Tag Archives: family

Spotlights and Hissy Fits

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Spotlights and Hissy Fits

She was perched on my lap, knees digging into my thighs, peering over and around the head of the very tall gentleman in the row in front of us. She was literally quivering with delight as she watched the lights come up on group after group of dancers. Without fail, she clapped fervently then cupped her hands around her mouth and let out a whoop as each took a bow.

Periodically she turned a bit to face me, excitement lighting her face. “That was so good!” she exclaimed over and over. She could barely contain her joy.

She celebrated every performance including her own. This afternoon it was about her and her dance company and she was loving the costumes, the makeup and the spotlight.

After the final curtain we all loaded into the fifteen passenger van. In a matter of moments, she went from celebrated performer to big sister/little sister/six-year-old girl whose sparkly costume was suddenly itchy and whose blood sugar was crashing. She was near having a hissy fit, but Mommy assured her she could in fact endure the costume for the short ride home.

Once there, she slipped into something far less itchy and was given some quiet time in her room to unwind. In a bit she rejoined her six brothers and sisters in the kitchen for pizza and it occurred to me that her moment in the spotlight was short.

I thought of how I deal with my “fifteen minutes of fame” experiences. We all have them from time to time…. a short period of time when the spotlight and the attention turns to us and we feel special, important and celebrated.

But for most, those are short-lived and we climb back into the fifteen passenger van that is our daily life. To be honest, I sometimes throw a private hissy fit when the celebration is over.

Oh friend, I’m so thankful for GRACE that assures us that no matter how short-lived our moments of fame may be, we are valued and loved. 

GRACE even when I’m out of sorts because the current circumstance, maybe even the thing that just a day or so ago was beautiful and sparkly, is now irritating and I just want out.
If you find yourself just outside of the afterglow of a great experience, give yourself some grace, friend. Recharge with food for your soul and take a break. Then come join us at the table, where we will again celebrate the goodness of our Father and what He does for us and through us.

“Living then, as every one of you does, in pure grace.
It’s important that you not misinterpret yourselves as people
who are bringing this goodness to God. No, God brings it all to you.
The only accurate way to understand ourselves is by what God
is and by what he does for us, not by what we do for him.”
Romans 12:3  ~ The Message

 

Enjoying his grace in spite of my hissy fits,

lorraine

 

 

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My beautiful dancer, and her mother’s efforts to keep her flat on her feet when she’s not in the spotlight.

 

 

A Little Coffee and A Lot of Jesus

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A Little Coffee and A Lot of Jesus

 

The coffee pot was sputtering and the smell of the rich brew was beginning to fill the house. The temptation to pour a cup was only slightly overcome by the urgency of a deadline nearly met. I tapped at the keyboard, finishing the email and clicked the send button. The familiar swoosh was the horn that signaled break time.

There was a tap at the back door; I shifted the laptop and rose to greet my expected guest. As I did, I remembered that she introduced me to the joy that is drinking coffee.

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More than forty years ago, I sat at her kitchen table. “I was about to make William and I a spot of coffee”. I had never learned to drink the stuff, but I added lots of sugar and cream and it became part of our ritual.

I certainly was around coffee all of my life. I have vivid memories of holding my mother’s tupperware-pitchercoffee as she drove us to the junior high school. The plastic two cup measuring cup, made by Tupperware, was likely the largest container she could find. It was way before the days of travel mugs, and it sure didn’t have a cute monogram, but it was mostly functional. I loved the smell of her coffee, although in retrospect I know it was mixed with smoke from her Pall Mall cigarette. I suppose it would have been nearly impossible to drive with an open spouted measuring cup brimming with coffee and a cigarette. I’m forever grateful that she chose to have me hold the coffee.

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I opened the door and there she stood. Slightly bent and already apologizing for interrupting. “I have been looking forward to this! It’s my lunch break – come in and sit. The coffee is on” I responded.

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We were a young couple they knew from church. It didn’t take long for us to figure out that they were the sort of folks who always had an open door. While he taught my young husband to finish drywall, I often popped in to see her. She made the best bologna sandwiches and I was a young mom who loved being served, even just a simple sandwich.

She moved around her kitchen with the fluid motion of a dancer; it seemed that she truly enjoyed serving her family and friends.

I watched her deal with a rebellious teenager, which was a terrifying thought to my young mom heart. I learned about adding another potato to the pot to stretch a meal for unexpected guests. She was always matter of fact; it is what it is, she would day.

In hindsight, we always stayed too long but they never let on. When the evening began to wane, she would always say “You don’t have to leave – we’ll hang you on a nail!” They were kind and hospitable; they loved Jesus and we knew for sure they loved us.

