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 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.

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 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 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


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 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 Christmas time!
I love my family! and friends!


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


'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!