Tuesday, December 22, 2009

A CHANGE IN PLANS

I am sitting here today (the Monday before Christmas) in Metairie listening to Christmas music, burning a Yankee Candle (Mistletoe) with the lights burning on my little three foot tree waiting for my husband to come home from work (early I hope) so we can finish up a little shopping that needs to be done.

I have had some time today to reflect back on the last few weeks. I had so many plans for the holidays this year.  I wanted it to be so much more about friends and family than anything else and more than ever before.  I have never been one to enjoy entertaining, but this year this was all I wanted to do.  I began the week of Thanksgiving by preparing a seafood gumbo using an authentic Cajun recipe.  We had my dad and step-mom over on  Wednesday evening.  The gumbo was a hit and we had a great visit with them.

Thanksgiving Day was spent at my mom’s.  It was one of the best Thanksgivings I can remember.  I can’t really pinpoint why, it just was!  Everyone’s moods were uplifting and the food was wonderful. So we ate, we laughed, and truly enjoyed each other.

My mother- in- law's 70th birthday was on Thanksgiving Day this year.  My sister-in-law and I had made plans to make it special for her.  She (my sister-in-law) caught the swine flu and then got pneumonia.  She was admitted to the hospital in the middle of November and ended up in ICU.  Her condition became critical, so needless to say, everyone’s focus shifted to her.  Thankfully she is home now and doing better.  The birthday celebration had to be postponed.

I spent a good portion of my day on Friday at the hospital, giving my brother- in- law a break to go home and do some of the things he wanted or needed to.

On Saturday I put my Christmas tree up and decorated.

Sunday was the day we left for Metairie to attend the Saints vs. New England Patriots football game at the Superdome.

And the rest is history.  (See blog entitled, “An 8 Day Recap”)

I had made many plans for when we returned home that included shopping, cooking, cleaning, decorating, and entertaining friends and family.  A fractured rib changed my plans! 

Last year I put up three trees and had planned on doing the same this year.  The revised plan: My decorations are minimal.  The tree I put up on the Saturday after Thanksgiving is it!  I have boxes and boxes of decorations in my attic that have gone untouched and it's OK!  I have been able to enjoy the few decorations I have out this year without once dreading the un-decorating.

I love to shop and always look forward to Christmas as the perfect excuse to do so.  I enjoy the challenge of finding something that I think everyone will like and use.  I put a lot of time and thought into each and every gift I purchase.  My plan was to begin shopping right after Thanksgiving, to do so by myself, and to go during the beginning of each week to avoid the weekend crowds.  The revised plan: I had to recruit my husband and son.  And with their help, it is all done!  It was rewarding for them to get to experience shopping for others.  (Something they normally do not get to do because I have always done it all.)  They especially enjoyed knowing they were doing something to help me. I also got to spend some quality time with my daughter that I may not have otherwise had as she chauffeured me around town one day to let me shop for my husband and son. 

I had plans to celebrate my daughter’s birthday in Metairie.  I intended on  cleaning, decorating, and preparing the house for her and the rest of my family to come and spend the weekend with us as we celebrated her birthday together doing some fun things in the New Orleans area.  The revised plan: I was still able to spend this weekend with them.  We were able to do a few of the things I had planned, but more importantly I did not fret over cooking, cleaning, and decorating.  These things (which are usually very important to me) did not matter.  They took a backseat to what was really important: just spending time with my family.

All my plans to decorate, shop, clean, cook, and entertain came to a screeching halt.  I know God has a sense of humor because He went to great lengths to keep me from the temptation of over doing it.  Into the second week of my accident, when I probably would have pushed myself by going into town or going  back to work, my car broke down!  It is still in the shop being repaired.

I have had a tremendous amount of time over the past three weeks to rest; sit still; and do some things I may not have taken the time to do like watching Christmas movies, staring at the Christmas tree, but most importantly thinking about what this season is all about and mentally noting all the things I have to be thankful for.  I do not take my blessings for granted.  I have had time to think about how upset I can get when my plans get changed, but yet I am responsible for changing God’s plans everyday.  He has plans to prosper me, to not harm me, and to give me hope and a future.  Sometimes I get in the way of those plans.  Through my selfishness, I miss out on so many blessings that He has planned for me.

Our plans change and that is OK, but His should never have to!

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV)



Merry Christmas! I hope you have made plans to take some time to reflect on Him this year!

      

Monday, December 14, 2009

Merry Christmas

From My House To Yours!











And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. Luke 2:13-14

Friday, December 11, 2009

AN 8 DAY RECAP

DAY 1: Monday, November 30, 2009

My husband, son, and myself went to Metairie, LA.  We left on Sunday to attend the New Orleans Saints vs. the New England Patriots game on Monday. I am not a Saints fan or a fan of football in general, but the tickets were given to us and I had anticipated and looked forward to the experience for quite a while. And, with little to no (emphasizing “no”) knowledge of football, even I knew it was an exciting game! The Saint’s fans are very loyal, loud but loyal. Several times I got caught up along with them in the cheering and rooting for the home team! The experience proved to be one that I will never forget. Not the team! Not the game! Not the victory! Not the fans! Not the cheering. No, for me it was the experience of leaving the Super Dome. I walked to the end of our row, took my first step onto the concrete steps and before I could reach the hand rails to grab on to, my feet went out from under me. (The concrete steps were slippery from all the beer that had been spilled!) I landed on my back. And to make what could be a very long story short: I arrived at Ochsner’s Hospital at around 11:30 and left there with the diagnosis of a fractured rib.

DAY 2: Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Was spent at Ochsner’s until around 4:30 am. We left to come home so my son could attend an 8:30 class that he could not miss. The pain medication that I was given at the hospital apparently made me sick. So to say the least, the two hour ride home was a very miserable one, with the pain, the vomiting, and fighting sleep because I needed to make sure my husband stayed awake at the wheel. He had been up since around 3:30 that morning. My son had his contact lenses packed away so he could not help drive. We were a pathetic trio!!

After we arrived at home, I do not remember too many details. I went to bed immediately. I also continued to take pain medication, this time along with an anti-nausea pill. I did talk to some friends and family members on the phone throughout the day as they each learned about what had happened.

DAY 3: Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Again, I cannot recall too many details about the day. The heating pad had become my BFF. I began to worry about the events I had planned for the upcoming weekend. I was not sure how I was going to be able to pull them off. I want to say, also, that I had already become aware of how God had protected me from something that could have been so much worse than what it was. He protected my spine from hitting the concrete which could have possibly left me paralyzed. He also protected my head. A hit that hard to my head could have taken my life. It did not take me three days to figure this out, but it certainly helped me to put everything else into perspective (even the big weekend that was planned).

DAY 4: Thursday, December 3, 2009

I am still not much better, but did not really expect to be. (I had been informed at the hospital that this type of injury takes up to a month to get over). My husband needed to be in his office on Friday, so I made the decision to travel back to New Orleans with him and try to salvage some of the plans I had made for my daughter’s 22nd birthday. So, with the most important items packed: the pain meds, the anti-nausea meds, and the heating pad, we hit the road around 5:00 p.m. We stopped in Slidell, LA and ate supper at Cracker Barrel. It felt good to get out since I had spent the better part of three days in the bed. And all the riding (even hitting the pot holes) did not seem to bother me very much. Not until the next morning…

DAY 5: Friday, December 4, 2009

Today was the day I truly regretted not giving my ticket to one of the many people who let me know how much they coveted it, or not selling it on e-bay for a ridiculous sum. I had teased my husband for a long time about selling them all so I could take my dream trip to New York to see the Christmas decorations and to shop on 5th Avenue.

I was not able to get out of bed by myself. Muscle spasms gripped me all day long and kept me there. I hated not being able to prepare the house for company and some food for the weekend.  But my biggest concern was how to convince my family when they arrived on Saturday morning to continue on with all the planned activities and leave me at home in the bed. I was perfectly content with the idea. Actually, my back hurt too bad to imagine doing anything else. I had already experienced everything we had planned: eating out, shopping, Christmas in the Oaks, and so much more. I knew I would not be missing out on anything other than spending the time with them. I also know my family well enough to know that that is exactly why they could not have been convinced so easily. They would not have wanted to go without me.  

