Memorial Day Matters 2017

This was originally written for last year’s blog, but I think it’s even more important this year. The last year has seen a dramatic increase in terror attacks in our country, and throughout the world. We are still losing military personnel stationed overseas, and sadly, that will most likely continue. For their families, Memorial Day is a painful and difficult reminder of those no longer around to attend family cookouts, go on a three day mini vacation, or shop the sales at their favorite stores.

It seems everyone’s talking about the fun they’re having. The food they’re eating. The places they’re seeing and the bargains they’re snagging at all the sales. Nothing but fun!

But it’s not for those who’ve lost loved ones fighting terrorism and in the various wars in places most of us have never been, and most likely never will be.

So here is the piece I wrote last year for Memorial Day. I believe it still applies, perhaps today more than ever.

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Memorial Day matters to a lot of people; some more than others. For some it’s a day set aside to remember their own loved ones who died fighting for our country, but yet their families are the only ones who remember that. The empty place at the picnic table still hurts, no matter how long it’s been. A year, ten years, twenty, or in the case of a family in my hometown, almost fifty years.

I’m sure the families still vividly remember that day, that exact time, when they got the notification. The knock on the door; the phone call; the telegram. The moment that changed their lives forever; that turned their personal world upside down, never to be totally upright again.

Wives became widows, or husbands became widowers. Children became fatherless or motherless. Parents lost their child; sometimes their only child. Some parents lost the hope of ever becoming grandparents. Many could still picture the day he/she was sworn in as a soldier, or an airman, or a sailor. How proud everyone was. Now they only had left was a flag draped casket subs memories.

And no one, except them, seems to remember their sacrifices any more.

Not only do people not remember, but today there are now those who desecrate the flag-decorated graves of our honored military dead; desecrate war memorials meant to honor the fallen; and turn Memorial Day parades into riots, bringing only violence and hatred, claiming they have the right to protest, and they’re just exercising their “rights”. Even worse are the ones who decide to shoot a service member in uniform, because they “don’t believe in military service.” And yes, those service members who die in such shootings should be honored as well on Memorial Day, because they also gave their lives to preserve ours.

Yes protestors do have some rights. They have those rights because of the sacrifices of the men and women who are being honored by the flag-decorated graves, the war memorials, and the parades. But those rights are limited by law, something they tend to forget.

But our service members didn’t give their lives so protestors could vandalize their graves and their memorials. They gave their lives to preserve freedom in our country and around the world. But that doesn’t include freedom to incite violence and vandalize property in the name of “protesting”. It’s not an excuse for rudeness, or stealing.

I am tired of the protestors and the violence; I am tired of people putting down those in the military. I personally knew a few of our military who lost their lives in various wars and deployments. I have many, many friends who are in, or have retired from, the military, and many friends whose children are serving in the military. I honor them, and respect them, and admire them for their service and their sacrifice. And I thank them for keeping us safe, even though many times they risk their own lives to do so.

So on this Memorial Day, let’s all thank those who gave their lives for us so we could enjoy our freedom. Let’s thank their families as well.

Because Memorial Day matters. To them, and to all of us.

But How Do I Know…..?

It’s a question I’ve been asked a lot recently. So have several of my friends. Because their parents or other loved ones are at that time in their life, or should I say almost at the end of their life.

And they’re not sure. They’re not certain. They don’t know for sure their loved ones will be going to heaven, because they don’t know their loved ones’ relationship with the Lord.

And it worries them. A lot.

Many times they won’t ask. They either don’t have that type of relationship with them, or they’re afraid of the answer. Or they don’t know what to say if the answer to their question isn’t what they hoped it would be. They can talk to people they barely know about their faith, share their love of the Lord with them, but when it comes to their own parents, their family, that’s a different matter.

Why? Are they too close to the situation? Or are they afraid of the answer? Or are they afraid they may have to go out on a limb and speak the words to them that come so easily when talking to strangers…and be scorned, made fun of, or worse, told to leave because no one wants to hear what they’re saying.

