Wednesday, August 29, 2012

How Division is Tearing Down America and Souls

This week I've had something rolling around in my brain that I simply can't let go of. It is the spirit of division and the things that divide us as human beings.

I am approaching the ripe age of 40 years young and have become pretty defined in what I believe. I'm open to new things, but my basic belief system is in place and I'm going to be hard to budge. Many of my friends and acquaintances are in the same boat. However, their beliefs and thoughts may be very different from mine. And, sometimes those beliefs divide us.

The basic division symbol in math represents it best: one is on the top, and one is on the bottom. But, if we are really loving people, we are standing together, not divided. 

From the beginning of time, people have been divided. The issues may have changed, but division was there. Today the big defining things seem to be: Republican vs. Democrat. Pro life vs. Pro Choice. Men vs. Women. Homeschool vs. Public School. Christian vs. Atheist.  Liberal vs. Conservative. And the list goes on and on. Honestly, I'm sick of it.

These "issues", while important, are still just issues. The issues are NOT people. People are more than an issue. Yet, we allow these things to divide us. This separates us as human beings. Isolates us from one another. And, we only feel comfortable around people who believe the same things as we believe.

Maybe it is the political climate as we approach the 2012 election of a new president that has me stirred up. Seeing people bash each other in commercials and fight it out on face book has me sick to my stomach. Even Christians are in the heat of the battle, and rightfully so as we have interests to protect. But the thing that will tear this country down quicker than a nuclear bomb is division. And we are well on our way to being so divided against ourselves, that we might as well declare war on each other. After all, we act more like waring countries than we do One Nation Under God.

We are called to love all people. ALL PEOPLE! Regardless of what they believe, their sexual preference, or the color of their skin. We don't have to practice what others practice or believe what they believe, but do not forget people are human beings. It was important to Jesus and it should be important to us.

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. 1 Peter 4:7-9 

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love1 Corinthians 13:12-13 

The reason the greatest of these is love is because Jesus didn't want us getting tripped up over issues and hating our neighbor because he voted differently than we did. Remember, there is nothing new under the sun.

What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sunEcclesiastes 1:8-10

God knows what is going on. He knows the political climate. He knows our nation is in moral decline. He knows! But, he has still called us to love our neighbor as our self.

So, I challenge you today. Invite a co-worker to lunch that doesn't see eye to eye with you. Call an old relative that you stopped speaking to years ago. Call that high school buddy you lost track of a long time ago because they went a different direction.  If you really want to watch the devil squirm, repair a broken relationship. How? Just remember they are a human not an issue.

This one is old school! Kids, Dolly Pardon sang it first. :) 

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Keep Calm and Carry On: Parenting Boys

Breath in....breath out....close eyes...repeat.

That is about the best parenting advice I can give you, especially if you parent boys. They are just delightful...most of the time...that is, until you are trying to repair something at 10:00 pm and it won't fix!

This morning as I was looking for something to wear in my closet, I just happen to look up. When I did, I noticed something was wrong with the attic door.   Then I remembered this little voice asking me, a few days prior, "What is an attic?"

The only entrance into our attic that we never use is a small square in the top of my closet. I have never even opened that door.

We live in the country and I have absolutely no idea what might live up there in the attic, but my first thought would be the possibility of a mouse! I hate mice with a passion! I'm not scared of them, but they are disgusting and make huge messes that I have to clean up! So I have always made sure that even the smallest crack around that door is caulked shut!!

Low and behold that door, which is actually nothing more than an old piece of beat up sheetrock, is pushed up! It's not totally off, but you can see it is open all around the square. My son had pushed it straight up and it was stuck.

I was in a hurry to get to work so I left it as it was and closed the closet doors. I didn't want all my air conditioning cooling the attic!

Unfortunately it was late when we got home. I remembered the closet and had a conversation with my son about it. He told me he could not get it shut. At first we tried together...and I was calm. When that didn't work, he got down and I tried...still calm. I sent him to get in the shower while I tried to complete this simple task

It's a square. Just a square! But that darn piece of a door would not go back in. And to make matters worse, there was dirt and pieces of crap falling out of the attic and down my arm!

