Tuesday, June 27, 2017

A Visit from My Friend

Photo by Karina Carvalho on Unsplash

I met Deb 37 years ago.  Thirty-seven.  How can that be?  It was sometime during my very first, very emotionally tenuous, 48 hours of college dorm life.  I was so out of my element and, although surrounded by freshmen just like me (and plenty of seemingly self-confident upper class men), I felt completely alone.  Somewhere in the busyness of meeting the other girls that would make my "home" for the next months, I met Deb.  And, as Anne Shirley would say, she was my bosom friend.  A genuine kindred spirit.

I survived that year because of Deb.  That friendship helped to mold me - and continues to do so thirty-seven years later.  Deb has known the good, the bad and the downright ugly that is me. Sadly, those early post high school years were among the worst for me.  But Deb's friendship was a constant.  What a gift!

Deb came for a visit this past weekend.  It has been over two years since we were last together.  But it seems we can pick up right where we took a breath in our last conversation...and, then, full steam ahead with new chats, new laughs and new memories.

We saw the Sound of Music at the Kennedy Center.  The acting was good and the Von Trapp children were adorable but not all movies translate "just as wonderful" to the stage.  The songs and the singing were fantastic!  Truly they were - its just hard to walk in the footsteps of Julie Andrews!  We wandered the cobble-stone streets of Old Towne, then took a water taxi to National Harbor.  So many restaurants and not enough time.  No, that is not us in the top photo.

Here is our shot of the Harbor's ferris wheel.  We were standing on a nearby pier overlooking the Chesapeake - where the ferris wheel certainly did not look that far away - trying to decide if we needed one more view of the harbor.  We were content to keep our feet on the ground.  Such a wonderful weekend.  The special ones go by so quickly - but I've replenished my store of memories and refreshed my soul....enough to hold me until our next visit. - which we promised would not be another two years from now!!

One more Anne Shirley quote (she is a gem):
                            "True friends are always together in spirit."

Friday, June 23, 2017

Lessons from my friend - Steady

I really enjoyed Five Minute Friday last week...so I thought I would try it again this week.  You can read more about FMF here.  And this week's prompt is STEADY.

Ready.  Set. Go.

One of my richest blessings is knowing my senior friend – and spending time with her.  She loves to share conversation over some Panera soup and half a sandwich.  She enjoys wandering the aisles at a local department store – looking for a new top that makes her feel pretty.  And she is most happy if you have “just a few minutes” to come in for visit when you return home after an afternoon out – after already “visiting” for hours.  She will retell her favorite stories and memories - full from a life that has known almost 90 years - as if she were sharing them for the first time.  And we will laugh at the funny parts and tear at the sad ones just like we have every time she shares the story.

Any opportunity to spend time with her is a genuine joy.

Her eyesight is limited – and that is bothersome to her.  A fall from several years ago has taken some of her confidence and can, occasionally, make her unsteady on her feet.  So, without even thinking about it, when we leave the house and walk down the steps…or when we walk across a parking lot or navigate crowded stores, I take her arm.  I make sure she is steady.  Her arm on my steady arm gives her strength and a calm self-assurance.

Oh, but the real blessing is her smooth hand that rests on my arm.  Her poise, even though relying on another, is felt and is reflected in her life.  For many decades, she has experienced, lived and learned much.  She has known much joy but, equally, much sorrow, loss and heartache.  But her testimony is precious.  Just as willing as she is to rely on a friend, she leans on her Lord and allows Him to direct her paths.  He keeps her steady.  And she is teaching me how to do the same.

Note to self:  Five minutes goes by fast.  Goodness.  

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

A Bucket List for Summer

Tomorrow is, officially, the first day of summer! It has pretty much felt like summer in my neck of the woods for about two weeks now but if the calendar is going to make it official, I think today would be a good time to get my summer bucket list down in writing.  Maybe putting it in words will keep me just a bit more focused - those hazy days of summer are quick to affect my thinking (and motivation) if I'm not careful!

This time last year, at the very start of summer, I was headed here......to Samoa!  What a wonderful gift from the Lord that trip was and how it continues to impact me even now.  It seems impossible that it was an entire twelve months ago!

