Tuesday, November 23, 2010

My List of Gratitude

I am thankful for the ability to love and to be loved.

I am thankful for my husband who loved me enough to take me for better or worse, and that he has stuck to his end of the bargain.

I am thankful for our children who are out there learning, growing and who still show me love even when we don’t see eye to eye.

I am thankful for my boys who, God bless all three of them, suffered through my lack of experience with raising boys after growing up with only sisters for most of life. I love you all, and you are priceless to me.

I am thankful for the beautiful women who have come into my son’s lives, became my daughters through love and gave them the balance, love and the stability to grow into the men they are today.

I am thankful for my daughters who continue to challenge me to become the woman I need to be, and and who inspire me to continue pursuing personal and spiritual growth. You are my heart, and I love you.

I am eternally grateful for my grandchildren, who have reminded me of the pure, innocent, unconditional love and joy found in life’s simplicity.

I am grateful for my Momma and Daddy who loved me enough to let me live through my teenage years and who have never given up on believing in me.

I am grateful for my two sisters, who have shown me so much forgiveness over the years, and with whom I share that special connection of sisterhood.

I am grateful for my little brother who, even though we did not get to grow up together, has grown into one of my dearest, closest friends.

I am grateful for their spouses who joined our crazy bunch bringing so much love into our family, and who helped to create the wonderful chaos that occurs each time we are all together.

I am thankful for the most talented and loving neices and nephews - the older of whom are using their unique talents to bring joy and change into this tough world - the younger of whom are growing into loving adults with so much yet to offer.

I am thankful for my entire family of aunts, uncles, and in-laws who did not have the opportunity to choose me as a relative, but who have loved and supported me through so much.

I am thankful for Charlie’s family who welcomed me with open arms.

I am especially grateful for Charlie's sister and her family whose love and encouragement have touched me in more ways than they will ever know.

I am thankful for friends who have brought so much fun and laughter into our lives, and who have been there to support us in times when we could barely stand alone.

I am thankful for my job and for the good people I work with who have become like a second family to me.

I am thankful for my Savior who loved me enough to come to earth to die for my sins, and who has shown me liberating grace and abundant life.

I am grateful for the freedom to openly raise my voice and hands in worship and praise to Him for His precious grace.

I am so thankful that He has changed me, and that He continues to change me to live more in His image.

I am grateful for the promise that His protection will never leave me or forsake me no matter what He allows to touch my life or the lives of my loved ones.

I am thankful for fellow believers whose prayers strengthen me day by day.

I am thankful for a home to shelter me from the elements and for plenty of food to sustain my body.

I am thankful for shoes for my feet and clothes for my body.

I am thankful for a dependable, comfortable vehicle that gets me to and from work and the many other places I tend to travel.

I am thankful for my health and for the health of my loved ones.

I am thankful for the realization that there are those who do not have these basic necessities, and I am grateful that your Spirit that urges my heart to give to those who cannot help themselves and for Your conviction of my selfishness at times.

I am grateful that I can turn to You for wisdom as to when it is best to help, and when it is best to let go...as hard as it may be to do so.

I am thankful for laughter, for rest, for those precious experiences that flavor life with delicious memories.

There is so much more I could write, but for the sake of time I must close. But I must say one more thing before I do...I am thankful for you.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Hmmm...

Okay, I don't get it! I know that may suprise some of you, but yes, there are some concepts that are just beyond my comprehension. (My husband attempted to help me out with this one last night, but I was not as appreciative of his help as one would think!) You see, I am involved in a contest at work in which employees are being encouraged to increase their physical activity. Our goal is a minimum of 10,000 steps a day, and the team with the most steps is rewarded at the end of a 2 1/2 month period.

So here is the thing...it took me two months...TWO MONTHS to lose 2 1/2 measely pounds! At first the weight went up, and I thought my body had forsaken the goal we were working so hard to accomplish. I mean, I have been walking a total of 5 miles a day! It has finally started down a little, though. I lost weight during the weight loss competition earlier this year (3 whole pounds...whoopie...) only to gain it plus a couple more on our trip to Chicago...mmm...Chicago style pizza...and bagels...and hot dogs...but I digress. Now I that I am on my way back from losing those added pounds, I have decided to try a whole new concept. I am actually going to watch my portions and calorie intake WHILE I exercise. Hmmm, now why haven't I thought of this one before?!?!!

Well, to be fair to myself, I have done this in the past with quite good success. But that was in my twenties, thirties and early forties. The closer I get to fifty, however, (and I'm talking only a few months away) the more independent my body seems to have become. I think it is afraid that each time I eat something it could be the last morsel it will ever get to digest, so it holds on for dear life to every calorie.