But this is a serious matter. It affects eternity. Their eternity as well as yours. Because you want your loved ones with you forever. And you want to be sure they’re going to be there with you.

However, you cannot truly know what is really in someone’s heart. Even when they tell you how they feel, and what they believe, sometimes they may not be telling you what they really believe. They may be telling you what you want to hear, or they may be baiting you, telling you something entirely different just to see what you’ll say.

Each of us has a relationship with the Lord. Yes, we do. Even those who profess they do not believe have a relationship with Him. It’s certainly a one way relationship, because the Lord continues to quietly speak to the non-believer, who turns a deaf ear to Him. But the Lord is still speaking in that one way conversation.

And those words are heard. They may be ignored, but they are heard, and unconsciously remembered in the back of the mind. And I dare say those words are remembered in those last few minutes of life. We don’t know what conversation takes place between that non-believer and the Lord at that point, but I have a feeling it’s totally different from any other conversation they’ve had.

Does a person have to profess publicly to someone else their beliefs in order to be accepted into heaven? I don’t believe I’ve seen that in scripture. In fact, the Lord spoke about praying in private so as not to be seen as boasting to others about how devout, how religious, they were.

Our relationship with the Lord is personal. And it should be. There’s nothing wrong with sharing it, but there’s nothing wrong with keeping quiet when you feel you should. There’s a difference in speaking out all the time and knowing when to speak out when others will be receptive.

Let me address another issue that so many of us are told at these times. And if I step on toes, then please, instead of telling me I’m totally off base, and blasting me for my beliefs, think about what I’m saying first.

For years I’ve heard from so many people, “Oh, that denomination…they aren’t real Christians. They don’t believe the right way like we do. They won’t be going to heaven.” “That person was a member of xxxx group, and they aren’t true Christians, in fact, they have idols in their meeting places, so they won’t be in heaven!” “So and so was Jewish, and never accepted Jesus, so she isn’t in heaven. No chance at all.” (So…what about all of the Jewish people murdered during the Holocaust? Aren’t the Jewish people God’s chosen people? I do believe He wouldn’t NOT have them with Him.)

Have any of you been told any of this, or had similar conversations about who’s going to Heaven and who isn’t? Yes, scripture tells us in John 14:6 that Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” And I believe that. We are also told that sinners cannot enter into His kingdom without repenting, and I believe that as well.

But who am I, and who are you, to say that we know exactly who’s going to heaven and who isn’t? I know what scripture says, but there are a lot of things I don’t know, and I cannot in any way say that I know totally who will be in eternity with me. I’m not God. I can only interpret His word how I interpret it. Interpretation is personal. And I cannot say I’m the only one who’s right, any more than anyone else can.

Here’s one other thing to think about. Does scripture say that someone has to make that decision at a certain time or it’s too late, and tell as many people as possible about it? What about the person on their deathbed that lapses into a coma? That person’s mind may still be consciously operating on some level, but we have no way of knowing, and they have no way of communicating with us.

But they most likely are communicating…just not with us. How do we know they aren’t communicating directly with the Lord? Just the two of them. A very personal and private conversation. Why would that be so difficult to believe?

How can we positively say we have all the answers? How do we know what is said between someone and the Lord when they are in the last seconds of transitioning between earthly life and eternity?

And how long are those last seconds in earthly time? After all, doesn’t scripture tell us in 2 Peter 3:8, “With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”

Obviously the Lord has all the time He wants…and needs…to speak with us in those final seconds. All the time to extend His hand of love and forgiveness and give us that one last opportunity to realize Who He is, and why we should trust Him; why we should know Him as Lord.

Isn’t that all He wants from us? And it doesn’t matter how long or how little the time we’ve loved Him. That we do accept Him is all that counts.

So why would He not do anything and everything He can  to reach us; to touch our heart one last time and give us that final chance to love and trust Him as Lord.

