Monday

Monday Randomness

So much going on, no time to stop and tell you. Went to a BEAUTIFUL wedding this weekend. I also got to see many, many friends from "days gone by" -- and it made me so glad that my citizenship is in heaven where I will see all of those folks and so many more again.

Funny picture story, though: there wasn't a reception after the wedding, only a private family dinner. Since there wasn't a big, official cake (well, then, what's the point of the wedding, my kids would say) there were these precious little boxes of individual cupcakes -- like hundreds of little wedding cakes! I went to go pick up one for each of my kids and my photographer friend encouraged me to take more: "It would make a great picture!" he says. Well, I'm nothing if not on board for a funny picture. So I started piling on the little boxes and the two girls that had been at the guest book table came around the corner just in time to see me. "I'm not REALLY taking these!" I told them. "It's just for a picture!" "Well, then, let us help you!" So we did the best we could without losing any cupcakes. The two girls behind me weren't the photographer helpers -- I'm sure they just thought I was completely without class (which, considering the circumstances, I'm close).

I did not drop any and truly did only leave with two (thinking -- oh, so mistakenly, that one of my children would share with me). Randy was right -- I should have taken more.


While I am posting funny pictures, here's when we went to the Rangers game in June and I had to let Juan down ever-so-gently. You KNOW he paid big bucks for this:


In the past few weeks in my quiet time I have been reading Ephesians 3:14-21 as my prayer for the day. I just love it so much. And I shall pray it for you:

For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven
and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may
strengthen you (you, precious blog-reader!) with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell
in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you (you,
precious blog-reader!)
, being rooted and established in love, may
have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high
and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses
knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. (can you even IMAGINE being "filled to the measure of
all the fullness of God"??? Don't you pray that for yourself, too?)
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask
or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in
the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever!
Amen. (and AMEN!!)

May you find His blessings and be filled to the measure of all the fullness of Him this week.

Tuesday

Seriously, It Could Be Worse

Last weekend was "The Greatest Homecoming on Earth" at, not only our Alma Mater, but hubby's place of employment, as well. For such events, he (and, to some degree, I am as well) is "strongly encouraged" to don purple, schmooze and "heh-heh" with the best of them. And he generally does, and does it well. So I was most surprised to find him in bed Friday afternoon when I got home from work while hundreds of purple-clad alums wandered the campus without his personal greeting. I will not detail the remainder of that evening other than to say it didn't take long to surmise that he had been struck with the same stomach bug Riley had earlier in the week.

Finally, Sunday p.m. about 8 he said, "I'm finally starting to feel almost normal, though I have no idea what happened to Saturday." (Here's a hint -- you moved from the bed to the chair and back to the bed and there was a lot of snoring involved). So the poor guy completely lost a weekend.

Monday morning, off he trudged to work to start his week hopefully healthier than he ended the previous one. Readying the all-important coffee, he begins to fill the pot with water. He finally glances down into the chamber to see how much more water he needs to add -- and sees a lizard, doing the backstroke (actually, it was swimming right-side up, and very much alive). Ew. Then he begins to speculate how long the chamber of the coffee pot has been the lizard's home. And the heeby-jeebies are in full force epidemic.

I am generally not a "woe are Mondays" kind of person (though I've had my moments) but that one should take the cake for quite a while.

Sunday

Vision for Eternity

I guess it's been about 6 or 8 weeks ago that I learned of this blog, where, at the time, Conor and Boothe Farley were awaiting the birth of their second daughter. They knew that this daughter wouldn't make it long in this world. She was diagnosed prenatally with Trisomy 18. I know very little about that disorder, other than that it seems to be cruel and leave broken families in its wake. Copeland Farley was born on September 18 and was the most beautiful china doll of a baby you have ever seen. She went home to Jesus on September 26, living for an astounding 8 days with her family soaking up every minute that they possibly could with her.

Boothe continues to blog about her walk down this road of grief and share with the internet the range of emotions that bombard her. I really believe the Lord is speaking through her in powerful ways. In preparing for a talk, I was preparing to mention something about how all of life -- our rising and sleeping, daily work, etc. -- are all in God's hands and His will and we will do nothing outside of God's will. But I don't want to leave that out there as if horrible things that happen TO people are God's will. Then I heard one woman mention the complexity that is the Sovereignty of God versus the free will of man. Yes. How do you explain that -- is it even possible? Then I read the following post from Boothe. Wow. Her words are powerful.