As our family grew we spent less time hanging out at their house, but we always remembered (at times a bit sheepishly) their kindness and patience in dealing with our immaturity in life and matters of faith.

When our nest was empty, we began reaching out to young married couples; the value of investing in the next generation had been modeled for us. While times had changed the basics were the same; open doors, food and freedom to share were all that was needed to fill a living room with couples.

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I pour the coffee; hers black and steaming hot, mine still laden with cream and sugar. She settles in at the table and we chat for a bit about books and crafts. She never arrives empty-handed. She always has something to share, whether it is the “other half” of a loaf of bread or a treasured knick-knack that “just looked like you”.

She’s a widow now; she’s buried a son and today she lives half a mile from my house. I marvel at God’s grace; the gift he has given us to celebrate the relationship that started at a kitchen table over a cup of Folger’s coffee all those years ago.

I love to sit across from a woman who has traveled the road ahead of me. Our conversation always shifts to God’s faithfulness. We confess our frustrations and fears and there are sometimes tears. Unwavering faith in God and his sovereignty does not remove the sting of loss or the heartache of disappointment, but there is great comfort in shared burdens and joys.

He built us for relationship; it is in the communion of our hearts that we remind one another of his promises and his faithfulness. Who has invested in your life? And where, my friend, are you investing in the next generation?

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So even to old age and gray hairs, O God, do not forsake me, until I proclaim your might to another generation, your power to all those to come. Psalm 71:18 ESV

Grace to you,

lorraine

 

 

 

 

 

 

Six Things I Learned About Cell Phones

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Six Things I Learned About Cell Phones

We recently took an eleven hundred-mile road trip to the land of my birth, Indiana. We were there to attend a wedding; we hadn’t seen most of our family there in two years.

On Friday night we gathered at a pond on a nearby farm for a picnic dinner. I popped up every few minutes to snap successive shots of the sunset with my phone as it colored the darkening sky.

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Later, as we all sat visiting, I frequently checked Facebook, email, Messenger and What’s App.

We returned to our home away from home and I gathered a few of my belongings before heading upstairs to bed. As I did, I stuck my phone in the back pocket of my jeans.

Upstairs, I began to prepare for bed and backed up to the toilet. As I lowered the jeans I heard a splash. Nooooooo!!!!! I quickly turned and fished my iPhone out of its porcelain bath. I wanted to dial Apple 911 but my phone was wet! I grabbed my iPad and turned to the internet for advice.

I had already made a wet phone mistake (apparently I should not have powered it off – don’t even ask why I thought that was a good idea). Google “wet iPhone”. You will find all sorts of conflicting advice. Don’t judge.

After shaking water from its few orifices I put my beloved device in a plastic container surrounded by wild and brown rice, supplied by my gracious hostess. She’s obviously more into gourmet cooking than saving phones, but it was rice. The google people mostly agreed it was the best thing to do.

I crawled into bed with my iPad. I discovered even more advice, suggesting that you should NEVER put your phone in rice because the rice kernels are the perfect size to infiltrate the headphone jack and charging port. I jumped out of bed, fished my phone out of the rice, and carefully wrapped its vulnerable lower regions in a tissue after examining them closely for evidence of rice violation.

Finally, when I felt I had done everything possible, I slept.

In the light of the new day, my sweet cousin remembered a stash of white rice she used for weighing pie crusts while they bake. I gently lifted the phone, with its protective sheath, from the brown rice and placed it carefully into the white rice. I was confident I was taking every measure to ensure it would dry out safely. I didn’t even consider attempting to power it up. I would wait forty-eight hours, like the good people of Google mostly recommend.

Thankfully my husband had his phone, so we still had Siri to guide us as we traveled to visit a friend and later to the wedding. We returned home late that evening, and I paused as I passed by the rice filled resting place and resisted the urge to test my phone. Forty-eight hours. Show some restraint, woman.

Sunday evening, as we headed to bed, hubby suggested I might check my phone – we had reached the magical forty-eight-hour mark. Thinking about the late hour and hoping the phone gods would take note and reward my self-control, I decided a few more hours nestled in rice would be an unselfish act on my part. I left it alone.

Monday morning dawned. I was optimistic. I had done everything the Google people told me and I took my beautiful rose iPhone 6s from its rice bed. I tried to power it up; nothing. I plugged it into the charger, thinking perhaps the battery was low. Nothing.

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Not one to give up, I found a guy, a guy who had resurrection power. Well, sort of. Like maybe a 50/50 chance he could revive my precious phone for a cost of around $300. I didn’t like the odds. It was approximately noon on Monday, September 19th when we called it. My phone was dead by drowning.

