Sunday, June 30, 2013

Sweet Season

This is the last of my strawberries for the season.  It's not even July, yet their time to produce fruit has passed.  I have enjoyed them thoroughly!  It occurs to me that much of life is like the short growing season of strawberries.  The older I get, the shorter seasons seem to be.  I am trying to remember to enjoy each season as it is happening and not spend time in the past or the future.  Just to be present to what is in season now and to enjoy it to the fullest.  And even if the present is not producing an abundance of  ripe fruit, I am consciously seeking all the bits of sweetness that are available now, today.  What does it benefit me to worry about tomorrow?  Doesn't  Jesus tell us not to worry about tomorrow (Matthew 6:25-34)?  So for today, I will seek the joy and the sweet peace that a present mind feels.  And when I look back, I will see a  mind that rested each day on the joys of that particular season. 

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9

Friday, June 28, 2013

Plant It and It Will Grow



If anyone has ever planted zucchini in New Jersey they know that if you plant it, it will grow.  By mid-summer most folks are actually tired of zucchini – by then they have sautéed it, grilled it, fried it, baked it, stuffed it and some go as far as dumping boxes of it in unlocked cars!  A few plants yield an overwhelming harvest.  All one must do is sow it.  It seems God has taken care of the rest.  God supplied those little zucchini seeds with everything they need to produce a great harvest.  But what if no one took the time to plant the seeds?  What if we are all too busy to scratch the earth and sow the seed?  What if we become so complacent we don’t take time to work the field?  What then? 

You may have guessed, I am no longer talking about zucchini.  I am talking about people and the condition of their hearts.  God has supplied each and every heart with what it needs to grow in Christ and produce a great harvest for the Kingdom of God.  Are you willing to sow seeds of hope and love in the hearts of the lonely and the lost?  According to scripture God will equip you and enrich you and you will reap a worthy harvest.
Galatians 6:9-10
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.

2 Corinthians 9:9-11
 As it is written:
“They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor;
    their righteousness endures forever.”
Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.
For those of you who have backyard gardens in New Jersey, you know how rewarding it is to reap a great harvest of produce.  We may complain about how much zucchini we have, but secretly, we are all very proud of the abundance of our crop.  How much better and how much greater the reward if your harvest is a heart for Christ?  Just imagine the joy of seeing a person bloom by planting the words of our Lord, the King of Kings, in a barren heart.  I doubt we would ever get tired of the crop we reap for God’s Kingdom.
Join me in planting seeds for Christ and the Kingdom of God.  Share your gifts in the Lord with those around you.  Encourage them with words of faith and hope.  Scratch the surface of their hearts.  Plant and sow seeds of love.  And finally, harvest joy!

Psalm 85:11-13           
Faithfulness springs forth from the earth,
    and righteousness looks down from heaven.
The Lord will indeed give what is good,
    and our land will yield its harvest.  

Saturday, May 25, 2013

And There Goes My Anonymity

alainnainafrica.blogspot.com
This is my daughter's blog.  She is in Africa on a three month missions trip.  I think I taught her well how to use her words.  You can see for yourself : )

I love and miss all my blogging friends and I promise to write a post soon.  In the meantime, May God give you a peace that surpasses all understanding and a joy that starts in the center of your being and spreads to all those you love the most (and even the ones you don't).

Be blessed dear ones!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

A Very Messy, I Mean, Merry Christmas




Shoes in the front hall, lights left on, heating vents blocked by luggage, dirty dishes in the sink, tooth paste in the bathroom sink, water rings on the table, shampoo bottles empty, tissue boxes on the floor, toilet paper roll empty, recently stocked cabinets void of snacks, milk carton down to 1/2 an ounce, orange juice gone, leaves and twigs tracked onto carpet, beds unmade, shades uneven, television left on, empty soda cans on end tables, remotes lost, crumbs on the couches, phone and computer chargers in every available outlet, wet towels on the floor, clothes strewn and Christmas cookies EVERY WHERE . . . yep, the kids are back in town!  Only, they are not kids anymore.  In a flurry of activities and conversations and laughter, no one seems to mind the mess.  In a flash, the time will pass, the house will be cleaned and what remains will be the quiet and orderly home of a man and his wife with happy memories of a holiday season well spent.  May your days be filled laughter, good food, good company and good conversations.  Merry Christmas to all!  God bless you.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Hi! High Point!




