Monday, May 30, 2011

Decorations for Thankfulness

I remember the Gulf War, and of course, I am aware of the War on Terror. I was alive during the Vietnam Conflict (really, conflict? My kids have more than a conflict when arguing over who is going to clean their bathroom). Anyway, I don't have memories of the Vietnam atrocities until it was over and I was a teenager--I learned about it through the eyes of my High School English teacher and through the media.
It's a difficult thing for me, as for most of us, to really understand what we are to remember on Memorial Day.  I don't want my focus to stay in the backyard, around the barbecue. I don't want to simply say, "Yay, no school today!"  And, so I search for it, for the meaning behind this free day I've been given. The day itself was established, quite informally, after the civil war. It was originally called "Decoration Day", when a group of freedmen, once slaves, gathered at the graveyard of  Union soldiers who had died in the war between the North and the South. They celebrated the fallen soldiers and decorated the site with signs that said, "Martyrs of the Race Course".
Celebration for sacrifice. Decorations for their Thankfulness.
At the same time that I read that it was a party, I want to be sensitive to those who have people they adore whose lives have been lost. I remember that there are Mothers, some the same age as myself, who won't be camping with their child this weekend. I remember there are fathers who have not stopped being proud of their child.  I remember that there are women, once wives, who are now widows.
It's nothing new that I've said, and that is okay. I just took a few minutes, said a prayer, and remembered.  Remembered what someone else had to lose.

Continuing to gather my One Thousand Gifts,

67:: Thankful that my dad was here to raise me. His time with the Navy was during the Korean War, and it never touched our family.

68:: Thankful for my brother, who was an Air Force man. I will get to see to him today. He will hug me and tell me he loves me.

69:: Thankful that my brother, who was once in the Navy, will spend the day with his wife. When he went to serve he was still so young.

70:: Thankful that the few people I know who have children who are overseas, have the peace knowing that, at least for now, their son's are safe.

71:: And finally this, thankful that I can write whatever I want, read whenever I am inclined and do it all without fear.

Happy Memorial Day, decorate it well.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Stylish Blogger Award? Seriously?

I crawled into bed and rolled over toward the light on my nightstand to release the darkness into my bedroom. But, as I reached for the lamp, I knocked my phone on the floor and because I am insanely A.D.D. (undiagnosed), I decided that I had to take a quick stroll through of some of my fellow blogger's yards, before unleashing the blackness that would become sleep. As I stalked those who blog, I came across my friend, Shanda's blog, A Pause on the Path, only to discover that she had been nominated for an award. The Stylish Blogger Award. I was jealous right away. Jealous that she had time to blog, while my time is not my own and will not be for a couple more weeks as I prepare for my daughter's wedding in 13 days, 17 hours and 45 minutes. I was jealous that she has more followers than I do. Followers that want to see what is new in her life, how she is decorating her home, and hear her stories from far away places. I was jealous that I was me and she was she. Then, as I was feeling like a terrible blogger for not blogging and a terrible friend for feeling jealous--the very first person she nominated for The Stylish Blogger Award, was me. ((Great, now I have GUILT!!))

I am so blessed. Blessed to live in grace.  Every single day.

For the award to be official I have to tell 7 things about myself, which will prove to be a little difficult, as I expose everything so easily, what is left to learn?

1. Mondays are my favorite day of the week. Since I stopped working, they are filled with promise. I always feel like I can accomplish anything on a Monday. If I go for a walk, I always walk stronger and harder. I am my own New Year's Day parade on Mondays.

2. Tuesdays require Tacos. In 2006 when my daughter's classmate was in the top 10 on American Idol, we started doing "Lisa Tucker Taco Tuesdays", and now, some 5 years later, I feel better when I know that at the end of the day--I get a taco. (She didn't win by the way)

3. Wednesdays are for Youth Group. My husband was the Youth Pastor for the15 years of our marriage and about the time that he stopped, our kids became teenagers. So, for the last 23 and half years, every Wednesday, someone in our family has gone to Youth Group.

