Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Once Upon a Work Night

I love, LOVE it when God shows up unexpectedly in the middle of my circumstances.

I was at work last night, anticipating a typical evening of rushing around trying to get everything done - while trying not to look like I'm rushing, but that I have all the time in the world to spend on the individuals under my care. *ahem*
I had successfully completed my first task when seemingly out of the blue a young lady appeared behind me, and told me that she was supposed to be trained by me that evening. And I'm thinking, Wait. What??? This is my fifth official day "on my own" and I'm supposed to be training you??? I still have a cheat sheet in my pocket to make sure I don't forget what to do. How can I possibly help you?
After further discussion I learned that this young lady had already been trained on the other wing of the building and just needed to learn the particulars of the "south side".
And my level of oh-my-gosh-I'm-going-to-ruin-her pressure went way down. *wink*

With the knowledge that she already had a certain amount of knowledge, I decided it would be OK to ask her questions while we did our tasks - as opposed to telling her things she had already learned. So as we worked I inquired about her family, I found out about her college plans and dreams, and I heard about some of her struggles. Along the way she overheard me praying with one of our residents, and through our conversation afterwards I discovered that my co-worker is a Christian as well.
Therefore, later in the evening when she was talking about her sturggle some more I felt confident that she would be willing for me to pray for her, too. And she was. So I held her hands and asked God to give her peace in her situation, courage and grace to do what she needs to do, and favor with the one who will be listening to her plea. It was a tender moment, and I was grateful to God for bringing me to it.
As the evening continued, so did opportunities for me to speak into this young lady's heart and life. I was amazed at how God lead our conversation, and I was delighted to be His instrument of grace. Honestly, I was also kind of surprised this scene was happening at all - since my initial thought was that I had nothing to offer. But, as HE does, God made it plain to both of us that HE was behind our meeting, HE was orchestrating the circumstance, and HE had a good plan.

In what ways has God shown up in the midst of your moments?


Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Well, Bless My Heart!

So, I cleaned up my corner of the room yesterday.
That is, I went through all the stuff that has accumulated in, on, and around my nightstand for the past, uh, I really don't know how many years.
Except that it can't be more than eleven.
Cuz we've only been in this house for eleven years, and I know I've cleaned my corner at least once before. *gulp*
Anyway, I cleaned it up.
Purged a lot of things I thought I might need, use, or want someday. And in the process, I found the most delightful note. I know for sure why it was kept among the things I might need, use, or want someday. And, no, I am not purging it. Because some day I know I'm going to want to find it again!

Hey Mom,
Thank you sooo much for letting me have the beta fish, and for feeding my Praying Mantis! It means a ton to me and you are awesome for doing that, cause most moms won't. If there is any thing I can do to repay you just tell me. And here is an extra 5 dollars from lunch that I didn't use. It's all yours.

love, Josh
The note included no date, but the Praying Mantis had to have been from when Josh was in 5th or 6th grade. And it simply blessed my heart to read those words from his - especially to remember what things were dear to him at that time. Namely babysitting the class beta fish, catching crickets for a Praying Mantis, and five bucks!
Oh, when life was that simple. *sentimental sigh*


