Saturday, April 29, 2017

I got older today...

Yes, today is my birthday.  In all honestly, since I became, single birthday's haven't been all that fun.  This year, though, I was determined it was going to be different and fortunately for me my kiddos were all about it.  The day started pretty much perfectly and only got better from there. 
 My day was spent exploring the little town of Aiken, South Carolina.  If you haven't ever been, put it on your to do list.  It is full of beautiful homes, gardens, shops, galleries. There was just too much to see and do!
 The sweetest part? I got to be with 2 of my 3 babies!
Yes, that is me, with a Diet Coke (my favorite food, you know!) in a glass bottle.  There is nothing better on a hot Spring afternoon!!!  Of course, Aiken is horse country so it has some wonderful equestrian touches every where you look...I can't wait to go back and explore even more!

Friday, April 28, 2017

Bachlorette Fun!

I can't believe it but my girl of girls is getting married.  She and I became unlikely friends, partly due to  a tattoo that I just knew stood in the way of our friendship, several years ago when we were both in the throws of life changes and lots of pain.  Maybe it was a kindred spirit kind of thing because God brought us together at a time when we each felt no one else on the face of the earth could possibly understand the pain we were going through.  We walked the path of newly single together, learned the ups and down of single Motherhood to boys, shared the war stories of dating in this season of life.  We cried together...sometimes for her family, sometimes for mine and sometimes for both.

She would be the friend that I left the USA with for the first time in my life.  She was the friend with whom I will never forget the hours of talking we did late at night as we sat on the balcony of a cruise ship in the middle of the ocean and laughed and talked and opened ourselves up as only soul sisters can.  We have shared countless hours of retail therapy and shared quite a few clothes as well (another kindred love we share!)  We have been each other's "wingman," movie date, Walking Dead buddies and shared holidays during those first years when our fractured families were trying to figure it out. We have chased the loneliness out of each other's life more times that I can count. Even though it didn't always feel like it, when we got together, we knew we were going to get through another day. We walked through court proceedings, financial crisis' and  financial classes together and grew up. Yes, it was hard...but we did it.

Now, we are celebrating her upcoming nuptials to one amazing man.  They met at a work conference last year and fell head over heals.... totally and quickly.  I am so happy for her that she has found a Godly, devoted, caring and handsome man to walk the rest of this life's path with...but a little sad too.  She will be moving to his home state in airplane ride away.  I am selfish and cry a little each time I think about it.  I am so happy that she has found her "true North."  I wish them a lifetime of joy, memories and more love than they can contain. But even more than that, I am so thankful to have had her by my side during the wild ride of the last few years.

Thank you, God, for the angel with the "questionable" tattoo!

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Talbots' Spring Trunk Show!

Last week I was honored to be a special guest at our local Talbots' trunk show.  It makes your day to arrive to a front row, reserved seat, complete with pink rose waiting on you for a fashion show!  I have to say the team at Talbots did a great job and presented a beautiful Spring Line!  I love all the pattern matching and the colors for Spring are lovely!  I found some great new pieces to add to my closet and since I haven't managed to shop at all this Spring it was nice to have some pretty pops of color hanging up and waiting to brighten the day!
The greatest thing about this spring collection is I found so many pieces that would work inside and outside of work!  For me, that is HUGE!  Traditionally, I have been a girl who loves Fall & Winter clothes but oddly enough...the last few years have found me loving my Spring and Summer wardrobe best.  I think I love color so much that I find it is more fun to shop for!  I also love dresses and skirts so they work for me inside and out for work and truly are the best in our deep South heat.  Hats off to a great job Talbots! 

Friday, April 21, 2017

It seems like more than just a year!

I can't believe it has only been a year since I was getting ready to see my baby girl get married!  This time, last year, was so busy and full of pre-wedding festivities that it almost seems like I can't remember them all!  One of my favorite memories, though, was the time I got to spend with her and her besties on Amelia Island last year. It was such a fun time. I would love to go back now!!!

My sweet daughter and Son-In-Love have shared so many wonderful firsts this past year and I think that is why it seems almost like they squeezed 5 years into 1!  There were lots of parties, a wedding, a honeymoon, a Pharmacy School Graduation, 2 new jobs, a move to a new town, new cars, a new house...just to name a few.  How can so much have changed in 1 quick year? 

The most important thing, though, is I gained a wonderful new son and my daughter is happy in her new life!  I am so glad I was able to share these memories with them and I am so proud of the life they are building.  In a little over a week they will celebrate that special 1st year Anniversary and I pray it is the first of 100 more. 


Sunday, April 16, 2017

Sunday has arrived, The Tomb is Empty...but I call out for your prayers.

