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 you 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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Friday, August 15, 2014

Back to School

Back to School

It’s back to school time!  So many Mamas are sending their babies off to kindergarten or high school or college!  So many Mamas (and, yes, Daddies) have emotions creeping up and gushing out.

Well, I live in a college town so “back to school” has a different meaning to the residents of my city.  The census for my town says the population is about 176,000.  We are a quiet city without traffic delays and clogged highways.  Wait, we don’t have highways in my city!

But we are a college town – a major university town, I should say.  The student body is about 50,000, so when the college students flock back to town, the residents’ lives change.  Our restaurants are full. Our Wal-Mart and Target shelves are empty. 

I’m not complaining because I was one of those students – many years ago.

I came to this same college town located in the center of Texas from Boise, Idaho.  I didn’t know a soul. Not a soul. And unlike many Texans that grew up attending football games and touring the campus on game weekends, I had only visited the campus one time!

My mom and my aunt drove me to school.  We unloaded my two suitcases
and some groceries at the apartment I would share with a girl I met one time.

Then they said goodbye.  They just got in the car and drove off!  

They drove off!

What were they thinking?

This was way back in the dinosaur days – you know, before iPhones to amuse ourselves with texts, snapchats, Facebook, e-mail or the internet.  Just me and a quiet apartment. 

I was stranded at an apartment ten blocks from campus. No bike. No car. No TV. No one.

No. One.

My roommate wouldn’t show up until the next afternoon.  Hmm…What to do?

I decided to walk to campus and check things out.  I did not realize it was so far – it didn’t seem far by car.

It didn’t take me long to learn an important lesson ~ you don’t walk further than the end of your driveway to get your mail or put out the trash in August in Texas!  Just when I thought I couldn’t take another step, a university bus pulled up next to me and stopped.  The doors opened.

“You heading to campus?” the driver called to me.

“Yes,” I replied cautiously.

“Well, get in.  I’ll take you.”

I could feel the air-conditioning pouring out of the bus.  I pulled my over-heated self up the steps and plopped down on the first seat.  The doors shut and off we went.

In the opposite direction from campus! And we kept going!

“Oh, no!” I thought.  “This isn’t good.  I’m the only one on this bus with this stranger going further away from campus.  Maybe I’m being kidnapped!”  I started to look toward the back door.  Maybe I could get away through that door.

Then we turned.  We turned towards campus.  Whew!  We picked up other students - ones that had enough sense to wait for the bus in the shade.

I eventually made it back to my apartment and somehow entertained myself that evening. I slept well until…

Until in the middle of the night, a train blew its horn as it passed.  I sat straight up in bed.

What is that? 

I had no idea there were train tracks several yards away when I laid my head down that night. I thought the Russians were invading! (For you youngsters ~ this was during the cold war and we lived in fear that the Russians would someday attack America.) I don’t know why I thought we would be warned of an attack by train horns!

Once my foggy brain figured out the noise was a train whistle and not an alarm of imminent danger, I fell back to sleep ~ to the sounds of the clickety-clack of the train.

Welcome to college!

I’ve thought about that day a lot.  What were my parents thinking?

They dropped me off in a town where I knew no one – with no transportation  - and left me.  Two thousand miles away from home.

What were they thinking?

I’d like to think it wasn’t just that they were so happy to have me out of the house. (Don’t say a word, Dad!) J

I’d like to think they trusted me and believed they had done their job well.

And they did.  And they had.  They gave me the tools to succeed.

Yes, they provided for my physical needs growing up.  Yes, they made sure I had a good education – even if they had to hire a math tutor in elementary school.

But, most importantly, they showed me what it meant to love and trust Jesus. They trained me in the way I should go.

Yes, I knew my ABC’s and algebra and, apparently, I even had the skills to escape a school bus if I was kidnapped.

But my Jesus education is the education that has sustained me.  My faith has buoyed me in the low times and calmed me even in the high times.

