Sunday, August 4, 2013

The Wisdom of Hallmark

Last night I watched a re-run of a Hallmark movie which I had seen before.  I'm not ashamed to admit that.  I really like a lot of them.  Schmaltsy?  Maybe. But they are often good for my soul and I find a little nugget of wisdom and hope that I can carry with me.  So it was last night.

I don't even remember the name of this movie...something about Leah.  And I'm not going to share the storyline.  Just the nugget of wisdom that has come back to me several times today.  It was something that the mother in the story said to her daughter who was going through a difficult time in her life that pierced my heart with it's truth.  She said, "A mother is only as happy as her saddest child."

I know that every mother out there knows the veracity of that statement.  Whether your child is an infant suffering from colic or a mother herself who is struggling with the cares of this life...or somewhere in know that your own happiness is completely woven into the tapestry of your children's lives.  When they are hurting, or struggling, you feel unsettled as you also experience the pain.  You'd do anything possible to ease the situation.  You'd make any sacrifice necessary to bring joy and healing.  You would simply do anything and everything to help.

But you also know, that sometimes there is nothing you CAN do in the physical sense.  You don't have the wisdom, the skills, the money, the name's just not there.  And it breaks your heart.

That's where I am right now.  I long to solve a situation, to bring peace and happiness out of an unsettled place.  But I don't know how.  I don't have the answers.  And the funny thing is, I'm not suppose to have the answers.  But I know Who does!

And that's why a little while ago, I took my lawn chair to a quiet place in my yard and simply sat and prayed.  I unburdened my heart.  I asked for peace for my child as well as for myself.  I claimed promises I know that God will keep.  And finally, I thanked Him for the way things are right now.  For the struggles, the pain, the unsettledness.  I thanked Him that He understands that a parent can only be as happy as their saddest child, because He feels the same way about all of His children.  Which means, He's only as happy as I am...or you are.  But the biggest difference is that He does have the power to bring the joy and healing when the time is right.

So, thank you Lord.  And thank you Hallmark!  A bit of wisdom for the day.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Welcome Baby Boy!

Yesterday I opened my Bible to one of the front pages and there I had the great privilege of adding my grandson's name to the list of other family members. Arriving on Thursday, Emerson James joined a family who is thrilled to welcome him into their hearts and lives! 

Weighing in at 8 pounds 15 ounces, Emerson is a snuggler who loves to settle down on your chest and sleep.  And this Grandma is so smitten with the little guy that she'd let him do that for hours!  With a head full of dark hair and dimpled cheeks, I just never get tired of gazing at that sweet face.

As Mommy, Daddy and Big Sister Ella adjust to their newly expanded family, I just want to say that there's nothing like a new grandchild to make the world feel right again!

This sleeping stuff is hard work...

...but I think I'm getting it down!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Elections - Who's in Control?

I know that in this country we are so privileged and blessed to have the right to vote.  Yet election time always leaves me feeling conflicted.  I'm not really a political person. In fact, the older I get, the more politics turns me off.  But then I think about the millions of people around the world who would give their lives to have a say in their future by being able to vote.  So the fact that I have that right, is a heavy responsibility and I try to do my best when it comes time to vote.

Last night I followed the various races and issues and when I went to bed, it was with a heaviness settling over me.  Sometimes it goes the other way and I feel awash with hope that things may change for the better.  However, due to some issues that were being decided and that impact me directly as well as indirectly, there was a cloud hovering over me as I slipped into bed.

This morning,  I drove to work struggling to find hope as I looked to the days ahead.  This country seems to be spiraling further and further away from any moral compass.  And as I drove through the dark morning hours, I felt that darkness engulfing me.  But then something happened. A song came on the radio that reminded me that nothing is truly out of control.

I was reminded that God is in control...and He always has been.  He was in control the day before the election, and He still is in control the day ofter the election. That has never changed, and never will.

So as I try to stay strong in the face of some of these political outcomes and wait for others still to be determined, I do so wrapped in the strong comfort of knowing Who is really in control.  And He will always get my vote.

