly knew I was falling in love with him!
So I wasn't surprised by the declaration or my response.
But I was surprised by the restoration.

New beginnings,
good beginnings,
don't always start out that way!
Sometimes they come from great loss and grief!
But God!
He brings beauty from ashes!
Riches from rags!
Love from loss!
Only God could have restored a day destroyed by death
to one filled with hope.

I don't know why I was surprised.
He had done it before.
That Sunday morning,
you know the one,
following that terrible Friday.
Following the loss.
Following death.
Resurrection!
Restoration!
Hope!

So, today is March 20.
And I think of Al and miss him!
And I think of my Lanny Love and celebrate!
And I think of that Sunday and rejoice!

But God!
Welcome spring!





Sunday, March 5, 2017

Second

It is unfortunate.
There is a lot of similarity
In the names
Gina
and
Judy.
And it is unfortunate.

I'll be honest with you.
There are advantages to seconds.
The first child is born.
We learn to parent.
The second child is born.
We are still learning,
but we start off a better parent
than we started with the first.
It's the nature of things.
We learn as we go.

It's the same with marriages.
We learn in that first love.
And in grief, we learn some more.
And if God so blesses us with a
Chapter Two
as He has blessed my Lanny Love and me,
we are better spouses
because of the lessons learned before.
But one of the disadvantages
of having more than one child
is name confusion.
You know,
Richar-Mar-Rhond-GINA!
And it's the same with marriages.
It's bound to happen.
It is not one of the advantages of being second in marriage.

The first time it happened between my Lanny Love and I
was at dinner at my place one night
a few months after we started dating.
He called me Judy.
He blushed!
Stammered an apology.
I said,
"It's okay. It was bound to happen."
Then I laughed and said,
"I'm just glad you did it first!"
A short time later,
I called him Al.
I have done it twice more
that I am aware of.
After our marriage,
I sometimes used my former last name.
It has been quite some time
since either of those things has happened.
As far as I know,
none of my friends have ever
mixed my husbands' names.

But the similarities between my name and Judy's,
makes it happen relatively often with me.
And not just with my Lanny Love.
Other people who knew Judy
frequently get the name wrong,
usually together with my Lanny Love.
You know,
"Lanny and Judy are here.
Oh!
Gina!
Lanny and Gina are here!"

Recently a friend commented to my Lanny Love
how gracious I am when that happens.
But can I tell you something?
Sometimes, I may be gracious
but I don't feel gracious.
I feel like saying,
Gina!
My name is Gina!
G. I. N. A.
Gina!
Today was such a day.

Perhaps because this incident was a written faux pas.
Perhaps because we've been a couple for more than two years now.
Perhaps because we've been married for 15 months.
Perhaps because it has happened several times recently.
Perhaps because I'm just coming out of my winter depression.
Perhaps because this has been a week of spiritual revelation and growth
and satan always attacks at such times.
Perhaps all of the above.
Perhaps none of the above.
I don't know.
I just know that today,
it was not an eye-roller.
Today,
it was more than irritation.
Today,
it was more than a sting.
Today,
it really hurt my feelings.
And it made me feel not just second,
but second best.
And that is something within myself
that I am working with the Lord
to correct,
feeling second best.
Or third.
Or last.
If you read my last post,
you know what I am talking about.

And so, today,
I am being put to the test.
I am learning again that I am a gift.
I am not second best.
In this case, I am second to be sure.
I am different, most certainly.
But I am not second best,
less than.

Do you ever want to just say,
"I'm tired of growing!
I'm tired of learning!
Can I just have a break and be for a minute?"

Today,
I'd just like to be for a minute.


Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Middle Age


I am a middle aged woman.
So I claim.
You may have seen my formula
justifying my claim
in an earlier post.
Some businesses disagree with my formula
and offer me a senior discount.
I accept the discount
and discount the senior status.
My next birthday
is a "significant" one.
More businesses will offer me a discount.
I will still accept it.
And I will still discount my status as a "senior adult".

That said, I have lived a number of years.
I have lots of, ahem, experience.
But sometimes,
I find that I am still an infant,
still learning the ins and outs of life and living in this fallen world.
As a grown woman,
I still sometimes touch base with my inner two year old,
I stamp my feet and shout
"NO FAIR!!!"
or
"ME DO IT ME-SELF!"
or
"THAT'S MY TOY, DON'T TOUCH IT!"
or
"YOU HURT MY FEELINGS!"
or the myriad of other emotions my two year old self wants to express.

