December 28, 2011

I've been:

eating

baby snuggling

diaper changing

game playing

laughing

sleeping

worrying

cooking

cleaning

surrendering

listening

watching

thinking

fat little cheek kissing

giving & receiving

watching my baby take care of his baby

learning

remembering

relaxing

wondering

planning

praying

missing

thanking

rejoicing

How about you? What have you been up to?

December 23, 2011

Merry, Merry Chirstmas!

I went out for coffee with a friend yesterday. When we were finished laughing and crying, trusting and talking, listening and dreaming, I ran an errand. I can't recall seeing one smile while I was out there. Every person I saw looked angry, sad or weary. I wanted to take them all home-really, I did. I wanted to give each one of them a cup of coffee and a Christmas cookie, a hug and hope.

This is not all there is I wanted to tell them. This is just a passing through place; this is hard and wearisome and it's a scary place, but it is not the place.

I wanted to tell them God loves them. If we could see beyond the seeable we would know that and it could be possible to laugh at this. Maybe? If we could see eternity and heaven
now, while we're going through whatever it is we're going through, life would take on a different hue, wouldn't it?

The best part of everything is that it's possible to have hope even while we're here, just passing through. Jesus made the way for us. And yes, I am going to say it: "that's what Christmas is all about." His birth which lead to His death which leads to our hope-

I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God's love. Neither death, nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow-not even the powers of hell can separate us from God's love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below-indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39)

That's all I have for you today. A prayer that you will see the unseeable and find that hope.

Merry, Merry Christmas to you!

December 22, 2011

December 22

My dad died today. Oh, not literally. It was literally 9 years ago today.

I was thinking about him when I wrote yesterday's post. Do you know I still miss him? There will always be a hole in my heart that longs for his voice and his hugs and his big, warm, rough hand wrapped around mine. I guess there will always be a little girl hiding inside, needing her daddy.

I could focus on all that. I could really get into it and have a whopper of a pity party. Did you ever see the Lord of the Rings trilogy? For three years after dad died I had an Orc screaming in my heart. Not only was the adult me mourning his leaving, the little girl inside suddenly realized there was no hope of ever, ever having a daddy.

Death and grieving are strange things to me. The hurt is still there and I still miss him. The Orc has finally shut up though, which is nice. I don't miss him one bit. What's strange about death and grief is that for me, in this case, I have so much joy inside and so much to be thankful for even though...

I learned so much from my dad. He was practical, he was wise, he knew how to balance his time and used it wisely, and his faith...his faith was true and deep and everything I want mine to be. How did he get there??

When he found out he had lung cancer he calmly told us about it and calmly asked for prayer. He said, "If the Lord wants to heal me, that'd be great. If not, that's ok. It's up to Him and I'm ready to go home if that's what He wants."

I watched dad as he lived out the next two years. He never seemed to focus on the cancer or the fact that he was probably going to die. He still served, he still encouraged, he still laughed and carved and prayed for people and played games. He found joy in his days and would not allow fear or sorrow to overshadow here and now.

The timing of his death could be called untimely by some. Three days before Christmas; really? I could focus on that and have another wonderful little pity party every. single. year.

I don't though. The timing was sweet to me. His visitation and memorial were surrounded by Christ and Christmas, evergreen wreaths and bright, happy Christmas trees. It's a time of rejoicing and that's what I do when December 22 pops up each year. It is a sad sort-of rejoicing, but it is rejoicing. My dad is safely Home. He spends his days with Jesus now where there is no sorrow, no more tears, no more sin. He finished his race well.

I hope I do.

December 21, 2011

the perfect slap

They say confession is good for the soul so I'm going to fess up here and now:

For the last few years just the thought of Christmas has thrown me into a deep depression. I dreaded the day I had to flip the calendar from November to December and tried to ignore the fact that the 25th was there, right down toward the bottom of the page. My heart was heavy and tears would frequently find their way down my cheeks as the days passed.

A few weeks ago it was really bad. I was miserable and spent my free-thinking time freely thinking miserable thoughts.

I told a few people how I felt and I got a few sympathetic hugs or words of encouragement from them. Did that help? Nope. Not a bit.

Finally, one day I woke up with tears in my eyes. The only other time I woke up weeping was the morning after my my mom had died.

I spent some time that day chatting with a friend and in the course of our chat I mentioned my depression.
"So, why are you so depressed?" my friend asked.

Ha! Now was my chance!
"Well," I replied, "Christmas carols make me feel lonely, my parents are dead, my sons have grown up, money is tight, our whole extended family lives west of the Mississippi...." on and on I babbled.