Did I mention it was late? My patience may have begun wearing thin. I got down to fetch a smaller stool and discovered that Denise The Mentice was NOT in the shower! After a short discussion (it could have been a little more like a come to Jesus meeting!), he was in the shower and I was back on task.

The dirt and other remains are steadily falling down the right side of my arm. I'm lodged sideways, standing on the edge of a stool, trying to finagle this thing with one arm. Needless to say, I may have lost all patience by now.

I get down again. Walk into the hall and both linen closet doors are wide open. Numerous towels are laying on the floor. These towels are outside the bathroom door, not inside where my son could actually use them. As I glance over at the door I notice there are two more towels poking out from under the bathroom door. One boy. Five towels that I can actually see. My temperature is rising through the roof at this site. There is nothing that makes a mama madder than clean laundry on the floor!!! I sent the boy to take a bath not wreck the rest of the house.

I slam the linen closet doors shut. I have had about all the little boy disasters I can handle for one night! My husband comes to see what is wrong. (If a woman is slamming a door, something is always wrong!)

He laughed a little and gave me a hug and then tried to fix the attic door. I warned him he too would be acting like me if he tried to fix it. He attempted it but also had no luck. So we both gave up.

When my son finished his shower, I asked him what was up with the towels. He explained he was "keeping the crickets out of the bathroom". Did I mention we have a cricket infestation right now?   Add crickets to this story and you begin to see the craziness!

A little later I hear a banging sound coming from the bathroom. What now? My son comes out holding the toothbrush holder that is normally stuck to the wall. "I can't get it to stay on the wall?" Really? Really!!!

"Just put it down and step away from the bathroom," I try to say in the calmest voice I can muster up. When I go in to see about it, I quickly realize the problem. The holder only holds four toothbrushes and he has managed to squeeze eight in it, making it way to heavy to hang on the wall. (We are a family of four so it is beyond me why we even have that many toothbrushes.)

A friend of mine once said, "These are the things memories are made of!" If I survive parenting, I'm sure the memories will be hilarious. Until then, I may have to take up drinking.

Deep breath in....deep breath out...remember that you love your kids, even on the days that everything is broken. They really are precious...when they are asleep. :)

In situations like these, I meditate on this thought! 

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

This is Why I Believe

Some people simply do not believe in God. But honestly, there are just too many amazing stories within my own family for me NOT to believe! God has done some amazing things that are undeniably HIM beyond the shadow of a doubt. 

I hijacked my sister-in-law's facebook post (with her permission) because it is yet another amazing God story! 

On Saturday her husband went into the hospital with some kind of an infection. They thought it was originally a spider bite, but the bacteria from the infection spread and started deteriorating the flesh. He had to have two surgeries to remove this bacteria. I don't have all the details yet on the medical definition of what exactly was wrong with him, but it was very serious. 

The rest of this was written by my sister-in-law. I have inserted a couple of comments in parenthesis to expand on some things. I have italicized her words.    

Ever have doubts? I do... I doubt I am a being a good Christian...I doubt that I should be blessed...I doubt I am a good wife mother, daughter, sister, niece, friend.. But then something happens and I am completely dumbfounded! 

I got a call Saturday that Scott was sick. I got on the phone with him and I knew something was terribly wrong. He just kept saying, "This man is coming to get me in 3 days!". 

I said, "Okay, but right now I need you to go with Roger to the doctor." He agreed to go. 

My mom and I got everything taken care of so I could head to Round Rock, Texas. ( Scott had been working in East Texas and she had to travel 5 hours to get to him.)

My father-in-law and I drove into Round Rock knowing that Scott had no idea who we were (if this was permanent-then I could embellish our past as I saw fit). Scott didn't recognize me, but thought his Dad looked familiar. 

He again began to tell me about the man who was coming to get him in 3 days. The man's name was Edward and there was a woman with him named Mary. He asked if I knew them. I said "Yes, of course I know them."

Scott said," Who are they?". 

