It’s Been A Remarkable 40 Years!!!

1977….Wow!  A lot of things happened 40 years ago:

  1. Elvis Presley performed in his last concert in June and died in his home in Memphis, two months later.
  2. Jimmy Carter was inaugurated as the 39th President.
  3. Fleetwood Mac released their Rumours album.
  4. Led Zeppelin played in their last USA concert.
  5. Rocky won an Oscar for best picture.
  6. Karen Lund and Terry Carlson got married.

Many more things happened over the next 40 years:

  1. In 1980, not only did Mt. Saint Helens erupt but my beautiful bride also erupted, giving birth to our first child…Katie Lee.
  2. Dianna wasn’t the only princess to capture the hearts of millions around the world when she married Prince Charles in 1981.  Jaymi Marie was born capturing the hearts of both her parents.
  3. In 1982 the Epcot theme park opens in Disney World and Karen and I open our heart to receive Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior.
  4. M*A*S*H* the T.V. series ends in 1983 after 11 seasons and 251 episodes.  Karen is instrumental in bringing the MOPS (Mothers Of Preschoolers) program to Camano Chapel which has successfully lasted for 34 years & counting.  MOPS has encouraged and inspired tens of thousands of mothers around the world with Godly insight.
  5. In 1984, Michael Jackson moonwalked for the first time at the MTV music awards.  That was nothing compared to the entrance our son, Michael Keith, made as he burst onto the scene in September of that year.
  6. March 18, 1990 – The largest art theft in U.S. history occurs in Boston, Massachusetts, when two thieves posing as policemen abscond twelve paintings worth an estimated $100-200 million from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.  In November of 1990 a hundred-year flood swallowed up our home.  We didn’t return to our home until December of 1991.  Our kids thought it was a big adventure and still, to this day, remember that year as having the best memories of their childhood.
  7. Bill Clinton became President in 1992 and Karen became very sick.  After many tests, a dentist discovers she has mercury poisoning.  She has to quit her ministry with MOPS and begins a long and painful journey down the road of dental procedures and chronic pain.
  8. Between 1989 and 2002, Nintendo begins selling the Gameboy, U.S. retail giant Montgomery Ward announces it is going out of business after 128 years and Charles M. Schultz, the creator of the Peanuts comic strip passed away.  Also during that time, Karen and I coach and attend many basketball, baseball, volleyball, tennis games and matches and school plays; participate in and plan many field trips, birthday parties, sleep-overs and Camano Chapel youth group functions.  We cry as we  watch Katie, Jaymi and Michael graduate from High School and begin college.
  9. Between 2002 and 2017, the final episode of Friends appears on NBC, BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Disaster in the gulf of Mexico leaves gulf beaches / fishing and the shellfish industry reeling, and Donald Trump becomes the 45th President of the United States.  Also, Katie, Jaymi and Michael marry Jason, Matt and Signe.  Our grandkids: Logan, Caleb, Jacob, Maya, Jonathan, Brooklyn, Joshua, Esther, Hannah and Daniel are born.  Karen and I both publish two books and today Karen and I celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary.

Thank you Karen for 40 wonderful years of marriage.  Your the best!

What Is A Dental Vacation? Well, Let Me Tell You All About It.

Terry and Karen

For the past two weeks Karen and I have been in Bountiful Utah.  No, this isn’t one of Utah’s beautiful ski resorts.  We weren’t there to watch Gonzaga sweep all their games in the first round of the NCAA tournament in Salt Lake City.  We didn’t stay there as a pit stop on the way to visit our kids who live in Arizona or Florida.  We went to Bountiful on a dental vacation (and I use the term vacation very loosely).

As many of you know, Karen has struggled with dental issues for many years.  In the early 1990’s she became ill.  She had no energy, was tired all the time, ached all over and was depressed.  Her doctors had no clue what was happening.  Also during this time, she endured ten root canals.  Before going through an eleventh, her dentist suggested she go to see a specialist in Colorado.  They discovered she had high levels of mercury in her system from this poisonous metal leaching into her system from leaking amalgam fillings in her teeth.

She had all but one of her molars pulled and underwent a detox program to flush the mercury out of her system.  Her health improved but for the next twenty-years she went from dentist to dentist trying to find one who could make partials which would give her a good bite and not cause pain in her mouth and neck.

The problem is that she is allergic to all metals, and partials are made with metal to give it strength and to help keep its shape.  Dentists had to make partials out of a plastic which wore down easily and often broke.  Over the years, this lack of a consistent bite contributed to chronic pain in her jaw and neck.