I did a lot of praying today, asking God to allow me to be up and running (well, at least walking) by Saturday.

DAY 6: Saturday, December 5, 2009

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, BABY GIRL (My 22 year old baby girl)!

God answered my prayers today. I got out of bed by myself and my back felt better! My daughter, son, mom, step-dad, brother, sister in law, niece, one of my daughter’s dogs (a sixty pound lab), and my poodle, Chloe, arrived shortly after noon. We wasted zero time. My daughter opened her gifts and then literally, within minutes, all the girls were back inside the car headed to the mall. We shopped for a couple of hours (well actually my daughter, sister-in-law, and niece shopped while my mom and I sat on a bench enjoying watching everyone else hustling and bustling) and then we met the guys for an early supper. From there, we went back home to prepare for the Christmas walking tour through the park. Even though the temperature was extremely cold, and even though I had to be pushed through the park in a wheel chair, I was so very grateful for this time to spend with all of them.

DAY 7: Sunday, December 6, 2009

Today my back is better than yesterday. I could not believe the mobility I had. My mom fixed a pastry dish for breakfast and then we all dressed and went to Whole Foods Grocery (an odd, but favorite pass time of ours) and then to the Riverwalk Marketplace area.

The entire weekend could not be described as perfect. There were some “moments”, but all in all, it was fun and I think everyone had a good time. It went by very fast, and some of us understand better than others why that was!!

My daughter had Monday off so she decided to stay an extra day. And because we were in two vehicles, everyone else left to go home from the City. My husband, daughter, and myself went back to the house in Metairie, fixed a lunch with some of our grocery buys, and then took a nap. After our nap, my daughter and I got chauffeured to the mall and were able to shop once again for a little while. When my husband picked us up, we went riding around looking at Christmas lights. Supper was a meal of homemade shrimp stew brought to us by friends. It was a welcome treat and very good! We got back in the car and took another drive. This time through LaFriene Park where all the lights that have always been on display at the home of Al Copeland can now be seen. It was gorgeous!! We went home and attempted to watch a Christmas movie. Ironically, I was the only one who stayed awake to see the end.

DAY 8: Monday, December 7, 2009

The plans: 1. My husband to go to work. 2. My daughter and I to finish up some shopping. (She had been trying to make up her mind about a purchase using some money she had received for her birthday.) (We both love to shop and there is no one else in the world I would rather shop with.) 3. To pack, get the dogs, and head home.

The dilemma: I did not feel good! I was having a difficult time moving around and wasn’t so sure I needed to make the two hour trip home. I spent most of the day feeling unsure about what to do. I am usually not so indecisive, but for some reason I felt uneasy about everything. Staying put and getting some rest sounded great, but I could not let go of the desire to ride home with my daughter. The later in the day it got, the greater this desire became. I thought it was because the day was getting away from us and I knew she would be getting into rush hour traffic, as well as, knowing that part of her drive home would be in the dark and possibly in the rain.

HERE IS WHERE I WANT TO CAMP OUT FOR A WHILE! NOT THAT THIS BLOG ISN’T LONG ENOUGH AS IT IS, BUT THE ENTIRE PURPOSE OF IT IS TO SHARE/DOCUMENT THE FOLLOWING:

I was so confused about what I needed to do that I asked my daughter to make the decision for me. At first, she tried to refuse, but I convinced her otherwise. I asked her to be honest in letting me know which she dreaded more: having to wait on me to pack, load up, a more crowded car, and then getting home later because of having to take me home first OR having to drive home by herself. I gave her a few minutes to think it over before giving me her answer. When I came out of the back bedroom to where she sat in the living room to ask her what she had decided, she started crying. She said she wanted me to go with her. DONE! AT PEACE! NO MORE DOUBTS! I immediately began packing.

She took a wrong turn on the way home. She took the exit to Hammond, Louisiana instead of Hattiesburg, Mississippi. It is an easy thing to do if you are not paying attention. We got somewhat turned around and I had to get my GPS out. We went about 3 miles out of the way. It was dark and would have been a little confusing without the GPS. Still trying to understanding why I was on my way home and not in the bed, I felt like I now had my answer and I told her so. “K, this is why I was suppose to be here with you.” Her reply, “No, it is not.” She began to cry.

For the rest of the ride home, she opened up to me. She explained her last trip home from visiting us in Metairie and how she cried and wailed (literally) all the way home as she agonized over her decisions, her life, her attempts to begin changing things when she returned home, and her failure to do so.

(She had expressed to me several times throughout the day how much she dreaded going home. I had no way of knowing why she dreaded it so much. She feared a repeat of her last trip home. I found out later that she had told my mother how much she loved visiting with us because of it being such a great get-a-way for her.)

For a very long time I had felt the desire to have another heart- to -heart with her, and had been praying for the right moment. There had been several opportunities that I could have seized, but never felt right in doing so. Some of my family members and one of my friends knew about my desire. I had actually begun feeling like I was making excuses every time one of them who knew I had been praying for this opportunity would ask me about it after knowing I had spent time with her. I felt like they thought I was simply avoiding talking to her and making excuses. Nothing was further from the truth. Completely out of character for me, I was being extremely patient, wanting God to give me the perfect time. And here it was!! I had had no time to plan it out in my head or rehearse what I was going to say to her. It was all spontaneous, but more importantly it was completely God led. Never one time throughout the day did I understand why I was struggling with what to do. Why the fight, the turmoil, and indecisiveness? I thought it was because I was sick or because I was medicated, but at that moment knew it was God not wanting me to know just yet. It was a very sweet moment. It was a moment that I will savor. It was in that moment that He chose to make things very clear to me.

As she opened up to me I realized more than ever the dangerous position she is in. She feels overwhelmed with her life. She has made some wrong decisions in relationships, priorities, etc. which have in turn pushed her into a corner that she cannot seem to get out of. She is very much overweight and miserable because she has turned to food for comfort. She is in debt partly because she has turned to shopping for a retreat. This has caused her to not be able to leave a very stressful job that she hates and return to school. This job leaves her exhausted and robs her of time to do anything else. She has a love and passion for animals, but has turned to them for comfort as well. She owns three dogs that contribute to her financial problems, as well as, hindering her in some of the decisions she needs to make in regards to moving, etc. (It’s kind of complicated!) We discussed all of this.

There is a prominent doctor in town who lost his young adult daughter this year. She drowned in a swimming pool. I do not know the details of the situation, but as you can imagine there has been a lot of “talk around the town.” My daughter knew her name through work and looked her up on facebook after the accident. She had a poem on her profile page that reached way down into the depths of my daughter’s soul and has affected her in a way that I cannot even begin to talk about. She read this poem to me that she had saved on her phone and I was once again amazed at how my God works, allowing this tragic situation to have a positive influence on someone else’s life.

Here it is:
Everyone longs to give themselves completely to someone; to have a deep soul relationship with another; to be loved thoroughly and exclusively. But to a Christian, God says, "No, not until you are satisfied, fulfilled, and content with being loved by Me alone, with giving yourself totally and unreservedly to Me, with having an intensely personal and unique relationship with Me alone. Discovering that only in Me is your satisfaction to be found, will you be capable of the perfect human relationship that I have planned for you. You will never be united with another until you are united with Me exclusive of anyone or anything else; exclusive of any other desires or longings. I want you to stop planning, stop wishing, and allow Me to give you the most thrilling plan existing...one that you cannot imagine. I want you to have the best! Please allow Me to bring it to you. You just keep watching Me, expecting the greatest thing. Keep experiencing the satisfaction that I am. Keep listening and learning the things that I tell you. Just wait, that's all. Don't be anxious. Don't worry. Don't look around at the things others have gotten or that I have given them. Don't look around at the things you think you want. Just keep looking off and away to Me, or you'll miss what I want to show you. And then, when you're ready, I'll surprise you with a love far more wonderful than you would dream of. You see, until you are ready and until the one I have for you is ready, I am working even at this moment to have both of you ready at the same time, until you are both satisfied exclusively with Me and the life I've prepared for you. You won't be able to experience the love that exemplified you with Me, and this is perfect love. And dear one, I want you to have this most wonderful love, I want you to see in the flesh a picture of your relationship with me, and to enjoy materially and concretely the everlasting union of beauty, perfection,and love that I offer you with Myself. Know that I love you utterly. For I am God; believe it and be satisfied."