We talked about arranging to replace my phone but oddly, I was not in a panicked rush. Weird, right? Once I got over the “I am so disconnected” anxiety I moved into the freedom of it. I missed my phone, but I could wait.

Saturday morning, just over a week after my phone took the plunge, I had a replacement in my hands. Thanks to faithfully backing up to the cloud, I was able to restore all of my data and lost only a few pictures from that fateful Friday.

I’m not one to make an expensive mistake in vain. I’ve learned a few things that are worthy of sharing:

    • Never, ever, again will I put my phone in my back pocket.
    • Not everything you read on Google is accurate (as if).
    • My stress dials back significantly when I have some distance from my phone.
    • I should use settings to reduce the number and volume of alerts.
    • 75% of what is on my Facebook feed is drivel
    • Never be a smarty pants about your unblemished phone. “First pride, then the crash- the bigger the ego, the harder the fall.” (Proverbs 16:18)

 

In addition to all of that, I recognized the value of stepping away for bits of time.

I’m weary in spite of getting plenty of sleep. I finally understand it’s not sleep that my body longs for; rather it needs restful periods of quiet reflection; moments to listen and focus on my heart and His voice.

Rest is something to be surrendered to, to embrace. It is not a luxury but it does have great value. Spending my spare moments immersed in social media is akin to trading the harmonious notes of a symphony for the scraping of nails on a chalkboard.

I’m trying. The problem is real – I find myself reaching for my phone like a two pack a day smoker reaches for cigarettes. I’m committed to making the better choice; for my soul and for my relationships.

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Share with me in the comments how you manage addiction to devices. I’d love to hear from you!

Return, O my soul, to your rest; for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you. ~ Psalm 116:7

 Grace upon grace,

lorraine

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Wait! I Have to Wait???

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Wait! I Have to Wait???

Last Saturday we got up at three in the morning for a one day road trip to a destinatIon four hundred miles away. There was a new baby at the end of that road and it was time to meet her.

I had waited a week and I couldn’t wait any longer. I’d kept reminding myself that there were others helping my daughter with the day to day; I knew it was my turn to wait. I didn’t like it, but I waited.

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When we arrived at the house, Nana greeted us, baby in arms. She whispered that the other children didn’t know we were coming. I couldn’t wait to surprise them!

The five older children were in the backyard with Mom, enjoying some play time before the sun was high and hot. I paused to watch them play and then turned to my daughter. She looked tired; with a newborn and a four month old in the house, she hadn’t had much sleep. Wait, what?

You read that right. The youngest, just about four weeks old, was just visiting; her foster parents were on vacation at the beach and were getting a respite. My daughter was willing to cuddle a newborn for a short ten days to give them some time of refreshment.

A call came on Friday; Mom was enjoying caring for the wee one and they were all looking forward to Dad and their oldest brother returning from camp the next day. When she heard the request, the answer was an immediate yes. Yes, they would foster the baby, a four month old, currently in the hospital and a sibling to their adopted daughter.

Mom would be spending the next day at the hospital to meet with doctors and begin bonding with the precious girl. Hospital time; she waited to take her home.

The following day, a little girl who had been living in an unsafe situation moved into a house filled with children and love. The details aren’t mine to share; her story is still being written and by the grace of God, I am only part of it.

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The troops were rallied; friends, neighbors and family began showing up. Thirty-six hours isn’t much time to prepare for a new baby.

In the meantime, Dad and older brother were experiencing some delays of their own. Homeward bound and anxious to reunite with family, their bus broke down in the middle of nowhere. They weighed options and waited.

I’m a doer. Over the years as my daughters gave birth, I helped. I loved to pop in with food and while I was there do some laundry or a little cleaning.

This time, when I said “I’ll come”, she said “Others are here. Just wait, mom.”

You know how your “heart” is the seat of your emotions but your actual heart is pumping blood and keeping you alive? How is it then, that when your heart is aching the pain is in your chest? I struggled for a week with putting my finger on the emotion that was bringing me so much discomfort.

Was I jealous? Was I suffering from a severe case of “fear of missing out”? After all, other grandmas were there, in my daughter’s home, doing all sorts of things to help her. Oh dear Jesus, take the wheel, I wailed. Am I jealous? But when I got still and honest, I felt nothing but gratitude and love for those women who were there to help.

On Thursday afternoon, as I cleaned the break room kitchen at the office, I prayed (a great thing to do while taking care of mindless chores, by the way). Give me some clarity, I asked. Help me sort all of this out.

Suddenly it was clear. A new grandchild was waiting. I needed to hold her and speak words of hope and love over her. “It’s time…go” HE said.

