Sunday, February 27, 2011

spring cleaning

I apologize for my brief departure of blog posting but it's been a busy weekend!  My mom came by Friday afternoon wanting Noah, so Tim and I made the most of an unexpected free night and went out.  As we feel like we're already in our golden years though, dinner was the most we could muster after a long work week.  Not too exciting folks, but that was our Friday night date; however, I'll take a good steak and early bedtime any day!

Yesterday, we lingered a bit over our coffee and sausage roll, especially since I hadn't made it in awhile.  The weather was so nice we even went for a walk.  Patch was super excited when he learned that he'd be going too, until he discovered our plans.  By the time we made it around it around the block, he persistently sat at our driveway, letting us know he would not be accompanying us any further!  Since we had a lot to accomplish for a Saturday, we decided one loop was enough for us too.

Our goal yesterday was to clean out Noah's room, taking full advantage of the fact that he wasn't there.  I'm usually one to make him clean it, but knowing that it needed to be fully cleaned and not just shuffled from one hiding spot to another, we tackled it.  We knew we needed to free up space, because Noah's soon getting a "big boy bed" as he's quickly outgrown his bunk beds (and the fact that we sold it in record time on Facebook so he's sleeping on the floor!)

It amazes me how much clutter and nonsense the boy can collect.  You don't even want to know how many giant black trash bags were tossed out of his room.  Well, maybe you do but I'm not saying!  Several hours later, pleased with our efforts and on a spring cleaning high, we moved to other parts of the house.  Curtains...washed.  Walls....scrubbed.  Doors...cleaned.   Dog....bathed.

You might wonder how on earth I could find joy in a spring cleaning marathon but I did.  Sure, part of it helped ease the Little Miss Organization in me, but mostly, I just enjoyed spending the time with Tim.  I'm very blessed to have a husband who has always helped out around the house.  He's always there for big projects like this but he's also there to put a load in the wash, or vacuum, or whatever else needs doing any day of the week.  We look at housework just like every other part of our marriage.  And just as we met each other halfway down the aisle on our wedding day, symbolizing that vow, we've carried it through seventeen years later.

Projects tackled.  Fresh clean house.  Quality time with my hubby.  ....Oh, and a glorious nap at the end.  Yep, pretty good Saturday for me!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

who needs tv?...

It's not often that a washer excites a child, especially an 11 year old boy.  Last night, however, was a different story. 

Tim and decided that since our dryer was getting worse by the day and the washer had begun to sometimes walk it's way out of the laundry room , it was time for a new set.  Granted, they could've lasted us another year, but they just as easily could've broke down next week.  The timing wasn't great in that a refrigerator was also a big need too, as I was replacing the towel from in front of it to soak up the leak a couple times a week. 

We scoured the sales ads, went in more stores than I care to ever repeat, and read countless reviews and ratings to make our final decision this past weekend.  Since many stores were offering sales for President's Day, and many of those same stores already had energy savings sales, we made the most of the situation.  A big ticket purchase like those is never really fun, but in our diligence, we saved a huge chunk of change.

Now, as adults, I expect us (especially women) to be excited about new appliances.  Budget headache aside, it is nice to have updated and modern appliances.  This was especially true for us, since the refrigerator came with the house, and was at least a decade old, and our washer/dryer was not a matching set. 

After much research, we selected appliances that were all energy-saving, high efficiency, low water usage, and better all around for the earth and our wallets, at least on the back end.  I was excited that my ice and water in the refrigerator would actually be filtered and has a nifty little sensor to tell me when to replace, and that it has a locking feature for when little fingers come over to visit.  It also interested me to move toward a front load washer, which washes more clothes with less water and uses less detergent than my dinosaur did.  The spring cleaning fever which has seemed to hit me was also eased by the fact that I got to get behind and inside nooks and crannies which don't see much attention from me on a normal housekeeping day.  All in all, I was a happy camper!

