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Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Fish On!

Photo Credit:  bamagirl from
What a weekend!  I hope everyone had a chance to relax some, as well as reflect on why we were able to enjoy a long weekend.  Freedom is certainly not free.  I pray for all those who have defended our country and have died for the freedoms we enjoy.  We will never forget that they were someone’s son or daughter, niece or nephew, husband, wife, grandchild, loved one, or friend.  Thank you just doesn’t seem to be enough, but thank you nonetheless.

Along with remembering the meaning of Memorial Day, we had the opportunity to visit with family and friends and do a little fishing.  If truth be told, the past few days were the most successful fishing days of my entire life…if success involves a copious quantity of hardheads and perch.

I wasn’t picky.  I just wanted to catch something.  Anything.  I wanted to feel that tug (however tiny) at the end of my pole.  I did cheat after awhile and resorted to throwing a cast net where I maxed out on shiners.  I caught a mullet in my net that was almost mountable, but I digress.

I was in the moment.  My brother and I were in a mini-tournament…with just the two of us.  He had a sliver of dead shrimp on his hook and I had the same.  We went back and forth hollering out the size of our perch.  He would pretend to have caught a monster fish and would carry on and on, only to bring up a 3-incher.  He’d yell, “Fish on, fish ON!!!”  I did the same and it was ridiculously fun.  “Get the net, get the net,” I’d scream.  Our children were so proud, I’m sure.  hee hee!

My ten-year-old son might have rolled his eyes a time or two, but I was too focused on watching my bobbing cork to notice.  He mentioned on several occasions that he wanted to go “real fishing,” which means lures, a boat, deep water, and measurable trout or redfish.

He pouted about not being able to spend every waking moment from Friday through Monday fishing for keepers.  However, there were a million boats on the water; my dad was tweaking his boat motor; it was windy; we had a family get together to attend, etc.  It was just a “fish for fun” kinda weekend. 

After he moped and sulked on the couch for awhile, I had a chat with him about enjoying the moment that God gives…whatever moment that may be.  He had a choice to be thankful or ungrateful.  He could make the most of our time at the coast or waste time being unhappy. 

I’m so proud of him.  After just a short period, he was helping the young ones bait their hooks and high-fiving them for their catches.  My heart smiled.  Even though it wasn’t exactly what he had hoped for or even the fishing weekend he had prayed for, he was grateful and made the most of it.

Sometimes, I too find myself praying for certain things…certain outcomes…certain concrete answers.  I need to remember to be appreciative of the lessons learned in between, regardless if God’s timing is not the same as my timing.  I need to trust in His timing.

As Matthew Kelly says, “In this age of self-reliance, many think it is madness to trust in God.  But trusting in God does not mean sitting around and doing nothing.”

Many of my friends know that I have a terrible case of “white-coat-syndrome.”  So, when my left ear starting bothering me about, uhem, 3 months ago, I dismissed it as allergies and was sure it would just go away.  I wanted to just pray it away.  However, God thought that I was brave enough to take a trip to the doctor.  It had been quite some time since I had been.  Years.

I honestly prefer the “I-trust-God-so-I’ll-just-sit-here-until-He-makes-this-earache-go-away” approach.  The Lord wanted me to take action, however, and knew that I would grow from it.  Poo.  After I’d had enough of the ear discomfort, I hopped in the car one evening last week and headed to the after-hours clinic. 

I had a Christian radio station on as I was getting in my zone.  I asked the Lord to comfort me in my fear and anxieties about going.  If you’re among the 20% of us who have white coat syndrome, then you completely understand.   Lysa TerKeurst came on the radio and gave a wonderful piece of inspiration from her Proverbs 31 ministries.  She said that God only gives us enough light in our darkness to see the very next step….nothing more….nothing less.  One step at a time.  That really resonated with me.  I could take one step.  Just one.  I could do that.

