Sunday, October 18, 2009



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


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


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.