What I did not expect was for my 11 year old son to be excited.  On the first shopping trip we went on, he came along and regretted it after the first fifteen minutes in the store.  "When will we be done?"...  "How many more stores?"..."why don't they have toys!" seemed to be the common sentence theme that morning.  The next day he very quickly announced he wouldn't be accompanying us on our next trip.  I assumed he'd remained holed up in his room during the delivery, especially since he was feeling under the weather yesterday, but excitement soon gave him the burst of needed energy to be present for the entire ordeal.

He enthusiastically began peeling the saran-wrap like film which protected the frig and was all about helping remove tape, paperwork and any other task the guys gave him.  He was even helpful in loading/unloading the groceries and stocking the freezer, a task he's normally conveniently busy for.  Once fully installed, the delivery men were no further than the end of the driveway when he returned proudly with his hamper, ready to wash.  He was ready to jump in head first but the mom and slight OCD in me kicked in and I had to supervise each step.  Once satisfied there was nothing he could to mess it up, prompted mostly by the locking click I heard the washer make, I left him to be. 

Honestly, I expected him to follow soon after and when he didn't, I returned to make sure he hadn't attempted to open the door or some other crazy idea boys his age might have.  What I found was a very peacefully content boy, nearly hypnotised by the gentle swish and sway of the wash.  He sat cross legged on the floor, directly in front of the washer, watching each phase.  Every now and then he'd say, almost chant-like, "this is so fascinating!"  It cracked me up, I snuck in a few pics of course, and it certainly gave me a big helping of joy to cap off the night.

Monday, February 21, 2011

It's raining, it's pouring

Funny how the weather seems to be in sync with what's going on in my own little world!  The forecast is unpredictable, chaotic at times, with winds that whip and shake you and anything else in the surrounding area.  It's cloudy and gloomy with the promise of rain at any moment.  Yep, that about sums up the past few days for me!

In fact, as I recount the things that have and are going on in my life right now, I sound kind of like a sad country song.  My dog is sick, my truck is about to croak, the frig is leaking, the dryer has ceased heating and that's just the short list!

Whenever "life" comes crashing down on me, I work really hard to not let it get the best of me.  I do have my moments and pity parties at times, but usually I can shake it.  When you put it in perspective, these things are so minuscule.  On their own, most people could brush them aside as the inconveniences they were.  It's harder though when they all decide to happen at once.  When it rains, it pours and right now, life is getting soggy!

In cases like this, I try to focus on the positive, even if it is really hard to see at times.  And I remind myself, sometimes in a mantra, "it could be worse!"  On the heavily chaotic downpours, I sometimes even shout - but not like you might think.  I don't know if the devil has a hand in the rainy days of life but I sure know he enjoys it when we let it soak us.  So, when I feel the storm brewing, I'll sometimes shout him out of my house...or I'll say a prayer....or sing a song, praising God, which I can only imagine really gets his goat.  Maybe I look silly doing it but I always feel better afterwards and I figure if you're going to yell at someone, that's a better choice than taking it out on those you love!

And, I guess I'm not the only one.  I sometimes google my thoughts on a post just to see what pops up.  I was surprised to find a song titled, "out of my house" by CeCe Winans.  Today was the first time I'd heard it but I like it.  Maybe I'll add it to my repertoire!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

corn on the cob

Think it's odd that corn on the cob would be a subject for joy?  Well, not in my world.  While I'm not a fan of just plain ole' corn from can, I love it on the cob.  It's happy yellow color and yummy flavor really don't have much to do with why it makes me happy though.  However, it did pair nicely with the grilled bbq chicken we had for dinner and thus inspired this post.

Today was a blessing of yet another beautiful day.  The afternoon was busier than we'd planned and certainly contained a kink which could've easily put me in a bad mood.  On the way home from an unexpected drive to Owensboro, Tim turned to me and said, "What's that smell?"  About the same moment, the mean little "check engine" light flashed red, my temperature gauge soared, and the power steering disappeared from my wheel.  While it was inconvenient, I reminded myself, it could've been worse.  I was thankful it happened while Tim was with me, as his trusty friends came to our rescue, and that it didn't leave me stranded on a work day.  And those same trusty friends helped him not only tow it in but fix it, which saved us money. 