"For the foolishness of God is wiser than man's wisdom, and the weakness of
God is stronger than man's strength." (1 Corinthians 1:25)

A pastor who prayed over Copeland at one point reminded me - well, to be
truthful: told me - that her disease, her sickness, her plight, whatever you
care to call it, wasn't God's design. It wasn't His plan. We talk a lot about
"God's will" and of course I do believe He has a will, although I'm growing more
and more convinced that our sorrows and sufferings have absolutely nothing to do
with it. What we see in the midst of great agony and strife is usually a glimpse
into both Heaven and Hell - and in the glimpsing, there's a gift. In my broken,
four-pound baby, who looked a little different, lived a great deal differently,
and ultimately left me here to grieve her loss, I found a sort of joy that I'd
never known, a real joy, and my time with her was not only laced but literally
steeped in happiness and blessing. And yet, the hour of her departure and
certainly the last moments I held her were wracked with a sorrow and heartache
that I could not have imagined. There was a bit of Heaven, and a bit of Hell.
How I long to fully know the one and fully spurn the other! Therein lies the
real gift. Perhaps God's will is more wrapped up in removing the blinders from
our eyes than in giving or taking anything away.

So am I mad? Sometimes. If God didn't ordain Copeland's sickness, if it
wasn't His design, why in the world did she have it? Because I live here. It's
like asking why I have a Southern accent. It comes free, courtesy of my locale.
She wasn't sick because I needed to learn a lesson. She wasn't sick because I
didn't do enough things right - or too many things wrong. She was sick because
we live in a broken, fallen world and until Jesus comes back, things are just
going to keep going wrong. Not all the time - that's when the glimpses of Heaven
come in. But quite frequently. Life is truly one long dysfunction. Only by God's
grace - getting what we don't deserve - do we ever see any good at all. I
bargain with God a lot. I tell Him that this was it, this was my quota of "bad
stuff." And I mean it. But the reality is that as long as I'm here, the bad
stuff's going to keep on coming. All I can do is pray the packaging looks a
little different and that Jesus will hold me up until He takes me home or
returns. It sounds like a pretty raw deal. But that's through human eyes. If we
could see differently, we'd think differently.

Before Copeland was born, I prayed that God would give me a "vision for
eternity." I think I probably uttered those words more in a moment of personal
satisfaction - "wow, that sounds good!" - than true desire, but nevertheless,
they seemed to have been Spirit-filled. I want a clearer understanding of
Heaven, to be sure. I want to know more fully where Copeland is. But my prayer
at that point, while I thought it regarded her experiences, was really about my
own. If the only vision I have is for right now - she's gone, i'm here, and the
world's literally going to Hell in a handbasket - then I'm going to be one
bitter girl. The vision I need is one that tells me that what makes sense to my
senses isn't necessarily true. Broken bodies often equal whole spirits. Strength
can sometimes house itself in weakness. A vision for eternity turns the truths
of this world on end. It's the only way an unattractive, unpopular renegade
hanging on a cross can possibly mean more than brutality and devastation.

And so I keep praying that prayer. Fix my eyes on You, Lord. Like another
old song, "Come Thou Fount," says: "Prone to wander/ Lord, I feel it/ Prone to
leave the God I love/ Here's my heart/ Oh take and seal it/ Seal it for Thy
courts above."

Friday

Now Look What We've Done!

Yes, I'm a spelling nazi. Can't help myself. Misspellings and typos bug me less than improper usage of a word: your for you're or there for their, for instance. The other night on ABC News I saw a piece about one dictionary publisher (not Webster's, and I don't remember which one) is completely caving in. For instance, even though 'vocal cord' is the proper spelling, so many people spell it 'vocal chord', that dictionary is including both spellings. Nice. Let's just go ahead and dumb down the entire dictionary to go hand-in-hand with texting. Let's make 'R' an acceptable spelling for 'are' and 'U' an acceptable spelling for 'you', while you're at it.

Today in Room 24 I saw a spelling I was completely unprepared for. Which word in this sentence will be an acceptable use spelling in 20 years?:

Wii have 10 mroe das for Holloween.


Nintendo would be proud.

Thursday

Observation for Today

As long as America educates the public's children, we will continue to lag behind the competitive world market in education until we can get the public to care about the education of their own children.

Wednesday

This One Thing I Do

I am announcing, without much fanfare, that I have discovered what it is the Lord has for you to do in life. I know, before I go on, that I SHOULD write the book, get a good publisher and marketing campaign, and make millions. Because that is the question for the Christian: "But what does God want me to do with my life?"