After many years of experimenting, her local dentist said there was nothing else he could do but recommended a specialist in Utah who might be able to help.  We traveled to this dentist over a year ago and he pulled the rest of Karen’s teeth which were all full of infection and in the process of rotting in her mouth.

Now instead of partials, Karen was given a full set of dentures.  For a year, the dentures caused continual sores to form in her mouth; sometimes five or six large canker like sores at a time would line up in a row on her gums causing her great pain.  The dentures also didn’t relieve the pain she was experiencing in her jaw and neck; it only got worse.

Our dentists, Dr. Wall and Dr. Baker, in Utah came up with another plan to help her.  He could embed ceramic posts in her upper and lower jaw for her dentures to clip onto.  This would keep the dentures from rocking in her mouth thus eliminating the cause of sores to form on her gums.  At the same time, they would find out the best position for the dentures to rest to help stabilize her jaw muscles.  Hopefully this will help relieve some of her neck and jaw pain.

So we arrived in Bountiful on March 15th full of hope, that at last we could see the light at the end of that long tunnel of pain Karen has endured for the past twenty-two years.  After days of bone scans and consultations, she had oral surgery.  The dentist placed four ceramic implants in her lower jaw.  It was discovered from the bone scans, that she didn’t have enough bone on her upper jaw for the implants.  They removed bone from her lower jaw and mixed it with a compound.  The dentist peeled back her upper gums and inserted this compound into her upper jaw, similar to applying putty to repair holes in a wall.

Now the fun began.  She couldn’t wear her dentures for a week to help her mouth to begin healing.  For the next two months, she can’t eat any solid food.  Pretty much smoothies, soup, mashed potatoes and yogurt.  Both Karen and I will be losing some weight.

On Monday, March 27th we planned to fly out of Utah, but the dentist thought it best to wait until Thursday to take the stitches out.  There was also a concern about flying so soon after this surgery.  No problem; I called to change our flight but found out they would charge an extra $900 because it was spring break.  Yikes!

We rented a car to get around in Bountiful.  I called to check the cost of using the rental to drive back to Seattle.  Only $1000 more.  Yikes and double yikes!  For only a hundred dollars more I made the executive decision to drive back.  It would be more comfortable for Karen than to experience the sinus pain from the high altitude of flying.

So on Thursday we left Utah.  We made reservations in Boise to spend the night there.  The weather had been terrific the whole time while we were in Bountiful, breaking records for that time of year.  It was overcast but warm when we drove out of the city heading north.  We turned on the radio and heard the hosts talking about snow angels and building snow men.

About an hour into our drive the car thermometer began to take a nose dive.  From 60 degrees, to 50, to 40, to 35.  At least we hadn’t hit any moisture.  Suddenly, down the road, a giant white curtain was pulled down from the sky.  Tail lights flashed as I drove into a blizzard.

For the final three hours, I could barely see three or four car lengths in front of me.  Then the wind began to howl.  My windshield wipers were almost useless as they battled the snow and wind.

What should have been an easy five-hour drive, took us almost eight.  We arrived at our hotel at 7pm tired and ready to relax before the next days longer drive home.  Because of the warm and welcoming staff and extra touches they provided, we chose the same hotel chain we used in Bountiful.  They provided a never ending supply of chocolate chip cookies, ice cold lemon water, and 24 hours of smiling faces from its work force.

We walked into the Country Inn and Suites and realized right away we weren’t in Bountiful anymore.  The gal behind the desk was talking to a co-worker for five minutes before she even acknowledged us.  After finally checking us in, I looked around for some cookies.  No cookies and no ice-cold lemon water.  Oh well, we couldn’t wait to get into our room and take a dip in their pool.

When we entered our room, the air felt heavy.  I was recovering from a sinus infection and was having a hard time breathing anyway so I just chalked it up to that.  After ten minutes, Karen said that her sinuses were bothering her and she was getting a sore throat.  She knelt down on the carpet to open up her suitcase.  When she stood, both her knees were wet.

Someone had just recently (very recently) shampooed the carpet and it was still wet and smelled like chemicals.  Now my sinuses were plugging up even more and I started to cough.  Karen went down to the front desk.  They were sorry but they were full and couldn’t move us to another room.  To say I wasn’t very happy was an understatement.

Karen called around to other hotels close by while I repacked everything and brought it back out to our rental car.  We checked into another hotel after 9pm.  We were both cranky and exhausted.  At least the carpet was dry and the bed was amazing.

The next day we awoke to sunshine.  We drove to SeaTac airport, picked up our car and listened to a CD I had bought of Hank Williams all the way home.