Anyway, even though the sun was long gone by the time we made it home so I could start dinner, I didn't let it ruin our plans.  While we didn't get to eat our meal alfresco, we did enjoy it fireside.  As we chomped into the buttery goodness of those yellow morsels, all the warmth of summer burst into my mouth and my mind was filled with sweet memories. 

My favorite newest corn on the cob memory was from last summer.  Tim had been given a bumper crop of corn that needed to be shucked and prepared on the same weekend I was keeping my niece, Bryanna.  At two-going-on-twenty, she's always a hoot to have around and keeps me on my toes with her never-ending questions.  Stubbornly independent, she wanted to roll up her sleeves and help Aunt Heather every step of the way.  She wanted to know why were doing what we were doing and every other question was, "Can I eat it now?!"  I had to cook a pot during the process just so she could eat...and eat she did - three whole ears!  Although it broke her heart a little, I denied her a fourth for fear she'd have a belly ache.  She brought me so many smiles and memories that day, which I'll always recall now when prepping corn on the cob.

My oldest and fondest memory involves my sweet Grandpa Henry.  Grandpa loved corn and although I have no proof, I think it might have been his favorite vegetable.  I say this because of his expression when learning it was for dinner and his enthusiasm in eating it.  He'd chomp through an ear so fast, we'd jokingly call him a typewriter.  Sometimes we'd even add the sound effects and a loud, "ching" when he reached the end of the ear.  I have so many funny, laughter-filled memories of our family around the table with him.  Corn on the cob involved many of those moments, and to this day, when I first bite into a steamy ear, I am reminded of his smiling face.

So, although today had it's not-so-fun moments, it ended with happy memories.  I'm so glad that the simple decision of serving corn tonight brought me my daily dose of joy.

Friday, February 18, 2011

I love groundhogs

I packed up my snowmen this week.  It didn't even make me sad to put them away in their tote.  In fact, as I walked inside from nearly 70 degree temperatures, I decided that it seemed silly to have smiling frozen round men decorating my kitchen.  A part of me realizes that it is still only mid-February and spring doesn't actually begin for another month.  I figure though that the birds, trees and flowers know more about spring than a date on the calendar.

The birds have been singing increasingly happy songs each day.  The small "chirp" pause "chirp" have been replaced with full melodies, which I interpret as "spring is here, it's really here, come out and fly!"  Ok, now you're probably questioning my sanity in that I'm analyzing the meaning of a bird's song so let's move on. 

This week I noticed the first peeks of green popping from my wintered flower beds.  The beds are dingy, soggy, leaf covered and in great need of my hands digging through them.  Those little green sprouts reaching from the ground are calling out to me.  I believe that dirt is therapy and can't wait to get in there and be one with the earth!

Then, this morning as I was making coffee, something from outside the window caught my eye.  Were those tiny buds on our pear trees?  I squinted, peering intensely to be sure.  Why, yes it was.  Teeny cute bright green baby buds scattered across the trees.

It can't help but put a skip in my step at all these glorious signs of spring.  Sunshine warms my soul.  A bird's song lifts my spirits.  Soft petals from a new flower bud touch my heart.  I love watching the earth slowly stretch awake from it's winter slumber. 

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

surprise sunshine

Isn't it amazing what a little sunshine can do for your day?  Today has been absolutely beautiful and even though I've been indoors most of it just knowing nice weather existed beyond my wall was enough to keep me smiling.