One of the things that my two year old is consistent with
is the past.
She often confuses the past with the present.
She often thinks that because that was the response then,
that will be the response now;
that because that was how she/he behaved,
that is how another she/he will behave.
Now, my two year old experienced a lot of hurt in her young life.
So did my adolescent self.
So did my teen self.
So did my young adult.
And so now,
sometimes,
my middle age self has trouble hearing
over the chatter of all those other selves.
Sometimes my middle aged self
hears what is said
rather than what is meant.
And it can be a problem.

You see,
sometimes my past expectations
confer attributes onto my present circumstances.
And I have to remind myself that my present
and my past
are different.
I have to remind myself that
the people are not the same.
I have to remind myself that
I am not the same!
I'm still learning the new me to some degree.
And this past Sunday,
in the wee hours of the morning,
as I was up reading my Word and praying,
I had an epiphany.
A revelation.
I am important.
Me.
Important.
And more,
I am a gift to my Lanny Love.
He is not merely a gift to me,
I am a gift to him.
In all my quirkiness.
In all my neediness.
In all my brokenness.
in all my talents and gifts -
for I have talents and gifts -
In all my failures.
In all my successes.
In all of who and what I am,
I am God's gift to him.
This is something he has said often
but which I have failed to internalize.
And which I am still struggling to internalize.

Not only to my Lanny Love,
but to my children.
And grandchildren.
And church.
And friends.
And even to some of you who read and relate to this blog.
I am a gift.

And here's the other part of that epiphany.
It's sinful for me not to recognize that,
not to accept that,
not to internalize it!
It diminishes intimacy with my friends and family.
It confers the past onto them if I fail to recognize my worth
because of the words and actions of "then"
and that is grossly unfair!
And most importantly,
it diminishes my God!
For God created me!
Just as I am.
Just as He intended.
And He gave me to these people of my life.
And when I take the gift He has given them
and bang it on the ground,
scratching and denting the surface,
cracking and crumbling the internal workings,
I am saying that He did it wrong!

So, as we all do,
I continue to learn.
I continue to grow as a person
and as a Christian.
I won't always do "it" right.
And neither will "they".
Because, though God created us in perfection,
mankind chose his own way
and imperfection invaded us.
But God works within the bounds we have given ourselves.
And He is working within me.
And I am grateful!
May I never squander the gifts He has given me -
nor the gifts He has given others in me.
May you see your own importance
as a gift of God to your people,
and may you never squander or diminish
His placement of you in their lives.
May we all learn to enjoy the person He created in us!


So go eat your food and enjoy it;
drink your wine and be happy,
because that is what God wants you to do.
Put on nice clothes
and make yourself look good.
Enjoy life with the wife [husband] you love...
...enjoy the work you do here on earth.
Whatever work you do,
[wherever God places you],
do your best...

                                                                 ~~ Ecclesiastes 9:7-10 NCV ~~



Saturday, February 18, 2017

Fearful Procrastination

Do you ever procrastinate?
I do!
All!
The!
Time!
Oh, I don't just watch T.V.
Or read a book.
Or daydream.
I do other useful things.
Like clean.
Like cook.
Like blog.
But often,
like today,
those other things are simply distractions
allowing me to put off doing something else.
Now, eventually,
those something else's have to be accomplished.
Putting them off,
distracting myself with other things,
doesn't change that.
Most of the time,
the procrastinated task is something unpleasant
and so,
off it is put for as long as possible.
While that is really rather foolish
since it just keeps the dread alive,
it really doesn't hurt anything and
it does get other needed tasks finished as well.
But sometimes,
like today,
it is fearful procrastination.
And that's a problem.

I have, for several months,
been trying to be accepted into a program.
Finally this week,
I received the anticipated email.
All I have to do to get started
is successfully complete a test.
And I'm scared.
What if I fail?
What if I'm not as smart as I think I am?
What if I'm not as detail oriented as I assume?
What if my perfectionist tendencies aren't enough?
What if I don't measure up?
What if -
dare I say it? -
What if I'm not good enough?

Now, each moment that I put this test off
eats into needed time to finish it.
Each moment means less time
to get it right.
Each moment means more overlooked details are likely.
Each moment....
increases my chance of failure.

Fear is the enemy!!!
It is an emotion of satan,
not of God!
And it occurs to me that
even if this test doesn't turn out the way I hope,
the real test is in my ability to overcome the fear.
To trust in my God to know what is best for me!

So, off I go,
to take the test over the remaining
three days I have to get it
completed and submitted.
I care if I pass or not,
but this test is not the important one!
It is vital that I honor my God
and pass this little trust test!
May He find me at the top of my class!