And that’s exactly what I believe happens in those final moments if someone is not in a place of believing. That in those final moments He reaches out with His nail-scarred hands and says, “Come to me.” And in that final moment the non-believer most likely becomes a new believer, and eternity welcomes another soul.

He loves us all so much that He wants us all to be with Him. Isn’t that the Lord we serve?

Let me tell you a story. About fifteen years ago the husband of a coworker was seriously ill in the hospital. He’d undergone a heart transplant but unfortunately the heart wasn’t in as good shape as it should have been and the man never regained consciousness from the surgery. It had been three weeks, and we all knew he wasn’t going to be alive much longer barring a miracle. I was returning from lunch and entering the building when I very clearly heard a voice telling me, “Don’t worry. He’s with me now.”

What?

I didn’t put the pieces together until I got back to my desk and about twenty minutes later received the news that our coworker’s husband had died. Out of curiosity I asked what time. About five minutes before I heard those words “Don’t worry. He’s with me now.” This particular man had been raised Catholic but hadn’t been to any church in years, nor did he profess to have any faith, nor did his wife.

Coincidence? I think not at all. The Lord clearly told me what I needed to know, and what his widow needed to hear. Even though at the time she never believed a word I told her. I hope she does now. Or else she may be one of the ones the Lord has to reach out to at those very last few seconds. And I am quite sure that she will make the right decision when she comes face to face with Him.

You may or may not believe anything I’ve said, and that is your prerogative. But what is important is eternity. I want to spend it with my loved ones, my friends, and most importantly, with my Lord. I want to talk to family members I never met. I want to talk with so many people I’ve admired and respected from a distance. I want to run and laugh with the babies I miscarried, that I know are waiting for me.

I want to sit and talk with my Lord, and ask Him all the questions I’ve had over the years. Questions to which I’ll probably already know the answers before I even ask.

And I want to see so many others that I’ve known throughout my life that I’ve lost touch with, and tell them, “I knew you’d be here!”

So do you stop praying for your loved ones? Of course not. Your prayers are heard, and acted upon. Go forward with the hope that your loved ones, like mine, will make the right decision, even if it’s in the last few seconds of life.

Heaven will be a wonderful eternity. And I believe it will be full!

Letting Go

Sometimes there are decisions that adult children are called upon to make for their elderly parents or other close relatives.

Decisions no one should have to make.

Life or death decisions.

Sometimes they’re decisions set forth in a living will or an advanced medical directive. Those are somewhat easier, but not really. Not when you think about what you actually have to authorize, and what it means.

Sometimes, though, those decisions were not made in a living will or an advanced directive. Sometimes you’re called upon to make that decision because your loved one asks you to. Begs you to. And you have to make a choice between what you want, and what they want.

It’s not a good position to be in. It’s not a place you want to be. And it’s certainly not a decision you want to make. Because you’ll be the one who made that final decision, and there are a whirlwind of emotions that surround that decision.

Many years ago my elderly uncle who was in the last stages of Alzheimer’s went into a coma. He had a living will, and an advanced directive, both of which clearly stated he wanted no life-sustaining procedures done to keep him alive. No resuscitation; no feeding tube; no respirators. In short, he wanted to be able to pass from this life with whatever dignity remained.

His youngest sister, whom he had designated as his representative after his wife had died, couldn’t accept his wishes. She argued with the doctors and insisted a feeding tube be inserted. “I won’t let my brother starve to death!” she told them. She was in the process of calling an attorney to try and have his requests overridden when thankfully the Lord intervened and took my uncle Home.

However, what happens when your parent tells you she’s done. She’s had enough. No more respirator or dialysis. No more feeding tubes. She doesn’t want to live like that any more. You don’t blame her. But on the other hand…

You don’t want to be the one to tell the doctors. You don’t want to have that decision resting on your shoulders. You don’t want to be the one who’s responsible for her death. Even though you know that’s not really true, in your mind that’s what you’re thinking.

It puts you between a rock and a hard place, as the saying goes. You know she’s suffering; you know she’s miserable. And you know she won’t get any better. You also know you wouldn’t want to stay alive like that either.