So, moms and dads and grandmoms and granddads, as you prepare to send your kids off to school for another year, make sure they know the anchor for their soul – the hope of Jesus.  That is more important than fancy new shoes, the coolest spirals or a new backpack.  Those things are important, but not the most important.

And trust that they will be okay! Though you will miss them – whether it’s just during the school day or for a whole semester – they will be okay.  Keep praying for them.  Never stop praying for them but trust that they will be okay.

He will never leave them or forsake them.  Deut. 31:8

He will comfort and love them.  Isaiah 66:13

He will calm their fears and cause their worry to subside.  Philippians 4:6,7

We have this hope as an anchor

for the soul, firm and secure. Heb 6:19

Are you having a hard time as your "babies" head off to school?  Tell me about it in the comments.  I will be praying for you!

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Monday, June 23, 2014

Fear versus Boldness

Fear or Fear Not

It’s been a little over three weeks since my 23-year-old daughter had a preventive double mastectomy.  She is moving into the healing stage just like she moved into the surgery stage – with bravery. 

I have spent the last three weeks processing many emotions and helping others to process theirs.  Leading up to the surgery, I had to deal with those that do not understand. Those that thought the surgery was done out of fear.  It was hard to convince them that it was more an issue of common sense.

Remembering a time that my own boldness was mistaken for fear still makes me cringe.  It had not even been a year since I buried my full-term, stillborn son when a “friend” stopped by my house to drop something off one day as I was backing out of the driveway.  We stood in the driveway and visited for a minute before she asked where I was going.

“Just running by the OB’s office to hear a heartbeat.” 

I was pregnant again.

“Shelly,” she replied with complete sincerity, “you should have more faith then that.”

I tried not to physically rock back on my heels from her verbal blow.  I steadied myself and then caught a glimpse of her infant son in her back seat.  She questioned my faith?  Her son was alive and well and sitting just a few feet from her!  My son went straight from my womb to my arms and then to his grave!

“If I didn’t have faith, I never would have gotten pregnant again.  It is only by faith that I can risk the pain of losing a child again.”

I honestly cannot remember if we ever spoke again.  Not because I was mad.  Just because.  They moved not long after that hurtful conversation and I didn’t pursue the friendship.

I took the chance of burying another child because of a boldness in my faith.  Not out of fear.

My daughter elected to have a mastectomy not out of fear but out of boldness.

I married into a family of bold women. These women knew their grandmother died of breast cancer and that their mother took care of her two-year-old brother.  These women watched their mother suffer from breast cancer and then helped to raise their two-year-old brother (my husband.)  These women watched their sister suffer from breast cancer and have tried to keep her memory alive for the four boys she left behind.

These bold women grabbed a hold of life.  They had mastectomies thirty years ago when it was completely uncommon.  They blazed the trail for their daughters ~ who then stepped out in boldness and made the same decision. This next generation blazed the trail for my daughters.

Not out of fear.  But out of a boldness – or, as we see it, simple common sense. But sometimes it takes boldness to take that common sense step. 

I am grateful.  If not for them, I believe that my daughter would not have made the choice at age 23 to cut her chances of breast cancer from 87% to less than 1%.

Boldness. Not fear. Faith. Not fear.

In the day when I cried out,
You answered me,
And made me bold with strength in my soul.
                                                                                                 Psalm 138:3

Are you fearful?  Then cry out to God and he will give you strength and boldness.

So be strong and courageous,
 all you who put your hope in the Lord!
                                                                                                                                                Psalm 31:24

So we may boldly say:
“The Lord is my helper;
I will not fear.
What can man do to me?
                                                                                                                              Hebrew 13:6

Stealing the lyrics of the “The Donut Man”  ~  “Be bold and be strong, banish fear and doubt, for the promises of God are to bless you going in and to bless you going out.” (Interesting fact, my girls went to bed at night and drove around in my car by day, listening to those words being sung. I prayed then and continue to pray now that those seeds planted sprout and take hold.) 

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