Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Good Gifts


“The proper definition of a man is an animal that writes letters.” 
 Lewis Carroll

Besides the twinkle lights, get togethers and just the basic "goodwill towards man" feeling that I get from the Christmas season, one of my favorite things are the Christmas cards filling my box.

It's the only time I may actually receive a letter or card from most of these people and I love that it's a way to keep up at least once a year.

Take for example these two families:
I'm changing their names and their identity (with my recently developed scrapbooking skills) just in case they don't appreciate being in my little blog:)

I've been following the lives of these two families for the last seven years. I do not know these people. I just read their Christmas letters.

They are addressed to the family who owned the house before I bought it and made it my little Blacksburg nest. That was seven years ago.

Seven.

Seven years ago...

What faithful friends! Writing to a family who never responds in kind.

I just googled: "Is opening someone else's mail a federal offense" and here is my answer:

"Yes, opening someone else's mail is considered a federal offense. If it is proven that you have tampered with mail, you can be incarcerated or fined. If you receive mail that isn't yours, please return the mail to the post office."

I would very much appreciate receiving  jail mail..

Every year I say I am going to write to them and let them know that their "friends" are long gone and I am not aware of any forwarding address.  But, time slips away and my good intentions are forgotten. Until, I get their Christmas letters the next year, and sit down and read about the lives of these fun people with a steaming cup of coffee:) My, how their children have grown!:)

Seven years is a long time in a child's life. I've watched most of them get through high school and go on to collage. (Good job mom and dad! Such upstanding citizens:)

But this year, this line struck me:

"The house continues to get bigger, quieter, and emptier."

Now, there's  a piece of a woman's heart squeezed and dripped out like ink onto a piece of paper.

I think its time I write to her.

Believe it or not, I enjoy working retail durning the Christmas season.

There is one woman I will never forget. We have an item called Precious Metal Prints. It's a little kit that comes with detailed instructions and a little form of clay to imprint your child's fingerprint (and now one for your doggies nose print:) which is turned into a metal charm to wear as a necklace. This woman's best friend just delivered her baby stillborn. She remembered we carried this product and came into the store to see if we had any in stock.  She only had a few hours to take it back to the hospital and get this tiny baby's toe print for her mama to wear around her neck.

So, life goes on. The thoughtfulness of that gift stays with me, Christmas season or not.

I think we all realize that in the mist of the merriment, there are the lonely and those grieving the ones they lost to death who won't be apart of the family this Christmas. And those that feel like even though the holiday centers around the birth of Christ and all that that means..God is distant. Quiet. Must have the mute button on.

Do you struggle with doubts? I know I do. Even Mother Teresa struggled with decade long doubts and talked about the "darkness of faith"and said "As for me, the silence and emptiness is so great that I look and do not see, listen and do not hear."

But, then God shows up.  He lets us know he is not being silent. He speaks through the gifts of others.

Here is how I am experiencing God's gift today and his listening ear. I just received a phone call from a young couple asking if they could come over and pray for Aidan.

Now there's a gift.

These young people are giving like Jesus.

How thoughtful.

Merry Christmas to you my friends! May peace reign in your lives today! May this year be good to  us all...and if it's not, may we know how to give good gifts....

"Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace"








Sunday, November 17, 2013

On Prayer


Aidan went to a healing service this weekend.

Desperate people do desperate things.

It was a five hour drive into northern Virginia, close to DC with preachers who believe that Christians should walk in divine health~ as if it was their birthright. Never sick, not even a cold. I have a little headache right now as I type this. I'm obviously doing something wrong...

I didn't make the trip, but I understand the trip.

We are desperate people.

So, I stayed home and prayed for the miracle we have all been praying for.

I'm not sure what to think. Are my prayers inferior to theirs? Am I not putting the words in the correct order? Are they more godly than I? Why would God answer their prayers for Aidan's healing and not my own? Still, better take him...just in case.

The feeling is reminiscent of when I was in middle school and chain letters were hot to trot.
 ( A little middle school lingo for ya:)
Braking the chain of a chain letter held a fate far worse than what could happen if you broke a mirror, walked under a ladder while a black cat passed in front of you and god forbid you might step on a crack and break your poor mother's back...
I never REALLY believed in superstitions, or the emotional blackmail of these letters but, I obeyed the directions and got that chain letter out of my possession as fast as I would clean up spilt salt and throw a little pinch over my shoulder.

You know...just in case.

Oh, I want to believe there is a miracle for Aidan.

When I pray for Aidan, I become just like him. Speechless. My prayers drop from my eyes. Surely the Lord understands this language. Tears pour out when the heart can't bear one more thing and there are no words left.

Apparently, tears are an earthly thing. The bible says there will be no tears in heaven. The reason for them are forever wiped away. It makes me wonder what they might look like magnified  like this picture of sand.


Maybe the Lord will give us back our tears, in the form of beautiful gems in a jewel box. Just to prove that He saw every single one, and that something beautiful became of them.

