A Life Worth Living

I believe that I’ve mentioned in previous posts that I will be speaking at my church’s ladies luncheon. This event happens in just a few weeks. Time has gone by rather quickly and I am not fully prepared. I have the ideas in my head, the outline….but, I have to fill in the meat, so to speak. As you all well know I like to tell a good story. I enjoy details and sometimes get side tracked….that is the most difficult part of speaking. I get caught up in the story and forget where I’m headed. I need to focus:)

What will my story be?

It all started when….. Nah.

Once upon a time….Uh, no.

In a galaxy far, far away….Definitely not.

Hmmmm…… What IS my story???? And how am I going to help a roomful of ladies figure out theirs?

As much as women have in common, things that unite us…..motherhood, friendships, being a daughter, a wife, having a family… we all are also unique. The stories are each as different as the grains of sand on the beach. Not one is a carbon copy of another.

As a child I was the the compliant one. The people pleaser. Everybody’s friend. A good listener. A loyal friend. A voracious reader. Good grades. A volunteer. I saw life in vivid detail—as I am a visual creature. I still see life that way. I love color and symmetry. I am aesthetic to the core. I see the beauty is architecture and in the stars. I enjoy the coziness of a new pair of socks, and also enjoy how my books all line up on the shelf. I enjoy people. My very analytical, problem solving, “please get to the point”,  husband does not always understand me. I think I frustrate him sometimes because I like to elaborate on the details of how I “see” things and he wants the bottom line. The bottom line, to me, is not near as much fun…..so, I loop de loop through my story until I finally reach the end. He is exhausted and I am energized. God made us each different. That is what makes each person so interesting and exciting…..if we were all the same, how boring would that be? That is where the story begins……

“God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them……God saw all that he made and it was very good.” (Genesis 1:27, 31) God in His infinite wisdom created each of us. Each child that is born– He knows. From the first breathe, until the last. He gave us our personalities. He delights in us. Much like a parent delights in watching his/her child as he/she grows, God must enjoy watching His creations. We are not perfect. We are sinners of the highest degree….but, He loves us. So, our stories each begin with HIM.

I had a good childhood by most people’s standards. I grew up in a rural county of Maryland in a house surrounded with corn and soybean fields, and the occasional run away cattle. I was away from the hustle and bustle of Baltimore and Washington D.C.  I grew up surrounded by family members that loved me, went to the same church for the entirety of my growing up years, had friends, rode my bike, had regular family get togethers for birthdays, did well in school and graduated with awards and scholarships. I went on to a private, Christian, liberal arts college in the south. I graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Special Education. Exactly what I wanted to do, exactly how I wanted it, graduated on time, surrounded by family and friends…… indeed, life was good.

Up to that point, I would say life had been pretty good. (with the exceptions of losing all my grandparents by the time I graduated from college–but, I was blessed with many happy memories of each of them) Life was an adventure and I was ready to set sail.

In the two decades that were to follow God would write my story in a way that I could never have for seen….and to be honest I’m glad I couldn’t see it, because if I had known what lie ahead of me….I might have turned and ran. I’m not necessarily the bravest soul on the face of the earth. I find it difficult to smoosh a big spider with my shoe, much less face some of life’s darkest hours. Just like me, I’m sure that many of you that are reading my blog have had to face your own giants. Things that seemed so big, and so scary that your breathe caught in your throat, your heart pounded in your ears, and the tears spilled like a torrent that you thought might never end. A cry came from deep within your soul…a place that only you and God even know exists.

Almost always our stories have some joy in them. A marriage, the birth of a child, anniversaries, meaningful friendships, families that love us unconditionally,  exciting vacations, fulfilling careers….things that give us purpose, make us happy, things we love. I have been blessed to have all these things in my life.

As much as I love these parts of my story….and they have truly brought me unexplainable joy, it would be wrong of me to not mention the darker side of my story. As with most people, it seems that it is during the darker times of life that I learn the most. The easy times of life I am able to coast through, the darker times cause me to have to struggle, work my muscles, and yes…..at times to give up. I fall in a heap at my Savior’s feet. Utterly used up and exhausted from the strenuous climb through the dark valley.  Job loss. Death of my spouse. A father who chose to take his own life. Broken relationships. Mistakes that affected others. These things are a part of my story. They are each a piece of my life. Whether I like it or not. Whether it hurts or not…..it is part of me.

All of the good and the bad mixed together make me. How I choose to deal with these experiences is what makes my legacy. Too many  good experiences make one lazy, and spoiled. There is no joy in a life where everything is handed to you. There is no hope when all one has known is sunshine. There is no appreciation for salvation if one does not recognize the darkness in their own heart.  The dark times cause struggle, but they also cause determination, they cause pain but also courage, they can make us bitter or make us better. The choice is ours to make.

