Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Happy List

When the heart aches, finding relief is often difficult, so this week I made a "Happy List." It's something my daughter and I used to do during the initial days of my post-divorce life. It forced us to look for ordinary things that made us feel good and forget our worries, if only for a moment. The list can have one item or 10—doesn't matter. If you're struggling with heartache, I highly recommend it.


My "Happy List"
                                                                                                    


1. The freshness of the mini-bundt cake I ate yesterday.

2. A cheery voice calling, "Hello, cowgirl."


3. The snowcone truck at work.


4. The way the evening sunshine streams through my front windows. 


5. Blue Hour in the suburbs.

6. Rocking Arabella to sleep, her tiny fingers wrapped tightly around mine.

"Finally brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are LOVELY, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things."  (Philippians 4:8)

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Snapshots ~ Home For The Weekend

For the last four months, I have been walking the darkest valley of my life, struggling to even breathe some days. I've always found home to be a place of comfort and strength during seasons of distress, so on Friday afternoon, the twin and I headed east to spend some time with our dear mom and dad. 

After a bit of a rainy morning, the sky was a perfect blue when we rolled into the driveway. Daddy's flag was standing tall, swaying majestically in the balmy breeze.

After a delicious dinner of fried pork chops, Daddy did some final trimming around his freshly-mowed property. Since his fall from the roof in 2012 (blogged about here), we've offered to hire someone to keep it mowed and manicured for him, but he assures us that, even at 88, he is happy while he works. Yes, his ankle made of plates, pins and screws slows him down, but he almost can't be stopped.

The old yard swing always draws me in when I visit. How well I remember sitting in it one night in 2003, after my divorce, wondering how I would be able to make a good life for me and my teenage daughter. I had been without work for nine months, and no offers were coming in. I wondered where God was and why he wasn't meeting my needs.

Through tears of desperation, I suddenly noticed a breathtaking moon behind the tall pines, rising in the east, big, buttery and bright. Within a few moments, the swing creaked and God was there, assuring me that I was exactly where I needed to be—under a full moon in an old yard swing with the one who loved me most. He held the moon in the sky, after all, and he knew how to hold me. I needed to trust and believe.

It was a defining moment in my journey, and I mentioned it in a blog here a few years ago. If you need encouragement, I hope you'll visit the link and listen to the song posted there.

Once Daddy was finished with his yard work, he joined me in the swing and we studied the impeccable sky. There was that breathtaking moon again, reminding me that God knows where I am, and that he's faithful when times are hard.

As the sun was setting, I made a trip to the nearby grocery store to buy a few things for lunch the next day. I never tire of magnificent sunsets, and I always marvel at the Creator's handiwork and his immense love for me.

It was almost dark when I returned, and I couldn't resist a shot of the old home place in the twilight. Countless memories had been made inside those wall, behind those glowing windows, and this weekend, thanks to God's goodness and mercy, more memories were being made.

With dinner all done, the dishes put away and the crossword puzzle conquered, it was time for some popcorn and dominoes. Mom and Dad are excellent players; Dayle and I, not so much. However, miracles do happen, and my wombmate won a game, and I won a game. Woohoo! Twins rule!

The next morning, heavenly aromas drifted upstairs long before lunch time, as Mother scurried about the kitchen, doing her thing. My favorite dessert is her homemade plum cobbler, and as I wandered into the kitchen for my first cup of coffee, I saw she was making sure I had some. I smiled and snapped a shot of her magic in progress.

In the midst of her magic, she paused to pose with her kid in the kitchen.

As we feasted on the goodness of Mother's hands, a soft rain fell outside, bringing a much needed refreshing to all living things, including Mother's lovely fern. I could almost hear it saying ahhhh beneath the tiny glistening drops. ☺

Much too soon, it was time to go, and as we joined hands in the living room and prayed for safe travels, I thanked God for his amazing grace and for my parents' endless love, still reaching out to me after all these years, lifting my head and lighting my way. Even in the darkest of valleys, I am blessed. ♦

Please join me at Spiritual Sundays, where faith is still proclaimed.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Me and Arabella Marie

If you follow my twin Dayle you know all about her granddaughter Arabella Marie. I can't believe she's five months old now, and my love for her grows and grows. I wish I could see her every day, but I kiss her face as often as I can. Here are just a few pictures of me and my beloved grand niece.

