Thursday, May 7, 2015

There Are No Perfect Mothers


In case you didn’t know already, there are no perfect mothers, just as there are no perfect children. And as I see it, that pretty much evens things out. But, there are great mothers among us, and the way to know if you have a great mother is simple. If she forgave, and forgives, you for all of your indiscretions and rude behavior, then she’s a great mother. And I said all of that to say that I have a great mother. 


My mother wasn’t perfect, isn’t perfect, but neither was I, nor am I. Through the years, I’ve brought my mother pain. I’ve broken her heart more than I care to remember. There were times when I fully expected her to show me the door, and she did at least once. But Mother always forgave me, no matter what.

I recall one time in particular, when I was living with friends, I had broken her heart and made her weep. I felt so ashamed of my behavior. But one day, out of the blue, a card came in the mail addressed to me. She had written about small things, nothing of great importance, but then, at the very bottom, in tiny letters, she had printed: “I am proud of you.”

As I typed those words just now, tears sprang to my eyes, as I again remembered the impact her words had upon me. I had done nothing to deserve those words, yet she had written them so plainly. Years later, I understood. That’s what great mothers do. They forgive their children. 

And in my mother's case, she's not one time brought up any of my transgressions again, and if you press her, she will tell you that I was an absolutely delightful daughter, always.


   She's as close to perfect as they come.


The way I see it, imperfect mothers can still be great mothers, and if they love us enough to forgive us of our imperfections, surely we can do the same for them. They deserve nothing less than that.

Until next time, here's wishing all of the great mothers in blogland a terrific Mother's Day.

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Monday, May 4, 2015

Monday Musings ~ Private Battles and Rambling Roads


In the early morning hours I sit alone, savoring the quiet that mornings bring. Through the open window I can hear the world waking up—the blue jays fluffing their nest in the hedges, a whisper of wind through the wind-chimes. It seems spring is taking its sweet time saying goodbye, and that’s okay. Sometimes slow dances are the best ones.

It is in solitary moments, when the rest of the dwellers are away or asleep, that my thoughts find the space to become words and sentences and paragraphs. I’ve been called a “deep thinker” and while I’m not sure exactly what that means, it’s true that I do tend to think deeply about most things—that is, when I have the time and space in which to do so. It isn’t physical space that I must have, but quiet space, space to inhale and exhale slowly, without feeling rushed. That’s not to say that I have to be in a quiet environment, although it helps, but I must have a quieted mind.

Lately, in my quiet spaces, I’ve been thinking a lot about how we are sometimes our own worst enemies, how we can torment ourselves by rehashing the past—the unpleasant parts. 

A few days ago, my sister and I were browsing through a gift shop when our eyes fell upon a sign that read: “The only way to start a new chapter is to stop re-reading the last one.” She turned to me and said, “Isn’t that the truth?” Yes, I told her, it is the gospel truth and it hit me like a ton of bricks; it could not have been more in tune with my thoughts.

The last twelve months held events that brought me more stress, more anxiety, more heartache, more frustration, more anguish than any other twelve months of my entire life. Perhaps I startled you with that revelation, but there it is. Although these events remained unspoken here, the weight of them have sat on my heart, heavy, like a cement block. I have been mentally exhausted to the point that I felt it seep into my bones and I’m certain my writings, over these twelve months, have sometimes been tinted with shades of gray. As a dear friend says, “Life is real,” and while some battles should always remain private, I try to keep a steady thread of reality woven into everything I write. Truth is, we're all fighting a battle of some kind on any given day. That's life.

I can’t tell you how ready I am to move on, to no longer read again this morose chapter, to stop the play-by-plays that pop up throughout my days, bringing with them a veritable buffet of emotions. And just when I think I’ve put a period behind it all and turned the page—AH!—suddenly, a reminder appears and there I am flipping the pages back, yet again, reliving, yet again, the very happenings that caused so many restless days and sleepless nights. I am so ready for a fresh sheet of paper, a new pen, a new chapter, and I am open to suggestions on how to accomplish such a task.


In lighter news, The Man and I took a few days and drove to the island for a bit of calm and refreshing last week. The sea never disappoints, always reminding me of God’s faithfulness.

 One morning, after strolling down the beach, collecting as many shells as my coffee cup would hold, I sat to rest a spell.


When I got up to leave, I looked down and spied this one laying in the shadows. I could tell it was something special.


And it was—a perfect scallop, larger than any I've found before. Having collected shells from beaches coast-to-coast, I'm almost out of places to put them, but the hunt continues and the find is always a joy.


You can tell we’re a couple of old folks, as we experienced a fair amount of excitement over our tiny, yellow rental car—a Fiat so small that The Man had to hunch down just to see out, but a perfect fit for me.