If I were completely honest, I often feel like God isn't doing a very good job at being God. I mean, He is getting a little old. He's been around for....well, forever. Maybe His eyes are getting a little dim. I'm not sure He saw what happened tonight when Aidan hit the floor. Did He hear Aidan's cry? Or, is He getting a little hard of hearing..

They made the five hour trip back. No big miracle for Aidan, but we remain hopeful.

After all, that is what faith is all about. It comes with losses, lessons, second guesses, and doubt.  But, then there are the victories. I've heard that praise is often birthed from pain.

What casts out fear? Perfect Love does.

So, my prayer tonight is this:

Show me the wonder of your great love~ Psalms 17:7
Signed, A Desperate Believer.












Friday, September 27, 2013

One Step Forward

"



So...... I volunteered to go on a walking field trip today. This involved walking:) but if a bunch of short legged first graders could make the trek from Harding Elementary School to the library, surely this short legged grandmother could.

Aidan was excited to see me which made it all worth it, but I notice he was a little wobbly as he walked towards me. I was pretty sure I would be doing some carrying on the way back.

Usually, when Aidan and I walk, we like to stop for a little motivational/inspirational/encouraging little snack at Bollo's. I wondered how I might present this idea to the group. You know, make it educational. For instance:

"If Mrs. Ahma Thomas had three cookies, and she gave you one...how many Weight Watchers Points would she need to confess to at her next meeting?"

Anyway, we're off! I position myself between the only other grandmother and a mom who is also a nurse;)  I had Hoopie Ride on speed dial..

Aidan was fascinated with the construction workers, motorcycles and the "fast" cars. "Fast" is one of Aidan's favorite signs. He uses it about twice as much as he does the sign for  slow, which often happens when we are in the car together. He claps his hands to get my attention, I look over my shoulder, and he uses the sign for slow. "Ok Aidan" (geez, everyone's a critic:)

I was fascinated by the black thong on the sidewalk on Washington Street. We all noticed it. Stepped over it. Pondered it. No need to comment on it; this was a family affair.....

This wasn't just any walk to the library. This included a lecture on what the library is all about! It was a nice little refresher course for me as I have not been to the library in a very long time. (due to an unfortunate HUGE library fine) The librarian read two stories and then gave the good news: All the children will receive their very own library card and may check out two books!

And then this catches my eye:
A coffee bar at the library. Heaven. Why didn't I have a dollar? Oh yeah, I walked here...
I looked around. My favorite Motown song popped into my head: "Aint Too Proud To Beg"
Tempted..and encouraged by the Temptations, but I came to my senses. I promised myself a nice cup of coffee at Mill Mt. Coffee and Tea if I could actually make the trip back.
It was time for Aidan to use his library card for the first time! I tried to show Aidan the books I enjoyed with my children. Indian In The Cupboard, Ralph The Mouse, but not even Ralph And The Motorcycle got his attention. He wanted cars. Fast cars.

When Aidan is happy, I'm happy.

Nothing like sitting and reading with a good friend. A Princess friend:) Part of the reason I like these activities with the class is to see how the other children relate to Aidan and to see for myself the group dynamics. I was happy to see how kind they were. One boy walked up to me and said "I think I know where you can find the Monster Truck books!" (That boy new something about Aidan!) Some of them asked me questions about him, which is to be expected.

It was a lot of stimulation and activity for Aidan. He got increasingly wobbly and shaky as the time pasted, but he was happy to carry his bag with his books and new library card inside.

When Aidan is happy, I'm happy.

We started our walk back, and Aidan fell.

God.

I held his hand and we started off again. He fell a second time. I felt like his little arm might come right out of its socket as I tried to brace his fall.

Did you see that God?

One foot looked like it was turned inward. It was sort-of floppy. His balance was way off.

What is this Lord?

Aidan knew something was wrong.  He gave me the "what?" sign.

I often give God the "what?" sign..along with the "why?" sign.

I lifted him up on my hip and began the walk back.
I'm stronger than I think.

He tucked his head into my neck. I whispered into his ear and asked if he was hungry. He nodded and added the sign for juice. I told him he needed to eat all of his lunch today so he would grow and become strong! Get those BIG muscles like his uncles! And I thought  to myself,  "So you can walk a straight line."

 As if it were that easy. Eat a piece of protein = walk, like everyone else. Drink from a water fountain or drink from a straw..two more things Aidan can't do.

Do you see Lord?

The neurologist tried to prepare us for this. Little bumps in the road. "The medicine will work for a time, then the brain will figure it out and find new paths to take to cause a seizure." And, it will start all over again..the falling, the shakiness, the spaced out look.

I'm tired of this Lord.
Aren't you?
Do something.

I hear nothing but silence. But, I can't not believe..because then I have nothing. So, I keep this song in my heart:


"You are my strong tower
Shelter over me
Beautiful and mighty
Everlasting King
You are my strong tower
Fortress when I'm weak
Your name is true and holy
And Your face is all I seek

In the middle of my darkness
In the midst of all my fear
You're my refuge and my hope
When the storm of life is raging
And the thunder's all I hear
You speak softly to my soul"

And it helps. 










Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Sparrow

This wasn't a very good morning. I'm sick with something today. I am very thankful it's my day off and I can rest.

But, it's Aidan's first day of 1st grade! We are excited around here..even with a fever:)

Knowing that things rarely go smoothly, we adjust to the fact that they have Aidan on the wrong bus schedule. No one answers the phone at transportation. No one seems to know what's going on.

I've been told about this squeaky wheel.
I don't want to have to be the squeaky wheel.
I just want things to go right.

We live 5 minutes from the school. We could easily drive Aidan, but he loves the bus. He gets excited about a bus ride. (Today he signed that he would like a green bus. I told him it would probably be yellow:)

We finally hear last night that the bus will arrive at 8:20
At 8:55,  I'm loading him into the car when the bus comes around the corner.

The bus driver does not look happy. She has had bad morning.
Aidan's aide on the bus does not aide- because she is busy talking on the phone.
She doesn't look up. She doesn't stand up. She is busy talking on the phone.

Oh! How I miss last years wonderful driver and aide. The ones Busboy would call hags:)  I'm sure he would have plenty to say about these women. I could have said a few things....squeak like a wheel. (I clearly need to learn a few more signs:)

They don't speak to Aidan. I walk with him to his seat. His mother hands the aide his backpack.
She's busy talking on the phone.

Well, now I'm getting hot. It's a hot flash, mixed with a fever, mixed with a grandma wanting Aidan to be welcomed, but instead he gets two grumpy old 'hags".

I'm feeling overwhelmed. I collapse into bed. I picture Aidan's little face through the bus window.
I have 100 things I worry about regarding Aidan. His condition is no joke. It will not make for an easy path.

It's the heartbreak of my life.

And then I hear a whisper.

"I have my eye on the sparrow"

What?

What Lord?

"I have my eye on the sparrow. I see. I know."

That insignificant little bird, the one of small value. Two were sold for a penny, and if the buyer would want four, the seller would throw another one in for free and yet not one would fall to the ground without the Father's notice.

His eye is on my little sparrow. He knows. He sees.




"Let not your heart be troubled," His tender word I hear, and resting on His goodness, I lose my doubts and fears; though by the path He leadeth but one step I may see: His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me...


Sunday, August 4, 2013

Love Big

I went to a new church today. It was actually the second time I attended but the first was Easter Sunday and it was more of a musical production so it was nice to try a regular Sunday service.

The church I normally attend is teaching on love and what "Love Does." Today's church was teaching on love and "What Love Is." So, it doesn't really matter what town you are in, or what church you attend, if the Lord wants you to hear something it will just follow you into the building....

Love.

So, I checked everything out. The music was loud-really loud. First row, next to the speaker, rock concert loud. I thought to myself that I must be middle aged. Not young enough to appreciate this radically loud music, yet not quite old enough to suffer from hearing loss to be oblivious to the ringing in my ears.

The pastor talked about Agape Love. The kind of love the Lord shows to us. Unconditional love. He gave the example of a drug addict shooting heroine into his veins but the Lord loving him in that very moment and the woman living in sin, and the Lord loving her through it.

He compared it to the way we might put conditions on love. I asked myself how I might do this. I thought about the man I saw the other day with tattoos on his face. My first reaction was:

"What an idiot..who would do something like that to themselves"
Because I'm godly like that...and love big like that.....

So, at lunch after church today, I was seated  across from a man with tattoos down the sides of his face and all over his body, from what I could see. I silently told the Lord that I love his sense of humor. And, I do.

I don't know this man, but, he was awfully sweet to his wife and his two children. He demonstrates love to me from across the room.

" For those who are ready to hear the truth: Agape your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you. Love those that mistreat you. Take a slap on the cheek, and turn the other. If someone takes something that belongs to you, look for something else to give to them along with it. Tie a pretty bow on it.  Ask yourself what you want people to do for you; then do it for them instead!  Love generously" ~ Luke 6:30 (very loosely translated:)

Durning the service, I sat next to a man who was probably in his eighties. I think he may have suffered from a stroke sometime in his life. One side of his face was a little droopy and one arm didn't lift as high as he praised his Lord.

He would repeatedly say:
"Yes, Lord" Yes, Lord" Yes Lord"

At one point I looked over and he was on his hand and knees between the pews. That was a man who was not ashamed to worship.

When the service was over, he gave me a hug and told me to have a blessed day. Then as I turned, he grabbed my arm and said "Have a blessed life. Every single day of your life."

Yes, Lord.



Saturday, July 13, 2013

Wedding Day


 Her wedding day

Her heart will pound inside today
She steps out in faith today
Her beauty reigns on high today
Promises are made today

And she will say:

Where you go
I'll go
Where you stay
I'll stay
Where you move
I'll move
I will follow you.

In Gods house tonight
Down an aisle's walk tonight
On her father's arm tonight
Her heart is spoken for

And she will say:

Where you go
I'll go
Where you stay
I'll stay
Where you move
I'll move
I will follow you

In coral black
And diamond white
She seals her heart
By candlelight


Under the Banner of the Lord
Two hearts unfold before You
Trusting you they walk in Faith
The only place to know You.