My joyful moment is actually being brought to you live today, as I'm writing my post from our deck.  Music fills the air, a combination of our outside stereo, several wind chimes and the occasional happy bird to pass by.  The sky is a brilliant mix of blue and golden hues, with floating cotton candy clouds.  As the sun begins to set, it casts an amber glow on the houses and fields surrounding our neighborhood.  Even the gentle wind, though a bit chilly, is not a nuisance as it's providing that melodic tune from my chimes as they gleefully sway.  How could anyone not find joy in an afternoon like this?

Today would be a lovely day on its own but when you consider the snow and icy weather we've suffered through the past couple of months, it makes it even more special.  Added to it is the fact that these temperatures are not characteristic of February.  Kentucky weather is always a little unpredictable but the past few years have been even more so. 

I think the weather changing like it does, sometimes with every day, is a reminder to us to be thankful in every moment.  In life, just as in weather, we have little control of what's given to us each day.  Sometimes we have rain and somedays we are blessed with surprise sunshine.  In those times, we must pause and truly enjoy the moment for what it is.  In fact, I think I'll keep today's post short and sweet so that I can fully appreciate the amazing sunset that God's given me today.  It's like he's written The End in angelic script in the sky, much like the close of a great movie. 

Today was a gift and I for one am grateful for it.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

First Valentine's

Before reading you must agree on this virtual waiver.  (Please raise your right hand and whisper aloud what follows.)  I promise to uphold the secrecy of this post.  I will read this, chuckle perhaps, but never breath a word of it to the child whom this post is written about.  In reading, I understand that by releasing or mentioning anything read could result in the harm of the author.  (You can put your hand down now.)

Our Valentine's weekend motto for Tim and me was "just go with it" and it rang true all the way through Monday night.  Anything we attempted or planned just seemed to go awry.  Somehow we did manage to sneak in a few meals together, I shocked Tim with a cd of hard to find songs he's been wanting, and he surprised me twice with flowers - standard roses and a balloon so big I don't know how it didn't carry the vase away, and smiling tulips, which I can't wait to plant in the yard.  All in all when you toss out all the changed plans and misattempts, the good stuff made up for the other.

I think part of what kept us in the loving spirit was watching Noah experience his first true Valentine's day.  Now, he's always been a little heartbreaker and has had "girlfriends" since preschool.  In fact, in first grade he had four at the same time, one for just about every day of school.  This year though, he's had a steady girlfriend for well over a month - I know this because he told me on their anniversary day - and for a 5th grade romance, it seems pretty serious.

She's a year older, a big 6th grader, which means they have to be creative and patient about the time they get to spend together.  Her parents are strict so she's not allowed to call him.  The only moments they really get to share are before and after school.  If they get to school early enough, they have breakfast together and because they both ride the late bus, they get afternoons.

Noah's been excited for the days leading up to Valentine's, knowing that he wanted to both make and buy his girlfriend something.  Although it was his money, I did remind him of limits before he went out shopping last weekend.  As usual, he was a star shopper, finding a cute necklace and earring set at a budget price.  Then, Sunday night he used his clay molding skills to make her a heart shaped eraser and a rose. 

Throughout the night and into the Monday morning, we could sense his anticipation for the big day.  Of course, I didn't get the play by play I'd hoped for last night, I do think he had a good day.  His excitement and the sweetheart theme gets carried through the week, as they'll be going to the Valentine's dance on Friday night.  He's already informed me that he won't be dancing, as neither of them enjoy that, but I know he'll be happy to spend more than the few minutes with her he normally gets.

I've just appreciated reliving and remembering first crushes, new loves, and all the butterfly moments that it brings.  And I'm thankful that even though Tim and I have been together many, many years, we both still share feelings like those.  Sometimes it just takes seeing it in motion to remind you. 

One thing is sure, you never forget your first true Valentine...I married mine.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Pucker Up

Since Noah joined in on our date to begin Valentine's weekend, we decided to go out as a couple last night.  Mamaw was happy to have Noah for the night to give us some quality time together.  We spent the morning running errands, chauffeuring Noah to practice, and trying to get all those things accomplished that somehow get put off for Saturdays. 