Luke: 24: 6-8
This morning didn't start the way I plannedMY plans failed.  My  plans included an early morning at our Church's Sunrise Service followed by what would have been a wonderful time of fellowship and breakfast.  My morning, though, was different.  I failed to set my alarm correctly (I changed the time but not the day!) and we overslept.  We overslept on Easter.  I have to admit I cried when I realized it, as I so wanted to be with our church family. I cried for myself...not because of any other reason. I need my church family, a church family, more than ever. It has been a long while since I have felt I had a church family and I am desperate for that fellowship that is more than just people you sit with on a Sunday Morning. I wanted to stand in unison with fellow believers and celebrate our Jesus.  But, I....overslept; something so simple
I can't remember missing an Easter Service in years.  I  can't remember not taking a beautiful family photo of us in our Easter finery and found myself mourning that silly small thing (which felt like a huge, jagged thing)...and then I heard...our Pastor, our faithful friend, who has been such an inspiration and support to my family for as long as we have known him is in surgery this morning. My tears became something different. In one moment God showed me that my plans where just that...mine.
Our dear friend has been battling Stage 4 Colon Cancer (and all that entails) for 4+ years.  Today is also his amazing wife's birthday.  They were not at church with their children as usual either....but it wasn't from something silly like oversleeping.  They were not there because they couldn't be there.  They won't have the family pictures in the same way that are typical of this holiday either.  I am not sure what the feelings I am feeling are. Today represents the greatest day in History and I want to celebrate...and my heart is breaking for my friends.  It breaks not just for what they are facing right now but all they have faced so bravely and the amazing family they have become even through the many years of adversity.  They have never given up on God or each other. I am honored to know them and have had their touch upon my life and the lives of my children.  They are an example of strength that surpasses human understanding.  Their family and their marriage is what we all hope for...though the journey they have had to travel is not what they envisioned and none of us would choose to walk. The path they have traveled has been so hard and they have held God and each other.  So, on this  morning of celebration, I ask that you say a prayer for God's miraculous healing upon this man of God and that his beautiful wife will feel peace and have at least a little birthday joy today. The God I love, is great and He hears.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Living in a Season of Saturday, repost

NOTE: I wrote this on Saturday. April 19, 2014 during a very painful season of my life.  I have not included some of those details here but if you desire to read the post in it's entirety the link is here: Living in a Season of Saturday.

The reason I am reposting this is it was still so fitting for this day and the devotional that inspired it still is important. Today is is important to what yesterday was and what tomorrow will be.

Saturday,  April 19, 2014:

..... So today, when I read the following devotional I knew.  I knew I was standing, smack in the Saturday of my life. "Saturday is the day your dream died. You wake up and you’re still alive. You have to go on, but you don’t know how. Worse, you don’t know why.*"

I am standing right in the middle of a third day story and the hardest part about  third day stories? "The problem with third-day stories is, you don’t know it’s a third-day story until the third day.*" And, somehow at this moment....on a rainy Saturday....the third day seems like it won't ever come. There is probably a big part of my heart that just doesn't even want it to come because it puts me that much further away from what I have lost.   Logic says it will come, good intentioned, wise friends and family assure you it will come but the heart can't hear those words.

I couldn't have written about this Saturday season on my own. so I am sharing the writing of someone else and  hope you will find meaning in this devotional by John Ortberg from his book
Who is This Man? (from which the above quotes came):
(link to the original devotional location on Faithgateway)
 So far as we know, there has only been one day in the last two thousand years when literally not one person in the world believed Jesus was alive. On Saturday morning after Jesus’ crucifixion, the disciples wake after not having slept for two days. The city that was screaming for blood the day before is quiet. Crowds have disbanded. Jesus is dead.

What do they do on Saturday?

It’s strange that the two days on either side of Saturday are so heavily discussed. Some of the brightest minds in the world have devoted themselves primarily to those two days; they have been across the centuries maybe the two most studied days in history. The Bible is full of what happened the day before, the day Jesus was killed. And the next day, Sunday, is the day believers say gave birth to the most death-defying, grave-defeating, fear-destroying, hope-inspiring, transcendent joy in the history of the world. Pentecostals still shout about it. Charismatics still dance because of it. Baptists still say Amen! over it. Presbyterians still study it. Episcopalians still toast it with sherry. Some people think of Sunday in mellower terms, as a metaphor for hope. And others think of it as a dangerous enemy of logic, reason, and mortality.

Let’s just leave Sunday alone for now.