For the fifth time in just three years, I took a baby that might leave in my arms; I opened my heart without holding anything back. I will gladly surrender it in exchange for the assurance that this little one will know the love of a grandma.

Waiting. This very minute, I have two grandchildren in waiting. Oh, not in my heart; they are sealed there forever, but the courts are still doing the legal stuff and so we wait for the day their names will be written in our family Bible just as they have been etched in our hearts.

In the waiting there is a beautiful picture of God’s waiting for us. He loves us even before we have all of the legal stuff (our sin) figured out and he loves us first.

Teach me to wait with your patience and steadfast love, Lord.

In this is love, not that we have loved God but that He loved us… 1 John 4:10a ESV

But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8 ESV

 By His grace alone,

lorraine

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I Wouldn’t Wait! Confessions of a Teen Bride…

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I Wouldn’t Wait! Confessions of a Teen Bride…

We married on my 18th birthday.  I didn’t even have a driver’s license.  I’d known him for one year and he’s the only guy I ever went out with more than once or twice.  He was all of eight months older.

My parents were not thrilled about the wedding plans. There were threats that they wouldn’t come; I was their Catholic daughter marrying a Baptist boy in a Baptist church. I was too young and way too naïve. I was rocking their expectations, to say the least.

Our wedding was on a Friday night; there was a small reception at the church. A few of the ladies served cake, punch, nuts and mints.  I thought it was fabulous.  It wasn’t until a few years later that I realized just how plain and simple it really was, but I was in a beautiful dress that I had sewn with my own hands. I was ready to be a wife, HIS wife.

It’s interesting the things that you remember from such a significant life event. The pastor’s wife positioned my veil as my mom frantically hemmed dresses in the Sunday school room where the bridesmaids were getting ready for the ceremony. I was really glad my mother was there.

My brother Steve slipped his arm around me as I stood in the foyer and peeked through the back door into the sanctuary. In all of the hustle and bustle I remember him saying that I was beautiful. He waited with me for my dad to come and walk me down the aisle.

I didn’t hear angels sing as we exchanged our traditional vows, but a guy I went to school with named Angel sang the love theme from Romeo and Juliet. What can I say? It was the 70’s!

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When it was over, we climbed into our ‘68 Impala and drove to a car wash. Well-meaning friends and family had written all over the car with shoe polish (again, the 70’s)). There was a peace sign on the top of that car until the day we traded it. Make love, not war, people.

We drove to our little home and closed the door on the world for a week. I was completely content.

Our first home was slightly larger than the tiny houses that have recently become popular. We had purchased a 600 square foot mobile home at a price of $3,995; it came fully furnished. The sofa was so lightweight I could powerlift it over my ninety-eight pound frame.

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I felt like the queen of a castle. It was hardly majestic but it was our home. We were happy to start life together there. It was exactly what we wanted.

Over the next few years, we made a lot of decisions that we would later regret, but we have never regretted our choice to have our first child. We waited only six months to get pregnant – we were still getting to know each other, but we loved our growing family.

That simple ceremony was forty-four years ago. I suppose the odds were against us making it. We were too young, too poor, undereducated and naïve.

We started our marriage with less than one hundred dollars in cash, a fully mortgaged mobile home that began depreciating the day we signed the papers, and a car payment. Neither of us had a great job. It would be seven years before he earned an associate’s degree; thirty years to his bachelors. I never got around to college.

But we did make it and I’m convinced it is because of what we did have, mostly a legacy from our families, dysfunctional and imperfect as they were:

  • An example – Our parents were fully committed to keeping their families intact.
  • Lifestyle – Ours revolved around spending time rather than money.
  • Low expectations – We didn’t even once think that we should begin with what our parents managed to acquire in their twenty-five years of marriage.
  • Lots of siblings – We were used to sharing everything; we both came from large families and one bathroom houses.
  • Peer pressure – The couples around us were counting on us to remain a couple.
  • Hearts to serve – He did the laundry and ironing and cleaned the house after school and on weekends because his mother worked; when my sister was bed-ridden with a broken hip I got out of class early and walked two miles home every day so I could be with her when my dad left for work. Our parents taught us that families serve one another; we brought that gift into our new home.
  • Faith in God – Even when we lost faith in each other we knew that we were in his grip; that was enough when we couldn’t hold onto each other.
  • Inexperience – We didn’t bring a lot of comparisons to our bed or any other area of the house.
  • Refusing to keep score – We trusted each other enough to bring 100% most days; on the days one of us didn’t, the other picked up the slack.
  • Going to bed mad – Sometimes sleep and time are the best antidote to frustration and anger. So often the light of a new day brings clarity and peace. We learned to insert a pause and get some rest.

