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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“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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Small Talk Is A Seed Which, When Watered, Can Grow Into Something Beautiful

“Small talk is an informal type of discourse that does not cover any functional topics of conversation or any transactions that need to be addressed.  Small talk is conversation for it’s own sake.”

The author of the above definition appears to believe ‘small talk’ is overrated as a means of communication.  Ellen DeGeneres agrees.  She says, “I hate having to do small talk.  I’d rather talk about deep subjects.  I’d rather talk about meditation , or the world, or the trees, or animals rather than small, inane, you know, banter.”

I have to admit, for most of my life I agreed with Ellen.

My mother likes to tell the story of the conversation she tried having with me after my very first day of school.  She asked a series of the usual questions every mother asks their child like, “What did you learn?…Did you have fun?…Did you make any friends? and…Was the teacher nice?”   

I didn’t say a word so she asked why I wouldn’t tell her how my day went.  As she tells it, I answered her by saying, “If you’d quit asking so many questions, I might be able to tell you something.”

In high school I could have cared less about who was breaking up with whom, who won the beer chugging contest over the weekend and guessing who had recently lost their virginity.  It all seemed so childish and pointless.  Whenever I was in a group, I secretly longed for someone to carry on a deeper conversation with.  So instead of joining in on the current conversation, I often stood silently by, pretending to show interest.

Looking back on those days, at worst others thought I reeked of a giant superiority complex and at best thought I seemed aloof.  I fooled many though into believing I was a great listener but I was actually only bored out of my mind unless someone pulled me away from the crowd to share a meaningful, one-on-one conversation.  This rarely happened because I was waiting for someone else to make the first move.  It wasn’t until years later that I discovered it was up to me to make the first move and it often involved beginning with small talk.

My wife, Karen became my full-time instructor on the art of small talk.  I learned that small talk is often a warm up to deeper conversations.  Slowly but surely I bought into this way of thinking but still often found it uncomfortable around strangers.

They say “practice makes perfect” and driving for Lyft and Uber has proved to be fertile soil to plant my ‘small talk’ seeds.  Every day I drive, I pray for divine appointments…riders who I can share words of encouragement with.  These are opportunities to water my seeds and see what grows.

Some riders also feel the same amount of disdain for ‘small talk’ as Ellen and the seed I plant can’t penetrate the layer of  rocky soil they place over that seed.  Other’s are open to small talk but won’t allow it to grow so eventually the conversation withers and dies.  Then there are those who God has given to me as the answer to my daily prayer.  These conversations start out small, but continue to grow until they blossom into the most beautiful flower imaginable.

For example: I picked up a young woman recently who was open to carrying on a conversation.  She asked me how I liked driving for Uber and I answered by explaining how ordinary small talk often led to extraordinary conversations and I told her a story.

While driving in Seattle I picked up a young women who was crying as she sat in the passenger seat of my car.  I asked her if she was okay and she responded by telling me she had just broke up with her boy friend.  I understood her feelings having raised two daughters who each went through break-ups of their own.  I shared some stories which made her laugh but she then feel silent and began to cry once more.

I asked her if there was anything else she wanted to tell me.  Without looking my way she told me she found out earlier that day she was pregnant.  She told her boyfriend who responded by telling her she had to get an abortion or he would break up with her.  The girl finally looked at me and said, “I won’t get an abortion so I broke up with him.”

I asked her if she had told her parents yet and she slowly shook her head.  “I’m afraid to tell them,” she said.  “I have two older sisters who are both the black sheep of the family but I’m the ‘good’ girl.  My parents will be so disappointed in me.”

She told me she loved her parents and knew they loved her so I explained how they probably would feel disappointment but that their love for her would soon push away that feeling and be her biggest supporters.

After a few more minutes of asking me for advice, she asked if she could change her destination.

“Sure.” I answered.

Her new destination was her parents house.

The girl in the backseat was quiet for a few moments and then said, “I think I’m your ‘divine appointment’ for today.  I can’t believe you decided to share that particular story to me because I’m going through something very similar.”

