Monday, December 31, 2007

Boys to Men


Adam's girlfriend, Thien, made it to Texas this week. (she is the one on the far left) It is fun to watch both of "my boys" interact with their girlfriends. I have a friend who recently said to me that she is praying that all our boys will turn out to be good guys...as in good men to the women they marry. She also has two sons about the same ages as mine and we concluded that so far, so good. As I watch my now adult sons as they court these two young ladies, I see that they are caring and respectful toward their girlfriends. Adam clearly enjoys sharing his joys with Thien and is very considerate of her and the way she feels. Aaron is loyal to Amy, protecting her and respecting her thoughts and feelings. It is a wonderful thing as a mother to look at these two grown men and remember them as my baby boys. They are grown up, they are now my men. They are good guys, good men, and good boyfriends. They will make good husbands, when the time comes. I am so proud of both of them. And they have great taste in girls too!

Sunday, December 30, 2007

To Despise

And what a delight it is to make friends with someone you have despised.
-Colette

Hmmm. When I first read this, it stopped me in my tracks. I thought, the last person that I would want to make friends with is someone that I despise. Eeewww! The thought of this being delightful was more than my mind could comprehend. But as I gave it more thought, I realized, yes, I can see this as being a delight. If I actually despise someone, I must actually care deeply for them. If I despise them, most likely I have invested a lot of energy into this person, but unfortunately it has been negative. But, if I did not care about them, I would not have invested any time at all.

If I respond to this person in my natural self, sometimes the negative energy becomes almost an obsession. It can consume my time, gnawing at my self-esteem and taking my focus off of what really matters. But, with God's help, there can be one moment of lightening like change; a moment of release from the bonds of obsession. The other person is after all, just another person, like me, and loved by God. If I cared enough to devote my time and energy to disliking this person, it is very likely they might be someone who would be rewarding to know. Thus, delight. Aha!

God gives me the opportunity to turn over many negative feelings, to discover that "friend" and "enemy" can be two sides of the same person.

Now this all sounds lovely, but I have to admit, I still find a little fear when it comes to trying to make friends with someone who despises me! (yes, there are one or two of these people) This does not feel safe to me since I don't know if the one who considers me his/her enemy would find making friends with me delightful. So, I will continue to walk in grace and forgiveness here...between God and myself, and keep the boundaries that protect me from harm and pain.

But, in my own life, in my own heart, I will look at myself and see whether I am clinging to obsessive concerns over other people and if so, I will resolve to let them go.

Monday, December 24, 2007

My Favorite Gift


This Christmas season seems to have barrelled through my life, challenging me to keep my focus on the birth of my Savior, on love, and on family and friends. It started with my father-in-law being diagnosed with cancer just days after the Thanksgiving holiday. My husband has had to travel back and forth to Tulsa, our hometown, to help with care giving and to spend time with his father. His absence has been difficult for him and for me, but an absolute necessity in regards to love and responsibility. We traveled to Virginia for our son's graduation right after Fred's dad's surgery and right before he began his chemotherapy treatments. It was stressful to leave at such a crucial time and then the traveling weather was horrible due to the winter storms that were making their way across the nation at the time we were driving. The graduation was fabulous, and it was great to bring our son home for the holiday season, but it was difficult to focus on the peace of the season.

Important to this story is that I asked my mother to come to our home from Tulsa to stay with our other two children while my husband and I were away. Some of my friends wondered why I felt this was necessary since the two children we were leaving at home are ages 20 and nearly 14, but those who know these two children well also know that the two of them get on each other's nerves quite seriously. Sadly, I did not trust them to be left alone for 5 days without fearing that a fight might break out. Their relationship has been a concern of mine for going on 10 years...about the time that my middle son lost his admiration for his little sister and viewed her as a...well, let me just say that he didn't find her as cute as he did when she was a baby. So, my mom came to monitor any conflicts that might occur and it worked out very well until...

My mother and I decided that we would go and have our hair done for the holidays. (My husband was traveling for work) While we were at the salon, I received desperate phone calls from all of my children. The two youngest had actually done it...they actually went to blows...at ages 20 and 14! What is a mother to do? My own mother was as bewildered as I was. We decided to let things calm down and carry on with the daily and celebratory activities with each having received a "talking to". I was hoping that they would come to their senses and reconciliation would come quickly and easily. Days went by. The feud continued. My husband, my mother, and me all seemed to shake our heads in confusion and disbelief over their behavior.

As Christmas approached, I realized that if something didn't happen, that stress would take over the atmosphere of our family celebration. I began to pray. As we prepared for our entire family to attend the Christmas services at our church, I wondered aloud to God..."Is there any way that what we hear at this service might speak to our family...especially the two that are fighting?" I was just wondering, praying and hoping that the reminder of what God did for us by sending His son would touch the hearts of my children in a way that would encourage them to make amends. It seemed like a long shot in my mind.

Arriving at the service, I was expecting a traditional production telling the story of the birth of Christ in some creative way...you know, the usual Christmas Eve type of thing. The service started out that way but somehow the atmosphere was a little different. Our pastor came out and he started to tell a story. He told the story of his family's Christmas Eve last year and it was in his words, "The Christmas from hell." He described a family situation that involved lying and stealing (really) that happened in his family the days prior to and peaked on Christmas eve after our church's final service. Two of his four children were in the middle of a pretty nasty feud and it was hitting home with me and what our family was experiencing. I sat in the congregation, listening to this story and realized that God had absolutely, without a question, answered my prayer. Were my angry children listening to this message with the same ears? Our pastor's family experienced grace, love, and forgiveness by the end of his story, would mine?

We went to eat as a family, not a word being said about the service. We arrived home and quietly went our separate ways. Late in the afternoon, the conversation started...first between my daughter and her father. Then our middle son happened to walk into the room (no coincidence, I am sure) and the conversation continued. Apologies were made. Agreements were made. Healing was taking place.

And was I ever glad. I sat there and thanked God for the best gift that I was to receive this particular Christmas. I was amazed and overwhelmed with knowing that He loves me enough to arrange that very message by my pastor, on that very day. He loves me that much. He loves my kids that much!

What a great gift!

PS And the service was one of the best Christmas Eve services that I have attended! I loved it!

Luke 12:7
Even the hairs on your head are counted. So, don't be afraid! You are worth much more than many sparrows!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Prayer, Provisions, Peace, and Promotions

Prayer. It works.
That is the first real truth about God that I understood when I first asked Him into my life. When I was first checking Him out, and checking out the people who said that they believed in God (and even NEEDED Him...interesting thought for me prior to my relationship with Him), I saw things happen in the lives of these different people that I knew who called themselves "Christians". I watched my father-in-law become well when the doctors said he would probably die, I saw a friend of mine manage a family situation that I thought would certainly tear her family apart. I watched another friend stand beside her father (and my then pastor) as he was pushed out of his pastorate for no reason, and remain loving and caring toward the people in that congregation.

God keeps His distance from the wicked, He closely attends to the prayers of God-loyal people.
Proverbs 15:29

Provision. He has never let us down.
Finances have not always been easy for my husband and myself. We started out our marriage with very little. I lost my job right before I found out that I was pregnant with our first son. Then there were lay offs at my hubby's job and he was moved to a lower position as was the guideline in the union that he was in. We took a tremendous cut in pay to what was an already small income. God always provided. He found us homes to live in for free...twice! Amazing. Every time that something happened with a job situation, God had a provision waiting. We never went without anything we needed and always felt blessed, even with very little. We found ourselves without Fred's corporate income again, just a few years ago. He was given a pretty decent severance package. Unbelievable, we only used a small portion of it as God provided work for Fred as he served others. We have been able to use that severance money to bless others as we tithe, give, and provide for the needs of other's around us. That money is God's and we still only use it as He directs us.

