Don’t Mess With Me

Made a blueberry coffee cake the other  night at the request of one of my sons.  It had been a while since I made one, so I made sure that I followed the directions ‘to the T’. When I pulled it out of the oven, it seriously looked and smelled like the most delicious thing I’ve ever made. Which, by the way, isn’t saying much.

 I couldn’t wait to turn the Bundt cake pan over onto the plate so that I could lift up the pan and see the entire thing. I had just made some icing and was ready to go! As I carefully lifted the pan up, my beautiful coffee cake dropped to the plate – in thousands of mushy pieces.
 
What. A. Mess! 
 
 I was so frustrated and had NO desire to deal with it, so I  left it all there on the counter. I went into the other room, plopped down on the couch and continued watching the Christmas story I had been watching prior to this disaster.

Have you been there? Maybe you haven’t had  a bad experience with baking, but with life in general?  You seem to be doing everything right, yet the results don’t reflect your heartfelt efforts? Nothing more frustrating…

Well, while I was watching my show, the son who loves the coffee cake (the most) walked into the room after being out with friends. I didn’t even bother to ask if he had a good evening, but made sure I warned him that I totally screwed up the coffee cake.  He didn’t say much, but what he said made a world of difference in my heart and my attitude. He said that it was “ok” and at least I tried!

Hmmm….Just what I needed to hear.

Sometimes I think God tries to send us messages- just like that – to either prepare us for what’s down the road or  help heal the aftermath of a mess. We just need to be willing to listen. Such a comfort in knowing that we have a God like that…..a friend who loves us all the time – no matter what.  Don’t miss that blessing.

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Thankful for Healing

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Went to visit my brother today. Our day wasn’t your typical Thanksgiving get-together, but it was a true blessing in many ways. Guess that’s all that matters. 

Rather than cooking all morning and trying to figure out how to keep everything in one piece after an hour-long drive,  we decided to celebrate Thanksgiving at Applebee’s – Rob’s  favorite restaurant. It was funny because he knew exactly what he was going to order before we even left his apartment.   I have never met anyone who appreciates anything and everything as much as my brother.

As soon as we left his place to go eat, he and I began to reminisce about the old days. We mainly talked about  people/old friends  from our hometown.  Always fun (and interesting ) to take time and  think about those people you once spent so much time with back in the day.

Sometime during our conversation I turned around to look at Rob while he was talking.  He stopped talking for a moment and told me that I looked like our mom. (I wanted to say – you mean I look old, right?  Haha.) He then said how much he missed her (and our dad). It was then that I knew where we needed to go before we stopped for lunch….

I’m ashamed to say that I haven’t visited my mom’s grave in years. I always used the excuse that I didn’t see the purpose when I knew she wasn’t there.  The cemetery she’s buried in is pretty big, and my memory definitely isn’t what it used to be – so, I had to check with the cemetery’s superintendent for directions. 

It was an embarrassing moment for me – having to tell this stranger that I needed help finding my mom’s resting place. I somehow felt as though I was walking into the principal’s office.  I kept waiting for him to put me on the spot and ask questions.  Rather than embarrass me with questions or comments, he simply pulled out a map and acted grateful to help me.  I was SO relieved and thankful.

When I finally found her headstone,  all I could think was – why had I waited so long?

I guess this trip stirred up a lot of memories…and emotions. Although there were good times in my childhood, there were a few that broke my heart. When we got back into the car at the cemetery, Rob questioned me about those painful times – one that I had totally pushed out of my mind.

Bad things happen to all of us – I know. The good thing is when you put all of your hope and faith in the Lord…things sure do change in your heart.

 
What an amazing feeling it is when you realize that your heart has  been healed. Thankful.

Hebrews 10:23 “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promises is faithful.”