So now that I have verbalized everything that I do not want to keep happening, I am going to stop behaving like Lot's wife who turned into a pillar of salt because she just had to look back at what she was leaving behind instead looking forward to the promises of where she was headed. I shall now make a few positive affirmations for my successful weight loss journey:


  • I am back down to the size I was whenever I went to the hospital to have my sons.


  • I can sit in a stadium seat without having to raise one hip at a time to get out of it.


  • I can actually bend over and paint my toenails without cutting off my air supply.


  • I can try on clothes without bursting into tears in the dressing room because my "fat size" is now too small.


  • I no longer have to turn sheepishly away whenever my husband asks what happened to the Reese's peanut butter cups he just bought the day before.


  • I no longer live in fear of the nurse at my doctor's office yelling my weight across the room to the nurse who is "assisting" by recording it on my chart.


  • I no longer feel 4 1/2 months pregnant because my stomach has added a layer of insulation to help me through menopause (to this day I do not understand why this necessary, but I am told it is beneficial...probably something thought up by a female doctor experiencing the same mysterious "miracle" of the female mid-life era.)


  • I can wear heels again without the balls of my feet feeling like they are being crushed to powder due to the exponential weight added by said heels.

  • I can actually watch "The Biggest Loser" without the conviction that I need to be filling out an application instead of eating another bowl of ice cream.

I feel much better now! With any luck at all I can see myself losing at least 5 lbs before this time next year :-)!!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Random Ramblings

Okay, this is really sad. It has been so long since I have written anything in my blog that I had to search Chelsey's blog for the link! So I have made a promise to myself to write more often...even if what I have to say is not earth shattering or life changing.



I guess one reason I was prompted to return to my blog is that I have been feeling a little blue. Don't ask my why because I can't really put my finger on it. Possibly it is because there are so many changes taking place, and I guess I realize that my time here does not last forever. I look at the hours spent at work versus the time spent living life and visiting with the ones I love, and it is a little sobering to say the least. I do not mean these thoughts in a depressing way. Just in a wistful, melancholy way.

Fall is my favorite time of year, and with fall comes a flood of nostalgia. The cooler, drier temperatures...the clearer, more colorful sunsets...the richer, more flavorful foods all draw my most favorite of memories to the forefront. I remember cool evenings spent on the porch at my grandparent's home watching my grandfather's profile fade into the night as he told stories of his childhood. The faint smell of burning leaves is as prevalent in my memory as it was the day I sat in his lap listening ever intently to his adventures as a boy. The atmosphere was saturated with goodness, simplicity and love.

I also remember the fun of searching for the newest halloween costumes at Perry Brothers five and dime store for the upcoming carnival at our elementary school. The best costumes were homemade, but it was so much fun to look at the most popular costumes that sold in the store. I remember getting to be Snow White one year. It was with great pride that I put on that plastic mask, pulling the rubber band over my head and securing it safely around the back of my head. I magically became Snow White...I even had her hair and face (...as long as I didn't turn around, that is...) I can still hear the way my breath sounded with my nose and lips pressed up to the mask.

Back in those days our small town closed down main street and we got to march in a parade and show off our costumes. This was a big event at our house. My grandparents came to the house early and rode with us to the parade. It always began and ended at the elementary school, and we got to be the stars of the town for the evening. After the parade came the carnival that was set up complete with all kinds of games like bobbing for apples, a cake walk, and a spook house...just to name a few of the attractions. Those times were so, so special.

Autumn brings football and evenings around campfires at the farm. My sons were born in the fall, and it was in the fall of the year that my life with Charlie began. Many say I am entering into the autumn of my life. Come to think of it, I suppose that is not such a bad thing after all. Much like the bright hues of orange, yellow and brown that make up the colors of the changing season, fall and autumn is a warm, vibrant time of year. The colors are rich, the smells are memorable, and the skies are clear. This season of life could turn out to be my favorite of all.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Patchwork Quilt That Is My Life

I woke up this morning feeling as if I did not have the strength to make this day. At the time I felt major defeat, but as the day progresses I am realizing this is probably the most powerful, most important place for me to be. It is in these times I am reminded that I cannot face life in my own power.

I look at the events of the past couple of weeks, and on the surface they appear discouraging. I fight extreme feelings of failure. Thoughts of "if I had only been a better mom, step-mom, friend, wife, daughter..." You name it, and I can provide a list of shortcomings a mile long. The "should haves" and "shouldn't haves" seem to consume my thoughts. My emotions are torn between wanting to make all things right in the lives of my children, while all the time knowing there are things that God is allowing them to experience in order to reveal His unmatched love and grace.