I fell in love instantly with this beautiful bundle of joy.

After a hard day at work, she lifts my spirits without doing a thing.

Easter Sunday with proud Memaw and Big Sister.

Pure innocence, staring at me. Isn't she heavenly?

Before heading for an Astro's game, I sing her a tune.

 
The best part of my day—Arabella.

Giving me reasons to smile on Saturday.

Since the birth of my own granddaughter two years, ago, I've often sung the Oak Ridge Boys' tune "Thank God For Kids." My favorite line says: "The nearest thing to heaven is a child." Until next time, my friends, please pray for children everywhere, born or unborn.  ♦

Monday, July 20, 2015

Tiny Details; Big God


My heart was heavy the day I stopped by the botanical gardens on my lunch break. I had never experienced such emotional pain, and I wasn't sure I could keep breathing. I had tunneled through dark places before, but in all my years of living, I had never faced a mountain of such vast proportions.

As I walked along the beautifully manicured pathways, talking to my Creator, I was suddenly drawn to the various flowers nearby, particularly the tiny ones. The intricate details of each minuscule bloom astounded me. Such perfection!

Suddenly, I was reminded of how big God is, and that he is able to do "exceedingly abundantly" above all that I can ask or think. No matter what tomorrow held, God was bigger, and not only was he concerned about the big burdens I carried, he cared about the tiniest details of my life, too. It was just the reminder I needed to keep breathing for another day. ♦

Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen. Ephesians 3:20-21


I'm linking up with:
Judith's Mosaic Monday at Lavender Cottage
Joan's Sharing His Beauty

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Intriguing Infinity Pools

Lately, I've been intrigued with infinity pools. Maybe it's because I'm experiencing great emotional pain in my life right now, and infinity pools have the appearance of endless calm and relaxation—at least most of them do.

found one that gives me the heebie jeebies. It's located in Singapore, and it stands 650 ft. above street level. Although the edge of the pool isn't as severe as it appears in this picture, I don't know how peaceful swimming among skyscrapers would be. Yikes! ☺

Marina Bay Sands Hotel - Singapore

On the other hand, here are 12 spectacular infinity pools (one for each month of the year) that exude "calm and relaxation." I'm sharing them in no particular order for your oohing and ahhing pleasure.

1. Baraka Point (The Estate) ~ Virgin Gorda
(Extravagant spenders can rent this magnificent place. You have to check it out...here.)


2. Santorini, Greece

  
3. Hotel Caesar Augustus ~ Island of Capri
(You HAVE to see this place. Majestic! Click here.)


4. Jade Mountain ~ St. Lucia
(The beauty of this place will really take your breath away.)


5. Puerto Rico

  
6. Blue Palace Resort and Spa ~ Greece
(It's hard to tell where the pool ends and the sea begins.)

7. Bahamas


8. Jade Mountain ~ St. Lucia
(Just wow.)

9. Spain



11. Bali

And last...

12. Bora Bora

__________________________

Every time I look at these infinity pools, so still and serene, I'm reminded of verses from the 23rd Psalm:

"The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures, he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul."

How comforting it is to know that, in times of agonizing grief, when tears fall like rain, and our hearts ache without ceasing, rest can be found in the Lord. ♦

Linking up with:

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Come Boldly To Obtain


This morning, in the dawn's early light, I knelt beside my bed and talked to the Master. The one who calmed the winds and spoke peace to a stormy sea.

The one who fed five thousand with five loaves and two fishes. The one who stood at a tomb and cried with a loud voice, "Lazarus, come forth!" and Lazarus came. The one who restored sight to the blind and hope to the hopeless.

