Friday, May 06, 2016


I HEARD/READ IT --- IT MADE ME THINK

The other day, we were watching an interview with Sophia Loren.  The question was, “What is happiness?”

 She answered, “It depends on your age.”

 That made me think and I realized she was right. 

  • Happiness was mom saying, “Yes, you may go to the park.  Be back by five.” 
  • Happiness was a slumber party.
  • Happiness was receiving an engagement ring and then a wedding ring from the man I love.
  • Happiness was welcoming a son and then a daughter into our family.
Some things cause happiness during your whole life:

  • Happiness is reading a book.
  • Happiness is traveling.
  • Happiness is family.  And home.
It is funny how one thing leads to another.  I had finished reading a book, The Wedding Chapel by Rachel Hauck, and had saved some quotes about Jack.  Jack is seeking happiness.  Seeking but could he let go of the past? 
 
“That’s the crux of it right there.  Are you ready to give up being angry? Because anytime you want to become a Gillingham, Jack, we’ll go down to the courthouse and make it all legal.”  “I’m thirty years old, Sam.”  “I don’t care if you’re a hundred. I’m telling you, I want you as my son. Wouldn’t it be nice to know you are a son right before you become a father?”  Jack glanced at Sam, who nodded, then turned for the house. “Take your time.” He might have been gone, but his confession hung around the garage, drilling through Jack and tapping his tears. “I want you as my son.”

"You have everything you need to heal from such a deep hurt, but you choose to keep walking around wounded.”

"When you walked in, I knew you were the answer to our prayer.”  An answer to prayer.  Such a claim caused Jack to torque inside, messed with his right to be angry, to play the victim.  Because if the God of all looked after him, even used him to bless someone"

As a child, Jack was sent to stay with Sam and his wife.  Jack was angry.  Jack closed himself off and never realized he was an answer to their prayers.  You see, they wanted a child.

Jack had not known happiness.  Did not have sweet memories.  He did not know how to love.  Or trust.  He just knew how to be hurt, to be angry.  He just knew how to keep people away.

Of course, the book ended with Jack finding happiness when he finally allowed his past to be just that:  the past.  Then he found God, trust and love. 

So often we do not realize that what makes us happy changes as we grow older.  So often we are not happy because, like Jack, we refuse to leave our hurts, anger and lack of trust behind us.

Of course, the book had a happy ending but your life can have a happy endings too.  The key?
God, of course.

Friday, April 15, 2016


SUCCESS

Two phones, an iPad and a computer all ready.  The countdown begins.  Ten minutes.  Five minutes.  Three minutes.  “Start dialing Bill,” I said as I started dialing and checking both screens.  Too soon.  One minute.  “Dial again,” I told Bill as I hit redial.

Computer spinning to get a place in line.  IPad spinning to get a place in line.  Bill’s phone asking him questions he did not know how to answer.  My bad!  I forgot to give him the password.  He hangs up.  But my phone -----

“This is an automated service and you will not be speaking to a live representative.  Do you wish to continue?”  YES.  “Are you wanting tickets?”  YES.  “Are you wanting tickets to an event in Fort Wayne, Indiana?”  NO.  (In my mind, I am seeing ticket after ticket being sold while I am answering questions.)  “What event are you interested in?”  GARTH BROOKS, GRAND RAPIDS, MICHIGAN.  “Which show?”  WHAT?  I THOUGHT THERE WAS ONLY ONE.  THE 7:00 PM, SATURDAY NIGHT.  “Would you like the best tickets available?”  YES.  (Getting closer.  I was getting excited.)  “There are two tickets in row Q of section 227.  Will you take them?”  NO.  (Oh that was hard to say.)  “Would you like me to try another selection?”  YES.  (Do you realize how silly it feels to answer question from a machine?)  “There are two tickets in row P of section 221?  Will you take them?”  NO.  (How did no come out of my mouth again?)  “Would you like me to try another selection?”  YES. “Would like two tickets in row A of section 204, seats 1 and 2?”  YES!  YES!  (One section higher than I wanted but the front row of that section.  I can live with that.  Besides, I did not want the voice to say, “Sorry you have turned down three selections.  Goodbye.”)

