Telling My Stories For My Grandchildren

During this Covid19 pandemic quarantine season, what have you been focused on to occupy your time? It’s been a crazy time for sure. I’ve been busy doing various projects but the one I’m most excited about is I’m writing a book dedicated to my grandchildren. This book has been on my heart for a very long time and it feels great to be writing it. It’s a memoir type book but mostly my story (the good, the bad and the ugly) sharing my heart, my fears, reflecting on God’s faithfulness, scriptures I’ve clung to, answers to prayer, etc. to encourage each one of my grandkids and their walk with Christ.
The Lord kept speaking to me to write this book from Deuteronomy 4:9 “…do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them slip from your heart…teach them to your children and their children after them.”
I would cherish a book like this from my grandparents. I would have loved to have their stories written down to share with my grandkids today. I would have loved to have known their hearts, their fears, their strengths, their weaknesses, their favorite scriptures and how God answered their prayers.
I belong to an online writing group called Write More Write Now. Kim Steadman is a dear sister in Christ and the founder of the group. I’m in the middle of a 10-day writing challenge she initiated. The commitment was only 10 minutes a day to write. The last few days I’ve had to pull myself away from my computer…I’ve had a blast.
Today I wrote down some past prayers I’ve prayed and how God answered them…not always the way I thought He should have or could have. I also wrote down funny stories that would come to mind. At one point I laughed so hard I almost cried with tears running down my cheeks. It felt so good to laugh!

I took down some boxes of old photos from our shelf in our closet. It’s been fun to recall the memories behind the photos. I’m still deciding what photos, if any, I will include in my book. And I’m thinking of mailing a few of these old gems to my cousins and friends. It’s better to share them than have them collecting dust, hidden away in our closet.
The world as we have known it, has unusually slowed down a bit. May I encourage you during this Quarantine Phase to take the time to reflect. Do you have old pictures someone else may cherish? Do you have stories on your heart you want to pass onto your children or grandchildren? What will your story be? It will be a treasure you will pass along…but only if you write it. God Bless!

Is An Empty Nest Really Empty With A Dog?

Karen And Her Puppies!!!

If you know me at all, you know I love dogs. While growing up, my dad always made sure we had a dog or two. I have many childhood memories of me sitting on the steps of our back porch with my dogs (and cats) on my lap and beside me. I was their mom and they were my babies. I’d made them comfy beds out of cardboard boxes filled with old blankets. Sitting on our back steps with them was my happy place as a child.

Dogs love us so unconditionally…they never get angry and are always happy to hang out with you. Dogs (and cats) are gifts from God and truly fill a special place in our hearts and homes. When Terry and I decided it was time to start a family, I had a difficult time getting pregnant. I went to my gynecologist to rule out medical issues. We tried for over a year without any success. We became discouraged.

Terry and I decided to change focus and begin raising and breeding cocker spaniels. As we went to pick out our precious puppy, I laughed and told Terry, “Watch, now I will get pregnant.” Our beautiful daughter, Katie Lee, was born nine months later! No joke. Throughout our three children’s childhoods, we always had a cocker or two that helped raise them.

Time marched on and Terry and I began entering a different season of our lives. Our nest was about to be empty with our girls getting married and our son going away to college. Guess what Terry and I decided to do? Breed dogs, once again. We got Molly, our golden retriever and Zoe, a cocker spaniel.

We first bred Zoe and all was well until the Stillaguamish River decided to flood around our neighborhood at the same time she went into labor. We were encouraged to evacuate but I couldn’t leave Zoe but Terry had to be able to get to work, so he left to live at his parents until the floodwaters receded.

Zoe was struggling to give birth but the puppies were stuck and I was up all night with her. I called her vet the first thing in the morning and was told we must bring her in to be checked. I phoned Terry with the news. He parked on the side of the highway, put on waders and walked through the flooded field to our home.

We carefully wrapped Zoe up in a big, old blanket and carried her back through two-feet of water to our car. I’m so thankful there were not any photographers or journalists wanting to snap a picture or wanting an interview. I was an absolute mess and beyond exhausted.

Zoe’s puppies were too large for her to whelp on her own. She needed an emergency c-section and out came three beautiful plus-sized pups. During the c-section Zoe’s uterus tore so, with our permission, the vet gave her a hysterectomy. That was the end of our breeding cocker spaniels.

When it was time to begin thinking of breeding Molly, we went to get her health certificate. During her testing, the vet found a cataract in her eye so she didn’t pass. Our plan for breeding dogs was clearly a shut door.
The empty nest was a huge change and a whole different season of life, even with our dogs.😊 Terry and I both grieved when our kids left home. We felt very blessed with our beautiful children, the choices they were making, but it wasn’t without many tears to let them go.

When our kids were little, our pastor advised Terry and I to continue to date, to be intentional to invest in each other’s lives, so when we had our nest empty, we wouldn’t wake up one day and say to each other “Who are you?”