Unfortunately, nothing quite so life-altering this summer (next year - I am praying!!) but I still want to enjoy these warm, sun-drenched months to the fullest.  Just a few things I want to make happen:

1 - I really want to find the perfect smoothie.  For me.  And not just the ones from Tropical Smoothie.  Whirling some frozen fruits together in a blender just cannot be that hard but the ones I make at home always seem to be okay.  Just okay.  I saw one that looked like a real contender today here.  It was simply fruit and a very little water.  Imagine that - I usually start with almond milk or something similar.  Hmm.  I also want to experiment with dairy and/or gluten free desserts.  This is something completely new for me but comes on the advice of my doctor.  The very first look around, I came across this idea - dairy free, gluten free and sugar free.  For the win!

2 - I recently started taking clarinet lessons.  After two short-term missions trip, I am hoping to make myself more prepared to help out during a service or special program while abroad.  I (sorta, in a very rusty way) play the piano - but you cannot take a piano with you overseas:)  Somehow, I thought reading music and having played the piano somewhere in my past would have made learning the clarinet easier.  I was wrong.  It is much trickier than I thought and, honestly, this middle-aged woman wants to say, "good try" and put the clarinet away.  However, I am going to stick with it all summer - and then we will see.  There, I put it in words and now I am accountable!

3 - I really enjoy essential oils.  I use my oils every day.  But I would like to do more.  I would like to
make things with my oils.  For example, just for starters, my own moisturizer.  I wash my face with my oils and I love it, so moisturizer seems like the perfect place to begin.  I've been wanting to do this for awhile and this summer, I am going to make it happen.  I would love ideas for ways to use essential oils - more than diffusing and topical applications.

4 - We have vacation plans but not until September; however, we would like go away for a couple long weekends.  Not far - but just a change of scenery and a chance to explore new streets, relax and read a book (see #5) and search for a great new restaurant.  I want to plan two get-aways.

5 - I probably have ten (maybe a few more!) half-read books on my tablet.  None of them are bad, per se, but none have really pulled me in.  But I hate having them unfinished.  I need to delete them - or, better yet, read them.  I want to finish, at least, three this summer.  They don't have to be deep.  Nor do they all have to easy mysteries. They just need to be read.

6 - I want to paint my toes something totally unpredictable!  I always have my toes painted but, I'm thinking, something just a bit more....fun:) will be great for the summer!

Summer might just be my favorite season.  It could be a tie with another favorite.  They are all special but, for now, I  am looking forward to the next few months!

Friday, June 16, 2017

Something New: Five Minute Friday (FMF) - Worth

I recently found a community of bloggers and link-up - Five Minute Friday - and I've enjoyed reading posts and finding new bloggers.  And so, I thought I would join by giving Five Minute Friday a try for myself.  The idea seems simple enough:  each Friday there is a new prompt and, according to the instructions, you "free write, which means: no editing, no over-thinking, no worrying about perfect grammar or punctuation" for exactly five minutes.  When the timer goes off, you're done.  Yes, there is a bit of new-blogger anxiety - not to mention, the whole forget perfect grammar and punctuation angst, but I'm going to give it a try.  All the details can be found here.  This week's prompt is Worth.

Timer is set.  Ready.  

Worth your salt.  I learned the meaning of this saying during Wednesday evening's service.  Roman soldiers were often paid with salt - and were happy for it.  If a soldier did not do his best, it could be said of him that "he was not worth his salt."  Interesting fact.  I remember that piece of trivia as well as much more from that message.  It was one of those that stick with you.  

Yes, another message about being salt and light.  We have probably heard more than a few sermons about one of Jesus' best analogies.  But this particular sermon went deeper.  We know we are to be light and salt.  No doubt, we genuinely want to be the light and salt this world desperately needs us to be - but, how?  How do we go about it?

Wednesday we learned some of the most common ways believers try to be salt - ways that I can identify with - but, honestly, are not that effective.

Time is up.  OK - well, that was much more challenging than I thought.  Definitely challenging.  I think I have about a half of a post there.  Perhaps I can finish those thoughts later.  But, for now, I am going to stick to the FMF and simply post what I have.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Lesson Learned: The Necklace

The necklace was, actually, just the beginning of the trouble.  And, no, it wasn't this necklace but that was just too cute not to include!