Here’s Your Sign

I read a friend’s post the other day that said he was thankful  for all the things that didn’t go right (or that were difficult) in his life, because it was those times that shaped him into the person he is today. I think this friend is one smart cookie.
It’s amazing how God can place different people and difficult circumstances in your path – at the perfect time – to teach you, mold you, and change you into the person that he wants you to be – if you allow him. 
As I was driving south of Indy  the other night, a man waving a sign (to advertise some type of business) caught my eye.  Although it was somewhat difficult to see his face because of his stocking cap, topped with a hood that hugged his face, I soon  realized that I knew the man standing there waving  – he was  my brother. I confess that tears welled up in my eyes as I thought of my 47 year-old brother having to stand out in the cold like that , not to make ends meet –  but in order to survive.
Rob is on disability, so he is limited to how many hours he can work per week.  When he is able to keep a job, he works hard and will do what it takes to put food on his table. Ironic that someone who is mentally challenged understands that you shouldn’t expect others (or God) to provide you with everything  you need….or want, without any effort of your own.
What gives me chills is that it was a last minute decision to take a different route to get to my destination the other day.  I had no clue that Rob worked on that street….No doubt that God wanted me to see him for reasons that only me and my maker need to know. : )
I know I don’t  express it like I should, but I love and admire Rob – more than he’ll ever know. And like my friend, I am thankful for those difficult times – because it is then that God has reminded me that I have so much more to work on in order to become what he wants me to be.

Love Hurts

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Have you ever taken the time to go back and reread some of the things you have written – say from a year or two ago? If you don’t blog, perhaps you journal. Let me tell you, it is well worth your time.

When I was going through some files today, I discovered 2 particular experiences that were major happenings in my life. I wasn’t blogging at the time, but I did share them on Facebook. It’s interesting to read about your experience much later, especially when you aren’t filled with all of those emotions that pushed you into writing about it in the first place.

The one I’m going to share happened about a year and a half ago. My eyes still fill up with tears as I remember that anticipation of having to take Sydney to the vet one last time. A Monday I will never forget….. 

What a week this has been.  Watching our dog’s health rapidly deteriorate  has been heart wrenching.   Sydney truly has been the best dog ever! Even though we’ve had our share of frustrating moments, such as the numerous times she found my hidden bags of candy(and downed every last bite), her sweet personality always helped me to forgive and forget! 

Most amazing trick she did was pull out the peanut butter jar from the Lazy Susan, untwist the lid with her teeth, and eat as much peanut butter as possible before getting caught!   I say that takes talent and determination!

She has taught me so many lifelong lessons. When we discovered that she was diabetic several years ago, I remember thinking that there was no way that I would be able to give her a shot. NO WAY!  Then,  I learned  that when you truly love something, you will do whatever it takes … even though it’s out of your comfort zone.

When she started losing her eyesight, I was amazed at how she was able to maneuver around like normal and remain so stinkin’ happy. She’s taught me to be happy in ALL circumstances, even when I can’t “see”  where I’m going. And today…..whew….she is teaching me that I stink at saying goodbye.  Simple as that.

I never dreamed I would dread seeing a Monday approach as much as I do now.  Such a sad, sad time for me and for my family. But, I am so thankful to have had such a wonderful, loving sidekick that has made me feel loved, even when I didn’t deserve it. What an example of unconditional love….

 

Things Will be Fine – Just in Time

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When I was walking in the  park the other day, I kept searching for that perfect  tree. You know, the one with the most vibrant, colorful leaves  – one that would truly make a statement of how beautiful an Indiana fall can be.

I saw one that was filled with bright yellow leaves, and then there was one filled with orange. A few still had their green, and then there were those that barely had one. 

 After walking all over and snapping picture after picture,  I finally decided to stop. I thought – SURELY one of these photos would be what I want.  

As I walked back to my car, I looked down and was  so surprised to see that the BEST picture of all would be  right there by my feet.

 I think about all of that time wasted as I looked for that perfect tree, when what I truly wanted was right in front of me! Leaves of many colors….fallen from the trees. How did I miss their beauty? How could I possibly not see – that everything I needed was right in front of me.

So, what are you searching for? How ’bout your time. Are you walking around aimlessly, or in a straight line. What is your focus? God is mine. Don’t ever stop looking, loving and caring. Before you know it you’ll discover His blessings, just in time.

Don’t be Fooled

Recently heard a story about a family that is basically falling apart. No,  more like being ripped apart.  I know…I know…this could be YOUR family, but in this case – it’s not.  FYI – It doesn’t involve any of my friends.  It broke my heart as I sat and listened to how it all began – how hurt feelings and words of anger between two people made a ripple effect throughout the family, and now this loving family has turned into a bunch of unforgiving hearts that are filled with nothing but anger, sadness and bitterness.  Ugh.

A friend told me a couple weeks ago about this book she was reading – The Bait of Satan, by John Bevere.  Very rarely do I run out and purchase a book, but after we had lunch that day, I did. I’m only on the second chapter, but I’m telling you what – it’s something that everyone should read. It’s filled with words of wisdom and scripture to shed light on how we are trapped by Satan’s deceitfulness in trying times as mentioned above.