Finally I stopped and my friend said,
"Judy, are you taking drugs for your depression?"

Drugs?? For my depression??

I sat here and froze inside. I stared at the computer, startled. Have you ever seen an old movie where a hysterical female gets slapped across the face by her friend in order to stop her screaming? That is how I felt. It was the perfect slap, delivered casually, almost in passing, but boy howdy, did it stop me in my tracks.

It was one of the most convicting moments I've had in a very long time.

I just thought, Oh Jesus, I am so, so sorry. You have blessed and given and hugged me so deeply and so often- I feel like I've thrown your love and your gifts to me down in the mud and stomped on them. All I've been doing is focusing on me...focusing on the negatives...focusing on what I don't have. Please, please forgive me...."

Way back last summer I started reading a book called 1000 Gifts by Anne Voskamp. Have you read it? I won't go into all of it now, but it's a very good book. Anne challenges her readers to look for God everywhere, all day, in every circumstance and in every moment. Here is a trailer to the book on youtube. (Please, take 4 minutes and 20 seconds out of your day and watch it. It's so worth it....)

Anyway-another thing Anne challenges her readers to do is actually list the gifts you see God giving you each day by writing them down. I started doing that last summer but I quickly discovered something. I couldn't get away from the notebook I was writing in. Every single minute held something to be thankful for. I could see God's hand all over the place. I could see His hugs everywhere. I even saw Him in the hard things and the stressful things. I could not stop writing so I did stop. I had to walk away from the notebook in order to teach, or cook, or throw a load of laundry in the washer...

I spent a lot of time talking to God though; a lot of time thanking Him for the sweet gifts I was seeing in my life.

As autumn progressed I stopped reading the book and then as November turned into December I stopped looking for God as much. I wasn't focused on Him; I started focusing on me and my not-so-happy little thoughts and you saw up there the result of that.

I will confess I still have my December moments, but since that slap that's all they've been-moments. When I focus on the Lord and search for Him, I find Him all over my life. This has been the happiest, most peace-filled December I've had in at least 7 years. I've loved decorating and shopping, cleaning and planning what to bake. I've even loved the gloomy grey Indiana weather.

Let me guess. You are thinking, wow, this woman is bi-polar. I'm not though. The bible promises us that when we are focused on Him rather than self, and we thank Him for His gifts and His love, we will have joy.

A well timed slap doesn't hurt either.

December 20, 2011

a tumbleweed

Do you remember the Christmas trees your family had when you were little? Were you allowed to help decorate the tree or was that something that was done after you'd gone to bed?

The Christmas trees we had when I was small were huge, and not just because I wasn't. Our living room was large and mom wanted a tree worthy of the room. She had the most beautiful vintage ornaments to put on the tree, and there were a lot of them. Oh, and bubble lights! Remember those? And tinsel and another string of lights that didn't twinkle-the bulbs were so large they shot bright, happy color out into the room.

I wasn't allowed to touch the ornaments or help put them on the tree. They were too expensive and too delicate for my chubby little fingers to handle. I just remember waking up some December morning, coming down the stairs and there it was: The Tree, sparkling, shiny and smiling; happy to be a part of our family even if only for a few weeks.

The first Christmas mom and I shared after my parents' divorce found us in a completely different circumstance. We were poor, we were living in a tiny "cabin" in the mountains of Colorado, and there was no money or room for a tree of any size at all.

We had found a smallish tumbleweed during one of our drives and had fallen in love with it. Since we were from the Midwest we'd never seen one before, so for us, that tumbleweed was a treasure. We kept it and brought it home as one of our first Colorado souvenirs.

Well, as December rolled around I started thinking about Christmas and presents, all the baking mom used to do and of course, The Tree. We just didn't have room for one. Finally one evening, as mom sat in a chair she spotted our tumbleweed.

"Jude, why don't we use the tumbleweed for a tree?! I'll betcha no one else in the world has ever had a tumbleweed tree!"

So, that's what we did. Mom helped me prop the tumbleweed inside a coffee can. We took rocks and piled them up inside the can so the thing wouldn't fall over and then, much to my joy, mom let me decorate our "tree" all by myself. I found some red yarn and braided it together to make a garland; I carefully draped that over the delicate little twigs of the tumbleweed. Then I took toothpicks and made tiny god's eyes with more yarn and hung those from the branches.