For the next thirty-minutes she talked, asked questions and by the time she exited my car to go to work,  she was smiling while telling me she hoped  to be one of my divine appointments again.

“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”  Ephesians 4:29

 

 

 

 

 

 

What Are You Waiting For?

WAIT!!!  I don’t know about you but I do not like this four letter word.  I’ve been told to “WAIT” a lot lately.  So I decided to look up it’s definition:
1) to remain inactive or in state of repose, as until something expected happens
2) to be available or in readiness
3 )to remain neglected for a time
4) to postpone or delay something or to be postponed for delayed
5) to look forward eagerly

Certain things we wait for with eager anticipation: the birth of a child, Christmas, birthdays, vacations and retirement.  Other things are not so fun to be waiting for: dental appointments, surgeries and serious test results.  Some things we wait for are significant life changers.  Terry and I have been praying for a precious man who was on the top of the waitlist for a set of lungs.  For him, waiting meant either life or death.

We sold our home in Washington and made a huge move to Florida, where our oldest daughter, Katie her husband Jason and five children live.  Our goal and intention was to stay with them for a short time while we get settled and find a home to buy. We found a couple of homes we like and are going through the process of getting preapproved for a mortgage loan. We have excellent credit and plan on putting over 60% toward a down payment.  We were not expecting to hear, “You will have to wait for two years because Terry is self-employed with Lyft and Uber.”

Really?  Wait?  Since then, we connected with another mortgage company and are now “waiting” for the house to close.  We were given April 12 as the original date to close.  Had a phone call from the lender and said it would be the 16th, then the 23rd and now the 30th.  WAIT!

God keeps reminding me in His Word I have a choice what my attitude will be while I wait.  “They that wait upon the Lord will renew their strength they will mount up with wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary, they shall walk and not faint.”  Isaiah 40:31. Yikes– I still have a lot to learn. I desire that quiet confidence and faith.

Doesn’t waiting feel like a waste of time?  I don’t want to waste my time while waiting.   Like the definition #3 says, it feels like being neglected.  I don’t know your situation you may be waiting for, but in the meantime what are we to do while waiting?  The temptation for me is to be anxious while waiting — as if that changes anything at all.  Philippians 4:6-7 “Do not be anxious abut anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

I’m learning to trust the Lord in the waiting room of life.  In our situation, Terry’s applying for new jobs while still driving for Lyft and Uber.  I’m praying for the Lord to open doors and shut doors, leaning in on Him as I begin a new Bible study, meeting new people and focusing to get to know God and trust His purposes for me one day at a time.

Here is some Truth To Chew On:
Psalm 27:14 says, ” Wait for the Lord, be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.”

What are you waiting for in life?  What is your focus while you wait?
Do you know that Lord Jesus Christ loves you and desires for you to receive Him personally as Lord and Savior?  Have you turned to Christ and decided to become a Christian and follow Him?
If not, why not?  What are you waiting for?

CHEWS JESUS…TASTE AND SEE THAT THE LORD IS GOOD!!!

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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!.

BE STILL AND KNOW….EVEN WHEN IT’S HARD!

Don’t you love it when the Lord gives you a special verse from the Bible over and over again, at different times and in different places? Lately, God has been speaking to me through Psalms 46:10, “Be still and know that I am God.”  That promise is soothing to my soul.  It makes me want to say “Ahhhhhhh” and relax.

You see, I’m not naturally a “be still” kind of girl.  I tend to think I need to strive to help God, in my own self reliant kind of way. (As if He needs my help).  I constantly need to remind myself,  I am a human being–not a human doing.  I am learning to rest in Him and trust Him, especially when circumstances all around me seem overwhelming and out of my control.

A couple of months ago I had phase II of oral surgery to put implants in my upper jaw.  The surgery took 4 hours for 5 implants and a bone graft.  For healing purposes, I couldn’t put my dentures in for a month.  Pureed food, pureed soups, smoothies, and juicing only were on my list of what I could eat for the first month of healing.