After I arrived at the clinic, I took a pathetically long time to fill out my paperwork.  Stalling.  Finally, they called my name.  I was kind and warned them that I was very nervous (to say the least).  I almost thought about leaving, but heck, I had made it that far.  “One step.  Just enough light for one step,” I kept telling myself.

The precious nurse attempted to take my blood pressure three times.  Error.  Error.  Error.  My pulse rate and blood pressure were off the charts.  I tried my very best to remain calm.  I really did, but my blood pressure would not listen.

A reading eventually came up.  Man, those cuffs are TIGHT.  176/94.  Hmmm.   Of course, now I’m thinking…my ear got me in here…a stroke will take me out!  I tried to retain some semblance of sanity…you know…for the children.  There was a sweet little boy that came in with a dog bite and wasn’t even crying.  Surely, I could be tough too.

A nurse practitioner calmly came into my room.  (Probably scared to death of the crazy lady with through-the-roof blood pressure in room 1 – um, that would be me.)  He was very patient.  With one look in my ear, he told me I needed an antibiotic and then he sent me on my way.  I assured him that I regularly took my blood pressure at home and it was fine.  He grinned.

Whew!  I did it.  I looked fear in the face and I did it!  I think I need another visit, however, because my ear still isn’t quite right.  Grrrr.  I guess God isn’t done with this lesson.  But, I do feel an eensy-teensy-weensy bit more confident after taking the first step.  God didn’t abandon me.  I never felt alone.  I’ve found that sometimes we have to keep moving while we trust Him.  That’s the tough part…to keep moving.

In my brother’s words, “Fish on!”  I will try to savor the little steps and the little fish along the way.  Over time, I’ll take bigger steps and heck, I might even catch bigger fish.  Until then, I’ll just continue to trust in God’s plan and fish on!

Have a wonderful week, Sunshines!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

To the Moon and Back

Photo Credit:  Mike Hessong of Victoria, Texas
I opened my e-mail this morning to get this piece of daily inspiration from Matthew Kelly:  “Consider for a moment all the love you have ever received.  Pause to envision yourself immersed in all that love at the same time.  It is perhaps overwhelming.  And still, all that love is nothing compared to the love of God.  Has anyone ever loved you as Jesus has, does, and will love you?”  (Wow.  Just Wow.)

I recently had the opportunity to feel an incredible amount of overwhelming love all in one place for a special lady.  It’s hard to even fathom that such an amazing outpouring of support and love is still just a tiny taste of the Lord’s love for us.

This past weekend, we attended the “Kicking it for Candace” Benefit Fundraiser hosted by friends, family, and loved ones to help defray medical expenses for Candace Smith, who has Dysautonomia.

On the Kicking it for Candace facebook page, it states:

Candace developed Type 1 Diabetes at the age of 13.  Candace’s diagnosis motivated her to pursue a career in nursing, where helping the sick became her passion.  She married Jason in 2007 and they were blessed with their precious daughter, Briley, in June of 2009. Candace worked as a Registered Nurse and Wound Care Specialist until her disease progressed to the point at which she was no longer able to work.

Over the past few years, Candace’s health has declined drastically.  She has been hospitalized and in the Intensive Care Unit numerous times.  She has received many diagnoses including Inappropriate Sinus Tachycardia, DVT, pulmonary embolism, psoriatic arthritis and orthostatic hypotension, all of which are the result of or fall under the umbrella of Dysautonomia.

Candace has had both a heart ablation and pacemaker surgery.  She is currently an outpatient at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, which houses the top Dysautonomia Specialist Center in the world.

To put it simply, her body is attacking her autonomic nervous system, joints, and organs, causing multiple issues, resulting in her inability to work.  At the young age of 30, she currently requires a walker to simply move around her home and uses a wheelchair for any distance longer than a few feet.  She and her family are continuing to search for answers to increase her quality of life.

