Saturday, March 14, 2015

Foul Play

Friends ~ I took a bit of a hiatus from blogging when my dear grandfather became ill a few months ago so that I could turn my focus to my family. We somehow managed to chuckle through the hard days and are grateful that he is hanging out with Jesus now.  I hope you will continue to chuckle with me.  
Oh, and as you read this blog, know that my brother and I laughed hysterically about this.

Foul Play

The snow fell all afternoon and continued into the night. The roads were icy and the snow was swirling when my brother left his office to drive home.  It was almost midnight and he had nearly an hour drive but a coworker (we will call him “Friend” from now on) agreed to follow him home.  Two things you should know about this situation.  One, my brother is a quadriplegic and, two, Friend was born and raised on a tropical island and is terrified of the possibility of being stuck in a blizzard. Got the picture?

The drive was slow and tedious but while they were on the interstate highway, the roads were fairly clear. Eventually, they had to turn off onto a county road that had not been plowed or sanded.

Though they were driving slowly and cautiously, my brother hit a patch of ice and his truck slid off the road and into a ditch.  It was after midnight so my brother didn’t have much hope of anyone coming along to help anytime soon.  He rolled down his window and hollered at Friend to come get him. 

(Since we’ve named the co-worker “Friend” and you are probably tired of reading “my brother,” let’s now rename my brother and just call him “Brother.”)

Brother’s wheelchair was in the bed of his truck and even if he could have gotten it out, the sides of the ditch were too steep so there was no way he could get to the road in his chair.  So the plan was to have his physically-less-than-in-shape friend carry him up the hill.

Tropics raised Friend was a bit panicky and debated whether or not to open his snow emergency kit and send up a flare.  Brother was trying to figure out how to get out of the ditch – realistically.

Friend decided to wait on sending up a flare and, instead, used the shovel from his emergency kit and started to carve out “stairs’ down to the truck.

Friend carefully made his way down to the truck – sliding most of the way since he didn’t want to wreck the “stairs.”  It was then that Friend learned of Brother’s plan.  Brother was going to “fall” out of the truck onto Friend’s back and then Friend would piggyback Brother up the hill.  

1, 2, 3 Go! Brother did a controlled fall out of his seat onto Friend’s back.  Friend took one step and went down flat on his belly – with Brother on his back.  Uh, oh! They rolled so that Friend could get up.

Plan two.

Friend tried to grab Brother under the arms and pull him up the hill backwards. That resulted in Friend lying in the snow on his back and Brother on top of him since Friend was not able to move Brother more than a few inches.

Plan three.

Brother tried to scoot backwards up the hill. Fail.

By this time, Brother had been sitting in the snow in thin pants for more than thirty minutes.  No cars had passed. Cell phones didn’t have service. Friend was panicked – and short of breath. 

Plan four.

Friend had a blanket in his emergency kit and the decision was made to have Brother get on it and Friend would pull him up the hill.  After a lot of pulling and tugging, they finally make it out of the ditch and onto the road. Brother lay on the road – soaking wet and cold – while Friend returned to the truck to get the wheelchair.

By the time they loaded up in Friend’s car, it was 1:30 in the morning. They left the truck and Friend took Brother home.  They were both safe and sound  - and eventually warmed up.

The next day was Sunday so Brother went to church with his family.  When they returned to the house, a very upset policeman was waiting.

Brother’s truck had been found that morning and the authorities suspected foul play because it looked like a body had been drug through the snow ~ and the snow around the area indicated a struggle! They suspected an abduction! A serious crime!

Well, a body had been drug through the snow and there had been a struggle  - but it wasn’t foul play.  A crime had not been committed.  Quite the opposite.

Instead of a crime, Friend had committed a selfless and compassionate act - risking his safety and comfort.

Are there times in our relationships that we want to cry “foul play” as if there was a crime committed against us? A harsh tone. A misplaced text. An inattentive ear. A forgotten promise. These are some of the things that might make us think someone doesn’t care for or love us.

But maybe there is a story behind the “evidence.” Maybe the friend or spouse or child is tired or stressed or scared or distracted. Just maybe.

