Thursday, May 26, 2016

May in Review

I don't know if it's because my job is deadline driven or what, but this year has been one big blur for me, zipping by at the speed of sound. I simply can't believe May is almost over.

The first of the month found me surrounded by paint cans, drop cloths, ladders, rollers and brushes. Living alone makes it easy to do stuff like that—nobody bugging me about getting the table cleared and fixing supper. Wink.

I had been wanting to paint my living room the same color as my dining room for a while. I used Behr's Marquee paint (guaranteed one-coat coverage) and the color is "Nurture." It's a very soft, calming color, and I'm totally pleased. For some reason, the new color required different decor on the mantel, and although I've not got things exactly like I want them, I'm getting there. I scattered my copper pieces around the room and also purchased a few new ones.

I also had the brilliant idea of replacing my existing coffee table with my DIY project from my granddaughter's room—this oneThe only catch was: I had to get it downstairs, and it weighs more than an 18-wheeler with a load of steel. 

Now, trust me, I do stupid things all the time, playing Sampson, but that was about the stupidest thing ever! I wrestled with that coffee table in the stairwell for longer than you would believe, trying to figure out how on earth I was going to get it down without it (or me) falling to the bottom of the stairs and banging into a thousand pieces. I actually had a "come to Jesus meeting" on the stairs, hanging on to the table for dear life, asking for forgiveness for my sin. If I had captured the descent on video, it would go viral. 

But, as they say, all is well that ends well, and the coffee table is safe and sound in the living room, looking quite lovely beneath my books and what-nots. 

Mother's Day was bittersweet. I still have no answers as to why my only child suddenly banished me and my family from her life without warning or explanation a year ago this week. Needless to say, I miss her and my grandchild every single day, but I do my best not to let my grief rob me of the good things that were and the good things that remain. Thus, Big Sister and I spent Mother's Day with our dear mom. She is loved by all who know her, and I wish she could live forever.

Daddy turned 89 on the 14th. God has blessed him with long life and good health, and we celebrated with a partial family gathering at a catfish place near their home.

In my mind's eye, Daddy remains the most handsome and strongest man I know. He drives me a little crazy sometimes, but I'm glad he's still sitting at the head of our table.

Of course, May never goes by without me remembering my fairy tale wedding in 1982. I believe marriage should last forever, but too often these days, it doesn't. The 15th would've been our 34th wedding anniversary. I still mourn my broken family circle. 

On the 19th, I hosted a dinner at my house, celebrating my niece's upcoming birthday. Shelaine holds a special place in my heart, and I'm proud of the woman she's become.

Yesterday, I left work and drove straight to Miss Arabella, my adorable grand niece. She makes the shadows disappear for a while, and I couldn't love her more. Although she usually does a double-take between me and her Memaw (my identical twin), I think she fully understands now that the two aren't one. ☺ I'm so glad she's in the neighborhood, and I know we'll be seeing lots of each other as time goes by.

And that brings us to now. Outside my window, rain falls in loud splashes onto the sidewalk. I had considered a little getaway during the long weekend, but if the weather doesn't take a turn, I'll probably stay home and hang out in my pjs.

If anybody is still reading, I hope your May has been beautiful. Life is so very fragile, and can change drastically with a phone call, or even an email. Unwrap each moment with care, and hug tightly those you love. ♦

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

My Blogging Friend

Recently, my sweet blogging friend Cheryl (from "Homespun Devotions") asked if I would consider participating in her ongoing series, "Inner Views." I was honored to say yes and be a part.

It's amazing how God causes our paths to cross with people we need whenever we need them, and the day I stumbled across Cheryl's blog, I knew it wasn't by chance. She's a prayer warrior, and her words have encouraged me so many times in the past few months. If you aren't following her blog, I hope you will begin today.

I am sharing the link to my "Inner Views" in hopes that the words and music there will uplift another along the journey. Whatever I do for His Kingdom is all that truly matters in this life.

Blessings to you, sweet Cheryl. You're a true vessel of God.

Friday, May 6, 2016

I Miss Mean Mothers

This article was originally published in The Dallas Morning News on Mother's Day 2002, and it has been republished in numerous publications. Although I've posted it here before, the message is timeless, and I'm posting it again in honor of my mean mother on Mother's Day. I am blessed to still have her in my life.