Many of her friends and loved ones commented on facebook after the event:

The Kicking it for Candace Benefit was absolutely unbelievable!  I was in tears several times thinking about all those who opened their pocket books and those who worked so hard to organize the event.  I am so blessed to have met Candace.  She is truly an inspiration.

Kicking it for Candace was a class act!  The strength, hope, and faith of Candace and her example of NEVER giving up shows us how we all should live our lives.  We’re so proud of Candace and Jason!  God's blessings to all of you!

You guys have AMAZING friends and family, which is a true testament of the love and support you have obviously shown to others.

We are so blessed to have been a part of such a special night.  Candace is such a remarkable young lady and is loved by so many.  It truly showed last night.

Thank you for letting me see that being strong; never giving up; and having faith are still the things that get us through.  It was my honor to be a part of your event.

Candace, you have so many people that love you and your family.  You are such a strong, courageous young lady!  Our family is so blessed to know you.

Through tears of joy, Candace thanked everyone at the event for being her angels on earth.  “I truly appreciate you all for being here, for donating, for bidding on auction items, and for working so hard to make this event come together.  You are truly wonderful to our family.  There are no words to express the love and gratitude that I feel.  Thank you for being here for our family and for showing us your love and support.  It truly makes this time in our lives manageable.  Thank you all from the bottom of my heart.”

I was blessed to have had the opportunity to give Candace a hug that evening.  Despite all she has been through, her smile still radiates hope, courage, strength, and tremendous faith.  She certainly inspires me, and obviously, many others as well.  For showing us all what it truly means to trust in God and never give up, we love you to the moon and back, Candace!  Thank you for letting us be a part of such an amazing event!  Our prayers for you continue…

Speaking of the moon and back….guess who else wanted to include his faith in Jesus during an unforgettable event?  Buzz Aldrin, the second person to walk on the moon.

In Aldrin's 2009 book, “Magnificent Desolation,” he shared:  “During those first hours on the moon, I reached into my personal preference kit and pulled out the communion elements, along with a three-by-five card on which I had written the words of Jesus: ‘I am the vine, you are the branches.  Whoever remains in me, and I in him, will bear much fruit; for you can do nothing without me.’"

“I poured a thimbleful of wine from a sealed plastic container into a small chalice, and waited for the wine to settle down as it swirled in the one-sixth Earth gravity of the moon.  My comments to the world were: ‘I would like to request a few moments of silence ... and to invite each person listening in, wherever and whomever they may be, to pause for a moment and contemplate the events of the past few hours, and to give thanks in his or her own way.’”

“I silently read the Bible passage as I partook of the wafer and the wine, and offered a private prayer for the task at hand and the opportunity I had been given.  At the time, I could think of no better way to acknowledge the enormity of the Apollo 11 experience than by giving thanks to God.”

Isn’t it interesting to think that some of the very first words spoken on the moon were the very words of Jesus Christ, who Himself made the earth and the moon?  Love it, love it!

To those special people who share just a tiny taste of God’s love with others by the things you say and do...I love you to the moon and back!  Keep it up!

Have a wonderful week, Sunshines!
Briley, Candace, and Jason Smith
To Donate:  Please make checks payable to Candace Smith Benefit Donation Fund and mail to Pam Hill c/o Kicking it for Candace, 521 Hill Road, Victoria, Texas 77905

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

A Double Scoop

Photo Credit:  Max Straeten from
Last week, my 4-year-old had “Career Day” at her pre-school.   In between all of the May activities going on around here, we were basically trying to decide what to wear the night before.

I asked her what she wanted to be when she grows up and she said either a doctor or a dentist.  The only problem was that I really didn’t have an outfit on-hand for either one.  I tried to talk her into being a princess of some sort because we have oodles of costumes for that.  No such luck.  (Hey, it was worth a try!  Desperate measures…)

Then, my husband walked over and handed her a paper Blue Bell ice cream hat from our tour in Brenham last summer.  He said, “How ‘bout you wear this hat and be an ice cream maker?”  Sold!  Blue Bell employee it is!