Lord, help me to always think the best of others.  Help me to be a selfless, compassionate friend/mother/daughter/wife. 

Always be humble and gentle. 
Be patient with each other,
 making allowance for each other’s faults 
because of your love.   Ephesians 4:2
post signature

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Fifteen Years

With the beginning of a New Year, my Facebook feed, email inbox and even the snail mail was filled with New Year’s resolutions suggestions.  I’m being assaulted with “let’s start the year out right” Bible reading plans, Bible memory plans, healthy eating plans and goal setting plans. 

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m all about participating in programs that motivate me to live a better life.  In the past, I’ve started out years determined to follow the “Read through the Bible in One Year.”  I’ve committed to memorize a Bible verse a week.  I’ve started diets the day after the ball dropped. And I’ve stayed committed – until about March!

But I haven’t given up. This year I’m doing an online “One Month to Live” study.  I can do a month, right? (I’m several days into this study and so far I’ve determined that if I only had a month to live I would eat a LOT of pasta with cream sauce, I wouldn’t do ANY laundry and I would NOT exercise!  For those of you now worried for the salvation of my soul, let me say that I am getting some good out of the study.  Don’t you worry about me.)

But seriously, a few weeks ago, I attended a funeral that made me really think about resolutions in a new light.  The woman that was celebrated that day was only fifteen years older than me.  I didn’t know her.  But I know her daughter. 

As I sat there and listened to her family and friends honor her and talk about the impact that she had on lives around her, I was challenged.  Fifteen years.  What if I knew I only had fifteen more years to live? And they would be healthy years. How would I live differently?  What would I do?

So many times, when people receive bad news about cancer or a sick heart or an incurable illness, they decide to make the best of the time they have left.  More often than not, they don’t have the health to pursue their goals and dreams because of chemo, or a surgery or other debilitating condition. 

Tim McGraw sang about sky diving, Rocky Mountain climbing, bull-riding , loving deeper and forgiving sooner.  His words challenged us to live like we were dying.

We are all dying.  It’s just a matter of when.  So why not live that way before we get the death sentence?  Before our health runs out?

As I drove away from the funeral and in the days that have passed, I have contemplated the question, “What if I knew I only had fifteen more years to live and I would have my health during those years? How would I live? What would I strive to accomplish?”

So often, people don’t live that way until they only have a short time to live.  But what if, just what if, I had fifteen years?  Fifteen years is a long time to accomplish a lot of things.

I could get another degree or two.
I could raise a foster child.
I could start an orphanage in Africa.
I could learn to paint – okay, maybe not that one. Or maybe I could. George W did.
I could travel the world.
I could help someone else travel the world.
I could start a business.
I could volunteer in a myriad of different places.
I could write a book  - or ten of them.
I could do a lot of things.
In fifteen years.

If you knew that you had fifteen healthy years, would you do anything differently?  Would you go skydiving or Rocky Mountain climbing? Would you love deeper? Forgive quicker?

How would you use fifteen years to make an impact? A month is probably not enough time to make a lasting impact.  A year may not be either – depending how it is spent.  But ten years is. And fifteen definitely is.

Fifteen years.

post signature

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Suffering Well

My grandfather will be 98 years old in January. He fell last week, broke his hip, and had a hip replacement. While caring for him, I was reminded of something that I recently read and I want to share it here. 

This grandfather was married to my grandmother for 58 years and cared for her when she got leukemia until she passed away. He remarried a wonderful lady and they enjoyed seventeen years together. When she, at 99 years old, became ill and began to slip away, he cared for her (risking his own health) until she took her last breath. He suffered well with the women he loved.

My other grandfather lovingly cared for my invalid grandmother for many years until she passed away. He suffered well with the love of his life.

I have watched a sister-in-law suffer well.
I have watched friends suffer well with spouses and parents.
I have watched my son-in-law sign up to suffer well before he ever walked down the aisle.

