Saturday, July 31, 2010

Summer Saturdays with Lucy ...

Here's a few pictures of Granny & Granddad's summer Saturdays with Lucy. There's absolutely nothing on earth that can compare to a grandchild. God is truly wonderful!

This laugh melts my heart!

Waiting on pancakes with Granddad.

Lucy loves a game of checkers after her Cracker Barrel breakfast.

Laughing with Nanny

The "cake-game" at Cracker Barrel is a favorite!

And the Christmas list begins ...

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Great Expectations ... The Perfect Set-up

I need to preface this post by telling about my morning.  A typical Tuesday morning has Granddad  at a production meeting with the team from church.  This morning he wanted the both of us to have a quick breakfast at Burger King, then he would head on to the meeting at Starbucks in the same shopping center.  We had all of 5 minutes to sit together before his 7am meeting.  I had brought pen and paper to do some writing (blog post).  And I also brought the book I've been reading on "So Long Insecurity" by Beth Moore.  After I wrote this post, I picked my book up and flipped to the middle of chapter 2 where I had left off from about 3 weeks ago.  Low and behold ... she talked about unrealistic expectations! This was my God-moment!!! So, for whatever reason, God brought everything around to this topic for me this morning. I hope it can be used in some way.      
Expectations.  There you go ... I said it. I used to detest that one word.  There was a point in time when that was the one word that grated on my very last nerve.  Expectations.  (Sorry, but I just had to get it out again.) Truth of the matter is, however, we all have them.  We expect certain grades in school to pay off for our hours of study time.  We expect to nail the perfect job that will bring us contentment as we support our families.  We expect our families to be role model citizens and stay perfect in the eyes of our friends and community (I've been there).  Sometimes, we may even (albeit perhaps unknowingly) expect from others what we either cannot or will not expect from ourselves.  We expect ... we expect ... we expect.  Ouch. I'm hitting in my own ballpark now. Why am I even writing this????

Nevertheless, expectations can be a blessing ... and a curse (Monk may be ocd, but he may have just nailed this one).  Expectations help us set goals for ourselves, our families, our communities, our churches, our businesses, and the list goes on.  Without them, how do we know that we're growing and moving forward?  They give us a point of reference to keep our eyes focused to what lies ahead. 

But, expectations can also be a curse (in Monk's definition).  This occurs when we set unrealistic expectations.  I for one get extremely frustrated when I haven't lived up to my own (unrealistic) expectations.  A little scenario:  The 40 lbs. that has been attached to me for the past 10 years just doesn't want to vanish.  I set my expectations to lose that '40' and give myself 2 months to do it.  At the end of the 2 months, I'm disappointed that I've only lost 5 lbs (even if that much, uh, little.) I'm not only disappointed, but I feel defeated and depressed as well.  The 40 lbs. is a lot to take on all at once.  No wonder I failed to meet my own expectation!  However, if I break that 40 lbs. down into a smaller, more attainable number, then I can handle it better.  I'll lose 2 lbs. this week.  Then, at the end of the week, I set a goal of another 2 lbs., and actually start getting healthier in the process.  BINGO -- I now have an attainable goal to work toward!

Sometimes I can be my worst enemy.  Yes, me.  I set myself up to fall.  And at that point, it's harder (if not impossible) for me to see God working through and using me for His glory.  Each one of us has our own gifts and talents and experiences for Him to work through.  I (we) need to allow Him to do the work that He has set out to do in and through me (us).  

Now, I am definitely not saying that expectations have no purpose.  On the contrare, expectations have great purpose ... if we set realistic ones.  Sounds simple ... but this may be the greatest downfall in many aspects of our everyday lives.  There's times when I don't even realize that I've set myself up for failure.  Or that I've set someone close to me up for failure (in my eyes, that is).  This is when frustrations settle into my living space -- me.  So, I'll give up.  This spurs more frustrations.  Then more unrealistic expectations.  (See the cycle I get myself in to?)

Something I've learned recently -- set realistic expectations within a realistic time frame.  Rome wasn't built in a day ... it took a long time to pack on that extra 40, so it's going to take time to take it off ... anything worth having takes time ... But, most importantly ... He who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it to the end.  God hasn't given up on me ... and neither will I.

Another aspect that I'm pondering ... what about the unspoken expectations we place on others?  I'm still learning about this one. A little at a time ...


Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Just Being Still ...

It's Wednesday evening ... Granddad's at praise team practice (he's the worship leader this Sunday at the building site) ... the 'Joe's are getting Lucy ready for bedtime ... and Granny has some quiet time. 