You can be sure that God will take care of everything you need...
Phil. 4:18

Peace. He gives it.
Throughout the many scary situations that have come along in our lifetime, God's peace has been present in my heart. There were times when I knew we only had enough money to eat meat 3 times in a week. It was OK. Peace. We were not able to use disposable diapers for our baby. It was OK. Peace. We found out we were moving, again, due to a job relocation. It was OK. Peace. Serious illness, serious accidents, serious struggles with our kids, and even death. It was OK. Peace.

And the peace of God which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Phil. 4:7


Promotions. He blesses.
When my husband and I started out our life together, Fred was a Pipeliner. I was a Bank Teller. Both of these jobs are perfectly respectful positions, but not what either of us really wanted to do for the rest of our lives. Our combined income was a little over $30,000 annually. Now, this was the early 1980's, but it was still quite tight. For most of our married life we raised our children on less than $50, 000 per year. God brought along promotions just about the time we didn't think we could take it anymore. There were a several years when there was not a raise in income. We always felt that I should be home with our children while they were young, but I took babysitting jobs and similar jobs to earn money for Christmas, or vacations. God is so good though. He has continued to lift us up in our jobs. Fred's salary is more than we ever hoped for. And I was recently given a job promotion and pay increase that blows me away. I am so grateful to God, the way He provides. When I started working for this company, I had negative feelings. I even left for six months. But, I went back, and I know it was something God orchestrated. And now, I am very happy. I like my job. And I am excited about the promotion. And I am excited that He makes a difference in my life, that He provides not only what we need, but also what we want. Even when it comes to promotions! Hooray!

A greedy man stirs up dissension, but he who trusts in the Lord will prosper.
Proverbs 28:25

God answers our prayers when we pray with a right heart.
He provides what we need and sometimes what we want.
He is a God of peace while we wait for Him.
I know that the promotion I just recieved was a result of my prayer, His provision and the peace that I have because I trust Him for all these things. Thank you, God!



The Graduate!!!!


Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Countdown


The countdown is nearing the end. I have been counting the days until our oldest son, Adam, graduates from Virginia Tech! I started counting in August of 2002, when we dropped him off and left him in that stinky, noisy, all boys dormatory on campus. As my husband and I walked down the hallway to go back to our car, I could hear Adam's new roommate's loud music echoing profanity from his computer. I walked, stiff as a soldier, trying to keep as much composure as possible, as tears rolled down my cheeks and we left our first born child in that crazy place to get an education! The mommy in me wanted to go back and tell his roommate to turn off the music, and while he was at it, he could take down the poster of the band members in thier underwear! But, I left the two of them in that dorm, puttering around and probably excited to finally be alone in this new world of college, and dorms, and freedom, and loud, unmonitored music. I have to admit, I did call about 15 minutes down the road, but finally did give Adam freedom, atleast for the rest of the day. For the last 5 1/2 years we have watched him develop into a man. He is now college educated. And he is still friends with the loud music playing roommate from New Jersey! He has been in 2 dorms, 2 apartments and has had 7 roommates. He has had roommates he likes and roommates he didn't really care for. He has watched one of them get arrested at the front door of thier apartment. He had one roommate from France and now one from Vietnam. He has been been through fun college times and some really scary and sobering times. And now the time has come to put all the college student stuff to rest. In 2 more days, he will walk across the stage and be handed a college degree in Computer Engineering. I can hardly wait! And if I can hardly wait, I can only imagine how he must be feeling! The countdown is almost over! And now a new phase of life begins! The time has come! Adam is GRADUATING!

Saturday, December 8, 2007

The Love of Writing

Since I started keeping this blog, there have been a lot of comments made to me about my writing. Almost all of them have been positive, most of them complimenting my ability to put my thoughts to words. I am a little embarrassed by these compliments, but I take them with a thank you.

It does make me think about writing. Why do I love to write? I could write all day long if I had something to write about. And when I do have something to write about, there is an urgency in my brain to get it down on paper (or web). Some people don't like to write. They think it is difficult and I tell them it is easy...just talk. I usually type out one of these blogs in 10 minutes or so. They come together quickly since the thought has already been born. I don't always know where they will go, but there is usually a theme, or a message, or even just the need to get something off my chest. Writing is cool.

My grandmother was an English teacher. If I remember right, one of the subjects she taught was literature. She must have enjoyed writing, or at least appreciated it. Maybe it is genetic. I always made good grades in my writing classes. And it has always bugged me when I read something that is not well written.

Over the years, I have been encouraged by various people to keep writing. Keep practicing. My mom is a one of my biggest encourager's. She has given me books to read, and told me about books to read that will take me further into my joy of writing. And of course she gives me positive feed back, as you might notice on some of the comments on this blog.

There is also another person in my life that made a big and positive impact on my continued writing. He was my pastor and friend for many years. He encouraged me and complimented my writing. I always believed him and appreciated the positive feedback that I received from him. Even if he was upset with me, he never took back the good things he had to say about my ability to communicate in writing. One of the biggest gifts he ever gave me was the assignment to put together (or write) some Bible study curriculum along with a couple of other ladies. I loved writing the material. It encouraged me enough to put together another training piece later down the road. One time, he made a random suggestion about me writing devotionals. I will never forget it because the thought excited me. His comments have never left me. I don't know if I ever really thanked him. But he encouraged me in something that I love to do, something that is a dream of mine.

I don't know where it will ever go beyond this blog, but I will never tire of writing.

Thanks for reading.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Examples and Warnings

Recently, I was talking with a friend of mine who is on the verge of becoming a Christ follower. We were talking about the Bible, tossing around different reasons of why we read it, how we read it, and the different ways of applying it to our life. She mentioned that some of what she had read seemed like just stories, and wondered what the purpose to that was. I had the opportunity to share with her that God recorded these stories for us to read so that we could learn from other people's examples. She noticed that he was descriptive, he told who the person was, often times, calling them by name and where they lived. We discussed how it is helpful to read about the ways that other people succeeded in their walk with God. It is encouraging and gives us goals to strive for.

Then we began to talk about the stories that didn't seem to go so well. Some of them end up being good, like King David and his horrible choices with Bathsheba. Or Peter and his denial of Christ. But some of them are just plain horrible. What about Judas? Things didn't turn around for him...he committed suicide. We talked about the way these stories warn us about ways to NOT behave sometimes.

God is so smart! It just blows me away...He thought about ways to show us how to obey Him and please Him and also the consequences of doing the opposite. God uses people, all kinds, to speak to us. He uses people in scripture and He continues to use people that are in our lives right now. I began to share with her some of the ways that God has done that in my life, starting with the person who exampled Christ to me the first time I was introduced to Him. She found it fascinating as she could come up with people who have helped her see Christ...or not see Christ, in her life so far. It was so cool to see the light come on!

Through out my life as a follower of Christ, He has brought people into my life and He has accomplished a wide variety of things through a wide variety of people. Some of them have exampled God's love, compassion, and mercy. Some of them have challenged me to take the next step, to walk in faith and to be obedient to God's word. Other's have been straight up examples of what not to do as a Christian. Warnings. All of these have become my stories. And because God uses people, my stories sometimes include others. Unlike the Bible, I do not usually include names of these people or where they live. (although some of my friends are waiting to see their name again! Yes, Ashley saved my ice cream sundae from dripping all over me! She is a great friend and God uses her for good things in my life!)

Sometimes, I will post my stories on this blog. God uses them. He puts them on my heart. He gives me lessons for myself and sometimes for other people. Sometimes they are examples and sometimes they are warnings. The friend in this story reads this blog and she sees examples and warnings. She is cool and she is learning that Christianity is good, that Christians are not perfect, but that they want to be like Christ...when they really follow Him. She is noticing that there is a price to pay for making a decision to accept Him, but also that the blessings are infinite and eternal. She is learning about examples and warnings from the people in her life. Me too.


(My friend, Angela, took this photo in Central Park last weekend! Isn't it BEAUTIFUL?)