One thing that the author mentioned  really spoke to me –  “Don’t be fooled! You WILL encounter offense, and it’s up to you how it will affect your relationship with God. YOUR  response will determine your future. If offense is handled correctly, YOU WILL BECOME STRONGER RATHER THAN BITTER.” (Caps are my choice, not his.)

I’ve experienced those daggers to the heart and  I hate those times. I don’t want to admit it, but I’ve been the one to say and do things that have hurt those I love, too. I’ve witnessed relationships end – even in the church.  Hurtful, defensive words are exchanged, and then all of a sudden everyone becomes consumed with it all.  Everything changes – and NOBODY likes it. Been there?

I think that forgiving someone has to be one of the most challenging things we have to do in this life. There are so many things that get in the way and prevent us from doing so – selfishness, jealousy, pride,  and did I mention selfishness? It’s tough, I know, to let something go when you don’t think that person deserves it. That’s when  I have to remind myself about God’s grace. He set the example; am I willing to follow it?

No matter what your situation is, God makes it clear that he wants us to forgive.  You may think that no one could possibly understand how you feel or what you’ve been through. Perhaps you’re right –  to a point.  Please remember, there is ONE who knows exactly how you feel and what you’ve been through, and he has plenty to say about it….

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other just as Christ forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32

“Then Peter came to him and asked, “Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?” “No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven!” Matthew 18:21-22

“Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit. So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.” Galatians 6:8-9

I will never forget the day when I heard the story behind the song “Forgiveness”, by Matthew West. His song is based on a true story about a mom, Renee Napier, whose daughter  was killed in a car accident caused by a drunk driver. The driver, Eric,  was 24 years-old at the time. Although this mom was devastated due to her loss, she reached out to Eric while he was serving time in prison, and told him that she forgave him. Can you imagine? Does THAT not seem like the impossible? That was only the beginning. Four years later, she and her family went to the courts to request that this young man’s sentence be cut in half. “Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.” Psalm 32:1.

 Knowing the story behind this song brings tears to my eyes….. It not only brought healing to Renee and her family, but also provided a second chance for Eric. Win/win. What do you need to let go of today?

It’ll clear the bitterness away

It can even set a prisoner free

There is no end to what its power can do

So let it go and be amazed

By what you see through eyes of grace

The prisoner that it really frees is you

Forgiveness, Forgiveness…. Matthew West – Forgiveness

 

Do I Know You?

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.  Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?  Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’

Matthew 7:21-23 (NIV)

Unlike most of my friends, I’ve never been one who has had an interest in collecting things, such as angels, cookie jars, books etc.. I like those things, but have never had the desire to spend the time and/or money.

I DO have a collection of  keepsakes that I hold on to  that will  help me remember someone special, or to help me not forget  an important lesson/occasion. One of my favorite ‘things’  is my dad’s old white t-shirt. It’s nothing special to look at, but it means the world to me!

When my dad passed away several years ago, I took one of his t-shirts and hung it in our closet.  For the longest time, I found such comfort in simply touching his soft, worn shirt.

I can’t help but think about all the times he would make me laugh, when I had been crying… How he would make me angry, because I KNEW he was right…And, how he made me feel loved, because of his commitment to our family.  Probably one of the most difficult moments in my life (so far) was the day that he looked me straight in the eye, and didn’t recognize me. If you know someone who has Alzheimer’s, then you know what I’m talking about. There is nothing more shocking than that moment when  someone you love, someone you know who has sacrificed so much for you,  doesn’t  even know your name.

There were many tears and heartaches during those years but now looking back I realize they  were NOTHING compared to how devastating it would be to have my Heavenly Father ask me someday, “Do I know you?”  Perspective… We will all meet our Heavenly Father one day… Do you know Him?

Life isn’t Picture Pefect

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Just got home from a trip to Minnesota late last night. Long drive – short visit, but I’m grateful for it.

Sitting here thinking….Isn’t it funny how you get in your mind what your expectations are for something – including a weekend? I had in MY mind what would make for a pleasant, memorable trip, but pretty much none of it  happened – except for the fact that we were able to spend quality time with our son. Absolutely the most important thing on our agenda.

Highlight for me was definitely on Sunday evening. The four of us had dinner, then bought snacks to bring back to the hotel room and watched the Colts. Brought back so many memories of when the boys were young and we actually spent time together in one room! The things we take for granted….

My disappointment came on the trip home. I was hoping to get a lot of pictures of some of that beautiful farmland you see in Wisconsin, but my attempts to capture some of those beautiful views only created total frustration.