So what’s the moral of this story?  Heck if I know.  Sometimes you just have to play the hand that’s dealt you, whether it’s a mouthful of bad teeth or a stressful day driving through a snowstorm only to find out you have been booked into a room with a wet carpet.

These are the times it’s comforting to know you are in the hands of a loving God who looks out for us even when life seems out of control.

“Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.”   James 1:12

Telling The Genesis Story…Or How I Met My Wife

I love to hear stories about how couples first met.  Karen and I hosted a table at a celebration of marriage event, at our church, last Saturday evening.  We were supposed to ask “ice breaker” questions.  I asked the couples around our table how each of them met.

One couple met on a blind date.  I asked the wife if she was nervous leading up to the date.  She said, “No…I was excited to see who God wanted me to meet.”

If we really think about it, didn’t God set us all up on a blind date to find our spouse? 

I wasn’t a Christian when I first met Karen.  I didn’t have a girlfriend at the time.  As a matter of fact, I had never dated before I met Karen.  Oh…I had a few crushes on a few girls in school including an attractive, young math teacher in 8th grade.  But I never had the guts to ask any of them out.  I mean, what if they said “NO!”  My delicate psyche couldn’t handle the rejection.

My first taste of being shunned by a person of the opposite sex happened while in elementary school.  A group of cute girls were playing square ball at recess.  I asked if I could join them but they bluntly replied that they didn’t play with boys.  I was okay with that.  When I played basketball at recess the guys didn’t let any girls play with us either.  But when the same girls let the most popular boy in 3rd grade play square ball with them just a few minutes later, I drowned my sorrow by drinking a second pint of milk for lunch.  Needless to say, my ability to bond with girls took a big hit.

Fast forward to early in my Sophomore year of high school.  While many of my male friends were experiencing the dating roller coaster ride, I was enjoying my freedom.  I didn’t have to worry about writing love letters, taking up valuable time talking on the phone and spending my hard-earned money on girls.  I was free to come home after school and watch all my favorite shows on T.V. like my favorite horror soap opera, Dark Shadows or the cool new science fiction show, Star Trek. 

I also didn’t have to worry about some girl being jealous about the true love of my life…Basketball.  I caressed my basketball the same way some of my friends caressed their girlfriend’s br….oh, you know what I mean.

On December 3rd, 1973 I played in my first varsity basketball game.  I was beyond excited when during the game I made my first varsity basket on a free throw.  I didn’t even care that I missed my second free throw…My destiny was set.  I knew I would go on to play for the Washington Huskies and then the Seattle Supersonics.

After the game, my best friend suggested we celebrate my achievement by attending the high school dance in the cafeteria.  I declined with a hearty “No Way!  Steve, are you joking?  And miss tonight’s episode of Star Trek.”

Well being the stubborn Norwegian he was, he wasn’t taking “no” for an answer.  He and another friend literally dragged me to the dance.

As I entered the dark room my senses were assaulted by blinding strobe lights pulsating to the rhythm of the local bands drummer.  The lingering aroma of todays sloppy joes and surprise casserole now reeked of testosterone and musk cologne.  I dodged sweating bodies bouncing off each other as I weaved my way to the darkest corner of the cafeteria.  Once I had arrived, I thought I could hide out until a slow dance and then sneak out undetected.

To my surprise, a skinny girl in glasses stepped on my foot as she walked past me.  She didn’t turn to apologize but I noticed a cute girl with long jet-black hair giggling beside the foot stomper.  I stared at the shapely, giggling girl hoping to shame her into a solemn state of somberness.  It didn’t work.

Eventually  I returned my focus on escaping this dungeon of depravity.  To my utter amazement, the same skinny girl walked back in front of me and stomped on my foot…again!  Did she apologize this time?  No…and this time the girl with the beautiful eyes was practically rolling on the floor with laughter.

I had it!  I walked straight up to the girl who was making fun of me, the one with the stunning smile and asked her if she wanted to dance.  I didn’t realize what I had done until I was holding the prettiest girl in the room close to me while we slow danced.

We danced every dance together until the band quite playing and we said good-night.  I was walking on air when I found my Mom’s car.  My aunt was sitting in the front seat next to my Mom.  When I got into the back seat of the car, my aunt asked me if I had met the girl of my dreams.   I remember saying, “I don’t know…maybe.”

Later, Karen shared with me that as she got into her mother’s car, her aunt was in the front seat.  She asked Karen if she had met her future husband.