Please take a moment to read Kevin A. Thompson's blog "The Most Overlooked Characteristic of Who You Want to Marry"

post signature

Friday, November 7, 2014

Tiny Shiny Thing

The Tiny Shiny Thing

Do you have one of these in your home?  I certainly hope not.  Why? Because it is a sin-inducer! A grumble maker. An irritant. This little thing causes me to sin!

What is it, you ask?  How can that tiny, shiny thing cause me such grief? Well, apparently that tiny, shiny thing makes it nearly impossible for others in my home to replace the paper towels when they run out!  

If I had a dime for every time I walked into my kitchen and found the paper towel holder covered only by an empty cardboard tube, the shiny thing still in place, and a new roll of paper towels next to the paper towel holder, I’d be rich.  Or at least able to buy a latte! 

That’s when I start sinning!  And grumbling!  As I give the tiny, shiny knob a few twists and free the empty paper-towel, I mumble under my breath, “Well, that was difficult.  I see why no one could replace the paper towels!  It’s a good thing I came home!”

I yank off the empty paper towel cardboard thing and place the new roll on the holder.   Then I grab the tiny, shiny thing again and give it a few twists in the other direction.  And I continue to mumble – often for no one to hear – “There.  Now was that so difficult? Good thing it takes a brain surgeon to figure out how to replace the paper towels with this complicated towel holder.  Oh, wait!  It doesn’t take a brain surgeon – just a little twist of the wrist.”

Grumble. Grumble. Sin. Sin.

Why am I the only one that seems able to unscrew the tiny, shiny thing so that we can have a new roll of paper towels properly installed? Why is it so difficult?  Why go to all the trouble to get a new paper towel roll out and not put it on the holder?  Do you people think it’s acceptable to leave the paper towels just sitting next to the lovely holder I picked out?  Why are these people I live with so lazy? Why don’t they care about me and my dreams and my hopes and…

How silly!  It’s just a tiny, shiny thing!  It requires a few twists of the wrist. I can give it a few twists of the wrist.  I can throw away the cardboard tube. I can replace the paper towels and the knob on top. 

And I can do it without grumbling and getting resentful, angry and bitter. That’s my choice!

Hey, I know a paper towel holder is trivial. But don’t we all have something – or somethings - in our lives that trigger us to stumble into sinning, to respond incorrectly, to grumble, to grow bitter or angry?  And don’t get me wrong, I have bigger things in my life that cause me to grumble or irritate me and lead me down a less than virtuous path but you don’t want to hear about those.  So I use the paper towel holder as a metaphor for all of those other things.

I could create a “Top-Seven-Irritants-That-Make-Us-Lose-Our-Cool” list but I’m pretty sure I don’t need to.  I’m pretty sure you already know what – or who - triggers you to grumble and stumble and… outright sin.  Don’t you?

Again, I have a choice to make.  I choose to chuckle.  I choose to “look on the bright side.” I choose to shift my focus. 

Instead of being mad that the tiny, shiny thing kept my family members from replacing the paper towels, I’m grateful that I have a husband that likes to cook – and uses the very last paper towel to wipe up a spill. I’m grateful that I have a lovely kitchen and a lovely paper towel holder.  And children. And, I’m even grateful for teenagers.

But most of all, I’m grateful that I have a savior that doesn’t grumble and gripe when I neglect to give a twist of the wrist to replace the used up things in my life like jealousy, fear, insecurities, doubt, and replace them with His goodness, His faithfulness, His mercy and His grace. 

The Lord wants to give us “the oil of joy instead of mourning
 and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair” Isaiah 61:3

Do everything without grumbling. Philippians 2:14

Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. 1 Peter 4:9

Okay, I’m going to go offer some hospitality to my family without grumbling – I’m going to replace the empty paper towels. And I’m going to do it without sinning!

Do you have a trigger?  How do you shift your focus?

