Sunday, August 31, 2014


I am considered somewhat tall for a woman.  It started in junior high, when three inch heels  or platform shoes were the rage.  Everyone wore them, and I was very conscious of the fact that with my two inch heels I towered over most of the twelve year old boys.

That doesn't work well if you consider height to be a deciding factor on whether or not a boy might consider asking you out.  Most taller boys played sports, so being the shy, unconfident person I was, I never even considered that a "jock" would ever ask me out.  So, it is quite amazing that I ended up marrying one.  But that's an entirely different story.

Being tall has one advantage.  You can reach things others can't.  I have been asked more than once by a stranger in the grocery store if I could help them reach something.  My mother in law has often used my height to her advantage to help reach a serving bowl on the top shelf of her cabinet.  

Reach.  It usually requires stretching.

You might even be a little uncomfortable for a time, straining to get something that is out of reach for most people, but barely within your own.

There is another kind of reach I have known--finally reaching your destination/goal/opportunity. There is a finality about that kind of reach.  It means overcoming obstacles, pursuing something over a long period of time, coming to the place where you realize what you had sought for so long--a finish line, a vacation spot, a master's degree.  

The destination I think about  reaching most often is more a place of maturity.
Reaching a place where the struggles of the past no longer have a hold on me.
Reaching a place where I no longer worry about what others think of me.
Reaching a place where I can love unconditionally.
Reaching a place in my where I trust the Lord completely and never doubt.

I would love to reach that place.

But I am beginning to realize that it is going to look more like the continual stretching kind of reach. A process.  It means it will be uncomfortable.  I will wonder if I will ever arrive.  I believe it is the process itself that is much more important than the destination.  The continual stretching and striving will produce the character He requires for me to enter a new place.  

Yes, reach is a slippery thing.  Once you think you have arrived, there is always more. A new destination, a new race to run, a new level.

One day we will finish our race, having run the entire course, and will truly reach what our hearts desire.  What we were created for.  Until then, we continute to reach…

"Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such away as to get the prize."  I Corinthinas 9:24.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Thirty Years Ago

My knight in shining armor found me, swept me off of my feet, and we made promises to love, honor and cherish each other thirty years ago today.

We thought we knew so much.  We thought love would carry us through anything.

I chuckle now as I remember answering questions that our pastor/marriage counselor asked us, in order to prepare us for this lifetime commitment called marriage.

"Who will do the dishes and clean the house?"  Our answer?  "Why, both of us, together!"

"Who will shop for groceries, pay the bills, and cook the meals?"  "We will both do it together!"

And we did.  For about one year and a month.  We drove to the store together, washed and dried our clothes at the laundromat together.  We arrived home from work at about the same time,  so we carefully calculated what was for dinner (usually shake and bake chicken or a hamburger helper type meal), cooked together, and cleaned up the dishes together. We were on a shoestring budget, but that didn't keep us from our weekly trips to Baskin Robbins for our Coconut Almond Fudge ice cream cones.  At least once a week we would enjoy fine dining at the China House Restaurant where the world's best Cashew Chicken took place.  Sometimes we would play mini golf or go to a movie, or even sit by the pool at the local Howard Johnson's hotel.  We had been warned about the first year of marriage being the most difficult.  We were sailing through it with nary a bump in the road. Ah, wedded bliss.

And then life happened.  It was called colicky baby, move to a new state, and start a job in a new church, where every needy teenager thought my husband was their new hero.  All within two month's time, I had been catapulted from princess to mom, homemaker, pastor's wife, bill payer, cook, and bottle washer.  I landed hard.  All those layers of feather beds and feather matresses were pulled out right from under me when I had least expected it.

I felt like Cinderella, who had to stay home from the ball and take care of her responsibilities at home.  And my husband, the prince, had no clue.

Now mind you, he was an instant wonderful father.  After years of playing sports from little on, it didn't take him long to master the "football hold" for our darling, unhappy little daughter.  We would pass her off and pace the floor each night until she would finally fall asleep around midnight.  But his days at the church office were the culmination of many years of prayer and hard work, and it was very rewarding, albeit a little scary for him.  He was finally able to spend his time ministering, preparing sermons, sharing his faith, hanging out with teenagers, imparting wisdom and strength to those who needed him.

And although the bump in the road was unexpected for me, I soon found my new love, being a Mom.  I fell so deeply in love with my little girl, that it made no difference to me what our home looked like, what we had for dinner, or how much money was left at the end of the week (usually none).

Looking back on the last thirty years, six babies,  two little boys, two grand babies, three churches, hundreds of friends, and yes, twelve homes later, I believe we were right about one thing.  Love did take us through it all.

But our love looks a lot different now.  We used to love because.  Now we love although.  We used to count on feelings to carry us through.  Now we hold on to the promises we made thirty years ago.

On our wedding invitation, it read:  "Today I will marry my friend, the one I laugh with, dream with, live for, love…."

Today, I am still married to my friend.  We still laugh together, dream together, live together, and love very deeply together.  There are days we don't have a lot of feelings to hold on to.  But the promises we made to our Heavenly Father in front of our friends and family so many years ago have kept us from ever second guessing those words.

I'm grateful we had a love story.  I'm glad my prince came and scooped me up and carried me away.  And I'm forever grateful for the precious memories we share together now.  We are infinitely rich.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

The Serenity Prayer Revised

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

Such words of wisdom.  I’ve seen them so often, they have become cliche.
But, I love that prayer.  Sure wish I could remember it.  Every day.