Normally on 'these' Wednesday nights, I'll look through blogs --- just by hitting "next blog".  That is actually how I found my new friend A Season of Harvest  ::: Hi Shelia :::  I've been reading through several other blogs as well -- topics, styles, arrangements, etc -- to learn more about this world of blogging. 

But, tonight is different.  It's just not a 'typical' Wednesday evening for me.  God just wants me tonight ... just to be still ... and know that He is Lord.  Sometimes with life rushing at us with lightning speed, it's easy to lose sight of Him.  But He's always here.  He just wants us to be still from the world around us ... 

 And now, my quiet-time ...



Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Ducks Quack ... Eagles Soar

This story is from the Soldier's Angels Official Facebook page. It's inspiring and has really challenged me this week. May we soar with the eagles ... always in His Hands.   Hope you enjoy!

Ducks Quack, Eagles Soar

No one can make you serve customers well.....that's because great service is a choice. Harvey Mackay, tells a wonderful story about a cab driver that proved this point.

He was waiting in line for a ride at the airport. When a cab pulled up, the first thing Harvey noticed was that the taxi was polished to a bright shine. Smartly dressed in a white shirt, black tie, and freshly pressed black slacks, the cab driver jumped out and rounded the car to open the back passenger door for Harvey ..

He handed my friend a laminated card and said: 'I'm Wally, your driver. While I'm loading your bags in the trunk I'd like you to read my mission statement.'

Taken aback, Harvey read the card.. It said: Wally's Mission Statement: To get my customers to their destination in the quickest, safest and cheapest way possible in a friendly environment...

This blew Harvey away. Especially when he noticed that the inside of the cab matched the outside. Spotlessly clean!

As he slid behind the wheel, Wally said, 'Would you like a cup of coffee? I have a thermos of regular and one of decaf.' My friend said jokingly, 'No, I'd prefer a soft drink.' Wally smiled and said, 'No problem I have a cooler up front with regular and Diet Coke, water and orange juice..' Almost stuttering, Harvey said, 'I'll take a Diet Coke.'

Handing him his drink, Wally said, 'If you'd like something to read, I have The Wall Street Journal, Time, Sports Illustrated and USA Today.'

As they were pulling away, Wally handed my friend another laminated card, 'These are the stations I get and the music they play, if you'd like to listen to the radio.'

And as if that weren't enough, Wally told Harvey that he had the air conditioning on and asked if the temperature was comfortable for him. Then he advised Harvey of the best route to his destination for that time of day. He also let him know that he'd be happy to chat and tell him about some of the sights or, if Harvey preferred, to leave him with his own thoughts.

'Tell me, Wally,' my amazed friend asked the driver, 'have you always served customers like this?'

Wally smiled into the rear view mirror. 'No, not always.. In fact, it's only been in the last two years. My first five years driving, I spent most of my time complaining like all the rest of the cabbies do. Then I heard the personal growth guru, Wayne Dyer, on the radio one day.

He had just written a book called You'll See It When You Believe It. Dyer said that if you get up in the morning expecting to have a bad day, you'll rarely disappoint yourself. He said, 'Stop complaining! Differentiate yourself from your competition. Don't be a duck. Be an eagle. Ducks quack and complain. Eagles soar above the crowd..'

'That hit me right between the eyes,' said Wally. 'Dyer was really talking about me. I was always quacking and complaining, so I decided to change my attitude and become an eagle. I looked around at the other cabs and their drivers. The cabs were dirty, the drivers were unfriendly, and the customers were unhappy. So I decided to make some changes. I put in a few at a time. When my customers responded well, I did more.'

'I take it that has paid off for you,' Harvey said.

'It sure has,' Wally replied. 'My first year as an eagle, I doubled my income from the previous year. This year I'll probably quadruple it. You were lucky to get me today. I don't sit at cabstands anymore. My customers call me for appointments on my cell phone or leave a message on my answering machine. If I can't pick them up myself, I get a reliable cabbie friend to do it and I take a piece of the action.'

Wally was phenomenal. He was running a limo service out of a Yellow Cab. I've probably told that story to more than fifty cab drivers over the years, and only two took the idea and ran with it. Whenever I go to their cities, I give them a call. The rest of the drivers quacked like ducks and told me all the reasons they couldn't do any of what I was suggesting..

Wally the Cab Driver made a different choice. He decided to stop quacking like ducks and start soaring like eagles.

How about us? Smile, and the whole world smiles with you... The ball is in our hands! A man reaps what he sows. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up... let us do good to all people.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Change Happens ...