(I am still amazed at how God presented these words to her. They have penetrated her heart. I am not sure whether or not she will allow them alone to influence her into making life changing decisions, but they have definitely affected her in a way that could very well be a catalyst to move her in the direction she needs to be going.) 

The last thing I wanted to leave her with was that “mom preached to me all the way home.” But I did not have to. She shocked and amazed me with her words as her heart spilled out. I did take the opportunity to explain to her why her discontentment (knowing where it comes from) gave me a sense of contentment. I think she understood.

What I realized I needed to leave her with was knowing how much she is loved, how much I care, how much I want her to be happy.  I know what she must do to obtain true happiness and so does she. Her feelings of despair and loneliness concern me greatly.  She is on very shaky ground.  She needs stability.  She knows where to get it, but is not quite ready to jump and allow her Father to catch her. I have to be her stability right now.  Through prayer and letting her know that I am here for her and that she is not alone, maybe I can be the one to cheer her on, into the arms of the only One who can fix all of this.  I used an example to show her how God would not storm into her life to fix everything, but as soon as she was ready to turn it all over to Him, how happy He would be to become a part of her life and would not refuse her.  His willingness to help her out of the mess that she alone has allowed is only one prayer away, but it has to be her prayer! She is not ready yet, but I feel like she is closer than she has ever been on this three year journey. I will not give up on her.
 
He is working in her life.  My prayer, along with everyone else's who loves her, is that she will reach out to Him as this is what He longs for.  He is standing with arms wide open waiting for her.  I find comfort right now in knowing that she knows this too.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

A "God Sighting" Among the Flowers

One morning as I drove to work listening to my favorite radio station, listeners were calling in sharing their stories of “God sightings”. Everyone who called in had a unique story, some small and some huge, but they were all stories of events that had taken place in their lives that they recognized as having been orchestrated by God. They were proud to share them with others, and rightfully so.

So, here is my “God sighting”. It is a story that is special to me because God’s handwriting is all over it.

It all began on Friday, June 19 while shopping. As I have already shared in a previous entry, I woke up on this particular morning with an overwhelming desire to start this blog. It had been on my mind off and on for quite some time, but not like this day. Prior to this, I had gone as far as to write down some ideas I had for a title. None of them felt right, so I sort of gave up, knowing God would give me a title when it was time. In case you are curious, one of my ideas was “Turning A Molehill Into A Mountain”. And while not such a bad idea, I knew it was not the one.

So, why was I making such a big deal over the title? It just was for me. My journey is a big deal. This blog is a big deal, every aspect of it, including the title.

Our mall’s location, as well as, some of my favorite stores, T.J.Maxx being one, are located on one side of town and a very few others, such as Steinmart and Trees- N-Trends are located on another. Normally I would go to the mall area , but for a reason I cannot remember, I went to Steinmart. My daughter also works in the part of town where Steinmart is located. While there, I felt an urgency to buy her a “happy”. I had sensed through some of the messages she had been putting on her phone’s contact information that she was having a bad week at work. I prayed and asked God to show me something special to buy her. And then I walked directly to an area where I spotted a pair of slippers (fuzzy, white, made to look like flip-flops). Perfect! She works very long hours at her job, stands all day, deals with a tremendous amount of pressure and stress, and also has some medical issues with her feet. I also bought her a bath sponge (one like she loves) and some yummy smelling bath gel. (She has an obsession with bath and beauty products. One year for Christmas, I found a cute duffle bag for her and filled it with all sorts of bath and beauty products purchased at Wal-Mart. This was not her main gift, but she has always remembered this one and still talks about it today.)

I needed to take my purchases to her at her job, so I wanted to present them to her in something other than a plastic bag, and I also wanted to give her a card. Steinmart’s gift bags are located in the very back of the store, tucked away in the corner. I think I forgot on this particular day that they even carried gift bags, causing me to make a trip to another store. I went to Big Lots located in the same shopping center directly behind Steinmart.

Now, comes a confession: I have a quirk! Actually, I have more than one, but I will only let you in on this one for now. It involves gift wrap, gift bags, and cards. They have to match! I do not know why, they just have to!

I found a pretty gift bag fairly quickly. The bath sponge I purchased was on a handle, so the bag had to be kind of tall. The one I chose (not really many to choose from that wasn’t birthday, wedding, baby, etc.) was muted green with a picture of three or four long stemmed flowers (maybe Gerber daises, not sure) across the front. I liked the bag, now off to find a card, a matching card!!

The cards were located on an aisle across and behind the aisle with the gift bags. I scanned the cards for a few minutes and could not find one that was appropriate or that (well, you know) matched! I thought I could find one that was blank on the inside so I could write my own message. With no luck in finding one I went back to the gift bags because the stationary was also on this particular aisle along with the packaged thank you and invitation cards. I thought I could possibly find something there, but again, no luck. I repeated this: scanned through the cards, went back and scanned the stationary. Keep in mind that I am praying, asking God for the right card as I search.

And then I found it! I am now back at the card display for the third time. The third time's a charm, right? I don't know, but I started crying on the card aisle in Big Lots as I held in my hand THE CARD. Not “the card that would have to do”. Oh my goodness, no! It was THE CARD, the card He gave me to give to her! I fully understand and know that God is aware of my little “gift bag/card matching” quirk. (as well as all of my other ones). But, I had given up on finding a card to match the bag I had found. I had begun just hoping and searching for one that was either blank or had the appropriate words in it, not caring what color it was or what kind of picture was on the front.

All I could think of as I stood there holding this card as I sobbed was, Oh ye of little faith!! I guess I had forgotten that He cares about my little quirks. Not only did He give me the card that matched the bag I had found, it was also the card with the most wonderful and perfect words for me to share with her. It was also the card He gave to me as well. I was completely aware of the fact that He had just given me the inspiration for the title of this blog AND an idea for my first post!





Sorry for the poor quality pictures, but you get the general idea.  Remember the description of my gift bag: pastel green with long stemmed flowers! The colors do not show up very well in these pictures, but the bottom of the card, as well as, the inside is a shade of light green.

The poem on the front of the card is the same one located on my sidebar.  The inside reads: "Take time to smell the flowers, and take time for yourself".  You're very special.

Wow, what a God sighting!! What great and wonderful things He can do - even in the way of something as simple as a card!

Friday, November 6, 2009

The Beach

I spent a few days this past week at the beach in Gulf Shores, Alabama with a friend helping her paint and redecorate her condo.  Here are some pictures I took off the balcony of the ocean and some of the sunset one evening (the pictures did not do the sunset justice. It was breathtaking.)





Sunday, October 18, 2009

HOME SWEET HOME




CAN YOU GUESS WHAT THESE ARE?






Did you guess Christmas decorations? YES
In October? YES
Have I lost my mind? YEA, PROBABLY

I LOVE the holidays! I LOVE everything about October thru December! I LOVE to decorate for the holidays, especially  Christmas.  While, yes, a few small holiday-ish things have started showing up around here, I love the fall too and will wait until next month before I get too wild and crazy with all things red, green, and shiny! I will give October and November their just due.

I also LOVE to be at home!

My thoughts lately have been on the story of the lost son found in Luke 15: 11-32 and what he had to come home to. Here is what I came up with:

-A dad who (most probably) periodically looked down the road full of hopefulness.  And then finally on that glorious day when he first caught a glimpse of his son walking towards the house, (a great way off) he could not contain himself.  He took off running as fast as he could.  vs. 20

-A dad, full of compassion, who immediately showered his son with affection. vs. 20

-A dad who forgave. vs. 21

-A dad who was concerned for his son’s physical needs, as well as, wanting to display physical evidence of his forgiveness.  vs. 22

-A dad who was so full of joy that he wanted to celebrate.  He was ready to throw a party, one with guests, gifts, and food.  vs. 23

-A brother who could not have been expected to understand the unconditional love and forgiveness of a parent’s heart.  