SUCCESS!  Our daughter and I are going to see Garth Brooks.  I can mark that off my bucket list.

I had been excited ever since Terri called and said he was going to be so close.  Also, a bit anxious.  What if I couldn’t get tickets?  Concerts sell out very quickly.  And, as much as I wanted to go, I wanted decent seats.  And I did not want to pay for tickets on the secondary market.  Items on my bucket list are only worth so much.

SUCCESS!  And then a conversation began in my heart.

“Mary, do you seek me with the same determination and excitement you sought those tickets?”

“Of, course, Jesus,” I replied.

“Really?  I seem to have missed something then.  When was the last time you counted down the minutes – the seconds – until you could be with me?”

“Well, you know.  Laundry.  Cooking.  Watching TV.  Checking Facebook.  The time just seems to slip away and then it is bedtime,” I answered.

“Mary, Mary.  What am I going to do with you?”

“Jesus, I do know how to answer that.  You are going to love me.  You are going to celebrate with me when life sends me higher than a kite.  You are going to support me when life knocks my legs right out from under me.  And you are going to borrow that 2 X 4 God uses to whack me with when I get off track,” I humbly replied.

“I won’t use that 2 X 4 this time.  I think you get the idea.  I am thrilled to see you enjoying life.  It makes me smile.  Just remember what really gives you success in life.”

SUCCESS!  I have a God that gave me the world.  I have a Savior that washed me in forgiveness.  I have a Holy Spirit that guides me.  I am successful!

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!  And this is what we are!  1 John 3:1

SUCCESS?  Yes because I am the child of the One True King.

“Mary.”

“Yes,” I answered in a surprised voice.  I was not expecting further conversation on this subject.

“It is okay that you did not get me a ticket.  I already have the best seat in the universe and I did not have to call Ticketmaster.”

Friday, April 08, 2016


ERASED

TV show plot:  One man owns a bar that is not doing the best.  A friend offers to buy in.  They agree.

Then things take a turn for the worse.  Why?  Because the friend renames the bar, brings in some top singers and turns the bar into a success.  All the while, the original owner gets pushed into the background.  When things come to a head, the original owner told his friend, “You erased me.” 

YOU ERASED ME!  Powerful words from deep hurts that finally came out in total honesty.

Think about it for a minute.  “You erased me.”  Can you imagine feeling:

invisible?

like what you worked for was nothing?

betrayed by a friend?

hurt to the core?

Three simple words.  Three words that could have dissolved a friendship.  Instead, those three words, spoken in total honesty, restored a friendship. 

Just a TV show you say.  Not real life.  Probably not.  In real life the hurts are buried, words are never honestly spoken and friendships slip away. 

I really did not know where this would go and not sure how to end it.  I just know those three words:  You erased me, tore at my heart.  Although I have never said those words, people – family, friends, strangers – have made me feel each of those.  I have felt invisible.  I have felt like my work was for nothing.  I have been betrayed by a friend.  I have been hurt to the core.  I am guessing that each of us has.  Each one reading this could look the first man in the eyes and say, “Man, do I know how that feels!”

The question is:  How do we handle those feelings.  Are we honest about them?  Or do we hide them? 

Is there anyone we can talk to that truly, TRULY understands? 

Oh, yes.  That would be Jesus.  And we can go to Him.  He will listen.

 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.

Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart,

and you will find rest for your souls.

For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Matthew 11:28

Saturday, March 19, 2016





A CROOKED, WINDING ROAD

When Bill and I travel, I am the one that finds the road less traveled.  This time:  IT WAS BILL!

We left Apache Junction, Arizona on Arizona 88.  This road started as a good, blacktop, not so straight mountain road. 
 

Even the blacktopped road had sharp curves.

That changed and the last 22 miles were not good, not blacktop and definitely not straight. 

 

Here is how it looked on the iPad.

That white line was one lane.  Dirt.  Very sharp curves.  That road was a blast!!!

 


Notice how narrow the road is at the curve?


Do you see the arrows going both ways?