4. Thursdays are the only night that I will stop what I am doing and watch TV. Remember Family Ties, Cheers, Friends, The Cosby Show, Hill Street Blues, ER, or Seinfeld? All Thursdays. Now, I love Community and The Office. When I was a little girl, I would have said Fridays...because that's when Brady Bunch was on. But, we only had one TV and my Dad like Sanford & Son, which was on at the same time on another channel. I was often deprived. Praise God for reruns.

5. Fridays. I sing the song every week. Partly to annoy anyone who is around. Partly because it gets stuck in the messy places in my head and I have to sing to try to get it out. But, mostly, because I love it. It makes me smile. This year, my birthday is on a Friday and it is also the day before my daughter's wedding. "We we we so excited. We so excited." Gonna sing it all day...

6. Saturdays kind of disappoint me. I always think I will get more done. The house feels a little out of control. My life is a little too unpredictable for me. And, it is a lousy day for writing. Why is that?

7. Sundays make me whole. Yes, Mondays are my favorite, but perhaps they are my favorite because of the day that comes before. Worship is healing. God's word is alive. It's just a fact. And it is something I don't deserve. Praise God for the sabbath.

One of The Stylish Blogger Award requirements is to pass it along to other blogs who touch and inspire me. 

On Shanda's list (with me) were two blogs that I read all the time, they know who they are, and so I will let Shanda keep them. But, along with those, these are the blogs I will stalk at the end of the day.

and to the two who don't have buttons (yet)
Shawna at Moore Joy
I present to you, The Stylish Blogger Award.
Each of you already wear it well...every day of the week!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Not so secret identity...I've been featured.

I am certainly not a Superhero, so I have no need for a secret identity. However, if I did, I believe that the undercover me, would work in a very quaint coffee house. Not the coffee places that we use today--no green aprons and plastic cups. Rather, a coffee house that was built in an old library. There would be an assortment of comfy chairs and functional desks, and I would have staff who was there to help guests navigate their way through any issues they were having with their computers. The large fish tank that would house the underwater tenants would entertain the coffee house cat, Java, who would purr with delight as she watched the guests read and visit.
Would we serve food and wine? Sure, why not. A little live music on Fridays? Sure...I mean, we we we so excited, right?
In the mean time, since I am not in need of a secret identity, I have been featured on the blog, For The Love of Blogs as a noteworthy blog, for their Coffee Talk Hop. Pay them a visit. 
But, don't forget to come back and have a cup of joe with me ;-)

Friday, May 27, 2011

mind games and other lies

{ a note to my lovely readers: }
this is a piece of fiction that I wrote for a challenge at the writer's blog, the red dress club. The challenge included the first 6 words and last sentence and a word count maximum of 600. Writing fiction is new for me, so I would LOVE your feedback. 
I think.
Thank you for reading! ~j.s.

This was absolutely the last time she was going to picture him at her wedding. The wedding had come and gone, and the facts remained the same. He wasn’t there. No matter how many times she pictured an alternate ending, it wasn’t going to change—so she wasn’t going to play these mind games any longer. Up until 12 days before her wedding, she thought she would live every bride’s dream. But, when the day arrived, his absence loomed large, bigger than any of the plans she had made.

She rolled her car window down and handed the barista a ten dollar bill. With a quick glance, she noted the girl’s nose ring. The ring jogged a new memory.

“Stay down” she thought to herself.

Her twenty-minute commute took an unbearable forty-two. Running up the steps, cursing her decision to wear her olive green heels, she arrived at the salon 14 minutes late. On any other day, 14 minutes would mean nothing, but on Thursdays, 14 minutes meant a verbal lashing from Monica. She gritted her teeth and shot a glance at the clock. Naturally, the Salon owner stepped into her path. There was no need to apologize. Monica only saw apologies as a sign of weakness, a place to feed. The best thing she could do was to keep her mouth shut.

A few moments into the tirade, she noticed that she was taking the lecture fairly well. She was able to listen to the criticisms of her character, her lack of discipline, her selfishness and her inability to think of anyone other than herself—and say nothing. “Wow…” she thought, “When did I learn to do this?”

For so many years, any time there was an argument, she always had to have the last word. Always. It made him crazy. She began to wonder. How many times did we fight about me having the last word? When did I learn? Is this what he wanted all along?

