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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

S.O.S

Photo Credit:  giggs at morgueFile.com
Sips Of Sunshine is truly a SOS this week.  I tried to think of so many stories to share and my mind kept going back to this one crucial call for help – this one Morse code distress signal – this one plea that needs each and every one of us to vote in this Presidential election of 2012.

I voted today.  My husband voted today.  Have you voted yet?  If you haven’t voted in years, make this be the year you do.  If you don’t think your vote will matter, it will.

I got an amazing e-mail a few weeks ago about the power of prayer…united prayer.   Prayer can overcome any obstacle.  With God, ALL things are possible – not just the little things, but ALL things.  ALL.

A few of the prayer requests that stand out in my mind are these:

Dear Lord, we beg for repentance for ourselves and for our nation.  We seek Your face.  Please hear us from Heaven and heal our land.  We pray for this election and that You deliver us from the wrong leaders.  We pray that our nation will listen to the truth and not be led astray.  Lord, our trust in You will not be shaken.

We pray that our country will keep You at the forefront of their minds as they cast their vote.  Lord, put Your hands on the man of Your choice for President and guide his team.  We pray that Your man and our nation will be discerning and do what is right.

Lord, please guide Your choice for President during this campaign.  We pray that Your man will listen, add to his knowledge, and receive wise counsel during this election.  We humbly ask that, with Your help, the man of Your choice be given wisdom and the ability to overcome any obstacle or difficulty.

Lord, please give Your choice for President a special inner strength to sustain him and give him victory.  We pray that Your man will – through faith – persevere, and maintain his courage.  And, Lord, empower this man in any area of weakness.

Lord, we know You can amaze us.  We’ve seen the world around us.  We know what You can do.  Amaze us, Lord, and give Your servant victory.

In your Name, we pray.  Amen.

Let’s not sit back and watch things happen.  Let’s make things happen.  It starts with prayer.  It starts with one person.  It starts with one vote.

Can only one little “yes” make a difference?  Can one “yes” for life matter?  Can one “yes” for family count?  Can one “yes” for faith in our country, marriage, and our God be important?  Can one “yes” have a bearing on everything as we know it?

My mind immediately goes back to the simple “yes” of Jesus’ mother, Mary.  So, absolutely…one “yes” can change everything. 

Get out there and vote!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Run Home


Photo Credit:  Irish_Eyes at morgueFile.com
A couple of weeks ago, we had a little “incident” with our 3-month-old puppy, Belle.  Thinking that the third time would be the charm, the kids and I attempted to take her for a walk on a leash for just a quick jaunt down our road.

Our Belle loves her freedom, so the leash thing isn’t really her style at this point.  She hops up and down like a circus dog while it’s on.  Just.  keep.  trying.  Anyway, she actually calmed down enough to enjoy the short walk, while exploring every hole, somersaulting leaf, and random bug along the way.

The “incident” occurred toward the end of our walk when we stopped to talk to our neighbors.  My son was talking to our neighbor in her front yard, while holding Belle’s leash.  The girls and I headed to her house to sell a few Fall Fest raffle tickets to her husband.

We knocked on the door and waited.  Their dog was in the house, but slipped out onto the front porch when the door opened.  Being a good guard dog, he was barking and pacing and I gathered that he was not terribly okay with our close proximity to their house. 

Then, the dog became as still as a statue and fixed his eyes upon Belle.  There was an immediate lump in my throat – for one, because my son was in the direction of his stare and secondly, because I had no idea what was going to happen next to our puppy.

In two seconds or less, their dog jumped across the yard and pounced on Belle.  I froze where I stood and screamed to no one in particular.  I could only see the two dogs tumbling around, my son standing there crying, and my poor neighbor trying to help Belle.  But, as fast as lightning, Belle got away and bolted toward our house, literally flying over the cattle guard in one leap and whimpering the whole way home.

I grabbed the girls and we flew home just as fast to see how my son and Belle were doing.  I don’t remember running home, I just remember that I had my eyes set on…home.  I couldn’t get there fast enough.