What do you do?

I’ve counseled a number of women who’ve been in this position. It’s a hard place to be. I’ve talked with them before they made their decision, as well as afterwards. There is no one right decision because every situation is unique. And extremely personal. In fact, it’s one of the most personal you can ever make. And it’s not reversible.

One of the biggest problems, especially afterwards, is the huge feeling of guilt; the feeling that you and you alone were responsible for her dying. Many times other family members will tell you that as well, because they simply cannot accept the inevitable. They have to blame someone, rather than look at the overall situation and realize you were only carrying out your loved one’s wishes. Whether they were your wishes or not.

I am thankful I was not in that position with my mother. The Lord took care of her, and took her Home when she was ready. I honestly do not know how I would’ve handled such a decision had I been asked to make it, although she also had a living will and advanced directive. I do know, though, I would’ve been criticized, blamed, and called everything but a loving daughter by some of our other family members. Which would have made a bad situation far worse.

Advice? First let me say, none of us want to lose a loved one, particularly a parent. It doesn’t matter how old they are. We want them around forever. We want them to fight whatever is wrong with them, and we pray they’ll get better. But sometimes they don’t; sometimes it’s just time. They know it. And we know it in our hearts, whether our minds admit it or not.

Letting go is hard, but for those of us who know the Lord, we know it’s not goodbye; it’s not forever. It’s “I’ll see you later.” But we have to remember it’s not our decision; it’s theirs. We have to honor their wishes and put aside our own. Because one day we may be in their place, and we will want our children to do the same for us. We have to honor our parents’ wishes.

For anyone in this situation, my heart breaks for you, and I wish I could be with you to hold your hand and tell you it’ll be all right.

Because eventually it will be. When you meet again. And you’ll have eternity to make up for lost time.

Letting go is tough. And with God’s grace you will survive it.

And the reunion will be so very worth it.

To My Mother on Mother’s Day

I want to wish you the very happiest Mother’s Day ever.

Except you’re not here to celebrate with us any more. And each Mother’s Day I continue to miss you and wish so very much you were still here. Even if it were just for this one special day.

Especially this year.

Because this would have been the year you’d celebrate Mother’s Day as a great-grandmother. Not that you weren’t a GREAT grandmother to Ashley, because you were the best! But this year you’d actually have that title. Great-grandmother. That beautiful little baby in the photo above…that’s your great-granddaughter in her first few hours of life. The little girl named after you. Almost a year ago.

She made you a great-grandmother.

And I know you’d wear that title proudly. You wouldn’t mind a bit if anyone knew your age then, because you’d wear it as a badge of honor. Because that granddaughter you’d waited so long for had given you her daughter to bestow that title on you.

So many, many times I’ve wished you could see your namesake. Baby Rachel is beautiful. A wonderful, happy, smiling little girl. We’d be four generations of strong and loving women….that would have been so wonderful.

So many times I’ve wanted to be able to call and tell you about our granddaughter, about that funny little thing she just did, or how especially cute she was that day, or how much fun all of us had taking her shopping, like you used to do with her mother.

But there are no phones in heaven. No mail delivery. No photo albums. No Skype. I can’t reach you except in my mind and in my dreams.

So many times I’ve wished we’d had smartphones when Ashley was a baby so we could’ve sent you daily pictures and videos of her like we get every day of Rachel. So many times I’ve looked at our granddaughter and seen a glimpse of your smile, your look, and suddenly felt like a part of you was still with us, laughing with us, and just loving that precious baby.

But I’m hoping that somehow you know. I’m hoping somehow you’ve seen her, seen your beloved granddaughter with her own beautiful daughter. I’m hoping you and Daddy both have had that privilege to be able to share in all our happiness.

I remember so many years ago my Aunt Ruth telling us she believed the Lord let those in heaven see the happy family occasions that were happening with their loved ones back here on earth. Because heaven is a place of total joy, and seeing their loved ones rejoicing over special occasions would only make them happier. Somehow, in some way, I still believe that to this day.