Every single time I would see exactly what I wanted as a keepsake photo, traffic or road construction would prevent us from pulling over. I finally put my camera away and pretty much pouted.

S-e-r-i-o-u-s-l-y. Why did something SO simple have to be SO difficult?! Such as life, huh?

Why do we allow disappointments cloud our view of how much God is truly blessing us ? Sad thing is, many times we don’t see it that way.

I was reminded of that very thing as I decided to download the pictures this afternoon that I attempted to take while trucking along Interstate 94. Although these weren’t the ones that I had hoped for, God provided something much better than I ever dreamed. Always amazed…. 

 

 

 

“IN EVERYTHING GIVE THANKS….” then you’ll find happiness

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“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” ~ Proverbs 3:5-6

 

Went to visit two senior saints yesterday afternoon –  a husband and a wife who have been married more than  70 years. What a testimony. Although I did not ask, I am almost certain that they both could share some pretty interesting stories  – perhaps about trials they had to work through, times of frustration, times of sorrow,  embarrassing moments, and then of course those times of being on the mountaintop.

I can’t even begin to imagine all the changes they have experienced  over the years. Unfortunately, both are presently in poor health, so  they were temporarily  moved into a nursing home –  another huge twist to add to their life experiences. As I walked into their room, it was obvious that things were different, but  there was  no doubt that their love for one another and their faith in their maker remained the same –  rock solid.

Such a great reminder that  life isn’t about being on that mountaintop. It’s about trusting the one who created you –  being thankful for what you have, loving your family and friends – no matter what, appreciating the moment, forgiving those who may not even deserve it,  and having faith in the one who made those mountains.

“In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18

 

I See – You’re Invisible

Recently clicked on a link on a friend’s Facebook page to listen to a speaker give a message about feeling invisible. The video was titled “The Invisible Woman: Inspiring Motivational Speech about Women.” The ironic thing was, I couldn’t find the speaker’s name anywhere!

Although the audio was difficult to hear, you could still get the message – loud and clear. The woman speaking shared some of her painful experiences of being a wife/mom.  She painted a disturbing picture  of a loving mom and wife who basically felt worthless when time after time, no one seemed to even notice she was in the room. 

  I think the best part of the video (for me) was when the speaker shared a story about when a friend of hers gave her a book about the great cathedrals of Europe. She noted that many of the builders were unknown. Her friend wrote a message inside the book, and compared her and everything she does for her children/family to those ‘unknown’ builders of the cathedrals. For several years they dedicated their lives to carving, designing and building something absolutely beautiful  – for what? No names revealed  – no recognition.

Heartbreaking…. But I think it’s a good reminder that every good deed doesn’t need to be out there for everyone to know. God knows – and that’s all that truly matters, right?

If you aren’t a mom, perhaps you can relate to this…
Have you ever walked into a crowded room, and felt so uncomfortable  because not one single person took the time to greet you or even look your way? Or maybe you’ve made a statement, given a suggestion  or asked a question among a small group – and the only response was silence?  Worse yet,  you attempted to reach out to someone, only to find that they must not have time for you because they never responded?

Those feelings that you aren’t important –  even for a moment  –  are so painful.  If you’ve experienced it, you never forget it.

So, how does all of this tie together? I think we all have those times when we don’t’  feel appreciated, or worse yet –  invisible. Sometimes we fall into that trap of comparing our lives to others, and then question why we are even here.

Then you find yourself asking –  what IS my purpose?

  I confess that I struggled with that question for years.  For almost 28 years, my husband and I were involved in the ministry. He never made me feel this way, and neither did the people in the congregations we served, but “I” made myself feel inadequate because I compared myself to other women who were either married to a minister or were serving in the church.  I couldn’t sing, I couldn’t play a piano, and I was not a leader of women’s groups etc.  – all those things that “I” thought made an ideal minister’s wife.

The dangerous thing is when you start focusing on what you lack, you stop using what God gave you to use – for him.  It has taken a lot of time for me to finally see what my purpose is, but thankfully I finally listened to the one who created me. : )

If you are having a difficult time trying to figure out what your purpose is, don’t give up. “He is sowing. He is sovereign. He is doing His wildly wonderful work in you, not by the flip of a switch, but by the journey of a seed pushing through the dirt into the warmth of sunlight.” ~  Lysa Terkeurst

“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;   your works are wonderful,    I know that full well.” Psalm 139:14