The first week after surgery was the toughest for me:  Throbbing pain from the bone graft, hungry for real food, grieving my temporary loss of comfort food, still too fluffy to fit into my fall clothes, walking by the mirror and wondering who is this old lady–it wasn’t the best of times. It’s been a very long season of dental suffering for me–I actually may write a book about it one day.  Usually, healing is with pain and it HURTS!  I hate pain.

I acknowledged all of my emotions before the Lord: the good, bad and the ugly.  But then I knew I had a choice to make.  I had to chews…what my attitude would be for the rest of the month? Would this suffering draw me closer to the Lord or would I blame Him for my pain?  Would I constantly be grumpy and bite Terry’s head off, even without my teeth?  I knew I wanted to chews thankfulness.  As hard as it was to slurp my soup down while Terry was crunching on real food–I began to thank God for what I was able to drink and swallow.

What am I learning in my suffering?  I am learning:

  • This world really sucks at times and I need Jesus to help me through each day.
  • God loves me and I can be honest with Him.
  • To wait on God and to listen for Him.
  • To trust Him, especially when it’s hard.
  • To surrender my selfish will to His purposes for me.
  • To receive His comfort He offers through the Holy Spirit.
  • That I will never quit learning.

Food is a necessity for life.  I think that’s why the enemy used food to deceive Eve and Adam.  Satan also used food to tempt Jesus when He was fasting for 40 days!  It’s true we need food to physically live.  Spiritually, we need Jesus.  Satan does His best to deceive us to see our biggest need–The need for a personal Savior, Jesus Christ.

CHEWS JESUS…Taste and see that the Lord is good.

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It’s Easier To Give Than To Receive…Just Ask Me.

Esther and Grandpa

It’s easier to give than to receive.  I know this all too well from personal experience.  You see, I am a giver.  I’ve always enjoyed giving gifts.  Over the years, I have volunteered to coach my brother’s baseball teams, then my nephew’s, my son’s, both my daughter’s, and now my grandson’s basketball teams.  I have refereed and umped numerous youth league basketball and baseball games.   I’ve taught Sunday School, led different Bible studies, and helped my wife as we traveled around the Pacific Northwest talking to churches about the Mother’s of Preschooler’s program.  Karen and I have financially given to our local church and to missionaries…both short and long term.

Please don’t misunderstand why I’m telling you this.  I’m not seeking your praise or a pat on the back.  I personally know many people who give far more of their time, talents and money than I ever will.  I enjoy giving.

The opposite side of the coin to giving is receiving and I find that to receive is far more difficult than to give.  I’m not talking about receiving birthday or Christmas gifts…I’m talking about receiving from the reality of experiencing a great need.  I hate feeling needy.

You see, I suffered a stroke on September 26, 2016 which began a long chain reaction of events which drained Karen and I physically, emotionally and financially.  (For more detail on this, please read my blog post… Job, You And I Have A Lot In Common.  http://desiretoinspire.life/dear-job-we-have-a-few-things-in-common-suffering/

Karen in the meantime had needs of her own.   In March of 2017 we got a refinance loan to pay for implants in her lower jaw.  The procedure was a success.  The bone in her jaw grew around and cemented itself securely to the implants.  Several bone grafts from her lower jaw were placed in her upper jaw were bone was insufficient for future  implants.

As August approached, the time arrived to plan for the return trip to Utah to have the ceramic posts inserted and to pay for the $17,000 procedure.  I hadn’t received a paycheck from the school district since June 1st and had used up all our savings.  We couldn’t borrow any more money and were wondering if we were even going to be able to complete the final stage of Karen’s dental journey.

Our three adult children, Katie, Jaymi and Michael asked us if they could start a Go Fund Me website to help pay for the completion of Karen’s need for dental implants in her upper jaw.  We thankfully agreed but inside we both struggled.  Our needs and perceived weaknesses would now be on public display like wild animals in a zoo.