Everyone’s love story is different. I’m not advocating marrying right out of high school, skipping college or making babies in the first year of marriage. I guess what I’m really saying is that if two crazy, naïve and clueless kids could do it, maybe you can.

My simple prayer is that our story will encourage you to walk in his mercy, every new day and extend grace, first at home.

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. ~ Lamentations 3:22-23 ESV

By his grace alone,

lorraine

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Memorial Day….WOW!

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I woke the other night after a short nap, the television still playing in our bedroom. There was a continuously streaming commercial of the most annoying man on earth, screaming about cheap appliances. It was literally a series of the same five minute clip on repeat…and I heard that man say “Appliance Direct Memorial Event – WOW!” far too many times in thirty minutes.

As I lay there trying to tune him out and fall back to sleep (don’t judge, the remote was on the other side of my sleeping husband) I thought about the real meaning of Memorial Day.

While we tend to mark the long weekend as the beginning of summer (those last few days of school are a waste, I tell you. Just call it on Friday afternoon, or better yet, let’s get the party started on Thursday!), I am very aware that the day was set aside for remembering.

The day was begun to honor the Civil War dead, and it was not a federally mandated Monday holiday until 1971. Until then, the day was always observed on May 30th, known as Decoration Day in parts of the South even to today, because of the practice of decorating graves. Special memorial services are held along with parades in some areas, but many of us have lost sight of the solemn reason for the day despite the continuing sacrifices of many.

I knew that my father was awarded the Purple Heart – an award established by General George Washington in 1782. I recall seeing it as a young child when one of us (I’m sure it was my naughty younger sister, not me!) found it in a desk drawer and thought it was a beautiful treasure. We had no real appreciation for its meaning.

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Daddy in his winter uniform, holding our cousin, Tom.

After my Dad passed away, we didn’t find it in his possessions. Perhaps one of my siblings wanted to keep it. I can’t begrudge them if they did.

Several years ago I shared the story of missing medal and the mystery of its disappearance with my sweet Uncle Ralph, himself a Navy veteran. He knew my dad’s service well and encouraged me to petition the Army for all of my dad’s military honors. One day not long after, I embarked on a journey of forms and letters and a peek into my dad’s service to this great country.

Unfortunately there was a fire in the National Personnel Records Center on July 12, 1973. Some of the service records for my father were lost; in particular, his award of the Purple Heart. I was devastated, but I provided the appropriate officials a few documents and waited and hoped.

On September 7, 2005 Daddy was awarded (again) the Purple Heart, this time posthumously, for wounds received in action on 15 October 1944 in the European Theater. That’s it. That is literally all that I know, but it is enough.

While the Purple Heart is truly special, he was awarded these as well:

  • Bronze Star – awarded for heroic or meritorious achievement or service
  • Good Conduct Medal – awarded for exemplary behavior, efficiency and fidelity in active Federal Military service
  • European African Middle East Campaign Medal – for military service in the European Theater
  • American Campaign Medal– for military service in the American Theater of Operations during World War II
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This is Daddy in his summer uniform.

All of them are honorable and wonderful reminders of the impact of his service.

My heart can’t fathom his experiences. Those were the days of foot soldiers hitting the ground, running into the battle. Honestly, I can’t even think about; it’s too intense and violent. And yet he ran into it; he was missing in action. I read the telegraph sent to his dear mother from the Department of War…my heart can’t comprehend it.

He survived with scars, both physical and emotional but he carefully shielded them. I never will be able to comprehend the horror of war or the absolute joy and relief of coming home.

The only story my dad ever told me about his service was many years after I was married and away from home. I was leaving the country, something he never understood. He saw no reason to ever leave the greatest country on earth. As we talked about Europe, he shared an incident that occurred in France. He was sent to a bakery to buy bread for his squad.

At the bakery, he purchased the last of the bread when he noticed a young girl. She begged him for the bread he had purchased; he offered her chocolate. (It’s no surprise to me, nor will it be to my family as they read this, that Daddy managed to find some chocolate on his mission!) He returned to his squad without bread and to certain discipline. It’s a wonder he got that award for good conduct, but I knew before he told me that he gave the bread to the child. 

The final medal in the package that arrived from the Army is the Victory, World War II – United States of America.  It was awarded to all of America’s veterans who served during World War II. The back is inscribed with these words:

Freedom from Fear and Want
Freedom of Speech and Religion

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I am awestruck. He worked a blue collar job and taught me the importance of commitment. I knew that my father was a private in the United States Army but it wasn’t until now that I realized that my dad was a hero of World War II. I read these words from Norman Schwarzkopf that truly give perspective:

“It doesn’t take a hero to order men into battle. It takes a hero to be one of those men who goes into battle.”