And so the day went. Slowly, from one dreaded moment, into a long painful day. The clock was brutal, and she eyed the beast, wondering how it managed to move so quickly when she was home. This ticker seemed to mock her as she stood in these god-awful shoes. And, then, in a breath, the clock’s lovely hands released her back to her life.

Arriving home, she walked from her car, up the leaf strewn walkway to her condo. She remembered the day that she had brought her parents to see where she would be living with her husband after the wedding. She stared at the key for a moment, and then turned it up to fit in the slot.

“Hey” said the bride to her husband.

“Hey,” the young man smiled back. “How was your day?”

“Fine. Hard. Whatever.”

Once in their bedroom, she kicked off her shoes and fell back on her bed, she thought of her Mom, now a widow.  She had fought all day to not think of him, of her Dad.  She closed her eyes and tried to turn off her mind which now swelled with memories and regrets. Every day since the accident, just twelve days before her wedding, she had fought thinking of her Dad. Every day since the funeral she had wondered if she would ever be normal again. Yesterday, she had failed. She had promised herself she wouldn't picture him at her wedding. She swore that today she would get her coffee without him in her head and she would talk back to her boss. Today she would not think of her Dad. 
She was wrong.

 (special thanks to Sarah Frume for helping me edit my ending so that it flowed the way it was always supposed to!)

Thursday, May 26, 2011

A Letter to the Wedding Gown

Once you were merely fabric, but now you belong to a Bride.  In my home you hang, wrapped in plastic, your beauty hidden for just a few more weeks, and I feel the need to express some things to you before your grand debut. You are so lovely, so intricately woven, so carefully embellished. You have been chosen, chosen by a young woman full of hope for the future that she will have. Chosen by her, with a longing for bridal perfection on the day she presents herself to him, this man she desires.
Soon you will drape her as she makes her way down an isle, lined with loved ones, to begin a new life. But before you have your moment of glory, Beautiful Gown, you should hear about some of the lovelies who graced this girl.

There was a gown, simple and sweet—made from only a yard of cotton that danced with bunnies while she slept. This gown had a draw string to keep her tiny toes safe inside. While it was not embellished with rhinestones and crystals, watching the one who slept in that gown brought a light to my life. When I think of your bride, two decades ago, in that beautiful gown, it makes my heart swell and brings tears to my eyes. And, as lovely as you are today, I treasure the memory of that animal print sleeper, just as fairly. 

I remember a gown that she wore at age two, in her pinkness and blondness fresh from the tub. Her toes danced the hallways and giggles played their own tune for her nighttime rituals. She in her gown, snuggled in the lap of her Daddy, “Read another one!” she would beg, as she reached for a book. Whether the evening held laughter or bedtime tears, it’s irrelevant now, because the child in this gown was here for only a moment. The gown is long gone; one day tossed away like a rag. Not treasured, as it should have been. The simple nightgown of a preschooler never had a shining moment to waltz on a dance floor, but it wrapped her in soft sweetness, night after night, as she cuddled in her bed.

The pinkness disappeared for a while to make room for leopard prints and glamour gowns. The teenage girl found her way through dances and Proms. There were dresses and shoes, make up and nails, as if all a rehearsal for the day she met you. And, soon you will take the glory as the gown of this woman, and each one will pale—forever remembered, merely, as a dress of her youth.
In less than 3 weeks, you will embrace this child of mine; you, Beautiful Gown, chosen by her, will take a special place in my heart and in my memories. In the closet of my mind you will hang, with the jammies and miniskirts, the T-Ball uniform and the swim suits. Each piece of attire that she wore, when she was my child, and I chose the gowns.

“You have stolen my heart, my sister, my bride; 
you have stolen my heart with one glance of your eyes.” 
Song of Solomon 4:9


Sunday, May 22, 2011

28 Days Later

28 days ago I opened my laptop with the intention of writing and, sadly,  I felt like I had nothing to say. I like having something to say. 
It seems I had hit a wall. As I began to pray and ask God to guide me, I felt like he was leading me to just start typing. I didn't know where it would lead. And then, in the middle of my blogging away-- He gave me the idea to blog my way through the alphabet. (I had no idea that people do this kind of thing all the time. And I had never heard of a "blog hop".) So, I posted a blog with a proclamation of my personal challenge. You can read Day One ~ The Wall here.

