If the Shoe Fits

If the shoe fits, then wear it.

We’ve all heard that expression a thousand times at least. Probably used it a thousand times as well. And lately I’ve found myself using it a lot more than I really should.

You see, the expression is normally used when someone thinks they’re being referred to in a negative way by someone else. And of course they want to know if “you’re certainly not referring to me, are you?”

If the shoe fits, maybe you’re already wearing it. Maybe you’re feeling a bit guilty, because you’ve been caught doing or saying something you know you shouldn’t do or say.

Maybe if that shoe fits a little too well, then maybe you need to look at that shoe and see what it adds to the outfit you’re wearing.

Green-ShoesIs it a green shoe, perhaps, that causes you to look at other people and decide they have everything you want, everything you think you should have? You’re so jealous of them, and that green shoe of envy makes you continually put them down, talk bad about them. Why? Because in all honesty, you want to wear their shiny leather shoes that seem to take them places that you think you should be going instead of them. But they won’t let you share.

you-you-shoes1Is it a red shoe that suddenly causes you to be angry at everyone? Like the person who was wearing it before you tried it on. You didn’t even know how angry they were, let alone why. Maybe you’re already getting angry at someone seemingly for no reason, and you really don’t know how to explain it. But you know how you feel and if anyone gets in your way, watch out! Hidden anger that’s suppressed for a long time can reveal itself in dangerous and sometimes almost deadly ways. Is that a shoe you want to keep wearing?

Yellow-ShoesMaybe it’s a yellow shoe. And as soon as you put it on you felt the fear and intimidation and insecurity immediately. You never knew all those feelings were there. When your friend was wearing them, she seemed so in control of her life. Nothing could get the best of her; everything she did seemed to work out perfectly. But wearing her shoes, it’s a different feeling entirely. And it’s very uncomfortable in those shoes.

blue shoesMaybe it’s a blue shoe. Your favorite color, and you always envied your friend having those pretty blue shoes. But now that you’ve tried them on, you don’t feel so great. Suddenly the world around you is a very lonely place. No matter how hard you try to smile and be cheerful on the outside, you’re really wishing on the inside you could find just one person to help make everything all better.

purple shoeThe last ones you wanted to try are purple. Rich, deep purple. You’ve always wanted those shoes because you know if you wear those, you’ll never have to want for anything again. But putting them on suddenly changed all that. Sure, you knew you had everything money could buy, but everyone around you wanted some of it; not you….what you had. And what you could give them, without getting anything in return. It was your possessions they cared about. And in order to keep the people around you happy, you feel like you have to continue acquiring possessions so you won’t run out. And those people won’t run out on you. Those shoes really make you unhappy now.

Do some of these shoes fit a little too well? Or maybe now that you’ve tried them on, you’ve realized you really didn’t like them as much as you thought you would. Maybe your own shoes aren’t that bad.

Maybe your friend wants to try on your shoes, for the very same reasons you wanted to wear theirs.

Remember, Cinderella’s glass slipper only fit her. It was created and made just for her. Nobody else could wear it.
Cinderella Shoe
And you don’t want to wear anyone else’s shoes but your own.

Leaving a Legacy

Legacy: a heritage; something transmitted by an ancestor.

But a legacy means so much more than this definition.

We recently attended a celebration service for the father of some friends we’ve known for several years. We’d known their father, although not as well as we’d liked, and he had indeed been a wonderful man. A devoted husband, father, grandfather, and great grandfather. He was a talented jazz musician who played the trombone in his church’s orchestra, as well as singing bass in their men’s vocal group for as many years as we can remember. He loved the Lord, and instilled that love in each of his children, and in their children as well. He had loved his wife of over 65 years, and her death the previous year had not quenched that love.

We have never heard anyone speak a bad word against this man. Unpretentious to the end, he would enter a room and greet those already there not by saying, “I’m here!” and wanting people to pay attention to him, but by taking someone’s hand and telling them, “I’m glad you’re here!” And he made them feel as if they were the most important person in the room at that time.

His adult grandchildren spoke about him at the service, along with two of his children, choking back tears as they recounted stories about him, all with one common theme. His unfailing love for them; his devotion to family; his willingness to reach out to anyone who needed him; and a faith he was not hesitant or embarrassed to proclaim. Even in the last week of his life he was
praising the Lord with his family as he listened to some of his favorite music.

