Makayla

I first met Makayla when she was 5, I think. Her mom had died a few years earlier and my daughter was engaged to her dad. She was the cutest little thing, sweet and had beautiful curly hair. Today she is a sophomore in High School. Wow, the time does fly. But she is just as beautiful and sweet as she ever was and a little more. We love her without any “step” and she is a joy to be around.

But there is a problem. She hates her hair. It is so curly you cannot comb or brush it when it is dry. It fizzes if she plays with it so she keeps it up on her head in a bun of sorts. The bad thing is she doesn’t take care of it because she doesn’t like it. We have spent a small fortune on shampoos and conditioners, asked everyone for advise but nothing has helped.

She thinks she is ugly because she hates her hair. She sees pictures of girls on sees them on TV and doesn’t understand why she can’t look like they do. All of this has caused her to gain weight. She is an emotional eater. She doesn’t understand the limits or why certain foods should be avoided. She is pre-diabetic, which is what killed her mother, but she doesn’t seem to care because she blames everything on her hair.

So the following is what I want to say to her. I’m thinking it might be a little too abrupt. What do you think?

From the magazines at the grocery store checkout, from billboards to TV shows, it’s hard to escape the world’s twisted idea of what it says a “beautiful woman” looks like.  The world does an excellent job of seducing women and girls into thinking they are not beautiful enough. It offers everything from beauty products to surgery to help you attain the beauty it says you deserve. But why do you listen to the worlds definition of beauty? Why is the world an authority on what beauty is?

You are a child of God. He made you for a specific reason and He made you the way you are for that reason. It is imperative to study and learn how to embrace a biblical and spiritual balance that honors the God who created you. You don’t need to work on your outer appearance. You need to work on your inner beauty character. That is where your beauty blossoms and flows to the outside of you. God calls you beautiful! Exactly the way He made you. Not the way the world wants you to be.

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Vacation Bible School or Battle Mom Royale

This week has been amazing so far. I have been looking for the Holy Spirit to show up and He certainly has done so. I am praying for a particular woman though and I’ll tell you why.

The first day she and I had a small confrontation. It wasn’t just between her and I though, she made sure the entire church knew about it. I guess that sounds a little bitter. I am praying it up but I haven’t turned it loose yet. Hopefully this post will help make that happen.

She was standing on the opposite end of the same pew I was standing in. She was motioning to her daughter for her to go to her. She neglected to speak to me or my two co-leaders personally. She didn’t care that we have a checkout process. She was ready to go and wanted what she wanted. I was in the process of dismissing another child while this was going on, so I put my hand in front of her child to stop her and instructed her to wait. I specifically said “No, you need to wait”. That was all I did and said. The woman loudly proclaimed at me “That was rude.” I know I looked at her in amazement because I was dumbfounded. I didn’t think it was rude to protect her child. I didn’t know this woman from Eve and because I was already talking to one child, I had not heard her child tell me the woman was her mom.

Admittedly, I had hoped she would be polite enough to walk over and ask me for her child but apparently I was expecting too much. So as I stood there like a deer in the headlights, she had placed her hands on her hips by now and was glaring at me. I had to stop my gaze from becoming a glare and quickly turned to the next child hoping I could shake this and it be done with. I went home, vented a little and was ready for the next day.

Sure enough, the next day we were both back and ready to tackle anything. My joke, sorry. This time she was polite and waited for her child’s name to be called. Rather smooth but without any eye contact. No problem. Let’s move past yesterday’s whatever it was.

Thursday, today, rolls around. Her daughter responded to the invitation. Hallelujah! What an awesome time. I was excited, the workers were excited, so we were anticipating equal excitement from her mother.