And You Speak over them:

Where you go
I go
Where you stay
I stay
Where you move
I move
I will be with you...

On her wedding day....














Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Cowboy Up




He brushes his horse
And grooms her mane
Slides onto the saddle 
It frees his chains

Up on the beast 
He can do anything
Flies in the sky to places unseen

He cowboys up

Cowboy hat as tight as a turban
Packs his juice 
Like The Duke packs bourbon

He cowboys up..

He has cards to play
Riding up to save the day..

Cattle to rope 
Peace pipes to smoke.

                                   This is the Cowboy way..

I make a suggestion to take it slow.
He lifts his hand to tell me no

This cowboy choses to take no warning..
I reckon its ok
If he's back by mornin'! 


He Cowboys up. 

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Walks and Talks

Summertime, when the livn's easy. Or at least it's when there is no need to drag Aidan out of bed in the morning to catch the bus because there is no bus, but he has decided now is the time to get up at the crack of dawn.

Well played Aidan..

This morning, I asked Aidan if he would come with me to do some errands. I tried to make getting new lenses in my glasses sound as exciting as possible!  He signed no, I signed yes, he signed no. (this is our usual pattern:) Somewhere along the way he changed his mind and decided to come with me. I suppose  it's what's called a man's prerogative. (and take THAT Monster truck game on his ipad)

I pulled up to Mill Mt. and told Aidan we needed to run in for coffee. He signs no, I sign yes, he signs no. He does not change his mind, so I pick him up and carry him in. (I dont' know why my arms don't look better....)

He spies the PopTarts on the counter. In a perfect world, Aidan wouldn't know what a PopTart was but I  seemed to have left Health Food Grandma at home and instead brought Super Spiritual Grandma. I decide that when I pray over it to bless and nourish his body..it actually does. It is no longer a PopTart...Its Manna from heaven.

Well played Grandma...

It was such a beautiful morning and I was remembering when I would park near Bollo's and Aidan and I would get a treat and walk to the library or the Huckleberry Trail. It sounded good and we already had our treats, but still best to park near Bollo's because there was always that walk back:)

Meter money...hm..only pennies to be found in my wallet. But, then I remembered I was Super Spiritual Grandma and I asked the Lord to let me find a quarter somewhere in my car (so I wouldn't embarrass Him by asking the walker-byers) He did. Exactly one quarter. One hour. Minutes from heaven.

Well played God...

 On the walk, Aidan had a little accident. He is way beyond this happening, and now it's usually a sign that his medicine is a bit off and his brain may not be firing correctly, so I am a little concerned. It's not that bad, it doesn't seem to bother him. I don't have pants back in the car anyway, only extra shirts and bandanna's so I decide that the little spot will dry by the time we get the library. I probably won't tell anyone this part of the story:)

Total Grandma fail.

I talk a lot on our walks. I explain to Aidan that I am walking on the outside of the sidewalk because I am older so I need to protect him from the cars and bicyclers whizzing by, but that soon he will be the one walking on the outside..because he will be a man. He looks over at me and shows me his muscles. I feel a tug in my heart.

Well played Life...


                We end up on the Huckleberry Trail where people are friendly and share their pets:)

Aidan saw a mom and a little girl sitting on the side of the path. He signed to me that he thought the little girl was crying. We went over to say hello. They were happily playing with a worm - poking it with a stick...as humanely as possible said the mother:) I looked over at Aidan and he was squishing a bug under his shoe. I'm not sure what kind of nature walk we were on...........

A bee scared Aidan and he tripped and fell. He was shaken but not crying. I decide I had better tell a story quickly to avert the tears. I told a story about  a bee that tried to sting a boy named Aidan and he slid down a hill into a bears den where the bear licks his wounds and sends him on his way all healed and well. Aidan is so thankful he tells the bear where he saw the bee...because, where there are bees....one is sure to find honey! :) He and the bear were friends for life!

I'd say "Well played Grandma"but, this story actually backfires on me when on the way back, Aidan tells me he is afraid of the bears and wants me to carry him. I remind Aidan how old I am. I point to my shoes which aren't exactly appropriate for a walk. He does not want to hear my excuses. He actually gives me two thumbs up for my shoes which are some of his favorites because they have three blue stones on the T-strap. (this is something I have taught Aidan to do when I need encouragement for what I am wearing..not one thumb, but two...always two:)

I pick him up and carry him the rest of the way.

Well played Aidan....

I never did get to the eye doctors to get my new lenses. We had talks to make and walks to take.

Well played Day....

And, maybe I can talk Aidan into going with me tomorrow:)









Monday, May 13, 2013

Good Bye Busboy




Well, we did it Busboy. We bonded. Not exactly Super Glue strength-maybe more like craft glue or even sticky tack. Not that I was always very tactful with you. Sometimes I pushed your comfort zone and ignored your obvious body language.