Our little tree didn't have vintage ornaments or bubble lights. It didn't have any lights at all. But that tumbleweed is a tree I still remember and that memory is one I still treasure. My Mom could turn the most dreary circumstance into a happy moment with a cheerful word or two and her optimistic attitude and that's what she did that Christmas. She took what could've been a lonely, depressing moment in time and turned into something special. She made me feel like we were the lucky ones and gave me an irreplaceable memory.

December 19, 2011

one tiny moment

Have you ever had a moment in your life you wish would've lasted longer? Maybe it was just a tiny, fleeting moment but it was so precious it became a part of your soul and it actually hurt when the moment ended? Or maybe you've done something and while you were doing it you thought, wow, this is what I was made for.

Yesterday morning I sat in a chair and held my baby granddaughter while she slept. Her little bottom was poking out and her warm, soft hand was wrapped around my neck. Her face was turned toward mine and her rosy lips were puckered in the most kissable way; occasionally she would smile at a dream only she was privy to.

I know this will sound awfully sappy, but I cried while I held her...it was just one of those tiny moments...

December 13, 2011

A Romantic Little Christmas Story

I hope you don't mind if I hand you something I wrote a couple years ago. It's a true story; it's the story of how my second son proposed. I hope you enjoy it.

#2, although he's only 21, was pretty nearly convinced "she" would never come along. He'd been praying for "her" and wondering about "her" for years. Yes, I said years.
Two weeks into their acquaintance they both knew for certain they were meant for each other. My son drove out to our house one afternoon to tell us the news. Once we stopped laughing we realized he was serious. He'd met "The One."

Anyway-he controlled himself and managed to wait 6 months to propose. He spent the day before he popped the question at home, here, with me. It's a day I will never forget. He'd come home to show me The Ring. I've never seen anyone more excited and nervous about anything.

Actually, he wasn't nervous about asking H. to be his wife. It was The Talk with her father that was giving him the shivers. He tried to put that out of his head while he sat here visiting with me and putting together a little gift for H. that would help his cause.

What he did was this: H.'s favorite color is blue, so, #2 found a box and covered it with blue scrapbook paper. Then he gathered together a huge stack of blue scrapbook papers and cut them into squares that would fit just right into the box. He even clipped one corner of each paper so she could lift them out of the box one by one.
On each square he wrote a different reason why he loves her. As he sat on the couch writing and thinking I watched him. He was so sweet. He put so much thought into each note. This little project took all afternoon-not because he couldn't think of enough reasons to marry this girl, but because of the ring. It sat there, quietly minding its own business, nestled in its little box, waiting for Her. But occasionally that ring would call out my son's name. He'd stop writing, look at the box, pick it up, open it, look at the ring and smile. His heart would stop, he'd take a deep breath, close the box, and continue writing. Even when he didn't pay any attention to the ring's call, he would sometimes stop and just grin at the box. He passed away the afternoon in this manner while I was allowed the sweet privilege of peeking into my grown son's heart.

The next day was a little more nerve wracking for him. It was the day he planned to have "The Talk" with her father. That's enough to make any boy shiver in his boots and I don't think there was too much grinning going on. However he did it.

Then it was on to the next step. Asking H. to be his bride. He had planned on asking her to marry him while they sipped hot chocolate in front of a roaring fire, cuddled up under a Christmas tree. However, he was afraid that, in their excitement, her family wouldn't be able to keep the secret and would tell her about it before he had a chance to ask. So, on to plan B.

That same night, after talking to her father, son #2 found himself sitting in a little coffee shop waiting for H. to get off work. A little Christmas tree twinkled in the corner, and carols were playing over the loudspeaker.

At the same time, my husband, son #3 and I were here, at home, doing our usual who-knows-what. Suddenly the phone rang-it was #2. He wanted to know the names of some of the top romantic songs that had ever been sung. He was sitting in that coffee shop putting together a CD of romantic music to further his cause even more. We googled and reminisced and came up with several titles for the boy, then hung up.

I will tell you here and now I didn't sleep very well that night. I wanted to be a little mouse trailing after my son, watching this biggest moment of his life play out...thankfully he's very open with us and was willing to share The Proposal with us. (After the fact, of course)

So here's what happened: when H. got off work #2 was there to pick her up. She was hungry, tired, and feeling a bit discouraged about life. He was pent up, nervous, and excited-he wanted to pop the question then and there. He wisely decided to control himself and let the poor girl eat and regroup first. When he saw that she was feeling better he popped the CD in, gave her some flowers, the box of little notes, and then started driving around "to look at all the Christmas lights".

As he drove he kept a careful eye on that pile of notes. When she got to the end he planned on that moment to ask her to share his life with him. The Ring was hiding in the pocket of his car door, not only whispering his name, but filling his heart with joy and excitement.