Fortunately, Belle and my son were fine – a little shook-up, but completely fine.  My son was upset because he felt so helpless during the brawl.  I assured him that all would be well and that we would keep Belle close to home for awhile.

In a very similar way, I felt helpless last week myself.  My mom called me on Thursday and said that she would need an emergency appendectomy.  At the time, she had been told that there was a possibility that it had ruptured.  The word, “emergency” is scary to me.  I don’t like emergencies.  I don’t deal well with emergencies.  I have a hard time gaining my composure in that “emergency” moment to really let go and let God.  My heart wants to, but my body won’t seem to let me as easily.

But, throughout that day, as my mom filled out paperwork, got test results back, and prepared to have surgery, I prayed and I asked my family and friends to pray for her too.  The day was sprinkled with different “moments” – highs and lows.  During the moments that I was truly able to hand it over to God, I was at peace – true peace.  But, during the moments that I started to “what if? think” and try to take control of the situation myself…I cried and crumbled.

I don’t like to see my loved ones in a hospital bed getting ready for surgery – who does?  There is such a helplessness there.  We kiss them and tell them we love them and then we have to let them go for awhile.  They are not in our hands.  Physically, they are in the surgeon’s hands.  Spiritually, they are in God’s hands…like they ALWAYS are.

It reminds me of something very important.  God is, in fact, always there.  He isn’t the one who moves.  We do.

I’m blessed to say that my mom’s surgery went very well and I have said many prayers of thanksgiving for that!  Her appendix had not ruptured as they thought and that made a big difference in the outcome, I think.  I’m sure that God touched her in a special way that day.

Nonetheless, I have thought much about the Belle incident and my mom’s recent surgery.  Belle knew exactly where to run.  She ran home.  Technically, she flew there.  But, she knew she’d find comfort at home.  She knew she’d find love there.  And, similarly, I was most at peace when I chose to run “home” as well during my mom’s hospital stay…home to the only One who could give me comfort at an uncertain time…home to the only One who could understand and calm my fears…home to the only One who knew what I needed before I even asked.

And, who exactly is it that we run home to?  Into what type of arms do we fly?  What kind of king welcomes us at the door?  Here is a short reflection by Ernest Ohlhoff describing who it is that we run home to:

There is no limit to what we can accomplish when we don't care who gets the credit.

Jesus Christ's life on earth exemplifies a total submission to the will of the Father. His humility, compassion, gentleness and thoughtfulness are reflected over and over again in the New Testament. He was God incarnate, yet He chose to be born to a humble, working class home.

How absurd it must have seemed to the rich and powerful that the Son of God, the Messiah, the one foretold by the prophets, the 'King of the Jews' was born and raised as a simple peasant.

During His thirty-three years on earth, He sought no riches, claimed no secular power and gathered no possessions. Yet, His short time on earth changed more lives, softened more hearts, and gave hope to more people, than all the rich and powerful human 'kings' combined.

And, at the end of His life on earth, by dying on the cross, He opened the door to eternal life for those who heed his words and follow in his footsteps.”

Let’s not forget to run home…His door is always open.  When I feel helpless, vulnerable or alone, I have to remind myself that He isn’t the one who moved.  I’m the one who moved… away from “home.”

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Take My Hand

Photo Credit:  lightfoot at morgueFile.com
(A Pro-Life Poem for Down Syndrome Awareness Month)

Take my hand and not my life – please Mommy let me live,
The extra chromosome inside means I have more to give.
I know you’re scared about the news, but please let me explain,
Don’t think of what you might be losing – think of what you’ll gain.

A loving child with almond eyes – a deep crease in my palm,
In that crazy world out there – I will be your calm.
I might be small and flexible – a tiny nose and ears,
We’re more alike than different, you’ll learn throughout the years.

Sometimes things won’t work quite right, but please give me a chance,
I’ll need some extra time for sure, but soon I’ll sing and dance.
I might have trouble talking too; just ask me to repeat,
I’ll steal your heart, Mommy and Dad, the moment that we meet.