This Memorial Day I will remember and honor the sacrifices of prior generations. I will honor the sacrifices of all who have served or continue to serve our country.

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My parents, young lovebirds after the war was over.

When I place a flag at my parent’s grave this weekend, it will be in solemn remembrance of all who have defended my freedom from fear and want; my freedom of speech and religion, with a fresh new appreciation for my Daddy, the war hero.

 May we never forget.

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My oldest brother, Jim Bell, served in the US Navy.


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My brother, Steve Bell, also served in the US Navy. Fair winds and following seas, dear brother.

 

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From Out Here: A Grandmother’s View of Autism

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I pen this as an observer; I claim no expertise. I’ve never parented a child with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). I don’t go to therapy appointments, I don’t visit the neurologist or the behavioral specialist and I don’t deal with the inevitable daily challenges of raising a child with a neurological disorder.

However, I love a child with ASD. He’s my grandson.

I also don’t have type 1 diabetes. I don’t prick my finger eight or more times each day to test blood sugar. I don’t position a spring loaded device on my belly and push the button to insert a cannula to deliver insulin – to literally keep me alive. I’ve never woken from a diabetic coma, surrounded by paramedics and feeling rotten. I’ve never been hospitalized with Diabetic Ketoacidosis.

But I love a man who does, who has. He’s my hubby.

It’s been a journey. So here I am, twenty years after his diagnosis, still clumsily discovering how to be an encourager and advocate while maintaining my primary role as wife and lover. I avoid being the “diabetes police” but I’ve said the wrong thing and responded in the worst way when he most needed compassion.

diabetes-528678_1920I cannot express the highs and lows (no pun intended, but it’s so true) of dealing with diabetes. You can do the same things day in and day out and get wildly different results. Just last Saturday, the excitement of finishing a 5k was clouded within minutes when his blood sugar reading was high. There is big potential damage to vital organs from exercising with high blood glucose. But there are so many factors outside of his control, and virtually none within mine. There were many emotions that surged, from aggravation to fear, but the truth is that you just deal with the present. Adjust, course-correct where possible, and keep living life with this person I love with all of my heart. I wouldn’t want it any other way.

ASD makes normally simple things hard for our boy. He struggles with waiting. Changes in routine are upsetting; he doesn’t like to share certain toys and he’s not especially affectionate. Many times he’d rather play alone than with his siblings. Some days are just hard for him to deal with normal stuff.

He’s learning and developing skills to cope through therapy and the efforts of his parents. They are his champions.

 

Watching him run and play outside makes my heart soar. He’s brilliant, this little guy. He loves books – he will sit with anyone who is willing to read. When he is having a good day, he is delightful. His joy is pure and wild and unfiltered.

Since his diagnosis he has made significant progress. I have high hopes for this boy, confident that he will reach his potential because he is surrounded by people committed to building a strong foundation.

So here I am, clumsily discovering how to be an encourager and advocate, while maintaining my role as his grandma and my daughter’s mom. I am not an expert on ASD and I’ve said and done the wrong thing. I’ve responded with impatience when I should have been compassionate. I’ve already made some monumental blunders in dealing with him. Without a doubt, I’ve annoyed his parents by saying the wrong thing or reacting inappropriately to his behavior. I’ve misunderstood and been misunderstood because I didn’t know enough about his symptoms and limitations. We’ve learned to extend grace to him and each other.

I don’t know what our sweet little grandson’s experience will be. I’ve read lots about autism, pretty much everything I can get my hands on; I listen and ask questions of his parents. And what I’ve learned is to expect the unexpected. The things that worked yesterday (or the last time that we were together) don’t always work today. Regression can occur and expectations have to be adjusted. But at the end of every day, the little boy who lies down (possibly after jumping in his bed for a bit) and sings himself to sleep is a gift from God, fearfully and wonderfully created.

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

May we ever grow in compassion and joy for every life.

April is Autism Awareness month. The Autism Society has issued a challenge of sorts. Awareness has been mostly achieved, so they encourage friends to become partners in the movement toward acceptance and appreciation. During April I’ll share some ways that you can take that next step.

Autism

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Are You Ready for Easter?

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Sunrise_SetHoly Saturday – that’s what it’s called. I had to do some research because I’m a Protestant and we don’t formally observe lent. Although I grew up Catholic, it has been a few decades since I observed holy days. And yet I woke on the Saturday before Easter thinking of the disciples and all of the followers of Christ. I pondered their state of mind and heart, realizing that they didn’t know that Sunday morning was coming, as we Christians proclaim. And then I got on with my day.