And when his casket was rolled out of the service, the trombonist played “When the Saints Go Marching In”. We all clapped in rhythm; some danced in place. Because we could all picture him marching through heaven’s gates, his new heavenly trombone in hand, waiting to greet his Lord and reunite with his beloved wife who left him a year previously. We could also hear the Lord telling him, “well done, my good and faithful servant…”

He was a gentle man, not rich in wealth, although he always provided for his family, but rich in his love and friendship to everyone around him. Rich in the number of lives he touched, and the number of lives he’d made a difference in. Rich in family and friends.

This 95 year old man left behind an amazing and powerful legacy to be remembered by all who knew him.

You see, a legacy is not measured in terms of money, your last title at your job, how many homes you had, how expensive your car was, how many vacations you took, or how famous you may have been.

Legacy is passed on from one generation to the next, or in this man’s case, to several generations. Your legacy is how you lived your life, and what you taught others about how to live theirs. How many lives you touched and impacted. By example, by actions; not by mere words.

Your true legacy cannot be left to others in a will. It is not tangible; you can’t hold it in your hand or deposit it in your bank account.

Your legacy is remembered, and reflected in the lives you touched. It is reflected in their works and how they live their life patterned after yours. This man left a true and remarkable legacy that is lived out every day in the lives of his children and their children and grandchildren.

I only pray I am able to leave behind a small portion of the type of legacy this man left behind.

Well done, good and faithful servant.

Featured Image from http://www.EmbeddedFaith.org

Victim or Victor?

Victim: a person harmed or injured as a result of an action, crime, or other event, or action; someone who is duped or tricked.

Victor: a person who defeats an opponent or adversary in a battle, struggle, or a competition

Which definition fits you?

We’ve all been a victim of something at least once in our lives. A traffic accident. A break-in at our home. The subject of harmful and untrue gossip. Losing a job or a home. Desertion by a spouse.

Or possibly events that are far worse.

We don’t plan on becoming a victim. But sometimes it happens; it’s not preventable. And there’s nothing we can do about it. Except rise above it.

Yes, that’s easier said than done at times. And how long it takes also depends on what you’re a victim of. Naturally victims of severe accidents or other situations involving long term or permanent physical injuries take much longer to overcome, and that is not the focus of this particular blog. I’m speaking about emotional trauma. Those hard-to-handle, sometimes crushing losses, that while not physically destructive or disfiguring, they are emotionally and psychologically crushing, sometimes almost to the point of physical pain.

Because many of us take an unwelcome and traumatic event in our lives and let it control our lives, rather than navigating through and rising above it. Many times we get so deeply mired in the nuances of what was done to us by others, that we get stuck in a pit filled with feelings of discouragement, disappointment, helplessness, and self-doubt. It’s not a pretty place, or a healthy place, to be.

Being the victim takes over, defines our life, and takes away our joy.

But we don’t have to stay there. In fact, staying there will destroy us. We have to grab the ladder and crawl out. It’s not easy; the rungs of the ladder are slippery, and quite often our feet slip, and we fall back a couple of rungs, but we don’t fall all the way back to the bottom.

It just feels like it sometimes. And the climb starts again. Until something else kicks us back down, and the cycle starts again. And we begin to think maybe we’re stuck there forever. As much as we say we want to be out, it just doesn’t seem possible.

We get so used to being a victim, it becomes our identity. We keep waiting for the next strike against us, instead of recognizing and appreciating the good things that are trying to come into our life. We continually dwell on all of the bad things that have happened and it becomes our identity; the very essence of who we are. It’s easier to stay in that pit of victimhood than crawling out.

But we cannot remain a victim. If we do we will never make it to the beautiful future that is waiting just around the corner. Instead of dwelling on all the negative, all of the bad things of the past, we have to focus on the good in our future.

Because it’s coming. It’s coming as soon as we release the past to the past. It’s over and gone, and it won’t be back. We can’t change what happened, but we can change our responses to it, and we can change what happens tomorrow.

Changing our responses to what made us the victim enable us to finally become the victor. By putting what happened behind us once and for all, and making a conscious effort to keep it behind us, we will no longer live as a victim.

A victor rises above difficult and challenging circumstances, and once we make the decision to do that, and stick to that decision EVERY DAY, no matter what reminders of the past try to creep back in, what a difference we begin to see in our life!

No, we won’t get back what we lost.

We will get back so much more!

Pass the Roundup®

“Sometimes we just need to spray some Roundup® in our life to get rid of all the unnecessary drama and pettiness of some of the people around us.” That’s not my original thought; a friend posted it. But it sure does fit certain circumstances sometimes!

I’m amazed at the level of pettiness some people will resort to just to make themselves look like a victim because people aren’t treating them the way they THINK they should be treated. Instead of actually talking to them about the perceived slight (and perceived is usually the correct word!), and working things out, they elect to plaster innuendos and snide remarks all over social media so they can make themselves look like they’re being mistreated. And make others feel sorry for them.