I’ll need a little longer, to learn to read and write,
Just show me how to draw and count, you’ll see I’m very bright.
If you teach me early on, my IQ will just soar,
You’ll tell me that you love me so – I’ll say, “I love you MORE!”

I’ll go to school and work real hard to make you very proud,
I’ll teach you how to truly love because I’ll love out loud.
No scientist can tell you why...I was made this way,
But Mommy, please be certain, God hand-picked you on that day.

He chose you, Mom and Daddy, because He knew you’d be,
The ones who’d be just right – for the special gift of me.
So, when I’m born, please take my hand – gentle is my soul,
God sent me down to teach you trust – that IS my very goal.

My joy will be contagious – my heart, an open door,
I’ll show you what life’s all about – I’ll leave you wanting more.
More of what God offers – that God IS love Himself,
Not to sweat the small stuff – leave those worries on the shelf.

So, Mom and Daddy, take my hand – I will be your light,
I won’t withhold an ounce of love – I’ll love with all my might.
You won’t be able...to rush through…this life, while by my side,
You’ll have to slow it down a notch, since I will be your guide.

I’m not perfect, Mom and Dad, and really no one is,
The one thing that I DO know…is only that we’re His.
It won’t be long now, Mom and Dad – my birthday’s coming soon,
I’ll be there...in twenty weeks – please bring me a balloon.

Accept my own uniqueness; respect what I can do,
Patience is the key to see…I’m special just like you.
My journey might look different – just work with me each day,
I’ll bring so much…to your life…WORDS just cannot say.

On my eleventh birthday, I want to bake my cake,
And, Daddy, let’s go fishing.  God showed me a GREAT lake!
He actually showed me many things before He sent me down,
Mostly, Mom, He taught me…that love is NOT a noun.

Dad...love’s a verb…a mighty action word, it surely is,
I’ll give you just a tiny glimpse...of the love that’s His.
You’ll see Christ in all I do and all I say each day,
You might pay more attention to the little things – you may.

Please hold me close when I am born – I really am a gem,
My talents might be hidden – you can help me find them.
Why IS Down Syndrome set aside for just a numbered few?
Cause God...He chooses wisely – not just anyone will do.

So, take my hand and not my life – please Mommy let me live,
The extra chromosome inside means I have more to give.
I’m glad you’re not as scared now, Mom, cause no one is to blame,
By choosing life, you saved an angel – one you get to name.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

A Sticker...A Stinker

Photo Credit:  earl53 at morgueFile.com
Last week, I found myself elbow-deep in the trash can.  Have you ever found yourself in this predicament?  Maybe you were searching for a lost wedding ring, a birth certificate, social security card, credit card, or driver’s license. (I mention these things because they are probably the top five things for which I thought I would ever need to dig in waste.)

But, there I was, NOT searching for the aforementioned items.  What in the world was I looking for?  Well…lemme tell ya.  Every day after school, I go through the kids’ backpacks.  I sign what needs to be signed.  I commend them for a job well done on whatever schoolwork is in there.  And, I throw away any random hair, fur balls, lint, acorns, rocks, grass, and stuff that is stuck to the bottom.  (Here is where I made my gargantuan mistake.)

About an hour after the backpack purge, I heard some commotion in the laundry room (where we keep the backpacks to grab on the way out of the door).  At first I heard a faint groan and a few exasperated grunts and moans.  I then heard papers (that were supposed to STAY in the backpack) being thrown into the air.  I heard little feet stomping and tears hitting the floor.  What I was hearing was the beginning of an epic tantrum.

And then I heard monsterific screeching, “AAAHHHHHHHHH – WHERE’S MY SPECIAL STICKERRRRRRRRR?!?!?!?!?!?”  I immediately had a flashback of the backpack purge and very vaguely remembered a dime-sized clear sticker with a pea-sized puppy on front stuck to the bottom of the backpack.  (Tell me that is NOT the sticker she is completely freaking out about...)  In a daze, I calmly and cautiously walked to the laundry room to find my five-year-old daughter throwing a massive fit on the floor.