She wore her hat proudly that next day and told me the class was especially excited that she brought some samples for taste-testing.  Would a Blue Bell outfit be complete without an ice chest full of ice cream?  Not hardly.  hee hee!

I was thrilled that she made the most of it.  Even though she didn’t get to be a doctor or dentist on Career Day, she enjoyed the precious, present moment of serving her classmates a creamy, cool dessert with a smile.

Oftentimes we easily forget to be in the present moment.  We can find our minds wandering to the what if’s of tomorrow or the could-have-been’s of yesterday…the to-do lists for the week ahead or the should-have-done’s of the day before. 

Distractions are many in today’s world.  With calendars and organizers at our fingertips, we can still feel overwhelmed and incompetent.  With countless people on our facebook friend list, we can still feel lonely.  With limitless ways to communicate, we can still forget how to talk and listen. 

There is a five-minute video circling the internet that is quite interesting and thought-provoking.  In two weeks, it has gotten over 36 million views.  I think it must have struck a chord, similar to this short video, with more than 42 million hits since last August.  I encourage you to take a few moments now to watch them.

Even though I don’t have a smart phone (it’s fancy, just not so smart), I don’t always make the wisest choices with my computer time.  Just the other day I was doing some facebooking and Sips-of-Sunshine-sharing when my daughter came into my room.  She started rolling all over my floor singing a song from Frozen.  It happened to be, “Do You Wanna Build a Snowman?” 

With my face toward the screen and my back toward her, she knocked on my bed’s footboard and in Disney fashion, belted out the verses, “Do you wanna build a snowman?  Come on, let’s go and play.  I never see you anymore.  Come out the door.  It's like you've gone away…Do you wanna build a snowman?  Or ride our bikes around the halls?  I think some company is overdue.  I've started talking to the pictures on the walls.  (Hang in there, Joan!)  It gets a little lonely, all these empty rooms, just watching the hours tick by.  (Tic-Tock, Tic-Tock, Tic-Tock)”

“Do you wanna build a snowman, Mom?”

Oh mercy.  It hit me like a brick.  Can anyone else relate to that strange feeling when you know deep down how addicting screen time can be?  And that we just don’t like to admit it?  I try to do most of my “computering” once the kiddos have gone to bed.  But, isn’t it so easy to lose track of time when you want to check on just one.  more.  thing?  My three minutes turns into thirty (plus) and what do I have to show for it?  Lost time with the person right next to me?  Or the pint-sized precious rolling around on the floor?  Hmmm…

It’s fun to have iPhones and iPads and all the cool technology in between, but what’s most memorable is iContact with friends and loved ones.  Technology is great for keeping in touch and isn’t bad per se, it’s what we sometimes do with it that can make us feel, strangely…isolated.

After watching the videos, I was challenged.  I pray that I remember to look up and see the people that God has purposefully placed on my path in this one life that I have. 

So, in the style of my favorite little Blue Bell employee, I’ll take a double scoop please - one scoop of undivided attention, one scoop of eye contact, and a generous sprinkling of distraction-free time with the ones that I love.  I also pray to remember:  “While raising kids, the days are long, but the years are short.” (Anonymous)

Have a wonderful week, Sunshines!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

It's Time to Clean

Photo Credit:  biberta from
I had a “first” the other day.  There’s a first time for everything in this life, but I sure do hope there won’t be a “second” time for this one. 

I headed out the door to pick up the kiddos from school one afternoon last week.  As I was about to hop into my car, I noticed countless tiny pieces of shredded tissue in my front seat.  As a mom of three active kiddos, I immediately thought my children were the culprits.  Then, I glanced over to the tissue box, which looked like someone with tiny hands had frayed all the edges of the tissue on top.


There wasn’t much time to mess around with a full-blown investigation.  I quickly cleaned up the white fluff and the wheels of my brain started turning…little mice wheels, that is.  The nibble marks on the tissue box didn’t look like my kids’ nibble marks.