Tim got called in to work around lunchtime but it was a fairly quick job and he knew he'd be back by early afternoon.  I used the time to catch up on the house so that our evening would be free to enjoy.  Knowing it was a holiday weekend, we decided to eat with the senior citizens and try to beat the crowds, so we headed to Owensboro as soon as Tim made it home.

I had plans to leisurely do some window shopping, eat a nice dinner somewhere and maybe take in a movie.  As we pulled into the first store, his phone was work.  Now, Tim's on call every other weekend for his job so it's something we're fairly used to; however, with them being so short-handed these days, this weekend he's on call for three of their stores.  It was heavy wishful thinking for me to hope that we'd escape the weekend without him being called out but a girl can hope. 

Since he'd already been called out that morning, I guess I was hoping Mr. Cupid was blessing our date night and we'd be spared.  We quickly learned though that Cupid must've been busy shooting arrows for other couples because all the plans we'd made that night we're tossed out the window. 

Thankfully, we were able to sneak in dinner while waiting for the patient to be released from the hospital, though not at our first choice of restaurant.  It seemed everyone had the idea of eating out early to beat the crowd but we ended up happy with the change of plans.  Our meal was wonderful and I was grateful for the time together. 

Everything that could go wrong with his call last night did go wrong and we spent most of it driving around, making calls and multiple attempts to accomplish what should have been a pretty routine job.  At one point, as we were in the dark and spooky warehouse, feeling the walls for the light switch, I had to laugh.  It certainly wasn't the date I'd planned but it could've been worse.  At least we got to spend the night together, which in the end was all that really mattered to me anyway.  Life handed us a bucket truck of lemons last night and we chose to just go with it, pucker up and make the most of it.

Valentine's Day is so not about overpriced flowers, chocolates that will go half price by Tuesday, or a $5 greeting card.  We don't need a date on the calendar to show how much we love each other.  After all these years and all we've been through, we find joy in the moments, not the occasion.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Tickets for one

Last night was a God thing.  His imprint was all over it.  Sure, it was a Christian concert, so you might expect that, but how we got there was all Him.  If you read my previous post, you'll remember that a few days ago an envelope appeared in our mailbox.  Inside were two tickets to see Warren Barfield in concert.  We have no clue who sent them to us.

I had heard about his concert on CFR, but not really knowing his music, didn't pay much attention to the commercials.  Googling him before the show, I learned that the movie Fireproof showcased his song, "Love is not a fight."  I'd both heard the song on the radio and Tim and I saw the movie when it came out a couple years ago.

When Noah learned we were going to a concert, he seemed a little defeated that he wasn't attending.  I have trouble saying no to his precious face for every day things but how I could turn him down for wanting to go to a Christian concert?  His first concert was Casting Crowns, this past fall, and he loved every moment of it.  Even though he didn't know the artist either, I knew nothing bad could come from him attending.  After checking it out online, I was able to purchase an extra ticket for him to go with us, and since it was in a church, seating didn't matter.

The concert was great.  Warren's voice is amazing, soulful and the concert was very intimate.  It was just him, a guitar, and God.  Although I'd only listened to a few tracks beforehand, it was clear that his voice was even better live and in person, which these days is a rare treat.  In fact, after listening to his cd this morning, I have decided he should record an acoustic cd.  I'm sure he probably doesn't care about my "expert opinion" but seriously, Warren, if someday you should read this - listen to me.

Anyway, back on point.  Noah was excited to learn he had a ticket but worried after he read the letter from our "secret friend" he would be a third wheel.  He said, "Oh, I didn't realize this was a date thing.  I'm sorry."  His dad and I assured him three was not a crowd and that we'd love to have him. 

We could tell he enjoyed the concert, as he was among the first in line to meet Warren and buy a cd.  It impressed me that he pulled out his own wallet, without hesitation, to purchase it.  While there, we also felt called to sponsor a child through the Feed the Hungry program and Noah picked out which boy he wanted to help.  After we arrived home, he spread his collection across the coffee table, inserted the cd, and began reading about the child.