Finally he saw that the stack of notes was getting low-I'm not sure how on earth he planned this part, but #2 found a little pond with Christmas lights glowing all around it. He whipped his car into the parking area near the pond and parked. By this time H. was teary-the box had done its trick and melted her heart. Son leaned over to give her a hug as a tear or two made their way down his cheeks as well.

"H., will you marry me?"
The tears stopped. She sat up. "What did you say? You told me....how did you...."
She was totally surprised. Totally taken off guard...

So, there you have it. (Maybe someday son #1 will let me share his story with you.)

December 12, 2011

winding down and gearing up

I've been here, at home, raising and teaching boys for half my life. That's a long (long) time. And now, as my 21st year of home schooling approaches its middle mark, I can clearly see the end of my career out there in the distance. My last little guy is half way through 4th grade and in 8 short years we'll be handing him a diploma...

Already that little person is growing in independence. He's taking the initiative when it comes to starting school in the morning, reading the instructions for his lessons, and even doing extra school work just "because it's fun, Momma!" (no, I do not think this is normal behavior)

I can still remember how it felt to have 3 students in the house and a toddler running around. Every minute was filled with to-do's, and my should-do-but-I-can't-figure-out-when list was a heavy weight on my shoulders.

But now? Things are winding down....ending....coming to a close. As each school book is completed I'm not putting it on a shelf "for next year". I'm either packing it away in case any of our grandchildren are home schooled, or giving books away because...because they will never again be needed in this house.

I'm sorting through 40 years (collectively speaking) of school work and art work and little boy stories, written in little boy scribbles, on scrap paper or school paper; trying to decide which memories are worth hanging onto and which ones to release.

Sometimes I feel like one of those completed school books. I'm still alive, still useful, still worth hanging onto. But I must admit and face the facts-I'm not needed like I once was. In some ways it feels like my purpose is winding down.

However, lately God has sweetly been encouraging me and showing me something. I've not come to the end. I've come to a yellow light and in a few short years, a red one. But I've noticed something about traffic lights. They're always changing color. Yellow doesn't stay yellow for long, and the red one soon turns to green.

The road I've been traveling at break neck pace may come to an end, but it's not a dead end. God has big sleeves and I know there's something up one of them just for me. I don't know what my new purpose will be, but God has been allowing me to see, in tiny ways, that there is one.

The last 10 years of our lives were really, really hard and raising and teaching 4 boys wasn't always easy. I'm resting now; praying, waiting, doing what I know to do. I'm looking forward and gearing up, waiting for the next thing.

That's all I have for today....just some miscellaneous ramblings....thoughts from my head and thoughts from my heart.

December 10, 2011

The Day Santa Died

How old were you when you stopped believing in Santa Claus? 7? 9? I wanted to believe in him. I wanted to believe there was someone out there who could make my little girl dreams come true and give me all that my selfish heart desired.

I had good old Santa up there on a pedestal all right. I knew that I knew that I knew he was sweet and kind and good as gold. He never did anything naughty. How could he expect me to live that way if he didn't? That wouldn't be fair.

Unfortunately, I was only 5 when I sadly learned the truth. Santa wasn't magical and he certainly wasn't good as gold. He was our neighbor.

My parents were really good friends with a couple in our neighborhood and like all good friends, they had fun together and sometimes did crazy things for each other.

One Christmas, (the year I was 5) my dad and our neighbor decided to help each other out and have some fun in the process. They rented a Santa suit and took turns using it. My dad put the suit on, hoisted a bag of presents over his shoulder and went to our neighbor's house. He sat in their livingroom ho ho ho-ing and being jolly as he passed out presents to the kids in the family.

Then my dad and our neighbor made the switch. Our neighbor put on the suit and came to our house with a bag of goodies just for me. I remember the moment our doorbell rang. (it never occurred to me that Santa hadn't used the chimney.) My mom and I opened the door together and surprise! Santa was standing there in all his jolly goodness! I was breathless with excitement.

Mom invited him in and told him to sit in our best chair. He plunked his bag of presents down at his feet and invited me to come sit on his lap. Oh how excited I was! I ran over to him, speechless...I was going to sit in Santa's lap? What a wonderful, wonderful day!

I gingerly climbed up onto the chair and sat down on Santa's knee. "Well Judy," he said. "Have you been a good girl?" and then I knew. This wasn't Santa. I didn't know who he was, but I knew he wasn't Santa. It was his breath that gave him away. Santa's breath would smell like cookies and pine trees, snow and crisp new wrapping paper. This guy smelled like he'd spent the earlier part of the evening in the local tavern.