Again she stood a pews’ distance from any of us three workers and said “Where’s Roni?” I remained where I was and projected politely to her, “She responded to the invitation.” Instead of smiles and other exciting exclamations she started rambling. As she rambled, she walked past me to where my two co-workers were standing without looking in my direction or acknowledging I existed. Her rambling went like this “She got saved two weeks ago. She knows all about Jesus. She doesn’t need to talk to a counselor.” By this time I stopped listening and started praying for her. I wanted to say a lot but I knew it would fall on deaf ears. My two co-workers tried to calm her down and explain that she still had questions but the mothers response was a rude and abrasive, “Yea, I get it. Roni is an attention hound.” And she walked away.

OK, putting this on paper, of sorts, did help me release the anger and animosity I think I had been feeling along with still being dumbfounded by her behavior. But now it has changed to sadness. I’m still dumbfounded how a mother could act that way let alone have those feelings about their child.

Today, Friday, I was talking with another leader who is a little more familiar with this woman and learned a few things. She has made being a foster parent a career. She has adopted five children and is working on number six. She is traveling at the speed of sound and missing everything God has placed in her path.

We have no idea what these children deal with on a daily basis, or the parents for that matter. I will be praying for Roni and her mom for some time to come.

Stay safe and God bless…

 

People Continue to Amaze Me

What is it about people? You know, the ones who take credit for things they didn’t do. Like when you clean out your grandmother’s RV to help sell it and she tells everyone how hard she worked to get it cleaned up. And why does that make us so mad?

Or when you hear your mother-in-law mention time and time again that she wishes she had a gravy boat for her dining room table. You buy her one for Christmas and when she opens it she says “Oh, a gravy boat?” I looked high and low for that gravy boat. I poured  time, energy and love into finding her the best one to fit her taste. And she acts like it was a random regifted gift. And why did that hurt my feelings?

Or my sister. My mom and dad are 78 years young this year. Every morning they work all of the puzzles in the newspaper. My sister knows this but for whatever reason the other morning, my sister had an issue that required my dads attention. See, my sister has a knack for dragging us into her drama. So she walks into my room and peers through the living room door to see dad working the puzzle, naturally. Then walks back through my room mumbling nondescript words of discontent that he is working is blankety-blank puzzles as though he is supposed to know it is “drama time”.

Or the woman at church who is all about herself. She is a ruler. Yes, you can look up the definition and it will fit her, I promise. She is also a control freak. That definition will fit too. Anyway, the other day my mom and I went to the church the day before our festival to drop off a few items for a silent auction. She was the head of that too. Go figure. She was elbow deep in coleslaw and another woman asked her where she wanted us to place the items until she could get to them. Well, the woman came unglued. She started yelling that the sale wasn’t today, that we couldn’t buy anything until tomorrow, she started to explain what a silent auction was and went on and on and on. I looked at my mom and we headed to the office. We left everything with the secretary to handle and walked away. She clearly has issues that are not up to us to handle.

Why do people continue to amaze me? I’d hate to think that I’m as self-centered as they seem to be. God is so good! Why is it that even though we pray and trust Him, when things work out, it is always a “WOW!” moment. He’s got it under control regardless of how out of control we may feel.

So, chill out…speak the truth with love…and hang on to Jesus for dear life. The ride will be worth it!

Christopher

I met Christopher when he was four. His mom was very ill and the families of the fire department were taking turns helping with babysitting. His dad, my son and my daughter all worked together so we already felt like family. His mom got sicker and died expectedly. Christopher was the one who found her in bed. He was devastated to say the least. He didn’t fully understand anything expect that she was gone.

For almost two years the fire department was their extended family. He was such a cute and sweet little guy. Despite what he went through, he remained a mostly happy little boy. Fast forward almost two years and my daughter became his step-mom. It was a role she was born to do. Of course, having such a sweet child made it all the more easy.

So here is the letter I will send him.

My dearest Christopher, you are my pride and joy. You will always be my oldest and first  grandson. No one can take that away from me. You were chosen. I want you to know how special you are so I am writing this to you. I don’t want you to have to wonder or question my love for you. It is bigger than the whole universe. You are special and I want you to know that.

 

Who Is He? He’s My Dad!

