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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Need A Hug?

Photo Credit:  greyerbaby from
I had a dream last night.  Actually, I dream most nights and I talk in my sleep too.  All.  Night.  Long.  There aren’t enough hours in the day to get all the words out, ya know, so I use the nighttime as well.  Heh!  Anyway, this particular dream was extremely vivid for me.

I dreamt that I walked into a room and the only person in that room was Robin Williams.  He said nothing and neither did I (Which is strange in itself, right?  I’m certain that both Mr. Williams and myself ALWAYS have something to say).  I just slowly walked up to him and I gave him a big, long hug.  I felt the warmth of that hug in my sleep.  It was so real.  So tangible.  So genuine.  After we hugged, we smiled at each other.  I blinked in my dream and then he was no longer there.

I’m not a dream analyst by any stretch of the imagination, so I have no idea what that dream means.  But, what I do know is that up until that point I wasn’t sure what to share in this week’s blog.  After the dream, I knew.

I needed to share another e-mail from Aunt Kerri and Flat Stanley.  Here goes:

This weekend Flat Stanley and I participated in a fundraiser 5K walk to help raise money and awareness for NAMI Austin.  NAMI stands for National Alliance on Mental Illness.  It is a national non-profit group that works to help, support, and advocate for people (and their family and friends) who have a mental illness.  A mental illness is an illness of the mind.  Just like when people are sick or broken in their bodies; your mind can also be sick and/or broken.  No matter what illness someone has, we need to love and support them.  Flat Stanley agreed.

When Flat Stanley learned about this 5K NAMI walk, he knew this was a great cause and wanted to support it.  Not only did Flat Stanley want to walk the 3 miles in support of NAMI Austin, he also wanted to help volunteer to set-up for the walk.  So, we woke up at 4:45 am and made it down to The Long Center by 6:00 am to help with the set-up.

Flat Stanley and I met Edwin and his son and decided that we would help put up the arch.  The arch is where the walk starts and it holds all the NAMI Austin banners and signs.  The participants start the walk under that arch.  It's pretty cool to walk underneath this arch because it's soooo high!

Next, Flat Stanley and I met up with our team, which was called Greater Grounds.  Our team t-shirts were awesome and we won 3rd place in the Team T-Shirt contest.  The front of our t-shirts read, "We walk so you won't walk alone."  How awesome is that?  Flat Stanley says, "NO ONE should have to walk alone.  We should always be there for each other!"  I agree with him.  Flat Stanley loved the shirt so much that we wrote those same words on his shirt.

There were lots of fun things to do before the walk started.  There was face painting, music, and even miniature horses.  Guess who got to ride a miniature horse?  Yesiree, Flat Stanley did and he loved it!

 At 9:00 am, the walk started and we made our way toward the Texas State Capitol.  We headed down a street called Congress and walked around the Texas State Capitol.  It was a total of 3 miles and Flat Stanley kept up just fine.  He's a good little walker!

We met some great people along the walk.  Some were holding signs.  One said, “Educate, don't discriminate,” which means that a person should learn more about someone or something to be sure they have the right information, and not judge them or it.

All the people we met were so nice, including the woman police officer.  Guess who got to sit inside a police car?  Yep!  Flat Stanley!  The police woman was helping to stop the cars so that all of the walkers could walk across the street.  She recognized Flat Stanley right away and invited him to sit inside of the police car.  How lucky was he?!

 We finally ended up back at the arch, where the walk began.  We decided to take one final team photo before everyone had to go home.  What a great team, a great time, and a great cause!

Flat Stanley was so excited about being a part of supporting such a great organization and walk.  He is now a huge supporter of NAMI and wants to help and support those with mental illness.  He says, "No one should walk alone!"  He hopes you are able to find and support a cause close to your heart as well.

I enjoyed this note from Flat Stanley and thought it was worth sharing today…especially after my dream.  Please join me in praying for all those who suffer with mental illness, as well as those who love them and care for them.