So Mom, I’m wishing you a very special Happy Mother’s Day this year. Yes, I still miss you more than words can express. I still cry on occasion because you’re not here. I still talk to you in my mind, and I hope you can hear me. And I can still hear your voice in my head saying my name.

And when our granddaughter is old enough to understand, I’m going to tell her all about you. All about the things you used to do with her mother. And I’m hopefully going to get to do those same things with Rachel. Not that my cooking skills will be anything like yours, nor will I ever be able to play “school” like you did, but I’m going to try. You were a one-of-a-kind grandmother.

Just like you were a one-of-a-kind mother. And I still will cherish this picture of our three generations on our last Mother’s Day with all three of us.


Happy Mother’s Day, Mom. Grandmom. And Great-Grandmom. I’ll love you always.

A Very Special Mother’s Day

Of course they should all be special. It’s a day we honor our mother, the woman who brought us into this world. For most of us, she’s the woman who first loved us, and loved us unconditionally, fed us and played with us, cared for us, protected us, and was always there when we needed her.

But this year is an especially special Mother’s Day, at least in our family.

While it is my first Mother’s Day as a grandmother, more importantly, it’s our daughter’s first Mother’s Day as a mom to her own beautiful daughter.

For our daughter and son-in/law, and our whole family, this year has been one of many “firsts”, amazing days in which our granddaughter has passed those many special milestones as an infant. Her first bath, her first smile, her first tooth, her first trip to the zoo and the beach….

But more so, our daughter has grown from being a college student, to a wife, and to being a mother. And watching that transformation take place has been something totally amazing. We always knew she’d be a great mom, but as I watch her with her daughter, I’m just amazed, and very proud, on a daily basis.

Motherhood seems as natural to her as breathing. Her world has suddenly changed. Although her husband is the love of her life, her daughter is now the most important person in her world, her life, her greatest treasure.

As it should be. She now knows what it’s like to be willing to give up everything if her child needs something. That’s how a mom should be with her children, and that’s the mother our daughter has become.

To say we are proud of her is an understatement; there are no words to describe how we feel. She and her husband have become the parents we always knew they’d be. Their daughter is their world. A smile on that little one’s face can make a dreary and miserable day turn into a ray of sunshine that lights up their entire house.

Last year’s Mother’s Day was a miserable one for our daughter. She was just about at the end of a terrible pregnancy in which she’d endured overnight hospital stays, dehydration, daily nausea and vomiting, severe back and hip pains, and mostly sleepless nights. She couldn’t even eat her Mother’s Day brunch, and as her mother, I felt totally helpless because I couldn’t do anything to make her feel better. In fact, that’s how I’d felt almost during her entire pregnancy, because I couldn’t do anything for her. That’s part of being a mother to a mother-to-be. I kept telling her it would all be worth it, but it was hard for her to believe it at the time.

But she sure does now. As sick as she was the entire nine months, every time she looks at her beautiful daughter, holds her in her arms, and sees her laugh and smile, she knows it was all worth it.

And for me, well, personally, I must say the best Mother’s Day gift of all is watching my daughter being a mother to her daughter. For me, being a mother to the mother of our grandchild is the only gift I need. I don’t need a bouquet of flowers; my flowers are the pictures we receive each day of our beautiful granddaughter. I don’t need jewelry; our daughter and granddaughter are the sparkling jewels of my life.

Happy first Mother’s Day, Ashley Treasure the memories. I’m so very proud of the woman – and mother – you’ve become. Your grandmother would be so overjoyed, and I have a feeling that every so often the Lord gives her a glimpse of you and baby Rachel. And I can only imagine how happy that makes her!

I love you all so much! And one day you will know the feelings I’m having when your own daughter becomes a mother.

When Depression Rears Its Ugly Head

And it can happen when you least expect it.

