The Many Colors Of A Relationship

Terry and Karen

Everyone over 40 knows the answer to the riddle: What’s black and white and red all over? Why, it’s a newspaper of course.  Millennials and everyone else born after them have a new riddle:  What can have  multitudes of colors but is red all over?  Why, it’s a computer screen of course.  The former is decreasing in popularity while the latter’s readership is lining many computer geek’s pockets green. (For you grammar geeks I know red, in this context, should be spelled read but spelling it the correct way would spoil the riddle.)

Why do I bring this up?  Because no matter who’s generation you’re talking about, spending too much time with either medium has caused many people to feel ‘blue’.  Blue over having to compete with children, husbands and wives for their attention.

Both mediums have value for gathering information, education and entertainment but too much of any good thing can turn bad.  Take white sugar for example.  In moderation, sugar transforms boring desserts into sweet delicacies while too much will cause our pink bellies to bloat and diseased limbs to turn purple.  There is one exception to this rule — building strong relationships need time for them to flourish.

Strong relationships are more valuable than gold.  Gold must go through a refining process to make it pure.  Relationships need time to go through their own refining process to bring out their full beauty.

Early in Karen’s and my marriage, I had a daily routine when I came home from work.  I stopped at the newspaper box at the end of our driveway and pulled out the newspaper delivered during the day.  Karen received a hug and kiss from me, then I was off into the living room.  Having plopped onto my favorite chair, I opened the newspaper to the sports section first and worked my way through every page until Karen called me to dinner.  After dinner, my attention was turned back to the paper until I finished reading every line.

Karen would complain, saying she looked forward to spending time with me everyday but felt neglected when I came home.  My response to her was that after a long day of work, I needed to relax and decompress for awhile.

One morning as I got up for work at 5am I noticed that I forgot to get the newspaper the previous night.  I ran down the driveway, fetched the paper and brought it back to the house.  As I sat to eat breakfast I opened the paper to the sports page.  As I began to read, something about the appearance of the front page seemed different.  A meticulously handwritten message appeared between the typed print.  It went something like this:

“Dear Hubby.  Please come and talk to your wife.  I miss you and want to spend time with you.”

I couldn’t help but smile as I entered our bedroom, sat down on the bed and woke Karen up.  She wasn’t too happy about being woken so early until I showed her the newspaper she had written on.  I took the hint though and we both read a book about marriage which stated how important the first 10-15 minutes are to a marriage when a couple meets up after working all day.  That time together determines whether the mood of the evening will be cast in hues of gray or shine through in brilliant yellow.

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Standing Up To Evil (Queens)

Brooklyn and Papa

Disneyland is a magical place for children of all ages…even for those who have graduated from diapers to Depends.  I should know, well, not because I wear Depends but because I’m a grandparent who loves the “happiest place on earth” as much as my grandchildren.  Karen and I just returned from the Magic Kingdom after spending five days with our daughter Jaymi, her family and her in-laws.

Besides all the fun of meeting all the Disney characters, going on every ride (some four or five times), eating anything we want without parents or wives telling us “no” (well, at least Grandpa didn’t say “no”) and just being silly and goofy as a family, we even learned some valuable lessons such as:

  • When smearing suntan lotion all over every square inch of your face, don’t forget to take off your sunglasses or there will be one very burned square inch on the bridge of your nose.
  • Don’t talk about how scary certain rides are in front of the grandchildren who, before that, were excited to try out aforementioned scary rides.
  • Don’t buy new shoes for Disneyland when you know you will go on rides which will get those new shoes very, very wet.

Probably the most valuable lesson I learned though was taught to me by my five-year-old granddaughter, Brooklyn.  This was her first trip to Disneyland and we all were excited to see her reaction to all the Disney characters, especially to the princesses.  She’s a walking encyclopedia of knowledge regarding everything about Disney princesses.

On the first day at Disney, I thought I would make some brownie points with Brooklyn by carrying on a sophisticated conversation with her about princesses.  I began by asking her what color dress princess Bella wore?  She looked up at me with what I can only describe as scorn and replied, “It’s not Bella, it’s Belle and I don’t think we should talk about princesses any more if you don’t even know their names.”

So one by one we followed Brooklyn as she excitedly met Aurora, Snow White, Anna, Elsa, Belle and Ariel.  Then Brooklyn spotted Queen Grimhilde, the wicked Queen from Snow White.  She barked out orders to the children timidly standing in line to get her autograph: “Come before me and bow. And, if you want to be a queen, you must act like a queen and never smile”  She would point at the children’s parents and ask, “Are these your servants?”