Some heartbreaking events have occured that were completely out of their control and which seemed on the surface to be so unfair. Others came about as a result of choices made...choices that have dug a hole so deep that only divine intervention can rescue them from that hole. Regardless of the circumstances, I know that the issues were beyond my ability as a parent to solve.

This fact seemingly goes against the laws of nature for a Mom. From the time my children were born I had the instinct to protect them. Mom is supposed to be able to make everything better. However, as children cross over into adulthood, the role of Mom changes tremendously. In those heart wrenching circumstances which happen without provocation, all I can do is pray and cry alongside them. In those situations resulting from bad decisions, all I can do is refuse to enable or rescue them once consequences of these decisions begin to unfold...and I pray and cry alongside them.

I must also rest in God's promises from His word. Sometimes in my humanity I have to admit that these promises seem so distant. I don't always feel these promises. There are days whenever I let myself give in to the belief that God is so disappointed in me that His promises could not be for me or for my children. There are days when I feel as if my children will never understand the fact that I love them more than they could ever know, and that despite my failures as a parent, or even despite some of the right decisions I have had to make that may seem harsh to them at the time, their instrinsic value is unmatched in my heart. The overwhelming love experienced whenever you hold your child for the first time never fades. Nor does the love that develops and strengthens whenever God brings two families together, and you find yourself falling in love with two children that you may not have given birth to, but who become a part of your life and your heart in a way that you never dreamed possible.

It is at this point that God in His loving, gentle way reminds me of His love for me as His child. He reminds me that He does not ask for perfection. In fact, He reminds me that I was not created as a perfect being. He reminds me that through dealing with my children I can gain an understanding of my relationship with Him as my heavenly Father. I am humbled to remember that in the same way that I want the best for my children, He wants the best for me as His child. In the same way that I grieve whenever my children make choices that take them down a painful path, His heart grieves for me whenever I do the same. He reminds me that in the same way I feel that deep love for the children in my life, the love He feels for me as His child...His very creation...the deep, unconditional love He offers every day of my life never, ever fades...regardless of my mistakes.

And I begin to find comfort as I look back over my life and see all of those seemingly unrelated, ragged patches come together, I begin to see a beautiful piece of God's handiwork. I begin to see how, when turned over to Him, all of those mistakes and failures have been woven together in a pattern of understanding, grace and forgiveness. This is when I know I can cling to His promises...not in my own strength or because of my own goodness, but despite my weaknesses and because of His goodness. My failures can be redeemed in love, understanding and acceptance of others who are desperately seeking the same. And I begin to see that these events are not just random happenings allowed only to bring pain to me and those I love. Instead I begin to understand that these events are important pieces that in God's capable hands make up the patchwork that is my story...the beautiful patchwork that, when completed, becomes the heirloom quilt that is my life.

Friday, April 23, 2010

The Chance to Increase my Circle of Love

I am going to be a Maw Maw to a new, sweet little one who should be here just in time to celebrate Christmas with us. This will be our third grandbaby, and I could not be happier. John and Chelsey blessed our lives with an incredible little human being who loves with all of his being, finds joy in most all things. Well, those eye teeth were a little hard to endure...and it breaks his heart whenever he can't "hold Paw Paw"...and he's definitely not happy whenever he has to get out of Paw Paw's boat (he does love that boat!) But in most things, he is a smiling, loving little boy who enjoys sharing that love with everyone he comes in contact with. So I am so anxious to meet this next little person and get to know and love her (or him) for the precious little creation from God he or she is becoming.

Ryan and Tiffany are also expecting a little girl in August. Sweet little Holly (I am not sure of the spelling just yet). I am sad that she will be born so far away in Chicago, but we are in the process of getting a program that will let us do online calls so that we can her and she can see us so that she will be able to recognize us whenever she gets to come for a visit. I just know that it will be so hard to see her and not get to hold her and give her kisses right away. But that will come in time. She already has a special place in our hearts.