One of the highlights of my childhood was going to my Uncle's farm.  We knew we were close when we could see High Point in the distant sky.  Whoever saw it first got the honor of leading the family in song, "Hiiiiiii, High Point!"  I remember going to High Point for a picnic one day.  It was so windy we had to huddle in the back seat of the red station wagon to eat our hotdogs that my father cooked over a small charcoal fire in the picnic area of this beautiful state park.  My father packed the station wagon, drove the car, made the fire, cooked the hotdogs, put the fire out, drove back home and unpacked the car.  My mother bought the food, packed the cooler, dressed us children (five of us), then unpacked the cooler, unpacked the children, bathed the children and probably dropped into bed.  It almost doesn't seem worth it for them.  But I am here to tell you that the effort was worth more than they could imagine.  My heart is still warm on the inside and my mind swims in feelings of joy, mingled with love so deep that it convinces me our souls are sealed in a place that only Christ can touch.  Thanks Mom.  And Dad, till we meet again...

Monday, October 22, 2012

The Last Harvest

Even though this is the last harvest from our little backyard garden, I think my husband will happy not to wipe the sweat from his forehead during dinner.  Those little green peppers pack a lot of heat!  The last puppy we raised for The Seeing Eye loved peppers.  He ate them right off of the stems.  But when he ate one of those little hot ones, he couldn't stop drinking water for half an hour.  At dinner I ask my husband, "How's your food?" as he wipes his forehead for the fifth time.  He nods and chokes out, "Pass the water please."  But like the puppy, he keeps going back for more. 

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Groovy Kids

In past posts I have poked a lot of fun at my children.  I have called them: brats, little monsters, fun-suckers, restless natives, little indians, spoiled rotten and other unflattering names.  Calling someone names in our home has long been an insult.  Somewhere around 14 years ago while driving to the airport to spend three weeks away with our children, the children (ungratefuls) were arguing in the back seat.  This worried  me immensely as we would be in an airplane for five hours and then away for three weeks together in close quarters.  I inquired as to what the problem was.  The girls said the boy was calling them names.  I demanded that he not call them names and that they would just get along.  Shortly after that, upon arriving at the airport, the boy got our of the car and glared at his sisters.  "Names!" he said, intending to highly insult them.  He figured if I told him not to call them names, then names must mean something bad.  So for many years now, when trying to rub each other, they often revert back to that time and call each other, "Names!"  In spite of the fact that I have called my children many "Names" in the past, they have recently matured into some pretty swell people.  I surely do intend to keep poking fun at them in the future, lest they get a big head.  However, for today I will just say I've got some pretty groovy kids.  Thanks kids, for Colonial Williamsburg and Florida.  Love from your nifty mom. 

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Certified

Okay, a funny story, and it is true.  You know I can't  make this stuff up.  I get one newspaper a week and I read it cover to cover.  I am always reading the Employment Opportunities section looking for ways to supplement our income.  I will usually answer quirky and interesting ads.  This week there was an opportunity to work with local folks who suffer from varying types of mental health issues.  Since I already work and volunteer with women who suffer from addictions and mental health issues, I figured this is something that I could do.  The ad was quirky in that it said the person applying must be a consumer of mental heath issues, whatever that means, and willing to run group activities.  After playing phone tag with the person in charge for a few hours (actually five phones calls made back and forth), I was finally able to speak with Ms. B.  We talked a bit about harried days and how calm is better (hmmmm . . . first clue that sumthin' was amiss).  I told her of my interest in running group sessions on a part-time basis and that the center was just a few miles from my home (I did say my home, not the home).  She allowed me to ask a few questions, which she answered calmly and then she offered this, "Do you understand that these groups are client led and the person who takes this job must have or have had mental health issues?"  I could not contain my laughter.  I replied, "My husband would testify to the fact that I do indeed have mental health issues, but I could not get a doctor to confirm it."  Well, we both just cracked up.  She said, still laughing, "Well, I am so sorry you don't have mental health issues!"   I said, "That is the first time anyone has ever said that to me.  Thank you . . . ?" And with that, the phone interview was over!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