The challenge was...well, a challenge. In the midst of it, I went on a Marriage Retreat with my husband, acted as Wedding Coordinator for a friend, worked a few shifts at my church's Cafe', hosted a table at a Ladies Tea, worked the snack bar for the HS swim semi finals, helped my son navigate through the halls of the DMV, and continued with the planning of my Daughter's wedding. Before the challenge these would have been reasons excuses not to write. But, because I had the accountability of my proclamation, I had to write. And, so, I just sat down a wrote.

But, for me, this challenge would not be complete without evaluating its effectiveness. So, today, as I continue my count toward my One Thousand Gifts for my Multitudes on Mondays (which is now a regular blog hop for me) I will be counting the 26 blessings I have received through my Alphabet Journey. 

42:: Accessible = I praise God that He always is. It's not about how I think He feels about me. It's about how he really does feel about me. 

43:: Breathtaking = I am so thankful that the view of my life, this blessed life I have had so far, is truly a remarkable site.

44:: Crazy = There was a time when I thought that I might be. I am relieved and blessed to know that I am not.

45:: Divine = He continually places us all in the right place at the right time. I am amazed at His intricate weaving together of people.

46:: Emily = My daughter. My friend. Heading into a new playing field in our relationship. What will this look like?

47:: The F-word = The real one is forgiveness. It's time to take that which is repulsive and turn it into something beautiful.

48:: Gathering = I have only begun to put all these blessings in one place. I shall continue to collect and save each one, like a treasure.

49:: Hair = The crown of a woman, perhaps. But, for me, I am finding the freedom to feel beautiful because of how He is styling me.

50:: I opening = I am opening myself up. I am opening myself to poetry and to beauty in language. I had never written a poem, or played with words in this way.

51:: James = I am so thankful for hearing the Holy Spirit lead me to delve into this book. I had no idea how it would set my faith on fire and revive my prayer life.

52:: Kaleidoscope = The blessing of this constantly evolving relationship between my Mother, myself and my daughter is not something I can understand completely, but I know I am richer for the both of them.

53:: Lord = There is really only one. And His word is His sword.

54:: Mistakes = I've made so many, but my Mother loves me in spite of them all. And, I figured out how deep her love was on the day I became a Mom myself.

55:: Never = Never will I take for granted the protection that the Lord has provided for my family. 

56:: Ordinary = I love that my life is ordinary. Because when it looks extraordinary, that just means there is some Jesus showing.

57:: Pancakes = People and purpose. Simple things can bless people if you do them with a purpose.

58:: Quadragenarian = I wouldn't want to be 20. I have no need to go back and be 30. This is the best time of my life!

59:: Revisions = Everyday. I am not complete.

60:: Sex = My husband desires me. This alone brings joy.

61:: Today = Praising the Lord that we have the choice TODAY to see Yesterday and Tomorrow through the eyes of Grace.

62:: Undeserving = I am. That's just a fact.

63:: Words = I love them. I think they like me, too.

64:: eXtreme = Any person can build a strong household. I am extremely blessed that my parents found the Lord when they did.

65:: Yo-Yo = there is a yearning to control these emotions of mine, but until the Lord takes them away...I will make the most of every hormone I have.

66:: Zombies =I long for their zeal. Maybe, it's hiding inside me.

28 days later, this ends my challenge, and I am not disappointed in the results, because as someone very wise once said, "Writers write". See you soon. Real soon.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Z is for Zombies

As irritating as a zombie can be, you really have to admire their tenacity. I have found that the average zombie has more persistence than myself, therefore, I could probably learn a thing or two from the walking dead. They are so passionate about fulfilling their needs and not being deterred along the way. The word zeal practically describes a zombie to a tee. 
zeal: n. eager interest, ardent endeavor; fervor.
Of course it does leave out the drooling, the gaping hole in the chest, and the absent look in their soulless eyes. But, other than that, it grabs the crux of that which we should fear in a zombie.  They see what they want (or who they want), and they go after it (him). They stay on task. 