You see, we are all about nonverbal communication around here Busboy. I am constantly reading Aidan's game of charades when he is trying to get his point across and doesn't have the sign. So, I should have known better when I tried to speak to you when you had your head covered with your hood, ear phones in and chin tucked down to your chest.

I always wondered what happened on those mornings to put you in that frame of mind. Is it just part of the spectrum you're on? Were you sick and tired of having an aide at your age and riding the bus with elementary children? Were things not going well at school? Was the morning difficult at home?

We have mornings like that too Busboy. Not all our mornings start with me counting Aidan's toes and telling him a story then happily climbing on the bus. Many mornings Aidan tells us he doesn't want to go to school. He wants to go see a train or go ride a horse. "No school! NO school!" he signs.

Some mornings are just exhausting. Sometimes Aidan is a bit obsessive about how his monster trucks are lined up or  he wants to say goodbye to all his toys. All that takes time for which  even the kindest of bus drivers shouldn't have to wait . We have our share of grumpy mornings so I apologize for those mornings when I tried to get you out of your shell when I should have just left you alone. I deserved the rolling of your eyes and the snarl of your lip.

Then there were those morning when I didn't expect anything from you but when I climbed on the bus, (surprise!)  there you were on the edge of your seat just waiting for a conversation. That's when I discovered how intelligent, interesting and engaging you could be. Those were great mornings for me.

I've been thinking lately, how the people we cross paths with become the pearls in our lives. The real ones, not the polished up fake ones that are perfectly formed and all the same size. Some relationships take time and extra effort and come with a little irritation, because that is how a pearl is formed~beauty born from irritation inside of a mollusk. (or the inside of a school bus:)

No grit, no pearl.

Pearls, like people are unique, no two are exactly alike. And we don't have to be..and that's the beauty of it. Thank you for letting me into your life Busboy. You made me think. You pulled me out of my comfort zone...a place I don't go willingly. But, I have no choice, its sort of my world.  I will miss you. I will think of you often. I pray the world, which is sometimes unwelcoming and unaccommodating to differences,  appreciates your flawed beauty. Godspeed.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Birthday Candles or Blowtorch?

  

Birthday untruths I tell myself;)
                    
1: I'm not getting older! I'm getting better!

2: Kelli! Those are some pretty cute laugh lines you've got going on there!

3: Red wine gives me abs!

4: I'm just a natural list maker. It's not that I can't remember...

5: These brown spots give my skin a nice suntanned glow and completely eliminate any need to ever wear animal print!

6: Men love thick women..

Other random birthday thoughts:

1: I should have at least as many reading glasses laying around as Aidan has monster trucks.

2: Birthday mail is great! A free coffee from Starbucks, free undies from Victoria Secret!  But, I'm not so sure about that letter about preparing my final affairs. And, what's up with this plastic surgeon sending me a birthday coupon for 20% off Botox? Isn't that cream I buy from you supposed to negate the need for that? Please!

3: I believe if I had a Louis Vuitton handbag to carry - my arms would be much more well defined...

4: When estrogen leaves a woman's body, she does it all sassy Alicia Keys style - to the tune of "Girl on Fire" (and she's not kidding) Why do women feel like they need to go through this (and childbirth) naturally when there are perfectly good drugs out there to ease the pain? I suppose because women have been doing this since the beginning of time and we don't want to wimp out. (I would hate to disappoint Eve:)

I had a beautiful friend who lived to be in her late 90's.  She and my mom are my go to girls for aging gracefully. Edie would order her pie the same time she ordered her meal. Chocolate meringue if she could get it.  Her pie would sit there in all it's tempting deliciousness next to  her coffee cup while we ate~moisture beads forming on the meringue like sequins - 1000 points of light, making me wonder why my coffee cup didn't have a pie partner.  I often wondered why she did this. Edie always told me she liked to have something to look forward to. Maybe this applied to pie. She was also the one who told me about the pie wish. Yep, apparently when you take the first bite of pie (you know, at the point) you get to make a wish!  I would watch her as she closed her eyes and her fork would slide through the pie point... a little smile would spread across her face. I often saw the little girl in Edie peeking out of her wrinkled, darkened skin. No wonder she lived so long:)

Birthday truths I tell myself:

1: There is still so much to look forward to. Still so much I want to try, do and learn.
2: Relationships get better and deeper with time. Family and friends become very important.
3: And last but not least, if I could turn back the hands of time, I wouldn't do it. It's onward and forward for me.

Birthdays:.. they're not so bad. I look ok in candlelight:)  I'll take as many as you will give me Lord. Talk about a gift..


Isaiah 46:4 (NIV) “Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.”



Monday, March 18, 2013

Over Myself

I've attended a new church recently.  I'm thankful for the friend who kept on me to give it a try. It's a certain denomination, and I'm a little used to the no-name churches so it's somewhat different for me. For some reason, I have always had a problem with corporate responses. I'm not sure why, maybe I am missing the beauty in it.

Or maybe I just need to get over myself.

But, I like what I see so far. It's a real slice of life. I'm drawn to it because it includes a few special needs people. There is a man there who reminds me of Aidan with his bandanas tied around his neck. He has several layered on and they just get peeled off as the top one gets wet from his drooling.