Troy and I spent several years here working in ministry with college students. They seemed to ask the question frequently, but I found it no different than people twice their age: "What does God want me to do with my life?" I hear it from others of all ages, and I've wondered it myself. I do think that, finally, God has revealed it to me. Not just for me, but for you, as well. But my book won't be published, because no one wants to hear it. People don't really want to know what God wants them to do with their life, but instead they want a peek at the rest of their life will look like. People are really saying, "Lord, hand me the map! I will get myself there if I just know where I'm going!!" Our impatience stops us from being able to do what it is that God has for us to do -- or at least stops us from considering it as what God wants us to do with our life.

I do want to know what God has for me to do. I don't think that at my season of life I'm doing all that the Lord will have me do in life, but I am secure in the knowledge that I am doing what the Lord has for me at this minute. When will it change? When will God call me to change occupations or increase a ministry? Which of those will He ask me to do? What will it look like? In short, He's not going to tell me right now. But I still know what God wants me to do with my life. Jesus told me. They are part of his last words to his disciples before crucifixion


"I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch
in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so
that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I
have spoken to you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No
branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine.
Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in
me
.
"I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and
withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish,
and it will be given you. This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much
fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.
"As the Father has
loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 1If you
obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have
obeyed my Father's commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that
my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love
each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay
down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no
longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business.
Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father
I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed
you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you
whatever you ask in my name. This is my command: Love each other." John
15:1-14


Did you catch it? That's all he wants: "Remain in me" and I will be sure you do what you're supposed to do. "Remain in me" and I will lead you to the occupation/ministry/calling that I have for you. "Remain in me" and I will fully equip you for the occupation/ ministry/ calling that I have for you. "Remain in me."

I guess now you understand why this idea/ philosophy won't exactly sell to the masses. I've tried it with a few souls who trust me enough to share their searching hearts with me. It's too ambiguous, too "out-there", maybe even too "churchy" of an answer. I don't know -- but I do know it isn't what people want to hear. And, truthfully, I get that. I can't stand getting to my birthday or Christmas morning and not knowing what is already wrapped for me -- I sure don't want to wait another 5-10 years to see where the Lord is taking my life, ministry, and family. But I know that He loves me more than anyone on this earth can, so I can trust my future to Him. Well, and, there's that whole, "Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the LORD's purpose that prevails." thing (Proverbs 19:21). Truly, how much control do I have over my future anyway? I may as well remain in Him and let Him take care of it all, instead of me thinking that I have it totally under control.

Paul seemed to allude to this idea in his letter to the Philippians, and he put it much better than I have:

But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:13,14

Tuesday

Can You Hear Me Now?

(article published in the current Abilene Families )

Leaving the house on a recent afternoon, I turned toward the front door, even though I was leaving through the garage door. My husband had made a mad dash home at lunch to pick up something, and I was sure that since he was in a hurry when he left the front door would be unlocked. When I got in view of the door, I stopped and smiled. The door was locked. He loves me.

While I do know my husband loves me, I feel quite certain that thought was nowhere near the vicinity of his head when he locked the door. Oh, and ‘lest you think it’s just an absent-minded push-the-button-to-lock variety of love – oh, no: this is a turn around, find your keys, deadbolt the door kind of love. See? You’re feeling it, too, aren’t you?

As opposed to thoughts of romance and love as my husband went through this procedure, I can fairly accurately guess that his thoughts were more of the, “We really need to paint the porch” and “Why do we need a kitchen strainer in the front yard?” variety. But I heard him loud and clear. He was saying, “I do love you and want you to be safe and want you to be here when I return.”

I thought of this non-verbal form of love for my family when my husband expressed surprise that Son picked out an oatmeal raisin cookie at a restaurant. It occurred to me that my head is so full of everyone’s food, clothes, shampoo, toothpaste, hairstyle, friend, and music preferences that there is no room in my head for where I put my keys. Knowing all those things is just another way I say, “I love you”, along with the clean laundry and full pantry.

I think as a mom my nonverbal “I love you” is frequently hard to hear. Occasionally my “I love you” to my children is hard to hear because it says, “I love you too much to let you continue behaving the way you are” or “I love you too much to let dishonesty or irresponsibility go unpunished”. Sometimes my “I love you” is hard to hear because it says, “I love you because I truly never knew that embarrassing my children would be such a joy in my life. Thank you for providing that opportunity.” The eye rolls and ducked heads I receive in reciprocation are, I’m positive, yet another nonverbal “I love you”.