We dated all through high school and two years of  community college before we got married on September 2, 1977.  After almost forty-years of marriage, her hair isn’t long and it isn’t jet black.  It’s the most beautiful shade of gray I can imagine.  Her eyes still sparkle and her smile is still stunning.  She still laughs at me occasionally and when she does, whatever dark corner of my mind I’ve hidden away to suddenly fills with the most wonderful light I can think of.

Do you see the light of Jesus radiating from your spouse?

 

 

 

How To Make Parenting A Top Priority In Your Life…Part 1

Ama rocking Joshua
Ama rocking Joshua
Papa and Hannah
Papa and Hannah

I hope you all had a wonderful day last Thursday.  I hope you were with friends and family, eating a tasty meal, and finding many things to be thankful for.  If you read my Thanksgiving blog post, you probably know that family and friends are high on my “thankful for” list.  God is at the top of that list with my family close behind.

For the past few weeks, I’ve shared how important it is for mothers and fathers to make parenting a top priority in their lives; those who desire to be a hero to their children:         http://desiretoinspire.life/attitudeparental-job-description/   http://desiretoinspire.life/parental-heart-divided-priority/

Did you know though, that a mom or dad can truly believe they make parenting a top priority in their lives but can still not provide what’s best?  How can a parent “miss the mark” when they make it a top priority?  Well, it depends on the perspective of who is answering this question.

Today, I’m going to address this question from the perspective of parents with infants who want to be great parents.  In next weeks blog post I’ll cover this topic from the perspective of parents with elementary school aged children.

For the above mentioned mothers and fathers, we know their perspective; they believe they are doing what is necessary to make their children their top priority:

  1. The parents decide to bottle feed so both the mother and father can bond with their baby.
  2. They buy only the most expensive diapers on the market.  Those provide the greatest comfort for their baby when they can’t change her right away.
  3. It isn’t realistic to be expected to hold their baby every time he fusses.  These parents provide a pacifier so their infant won’t wear himself out crying.
  4. They provide their child with plenty of brain stimulation by letting her watch educational shows such as Baby Einstein and Sesame Street.
  5. The parents sing and talk often to their baby.

So from accomplishing even most of the things on this list, can a parent feel assured that he or she is making their children a top priority?  What if you asked their child?  What would he or she say?

Infants, of course, won’t be able to voice their opinion on this topic…or can they?  Babies are experts at expressing their needs.  Every time they cry and every time they coo and smile, they are letting you know how they feel.

Every baby is an individual.  As they grow, each will develop their unique personalities based on genetic and environmental factors.  The genetic factors are out of a parent’s control.  Parents though can have a very big impact on many of the environmental factors which play a pivotal role in their infants development.

While everything on the above list is good, the biggest positive impact a parent can have on their child’s early development is through the act of physical contact and by providing plenty of it.  There have been countless studies on the effect of human touch with infants.

Dr. Allen Green, is a prominent pediatrician, who has authored two books on the care of infants and has appeared on various nationally syndicated programs such as: the TODAY Show, Good Morning America, and the Dr. Oz Show.  In an article he wrote titled: Touch is as Important to Infant Health as Eating and Sleeping, he says, “Still question whether touch is as important as eating and sleeping? Consider one more landmark study.

In the 1960s, Dr. Harry Harlow separated infant monkeys from their mothers at six to twelve hours after birth and substituted “surrogate” mothers made either of heavy wire mesh or of wood covered with cloth. Both mothers were the same size, but the wire mother had no soft surfaces and was equipped with a bottle from which the baby could “nurse” while the other mother was cuddly, covered with foam rubber and soft terry cloth, but had no food. Despite the fact that only one surrogate mother could feed them, the infants still spent more time cuddling with the cloth mother. (They also found that the monkeys“raised” by wire mesh moms were very aggressive as adults.) These results led researchers to believe closeness and affection are as imperative to healthy development as food.

In today’s busy world, it’s all-too-common for parents to give a child a pacifier or put them in front of a video screen to keep them calm and quiet. But, those convenient moments of calm may be having subtle impacts on your child’s development. Take time to slow down. Take time to touch. Take time to cuddle. They aren’t babies for long and your investment of time and touch is a priceless investment in their health and well-being.”

You can read his entire article at: http://www.drgreene.com/touch-is-as-important-to-infant-health-as-eating-and-sleeping/

While there are many positive things you can do for your infant, don’t underestimate the act which will provide the biggest impact on the development of your child or grandchild…physical touch and better yet skin to skin contact.  Your children may not be able to say, “Thank you,” yet, but because of the loving contact you give them now and throughout their lives, they will have plenty of time to say “Thank you” for the rest of your life.