This isn’t Sunday. This isn’t Friday. This is Saturday. The day after this but the day before that. The day after a prayer gets prayed but there is no answer on the way. The day after a soul gets crushed way down but there’s no promise of ever getting up off the mat.

It’s a strange day, this in-between day. In between despair and joy. In between confusion and clarity. In between bad news and good news. In between darkness and light. Even in the Bible – outside of one detail about guards being posted to watch the tomb – we’re told nothing about Saturday. Saturday is the day with no name, the day when nothing happened.

Now only a handful of followers remain. Friday was a nightmare day; Friday was the kind of day that is pure terror, the kind when you run on adrenaline. On Saturday when Jesus’ followers wake up, the terror is past, at least for the moment; the adrenaline is gone.Those who believe in Jesus gather, quietly maybe. They remember. It’s what people do. Things He said. What He taught. Things He did. People He touched or healed. They remember what it felt like when this Jesus wanted them. They remember their hopes and dreams. They were going to change the world.

Now it’s Saturday.

Maybe they talk about what went wrong. What in God’s name happened? None of them wants to say this, but in their hearts, they’re trying to come to grips with this unfathomable thought: Jesus failed. Jesus ended up a failure. Noble attempt, but He couldn’t get enough followers. He couldn’t convince the chief priests. He couldn’t win over Rome to make peace. He couldn’t get enough ordinary people to understand His message. He couldn’t even train His disciples to be courageous at the moment of great crisis.

Everybody knows Saturday.
"Saturday is the day your dream died. You wake up and you’re still alive. You have to go on, but you don’t know how. Worse, you don’t know why."
 This odd day raises a question: Why is there a Saturday? It doesn’t seem to further the story line at all. We might expect that if Jesus was going to be crucified then resurrected, God would just get on with it. It seems strange for God to spread two events over three days.In its own way, perhaps Saturday should mark the world as much as Friday and Sunday.

Friday, Saturday, and Sunday lie at the heart of the ancient calendar. They attributed great significance to the notion that this event was a three-day story. The apostle Paul wrote, “For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day [Paul adds again] according to the Scriptures.” The Old Testament Scriptures are filled with what might be called “third-day stories.” When Abraham is afraid he’s going to have to sacrifice Isaac, he sees the sacrifice that will save his son’s life on the third day. Joseph’s brothers get put in prison, and they’re released on the third day. Israelite spies are told by Rahab to hide from their enemies, and then they’ll be safe on the third day. When Esther hears that her people are going to be slaughtered, she goes away to fast and pray. On the third day, the king receives her favorably. It’s such a recurring pattern that the prophet Hosea says, “Come, let us return to the Lord. He has torn us to pieces… After two days He will revive us; on the third day He will restore us, that we may live in His presence.” All three-day stories share a structure. On the first day there is trouble, and on the third day there is deliverance. On the second day, there is nothing – just the continuation of trouble.
"The problem with third-day stories is,
you don’t know it’s a third-day story until the third day."

When it’s Friday, when it’s Saturday, as far as you know, deliverance is never going to come. It may just be a one-day story, and that one day of trouble may last the rest of your life.* * *

I said before that Saturday is the day when nothing happens. That’s not quite right. Silence happens on Saturday. After trouble hits you, after the agony of Friday, you call out to God. “Hear me! Listen to me! Respond to me! Do something! Say something! Rescue!”
"On Saturday, in addition to the pain of Friday,
 there is the pain of silence and absence of God."

When C. S. Lewis wrote his memoirs about coming to faith in Jesus, he called it Surprised by Joy. The book is about how his love of joy led him to faith in Jesus, and he actually took as the title a phrase in a poem by William Wordsworth. When Lewis wrote the book, he was a fifty-seven-year-old bachelor. He had met a woman named Joy whom, after the book was published, he ended up marrying. His friends enjoyed teasing him that he really had been surprised by Joy. After a lifetime of waiting, Lewis knew love only briefly. Joy died soon after they were married of cancer, a lingering, very painful death. So Lewis wrote another book: A Grief Observed. A Saturday book.

When you are happy, so happy you have no sense of needing God, so happy you are tempted to feel His claims upon you as an interruption, if you remember yourself and turn to Him with gratitude and praise, you will be – or so it feels – welcomed with open arms. But go to Him when your need is desperate, when all other help is vain, and what do you find? A door slammed in your face and a sound of bolting and double bolting on the inside. After that, silence. You may as well turn away. The longer you wait, the more emphatic the silence will become… What can this mean?
"Why is He so present a Commander in our time of prosperity and 
so very absent a help in time of trouble?" 