What kind of legacy do you want people to remember about you? When you have breathed your last, what will others say about you? Will your words be carried in someone’s heart? Or left in your own, buried along with you?  My desire is that my story will shine in the lives of those that know me. Not as a perfect life…but, as a life that was worth living. I hope my words, both spoken and written will fill my family’s hearts and minds for generations after I am gone. I long to give my children the hope that so lovingly was given to me.  A hope that only comes from knowing the Lord. I want others to know I spent my life pointing at Jesus. This life was never really about me. I am grateful for it…and I have been blessed by it….but, when it all comes down to it…it is all about HIM.

That is a legacy and a story worth writing about.

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Aahhh…Contentment

A couple of days ago I read a blog about contentment. The author of the blog was talking about being in the “inbetween” times of life. The unsettled. The unsure. I know those times. Those are the times when I want more, but get less. I dream big and wake up to reality. The wandering in the wilderness kinds of times.

Even before reading this blog I had contentment on my mind. Evidently God wants me to keep thinking about this subject because He keeps putting things in my daily path that cause me to have to evaluate my contentment.

Ouch.

Sometimes God’s lessons aren’t easy for me to handle. I want what I want. I’ve got ideas. I’ve got lists. I’ve got “the dream”. I NEED these things on my list, in order to be content. After all, I deserve them. Right?!

I struggle.

I want life to be easier.

I want to understand.

I want security.

AND I pretty much prefer no big surprises.

Now don’t get me wrong. I love surprises if it happens to be my birthday or a special Christmas gift. Hmm…..or a weekend get away. Or an unexpected visit from family or friends. BUT, not hard, life surprises.

Like unexpected job loss. Heartache. Friends that hurt my feelings. A sick child. A loss of faith. Arguments. Frustrations. Mistakes. Surprises that, quite frankly, are no fun.

God calls me to be content in my circumstances. All of them. Not just the fun ones. I am to learn the secret of being content, no matter the circumstance. (Phil 4:11-12) It’s hard. I try. Sometimes I succeed. Other times I fail. Oh, how I fail. It’s a journey that I’m on…this journey of learning contentment. I wish I could say I have this particular thing under control…but, I’m being honest. I don’t……and so there are lots of bumps on this rocky road I’m traveling and many times I fall down.

The truth is I don’t have everything I want in life, but I do have everything I need. For today. For this minute.

God is good like that.

I believe we, as human beings, go through periods of  the “inbetween”.  It keeps us grounded and focused.

For me this isn’t home. I’m just a pilgrim on a journey, through a land of discontentment. A land that I am just passing through. I’ll admit that it is difficult. When I take my focus off of God I become discontent…stuck…and shackled to the negative. BUT, if I look to my Heavenly Father, I can see a glimpse of HOME.

He allows a glimmer of what it will be like. Home. A place where contentment will be real, not just the fleeting shadow of what I strive to achieve here on Earth. I will be fully content, because I will be with Him.

“Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.”  ( 1 Corinthians 13:12)

Busy With A Capital B

Good Morning Blog Friends,
I have been very busy these last several days. Doesn’t life have a way of doing that? Nothing going on and then WHAM! Overloaded. Bogged Down. Time Schedules.
I miss my blog when I don’t get a chance to write. I am going to attempt to carve out some time tomorrow to blog. This will be between my grocery shopping in the morning and my son’s birthday party in the evening. My son is turning 15. I will have a house full of teenage boys. I question my sanity in all this, but all things considered it should be a fun night for my son…and that makes me happy.
So, with all that said, I am off to teach some 5th graders today. This subbing gig I have going on is pretty cool. It’s always an adventure.
Everyone have a good day today. Catch me tomorrow, I should have a new blog by evening. (fingers crossed)

25 Things My Mother Taught Me

I don’t know who originally wrote this list, but it is pretty funny.

Happy Mother’s Day!

1. My mother taught me TO APPRECIATE A JOB WELL DONE.

“If you’re going to kill each other, do it outside. I just finished cleaning.”

2. My mother taught me RELIGION.

“You better pray that will come out of the carpet.”

3. My mother taught me about TIME TRAVEL.

“If you don’t straighten up, I’m going to knock you into the middle of next week!”

4. My mother taught me LOGIC.

“Because I said so, that’s why.”

5. My mother taught me MORE LOGIC.

“If you fall out of that swing and break your neck, you’re not going to the store with me.”

6. My mother taught me FORESIGHT.

“Make sure you wear clean underwear, in case you’re in an accident.”

7. My mother taught me IRONY.

“Keep crying, and I’ll give you something to cry about.”

8. My mother taught me about the science of OSMOSIS.

“Shut your mouth and eat your supper.”

9. My mother taught me about CONTORTIONISM.

“Will you look at that dirt on the back of your neck!”

10. My mother taught me about STAMINA.

“You’ll sit there until all that spinach is gone.”

11. My mother taught me about WEATHER.

“This room of yours looks as if a tornado went through it.”

12. My mother taught me about HYPOCRISY.

“If I told you once, I’ve told you a million times. Don’t exaggerate!”

13. My mother taught me the CIRCLE OF LIFE.

“I brought you into this world, and I can take you out.”

14. My mother taught me about BEHAVIOR MODIFICATION.

“Stop acting like your father!”