Brooklyn stepped in line and she looked serious.  I thought she might be afraid so I bent over and whispered in her ear, “Don’t be afraid; she’s only pretending to be mean.”

Without taking her eyes off the queen she replied, “I’m not afraid.”

Finally it was Brooklyn’s turn and she stepped toward the Evil Queen.  The queen looked down at Brooklyn and said, “So, do you desire to be a queen?”

Brooklyn stared up at her and replied, “No, I want to be a princess.”

“Why would you only want to be a princess?” the queen snarled.  “A queen controls a whole kingdom.”

Brooklyn stood her ground and answered, “Because queens are mean and princesses are nice.”

If you know Jesus as Lord and Savior, you are His children and rightful heirs to His Kingdom.  Therefore, for those who believe, we are not paupers but princes and princesses who are in training to be nice to others along with many other important royal duties.

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”  Luke 6:31

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“I Do” and I’m glad I Did!!!

Forty-one years ago, on September 2, I married my high school sweetheart and best friend, Terry Carlson.  We dated for five years and couldn’t wait to begin our life together as husband and wife. Terry was 20 and I was 19 years old…but we were both very mature…haha!

Planning the wedding was a blast!   I really didn’t know what style I liked or what colors I wanted so I picked out the first material I saw at the fabric store and my mother-in-law sewed most of the bridesmaid’s dresses.  Back then there were no smart phones or a computers but with pen and paper I checked off each item on the list of all that needed to get done before our big day

*Order wedding cake from Scandia Bakery.               *Ask my cousin, Kathy and our friend, Mich to sing.
*Ask our high school English teacher to play the organ.
*Order wedding invites.
*Order flowers.
*Ask friends to be bridesmaids and groomsmen.
*Ask my nephews and nieces to be flower girl,   ringbearer, Jr. bridesmaid and Jr. groomsmen.
*Buy wedding dress.
*Reserve church and Son’s of Norway for reception.
*Choose songs to be sung during ceremony.
*Find photographer.

Everything checked off and our day finally arrived!  As I waited anxiously in the cry room, guests took their seats in the nearby sanctuary.  Organ music softly  played through the walls of the cry room.  This was the moment Terry and I had dreamed about, talked about, planned for and saved for.

The music paused and I heard Mich and Kathy begin to sing our song, Baby, by John Denver.  I was overcome with emotion and began to cry.  We changed a few of the words to make it a wedding song.  The lyrics of the chorus goes like this:

“And the wind will whisper your name to me
Little birds will sing along in time
Leaves will bow down when you walk by
And morning bells will chime.”

We changed morning bells to wedding bells will chime. ( I know…the lyrics seem cheesy today but 41 years ago  it was romantic.)

You can hear the orginal song if you click here:

https://www.bing.com/search?q=john+denver+song+baby&form=EDGTCT&qs=PF&cvid=e15f1b8bd5504d78b8de78042b100dc8&refig=f51aa0cb61994ff7e47a98afa63fa6d3&cc=US&setlang=en-US

I could not stop crying. I didn’t wear any make up, and it’s a good thing because it would have all come off.  I’m not saying a few tears were shed…I’m saying I was full on UGLY, cannot stop, crying.

After all my bridesmaids arrived at the altar, I anxiously took my Dad’s arm.  The “old traditional”, Here Comes The Bride began and all the guests stood.  I tried to quit crying but, oh no, there was no stopping it.  Terry took my trembling hands as we stood in front of the pastor.  He repeated his vows and then it was my turn…I could barely breathe.  I began to repeat my vows, took a breath which burst into a loud snort!! Our ringbearer and flower girl began to cry…Years later I found out they cried because they thought weddings were sad.  Several guests were in tears, too. We made heartfelt vows of “I Do” before God for better or worse, for richer or poor, in sickness and in health…til death us do part.  And we lived happily ever after….ha ha!!!

Terry and I didn’t know Jesus personally when we got married but He knew us!!! God’s Hand was on us. He knew the plans He had for us and we would accept His gift of grace and salvation five years later by acknowledging our need for Him and proclaim Him as Lord and Savior.

Have we lived “happily ever after”?  Some days…sure. But honestly, no, not really. Would I marry Terry all over again?….YES, YES, YES!!!  But in real life we walked through seasons of good and bad. Seasons of great times and seasons of hard times and losses. I used to think love was a feeling and if you lose that feeling…uh oh.  Love is oh, soooo much more than that.