One day in late June of last year, my daughter came home to spend the night.  I am working on putting my thoughts and words together to write the story that lead up to this evening and I will share it in the very near future.   

She stood in the kitchen on the morning of June 27, 2008 as she prepared to leave for work and said to me, “Mom, I will come home one day and it will be for good.”

As I thought about the story of the lost son and what he came home to, I started to think about what she would have to come home to.

Here is what she came home to on that night in June, as well as, what she has always had at home:

1. A house that is clean
2. A house that is quite and peaceful
3. A house that smells good
4. Fresh, clean, and crisp linens
5. Stacks of soft, fluffy towels
5. Pets that try to lick her to death
6. Plenty of food to eat
7.  A house that is cool in the summer and warm in the winter
8. A house that is far enough away from town that she can hear crickets chirping and train whistles, she can see fireflies in the woods and stars in the sky in the evening, but close enough to the local mall and restaurants that the drive is only 10 minutes away
9.  The privacy of her own room
10. A warm shower or a hot bath
11. Candles burning and lamps glowing
12. And so much more

She and I both understood that when she said she would be back  home, it did not mean to this physical address, but rather back into our lives - “for good.” 

God, I thank you for the story of the lost son and for this insight into who you are.  How many times have I lost my way, in a sea of self-centeredness?   God thank you for your patience, thank you for watching and waiting for me to return.  Thank you that when I do, you forgive, you have compassion and joy.  Thank you for loving me.  The things I want my daughter to  receive when she returns are the very things you offer me when I leave and come back to you.  Fill me with your forgiveness, your patience, your compassion, your joy, and your unconditional love so that when she returns this is what she will find:   


- A mother who has periodically watched for her to return home.  And on that glorious day when I catch the first glimpse of her out of the corner of my eye, I will not be able to contain myself.

- I will run. I will fall at her neck. And I will kiss her.

- I will forgive her.

- To sum things up, I will be filled with excitement, joy, compassion, affection, and forgiveness. 

- I will once again be able to show my love to her through giving her the desires of her heart.

- I will be understanding towards others who may not understand unconditional love.  I will pray that they can find forgiveness in their hearts.

In other words, God, I will be able to do exactly what you do for me!

Forgive me when I lose my way.  Help me to always be able to find my way home, back to you, and help her to find her way back as well! Amen





Friday, October 16, 2009

FINALLY FALL!!


And we have the weather today to prove it!
High today: 67 Low today: 43



Thursday, October 15, 2009

Love Bug “A-La-Carte”

August 29, 2009 was the 4 year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.  The day came and went and I did not give much thought to it.  At least, not as much as I did a couple of weekends ago as my husband worked on some house projects, including repainting our back door, the one that leads out into our carport.  Unfortunately, I did not take a BEFORE picture.  But, here is the AFTER picture:






What you would have seen in the BEFORE picture would have looked identical to the AFTER picture, only without the fresh paint and with the addition of what we suspect to be love-bugs left over from Hurricane Katrina lining the inset of this door. 

New Orleans got a tremendous amount of media coverage after this devastating hurricane because of the flood waters after the levee broke.  Gulfport/Biloxi, Mississippi will never be the same.  The old stately mansions that lined the beach-front are forever gone. Neither did the Hattiesburg/Petal, Mississippi area escape the path of this storm. Here is what I remember:

My father in law passed away just a few short days before Katrina hit.  Needless, to say our thoughts were not exactly on the upcoming storm. But, after the funeral we managed to focus on getting prepared.  So like, everyone else, we stocked up on supplies that would get us by for the next few (maybe 2 or 3) days of inconvenience without electricity.  These few days turned into 11 to be exact, and this was a very short time in comparison to those we knew who were without it for a month, and longer.

We began to see and feel the effects of the storm as early as 7:00 a.m. that morning, maybe even earlier.   The winds had begun to pick up, so  I woke my husband and told him that if he did not get up he was going to miss it! I can laugh now, realizing how  ridiculous this was, because it was a looooong day.  I especially remember the three or four hours, from around 1:00-4:00 or 5:00 that were very, very scary!!   By that evening we were all weary, mentally exhausted, thankful that we had survived, and yet uncertain about what the future held.

Let me explain.

It was not until around noon or shortly after that my husband and I truly realized the seriousness of this storm and that our lives were in danger.  Of course we did not share this realization with the kids!  There was no piece of furniture in the house strong enough or bathroom or closet safe enough to keep us out of harms way from the trees that were snapping and falling all around us.  We have several massive pine trees in our yard, some so close to the house that if we opened a window and stretched our arm, we could probably touch some of them.   At one point during the day, my son stepped out onto the front porch.  It was like slow motion, as my husband and I ran for him when he yelled, “Son! Check this out!”.  At that instant a large tree had snapped and was falling towards the porch.  Thankfully, missing it and him!  We pulled him in and finished having our heart attacks.  For the better part of the morning, we still had phone service, and were able to communicate with family and friends.  While talking to some of our good friends, a tree fell and came through a window and into their kitchen.  Also, while talking to my mother, a tree fell onto her roof.  Actually there were two trees on her house.   She had limbs and branches sticking down out of the ceiling in her living room and in her bedroom.

Literally, we spent the entire day watching to see which way the wind was bending the trees and moving from room to room in hopes that we could dodge the ones that were falling.  Yea, and we also did a whole lot of praying, along with trying to keep our hysterical daughter calmed down!!!

By the time the storm was over, it was dark outside, we had no electricity, no phone service, and no idea what truly lay ahead of us.  We were thankful that it was over, thankful that there were no trees on the house, but mostly thankful that we were all ok.   I remember lying in bed that evening with the windows open and the cool breeze blowing in, thinking, “This is not going to be so bad, a couple of days without electricity, enough food and water to see us through, and cool enough outside that we will not miss the air conditioner.”

Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. And wrong.  

Let me try to recall a portion of this 11 day nightmare:

1. We were left in the dark. Literally, without electricity. But also we were gridlocked at home, unable to call or drive to check on anything or anyone.  There were fallen trees blocking roads everywhere! Thanks to all the volunteers, (many of them who came from out of town) the roads were soon cleared, but there was another little problem that crept into the picture: A gasoline shortage.

There was also little to no phone service and we could not check on family, friends, co-workers, employees, etc.  In our day and age of instant communication, isolation was difficult!!  My husband was the general manager at a local manufacturing facility.  My sister-in-law had the only cell phone that we knew of that had service.  Thankfully, he was finally able to use it to make some of his much needed calls to his employees and to the corporate office.

2. We were unprepared.  We did not have enough drinking water, food, ice, money, gasoline, coca-cola…!  When some of the stores finally began to open again, there was a shortage on most food items.  We also did not have electricity, so buying milk or anything else perishable was not feasible. Everything, and I mean everything, was closed in the beginning, grocery stores, banks, restaurants, and even the mall and Wal-Mart (imagine that).  There was devastation everywhere and no one was prepared.  Because of damaged buildings, no electricity, and the lack of workers, everything just shut down. 

In the beginning there were no gas stations that were open and then when a few finally did, they were rationing gas.  We were only allowed to get a few gallons at a time, the prices were outrageous, and if you dared to get in line, the wait was anywhere between one to two hours long. Also, you had to have cash as most of the stations had no way of running a credit card through.   

At one point during these 11 days, my husband knew someone who needed to travel out of town for medical reasons.  The situation was very serious.  My brother (because of his job) was able to sneak the family into an area during the night and fill their vehicle.  (Nothing illegal took place, just having the right connections!) They (my husband and brother) talked about how scary it was being in that situation.  People everywhere seemed to have gone crazy.  There had been shootings over bags of ice!  This has to be somewhat close to the way things are going to be during the Tribulation Period.  Glad I will not be here!