“Hey, what’s going on?  (gulp)  Can I help you find something?”  I graciously asked, knowing that this peace offering would soon have me elbow-deep in kitchen garbage.

“Yes, I lost my (sniff, sniff) extra super duper ooper favorite sticker.  I just know I put it in my backpack,” she cried.

Hmmmmm.  Mommy can help you find it.  Why was it your favorite of all times?” I inquired.

Because, because, because (blows nose)…the puppy on it looked like…like…our Belle.”  And, so, there I was…digging through rubbish to find the beloved Belle sticker.  (I found it by the waythirty disgusting minutes later.)  I also vowed to NEVER, EVER, EVER throw away another random thing from that child’s backpack without asking first.  I have learned that trash can certainly be unprecedented treasure for her.  What a mommy’s love will do for one stinkin’ sticker, I tell ya!!

Oh, gosh, speakin’ of stinkin’ – I have got to share the most hilarious story EVER with you.  I’m not normally one to pass on fart jokes, but, well…you’ll see why I felt the need to share.  The warning here is this:  if you are trying to secretly read this at work, you will NEVER get away with it.  You won’t be able to hide your uncontrollable tears and laughter (and possibly flatulence) because we know that work e-mails just aren’t that funny.  If you are driving and reading this – (ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!  Please tell me you are NOT doing that)… pull over and read it for goodness sake!

This unforgettable and almost-destiny-altering fart story was written by a lady who is so stinkin’ funny (pun intended!).  Her name is Anna Lind Thomas and she is the Co-Founder/Head Writer & Designer for HaHasforHooHas.com.

And…drum roll… (prepare to find your abs again with this one…like I did)…here it is:  Like everything in life, farts have a time and place.  However, I never realized that in the wrong time and place, flatulence had enough power to alter my course in history.  Well, it can if it’s the third date with the man of your dreams.  And, if it makes his eyes burn.  If God destined us to be together, I was one SBD away from foiling His plans (that’s “Silent But Deadly” for you prudes).

It was about five years ago.  I was trying to lose a few pounds so I was staying away from carbs.  That’s when I met my husband, Rob.  On our first date, he booked the next two.  He liked me.  I liked him.  Things were looking real good.

He picked me up in a Cobra, Mustang and his pathetic attempt to win me over with a car totally worked.  I’m not shallow, but since I spent most of my twenties picking men up because I didn’t want my hair to frizz in their non-air conditioned jalopies on 3 wheels and a 15 year old spare, I welcomed his fancy sports car with open arms.

We arrived at the restaurant and Rob was ordering food I hadn’t allowed myself to eat in years. I didn’t want to be “that girl” so I ate, drank, and oh, was I merry.  Later we shopped a bit. Rob surprised me by buying an expensive pair of shoes that he caught me eyeing.  Was this love?

That’s when it happened.  Gas strikes in two different ways – uncontrollable toots or sharp, shooting pains that feel a lot like dying.  I thought I was dying.  Not to make a scene, I told Rob I suddenly wasn’t feeling well and probably needed to head home.

On the way home in his Cobra, he tried to hold my hand and ask me lots of questions, but I wasn’t having any of it.  The pain was so bad it felt like I was being stabbed with a bunch of tiny forks.  Then I realized …My God, help me.  I have a horrendous fart on deck.  I’m in trouble.  Big trouble.” 

Click here for the rest of the story.  Do it right now!  Just do it!  Click that link and prepare yourself for a breakin’ wind, cuttin’ cheese, heart-healthy laugh…

Okay.  So, after you wipe away the tears and can focus again, I’ll wrap this post up.  We all know we’re laughing because it is a story that is dangerously close to one of our own, perhaps?!  Similar?  Familiar?  Relatable?  Yes, indeed.