There are two sides to every story. But for a passive aggressive personality or narcissist there’s only one side. Their own. And heaven help anyone who crosses them. They are always right; they’re quick to tell you that. They never make mistakes; they’ll quickly tell you that, too. If something doesn’t go quite the way they want, or the way they think it should, then everyone else is wrong. Two sided discussions do not work.

Passive aggressive personalities can be bad; narcissistic personalities are magnified ten times over, at least. If they aren’t the center of attention, they will do everything they can to make themselves so. And make everyone else look like they’re picking on them, including lying and distorting situations to fit their own agenda.

It’s their way or the highway. How many people do you know like that? Do you need some Roundup®, too?

Social media plays a big part in this, unfortunately. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of social media. I use it for blogging, and I use it to keep in touch with friends. I enjoy social media, but I don’t enjoy seeing all of the negative comments and snide remarks aimed at people who are supposedly friends (or even worse, family members!) made by people who should definitely know better. Drama belongs on stage or in the movies, not on social media or within families that are supposed to love each other. That’s how weeds start growing, eventually letting a bit of poison ivy creep in as well.

I don’t understand people who make sarcastic comments clearly aimed at someone, but very carefully not mentioning who that person is, adding little hints here and there to suck others into the drama; others who have no idea what is going on. Wouldn’t it be easier to just talk to that someone they think has wronged them, instead of planting weeds and poison ivy?

I don’t understand people who read posts that are clearly meant to be humorous, and while almost everyone takes them as such, there’s that one person who decides it’s a slam against THEM, and then makes comments clearly out of line with the story. Because they’re SURE it’s talking negatively about THEM. And the weeds and poison ivy spread even further.

Before you know it, the weeds are spreading everywhere. You know how quickly weeds spread. And how toxic poison ivy can be. Bullying takes many forms, and it’s not limited to middle schoolers and teens. Adults do it, too, in far more destructive ways.

Bullying isn’t limited to social media. Families sometimes excel in it, with the stronger personality types relishing in criticizing and putting down other family members because THEY certainly know all the answers, instead of loving them and actually listening to what is going on in their lives. The weeds run rampant, spreading throughout the family. The poison ivy takes over and makes others sick.

And if there’s not enough Roundup®, the whole group can become nothing but a field full of weeds and poison ivy.

It’s not all dismal, though. Sometimes there are flowers in the mix that are masquerading as weeds, and with the right amount of conversational Miracle-Gro® they can blossom into the flowers they were intended to be. Sometimes it can take a few treatments to discover if they’re really flowers or not. But you’ll know.
Wildflowers
However weeds grow quickly. If left unchecked, they can suffocate everything around them. Poison ivy can do the same, quickly spreading its irritating sap onto everyone it touches.

It’s time for many of us to look at our gardens carefully, apply a little Miracle-Gro® where indicated, and then do some weeding and clear out some poison ivy. And the best time to start is right now.

So pass the Roundup®. The Miracle-Gro® has done all it can. And I’m running out of weed control.

Did You Hear What He Said?

Sometimes the hardest thing to do is to actually do what you’re supposed to be doing.

Should I say that one again?

Sometimes the hardest thing to do is to actually get up and do the very thing the Lord has been telling you to do. And sometimes He’s been telling you to do it for a long time. Other people have told you the same thing, and they didn’t even know what God has been telling you. Because He’s using them to emphasize what He’s telling you

Yes, He uses other people to speak into our lives all the time, just to be sure we’re listening. To confirm what He’s already told us. Just in case we didn’t pay attention the first several times.

You’ve either not been listening; or you’ve been avoiding it because you don’t think you’re ready for the task He has for you. Maybe you’re afraid to take the step you know you’re supposed to take, because you’re afraid you don’t measure up. Or you’re not taking that step simply because you’re scared of failing. Or you’re procrastinating, and only you know the reason why.

Would the Lord tell you to do something, sometimes many times, if He didn’t have a really good reason? If He didn’t know what your obedience would do in your life? And would He continue telling you, sometimes for several years, if He didn’t really want you to do what He says?

My favorite verse, as I’ve said many times, is Jeremiah 29:11. “I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord….” Yes He does have a plan for your life. But that plan is not something that will just magically appear one day. His plan requires that we take certain steps, do certain things, to bring that plan to fruition.

And delaying doing what the Lord has told you to do will only delay that plan.