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Perfect Husband (for me)

It seems that I have had several opportunities lately to really appreciate the man that I married. We have been together for over 27 years. Yes, we were but babes when we started dating. Even though I would not change a thing about how and when we met, the fact that we were only 18 and 21 when we fell in love has added to some of the challenges that we have faced over the years. I did not believe all the advise that was thrown our way about the difficulties that couples face when committing to one another at ages so young. I felt that I was quite mature and knew what I was getting into. Well, it wasn't exactly what I imagined and it has been a little difficult at times. Now, here is where the appreciation really comes into place. I realize now that many of the difficulties that we faced were brought on by my own immaturity. Me?? Immature? I wouldn't have thought so 27 years ago! But I had some ideas in my head about husbands that my immature self couldn't seem to find in the husband I married. So, I did what many women do, I compared. "If MY husband would only act like THAT husband, then..." Then God would step in and show me something about this other husband that I knew I could not possibly live with. This has happened a couple of different times. Just when I thought I found a guy that I could introduce my husband to, for him to become friends with, so that maybe he would rub off on my husband, I would discover something that made me want to keep my dear husband away from that man so that he would not pick up any bad habits! Whew! Close call and what a stupid idea! And the more time that I spent with different friends and their families, the more I realized that I might have married a nearly perfect man.

A few nights ago I was out with a group of ladies for a birthday celebration. Husbands came up. (don't they always?) It was not a man bash by any means since a few of us are walking with Christ and know that He is not pleased with that type of talk, but there was a woman who is in the process of preparing for a divorce. Matter of factly, the reason for the divorce was disclosed. yuk. Mean man. I appreciated my husband. Someone else made the comment that in more than a decade of marriage, she never received a birthday present from her (now former) husband. I was thinking...that really stinks.... and I appreciated my husband again. I get presents...fabulous presents...AND dinner...at least once! When the conversation was toward the end, someone summarized that men just might be pigs. I locked eyes with my good friend, who knows my husband. She was waiting for me to speak up and I quickly said, "Well, not all men!" My friend affirmed my comment, stating for all to hear that I had a good one. (she was the one who never got a birthday gift from her x-husband) I agreed, again, thankful for my husband. So, we took turns talking about some of the things that make good and wonderful husbands. I said that I was certainly keeping mine.

It seems that over and over again, whenever I think that my husband has a flaw or two, that God points out what a tremendously loving husband I have! He shares all household chores, cooking included. He buys me gifts. He takes me on dates...even double dates when he would rather be alone and he knows I am feeling social. He lets me pick the movies we see. He goes with me early when I go to church and waits while I greet. He sits and waits and saves me the best seat in the house. He encourages me in my friendships. He gets to know my friends and likes them. He flirts with them (I love this about him because he does it in front of me and it is fun.) His father was just diagnosed with cancer and had surgery. My husband did not blink an eye....just went to be with his family. I appreciate this because it shows how much he cares and loves. He cleans up the house, turns on music and lights a candle when he knows I have had a hard day. He even pours me a glass of wine and it will be waiting for me when I arrive home.

I really think that I might be married to one of the best guys in the world. He certainly is the best guy for me. I sure do appreciate him! He might be perfect!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Woo Hoo!



I LOVE LIFE!!!!!!
I love Christmas time!
I love my family! and friends!

B.F.F.L.

My daughter and one of her best friends have had a few conflicts (over 8th grade sort of stuff) the last couple of weeks. They are both good at working through these conflicts, but they are a little worn out from all the drama. Tonight, they wrote a treaty. I ran across an unsigned copy and found it entertaining and worth sharing. At any age, here are some things that should be agreed upon between friends.

Peace Treaty of the B.F.F.L.'s

Number One:
Never get mad at each other without laying down all the facts and getting each other's point of view.

Number Two:
There is no reason to get mad at somebody if they don't wait for you. Just catch up! If they ask you to though, that is a different story.

Number Three:
Never cancel each other's plans or overlap them with something else. Write them down if you have to!

Number Four:
Never talk about each other to anybody behind anybody's back. If you do, it cannot be serious: it will have to be an innocent joke.

Number Five:
Always tell each other we love them after any conversation on the phone, messenger, or on Myspace, even if we are pissed. We have to constantly remind each other that we care.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Gifts


'Tis the season for gift giving. In my last post, I commented that I would strive to give gifts out of love, not entitlement. So, I have been thinking about the people that I love, the gifts that I think they will love, and even about those people who don't have anyone to love or it seems no one loves them. The nursing home resident's gift went out today. Rebecca proudly carried it to the drop off location at our church this morning. And as I signed on to my computer this evening, she was standing over my shoulder as I read an email about a family that my Home Team is adopting for Christmas. Our agreed amount to spend per family is $125.00 and when Rebecca read that, she exclaimed, "Wow! That's a lot of money!" So, I had another opportunity to share with her about how fortunate we are and how so many people cannot even pay their bills, much less think about buying gifts for their children. She thought this over and agreed with the amount that we were giving for one child. What a wonderful moment, to see her make the transformation from the one who was, last week, nearly demanding a Wii game system to a person who was thinking of the angels on the tree at her school and her fellow classmates (whose names she doesn't know) who will be helped out by the student counsil, which she is part of. Thank you, God! She is seeing needs. She is looking beyond herself! I know that her selfishness will kick back in as mine does, but she is beginning to things from a different perspective! Hooray!

And I am left to ponder the question, "How much is TOO much to spend on a gift?" As my daughter and I discussed the $125 sum, I told her about how much I expected to spend on she and her brothers. She didn't gasp at that amount.

I think of a friend of mine who had a birthday recently. She was given a gift that really wasn't her taste by another family member. As she opened the gift, a comment was made that it was not the first thing that had been considered, but it was a better price to pay for the gift. Also,a description of the gift that was passed up by the giver was made along with the comment, "It was $XX.xx! I am not going to waste that much money for that!" Knowing my friend as I do, the original gift considered would have been much more appreciated and used by my friend (and it wasn't really that expensive). Plus, the comment hurt her feelings. I can understand why. Is the purchase of a gift ever a WASTE of money when it comes to loved ones? I don't even think buying the Wii game system for my 13 year old daughter would have been a WASTE of money, just not fully appreciated under the circumstances.

I am so glad that God did not think the gift of His son was not too high a price to pay for me. I know I am undeserving and even don't even always fully appreciate His gift, but WOW, I am ever so thankful that He paid the price. I know that I disappoint Him, I don't live up to His hopes and dreams for me, but I don't think He would ever think that it was a waste! I pray that I will keep HIS attitude in gift giving. No amount of money is a waste when it comes to giving out of love. And whether it be to my children who expect gifts at this time of year, or whether to a stranger who may get very little or nothing otherwise, let me never, ever make anyone feel that the money spent was a waste.

Lord, let the gifts that I give be filled with your spirit of giving and your love. Thank you for your beautiful example!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Contented Christmas

Our society just made a complete 180 degree turn around from thinking about what we are thankful for to thinking about what we want…NO, I mean what we want to give! Isn’t that what it seems like though? We go from the focus of thanksgiving directly into spending time figuring out how to satisfy one another’s wants. This year, I am taking my best shot at trying NOT to do that. I recently realized how serious I needed to work on this when my daughter decided to ask for a Wii game system for Christmas. She started out saving her own money for this popular gaming toy, but soon realized that it was well beyond the reach of her 13 year old budget. After doing some odd jobs and a large babysitting job, she had saved a good deal of money, but not even half of what she needed to purchase the system, the remotes, and a game or two. So, she decided that this would be the big ticket item on her Christmas list. When she approached her frugal father about her wishes, he explained to her that it was a nice thing to ask for, but not to get her hopes up. Santa has two kids in college, one of whom is graduating right before Christmas. Knowing that funds would be tight, he tried to direct her attention to other things but she began to get a little testy with him. As I listened to the demands of our 13 year old, it dawned on me - the Christmas wish list has become a shopping list and I decided that I would need to do something to change our perspective on this big holiday of giving.