Those two beautiful people taking care of my husband were his grandparents. 

You might think he was hallucinating. But you would be wrong. Here is where the story becomes the miracle. 

I told Scott about us and our four children. He was amazed and excited. He said "I can't wait to meet them" He turned his head and began to talk, but not to me. He said "I love you and I want to go with you, but I can't. I have babies!"  He began to cry and didn't say anything for a bit. 

He looked at me and said, "Jake was sick, and this woman named Mary took care of him." (Jacob is their son who miraculously recovered from bacterial meningitis three years ago. Doctors told us all to say our goodbyes because he would not survive.)

Are you amazed yet? I was! 

We continued to catch up..there was a lot to tell him. 

Scott began to run fever, the nurse came in and gave him some Tylenol. Within a very short time... like minutes....,. Scott broke out into a sweat. I bet you know what I'm going to say next! Yes, that is right. Mary had come to Scott again and said to him. "I am going to break this fever!" He was so overwhelmed with emotion when he told me what she did for him. 

Mary past away when Scott was about a year and a half. Edward past away just a few years ago. He was their first grandchild. He talks highly of them and from what I learned this past week they love him dearly too. 

I think my husband doubts his worthiness along with the rest of us. God doesn't.

God's Mercies are New Every Morning!

Isn't that a great story? That family has seen some crazy miracles! Not sure what God has in store for them, but he is certainly making believers out of them and strengthening all of our faiths. :) 

Maybe you don't believe in God, but I do. These miracle stories (and we have more!) are too hard NOT to believe! We know beyond the shadow of a doubt that God has been there through some dark hours in our lives. We can't make you believe, but God has sure made us believe. If you want to believe, just ask him to show you. 

Monday, August 6, 2012

Oh How He Loves Us: A Divine Appointment

God goes to great lengths to show us how much he loves us. I know this from experience, but like most people, I too need reminding. And, He did just that this week. He orchestrated a divine appointment to show a young lady just how much he loved her.

It was a typical Monday morning. The kids and I were scurrying to get out the door, late as usual! I had too much to carry so I handed my laptop to my son and asked him to carry it so I would have a free hand for my coffee. I grabbed the rest of my things and out the door I went.  As we were driving down our 2-mile stretch of dirt road, I realized I had forgotten my coffee. I turned around to go fetch it. My kids were moaning about how they were going to be late. I should just leave it and get more at the convenient store, yada yada yada. But, I prevailed! Went back inside got the coffee and off we were, again!

My daughter made sure to give me the "what-for" even after I told her it was not up for discussion. Since my niece was with us, I reminded her that bad attitudes were contagious and little ears were listening. And, my own attitude was quickly going south from listening to her complain.

As we got onto the highway, I saw a truck pulled over. I girl was standing beside it, no cell phone in hand and looking pretty scared. So, I quickly turned around to go back and see if we could help. My kids were really getting frustrated with me by this time! As I get out of the car and head back to help, this young lady meets me in tears. She had run out of gas. She was traveling from Kansas to San Antonio and she didn't know what to do.

I immediately hugged her and reassured her it was going to be fine. I explained that I lived close by and I had a gas can and we would get her fixed up. Not wanting to leave her there, I asked her to get in my car and go with me. (I realize this could have been dangerous and would not recommend doing it if the person appeared crazy looking or scary! I did use discernment.) We made the two mile trek back to my house to fetch the gas can.

We quickly made it back to her pickup truck and started putting the gas in.  I kind of chuckled to myself in disbelief.  Then, I said to her, "You know, this is such a God thing. We never have gas in this can. My husband just went to fill it up on Saturday so he could mow the grass. And, had I not forgotten my coffee, I would have missed you by ten minutes." And she said, "Well, I was praying!"  We exchanged a few more words, and said our goodbyes.