A traumatic event can bring it on. A dramatic shift in lifestyle. Watching others advance in careers or enjoying families and you’re not. The loss of a spouse or other close family member. New mothers often experience it, in the form of postpartum depression.

In my own case, many years ago when I was in my mid-twenties, and recently divorced, I suddenly lost my job. I had no idea what I was going to do. I had rent to pay, a car payment, and all the other incidentals of life. I remember those first weeks, filing for unemployment, searching daily for a new job, and getting more and more discouraged. I’d sit in a chair for hours at a time, doing nothing but feeling sorry for myself. Fortunately I found a new job fairly soon, and pulled myself out of it, but it was a hard time in my young life, and I’ve never forgotten it.

Depression can also hit after major surgery. I didn’t really believe it until I saw it happen to someone I loved. Fortunately it was short-lived, but it was scary to watch an adult break down in tears for no apparent reason, and that person not knowing why, and having no control over it.

Depression is real. It’s not a joke, and it’s not something you can turn off when someone tells you to just “snap out of it!” It’s not something to laugh about, or to be frustrated with a friend or family member who’s going through it and needs understanding rather than anger or resentment.

Sometimes that person may not even realize that’s what’s happening. They may feel a bit down, or “under the weather,” as the saying goes, but depressed? That’s usually an ugly word to most people, and many times it’s used to make fun of someone, or used as an excuse to avoid that person. “Oh, he/she is so depressing to be around. I can’t handle people like that.” Which means the person who needs someone the most to help them through a difficult time is abandoned, left feeling even more hopeless than before.

Depression affects some 15 million Americans each year, from mild to extreme cases. Sometimes it’s short lived, and sometimes it grabs onto that person and just won’t let go, no matter how hard they try to pull out of it. While some individuals are able to pull themselves through it and out of it, others need professional help and/or medication to help them recover. It may be a quick process, or it may take months, and in some severe cases, much longer.

Unfortunately in today’s times more and more people are beginning to find themselves on the edge of depression, for various reasons. It’s not something anyone wants to admit, and it’s not always something we even realize until we’ve fallen all the way into it. And then it’s not an easy thing to pull out of.

Why write about this now? Because it can happen to any of us. At any time. It almost happened to me again after I underwent surgery to repair my broken wrist. And it reminded me that none of us are immune, no matter how emotionally strong we may be; no matter how strong our faith may be; and no matter how strong and intact our family and friends support system is.

If you or someone you know is going through something similar, please take my advice and talk to someone. A counselor, your pastor, or your doctor. The sooner you can get out of it, the better off you – and your family – will be.

Life is worth living, and living to the fullest. Don’t let anything stop you!

The Flamingo Derby

The flamingos had a real problem this week. They love parties, as we all know, but this weekend there are actually two events they could have parties for. And as creative as they are, and as good at throwing parties as they are, well, even the flamingos couldn’t manage to have two fantastic parties in two days. So they had a decision to make.

Cinco de Mayo? Or the Kentucky Derby?

After all, they do like margaritas, but they aren’t that fond of Mexican music, or Mexican food, for that matter. At least not to make an array of Mexican dishes for an entire group of hungry flamingos.

The Kentucky Derby? Now that’s a whole other concept for them. With lots of possibilities…mint juleps aren’t bad, and they can always find ways to make them pink, and there are so many ways to make fancy concoctions with bourbon.

Then there are the hats! What self-respecting flamingo can resist those fancy, gaudy, and outrageous hats?!

So that was it! A Kentucky Derby party it would be! And they set to work!

Of course it would be on the Saturday of the Derby….and they had to first figure out where to have it, because after all, you have to actually watch the race at a Kentucky Derby party!  That’s the whole point! Well, sort of…. For the flamingos, it was first of all an excuse to have another party and show off their party planning skills, but also it was an opportunity to see who could find the most lavish hats, because after all, the Derby hats, especially for the ladies, are almost as important as the mint juleps!

Once again our house was borrowed for the event, but at least this time they asked, and even invited us to attend! Thoughtful birds, those flamingos!