As I reflected, the season of Thanksgiving was still forefront, and the word that kept coming to mind was contentment. I thought about the Apostle Paul and his words on the subject.

Philippians 4:12 says:
I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.

How could I possibly teach this to my children? How could I live by this myself?

These questions filled my head for days. I wonder how Paul would have sounded if he had the attitude of my children, or even me. Keep in mind this is a man who spent more time in jail than he did out of jail. And he was serving the Lord, not working for himself. That in itself is challenging enough, but add to it his attitude of contentedness instead of entitlement. He wrote letters of all different types to all different people and they are recorded in scripture. Funny, I have not read anything that sounds like this:

“Dear Believer’s at Philippi, Would you hurry up and see what you could do about my situation? I have been in this prison for way longer than I expected and I really don’t deserve to be here at all. It is a dump and I don’t even have cable t.v. It is about time that I get what I deserve…after all, I have been serving other people all of my working life!”

Can you even imagine?

How many of us sound this way? Not just on our Christmas list, but in every day life?

As a result of my evaluation, the gift list of my family members may not include anything over $50. We are sponsoring an elderly person at a nursing home, we are taking part in toys for tots, we are sending a box to a serviceman overseas, and we will try to get to the homeless shelter to serve a meal. All of our children will participate in these things. And we will continue our thanksgiving realizing that not only should we be content, but thrilled with the blessings we already have. And the Christmas gifts that we give to one another will be totally out of love, not entitlement!

Merry Contented Christmas!

Friday, November 23, 2007

Thanksgiving - Family

The season of Thanksgiving is officially over and the Christmas season has begun. Black Friday, the biggest shopping day of the year will end in a few hours as the clock strikes midnight. I did my own share of shopping today and now feel the excitement of Christmas spirit. That is something to be thankful for...the Christmas spirit!

As I have spent time in the last week and especially the last two days thinking about the things that I am thankful for, I have to mention how thankful I am for my family...biological and the one that I married into.

One of the reasons that I am grateful for having moved to Texas is we can now spend holidays with our family. As much as I enjoyed the traditions that we created in Virginia, there is nothing like the joy of being with family. There are memories, love, genuine care, and simple pleasure of just being together that cannot be experienced with anyone else. Family is irreplaceable, unconditional, and precious.

I am thankful for my mother, the fact that she is alive and (mostly) healthy. I miss Ron, her husband, whom we lost a couple of years ago. It has been difficult and scary and I hate that he is not here, but I am so grateful that my mom is OK and I have been able to be close during the last two years. I am certain this was something that God saw coming down the road and strategically placed us here at this time. It is wonderful to be able to spend Thanksgiving with her.

Part of Fred's family was able to join us at my mom's. I am thankful that our families are willing to spend time together, combining celebrations and having fun together. I like that our families are interested in one another. I enjoy our relationship with Fred's sister and husband and our niece's. Now we have a new nephew-in-law who just joined our family this past weekend! Congratulations to Megan and Matthew who just got married in Maui!

My niece, Kristin, is a joy to be around. She is growing and is so beautiful! I am thankful that we are close enough to see her on a regular basis and she knows who we are! She adores "her Becca" and I love watching her follow Rebecca around with absolute admiration.

I am thankful for Fred's parent's. His mom and her husband, G.W., also joined us at my mom's. (as did Deb, Mike, and Michelle) They are so sweet and pleasant to be around...and so easy going.

We spent Friday morning with Fred's dad and his wife, Anna. Even though they are going through a difficult time (Fred's dad's health is not good right now), it was so good to be around them. We reminisced about Thanksgiving and Christmas's past, laughing at the things we did and how much time we have all been a family. It was a little scary to see Bob so ill and we will pray like crazy that he will get stronger so that we can spend more time with him.

From Bob and Anna's we went to my dad's house. He and Glena made their famous (to us) homemade pizza. We enjoyed catching up. Chuck (my half brother) was there. He is living in Wichita, going to the same church that Fred and I went to when we were living there. It was such fun to visit with him...he is such a great guy!

As Rebecca, Fred and I made our rounds to visit all these folks, I had a warm feeling of being home. I told Fred that it felt like we were early in our relationship again. It was good to journey back in time, thinking of the things we did when we were first married, when we were just merging our families together. Rebecca was gathering information, fun information...history of times before she was born. Family stories that will be fun for her to know and pass along. Fred and I have come a long way since those early days, but it is history that we enjoyed sharing with our daughter.

I am thankful for family. There is no one in the world like them. Thank you, God, that we are near enough to them to spend time with them again and let us do it often!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Thanksgiving - My job

For those of you who know me, you are probably shocked to see that one in writing! However, yes, I am thankful for my job. Even more of a surprise is the fact that I am also thankful for my commute to and from Dallas!

Let me explain. I am thankful for my job for the obvious reason, first being the income that it provides. I have been able to contribute to our family finances and more importantly to help pay for college tuition for BOTH kids in college without having to take a loan! This is a wonderful thing to be grateful for!

I am also thankful that my job provides our family a few extras. We don't have to over think purchasing things that we did when we were on a single income. American Eagle, Journey Shoes, and places like this that make our kids smile are now places that we can shop...on occasion...but they were way too frivolous before this job.

Fred and I were able to take a fabulous anniversary trip to Mexico, something we would not have been able to do if I were not working. And it was fancy...we were spoiled and totally relaxed knowing that we paid for it all BEFORE we went, in cash. Then I was even further blessed by being able to take a seven day cruise with my mom - in the same year! These type of things would not happen if it were not for my job.

My employer allows me to work a flex schedule. I am ever so thankful for this. I work a 32 hour work week and as long as I am responsible, I can work it however I choose. This is GREAT! I like my boss and the people I work with. This is also a great thing.

Now, about the commute. I usually leave my home a little before sunrise. Usually at some point during my drive, I witness the sun's rising. I see this every day since I travel east to my office. Some days, I simply rejoice at the sight of it. This morning was one of those days. The sun was beautiful and just when I praised God aloud for the beauty of it (literally...with clapping even!), one of my very favorite songs came on the radio. I had a wonderful, spontaneous time of worship. I would not have these great experiences if I did not have the drive that I do.

Then to add to the blessing of my commute, I have had some of the most meaningful conversations with family and friends while I drive. Just turn on the hands free device and make a phone call to someone I love. My days are blessed by the additional time that I have to keep current with those that I care about, all because of the extra 40 minutes in my car on the drive home.

So, I am thankful for my job. I actually enjoy my work. It is more than just a job. It is more than a paycheck but it is also a blessing.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Thanksgiving - My Kids


I am thankful for my kids. My husband and I have been blessed with three of the best kids that anyone could ask for.

Our oldest son, Adam, is 23 years old. I am thankful for the fact that he is about to graduate from Virginia Tech! He chose a career path when he was in High School, Computer Engineering, and he has stuck with it ever since. He selected his university based on his degree program knowing that he would get one of the best educations available in his field. I am so proud of him. I am thankful that he has stuck with it. I am also thankful that he is the kind of guy that enjoys being around his family. I love my relationship with him because it is so easy to talk to him. He is easy going and fun to be around.

Aaron is our middle child, and is 20 years old. I am thankful for Aaron because he is very caring. He looks out for the people that he cares about, always making sure that we are safe and doing the right thing. His career path is a good choice for him...law enforcement. Now, I am not sure that I am thankful for this choice, but I am thankful that he selected something that he seems to be passionate about. I am thankful that he is going to college before going into the police academy. I am also thankful that he has a wonderful girlfriend, Amy, whom he has been going out with for more than a year now. They are good for each other, get along well, and balance one another out beautifully. I am thankful for this.