My children use nonverbal “I love you”, but at their age, it’s REALLY hard to hear sometimes. But I see it. A grin at my ridiculous jokes, joining me in singing off-key while we fix dinner, or humoring me while I squeeze them to pieces all let me know… they love me. I’m still trying to decode the message from the dirty socks that accumulate on my living room floor or the pile of dirty glasses in the bedrooms where food and drink aren’t allowed. But I’m almost positive it has something to do with how much they love me.

I believe – and this won’t take you long to realize if you spend any time at all around me – that a spoken “I love you” is vital. I make sure I tell each member of my family “I love you” at least once a day. When I stand at the doorway of my classroom in the afternoons, I hug or high five each child and tell them “I love you!” Sometimes I need the reminder as much as the child does at that point in the day! And sometimes, the child who hugs back the tightest or returns the “I love you” is the biggest shock of all.

No doubt, our loved ones need to hear that they are our loved ones. But if locked doors or knowing a list of favorites or (whatever way you say “I love you” without talking) isn’t saying “I love you”, then it’s just another set of words. As with pretty much all the rest of life, it’s a delicate balance: Say the words while you live the words. It shouldn’t be either-or, but c)all of the above.

At the same time, learn to hear the words that aren’t spoken. Notice what goes around you on a given day. Someone is saying, “I love you.” Are you listening?

Monday

Verse for the Week

I have decided that I am going to claim this verse this week:

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. Ephesians 4:29

Please don't hear me say I will be PERFECT at it -- 'cause I won't. But I will claim it.

For whatever reason, the Lord has really put on my heart how we, as a body, treat each other. I am also reading in Acts, the infancy of "church" on this planet. I think of how those believers, newly gifted with His Spirit, met together, prayed together, shared their belongings, and literally clung to each other for their lives. Church was a natural result of His Spirit being alive and vibrant within their hearts. So many of us (myself being the first of the line) expect church to be the entirity of our relationship with the Lord. And we wonder why He seems so far away.

My thoughts are muddled, and just as likely to be in error as accurate, but this I will cling to this week:

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. Ephesians 4:29.

Saturday

Memories of Poppa Max

I mentioned earlier that I have a list of memories of Poppa Max. This came about when an email from home in late August let me realize that I would not see my Poppa Max this side of heaven. Considering we had a long weekend, it would have been physically possible to go see him, but for a million different reasons, we chose not to.

Obviously, that was a difficult decision for me, and my very wise friend, Donna, encouraged me to spend the weekend resting from my week at school (that seemed to be the general consensus from my teacher friends!) and sharing memories of my Poppa Max with my children. What a great idea, and beautiful way to honor his life.

So I spent that weekend remembering Poppa Max (I haven't yet shared my memories with my kids -- they aren't sticking around a lot these days!) and smiling so much at what I remember. So, join me if you wish, in remembering my Poppa Max. Many of these memories include my grandmother, Maxine, of course. They were each other's lives for 54 years -- and 24 years of my life.

In no certain order, I remember:

  • Wednesday night runs after church to the 7-11 down the street. Mom and dad would talk after church while we loaded up on one candy, one icee, and one comic book. I think, at the time, all of that was $1. AND there were small icees -- maybe 8-10 oz. Those don't exist anymore. We made the 7-11 run every Wednesday night until he had his heart attack in 1980? 1982? and was unable to come to church for a while.


  • The ONE time I remember him being angry with me. (It was on Speed Ave. -- when did they move away?) I couldn't have been anymore than 4 or 5. I have NO idea what I did (I'm sure I was being a complete turkey) but I remember the tone of his voice and my heart being completely broken that I would make him angry. I only remember him angry one other time in my life -- and it was when someone had upset Maxine.


  • INCESSANT whistling, humming, made-up lyrics singing, and change-jingling. It was so constant, I don't think it was nervous -- I think of it as happy noises. Though it did drive me cuckoo on more than one occasion.


  • His booming bass voice singing in church while small children around us stared in open-mouthed amazement and my grandmother rolled her eyes and would lean to me and say, "He is SO loud." I'd trade anything in the world to hear him one more time.


  • More singing -- few people are privileged enough to attend their grandfather's third wedding, but I did. And at the reception he all but took over the microphone and made it his own little karaoke -- when else can you do that but your third wedding when you're 84?