***


The calendar, and my blue plumbago, says that May has arrived. I have so neglected my little gardens and hope to get into the swing of things before it's too late.


My darling granddaughter will be a full two-months old in a couple of days. The weekend news was filled with images of a royal newborn baby girl, creating a stir in certain parts of the world. But I wouldn’t trade cupcake for the royal baby, nor all of the money behind her family name. Arabella is our precious treasure. It was the psalmist David who wrote: “Children are a gift from the Lord,” and what a special gift they are, no matter their lineage.

My dear friends, I have been on a rambling road today. If you’ve already tuned me out, no hard feelings. Some days are like that. Until next time, may your week be filled with sunshine, with warmth, with joy. Thanks for keeping me company here.


***





Friday, April 24, 2015

Out and About with Cupcake

Cupcake is growing and changing with every single day. The joy of watching her is one that never gets old. As a grandmother, you know so much more than you did as a mother. You understand the brevity of these early days and months, days that go by in a flash, days that can never be recalled.


Last Friday, The Man and I took a stroll through the lovely arboretum that sits a skip and a hop away from our front door. We spent a lot of time parked in the shady spots. Lord willing, I will share this place with her as the years go by.


I especially enjoyed watching Papaw with cupcake. 


There's nothing like a sleeping baby to lift your spirits.

Until next time, sweet friends, thank you for keeping me company here. May your weekend be filled with all of the things that make you smile.


***





Monday, April 13, 2015

Entertaining Angels in Ancient Cadillacs ~ A Look Back

On a brisk April morning in 1988, my husband and I stood in the living room arguing. I don't recall what started the whole thing, but I rambled on incessantly, The Man's face a picture of sheer frustration.

Suddenly I announced, "I'm getting out of here!" 

"Go," my husband said, shrugging his broad shoulders. "Do whatever it is you want to do." 

Still muttering, I stomped to the pantry, grabbed an old loaf of bread, stalked to the car, and drove to a little duck pond, twelve miles away.


This particular duck pond sits in the center of the cemetery where my father-in-law is buried. For some reason, the pond drew me during difficult times. Maybe it held an answer today.

A parade of ducks waddled to greet me. While I reached in the back seat for the things I'd brought, they nosed around my feet, searching for whatever treats they could find.

"Just old bread, you guys," I said, shooing them out of the way.

The entire congregation trailed me to the small cement bench next to the pond. Hungrily, they eyed me as I unwrapped my meager offering. In minutes, the crumbs were consumed.

As the ducks sashayed off in every direction, I sat under the Texas pines thinking about the argument I'd walked out on. All my life I'd heard the seventh year of marriage was the toughest; that men and women often contracted the seven-year-itch, or something similar. 

I dared not define my own ailment, except to acknowledge that my marriage had tarnished over the years. The reasons varied, but my tendency to drone on when enough had been said didn't help matters. I always wanted to have the last word—at any cost.

Often I vowed to be different, spending weeks with Ecclesiastes 3:7—a time to speak and a time to be silent—taped on my bathroom mirror. But before long, I'd find myself stuck in the same old rut: talking when silence was in order. Inwardly, I longed for change.

Watching the ducks in the pond, their reflections a kaleidoscope of colors, I had a thought: If only I could behold my own reflection, like the ducks in the water. If only I could see myself.

Breathing a silent prayer, I asked God to let this miraculous thing happen.

It was while I prayed that I heard a car approach. The engine sputtered a time or two, then died. Turning, I saw an elderly man crawling out of an ancient, ramshackle Cadillac, the vinyl roof peeling off in great chunks.

Tall and lean, the man moved briskly around the front of the car, swinging two loaves of white Wonder bread in his hands. He wore a red flannel shirt, sleeves clasped at the wrist, and jean britches, about an inch too short. Quickly, he laid the bags of bread on the hood of the Cadillac, opened them and began flinging whole slices through the dazzling sun, like tiny white Frisbees.

"You come here often?" I called across the lawn.

He cupped a hand to one ear.

"Do you come here often?" I said, louder.

Tossing the final slices, he stuffed the plastic wrappers in a garbage bin and walked to where I sat.

"I'm sorry, ma'am," he said, squatting beside me. "I still didn't hear you."

"I just wanted to know if you come here often," I repeated, suddenly wishing I hadn't said anything.

"When the weather's nice and not too hot," he said. I found it unnerving that he didn’t look directly into my eyes when he spoke, but stared curiously at my forehead.

With nothing better to do, we gazed across the pond, while a cluster of ducks gathered at our feet, honking at a lofty volume. So loud was their honking I considered jumping up and yelling, "SHHHH!"