I want to hold your hand

My daughter just reminded me of a story from when she was in the fourth grade in public school in 1999.  That was a time when school budgets always had money for two class trips per year, per grade.  It was up to the teacher to decide what educational field trip they would take their class on.  It was a time when our tax dollars actually went to the betterment of the community by providing educational services that went toward education instead of toward building sports stadiums.  I am not bucking sports, just saying that educating our children's mind used to be more important than having a multi-million dollar football stadium.   Budget cuts never included cutting field trips.  2 years later we began homeschooling our children and taking them on field trips that knocked their socks off.  However, now I digress.   Chaperoning educational field trips was one of my great pleasures.  Not to brag, but I was just so good at it!  Teachers and other chaperons would marvel at how well behaved my group of students always were.  In fact, I used to be assigned the worst boys in the class.  Often, parents asked me how I managed!  I'd just smile, soaking up the attention.  So, 12 years later, here is my secret.  Before leaving the school building I would take the boys aside and say, "Boys, in my group there are no rules!  You are old enough to know how to behave.  If you do not act your age, that's fine with me, but, you will have to hold my hand for the rest of the day!  If you act like a child, I will treat you like a child."  All I had to do was wave my hand or hum "I want to hold your hand" and these little monsters stood up straight, opened doors for me, offered me their lunch, tucked in their shirts and generally behaved liked princes.  They treated my daughter like a princess and won me jealous glares from ragged chaperones and approving nods from school and museum staff.  It worked like a charm : )

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The Bridge - Part III

I am delusional.  There is no other term for it (well, at least in this situation).  Every day that we have been "crossing our romantic and single lane bridge" we have spoken to at least one of our children and a few who aren't even ours!  Where is the peace and where is the solace when your kids have your cell phone numbers?  I'll tell you what, if there is a cell tower within 20 miles of where you are, then your kids will track you down.  I feel stalked.  No, better yet, I feel like Katniss from the Hunger Games, a book I have yet to read for lack of leisure time.   Questions on finances, class schedules, work schedules, book orders, thunder storms and shoes have been a asked, discussed and decided. Still other questions have yet to be addressed (red mustang for one) and are looming over our little ride on this bridge, just as a dark cloud looms over what was suppose to be a sunny trip.  I am not complaining really, it's just that I am surprised.  Actually, I love being needed - just not so much and not at the moment.  One moment, one long, slow ride over the bridge was what I was looking for.  I haven't even had a chance to miss anyone yet.  A short good-bye cry and two minutes later my cell phone buzzed and it has not stop buzzing yet.  Every time I think I may have the luxury to drop into a depression at having an empty nest, my cell phone buzzes.  The nest may be empty, but it is certainly not void of the presence of kids.  It seems to me that there is a detour sign up ahead.  The bridge is temporarily closed and the sweet sounds of the ocean waves crashing on the shore (which I am convinced is the sound of God breathing) and the sounds of my husband sleeping next me are mingled with the sight of a sign that says, "Bump In Road, Proceed With Caution".  I must close this post now, my cell phone is buzzing . . . 

Sunday, September 2, 2012

The Bridge - Part II

What can Part II be? The boy is gone, the last of the Mohican's, the last one to pack up and say adios (he finally did learn some Spanish).  Our parenting days are limited now.  They are not a 24-7-365 thing anymore.  I'm not saying that my parenting days are done, just limited.  For instance, decisions on the red mustang (loud, fast, not so safe in the rain, cop-attracting, girl-attracting, distracting red mustang) allowed at school the first semester of college is still a parenting decision that needs to be made.  Actually, that decision was made, revisited, made again and guess what?  It is being revisited again!  We have tabled this conversation for the time being because we are in the middle of crossing another bridge.  This one is all about us.  Me and my husband.  It is about appreciating the quiet, the sound of the little dancing indians run off to hoot and holler somewhere else.  It is about waking up to a man who is, for today, just my husband and not the man who will negotiate the long and winding trail of parenting 24-7-365.  Today, we negotiate a different trail - over a bridge that brings us to a place of quiet.  The children (that’s what I call them when they are civilized), were quite surprised to find that immediately after the last brave took his tee-pee (hammock really – and a really cool one too) and left, so did we.  We traveled to Shenandoah National Park and hiked new trails.  On the way we stopped at Hershey Park just to get a free candy bar at Chocolate World.  We saw a bald eagle, some falcons, some hawks, a rattlesnake and a passive aggressive deer.  After the deer incident we drove to South Carolina.  As I sit and type this I see the ocean and hear the sound of the waves and my husband quietly snoring.  Both sounds rock my soul.  Today the bridge we cross, we cross hand-in-hand, sojourning our way along for a few weeks without restless natives.  The trail we blaze now is our own, on our own, over the bridge . . . and we proceed on. 