Sunday, October 14, 2012


Forgiveness. I like to think that I am quick to seek forgiveness when I have wronged someone and just as swift to offer it when someone requests it of me.  I like to think that.  But I'm not so sure that it's always true.

I know that true forgiveness brings healing and restoration.  But I also know it doesn't come without a price.   As humans, we aren't able to just forget something that hurt or harmed us.  God is the only one who can truly forgive and forget.  The rest of us simply have to choose to move forward from that place of pain or injustice even though we still remember what happened.

That's why forgiving someone isn't for the faint of heart.  It is difficult and requires a generosity of heart and mercy that doesn't come naturally to most of us.  In his devotional, "A Year with God," R. P. Nettlehorst stated it so clearly that it was actually painful to me when I read it.  He said, "Forgiveness is the granting of mercy to one who deserves anger.  Forgivness is a decision against justice.  Forgiveness gives a benefit to one who does not deserve it." Those words go against everything that we believe is fair and just.  Yet they are at the very heart of true forgiveness.

In this life, we will all do things that cause others pain. And as much as we might like to, we can't go back and undo those things.  Many years ago, my pastor summed up forgiveness in a way that I  have never forgotten.  He said, "Forgivness means being willing to live with the consequences of someone else's sin."  We don't live in a vacuum.  Our actions impact people and relationships.  May we all offer and receive true, mercy-filled forgiveness that brings restoration

Sunday, October 7, 2012

I Struck Gold!

I struck gold last Saturday!  No, it wasn't in the form of gold nuggets or jewelry.  Actually, it was in the form of a wonderful afternoon spent in the company of my long-time friend, Missy.  I'm sure you know the children's song that goes, "Make new friends, but keep the old, one is silver and the other gold." (Admit,'re singing it in your head right now!)  Well, every word of that song rang true as Missy, my sister, Martha, and I talked, laughed and reminisced our way through a delightful afternoon.

Missy, Martha and I went to college together.  And as close as we can figure, it's been nearly 15 years since we have seen each other.  But a couple of years ago, Missy went on a search to find me.  She tried looking me up on Facebook which didn't work, since I'm not on Facebook.  But with a little additional sleuthing on her part, she found my daughter, Elizabeth's Facebook page where there was a link to her blog.  So Missy followed the link to Elizabeth's blog and discovered a link to my blog...and there you have!  She found me!  And finally, last Saturday we reconnected over lunch.

Since our marathon catching up session, I've done a lot of thinking about how life leaves its mark on us.  The unique circumstances, experiences, people, trials and triumphs that we each live through constantly redefine and sculpt us into the people we are today.  This doesn't mean that the current version of "us" is any more real or valid than who we were years ago.  It's simply the latest "release" that includes the most recent updates from our life experiences.

But part of what made Saturday's visit with Missy so wonderful was the opportunity to reconnect with the people that we all were so long ago. Afterall, those were the people that everythng else has been built upon. Aside from my family, no one who knows me today knows that person that Missy knows.

So, who were we back then?  We were best buds.  We laughed a whole lot.  We spent way too much time at the Unversity of Washington's library talking instead of studying.  We piled groups of friends into Missy's Volvo, Garbo, to go out to eat...way too often.  We turned up the radio and belted out our own version of the 1972 song, "Stuck in the Middle with You," whenever we went anywhere.  Missy was always known as "the funny one" and I was known as "the sensitive one" and we both balked at those titles, knowing that we could easily reverse the labels. Missy always pushed me to try new things, knowing that on my own, I wouldn't do them   Later, we were traveling buddies and coworkers.  She was a bridesmaid in my wedding and another "daughter" to my parents.

Of course, we have all changed since those experiences of so long ago.  As a matter of fact, Missy isn't even Missy anymore.  For many years now, she has gone by her given name of Melissa. But in a gracious act of friendship, she's allowed me to continue to call her Missy...since that's who she always will be to me.