The baby of the family is Rebecca and at 13, looks like she is 21. I am thankful because our relationship is open and she tells me everything. Well, she says she tells me everything and at this point, I pretty much believe her. I hear all the sagas of friends, boys, the joys and woes of junior high. She is entertaining, open, and understands her feelings. I am grateful that she is less emotional than I am and when her feelings get hurt, she is quick to forgive. (with all but one friend...that one took a year!) If we stay on the track we are on, we will be good friends as she gets older, which is something I desire tremendously. I love the fact that we are starting to understand one another and that our relationship has true substance.

I am SO thankful for all three of these kids. It is wonderful watching them grow into adults, to see how their personalities have developed. They are becoming interesting adults, with things that they enjoy and pursue on their own, without prompting and prodding by me, or Fred, or a teacher. I love having conversations with them...each of them being different in personality, but each of them interesting and mature in their communication. They are honest. They have integrity. They all love God.

I have great kids!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Thanksgiving - Best Friends

Continuing my thoughts on being thankful, I have to talk about friendships. Through the course of my life, I have been blessed with many friends. Starting when I was a little girl, I loved friends. I collected them like treasures. As far back as I remember, I realized that friends make the world a better place.

My first best friend was a girl that I met when I was in first grade named Michelle. She and I are still friends today, and our "best" friendship lasted well into High School. Our families did things together, we spent the night together often, invited one another along on family vacations and looked for any opportunity to hang out. This life philosophy continued for me as I have gone through all phases of my life. God has always provided me with circles of friends, really good friends and a handful of those who I call "best" friends.

Best friends are the ones who you can not only confide in - the good, the bad, and the indifferent - but also the friends who will tell you what they see about you. In other words, my BEST friends have permission, if you will, to tell me what they see about me that I need to know. An easy example is letting me know if I have spinach in my teeth (Ashley just told me this recently!). But it goes beyond this. My best friends can tell me that I am being ugly or hateful or bitter and I will know that she wants what's best for me and loves me.

I have one friend, who God has given to me, that is the best of the best. She is a rock. Our friendship has endured things that I cannot even describe. On the occasions that I have tried to describe the hard times we have made it through...others' are amazed that the friendship has survived. Credit goes entirely to our Heavenly Father, who orchestrated our meeting and gave us an amazing ability to relate to one another. Our friendship is not perfect, we fight like sisters. But forgiveness is never denied and unconditional love (agape) prevails. I know she wants what is best for me, and me for her. When she hurts, I hurt. When she rejoices, I rejoice. Our hope is that we will be little old ladies, hanging out together, drinking coffee in someone's kitchen, talking about how long we've been friends. We will do it! We have what it takes. She is loyal to the bone. We are committed to being the type of friends that God designed...sharing life, sharing Christ, and supporting one another through all things.

I am thankful for ALL my wonderful friends. You are all super friends and you are there for me. Old ones like Michelle, Pam, Cindy, and Jeanne. A few in Virginia like Tina, Bridgette, Stephanie, and Nancy who moved from there. Lori who is steadfast and helped with God's plan to bring us to Flower Mound. Susan who God moved to Texas before he brought me here so we could keep our friendship going. Even renewed friends like Lorinda, Erin and Kate. I am very grateful for my new friends like Tana, Ashley, and Angela...who have helped me realize that God ALWAYS answers prayer! And Jessica, Janie, Elsa who have enriched my life at work and beyond. And I am ever so thankful for Ruthie who I can truly and from the heart, call my best...

SO THANKFUL for friends!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Thanksgiving - My husband


As Thanksgiving approaches, we are reminded from every direction to think about the things we are thankful for. Emails go around, radio programs are directing our minds toward thankfulness, even advertisements hint of thanksgiving. Although I try to make thankfulness part of my daily living, this time of year does cause me to give additional thought to the many ways that I am blessed.

One of those blessing is that I have a great husband who treats me well. He loves me and wants what is best for me. He even will sometimes give in to me and allow me to do what is not best for me (like over-eat) and not give me a hard time. He looks for ways that he can make me happy, provide for me financially, emotionally, and physically. ;) If I am tired, he makes sure that I rest, if I am hungry, he makes sure that I eat, and if I am broke, he makes sure that I don't spend! Seriously, he is a wonderful husband.

He is also a wonderful father. He loves our children with the same kind of love. He makes sure that they have everything they need. He even makes sure that they have enough of what they want....but not too much. He teaches them about responsibility, work ethic, and love. I watched him yesterday, take on an entire project for Aaron. Aaron had some puzzles that he wanted to display in his bedroom. Fred went shopping, purchased everything necessary to get the puzzles framed and on his wall. There were many other chores that could have been taken care of, but Fred made this a priority. He did not ask for help. He gave of himself, a gift to his son, free and for fun.

As a father and a husband he is also very gentle. In twenty seven years, I have rarely heard him raise his voice. Especially when it comes to his relationship with our kids. He disciplines in love, and most of the time with extreme patience. (sometimes he is so kind it annoys me!) It is clear when he "really means it", but rage is not something that is in his character. He is
even-tempered and kind. He genuinely wants the best for his family and he knows that fury, yelling, and hateful words damage people. He has never damaged our children in this way. I cannot come close to expressing my gratitude and thankfulness for this.

So, as thanksgiving approaches, I have to express sincere thankfulness toward the man that I married. He is a beautiful example of self sacrifice and love.

More posts on thanksgiving soon........I have so much to be thankful for. This is one of many.


Saturday, November 10, 2007

Fun Stuff

WOW!

Life has been wild...great...but certainly wild! I loved the cruise! Jamaica was wonderful. It was rich, it was poor, it was real and it was beautiful. Grand Cayman's was a place that I would just want to kick back and spend about 3 months out of every year. And Cozumel, I always love Mexico! The Mayan Village was great, the history was interesting and the shopping was fabulous! My mom and I enjoyed our time together. We relaxed. We played. We ate...and ate...and ate. I danced, I swam, we sunned, we napped and we enjoyed. The crew was great. They were entertaining. I loved the different nationalities that were represented. It was great to talk to the crew members, to find out about their lives. They took great care of us!

I had time to think about life. About family. About marriage. About friends. About God. About what's important. I know that I am very, very blessed.

When I came home, I had two days at home and at work before I turned around and went to Raleigh, North Carolina for work. Let me tell you what! When I saw the trees - I thought I had died and gone to heaven! I had no idea how badly I missed the east coast! Raleigh is only about 3 hours from where I lived for almost 11 years and it looked SO much like southern Virginia! My heart ached and rejoiced at the same time.

And I had great fun meeting all the people that I work with in North Carolina. It was productive and entertaining. We had some fun times. Yvonne made me laugh like crazy...she lets crazier stuff than I do come out of her mouth! It was the most fun I have had at work yet! What a blast. And even meeting with the doctors was fun. Especially the high five with Dr. Hamad over Southfork Ranch and the t.v. show Dallas! Funny stuff!

I cleaned my house life crazy today. Tomorrow is the big Pampered Chef party. It is going to be fun. Lot's of gals are coming. The food will be great and the company even better. After the official party...girls night out happens...at my house. Fred is the host. Woo hoo! Get ready for good times. I have some great friends here in Texas and we are going to party. Laugh. Talk. Eat. Laugh some more.

No serious thoughts. Just enjoying life. I like the effects of cruising...still hanging in there in my relaxed state. My mom had a great idea...let's just take one one week of every month and stress will not be an issue again...and she will certainly heal! Great idea!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

PROUD MOM!!!


Our daughter, Rebecca, is the second best flute player in Lewisville (Texas) Independent School District. Wish her luck...regional's are next week! She will be playing in the district band...another musician in the family!
Her friend, Akietha, made district band too! Congratulations to both girls!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Roller Coaster

Emotional roller coaster....that is the best way to describe me. I have so many different things going on in my life, in my heart, and in my relationship with God, that the ride is coming close to giving me motion sickness!