On a lighter note: my brother (my one and only, the one who was able to help this family) came to my house, with his son, right on the edge of the storm reaching it’s worst to see if we had some cokes.  Yea, he did!!

3. We were hot.  The breeze that Katrina teased us with on that first night, was to never be seen or felt again!  The humidity was off the charts.  Just walking around in the house, left us  completely wet with perspiration, so working outside trying to clear the debris during the day was unthinkable and sleep at night was impossible.  Did I tell you it was hot?  The only relief was to take a shower, but that was really futile. Stepping out of the shower and drying off caused one to break out into another sweat!

We have a natural gas hot water heater in our house, so several of our friends and family members came over to take showers.  Even though it was as hot as it was, none of us wanted to take a cold shower!
 
4. We were bored. I know boredom sounds shallow in lieu of everything else that was going on, but it was a problem for us during this time, it just was.  Everything we did on a daily basis had come to a screeching halt.  There was no getting dressed, no going to work, no shopping, no cooking, no cleaning house, no doing laundry, no visiting friends,  no talking on the phone, no working in the yard, no going out to eat, no watching TV, no computers or video games, no routine, no normalcy.  The days and nights were hot, long, and full of uncertainties.  This was especially true about the nights.  Depression was looming.

One night, I went outside and sat in my car.  I needed desperately to do something “normal”, so I plugged my little portable DVD player into the cigarette lighter and watched a movie.  It was hot, but I didn’t care.  It was a movie that I had watched a hundred times before, but I didn’t care.  My car battery was completely dead after the movie was over, but I did not care!

I am sorry for the long post.  I did not intend on it being so long, but decided to go ahead and dump some of my memories here just in case, well you know, one day I may not be able to recall them anymore!  The reason for the title, “Love Bug A-La-Carte”, it’s coming!

5. We were worried. In the beginning, before we could see the light at the end of the tunnel, there was much for us to be concerned about. As I stated earlier, the nights especially seemed to be the worst. They were long, hot, and filled with uncertainties.  We were busy for the most part during the daylight hours, and literally spent them  like pioneers, gathering enough supplies to make it through the day and into the next one.  Our needs on a day to day basis became overwhelming, things that we had always taken for granted, like ice and water!
 
There was the issue with the insurance company.  Would they come through for us?  Although, there were no trees on the house, there was still considerable damage to the roof and other areas due to the strong winds. 

We were concerned about others. I remember sitting in my friend’s living room after the roads were cleared and we were able to travel again.  I broke out in tears because I could not get to my parents house to check on them.  I needed my mom and needed to see for myself that she was ok, but because she lives about twenty to thirty minutes away from us, we were afraid we did not have enough gas to take us there and get us back home. This is how serious it was!

We feared for our future. During this particular time, there were some serious issues going on with my husband’s job, too many to go into.  But, it gave us reason to be very concerned. For several days after the hurricane, we had no idea whether or not the building was still standing, whether or not there would be any employees left to work, or any customers left to buy their products.  The closing down of this particular branch had been looming over our heads and we felt like this would probably be a good time for the corporate office to finally seal the deal and go forward with the transferring of this facility to another location.

6.We had love-bugs. There was a plague. Never had we ever seen so many.  If you opened your mouth outside you would be picking love bugs out of your teeth.  Seriously!

7. We were hungry. Into the second week of this, yea, we were hungry!  Most evenings we ate by candlelight. Not on purpose, but nightfall seemed to creep up on us, so by the time we could get a meal prepared and sit down to eat, it would be dark.

My family was hungry for something to eat that did not come out of a can.  We wanted real food!  Another friend of ours had shared with us some food that had been given to her and her family.  In the package of goodies, was some link sausage.  So on this particular day, I had the menu planned out: Grilled sausage with macaroni-and-cheese.  I could not wait and I was determined that we were going to eat before dark!  When it came time to put the sausage on the grill, I took it out of our ever so slightly cool refrigerator (running on a generator) to notice immediately that there was green mold growing on it.  I almost pretended not to see it, but not wanting to make my family sick, I resisted the temptation. On to plan B.  I didn’t really have a plan B, but created one rather quickly.  I knew there were some hot dog wieners in the frig also, so I got them out and gave them to my son to grill in place of the sausages.    He walked into the house, too soon for the hot dogs to be ready, with too pale of a face.  He hated to tell me that he had accidentally knocked the portable, charcoal grill over, spilling the hot dogs all over the ground.  Seriously, I would have hosed them down and eaten them anyway if he had not already sent them  hurling into the nearby woods.  Plan C: Canned meat!  I opened a can of spam, sliced it, and handed this platter of scrump-dilly-ish-ous-ness to him to grill with the instructions to not let me know if he knocked them to the ground. “Just pick them up, wipe them off, keep grilling, and keep quite!”

Outside, in our makeshift kitchen, he grilled and I prepared the macaroni and cheese on the portable stove-top. 

Inside, by candlelight, I was overwhelmed.  We ate canned meat and I apologized to everyone as we picked the love-bugs out of our macaroni and cheese. No one said a word.  No sounds were made other than the clinking of silverware and my sobs!

8. We saw the light. The one at the end of the tunnel.  And we could not have been more ready.  Thankfully, even before our electricity was restored, relief came.  A company within my husband’s corporation brought food, water, ice, money, barrels of gasoline to him and all his employees.  What stands out in my mind, was the manner in which it was brought to us.  They made the delivery to our house in the middle of the night.  I cannot remember where they drove from, but it was a far distance.  We offered our house to them for some  rest before they started the trip back.  They declined, wanting to leave immediately .  The guys were very nervous.  They had heard so much about theft and loitering that they were literally afraid of being ambushed.  They could not get the truck unloaded and out of the area fast enough.  

So many other volunteers came to our rescue and provided relief in other areas. We were finally able to get gas, money from the bank, groceries, ice, drinking water.  We even had a generator to keep our food cool, and to run fans at night.  I swore the night we went to bed after the power came back on and we turned the air conditioner on to never take electricity for granted again. 

Our insurance company came through for us.

The government came to our rescue with funds available for everyone to get back on their feet.

My husband’s company did not shut down.  His workers all eventually came back to work and they resumed business as usual.

Areas like Gatlinburg, TN were offering free trips to the victims of Hurricane Katrina.  My daughter and two of our friends were able to make this trip during Thanksgiving that year.  We truly had so much to be thankful for!   

The love bugs went away! YAH!  But, I still cannot eat macaroni and cheese without thinking that a main ingredient is missing!

Bon Appetit.

Friday, October 2, 2009

GOING GREEN

I went walking last night. There is a cow pasture next to the track where I walk, and it reminded me of something I read recently. It was a writer’s very unique perspective of a well known Bible verse: Psalms 23:2: He maketh me to lie down in green pastures… Her perspective: God gives all of us green pastures, but we do not always recognize them as green pastures.

It was someone’s opinion. That’s all. And whether I agree with her or not, I’m not sure, but it did give me something to think about. So, here are my thoughts: Maybe we DO recognize our green pastures, but refuse to lie down in them. Why? We stand with our weight on one foot, taping the other one, gazing around at other pastures. They look bigger and greener. No, we will not lie down in our pasture, we will wait until our grass is greener or just as green as the one on the other side of the fence. Or, maybe we are not comparing ours to others at all, just discontent with it’s appearance, so we will wait until it looks as good as we think it should, and then and only then will we lie down in it.

Just thinking out loud!

This past weekend, my husband spent some time with his brothers. The visit included watching one brother play with his grand baby while anticipating the birth of a second one, as well as, listening to another brother as he talked of his daughter’s upcoming graduation and receiving her doctorate degree. He came home feeling a little down and with questions. Not new ones. Not ones that I have not already asked myself. I shared with him some of the thoughts and feelings I have had over the years as I attended all the baby showers, wedding showers, the weddings, and the graduation ceremonies.

I hope you will not think of me as a selfish person or full of self pity because I truly felt a sense of pride and joy for the families involved, but at the same time the events triggered questions and a sadness that allowed me to fully understand what my husband was feeling.