And now the party plans got underway. Starting with the perfect door decoration. The race is sometimes called the “run for the roses,” and even though we’re talking red roses, the flamingos changed it around a bit to suit their style. I think it works! And of course, they had special table decorations!

Every good Kentucky/Flamingo Derby party has to have mint juleps. It’s tradition! Of course, you know the flamingos had to put their special style to it, by creating champagne juleps, and a huge variety of other flavors from strawberry to blackberry to even watermelon juleps! Served in crystal or traditional silver mugs! With the appropriate drink stirrers, of course!

And what great bar setups they designed! Definitely perfect focal points for partying flamingos! After all, since they couldn’t decide which one they liked best, why not have more than one….

They didn’t forget the food, which also had to be special. Bourbon shrimp, bourbon meatballs, horseshoe shaped sandwiches, and various assorted Kentucky inspired dishes.

Of course the desserts are equally appealing, in true elegant flamingo style! Naturally! From bourbon pecan pie to mint julep cupcakes, bourbon brownies, bourbon pecan tarts, strawberry “roses”, and of course, Kentucky Derby cookies and cakes!

But let’s not forget the race itself. The flamingos decided they had to have a betting table, all in fun, of course, with no money being exchanged. But the prize, of course, is a case of champagne, with flamingo designed crystal flutes! And a pink loving cup, of course. We’re not sure who will win, but the top choices so far from the flamingos are Classic Empire and Always Dreaming. Why? They like the names, of course, although they were disappointed there were no flamingo jockeys. Maybe next year…they’re already working on it, and hard at work designing silks for the selected jockey!

As well as trying to determine if a flamingo can actually enter the race. Maybe as the Leader of the starting parade?

But the piece de resistance, as they like to say, are the hats! You cannot have a Kentucky Derby party without the proper hats, and these flamingos have outdone themselves selecting their Derby hats. Of course there’s a prize for the best one. Which one do you think should win?

Will we be joining the festivities? Well, let’s put it this way. I DO have a hat almost ready for the occasion. Just in case….

Update: And did you see who won the Derby?? Always Dreaming! One of the flamingos’ picks! I think next year we will need to listen very carefully to who those pink birds are betting on!

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Visiting the Heavenly Library

A few months ago a friend of mine shared a dream he’d had. It was such a beautiful dream, I knew I had to share it, and thankfully he gave me his permission.

He had gone for a visit to heaven and the Lord met him at the gates, ready to take him on a brief tour of just a few of the wonders waiting to be experienced by us  in eternity.

One of the stops they made was the Heavenly Library. A vast place, never-ending in our human mind, and perhaps it never would have an ending, at least until heaven was finally full on Judgement Day.

He could see where many additions had already been made to the building, new rooms and even entire wings had been added on to hold more and more books, as earthly authors penned their works and the Lord received the first copy. (You didn’t know that? Of course He does. He reads everything we write, as soon as we write it! And probably sometimes before!)

The Lord took my friend through many rooms, showing him some of His favorite works, several by people my friend actually knew, and who were members of our writers’ group. Then they came to a shelf which displayed my friend’s book. The Lord showed it to him, and told him it, too, was one of His favorites. My friend was honored, especially when the Lord pulled out His heavenly pen for the author to personally sign it. Which of course he did, immediately!

My friend noticed the book took on a whole new look when he saw it in that heavenly library. The cover was brighter, and the cover picture almost seemed to move as he held it, as if it were actually a living thing. But then again, in heaven, such things are certainly possible.

But when he returned it to its place on the shelf, he noticed there were four or five other books beside it. He reached for one of them, and noticed it was blank. No title, no cover photo, and no words on the inside. My friend looked at the Lord, a bit puzzled, because after all, the Lord makes no mistakes, so what was a blank book doing in the Heavenly Library?

He knew he didn’t ask the question out loud, but of course the Lord knew what he was asking. “My son,” He said quietly, “those blank books are yours as well. They’re blank because you haven’t written them yet. You know you’re supposed to; you just haven’t done it. You see that one there?”