I’m so thankful to God for Terry.  Is he a perfect husband?  Uh…noooo!  But he’s the perfect husband for me.  Does he ever irritate me…Uh, yessss!  Does he have some habits that truly annoy me…Oh yeah!!  Oh, please quit fidgeting and flush the toilet even when it’s just yellow!!!!

We are experts at pushing each other’s hot buttons. Some days we don’t like each other at all.  We are two imperfect persons God continues to change and grow and love on…not sure we will ever reach perfection… haha!  One verse God keeps bringing to mind when I feel like being snitty…“A gentle answer turns away wrath but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Proverbs 15:1.  It actually works, if I choose to apply it.

Looking back, 41 years ago!!  Wow!!!  We didn’t even know the meaning of love, but we humbly continue to learn from God through the Bible how to love, honor, trust, respect and stay committed to each other even when times aren’t great.

The Lord has allowed very tough things to come our way in our forty-one years of marriage.  As John Denver’s song said, I’ll walk in the rain by your side.  Boy, that was more than prophetic. We lost our family home and most of our possessions in the flood of 1990.  We tore the remains of our home down to the studs and began to rebuild.  For thirteen months our family weathered that storm together and faithfully walked in the rain by each other’s side.  We made a flood video of the year documenting the faith filled journey God took us on. We laugh now at the end of that video when we all decided to celebrate by rapping a grand finale song.

Terry and I were blessed with three beautiful children:  Katie, Jaymi and Michael.  Terry walked by my side in the season of being a mother of preschoolers.  I thought everything would come naturally to me, but it didn’t.  By God’s grace, through His Word in church, Bible study and MOPS, He blessed us as parents. Now we enjoy our ten grandchildren and are very excited to meet #11 this February.

Through years of chronic illness and chronic pain, Terry has been by my side. He’s been my tour guide on many expensive, painful dental vacations…we both would have preferred Hawaii or the Bahamas. He has loved me through:

*Eleven painful root canals.                                 *Mercury toxicity.                                                        *Chronic fatigue syndrome.                                       *Eleven teeth extracted because of the root canals. *Years of horrific tmj pain.                                      *Kidney infections.                                                     *Chronic neck pain.                                                               *All teeth extracted.                                                  *Adrenal fatigue.                                                  *Depression.                                                                *Surgeries for bone grafts and dental implants.

Through it all, Terry is still loving me despite me having no teeth, failing bone grafts, failing implants and another bout with heavy metal toxicity. I look like Grandma Pitypoo, but Terry sees my beauty. (I think his eyes must be going bad!) I know his hearing is…we play Scrabble quite often with each other and we each drew our letters to see who goes first.

Terry got up and told me, “I got the letter C and I have to go pee.”

I drew my letter and yelled to him, ” I got the letter T.”

He said,”What?”

I repeated loudly, “I got the letter T!”

His response was, “Well use the other bathroom then.”

He has hearing aids but doesn’t wear them around me…hmmm!

I once told Terry he should have looked into my mouth before he married me. He may have changed his mind when he saw my teeth. He said, “You never look a gift horse in the mouth…and you are a gift to me.” AWWW!! So Sweet!!!

I’ve walked by his side through:                               *Many painful job transitions.                                 *Two kidney stones.                                                           *A heart surgery, stroke, and a botched stent surgery.

But, by God’s grace, today we love each other even more and remain best friends. He will finish my sentences before I do. I will finish his thoughts before he speaks them. I couldn’t have picked a better Daddy for our kids. I wouldn’t want to be an Ama/Grandma with anyone else…what a joy it is to enjoy grandchildren together. I wouldn’t have wanted to go through or grow through life with anyone else by my side, than you, Terry.  I love you!!!  Happy 41st Anniversary to you!! And I thank you Jesus for giving us the strength and power to walk through each storm you permit in our lives. We could not do it without you!!! I pray you will bless us with many more years together!!!

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The Incredible Case Of The Flying Bologne Sandwich.

Do you ever tell little white lies?  While driving school bus a few years ago, whenever I caught kids misbehaving, most would pull the politician card and deny any wrong doing.  On rare occasions some children would surprise me.

One morning, a sandwich whizzed past my right ear and stuck to the front windshield.  I looked up at the student mirror and saw numerous fingers pointing toward a third-grader named Tyler sitting about six rows behind me.  I liked this boy.  He was polite, respectful, and had a good sense of humor.

I pulled the bus over to the side of the road, pointed toward the sandwich still stuck to the windshield and asked the boy if he did indeed throw that sandwich at me.