The best part of the night for me was what he said when he packed up his things to head for bed.  He hugged us both and smiled that sweet smile he has, then said, "It's been a great Christian night!"  Tim and I exchanged glances at each other from across the room, and without saying a word, shared that we knew we'd made the right choice.  In this case, for our date night, three's company.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Mystery Date

Tim and I have planned a few surprise dates for each other through the years.  For awhile, we'd take turns each month and would be in charge of planning the date beginning to end.  The best ones were always those which were a complete surprise.

One of my favorite dates I planned was our trip to French Lick a couple of years ago.  Tim had not a clue where we were going or anything we would do the entire weekend.  To add to the surprise, neither of us had ever been to the area.  Nothing was familiar, he didn't know what would be around the next corner, and each experience was new and exciting.

One of the sweetest dates he planned was a surprise picnic.  I knew he had the date month but we never set the actual day it would be.  He called me one afternoon, told me to get in the truck, stay on the phone and drive.  He'd give me instructions on where to turn and where the next stop would be, guiding me to our date destination.  After a point, he hung up with final instructions, which led me to a tree by the river.  When I got out of my truck, a blanket filled with a feast and my hubby awaited.  It was simple and one of the most perfect dates.

Tomorrow night, we are again going on a mystery date, but this time, neither of us planned it.  Several days ago, a large envelope appeared in our mailbox addressed to both of us.  The envelope was hand-written but did not include a return address.  The writing seemed happy and upon first glance, we thought it was an invitation or belated birthday card of some sort.  It's always nice to get mail that isn't a bill so we tore into it with anticipation.  Inside was a printed note, wishing us a "Happy Valentine's" from "a special friend" and included two concert tickets to see a Christian artist.  We have no idea who sent them to us but are excited and grateful for a secret night out.

I don't know who this "special secret friend" is but I'm sending out a virtual hug for their generosity.  It was an unexpected sweet dose of joy this week...and we haven't even had the date yet!  I'll be sure to recap the night sometime this weekend, as I'm sure it will be spirit-filled and full of love!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

joy in a snow storm

Picture it...Sicily, 1925.  It was the worst of times....(ok, so I love me some Golden Girls!)  In reality, it was Bowling Green, 2011, and I had just ducked out of the office early, in an attempt to get home before the roads got bad.

When I pulled into the office a couple hours before, the roads were clear and there wasn't a snowflake in the sky.  Although we were under a "winter advisory" they weren't calling for it to hit until late afternoon.  I figured there'd be plenty of time to get there, finish the monthly meeting, and be well on my way home before the roads became snowy.  At least, that was my plan. 

Instead, the picture I saw was a suddenly very snowy road with the faintest hint of a path.  After one or two moments of feeling my truck slide, I very quickly decided this would be an un-fun ride home.  I prayed that the parkway would be clear because, after all, we were under a warning, why wouldn't they be treating it.  As I hesitantly entered the ramp, the answer appeared and it was yet another disappointment. 

White-knuckled at this point, I merged onto the parkway just in time to have a semi roar past me.  As the slush instantly froze on my windshield, I figured out why the roads were as bad as they were.  A quick glance to my dash registered a frigid 19 degrees.  Geez, this was going to be some kind of ride home. 

40 miles an hour on the parkway, where most idiots still flew by me regardless of the conditions, was bad enough.  Add to it that my truck was jerking, which increased my nervousness, and I was crouched down literally like the old lady I was driving as, because I could only see from the bottom of my windshield.  I couldn't clear it if I'd wanted because my hood was frozen so the wiper fluid refused to come out to play.  This all jumbled together to make for a very unpleasant and lengthy drive home.

The roads began to get a little clearer the closer I got to home, but at this point, I was such a wreck that I still couldn't make myself drive more than 55 mph.  I was ready to just give in, pull over, and let the winter weather defeat me when my knight in a white van appeared.  As my hero hobbled across the parkway, bent my wiper and cleared my windshield, my mood was on the mend.  The wind chill might have been in the single digits but I was suddenly warm from head to toe.  And yes, this hero was my husband!