He doesn't talk, but he makes a lot of noise. No one seems to mind, and if they did..well, I guess they would just need to get over themselves.

He has a huge smile on his face and he laughs out loud. Sometimes he makes a sound that seems to come at just the right time in the sermon as if he is adding an exclamation mark to what the pastor just said. Everyone sort-of smiles...because we are all getting over ourselves.

When the band starts up, he runs up to the front and lifts his hands. I guess he is praising the Lord, and he is loving the music. He is all freed up. He's making a joyful sound. He is shouting his praises. He is singing his own song to the Lord. A woman comes up and stands next to him so he is not alone. A part of me wants to go up and stand on the other side of him because his joy is contagious.

But, I guess I'm not quite over myself....

The pastor is a great teacher and keeps things interesting. Yesterday, as he was speaking, he walked over to a table that was set up ahead of time. He started to crack eggs into a bowl and whip them up. The worship leader stood next to him peeling bacon apart and fried it in a pan. He kept to his topic on what our faith looks like on the outside. How are we applying it to our everyday lives? Are we involved? Are we committed?

"The chicken is involved, but the pig is committed!"

And then something happened that I thought about all day long. A young girl was baptized. Again, this church does things a little differently and I was fascinated by what I saw. As the young lady stood in front of the witnesses (us) the pastor pour out water from a lovely piece of pottery. The water flowed into her long dark hair, over her face, down her body and spilled out all over the floor. Something about it brought tears to my eyes. We are born through water...and born again through spirit.

Baptizem is a public demonstration of what has happened inside a person. She chose Him. She wants the world to know. Christ has claimed her and it's the beginning of a new person. She has put on Christ.

An odd thought popped into my head as I watched. Being baptized is a lot like getting your passport (I said it as odd:) You are all freed up to travel, but in your new identity. Will she be excepted everywhere? Probably not...but, her identity isn't given by her friends at school anymore, Christ has claimed her as His own. Talk about homeland security:)

And, this time....I got over myself. I walked right up to her and hugged her wet body and kissed her cheek. I told her how much I appreciated being apart this act she will never forget. Nor will I.

" and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a clear conscience toward God.~1 Peter 3:21




Tuesday, March 12, 2013

LIfted

Heaviness.
It seems to be hanging around a little too much lately. It appears to be at every turn. It creeps into our everyday life, it's in the blog I just read and it's a short walk down my hallway, alive in my own home. It's in a conversation I recently had with a friend who is broken hearted over a love lost. The kind of grief that engulfs a person. Like a death. It's waking up in the morning wondering why you feel so badly and then you think, "Oh yeah...THAT".

She talked about her sadness manifesting it self as physical pain, spreading across her chest; her heart breaking into a million little pieces. As she talked I picture jagged pieces of broken glass. I wanted to reach in and remove them for her as carefully as possible (with little tweezers like in the game "Operation") doing the least amount of damage, so it wouldn't be just a complete bloody mess.

 I knew my role was to listen, and listen, as long as it takes. I knew what not to say. I knew not to say "it's been a long time, you should be over this by now." I knew not to say that time would be the  healer, although it's absolutely the truth. (Sadness flees on the wings of time) My other job was to keep her sane, because she was feeling like she was becoming unhinged. I wanted to help her keep her self respect. Keep her from saying the wrong pathetic thing to the wrong pathetic person. Keep her from complete devaluation of self. She feels sick, crazy, empty and aching. Love lies bleeding.

I remember my first taste of grief. I was a child when my father died. I remember my aunt trying to  teach me a prayer. It started with "Our Father who art in heaven" :) I could never remember the rest, but I would look out into the night sky at one particular bright star from the big window by my bed. I didn't understand that the scripture was taking about our Heavenly Father. I thought it was a way to talk to MY father. My father, who was "art in heaven."(my masterpiece:)  I thought I was apart a special club, the club of the fatherless children. I began my conversation with my father with the phrase "Our Fathers, who are art in heaven"...and then we'd just have a chat.

Later in life I would meet my Heavenly Father. I learned that to bear one another's burdens was to fulfill the law of Christ and that a friend loves at all times. But, sometimes bearing peoples burdens is well, a burden! I mean, how much can one woman take when she has her own heavy burdens?


“Count the garden by the flowers, never by the leaves that fall. Count your life with smiles and not the tears that roll.”



Today, it all felt very heavy. So, I called on my Father (who art in heaven:) and I told him I needed a touch (and make it real Lord) a written or spoken word that I would know would be from Him. I do this often, just to test the waters, from the one who walked on the water, because I am his problem child, the one who is always asking for proof. Are you real Lord? I think you should show me..(we have only been together for about 30 years now, still on our honeymoon and getting to know each other:)

So, I would just like to thank the person who spoke the perfect words to me today. They had no idea they were being used to speak truth and love into me, but, I know the source. I hope I can be that very same vessel for someone else someday.

Sometimes, it feels good to be used:)


Friday, March 1, 2013

When Irish Eyes Are Smiling..