My friend nodded, and suddenly he saw a title appear. A title of the book he’d been thinking about writing, but just hadn’t put any words on paper yet.

The Lord looked at him and said, “Yes, that’s your next one. When are you going to start writing it? I’m waiting for it so I can add it to your shelf. You see? Each author has his or her own shelf for their books. Yours has several more to come. Am I correct?”

My friend was embarrassed. The Lord was telling him what he already knew, almost admonishing him for not being obedient. But yet there was something in the tone of that heavenly voice that was not scolding, not disappointment, but encouragement.

“My son, I brought you here to show you just a hint of what I have planned for you. There are more books to be written by you, but if you don’t start them, they’ll always be just this. A blank book with nothing to say, nothing to teach. Nothing to impart to others who are waiting to read them. I’m not disappointed with you. I love you, and I want you to do all that I’ve planned for you to accomplish. Don’t be discouraged, and don’t put off what I’ve asked you to do. Others are waiting to read your next book. Just like I am.”

How many of us know we’re supposed to be writing? We know what we’re supposed to write about. We even have the title, and maybe the cover design. We think about it a lot. But never get any further. And our heavenly bookshelf that’s designed to hold several books by us is lucky to hold even one.

We are not all called to write. Some of us are called to be artists, and I venture to say there is also a Heavenly Art Gallery, with beautiful paintings and drawings on display, as well as blank canvases and empty frames, waiting to be filled with art that may never be created.

We were all created with a talent. And the Lord expects us to use it to the best of our ability…to not hide it under a rock, or let it sit dormant on a shelf. It may be teaching, medicine, counseling, public service, or any number of things. But we all have that talent that was gifted to us before we were even born.

It took me five years to write my first book. I do not plan on it being another five for the next one. I don’t want my shelf in the Heavenly Library to have only one completed work!

What about you?

 

Thank you to Gene Markland for allowing me to share your vision,  and to embellish on it a bit. Gene is the author of “Spirit Fellowship: Experiencing Life in the Presence of God.” Available on Amazon. Follow him on twitter at @genemarkland.

Counting the Raindrops

The other night I was once again laying in bed trying to go to sleep. The harder I tried, the more awake I seemed to get. So I read for a few minutes. I readjusted my pillow. Even tried to count sheep. Then switched to counting cats, and how many times they started “singing” to me. Cats are nocturnal and our two new ones like to serenade us at night with a meowing version of a lullaby.

That certainly didn’t help.

So I continued to lay there, listening to the nonstop bouncing of raindrops on the skylights. Maybe I could count them? No, who could ever count those? It’s an impossible task.

Or is it?

Then I remembered. It may be impossible for you and me. But if the Lord catches all our tears and keeps them in His individual bottles for us…If He numbers each hair on our heads…if He knows how many stars are in the universe, and has named every one of them…if He fashions each individual snowflake a bit different from all the rest…if He knows how many grains of sand there are on the beach, and makes each one of those microscopic granules different from each of the others…..

Surely counting each drop of rain isn’t difficult for Him either. He doesn’t even get tired from doing it. Of course neither did I get tired from trying it, which is a whole other subject.

But perhaps the Lord kept me awake those several extra hours just so I could think about all of this. To try to get me to understand just how awesome He is; how amazing and how totally in charge of all of the wonders of nature around us.

Perhaps He wanted me to understand once again that He can so easily do these seemingly impossible tasks without even lifting a finger.

Perhaps He wanted me to understand the things that I’m praying for and standing in faith for…the things I see as so difficult and so massive…so impossible…they’re not difficult for Him at all!

I can’t count the raindrops. Or the snowflakes. Or the stars. Or the grains of sand. But the Lord can. And He does.

And He will accomplish the things we are standing in faith for. Maybe not in the exact way we want or expect, but in the best way to further our lives for good.

Because He can count the raindrops. I can’t.