My brother-in-law, David, is one of the the funniest people I know. Not because he tries to be witty or is constantly cracking jokes, but as my husband, Jerry, likes to say, “He’s funny even though he doesn’t mean to be.” In David’s southern Virginian, gentleman drawl, he can turn an ordinary occurrence of his day into an entertaining story that anyone listening can’t help but start laughing. One of my favorites is when he tells about his dogs, or rather how he says it, his “dawgs.”
David and Marlene
David loves to hunt. It really doesn’t matter what season it is, deer, dove, or turkey—and there might be others I’m not aware of—he just thrives on being out in the woods with his passel of hounds he has affectionately named “The Convicts.” Those beagles who live outside in a pen—more like a castle to hear my sister, Marlene, describe it—have over the years mastered the art and technique of breaking out to roam the countryside. When those mischief-makers are finally spotted by a caring neighbor or reappear conveniently on their own just in time for dinner, David will, with a great deal of respect, speculate incredulously, “How-did-those-dogs manage their escapes?” It always makes me laugh to hear him recount their antics, so-much-so when I talk with my sister on the phone I always tell her to give my love, not only to David, but also to his friends, The Convicts. You can hardly have one without the other.
Right now, though, David is not able to be out and about with his pups. Life as he and my sister knew it has changed leading them on a journey they otherwise would not have chosen. Cancer has come into their home bringing questions of why, heartache of the unknown, and suffering that does not easily go away.Continue reading →
The first birthday party I ever went to was for a little black girl in my kindergarten class. Too young and tender to know there was a difference—that I was not black or that she was not white—we were friends. It was not until my dad retired from the Air Force three years later and we went to live in the South that I had my first taste otherwise. For it was there I saw bathrooms and water fountains for whites only, and it was there, four years later I saw a cross burning in the front yard of my very dear friend, Alonso Berry. To this day I don’t understand why those things were. I remember being sad, for none of this made, or for that matter makes, any sense to me.Continue reading →
Why do we do it? Seriously, why do we heap boulders of expectation—because that’s truly what they are—on ourselves every January 1? Maybe it’s the lights, decorations, and happiness that goes hand-in-hand with Christmas. Our spirits rise and we think, “This is it. This is the year.” Hurrah! With gusto, we jump on the bandwagon of starting afresh and being improved. New gym memberships soar. The larder is emptied of food that is not healthy and is re-stocked with the latest and best-for-you ingredients. And with a Teddy Roosevelt “Huzzah!” we go charging into the sunset with the grandiose ideals of being a better person with a better body and a mindset filled with kinder and more gentle thoughts.Continue reading →
My Aunt Ernestine passed away this New Year’s Eve. Leaving this earth in the same bed she was born in 83 years ago, this beautiful person left behind a legacy of kindness, of encouraging others, and one of the sweetest smiles I’ve ever seen.
Having walked this road more than once and becoming what I coined in my heart and head as one of the “walking wounded,”—someone who had lost that special person(s) whose passing flips anyone’s world upside down, changing its color from a warm fuzzy to the reality that life is ever-changing—I knew the transformation was already taking place. The heartache of her illness that her husband, my Uncle Roy, and her daughter, my cousin Mary and her family, husband Rick, and children Meredith and Matthew, were already experiencing will be one that will always remain.Continue reading →
When my two oldest children were in the throngs of dating, they managed to simultaneously find significant others who were terrible fits, not only for themselves but also for the two they were dating. Everyone could see it but them. Even their then 12-year-old brother saw right through the relationships and knew they were toxic. Continue reading →
I used to worry All…The…Time. In fact, my sixth-grade teacher fussed at me about worrying. Her comments didn’t help. They only made me feel bad. I then worried about worrying about worrying. What a conundrum and downward spiral. For when the focus was on myself and how I could be better (i.e. not worry), I didn’t see the beauty of what was around me. Continue reading →
When I was ten years old I was diagnosed with idiopathic scoliosis, a curvature of the spine with no known cause. No reason. No rhyme. It just is. In my case, and for most, it is genetic in nature, the methods of dealing with it, either surgery or a brace. And because spinal fusion is rather drastic, the first choice of treatment to keep the curve in check is usually the brace.
Not far removed from medieval times, the Milwaukee Brace that I wore in the 1960s and ‘70s looked horrendous. Attached to a leather girdle that was buckled around your hips and also to a neck piece that like handcuffs snapped in place around your neck, were three adjustable metal bars, the two in the back that with each modification made, created that beautiful hunchback look, one that all teenage girls were dying to wear.
Not long after becoming a Christian at the age of 15, and after learning that Jesus brought/brings to us healing, one afternoon, kneeling beside my bed, I prayed asking Him to straighten my spine. Grabbing my handheld mirror to inspect His work, and hoping that He had said yes to my request, I found my back looked much the same as before. Continue reading →
This coming Sunday marks the Second Sunday of Advent.
Together, let us focus next week on confession. Confession is a beautiful gift from the Lord. Without it, we would needlessly carry rucksacks overflowing with sin and brokenness that we cannot possibly bear, fix, or even hope to be rid of.
Please take a moment to listen to this beautiful song by Greg Wilbur to help prepare our hearts as we come before the Lord. The lyrics are written in the image above.
*Wilbur, Greg. Hear My Prayer. 2016.
*Sung by Sara Nixon
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Have you ever walked outside after a really difficult day and looked up when the first evening star is peeking its head out in the twilight? And all that was so hard, the trials and tribulations, that held you so tight seemed to melt away? Have you had those times when you felt like you’ve been holding your breath all day, and the moment when you gaze up at the night sky, you finally let go and breathe?
When John, my oldest, was a toddler, sometimes after a trying day, I’d scoop him up in my arms and run outside just as the sun was setting. Looking for that first star, we would wait. And without fail, when it appeared, such peace would always find us.
Isn’t that the way it is? The majesty of God’s creation captures us reminding us of who He is—our Creator, our Savior, and as the angels proclaimed so long ago, Our Wonderful Counselor, our Mighty God….
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I cannot believe in just over a month Christmas will be here… and then it will be gone.
Every year—as life bustles by quicker and quicker— it feels harder and harder to get into the Advent season.
So this Advent, I hope to take a different approach. While I meditate on Christ’s birth, I am also going to—with the Lord’s grace and help—quiet my heart and fix my eyes on Christ’s return, when all the hardships of this world will fade into nothingness.
I would love for you to join me this Advent season. To do so, I have written a Christmas Advent Calendar—four readings for the four Sundays of Advent.
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I pray you have a blessed Thanksgiving and a joyful Advent season.