I need that in my life. I need that "stick-to-it-ness" when dealing with my household, my writing, even my faith. I can become distracted by so many things that my time is wasted, and before too long, I feel less engaged in my own life. There have been times that I have heard people say that they "felt like a zombie when staring at Facebook". And, while I understand and empathize with the sentiment that they are trying to communicate--I don't think that is fair to zombies. Based on my dealings with zombies, that is not the nature of a zombie. Zombies deserve to be acknowledged for their painstaking persistence. Zombies wouldn't be on Facebook at 11:27 PM. Nope, they would be outside your window, trying to scratch their way in, hoping for a midnight snack.

I can only hope that if I ever become a zombie, I will use my new nature to make the world a better place. I hope that I will hone in on my new obsessive nature and find ways to improve the world for other zombies. Perhaps I would start challenges for zombies...
"Eat a human with a different name every day for 26 days --starting with the letter A and ending with Z."'s been done.
By the way, click here to learn Rule #32. And then live by it.

And, check out my friend, Shauna's blog TODAY...hmmm...something is happening today...and it's not the rapture.
Also this. These are 
the two best zombie movies ever

Friday, May 20, 2011

Y is for Yo-Yo

Things couldn't be better. My marriage is healthy, filled with laughter and communication. I am fulfilling my role as a wife with ease and my husband enjoys "hanging out with me". God has blessed me with a beautiful daughter, and we are working together to plan her wedding--which is coming so soon, we can almost touch it! My eldest son has been accepted to begin studies at a Christian University, and next week he is being honored for his academic achievements in his college work thus far. My youngest son has his license to drive and was able to drive himself to school for the first time this morning. He is handsome and fun, and people tell me constantly how much they enjoy him--he's the life of the party!

Things couldn't be worse. My husband and are struggling to communicate about the simplest things happening in our household. He is busy with work and with school and when he has time for me--I feel like blogging. My daughter is frustrated with me because my stress level is affecting the time that we spend together to put the finishing touches on her wedding--which is coming much too quickly! My eldest son is trying to juggle school, his job and finishing his fundraising for his upcoming Missions trip to Africa and anything I try to do to help is causing more friction in our relationship. Last night, my youngest son decided, at the spur of the moment, to make a "singing toast" to his coach at the High School Sports banquet, and I found myself sneaking out of the room to avoid looks from the parents who did not enjoy his humor. Did he ruin their party?

The string never moves, but the spool goes up and then down. I want to make it stop. I could learn to live with where ever it landed, but this up and then down is making me dizzy. When up at the top, I know I can make it, but when spiraling down--I become certain that this is the end. Surely the string will now break and I will fall to the floor. The spool will detach and I will roll away. Landing perhaps under the fridge. But, alas, the string doesn't break and I am pulled spinning back up. 

Oh, to become something else, other than this. To become a lamp or a table, what a joy it would be to stay in one place. But, the Hand at the top has made me this way, so I have to learn to trust him and not the lies in my head. The answer is easy, yet it is a trial everyday. Keep the string tied to the hand and then trust in the string. It will not break, I will not roll away. 

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.
Proverbs 3:5

Thursday, May 19, 2011

X is for Xtreme Makeover - The Home Edition

My Dad built Space Mountain. 
By himself. 
While on crutches. 
Okay, well, maybe that's not entirely true. But, in the 1970's when my Dad was part of the construction crew that was working on the new Tomorrowland ride--that is how proud I was. I pictured my Dad working on that ride and I saw him as one of the tallest men in the world. As a kid, I don't think that I could have been more proud of my Dad, because I knew he was helping to build a ride at Disneyland. 

I wasn't surprised that they would want him, because I already knew that he could build anything. One of my earliest memories is a time that my parents were working on our home, and that makes perfect sense, because they were always working on our home. Growing up, I learned that sleeping in on Saturdays was a reality only in the homes of my friends. In our home, the sound of hammering and saws accented most weekends. This was what I was taught to value, this caring of the home. This constant upgrading and improving. And, those things are important. It is a good thing to care for that which the Lord has provided. 

But, it wasn't until I was in my twenties that my parents began the most critical Home Makeover imaginable. For as their children were leaving their finely tuned nest, my parents humbly began to make Jesus their Lord. A series of trials in their lives brought them to the place that they began to seek out answers, and they landed in a healthy, growing church. 