I am soaking it all in, amazed at how life comes full circle. Having grandchildren opens up an entirely new level of opportunity to have an influence and leave my mark on this old world. I can leave memories with them in a way that no one else can. My grandparents gave me such unconditional love. They were not perfect, but whenever me, my brother and sisters and my cousins were in their presence, we each felt like we were the most important person in the world. Their world either stopped for us, or we were included in the activities they could not put off until we had gone home. They taught me about life, love, faith and caring for others who needed my help. As grandparents, they had the luxury of stopping to play with us, to sit on the front porch in the cool of the evenings to listen to the birds, the crickets and Mrs. Abbot play her piano a house or so down the road. We drank "coffe milk" and ate buscuits in the kitchen each morning we were visiting, listening to the late Mr. Dewey Compton give gardening tips on the radio. We were told bedtime stories about Mrs Bruno; stories that developed from my grandmother's imagination each time she told a new story at bedtime. We helped with small chores around the house (very small chores, and we were probably very little help). When we were done, Paw Paw awarded us with a quarter, a cold, orange Sunkist Soda and the best Orange, Vanilla, Pineapple ice cream. The orange Sunkist came in glass bottles, and the pineapple ice cream was in a plain, brown carton having been scooped fresh at the corner general store at the blinking light in downtown Leggett. My Maw Maw could take a Montgomery Ward's catalogue, a box and a pair of scissors and create a doll house complete with a family.

These are only a few of the millions of memories they left me...and this is only one set of my grandparents. My point is, they shaped my life in so many positive ways that grandparents have the freedom and time to enjoy doing. I am so blessed to try and pass this love and happiness down to my grandchildren. I already love them more than they will ever know.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Power

I woke up this morning with my heart in my throat, so I know it's time to write. I am not quite sure why I feel this way today. Maybe it stems from this morning's news broadcast...the division in our country...the questions and unrest over recent "sweeping legislation". Or possibly it is the burden I feel for Mrs. Barbara whose husband passed away this past week, and for Julie whose Dad has apparently suffered a stroke. Quite possibly it is simply the Holy Spirit ministering to my heart. As soon as I typed this last statement, I realized what an oxymoron it is. There is nothing simple about the way the Holy Spirit ministers. The ministering may come about in a gentle, quiet manner...but even then there is such a power, such an humbling sense of awe when encountering His presence that the term "simple" does not seem to fit.

I was asked the other day how I know God truly exists, and if He does exist, how do I know that He cares about the seemingly insignificant details of my life. My answer - I know because I have experienced His divine presence. Not only have I experienced it on my own, I have encountered His presence in a mighty way as believers gathered together with purpose and of one heart and mind earnestly seeking and welcoming God's holy presence. In such a setting He has given me a glimpse of His holy, mighty power, and it is like nothing this earth has to offer. It reaches beyond sheer human emotion to a place deep inside of your soul that is nothing but undisputable, inexplainable pure fact. The fact that He is God. The fact that He is all powerful. The fact that He created me, and He loves me. The fact that He has great wonders for me that I cannot even begin to understand. The fact that He loves me with an everlasting love.

It is because of these encounters that I am assured beyond a shadow of a doubt that I need not fret whenever the powers of this world pass legislation that I may or may not agree with. I need not worry when criminals and the unthinkable acts they commit seem to monopolize the press promoting fear and the false notion that evil is in control. I need not worry when the news media appears to be biased in its views and attempts to set the tone and agenda for our country's values. I need not fret when Christianity is presented as being based on outdated, prejudicial bias. I need not worry when our culture appears to have lost all sense of values and direction. I must be concerned, and I must act when called to action, but I need not fear. I can rest assured that God cares for those who are hurting. I understand that He feels our pain. I know He offers and is capable of providing a comfort and peace this world cannot provide.

I have seen a glimpse of God's power. No president, congressman, CEO, king or government posseses a power like this. I have experienced His peace and His comfort during periods of deep loss. I have experienced His protection and divine intervention during times when by the world's statistics I was destined to fail, or worse, to die. I have witnessed the fulfillment of His promises through my children...the very children who by the world's odds stood very little chance of success. I have seen God use them to reinforce His promises to me...the very promises I shared with them as children but somehow in my humanity lost sight of. Most precious of all I have seen the depth of His forgivness and His grace.

Yes, perhaps the Holy Spirit is simply at work in my heart. As a result of His presence, I am assured that my heart is safe...even when it rises to my throat and the tears threaten to fall. I know I can rest in the fact that "God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells. God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day. Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; he lifts his voice, the earth melts. The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.Come and see the works of the LORD, the desolations he has brought on the earth. He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth; he breaks the bow and shatters the spear, he burns the shields with fire. "Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth." The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Psalms 46