 


"The cool thing about being famous is traveling. I have always wanted to travel across seas, like to Canada and stuff."~Britney Spears 
Thank you for sharing Britney!:)
  I have such a fantastic son; he decides to do things like move to Dublin Ireland to earn his MBA at the University College of Dublin. Due to of some details in my life  I did not expect to be able to make a trip to Europe durning the year,  but to quote Emerson: "Every wall is a door." And, sometimes things work out even when you least expect, and I had the opportunity to travel with my son and his wife for his graduation.

 I just needed a passport,  and fast, which wouldn't have be so bad if I could just find my birth certificate.  Considering the hot flashes I was experiencing, I must be closer to death than I am to birth (Excuse me while I put my hair up...) but I doubt I will ever be in the position to have to look for my own death certificate:) but, if I could lose it, I would. 
I knew I was born, because I was living and breathing and have even added three extra people to the population of the world. I just needed to find the paper that said when and where!

Geez, details, details....
I looked everywhere for my missing paper.  I emptied draws and boxes and files. I laid eyes on all kinds of treasures, notes and letters and little hand drawn pictures from my children. I took the time to organize it (after all, my lack of organization is why I couldn't find this rather important document. I mean, there came a point where I started to doubt my own existence....)  I decided to break for lunch and try again later in the afternoon. I ordered chinese and cracked open my fortune cookie:


I listened to the wisdom of the cookie.  My home state of California didn't fail me and quickly sent me (for a small fortune for rush service) my birth certificate.
TAH-DAH!!


 I  started to believe this trip was actually going to happen. I realized I must have given one of my children my suitcase so I rushed to Belk the night before my trip and bought the largest one I could find. The suitcase is the size of a crib mattress. If it had fold out legs, we could easily fit four around it and complete a 500 piece puzzle:)   Go big or go home, as my friend Heather would say. She was talking about handbags (which goes without saying) but, it wasn't the best choice for Europe where everyone packs a month worth of living into one small backpack. The cars are small (my one suitcase filled the entire trunk of a car. You don't see many Hummers or gas guzzling SUV's)  The staircases are small and there may or may not be elevators where you stay. (Not).

Even if I can get it up the stairs...will it fit through the door?


Here are some thoughts on travel:
1: Sleeping on a plane is not the same as sleeping in my bed.
2: The only way to get over jet lag is to sleep
3: The city of Dublin is so fantastic, you don't want to waste time sleeping. 

                              The city of Dublin is beautiful~cold in December, but, beautiful. 

                                 But, three perfectly poured Guinness's warm us up quickly:)

                                      Hm..someone can find a chocolate shop in any country...

I want to keep this post short and sweet and there are more than 300 hundred pictures to choose from so let me just share the most important ones with you:)


                             That's right, tea time and bath time are the same thing in my Castle.


Basically, I just went from having tea in bed..to tea in the bath. Notice how many trays you see. Room service knew me well by the time we checked out.

                           The country roads are dotted with sheep. So much easier to see than squirrels:)


    The city is beautiful, the countryside  is beautiful and the cliffs  are beautiful. I mean, look at this view.



The Irish are so friendly and we received such warm welcomes wherever we went. Like this gracious sight after a long cold drive.



                   
                           We pretty much know how to make ourselves at home. In any country:)


                                   
                       It seems like every small town has it's charming pubs. No one meets a stranger.

 
                                                 

                                                  Did I mention the people are friendly?     
                        
Cheesy sandwich board for cheesy tourist like ME! Some of the best live music I have ever heard.                                              




And here he is..the Graduate! Toasting to a job well done and a life well lived. He makes me very proud.

They say you live once, but we have a way to life it three times.
First in anticipation
Second in the actual moment
Third in recollection

There is a spiritual lesson playing over in my life. It seems when I finally let go of something and just give it up to the Lord, often, He wraps it up in something beautiful and gives it back to me in a way I could have never expected. (or deserve considering my utter lack of faith) That's what this Ireland trip was for me.
For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.



Saturday, January 26, 2013

When The Rubber Hits The Road

Good Morning! How is your day? Have you made any big plans? Oh, that sounds lovely!

Me? Well, thank-you for asking! I really can't think of anything I would rather be doing this morning than what's on my schedule!

I am joining other driving enthusiasts for a little seminar. I believe it is called "Driver's Improvement Class."  It was a little pricey, but hey, you get what you pay for!  Hmm..what should I wear? Probably nothing too racy...

I always appreciate being in an environment where I can meet new people. And, look! We'll already  have so much in common! I'm sure we will go around the room and share what it is that brings us all together today. And, maybe we will say little encouraging things to each other like "there probably shouldn't have been a stop sign in that location anyway"..."of course you were speeding; everyone drives too fast when THAT song comes on"..."one persons definition of reckless is just another's definition of skill!" We'll nod, understanding each other completely.