I turned my face away from his so I wouldn't have to smell his boozy breath one second longer than I had to. In sadness I went through the motions; I accepted the presents he gave me and, at my mother's urging I shyly thanked him for each one.

I was sad to see Santa leave that evening-he took my broken dreams with him. However, the sadness didn't last long. I had a pile of new toys to play with and I knew my nose was safe. I would never again have to sit in Santa's lap inhaling the scent of whisky again.

December 8, 2011

Christmas in Barcelona

As you know, my mom and I didn't always see eye to eye. I'm afraid I've maybe mislead you into thinking that the uglies in our relationship were all her fault. (typical child)

This morning I need to admit that maybe, possibly, I was the cause of some of the squabbles we had. I am sometimes very stubborn about things and now, looking back at my younger self, I'm not sure I was always that teachable. I had life figured out and I knew almost everything. Didn't you?

OK, so now I have a question for you. When you were 3 did you know what you wanted to be when you grew up? I did. I wanted to be a wife and mother. I knew that when I was 10 and I knew that when I was 17. My greatest fear at that point in my life was, what if that dream never comes true? What if Prince Charming takes one look at me at thinks, whoa, my horse is better looking than this girl. I think I'll ride around a few more years....and then he rides off into the sunset, leaving me behind....

My mother knew I wanted to be a wife and mother, but she was also practical. She often warned me, "Judy, marriage is for a very long time. It will come, and you'll be tied down to a house, bills, and responsibilities for the rest of your life. Once you take that step your life will never be the same again. Right now you are free. Take advantage of it. Travel, have adventures, see the world, try new things, meet people and make friends with all of them! Have fun! For now, just enjoy being single."

For some strange reason I actually listened to my mother. A year after I graduated from high school I found myself on a mission trip with Youth With A Mission. There I was, 19 years old, traveling, having the adventure of a lifetime, living in a campground on the Mediterranean Sea. We were just outside Barcelona Spain, but, oh, did I mention it was December? And our temporary home was an unheated trailer? And it was cold? I bet when you think of the Mediterranean you think of balmy beaches, hot sand between your toes, and warm spicy winds gently whispering through your hair.

Well, the only wind we had was an icy one; and, if it happened to be a west wind it was also smelly. The Barcelona sewage system sat right outside the campground. Need I say more?

We spent an entire month living in that campground. I have so, so many memories from that trip... I think I'll save those for another day. This was supposed to be a little Christmas story.

The missionary team I was with was from England, but there were missionary teams from all over Europe staying in the campground-Dutch, German, Sweden.... we would smile at each other in passing, and I saw people I instantly liked, but the language barrier prevented our making friends with each other.

The language barrier didn't stop the Swedes from being friendly though. They managed to give everyone in the entire campground a Christmas gift; for me it was one of the sweetest gifts I've ever been given and one I will never forget.

One morning, while it was still too early to even think about getting up, we were all suddenly awakened by the sound of singing; lovely singing...sweet voices singing beautiful Swedish Christmas carols. We stumbled out of our sleeping bags and opened the trailer door. The whole campground was surrounded in darkness but there, winding their way through the campground, were the girls from the Swedish YWAM team. They were dressed for St. Lucia Day. (come to think of it, maybe it was?) Each girl had a long white dress on, and a bright red sash tied around her waist. And, each one of those girls had an evergreen wreath circling her lovely blond hair. The most stunning part of the whole scene were the lit candles in those wreaths. We stood there, in the darkness, watching those beautiful girls wander through the campground, giving us a gift that required no common language.

It was a moment like no other in my life and one I would've missed if I hadn't listened to my mother.

December 6, 2011

a picture that's worth a thousand words and fills my heart with a thousand things

I want to show you a picture. It's one of my favorite pictures of our first two sons. (Please, please ignore the outfit #1 is wearing. There is no excuse for it. All I can say is....hm....just ignore it, ok?)



What I want you to notice, and what I want to remember until I'm not around to remember anymore, are their faces. And my oldest son's death grip on his little brother's arm...

Those things are priceless to me. This picture alone, all by itself, fills my heart with so much...never mind. I'm not going to go into all that. I'll be nice and spare you the ponderings of this momma's heart.

What was going on in this picture?

Oh, well, they are just being normal first and second born brothers.

Momma said it's time to come in and eat lunch. Now!! And James, we ARE going to obey her!
(typical first born-wanting to stick to the rules and do what needs doing because it's the right thing to do.)