He stood and said, “No, Mr. Carlson, I wasn’t throwing my sandwich at you.  I was trying to throw it at the kid sitting right behind you.”

While trying not to laugh, I explained how it was my job to get them all to school safely and that having a sandwich thrown past me was very distracting.  I gave him a verbal warning and I thought that would be the end of it.

The next morning, I just happened to look in my student mirror just in time to see Tyler throw another sandwich at the same kid sitting behind me.  His accuracy was much improved and the boy caught the sandwich.  I pulled the bus over once more to the side of the road.

“Tyler!” I yelled.  “We had this discussion yesterday morning about how dangerous it is to distract me while I’m driving.  This will be two days in a row that you’ve lost your lunch.”

Again, he stood and grimly said, “I’m sorry Mr. Carlson.  I keep telling my Mom that I don’t like bologna sandwiches but she keeps putting them in my lunch.”  He grinned then added, “But it’s okay,  because Austin caught it this time.”

I’ll always remember this story not because it was so funny…well, maybe I will remember it for that, but I’ll also remember it because Tyler was so refreshingly honest.  We live in a world where lying has become so commonplace that I was pleasantly caught off guard by this little boys honest confession.  Let me now share with you my own confession as a lesson to what can happen when we don’t tell the truth.

I have an addiction to soda pop, especially Mountain Dew.  For years Karen has been after me to quit.  After an annual wellness check-up a few years ago, my doctor told me to loose weight and to my dismay strongly suggested I quit drinking pop….especially Mountain Dew.

It was very difficult but I was able to quit the habit….at home.  While away at work  I still drank one or two bottles a day.  Whenever Karen would ask me how I was doing I would lie and tell her how victorious I was over my addition with carbonated, flavored, sugar water.

One day, Karen asked if I drank any pop that day at work.  I said, “No.”  She asked again and I responded with annoyance in my voice, “For the second time….no.”  When she asked a third time, I lost it and won’t repeat what I angrily said back to her.  She pulled a slip of paper out of her pocket and threw it at my feet.  It was the receipt for the two bottles of Mountain Dew I had bought that day.

“Oh!  What a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive.”  (1)

After a few minutes of self-reflection (or was it self-flagellation) I went to Karen with my tail between my legs and apologized.  I don’t think this lie fell under the “little white” category and the nuclear fallout I experienced from Karen validated this conclusion.  I resided in her dog house for quite awhile before I could gain back her trust.   The perceived nagging I assumed I could dodge by lying was definitely not worth the pain I caused Karen.

As Paul Harvey would say, “And now for the rest of the story….”

I had to give Tyler a written warning, which also meant a phone call from me to his mother, after dropping her son off at school.  I explained to her what had happened the previous two mornings and she told me she would also have a talk with him.

The following morning I picked up Tyler at his bus stop and he cheerfully bounded up the steps and stopped before me.  He opened up his lunch and excitedly pulled out a sandwich.

With a big grin on his face he held out the sandwich and exclaimed, “It’s peanut butter and jelly!”

(1) An excerpt from a poem written by Sir Walter Scott. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marmion_(poem)

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Are You Afraid Of What’s Behind The Door?

Joshua

Karen recently watched all five of Katie’s kids by herself (whew!!!!)  She has no idea how Katie does it.  Karen felt like a mama dog with fourteen hungry pups and only eight nipples.

In the midst of juggling the needs of the kids, Joshua, the youngest boy pleaded with his grandma to wait in the bathroom with him while he did his thing.  Now he has no problem going at his own home without supervision, so she asked why his reluctance to fly solo at our house.

“When I shut the door, there’s a lady looking at me,” was his reply.  Karen shut the door and Joshy pointed to the plaque I have hanging on the wall, behind the open door.  Staring down at him is an early 20th century young woman advertising Coca Cola.  I guess he really values his privacy and doesn’t want anyone observing his business.

Aren’t we all a little like Joshua?  He’s embarrassed to leave the door open, but also afraid to shut the door and expose himself to that creepy Coca Cola lady.  We leave the door to our life open just enough to let others see what we want them to see.  Eventually we shut that door to the outside world and hope no one will find out who we really are.  But behind all our doors is someone far more dangerous than an ill-advised placement of a Coca Cola plaque.

Satan is behind the door you close to the outside world.  He resides in darkness and is behind every evil thought, every evil action and is always all too willing to help you condemn  yourself.   “Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”  1 Peter 5:10

God on the other hand never hides behind doors and He doesn’t want you to either.  He carefully and lovingly created you, not for you to hide from Him and others because you make a few mistakes.  God wants you to be real with Him.    King David longed for this kind of relationship with God and wrote about it in Psalm 139: 1-18.