The important thing is: what our insurance company doesn't know, won't hurt us! And, that is why we will give up this beautiful Saturday morning to spend a cozy little 9 hours together in a little tiny basement room. (and DON"T be late..and bring your passport..I mean ID;)

I have a vague memory of Drivers Improvement School from 20 something years ago. When I first moved to Virginia from California I got several little speeding tickets in a row, embarrassing my new husband. It's a small town, and everyone knew him, and soon they knew me.

All I can say is that I was suffering from culture shock. The road on which I was driving daily was one big, long beautiful stretch. But, just because something feels like an autobahn, doesn't mean it IS an autobahn.

So, I found myself attending the class in the local high school. The main thing that stands out to me is, while on a break (apparently a smoke break) a young boy asked me if I wanted to smoke a joint. Smoke a joint? On a break from traffic school? With a police officer 30 feet away? And do I look like someone who would smoke a joint with you? Is it the California thing? I blame my hair. My problem hair, hair that looks like I just got off a motorcycle without a helmet. Pot smoke'n hippy hair. (Driving School is a trip:)

Geez, it's going to be a long day. I wonder if I can pack my Keurig? I would bring enough to share. (I have been told I have the gift of hospitality.) And, maybe a little basket of muffins? Or, does that look too Teacher's Pet-ish?

See ya in a few hours!




Thursday, January 3, 2013

On The Thug Life:

People..don't do the crime , if you can't do the time. Or, in my case, don't be such a lead foot if you would rather spend the 200 dollars for a speeding ticket on footwear.

Today was my court date. How embarrassing, but I HAD to go, it was a big one. I was hoping for a little mercy. Actually, I was thinking I would be in on one of those behind the scene deals. Just in and out. After all, I do have to be at work at 9:30 to open the store. I find a parking place right in front of the courthouse..three hour parking; plenty of time!

I try to decide what to take in. Not my phone I'm sure. Do I need ID? Because I'm really wanting to use this Passport again...

I set the metal detector off three times. Each time I remove something else. Here is a courthouse tip: Don't wear a belt..because then you get all fumbley taking it off because it feels a bit like undressing in front of complete strangers. I set if off again, and one of the policemen said the problem was my shoes. I admitted that I did indeed have a shoe problem..but, I'm pretty sure we were talking about two different things...

I ask if I have to take them off and go through again? No, he lets me go. Aw..my first taste of freedom!   I decide to comment on the beautiful courthouse. And, it IS beautiful and brand new..but, mostly I just want him to know that this is my FIRST time here. This is not my normal stomping grounds;) Now that he and I are well  bonded (that's a little jail humor) I jokingly ask if there is a little Starbucks in a corner somewhere. He agrees that would be a great idea..but, alas, they didn't even warrant (more jail humor.:) a vending machine. Ugh, now the chit-chat is done..and I make my way up to the courtroom. I walk slowly..kind of like I am dragging a ball and chain around. (ok, I'm done:)

I find my name under the list of Defendants. Kelli Jane Thomas. Oh, how embarrassing. Just add my birthdate. weight, and the real color of my hair and I am fully humiliated.

I people watch. It's nice to see the young men in suits and ties and then there are those who look like they just dragged themselves out of bed. Both will make an impression.

They unlock the doors. We file in. (resisting the urge at a jailhouse file joke)  A deal is offered! It's something like this:
I get in the line to accept the deal. Then, she announces to me (and everyone in the courthouse) I am not eligible for the deal. I will have to go before the judge. Ugh...why was I driving so fast?

I take the walk of shame and go back to my seat. (which by the way, looks like church pews. Just a house of sinners . ...)

I go over in my head what I will say: "Your Honor, as you can see, it was election night. It was neck and neck in this great Commonwealth of Virginia. I was hurrying to get from one TV to the next, thus my increase in speed....

No, better not go there. Even though I'm sure President Obama would feel my pain, as this weighty ticket may cause me to fall off my fiscal cliff.

I can hear everything in the courtroom, the clerk shuffling her papers the girl behind me chewing her gum. (they told us no gum allowed in the courthouse..and here she is, breaking the law in the middle of the law..geez) I'm worried I'll be late for work, then I realize I need to go to the bathroom. Can I get up and walk out? Can I get back in? Is this some kind of Hotel California? Maybe it's just because the young man  in front of the judge is here for urinating in public. I cross my legs. He explains himself by saying the 7 Eleven bathrooms were locked. It cost him 30 dollars to urinate in public. So, now I know.

The officer and I go up before him. The judge says  it looks as though I pleading not guilty. I'm a little confused. I look over at the officer and say "Well, I guess I'm guilty?" The judge laughed. He actually laughed. I'm not sure if this is good or bad. He said it didn't really matter..he just had to proceed with something. The judge asks if I would like to say anything. I ask if it would be possible to take a drivers improvement class (like those other lucky people who got to leave an hour ago and were spared this heart pounding testimony..and not that I NEED a class.....) He asks how my driving record was. I'm trying to decided if  a recent failure to obey a traffic sign is necessary to divulge. I decide it's not and say "It's good". He asks my officer if I was compliant. He replies:  "very".

The judge dismisses it.

It's 9:30 in the morning...and this girl needs a drink. A double. And make that a Venti..with extra whipped cream.