The day my Father was baptized he grew several feet taller. Once he seemed big to small child; now, he was a giant to a young woman. The things that he built, while I grew up in his home, do not compare to the home that he built when he brought Christ into his life. Today, as an adult, I look at my parents and how they serve God so faithfully, so consistently, and I don't think that I could be more proud of my Dad, because I have seen how he has built a home to honor the Son of God. 

He is the one who will build a house for my Name. 
He will be my son, and I will be his father. 
And I will establish the throne of his kingdom over Israel forever.
I Chronicles 22:10 

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

W is for Words With Friends

I've discovered that I cherish this game, this Words With Friends game that I play. It's not the computer Scrabble game--the app for my phone. It's this blogging, this twittering. This game on Facebook that we play. We engage one another with our words. Our words become the toys that we play with while we socialize--and I adore it. We are using our words to encourage, inspire, influence and amuse, and when I consider the embracing of these words, I believe that I was born "for such a time as this". 

I've been a journal-er for most of my life. Quietly, in my room, on my bed, writing out words and turning them into thoughts. Taking a journal and dedicating it to prayer, I've allowed the Lord to lead my words to a place to transform my heart. But, it was always just me. My thoughts were exposed to no other, a secret they remained~then suddenly, my new normal to "say" them aloud. Tossing out thoughts into cyberspace has become part of how people "see" me, a part of how I've transformed. (Like it or not ;)

It's a strange time that we live in, this internet instance. I've got people in Maine and Malaysia who know more about me than the lady down the street. Our words are connecting us to people of like mind, heart and spirit. These powerful, wonderful words. And, then as I ponder these Words With Friends, I think of the truest friendships I have, and I am not surprised that they have been formed while experiencing "Word" with friends. 
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
John 1:14
I am blessed to have friendships that are built around our relationship with Christ. It is no surprise that these are the people I cherish so deeply; I call them my family. There is something transforming that happens when we spend time with other people exploring the nature of God, praying to Him in the name of his Son. Pure relationships, built on trust, develop and we are not left void from our time investing in them. I have loved being a part of relationships that were formed in the workplace or out on the Little League field, but it's this adding of God's Word that takes my breath away. It's like playing a 316 point word on the Scrabble board.

This challenge I issued to myself several weeks ago, this challenge to discover what to do when the words are hard to find, has opened my eyes to so many things about myself. But, among the greatest is this: The time that I spend in the presence of the Lord has the greatest power to transform my mind and influence my writing. There is no "writers block" that the power of the Lord cannot break through. If the Lord wants to use my words, He will always help me find a way.
Now, off for the rest of my day, which--if you friend me or follow me, I am certain you will "hear" about.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

V is for Volkswagen

Some cars inspire greatness.
Some cars inspire adventure.
And, some cars inspire arm punching. 
"Slug Bug!" 
I am driving in our Burgundy AstroVan, with a car full of children, and the game is on. The children are giggling, as one of the boys cranes his head starboard to eye the cute little Bug-car drive by. "Slug Bug!" he hollers, and the first punch is thrown. The game is on. Soon, all eyes are pealed to find another Beetle on wheels, for only one person can claim it! Then at the traffic signal, a lovely cream convertible Beetle appears, the kids in my van let out squeals, "Slug Bug!" "Slug Bug!" They begin to slug one another. Soon, there will be bickering...and possibly tears. And, yet, it is a game that must be played.

I look at the woman driving the clean convertible--alone. I sigh.

Carpooling is exhausting enough without adding in the unspoken laws of "Slug Bug", "Shotgun" and Out of State License plates. Time in the hot van transporting short people can become a torture chamber on wheels, and I imagine the future when carpooling will be unnecessary and riding in a car will be pleasant again.