Friday, October 26, 2018

Not Today, Satan

Tuesday evening after I discovered I had never actually purchased the shoes my son was misssing for the wedding, Brian and I decided to take a walk around the mall. And in the middle of our stroll, we were stopped by one of the vendors at a kiosk in the center of the mall.
Honestly, I really don't like being approached in this way, because I am entirely too cheap to buy whatever they're selling - so I feel like we're wasting time for both of us. But I didn't want to seem rude by just breezing past, so I stopped to listen to what he had to say.
It was skin-care.
Again, I felt the urge to move on - because I just don't put a lot of money into those products.
But, AGAIN. I didn't want to seem rude. So I played along. I let him put the amazing cream under and around my right eye. I listened to him explain that as we get older our bodies lose collagen so we get wrinkly and stuff. A short time later, I admitted that I saw the product was already making improvements. I truly did notice the "crow's feet" (as the salesperson labeled them) were less pronounced on the right side. And I acknowledged the remarkable wrinkle reduction on the woman whose picture he showed me.
Yes, it was lovely to know that the skin-care products were from all natural ingredients, hadn't been tested on animals, and the packaging had some re-cycled materials in it. Lovely. But I still wasn't going to make a purchase, and I told him as much.
Ah, but then he pulled out his clever-card and I'm sure he thought he had me. See, he was having a Halloween Special. I could get all these great products - which usually sell for nearly $1,000 - for just $666. Isn't that clever? Halloween Special. 666.
Poor guy had no idea who he was trying to sell to. That even though I love a good play-on-words, I took his "pun" as assurance NOT to buy.
He had other, less expensive, items in which he tried to interest me. Things that normally sell for $10 - available as a part of his Halloween Special for a mere $6.66.
No. Sorry.
Eventually he accepted my, "No, thank you. Thanks for your time and concern for my wrinkles," and Brian and I continued on our way. Or maybe we just continued on our way without him accepting my, "No." It was kind of hard to tell. *wink*

Anyway, that night and even the next morning as I stood in front of the mirror I couldn't help but compare my right eye to my left eye. There is truly a difference between the "crow's feet" after only one application of that collagen stuff. And I'm all, Seriously??? I wasn't at all discontented with my skin before that guy put that stuff on my face and softened the appearance of wrinkles.
But now I stood before the mirror comparing. And feeling angst begin to rise. I thought, Should I go back to the mall and get the 30-month supply of amazing cream so I can lose the crow's feet and defy the effects of aging? (And I remembered something I heard years ago - Comparison is the killer of contentment.)
I think it was in that moment when God's Spirit convinced me to quit comparing. (It is tricky, by the way, to not look at both eyes when you look into the mirror!) I was fine with my lines before I met that man, and I am going to be fine with them now, too. It helps to remember something I heard Erma Bombeck (I think it was her!) say years ago, "I don't want to go through my life looking like I've never smiled!"
I'm gonna go with that philosophy.

I am not 20 anymore. (Thank You, Jesus!)
I'm losing collagen, so I have gray hairs and wrinkles. (Thanks, Eve. This is part of the Fall, right?)
One day I'm going to have a brand new, resurrected body and none of this will matter. (Thank You, JESUS!!!)
And in the meantime, I'll take that $666 dollars and use it for something BETTER.


Thursday, October 25, 2018

The Tale of the Missing Shoes: A True Story with a Real Lesson

It was Saturday, October 13 at 8:45 in the morning. (I know, because I just checked my phone!)
I was at the church, ironing a bride's maid dress, thinking all was right with the world.
Then my phone rang.
It was one of my sons, calling to ask if I knew where my other son's shoes were. And I'm all, "I don't know! Ask him. They're his shoes..." But, as it was further explained to me, the reason for the calling son's call was because the other son had no idea where said shoes were to be found. And he thought I might know. My only response was, I hadn't seen them since we bought them. (Remember the really great story about the amazing deal I got on the boys' suits? Well, that was the last time I had laid eyes on the shoes. I figured they went to my son's room with him when we got home.)
And with that, our phone call was over.
The next half hour involved three more calls (from the son-missing-shoes) wanting to know if I was sure I didn't know where they were, and what should he do if he couldn't find them? I held back on my desire to ask why this son had waited until the morning of the wedding to get his things together, but I did manage to offer an answer he didn't like, anyway. When he asked, "What do I wear???" and I said, "I dunno. Tennis shoes?" he, uh, hung up on me.