So, last Saturday I struck gold!  It was a blessed reminder of just how rich our friendships make us.  Old or new, friends are always treasures.

That's me on the left, Missy on the right and my sister, Martha, "stuck in the middle" with us! (And, uh, no...we didn't color coordinate our outfits. We just know what makes for a great photo op!)

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

I Have a Name!

It's finally happened!  My granddaughter, Ella, has finally figured out what she is going to call me.  "Fama." I'm overjoyed!

Several months ago Ella started talking and bestowing some of the usual names on other family members.  Daddy was "Dada."  Mommy was "Mama."  Grandpa started out sounding like "Bapa" (which we loved!) but in recent days seems to have slipped into the more traditional "Papa."  But Grandma? Nothing.

It wasn't always like that. Last spring I remember going to babysit and walking into the house while she was finishing her dinner.  When she spotted me, immediately her arms reached out and she yelled, "Mama!"  When I picked her up from her high chair, she wrapped her arms around my neck and put her head on my shoulder.  I was in absolute heaven!  After that, "Mama" slipped out a few more times, but soon the confusion set in. You could see the slightly confused and embarrassed look on her face when she called me "Mama."

You see, our girl is smart, and it didn't take long for her to realize that there was a problem here.  How could she call both her mommy, who she saw everyday, and her grandma, who was in and out, "Mama?"  Something had to go. And that something was a name for grandma. 

So I have waited, and waited, and this weekend, my patience paid off!  Finally, Ella, gave me a name.  "Fama." Now our connection is complete!

I was thinking about this whole name thing this week and I realized how special a name is to our identity.  I never feel like I know someone if I don't know both their first and last names.  For years, my job involved working with about 500 employees, but just their names. I rarely saw what they looked like.  So when occasionally I was able to meet the individual and put a name with the face, I felt like I had completed the connection. 

Whether we like our names or not, the fact is, they are deeply important to who we are.  They give us a framework upon which we hang the rest of our identity. 

In Isaiah 43:1, God says, "I have called you by name, and you are mine."  The fact that Ella now knows my name makes me happy.  But the fact that God knows, and calls me by my name makes me rejoice! So whether He's calling me "Fama," "Laura," or "Daughter," it doesn't matter. Because, anyway you say it, I am His!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Empty Your Pockets

For some reason, during my quiet time this morning, I had this memory of my dad emptying his pants pockets when he came home from work.  He'd go into the bedroom to change out of his work clothes and put on his jeans to relax for the evening.

The process involved emptying everything out of his pockets and placing it all on his dresser.  Out came his wallet, his keys, the loose handful of change, his comb and handkerchief. And all of it found its nightly place on the dresser...except for the handkerchief which usually made it into the jeans pocket.   In the morning, before Dad left for work, he would reverse the routine, putting the items back into his pants pocket to carry with him throughout the day.
But not everything made it back into his pockets.  If there were too many coins, he'd sort them out so the change didn't weigh so much.  Sometimes, he'd set aside a screw or washer that he had been carrying with him until he could go to the hardware store to find the replacement he needed for one of his projects.  But once he'd made his purchase, the old item got tossed. It was a quick, and effective cleansing that prepared him for his day.

This morning, I was surprised by the memory of my dad and this ordinary, insignificant routine.   But as I was thinking about it, God seemed to whisper to me, "That's what I want you to do, Laura.  Every night, I want you to "empty your pockets."  Sort through all the cares and burdens and leave all the weight and concerns with me.  I want to give you a fresh start each day. I will carry yesterday's burdens for you."

Today has been one of those days that I have felt weighed down with cares for several family members and friends who are struggling with some serious, and painful things.  I prayed for each, multiple times, and yet my "pockets" have felt extremely heavy. 

So, tonight, as I get ready for bed, I'm thankful that God whispered to me this morning.  He knew that I'd need to take Him up on his offer to shoulder the concerns I've kept stuffed in my pockets today. All I need to do is empty them out into His hands.