Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Smelling the Roses

  Sometimes our household can get pretty chaotic and hectic ... and messy.  With 3 generations living under one roof keeping up with preschool schedules, work schedules, naps, doctors appointments, meals ... 
well, just keeping up with every aspect of everyday life can get overwhelming at times. 
But, we just dig in our heels and do whatever needs to be done.

However, there's one aspect of everyday life that I sometimes simply do not do often enough -- and that's 
"smelling the roses".  Now, literally, we have several rose bushes in our landscape.  
These pictures were taken along the side of the house next to the garage.  But we have rose bushes lining our front sidewalk, in front of our sunroom and along our back patio. 
 Well, that is ... what our friendly deer families haven't feasted on.  
But, we love our rose bushes.

So I've thought a lot about these roses lately. For some reason, I love taking pictures of them.  They are vibrant red and at least one rose always towers above the rest.  As if that particular Rose is watching over the rest of the bush (yes, capital R intended).  I thoroughly believe that God can use anything to get our attention -- 
and even give us the simplest of messages that He wants His child to hear. 
And with me ... He is using the rose.


Sometimes in the busy-ness of everyday schedules, I forget to simply "stop and smell the roses".  God has blessed me beyond my deepest imagination. Little nuggets throughout the day that He gives only to me so that I can grow in Him -- in whatever way I need to get my focus back to Him, He gives me.  
My nuggets may not be another person's nuggets ... but all lead to Him.  

Sure there's thorns along the way (just as in every person's life), but the beautiful blooms & sweet smells overshadow the thorns.  But in order to see and appreciate the beauty in the roses, I need to rise up above the thorns and allow God to overshadow them.  
Not to ignore they are there, but simply to focus on that which is lovely... 
just as the deer ignore the literal thorns in our rose bushes in order to feast upon the petals and leaves. 
Thorns are necessary in every rose for protection and growth ... 
just as they are necessary in our spiritual growth.

So the next time you see a rose, just remember that God can even use the thorns from 
a rose bush along with the beautiful rose itself to speak to His child ... 
it's up to each of us as to how we choose to listen and accept. 
The rose bush as a whole is made up of the petals, leaves, stem and thorns ...
just as in our lives.

I hope you take a moment just to read through the lyrics of one of my Granny's favorite singer/songwriters -- Mac Davis.  He wrote Stop and Smell the Roses (1974) that has been going through my mind for several days.  Some lyrics are timeless. And this is more than "just another song", it's

an everyday endeavor in my life.

Did you ever take a walk through the forest
Stop and dream a while among the trees
Well you can look up through the leaves right straight to heaven
You can almost hear the voice of God
In each any every breeze

You got to Stop and Smell the roses
You've got to count your many blessings everyday
You're gonna find your way to heaven is a rough and rocky road
If you don't Stop and Smell the roses along the way
Stop and Smell the Roses ... Mac Davis -- 1974

Thursday, May 16, 2013

My Favorite Day ... When I Became His "Mrs."

Today just happens to be my most favorite day of the year -- for the past 29 years.  
On this day ... 

May 16, 1984 ... 

my boyfriend & I eloped ...

I became his "Mrs." 

My "Bridal Shower" turned out to be our "Household Shower" -- June '84

April 2013 ...

A few weeks ago, my husband & I were in a store looking at bedroom furniture for Lucy.  A saleslady came up to us & was making small talk -- asking if we were buying something for our daughter.  I just chuckled a little and said we were actually looking for something for our granddaughter ... and God bless the lady's heart for following along & pretending that she was so surprised we could have grandchildren (I owe her big, God!)  Then she began her questioning (to somewhat delve a little deeper to see if "our story" actually added up):

How long have you all been married?
Going on 29 years in just a few weeks ...

How long did you date?
For 8 months ... then we eloped ...

At that point of the "interrogation" I think half the store heard her gasp and lift her head
toward the ceiling exclaiming 
"I can't believe it!!! You two have a story to tell me!!!"  
Then, she looked at my husband and said 
"I've heard that some men 'just know' right away who is meant to be with him for the rest of his life.  
And you knew, didn't you?"

Now my husband's turn to reply ... (and might I add, with a big smile to his "bride") ... 
Oh yeah, I knew and I still know.

And I know too ... this man that I have shared my life with for the past 29 years is the man that God had chosen for me long before time began.  I believe that with everything I am.  However, I will admit that there have been some aspects of married life that I (kind of) wish I had known back then as 
a 19 year old bride to my 22 year old husband.  
I wish I had known

... that I would love my husband more 29 years later than I did when we said "I do"

... that as much as I thought I respected him back then, I really didn't have a clue what "respect" meant

... that when we put God as the Center of our marriage, there's nothing that can tear us down

... that the boy of my dreamy-eyes would become the most dependable family man I've ever known

... that some of our traditions we began "way back then" would carry with us for 
(at least) 29 years

... that even before my husband sought God, He was watching over him to shape him into the man of integrity & loyalty that he is today

... that our daughter would always be "Daddy's girl" even when she's married with children of her own

... that our grandchildren would adore their Grandad & even at a young age feel the love he has for them