What has the Lord placed on your heart that He wants you to do? What has He been telling you to do? Has He told you to walk away from a certain situation? To release someone or some thing which has a stranglehold on your life? Has he told you to step out of your comfort zone and speak to groups on a particular topic you’re passionate about? Has he told you to write a book, or start a blog, or try your hand at songwriting? Maybe He’s told you to finally use your untapped talent and start painting like you’ve always dreamed of doing!

He wouldn’t tell you to do it, or put the desire in your heart, unless He knew you had the talent and the passion to do what He asked. He knows our heart and our desires so much better than we do. And He knows the plans He has for our lives.

But it all starts with listening to what He has to say. And then taking that step to do what He’s asked us to do. A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step.

Have you heard what He’s been saying? Are you listening?

So when are you going to start your journey and start DOING?

Your First Father’s Day

An open letter to our son-in-law….

It seems you’ve been waiting for this day for a long time. Even before you and our daughter were married, the two of you were talking about having kids. Even to the point of picking out names.

You couldn’t wait to become her husband. And then you couldn’t wait to become a dad. You were ready. Even last year when we were all celebrating Father’s Day with your father and your father-in-law, you were talking about how you’d celebrate when it was your day.

Well, that day is here. It’s your first Father’s Day.

From the time you found out you were going to be a dad, I could tell you were going to be a great one! Sure, you were shocked when you found out. And a bit surprised, of course. That’s natural. It does take a little getting used to.

It’s no longer going to be just about you and your wife. Now it’s going to be all about your child.

You immediately started talking about all the things you’d be doing with the child when he/she was old enough. Hunting and fishing and four wheeling. Then you found out you were having a girl instead of a boy, and you immediately decided you would have to buy her a pink fishing rod and a pink rifle. Plus a new shotgun for yourself to ward off the boys when she was older!

As the days got closer you enjoyed putting her crib together, and all the other baby necessities. You painted her room, and talked about how you couldn’t wait til she got here.

You touched your wife’s tummy and felt the baby moving, and you had the biggest grin on your face. You talked to her, and told her how excited you were to be having her in your life. You just couldn’t wait!

Those last few weeks all you could talk about was how ready you were for her to be here. Those last few days of your wife being in slow labor, and those trips to the hospital and being sent back home were excruciating for both of you.

And then…finally, it was time. You stood in the delivery room, gowned and gloved, beside your wife, and couldn’t believe the miracle that was taking place before your eyes. Your baby daughter, your own little girl, was lifted out and placed in her mother’s arms, with you beside her. A moment never to be forgotten. You were finally a full-fledged dad. Your world was forever changed.

You walked beside little Rachel as her isolette was wheeled into the nursery, never letting her out of your sight. You made sure she was all right and her bracelets matched yours before you left to check on your wife. Watching you those first few minutes, I saw a new person…a man whose life was totally complete. You were now not only a husband, but a father. Something you’d dreamed about for years.

You’ve taken on the role of daddy in an awesome way. You fed her her first bottle and changed her first diaper. The look on your face every time you looked at her that first day spoke volumes. Proud. Loving. Even amazed. And you still have that same look every time you look at her.

Since she’s been home these first few weeks you’ve been an amazing dad. You’ve held her, fed her, changed her, gotten up with her at night when her mother couldn’t because of recovering from her C-section. You’ve talked to her, cuddled her, and called her your “little peanut.” You’re already the dad you were meant to be, and will only continue to show us this is what you were meant to be.
2016-05-30 14.28.53
So Chris, on this, your first official Father’s Day, let me be the first to tell you “Happy Father’s Day”! Ben and I are so proud of you, and so glad you and Ashley have blessed us with little Rachel. She’s one lucky little girl!

It only gets better!

My Mother’s Jewelry Box

cropped pinMy mother always had one when I was little. In my first memory of it, it was filled with all kinds of bright colored baubles to pin on her blouses and coats. In fact, I don’t remember her or my grandmother ever not wearing a big sparkly pin in the lapel of their heavy winter coats. It must’ve been the style then. But to me, they were just pretty. One of her favorite pins reminded me of a fountain of diamonds, even though it was all rhinestones, of course. It always fascinated me for some reason.

When my father was still alive, her jewelry box was alive with bright colors, sparkling synthetic gemstones which reflected the happy times of her life. Although it was mostly costume jewelry, the vibrant pins and necklaces always looked beautiful on her, and made her whole face smile. She also had a few special necklaces that had been her mother’s, and had already been entrusted with them for safekeeping. I used to go in her jewelry box from time to time and play with the pieces, under close supervision of course, lest the pieces become lost or broken. They may not have had a lot of monetary value, but to her, each piece had a special meaning.