Hubby and I walked a 5k on Holy Saturday. It was kind of a big deal, since he was 56 days post-op from a spinal fusion with laminectomy. He walked 3.1 miles pushing a walker and stuffing his pride; we were dead last. He hasn’t recovered his speed, but his determination is fully intact. In our small town, we saw a lot of people we know early Saturday morning and the question “Are you ready for Easter?” was part of the conversation.

Later we joined our small group, young couples with a gaggle of children the perfect age for an egg hunt, and as we sat in a circle under a massive oak, the question was asked again… “Are you ready for Easter?”

By midafternoon I realized that Publix would be closed on Easter Sunday. We needed a few things so I left my recovering mate on the sofa watching college hoops and headed out. The store was busy. Without fail, every person I spoke with asked “Are you ready for Easter?”

Hours later I lay my head on my pillow. I thought about the day and ran through my list of things to worry, err, I mean pray about. My heart went back to the plight of those early Christians and I thought of how much power was present – they just hadn’t experienced it and were unaware of the miracle they were about to experience. And the question nagged at me: Are you ready for Easter?

I had answered it awkwardly all day. “We don’t have any little ones around – there isn’t much to prepare.” “I haven’t dyed eggs in years, but I so miss that…” “I’m not preparing a big meal, so not much to do.”

It wasn’t difficult to find sleep, though. According to my Fit Bit I logged well over ten thousand steps and I was tired. But this morning, I woke before dawn and the question popped into my mind immediately.

Are you ready for Easter?

Well, are you?

Mary approached the tomb before dawn. Thinking Jesus’ body had been taken, she was devastated. It wasn’t until he spoke her name and she looked into his face that she recognized her living Lord. The disciples, still overcome by fear of the Jews, were locked in a room when Jesus came seeking them, revealing his hands and his side. This was the first Easter Sunday.

As I write this, first light is dawning and the question begs an answer. Am I ready for Easter?

I can relate to the disciples. I experience defeat – things often don’t turn out the way that I was sure God would want them to. I’ve been known to lock my heart up in fear, so I can surely understand their seclusion when Jesus went looking for them. I even miss the obvious good news – just as Mary saw the empty tomb and her first thought was a stolen corpse, I often miss the miracles.

But Easter. Because of the resurrection, I have hope. Because of the resurrection, I will celebrate hope. He is risen!

I am ready for Easter. I suspect I’m not the only soul who woke this morning in need of a fresh wind of the power of the resurrection. Whether you are sharing family traditions with a crowd, are working at your job or working through challenging circumstances, I pray that you will encounter Jesus. He is calling us to exchange our doubt and fear for the hope and power of his resurrection.

Happy Easter, my friends. He is risen; He is risen indeed!

Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and look at my hands. Put your hand into the wound in my side. Don’t be faithless any longer. Believe!”
John 11:27 NLT

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Perfecting Our Days

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Just this afternoon I read answers from a well-known author who was asked a series of typical ice breaker type questions. The one that has rattled around in my brain all evening was this: describe a perfect day. Her answer was detailed. The location and activities, right down to the football game that would be on the TV were mentioned; the menu and the guest list were specific. It was the sort of event that I would love to attend!

I’ve been thinking about how I would answer the question today. Right now. Because, the truth is that the answer is a moving target for me, and I think I might not be alone in that.

Reflecting on the past week, I thought it included a couple of perfect days. Friday night I played a hilarious game with a group of women I love after walking on the beach in the afternoon with my sweet hubby. Over the weekend I got to cook for and chat with my women – my family. And then yesterday…I went to the happiest place on earth with my cousin!

Beach WalkingHonestly, each day had its moments. The beach trip? Traffic on the way home was horrific. Bumper to bumper with my navigator (who would much rather drive than ride) stressing more every mile. We were behind schedule the rest of the day due to the hour delay.

Cooking and serving for my sweet family brought up all sorts of discontent over stuff like tableware!

The Magic Kingdom was packed yesterday. Apparently it’s Spring break somewhere in the South. As I explained to my young cousin from the Midwest, you know people are from the South when they address their children “first name, middle name” and every family member is wearing monogrammed clothing. Lines and wait times were long with charming southerners.

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And yet, each of these is securely locked in the “perfect day” pages of my mental scrapbook. And the reason is simple. I know that “perfect” days aren’t perfect. They are normal days, when wonderful things happen.

