Tuesday, November 25, 2014
What a great holiday! It could be my favorite, right after EASTER!!!
Everyone is giving thanks this week, at least I hope folks are contemplating their blessings.
Our tradition is to take turns telling everyone around the dinner table what we are particularly thankful for from the past year. The responses have ranged from "cranberry sauce" to "new babies" to "health," etc. ALL GOOD....EVERY ONE!
This year I introduced my THANKFUL JAR!
Last January I decided to keep a running record of significant events for 2014. It's somewhat like a diary but way easier!!!
I took an old pickle jar, painted the top silver, added a silver knob and a chalkboard type label with the date, 2014. I filled it with blank yellow slips of cardboard stock paper.
WA-LA! A blessing jar was born! I put it on a shelf in the kitchen within easy reach.
Every time I experienced a happy event, I wrote about it on one of the yellow slips and stuffed it back into the jar. The original intent was to read ALL the slips of paper on New Years Eve, 2014, starting over again Jan. 1 2015.
BUT...I couldn't wait.
This year we celebrated Thanksgiving Dinner at our house a few days before Turkey Day with the Dallas Braners. (the other 1/2 of the family is in Durango, CO frying a turkey!)
I presented my jar and asked everyone to take out a few yellow slips of paper and together we would review my year. They agreed, although curious.
It was a little scary because I'd long forgotten what had transpired months ago that I may have written about.
BUT, it went very well. I was able to recall some terrific, sometimes tender, always special days and happenings as we went around the table and they "read" to me, MY YEAR. I was able to expound on some of the events without boring everyone to death! Those at the table were able to hear about the times THEY were involved in bringing a smile to my face. That was very heart-warming.
After our discussion, all the yellow slips went back into the jar. I'm going to add some more, no doubt, before Jan 31st.
Moral of the story: I am blessed beyond words! As Chris Christopherson used to sing,
"What have I ever done? To deserve even one...of the blessings I've known.
There IS no deserving! It's pure GRACE. And it's very humbling.
Wednesday, November 19, 2014
This past January I decided to forego the usual "New Years Resolutions." You know, lose weight, be kind, clean closets, walk for 2 hours every day, climb Mt. Everest, etc. Those are very good intentions that fall by the wayside about Jan.10th!
This time I made a PROCLAMATION! Even though it was silent and secret, I was determined to try an experiment that I'd been pondering for years.
Many moons ago (actually about 30 years ago) a very wise friend told me HER secret to joyous living. It was so stunning and revolutionary that all I could do was file it away in the deep crevices of my brain matter. It seemed SO impossible. Actually I thought she was a little crazy....BUT, she DID have that wild-eyed "who cares" smile on her face ALOT!
THIS was the year I pulled it out of the cobwebs of my brain to give it a try.
Her suggestion: "Sharon, practice INSTANT FORGIVENESS until it becomes a habit."
WHAT? Instant Forgiveness?? How can ANYONE possibly do that???
I'm delighted to announce. It works!
There are so many cliches out there that probably feed into this thought process. Statements like;
"Everybody is hurting," "Walk a mile in their shoes before judging," "Be kind for all folks are dealing with something hard," etc..... All are very good sentiments.
BUT, I am basically lazy and forget all those sentiments so try as hard as I could I still found myself with hurt feelings, self-pitiful moments, seething anger, etc.
It is SO much easier to just FORGIVE right there ON THE SPOT and move on!
Most folks don't even realize they have hurt you and would NEVER do so intentionally. AND I'm sure I've left a trail of pain in my path, unknowingly and certainly without predetermined malice.
That's humanity at it's best. (Let's don't even mention humanity at it's worst!)
This has been the healthiest emotional year for me for a long time. (Even though we've had some life changing experiences.)
Psychiatrists could have a field day with this I'm sure! There would probably be predictions of future health and mental problems for "stuffing it," and not expressing myself often enough, not getting it off my chest, not telling people exactly how I feel, not letting anyone get away with insulting me, not being honest, etc.
BUT, for now I'm singing the praises of INSTANT FORGIVENESS!
Nothing is so FREEING! I have more time, energy, love, compassion and SMILES.