“O Lord, you have searched me and you know me.  You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar.  You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.  Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O Lord.  You hem me in-behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me.  Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.  Where can I go from your Spirit?  Where can I flee from your presence?  If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.  If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.  If I say, “surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,” even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.  For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.  I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.  My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place.  When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body.  All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.  How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!  How vast is the sum of them!  Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand.  When I awake, I am still with you.”

For now Karen and I are going to leave up the picture of the Coca Cola lady in our guest bathroom.  Karen was able to share truth with him and he felt better.  This situation was just one of many opportunities we will have with our grandchildren to share the love of God.  If you haven’t already, open the door to your heart to God today.  He’s waiting with open arms.

 

 

“Love Intentionally”

Papa (Terry) and I had the privilege of having our five grandchildren (ages 2-11) over for a couple of nights this last weekend.  I’m still recovering! Whew…it was fun and crazy…it kind of reminded me of going down a waterslide…at times a little overwhelming (thoughts were–yikes, why are we doing this?) but fun at the same time.

We played a lot of games: Old Maid, What’s Yours Like, Life, The Train Game, and Quick Cups to name a few.  Terry made his famous Papa’s Pancakes.   I made some yummy smoothies, molasses muffins, and popcorn.   We went to a country store and saw bunnies,  piglets, baby chicks, and a baby goat.   We bought a plant to begin a fairy garden.  But mainly we made memories.

I pray for and desire to intentionally love all of my grandchildren.   It  may be a phone call to just say “hello, I love you” to the ones who sadly live far away.  Sometimes it’s a surprise package to them in the mail or  spontaneous face time on the phone or computer.

This week, I called  my granddaughter, Brooklyn, who just graduated from kindergarten.  She lives in Washington so I wasn’t able to be there to cheer her on.  My daughter sent a video of her graduation, though.  The teacher asks each student as they graduate, what they want to be when they grow up.  Brooklyn stated “a hairdresser”.   I told her she could fix my hair when she became a hairdresser.  She said, “Ok!  Ama, what color do you want your hair?” I said hesitantly, “maybe white”?   She declared, ” I think pink, Ama!”.   Oh boy, I’m in trouble!!!!!

What memories are you making with your children or grandchildren?  Do they know you love them and actually delight in them?  What do you do to show them love?

ISV  Zephaniah 3:17  “The Lord your God among you is powerful.  He will save and will take joyful delight in you.  In His love He will renew you with His love, He will celebrate with singing because of you.

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Does Your Belief Necessarily Make It True?

We had a wonderful week when our daughter Jaymi, son in law Matt  and three grandchildren, Logan, Maya and Brooklyn, came to visit us in Florida on Spring Break.  Katie, our oldest daughter, and Jaymi are great planners and had the whole week scheduled with fun activities.  My Ama heart was full!!

The day before they flew back to  Washington, Terry wanted to go out to lunch with them at his favorite restaurant, Cheddars.  The food is yummy and tastes homemade.  Their croissants  are worth going off a gluten free diet for.  Terry was most excited to share his favorite fudge cake with them at the end of our meal.  So when the waiter brought out the dessert, including seven spoons, everyone was eager to dive in.  Logan took the first bite and surprisingly said, “Yuck.” Brooklyn took the cherry on top and was happy.  Matt took the next bite and shockingly said “There’s something wrong with the sauce.” Terry  was enjoying every bite totally ignoring their negative reactions.

I decided to listen to their dismay and stuck my finger in the sauce…it tasted like barbecue sauce.  I  motioned for the waiter to come over and told him, there was something very wrong with the dessert.  The  chocolate sauce tasted more like barbecue sauce.  He politely corrected us and proudly said, “That’s our special caramel sauce.”  We all disagreed (except maybe Terry) but our waiter skeptically took it back to the kitchen and had it checked out.  We looked at the menu and the fudge cake pictured didn’t seem to show caramel sauce on it …. just chocolate.  Moments later the manager of the restaurant came to our table and apologized for the mistake.  The truth was the barbecue sauce was placed along side of the dessert toppings and the fudge cake was mistakenly doused with it instead.  The saddest part was, that the barbecued flavored slice was their last piece.  So the Lee’s are going to have to wait until their next visit to enjoy a piece of Terry’s favorite dessert.

Just because our waiter didn’t believe it was barbecue sauce, didn’t change the truth that it was.  Truth…What is truth?  The dictionary says it’s the quality or state of being true.  The waiter believed us once he and the chef tasted it for themselves.   That was a minor mistake (well, maybe not so minor to Terry) but it is a reminder to me, just because I don’t believe something, doesn’t mean it isn’t true.