"Thank You, Lord, for the power and the gift of Your Holy Spirit. Thank You that because of Your power, I can rest assured that my future, my children's future, and their children's future is in Your hands. I know that nothing happens in my life that is not first filtered through Your loving touch. Although I may not always understand, I realize that we live in an imperfect, sinful world. I choose to trust You because you created me. You know me better than anyone in this world, and You know Your plans for my life. I ask that You help me whenever it is hard for me to trust. Forgive my unbelief at times, but thank You for giving us the capability to question and to reason. I love You, I need Your forgiveness, and I need Your help in living this life the way I should. I realize I cannot do this in my own power, so Lord, please help me to live in such a way that people can look past me and the senseless mistakes I make to see You and the love You have for them. In Jesus name I entrust my life into Your hands. Amen"

Thursday, March 4, 2010

God's Divine Provision

One of my goals for this year is to begin the process of reading the entire Bible from start to finish. I have studied the Bible for most of my life, but I have yet to read consecutively from Genesis through the book of Revelation. So I have made a commitment to read at least one chapter a day until I have completed this goal.


I am thoroughly enjoying the journey, but I seem to have a little trouble with staying on task. It seems that each time I read a chapter, I find a great passage that I want to investigate further. I find myself following scripture references, and I tend to get a little off course. So I have had to discipline myself to reading the entire chapter before going off on a treasure hunt.


That being said, while reading last night God revealed this sweet little jewel of His character. It is in Genesis chapter three. Adam and Eve had let temptation get the best of them and had eaten fruit of the one tree from which God had instructed them not to partake. Now, isn't that just like us?! God had provided them with everything they could ever want or need, and He asked only one thing in return. But here comes Satan with his smooth tongue and his sly, little lies, persuading them to disobey God's one and only command. This one act of disobedience brought seperation from God, sin, death, pain and heartache to not only them, but to all who came after them.

Adam attempts to pass the buck for his actions on to Eve. Eve, in turn, blames it all on the serpent. However, God in His infinite wisdom knows that each party is responsible for his or her own actions, and He assigns consequences to the serpent and to Adam and Eve as well. Then here comes the jewel. Genesis 3:21 says, "The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them." It seems like such a simple statement, but it struck me as profound.

God looked past their disobedience and met their need. He didn't have to provide them garments of skin. He could have let them wander in shame and need until they figured out how to properly clothe themselves. He could have turned His back on them allowing them to struggle hopelessly unprotected from the elements. Instead He provided for their need and their protection.

The Bible says He even went one step further. He not only made the garments for Adam and Eve, but he clothed them. He didn't just leave them on their own to figure out how these garments were supposed to be worn. He clothed them. They did not have to clothe themselves in and of their own power. No, He clothed them in much the same way that He desires to clothe us. He wants to clothe us in His love, in His power, in His peace, in His protection, in His grace and in His mercy.

Thank You, Lord, for Your provision and for Your divine help. Thank You that even while you hold us accountable for our actions, You offer us Your mercy and Your help in our deepest time of need. Please help me to be willing to submit to Your guidance. Help me not to fight against You in an attempt to do it all on my own. Help me to submit to Your divine power and to allow You to work through me. And please forgive me when I fail. In Christ's precious, Holy name I pray, Amen.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Whoa Buck!

Maybe it's because I'm older, or maybe it's because I'm from the country, but I grew up hearing and repeating this saying. I never thought much of it really, until I began hearing it repeated by my little grandson a couple of weeks ago. I guess someone way back when had a horse named Buck, and Buck must have gotten a little rowdy and had to be reigned in. I can remember both my father and grandfather trudging behind a horse and old plow getting their gardens ready to plant each spring and fall. Many was the time I heard the phrase "Whoa Buck" when that horse would lose his concentration or get a little ahead of the game.

This phrase was not limited to horses and mules, however. Let my grandmother's pots and pans fall out of the cabinet whenever she was reaching for something way in the back, and what would she say?..."Whoa Buck!" Or let the basket of clean clothes slip from your hands when you were struggling to get them inside after taking them off the clothesline tumbling white sheets and pillowcases into a pile of dirt and pine straw, and what do you say?..."Whoa, Buck!"

Well, it seems that the phrase has been passed on to a whole new generation. I got a call from Chelsey this past Sunday morning. It seems that while she was getting Mr. Randy ready for church, he decided to pick up the spray water bottle his Momma uses to fix his hair , pointed it at her, counted to 2, said "Shoot!" and sprayed her good. And what does he say as he throws his head back giggling?..."Whoa Buck!" I can almost see the twinkle in my grandma's eyes and hear my grandpa's chuckle. (Sorry Chelsey...I promise I didn't teach him the water bottle part :-)

True Freedom

by Cindy Hester A couple of weekends ago while relaxing in Galveston with family, I happened to walk into the living room of the condomin...