Sounds almost BIBLICAL, doesn't it??? Why did it take me 30 years to give this a whirl???
Tuesday, November 18, 2014
I opened a basket today and there hidden away were several small picture albums. You know, the kind we made BEFORE our iphones stored pictures in something called a cloud and before those fancy Shutterfly books that are SO fun to craft. The basket was full of REAL pictures. So, naturally everything on my "to do" list came was thrown to the wind as I sat down and mentally WALKED down memory lane!
This picture was taken 10+ years ago. (Why didn't I put dates on the back of all these old photos?)
As I recall, it was a VERY special weekend. It was the Christmas Season that we invited friends and family to our house to attend the Prestonwood Baptist Church Christmas Extravaganza! AND THEY CAME!
Right to left: Eddie and Linda Braner from Illinois, Jim and Deanna Beck from Houston, TX, Dianne and Pastor Bill Edwards from Illinois and us! We lived in Plano, TX at the time and had driven out to Frisco to admire the "western" artifacts placed there. This very "uncovered" covered wagon was the backdrop for this historic picture. I think we just grabbed a passerby and asked if he would snap this photo. (I do that EVERYWHERE I go, people are always happy to oblige.)
The weekend was full of fun and laughter and we made some terrific memories.
BUT, what strikes me most about this picture today is not the memories of the holiday festivities we all enjoyed.
What impresses me today can be summed up in one word, STRENGTH! These marriages are some of the strongest ones I know. These couples have been through some bumps and some valleys, BUT not once has their commitment or love dimmed. They are beautiful examples to all that know them.
They're in it for the long haul and their rewards are immense.
They have known breath-taking joys and heart-breaking pain. They're scarred up a little and once in a while they still wobble through some issues. But there is no doubt that they will be victorious together. Not. One. Doubt!
So what's the common denominator? How do men and women learn to do life together without killing each other? You've got to admit, the sexes are vastly different in just about every aspect of humanity. As I heard from one young person the other day, "sometimes love just isn't enough!"
I've analyzed it! (You knew I would!)
The only thing I can come up with is that each one pictured...........knows and loves God.
Oh, not the god idea of Hollywood, superstition or popular opinion, BUT the GOD of the Bible.
They know the REAL DEAL! They know how to worship Him, silently and steadfastly. They have a very healthy respect, high view and reverent fear of Him. They are NOT perfect but they have experienced perfect GRACE. Their very personal relationship with the Sovereign Creator of the Universe puts this fleeting lifespan into its proper perspective.
I'm so thankful they let us into their lives, the good and the not-so-good times. They show us all how it's done.
And I'm very thankful for this picture today! What a sweet, sweet reminder that good strong marriages are ABSOLUTELY possible in a culture that tries to tell us otherwise.
Any young whippersnappers curious? These folks have some answers!
Monday, November 10, 2014
There is an incredible exhibit of dinosaurs near Fairview, TX that will be open to the public through next February. It is located at the Heard Museum and Nature Preserve and about 20 minutes from our house. It was a short ride of anticipating a wild game hunt!
It didn't take long before we were obsessed with everything dinos! (I could HEAR the theme to Jurassic Park looping through my brain.) Down 1/2 mile path, half hidden by trees and foliage, 9 of the BIGGEST pre-historic creatures to ever walk this earth emerged. We tried to pronounce their names, imagine what they enjoyed for dinner, where they might sleep at night and how they became extinct.
Meanwhile they all moved their legs, rolled their eyes and made pre-historic growling sounds. It was great!
The older kiddos saw through the "pretense" immediately, laughed at them, climbed on their tails and smiled for photos!
Not so with Betsy! (age 3) She covered her ears and RAN away, no doubt convinced that T-Rex was about to swallow her whole! Evidently if she could not HEAR the frightening sounds the danger would disappear! It didn't work for long! It never does, you know!
It's the old "ostrich head in the hole in the ground" plan! Many very well adjusted, intelligent, fine upright adults try to live their life by that plan as well.
BUT.....I thought I would try it today. I covered my ears, ignored the negative news and pictures and hoped everything would be ok. For a brief time all were safe, everyone I loved was content and happy, and momentarily "everything was right with the world."
It didn't last long!