The Bible is the Word of God and is TRUTH.  Whether we believe it or not, doesn’t change the Truth.  Jesus says “I am the Way and the Truth and the Life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.”  And John 3:16-18 says “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.   For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.  Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because He has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son”.

Matthew 24:35-42 ” Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away. No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.  As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.  For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away.  That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.  Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left.  Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left.  Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.”

I for one, am looking forward to Christ’s return.  I pray for and  am burdened for  friends and family who haven’t put their trust in Jesus, yet.

If you do not know Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, may I encourage you today to seek the Truth, to CHEWS JESUS…Taste and See That the Lord is Good!

 

 

A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

Esther and Grandpa

It’s easy to become confused by appearances.  For example:  Instead of flying to Florida, Karen, Molly and I drove our 2014 silver Hybrid Toyota Camry 3,668 miles to Leesburg where our daughter, her husband and their five children live.  Fresno, California was one of our pit stops on the way.

We spent the night in a nice hotel and the next morning we checked out and brought the luggage to our car.  We both stopped abruptly.   A large dent and ugly scratch extended from the rear panel of our car up to the passenger door.  We stared at each other dumbfounded.   Karen ran her hand across the damaged surface of our car.

“Do you think a car sideswiped it while backing out?”  She asked me.

“It was a tree,” a voice answered from behind us.  We turned to see a short, middle-aged man walking toward us.  “Yes, it was a tree.  I saw the whole thing happen right before my eyes.”

Both Karen and quickly surveyed our surroundings.  We were in a paved parking lot without a single tree in sight.  He must have noticed the confused expression on our faces because he quickly added.  “Oh, it wasn’t the entire tree.  Just one it’s large branches hit it, so I suppose it could have been a whole lot worse.”

Neither one of us knew what to say.  We just stood there exchanging glances between each other, the car and the little man.  The air was thick with awkwardness so he added, “Yea, the damage to my car was bad enough but then I had to deal with my stupid insurance company….what a hassle.”

I quickly took a closer look at his car.  It was identical to our car except for the Toyota emblem on the trunk.  Mine is silver with a blue background identifying it as a hybrid; his didn’t have the blue background….ooops!!!

Karen and I let out a huge sigh of relief.  A large mini-van was parked between his car and ours blocking the view of our Camry.  We both told him how sorry we were about his car and then scampered over to ours.

Looks can be deceiving.  I worked for Seafirst National Bank when Karen and I were first married.  We had weekly meetings and at one of these meetings, a man brought some counterfeit money.  He passed out the fake bills so we could examine them.  They looked real to me.  I asked him if our bank could keep some of the bogus bills so the tellers had more time to study them.  Then we could better tell the difference between them and the originals.

He laughed and shook his head.  “You don’t study the counterfeit to recognize the original; you study the original to expose the counterfeit.”

“Why’s that,” another teller asked.

“Because counterfeit bills will often change slightly in appearance or texture depending on who is making them.  The originals stay consistent in both appearance and texture.”

The same principle applies to Jesus.  He is the original; the only true son of God.  Many have come or will come proclaiming to be Jesus, God, or a prophet who has the answers to life’s many questions concerning the afterlife, morality, good vs evil, what is truth and how to attain happiness.  But there is only one who was born of a virgin, performed miracles, was crucified to take all of humanities sins on His shoulders.   But He rose from the grave, defeating death so that we can have salvation if we believe He is who He says He is: He is the Way, the Truth and the Life.

But there is a being in this world who is just like those counterfeit bills.    He hates us so he lies to us.  His aim is to deceive us from the truth and keep us from knowing Jesus.  He is like a wolf in sheep’s clothing looking to devour the flock…which is us.

So what can we do to keep us from being deceived?  We must study the original.  By reading the Bible, we can get to know Jesus.  By prayer we can communicate to the creator of the universe.  By attending a good church we can worship our Creator and have fellowship and be encouraged by other believers.  This is the only way to keep from being deceived.

On our travels, Karen and I stopped to eat at Cracker Barrel.  After a yummy dinner we paid for our meal, walked across the parking lot and climbed into our 2014 silver, Hybrid Toyota Camry.  Once inside, I noticed that the windshield mounted GPS holder was gone.  Then I noticed that the car seemed a lot messier than when left it to go eat.  Then I noticed the Honda emblem on the steering wheel.  We’d gotten into the wrong car!!!!

