Monday, June 28, 2010

It's Gift Giving Season...

While getting ready for my son's baseball game yesterday, I was watching the John Wooden memorial service.  What an amazing man.  After he passed away, I remember hearing bits and pieces about his life on ESPN.  At 2 am.  Yes, our bedroom tv is on all night...usually on ESPN.  Jealous?

I remember hearing that after his wife Nell died in 1985, he would write love letters to her and place them atop her pillow.  Apparently when he died, there were stacks of them found wrapped with yellow ribbons.  Amazing.

I had an art teacher in college who told us he gave his wife roses every Friday after their wedding day.  I remember raising my hand and asking, "Every Friday? What if you had the flu one particular Friday?"

"Every Friday," was his answer.

His wife happened to work at a nearby art store.  When I showed up one day to buy a set of colored pencils, I had to ask her if the story was true.  

"Yes, it's true," she said with a smile.  Her wrinkles highlighting her sweet eyes.

Utterly amazing, I thought.  Ed's lucky if he gets his dry cleaning picked up every other Friday.  Sad, but true.

Speaking of utterly amazing.  I was sitting next to my mother-in-law yesterday at the game.  After drinking several huge glasses of water, I mentioned to her that I needed, how do I say, to eliminate the excess water from my body.   She pointed out the row of Andy Gumps sitting next to the field.  Now, I have a very bad memory, but I do remember being in one of those during a camping trip when I was 7.  I remember vowing to never again go in another.

"Oh, no.  I can't do that," I said to her.  

"I was in this last one on the end yesterday.  It's not too bad.  I just took some wipes, and wiped it down," she said.

"Nope, can't do it," was my reply.

"Ruthie, do you want me to go in there and wipe it down for you and then you can use it?  I'd be happy to. I have the wipes right here," she said.

As the words were coming out of her mouth, I couldn't believe it.  Who says this stuff?  Who can be so utterly selfless to offer to clean the inside of an Andy Gump so someone can relieve themselves?  

My mother-in-law.  

I looked at her and said, "Joanne, this offer will go down in the record books of kindness, you know."  And no, I didn't take her up on it.

So what am I trying to say?  What's something you can offer to someone that would make their day?  Their life?

What gifts do you have to give away?  

Devotion, flowers, kindness?

I still wonder about my gifts.  I know God designed me, and each and every one of you, with particular gifts.  I'm sure we all have more than one.  Probably a dozen that lie deep within us, that rarely are offered to another.  

Last week I offered to help organize my girlfriend's office.  I had a blast.  She kept looking at me like I was kind of strange to enjoy the process so much.  But my "gift" for organizing, if you call it that, when shared with others, can truly touch someone's life.  

Do you love to cook?  Love to fix things?  Love to encourage?  Then you have a God-given gift.  Maybe make a lasagna and homemade garlic bread and bless a family who's struggling with something.  Maybe fix a friend's broken gate so their dog will stop escaping.  Maybe write down some scripture on a beautiful card and leave it in the mailbox of someone who desperately needs to see it.    Maybe offer to clean a porta-potty for a stranger the next time you're at a baseball field.  (Joanne -- you so need a trophy for that one!)

So sit down today or tonight and ask yourself what's beneath your tissue paper and bow.  

You are a gift.  Give yourself to someone.  Make their day.   Make their life.  And encourage someone else to do the same...

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Time to Rise and Shine...

6:00 am.
This is where you'll find me -- on a perfect day.  
I love when I can set my alarm, actually get out of a warm bed, have a quiet house all to myself for an hour or two, and spend time with God (OK, and start a load of laundry). 

A few years ago, a girlfriend challenged me to begin my day with God.  She woke up at 6 am as did her girlfriend in Georgia.  They invited me to do the same.  

I tried, but just couldn't.  I wanted to, but never did.  

When I stop and think about how grateful I am today, I think how could I not.  I used to rationalize and say, "But I pray in the shower, and in the car, and before bed."  But, between you and me, how much praying did I really do between shampoos, stop signs and sleep?

I find such comfort in beginning my day with the Lord.  I thank Him for another day.  I thank Him for His grace. I thank Him for all that He has blessed me with.  

I also pray for those whose hearts hurt.  Whose bodies hurt.  

And I pray that He uses me that day.  I ask Him to put me where He wants me to be.  To be on His path, not mine.  I ask Him to help me be a better Mom -- especially in the summer!   And to help me be a better Wife.  

I created this special corner in my family room that makes me want to "be still."  I could just sit at the kitchen table or on the couch, but given my personality, I needed it to be just right.  I wanted a cozy chair, a cute table with a lamp and a place for my tea, and a basket for my journal, pens and books.  

And this little corner means so much to me since I was diagnosed with cancer.  The chair was given to me by a friend-of-a-friend who knew I was on the hunt for a glider.  And the cushion was lovingly made by a friend who wanted to bless me with her gift of sewing.  So many people have been so kind to me.  This corner of my room reminds me of that every day.

Remember, I said you'll find me here on a perfect day.  Unfortunately, not all my days are perfect.  Sometimes my body is too tired to get out from under the covers, especially when I have a warm cat or two lying on me.  Sometimes several days slip by.  But, oh, how good it feels to be wrapped up in my robe with the morning sun behind my back and the Bible on my lap.  I know my day will be a better one.  Now, if I can only add a workout to my morning routine, I'd be in good shape.  Literally.

Do you have a special time and place to "be still"? 
 I challenge you to do the same.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

A Special Time...

Summer vacation is upon us.  Two and a half more days until my kids are no longer second and fourth graders.  I keep reminding them, "This is your last weekend as a second grader.  This is the last Monday night as a fourth grader."

 Since my kids have entered elementary school, I always find myself quite sad during the month of June.  It's just another reminder to me that my kids are growing up. And sooner than later, our summers won't be just the three of us at our community pool eating Doritos.  One day soon it will be just me eating Doritos while they're at the beach with their friends. (Actually, I'll be eating Smart Puffs).

So as I was driving to Target this morning, I was listening to Focus on the Family.  The topic was empty nesters.  Two moms were discussing how painful it is when your child packs up their bedroom and drives away.  I found myself starting to cry along with them as they reminisced about those painful days.

So come this summer, I need to remind myself to not come unglued when I hear at 9 am on the first day of summer vacation, "I'm bored.  We live in a boring house." (Please use your most whiniest voice here).

I need to be thankful that, yep, we do live in a boring house at times.  The operative word being "we."  I need to embrace those summer moments that we take for granted too often.  I want to watch how my kids hold an ice cream cone.  Do they lick from side to side or up and down?  I want to take pictures of their sandy toes at the beach.  For those of you who know me well, you know that just getting me to the beach will be a feat.   I think I'm the only girl I know who can't stand the thought of sand on my body.  Especially on the way home, when my toes and ankles are encrusted with the stuff.  Ugh. But this year I'm going -- camera in hand and Uggs on my feet.

So to all you Moms who look forward to putting away the backpacks and lunch boxes, here's to a summer filled with sandy toes and memories of "we."

I thank God for allowing me to be here to enjoy this summer vacation.