The one who said, "Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows."

I never take lightly the privilege of talking to him. And knowing he listens and cares about every small detail of my life is almost more than my mind can comprehend.

You can talk to him, too—morning, noon or night. You don't need a title. You don't need silver or gold. You don't even need an appointment. Just open the door, and go right in. ♦


"Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace,
that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need."
~
Hebrews 4:16

Linking to:
Imparting Grace
Spiritual Sundays

Thursday, May 7, 2015

My Nominee for "Best Mother in the World"


As Mother's Day approaches, I'd like to present my nominee for Best Mother in the World. 

She lives in a modest house in a small town with a man she married over 60 years ago. She is of average height and average weight and has gentle eyes of blue.

She has never held public office, has never traveled overseas and has never participated in a conference call.

She couldn't act her way out of a wet paper sack, she has no impressive degrees on her walls, and I doubt her singing would win a Grammy.

Although she doesn't have a computer, WiFi or a TV, she is never bored. If she isn't whipping up something delectable in her kitchen, she is working on a quilting project, crocheting something special for a friend or winning another game of dominoes.

And speaking of friends, she has them around the globe. At all hours of the day, they call, seeking expert advice and words to live by. She is generous with both, and she cherishes each friendship she's made. Just last week, when discussing getting a new phone, she was worried about possibly losing her 300-plus contacts.

With my dear Leslie, many years ago.
When her grandchildren were young, her favorite pastime was playing board games. For hours, she would sit, tossing dice, spinning wheels or handling play money like a pro. When asked if she would rather be doing other things, she would smile and say no. She was busy making her mark on the next generation.

Some say she raised children like a pro, too. As the mother of three, she spent many hours guiding little feet in the paths of righteousness. Not with long, lecturing sermons of "do as I say." But by example.

Her three girls: Elaine, Dayle and Gayle

She never pointed out other people's faults. She never gossiped. She never raised her voice unless it needed to be raised. She honored her husband and put her children's needs ahead of any ambitions of her own.

She had no time for disobedience and disrespect. Her discipline for such offenses was swift and sure.

If money was a problem, her girls never knew it. They always had food to eat, clothes to wear and plenty of dirt outside to play in.

In her myriad years of living, she has suffered disappointment, heartache and grief. But she never complains. She believes all things work together for the good, and that silver linings are found on the darkest of clouds.

With her great-granddaughter, Audrey Emeline - a bright light in my life.
Today, her three daughters each have a grown daughter, and those three daughters have daughters of their own. She wishes she could see her children every day, but she makes the most of the time she is given.

Occasionally, someone says I look like this nominee for Best Mother in the World, and it is a compliment, for sure. But more than anything, I want to be like her. Hard-working. Faithful in small things. A woman who loves her family, values her friends and leaves a mark on generations to come.

Happy Mother's Day, dear mother. I love you beyond words.  ♦

This post is a revised version of my original column that appeared in The Dallas Morning News in 1999.
Original article was shared HERE.
Linking to Spiritual Sundays

Friday, April 17, 2015

With Daddy in the Den ~ Savoring the Moments


 After a long day at work, I pointed my car east and headed to my parents' house, anxious to spend precious hours among the pines with the two people who love me most. Despite a whole lot of traffic, a little bit of rain, and a ferocious south wind, I made good time and arrived just before nightfall.

As usual, Daddy was at the front door with Mother right behind him, giving out hugs that made me question the sanity of living alone. Supper was still warm on the stove, and while they filled me in on the latest happenings, I consumed what was left of the shrimp casserole. The sound of their voices soothed me, and I fully released the stresses of my day.



After three games of dominoes, Mother puttered in the kitchen, preparing for lunch the next day. Daddy and I retreated to the den, where we sat talking about nothing really. At one point, he mentioned a song he had sung while ministering out-of-state recently, and then he began singing it. When he got to the chorus, I joined in with harmony notes. It’s an old song, and the chorus says:

When I look back down the road, where I laid my heavy load,
And I think of all the victories I've won;
Sometimes I get a thrill, when I look back down the hill,
And I see just where the Lord has brought me from.