He use to take me fishing on the weekends when I was growing up. He worked out of town during the week so our weekends were special. We’d get up early in the morning, load our rods and boxes and head out. We usually went to Haulover Canal and picked out a nice quiet spot. Not too many people went there so it wasn’t hard to find a good place. As I look back, I wonder what we took to sit on. Back then they didn’t have those folding canvas type chairs. We probably turned over a bucket or stood most of the time. After all we both were a lot younger.

He is such a gentle soul. I remember he would bait my hooks depending on what we were using. I was a tom boy but some things I just would not do. He never laughed “at” me or made me feel bad about that. He encouraged me to try things on my own but was always there to help when needed. He taught me patience, humility and gentleness. I doubt he even realizes this.

I can always count on dad for any kind of help or brain storming. He has a natural mechanical mind and can come up with solutions to just about anything. As a kid I called them “Jerry-rigs”. Now I understand it to be slightly short of genius. Several things I would see him do as I watched him while growing up have since then become real actual things you can buy.

He has days when he feels regret for not being home more when we were kids. But he was a wonderful provider and spent his free time with his family and not in bars. I think he is a wonderful example of a dad. I couldn’t have asked for a better one. He stands up for us, he leads and guides us, he corrects us when we don’t exhibit the best behavior possible. He does all this and so much more with a loving and kind heart.

I don’t remember very many whippings from dad. But the ones I do remember, I deserved. He is an excellent judge of character. Many times he would point out things that weren’t kosher with my friends that would come around. I didn’t always like hearing such things, but I knew my dad had my best interest in mind.

We use to play chess often. He taught me how to when I was very young. I have yet to beat him. I don’t lose on purpose mind you but he is the master who taught me so I guess it is supposed to be that way. I also taught my children to play. They were such bad losers that I refused to play chess with them until they learned how to lose. We would play endless games of Tic-Tack-Toe. After a few weeks, they finally learned how to lose and just have fun. It was a strange strategy but it worked.

I wrote this in his birthday card last year:

“I wanted to write something eloquent and brilliant and smart. Something that tells you how much I appreciate you and how grateful I am for everything you have done for me and for everything you have taught me. For teaching me about Jesus and being a great example of His love. The best way I know to do that is to tell you that I love you!”

Now that Father’s Day is upon us I am grateful to still have him here with us.

Happy Father’s Day!

Stay safe and God bless.

 

 

Spring Vacation

Vacation… A time of relaxation and rejuvenation. A time to visit family and old friends. A time to unwind and look forward to a restart. Actually, vacation went very well. The only hitch was mom getting a stomach bug. But everything else was great.

My sister still tried to back us out of Sunday, right up to that morning but I smiled, held my ground and held God’s hand. It was awesome to see my son and his little family dedicate themselves to Christ. It was more than worth the extra miles and aggravation.

Stay safe and God bless…

The Art of Misunderstandings

So, I’ve been busy for a while working on my Etsy store and dealing with other obligations. I’m back mostly to vent. Go figure! If I don’t, I might explode.

I am recovering from a bad UTI but I’m having lingering abdominal pain. I called my doctor last week, last Thursday to be exact, and have not heard back from them. I suppose I won’t. I plan on calling them tomorrow but I doubt if I will get favorable results. I know what the pain is. I’ve had it before. I have a new doctor since my previous one decided to go to a VA. Lucky for them but now I have to start over.

I have AS (spinal arthritis), Fibromyalgia, regular arthritis and a host of other things. Since they are mostly pain related, no one believes how much pain I am in. I don’t take pain pills mostly because they don’t work for me but also because I don’t want to give in and live like an addicted zombie.

This new pain is low and constant. Back in 2006 I had the same pain. I thought it was an ulcer. I was in the middle of a separation and my ex was making my life miserable. My doctor prescribed me a small little pill to take three times a day and it did the trick over the course of a few months. Who would have thought that anxiety could cause so much pain. I hate thinking I will have to prove myself all over again. Not to mention not being able to get a response from the doctor in the first place.

Pain and all, I’m leaving Friday for North Carolina, with my dad, for a weeks visit with my children and grandchildren. My dad gets to go with my son to a masonic shindig while we are there and that will be very cool for them. They haven’t had much grown-up time to spend with each other. I’m just looking forward to being able to take my dad up by train. Something I do often but he never has. My mom and sister are driving up the middle of next week. Then we’ll all drive back together. Yay boy! What fun that will be.

Well I’ve learned my lesson even though my feelings are destroyed right now. I will never try to include them in anything ever again. I won’t care when they say I didn’t let them know about something in time. When the grandkids graduate or whatever, I’ll go and they can see the pictures. It just isn’t worth this pain. So here I am. I’m trying to understand why my parents and sister don’t think the newest great grandchild’s Christening is important enough to take an extra vacation day to attend. I just want to cry. A once in a lifetime thing and they could care less. I just don’t understand.

Yes, I’m giving it to God but it still hurts.

Stay safe and God bless…

Tolerance and Jesus’ Example

My tolerance is rock bottom. I need Jesus’s help to raise the bar. People don’t discipline their children when they do something wrong. They make choices without regard to whether it pleases God or not. They make decisions and life changes that go against the moral grain. Fake praises or condolenscences to make themselves sound good are a waste of time and look ridiculous. Talking about a subject they know nothing about while using big words that make no sense, may sound smart to the person doing the talking but others usually see through it. My patience is wearing thin. It is getting harder to keep my mouth shut. A part of me knows that my telling them the truth will fall on deaf ears but another part of me just wants to get it out.

Jesus knew what this felt like. When the crowd confronted the woman who was caught in the act of adultery, Jesus bent over and drew in the sand, more than once. He was giving them time to realize the wrong they themselves were doing. They missed the grace Jesus offeres to everyone.

John 8:6-9 (NKJV) This they said, testing Him, that they might have something of which to accuse Him. But Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger, as though He did not hear. So when they continued asking Him, He raised Himself up and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.”  And again He stooped down and wrote on the ground.  Then those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last. And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.

So while I rant and rave about the things that are wrong in the world, is Jesus bending over and writing in the sand while I stand and wonder what it is all about? Yea, I’m pretty sure He shakes His head and writes in the sand a lot these days.

Stay safe and God bless.

Do you have the answer?

I need your help! I’m not sure what this means but I can’t seem to figure it out. So here goes.

I prayed and asked God to allow me to see people the way He does. Instead, now I see all of their sin. Their stupid choices, their sinful decisions and behaviors, the willful disregard for God and His love. I find myself picking apart their issues. Being their judge of sorts but I am painfully aware that I have no business judging anyone. We all sin. So what is this? I don’t like it and I can’t seem to make it go away.

I prayed the prayer hoping to see the beauty in people. Instead I see the junk. Not everyone mind you, just the ones that I know for a fact have made or are making horrible choices. I don’t want to see the junk, I want to see the beauty. I know there is beauty there but for some reason the junk flies in my face. I don’t like it. I want it to stop.

I know we all sin and are all equal to one another in God’s eyes so why do I care so much about their junk? Why does their choices to sin bother me so much that it’s all I see when I look at them?  Am I so in love with God that people who toss Him aside make me this angry? Could that be what this is? Could it be that easy? It’s hard for me to even talk to them, it is so bad. I have to suppress the urge to smack them and shove the truth down their throats. Wow, that was harsh.

I have been praying for a few days for this to change. I’m not sure what God is trying to show me or teach me about myself or Him but I’m ready to get it and move on. Seriously, how do I make this stop?

Stay safe and God bless…

Are You Doing It Right?

I am constantly on a quest for self-improvement. I want to get so close to God on this earth that people will think I am already in Heaven. I know that sounds a little silly but I am happiest when I am in the presence of God and to be as close to Him as possible is a moment by moment quest.