Although Tim had already been to Butler county and returned home, a patient had called him back out.  When he called to check on my progress, we realized how close we were to each other.  Even though I argued, he had me to pull over and wait for him on the parkway.  I hesitated because I knew his foot was in pain, from a slip earlier in the week, but I also knew the tiny section of my windshield I could see through was getting smaller each mile. 

Just like my husband, he put his pain aside and never hesitated in helping me.  That's just how he is.  And that's why I love him so.  Thanks to a lucky break that put us on the same stretch of parkway at the same time, and to such a loving hubby, the last half of my ride was much safer and easier than the first.
I'm grateful for my husband...grateful to be home safe and snug...and grateful this is to said to be our last snow for the season!

Monday, February 7, 2011

white as snow

I'm sitting at my new desk mesmerized by beautiful snow falling outside the window.  The flakes are so large, I can't decide if they are more like cotton candy or coconut, as they dance in front of me.  There's something enchanting about falling snow.  I can get lost in it's beauty.  As this could very well be the last snowfall of the season, I'm soaking up each calming snowflake.  Freshly fallen, it is so pure and white and there's something heavenly about it. 

In some cultures, white is considered to be a color the represents death.  I'm sure for many, they would say the color black; however, when you think about what death means, the color of white is much more comforting and true.  While we grieve the loss of the person, we know they are in a better place after death.  When I see white, I think of a clean soul, a fresh slate, and a new beginning.  The peace I get from a snowy landscape gives me a glimpse of what Heaven must be like.  I would imagine the beauty of snow there, without the cold.  In Heaven, I imagine that each snowflake would be joyful as it fell.

My family prepares today to say goodbye to another loved one.  While Ninny, as I knew her, will be missed, I find joy in her passing because I know she is Home.  Perhaps, she is up there dancing among the snowflakes now.  At 91, she lived a long and good life.  Stubbornly independent, she lived on her own most of those years, only recently moving to a nursing home.  These past few months have been difficult for her and her family, as she's suffered and declined through the natural process of aging.

It's never easy saying goodbye to those we love.  It is hard to let go in this world, even knowing our loved ones are better off.  But when loved ones go home to Heaven, we must remember that it really isn't goodbye at all, just... until we meet again.

An aged Christian, with the snow of time upon his head, may remind us that
those points of earth are whitest which are nearest to heaven.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Don't Wait

I was blessed to have a wonderful grandfather in my life, who was not only a role model for me, but a continued source of inspiration and example of faith.  Grandpa Henry was a preacher, and I believe it was because of those many sermons I listened to as a child that I became a Christian at a young age. 

Grandpa never pressured me but I know that it was through him that I found God.  I still remember the day I decided to come forward and the overwhelming joy on his face, as he held out his arms welcoming me in front of the pulpit.  It's very much the same picture I imagine of Jesus, each time a new believer asks him into their heart.

Salvation has been heavy on my heart today, as I've been in prayer for a dear friend who is losing her grandfather.  As heartbreaking as it is to lose a grandparent, she is faced with the devastation of knowing he is not saved.  There are family members and friends in this same shape and I know what a sadness I feel every time I picture Heaven without them there.

What I find tragic though is to think of a life lived without Christ.  I absolutely cannot imagine my life without Him in it.  My faith has carried me through my entire life and has been the only thing to hold me together some days, especially the past few years.  I'm ever-grateful for my Grandpa's hand in leading me to a Christian life as a child - and I can't wait to hug and thank him in Heaven someday.

I know that helping my boys accept Jesus in their hearts were the two proudest and most joyful moments as a mother.  Watching my boys be baptized, and knowing that they fully understood and wanted a life with God, were the two best days of my life.  And this knowledge of where Austin is now brings a continued source of comfort to my grieving heart.