In addition to prayer, I think we can start with something as simple as a hug.  My hug with Robin Williams has left a lasting impression on me.  Have you hugged someone today?  I’ve read countless articles about the benefits from hugging.  Some of them include: 
  • They make you feel good!  The cuddle hormone (oxytocin) is released when we hug, which can promote feelings of devotion, trust, and bonding.
  • Hugging is great for your heart!  Hugging activates pressure receptors called Pacinian corpuscles, which send signals to the vagus nerve (an area of the brain that is responsible for lowering blood pressure, among other things).
  • Hugging can help to alleviate our fears.
  • Hugging can decrease feelings of loneliness.
  • When we hug, we immediately reduce the amount of cortisol (the stress hormone) produced in our bodies.  Hugs also make our bodies release tension and send calming messages to the brain.
 I love hugs.  I love giving them.  I love receiving them.  I adore them.  I cherish them.  AND…hugs are free.  Have you gotten one or given one today?  Add it to your to-do list and please put it at the top! 

Here are some sweet quotes about hugs (authors unknown):
  • When you are hugging a child, always be the last one to let go.  You never know how long they need it.
  • A hug is a handshake from the heart.
  • Hugs are the universal medicine - a bandage to a hurting wound.
  • A hug is a great gift - one size fits all, and it's easy to exchange.
  • A hug is worth a thousand words.
  • A hug delights and charms; that must be why God gave us arms.
  • Sometimes it's better to put love into hugs than to put it into words.
  • One day, someone is going to hug you so tight that all your broken pieces will stick back together.
Laughs are equally as beneficial as hugs, so I’ll leave you with this one from Mikey’s Funnies:

Hospital regulations require a wheelchair for patients being discharged.  However, while working as a student nurse, I found one elderly gentleman dressed and sitting on the bed with a suitcase at his feet.  He insisted he didn't need my help to leave the hospital.

After a chat about “rules being rules,” he reluctantly let me wheel him to the elevator.  On the way down, I asked him if his wife was meeting him.  ”I don't know,” he said.  “She's still upstairs in the bathroom changing out of her hospital gown.”

Have a wonderful week, Sunshines!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Where Are You, Flat Stanley?

My 7-year-old daughter is doing a cute little project in one of her classes at school.  Many of you have already heard about Flat Stanley.  For those of you who haven’t, here’s the scoop from Wikipedia: 

Flat Stanley is a 1964 children's book written by Jeff Brown and was originally illustrated by Tomi Ungerer.  It’s the first in a series of books featuring Stanley Lambchop.

Stanley and his younger brother, Arthur, were given a big bulletin board by their father to display pictures and posters.  The bulletin board hung on the wall over Stanley's bed.  One night, the board fell from the wall, flattening Stanley in his sleep.  Stanley survived and made the best of his altered state.  One special advantage was that Flat Stanley could visit his friends by being mailed in an envelope.

Here’s where the good times begin.  My daughter colored her picture of Flat Stanley and we mailed him with the following letter to her Aunt Kerri:

In school, we read a book about a boy who got mashed by a bulletin board.  His name is Flat Stanley.  He wanted to go on a trip, so his family folded him up and mailed him to California.

I am mailing my Flat Stanley to you.  Please take him somewhere and write me back telling me where he went.  If you have pictures or postcards, please send them too.  I will take them back to school and share his adventures with my class.

Thank you for helping me with this project.  I wish that I could fold myself up and visit you!

Aunt Kerri has done a marvelous job at making this a memorable experience for her niece.  She certainly goes above and beyond in everything she does for her nephew and nieces.  She ends e-mails with, “We love you” (Flat Stanley and I, that is).  She’s a one-of-a-kind aunt and plans to take Stanley on many trips.  Here’s the most recent story she shared:

Flat Stanley took a road trip on Saturday, Sept. 13, 2014, to College Station, Texas, to watch the Texas A&M Aggies take on the Rice Owls.  The drive took about 2 ½ hours from Austin to College Station, so by the time we got there, Flat Stanley was hungry.  We met some friends at the Chicken Oil Company and had some really good food.  Then we were off to the football game.  When Flat Stanley saw Kyle Field, he could not believe how big it was.  This made him really excited about being at the game.

