Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Changing the Subject Can Be Tricky

It was a Tuesday evening. The supper dishes had been cleared off the table and the kids were in their rooms doing homework and who knows what else. At the kitchen sink, the mother takes off her yellow rubber gloves and yells for the children to come to the den. The father sits in his chair in front of the TV and the children file in to see why they're being called. The mother makes her way into the den and turns the round TV dial on the big console set as she instructs them all to sit down and be quiet. "Billy Graham is coming on and we're all going to watch it."  This was my house, when I was growing up, anytime there was a televised crusade. Billy Graham specials were required viewing from beginning all the way to the last verse of Just As I Am.

I thought about what it would've been like in heaven, yesterday, when he got there. I'm sure he was beyond ready to get home. He was such a gifted, anointed man. I remember how he could fill stadiums just like any big sporting event. All the people pouring into the aisles during the invitation. All over the country.....all over the world. I can't imagine how many souls were saved because of that one man's life. He took "Go ye, therefore..." and ran with it with his whole heart.

Even in his elderly years, he seemed to serve as our country's spiritual leader. The one we wanted to hear from in times of sadness. The one we craved insight from on our modern society's problems. The one we paused and listened to when he had something to say.

Our nation has lost a great man of God. A leader above reproach. I know when I get to heaven, I won't live anywhere near his subdivision, but I sure hope we bump into each other down by the crystal river or somewhere. I'd love to meet him. What great work he did for our country and for God's kingdom.

Take your rest, Reverend.  

And, now, if you'll allow me to make a bumpy and outright awkward transition from Billy Graham to mammograms, well, I had my mammogram, earlier this week. You, girls, know I try to always mention my mammogram in order to encourage you to get yours. I think I've gone at the topic from all angles and so, this year, I'd like to take a different approach to breast health awareness.

It occurred to me that we have appreciation weeks which celebrate the difficult tasks of nurses, teachers, ministers, administrative assistants, doctors, and such, but where is the celebratory week for the work of the woman who wrestles our breasts into those mammogram machines? I mean, really. Bless her heart. Have you ever noticed all the different shapes and sizes and levels of perkiness of those things that are walking around? Can you imagine that it's your job for 8 hours a day to try and wrangle up all that and pin it down with a vise? Today, we'll just skim over the part about their cold hands and just try to concentrate on their unmatched ability to make the experience seem so nonchalant as they initiate pleasant conversation about anything and everything in order to distract us from the somewhat unnatural and potentially awkward encounter. And they're always so cute the way that they tell us to hold still while they take the picture as if there's any way that even an EF-5 tornado could move us a single millimeter from that grip. And thorough. Did I mention thorough? Not wanting to miss anything, they will work and work and pull and maneuver until they have every little smidgen of you corralled in there all the way up to your armpits. Talk about a work ethic
So, as this year's mammogram reminder blurb, I'd just like to send a hats off to all the mammogram operators out there. You have a tough, tough job and you do it so well....making us feel so if having our exposed breasts run through a dough press is just a normal, everyday occurrence about which we should have no reservations. Only a skilled, thoughtful healthcare worker could achieve that level of professional care and empathy. So, here's to you for helping us, your fellow women, stay healthy. We appreciate the work you do.

And for the rest of us, go get your mammogram. For yourself and for your people who love you.

And, lastly, Davis and I are celebrating our 26th anniversary today. The mammogram to anniversary transition seems much less dicey than the Billy Graham one, but I digress. On February 22, 1992, Davis and I decided that we'd both found the person we'd like to do life with and we married in a full church surrounded by all the people we love. 26 years later, I could string him up by his toes, sometimes, and he wishes he could duct tape my pie hole, but all in the most loving way possible, of course.
I wish I could go back and choose another dress and veil. Tone down the big, early 90's hair. I'd love to go back and register for gifts again and make different selections. I'd probably choose to save my parents some of the money they spent on that big wedding. I wish I could change the bridesmaid's getups and their color. Yeah, there are a lot of changes I'd make to that day, looking back with 26 years of experience and maturity under my belt, but I still would choose my kindhearted Davis, every time. Every day.

What I'm lacking, he has plenty. Where he runs thin, I've got him covered. God knew what we both needed and helped us find it in each other. Now, we're treading new waters with a married daughter, a son-in-law, and a graduating son. Every day, we're getting closer to the way we were in this picture. Back to just the two of us.

And we'll be just fine with that.               
We're taking a quick trip to the beach to celebrate.

Y'all have a great weekend, too!


Thursday, February 15, 2018

Love Never Fails

Well, I'd planned to write my usual Valentine's Day post, today. Maybe share a few funny retail stories from this last week. As you know, by now, I do love to observe the holiday shopping habits of men. I was going to tell you about the Instant Pot I asked Davis for, which arrived early, and my first cooking experience with that. (Just to be clear here, guys, a woman should never be given a small kitchen appliance for Valentine's Day unless it is upon her clear and specific request.) I was probably going to tell you about our Valentine plans for the evening and things such as that.