  ... that the man I married would forever be my best friend, my "go to" man, 
my confidante

... that he would never ask for more of me than he would be willing to give of himself

... that he would be one of the most well-respected leaders of his God-chosen profession

... that he would lead our family through crises by choosing careful words & actions through much time spent in prayer

... that he would still refer to me as "Sweetheart" to the world for 29 years to come

 ... that it's okay not to agree on everything because although we are "one",
 we are still individuals

... that marriage is NOT 50-50 ... it takes 100% from each of us on a daily basis

... that "love" is much more than a feeling -- it's our way of life

... that after 29 years, I still get butterflies when he calls me his wife

... that our differences make life interesting as we encourage each other to pursue their own hobbies that eventually bring both of us pleasure as we learn from the other

... that nothing this side of Heaven is perfect, but we are much better doing imperfect together than we are at doing imperfect apart

I know, I know ... that's more that just a few little things.  So, I guess if I had to choose just 1 thing that I wish I'd known back then, it would be ... 

nothing at all

Our marriage has been our journey to where we are today ...

each day has brought about blessings ... while
some days have brought challenges ... yet
all days have brought us to our 29th anniversary

a day in which I would do over again ...

with no regrets
with no hesitation
with no foresight

Happy 29th Anniversary
to the Love of my Life ~~~

I so look forward to each moment God gives us to come
You are my everything, Honey ...

And I'm still giddy to be 
Your Sweetheart

Thursday, May 9, 2013

On Being Disjointed ...

Our 23rd anniversary and 1st Honeymoon!

I've mentioned in a prior post that every past 28 tax seasons have brought about different challenges as well as extended work hours by my dear husband.  And this tax season (#29) was no different in that regards.  We had some challenges here at home as well as challenges that most accounting firms faced this year.  The challenges here at home were mainly due to Grandad's work hours & his trying to balance the home-work schedules.  He made a deliberate point to be home in the mid-evening hours (around 7pm) to spend with our grandchildren, but after they would go to bed he would work for another 3 hours or more from his work space at home.  The last week of tax season brought even more hours in which it was impossible for him to leave the office before putting in at least 18 hours per day. So, Lucy & Tag were going through "Grandad-withdrawal" ... just as Grandad was going through "LucyTag-withdrawals" -- all 3 were really a sad sight to see (and hear). 

There's always a period coming out of every tax season that I have felt a little disjointed. Honestly, my husband & I are getting re-used to being a couple again and going places together. Every April 15th has brought my motto "let the adjustments begin" to reality.  He & I joke about it because, quite frankly, it really doesn't take us too long to get used to his "normal" post-tax season working hours.  He & I have always enjoyed being together -- going places together, talking, relaxing together ... we truly enjoy each other's company.

When he & I were out one evening, I made a statement to him that I could almost sense he was feeling as well.  I told him that I have been feeling a bit "disjointed".  I'm not sure if it's been because of the challenging tax season (to which he was working upwards of 90+ hours the last few weeks) ... or because we both had missed a lot of church during this time ... I just don't know "why".  And he actually admitted that he felt the same way.  So, here's a few focal points we've come up with to get us through when these disjointed periods appear:
  • We both know that we are always here for each other.  Sounds pretty simple.  But sometimes life gets hectic (such as with tax season) and there's just not enough time in the day to get things done.  I tend to get frustrated when I don't see results quickly (no matter the task).  He looks more at the longer range... and he helps me to break tasks down to a day by day, week by week basis.  But no matter what ... we've got each other's backs.
  • We always rely that God will bring us through these various seasons (as individuals & as a couple) to become better equipped to share this journey with others who will possibly travel along similar paths as we do.  Grandad & I have grandchildren who are watching us as we go about our daily routines.  One day they will be able to look back on these days as a collective & see that their grandparents got through various seasons in life -- together.  And we are role models to other couples no matter what stage in life any of us are.  With God as our center, we can reach out to others who may experience a bit of what we have already been through in our married life & share with them how God brought us through that particular season. 
  • We realize that it truly is only a season. There have been many seasons in our married lives that we've walked through, and there will be many more seasons to come.  Some have been joyous seasons, others have been challenging seasons ... but each season has shaped us into the married "one" that we are today.  Just like the seasons of nature God gives us, there are so many varied seasons in our married lives that He guides us through.  Each season will bring about its own rewards when we follow through by walking moment by moment, day by day ... together ... in Him.
I will definitely admit that there's been some seasons in our married life that I wish we hadn't had to go through.  But, they've made us stronger and more reliant on each other and God Himself.  And that's the key when we're faced with various seasons whether in our married life, household life, work life, etc  --- we place God as center and our spouse next.  Disjointedness may occur periodically, but with God & our spouse as our focus ... we now have destination points to take each little baby step toward filling in the joints as life brings about its challenges.