Once we got inside, he saw some words on the stadium that read, "Home of the 12th Man."  He asked what that meant.  I explained that the student body, alumni, and Aggie fans in general, represent the 12th Man.  There are 11 players on the field and we all stand as the 12th man, to signify that we are ready to help and support the team in what it needs.  Flat Stanley said, "Am I part of the 12th man?"  I said, "You bet you are, Flat Stanley."  He was so excited!

Our seats were on the very top deck - the 3rd deck.  We walked up and up and up and kept getting higher and higher.  We were so high that Flat Stanley thought all the players out on the field looked like ants running around.  By the time we walked up to the 3rd deck, and up to the 36th row, Flat Stanley was thirsty.  So we turned around and walked down 36 rows of stairs, and went to the concession stand.  Flat Stanley was so appreciative that he got to buy a drink in the souvenir cup, with an A&M on the side.

He also asked if he could wear my A&M cap, because he wanted to show his support of the team as much as he could.  He loved watching the game and cheering the Aggies on.  At halftime, when the Rice band was on the field, Flat Stanley appreciated them, but he wasn't very impressed.  However, when the "Fightin' Texas Aggie Band" took the field, he loved it…especially when they formed their signature "T" and started playing "Hullabaloo.”  He cheered and clapped his hands to the beat of the band.  

The game ended and we began to walk out of the stadium.   As we were leaving, Flat Stanley asked if we could come back one day to another game.  I asked him, "Why?"  He replied, "Because I'm definitely 100% AGGIE!!!"

Aunt Kerri took tons of pictures with Flat Stanley in Aggieland.  What a sport!  Special aunts do special things and we thank God for her.  I hear that Flat Stanley is planning a trip to the Holy Land this November.  Yes, that’s right!  Is it possible to be green with envy as we compare our seemingly hum-drum life to that of Flat Stanley’s?  Hmmm….

All jokes aside, I have thought about that idea a bit lately.  Sometimes it’s easy (way too easy) to get caught up in comparing our “behind-the-scenes-reality” to someone else’s “highlight reel.”

With Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter and the like, it’s hard not to get caught up in it.  When looking at all of Flat Stanley’s fun pictures from his trip, it was eerily possible to be jealous…of a piece of paper.  Really?  Really.

As I scan the social media, there aren’t many posts of people doing laundry or making spaghetti for the third time that week.  There aren’t many pictures of the first round of snotty, fall allergies.  We don’t always hear about the quiet prayers for a loved one or the hugs and kisses goodnight after a tough day.  It’s hard to know what battles are found deep within each and every person out there – physical, emotional, mental, or spiritual.  Most of the everyday stuff just isn’t shared.

So, we have to remember that the highlights are mainly what we get…the shiny and the sparkly.  Rarely is it the raw, vulnerable stuff.  I know how easy it is to get swept off onto Comparison Highway.  Before the internet, maybe we saw a few people here and there who appeared to have it all together, all the time.  Now, it takes just moments to see hundreds of people who appear to have it all together, all the time.  It’s a bit too much to process really.

How can we get back on track on the days when the right road, our true path, seems so hard to find?  I think it starts with remembering not to compare ourselves to others, because it’s never an apples to apples kinda thing.  Never.

I’m sure we can start with prayers for gratitude and contentment.  I read a really great post by Andrew Schroer recently.  He says, “Human nature never seems to be content with today.  It always wants to look back with nostalgia on yesterday or ahead with yearning to tomorrow.  The Psalmist, however, reminds us to celebrate today.  ‘This is the day the Lord has made,’ he wrote, ‘let us rejoice and be glad in it’ (Psalm 118:24).  Every day – every stage of life – has its struggles and every day has its blessings.  Instead of constantly being miserable, longing for a better day, a better age; look at the good things God has given you today.”

Let’s try our best to be content this week.  Maybe we can start with just 24 hours?  Let’s work at not comparing our behind-the-scenes to someone else’s highlight reel.  And, when we ask, “Where are you, Flat Stanley?” let’s be genuinely thrilled for him and all of his adventures.  No jealousy this week, folks.  We can do it!  I know we can.

Have a wonderful week, Sunshines!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Pass the Chips, Please

Photo Credit:  bhjoco from
We never know who or what God will use to make an impact in our lives.  Aunt Irene sent me a great e-mail that I’d like to share with you:

A little boy wanted to meet God.  He knew it was a long trip to where God lived, so he packed his suitcase with a bag of potato chips and a six-pack of root beer and started his journey.

