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"

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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!)

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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. 
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Friday, September 12, 2014

Turn Off the Lights!

I have a friend that has a lovely, inviting, comfortable home.  Every time I am there, she has a lamp or two turned on ~ even in the middle of the day!  The lamps help create a cozy and calm atmosphere that makes me feel cozy and calm. 

I have lamps.  I prefer lamps at night instead of the overhead lights.  And since I love the way the lamp burning at my friend’s house makes me feel, yesterday I decided to turn one of my lamps on in the middle of the day.  It gave off the same warm glow as that of my friend’s. 

But it made me nervous.  I tried to overcome my nervousness.  I tried to ignore the uneasy feeling I felt and just keep doing the dishes.  But I couldn’t!  Right before I started to hyperventilate, I reached over and clicked off all 40 watts of the lamp!

Whew!  All was right with the world again!

What in the world is wrong with me, you ask?  Nothing!  Well, at least, not much!

I was a young girl in the 70’s when there was an “energy shortage” – whatever that is.  My Dad was always harping “TURN THE LIGHTS OFF!”  My three siblings and I were forever TURNING THE LIGHTS OFF!

We would be in the car, late for church and my Dad would say, “Who left the lights on?”

Really, Dad?  We are in the car and you can tell that there is a light on in the basement?  He really could.  Or maybe he was just playing the odds.  The odds were that with four kids, someone left a light on!

Now, before you think I was an abused child and start dialing Child Protective Services, let me stop you.  I didn’t start to hyperventilate because my Dad was cruel or punitive with his electricity policeman behavior.  He was just being a responsible father leading a family of six (10 if you include the dogs, gerbils and Guinea pigs.)  He was doing his job to be a good provider. (Okay, maybe he was a bit on the Type A side too!)

But, many years later, as I tried to relax about the lamp burning in the middle of the day, I heard my father’s voice in my head asking, “Who left the light on?”

I also hear his voice remind me to read my Bible, fellowship with other believers, tithe, and love the Lord.  (Oh, yeah, and eat my peas!)

It made me think about what things I am saying to my kids today that they will hear years later.  Will they only hear

“Hang up your towels!”
“Make your bed!”
“Don’t talk to your sister that way!”
“Go to bed!”
“Stop crying!”
“Get your elbows off of the table!’ 

Or, will they remember to call their grandparents when they are too old to hear?

Will they honor their father and mother?

Will they stop for the turtle in the middle of the road?

Will they find joy even in adversity?

Will they send an encouraging note to a troubled friend?

Will they have hope?

But most importantly, will they remember that I taught them to love the Lord their God with all of their heart, their mind and their soul?

What are you saying to your kids, your spouse, your mother, your father, your neighbor, or your friends that they will remember years to come?

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.  These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts.  Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.  Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates. Deuteronomy 6:5-9

Now, turn off the light, go eat your peas, and read your Bible!

Tell me in the comments what voices you want those around you to remember.  Do you have voices you need to forget?

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Friday, August 29, 2014

Helping Others Shave Their Legs

Helping Others Shave Their Legs

I spent a lot of summers with my grandparents when I was growing up.  I remember my grandmother telling me that she no longer had to shave her legs or armpits! As a thirteen year old who had hair that seemed to grow night and day, I was amazed.

What do you mean?

She explained that when you get old (now I know she was referring to menopause), your hair doesn’t grow like it does when you are going through puberty.  Awesome!  I couldn’t wait for that day.

I thought God was pretty smart to make our hair stop growing when our eyesight started to dim.  Brilliant!

I remember in my 20’s being in exercise class and the instructor saying, “Come on, girls!  Let’s make that leg hair grow!”  What? Why?  I guess when you sweat it makes your hair sprout out more.  So, in essence, she was encouraging us to work out harder.  Whatever!

I was waiting for the day when I wouldn’t have to be bothered with the task of shaving my legs and armpits.  That would be one advantage of aging.

But my eyesight got old before my leg hair quit growing.  I would think I shaved off all of the stubble
            then get dressed,
                        get somewhere,
                                    sit down,
                                                cross my legs with my glasses on and then
…oops! I missed a spot – or two!  Gross.

So I had a great idea!  I got in the shower with my reading glasses!  (I swore to myself that I would never tell anyone that.)  For those of you that don’t wear glasses – yet – what you need to know is that when there is a lot of heat and humidity like there is in Texas – or in your shower – glasses fog!  Duh!  I quickly pulled them off of may face and looked around to make sure no one saw my stupid stunt  - even though no one was in the bathroom. 

I have now concocted a shaving system that works - for the most part.  It’s sort of a combination of shaving by memory and braille.

When it comes to shaving, my vision is flawed and clouded.  You know, when it comes to life, my vision is often flawed and clouded.  Sometimes life fogs my perspective. Sometimes I need a new set of eyes on a situation.  

When that happens, I need to put on the lenses of a friend or family member.  Sometimes I need to go outside my “circle” and have them get up close and personal and see if they can see the stubble  ~ because sometimes my friends and family have poor eyesight too. 

Are you willing to let someone get up close and personal to examine you for stubble?  We need to have trusted people in our lives that can see what we often cannot see. 

Do you have those people in your life?  Do you rely on them?

Plans fall for lack of counsel, but with many advisors they succeed. ~ Prov. 15:22

Pride only breeds quarrels, but wisdom is found in those who take advise. ~Prov. 13: 10

The way of a fool seems right to him, but a wise man listens to advise. ~ Prov. 12:13

And we always need to seek the Lord for counsel.  He is the great counselor.

If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. ~ James 1:5

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you. ~ Psalm 32:8

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. ~ Prov. 3:5,6

It’s getting late.  I had better get in the shower  - sans reading glasses!

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