I could never pass up this opportunity to share with you the steps to salvation, should anyone reading this not know.  It's never too late to open your heart, even if you didn't have that opportunity as a child.  Even if you've turned away from it in the past.  Even if you feel that you don't deserve that type of unconditional love and forgiveness.  The wonderful part is that you can find salvation at any moment....but the important part is not to wait until the end.  Don't live another day without God.  There is no comparison to a life without versus a life with Him.

You don't have to say a special prayer.  You don't even need a Bible, if you don't have one.  Just follow these steps.  Admit you've sinned.  Promise to turn away from sin and change.  Believe that Jesus died for you.  And ask Jesus into your heart, to lead and guide you in your life.

Romans 10:13    "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

Thursday, February 3, 2011

The Power of Words

I don't believe the saying, "Sticks and stones may break some bones but words will never harm me."  There is power in words and they can be used to hurt or heal.  I realized the strength of a single sentence, as certain quotes or scriptures would really speak to me. 

I've always loved inspiring quotes but the past few years have been drawn to them even more.  It amazes me how one phrase or sentence can evoke emotion, bring a sense of calm, fill your arms with goosebumps, or tug at your heart.  Through the years I've grown fond of certain quotes or held specific scripture dear because of the moment I was in when reading them.

When I was young, newly married, with a baby boy, and juggling college as well as a job, one of my favorites was, "A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step."  On days when I was overwhelmed and my goals so far out of reach, I would think of this quote.  It would remind me that regardless of where I wanted to be in life, I had to take the first step, however difficult or stressful it might be at the time.

For so many years, I treasured the scripture, "I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me." - Philippians 4:13.  This one scripture got me through the first few difficult months after our wreck.  Each time I'd stand, wobbling in pain, I would recite this to myself and it would give me the extra boost to make it through.  Through the remainder of that year, I leaned on the verses from 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, which are, "Be joyful always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you."  It spoke to my soul so much that I wrote it out on an index card and kept it on the visor in my truck so that I would see it daily.

Through the years, I've found many quotes that touched me and have stuck with me.  I find that I will recall them when I need those words most.  Some of those include....

Be kinder than necessary, for everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle.

Count your smiles instead of your tears; Count your courage instead of your fears.

We have only this moment, sparkling like a star in our hand, and melting like a snowflake.

Of course for the past two years, I've drawn inspiration from anything relating to child loss or overcoming grief.  There are certain scriptures that will always hold a special place in my heart because they remind me of Austin, like 1 Timothy 4:12.  Or quotes like, "It's not the years in your life that count, it's the life in your years."  and "Life is not measured by the number of breaths you take, but by the moments that take your breath away."

Lately, I've found comfort in the scripture from Romans 5:3-5 "Rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, endurance produces character, character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us."    When I'm drawn to a certain scripture or quote, I will notice that it seems to find its way into my day, or week, just when I need to be reminded.  What I know is that God sends us these words when he knows we're ready for them, even when we don't think we are. 

Knowing how powerful a single sentence can be, and how by molding letters together to form words that create a thought which can affect others, weighs on my mind more these days.  If God's given me this "talent" - and I use that word loosely, I feel led to use it for good.  It's part of the reason why I started this blog.  More than anything it was selfishly therapeutic, as writing through this grief has been a tremendous help to me.  What I have learned though is that through sharing, I have been a help to others, which I never imagined possible.  Anytime someone lets me know that, after reading something I've written, it brings me such joy, unbelievable as it is to me.  Some days it is hard, putting my emotions to print, but most days it is truly a comfort to be able to express myself in this way.  I'm just grateful for receiving a gift from God that I can use for him that also brings me happiness.  It is my goal though to strive each day to do a better job of writing so that people see Him and not me.
"Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you..."2 Timothy 1:16

Psalm 28:7 "The LORD protects and defends me; I trust in him.
He gives me help and makes me glad; I praise him with joyful songs."

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