When he had gone about three blocks, he met an old man.  He was sitting in the park, just staring at some pigeons.  The boy sat down next to him and opened his suitcase.  He was about to take a drink from his root beer when he noticed that the old man looked hungry, so he offered him some chips.  The old man gratefully accepted them and smiled at him.

His smile was so brilliant that the boy wanted to see it again, so he offered him a root beer.  Again, he smiled at him.  The boy was delighted!  They sat there all afternoon eating and smiling, but they never said a word.

As dusk approached, the boy realized how tired he was, so he got up to leave.  But before he had gone more than a few steps, he turned around, ran back to the old man, and gave him a hug.  The old man gave him his biggest smile ever.

When the boy opened the door to his own house a short time later, his mother was surprised by the look of joy on his face.  She asked him, "What did you do today that made you so happy?"  He replied, "I had lunch with God."  But before his mother could respond, he added, "You know what?  He's got the most beautiful smile I've ever seen!"

Meanwhile, the old man, also radiant with joy, returned to his home.  His son was stunned by the look of peace on his face and he asked, "Dad, what did you do today that made you so happy?"  He replied, "I ate potato chips in the park with God."  However, before his son responded, he added, "You know, he's much younger than I expected."

Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring…all of which have the potential to turn a life around.  People come into our lives for a reason, a season, or a lifetime.  Embrace them all equally!  Have lunch with God.......and bring chips.

Just as I felt God so powerfully among the people at our recent church picnic, I also feel Him in the smiles, hugs, and words of encouragement during my everyday comings and goings.

Since March, I’ve been dealing with some issues in my left ear – muffled hearing, pain, fullness, ringing, lightheadedness…blah, blah, blah, blah.  With a paralyzing fear of all things doctor or dentist or white-lab-coat-anything, I put off the inevitable.  Over the summer, I finally went to the walk-in clinic a couple of times and tried a combination of oral antibiotics, antibiotic/steroid ear drops, Ibruprofen, Tylenol, and every other ear drop known to man…to no avail.

Then, my friend, Melissa, chatted with me one evening recently and encouraged me to see a specialist.  She hugged me.  She even cried with me.  She said, “You can do it.  You are brave.  There is nothing you can’t do.”  God made Himself known through my friend that evening.

I made an appointment with an ENT doc…only six months after my symptoms began.  (Not bad.  Ha!)  Not that I don’t love and adore the ocean, but the feeling of a big seashell covering my ear 24/7 does get kinda old.  I have to be honest.  I was a complete and utter mess during the entire appointment, but I survived.  I also strongly felt God’s presence in the sweet nurses there who sensed my anxiety and chatted with me about my kiddos and anything else that would distract me and bring me comfort.

I left there with a prescription for an oral steroid.  Hmmm.  Oral steroid?  Have you ever read about the side effects of prednisone?  Well, don’t.  Just calmly step away from your computer and put down the mouse.  Some of the horrifying side effects can include (but are not limited to) these: 

You will never sleep again.  Your heart will jump out of your chest and literally run away.  You will sweat profusely.  You will be so ravenous that you’ll eat until you burst in two.  You’ll gain 40 lbs. overnight and your face will become as big as a full moon.  You’ll grow a beard and chest hair.  You might even turn into an American Pygmy Shrew.  “With a pulse clocking in at more than a 1000 beats per minute, the smallest mammal in North America really needs lots of food to keep its phenomenal metabolism going.  Every day it eats three times its own weight.  To do so, it needs to constantly eat and never sleeps for more than a few minutes.  An hour without food would mean certain death.”  (Yikes!)

Yea, I get a little excited about new things…especially strange medications.  However, God was present when I called my wonderful friend, Kim, (who happens to be an awesome pharmacist) and she eased my nerves and we worked out a dosing schedule.  Her calming words and concern were reassuring for me.  I felt God’s love through her.

