A Defining Day

On May 16, 1981, I woke up with a great sense of excitement and a little bit of apprehension. It was cloudy and rainy, but I did not let that dampen my anticipation of the day. In some ways it seemed like I had waited a lifetime for this day, but in others it seemed wonderfully new.

As I showered and  dressed, I realized that my whole life was about to change. No longer would my decisions impact only me, they would impact us. No longer would I be able to take off and go somewhere without a thought for telling someone where I was going. No longer would I eat toaster pastries for supper and consider that a meal.

A little voice inside my head said, “Are you sure you want to do this?” No. Wait. That was my Dad as we stood at the beginning of the aisle to take a trip that was going to define the rest of my life. He grinned as I nodded yes, and we made the trip down the aisle to my future.

Now as I look back on that day so long ago and think if I had known what the future would hold, I may have run from the church screaming. The ups and downs of marriage, the challenges of having three under the age of 5, the addition of a 4th at the age of 39, the financial challenges, the health challenges; all of it was occasionally overwhelming. But I would do it all over again in a heartbeat because of a shared faith, a husband who never thought twice about my taking a weekend off for a women’s retreat, a father who never thought he was “babysitting” his kids, and a man of integrity who loved his children and grandchildren with his whole heart.

Today, we would have been married for 38 years. We only made it to 28 when he passed away unexpectedly. On days like today I recall my wedding vows made “till death parts us” and realize that had I known the loss I would experience one day, I may have hesitated just a bit coming down that aisle. But I would have completed the journey anyway because even knowing the heartache of losing him, I also had the joy of loving him.

 

“We love because He first loved us.” 1 John 4:19 (Inscribed on the inside of my husband’s wedding band.)

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What Lies Beneath

Over Thanksgiving I ventured to Dallas to see my son and his family and my car was rear ended as I was sitting at a stop light waiting for the green light. I was hit hard enough to hit my head against the head rest rather forcefully, but when I got out and looked at the bumper of my car I was pleasantly surprised that it did not seem so bad. The car that hit me did not fare quite as well and had to be towed because the radiator was rapidly losing coolant.

On Monday I took my car to the repair shop anticipating being able to pick it up in a few days. Today I called and was dismayed to hear that there was way more damage to the car than initially estimated. When they took the bumper cover off, the damage was easily seen. I knew the trunk had big gaps on both sides, but the trunk and the steel body on both back panels had significant bends in them. So I wait while the insurance adjuster comes to take a look at the final damage and negotiates a new price for the repairs.

After I hung up from talking with the owner of the body shop, I thought how much like life this incident was. We sometimes we do not recognize the untreated wounds that are lying beneath the outside facade, until we peel back the protective layers we have used. It is easy to throw out harsh words, to make heavy judgments and to hurt others. We often do not realize the results because it is hidden behind what is only seen on the outside.

We have so many walking wounded among us. We have survivors of physical, sexual, and verbal abuse. There are those who have been told they are of no value, not pretty enough, not smart enough, not ___________ enough. Most of you can fill in the blanks from your own wounds.

Like the master mechanic, God can see beneath the surface of our lives to the real wounds that lie beneath. He can heal the brokenhearted. He can set captives free. If you feel like you have been let down, abused, damaged, and only have the broken pieces left–have hope.  If you feel like people can only see what is on the surface, be assured, God can see the inside. He can restore you even when you think you are beyond restoring. He loves you, wounds and all.

Have faith and put yourself in the hands of the Master.

Psalm 147:3 “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.”

Hallmark Moments

Think Hallmark movies are corny? You may be right but they may be truer to life than you think.

I confess. I watch Hallmark movies and right now the Christmas movies are out in full force. I have a friend who also watches Hallmark movies and I wait in anticipation of her pithy comments on each show. Here are just a few: “Tonight’s Hallmark tally: 2 more dead parents, 1 divorced and absent father. Mamas, don’t let your kids grow up to star in Hallmark movies.”Forty-five minutes in and the wife of the main character is dead. Seriously, why isn’t the funeral home the center of activity in these small towns? ” “Tuned in late for tonight’s Hallmark Christmas movie premiere. Never fear: we have one dead mother. The love interest really should be an undertaker.”

While I laugh at her comments and agree that most of the movies are just rewrites with different characters, the fact is, there is something that keeps people coming back to watch them. That is probably the improbable but happy endings and the thought that maybe, just maybe, no matter how bad life gets, there is hope. Continue reading “Hallmark Moments”

A Little Odor

Saturday morning I left my home to run some errands and when I came back and walked in the kitchen area, I noticed an unpleasant odor, not unlike that of a potato starting to rot. Investigating further, I decided that the odor was probably from the bag of potatoes in my pantry. They had been sitting in there long enough to start sprouting, and not looking any further, I threw them away. The odor lingered, but I assumed that it would dissipate fairly quickly now that the potatoes were gone. But it is a funny thing about odors. Sometimes when you are in them long enough, you do not even smell them anymore.