There’s nothing so rewarding and peaceful than rocking a baby to sleep.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Is Your Parental Heart Divided? Maybe Your DVR Is Recording The Wrong Message.

the-heart-and-mind-are-often-in-conflict-with-each-other

My beautiful wife, Karen and I
My beautiful wife, Karen and I

I love going to church on Sunday mornings and worshipping my God.  I also love watching my Seattle Seahawks play football.  Because of those two loves, I’m overjoyed and thankful for the invention of the DVR.

Back in the stone age, before the DVR was invented, I often had a difficult decision to make.  The television broadcast of all the Seahawk home games start shortly after 1pm Pacific Standard Time (unless they play on Monday or Thursday night….then it’s usually 5:30pm).  But when they play on the road, games can start as early as 10am.  I found myself in a pickle regarding these early, Sunday morning games.  Would I be spiritual, go to church, and miss the beginning of the Seahawk game?  Or would I be like the heathens, stay home, and miss out on worshipping God with my fellow believers?

Then one glorious day, Karen and I saw the light.  We switched watching television from an antennae feed to receiving it via satellite.   From that point on, I no longer had to choose between my two loves.  I could now ease my burden of guilt and attend church on Sunday mornings with the knowledge that, because of my DVR machine, I would never again miss a single pass, interception or bone-crunching hit.  I could even skip through all the commercials….hallelujah!!!

In reality, all the DVR did was give me the opportunity to avoid making a commitment.  I now didn’t have to choose what part of my life I would make a bigger priority….worshipping God, together with my church family, or cheering on Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks from the comfort of my favorite recliner.

As parents and grandparents, we face a similar dilemma.  Most of us know in our hearts what is most important….our family.  The brain though works quite differently from our heart both functionally and figuratively.  The three pounds of gray matter between our ears is really a super computer and as we know, computers deal with problems logically.

So our heart and our mind are often in conflict with each other.  As parents, these types of conflict show up regularly. For example, many men have their egos and self-esteem directly tied to their careers.  Therefore a father’s (and sometimes even a mother’s) career appear to be a higher priority than their family.  In this instance a parent who comes home after a long day at work may find himself confronted by an angry spouse and children who need their father.  To avoid making a commitment, he will find something to shift the focus away from having to make a choice.

  1. He may barricade himself in his shop to work on projects.
  2. He says he needs some space, so he crawls into his man-cave and hibernates all evening in front of the television.
  3. To be able to unwind, he spends much of his free time hunting, fishing or playing golf with his buddies.

Another example of a parent who struggles with prioritizing  is a person battling addiction.  A woman trying to cope with alcoholism and being a nurturing, responsible mother is in constant conflict.  Her heart breaks when she drinks too much and misses her child’s ball game, forgets to pick up her son at school, or constantly argues with her husband, about her addiction, in front of their children.  Her mind will come up with many reasons to avoid having to choose between her family and her addiction.

In an interview with People Magazine, Elizabeth Vargas, the ABC 20/20 journalist talks about the inner fight raging inside her.  She admits to dropping the ball as she attempts to juggle her priorities of being a wife, mother and an alcoholic.

“Rehab isn’t what finally got me sober.  It was nearly losing everything and finally seeing that whatever benefit I thought alcohol gave me was outweighed by what it would cost me.”

She recalls celebrating her son’s 8th birthday after a separation from her husband.  While her intention was to have a fun evening making her son feeling special, the evening ended up with her in a detox center.

“(Alcoholism) is not a matter of self-discipline.  It’s not even a character flaw.  I would not hesitate for a nanosecond to step in front of a bullet, to do anything to give my life for my children,” she said, “I would kill for my children.  And I couldn’t stop drinking for my children.”

Whether it is a parent who works long hours; a parent who struggles with alcoholism; or a father trying to be a good role model but chooses to stay home on Sunday mornings to watch a football game over going to church; this world offers many distractions which can cause us to lose focus on how we prioritize our life.

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not here to condemn someone who has to work long hours to pay their bills.  I’m not judging a person who has an addictive disease.  I will never stop cheering for my Seahawks.  But what I am saying is this: Is there something in your life which is interfering with your ability to be the best parent and spouse you can be?  If so, do you acknowledge this is a problem which needs to be dealt with?  Or do you have a “DVR” in your mind, recording the ways to rationalize away the need to make your family the highest priority behind your relationship with God?

When you allow something else to gain equal access to your family, your heart is divided.  As you try to serve both your family and your other desire, one will eventually rule over the other.

Matthew 6:24 says, “No one can serve two masters.  Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other….”