Of course, I always feel the love of God through the actions of my incredible husband.  On the first day I took the steroid, he called me multiple times to check on me.  Of course, I would always joke about it when he called.  I’d say, “Well, I didn’t really like where our house was located, so I picked it up and moved it a few feet to the left” or “I lifted the furniture with my eyelashes in order to dust underneath.”  Humor makes the impossible more possible for me.  Laughter helps me cope with my level of crazy on any given day.

My hubby and the kiddos also prayed for me – you know, that I wouldn’t go raving mad on the steroid.  I’m a huge fan of “where two or three are gathered in My name, there am I in their midst.”  Knowing that they were praying for me brought me peace and allowed me to see God through them as well.

I’m still working through my ear issue, but I’m making it a point to be fully aware of God’s presence in the people He puts on my path during the journey.

I will close with these inspirational words by Lysa TerKeurstI used to think it was crucial for me to know God’s will.  If I knew His grand plan for at least this season of my life, then I could direct all my decisions to fall in line.  I ponder and pray.  I ask friends.  I read the Bible.  I look for confirmations that point in one direction or the other.  I assume there is one correct choice and in order to stay in God’s will, I must figure out that exact choice.  That’s a lot of pressure for a simple girl like me.

What if God’s will is more simple than that?  What if God is more concerned with us looking for Him than looking for answers?   We want big directional signs from God.  God just wants us to pay attention.  Yes, He wants us to pay attention to Him and ask Him what our best “yes” is in the midst of all the choices.

God intersects our lives with people who need His hope and whispers to us, “You have the hope they need … give it to them.”  Maybe it’s to offer them a little of our time.  Maybe it’s to share a little of our story.  Or maybe it’s to simply offer a smile.  And when we listen, a shift happens.  It’s like the world splits open with each of our simple acts of obedience to God and His light breaks apart the world’s darkness.  This is our Best Yes.  This is us paying attention.

I just love these words by Mrs. TerKeurst.  I hope and pray that I’ll be paying attention when God says, “Pass the chips, please.”

Have a wonderful week, Sunshines!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Cake for Sale - $5,000

Photo Credit:  click from
Yes, you read that right, folks.  One five, one comma, and three zeros.  We recently had our annual church picnic in beautiful Inez, Texas and our priest’s homemade Hummingbird cake with cream cheese frosting sold for a whopping $5,000 in the live auction.

What?!  Was the cake filled with diamonds and gold?  Were there priceless gems placed neatly on top?  Did the cake possibly come with a giant, ultra HD flat screen TV?  Nope, nope, and nope.

It was a simple round cake made with flour, baking soda, salt, sugar, eggs, oil, cinnamon, some vanilla, pecans, bananas, and pineapple.  How could that be worth $5,000 you ask?  Well, I’m pretty sure it wasn’t really about the cake at all.  I’m certain it was deliciously delectable, but what it was about was community.  It was about a community coming together.  It was about the generosity of its parishioners and friends.  It was about the support and love for our faith and for the shepherd who is leading the people at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church.

Year after year, I am in awe of and admire the dedication of this small community.  With a population of around 2,700, Inez is a tiny dot on the map.  But, you’ve heard the story of the mustard seed, right?  Tiny can be mighty. 

With about 150 families in our parish, I am almost speechless (that rarely happens for me – heh!) at what was accomplished last weekend.  The final numbers aren’t in, but I’m taking a wild guess that we raised around $100,000.  Whoa.

The amount of money raised is a true blessing, but what impressed me the most was how everyone worked together like a well-oiled machine.  Every area had a chairperson and countless eager workers.  And, when I mean every area, I mean that there was a chairperson over each and every item of mouth-watering food found on the plates we served (barbeque, sausage, fried chicken, potatoes, green beans, dessert, and tea).   (Oh, that was the best eight bucks I’ve ever spent!  Mmmmm.  I’ve never seen a kitchen run smoother either.  I need to see if they’ll come over to my house!)

We had to-go plates, a cake walk, kids’ games, two raffles, both a live and silent auction, a country store with homemade everything, card games, and amazing music by D’Vine Testament.  I’m still on a high from absorbing all of the smiles that radiated from the people who entered those doors.  The laughter that echoed through the hall still resonates in my ears.  Honestly, if you want to know the truth, I think it was the largest family reunion on this side of Highway 59.  We never have traffic jams in Inez…that is, until church picnic day rolls around each September.

Of course, the picnic day itself impresses me, but the weeks and days leading up to it do too.  Have you ever fried 4,096 pieces of chicken?  Me neither.  Have you ever tried to prepare 1,386 pounds of brisket and 350 pounds of sausage at one time?  I know I haven’t.  What about potatoes and green beans?  Sometimes I fret over peeling spuds for our family of five.  I can’t imagine preparing 750 pounds of potatoes and 720 pounds of green beans in order to feed 2,000 people!  (Yes, that’s how many we served!)  Don’t get me started on the quantity of pies and cakes or the gallons of tea and barbeque sauce!   (Mmmm –  actually, a pair of my clothes still smell like bacon and onions from Saturday.  I refuse to wash the aroma away – hee hee!)

Hours and hours of preparation and many sleepless nights were needed to make it all happen.  A great deal of sacrifice and love is poured into an event such as this.  The love is tangible and I felt it.  I saw it.  I heard it.  I touched it.  I smelled it.  I tasted it.  One of the chairpersons told me today, “It is an immense amount of work, I will not lie, but it is all worth it for the church!”  Awesome.

What about parking, you ask?  How in the world do you park that many cars without mass chaos?  Well, get this…the fantastic fellas at our Inez Volunteer Fire Department help with that.  Then, in return, the awesome guys at our church help to park cars at the VFD fundraiser the following weekend.  Teamwork.  It’s a beautiful “thang” peeps!

When God’s people work together, nothing is impossible.  I don’t know about you, but the thought of that takes my very breath away.  Nothing is impossible with God.  (Matthew 19:26)

The beauty, goodness, and love of God were so powerfully present for me during our church picnic.  I felt His presence there among the people.  I saw it in their eyes that day.  I felt it in their movements in the days preceding it as they ran from here to there to make it all come together.  Some of the simplest things of this world can reveal God if we open our eyes to seeing it.

The world is full of signs of God’s presence.  God tells us what we need to hear through the bits and pieces of our day-to-day.  It is ongoing.  We can be changed by letting God work in and through us.  I often pray, “Use me as an instrument.”  He listens.  Many times, I don’t feel that I’m ready for a certain task, but I know that He will equip me before He asks of me.

So, I’m thrilled that Father’s cake sold for $5,000 and I’m glad it didn’t have diamonds and gold inside.  It didn’t need to.  Father Bentil could have had a tiny morsel of chocolate in his hand and it would have sold for just the same.  Why?  Because the amazing people of our community came together and donated generously of their time, their talents, and their treasure, all for the glory of God.  They gave of themselves in so many different ways in order for us to catch a glimpse of Jesus’ love for us.  And, for this…I am grateful. 

Thank you, thank you, thank you to all who helped make our picnic such a smashing success.  Each one of you made it possible.  The behind-the-scenes was just as impressive and inspirational as the event.  Thank you, friends and family, for coming out in the rain to support our picnic.  Thank you, Lord, for your abundant blessings.  God is good…all the time.  All the time…God is good.

Have a wonderful week, Sunshines!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The Yes in the Mess

Photo Credit:  Prawny from
Over the course of our three-day weekend, there was smoke coming out of my computer keyboard.  Well, not literally, but my fingers were moving so fast that I thought I saw smoke.  It could certainly have been my foggy contacts at 2:00 am, but I digress.

Why on earth was I on my computer at that hour?  Well, I was doing some serious college-finals-style-cramming.  However, it wasn’t for a test at all.  I was compiling a 3,000 word essay all about love for a writing contest.  I’m really not a procrastinator by nature so it made me super antsy to be writing with a clock ticking.  My restless legs were moving up and down so fast while I typed that the carpet is rubbed down to the padding in those spots.  

My usual modus operandi involves crossing things off a list.  Even if a task I’ve already done wasn’t on the list, I will oftentimes add it to the list, just to cross it off.  Something about that just feels good to me.  Call me crazy.  However, this essay stayed on my list all summer.

Sometime late last spring (yep!), my mother-in-law gave me a magazine clipping with information about an upcoming writing contest.  The contest dates were June 1st through September 1st.  “Oh, I have PLENTY of time," I thought.