How can I possibly tie all of this together today with some sort of, um, message that I took away?  Well, this is what I’m thinking…Just like I was searching and searching for that one lost sticker…God doesn’t give up on us.  In Luke 15:8-10, Jesus’ parable reads, “A woman has ten valuable silver coins and loses one.  Won’t she light a lamp and look in every corner of the house and sweep every nook and cranny until she finds it?  And then, won’t she call in her friends and neighbors to rejoice with her?  In the same way, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God when just one sinner repents.”

The whole time I was searching for that one, single sticker, I kept asking my daughter if I could just get her another sticker – we have billions around the house.  Nope!  She wanted THAT one and only THAT one would do!  And the joy when we found it?  Uncontainable and immeasurable!  Hmmmm….

And, as I sat down to write this, I also recalled the reason that I blog in the first place.  As much as 500 “shares” is a confidence-builder (and the fact that I would certainly be humbled if that ever happened), I truly treasure the one heart-felt comment, e-mail, pin, tweet or facebook response that lets me know that my words have brightened someone’s day – that I’ve reminded someone that they are loved by an Almighty God.  All I need is one…and I will keep on keepin’ on.

As far as Anna’s fart story, I think I was drawn to it for two reasons:  (1) Because it is the funniest thing I’ve read in like, FOREVER, and (2) Because God has a sense of humor and won’t let anything (even eye-burning flatulence) get in the way of His plans for us!  Wasn’t that story a toot?  I mean…hoot!  Who knew that a lone sticker and a horrendous stinker would render a blog post of 1,379 words, huh?!  If you laughed like you haven’t in a long time – pass the gas, um…"story"… along.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Double Rainbow


Photo Credit:  aophotos at morgueFile.com
I was chatting with a few friends the other day and the topic quickly turned to motherhood, as it often does with my mommy friends.  I especially like to chat with other moms who aren’t afraid to share their mothering mess-ups, mistakes, and blunders.  It’s so comforting to know that I’m not alone in this journey, especially the parts that I goof-up.

We discussed how Pinterest is so bittersweet.  In one moment, we pin some life-changing inspirational quotes, awesome do-it-yourself projects, and some can’t-live-without recipes.  And, in the next, we are sobbing because we feel so inadequate by the Pinterest-perfect home d├ęcor, latest fashions, and all the childhood photographs that we forget to take for our could-be-fabulous collection of hallway pictures that would be treasured forever and ever….Amen.

We enjoyed our adult conversation.  We talked about the fact that we didn’t have quite as much time to prepare a nursery for the child(ren) who came after our first born.  We assured each other that the baby wouldn’t know (or care) that she was sharing a room with a computer desk and a file cabinet.  The only thing our little one would remember was that she was clean, fed, and dearly loved. 

We shared that each of us has (on occasion, uhem) turned the dryer on “just one more time” because we weren’t ready to fold the clothes.  We promised ourselves that it wasn’t laziness, but that the clothes were really and truly still damp.  Who else out there hates stinky, musty towels, huh?!  One of the gals even admitted that she has smelled a slight tinge of something burning in the air because she had restarted her dryer one time too many.  Oops!

We’ve all done it.  We’ve all done those oopsy-doopsy things that make us feel like we should get the facetious and coveted “Mommy/Housekeeper of the Year” award.  Let’s face it, gals - we’re not perfect.  None of us.  We slip up.  And…it’s okay.

I enjoyed Katie Davis’ description of the word, Mommy.  In her book, “Kisses from Katie,” she writes:  “It’s such a powerful name.  Mommy means ‘I trust you.’  Mommy means ‘You will protect me.’  Mommy is for shouting when you need someone dependable and for laughing with when you are excited; Mommy is for crying on and cuddling with when you are sad or giggling and hiding behind when you are embarrassed.  Mommy is the fixer of boo-boos and the mender of broken hearts.  Mommy is a comfort place, a safe place.  Mommy means you are mine and I am yours and we are family.”

While Katie does not have biological children of her own (yet), she adopted thirteen young Ugandan girls and became a Mommy.  She said that one of her daughter’s questions that surprised her the most was, “Mommy, if Jesus comes to live inside my heart, will I explode?”