Time passes slowly, the van changes colors. Soon, new beetles are released by the VW company and the streets are suddenly crawling with bugs. Someone in our family decides we need more of a challenge. So, we alter the game. In this Sill-y version, if you see a VW Bug, you would hit not just once, but over and over (ever so gently) until the person completed a task.  The task? Well, the victim must say a common phrase that goes with the color, and until the victim does...the hitting continues (EVER SO GENTLY) .
"Slug Bug, black, black, black..."
And this becomes the law in the Sill-y van that we drive.
Blue Christmas, Blue Bayou, Blue Bonnet, Blue Book, Blue Shield
Green Mile, Green Day, Green Arrow, Green Goblin, Green Lantern, Green Hornet (thank goodness I had sons who knew all the Superheros)
Orange Juice, Orange County, Orange Coast College, Orange You Glad I Didn't Say Banana?
Pink Ladies, Pink Eye, Pink Lemonade, Pink Floyd
Purple Rain. Yep, that's all we got.
Red Robin, Red Light, Red Cross, REDRUM
Yellow Stone, Yellow Pages, Yellow Brick Road

For so long, this was my "normal", but today my youngest will be taking his Driver's test. Soon he will be driving alone and the carpools will have come to an end. Already, it is a rare occasion that all of my children are in the same vehicle. In my "new normal", I am the woman, driving alone, but, I remember the time of games in the van and I praise God for the rainbow of memories he gave us during all of our journeys. I also praise God that my children have no memories of accidents, because His hand of protection saw us through each little errand, and when they talk of the carpools, they don't talk of the bickering--they just remember the games.

So, if you see me drive by, give me a holler--then give your car-mate a punch (ever so gently)
And, have a safe trip! Love, the Jakibug (aka Silver Bullet, Silver Medal, Silver Surfer)

Monday, May 16, 2011

U is for Undeserving

So, this is the truth. My kid's rooms are a mess. Sadly, I assume the "three little words" that my children heard most often, as they lived through the teenage years were not, "I love you" but rather, "Clean your room". It's part of having children, this training. It's part of being the parent, this exampling. And, quite honestly, while I have done well in some areas, training my children to keep a tidy room is not something that I could teach a webinar on. 

That being said, today is my son's 17th birthday, so when he returns home from school, his room will be clean. For many years now, on or near my children's birthdays, I have given them the gift of a clean room. While they are at school (because this can only be done in their absence) I enter the room with a trash can and a box for Goodwill.

The whole tradition started when they were young children and I knew that they would be having friends coming to our house for a Birthday Party or a Sleepover. I certainly didn't want to end up having to keep a child belonging to someone else, due to my inability to locate said child in my offspring's messy room. And, now, my children embrace it! They don't like to do the work of cleaning out the closet, or sifting through the trash, but when they arrive home, they embrace the serenity their newly uncluttered domain provides.  So, once a year...thisis a priceless gift I can provide.

Stepping into my son's personal disaster, I wonder, "Did his XBOX explode?"
His floor and his closet look as if his latest war game managed to come to life. I should feel relieved that my youngest was able to survive such a battle. But, quite honestly, I don't find myself filled with a sense of wonder and joy as I look at this mess. In one corner I find a bag full of trash, near that I find what appears to be an old lunch sack. I unroll the brown paper and spy something black, "Is that a banana?" 
I begin to get irritated at the things that I find, and I suddenly move away from the heart of  Gift Giver to the mind of the Task Master:
"Why am I doing this? Next year, he will be an adult. An adult! He should keep his room better than this! Someone who makes such a mess is undeserving of this gift. Undeserving of me spending my time doing what I've asked him to do on so many occasions!" 
Ah...undeserving. I've lived in that shadow. I've felt the truth of that word spread across the darkest parts of my "me". And, with the thought of that "me", that has depended on the Grace of the Father, I realize, we are all quite undeserving of Him cleaning our messes.  I think of my life; I try to keep my room clean of jealousy and envy. I try to rid myself of fear and doubt. Using a dust rag, I've eliminated some of the film that clouds my mind, but within a short time the dust settles again. But, the Father comes in and cleans up my room. He doesn't get angry or call me undeserving of His time. Of His life. 

 How wonderful it would have been to have heard this message as a teenager.
And, now, I think of my friend who heads up an All Girl's Conference, Father's Eyes, based in Southern California. In planning for 2012, they have decided that they will be celebrating the work that God does to transform our "junk" into something BEAUTIFUL. I think of the theme she has shared...A Beautiful Mess. I am suddenly quite thankful for my friend who works hard for months to plan, organize and facilitate this event to share God's truth with these teenage girls. His words are not the command, "Clean your room", but rather a reminder, "You are forgiven". 