The website started on August 13th and over $600 was raised within the first two weeks.  It was a very humbling experience to watch as $25, $50, $100 and $150 donations from family, friends, acquaintances, strangers and anonymous givers pour in.  Every day we prayed for God’s blessings on those who were giving so generously.

Miraculously, $9,785 was raised by September 3rd.  On faith, Karen made an appointment with the dentist in Utah on September 5th to have the ceramic posts embedded in her upper jaw.  We didn’t know where the additional $7,215 would come from but on September 4th we drove to Bountiful, Utah.

After the surgery, the dentist had both good and bad news.  Dr. Baker was planning to place six or seven post in Karen’s upper jaw.  Some of the bone grafts hadn’t taken so he was only able to insert five.  He told us four is the minimum he would do for dentures to securely attach so five is at least one over the minimum.

We spent that night in our hotel and prayed for the money to come in because the next day we had to pay the piper.  The next morning we checked our Go Fund Me account….$9,785…it hadn’t changed.  We arrived at the dental office and Karen was whisked away to the one of the back rooms to have a follow-up to the surgery while I was told my financial options by a woman at the front desk.  Really there was only one option…we had to finance the bill.  It was interest free if we could pay it off in two-years.  I swallowed hard as I signed for the loan.

The refinance loan we took out in March of 2017 raised our house payment an additional $150 per month, was now paying close to $200 per month for medical insurance,  was required to purchase  a newer car to drive for Lyft which was $280 a month and now we had just taken on another loan of $256 per month.

I was so happy for Karen and hopeful that her long road of dental pain would soon be over.  I was so thankful for all the donations which came in.  To be perfectly honest, I hadn’t expected that much.  I thanked God for these two answers to my prayers but felt disappointed in myself for now feeling the tremendous weight of debt pressing down on me.

I was working an average of six days a week driving for Lyft and still had to drain our remaining savings over the course of the summer just to make ends meet.  Our savings was now gone.  I wouldn’t start driving school bus for another couple of months and even then, I figured I would have to work three or four nights a week and all day on Saturdays just to break even.

Where would I find time to blog and finish the book I’m writing?  Would I have the time to help coach my grandson’s basketball team again this winter?  Where would the time come from to take the long walks with Karen that I enjoy and need so much?  I felt burdened and helpless and I hated feeling this way; where was my faith in God in light of the financial blessings I had just witnessed?

Karen had a follow-up appointment the first of October back in Utah.  In the middle of the fourteen-hour drive, we received a phone call from our daughter Katie.  A couple from their church had just donated over $7,000 to our fund.  That was enough and more to pay off the dental loan.  Relief poured over my parched soul like a thunderstorm in a thirsty desert.

Then it hit me.  All the people who gave so generously were just like me.  They loved to give.  It made them feel good to help meet a need.  But to be able to give, there had to be a receiver.  Without a receiver there would be no one to give to.

Then an old realization hit me in a new way.  We are all in need…why?  Oh, we all have our earthly needs but they are all different and temporary. No, we have all sinned and fall short of the glory of God.  We have a need for a Savior who will pay the debt of sin for us.  You see, God is the ultimate giver.  While the world was in opposition to God, he sent his only son to die for us.

Are you in opposition to God?  Financial debt leaves one in bondage to a creditor.  Sin leaves us in bondage to Satan.  Every breath you take is a gift from God but do you take that same breath and exhale your acknowledgment that Jesus is not only your savior but also Lord of your life?  Jesus gave his life for you.  He’s looking for people to accept that gift just like Karen and I accepted the financial gifts of so many people.   Their gifts removed some of the weight of financial debt from my shoulders.  Jesus can remove a debt we as humans can never remove ourselves.

I want to publicly thank all of those people who sacrificially gave to help Karen and I.  Now please consider turning your lives over to the One who sacrificially gave His life for you.  As Karen would say, CHEWS JESUS…Taste and see that the Lord is good.