15. My mother taught me about ENVY.

“There are millions of less fortunate children in this world who don’t have wonderful parents like you do.”

16. My mother taught me about ANTICIPATION.

“Just wait until we get home.”

17. My mother taught me about RECEIVING.

“You are going to get it when you get home!”

18. My mother taught me MEDICAL SCIENCE.

“If you don’t stop crossing your eyes, they are going to freeze that way.”

19. My mother taught me ESP.

“Put your sweater on; don’t you think I know when you are cold?”

20. My mother taught me HUMOR.

“When that lawn mower cuts off your toes, don’t come running to me.”

21. My mother taught me HOW TO BECOME AN ADULT.

“If you don’t eat your vegetables, you’ll never grow up.”

22. My mother taught me about GENETICS.

“You’re just like your father.”

23. My mother taught me about my ROOTS.

“Shut that door behind you. Do you think you were born in a barn?”

24. My mother taught me WISDOM.

“When you get to be my age, you’ll understand.”

25. And my favorite: My mother taught me about JUSTICE

“One day you’ll have kids, and I hope they turn out just like you!”

They Fly Through The Air…

…with the greatest of ease.  Blood sucking varmits.  Yes, those parasitic little pests, we call ticks. Did I mention I hate them? Well, just so you know…I do. I’m beginning to the get the full blown heebie-jeebies. Every time I walk outside I come in with a little “passenger” attached to  my personhood. This year seems to be really bad for the mini-vampires. Of course, the fact that we live in the middle of a field with lots of grass and the wind pretty much blowing 24/7 there is no telling what might decide to fly through the air before landing on you. Just sayin’.

Luckily (so far), I’ve found the parasites before they fully attach themselves. I told my husband, every time I come in the house from roaming around outside I have to do a full body check. Sneaky little things. Today I had one on my sweatshirt, and later another behind my ear….it was valiantly trying to bite through my hair. Good thing I found it when I did….otherwise it could have gotten lost in this wild mane of mine, and I’d be left defenseless with having the blood slowly sucked out of my brain. Don’t laugh people. It could happen. And then what?

To me ticks are a cross between a vampire and a spider. Neither of those descriptions thrills me. I tend to be more scared of spiders than anything. Even snakes. Or clowns. Or other scary things. So, you can imagine that someone that has arachnophobia would be a little distressed about the whole tick infestation thing. My mind starts to play tricks on me. Oh, my back itches….is that a tick? My head itches is that a tick? Is that a freckle on my arm? NO. It’s a tick! Agggghhhhhh!!!

Look what I found online….an up close and personal picture of my teeny, tiny enemy. He is not attractive.

Tick is the common name for the small arachnids insuperfamily Ixodoidea that, along with other mites, constitute the Acarina. Ticks are ectoparasites (externalparasites), living by hematophagy on the blood ofmammalsbirds, and occasionally reptiles andamphibians.

Short and Sweet on Arizona

Today there are to be all kinds of “May Day” protests about Arizona. I don’t get it. I am an intelligent, educated woman. I understand politics (well, as much as one can) and think I am fairly well up on current events.

Look, here is my take on the whole Arizona thing. ILLEGAL immigrants are streaming across our southern border. These people are BREAKING THE LAW. That is pretty cut and dry, right? Regardless of what one thinks about their motives for doing it and all that….it is still illegal. They are not citizens. They are not coming into the country legally. They made the choice to break the law. People can argue all they want but, that doesn’t change the facts. We, as American citizens don’t owe them anything. We don’t owe them medical care, we don’t owe them an education, we don’t owe them a job. They are ILLEGAL. I am all for immigration if it is done the right way. I have many friends that are here as first generation Americans…..their parents came to this country and did the RIGHT THINGS to become citizens. They came here because they wanted to become a part of this country. My one friend, who is Hispanic, said that she resents people coming to this country “through the back door”. It’s not fair…..and she is right. It isn’t. It does cause resentment among people. It becomes a powder keg………

As CITIZENS of the USA, and of the state of Arizona…..the people of Arizona have a right not to have to put up with rampant law breakers (a great deal of which have criminal records already–many as dangerous drug runners) in their state. People that are there illegally. Innocent  Arizona citizens are being shot at, and in some cases, KILLED on their own property. How is that right?!

If a person of Hispanic descent has to show paper work to prove that they are here legally, then so be it. If a person is here legally they have nothing to worry about. Seems to me that if I were Hispanic I’d resent the illegals causing it to have to be this way.NOT the people of Arizona.  Why isn’t anyone upset with the illegals? Why isn’t our country ANGRY with Mexico? Why isn’t Mexico doing more to keep their people in their own country? Why aren’t they taking any responsibility?

Let me reiterate in case I didn’t make myself perfectly clear. Immigration is great. ILLEGAL immigration IS NOT. We as citizens of this country have a right to hold immigrants to a standard.  They need to respect our laws in this country. We still live in the best country in the world. People WANT to come here. We need to make sure that they are welcomed, as long as they are LEGAL.