The only thing constant in life is change.  Francois de la Rochefoucauld (French classical author 1613 - 1680). 

Have you ever thought about this quote? It’s very profound, confusing and contradictory all at the same time. According to Merriam-Webster’s Online Dictionary, the word constant means: continually occurring or recurring (regular, orderly, methodical) and the word change means: to make different in some particular. Putting these two words together now from the dictionary definitions makes sense. Well, at least to me it does.

Change happens whether we’re ready for it or not.

I’ve been thinking about “change” a lot lately. Seems like I hear more and more people think of “change” in a negative way now. But “change” does not have to possess a negative connotation.

God’s Word talks about “change”. Romans 12:2 And be not conformed to this world but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove that what is good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. II Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature; old things are passed away; behold all things are become new.

Maybe one of the most profound passages regarding “change” is found in Ecclesiastes 3 To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven. A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck that which is planted. A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace. Throughout these verses, “change” is occurring.

Without change there is no growth. Without change there is no moving forward. Without change we become desolate. Just as the seasons change from Spring to Summer; then Summer to Autumn; then Autumn to Winter; then Winter to Spring … so we must experience change.

Granted, some changes in our lives are almost unbearable to walk through. And I’ll post on some of our experiences later. But, right now I want to focus on the fact that (whether we like it or not, and whether we accept it or not) change happens.

As our daughter was approaching the end of her high school days and the beginning of college, I read a wonderful book titled Learning to Let Go by Carol Kuykendall. She showed me that my daughter was God’s child first – He was just allowing Granddad and me to raise her in her earthly home. If she fell, He would pick her up … If she made a mistake, He would forgive her … If she could be an inspiration to others, He would lead her. How I regret not reading this book when she was younger. I highly recommend this book to anyone experiencing the seasonal changes with children (no matter how old or young your child).

Okay, don’t want to go off on a tangent, so …

Another favorite of mine is Who Moved My Cheese? by Spencer Johnson. We had originally gotten this book for the ‘Joe’s as they were preparing for the unknown of military life. One afternoon I decided I would ‘take a look at it’ myself. To my surprise, I couldn’t put the book down! I plan on writing a post devoted to a review of this book, but I recommend it to anyone who is facing change in their life – any type. Granddad and I both know that one day the ‘Joe’s will be stationed to a post, but we don’t know ‘where’, so we are facing having an empty house without the high energy-level days of a toddler running around. Not sure how far away they will be moving. There’s some unknown changes we will be faced with, so we’re trying to anticipate some of those now. But again, there’s some change that we simply cannot plan for. But I have found through reading this short book, I can accept change a little better – a lot better – than I had in the past.

Change can be a difficult road to walk, but it can occur quietly, at it’s own pace, and sometimes unsuspectingly. I may not always like ‘change’, but I trust that God knows the plans that (He) has for (me) (Jeremiah 29:11). The day that change doesn’t happen to me, is the day that I will meet my Savior.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

234th Independence Day

This weekend has found me being even more thankful for this great country that I live in. In a few moments of spare time here and there, I've found myself drawn to watching various videos honoring our military and their families. I've read various facebook status updates supporting our military, being thankful for our country, wishing the USA a Happy Birthday. Here's a couple of status updates that have stuck with me today:

Thank you Lord for allowing me to be born in the USA.
(Why is it that God, in all of His power and glory, allowed me to be born in the United States of America? I've often studied this question in my mind. Although I do not know the answer, I am thankful for my great country and especially to God for allowing me to call this country my earthly home.)

~Regarding the Declaration of Independence:  I can't help but wonder though that it seems sad now to read this. Do we really believe ALL MEN are created equal and have these rights? Or just AMERICANS? People of other countries ought to just fend for themselves. Isn't that the attitude many Americans carry around these days? We are more valuable? We are the only ones that have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness? So yeah. Lets turn a blind eye to dictators in other countries and groups like the Taliban who live to kill. Who cares if no one else has these rights. America has it. That's all that matters right? Just food for thought. We take freedom for granted most of the year while others only dream of it.

(There is a reason why the United States of America has stood the test of time for the past 234 years. God has blessed us as a nation, and we have stood up for those who cannot stand up for themselves against corruption and tyranny. May we as a nation continue in our endeavors to be the voice for those who have lost their voice.)

At the end of the day on this July 4th as Granddad and I listen to the fireworks from down the road, I am very thankful for God, my family and my country. We cannot say Thank You enough to those who serve and those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice in protecting our country and being the voice to the innocent people who have no rights.