After my father died, and my mom started teaching kindergarten, all of those sparkly pins were gradually replaced with ones little children would like. Christmas trees, angels, and Santa Claus. Enameled birds and butterflies. Funny little kids’ faces, and a treasured collection of “#1 Teacher” pins she’d been given as gifts by her students. She usually wore one of them every day, and her students were always excited to see which one she had on when they got to school, in case she was wearing one they’d given her.

When her granddaughter Ashley came along, suddenly there were a dozen or more #1 grandmother pins, along with the enameled kids’ faces and other jewelry children would especially like.

You could actually see the stages of her life by going through that jewelry box.

But the box itself was quite plain. It wasn’t pretty at all. White simulated leather with faded gold embossing. And a lock that was never locked. (I don’t think she ever had the key.) Over the years pieces of jewelry broke and some of the parts were lost, and other worn out pieces were sadly discarded or given away. Favorite items remained, although sometimes shifted toward the back of the box to make room for newer pieces.

I never knew what special pieces of jewelry I’d find when I opened that box. The older pieces always had a distinctive charm about them, though, and usually a story to tell about who had given it to her, and why, or special events they’d been worn for. And the older the pieces, the more stories they had to tell.

Similarly, we are like precious jewels in the Lord’s very own jewelry box. The jewelry box itself, the earth we live in, may be getting old and a bit frayed around the edges, but within it still lies precious sparkling jewels, each one of us uniquely crafted, and created to fulfill a specific need, and a specific purpose. We were each designed by the Master jeweler who took His time creating each of us as a unique work of art to be treasured forever; each with a wonderful story to tell. A unique work of art which does nothing but become more valuable with age.

Although He created each of us in our own unique style and design, in our own unique colors and shapes, there are times some of us break, or become worn and tarnished. We lose our shine and luster because of the wear and tear we’ve gone through. We sometimes feel we’ve been relegated to the back of the jewelry box because we’re older and we’ve lost our sparkle, and it seems no one wants us anymore.

But like those older and treasured pieces of jewelry that found themselves living in the back of my mother’s jewelry box, we’re pulled out by the Lord’s hand, and placed back in the front of the box. We’re cleaned and polished and shining once again, ready to help make someone else’s life a bit more beautiful with our stories, advice, and encouragement.

And when our purpose here is complete, these earthly jewels will finally join the other majestic jewels in the gates of heaven, forever beautiful, and forever loved and cherished.

And shining like that sparkly rhinestone pin of my grandmother’s…..

It’s 3 a.m. Again…

…and I’m wide awake. Again.

This is getting old now.

It’s not fun. Not by any means.

Children like to see how long they can stay awake every night; how long their parents will let them stay up before they’re forced to go to bed. And of course they fall asleep instantly. And sleep through the night.

Enjoy it now, kids! While you can. Because not being able to sleep through the night is no fun! You’re worn out the next day, and by the afternoon you’re ready for a nap. Unfortunately your employer frowns on that…

Lately I’ve been having too much experience in this area. So are far too many of my friends. And my daughter as well; but she’s pregnant and close to her due date so that’s expected. We’ve all joked that we should text each other when we’re awake and just have girl talk til we fall back asleep. That’s about the only remedy we haven’t tried!

My husband used to ask me every morning after this happened, “Well why didn’t you just go back to sleep?” Yes, I wanted to strangle him every time he asked! If I could’ve gone back to sleep do you think I’d have stayed awake!??

He’d also foolishly ask, “Why couldn’t you sleep? I have no problem!” Ugh.

Husbands, watch what you say to your wife! Because now guess who else is having the same problem!! I won’t say it’s payback or anything, but…

When this happens to him, his solution is simple. He gets up, goes downstairs, and watches tv and drinks coffee. Of course he doesn’t go back to sleep, and then that evening he’s falling asleep at 8:30!

And of course when he gets up, he wakes me up… He doesn’t try to. It just happens.

I’ve tried everything I can think of. Melatonin. Hot tea before bed (and I don’t even like hot tea!) A glass of wine before bed. Hot chocolate. A warm bath. Listening to my favorite cat purr in my ear. Reading until I fall asleep…. And still, I have too many of these nights.

When a friend of mine was in Afghanistan several years ago I’d wake up three or four nights a week at 3:20 in the morning. Always that same time. I knew I was supposed to pray for her. I did, and then I promptly fell back to sleep.

But this is different. Now I wake up at different times. And I try to figure out why each time. I’m usually not worried about anything. I think about my friends, and I pray for them. I pray about our kids and our soon-to-be born granddaughter. I sometimes count sheep, or in my case, cats. I make a few notes about things I need to do the next day. And after tossing and turning for what seems like forever, I usually fall back asleep about 5:00 in the morning, a half hour before my alarm goes off!