Friday, August 17, 2012

The Bridge

So the boy, I mean, the young man, is leaving for college tomorrow.  Some of you have crossed this bridge before.  You are driving along, coasting really, and there is a sign on the side of the road that says, "Bridge Ahead, 9 miles".  You know it's coming because you can count the mile markers.  Mile marker 1.0 - high school, 2.0 - wisdom teeth removal, 3.0 - summer job, 4.0 - driver's license, 5.0 - owns a Mustang, 6.0 - graduation, 7.0 - girlfriend, 8.0 - packing, 9.0 - good-bye mom.  You know the bridge gets you from one side of the road to the other.  You know it's necessary, inevitable, unavoidable, inescapable, undeniable, (shall I go on?).  You just gotta cross that bridge.  There is no turning around, turning back, backtracking,  backpedaling, dodging, (shall I go on?).  You just gotta cross that bridge.  So, you resign yourself to do it well. You go to Home Depot and you get five 16" x 12" boxes and you pack up your child's life.  There is no room for lectures or home cooked meals or vacations.  Just the basics; pants, shoes, shirts, computer, alarm clock, laundry bag (with instructions) and underwear.  It seems like you're missing something.  This bridge has been crossed by many, but of course, when you are crossing it, it seems insurmountable, gigantic, massive, colossal, Herculean (shall I go on?).  You just gotta cross that bridge.  You gas up the car and feed the boy.  You move forward and pray that all the efforts you put forth will bear fruit and that no one will run out of fuel along the way.  The bridge, you come to see, is actually something you have been building for years and, believe it or not, leads to an amazing adventure.  It is sturdy.  You can do it, he can do it!  Yes, it's scary and unknown, but only to us, God knows the path He has laid out for His children. There is no fear in love, for perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4:18).  Good-bye son, safe travels.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Remember Hawaii?

Of all the really great parenting moments I have had in my life, why is it that my kids seem to remember my insane moments?  One curse word while driving, charging a neighbor after he cut down a tree on our property while shouting, "You're a  punk!", forgetting to tell my son hermit crabs need food and water to survive, barricading the kitchen until their rooms were clean, shouting at them that I didn't care if little green martians came down from Mars and crapped in the car, they had to clean it up.  What about the really cool red cowboy hat I bought daughter number 1 even though she didn't deserve it (and she only wore once - just saying), or the voice, piano, guitar, trumpet, flute lessons I got for them, or teaching them how to drive (while putting my own safety at risk), or the hours of watching them perform sports and music, or the really cool family vacations we took them on, and all the while photographing said events (really that part was for me - you know, proof).  Since they don't seem to remember the cool stuff anyway, I have decided to start making stuff up.  I'm going to tell them we've all been to Hawaii.  I'll pull some pictures off the internet and photoshop our faces in, print them, put them in an album and casually say, "Hey, remember when we went to Hawaii?  Wasn't that really fun?  Your dad and I are awesome parents."   I'll show them pictures and say stuff like, "Remember that good pizza place we went to?" or "Remember the gnarly waves?"  What do you think?   I bet I can convince at least one of them to think they've actually been to Hawaii . . .

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Graduation Party Poem (I use the word poem lightly)


Read to our daughter who graduated college and our son who graduated high school at their dual graduation party.  Thank you to the 60 guests who attended and listened to me recite this little poem.  Thank you to daughter number 2 who stepped in and read a few lines because I could not.  
What would a graduation party be,
without a little poem from me?