The key is making God your highest priority.  Once that is in place, the rest of your life will begin to line up like a row of dominos.  God doesn’t expect us to be perfect though. At times we will clumsily knock over a domino.  The trick is to bring this action to God and together you can stop the one domino from starting a chain-reaction and knocking away all the progress you have made.

Psalm 103: 13-14 says, “As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear (show reverence to) Him; for He knows how we are formed.  He remembers that we are dust.

We all struggle from time to time choosing to make the right decisions regarding the priorities in our lives.  Let’s remember what our most valuable treasures are.  On earth it is our family but God, like an umbrella, needs to cover every aspect of our lives.

Wherever your treasure is, there your heart and thoughts will also  be.”  Luke 12: 34

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do You Want To Change Your Attitude? Surrender To God’s Purpose For You This Day.

dsc_0829mud puddle girlThis past Saturday, Terry and I promoted our books and ministry, Desire To Inspire, at a craft bazaar in Lynnwood, WA.  We attended this event two years ago and had our best sales ever.  Needless to say, were excited to go back.

Preparing for one of these events is a lot of work.  First, we had to yank out all our plastic bins full of the leftovers from the previous years events.  We sorted through all our projects while deciding what worked and what didn’t.  There were rocks to paint, yummy caramel corn to make, signs to print and a raffle basket to put together.

While exhausting (for me anyway), I love the fellowship with my best friend (Terry) as we put it all together.  Although we have our moments of artistic disagreements, this is a time I cherish sharing with my husband.

Saturday morning arrived and with high hopes we lumbered down I-5 with our Toyota Camry loaded to the hilt.  For the vendors at this event, it was first come first serve when picking out a table to put up your display.  You know what they say about success in the real estate business….it’s all about location, location, location.  We made sure to leave plenty early to claim a good spot.

Then Mapquest told us to take a left when we should have taken a right.  Let’s just say Terry gets a little annoyed when he’s lost.  Then I got annoyed because he was annoyed.   When we finally arrived, all the other vendors were already setting up.  The only table available was in the far corner of the room.  That made us both annoyed.

We hurriedly put up our display and argued over what should go where.  At 9am sharp the doors opened and the customers swarmed in.  The most popular vendor had set up right across the aisle from us, so we viewed the backsides of a lot of people.

We always do a pretty brisk business, at all the events, with my yummy caramel corn.  As we attempted to start conversations with the backs of people’s heads, we noticed kids carrying humongous bags of caramel corn and kettle corn.  A vendor had set up a huge kettle corn stand just outside the door.  Our puny bags of caramel corn didn’t stand a chance.  Our moods went from rotten to worse than rotten.

I knew Terry and I both needed to change our expectations and our attitude or it was going to be a long, miserable day!  I prayed silently and asked the Lord to change our attitude and expectations.  To help us surrender to His purposes for the day.

After that prayer, we began to have fun.  We decided to look for any child who was wearing rubber boots and give them a copy of my book, Trust Me My Child.  Terry had painted Remember Rocks to sell and a dear sister in Christ opened her purse and showed us her own remember rock she brought back from Israel.

Another sweet lady read the Trust Me My Child card on display and bought it.  She came back and said, “your card is the perfect encouragement card” and bought another set for her mom in Maine whom she just called and read it to.  I felt nudged to give her mom a copy of my book, Trust Me My Child, to go along with it.

This sweet lady came back one more time and she said,” you won’t believe this but I called my mom again.  I told her you gave me a copy of your book that I will be mailing to her.  I was in my car and my mother said, Give her a hug from me.  I told my mom I had already left the bazaar and was in my car but mom said go back inside and give her a hug from me.”  So, she got out of her car (despite the cold wind and rain) and came back to give me a hug from her dear 94-year-old mama in Maine.

My heart smiled!  We met some very special people during the day…. vendors and shoppers.  God truly blessed us for being a part of this Christmas Bazaar.  And I’m sure He smiled down at us for our change of attitude.

I want to be an encouragement to you this week.  If you find yourself having a bad day, examine your attitude and your expectations.  You may  need to pray and ask the Lord to help you surrender to His purposes for the day!

When we use our gifts to bless others, it’s amazing how blessed we become!  You may receive an unexpected hug from a dear 94-year-old mama from Maine!

 

 

 

 

Fall Has Arrived In The Northwest

DSC_0685mud puddle girlFall has arrived here in the Northwest.  You can see it on the trees and feel it in the air.

During the past couple of weeks, I have been changing my home décor to pumpkins, scarecrows, sunflowers and anything else that speaks fall to me.