 We could not see around the curves.  There were one lane bridges.  Three times we had to pull over so another vehicle could go by.  A road grader and two cars were all we saw on the whole 22 miles!  Except for a few head of cattle.

Was I scared?  Heck no.  Want to know why?

I trusted the driver!

So many times in life we are on roads like this.  We cannot see where we are going.  We do not know what is coming at us.  Sometimes we have to just sit and wait before our journey can continue.  Our journey goes up and then down and then takes a sudden twist we did not see coming.  Sometimes there are others on the same road and sometimes we are completely alone.

Yes, life can be one crazy journey.  Am I scared?  Heck ---- yes and no.

The road Bill and I were on was shown on the map.  We saw that it would end.  We were very careful. 

The road of life is not on my iPad!  I cannot see where the curves, twists, ups and downs are.  So, yes, often I am scared.  But only scared for a brief time.  Then my answer changes to no.  Why?

I trust my guide.  I trust God.

In you, Lord my God, I put my trust.  Show me your ways, Lord, teach me your paths.  Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.  Psalm 25:1, 4-5

Friday, February 26, 2016


WAITING

I always figure ten minutes early or I am late.  Today I was really early.  An hour early!  So, as I write this, I am waiting.  Not enough time to go anywhere and too much time for quietly waiting to be fun. 

But it is not quiet.  I hear people’s footsteps.  And voices.  I hear the sound of doors opening.  And closing.  The most noise is the furnace fans.  A fan big enough to move the air through a big building.  I appreciate being warm, but it is an annoying sound.  Constant.  Intrusive.

The building, like me, seems to be waiting.  Waiting to do what it is designed for.  Waiting to fulfill its purpose.

Am I doing what I am designed for?  How do I know what I am to do?  Am I on the right track?  Am I…?  Am I…?  Where do I find the answer to my questions?

Sometimes it is easy.  Life just feels right.  I know inside – at the core of my being – I am fulfilling my purpose.

Sometimes it is just the opposite.  My core – my conscious, my spirit – lets me know I am not fulfilling my purpose. I know I am not on the right track.

Then there are those other times – most of the time – when I just am not sure.  Life does not feel right, but it does not seem wrong either.  It is a time of “getting through.”  And I ask, “God, what am I supposed to be doing?  What is my purpose?  Am I doing what you designed me for?”

Those are the times when I need to shut out the constant, intrusive sounds.  Shut out the sound of doors and voices and shoes hitting the floor.  Those are the times when I need to quietly wait.  Wait until I receive direction.

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

So I quietly wait until my inner core – my Holy Spirit – gives me the calm that comes from the one who created me.  The calm that comes when I am fulfilling the plans the Lord has for me.

For, you see, life is meant for so much more than just “getting through.”  The Lord has plans for each of us.  Plans that will prosper and not harm.  Plans that will give hope and a future.  That sure beats just getting through!  

Saturday, February 20, 2016


I FORGOT

The minute she opened the door, I knew she had forgotten I was coming.  Her eyes had that “deer in the headlight look” as she let me in.  Immediately she said, “Oh, no.  I forgot to write it in my main calendar.”

The next comment sent me right back out the door.  She continued, “The children are sick, one has pink eye really bad and is contagious.  I am sorry I forgot and did not call you.”

I quickly assured her it was fine and to let me know when the children were better.  I waved at the little one and left.

I meant it when I said it was fine.  Everyone forgets something once in a while.  Although I remember appointments, there are things I forget.

My forgetting would probably go something like this:

Walking to the door, I wondered who it could be because I was not expecting anyone.  Most likely someone selling something.  Not cookies, because the scout cookies were already in the pantry.  Maybe someone passing out information on the election, but our election is not until May so that would not make sense.  The doorbell rings again, as if to say, “Did you hear me?”

I unlocked the door, opened it and immediately had the “deer in the headlight look.”  How could I have forgotten?  Just that morning I promised to spend time with this person.  But you know how the day goes.  Mail.  Those games on the iPad.  Extra time at the coffee shop.  Fixing dinner.  A nap.  The TV show recorded from last night.  How could I have forgotten?  How could I have been so busy?