In the end, he showed up to the church looking great. The gray tennis shoes were hardly even noticeable in contrast to his nice suit and amazing good looks. *wink* And the rest of the day went off without a hitch. (OK, the photographer lost an SD card which contained all the pictures taken before the ceremony, but apparently that has been located. So, it's all good.)
HOWEVER, we still had the unanswered question of where those shoes were located. I admit, when I got home I began looking for them, too. And continued with the alertness for days. Eventually, I determined that in the middle of the busynes of buying suits and ties and stuff - and considering we were checking out as the store was closing (so there was a bit of an added hustle) - we must have inadvertantly left behind the package with the shoes in it. Oops!!!
So, the other day I finally got around to calling the store to ask if they *might* have an extra pair of shoes in their inventory. Ya know, like the shoes somebody bought four weeks ago, but didn't miss until TWO weeks ago, so they got put back on the shelf, maybe? The manager with whom I was speaking told me to just bring in the receipt sometime (Because I couldn't decipher the codes to tell her over the phone what item number went with the shoes in question.) and they would "take care of it". I didn't know how they would do it, but if bringing in the receipt would solve my problem, I was all for it.
And that night I took in the receipt, and my embarassing little story of not realizing for two weeks that we didn't bring home everything we purchased.

The rest of the story goes like this: The manager on duty graciously listened to my tale of woe, and proceeded to enter each item number on my receipt into the computer - to find out if the missing shoes were in the store somewhere. And, when he got to the end of the list we discovered the shoes weren't on the receipt at all!
Apparently, in the hustle to get us through check-out and out of the store that fateful night, the shoes in question never got scanned, bagged, or paid for. And since a certain son of mine didn't care to care for his packages that night (or any time between then and the wedding...) the missing (never-purchased) shoes went completely unnoticed.
Probably got re-shelved the next morning. *exasperated sigh*

Annnnd, the moral of the story is, uh, two-fold, really.
1. Always check your bags.
2. Don't wait until the last minute to get your stuff together.


Wednesday, October 24, 2018

More Wedding Pictures

Because, honestly(!!!), I am just overwhelmed with things that need to get done.
Progress is being made, I promise, but the "stuff" keeps piling up. Tell me you understand.
The nice thing is, I keep finding more pictures to share - and if they delight your heart even a fraction of what they do mine, well, then I'll consider that a win. *smile*

Here's one of the entire new family.
The kiss.

A little celebration.

More celebration.

Even more celebration.

And a little fun on "Noah's Ark" playing Titanic.

Ahhhh, the joy of a love and a life centered on JESUS.

P.S. Speaking of marriages centered on Jesus - got any plans this weekend? A couple of months ago I had the opportunity to view a pre-release screening of the movie, Indivisible. It is such a good, GOOD show. And it is opening in theaters this weekend. I highly recommend you go and see it!


Monday, October 22, 2018

Wedding Pictures

I really do plan to return to regular posting. Some day.
But there have been extraneous circumstances, and, well, that's my excuse! *grin*

Until then, I do have a few pictures from the wedding to share:
The happy couple before it all began.

The wedding cake, made by one of Elizabeth's best friends. (Notice the topper? Elizabeth loves squirrels, and Phil loves corgis.)
They made a wall hanging mimicking the cake topper. Bought out all the sunflowers from dollar stores around Michigan, cut the heads off, "pressed" them with a hair dryer to flatten the petals, then hot-glued them into place on a great big piece of tulle.
This is where I started sobbing. Watching my baby girl dance with her daddy.
The song? Butterfly Kisses.
There wasn't a dry eye in the house.
Including theirs.
Annnnd, the waterworks continued when Phil and his mother took the floor.
But I think this one says it best.
Indeed, I believe Happily Ever After is in store for these two.
Because of their love for each other - and their love for GOD, which comes before all things.


Monday, October 15, 2018

The Bridal Dance

Ahhhh, the wedding was beautiful on Saturday.
And as I stood (surprised!) watching my daughter and son-in-law performing their bridal dance, I just knew I needed to share it with you here. Enjoy!!!


Thursday, October 04, 2018

"T" Minus Nine Days

That's how long we have until the wedding.

Nine days.