I'll close with one of the many videos I've watched and cried over this weekend. Praying for our troops and their families ... remembering their sacrifices.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Thanksgiving in July

I know -- we’ve all heard of “Christmas in July”, but why Thanksgiving in July?  Today as I was driving home from having a late lunch with Granddad, I started thinking about all that I have to be thankful for.  And I was overwhelmed to say the least!  I know that I will not include everything that I am thankful for, but I just need to write this list now. So, here’s just a beginning of my ‘Thanksgiving in July’:

~~~ God is still on His Throne … With everything going on in the world today I know Who wins in the end.  And I’m so very thankful that He has a home waiting for me.

~~~ Godly children … Our daughter and son-in-law both are children of God. Over the past 5 years, we have seen them rely on God for their every need.  And even now, not knowing what lies ahead, they are allowing God to be their Guide. We told them from the beginning that their marriage was between God and them – and they have put Him at the center. Lucy is being brought up to trust in God for everything she needs. What a blessing to see their family serving God and our country!

~~~ Parents … Both of us still have our parents living.  We are very close to my parents, and having them within an hour and a half in physical distance is a blessing. There are so many young children who will never know a parent. So for us to have come this far in our lives with our parents is truly a blessing. I know that whatever may come our way, I can always count on my parents being a support for us.

~~~ Health … Granddad and I are still in very good health (despite a few little quirks). We have family and friends who are battling health issues including cancer, recovering from horrific wrecks, depressions and various other diseases and the list goes on.  Although we have no idea what we may face in the future, right now we are very healthy and praise God for this.

~~~ Career … Granddad has worked for several different companies, but his current firm takes a different approach:     family is important.  The company has grown and prospered over the past 13 years that he has been there – God is good!  I’m thankful that he followed the career path that God had laid out for him.  He could have easily taken another road, but this is where God wanted him all along.

~~~ Childhood … Yes, I am very thankful for my childhood. I’ll write more about this later, but here’s just a little synopsis:  my parents and I lived with my Granny and youngest Aunt until I started 2nd grade.  One Aunt lived beside Granny with her family (2 girls), my Uncle lived behind Granny (2 girls), another Aunt lived just ‘around the hill’ (2 girls, 1 boy), and another Aunt lived a few miles away (1 boy, 1 girl).  (I am 8 ½ years older than my sister, so she basically grew up with one of my cousin’s son).  My Granny showed us that the most important aspect in life is relationships.  I am still very close to my family even though we live several hours away.

~~~ Church … We have been a part of different churches over the past 26 years of our marriage.  It’s always been very important to us to have a ‘home church’. Our current ministry is like no other that we have experienced. Our mission is to “reach those who have been untouched or unaffected by traditional churches, and bring them to be fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ.”         Every aspect of our ministry is met with one question “How is this reaching those who have been untouched by churches?”  God is bigger than the box we put Him in.  And He can use even the smallest aspect to reach someone within our grasp.

~~~ Prayers … It used to be that when a person asked if someone could pray for him/her, it was automatically assumed “what in the world is wrong?”  I am so past this … Every single one of us needs prayers. If it weren’t for prayers, I couldn’t make it through even one day. I appreciate it and am very thankful when someone comes up to me and says “you have been on my mind lately, and I just want you to know that I’m praying for you and your family.”  I believe that God knows what I need before I know what I need. Why wouldn’t He have His people praying for me when I don’t even know what I need? So, for those who pray for me and my family – I can just humbly say Thank You.

~~~ My husband … Okay, so I did save this for last. One of my previous blog posts tells 'the story of' Granddad and me . But I want to elaborate just a little. I have watched my husband become a child of God after we first got married.  And I’ve seen as situations, crises and events have challenged and grown my husband into the man of God he is today. He works hard for his family and never complains during the extremely busy times. He always makes time for our family no matter how hectic things get at the office. He is a God-fearing, God-loving, God-devoted man.  He uses his gifts and talents to honor and glorify God in church.  He will be the first to tell you that he never knew what 'playing music' was all about, until he started playing to the audience of One -- our Lord Jesus Christ. I simply cannot imagine going through this journey of life with anyone else but him. My husband is my best friend, and I love him dearly and have the utmost respect for him. God truly blessed me with Granddad.

Sometimes when life gets at a hectic, chaotic level, a little Thanksgiving may be just what is needed.  Paul wrote (Philippians 4:11)  Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.  My prayer is that when I am having a down moment, then to start thanking God for all of His blessings He has given to me. God is so very good, and I am so very blessed.  

Happy Thanksgiving in July!