I seized the opportunity for a teachable moment. I explained to my kids, especially my daughter, that God used us to answer that girls prayer. Had I not gone back for the coffee, that she so desperately tried to talk me out of, then we would have never seen her. And my daughter said, "Someone else would have stopped." And I explained to her that yes, someone else would have stopped, but God sent us, a very non-threatening, non-scary looking mom with kids in tow. I explained to my 11 year-old how scary it can be to travel across country by yourself and be stranded on the side of the road. It's happened to me and it is scary and you never know who might stop to help. But, God chose us. (Just for the record, we also discussed when to stop and when not to stop and how to use good judgement!)

After I dropped my kids off and headed to work, I felt God was showing me how much he loved that young lady that we helped. He loved her so much that he orchestrated events days ahead of time so that everything would work out perfectly. Not only did we have gas in that can, but there had been two very distinct instances on Saturday that the full-of-gas can had been pointed out to me. Normally I wouldn't have even thought about that crazy gas can that I never use.

God really made a point to show that girl how much he cares about the smallest details in her life. I don't know her story. I don't know what he has in store for her, but I know God wanted her to know that he loved her enough to send someone to her aid.  Turns out she had a cell phone. But, she had stopped in a low spot and it wasn't working. But, God got the call! Don't you just love how God works?

Take a minute to listen to this song by the David Crowder Band. The video is a bit of a distraction, but the song is awesome! Oh How He Loves Us!!

Friday, August 3, 2012

What I Learned While Flipping a House

My sister has always been bitten with the construction bug. She's that girl who asks us all to get her tools for Christmas. She is a Post Master by day and a construction diva by night. She never turns down a chance to build or remodel something. So, when my niece got a new job and needed a place to live, my sister instantly thought about my grandmother's old house. Of course it would need just a wee bit of remodeling. (I personally thought bulldozing it was the better choice, but she saw potential.)

Kitchen before. 
Kitchen after cabinets out and sheetrock up.
Like all construction projects, this one started out as a small facelift. Pulling off the paneling and painting the sheetrock was goal number one. Replacing the kitchen cabinets, goal number two. Then, resanding the old wood floors, goal three.  And finally, a little paint job to freshen up the outside of the house, last and final goal number four. 

Stripped walls all the way down to the 2x4s.
Same wall after sheetrock went up. 
The paneling came off with no problems. However, the sheetrock she discovered underneath was in terrible shape. Due to past roof leaks, the majority of it was crumbling. The result? A total sheetrock tear down! Luckily, the house is small; however, the first thing we all learned: There were a lot of nails holding that sheetrock in place! Pulling nails took a couple full days, then we continued to find them for days after. Small children think pulling nails is fun! So, remember that on your next project. 

The cleaning, and the cleaning, and the rest of the cleaning seems to never end. I'm not sure why there is so much sweeping, but it's best to give one person a broom and just make that their primary job! 

Once the nail pulling was over and we sent the drunks home (that is a blog for another day!), the real work seemed to begin. My sister and great nephew hung sheetrock during the day, then after 5 the second shift arrived. It consisted of her husband, two son-in-laws, myself (I'm the baby sister!), and her mom. With all of us working, we cranked out some major work! While two hung sheetrock, two of us taped and bedded. My sister would go to the next room and "prep" for sheetrock. Her mom would come through periodically (she lives next door, and no, we don't have the same mom) and sweep and pick up scrapes. It was great! 

As it stands tonight, the sheetrock is almost complete. Only one wall left to go. All walls have been taped, bedded and sanded with just one layer left to go! 

Two excellent nail pullers that worked great...
for one day! lol
While I have become a proficient "mudder" in just a couple of days, the real lesson I've learned during this flip is teamwork. It reminds me of the scripture ...

No one has to be told what to do, we all just find a spot and go to work. None of us are paid professionals. We are merely rookie, volunteer carpenters.  We have come together for the unified goal of getting this house finished before school starts on August 27. 

Regardless of how the house turns out when it is finished, we have made a great team. Not to mention it has been fun to hang with the family. And, we have made memories that will last a lifetime. 

Of course, none of this would have been possible without our fearless leader! :)  She pushes us all to do things we probably would not have done otherwise!  

~  Stay tuned for the final makeover! ~

All the white spots you see are little nails
holding on to what is left of the sheetrock! 

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