To the boy, we wish you the very best.
When you go, your father and I can get some rest.
To the girl, we wish you travels that are safe and happy,
But cleaning your room before you go would be really snappy.

Congratulations daughter on your impressive 4.0.
Oops, wait, you didn’t want anyone to know.
But since the cat is out of the bag,
Please give us a chance to brag.
The 4.0 at your college that you made
Was the only one there in the last decade!

Son, passing Spanish was a monumental task.
But for goodness sake, what did we ask?
We asked you son, to finish strong
So all our boasting wouldn’t seem wrong.

******** Christian College, the boy is on his way,
Please, please, do not run the other way.
And all you friends out there, please pray
That Mom and Dad can make it to that day.

With all the healthy activities of this summer
We know you simply won’t get dumber.
But instead,
You’ll use your head,
Making a future that is bright
And shining with all God’s light.

We sometimes fight like dogs and cats,
Today, we even had our little spats.
But, when push comes to shove,
Our family is all about the love.

Dear son, with your Air Force ROTC
A fine Airman someday you’ll be.
There is something we just can’t hide,
And that is our heart bursting with pride.

Dear daughter, to work with children in need
Is your passion and your gift, indeed.
May God guide you to the right place to serve
Because truly it is what you deserve.

We wish you both the very best
All God’s blessings and nothing less.
When we say good-bye and close the door
Please pray Dad can pick me up off the floor.

That is enough poetry for one night,
Serving you all was our delight.
We thank you all with a humble heart,
May God bless you all as we depart.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

El Niño / Hombre

I began this post a few weeks ago, but abandoned it to take care of more pressing issues:  I am updating it by saying, "Mi hijo no es estupido."

The boy is failing Spanish I (really? Spanish I!), which means he may not graduate, which puts his Air Force ROTC scholarship in jeopardy.   His teacher sent a notice home saying he had a 46!  The boy claimed his teacher made a mistake.  But I wasn't buying it or taking any chances.  We took his car and his phone away.  I said, "Madre no es estupido!"  Apparently, the teacher really did make a mistake, she transposed the numbers, so his grade was actually a 64!  Still failing Hijo!  After talking back and forth to his teacher, who, by the way, thought it was amusing that we would take his car away for a 46 and assumed we'd give it back for the 64 (wrong), she was going to allow him to do makeup work.  My son had to write out sentences in Spanish.  He wrote, "Mi madre es muy antigua." and "Mi padre no tiene pelo."   I said, "Mi hijo, Estupido, I am not very old!  And Dad has some hair."  He said, "I don't know any other words."  So I said, "How about, 'mi madre es muy hermosa'?"  He said,  "No, I think I'll stick with the words I know."  Well, the boy, mi hijo, he passed Spanish and he will graduate tomorrow.  A family friend, who is currently serving in the Military, will be there to present the boy (maybe I shouldn't call him that anymore) with his diploma and his Air Force ROTC scholarship at the graduation ceremony.  Crees que la madre va a llorarY el padre estar orgullosos

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

A Bigger Picture, The End

Of course!  Edgar, the nice mechanic from Puerto Rico would drive me to the school!  No detours to the Funeral Parlor this time.  I am seriously willing to jog the 13 miles to my daughter's school in hot, humid Florida weather at this point.  I am anxious to get to see her off on her trip.  The night before, my daughter and I could not find the clothes she set aside to wear to the airport.  We looked in my room at the place I was staying, in the car, in her neatly packed suitcase, in her carry-on bag and we were getting ready to check the dumpster when I noticed a bag on the floor of her dorm room, next to her computer.  Yup, her clothes were set down right next to her "where she wouldn't lose them".  I am thinking that if I don't get to the school before she leaves, who knows what else my daughter may misplace or forget!  I get into the truck and Edgar has a sheepish grin on his face.  He says, "Guess where I am going?"  I say, "To the school!"  He says, "No, guess where I am going?"  I'm thinking, he better be going to the school or I'll have a heart attack on the spot!  So, I say, "To my daughter's school, right?."  I see he is smiling and I guess he may be trying to make a joke about the Funeral Parlor, so I said, "Not to the Funeral Parlor again, right?."  He sees I don't understand what he is saying so he speaks louder and slower, he says, "Guess.  where.  I.  am.  going.  in August?"  Now, I am so wrapped up in the events of my own life and the life of my daughter, I frankly didn't  much care where Edgar was going in August.  I am sitting in the passenger seat, pushing an imaginary gas pedal to the floor, leaning on the dashboard, trying to get the truck to move a bit faster.  I politely say, "I have no guesses, Edgar, where are you going in August?"  He smiles broad and answers proudly, "To see my son in Puerto Rico.  I made reservations to see him.  I am going to Puerto Rico in August."  I understand now.  He took to heart what I said about a boy needing his father.  It was a casual statement on my part, but God uses everything!  Broken a/c, a feeble attempt by the enemy to thwart plans with a broken brake line, Christian radio, even my impatience; He uses for His good. Four days later when I am back in NJ, on Mother's Day, I received a text message from Edgar wishing me a Happy Mother's Day.  What God allows, He uses.  The End or Amen.