“Come in,” I whispered.  Slowly closing the door behind my guest, I knew I was …..

Then my guest said, “Mary, let’s just sit and talk for a bit.  Tell me about your day.  Your joys.  Your pain.  Tell me how it feels when you watch the sky.  Bill loves to hear you ‘rattiling on like a junk car’ and so do I.  Mary, let’s just sit and talk for a bit.”

Yes, it was easy for me say it was fine.  Because it was fine.  The woman needed to attend to the children more than she needed to worry about my inconvenience.  She had to set her priorities.

But what priorities do I set?  “Today I will ……

Today I will just sit and talk for a bit.  But first I will apologize for forgetting.  For being too busy. 

Today I will just sit and talk for a bit.  “Yes, come in.  I have time.  Jesus, today the clouds were blowing by so fast.  It was like they were having a race.  And did I tell you about ……..”

 

Friday, February 12, 2016


ALL IN ONE DAY

Yesterday was a bit stressful.  Our daughter and I had a contest to see exactly which of our days was worse.  I think I won but, really, who wants to win at being most stressed?

My stressful day actually began a couple weeks back when a mysterious, very wet spot appeared in our kitchen.  There was no reason for it to be there.  Uninvited, it just showed up.  As the spot grew larger, hubby tried using the shop vac.  Nope, kept getting wetter.  Faced with a challenge, out came the knife and the carpet now has a bit of damage.  Hubby checked and there was no reason for the water to be there.  It was not wet anywhere except in that ONE DARNED SPOT.  Where had the water come from?  Why did it finally dry up? 

Fast forward to yesterday.  “There is that sound again and it is louder,” I told hubby.  He turned the power off to the dishwasher.  Sound still there.  He turned off the water.  Sound gone.  That was not a good thing, so the plumber was called.  Stress #1:  there is a leak under your sink.  Our mighty plumber found the leak but could not fix it until the next day.  Stress #1 carried over into today.

Blast email anyway!  Stress #2:  My email was not working!!!  It kept asking if I wanted to send a report.  Did I want to send a report?  By day’s end, I sent dozens of reports.  I reasoned if I was having a bad day because of this email problem, someone else was going to be having trouble also.  My computer guru assured me it was not the connection between the seat and the keyboard (aka: me) and that IncrediMail was not as incredible as I previously thought.  It is still not working so stress #2 has carried over into today.

Are you wondering what else was stressful?  I had a court report to write and chose yesterday to begin it.  I love to write but writing for fun is not the same as writing a court report.  I am not an overly formal person and writing in an acceptable form for court takes me a long – very long – time.  Did Stress #3 carry over into today?  Only enough to make a couple of changes and send it on its way.

Are you still reading?  Proud of you because I have taken the long way around to make a point. 

A leak in a water pipe - THANK YOU LORD!  WE HAVE WATER IN OUR HOME.  WATER TO DRINK.  WE TURN ON THE TAP OR THE SHOWER AND IT JUST FLOWS OUT.  THANK YOU LORD!

Email that doesn’t work – THANK YOU LORD!  WE HAVE TECHNOLOGY IN OUR HOME.  WE CAN COMMUNICATE WITH PEOPLE AROUND THE WORLD.  WE CAN DO BUSINESS.  WE CAN LEARN.  THANK YOU LORD!

Court reports to write – THANK YOU LORD!  YOU HAVE GIVEN ME A HEART FOR CHILDREN AND AN OPPORTUNITY TO HELP THEM.  THANK YOU LORD!

Each day we make choices.  Do I allow a small leak to destroy my day?  Do I allow an email glitch to destroy my day?  Do I allow the search for the right words destroy my day?  Or do I give thanks?  The honest answer? 

The honest answer is I did not give thanks yesterday.  In the midst of the leak, email problems and searching for the right words, I was stressed.  It was not until the leak was fixed, the email was up and working and the report written that I realized yesterday was a piece of cake.  It was not until today that I saw my blessings and gave thanks.

Now, oh, I have to call someone and get the carpet fixed.

We have carpet to fix.  THANK YOU LORD!