Because it sure would save me a huge mountain of stress if I would just put it into practice.

How much of my mental energy is spent being frustrated with the actions and attitudes of others? How much of my day do I ponder and stew about conversations that took place, frustrations over people that won’t change, regrets from the past, even society’s problems, dishonesty in politics, world hunger, the persecution of innocent people? It’s exhausting.

Really, the only person I can truly change is myself. I can learn to love myself and others in my present state. I can be willing to admit my mistakes and grow from them. I can know that until my time on earth is complete, He has more for me to accomplish.  How exciting it would be, to truly take all the mistakes of the past, learn from them, make adjustments, and continue on.

That could produce incredible results-- power and peace.
The potential is huge. But it will only happen if I put the principles of the Serenity Prayer into practice. But I would change up the wording just a little.

“God, grant me peace of mind to pray and leave at the feet of Jesus the things I cannot change, the courage and strength to work on the things I can, and by continual prayer, be equipped with the wisdom of the day to know the difference.”  

Wow, looks like that would make a great poster!!  

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

It's Hard to Tell…or Is It?

“I’m telling!”

I have heard these very words so often during my years as mom and referee.  Soon after, a little person scurries through the doorway armed with a new story of injustice.  

Apparently, it is of the utmost importance that their mom know about it, because deep within all of us is a need to make things fair.  And if I can’t make things fair myself, by golly, I am going to find someone who can.

Isn’t that the pull of social media these days, to find an audience that will sympathize with any injustice I encounter?  

“I’m telling!”

Only, now that I am older and supposedly more mature, what seems to have changed is my method and audience.  It’s powerful to see how many people I can find to agree with me and “like” my status.  It helps me validate my own feelings of injustice.

The problem with this method is that it is shaky at best, and based on a false sense of security.  

I am just beginning to see the magnitude of power there is in the written word of social media.  The need to rally people around me to support my cause can blind me to the fact that my cause may have a false premise.  I just might be entirely wrong. If I base my sense of right and wrong on a system of popularity, how am I any different than the teen who dresses for her peers, whether or not the rest of society deems her appearance attractive or proper?

How often do I experience something funny, or sad, or maddening,  and I immediately think, wow, I need to post this!

Why?  Because, deep down is a need to feel validated. But, how many “likes” is enough? Twenty? Thirty?  Fifteen, with a few comments thrown in?  Well, yesterday, twenty made me feel good, but my friend got 55 likes on a photo of her kid and it wasn’t anything great or new, or even that cute. So, now, I’m gunning for at least 60!  It’s almost addiction!  I need to have more and more “likes” to make myself feel good.  

It’s time to step back and get a dose of perspective.  Who are those whose opinions matter most to me? Is it a friend I haven’t seen in 20 years, or even someone I have never met? Shouldn’t the ones I love and value most have the most influence on me and I on them?  

When all is said and done,  when I reach the end of my life, how many of my social media friends will do little more than like the status that informs them I have passed on to another world? It’s time to put time into the ones whose lives I have been given the responsibility to mold and affect, those with whom my heart beats. Those I like most.  Those I love.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Unrealistic Expectations

My husband and I sat in the counseling session with an obviously distraught couple.  She had drawn an imaginary line in the sand and stated that he had crossed over it one too many times.  He, looking shell-shocked seemed to have given up long ago.

As they described their relationship and their years of struggle and pain which had now turned to anger and surrender, a phrase kept repeating itself in my mind--"unrealistic expectations." As couples so often do, they had brought their list of unspoken expectations of how the other should talk, feel,  and act into their marriage, and when it did not play out as expected, the heartbreak began.

She thinks: He should know my needs and meet them.  When he doesn't, he demonstrates in full color that I am not important to him.  When I make my expectations clear and he continues to ignore them, it is proof that he does not love me.  Every mistake.  Every missed "I love you." "Every task put off screams that he has other things more important to focus on and I am an after-thought.

He thinks:  Nothing I do will ever be good enough.  When I do try, she interprets it as half-hearted, so even my best falls short.  If I reatreat into my own thoughts I am considered neglectful.  If I challenge her priorities I am considered unloving.  It is a lose-lose situation.  I can never win, so why try?

The Book of Lamentations has a song that I learned as a new Christian.  "The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases. His mercies never come to an end.  They are new every morning.  Great is His faithfulness."

Even as a teenager, the truth of these words gave me hope.  No matter how difficult yesterday was, today is a new day.  I get a "do-over", another mulligan.  The hope is that I can take the mistakes of yesterday and begin again, having made the necessary adjustments to imporove on yesterday.

The key phrase here, my friends, is make necessary adjustments.  How often have I repeated yesterday's mistakes, because I thought that repeating yesterday's actions with yesterday's attitudes would somehow magically reap new results?  Isn't that the definition of insanity, according to possibly one of the world's most brilliant minds?

I struggle with my own inadequacies daily.  Sowing unrealistic expectations for my husband and children yields a crop of anger and frustration.  Unrealistic expectations for myself lead to  guilt and surrender.  Oh, whoa is me.  Who will rescue me from this body of unmet expectations?

Thanks be to our precious Lord and Savior that we don't have to do this alone.  He promises to take yesterday's failures and wash them, purify them, and send us out with new clothes.  But we must put them on.  We must renew our minds.  It is in going to the feet of the only One that can make all things new that I can truly begin again.