Either old age is taking its toll on Karen and I or we need to do a better job of studying the original.

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What Have You Been Learning Lately?

Have you ever prayed, Lord if you want us to move, please move us swiftly? I don’t recommend it unless you are up for the challenge. Wowza! These last four months have been a whirlwind. When Terry and I thought about selling our house I prayed that very prayer. I regretted praying it a few times but mostly I am thankful for the journey God has us on.

Sorry I have not blogged for quite a while, but we are living out of our suitcases, temporarily residing at our daughter and son-in-law’s home in Florida with our five precious grandchildren. As I’m typing this, the house is filled with five loud, competing voices and numerous interruptions…I’m not used to this level of chaos any more. Oh my goodness, I never thought I would forget how busy a mother of preschoolers is. It’s non-stop. It’s all good, but exhausting. Thankful to be making memories with the grandkids but we are looking forward to moving into our own home and having more control over the noise level.

I thought I would write this blog and update you on the journey this far…if I can concentrate long enough between the interruptions…

December 22 was the closing date on our home. Our house needed to be cleaned out and cleaned up by that date. The weeks before were crazy and surreal. We had a moving/garage sale, Terry put our Christmas tree up before Thanksgiving and celebrated Christmas early with our son and daughter-in-law and grandkids from Arizona. We then helped put on a surprise party for my mother-in-law’s 80th birthday on Thanksgiving, celebrated Christmas again with our daughter Jaymi and her family by preparing another turkey dinner and all of the trimmings. I sold items on Buy, Sell & Swap, said goodbye to lifetime friends, cousins and family…and the list goes on and on. We couldn’t have done it without help: some of our sweet church ladies, my sister and brother-in -law, who helped pack up my kitchen, the day of the move, Terry’s brother, Garry, came over and helped him take a mountain of unwanted items to the dump. My mother-in-law helped me do one final mopping of a bedroom and living room that I hadn’t had time to get to. Jaymi, our daughter was a life saver and helped me organize my creative chaos. I purged 39 years of living into one moving POD. We stuffed our suitcases and personal items into our Camry, leaving only enough room for our sweet senior golden retriever, Molly…and said goodbye to Stanwood.
When I had some alone time, I took a few minutes the day of the move and reflected back on some of the memories and life we had experienced in our home. I think I was too exhausted to cry. I mostly reflected back on God’s faithfulness to us and I walked throughout each room singing Great Is Thy Faithfulness. Praising God for all of the life and blessings He bestowed upon us in the past 39 years and looking forward to what He had in store for us.

The first night of our journey began by staying with Terry’s sister and brother-in-law in the Castle Rock area. We loved visiting with them and seeing their beautiful, newly built
home. We were loved on and spoiled with their hospitality. Medford, Oregon was our destination for the next day. Fresno, California was next and we stayed two nights there because of Christmas. Our next stop: Surprise, Arizona where our dear friends, Marilu and Norm, invited us to stay with them. They also spoiled us with yummy homecooked meals and fun fellowship. Terry came down with a bad sinus infection and needed more rest more before driving on, so we stayed three nights at their home. I felt bad Terry was sick, but I sure enjoyed the extra time with Norm & Marilu.

Next we drove to Fort Stockton, Texas. When we arrived, I felt feverish, achy and had a sore throat. The next day, I felt sicker and went to a walk-in. My diagnosis—type A influenza. The doctor told me to go home and stay in bed. We drove to San Antonio and stayed a few days because influenza was not something I wanted to share with Katie, Jason and their family. The rest of the road trip was sort of a blur–Terry listened to a book on tape and I tried to ignore it–it was about lobotomies, of all things. My head felt like it just went through a lobotomy.

We arrived at Katie’s on Jason’s birthday on January 4. We were greeted with five happy grandkids throwing indoor snowballs at us.

So, what have I learned since leaving our home in Stanwood, Washington? Let me name a few very random things…

Our possessions are just temporary things. I dare you to purge your possessions into one 8 X 16 foot storage pod. It’s quite fun…NOT!!!

When, our golden retriever, Molly was intensely panting in the backseat of our car–she wasn’t going to die–it’s her way of calming her body down.

When driving in Florida, if your husband suddenly pulls in front of a large truck, do not wind down your window to listen to what the truck driver has to say.

When you have lived all of your life in one place and you are directionally challenged–do not expect to know North from South and East from West when you move.

I’ve also learned that when Terry gets too hot, he gets crabby. When I get too hot, I get easily annoyed. Not a great combo…And this is only winter time in Florida. The best is yet to come.