Sunday morning I left for church and when I returned home once again a slightly foul stench greeted me. Continue reading “A Little Odor”

Be a Difference Maker

We have them all around us–the lonely, the mentally ill, the disenfranchised, the bullied and the bullies. Sometimes they are almost invisible. Teachers see them every day at their schools, but there is not enough time nor enough resources to reach each one individually.

We see the patterns of individuals who isolate themselves from others, who have obsessions with violent video games, who have not been taught positive ways to deal with anger, grief, pain, and loneliness. And yet, we still do not recognize the signs until it is too late to save them and others from their own poor judgments. Continue reading “Be a Difference Maker”

What’s Her Story?

We all have them in our churches. Women whose lives are full of hurt and pain, who struggle with job loss, economic woes, health issues, parenting issues, and more. They sit in the pews Sunday after Sunday, trying to trust God with their struggles and frequently wearing a mask to cover their pain. We will never know their stories unless we make the effort to invite them into our lives and discover who they are.

A friend and I listened as a woman shared her story of a son who is struggling with paranoid schizophrenia. She lived in fear as she watched his hallucinations and bizarre behaviors become increasingly more frequent. The hours leading to his involuntary hospitalization were something I would never wish for anyone. My heart ached for her and her pain. We held hands as we prayed for her family. My friend and I both prayed that God’s healing hand would be on this family, but it was her prayer that made me cry as I truly saw the heart of a mother who loved God. Continue reading “What’s Her Story?”

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall

d4d99c902daa5cbcb06a9bf93963714f-big-mirrors-round-mirrors-hallwayFor our recent annual writer’s retreat we rented a lovely, large home that had enough space for us to spread out and write. One of the first things I noticed when I arrived was a large mirror hanging on the wall at the foot of the staircase.

Now there are things in my life I seriously have love/hate relationships with–my computer, my car, and food, for example. But my relationship with mirrors? There is no doubt; I absolutely have a hate relationship with them! Can you imagine that?

Mirrors simply reflect the image in front of them (unless they are magic like in Snow White). When I look in the mirror, I see an aging overweight body, a graying head of hair and a double chin. The mirror reflects the reality of my aging self. And mirrors with a magnifying glass? Who needs that?

The tricky thing about mirrors is what you see is based on your perspective.  Continue reading “Mirror, Mirror on the Wall”

The Cost of Compromising Our Dreams

Recently I was having a discussion with a friend regarding the current #metoo movement. From my perspective, I think it is healthy to be having a discussion regarding the rampant culture that allows sexual harassment to remain unchecked for generations. It is easy for us to point the finger at Hollywood and the rampant immorality that has existed. It is easy for us to condemn the abusers, and yes, even those who are abused. The fact that people seeking to become actors and writers and directors allowed the abuse to happen, and even participate in it, does not mitigate the responsibility all around. While there are many complex issues involved in the why and how of the abuse, the fact remains that finally we are having a discussion and people are being held accountable for the abuses.

The issue is far more pervasive than just in Hollywood. Continue reading “The Cost of Compromising Our Dreams”

Come as You Are

This morning as I was pondering so many of the difficulties my friend’s are having, I felt an overwhelming sense of sadness as I realized all of the needs out there. The diagnosis of breast cancer, the possibility of losing a spouse, the challenges of being a parent, the ravages of grief, the unanswered questions of why God does not answer prayers the way we think should happen–all of these issues came at me like a starship in hyper drive. Life can become overwhelming at times, and even as Christians who know we should put our trust in God, we sometimes become shaky in our faith.

Life is frequently hard–even for those who put their faith and trust in God. I love Jesus’ words in Matthew 11:28-30 and often cling to them when my life seems to be in chaos (which is more frequently than I like to admit!). Continue reading “Come as You Are”

The Fear Factor

indexI was 10 years old when we moved to “the farm.” All eight of us (Dad and Mom and 6 kids) lived in a two bedroom home with two additional bedrooms in the upstairs attic space. We had no running water, a coal stove to heat the entire house, and no running water for the indoor toilet, necessitating–the outhouse! And it is there that my very real fear of spiders began after listening to one of my male cousins tell me that when I used the outhouse a spider was going to come and bite me on the butt. I know that my fear of spiders is hugely unrealistic, but in my mind a totally improbable fear became rooted. Even today I hate spiders!

The fact of the matter is, most of us have fears in our lives. They come from various arenas and are frequently unrealistic, but they are indeed present. Continue reading “The Fear Factor”