A husband, a father, wants more than anything in the world to save his marriage. His wife will not listen and will not help. He is not perfect (not by a long shot), but he wants to do a really good thing. He can’t find out why his wife won’t respond to him, and he can’t stand what it’s doing to his children. Heaven is silent.  A mom and a dad find out the child they love has a terminal illness. They pray like crazy but hear only silence. She’s getting worse. You lose a job. You lose a friend. You lose your health. You have a dream for your child. And on Friday, it dies. What do you do on Saturday?

You can choose despair. Paul writes about this: “How can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?” In other words, apparently some people said, “There is never going to be a Sunday. It’s Friday. Get used to it. Do disappointment management, because that’s as good as it’s going to get.” Some people – silently, secretly – live here. You can choose denial – simplistic explanations, impatience, easy answers, artificial pleasantness. Hydroplane over authentic humanity, forced optimism, clich├ęd formulas, false triumphalism.

Paul wrote to Timothy that some “say that the resurrection has already taken place, and they destroy the faith of some.” In other words, apparently some said, “It’s already Sunday. The resurrection has already happened for all of us, so if you’re having any problems, if you’re still sick, if your prayers aren’t being answered, you just don’t have enough faith. Get with the program.” Or there is this third option:

"You can wait. Work with God even when He feels far away.
Rest. Ask. Whine. Complain. Trust."

Oddly, the most common psalm is the psalm of complaint. The Saturday psalm. God, why aren’t you listening?
• • •
An ancient homily spoke of this strange day: What happened today on earth? There is a great silence – a great silence and stillness. A great silence because the king sleeps. God has died in the flesh, and hell trembles with fear. He has gone to search for our first parent as for a lost sheep.
The Apostles’ Creed says Jesus descended into hell.
"Somehow no suffering you go through is suffering Jesus will not endure in order to save you."
From a human standpoint, we think of the miraculous day as Sunday, the day the man Jesus is risen from the dead. I wonder if, from Heaven’s standpoint, the great miracle isn’t on Saturday. When Jesus is born, the skies are filled with the heavenly hosts praising God because that baby is Emmanuel, God with us. Somehow God in a manger, somehow God in a stable, somehow God on earth. Now on Saturday the angels look down and see what? God in a tomb.
"The miracle of Sunday is that a dead man lives. 
The miracle of Saturday is that the eternal Son of God lies dead."
So Jesus Christ defeats our great enemy death not by proclaiming His invincibility over it but by submitting Himself to it. If you can find this Jesus in a grave, if you can find Him in death, if you can find Him in hell, where can you not find Him? Where will He not turn up?"

I guess the hard part for me is that I read the devotional and wrote these words years ago but I am human and I have grown weary of still living in a Season of Saturday.  I pray, I listen, I work...and I wait.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Maundy Thursday....Good Friday

Last night I attended  Maundy Thursday Service.  I don't think Service is quite the right word as it is truly more of an observance.  It is the time that no matter what your week/day/life holds, you gather your heart and focus...focus on the true meaning of Easter. 

The Easter story isn't an easy story to tell. Yes, it has a glorious even has a wonderful beginning but the dark last days before that glorious ending are hard.  They are full of pain.  I shudder to think what it had to be.  

Today is Good Friday....when I think of what happened to my Savior on this day it brings tears to my eyes, even though I know the ending.  But, He did that for me....He saw something worthy enough in me...He loved (loves) that much. I can not begin to address the thankfulness I have, that due to that one, selfless act of sacrifice, He made way for us all.  He loved (loves) you...that much. He saw your beautiful worthiness. In my human mind the whole concept can be hard to understand or make sense of...but, for me, that is where faith enters the picture.  Faith carries me through the fields of things beyond my understanding. 

Call to Hope
For His Anger lasts only a moment, but his favor last a lifetime;
weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.
Psalm 30: 5 (NIV)

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Prom 2017

I can't believe it, but I find myself seeing another child (this time the baby boy) off to the prom.  This one was unexpected as he is only a Freshman...but that whole social structure of High School these days is different than "back in the day."  It does make me think of Proms when I was in High School and how much fun we had. It makes me miss friends that have passed and those I haven't see in years and the carefree (although when you are the teenager it doesn't feel like that) world we lived in.  Why, oh why, does growing up come so fast?  And mostly, why couldn't we just enjoy every special, simple moment rather than always trying to push harder and faster to being "older." 
 Adulting is a racket!  
He was heading out to get his pretty little date! 
 How can he be this old?
They went as a group with some life long friends. 
 I know it will be a fun night to remember!
I hope they have a blast. 
 The evening started with dinner and is supposed to end with
 bowling so I really hope this is just the first of many
great High School Memories for my sweet young man.