  • Spending Christmas Eves together while he called "little friends" from church as Santa. "Have you been a good girl? Are you going to go to bed on time tonight?" Again, his tremendous bass voice was quite convincing.


  • The thanksgiving not too terribly long ago that he spent playing hide and seek with the kids. Not his own kids, not even his own grandkids, or great grand-kids. They were my cousins (no blood relation to him) children and I, personally, was way too old to be playing hide-and-seek -- so HE really was.


  • The way he kissed my grandmother 'hello' when he came in from playing golf -- which he did several times a week until his body made it too painful for him.
  • Always a Christmas gift for Mitchell, a downs' syndrome gentleman at our church, under the tree.


  • His prayer over me and my precious husband at our wedding (gracious, I'm going to cry now!) "This Troy, who has captured our young Sarah's heart..." sweet, sweet Max.


  • The day he met my Riley for the first time. One of my favorite pictures of both of them.


  • How much Ashley (same day) ADORED him and loved him as a playmate. (I'm pretty sure he's either whistling is singing, "Doody, doo-doo,..." in this picture).


  • I remember few specific times since there were so many, but a "happy" (generous check) from him at just the right time. He is/was all about generosity. He worked hard to get where he is financially, but he has no qualms with sharing what God has blessed him with.

Last week as we remembered and celebrated his life, I learned some new stories and was reminded of old ones. The gentleman that led us in singing during the funeral led "Just a Closer Walk With Thee" and pointed out that it was one of my grandfather's favorites (I had forgotten that). He also mentioned that in Max's life, it was evident that he walked closely with Jesus on a regular basis, so we should all learn from the fact that his constant prayer was to continue walking closer and closer to Jesus. And now that his victory is won, he is walking side by side with Jesus.

What a blessing to have such a legacy in my family tree. I am blessed beyond measure.

Tuesday

Randomness

This is my 600th post. Had I the time or energy, I might take you down memory lane and post my 100th, 200th, 300th, 400th, and 500th post. But then I would have to find them... Okay, okay -- I found them, and I have to say, most of them are actually okay ('cause they came from someone else). 400th? Not real fascinating!


Memo from "The Top" last week: "Printer cartridges for our new printers cost (some random inordinate amount of money). Please try to keep printing to a minimum."

Memo from "The Top" today: "Some of you have already printed out your class report summarized on one page. Please turn in your class report in the format of one page per student."

Gotcha. Saving printer ink AND paper, indeed.



Mom: "Riley, clean up for dinner. We have to eat early because I have to leave in a while."
Riley: "Where are you going?"
Mom: "My class has a program at school."
Riley: "And dad's our babysitter?"
Mom: "No, dad's your father."

Sunday

Sunday

Back from Louisiana for the funeral. My head is full of laughter with family, memories of Poppa Max, and the "apples of gold in settings of silver" of the kind, appropriate words I heard from so many people who loved my Max. My favorite story that I heard was from Kristen, a friend from childhood, whose daughter Carlisle was instructing Kristen when to come pick her up so that she could go to the funeral. Kristen said, "No, sweety, we think you need to stay in school today." Carlisle protested, "But I LOVED that man!!" Carlisle is 8. Sure, she may have needed an afternoon off of 3rd grade and this was as good a reason as any to get it, but it's just like my Max to have an 8 year old as one of his biggest fans.

For months I have been praying for him to be out of pain. I thought I was ready to let him go, but I'm still pretty sad that he had to go. Somewhere I have written down many of my favorite memories of him, and you'll have to bear with me when I put those here. According to the informal poll of folks at his funeral and/or visitation, most folks will miss his booming voice or his never-complaining, always-encouraging attitude. Me, too.

For now, it's back to life at break-neck speed. Life is calling and off we go. Grocery shopping, baseball, grades, clarinet, church events, and work all need to be tended to. And eventually something will pop in my head that I need to share with you here!

Tuesday

Circle Up!


In the wee hours of this morning, resting peacefully with only a care nurse for company, my Poppa Max laughed out loud, then he was gone. I like to think that he laughed at the sight of my grandmother, Maxine, who was clapping her hands with glee as he joined her in the circle around the throne. I am so thankful he is finally pain free. I am so sad I will never hear his voice this side of the circle. He was quite a man. Poppa Max, grab Maxine's hand, twirl a dance, circle up and worship Him!






Online obituary.

Monday

More Thinking

Please go take Roxanne's survey, because I would really like to know, as well. And not just because I'm nosy!
 
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