Some of what I am experiencing creates the feeling of being way on top of that first great big climb of the best roller coasters...you know the ones....you start out slow, the coaster is clicking away as you climb to the top of a huge mountain. The anticipation is great while you climb, seeing nothing but the top where you are headed. Once at the top, there is usually a few seconds where you have time to take in the view. When I do this, I get a thrill. I love to look all around! I feel big and tall and excited! I feel this way about the cruise that I am getting ready to take. I feel this way about my marriage. I feel this way about the new friendships that I am making and expect to make. I feel this way about Adam's upcoming graduation, his new girlfriend, and excitement over what is ahead for him. There is a certain anticipation about what is to come...the flying ride down the mountain...fast and invigorating, knowing that the ride is just beginning and there are a lot of unexpected tosses and turns along the way.

But some of what I am experiencing are the parts of the coaster that are low. I can't see anything but the tracks all around me...the places I have been, the places I want to go. Some of these places are in tunnels, dark and lonely tunnels. I can't see. It is scary. I feel this way about some friendships that have changed and the future of these relationships. I feel this way about wondering if my mom will ever walk. Sometimes, I even feel this way about some of the situations that have me on the top of this ride.

When I think about this and start to feel discouraged, I remember that I choose to go on these roller coasters. I have paid big money to go places and ride these things and even been known to ride then go right back in line to ride again. One time, I did that 4 times in a row - on purpose!
So, roller coaster emotions are not so bad. What I want to remember as I ride this ride are the fun parts. The scary parts only last a minute and they always contribute to the overall joy of the ride. I learn to be brave. I learn to hold on (to God). I learn to trust. I learn to have fun!

Aren't roller coasters fun? Wheeeeeeeeeeeeee.......

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Falling in Love Again

I have been married for over 25 years. My husband and I met in 1980 and I fell quickly in love with him. Through out our 27 years together we have gone through good times and some bad times. This past weekend, he and I had one of those serious conversations about where we have been and where we are going in our marriage. Sometimes these discussions can be difficult, but they are always necessary in order to build intimacy, health, and to grow.

We didn't scream, cry, or yell during our talk which was a great mark of success. But what really was amazing was his closing statement to me. Out of respect, I will not quote him (I believe in honesty, yes, but will always protect) but what he said to me was loving, kind, encouraging, and true. He filled my world with hope for the future and I fell in love with my husband all over again.

Sunday, October 21, 2007


Countdown Clocks at WishAFriend.com

Old Friends, New Friends

This weekend I experienced something quite fun! I took one of my "new Texas friends" to an Open House at a new housing development. She likes to decorate so I thought she might be interested in looking around at the model homes as well as some of the other products available for viewing or purchase. It was a nice "Ladies Night Out" sort of thing.

What made it even more interesting was the host of the Open House was a woman I went to Middle School and High School with. Also attending this Open House was her sister who had been one of my best friends in junior high! Keep in mind that I have not stayed in touch with either of these ladies until recently so we are coming up on 30 years since we laid eyes on one another. I asked my new friend, Ashley, along not only for something fun to do, but now you can see, for a little support. What if I didn't get along with these old friends of mine? What if I meet them again and can't wait to get out of there? I needed a back up plan, and if I had a friend with me, then I could make a quick escape!

So, I picked up Ashley, grabbed some Mexican food for dinner (like a good Texan) and drove out to the planned event. When we got there, I looked right into the face of my friend, Erin...who looked just like she did in 8th grade...only older! It was crazy! And the same with her sister, Kate! We had such a good time and I am so glad that I went. I can't thank my "new" friend, Ashley, enough....she was a trooper! Hanging out while the three of us reminisced. (never mind the impromptu drive to the airport and back...that is a whole different story!)

As I stared into the faces of these two, grown, successful women, I could see the faces of my childhood friends. It was amazing. It was cool. As we said our good byes and decided to keep in touch, I felt like I had accomplished something important. I can't describe exactly what I felt, but I shared with Ashley that I felt like I had history. I liked seeing who they had become and I liked them....still. I was comfortable with who I had become, and I liked me. And I like knowing that I know someone who has known me for over 30 years. There is something good about that.

Old friends, new friends, and old friends who have become new friends. Life is good.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Pet Peeves

Recently, I was asked what is my biggest pet peeve. In the past, I would have answered that dishonesty or lying is my pet peeve. And even though I really don't like people who are not honest, I recently have found a peeve that is intolerable for me...people who are so self focused that they can't see beyond thier own interests or problems to be aware of the interests of others. Pride.

In recent months, meeting new people has been a major priority in my life. After relocating to Texas, my desire has been to build a network of friends here. This has allowed me opportunity to evaluate friends that I have held dear in the past, what made them a good friend, and even if they really are good friends. I have tried to take what I have learned from my conclusions and look for people who are good friends, healthy friends, and people who I think will be good for me and me for them.

I have noticed how many people, women, especially, will talk on and on about themselves and never ask a question about the life of the person they are talking to. It amazes me. Do they really care more about telling that other person all about them? Is that how they get to know others? I guess it doesn't occur to these type of people that to get to know someone, you should find out about them, not tell them about you. (exclusively) It should be a conversation that goes both ways, shouldn't it? These people really turn me off.

There are a few of my new friends who I have talked to quite a bit in the last few months, some of them about things that are important to me. I rejoice when I hear back from these friends with questions like, "How was your retreat?" "How do you feel about Adam's girlfriend coming to visit?", and last night, "How are YOU in all this?" I cannot express my gratitude for people who care about others. I pray that I am as interested and attentive to the things in thier lives. I try to follow up with things that they have shared with me....test results, job interviews, illnesses, family situations, and even hair appointments.

In my quest for healthy relationships, caring is a major priority in my list of characteristics for friends. I have done a little house cleaning as I have discovered that I have wasted some time in past relationships with people who can't see past themselves. (I am NOT talking about you, Ru...you are not like this) I have tried to figure out why these people have been attractive to me in the past. Maybe because I have taken this behaviour as openness. It might be, but if it is not reciprocal, then it is pride.

So, I have a new pet peeve. Well, I guess a new criteria. The friends that I am making with this in mind are a step above the average friend. They are warm and caring and fun and Christ-like. How blessed I am to have people like this in my life.

Romans 12:15, God tells us to, "Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn."
It is impossible to do this if you don't pay attention to the interests and needs of others. Amen!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Amy and Minnie

Random

I have little focus today. I spent so much time TRYING to focus at work, that since I got home, I have been bouncing off of walls like one of those little rubber balls you buy for a quarter in the gumball machine.

Here are the random things going through my head.

It is cold. I am not used to feeling cold. It makes my throat hurt. Well, that might be because after I got my flu shot, I thought I was going to die. I ended up with the pseudo-flu. That was a bummer. Maybe that's why my throat hurts. But I still don't like being cold. I guess I should be glad I am in Texas, where cold is not REALLY cold, like Minnesota. I lived there once. I think if one were to go "#1"outside in Minnesota, it would freeze!

Thinking of being cold makes me think I want to be warm. And warm I hope to be in less than two weeks when I go on a 7 day cruise in the Western Caribbean. Woo hoo! Grand Cayman's, Jamaica, and Cozumel...here I come!!!!

My son, Aaron's, girlfriend is getting a puppy on Friday. She is a Yorkie and her name is Minnie. I feel like I am getting a grandpuppy! I can't wait to see her, to hold her and to love on her. She will get to come over with Amy and hang out. Amy has agreed to take care of Minnie's piddles. See....just like a grandpuppy!

I ordered Adam's graduation announcements. He ordered his cap and gown. I think he might really graduate this December! It seems surreal. I can't wait. I don't know what is more exciting, having him graduate for his own achievement, or getting the raise in our income from all those years of tuition and housing costs that we paid for! What am I thinking...we still have Aaron in college?! But one down...two to go! Hooray.