It was during these times that my pasture did not look very green, and I certainly did not want to lie down in it, knowing this was exactly what Satan had set out to do. When I allowed my mind to wonder into a comparison mode, it left room to doubt.

Why, God? Why am I where I am at this very moment with my children when I did everything I was suppose to do? You promised me that if I raised them in the nurture and admonition of you they would not depart from you. But they have. I see families who did not, from all appearances, allow you to be the center of their lives and yet all seems to be well with them. Why? 

Knowing fully that with the belt of truth to shield me from Satan‘s lies; the breastplate of righteousness to protect my heart; my feet shod with preparation to give me the motivation to move forward and to share what you are doing in my life with others; the shield of faith so as to not become consumed with setbacks knowing that even though I cannot see beyond my present circumstance, God, you can; and then finally the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit to protect my mind when the doubts come… I can lie down… in my green pasture.

Yet, God, at times, I still struggle. I look around me and see the other pastures. They look quite lush and green, the way I want mine to look. I stand. I tap my foot. And I wait… for greener pasture. 

I pray right now that I will not measure my success as a parent by the choices my children have made although others may be doing this very thing. And while they may compare my children’s lives with their children’s and then use this to justify not having a relationship with you, I do not want to be caught up in this lie as well. I do not want to doubt you. Having a relationship with you does not mean a life without struggles. It means that I can draw closer to you while going through them and then hopefully become a stronger and better person because of them. It means that I have been given an opportunity to show you and what you can do to others. When I look around and “all seems to be well with the world”, help me to understand that while all may be well with the world, all may not be well with the soul. Thank you for my green pasture. I know you are not finished with it. There is much plowing and cultivating still to be done. I will look forward to a fully matured pasture. I will anticipate the story I will be able to tell one day of how it came to be. In the meantime, I will lie down. I will be still and know. I will look up and I will believe.


Friday, September 25, 2009

Prayer Request

Please pray for my daughter.  She has the flu and is very sick.  Pray for God to heal her physically, but more importantly to use this illnes to begin to chip away at her callused heart and mind.  I truly believe He uses things like this to grab our attention.  She is vulnerable.  She is frightened.  I want her to turn to Him right now to heal her body, and then to begin to feel the confidence and assurance that He can also heal her spiritually.  Thank you!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

TO AND FRO

“For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth to shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect (made ready) toward him.” II Chronicles 16:9 


Today, God,  as your eyes run to and fro throughout this whole earth, I pray they stop when they see me because you find me:   

Seeking you for the questions I have no answers to--battered and broken--looking up--not letting go--courageous--not shaken--praising you in the storm--moved with compassion--thanking you even in the circumstance--waiting on your timing because I cannot see the end--calling you friend--calling out your name--separated from the world--joyful in all things--being not afraid--longsuffering--setting my hope in you--loving you because you first loved me--trusting you when I doubt myself and others--steadfast--setting an example for those around me--giving--studying--worshiping you--with a true heart full of assurance--fruitful--in awe of you--pleasing you--believing in you--faithful--with humility of mind--being of good cheer--hungering and thirsting after righteousness--forgiving those who have trespassed against me--confessing my sins--keeping thy precepts diligently--encouraged--exhorting one another--being fervent in the spirit--glad--increased in knowledge and faith--justified--wise--quiet and peaceful--meek and lowly in heart--willing and obedient--keeping your commandments--proclaiming your goodness--delighting in you--resting in you--waiting on you…

In Job 2:2 God asked Satan, “From whence comest thou? And he answered , “From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it.”

God, protect me, protect my husband, protect my children as Satan’s plan is to devour all that he can as he, also, looks to and fro.


FIND ME FIRST, GOD! FIND THEM FIRST!

Friday, September 18, 2009

I will not be AFRAID… I will not be AFRAID…

On Tuesday, May 19, 2009 my daughter came to visit.  I allowed fear to wash over me as she and I conversed as if there were no lies, no secrets, no regrets, and no heartache between us. 

Driving to work on Wednesday, June 10, 2009 I prayed to be filled with the Fruits of the Spirit.  God was gracious and allowed me to realize that I had choked them out of my life and replaced them with fear.  At that moment, I purposed in my heart  … 
 
I will not be AFRAID of things never being any different than they are right now in her life. I will not let impatience overcome LONGSUFFERING.

I will not be AFRAID that the hurt is never going to go away. I will not let sadness steal my JOY.

I will not be AFRAID that if I ever have the opportunity to confront some of the people in her life that I will do or say something regrettable. I will not hate, be intemperate, unkind, or mean spirited.  I will LOVE, be TEMPERATE, and GENTLE.

I will not be AFRAID that others will find out.  I will not allow pride to stand in the way of MEEKNESS.  

I will not be AFRAID that she will never trust God to give her the strength and courage she needs to let go of this stronghold.  Do I allow doubt to overcome my FAITH? No.

I will not be AFRAID of this turmoil.  I will remain calm and PEACEFUL.

I will not be AFRAID of evil tidings; but rather my heart is fixed, trusting in the Lord. Psalms 112: 7

And then

I shall be like a tree, planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his FRUIT in his season…

Thursday, September 17, 2009

SHE CANNOT BUT HE CAN

I often read Lysa Terkeurst’s blog from Proverb’s 31 Ministries. She has an amazing insight and an incredible gift for writing. God always speaks clearly to me through her words. Every time I read her blog, it seems that she has written about the very thing I needed on that particular day or something that I, too, struggle with.

This past June, she dedicated a post to temptation. She described it as Satan’s three step plan and here is a summary of that plan:

1. Satan wants us to crave physical gratifications (sex, drugs, food, alcohol, etc.) and to become preoccupied with them. He uses stimulation such as sound, touch, taste, and sight to accomplish this. He then keeps us distracted with cycles of guilt and justifications.

2. He wants us to remain forever distracted by never being satisfied, always wanting more, newer, bigger, shinier… (power, money, “things”)

3. He crowns us lord over whatever has captivated us. We are now elevated, revered, worthy, noticed, commended, prideful…

With my daughter in mind, I want to add an OR to step #3:

OR we become addicted. (Not being proud of our attainments, but rather chained to them)

This is where she is in her life right now: addicted. She told me so once. She has not become lord over her choices, they have become lord over her. This is why SHE CANNOT get out of her pit.

Dear K,

I know you have slipped away from me again. I am all too familiar with your absence , the unanswered phone calls, unanswered messages, and your excuses. I hear your lies, but more importantly I see them on your face.

Heartache gripped me yesterday as I walked through Wal-mart buying groceries for this weekend. I had high hopes of spending it with you. I choked back the tears wondering where you were and what you were doing, and I am not only referring to this week or last, but what happened to my daughter, where is she? I was overcome with the all too familiar feelings of disbelief. It was never suppose to be this way. These were not my plans. These were not His plans.

I hold on tight when you allow me to, with the hope that one day my grip will be strong enough to help you out of the pit you are in. I am not sure exactly when, but you let go again, and I am overcome with discouragement.

For several weeks now, I have had a strong desire to have another heart-to-heart talk with you. The right time never came. Did I go the extra mile to find the right time or was it simply not in His plan? I do not know. Would it have made a difference? I do not know that either. But, I do know this:

Your addictions are keeping you where you are right now: far away from me, far away from this family that loves you, and far away from God. I also believe with all my heart that although my grip may not be strong enough to help you, His is. I have the assurance that one day, you will take His hand as He delivers you from all of this. The addictions are not good for you (physically, mentally, or spiritually), but their influences are too strong for you to overcome. He will have to be the one to do it.  HE CAN. He will bring you into a better place. Why? Because He delights in you! I, too, delight in you.

I love you, Mom

Psalms 18:17-19 “He delivered me from my strong enemy, and from them which hated me: for they were strong for me. They prevented me in the day of my calamity: but the Lord was my stay. He brought me also into a large place; He delivered me, because He delighted in me.”