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For The Moment All Discipline Seems Painful but later…

Do you enjoy change?  I don’t… I resist it.  I am very selective with what changes I commit to.  When I commit, I commit 110%.  One gift that comes from being in chronic pain is the discipline it’s teaching me.   My pain has been a teacher of discipline in many areas of my life.   I become frustrated, though,  if I don’t see instant results.  In a past blog post, I shared about my granddaughter, who also wants instant results.  She coined a new phrase when she doesn’t  want to wait until tonight or tomorrow…but wants it ToNow!!!  http://desiretoinspire.life/not-tonight-not-tomorrow-tonow/

Often the results we want require change on our part, which often takes time, but the results are our future reward.

I’ve been making “small” life style changes in my eating habits over many years now.  Sugar controlled my life….it was my drug of choice.  Before we had children, Terry and I attended Weight Watchers.  Sadly, the night we finally hit our goal and became lifetime members, we decided to go out and celebrate.  We went to Winchell’s Donuts and I bought four delicious donuts to eat on the way home.  If that wasn’t enough, we stopped at Albertson’s for a few groceries and I bought four more donuts for Moi!!!!  During the twenty-minute drive home, I consumed all eight donuts and didn’t even get sick.

A couple of years later, I attended a Bible study at our church called Joy In Discipline.  It was also a weight loss class and we would memorize Bible verses every week.   It was during this study, that my eyes were opened to the Truth of God’s Word.  God loved me just as I was.  He offered to come into my life to help me live by the power of His Holy Spirit.

After that study, I felt the Lord asking me to give up refined sugar….it controlled my life.  One night I asked Terry if he thought I could give up sugar, cold turkey.  (He was hopeful I could do it because when I baked cookies, I would eat most of them and only leave him two or three)

I prayerfully made a life style decision and chose to give up refined sugar.  It was hard at first, but then it became easier and easier.  I don’t even have the desire for cakes, cookies and donuts anymore.  I cook with agave, honey, coconut sugar or pure maple syrup.  I no longer crave sugar like I used to.  I am envious of people though, who can just eat one cookie or a piece of candy and be satisfied.  If I’m not careful, I can still go into PORK OUT MODE!!!

One of the verses I memorized in “Joy of Discipline” was Hebrews 12:11 “For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it!”  (Not necessarily instant results!)

Continuing to be frustrated with my weight, I went to my doctor a while back and asked what she would recommend to help me lose 20-30 pounds.  Her answer surprised me with its simplicity.   She said, “You need to exercise more and eat less.”  I laughed.   Why does it sound so simple, yet is so difficult?

Last winter, something needed to change if I was going to lose the 20 pounds I wanted to.  So on rainy days, instead of complaining about the weather, I pushed myself to get on my stationary bike to burn a few calories.  After a couple weeks, my jeans were looser.  I loved it!  Here I got the instant results I strive for but again I’m frustrated because riding the bike brought my chronic neck pain to a new level and I had to quit.  Now, summer is almost upon us and I’m right back where I started with another ten pounds on top of that.

Recently, Terry and I were getting a few groceries at Fred Meyers and making more intentional life changes with our eating.  A young mom was ahead of us in the grocery line.  While looking at our groceries, she smiled and commented, “Looks like a healthy lifestyle of eating to me”.

I smiled at her and said “Yes”.  And with God’s help, I’m excited to see the future results!

What areas of discipline do you struggle with?  Memorizing God’s Word helped me.

In The Game Of Life Do You Ever Want A Do Over?

Have you ever bitten off more than you can chew?  I mean that literally. From my years of dental procedures, I’m learning the importance of an aligned bite.  If the bite isn’t right, you are in pain.  The jaw bone is connected to the neck bone.  If the joints in the jaw aren’t happy, the neck isn’t happy.  If the neck isn’t happy, the brain isn’t happy.  When the brain isn’t happy you have major depressive disorder.  When you have major depressive disorder, you struggle to push through every day.  You wish you could get away from the pain and you try to not focus on yourself, but chronic pain is relentless, day in and day out.  Everything is an effort.  Comfort food is no longer a comfort.