Growing up along the banks of the Mississippi River, my sisters and I had the kind of mother every child dreads: a mean one. She was the meanest mother in Warren County, and her list of rules had no end.

We couldn’t sass.

We couldn’t say “yep.”

We couldn’t say “nope.”

We couldn't say "golly."

We couldn't say "gee."

We couldn’t ask for something without saying please.

Indeed, life with Mother consisted of rules, rules and more rules—and they weren’t limited to 529 Hill Street. The Queen of Mean had rules for everywhere.

No smacking gum in the car. No undressing mannequins in stores. No belching in restaurants.

Even in church, Mother was mean.

As the church pianist, Mother didn’t sit beside us on the pew, but never fear—Mother’s eyes could execute orders from afar, no words required. I called it the Look of Death.

Personally, I never understood how Mother could stare at three kids simultaneously without moving her eyes either direction, but she did. No blinking. No wrong chords. Just steady staring and steady playing—lips puckered, one eyebrow cocked, shoulders rigid.

Sometimes it took us a while to realize that Mother was in the Look-of-Death mode, but once we figured it out, it didn’t take us very long to get spiritual. After all, weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth were no foreign concepts to Mother’s kids. When we sang, “Savior, Savior, hear my humble cry,” we meant: “Right now, God! Mother is looking!” The terror of the Lord was one thing, but the terror of the pianist was something else.

Mother was a very gifted woman, capable of doing just about anything. But nothing was more important to Mother than raising her children. At times, I wished it had been otherwise. Mother would have made an excellent Commanding General in the United States Marine Corps: giving orders was what she did best.

Recently, I overheard a mother counting to three after telling her offspring to do something, and I couldn’t help but chuckle. Mother never counted to three after telling us to do anything. She didn’t even count to one! She ordered. We obeyed. No countdown.

As my sisters and I edged toward adulthood, Mother’s rules didn’t disappear, but she did fine-tune them a bit to fit the seasons. Occasionally, she even made rules on the fly as she winged her way through the unfamiliar terrain of raising teenage girls.

I remember one such time very well.

It was one of my first real dates. Curfew time was nearing, and me and Mr. Wrong were sitting out front in the car with the engine off.

As we smiled into each other’s eyes, the porch light came on. Then it went off again. Then on. Then off. On. Off. On. Off.


Yes, Mother—still executing orders from afar. “Time to say good-night and come inside,” her switch-twitch was saying. And, of course, I wasted no time in exiting the vehicle and high-tailing it to the front door.

It seems that mean mothers aren’t as prevalent as they were when I was growing up. I don’t know what happened to them. Instead of mean mothers, we have a bunch of mean kids—fighting, cursing, killing their classmates, their teachers, and their own flesh and blood.

I miss mean mothers.

Children miss them, too. ♦

Sunday, May 1, 2016

"U" Are the Key

My typewriter is rather old, but it works qxite well—except for one key.  Trxe, all the other keys fxnction fine, bxt as yox can see, when one key isn’t working properly, the final prodxct is greatly affected.

And so it is in God’s kingdom.

You might say, well, I am just one person. My contributions aren’t terribly important in the overall scheme of things. I don’t sing. I don’t preach. I don’t teach. I am not the head of any department. I am not as important as others to the cause of Christ.

But that isn’t true, my friend. Just because you aren’t as visible as others, doesn’t mean you aren’t as important.

After all, God’s work isn’t limited to what happens when church is in session.  The majority of God’s work is done when church is dismissed, when the lights go out, when no one but God is looking.

As demonstrated by the Good Samaritan, God’s work is fulfilled one-on-one, loving our neighbors as ourselves, doing little things that make big, big differences in the lives of those around us.

Little things like: hugging a hurting child, having lunch with a single mom or sending a card to a friend in crisis.

How much applause we get from men isn’t important—unless we’re working for an earthly reward, or course. It is how well we do our job that will matter in the end.

So the next time yox feel xnimportant in God’s great big family, jxst think aboxt my typewriter and say to yoxrself: I’m jxst as important as anyone else.  And if I don’t fxlfill my role properly, the finished prodxct will be greatly affected.

 “For we are labourers together with God.” I Corinthians 3:9

This article first appeared in Signs of the Times magazine.

Linking with: Spiritual Sundays