Sunday, September 13, 2009

THE PITS

In my very first blog entry I mentioned my great-grandparents storm shelter or storm pit as we called it.  They lived approximately 100 miles north of the Gulf Coast so we stayed with them and in their storm pit during Hurricane Camille.  I was eight years old at the time and here is what I remember about the experience and the pit:

It was dirty and smelly,
dark and scary.
It was hot and built underground;
so the only way in was down,
and the only way out was up.

Inside, I felt secluded and cut off from the rest of the world, but I was not alone.  My parents, my brother, grandparents, great-grandparents, and maybe others that I do not remember were in there with me.  Because it was dark, I feared snakes, spiders, and any other creepy crawlies that may have taken shelter from the storm as well.  But, since I had a greater fear of what was going on outside of those dirt walls, I stayed put. (Not that I had a choice really.) I wondered what the storm was doing and what kind of damage we would find once outside.  I wondered how my parents would know when to leave. I thought we were all going to suffocate.

Once the storm was over and we were finally outside, life was different and difficult for us for quite a while.  Our home in Long Beach, Mississippi, as well as, all of our belongings had been completely destroyed. We learned the insignificance of “stuff” and the significance of others. We were humbled and grateful as we witnessed an outpouring of love and generosity from friends, family, and complete strangers who were there to help us through this journey. 

In the beginning of 2007, my daughter pushed me, the rest of her family, and everyone else who loved her away and climbed down into her own pit. She lived there seemingly content for nearly two years.  At the end of 2008 I caught a glimpse of her hand as she reached up while trying to climb out.  So what did I do?  I went in.  It was all too familiar, and here is what I saw:  It was dark, dirty, scary, and smelly.  Inside, she was secluded and cut off from the rest of the world, but not alone.  She wondered if she would ever be able to leave, but the fear of what she would encounter on the outside, kept her inside.  She wondered if anyone would be there to stand by her until she could get on her feet again.  She thought she would suffocate. I went in thinking I could carry her out for fresh air and she could begin to live again, but soon discovered that this was an impossibility.

She has not made it out yet.  And while it is not possible for me to go in and carry her out, it is possible for me to go in and wrap my love around her in hopes that someday with my help and prayers she will let go of her fears and trust enough to begin her ascent. I LONG to see her foot on the last step as she climbs out.  I LIVE to see her foot on the last step as she climbs out: Far, far away from her pit!   

Thursday, September 10, 2009

FYI

Just in case anyone is remotely interested in what I did today, for the better part of it I was in THERAPY:


Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Wish I May, Wish I Might

A good friend of mine has a fourteen year old son and here lately every time I talk to her on the phone she is either on her way to drop him off somewhere or on her way to pick him up. The other day while talking to her she was sitting in a parking lot waiting on him as he finished his ball practice. It brought back memories of the days when I, too, ran a taxi service for my children. They were not yet old enough to drive, but their social lives were busting at the seams. I wished for them to get their driver’s license and then when they did I wished to take that wish back.

I am pretty sure I have wished my way through every season in my life: Wishing I would graduate, wishing I was married, wishing I had a job, wishing I had a better job, wishing I could quit my job, wishing for children, wishing each stage of their lives to end, to move on to the next, wishing them grown, and then wishing they had not. And these are just some of the major ones. I think age has made me realize that all the phases or seasons I have experienced so far HAVE BEEN my life. I don’t know, maybe it just takes looking at them as past events to make one realize this.

I am on a journey right now with my daughter, an unwanted journey. Even though I struggle from time to time, I make a conscious effort to try not to get impatient in wanting it all to end. I do so badly want it to. I hate the time that is being wasted in her life, in our lives. But, so does God and for some reason He has allowed all of this and only He knows when and how it will end. All the wishing in the world, is not going to make it go away. So I have determined in my heart to camp out in this season of my life and watch God work and then share Him with others.

…we spend our years as a tale that is told. So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom. Psalms 90:9b, 12.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Standing In The Middle Of The Street

(I usually know what I want to title my posts before I ever start typing. This is not the case right now, not that it really matters, but I know God will bring something to my mind and I cannot wait to see what it is.)

Late this afternoon, I listened to a recorded testimony of a mother and father who lost their teenage daughter this year to cancer. As their story unfolded, they told of their daughter’s courage, of their strength as God carried them through this storm, and of their faith and assurance that His will was being accomplished in and through it all. It was truly awe-inspiring. You cannot listen to a father’s heart without being moved to tears as he shares how that even though he would miss walking his daughter down the aisle to marry, or miss seeing her walk to receive her diploma (he is the principal at her school) that he was still secure and happy in knowing that she is now walking the ultimate walk, down the streets of gold!

Today is the first day after Labor Day, and I have been asked more than once if I had a good weekend. I was able to say yes. Yes, I did, thank you. (only because God guarded my ears, my eyes, and most importantly my heart) I did not tell them that part, though, because I just recently discovered what He did for me. You see, I just discovered the street that my daughter may have possibly walked down during this holiday weekend. I learned of the HUGE celebration that took place in a major city in another state that is known for these types of celebrations. I have a heavy heart knowing, with little room to doubt, that she partook in the celebration. All arrows point her in this direction.

It is so ironic that I worried about my children when they were little: letting go of my hand, getting into the street, and being hit by a car. What were the chances? Today, at the age of 21, my daughter has let go of my hand, His hand; left my side, His side; and is now IN THE MIDDLE OF THE STREET. She is standing there frozen and trapped, not knowing which direction to turn as the lies and deceptions zoom around her.

O.K., Sweetie, the coast is clear. Run while you still have the chance. Run to the side (to His side) where you will be safe. RUN, SWEET GIRL, RUN!

Monday, September 7, 2009

BOY vs. GIRL

One day last week as I drove to work I heard a debate of sorts on an American Family Radio station. “Are boys easier to raise than girls?” It caught my attention because I could relate since I have both. One person stated that boys were easier because when you have a boy you only have to worry about one boy, but when you have a girl you have to worry about ALL the boys. I thought that was pretty clever. The majority of those who wrote or called in said that girls are easier when they are younger and harder when they are older, and boys are easier when they are older and harder when they are younger.

Instead of giving you my opinion upfront, I thought I would first give you some insight into the personality of my two children.

MY DAUGHTER: At a very early age (very early) she demonstrated signs of independence. She did not like to cuddle. She did not like to be rocked. She had two dolls that she always slept with, Jammie Pie and Puff-a-Lump, better known as Puff and Jam. She had a sense of style all her own when it came to clothes, shoes, etc. She had blue eyes, curly blond hair and was adorable. She loved animals, especially dogs. She hated all things outdoorsy and especially bugs. She had the sweetest and most contagious laugh. She was well behaved and smart. She loved to be on the go. She would wake every single morning and get fully dressed even if she knew we were not going anywhere. Something she said once that we still say on occasion: I asked her one day on our way home from church what she had learned in her Sunday school class. She said she learned about Godum and Eda. (Adam and Eve.) Something she did once, that I hope to never forget: As I held her in my arms, she counted the buttons on my shirt. When she reached ten, I complemented her and told her how proud I was of her. She said, “Yea, I’m learning my buttons!” She was a very discontent little girl. We had all the talks, the ones where we tried to make her understand why she needed to be content, “The grass is not always greener on the other side; there will always be those with more and less than us”, but it followed her into her teen years as did her drive for independence. She was strikingly beautiful. People told me so all the time. Her lifestyle has now taken it’s toll on her appearance. She had one automobile accident. Her early teen years were troubled as I have blogged about previously. We managed to survive them and enjoyed about three years of closeness. My daughter grew up, and we were having a grown-up relationship. And then she turned nineteen, and she is where she is right now and I am here blogging about this torrential journey. She told me she hated me once or twice. I know she did not mean it. She grew up in a stable home, one where her dad and I took the responsibility of her physical, spiritual, and mental well-being seriously. She has an extremely likable personality and sense of humor.