So now I’m trying something new. I’m blogging about it. It probably won’t help either, but it lets me vent!

If you’re having, or have had, this problem, I’d seriously like to hear your thoughts on it. Who knows, we may add you to our growing list of insomniac friends And maybe we can find a solution!

Because I really need one!

BBQ – Chicken Eastern Shore Style

Summer is finally here! Thank GOODNESS!!! It’s been ages, at least.

Which means backyard pool parties, trips to the beach, grilling out as much as possible, lazy evenings on the porch, and lots of family, friends, and fun!

When I was growing up we had lots of family cookouts every summer. Of course we used charcoal grills, since the propane ones weren’t around yet, and I have to say that for burgers and hot dogs, and steak, charcoal far surpasses the gas grills in flavor!

But barbecued chicken is great on either grill type…especially with this recipe!

Growing up on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, I seriously never had any other kind of barbecued chicken except with this recipe. My mom or one of my aunts would make up a huge batch of it, and one of my uncles would tend the grill out back, constantly turning the pieces and basting continually until they were blackened and done! Sitting down to eat this culinary delight with homemade potato salad, macaroni salad, and fresh tomatoes was a treat beyond compare! Followed by fresh homemade ice cream, of course!

Oh, the wonderful memories….

When I first met my husband and took him to the Shore for a family cookout, I told him we were having barbecued chicken. He was anticipating the kind he grew up with in Kansas City, with their traditional red sauce, and what a surprise he had! But Ben, who could honestly eat chicken every day, actually liked it, even though he continually says, “it’s not barbecued!”

Yes it is. And every summer the highways all over the Eastern Shore are filled with BBQ Chicken fundraiser meals to go, made with this same style of sauce. It’s a tradition, and I have to say, those roadside meals are out of this world!

So here it is….there are slight ingredient measurement variations in each Shore family’s recipe, but they all taste pretty much the same. So kick off your summer grilling and enjoy a new treat! Or, if you’re from my area, see how your recipe varies from mine and throw some chicken on the grill.

Happy Eating!

1 1/2 c apple cider vinegar
3/4 c vegetable oil
1 egg
1 tsp pepper
3 tbl salt
1/2 tbl poultry seasoning

Mix all ingredients and either shake well, or blend with an egg beater. If not being used immediately, refrigerate til ready to grill. (Any leftover sauce can be refrigerated, but use within two days.)

Place chicken pieces on grill and baste continually with sauce, turning every 5-7 minutes, basting as they’re turned.

Enjoy!

I’m Here! What Do You Think of Me?

Today I was finally born. I’m sorry you went through so much pain, but I’m here now, and all that’s over. Now we both need to rest. Because there’s an exciting world out there for me to explore with you and Daddy!

I’m so glad to finally be out, because there just wasn’t any more room for me. But those first few minutes outside were a bit scary. It was cold, and the lights were so bright! There were people everywhere, and I didn’t know who they were. And I needed to be wrapped up really well. Those warm blankets felt so good, and my little hat with that bow on it made my head feel so warm (even though it messed up my hair)! I love bows, by the way, Mommy. I was exhausted from all of the stress of being born, and I couldn’t keep my eyes open.

But when the doctor put me in your arms, I immediately knew who you were. You see, I heard your heartbeat, and the rhythm of your breathing; I smelled your scent, and heard your voice. I managed to open my little eyes for a few seconds, and as soon as I saw you, I fell even more in love with you! And Daddy, too! I’m the luckiest baby in the world to have you two as my parents! I know you two will love me and care for me and keep me safe.

And my grandparents…I got to see them in the hallway on the way to the nursery, you know. I opened my eyes, and there was my grandmother. She’s beautiful. Just like you. And she reminded me so much of your own grandmother. I tried to smile at her, and I think maybe I did, but I was so tired. My grandfather was there, too. He looked like he was getting ready to cry. That was so cute.

Daddy never left my side while they were taking me to the nursery in that little crib, and he stayed right there until I got settled. He was making sure I was comfortable and warm, and he just couldn’t stop looking at me, and telling me how much he loved me.

After he left, the doctors kept examining me and not letting me sleep; that did get a little old after a while. But I guess it was for my own good. After giving me a quick warm sponge bath, which tickled, by the way, my nurse put a little shirt on over my head to help keep me warm before she wrapped me in the blanket. I think it’s going to take a little while for me to get used to wearing clothes, because they feel a little strange on my skin. But I know I’ll get used to them, and I know you have lots of pretty ones waiting for me at home. There was just so much going on all the time, no wonder I kept sleeping! It was exhausting!