Gulp.  I got the heebie-jeebies and the hair stood up on the back of my neck.  I knew there was a significant chance that the mysterious tissue shredder wasn’t one of my children at all.  Since we live in the country, there was a larger-than-life probability that my perpetrator was the size of a bar of soap and squeaked.  I had a hard time driving thinking that the guilty critter might still be in my midst.  Under.  My.  Feet.

I attempted to focus on the idea that my children were behind this very late April Fool’s joke just so I could get to my destination in one sane piece.  After the children got into the car, I calmly inquired if anyone had been playing a game with Kleenex in the driver's seat, perhaps the day before.  When they all denied my subtle allegations, I announced the possibility of an uninvited guest in our car.  They all lifted their feet in unison.  I was the unfortunate one who could not do that while driving.

When we arrived at home, I left the vehicle outside and opened all the doors.  If he or she was still in there, I wanted to give the critter an opportunity to leave.  And.  Never.  Come.  Back.  We carried on with our afternoon homework routine and patiently waited for our hero, Super Dad to get home.

When Daddy arrived, I explained the notion of what I thought had invaded my car.  He was skeptical at first, but after further examination, we found rock solid evidence that a mouse wuz in da house…er…car…at some point very recently.  Yuck!

When I found the luxurious “nest” that little sucker had built under my backseat out of tissue shreds, I said, “Oh no you di’int!” (snapping my fingers in a big ole Z shape).  You are NOT finding a home in here, sweetie pie!”

Let’s just say that the inside of my car is now cleaner than the day we bought it.  After an unwelcome guest tried to move on in, we decided it was time to tidy on up.  We took every single thing out of that car, vacuumed like there was no tomorrow, shook out car seats and rugs, and got rid of anything resembling a tissue.  I can’t say that the outside of the car got the same treatment, but hey.

We’re not 100% sure where the mouse actually went, but it is NOT in my car.  My husband is still in the process of tracking it down…

Anyway, all of this tidying up made me think that it’s a great time for Spring Cleaning in all areas of our lives.  What things have taken up residence in our lives?  Are they things we value or are they unwanted things just taking up the space we need for grace?  Have love, peace, forgiveness, thoughtfulness, and selflessness found a home?  Or, have anger, jealousy, greed, grudges, and distractions taken up so much space that we don’t have room for the good stuff?

I know that a bit of cleaning always makes me feel better.  And, when we feel better, we shouldn’t forget the last part of this whole Spring Cleaning deal.  We need to tell others how good it feels.  We need to encourage others to give anger, jealousy, greed, grudges, and distractions the boot.  There’s no room for them in our lives.

We CAN do it.   I love this bit from Matthew Kelly:

“Have you seen how passionate some people are when they talk about their iPhone?  They tell you why they love it so much, point out the favorite apps and features, and by the time they are finished, you probably want one yourself.  That is evangelization.  Other people evangelize about their car, their company, or their favorite vacation destination.  It’s amazing how animated we can become about things that are trivial.  It is in our nature to evangelize.  We are all evangelists.  What are you evangelizing about?”

That piece gives me a great deal to think about.  In our own unique way, we are called to let others know and feel the love of God.  All of us.  And, we must do it with heartfelt passion.

I have to ask myself a question.  Am I as passionate about making sure that the negative stuff doesn’t find a home in my heart as I was about making sure that stinkin’ mouse didn’t make a home in my car? 

It’s time to clean.  If during the cleaning process, we find a way to make more space for God, church, and prayer, let’s be sure to share our experience with others.  Everyone needs encouragement.  There is no substitute for the blessing of encouragement.  This week, I challenge each of you to invite one person to “clean house” with you and take one baby step closer to Jesus.  You just might be the game changer in their life.

Have a wonderful week, Sunshines, and blessings to all the moms out there and those who share motherly love with others!