I’m learning that God never ceases to amaze me…the first Sunday we were in Florida, we attended our son-in-law’s church he is the pastor of, one of first hymns we sung was Great Is Thy Faithfulness.

Mostly, I’m thankful to God for this journey we are on. Thankful for family. Everyday we learn something new. I’m learning more of God’s Word and His love and grace for me.

What are you learning these days?

Until Next Time—I’m Chewsing To Trust the Lord!!! Hope you are too!

CHEWS JESUS–Taste and see that the Lord is good!.

When Our Best Laid Plans Are Not God’s Plans

Papa with Daniel and Maya

Do you ever make plans only to see them blown to smithereens before your very eyes?  Of course you have; everyone has unless you’re Jesus, which you’re not because you can’t walk on water, raise the dead and aren’t preparing for you own crucifixion.  Best laid plans have a tendency to go up in smoke faster than a book of matches in the hands of a curious five-year-old boy.

Case in point:  For a long time, Karen and I have wanted to put our house, which has been our home for 39 years, up for sale.  Oh, we tried selling  our home twice before, but it  garnered as much interest as a leper selling  hour-long massages for $5.00.   You see, we live in a flood plain.  The Stillaguamish River slithers through our neighborhood like a thirsty snake.  When el Nino decides to visit the Pacific Ocean, his jet stream carries a warm, atmospheric river of rain from Hawaii toward Washington.  The Stillaguamish gorges herself on all the melting snow until her sides burst open and flood the land with the contents of her swollen belly.

So over the years whenever we tried to sell our home, potential buyers would look at the snake coiled around three sides of our neighborhood and say, “Thanks but no thanks.”

Twice, plans to sell our home were dampened by the specter of a snake with a leaky belly.  The list of reasons Karen and I wanted to move grew longer with each passing winter.  At first, Karen and I were mostly concerned about what would happen if the “Big One” shook our vulnerable house built on sand.  As we both have gone through physical affliction the past few years, we realize how much more difficult it’s going to get to take care of our home and continually walk up and down the two-flights of stairs.

Then this past year many of our friends are beginning to retire.  Over the years, I cashed in two 401 K’s to pay for medical and dental expenses and to pay the bills during three separate job loses.  Retirement for me was not going to happen any time soon.

Then our son-in-law Jason, half-jokingly suggested we move to Florida.  He pastors a church in a town called Leesburg, about 40 miles north of Orlando…home of the happiest place on earth.  He said the cost of living was much less than that of Washington, especially the housing.

So on a whim, Karen and I began to look on the internet for retirement communities in and around Leesburg.  Our jaws dropped when we saw beautiful  1,500 square foot homes selling for $110 to $140,000.  The 55 and over communities looked like vacation resorts sporting swimming pools, golf courses, tennis courts and too many other amenities to mention here.

Wow!!!!  There were more retirement communities in Florida than Starbucks stores in Seattle.

What began as a fun way to pass time soon became a spark igniting a flame of passion for the idea of moving to Florida.  The passion grew every time we bundled up to take our Golden Retriever Molly for a walk in rain and 40 degree weather.  But just as the dreary gloom of a winter in Washington can drain the life out of many, the thought of leaving our family,  friends and the only town we’ve ever known would dampen our enthusiasm.  It was especially hard to think about leaving my aging mother and our Daughter Jaymi, her husband Matt and their three kids who we are very close to.

Like a  roller coaster, our emotions took us on a wild ride.  I’ve heard it said that the hardest part about making a decision is indecision.  Finally, Karen prayed that if we would put our house up for sale, we would know it was God’s will if it would sell in a week.  From past experience, I figured it would take a miracle for her prayer to be answered.  We called a real estate agent, put our home up for sale one morning and had six showings that day and had four offers the next morning.

Thank you God for your patience.  We sold our home for $270,000…$101,000 more than what we previously had asked for it twice before.  God knew to hold off the sale until the housing market was red hot in Western Washington.

I am writing this blog from a hotel room in Tallahassee, Florida.  Karen and I are on our last pit stop before arriving in Leesburg, Florida tomorrow afternoon where we will be greeted by our oldest Daughter Katie, her husband Jason and their 5 children.  It will be a bittersweet reunion because while we now will be able to enjoy the company of this family, we know the sadness of leaving other family members behind.

The journey leading up to today is worthy of a blog post all unto itself which I will write at a later time.  Until then remember this:  If God seems to be throwing a monkey wrench into some of your best laid out plans don’t get frustrated…He may just be saving you from a $100,000 mistake.

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