Monday, May 21, 2012

A Bigger Picture, Part III

At noon the next day, my daughter was to begin her mission trip.  Her team will have to drive over an hour to the airport, take a 10 hour flight, a 2 hour flight and another 2 hour flight.  Her destination, Malta.  She will be working with refugees who have fled Africa for a better life and somehow, either because of pirating or a shipwreck, they ended up on this little Island in the Mediterranean Sea.  The Island is 316 miles long (“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life." John 3:16 - just saying).  It houses 3 refugee camps (tent communities) that house between 800 and 1,000 refugees per camp.  Many of the refugees are without loved ones and live with no hope of leaving Malta.  One of the workshops my daughter wrote was a job skills workshop.  Teaching the refugees how to fill out a job application, how to talk about their talents, and how to prepare for an interview.  A missionary couple on the island has been trying to find a way into the men's camp, but up until now were unsuccessful.  The missionaries received my daughter's workshop proposal, it was posted at the men's camp and a sign-up sheet was filled with names.  It was an "in" to the men's camp.  The missionaries are the hands and feet of Jesus as they minister to the needs of these forgotten people.  With acts of kindness and the teaching of workshops, they hope to let the love of Christ shine.  Failed brakes will not thwart the plans of the Almighty!  My daughter's car needed to be fixed and parked in school lot before I hopped back on a plane to New Jersey.  That meant I had to fix the brakes first thing in the morning.  The car was not drivable, so I needed to call a tow truck.  The tow truck driver arrived late, took a wrong turn, got behind a school bus, and spoke a deep south language that was unrecognizable to me.  I just kept nodding my head and looking at  my watch.  When I got to Midas and the car was put up on the lift, Big M showed me where the brake line burst.  I remembered the words that my daughter heard in training.  Big M said it would be a two hour job. "My daughter leaves in a few hours!  Can someone drive me to her school?" I pleaded!  "Sure. Edgar will drive you." . . . to be continued . . .    

Friday, May 18, 2012

A Bigger Picture, Part II

Often we don't know that God has ordained a meeting, or in my case a whole series of events, until after the dust settles.  You don't get to see a bigger picture until you can step away and see it from a different perspective.  After a few trips to the storage unit, the department store, the dumpster, a short (wonderful!!) 2 hour trip to the beach, a very expensive dinner with friends on a marina with yachts (which were all empty btw, just saying), breakfasts served by a man who hated me for no reason that I can fathom - my daughter and I were exhausted.  She was preparing to go on an overseas missions trip for 3 weeks to work in tent communities serving African refugees.  It was a big task for us to move her out of her dorm the day after she completed her finals (all A's btw, just saying), shop and pack for her trip and load her car to drive 1,300 miles to New Jersey when she returns to Florida from overseas.  On top of all that, my daughter had training and the task of writing out workshops to teach the refugees.  Apparently, she was the only one on her team writing the workshops.  The night before my daughter is to leave there is a distant thunder storm.  We watch it from the sliding glass doors in her deserted dorm.  She is spending the night in her dorm with her roommate because they want to be on campus. My daughter is crying.  The training was tough, her team members are dumb, her dorm is empty, her nerves are shot.  I hated leaving her, but we both needed sleep.  It is raining as I drive away.  When I hit the brakes to stop my foot goes to the floor.  There are no brakes in her car.  I still cry when I praise God it was me driving that car and not my daughter.   When I make it to my room, I call my daughter.  She listens to what happens and tells me this: "At training tonight we were told that the enemy will do whatever he can to prevent us from doing God's work overseas. He told us that we will have car trouble and someone will lose their brakes."  We both cry ourselves to sleep . . . to be continued . . .