Listen big brother of mine-YOU can obey momma if that's what you'd like to do. As for me? I'm not budging.

That about sums up their relationship to this day.

I will say this and then I'll let you go: I love where my sons are at and I love who they've become. But there are times where I wish with all, all, all my heart I could go back and kiss those fat little cheeks one more time...

December 5, 2011

do you ever wish you had a giant pencil?

You know I'm not perfect, don't you? I haven't arrived...yet. You know if just being alive is what makes a person wonderful I'll be here for a very, very, very long time...

Having said that, I'd like to tell you something.

I don't like everyone.
It's not that I want them dead, or I wish them ill. There are just some people I'd like to see disappear.

Now imagine you're standing outside. The sun is shining, the birds singing. Standing next to you is a 5 foot tall pencil with an 8" eraser. Suddenly, along comes someone who annoys you-someone who grates on your nerves or exasperates you. You look at her, pick up your handy dandy pencil, point the eraser in her direction and rub the air. voila! She's gone. It's like she never existed at all.

The other morning #3 woke up and told me he'd had a rough night. Apparently at 1:30 am he'd received a text message. He couldn't remember the whole thing, but it was long and disturbing and it came to the wrong phone. Here's the gist of what it said:

Where are you dad??
You could at least call me!
It's been a month since I've heard from you! Why
don't you communicate?? This is no way to treat
your daughter! (on and on it went...)

Needless to say, it took my son awhile to go back to sleep after that.

When he told me what the text had said, I didn't want to erase the poor girl's father. I wanted to pick up my handy-dandy 5 foot long pencil and beat him over the head with it. I have been mourning for that girl all week and I've never laid eyes on her.

If I could talk to her father I'd give him a piece of my mind. (Especially since it seems his has gone missing.)
I'd tell him children are a gift, no matter how old they are. God entrusted them to our care and we play a huge role in their lives until their life is no more. I'd tell him he is a selfish brute and then I'd stop him in his tracks. I'd force him to look at his daughter...I'd ask him to look deeply and closely and see the vulnerable little girl hiding behind her desperate heart. I'd say a few more things I probably shouldn't type out here...

Then perhaps I'd stop. After I'd dented my pencil a few times over his head I'd take a deep breath and look at him. I'd look deeply and closely and I'd wonder about the vulnerable little boy hiding inside. What happened to you? I'd wonder. Who hurt you so badly you are unable to love? To care? Are you maybe treating your daughter the way you were treated? Or, are you truly just that selfish and ugly inside?

Then I think I'd grab a bible and show them that although she doesn't have the perfect father, and I doubt he's ever been one, we have One who is. He knows everything about them. (Psalm 139:1)

He is not distant and angry-He is the perfect loving Father. (John 3:16)

He gives and loves more than any earthly Father could. (Matthew 7:11)

He loves with an unending love. (Jeremiah 31:3)

His plan for their future is filled with hope. (Jeremiah 29:11)

Everything good that happens in their lives is actually from Him. (James 1:17)

If they would seek Him with all their hearts they would find Him. Unlike some dads we know... (Deuteronomy 4:29)

He longs to comfort them in all their troubles. (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)

He is close to those who have desperate, broken hearts. (Psalm 34:18)

If they would allow Him to be their Father, He promises one day to take away all their pain and wipe away every tear. (Revelation 21:3-4)

I'd tell them I'm not perfect, (his lumpy head being living proof) and they are not perfect. We are all sin-filled people and separated from God because of that. (Romans 3:23)

Jesus, His one and only Son, died so that they could one day stand before God, forgiven. (2 Corinthians 5:18-19)

His death was God's end all expression of His love for them. (1 John 4:10 and/or Romans 5:8)

If they would receive the gift God gave them, His Son, they would never be separated from His love again. (Romans 8:38-39)

God wants to know if they would like to be His children. (John 1:12-13)

He is patiently waiting for them....(Luke 15:11-32)

If you'd like to see exactly what those bible verses say but you don't own a bible, click here and you can read them on-line.

What holds true for that girl and her missing dad holds true for you and it holds true for me.

God has become my Father and healed my broken, desperate heart. He wants to do the same thing for you, if that's what you need....if that's what you long for....

all it takes is talking to Him. Telling Him you know you've blown it, maybe big time. Did you there is no sin too big or too ugly? His love is sweet and perfect. (Romans 8: 38-39)

Then you tell Jesus you need Him. Tell Him you can't take one more step without Him and thank Him for dying in your place. Ask Him to forgive you for your sins and ask Him to make you the kind of person He wants you to be. It's that simple.