It's by God's grace that He saved me and cleaned up my mess, so I readjust my mind to align with the heart that started the task, and I find ways to enjoy my son's beautiful mess.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

real or imagined...

Simple pleasures can be found within our own imaginations.

Linking up today with A Collection of This and That, to remember simple pleasures.

T is for the Triplets...and Grace

Once upon a time there were three sisters, each born a day apart. The three sisters were called Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow and they had lived their whole lives sharing the same home. Each of the sisters was unique in her perception of the home, and for matter, the world.

The oldest sister,Yesterday was a remarkable storyteller and could entertain guests for hours. She had a way of weaving together a tale that could draw out both laughter and tears. Her gift was quite pleasant, as she could inspire her sisters to see the good in all of their adventures.

The youngest sister, Tomorrow, was a dreamer. Because she was a planner, she was constantly coming up with new ways that the sisters could improve their home. She had grand ideas, and could inspire them to believe that the future was something to be embraced. Her sisters enjoyed her, because she gave them hope. 

And in between these two lovelies, was the middle child, the sister called Today. Today had the hardest life of them all, for she was a task master of sorts. If anyone was going to get the days chores done, it would be Today. Quite often, Tomorrow would promise that she would take care of an errand, but in the end it would still fall on the shoulders of Today. And each day Today would fall into bed, exhausted from a day doing chores, only to wake the next morning and hear Yesterday taking the credit.

The three sisters had lived together, for all of their lives, and and seemed to have achieved some semblance of unity, however, with each passing year Today became more and more intolerant of Yesterday and Tomorrow. She was only able to see how each one should change. The stories of Yesterday became bothersome to Today, because when Today remembered the events that Yesterday shared, she didn't remember them being quite so charming and filled with joy. She remembered them being mundane and tiresome. Today also became easily frustrated with Tomorrow, because Today felt like Tomorrow was believing in things that were far fetched and unrealistic.
"Tomorrow lives with her heads in the clouds!" Today exclaimed one afternoon, "Talk to her, Yesterday, and tell her the mistakes that have been made! Surely then she will see that she's reaching too far! Help her to stop yearning for more!"
So, Yesterday began to think of the stories that only focused on the mistakes that had been made in the past. But, the more she focused on the bad things, the more depressed she became. She would tell her stories to her sisters, but no one laughed and when the tears came down, they didn't feel good. Tomorrow listen intently to these stories of error, and it wasn't too long before Tomorrow began to feel anxious. Soon, Tomorrow didn't spend her time dreaming of the things they could do, rather, she spent her time fearful of what might be coming their way. 

After too many months of living this way, Today looked around at the way they had changed, and she realized the damage that she had done. Yesterday spent most of her day sleeping, avoiding remembering. Tomorrow was consumed with the things that could go wrong, but she still didn't help with any of the chores. Today was dumbfounded at what she had done, for she had not realized the power she had. 
Then one morning, Today went to the Master, and she said, "What shall I do about Yesterday and Tomorrow? I behaved badly, and they are paying the price."
The Master responded quite gently, "There is someone I know who you need to meet. Today, I want to introduce you to Grace."
So, Today spent hours in the presence of Grace, and later that evening she brought Grace into her home. Grace approached Yesterday with a warm, gentle smile. Slowly, she began to coax the goodness out of Yesterday. Yesterday loved Grace and began to wonder how she had lived so many days without her. 
Grace smiled at Tomorrow and then gave her a wink. Tomorrow was intrigued and said, "What do you know?"
"I know that you are Tomorrow," Grace's smile never waned, "and the dreams that you have are what change this house to a home. I know that Yesterday and Today depend on the hope of Tomorrow."
The three sisters asked Grace to stay in their home, and from that moment on, the stories of Yesterday, the dreams of Tomorrow and even the happenings of Today, all took place with Grace.

38:: Yesterday, thank you for the stories and the lessons learned from your view.
39:: Today, the day is sprinkled with gifts, in spite of the chores. The Master will help us see the good before the Tomorrow is Yesterday.
40:: Tomorrow, thank you for believing more for me, than I believe for myself.
41:: Grace, without you, my days are nothing.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

S is for Sex

"Let your fountain be blessed, And rejoice in the wife of your youth."