Her slingshot response was, “No!” but then she pondered the question a bit more and the answer became, “Yes, if Jesus comes to live in your heart, you will explode.”  She said this because “that is exactly what we should do if Jesus comes to live inside our hearts.  We will explode with love, with compassion, with hurt for those who are hurting, and with joy for those who rejoice.  We will explode with a desire to be more, to be better, to be close to the One who made us.”  Doesn’t that sound awfully similar to what happens when the title, “Mommy” touches our heart?

Katie so desperately wanted to teach her daughters about the love of God.  But, how could the children of Uganda (with some who’ve never had a parental figure on earth to love them), be expected to understand the love of a heavenly Father that they couldn’t see?  Katie knew that in order to teach them about God’s love, SHE had to SHOW them. 

Isn’t that what we are doing as mothers?  We are giving our children just a teeny tiny taste of the love that God has for us?  As Albert Einstein wrote, “There are two ways to live: you can live as if nothing is a miracle or you can live as if everything is a miracle.”  We choose how we will live this life.  Our children themselves are miracles.  As mothers, we had the unique opportunity to work so closely with God while He knit them together in the miracle of life.  He knew our children before they were born, as He did each and every one of us as well.

I love to think about the life that we've each been given - our one chance on this earth.  Living a life that matters doesn’t happen by accident.  We have to choose to live a life that matters.  There will come a day, and only God knows, when there will be no more sunrises, sunsets, days or minutes for me…for each of us.  It has been weighing on my mind more and more lately of just how fragile and short life truly is.  Each time I hear of someone whose life is changed by the diagnosis of a terminal illness, it comes to the forefront of my mind.  Each time someone’s life is lost to a senseless tragedy, a reminder of the brevity of our earthly existence inches its way to the front of my thoughts.

Similar to Francis Chan's experience, I remember telling my older children to be careful when holding our youngest when she was a baby.  I recall telling them that she was fragile and that we needed to take great care when holding her.  I’m sure you’ve done the same.  I wonder though when we are no longer considered “fragile?”  When we are three years old?  School-age?  A college grad?  Married?   When I think about it, isn’t life always so incredibly fragile?  How often we forget…

Not too long ago, I noticed that there were many facebook posts that included pictures of rainbows and even double rainbows.  Rainbows are such a rare treasure…double rainbows…don’t even get me started.  It had rained here for the first time in a long time and the excitement over the colorful arches in the sky was palpable. 

I remember our enthusiasm, too, when we recently saw a double rainbow hugging our city.  We quickly pulled over in the parking lot of Walgreens to let the kids get out of the car to see it.  We stopped everything.  We soaked in its beauty.  We realized that it wouldn’t be there forever.  We embraced the moment.

I should remember that our lives are like a beautiful double rainbow – here for just a short while – vapor in the wind.  We don’t live forever on this earth.  Sometimes we live like we’re going to.  I know I sometimes do.  I look too far ahead and try to plan too much, when technically, we aren’t guaranteed tomorrow.  If I want to get nit-picky about it, I might not even finish this sentence.

Still here.  Whew!  J

When our day comes, it won’t matter what we owned, bought, or got.  Our anger, grudges, resentment, disappointments, and anxieties will all disappear.  Our dreams, aspirations, and perpetual list of things to do will fade away as well.

So, how WILL our days be measured?  By many things, I’m sure.  But a few of them include what we gave, what we taught, and who we encouraged and showed compassion for.  Did we empower others to be the best version of themselves?  Did we forgive?  Did others see a glimpse of Christ in us?  Did we live a life that mattered?  How long will we be remembered?  And for what will we be remembered for?

Have we been that double rainbow in someone’s life?  Did they stop everything to just soak us in?  Did they walk away feeling more special than they did before we met?  Did we put a smile on their face?  Did they see something rare, something unique, in us that they won’t soon forget?  I think we all have the opportunity, especially for our children, to be a double rainbow.  We only have one chance.  Make it matter.  As much as we’d like them to, rainbows don’t last forever.  Neither do we.