And then, from that moment on, you have access to the perfect Father. You can talk to Him any time and trust Him to love you and always be available. He will never leave you and He will certainly never, ever beat you over the head with a giant pencil...

December 4, 2011

Speaking of Chickens

As long as we're on the subject of chickens, I thought I'd share another chicken story with you. This one involves living poultry, as opposed to the metal version. (it's also a re-post from 2007.)

When I was 3 my brother Jimmy, my parents, and I went on a vacation. At some point we made a stop at a chicken farm. (Don't ask me why.) Anyway, because of my small stature I couldn't see where we were when my dad stopped the van. (Yes, there were vans back in the dark ages.) When my dad opened the van door I froze, petrified.
"Daddy? Are those dangerous chickens?!"
While those chickens proved to be docile and kind, I later in life met some that were not.

From the dictionary: Bantam. Any of numerous small domestic fowl that are often miniatures of members of the standard breeds.

And from a website regarding Bantam Chickens as pets:
Chickens make rewarding pets - I've never felt so much like Snow White as when sitting on a stool with a chicken on each knee, each shoulder and one resting comfortably on top of my head. The chickens on my shoulders rubbed their heads around on my neck, tasted my glasses gently and played with my earlobes. The chickens on my knees wiggled as I petted them and played with my ring. The chicken on top of my head just made me a little nervous. I could sit in the sun and watch those hand raised chickens scratch, bath and eat for hours.

When our 2 oldest sons were quite young they were given a tiny incubator as a gift. We did hatch 2 quail successfully and released them into the wild when they were old enough to fend for themselves.
Years later, when our oldest son was 13 or so, he decided he wanted to hatch another quail egg. After a long search, we found a farmer who had quail eggs for sale. So, we all piled into the van and drove over to this guy's house to see if he would be willing to sell 1 (Please note I said 1. ONE) egg to the kids so they could use their incubator again. The man was incredibly nice, and very persuasive. After a brief tour of his farm he somehow managed to convince us that if watching 1 quail egg hatch was exciting, imagine how breathtaking watching 27 Bantam chicken eggs would be!
"Well, we don't have room for 27 eggs in our little incubator."
"Oh! That don't matter. Look! I have a large, portable incubator you can use! Just take it home and when you're done using it, bring it back. And really, you don't have to worry. I don't think all 27 eggs will hatch. I reckon only about 9 will actually be fertilized."
Deciding it would be futile to argue any further with this kind man, we caved and took the eggs and incubator home.
I imagine by now you can guess what happened, and you're right. All 27 eggs decided to hatch.
It wasn't long before we had 27 tiny chicks peeping at all hours of the day and night, begging for food. And the box they resided in was in our son's bedroom! After about 2 days of that racket my husband and the boys went out and built a makeshift chicken coop behind the garage. I had visions of one of us heading out to gather eggs and then all of us sitting down to a delicious scrambled egg breakfast every morning. There were 2 problems with this scenario. One, do you have any idea how tiny Bantam Chicken eggs are? It would take about 5 per person to equal 2 regular chicken eggs. The other problem was, it seems that most of our chickens were roosters.
Not only that, but they were mean, ferocious, dangerous roosters! They were so mean that after a couple months they'd managed to kill about half their brothers and sisters in bloody chicken wars. Talk about sibling rivalry...
Anyway, winter came and went and by the following spring we were down to 15 chickens-all of them roosters and all of them mean. Every time the boys went out to play they were chased and attacked by those nasty little birds.
It wasn't just their beaks the boys had to look out for; the spurs on the chicken legs proved to be more dangerous than their bills. (Can you call a chicken beak a bill?) Every time the boys went outside to play or feed the chickens they'd come in with tears in their eyes and bloody scratches on their legs.
I finally gave the boys my permission to kill the chickens. I just didn't want to know how they did it. Every once in awhile I'd hear a whoop from outside and I knew the boys were one step closer to being free of fear and pain.
However, there was one afternoon James came in and his legs were a mess. Blood trickled down his calves and tears were streaming down his cheeks. I was furious! I'd had enough of those chickens!
I marched down the hall, grabbed a 22 and a bunch of bullets and went outside. In my fury I managed to shoot and kill all but one sneaky little rooster. The meanest one. He was mean, but he wasn't brave; he perched his little self high in a tree where he knew we couldn't get at him. I wasn't about to go shooting a gun into the trees, so we left him up there. That evening when my husband got home the boys told him about the last remaining bad guy nobody could get.
That was all Dad needed to hear. He put his chaps on, pulled a bandanna down over his mouth, tipped his Stetson down low over his eyes and sauntered out to the barn. I mean garage. There in the corner was his weapon of choice. An antique weed whacker that looked more like a dilapidated machete than something to garden with. We all stood around the yard, waiting...finally the chicken came down out of the tree. After all, it was getting dark and it was time to be fed. We watched breathlessly as my husband casually walked over to the beast, the weed whacker hidden behind his legs. Then, with a stroke Mike's golfing dad would be proud of, Mike swished the weapon through the air and thwack. A hole in one! The boys yelled and cheered. I swooned at my hero's feet. Mike picked me up, blew the smoke off the barrel of his weed whacker and strolled back to the house. He sat down at the table and slammed his fist down.
"Give me a shot of whiskey, Woman!"