And other news from Va Tech, Adam's girlfriend will be traveling home with us after graduation and spending Christmas with us. Wow! Is this the "take the girlfriend home to meet the family" thing? It looks like it is happening!

Rebecca and her boyfriend broke up. It was short lived. They like being friends better. I must say, I am glad about this. She is handling it very well.

My friend, Janie, that I sat next to at work...she had to move to a different department this week. I still see her, but she is not my next desk neighbor anymore. We still walk 30 minutes every day and eat lunch together though.

I had a dream that I visited my old church and nobody knew me. It was funny because they were meeting in a garage. I was sitting in an old pickup truck during the service. Whoever was in the driver's seat, backed us out of the garage and pulled back in again. When they pulled back in, they almost ran over an old lady. What is that all about??

Relationships are hard. I am looking forward to my vacation with my mom because it is an emotional break. She is the easiest person for me to be around because I can really, truly be myself. I am worn out emotionally in lots of ways. I need to find ways and relationships that revive and refresh. And not that everyone exhausts me, but I exhaust myself. My expectations are high and sometimes irrational. I wonder how I got this way? Am I a perfectionist? Controlling? Manipulative? Crazy? I just need to rest in the arms of my God, and be around my mom. sigh.

Random. What is it that my son calls this? Brain Dumping.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

The Glory of God

On April 3, 1997, my beautiful, then 3 year old, daughter drew a picture of me. It just so happened that she drew the picture in my Bible. I was a little disappointed to have the drawing of my 3 year old right in the middle of a page in my Bible, but I wasn't angry with her. I made a little note beside the drawing and this is what I wrote, "Rebecca: 4/3/97, "Mommy, I drew your face in your Bible!" That is what she said to me. She was so excited, she carried it to me and proudly displayed her work. How could I be angry?

I never gave much thought to it after that. When I read across the scripture that she adorned, I simply read over it. It was a Psalm that she selected and one that I read, but had not zoned in on with the exception of the very last verse. This final verse in this Psalm has been my prayer many, many times. In fact the first date beside the final verse is October 1996 with the note, "Help me always do this."

Recently, however, I noticed that the "smile" of my face framed the passage almost perfectly. I thought I should read it again, this time with the idea that God might have helped my young child select this particular chapter. When I read it, tears welled up in my eyes. I was filled with joy! This verse expresses my heart, it was my prayer, it is all I believe about God, and I never paid close attention. I thanked Him for the drawing of my 3 year old. I thanked Him for selecting the page she would write on. I read this passage almost every day now, and I never am disappointed. His word speaks to my heart, gives me hope, teaches me and challenges me every time I read it. His love is given to me in the reading of this Psalm.

Psalm 19 NIV

1 The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.

2 Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they display knowledge.

3 There is no speech or language
where their voice is not heard.

4 Their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world.
In the heavens he has pitched a tent for the sun,

5 which is like a bridegroom coming forth from his pavilion,
like a champion rejoicing to run his course.

6 It rises at one end of the heavens
and makes its circuit to the other;
nothing is hidden from its heat.

7 The law of the LORD is perfect,
reviving the soul.
The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy,
making wise the simple.

8 The precepts of the LORD are right,
giving joy to the heart.
The commands of the LORD are radiant,
giving light to the eyes.

9 The fear of the LORD is pure,
enduring forever.
The ordinances of the LORD are sure
and altogether righteous.

10 They are more precious than gold,
than much pure gold;
they are sweeter than honey,
than honey from the comb.

11 By them is your servant warned;
in keeping them there is great reward.

12 Who can discern his errors?
Forgive my hidden faults.

13 Keep your servant also from willful sins;
may they not rule over me.
Then will I be blameless,
innocent of great transgression.

14 May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
be pleasing in your sight,
O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

My day as a juror

This past week I served as a juror. I must admit that when I received my jury summons, I was less than thrilled. My mind was immediately filled with visions of trials "as seen on t.v." And I had just returned from taking some time off for a retreat and to spend time with my mother during a recent surgery. The last thing that I wanted to do was take more time off of work.

I opted to go ahead and take my chances, turn in my juror documentation instead of requesting the one "free" skip that I am allowed in the state of Texas. I filled out all the personal questions and sent my paperwork to the court, hoping that my chances of being selected were small.

The day that I had to report, I was shocked! There were 294 of us crammed into one room. We were informed that 3 panels would be selected that day and there would be 123 of us going to the next selection process. As fate would have it, the juror selection software malfunctioned. They actually had to put all of our names in a box lid and draw our names the old fashioned way...out of a hat so to speak. It did bring humor to the situation.

Panel number 1 - I escaped. Panel number 2 - I escaped. Panel number 3 - "Elizabeth Russell". I was forced to respond appropriately, "Here". I had been selected. Court is adjourned. Be back at 1:30, report to your assigned bailiff.

I reported to the courtroom at 1:30, seated in my assigned seat to answer questions asked of me and the other panel members by the attorneys. The case was a personal injury case involving an motor vehicle accident. I was asked if I had been involved in anything similar. My answer was "yes". I thought I would be dismissed. The prospective jurors were asked to wait in the hallway for jury selection. All 36 of us filed into the hallway. We waited and waited. Certain people were called to talk to the judge and the attorneys privately. We waited some more. My name was called. I had to speak before the judge. I was questioned again about my car accident and my mother's accident. I thought for sure I would be dismissed. Back into the hallway I went. An hour and 10 minutes later, we were called back into the court room to hear the 12 jurors names that would serve. My name was the 6th name called. I took my position in the jury box. I raised my right hand, again, and went under oath. I was to report back to court the next morning at 8:45 a.m.

The following day, 12 jurors and 1 bailiff gathered in the deliberation room prior to court. We spent a good deal of time together. We got to know one another, where we lived, how we spent our time, and how we felt about being on the jury. I found myself talking to two women quite a bit. I mentioned to one of them how much I liked the judge, how professional yet friendly she seemed and that she just had something about her that was admirable. She agreed. There was something very appealing about this judge....her countenance, her attitude, something about her was special. I told the bailiff that I really admired our judge. Was she as nice as she seemed? He said yes. She was great and he loved working in her courtroom.

We, the jurors, sat in our courtroom. We heard the case. We maintained our secrecy. We did not discuss the case. We even went to lunch together and shared about our lives, but not the case. All of a sudden this inconvenience of jury duty had become serious business. We admired the judge. We were part of the American justice system. And we could see the importance of what we were doing.

We listened. We paid attention. We watched and evaluated. Some of us prayed. Closing arguments took place and we were dismissed to decide the fate of the people who sat before us.

In the deliberation room, we had rules. The bailiff took all cell phones and all pagers. We were not allowed to leave the room. We could not speak if one of us was not present...the only place we could be is in the small restroom provided to us in the deliberation room. We all went around the table, one by one, giving our opinion and why. We deliberated for a few minutes. We reviewed medical records and police reports...even a social security disability application. We voted. We decided the defendant was not guilty. And it felt good.

We filed back into the courtroom, to the bailiff's booming voice, "All rise for the jury." Had we reached a verdict? "Yes, your honor. We, the jury, find the defendant not guilty." Justice.

Back in the deliberation room we, the jury, meet the winning attorney. We also meet the judge. The beautiful, peaceful, "something about her", judge. She shook our hands. She speaks to us and thanks us. She answers questions about the case that we could not ask during the trial. I am awestruck by her. She is classy. She is intelligent. She is warm. I will vote for her. :)

One of the women on the jury that I befriended asks me to meet her outside if I have time. She has something she would like to tell me. I exit the deliberation room, leaving she and the judge to a private conversation. Then my new friend joins me outside. After speaking to the defendant and his family, we walk to a private area of the parking lot. She tells me that she knows the judge. She knows possibly why I sense something amazing about this woman. My new friend had a cousin who was in an accident. It was a small aircraft accident. There were four people on this plane, one of them was "our" judge. She was in the back seat, behind an almost 18 year old female passenger. The aircraft was in trouble and they knew it. The judge placed her hand on the the shoulder of the young woman in front of her and began to pray the Lord's prayer. The plane went down in a cold lake on a rainy day. Three passengers died. The judge did not. She swam, for 16 hours, she swam. She found a crab trap and hung on. Then she swam some more to another crab trap and hung on. She heard helicopters, but they could not see her. She swam again to yet another crab trap. Finally, the helicopters saw her after nearly 24 hours, she was rescued. Her first and only words to her rescuer, "Am I alive?" She woke up in a hospital days later. A survivor. This was nine years ago.