The significance of the lyrics weren't lost on me as I harmonized with my 87-year-old father, walking the last miles of his journey, no doubt. Without warning, a tear rolled down my cheek, and then another, and another. How blessed I was to have had my father all these years, and how grateful I was for the indelible influences his faith has had on my life and on the lives of countless others. ♦

Saturday, March 28, 2015

A Blueprint for Letting Go and Letting God

Do you struggle with letting go of things (or people) you care deeply about, but have no control over? Have you tried to let go, but your anxious thoughts keep returning? If so, I used to be in your shoes, and this blog is for you.

It was about a year ago. Despite being a person of great faith, I found myself on a destructive path of tears, fears and chronic worrying. I knew I couldn't stay sane if I didn't stop my anxious thinking, but I didn't know how to exit the deadly roller coaster of giving my worries to God and picking them up again. Dear Lord, I whispered, as I prepared for bed that evening, I really need a blueprint for letting go of my worries. I can't continue down this ruinous path. Help me, please.

As odd as it might seem, I have a practice of reading my daily devotional at bedtime instead of morning, and as I opened it to the day's date, it was like God entered my bedroom and personally delivered the blueprint I so desperately needed. Each word was timely and inspirational, but the real recipe for letting go came at the end where the author shared a story about Dr. Edward Payson, a 19th Century preacher who was known as "Praying Payson."


Dr. Payson, while still a young man, once wrote to an elderly mother who was extremely worried and burdened over the condition of her son, He wrote,

   You are worrying too much about him. Once you have prayed for him, as you have done, and committed him to God, you should not continue to be anxious. God's command, "Do not be anxious about anything" (Phil. 4:6), is unlimited, and so is the verse, "Cast all your anxiety on him" (1 Peter 5:7). If we truly have cast our burdens upon another, can they continue to pressure us? If we carry them with us from the throne of grace, it is obvious we have not left them there. In my own life I test my prayers in this way: after committing something to God, if I can come away, like Hannah did, with no more sadness, pain, or anxiety in my heart, I see it as proof that I have prayed the prayer of faith. But if I pray and then still carry my burden, I conclude my faith was not exercised.

Needless to say, tears fell that night, and I laid my worries down and exited the roller coaster with peace in my heart. Have I been aboard the roller coaster since then? Of course. I'm human. But I don't ride it very long. I have a blueprint for stopping the madness, and every time I follow it, the madness stops.


Linking to:

Friday, March 20, 2015

Spring is Springing!

It was the perfect day for escaping the office at lunchtime, and I couldn't resist the arboretum nearby. The intoxicating fragrance of blooms greeted me at the front gate. In a few weeks the gardens will be awash in color, but I love the initial bursts of spring that come and go so quickly. Tulips, for instance. Cherry blossoms. Dogwoods. Redbuds. Azaleas. Here are some pics for your viewing pleasure.

Winding ribbons of color. Thank you, Lord, for the wonderous works of your hands.

The white tulips took my breath away. "Amazing" isn't almost sufficient.

It had been awhile since I saw a blue sky.

The pines seemed to go on forever. Only the Creator could make it so.

I loved this fuzzy little bloom. Not sure what it is.

Bluebonnets. Made me homesick for Dallas.

A few lingering azaleas. Our endless rains stripped the bushes almost as they bloomed.

Daffodils. One of my springtime favorites.

Such a stunning shade of blue!









Anybody? I don't know what it is.

I loved this blooming tree, draped over the little walkway. Fuchsia. A fav color of mine.

Even the goldfish seemed to know that winter was past. How gracefully they glide through the water.

And finally....

The minute I saw the name of this herb, I had to snap a pic.
I think I've been called this on more than one occasion.

♥ ♥ ♥

I'm linking to: