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Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Go Ahead & Say It

Photo Credit:  anitapeppers from
After weeks and weeks of waiting…we can finally say it.  We haven’t said this word.  We haven’t sung this word.  We haven’t so much as uttered this word.  This word was buried in a small wooden chest at church.  But, now, Lent is over.  It’s time to go ahead and say it.  ALLELUIA!  ALLELUIA!  ALLELUIA!  There…that feels good.  I pray that each of you had a blessed Easter and are now enjoying all of the things that you gave up for Lent!  Ha!  However, I hope that you have not found yourself in a candy coma or a Dr. Pepper delirium.  Moderation, my friends.  Moderation.

I know I have shared this Easter story from Mikey before, but it’s certainly worth sharing again:

By Eddie Ogan

I'll never forget Easter 1946.  I was 14, my little sister Ocy was 12, and my older sister Darlene was 16.  We lived at home with our mother and the four of us knew what it was to do without many things.  My dad had died five years before, leaving Mom with seven school kids to raise and no money.

By 1946, my older sisters were married and my brothers had left home.  A month before Easter, the pastor of our church announced that a special Easter offering would be taken to help a poor family.  He asked everyone to save and give sacrificially.

When we got home, we talked about what we could do.  We decided to buy 50 pounds of potatoes and live on them for a month.  This would allow us to save $20 of our grocery money for the offering.  Then we thought that if we kept our electric lights turned out as much as possible and didn't listen to the radio, we'd save money on that month's electric bill. Darlene got as many house and yard cleaning jobs as possible, and both of us babysat for everyone we could.  For 15 cents, we could buy enough cotton loops to make three pot holders to sell for $1.  We made $20 on pot holders.  That month was one of the best of our lives.

Every day, we counted the money to see how much we had saved.  At night, we'd sit in the dark and talk about how the poor family was going to enjoy having the money the church would give them.  We had about 80 people in church, so we figured that whatever amount of money we had to give, the offering would surely be 20 times that much.  After all, every Sunday the pastor had reminded everyone to save for the sacrificial offering.

The day before Easter, Ocy and I walked to the grocery store and got the manager to give us three crisp $20 bills and one $10 bill for all our change.  We ran all the way home to show Mom and Darlene.  We had never had so much money before.  That night we were so excited we could hardly sleep.  We didn't care that we wouldn't have new clothes for Easter; we had $70 for the sacrificial offering.

We could hardly wait to get to church!  On Sunday morning, rain was pouring.  We didn't own an umbrella, and the church was over a mile from our home, but it didn't seem to matter how wet we got.  Darlene had cardboard in her shoes to fill the holes.  The cardboard came apart, and her feet got wet.

But, we sat in church proudly.  I heard some teenagers talking about the Smith girls having on their old dresses.  I looked at them in their new clothes, and I felt rich.  When the sacrificial offering was taken, we were sitting on the second row from the front.  Mom put in the $10 bill, and each of us kids put in a $20.

As we walked home after church, we sang all the way.  At lunch, Mom had a surprise for us.  She had bought a dozen eggs and we had boiled Easter eggs with our fried potatoes! Late that afternoon the minister drove up in his car.  Mom went to the door, talked with him for a moment, and then came back with an envelope in her hand.  We asked what it was, but she didn't say a word.  She opened the envelope and out fell a bunch of money.  There were three crisp $20 bills, one $10 and seventeen $1 bills.

Mom put the money back in the envelope.  We didn't talk, just sat and stared at the floor. We had gone from feeling like millionaires to feeling like poor white trash.  We kids had such a happy life that we felt sorry for anyone who didn't have our Mom and Dad for parents and a house full of brothers and sisters and other kids visiting constantly.  We thought it was fun to share silverware and see whether we got the spoon or the fork that night.  We had two knives that we passed around to whoever needed them.  

I knew we didn't have a lot of things that other people had, but I'd never thought we were poor.  That Easter day, I found out we were.  The minister had brought us the money for the poor family, so we must be poor.  I didn't like being poor.  I looked at my dress and worn-out shoes and felt so ashamed.  I didn't even want to go back to church.  Everyone there probably already knew we were poor!

I thought about school.  I was in the ninth grade and at the top of my class of over 100 students.  I wondered if the kids at school knew that we were poor.  I decided that I could quit school since I had finished the eighth grade and that was all the law required at that time.  We sat in silence for a long time. Then it got dark, and we went to bed.  All that week, we girls went to school and came home and no one talked much. 

Finally, on Saturday, Mom asked us what we wanted to do with the money.  What did poor people do with money?  We didn't know.  We'd never known we were poor.  We didn't want to go to church on Sunday, but Mom said we had to.  Although it was a sunny day, we didn't talk on the way.

Mom started to sing, but no one joined in and she only sang one verse.  At church, we had a missionary speaker.  He talked about how churches in Africa made buildings out of sun-dried bricks, but they needed money to buy roofs.  He said $100 would put a roof on a church.  The minister said, "Can't we all sacrifice to help these poor people?"  We looked at each other and smiled for the first time in a week.

Mom reached into her purse and pulled out the envelope.  She passed it to Darlene. Darlene gave it to me, and I handed it to Ocy.  Ocy put it in the offering.  When the offering was counted, the minister announced that it was a little over $100.  The missionary was excited.  He hadn't expected such a large offering from our small church.  He said, "You must have some rich people in this church."

Suddenly it struck us!  WE had given $87 of that "little over $100."

WE were the rich family in the church!  Hadn't the missionary said so?  From that day on, I've never been poor again.  I've always remembered how rich I am because I have Jesus!

Ooooh!  I just love that story, don’t you?  Go ahead and say it…ALLELUIA!  We are rich.  We are rich indeed…all because of Jesus.

Have a wonderful week, Sunshines!

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

An Epic Comeback

Photo Credit:  maneure from
How many of you out there are basketball fans?  Some of you are proudly wearing your team’s shirt, shorts, hat, and shoes at this very moment.  And, some of you might be wondering, “What’s a basketball?”  If you are a fan or you aren’t, I’m sure that you’ve at least heard a little buzz about what many are calling the best comeback in NCAA Tournament history.  

It happened during the Texas A&M and Northern Iowa game on Sunday night.  The Aggies were down 12 points with 44 seconds left in regulation.  Here’s a clip of the epicness (Is that even a word?  It is now!  Woo-hoo!):

I was folding some laundry when I heard shouts and screams and howls of excitement coming from our living room.  When I went to investigate the craziness, I found my son and husband jumping up and down like madmen.  They couldn’t even speak clearly when I asked what was going on.  So, I parked myself on the couch to absorb it all.

March madness indeed.

It ended up being a double overtime victory for the Texas Aggies and it was miraculous.  I couldn’t believe it.  I’m sure that a few of the fans had even left the game early thinking that 44 seconds would never be enough time for a comeback.  Wrong.  Soooo wrong.  Whoa.  I have a whole new respect for 44 seconds on a basketball court.

Being an Aggie myself, I felt so much pride watching the team’s grit and determination.  They never gave up.  They persevered.  They left it all on the court.  The word can’t was absolutely not in their minds that crazy, memorable night.

I’m sure that both teams are still trying to make sense of the 92-88 victory.  How did it happen?  Why did it happen?

When I googled the ferocious comeback, I found a couple of Aggie player quotes shared by George Schroeder:  “I’ve got to go back and watch the film to see how we did it,” Jalen Jones said, “and understand, we’ll all be watching it for a very, very long time, but that doesn’t mean we’ll ever quite fathom it.”  Tonny Trocha-Morelos, whose trap in the corner in the final seconds helped lead to the final turnover and the tying bucket, called it “a God victory,” and suggested that it should prompt the Aggies to believe in a higher plan.

USA Today reported, “The official game book will forever show that leading 69-57 as the clock ticked down, Northern Iowa committed four turnovers.  Texas A&M came up with three steals.  There were layups.  A dunk.  A three-pointer.  A long touchdown pass for a Northern Iowa dunk that seemed to seal it.  But then, from the Aggies, a three-point play.  And in the final seconds, a trap.  A steal.  Another layup.”

USA Today went on to say, “Afterward, the Aggies kept talking about how they ‘kept fighting.’  That’s certainly true, and it’s a lesson for any team, anytime.  For more than 39 minutes, Northern Iowa was the better and more composed team.  Despite an obvious talent edge, Texas A&M missed shots, committed turnovers and generally looked unready for the moment — until, that is, the final moment.”

An epic comeback.

The Aggies somehow erased a 12-point deficit in less than one minute.  One of the reporters said that it was like watching a montage of a full game’s total of steals and layups and then turning the speed up six times.

It was indeed a historic last-minute comeback. 

March Madness. 

Miracles do happen.

The MOST epic comeback in all of history, however, is one that fills my heart with immeasurable joy.  It is the ULTIMATE comeback of all time.  It is that of Jesus’ Resurrection at Easter. 

As we find ourselves in the middle of Holy Week, we are reminded of Jesus’ journey of suffering and rising from the dead for each one of us.  Year after year, I find myself wondering how someone could suffer SO incredibly much for us…purely out of love.

Now, THAT is March Madness, isn’t it?  Jesus never gave up.  He persevered.  He left it all on the…cross.  The word can’t wasn’t in His mind.  We all remember this beautiful, enduring act of love and we will for “a very, very long time, but that doesn’t mean we’ll ever quite fathom it.”

Oftentimes, I just can’t wrap my mind around it all, starting with Palm Sunday…riding into Jerusalem on a donkey…driving money changers out of the temple…cursing a barren fig tree…all of the parables…Judas’ betrayal of Jesus…Jesus’ anointing with expensive perfume…the Last Supper…the scourging…the beating…the walk to Calvary…dying on the cross….the empty tomb…Jesus’ Resurrection….our promise of an eternal home in heaven…

While I can’t fully understand it, please join me in thanking Jesus today for an epic comeback indeed.  Despite our weaknesses, shortcomings, faults, failings, and sins…He loves us unconditionally and died for us.  All of us.  Whoa…now THAT is the epitome of epicness!

Have a wonderful Easter, Sunshines!

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

I Wish I Had...

Photo Credit:  pippalou from
You would have thought that my children had found a magic lamp with a genie inside.  On Sunday night, my kiddos were wishing like they had never wished before.  Spring Break came to a close for us and along with some tears, the wishing began…big-time.  “I wish I had another week of Spring Break…I wish it wouldn’t have rained during our week off…I wish school started at 10:00am…I wish it was summer already…I wish we lived at the beach…I wish I could sleep in, etc.”

We all like to wish for things, don’t we?  Many will say, “I wish I had a million dollars.  I wish I had a bigger house.  I wish I had a better car.  I wish I had a more satisfying job.  I wish I had a family that got along.  I wish I had…”

As I was walking along the river in San Antonio last weekend, a woman stopped me and said, “I wish I had.”  She said, “I wish I had your hair.  It’s beautiful.”  I was taken aback at first.  Then, I smiled and kindly thanked her for her sweet words to me.  As my husband and I finished our stroll down the scenic River Walk, I kept thinking about her flattering words.

When I got back home, the woman’s words continued to echo in my mind.  It was time.  I knew.  It was definitely time.  I had been procrastinating, but I realized that there was no better time than the present.  My hair is waist-length, but I always wrap it up in some sort of an updo.  Over the past few years, I have donated 24 inches of hair, and I knew it was time for 12 more inches to go.  I had been meaning to make a hair donation for months and her words prompted me to action.  Someone out there needed my hair way more than I did.

I immediately googled “Wigs for Kids” for the directions on how to send in my hair donation.  Here is some of the scoop from their website that I found to be both informational, as well as touching:

“For over 30 years, Wigs for Kids has been providing Hair Replacement Systems and support for children who have lost their hair due to chemotherapy, radiation therapy, Alopecia, Trichotillomania, burns and other medical issues at no cost to children or their families.”

“The effects of hair loss go deeper than just a change in a child’s outward appearance. Hair loss can erode a child’s self-confidence and limit them from experiencing life the way children should.  With an injured self-image, a child’s attitude toward treatment and their physical response to it can also be negatively affected.  Wigs for Kids helps children suffering from hair loss to look themselves and live their lives.”

“We are the first and oldest organization of this kind and have a lot of experience creating custom Hair Replacement Systems that are made from real hair and look just like a child’s hair would naturally.  When a child loses their hair, they don't just suffer physically.  They experience a great emotional pain from the extreme change in their appearance.”  

“Creating these wigs for children is more than just a quick fix.  It takes twenty to thirty ponytails or braids to create one Hair Replacement.  Hair replacement systems from Wigs for Kids are custom made to perfectly fit the recipient.  They won't come off when a child is swimming or playing sports.  These hair pieces can be trusted to stay in place.  Each one is hand-tied and made completely of the human hair that has been donated.  The cost of one hair replacement system is $1,800, but we never charge the family in need.”

After reading some of the personal stories on the website, I felt even more fulfilled about those six ponytails in my envelope.  To think that something I was able to freely give could make such a big difference in a child’s life brings me immense joy.  The paperwork asked if my hair donation was made in memory of or in honor of someone…why yes, yes, it is!  Of course, I put in honor of my goddaughter, Sydney!

I’ve often heard other stories of people saying, “I wish I had.”  Many times, they are declarations filled with regret.  “I wish I had told him/her that I loved them…I wish I had spent more time loving and less time fighting…I wish I had not lived my life in fear…I wish I had truly lived each day to the fullest…I wish I had not said those words I can’t take back…I wish I had a ‘do-over’ button…I wish I had forgiven…I wish I had apologized…I wish I had kept in contact…I wish I had sent that letter/e-mail/text…I wish I had made that phone call…I wish I had chosen a different career path…I wish I had taken better care of my health…I wish I had spent more time with my family and children…I wish I had taken more chances and risks…I wish I had let myself be happier…I wish I had…”

Life is something, isn’t it?  Wow.  How blessed we are that God gives us a fresh start every 24 hours.  We get to choose how many “I wish I had” statements we’ll ponder on or we can just dive in and do those things.

I received a timely e-mail from Mikey that has some great snippets about life:
Life is an opportunity, benefit from it.
Life is beauty, admire it.
Life is bliss, taste it.
Life is a dream, realize it.
Life is a challenge, meet it.
Life is a duty, complete it.
Life is a game, play it.
Life is a promise, fulfill it.
Life is sorrow, overcome it.
Life is a song, sing it.
Life is a struggle, accept it.
Life is a tragedy, confront it.
Life is an adventure, dare it.
Life is luck, make it.
Life is too precious, do not destroy it.
Life is life, fight for it.

And, just when we think we can’t do this or that, remember that every new morning brings us as much of God's grace as we need for the day.

Here’s to turning our “I wish I hads” into “I’m glad I dids!"

Have a wonderful week, Sunshines!

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

That Extra Day

Photo Credit:  Alvimann from
As soon as I opened up Facebook on Monday, I got a message that read, “Every four years, February gets an extra day – make the most of it!”

February 29th.  Unless your birthday happens to fall on that day, I’m not sure how much thought people actually give to February 29th.  However, because it is unique and only rolls around every four years, I thought I’d look into some of the fun facts and share them with you today.

Are you a leaper? (Relax….I didn’t say leper! Ha!)  People who are born on February 29th are often referred to as leaplings or leapers.  The chances of having a leap birthday are 1 in 1,461 and about 4.1 million folks around the world have been born on February 29th thus far.

Why do we have leap years anyhow?  After a quick online search, it says that the extra day is added as a means of keeping our clocks and calendars in sync with the Earth and its seasons.  It’s because of the solar system's disparity with the Gregorian calendar.  An orbit of the earth around the sun takes exactly 365.2422 days to complete, but the Gregorian calendar uses 365 days.

So, there ya have it!

Leap years are also marked as a time for women to propose to men.  Yep!  That’s what I read.  One theory is that the custom dates back to the 5th Century, when an Irish nun named Bridget complained to St. Patrick that women had to wait too long for their suitors to propose.  Legend has it that St. Patrick gave women the chance to pop the question every four years on February 29th.

This popular tradition is known as “Bachelor's Day” in some countries.  If the man refuses the proposal on February 29th, he is then obliged to give the woman money or buy her a dress.  If the man refuses marriage in upper-class societies of Europe, he must purchase twelve pairs of gloves for the woman.  This practice suggests that the gloves are to hide the woman's embarrassment of not having an engagement ring.

Did you also hear that there was a campaign going to make February 29th a “work-free day?”  Workers have realized that every leap year, they have to work one extra day for no extra pay!  What?!

Finally, here are a few facts about leap years:  The Summer Olympic Games are always held in a leap year, as are U.S. Presidential elections.  And, in Greece, couples often avoid getting married in a leap year, believing it to be bad luck.

That’s the leapy scoop!

So, what if we were only able to call upon God once every four years?  Gulp.  What if our day to pray only rolled around like February 29th does?  Yikes!

Thank God, we can’t call Him too often in prayer.  There’s a funny that I received from my buddy, Mikey, which is too cute not to share for reflection:


We have all learned to live with voicemail as a necessary part of modern life.  But, you may have wondered, “What if God decided to install voicemail?”

Imagine praying and hearing this..."Thank you for calling My Father's House.  Please select one of the following options:
Press 1 for requests.
Press 2 for thanksgiving.
Press 3 for complaints.
Press 4 for all other inquiries."

What if God used the familiar excuse..."All the angels are helping other customers right now.  Please stay on the line.  Your call will be answered in the order it was received."

Can you imagine getting these kinds of responses as you call upon God in prayer?

"If you would like to speak to Gabriel, press 1.  For Michael, press 2.  For a directory of other angels, press 3.  If you’d like to hear King David sing a Psalm while you're on hold, press 4.”

“To find out if a loved one has been assigned to heaven, enter his or her social security number.  For reservations at My Father's House, press the letters J-O-H-N and then 3-1-6.  For answers to nagging questions about dinosaurs, the age of the earth, and where Noah's ark is, please wait until you arrive here."

What about this one?  "Our computers show that you have already called once today.  Please hang up and try again tomorrow."

What if we heard this?  "This office is closed for the weekend.  Please call again on Monday after 9:00 am."

As we continue on during this season of Lent, let’s remember that we can call upon God in prayer at any time.  Any day.  Any place.  We don’t have to leave a voice mail.  Our prayers can be simple.  Our prayers can be lengthy.  Let’s just remember to keep the conversation going.  And, join me in thanking God that He is available to listen every day…not just February 29th.  Maybe He’s given us that extra day…to pray?  As Facebook says, “Let’s make the most of it!”  I’ll remind you in Leap Year 2020.  Until then…

Have a wonderful week, Sunshines!

P.S.  No Sips next week due to Spring Break!  Enjoy!