I felt I knew who Terry was but my question was “Who am I?” My role as a mom was finished. That’s all I ever wanted to be in life was a wife and a mom. I didn’t realize, the best was yet to come…the season of being Grandma “Ama” & Grandpa “Papa”. God truly does save the best for last!!
Our sweet Molly still abides in our empty nest. She is almost 13 and has cancerous lumps all over her body. She is our “lumpy old lady” and my “MeMe Moo.” We are thankful for every day she is with us. She still has a wag in her tail and a pep in her step and so much unconditional love to share with everyone she meets.

Molly is our first golden retriever and hopefully not our last. She loyally stayed by my side when my kidney infection went septic. She’s not allowed on our bed and never even attempts to get on it. But the morning I awoke with a raging fever, she hopped on our bed and began licking my face. She knew her mom was not well.

When we take Molly on walks, she always pulls us over to the people she wants to greet. I have met and talked with more people, than I actually wanted to, because of Molly. She loves meeting new friends. She still doesn’t understand that not everyone wants to meet her.

One memorable walk with Molly was back in Washington. It was just Molly and me walking down our country road. Two men I had never seen before were parked by our neighbor’s house. I was a little apprehensive but Molly insisted we meet them. I kid you not, one guy introduced himself as Star Feather Light Dancer. I couldn’t wait to see Terry’s reaction when I told him who I met.

Molly was a trooper but anxiously rode in our car with us in our big move from Washington State to Florida. We tried many different things to calm her down but nothing worked. She was thrilled when we finally arrived at our daughter and son-in-law’s house and was able to play with our five grandkids.

Molly and I have learned together how to endure Florida’s severe thunder and lightning storms. Now I know what rolling thunder is. It sounds like a bowling alley above our house with the balls striking the pins on our roof. Molly begins to tremble and retreats to our walk-in closet. I have joined her there a couple of times. If we are not home, she will go in our closet and close the door.

When Terry and I hold hands and pray together Molly thinks it’s our signal to love on her. She pries our held hands apart with her nose and begs for our attention. When we eat at the dinner table, she habitually begs with loud breathing and hot stinky breath. Terry has trained her to sit with her back to us while she is begging so we don’t smell and feel her hot breath on our legs and arms.

I think God has a sense of humor but also understands how much unconditional love comes from an aging, furry old dog. Oh Molly…how we love you and are thankful our empty nest isn’t quite empty with you!!!

WORDS…Power to Heal, Wound or Motivate

Words. Words have power, don’t they? Power to injure, power to heal and power to motivate change. Words can bless or words can curse. Are we careful with our words in what we say to others?

The Bible says in Proverbs 15:1 “A gentle answers turns away wrath but a harsh word stirs up anger.”

When unkind words are spoken to us, how do we respond? For me, it depends on the authority of the person speaking them and if what they said has any truth in it. If it’s someone I am close to and care about, it can be more hurtful.

One day my two sisters and I were out shopping in a nearby town. While we were walking on the sidewalk, a car slowed down and a young punk yelled “Old people!!!” at us. I laughed hysterically while my oldest sister wasn’t amused and was ready to give him a few choice words of her own!!!

I try to discern if what was spoken to me was true or not. If there is no truth in it, I try to let it go and forgive the person who spoke them. If there is any truth in it at all, it’s my choice what to do with those words. Will I take responsibility on my part and make a change?

As a child I never knew what to believe. In our family we  feared hurting each other’s feelings, so we often avoided speaking the truth. But sometimes truth spoken in love is exactly what we need to hear. Proverbs 25:11 “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.”

After becoming a follower of Jesus, I’m learning His Word is Truth and it does set us free. I’m learning there is a way and time to speak the truth in love. Of course, I’m not perfect and I often blow it so my words don’t always come across as loving, even though that’s truly my intent. Terry is a witness (or victim) of that.

I love the spontaneity and honesty of our grandchildren. Our Hannah is three years old and one day is going to be a loving truth teller. I know she will learn as she matures how and when to speak the truth.

God has used Hannah to help me see that I needed to make some changes. Around a year ago, Hannah had to go potty and asked me to stay with her as she went. Our bed is near the bathroom door so I sat on my bed and chatted with her. All of the sudden, Hannah said in shocking disbelief, “Ama, You Are Fat!!!” I laughed and said, “I know Hannah!” And then she said, “No, but Ama, You Are Really Fat!!!” I had to agree with her because I was at my heaviest weight in my life.

After that little loving chat, I decided to go to my doctor to see what I could do to begin to lose my 40 extra pounds.
Last week, we were visiting with Hannah and our other grandkids.

She poked Papa in the belly and then said, “Ama, I want to see your belly.”

I said, “No, you really don’t, Hannah. Ama’s belly is like jelly.”

She lifted my shirt and poked my belly and laughed and said “Your belly is like jelly, Ama!”

I told her it was from having three babies that stretched out my skin and it’s never been the same.