Finally they brought me in your room. I just wanted to be with you! I love how we have those matching bracelets…you and me and Daddy! Not that you’d ever not know it was me, but it made me feel good to know they were being so careful. But that sensor tag on my ankle was a bit much, wasn’t it!? I’m sure we’ll laugh about that later.

It wasn’t easy getting the hang of that bottle either; those first few times with it I wasn’t real sure what to do. But my little tummy was rumbling so I knew I had to learn! After a few tries I caught on, and that formula tasted pretty good! You and Daddy are really good at feeding me, too. It’s such a special time together, isn’t it??

My grandmother and grandfather enjoyed feeding me, too. Grandmom holds me and talks to me, and sometimes she just looks at me and smiles and smiles! I bet she did that when you were first born, too. I can’t tell you what she was talking to me about, but I’m sure she’ll tell you one day.

Now in case you’re wondering how I’m still writing to you even though I’m finally born, and no longer inside of you, it’s really very simple. God wanted to surprise you, so He’s letting me do this for a few more days. I don’t know exactly for how long yet, so we’re just going to enjoy it while we can. I don’t think you mind, do you Mommy?

And I’m really more tired now than I was before I was born. You notice I’m sleeping most of the time, right? I have to get a lot of rest right now, so I’ll be sleeping a lot for the next few weeks. And when I get more energy we’ll have so much fun together!

What an exciting day it’s been though, right!? I’m so excited to finally be out and meeting you and all of my family! And I’m so looking forward to my new life here!!! I love you!!

XOXOXOXOXO

The Black Hole of Depression

If you haven’t ever experienced depression, it’s very difficult to understand the depth it can cause someone to sink into. It’s difficult to understand how hard it is to pull yourself out of it.

Depression is a thief that comes to steal your joy. Depression knocks on your door when you’re having a tough time, and says I’ve come to talk to you about all this. And instead of encouraging you, which you sometimes don’t want to hear right then anyway, it agrees with you. Yes, things are bad for you. They’re even going to get worse. “I’m here to tell you that!”

And you start to believe it.

Depression is real. It hurts. It captures you, grabs you with its strong arms and squeezes. It holds you close and begins to suck all the air from your body, until you feel like you can no longer breathe.

Depression wraps you in its paralyzing grip and keeps you from moving. It keeps you tied to the chair you’ve put yourself in, unable to move. Unable and even unwilling to talk to anyone, because Depression has told you you’re not worthy. That no one wants you. That you are incapable of doing anything productive or worthwhile. That the rest of your life is going to be like this, so you might as well give up and resign yourself to the facts (according to Depression); you’re no one, you’re worthless, and even worse, you don’t deserve anything any better than where you are and what you have right now.

Depression puts you in a hole and begins to throw the dirt in on top of you. And because you believe Depression’s lies, you lie down in that hole and just stop trying. You no longer have the will to try to climb out, because you’re totally convinced that Depression is telling you the truth.

And at that point, you start welcoming the dirt that is being shoveled over you. Because it will make the pain go away. And it’s easier to accept being in that hole than it is to grab onto the sides and begin pulling yourself out. Because it’s not going to get any better.

Depression is a liar. Depression is a thief. Depression exists to steal the happiness that you deserve. Because Depression is only happy when it makes others unhappy. And it’s really good at what it does.

John 16:33 In this world you will have trouble, but I have overcome the world.

Many times our walk in this life is difficult. It can become so hard that we only want to give up. But that’s not something we can afford to do, because when we do, we miss the goal we are so close to. And then we have no choice but to start the entire walk all over. While Depression stands there laughing at you, with that “I told you so!” look on its face. And once again, Depression wins.

But Depression is not a winner. Depression is a loser. And it always will be.

Because you have the power and the gifts to fight Depression. Depression does not win unless you allow it to.

That black hole can go away; you can climb out, shake the dirt off, and show the world, and Depression, that you are a winner. You are worthwhile. You are loved, and you are capable of doing the things you want to do!

No more. Today is the day Depression is defeated.

Because there is a Plan for your life. Jeremiah 29:11 tells us that. And Depression wants that Plan stopped because it knows you’ll be happy and successful. Misery loves company; so does Depression. Depression is always lonely, and it wants others with it. It will fight hard to keep you with it.

But you don’t belong there.

In Psalm 40:2 we read, “He [the Lord] lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; He set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.” That is the true promise of the Lord. He is faithful, and He will do what He promises. He will pull you out of that pit of depression when you take His outstretched hand.