It isn’t exhaustive by any means. It is actually easy as long as I don’t let the things of this world interfere. Today, as I was working on my studies, I came across this sentence. “Daily put-off the old self and put-on the new self by biblically responding to life’s irritations and offenses.” I had read and studied the passage in Ephesians 4 for years but here was a solution I had not learned before. Here was the HOW… “by biblically responding to life’s irritations and offenses.” 

Ephesians 4:22-24 (NKJV)  that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.”

Suddenly I felt vindicated or something. I often wonder if I am doing things right or if God is shaking His head at me. But this tells me how I should be responding and that I am mostly getting it right. I’m not sure why this was a surprise or “ah ha” moment. I guess I second guess myself too much. Well, I just wanted to share in case you are like me and needed some clarification. We’re OK after all.

Stay safe and God bless…

 


 

Old-fashioned Communication

All too often the people we love die before we have time to really get to know them. Most of us never know how we feel about each other because we always think that tomorrow is another day. What’s the hurry? We’ll have plenty of time to talk and get to know each other later.

I knew my Nana’s favorite bird and her favorite color but she had no idea what my favorites were. It isn’t her fault, I was more observant or I never let on what my favorite things were. Maybe she knew all along and I was too young to realize it.

So I got to thinking about my grandchildren. I love them dearly and while I was privileged to spend many years with them when they were younger, now I am 10 hours away and the phone and computer just don’t seem to be good enough. Those things lack the intimacy that spending face-to-face time with them holds. So I decided I would write them a series of letters or cards and express my love and appreciation for them. I personally would keep these and store them away forever but I don’t expect them to do that realistically. I just want them to see and read how I feel about them while I still can. I don’t want them to ever have to wonder about that.

I had to warn my daughter of these impending letters so that she wouldn’t think that something medically horrible was going on with me. At least that I know of. I just don’t want to miss the opportunity to tell them how special they are. Even it if means more to me that it does to them. And while I re-read this, I should probably make mention of how proud I am of my own children. They are amazing too.

I will post the letters as I send them. I know they love getting mail even if there isn’t any money in them…lol.

Stay safe and God bless.

And the Winner is…

I was reading my morning devotion and the scripture verse was Exodus 34:14 “for you shall worship no other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God“. It went on to talk about how Paul explained to the church in Corinth that he was jealous for them with a godly jealously in 2 Corinthians 11:2 (For I am jealous for you with godly jealousy.”). And more scripture that tells us we are created in God’s image (Genesis 1:27, “So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him”). If jealousy is in His image then how can it be a bad thing? So I started to wonder about this jealously Paul (and others) was speaking of since, in my understanding of the word, ranks up there with envy.

To make matters worse, envy is defined as “the desire to have for oneself something possessed by another, covetousness”. OK, so now, we’ve added yet another word to this issue that is clearly talked about in scripture under the heading of “Thou shalt not”.

But never fear, my trusty dictionary will clear this up. I dug around in the “jealous” department and discovered that it isn’t actually similar to envy although we sometimes use the different words and meanings interchangeably. Way down in the definition of jealous I found that it also means “solicitous or vigilant in maintaining or guarding something” and ” intolerant of unfaithfulness or rivalry”. Phew!

Now we’re getting somewhere. But as I pondered my own “jealously” issues for Christ, it brought up questions. Could all those people standing around preaching and yelling (“repent and be saved” or “Jesus is coming, get right with God or die”) and a variety of others, actually be reacting to this world out of Godly jealously? We tend to think they are a little nuts, ignore them and continue on about our day but what if it is real honest Godly jealously? What if they have it right and we are just uncomfortable with their delivery? What if, instead of ignoring them and walking briskly away, we shaked their hand and acknowledged our new understanding of their mission?

I don’t know if this will help me when I get passionately defensive of Christ or if it will fuel my patience and love of those who choose not to follow Him. But at least now I have a new found understanding and tolerance for those who choose to shout it in the streets.

This ending wasn’t anything I had envisioned for this post when I started it. I paused a lot and prayed a lot over it so hopefully it is what God directed me to write.

Stay safe and God bless.