MY SON: During infancy and for a long time afterward he was very, very dependent. He was a mama’s baby and HAD to be rocked to sleep. He was a beautiful little boy, and was the teacher’s pet in kindergarten. He stole her heart with his cherub-like face and sweet disposition. He had a security blanket. It was accidentally thrown away by the maid service while we were on vacation. I am sure it was because it looked like a an old worn out rag. It was time to wean him from it since he was five years old at the time, but when my mother learned of the incident, she went out and bought him another one. I will not tell you how long he slept with that one. Something that we will probably always remember him saying: I picked him up from school (he was in the first grade) and joked with him about having a girl friend. He denied my accusations. I asked him if he had ever been given a note from a girl, stating, “I love you, do you love me, circle yes or no”. He said, “Mama, there is not one kid in my class that knows how to spell the word circle.” Something he said that we still say on occasion: He called oatmeal “moatmoy” (pronounce moat like boat and moy like boy). He has always been content. He has had some unique interests: fencing and flying remote control helicopters. He takes after his dad, as far as being able to work with his hands. He can fix most anything. He also had one automobile accident. He currently attends a local junior college and lives at home. He has a part time job at an office supply store. He hardly ever leaves our house without telling me he loves me. In seven months, he will turn twenty. It seems that nineteen has been a turbulent year for both of my children. I always thought that by this time all the raging hormones would had settled down, but it has proven to be not such a great year for either of them. He has dealt with issues this past year that he has never had to deal with before, but I feel confident he will be able to work through them. He is a well-mannered and caring young man.

I know this blog entry is long. If you are still with me and have already guessed that my son was the easier of my two children to raise, then you are correct. This is the part where I feel like I should be laying on a couch. I doubt very seriously there is a single question you could ask me in regards to my parenting skills that I have not already asked myself over and over again.

1. Was I a good parent? Yes, I think so. My daughter has
assured me that I was.
2. Was I a perfect parent? No.
3. Was it my son’s personality that made him the easier of the
two to raise? Yes.
4. Did I love him more? No.
5. Could I have done a better job dealing with my daughter’s
discontentment and independence? Most definitely.
6. Do I have regrets? Yes.
7. Would I do some things differently if I could have another
chance? Most definitely.
8. Would it make a difference, as far as where my daughter is in
her life right now and with some of the decisions she has
made? I honestly do not know.
9. Would it change the way things are now if I knew the answer to
question number 8? No.
10.If I had everything in the world to do with where she is in her life right now, is it too late for her/ for us? Never.

My children are gifts from God. They were both fearfully and wonderfully made. I love them equally with all of my heart.

God, guide my daughter into truth. Make her alert to the lies of Satan and teach her how to resist him by faith. Give her the courage to be honest with herself and with You. Convict her of her sin and her need for You. Cause her to call out to You in her distress and confusion. Remove her heart of stone and replace it with a new, soft heart. Lead her to those who will point her to You. Cause her to be attracted to those who are attracted to You. Scatter like chaff in the wind those who continually try to bring her harm. Give her the courage to please You, and not others.

Produce in my son a humble spirit that is yielded to You. Teach him how to live in You, and show him that apart from You he can do nothing. Teach him to walk by faith. Help him to see beyond his circumstances and trust You with every part of his life. In this fast-paced world of instant gratification, place in him the perseverance he needs to succeed. Cause him to be still and wait patiently for You. Build a hedge around him to guard him physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Block his paths so that he cannot move towards activities and relationships that would harm him.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

A BITTER SWEET TREAT

Three scoops of ENCOURAGEMENT
Smothered in THANKFULNESS
Sprinkled with SADNESS
With a TEAR on top

I had a birthday! You could not have known because it was in April and I did not create this blog until June, but I wanted to share this with you. K came to see me on this day.

I saw them, again - the tears. For days I clung to the memory of the anguish on her face, the tears streaming down her cheeks, her lips quivering, but mainly the confessions from her heart.

“I am miserable. I hate everything about my life. I am trapped and do not know how to get out.”

ENCOURAGED - Conviction is good. Contentment in her case is not!

THANKFUL - She desires to get out of the pit of addiction she is in.

SAD - She does not know how!

TEARS - My heart aches for her.

She brought me a beautiful card. It read: Kind and Reassuring, Steady, and Enduring, Deep and Wise and Knowing, Warm and Easygoing, Generous and Sharing, A Mother’s Way of Caring, Wishing a Wonderful Mother A Wonderful Birthday!

She also brought me a scented candle, BUT

I DO NOT THINK SHE INTENDED ON GIVING ME SO MUCH MORE!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME.

Friday, September 4, 2009

A FACE-LIFT

I’M GETTING ONE!

YEAH, ME!

CAN’T WAIT!

CAN YOU TELL I AM EXCITED?

WELL, I AM!

Actually, I'M not REALLY getting a face-lift, although I could probably use one, but my blog is. YEAH BLOG! I think you need one worse than I do.

It is expected to be completed very shortly. I can’t wait to see the final results and then show it off to you. I am confident that it is going to be beautiful and worth the wait! Good things are just around the corner, so stay tuned.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

LO-DEBAR

2 Samuel 4:4 And Jonathan, Saul’s son, had a son that was lame of his feet…And his name was Mephibosheth.

The rest of the story:

Mephibosheth was five years old when his father, Jonathan; his uncles; and his grandfather, Saul, died on the battlefield. His nurse took him and fled, fearing for his life because he was the only male heir left to the throne after Saul‘s last surviving son, Ishbosheth, had been killed in his own home while sleeping. In the chaos and panic of the departure, Mephibosheth fell, causing him to be crippled for the rest of his life.

Years later, King David remembered his covenant with Jonathan to show him kindness and wanted the opportunity to fulfill it, so he began to inquire about any relatives that may still be living. He learned of Mephibosheth who was living in Lo-debar. David had him brought to Jerusalem and ordered that the family property be returned to him, as well as, arranged for him to eat at his royal table.

What happened between all those years, the years between being five and the time King David sought him out? What kind of person had Mephibosheth become?

We do not know too much other than the fact that he had at least one son, Micha. His injury at five years old had left him permanently crippled. The Bible says, “feet”, so obviously he was crippled in both feet, although we do not know the severity of it. It is mentioned over and over again, so it was significant. We are told that he fell on his face before David, but he could have been sitting when he fell on his face, so we do not know for certain if he was able to walk on his own or not. We know that he was living in the house of Machir. Machir means “sold”, so it is possible that earlier on he had been sold into slavery. He was taken from his home, forced to live all those years in a strange land. It was not his home. These were not his people. It does appear; however, that he knew he was from a royal family because he never questioned David‘s proposal. So, what kept him from returning home on his own free will after he grew up to rightfully claim what was his? Was it his inability to walk or travel? Maybe he knew there was no one to go home to. Was he comfortable in Lo-debar? Did he feel safe and secure there?

When confronted by King David, here was Mephibosheth’s response: He fell on his face and did reverence. He answered, Behold thy servant! And he bowed himself, and said, What is thy servant, that thou shouldest look upon such a dead dog as I am?

Based on this alone, we can make some assumptions about his character: He felt unworthy to fellowship with the King. He was humble. He showed respect and reverence.

Later on in the book of Samuel we see more of his character revealed after being tricked and deceived by his servant, Ziba. This story shows the true heart of Mephibosheth. He was loyal. He was honest. He was generous. He was faithful. He loved David and was grateful for all he had done for him.

I did not read this story without having thoughts of my daughter. I shared with you in a previous blog a portion of her journal entry where she had asked God for and received assurance of her salvation. Like Mephibosheth, she is a child of the King, but has become crippled (in her walk with Him). She feels unworthy to sit and eat from His table so she hides out in her very own Lo-debar where she feels comfortable, accepted, and safe. She will always be a member of the royal family and no matter where she goes and what she does she will never be able to hide from it.

My prayer is this: That just as Mephibosheth did when David sought him, found him, and brought him back to where he belonged, that she, too, will respond when God seeks her to bring her home and she will be eager to go. She will be loyal, honest, and humble. Again just like Mephibosheth, there will be years lost, but most importantly she will finally be back home where she belongs, enjoying the “riches” she deserves and the fellowship with those she loves and from those who love her back.

There is no question as to whether or not God will ever prompt her to leave Lo-debar. I believe He already has.

The questions that forever remain on my mind is: WHEN WILL SHE? WILL SHE?