There's always rewards waiting at the end of our seasons.  
Just as tax seasons come & go ... 
our disjointedness begins to fade ... 
the joints begin filling in with couple time and grandchildren time ... 
focusing on what God has in store for these next days, weeks & months ahead ... 
before our #30 tax season appears. 
(But, trust me ... we are not borrowing the challenges of #30 now -- 
those will come soon enough)

{If anyone else has experienced disjointedness at any time, please feel free to either email me or leave a message on this post.  
We're all in this crazy life together -- as a blogging community --
so maybe we can lend some helpful tid-bits on filling in the joints 
before the dis comes!}

I am one blessed lady!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

My (Almost) Wordless Wednesday

my husband

my 3 heroes  

I'm awestruck everyday with them in my life.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Just a Word of Encouragement

Just a few of my husband's instruments

God placed a couple of people in my path this week to create teachable moments for me.  He's used these people in order for me to ask an important question of myself.  And I'm finding more and more that as I need these lessons in life, maybe someone else in the world (or at least in my small circle of readers) may need these as well.  Regardless, though, I do hope that maybe one day my grandchildren and generations to follow will understand my beliefs and values that make up who "Granny" really is.

It started on Sunday morning as I was making my way through some groups of people chatting before our church service began. Lucy had grabbed her Grandad's hand wanting him to take her to her class, and a friend of ours saw me but had just missed 2 of my favorite people walking by. Our friend then asked me  
"Is Dan playing in the band this morning?"  
I simply replied "No, not this morning."  
His response "I sure miss him up there in our praise band. I always looked forward to hearing his talent, and just to see him give all of his worship on stage." 

My heart was filled just in that little 60 second exchange
Someone had been touched not only by my husband's musical gift, but this person had actually seen the worship through Dan using his gift of music for his Lord & Savior.  

I just knew that this was going to be a God-filled week 
(which every week and every day and every moment is God-filled ... but hopefully you get the picture).

So then at breakfast a couple of mornings later, we saw an acquaintance who stopped by our table  
"I don't want to interrupt your breakfast, but I just wanted to say how much I always appreciated your 
worship service at our church."  
Dan replied "Well, thank you. That really means a lot to me." 
 So the conversation continued by our acquaintance "You know, we have so much good talent in our church & a lot of extremely great musicians. You always stood out to me and my wife."  
Dan just smiled and nodded his thanks once again.  The man continued ...  
"You see! Even just in your smile, I can see Jesus shining in your eyes. Your love for the Lord always comes through in your music. And other people see it too. No matter who's on the stage leading the worship music, that's their worship to Him. And we could always see you worshiping God through your singing & playing. 
And I just had to come over and tell you."

And my heart just overflowed
(Someone else had been touched by my husband's worship to his Savior)

And Yet ... 

I knew it was more than just an affirmation of my husband's singing & using his musical gift in our praise band.  Some people would look at this and shake their heads ... wondering if an ego was being filled.  Well, I know I'm biased, but I can honestly say that my husband has the least of the least egos that I have ever been around. For various reasons he hasn't been involved in the praise team for well over a year, yet his worship has been an encouragement to others & has left an impression on their lives. So an ego? 
I can safely say not with my husband.

But you know, God had another reason for placing these people in our paths this week. Sometimes His lessons in life are straight-up and I know exactly the point He is making to me.  However, at other times such as these I have to look beyond the surface to find His nuggets for me.  

And this has been a simple lesson in 
expressing appreciation & encouragement to others. 
How many times have I given up the opportunity to simply say to someone

"you've made a difference in my life"
"your contribution to (fill in the blank) has been a blessing to me"
or just simply ...
"thank you for all you've done and all you do"

Speaking for myself, I know that I haven't shown as much appreciation to others as I should have. Sometimes I've talked myself out of this by making the excuse that I 
may over-step or sound pretty silly ...
wouldn't know how to begin the conversation or even a message on a card ...
don't know how to approach people ...
am really not part of their "in-crowd" so it really doesn't matter.

My list of excuses can go on and on.

But this week has shown me otherwise.  I truly believe that God has called
 each of us to encourage each other in 

our everyday lives 
(families, work, schools, everyone we come in contact with during the day) ...
our various ministries within our churches & communities ...
(members, visitors, volunteers, staff)
even our inactivity within each aspect of our lives 
(we can interpret God's direction in each of our lives on this one)

I'm really not sure how this post will be accepted or even how my grandchildren will understand it as they mature & grow throughout their lives.  But, I do know that God has spoken to me this week through these 2 encounters of appreciation & encouragement. Sometimes it's easier for me to make my excuses & miss out on opportunities to be a blessing to others.  I don't really know how people will accept compliments and words of appreciation ... but I know that 
I am responsible for myself to follow God's direction for my actions. 

My words could be the words that will carry with someone who may be going through a challenging time in their lives that I simply do not know about ...
My words may be some of the few encouraging words someone may hear for the day or even longer ...

My words ... 

no ...

not my words but ...

God's words through His servant --

So, how am I doing at being an encouragement to others?

I'll admit that I'm working on it  ... 
I am a work in progress & am so thankful for His patience with me.

And I pray that I will continue to be obedient to God's guidance to encourage others ...
and that my future generations will follow God's path in lifting others up & encouraging them throughout their
everyday lives, ministries & communities.

We will never know what a blessing we could be to others
by simply being obedient to Him 
in encouraging others.