When people ask how I’m doing, what should I say?  The polite but dishonest answer is, “Fine!”  Am I truthful and go into how badly I feel?  I guess it depends on who is asking the question.

Terry and I played The Game of Life with the grandkids one night.  Our grandson, Logan, chose to take the shorter route to begin the game and soon discovered that he should have taken the longer route to get his career.  His sister, Maya, took the long route and was rewarded with a higher income than Logan.  He wanted a do over.  He made us laugh and we gave him a do over.

I want a do over with my mouth.  I would have brushed my teeth three times a day and ate a lot less sugar.  Dental floss would have been my best friend.  This may have helped some, but inherently and genetically, bad teeth run in my family.

When Terry was a little boy, he wanted to be a dentist when he grew up.  I think God was trying to warn and prepare him for being married to me.  He should have listened.  I told him, he should have looked in my mouth and checked out my teeth before deciding to marry me.  His answer was very sweet!  He said, “You never look a gift horse in the mouth.  And you are a gift from God to me.”

I think if we are honest, we would all like a do over in one area or another in our lives.  We live in a broken world with frail human bodies that aren’t as perfect as we want them to be.  I think we all have an ideal picture of what our lives should be like…then real life happens.

For years I carried false guilt around I wasn’t meant to carry.   I used to believe God was mad at me for being undisciplined so He punished me with pain.  Oh I tried so hard to be disciplined enough to win back His favor so I could become healthy once more.  Even though discipline can be a good thing, it didn’t change my heart.  I continued to judge myself under my standard of thinking, believing they were God’s standards.

As a child, I perceived being weak as a bad thing.  I believed I had to be strong emotionally and physically to be loved.  I compared myself to others (it came as natural as breathing) and I always came up less than.  I played it well and appeared to lead a disciplined life.  On the outside everyone thought I was a good girl — but internally, I was as rebellious as they come.  I threw away the lock and key on the inside of my heart.  I couldn’t escape the shame and ugliness I felt, believing no one could understand, connect with, or love me if they really knew what was inside.  Over the course of many years, I discovered I could never be disciplined enough or do enough to win God’s favor.

For now, physical pain is my constant companion but false guilt doesn’t need to be.  Pain and suffering is a direct result of our fallen world.  I can’t control that.  False guilt is Satan’s way of distracting me from being all I can be in Christ.  I can control that by understanding and applying what God tells me through his Word.

                                             GOD SAYS TO US…

Therefore we do not lose heart.  Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.  for our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen.  For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”   2 Corinthians 4: 16-18

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God–not by works, so that no one can boast.”   Ephesians 2: 8-9

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come.”  2 Corinthians 5: 17

“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.”  Romans 8:1

 

To See or Not to See Through God’s Perspective

I went to the eye doctor this week for my annual exam.  I am legally blind without my contacts.  The doctor told me to let him know when I begin to see letters in a line.  I frantically thought, “there are letters in a line?”  All I could see was white fuzz.  Thank God for contacts and eye glasses to help me see.

I skimmed through facebook last night.  A video of a young boy who was colorblind, caught my attention.  He opened a gift of eye glasses that enabled him to see color for the first time.  As he put on the glasses, a huge smile spread across his face.  Tears of joy began flowing from eyes seeing color for the first time.  His world changed.

Today I was praying about a situation I was struggling with.  I thought I wish I had a pair of God glasses I could put on.  To be able to see things in His perspective on everything.  I realize that is why He gave us His WORD so we can, through the Holy Spirit, be learning His way in everything.  But I still would love a pair of God glasses!  My faith would be sight!

1 Cor. 13:1  Now we see things imperfectly like puzzling reflections in a mirror but then we will see everything with perfect clarity.  All I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.  NLT

Do you need to see things clearer, through God’s perspective?

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