December 3, 2011

I'm Stuck With A Chicken


Do you have anything in your home that's not your favorite thing? That's not your thing at all and yet...yet you feel you have no choice but to keep it? No choice but to look at it, protect it, dust it...somehow find a way of making it fit in with the rest of your things even if it doesn't?
And, as if that weren't enough, you know you're stuck with it til your dying day?

(sorry about the picture quality. It's the only picture I have of my chicken at the moment.)

I love birds. Crows, Great Blue Herons, Canadian Geese, the Tufted Titmouse, Brown Thrashers, woodpeckers....
There are some birds I don't like. Vultures for instance. Another one? Chickens. They are noisy, smelly, ignorant birds. In my humble opinion, the only thing they're good for is eating. (Yes, I know, eggs. But we eat their eggs, don't we?)

But using chickens as part of my decorating scheme? Um, no thank you. I'm not a chicken person.

Having said all that, I will now tell you about a chicken that's come home to roost. (It's actually a rooster but let's not split feathers.)

As you may recall from previous posts, my dad died of lung cancer in 2002. One morning, about a year before he died, my dad called me.

Hey Jude, how would you like a chicken?

A chicken?

Yeah. I have a metal chicken who needs a home. I bought him for our church to use as a mascot at their men's retreats but they don't want him. (Don't even ask me what that was all about.) I can't just dump him. Would you take him? He needs a good home and naturally I thought of you.

Ummm...sure dad. I'll take him.

About a week later the chicken arrived. He was packaged with as much tender loving care and bubble wrap as a chicken could ask for. And, as much as I hate to admit it, I like this chicken. He's my favorite color, and he has a sparkly, marble eye that catches the light when you look at it from just the right angle. He lives on the shelf I told you about last month. (It seems fitting the two should live together since dad gave me both of them, don'tcha think?)

Sometimes I'm tempted to add a disclaimer to my chicken. I want to make a pretty little label and dangle it from his tail for all to see. The label would read:

I am a chicken. I know that and you know that.
Judy wants you to know that while chickens are
not her thing, I am. Her dad, for some unknown
reason, wanted us to be together. He knew Judy
would take good care of me and never let me go.
For some reason, I was important to her dad,
so he asked her to care for me. Her dad
is gone; he is safely Home, waiting for her to
someday join him. In the meantime, she has me to
enjoy; A crazy, metal chicken that reminds her of
her dad. I am both a mystery and a hug. She is
happy to be stuck with me.

December 2, 2011

Movie Night

The other night my husband did something remarkable and completely unexpected. He wanted to kick back, relax and watch a movie. No, that's not the unexpected part. The movie he picked was though. Of all the movies we have in the house and all the movies Netflix offers, my husband chose....

He said he really likes it. I was flabbergasted. It's not been very often, living among over 600 pounds of testosterone for years and years, that a chick flick gets picked for movie night. And the really amazing part? My husband meant it. He sat there and watched it whether I was in the room or not; he wasn't watching it because he thought it was something I'd like to see. He wanted to watch it. I guess even after 27 years of marriage there are still new things to discover about your spouse.

That movie is up there among my top ten favorites.

Some of my other favorites? I'm so glad you asked. Here are a few of my other favorites:










Fiddler on the Roof-I can't watch this one at this point in my life but it's still one of my favorites.


An Affair to Remember and anything else Cary Grant was in

I can't leave out:
The Wizard of Oz
The Sound of Music
Sabrina
Almost anything directed by Alfred Hitchcock

and almost all of Katherine Hepburn's movies-especially when she stars with Spencer Tracy

I have a feeling I'm leaving some out, but I'll leave this as is for now.
How about you? What are some of your favorites?