She now presides over a court room. Her presence is inspiring. Her character shows in her face and not a face of bitterness and pain, but of love and understanding, mercy and grace. I was drawn to her from the minute I met her. Now I know why. Wow.

My day as a juror...

A day that many people dread as inconvenience, myself included, in the past. No longer will I feel that way. My day as juror was one of the most amazing experiences, a day I will always remember. Justice. Grace. Strength. And so inspiring.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Blessed

I am so blessed by God! I love life. I love Him. I think He must love me more than anyone in the world because He is so good to me. I just want to yell to the world at how wonderful He is!

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Romance in the air!



Well, it is official...Adam now has a girlfriend! He has been interested in this young lady for several weeks now, but this past week they have agreed to use the titles "boyfriend" and "girlfriend"! He has spent most of his college days as a single man, mostly because his degree program is so demanding that he had little time for romance! Also, he never really found anyone that was interesting to him. But, that changed when he met Thien. How exciting!

They are spending a good amount of time together. They are cooking with one another...I think she might be a little better at it than he is. :) And one of the best things is -she can make sushi...one of Adam's all time favorites! Along with spring rolls and dumplings. (Asian cuisine is one of his very, very favorites, so he is very excited about the food!)

Now, all three of my kids are romantically involved! Is this the fun part of parenting? Or the hard part? I am not sure yet!

Romance though...it is sure fun....and it is in the air!

Saturday, October 6, 2007

The Perfect Friday

Fridays have always been an interesting day to me. I don't know exactly why, but I have high expectations of Fridays. I am not sure if it started when I was in school and most Friday's were about slumber parties, then football games, or dates. But I almost always did something fun on Friday nights. When I got married and started having children, Friday's were still special. I did not work while our children were little so I was able to get all my housework and errands completed during the week. The reward was that on Friday, I would get together with another good friend of mine (also the mother of young children) and we would visit and have lunch while our children played together. We did this every Friday and I always looked forward to it. Often times, we would go our separate ways for the afternoon so our little ones could nap, then we would get together Friday evenings with our husbands and children and have dinner. We played board games or cards, while our kids played some more. It was always fun and it kicked off the weekend.

Now that we are older, our kids are older, our friends have changed...several times over, I still have high expectations of wanting to do something fun on Friday. I am so convinced that Friday is a holiday of sorts, that I have arranged my work schedule to allow me most Friday's off of work. If nothing special happens on a Friday, than I struggle with feeling let down and depressed at the passing of Friday with nothing to commemorate the day. Friday...it is the entry gate to the weekend...it time for celebrating the end of the work week!

Yesterday was Friday. I took my normal Friday off. Fred was out of town on this particular Friday. Often times he and I will do our "dates" on Friday afternoons before the Friday night crowds come out. Neither of us particularly like dining out on Friday nights because in our old age, we have found that the crowds, the waiting, and the noise are not so much fun anymore. I would rather eat something simple at home and watch a movie.

So, yesterday, I started the day by taking Rebecca to school. She has flute sectionals on Fridays at 7:00 a.m., so the day started early. I came home and had a nice time of meditation. I saw Aaron off to school. Then I spent two hours cleaning. I cleaned out my computer desk and tidied up my kitchen. I sorted through some paperwork, and mentally took notes of things I needed to take care of. Then I met a friend for a late breakfast. She is also Aaron's girlfriend's mother, but a good friend too. She just returned from a trip with girlfriends so we looked at photos. We had a great time catching up. Then I went to Target. I had a fabulous afternoon at Target, by myself. I purchased all kinds of weird things that I wanted...frames, candy dishes, a Halloween t-shirt, towels, and finally some groceries for the weekend. Then I came home and made tacos. They were so good! After that, my friend brought her 3 year old daughter over. We are babysitting her for the weekend while she and her husband go to her class reunion in Las Vegas. Our whole family watched The Jungle Book. Then I gave the little one a bath, put her to bed and fell into my own, wonderful, comfortable bed next to my husband (who was already asleep) and slept a sound sleep until morning.

Now that is a perfect Friday!

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

This is My Story


I just returned home from a new Bible Study class at Fellowship church. It is called This is My Story and it is written by Lisa Whelchel (you might know her as Blair from the Facts of Life TV show). It is cool to have her personal input on a "class" that she developed. (she is a member of my church and she told her "story" tonight.)

Now, I am a little excited and a little skeptical about this study. I am excited to record "my story" in a format that might be interesting to others. I want to leave a legacy of sorts for my children and other family members who might have interest in who I am, where I came from, and how my faith story has affected how I live.

I am a little nervous because I have high expectations for the storybook that I will be putting together. I am also nervous because I am leading a group of women through the small group portion of the class and I am sort of anxious about it. (although it went fine tonight)

The skeptism comes in because I am not a big scrap booker. Many who are in the class are not scrap book gals. But, it is a scrap book of sorts. There is a good portion of journaling...I like to journal in case you haven't noticed. But scrap booking?? I am a bit of a skeptic here.

It will be fun to do the Bible Study, the quiet times with God and think about the way He has worked through out my life, the unique ways that He has created me and blessed me. I look forward to making this scrapbook of God's faithfulness. I will be creating a legacy of faith...my faith in Him. And I am doing it with a couple of my new friends which will be fun. We will get to know each other better, and get to know the other ladies in our group better too.

Keep watch for more to come on my new adventure in scrapbooking my walk with God. Check out Lisa's web site for more information http://www.lisawhelchel.com/my_book.htm or go to Lifeway.com who published her book.

Monday, October 1, 2007

First Date


My heart is in my throat! My stomach is turning around and around inside of me. I just dropped my daughter off at the football game. Now, this in itself is not enough to make me feel this way. After all, she has attended football games for the last two years. But, this football game is different! She is on her first date...with her first boyfriend! My emotions are bubbling with anxiety as I type that.

She is on a group date....sort of. Her friend accompanied her (purposefully invited to ease the nervousness.) Her boyfriend also has a friend along. And his family is chaperoning. So, it is an appropriate date for eighth graders...but still, IT IS A DATE!!!!

Rebecca and this young man have been friends since the sixth grade. They talk to each other quite a bit. He has asked her out twice in the past and she declined, mostly because they are such good friends. But, as they have matured (and now that he is taller than she is), the attraction has changed a little bit. And it is safe. They already know they like each other. They are skipping a lot of the awkwardness that would be there if they hadn't been friends for so long!

And I have been an instigator in all this. Rebecca and all of her friends know that I like this guy myself. I think he is cute. So, whenever all the girls are around me, talking about who likes who and such, I will often chime in...."I think Rebecca should go out with Michael." Everyone always agrees.

So, today I came home from work and Rebecca tells me that Tori, her friend down the street has something to tell me. I try to figure it out..."did Tori cut her hair off?", "did she break her arm?", "is my friend's daughter here from Virginia (Tori's sister-in-law)"? What could it possibly be??? All of this is a set-up. Tori wants to see my reaction at the news that it is official, "Rebecca and Michael are going out." I screamed, "Well, FINALLY! It is about time!" They both laughed! Then they told me the whole story, not leaving out one little detail. As we talk, Rebecca is texting Michael to tell him how I reacted.

So, now I wait. The mom...the waiting mom...for my daughter to return from her first date! SIGH! I really don't know what to think. Excuse me...I feel a little ill..................