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

A Bigger Picture, Part I

This is one of those stories that I need to add some details, so bear with me.  When I arrived in Florida to help my daughter, the first thing on my long list was to get her car's air conditioning fixed.  I took her car to Midas thinking a little freon was all it needed.  When I was told that it needed a whole new system, I politely said, "Prove it."  Which the very large Midas mechanic did (referred to as "Big M" hereafter).  Big M told me that it would take 3 - 4 hours.  I panicked knowing that the a/c was only the first thing on a list of many.  Big M agreed to let one of his mechanics drive me back to my daughter's school so I could help her clean, sort, pack and store her dorm room.  Edgar, the mechanic who drove me, was a nice man from Puerto Rico.  He was flipping through the radio stations and settled on a Christian music station.  I excitedly said, "You're a believer!!"  To which replied (after he recovered from the shock of my yelling at him on a busy highway), "Yes, with the life I have, it's my only hope."  He told me his life story which includes a hard working man, husband and father of 3.  He worked 3 jobs to support his family.  His oldest child, a son, is 15.  Last year his wife abruptly left him, taking the 3 children to Puerto Rico.  He has not seen his family since then.  Their leaving has left a huge hole in his heart.  I was saddened and spoke of how hard it must be for his son also.  I said, "A 15 year old boy needs his dad."  He assured me that he tries to talk to his son daily.  We were coming up on my daughter's school, but her school is a series of buildings on one way streets and alleys.  After we missed our turn, I said, "Turn here!", which Edgar did . . . right into a Funeral Parlor.  Much to our surprise, a funeral was in session!  Between our intense conversation, my anxiety and being lost, we were ripe for a bit of relief  . . .  we laughed hysterically and tried to disappear under the dashboard of the truck as the mourners poured out of the Funeral Parlor to their cars.  Little did I know that would not be the last time I saw Edgar, nor did I know that our chance meeting was perhaps not chance after all . . .  to be continued . . .

Monday, May 14, 2012

What A Trip It Has Been

I was away for seven days in Florida and I think I have seven stories.  I'll start with the airplane story.  You all know I get travel anxiety.  People with anxiety have a fear of losing control in public.  One of my fears is that I will start to laugh (get hysterical) and not be able to stop.  It's silly, I know, but anxiety is not rational.  I got my ticket late and had no choice but to take a window seat in the back of the plane.  Not the best for someone with anxiety.  In the final minutes of boarding a huge black man sat down in front of me.  He literally spilled over into my lap. The man who had the seat next to him refused to sit there.  The big man had a brief conversation with the Flight Attendant who apologized because she could not get him 2 seats together.  He apparently had ticketed two seats but the airlines messed up (big surprise there).  The Flight Attendant was saying to him, "I'm sorry, but I could not get you another seat, but I have someone who volunteered to sit next to you."  The Flight Attendant was an attractive women of medium height and weight.  As she stepped aside, you could see behind her stood a 5 foot, little old white lady with even whiter hair.  The little lady said, "Oh, I will sit next to him."  And there it was. . . , the one hysterical thing that I thought would be the end of me.  To complete the picture, I must tell you, the biggest thing on the man in front of me was his smile.  His white teeth matched perfectly with the little lady's white hair.  They sat together in perfect harmony for the entire flight; big and small, black and white, young and old.  I noticed that people knew him, talked to him about his football career and that he wore a "Lion of Judah" gold necklace.  Eight days later as my husband was flipping channels I yelled excitedly, "There is the man who sat in my lap on the plane!"  This man, a retired football player, was speaking about his Christian faith, smiling with those pearly white teeth.  This time when I saw him, I laughed hysterically, but without fear!