Well, the summer days flew by with tons of family time, trips across Texas, and lazy weekends of sleeping in.  I mean, I thought about the contest and what I’d like to write many times during the summer, but I never actually sat down to do it.  So, there I sat on August 31st trying to polish the final details of my essay.  And, boy oh boy, 3,000 words is quite a bit to edit.  Heck, at this point on this blog post you have read 308 words.  Just add 2,692 more. 

Don’t get me wrong – I LOVE to write and I actually had to cut a few paragraphs out to get my essay down to the maximum limit of 3,000, but editing that many words is another story.  My eyes crossed many times and all the words ran together.

Love encompasses so much, ya know?  At first, I wondered where on earth I’d possibly start.  I had to narrow it down, so in my essay, I wrote about the love story between my husband and me.   Hopefully, they’ll pick my essay out of the other 50 gazillion essays and you’ll get to read it in a magazine one day.  I’ll definitely keep ya posted on that.

Anyhoo!  Revisiting the story of how my husband and I met and re-reading the essay more times than I will admit; I have to say that I felt a new spark ignite for the man that I call my husband.  The butterflies are certainly still there.  Sometimes they just take naps during different seasons in our lives.

Isn’t it so easy to get into a comfort zone with each other?  Isn’t it so easy to take each other for granted?  Isn’t it so easy to forget?  To forget the love that brought you together in the first place.

Gosh, with the start of school and all the ups and downs of that, it’s easy to just focus on the kiddos.  Sometimes we forget our spouse in the mix.  My friend, Jennifer, posted something on facebook a few days ago that grabbed my attention.  It was a blog post by Kristen Welch called, “Three Things I Gave Up To Make My Marriage Better.”

Welch shared some wonderful insight.  She said she’s learned that sometimes we have to give up and give in to get the best out of our marriage.  Welch encouraged us to give up three things to gain more in our marriages: pride, superiority, and selfishness.

Welch says, “Let’s admit when we are wrong.  Let’s hush when we are right.  And, let’s support our spouse even if it costs us something.”

Welch shares that humans are really good at holding grudges, stewing about wrongs, and making excuses.  Many of us might even relate to that old Mac Davis song line, “Oh Lord, it’s hard to be humble when you’re perfect in every way…”  However, isn’t it really time that we humble ourselves and admit when we’re wrong?  Welch encourages us to apologize to each other and make amends in order to make our marriages work.  “Pride will destroy a marriage and a soul.”  (Amen, sista!)

Welch also shares that, “Just because we can wave the ‘I told you so’ banner boldly at times, it doesn’t mean that we should.”  Some of the most powerful moments in her marriage were ones in which one of them was right and didn’t say a word.  She said, “It’s called grace and you just can’t have too much of it with your spouse.”

And, heaven knows we can be selfish.  Many times, we’re pretty darn good at it if I do say so myself.  But, when we set our selfish desires aside and join our spouse in their struggles, we are reassuring them that they’re not alone.  Listening to each other is such a very important part of the loving.  God didn’t say it would be easy.  He said it would be worth it.

Life can be messy and I need to remember to say yes in the mess.  My eyes and my actions need to say, “Yes, I see you.  Yes, I hear you.  I am listening,” when my husband is sharing his life with me. And, I certainly need to holler out a God-sized “Yes” when trying to follow the Lord’s will for my life.  Sometimes I forget.

Every inch of my being wants to say, “Yes, Jesus, I trust in you.  May I always bring Your hope into my family.  Yes, Jesus, I trust in you.  May I always bring Your love into my family.  Yes, Jesus, I trust in You.  May I always bring Your mercy into my family.”  I just have to open my heart to the yes.

Many days, I forget the yes in the mess.  But, a couple of quotes from Kristen Welch’s book, “Rhinestone Jesus” caught my eye.  One was this, “God wants you right in the middle of your mess because it’s the perfect place for Him to shine.”  The other was, “You don’t have to do something BIG for Him; just do SOMETHING because your ‘yes’ matters.”  I love it!

Won’t you join me in saying yes in the mess?  Let’s remind each other to love during the ordinary, messy, meet-‘em-where-they’re-at-kinda-days.

Have a wonderful week, Sunshines!