I glanced at the old man. He smiled, but said nothing. I wished he would leave.

As if reading my mind, he sprang to his feet and said, "I gotta split." Then he pointed a bony finger at the chattering ducks, and, in an irked voice, said, "You know, them crazy ducks just don't know when to hush."

With that declaration—and a wave in my direction—the old man sauntered to the waiting jalopy, brought it to life and clanked off in the distance, a flurry of leaves chasing after him.

What did he say? Did he say those crazy ducks just don't know when to hush? 

Suddenly, I recalled my impromptu prayer—my desire to see myself. Had God sent the old man as an answer to my prayer? Did I sound much like the honking ducks to my husband? 

In my heart, I knew I did. And I had the strangest feeling that I had just entertained an angel.

A gust of wind whipped around my legs as I hurried to the car. The little ducks stood quiet now, like monuments scattered across the ground, their silence speaking volumes to me.

When I arrived home, my husband lay sprawled on the couch looking worried. "Hi," he said, his voice even. "Where've you been?"

I hesitated. "I went to the cemetery."

"Cemetery!" He half-laughed. "Are you planning on killing me?"

"Nope," I said, planting a kiss on his puzzled face, "but I sure got some great pointers on keeping you alive."



Adapted from the book, Whispers From Heaven (Pacific Press), by Dayle Allen Shockley.


***


Friday, April 10, 2015

Scenes from a Blessed Life in April

Dear fellow-travelers, as I write, it is Thursday afternoon. The sun is playing peek-a-boo with the clouds. Rain is in the forecast. April showers and all that. Spring is doing her yearly dance. The wind, a familiar companion, blows through the wind-chimes out back, sending magical music rushing through the open windows, the sound of it soothing my soul.  


Recently, The Man and I took to the highways for a little day trip, off to chase the bluebonnets that Texas is known for in spring. We found them, and, somehow, as they always do, they brought peace. 


God’s artwork on display, free to all who will stop and look and hear and feel.


It's OK to be different. That's a relief.


Did you have a nice Easter weekend? All I wanted for Easter was at least one good picture of cupcake with her Memaw. I may be a little biased, but I think that baby girl outdid herself on this one, don't you?

Speaking of Easter, I love the second verse of the old song, "Because He Lives," written by Bill and Gloria Gaither. It seemed extra fitting this year:

How sweet to hold a newborn baby,
And feel the pride and joy he gives;
But greater still the calm assurance:
This child can face uncertain days because He Lives!





I hope your Easter was beautiful in every way. I'm so glad I'm a believer and I've never been more sure of my faith than I am today. In times of doubt and distress, I can’t imagine not believing in God, not knowing and experiencing that, in my times of weakness, His strength is made perfect, that He hears and answers prayer.


Until next time, sweet friends, the days they are a flying. Thanks for your company. Your footprints here always sweeten my day. Thank you.


***


Friday, April 3, 2015

Scenes from a Blessed Life

After a week of amazing blue skies and sunshine, April dawned with its signature showers. As much as I love sun-drenched days, my spirit craves the occasional rainy day to soothe the dry places, to fill up the cracks that the stress and strain of life can bring.


Our darling Arabella is growing and changing every day. She fills me up with joy and takes my breath away.


My parents got to meet her for the first time last week. She was a big hit, as you can imagine, their third great-granddaughter. As I watched them adoring her, it was hard to keep back the tears, the circle of life all there in a single frame. 


I don't believe I showed you cupcake's newborn photos. Aren't they wonderful? The photographer who came by the hospital room to do the photo shoot was amazing with babies and captured all of these in a few short minutes.


Perhaps my favorite was the one of my daughter holding her daughter. No words.

Well, dear friends, I am so far behind in keeping up with you all, and I do miss knowing what you’re up to. I hope you will forgive me. Truth is, I hardly have time to blog these days, only in bits and pieces and then, by some small miracle, it all comes together, although not very cohesive I fear. Another season of life is here and who knows where it will lead? I just know that I'm going to squeeze every ounce of joy out of it that I can.

Easter is upon us. I do hope yours is all you hope for. Speaking of Easter, one day last week, I drove to the cemetery where my in-laws are buried. 


Brookside is one of the most beautiful cemeteries in Houston, with trees that are hundreds of years old. 



I used to visit often, whenever we lived closer, but there's something about Easter that draws me here, as it gives death meaning. As I strolled around, soaking in the day, I remembered this verse of Scripture: “But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.” (Romans 8:11) What a day that will be.

Until next time, dear friends, may the hope that Easter brings live in your hearts today and always.


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