I have been reflecting on why I enjoy fall décor.  My Dad had a huge influence on why I even decorate for fall.  His birthday was September 8 and he would have turned 98 this year.  Fall was his favorite season.  His and mom’s anniversary was September 22 and if they were still on earth, they would have been married 71 years this year.

I recently took a trip down “Reminiscing Lane”.   I pull into mom and dad’s driveway.  Dad is sitting outside on their deck in his flannel shirt, peeling pears while mom is busy preparing the canning jars.  A warm apple pie is cooling on their countertop.  Their blockhouse is full of wild blackberry sauce (which always cured a stomach ache), canned green beans from their garden,  canned applesauce fresh from their apple trees, and a huge mound of freshly dug potatoes.  My dad loved his garden.  He loved to share his bounty with anyone who would drop by.  During the fall season, no one left their home empty handed.

Oh, how I miss my mom and dad.   How I wish I could go back and visit them just one more time.  I knew one day they would pass away.  I have no regrets but, oh, for just one more visit.

My Dad loved kids.  He was a big kid, himself.  He was a school bus driver for many years and a favorite to many.  One day at a local grocery store he overheard a conversation take place between a child and her mom.  The little girl asked her mom for a pumpkin.  The mom said they didn’t have the money for one.  That troubled my Dad and he decided to plant pumpkins in his garden the following year.  He didn’t want any child, who wanted a pumpkin, to be without.  He contacted the local preschools and kindergarten teachers.  For over twenty-years it became an annual event to go to Pug’s Pumpkin Patch.  My Dad joyfully greeted each child as they arrived.  Off they ran to pick out their very own pumpkin.  He treasured the thank you cards and pictures he received from each child the next week.

My Dad lived and loved intentionally.  He loved his wife, his three daughters, his grandkids and his great grandkids and any kid he’d meet.

I remember one of my last conversations with my Dad before he passed.  His words were, “Everyone is just too busy”.  How painfully true those words were and still are.  He had a pile of pictures he had been going through in the living room on the table.  I think he knew his time was short.  He was reflecting on his family and how blessed he was.

I love the legacy my Dad left for our family.  He not only “Simply Lived” but he “Simply Loved”.

Who can you encourage this fall seasonAre you too busy?   Take the time to visit someone and let them know you care!

 

GOOD COMMUNICATION DOESN’T ALWAYS MEAN READING BETWEEN THE LINES!

mud puddle girlHaving the grandkids home for a couple of weeks really brought back to mind how busy a season of being a mother of preschoolers is.  There are many needs:  putting bandaids on owies, changing diapers, refereeing squabbles of what’s fair or not fair, etc.  The list goes on and on.

I remember a time or two when our kids were toddlers I would go out on the porch, when I saw Terry’s car coming down the road, and wave a white diaper like an S.O.S. flag for HELP–this has been a tough day!!!  He was usually very gracious and would help me wherever I needed him to.  I loved when Terry got home from work.  I wanted to talk with him as soon as he walked in the door.  I wanted to fill him in on the day and to see how his day went.  But to debrief from his long day of work, he would go to the newspaper box to get our paper and then lose himself in the sports section.

Terry and I sought some wise counsel to help with our expectations and communication skills.  We learned that the first four minutes, when a spouse gets home from work, will set the tone for the rest of the evening.  So I decided not to vent about my hectic day when he first got home.  I tried to be upbeat and positive and greet him with a hug and a warm welcome.  I’m sure Terry appreciated it but he still buried his head in his newspaper every night.

I didn’t want to nag or complain so I thought of a creative way to get his attention.  I brought in the newspaper one afternoon, before Terry got home, and wrote between the lines a little message to him in the sports section.  I thought I was soooo tricky.  I wrote something like:  I love you, honey.  Please come and talk with wife before you read the paper.  I would love to talk to you and spend a few minutes together.  Then I carefully rolled the paper and put it back in the paper box.

That night Terry didn’t do his normal routine and we talked and I actually forgot about the paper.  The next morning at 4AM when Terry got up for work, he came into our bedroom and woke me saying, “Oh Honey, what did you want to talk about?  I was reading the paper this morning and see that you had wanted to talk with me.”

HA HA!  Jokes on me!  Tricky plan backfired!!!  He thought it was hilarious!!!  I – not so much!

What happens in the first four minutes when your loved one gets home from work?  Feel free to share on our website!

Webpage Picture of Karen & me

 

 

IN SICKNESS AND IN HEALTH….”I WILL!”

DSC_0693During a marriage ceremony, couples perform three primary acts: verbally pledge their love and support before God through the reciting of the wedding vows, promise their fidelity to each other by the exchanging of the rings and seal the deal with a kiss.  On this happiest of days, most couples are more concerned about not forgetting the words to the vows they have to repeat than the responsibility behind what they are promising.