Our hope is in our faith in the Lord; as hard as it may be some days, as long as you have a measure of faith to put one foot in front of the other and take one step ahead, you are defeating Depression. Keep your eye on the prize, as you hold the hand of the One who loves you the most.

And one day you will suddenly realize Depression has gone away, and been replaced with a joy and peace you never thought you would have again.

That is the power of faith. The power of keeping your eye on the One who loves you the most; the One who will never leave you or forsake you. The power that is given to you when you simply take His hand.

What are you waiting for? Tell Depression you are done, once and for all. The black hole exists only for the one who created it, and that person is not you.

Take the hand being offered, and let Him pull you out, never to return to it again.

I’ve been there. I’ve done that. And God is always good, and always faithful.

Treasures in a Junk Drawer

Most of us, if not all of us, have a junk drawer. At least one. It’s usually in the kitchen where we all tend to congregate at least once or twice a day. We actually have two of them. Even my husband, who can’t stand not being organized, knows the importance of having a junk drawer.

It’s amazing what things you find in there. Things you’ve been looking for for years, shoved all the way in the back. Things your child put in there when she was probably eight years old; now she’s twenty-seven. Things you put in there months or even years ago, because you don’t really know where else to put them, but you didn’t want to lose them either. Bits of something broken that you know you’ll get around to fixing eventually…when you find the other pieces. Pieces that are probably hiding in the other junk drawer.

But my junk drawers aren’t nearly as interesting as my mother’s was. She’d had over 50 years to fill it. I’ve only had 20. Hers was a miniature repository of selected family history that only she truly understood.

Part of cleaning out her house was cleaning out her kitchen junk drawer. Although I’d gone through it off and on for years, looking for, and often finding, just the thing I needed, that last time I discovered countless little treasures, some I’d never knew existed, and never thought could ever bring back so many memories.

She certainly had the “normal” junk drawer items…a broken green crayon from one of our daughter’s many coloring marathons.

A matchbook from a long closed grocery store with just one match left in it, in case she needed to light candles if the power went out.

A pair of old sewing scissors with a piece of frayed twine tied around the handle. (I’d asked her about that once, and she said her mother always did that. So she did, too!)

Of course there were the usual collections of all sizes of batteries, many of them expired; scattered pennies that had probably been found under chair cushions or on the floor; and a collection of old rubber bands, many which broke when I tried to use them.

But some of the items I really didn’t anticipate, and were most likely saved in there because they had a special meaning, and she didn’t want to lose them.

There was a piece of ribbon that looked too short to tie around anything, but then I remembered it had been tied around a special gift from her granddaughter, and she thought it was too pretty to throw away.

There were probably 50 or more game tickets from the boardwalk games in Ocean City that Ashley had left there over the years. I could hear my mother thinking, “She’s going to want these the next time she visits!”

Then there was the old hotel key on an old key ring from a long ago trip to Chicago with my father just a few years after they were married. I could hardly believe she actually brought the key back with her! Knowing her, it had to have been accidental, because she would’ve considered that stealing!

And a broken pencil from a company my father had worked for some ten years before he died…and a note pad to match, bearing the same logo from Arcady Feeds; a company long ago out of business.

An old ration book from WW II was all the way in the back, with a few coupons still left in it. It served as a stark reminder of how difficult things had been at one time. Obviously she didn’t go in that drawer much to clean things out, or else she forgot it was there.

But the most meaningful thing I found was a piece of broken jewelry which read simply “Grandma”. I remembered when Ashley had given it to her several years ago. I’m sure she must’ve been heartbroken when it broke, and couldn’t bear to part with such a special reminder of her granddaughter’s love.

Maybe her junk drawer was a memory drawer instead. Maybe those items in it were not discarded, but saved. As the saying goes, one man’s trash is another’s treasure. These were some of her treasures, and each meant something to her. And it took me awhile to understand it.

Similarly, we sometimes feel discarded, like a piece of broken jewelry, a lonely crayon whose box of friends has long since been thrown away, or a key that can no longer open any door because that door is long gone.

But we must remember that there’s still a heavenly drawer full of, not junk, but treasures…pieces that are broken, mismatched, forgotten, or deemed unusable by others. When often look at ourselves that way, but that’s when the Lord reminds us He’s looking at us like His carefully guarded treasures.

He takes us when we’re broken and feeling useless, and uses us for something more…something better. He never discards us, but saves us and gives us rest until it’s time for our talents to be put to use once again.

Feeling like a piece of junk? That no one wants to deal with you? Get ready, because you’re getting ready to be shown you’re a piece of priceless treasure, and you’re going to be amazed at what’s ahead for you!

No, you’re not in the junk drawer! You’re in the treasure drawer! And you’re about to discover the difference!