I enjoy essential oils.  I have genuinely benefited from essential oils and I use them often.  I really like to diffuse them.  At Christmas, I received a diffuser necklace as a gift and I have really enjoyed one more way to use my oils regularly.

Apparently, I am also a true sucker for YouTube, Pinterest and the like.  No doubt, I should know better - much better - but I just seem to be "that girl."  The one reorganizing my pantry, making my own taco seasoning and trying to decide if it really is possible to live with a 10-item wardrobe.  Not that I was necessarily unhappy with the state of my pantry to begin with - but, YouTube made me do it.  So, when I saw someone mention lava rock necklaces that can diffuse your essential oils....well, I was intrigued.  More than intrigued.  In fact, just a week later when I saw the cutest lava rock necklaces in a store while on vacation - I was first in line to buy my very own.  After paying, I stepped to the side of the register, pulled out an oil, applied it to the lava rock and excitedly hung it around my neck.

It was less than five minutes before several people got my attention to let me know my pretty colored lava beads were creating a oily, drippy rainbow down my neck - soon to be all over my white shirt. Thank you, friends.  I should have learned my lesson right then.  Again.  But, I didn't let it go quite that quickly.

The cashier seemed genuinely concerned with such a faulty product but was helpless to really do anything to rectify the problem.  She directed me to the owner who was working in the back of the store.  Here is the real problem.  The entire time I was headed to the rear of the store, that "still small voice" was trying to get my attention.  But, I was not going to be rude or demanding.  I simply wanted her to know the situation.  So, I said inside.  Not only was she not concerned, she plainly told me it was not her problem.

And then, I was annoyed.  My friends were waiting for me at the front of the store, as was the cashier and several other very curious customers at this point.  I really needed to check my attitude.  I wanted to have the right response. Actually, I knew I should just say nothing.  Without question, I knew He wanted me to say nothing.

But, I did not.  I made comment that I had wasted my money.  It sounded innocent enough.  It seemed innocuous.  But I knew.  Knew I had failed to listen.  And, just that easy, my heart was grieved - over much more than a necklace.

I was able to "make things right" with the Holy Spirit.  I even saw one of the ladies in the store at a restaurant the next day and was able to apologize for my comment.  I'm sure she still doesn't understand the need for that apology.  But for most, that was the only time I will ever encounter any of them.    Whatever my testimony.  Whatever impact I may or may not have made.  I had one chance - one opportunity.  And, I missed it.

I pray, this time, the lesson has been learned.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Remember. Be Grateful. May 2017

Certainly one of the goals of this blog is to intentionally remember God's goodness.  How easy it is to get caught in the routine of life and, before you know it, another week has gone by - or, just as quickly, an entire month comes to an end.  I believe, as Christians, we genuinely want to be grateful and we want to thank the Lord - to praise Him - for His many gifts; yet, so often we just don't.  I know I'm guilty.

So, I want to look back over the month and see what God has done.  And not only remember - but to be grateful and to thank Him!  May was a mile-stone, of sorts, month for me.  Last week was my last day at work.  I have had the privilege of working at my church, and its Christian academy, for the last six years.

I worked there before Tyler became sick - until we had to begin homeschooling.  A few years after he died and I was emerging from the cocoon of grief, I found myself with too many empty hours on my hand.  I thought it would be wonderful to return to work - but my position had long since been filled and staff openings just did not become available often.

But God.

He knew exactly which position I needed.  The hours I could handle.  And where I could best serve.  He knew it all - even before I approached my pastor.  My new position was perfect for me.  And it has been a blessing for these past years.  My co-workers (who gave me the beautiful flowers), my part in the ministry, all of it.  I will certainly miss it.

So, why would I leave?  Without hesitation, I know God has told me it is time for a change.  Admittedly, I do not know all that involves or all that the future holds - but I am excited to found out.  To walk the future path where He leads - and I am confident the next "phase" ahead will be just as perfect as the past six years.

Thank you, Lord, for my church, my ministries there (which I will continue), my pastor and co-workers and for the years I was able to work there.