Once I took my hands off my ears it was soon evident that ISSL is still gaining strength, spin about the latest election is still spinning, politicians are making promises and quickly breaking them, children are still being sold as sex slaves, cancer is still taking it's deadly toll, healthcare costs are skyrocketing, teens are believing that sex and drugs are the panacea for living, our borders are still being violated, terrorists plots are still being uncovered, pornography is tearing apart the psyche of our young men, divorce is breaking hearts, part-time workers are frustrated, people of the same sex are marrying each other, babies in the womb are being murdered, and many relationships are stretched to the breaking point as family members stare at their electronic devices while at the dinner table.
On top of all that CHRISTMAS is coming and I have no idea what gifts to buy this year!
BUT, a temporary relief is better than no relief at all I suppose.
Keep your ears covered, baby girl! I want you to remain beautifully innocent and safe for as long as possible!
Thursday, November 6, 2014
Do I look like I have ulterior motives? A sinister grin? Conniving gang member? A terrorist, perhaps?
I'm ALMOST used to the photo shoot at the airport security line. You know the one where you're told to stand with legs apart and hands over your head so they can snap a picture. It's a magic camera that can see through your clothes. Yes, that's pleasant! (Where DO those photos go anyway?)
Then there's always a TSA agent that needs to actually feel THROUGH your clothes. The last time my picture was taken there I was told that I had three areas of concern on my body. My new pants had zippers at the ankles and I was wearing my favorite locket. DANGER! DANGER! DANGER!
A pat down soon alleviated all fears! At least I didn't have to take anything off. That would have caused instant blindness to everyone in that line!
One time I was accused of carrying a live GRENADE in my purse! Yes!! It turned out to be a small coin purse full of change. The x-ray machine had identified it as a weapon. Lesson learned, don't ever carry change in your purse. I had to remove it myself as guards stood by, ready to "hit the dirt" I guess!
BUT, this latest experience beats all!
We were in Florida at a swanky hotel. I'd checked out early, our luggage was in the hotel holding room. I was waiting for Honeybuns to return from a meeting so we could then drive to the airport for our flight home.
Check-out time: NOON. Departure time from the hotel...ONE!
I had an hour to kill, pardon THAT bad choice of words!
Part of the lobby of the hotel was a beautiful courtyard complete with concrete statues of women with water pouring from vases and several concrete elephants standing IN a pool spouting water as well. Surrounding the pool were several small tables and chair for the guests to enjoy. I decided that would be a great place to wait. I made myself comfortable and proceeded to e-mail, FB, tweet and all that other stuff we do with i phones these days. It was a lovely setting, the sun was shining and the flowers were glorious. I was sure the wait would be pleasant.
About 15 minutes into my wait a HUGE muscular guy with wires sticking in and out of his ears marched past me and sat down at the table nearby, FACING me. He looked me over good and passed his time trying to look inconspicuous. I thought he was like me, just waiting for someone to join him. No one ever did. He had no book, no phone, no newspaper....all he had was muscles!
A while later a hotel employee approached me and gave me a beautiful pink flowered lei, asking, "do you have any questions, mam?" NO, I explained that I was waiting for my husband to return from a meeting. He then approached the big burly man with the wires in his ears and they had a whispered conversation, about ME, I'm sure!!! I was VERY uncomfortable, feeling almost violated!
The security guard continued to stare at me and his feet for another 20 minutes and at last approached me with enough noise and bravado to cause me to look up from my phone so he could get a real good look at my face. I'm sure I had that "deer in the headlights" look. He walked right by, talking to his wrist.
WOW! I was so sorry to disappoint these fellows. I really was just a squatty grandmother, waiting for grandpa to arrive. Did they think I was going to harm their elephants?? Did my phone threaten them?? What DID they think I was going to do? What harm am I capable of doing? Do I really look like a home-grown terrorist?
Weren't all those tables and chairs placed there FOR guests to sit and wait and enjoy?
Finally, Honeybuns arrived, we gathered our luggage and got out of there. I'm sure the hotel staff was relieved. Their "granny" crisis was over, no lock-down, no bullets, no explosions, no arrest, no take-down!
We're just a little bit paranoid, don't you think?