Over thirty-eight years ago, I declared the following words to my best friend: “For better or for worse; for richer, for poorer; in sickness and in health; to love and to cherish from this day forward until death do us part.”  As I looked into my brides beautiful blue eyes, moist with tears of joy, all I could envision for us was the better, the richer and in health words and for good reason.  The best of “the better” occurred a few years into our marriage.  We accepted God’s gift of salvation and became “born again” on our pastor’s living room couch.  We have never been materially rich but we are blessed with our family in which we are rich beyond our wildest dreams.

No marriage though is spared from hardship.  In November of 1990 seven feet of water rushed through our neighborhood.  We lost everything in our home that day, including the use of our home for thirteen months.  That was hard but we trusted God and with the help of our church family we rebuilt and pulled through.

The biggest test of our marriage began when Karen became very sick and was diagnosed with mercury poisoning at the age of thirty-five.   We went to Colorado to a specialist.  She had all her molars removed and underwent extensive detoxification to remove the mercury from her body.  This took care of the poisoning but, because she was allergic to most dental materials, she had to settle for partials made out of a plastic.  These broke down frequently and never allowed her to maintain a good “bite”.  Over time she developed TMJ, cervical dystonia (a movement disorder in which a person’s muscles contract uncontrollably) and arthritis of the vertebrae in her neck.

This brings me back to my wedding vows.  “For better or for worse; for richer, for poorer; in sickness and in health; to love and to cherish from this day forward until death do us part.”  I’m not going to speak for any man other than for myself.  Living with a spouse in chronic pain is not easy. Saying our wedding vows before God doesn’t guarantee an easy life; they are a promise to commit ourselves to authentic love.  1 Corinthians 13 describes this tangible love this way: “Love is patient, love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs….It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  Love never fails.”

I am far from a perfect husband but from God’s own words come the target for which I constantly aim for in my relationship with Karen.  So even with my imperfection I will:

  • Be patient when my wife needs me most.
  • Be kind even when kindness may not be returned.
  • Not be envious of couples whose lives are free of chronic pain. (Every marriage goes through times of difficulty in one form or another)
  • Not be easily angered. (One of the shortcomings I’m working on)
  • Not keep record of wrongs whether real or perceived.

Keeping the above vows takes a lot of work on both our parts.  For me, to always protect, hope and persevere does not.  I will always cherish my relationship with my wife because my love for her will never fail.

 

 

COMPROMISE VS HAPPINESS

DSC_0688It’s a fact: Opposites do attract.  My wife and I are living proof of that.

  • Karen loves to talk while I prefer to listen.
  • She wants to take swing dancDSC_0687e lessons.  I’d rather swing a golf club.
  • Sappy romance movies make her cry but I cry from boredom.
  • She craves spontaneity.  I enjoy routine.
  • The outdoors energizes her but it only makes me sneeze.
  • Karen + garage sales = HAPPINESS        
  • Terry  + garage sales = COMPROMISE

Compromise doesn’t have to be a four letter word (actually it’s a 10 letter word).  To make any good relationship work, there has to be give and take.  Finding ways to embrace compromise is the key.  For example:  I love my wife to pieces and enjoy spending time with her but today Karen and I are going to a swap meet in Tulalip.  Now a swap meet is a fancy way of saying a gigantic garage sale.  Does putting gigantic in front of garage sale make it any more palatable to me?  No, not really but you don’t have to endure bee stings to enjoy your honey.

Men are born hunters; even for someone like me who loathes the idea of shooting Bambi’s mother.  Inside of me, and I bet most men, is the ancient instinct to hunt. Instead of blindly following Karen from one house to another, watching her shuffle through other peoples junk, I can turn this mind numbing experience into an adventure.  If I harness this new mindset toward finding one thing in particular, I will transform myself. Instead of being the overweight, khaki wearing husband who sleep walks through a maze of children’s clothes, cassette tapes, worn out furniture and grannies’ knickknacks any husband can turn into Elmer Fudd on steroids, who will not stop hunting until he finds that one-of-a-kind Bugs Bunny stuffed animal his wife can’t live without.  As long as I have a goal in mind, I now enjoy the process of achieving that goal with my best friend.  If I can’t find what I’m looking for, I’m like that fisherman who is skunked one day, goes back to camp, changes his bait and tries a different location the next day.

So make your wife’s life (and yours) a lot happier.  Embrace your differences by being creative in the manner in which you tackle compromise.  Now I have to go.  I’m hunting for a heart shaped vase today.