But, then, that didn't seem fitting as, on this day when love is celebrated and announced from the rooftops, well, hate was on full display. And in such a horrific, destructive manner which has, sadly, started to lose its shock factor with us.

While it's easy to watch the news and begin to believe that hate has taken a sizable lead over love, I'd like to disagree. Most acts of love don't get 24 hour coverage or minute by minute updates. But, I've observed some beautiful love over the last handful of days in my little corner of the world. Things that weren't televised. Didn't make any paper's headlines. Known by very few, actually. Most don't even have a corresponding picture. But, I think, on this Valentine's Day, which has been viciously attacked by evil, that it would do us all well to hear from love.

Carson and my nephew took their grandmother out for dinner on Valentine's Day. Their Grandpa would be so proud of them if he could see what good men they've grown up to be and how they take care of her. My dear friend happened to be eating at the restaurant at the same time and she captured the sweetness.
We have twin boys, who live across the street. They're six years old and think Carson is pretty great, because he takes up a little time with them when he can. One of them left him a letter in our mailbox.
Blair and John Samuel recently adopted a three year old dog, who, after losing her elderly owner and being badly neglected, needed a new home, where she would feel loved again. I think she's found it.
Carson's Sunday School teachers drove to the other side of the county to see him on his senior night in basketball. I'm sure with 100 other places they needed to be, they still made the effort to show him that he's special to them.
My phone has been dinging all day with messages from our church friends organizing food for someone who's had surgery. There's no lack of support for the family who needs a little help right now.    
Monday night, Davis and I went to a going away party for one of our pharmacists who's leaving. Everyone was sad to see him walk out of work today for the last time and, yes, there were tears because of the bond that forms when people spend 40 hours per week together.
My mother works with the older ladies' class at her church and, on Monday, they had a Valentine luncheon, which she and her friend lovingly prepared and then the ladies made treat bags for Valentine's Day for the city's sanitation workers. They remembered those who probably get very little thanks for doing a not so glamourous job.
I had a meeting, a few days ago, with some other mothers of seniors from Carson's school. We discussed ways that the senior class could honor the memory of one of their classmates, who died, a few years ago. As they leave high school, the class wanted to place something on campus that would stand as a reminder of the love they will always have for Sam.
At a lovely bridal tea on Sunday afternoon, I watched as people came in the rain to wish a sweet, young couple the very best in their new life together. Friends, family, church members, co-workers......all showing them that they were loved and showering them as they begin to set up their new home together.
Valentine's Day is also National Organ Donor Day. A sweet family in our community lost their young daughter to an accident, last spring, and there is a race/festival planned soon to honor her memory and the gift of life she left behind for others. Lives were changed because of her family's decision to love unselfishly in the middle of their unbelievable loss.
One of the halls in our church is lined with big boxes full of donated groceries. The groceries will be divided up and given to families in our community, who need a little extra help getting through the month.
Basketball season ended, last night, for Carson's team. There were some red eyes. Maybe not as much for the loss of the game as for the disbanding of a group of guys who've become close and have encouraged each other through a tough season.  
These are just a few things that popped into my head first. If I sat and really thought about it, I could likely come up with 1,000 more ways that love has shown itself, lately. You could do the same from where you stand. Put all of them together from all of our different vantage points and it's easy to see that we're surrounded by love. Beautiful, sacrificial, selfless, quiet, loyal love. Nothing splashy or world renowned. Just people going the extra mile. Putting forth effort for the benefit of others. Thinking of someone else ahead of themselves. Being dependable and consistent and thoughtful and encouraging and giving.
People being like Jesus.   
It happens all day.
Every day.
So, on this somber Valentine's Day evening, don't start to feel like love is quickly becoming the underdog.
Love is alive and well. And it will always come along behind where hate has spread its chaos and destruction and help bind what's hurt.   
"Love never fails."

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Dream On

I'm a little late posting about the Super Bowl, but it is what it is. We're not really big fans of pro football, especially, this year, with all the flag disrespect, but we kept hearing about the spiritual revival that's been going on with the Eagles and so, of course, we wanted to cheer for the God-honoring boys. Also, my sweet aunt's nephew is Stefen Wisniewski, #61, and so we felt a little connection even if it was stretching it quite a bit. So, yeah, my mother's brother's wife's brother's son, who we've never met, is the center for the Eagles, so if you'd like me to sign any of your Super Bowl memorabilia, I'd be happy to as I'm obviously very closely connected to the championship team, you see.
Anyway, usually, I'm way more interested in the party food and commercials than the actual Super Bowl, itself, and, while everyone was so fixated on the Eli Manning commercial, I was more intrigued with the Aerosmith commercial for KIA for some reason.

In case you missed it.......
So, the once dark haired, tight bodied, often shirtless, rocker Stephen Tyler of the 70's and my decade, the 80's, appears on the scene with the signs of aging etched in the deep creases of his face. It was obvious that the passing of time and fast rock and roll living had caught up with him as he walked over to the Stinger. Cranking the car, he does something unexpected. He slams it in reverse and burns rubber headed backwards. Faster and faster he drives in reverse. Farther and farther away from where he started. Until, finally, he stops and steps out of the car as a much younger version of the rock legend he is to meet a hysterical crowd of screaming fans dressed in their finest late 70's attire. He'd been transported back in time to his prime. The peak of his career. The height of his fame. Possibly what he'd look back on as his finest years.

I suppose the suggestion here by Kia is that if you drive their car, you, too, can recapture all the passions and feelings of being alive that aging can, sometimes, drain from us. And all for a little money down and a low monthly payment. I'm thinking that's a stretch to think a car can bring back the feelings of days gone by, although, I'm sure, if it was possible, we'd all have some place in time we'd like to go back and visit if we could.

It would be hard for me to decide. Maybe I'd stop back in at my elementary school Valentine party and open some dime store Valentines dropped in my decorated shoe box and munch on some conversation hearts and a cupcake. Then, I'd like to go home and change into my play clothes and take the ol' Big Wheel around for a spin and maybe swing so high that the legs of my old green and white swing set would come up out of ground. I'd like to have nothing more pressing to do than to climb trees with my friends until I'm called home to the dinner table to enjoy a meal I didn't have to cook.  

I think I might love to put it in reverse to high school and pull the coiled phone cord under my bedroom door for a couple of hours of good laughs with a friend. I'd like to get in my BIG, first car and pick up all my girlfriends with the windows down and my favorite mixtape in the cassette player. I believe I would like to go back to being oblivious to the cost of car insurance and more concerned with if I'd see Amanda in the hall to pass her the note I'd written and folded into a triangle, while the teacher talked on and on about polynomials. I also believe I would be willing to trade in my current metabolism for that stomach, so flat, you could play Yahtzee on it.      

I know I'd like to go back and rock my children again. I even remember thinking when they were ages 6 and 1 that I would love to freeze time right there. To just stop the calendar from ever turning another page because everything was just so perfect in my world. I'd linger longer in the nights they begged me to lie down next to them in bed until they fell asleep. Maybe I wouldn't be in such a hurry to get up. I'd love to go back to when they sat in the seat of the buggy at the grocery store instead of the low-fat milk that sits there now. I'd even like to suck Barbie shoes and Legos into the vacuum and hear the annoying hum of Blue's Clues while I make supper.

I had lunch with my 93 year old friend, today, and I thought it would be interesting to ask someone who's lived through so many decades and seasons to pick one age that she'd go back to as her favorite. She said she'd like to visit 17 or 18 again because of its first taste of freedom and independence. Something about the excitement of just beginning to chart her own course and choose her own steps stood out in all the 93 years of memories.

There are thousands of times I'd like to go back and visit. I imagine we all have those. Maybe it would be to a time before we suffered a loss that we still carry around. Or to relive the moment of a great success. Maybe we'd like to go back and fix a mistake that still haunts us. Maybe we'd like to return to the time before diagnosis or a separation or a failure. It's undeniable that, sometimes, there are things in the past that look awfully nice compared to the realities of the present.

It's the year of my 50th birthday. One by one, my friends have started celebrating their half-century milestone year. Yes, this is the year of the colonoscopy and the higher powered readers.......and maybe buying a red convertible Kia Stinger and changing our hair color in an attempt to not become our parents just yet. Turning fifty, along with my last baby graduating soon, might be why I was pulled toward the car commercial.

The way I see it, though, the only thing we do by hanging out in the past is to miss the present....and all the new moments that we'll look back on as favorites as more and more years appear in the rearview mirror. It's easy to wrap up in the fuzziness of yesterday and nestle in the warmth of its good feelings, but we can neglect the gift of today if we're always reliving the gift of yesterday. Yesterday is a gift card that's been used up, but, today, well, it's still alive with possibility. There's still time to cash it in on something worthwhile. After all, if we're honest, memory lane is just a place where we romanticize times that were riddled with their own forgotten challenges. I guess you could even say objects in the rearview mirror aren't as rosy as they appear.

"Forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus." Philippians 3:13-14        

"This is the beginning of a new day.
You have been given this day to use as you will.
You can waste it or use it for good.
What you do today is important because you are exchanging a day of your life for it.
When tomorrow comes, this day will be gone forever;
in its place is something you have left behind...
let it be something good."

Author unknown

Y'all have a great weekend!