Imagine this: your closest and dearest friend has died. The one friend who had the potential to impact this dire situation is taking his sweet time showing up. The day is off to a rough start when that same friend seems to be in denial about your mutual friend’s status. You might even be a little mad about his apparent blasé response. But then…as you are watching for him, he shows up.

Jesus spoke to Lazarus and he walked out of the grave, still wrapped in the burial garments. A bad day turned perfect, I would say. I think Lazarus and the ones who loved him would agree!

Traffic that disrupts schedules is an annoyance, but it doesn’t have to rob the day of its shine. I won’t wait until everything is “perfect” to entertain. When I’m in an amazing place with people I love, I hope I can relax and enjoy the moment without losing patience over annoying circumstances.

Perhaps perfect days are the ones when I’m watching for Jesus; when things are going as bad as they can get and he shows up.

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When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him… John 11:20

“Yes Lord,” she replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is come into the world.” John 11:27

 

What Your Mother Really Wants for Christmas

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edit Door Prize WrapI write one post a week and the most difficult words to write are the four to six in the title. Last weekend, while enjoying a rare theme park date with my husband, the title came first.

I’ve been a mom for more than forty-two years.  Motherhood was my first job with benefits and it’s a great gig. I’m quite sure that I’m not the first woman to say that it is the most difficult, yet most rewarding thing I’ve ever done.

I love that God saw fit to give me girls.  (Without them, I would have zero fashion sense.) Now that they have children and we have mothering in common and I think they even get me sometimes. At my age, when I look into a mirror I see my mother’s face…and I am shocked! But I look into the faces of my daughters and they reflect my life.

The Osborne family of Arkansas donated a bunch of lights to Walt Disney World after their neighbors got in an uproar over the display at their home.  Disney took those lights to Hollywood Studios and in true form turned them into something magical. The magic happens when you turn the corner from the back lot onto the Streets of America and see millions of dancing lights, Christmas music filling the air and a mass of people absolutely in awe and full of Christmas cheer.  I’ve taken that walk with my children and grandchildren. We’ve danced together in the streets to “Rockin’ Around the Christmas tree” and I’ve kissed my sweet husband as we sang “I’ll Be Home for Christmas”. I’ve stood in awe of the beauty of the nativity. If that display were Sodom and Gomorrah I would be a pillar of salt because I can never just walk away without glancing back and wishing I could stay a little longer.

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They claim this is the last year – I doubt it. They may relocate it, but I digress. Just in case, I desperately wanted walk under those lights one more time, to relive the memories my heart cherishes; the selective memories that don’t include the tired children, the grumpy parents and the complete absence of any place to stop and rest.

How do you feel about questions like “What do you want for Christmas?”?  I detest them. Answering always makes me feel greedy, and typically I can’t think of a thing. To be honest, I’ve been in a bit of a funk this Christmas season and what I secretly want is Christmas like it used to be.  Kids opening presents, food and lots of family. Waking up to an empty house and waiting until almost new years to have everyone in one place is the new normal.  And it is way better than some people’s normal…I know that well.

Because  she works for the mouse and she makes magic happen on a daily basis, but mostly because she loves me, my sister gave us tickets to see the lights one more time.

My hubby has something called severe spinal stenosis.  For a least three years, he’s had issues with standing in one spot for more than a few minutes; for the last year, the pain is excruciating when he walks even short distances.  He wanted to go with me (insert emoji of joy mixed with angst). After agreeing on the limitations his current health conditions  impose, we decided to make a day of it – a sort of mini vaca before he has spinal surgery early next year.

The inspiration for the title came as, throughout the day, text messages  from our daughters popped up on both of our phones.  “Get a wheelchair for Dad” “You don’t have to wait in line, Dad. Get a wheelchair. Do it for Mom…you want to be able to make it to see the lights – this means a lot to her!” “I hope you are taking it easy, Dad.”

My greatest gift these days is their love and care for us. They know how we love one another.  They’ve seen how we prop one another up and push through hard things for one another. In the midst of their busy days they took time to urge us to take care of each other. We didn’t get a wheelchair, but we stopped when he needed to. He carefully managed his  pain and we had a wonderful day.

The way that our children love us is touching.  I’m especially moved by how they care for their dad.  Families are dynamic and I know that God has scattered ours a bit more than this mom would like.  But the real test of family is how we care for one another. Nothing is sweeter than watching your children, though separated by 400 miles, rally a joint campaign to ensure that their sentimental fool of a mom remembers their dad’s limitations. They were with us and they were looking out for us.

This Christmas, perhaps the greatest give you can give won’t require wrapping. Who needs to know you are with them and are looking out for them as we enter the new year?

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Merry Christmas, friends! May the peace of Christ fill your hearts and homes this Christmas.