She proceeded to her mommy and poked her belly and said, “Mommy, your belly isn’t like jelly, like Ama’s!  Ama must have had more babies than you.” 😊

Her mommy has had three more babies than this Ama did. Guess what I have started today? Some core tummy exercises to firm up this jelly belly! Hannah’s words motivated me to action once again!!!

Food for thought:
Whose words have wounded you?                                            Whose words have encouraged or empowered you?
Are you familiar with God’s WORD, the Bible?

God loves You and His Word Is Truth. Whether we believe Him or not, HIS WORD is the ultimate AUTHORITY.

Revelation 3:20 “Behold I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.”

Jesus wants us not just to hear His Word, but to respond, act on it or apply it and obey it in our lives. His Truth does set us free.

Let’s chews our words wisely! CHEWS JESUS! Taste and see that the Lord is good.

 

How A $10 Bill Bought Me Some Humble Pie

Ever said something you later regretted?  Don’t feel bad; we have all ‘stuck our foot in our mouth’ at one time or another.

How about congratulating yourself prematurely over some moral achievement only to fail miserably when presented with another, similar opportunity.  This is not to be confused with ‘sticking your foot in your mouth’ because you never opened it in the first place.  This is known as ‘tearing your rotator cuff while patting yourself on the back’.

Proverbs describes it this way. “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.”

Let me give you a personal example:

One morning, while driving for Lyft, I picked up a teenage girl.  She had purple hair, numerous body piercings, several tatoos and wore army boots. As she settled in the back seat, my first thought was that I wouldn’t have anything to talk to her about.

I was about to turn on my favorite sports radio station, when I decided to give small talk a try.  I asked her how her day was going and for the next forty-five minutes we talked non-stop. Her parents had divorced and I was taking her to visit her father.  She talked about her battle with depression. She was a victim of physical and internet bullying.  Her means of coping was to cut herself.  When that didn’t help, she overdosed on prescription drugs.  Her heart had stopped by the time the medics got to her but by the grace of God she survived.

She had been to counseling and was very articulate in conveying her feelings and observations about her mental state. I told her how special she was and that I believed God had given her a second chance at life.  As I pulled into her father’s driveway, she thanked me for “the best conversation she’s had in a long time.”

For the rest of the day, I felt good about that conversation as well; especially for taking the initiative to begin a dialog despite my first impressions of her.

Later that afternoon, I was tired as I arrived at a restaurant where two middle-aged women waved at me to confirm I was their driver.  I pulled my car close to the picnic table where they were finishing up their meal.

One wore puffy, pink slippers and what appeared to be a tattered flannel bathrobe.  She took a long drag on her cigarette and slowly drug it through the leftovers on her plate.  They talked for a while before her companion reached into her purse.  Good!  She must be pulling out her wallet to pay the bill.  Instead, she held a pack of cigarettes in her boney hand, shook out one for herself and offered another to her friend.  They both lit up and resumed an animated conversation.

I felt my blood pressure rising.  Should I toot my horn to get their attention or perhaps pump the accelerator a few times.  Maybe I could just shoot them a terse text.  I chickened out and began to lower the passenger side window. I was about to ask if they really wanted a ride when they both stood and took a few steps toward the car.  I hate the smell of cigarette smoke so I was about to ask them to put out their foul smelling death sticks before entering my clean car, when they stopped to chit-chat some more.  JERKS!!!!

I put the car in reverse,  backed up parallel to them, leaned across the passenger seat and pushed open the door. They got the hint. The skinny one pinched out the flame and shoved her cig back into her purse while pink slippers flicked hers at my car.

I said, “Hello” between gritted teeth as they plopped into the back seat. They didn’t return my greetings but continued with their conversation.  I turned on the radio a louder than I normally would and sped away from the restaurant.

Halfway to their destination, pink slippers told me (not asked…not requested) but told me to stop at a 7-11 so she could buy more cigarettes.  I asked where it was and she replied that it was five or six miles after her drop-off spot.  I bit my tongue before asking if she could perhaps purchase cigarettes at a convenience store on the way to her home.

“Nope,” she replied.  “I want to see my friend who works at the 7-11.”

I thought about slamming the brake peddle into the floor to perform a safety check of my seat belts when the skinny gal put her hand on her friend’s lap and said, “Let the man stop at the Mobile station just ahead. He’s spent enough time with us.”

As pink slippers was inside buying her cigarettes, her friend tapped my shoulder.  I turned and she held out a $10 bill.  “Thank you for being so patient and kind.  My friend can be a little demanding at times.”

“You don’t have to do that,” I said rather sheepishly.

“Take it,” she answered. “You deserve it.”

No-I definitely did not deserve it.  I felt God took my unclean thoughts and  smeared them all over my face – but He’s not that petty.  I had to eat some humble pie that day.  Thank you God for revealing my pride to me.  I’ll try to do better next time.

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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