Soooooo, Imma sign off from the blog-world now in order to preserve my sanity and see if I can help my dear daughter locate hers. I anticipate being back (WITH PICTURES) after the 15th.

Grace and peace to you!

Wednesday, October 03, 2018

Another Thing

Monday I told you about the wonderful thing God did Saturday during the retreat at which I was speaking. But there was more.
He didn't wait until the second break-out session to show Himself to me.
Rather, it began almost the moment I walked through the door.
As I entered the building and began looking for a staff person who could show me to the room in which I'd be presenting, I couldn't help but notice the keynote speaker delivering her message in the main auditorium. Couldn't help myself, that is, because she was speaking loudly and very passionately. In fact, at times I would say she was nearly yelling, and though I couldn't see them - I imagined the women sitting on the edge of their seats as they were listening.
As I made my way into the break-out room, I caught myself comparing my delivery style to that of the weekend's keynote speaker. I was having thoughts like, Since I don't present myself that way, I must not be good enough. And, If I want to be a sought-after speaker, I need to be more like her.

Fortunately, God stepped in right away and put an end to that foolishness before it got out of hand.

HE reminded me of my unique creation, and convinced me of HIS wisdom in the way He made me.
At times like that one, God admonishes me to quit the comparison and choose to trust Him, instead.
And I know He speaks truth in those moments.
I know He made me to be me, not "her" - whoever she may be.
But, oh, it can be so difficult, ya know? Because I think sometimes our enemy wants nothing more than to distract us from what God has called us to do. And what better way to fluster us than to get us to fix our gaze on someone/something else?

Nevertheless, Saturday God called my attention back to Himself and His work, and He led me down the path of trust. It was almost as if I could hear His words echoing through my heart. Karen, I made her to be her. I gifted her with certain ablities and I gave her a unique disposition. If I wanted you to be like her, I could have done that. But I made you to be you. Right down to the silly way you laugh at corny jokes. Dear one, will you just trust Me, and be the you I created you to be?

Anyone else need to hear those words spoken to your heart???


Tuesday, October 02, 2018

When Boys Get New Clothes

So, I think you know we have a wedding coming up in the family pretty soon.
What you may not know is that neither one of my sons have clothing which even resembles something-nice-that-you'd-wear-to-your-SISTER's-wedding. Thus we have been talking about the need to go shopping someday to get my guys some new duds.
Annnnd, last Friday was that day. Matthew informed me his schedule was open, and I'd better take advantage of the opportunity while I had it. So, we got in the van and went to Penney's. (Because that's where Google told me to go and they were having a sale on men's suits.)
Finding the right stuff was an adventure but we succeeded. Then we found out at check-out that we could save an additional 45% if I opened a Penney's card.
OK, typically when these offers are made I politely decline - because I really don't need another credit card, and because the offer is usually for 10-15% off. But this offer was 45%.
And the deal-finder in me just couldn't say "no." So I didn't!
Oh, but it gets better. When we were finished, the cashier told me the 45% thing was good for 24 hours.
As in, I could bring Josh back and get him suited-up for huge savings, too.
And that's just what I did.
Oh, but it gets better, still.
Matthew came with us to pick out Josh's suit, and the two of them had quite a bit of fun together. Sometimes I just stood back and watched. And felt all the feels.
Then it came time to pick out their dress shoes, and one of my sons (who shall remain nameless) put on a hilarious show of "walking the carpet" - at which time I was having flashbacks of a similar thing he used to do at about age 5. Warmed my heart right there.
And thennnnnn, we got home and I found my boys enthusiastically telling their soon-to-be brother-in-law about their new clothes. The three of them started comparing notes and joking about making fashion statements and all the things.
And I? Stood back and watched again.
I fully enjoyed their camaraderie. I didn't mind the noise, rather, I reveled in it. My heart delighted in the friendship and fun I saw playing out before my eyes. And I thought, Who'd have figured new clothes could produce all this???