Note: For those that celebrated with me about finally buying a new bedspread, I have some bad news to report: I had to return the ordered bedspread (it was taupe-y).  Last week, I bought two more. Both of those were met with grimaces from my husband.  Keep me in your prayers.  The saga continues!)

post signature

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Manly Soap

Manly Soap

I did it! I bought a new bedspread for my bedroom!  I know that might not seem like much of a feat to some but for some reason, it is giving me reason to celebrate.  Why has it been so hard to make a decision on a simple bedspread?  Could it possibly be because everything is so West Elm-y and taupe - and my house isn’t?  Could it be that I keep hearing the college kids making fun of all of us moms for having jewel tone bedspreads and being way behind the times? Is it because when you do a search on Bed, Bath and Beyond for “bedspreads” you get 1600 plus choices?  Who can possibly narrow that down?  Six. Teen. Hundred.  (Mostly taupe!)

Why is this so hard?  Could it possibly be because a man and a woman share said bedroom?  I think so.

When we were engaged I remember having dinner with friends that were also engaged and they were, like us, in the process of picking out the colors and patterns for their home.  The man had one request - None of those swirly, flower things.
            Swirly flower things?
                    You mean paisleys?
                        Exactly. They aren’t manly. No paisleys.

There you have it.  The master bedroom has to accommodate his and her tastes.  I’ve struggled because what catches my eye would not be in my husband’s top five.  What he would prefer, I would not.  So we try to strike a balance.  Not too feminine and not too masculine. 

I’ve been in master bedrooms that make me wonder if the husband is even allowed in the room.  And if he is allowed, does he even want to be in it.  So much lace and ruffles…

I have had friends tell me that their man doesn’t care.  Oh, really? Did you ask him? And was his answer just a shrug? Or did he claim his undying affection for dainty doilies? My guess is, he just shrugged and that was interpreted as his undying affection for dainty doilies. 

I find, more and more, that women are trying to make their husbands to be just like them.  We often forget that God created men very differently.  They aren’t just big, burly versions of us.  They are wired differently. 

A few years back, we invited some family friends to spend the weekend boating with us.  We have three girls and they have three girls…and a boy.  After a long day of boating, everyone was trying to get showered before dinner. The boy went in to shower.

His mom and I were sitting in the living room when the 11-year-old boy came out of the room, stood in front of his mom and with a quivering, but steady, voice said, “I.NEED.AXE.SOAP!”


“Axe soap! I need Axe soap!”

“What in the world is Axe soap?” his mother asked. She was perplexed.  Her son was on the verge of tears over soap?  What in the world?

The boy tried not to cry – or yell – as he said with clinched fists, “Axe soap? Manly soap!”

We tried hard not to laugh and assured the pre-pubescent man child that we would find him some manly soap.  His poor mom had no idea what Axe soap was but she agreed to get him some.

Poor young man.  He had spent two full days with six girls and even had to don a purple and pale yellow life jacket because that’s all we had.  The breaking point was the sweet-pea scented bath gel!  It put him over the top.  He may have to hang out with girls, wear a girly life jacket but he sure wasn’t going to smell like a girl!

Sometimes, I think we women try to make our husbands fit into our molds.  Our feminine molds.  We don’t appreciate the differences in men and women.  We often are at odds with the opposite sex because we don’t accept that they are, well…the opposite sex.

I’ve had girlfriends mad at their husbands because they didn’t act like their girlfriends.  Duh!  He isn’t your girlfriend. He’s your man. And he’s wired very differently

In the Bible, men and women are addressed separately. That is because we function differently.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  Men can cook. My husband is living proof of that. (Thank the good Lord.) And I can use an electric saw and a drill better than a lot of men. 

I’m talking about our rock bottom needs.  Men need to be respected. And women need to be loved. 

Wives, understand and support your husbands in ways that show your support for Christ. The husband provides leadership to his wife the way Christ does to his church, not by domineering but by cherishing.
Husbands, go all out in your love for your wives, exactly as Christ did for the church—a love marked by giving, not getting. Eph. 5:22-25 Msg.

I hope my new comforter arrives soon.  The one without the lace. Without the ruffles. Without the manly stripes or camo.

Am I alone? Or do you struggle with the man/woman differences? Do you treat your man like a man – or your girlfriend? Let me hear from you. 
post signature