Thursday, October 29, 2009

Stories of Strength to learn from

This week I was reminded how strong human beings are, when the grace of God is allowed to move in their lives. 

An older gentleman that I have known well for about 10 years recently shared a story with me about his life as a young man.  The story was a painful one …filled with rejection, sadness, death, depression and loneliness. To hear the story, you would think that no human could overcome it; it was just that sad.  To know this man, you would have never guessed the pain he has endured all these years.  He is successful, hardworking, creative, respected and loved by many.  He goes about his work in a quiet, unassuming way, never making any waves and gently doing what he does best.  He has dedicated his life to bringing the beauty of God to people every day and does it without much fanfare or thanks.  I was shocked at the deep, deep, anguish of his story, but marveled more at how he overcame the darkness and found his way through to the light.  While his life is not easy, it is clear in knowing this man that he knows the heart and grace of God well.  He has lived it and has been touched by it. 

My mother called me this week to let me know that a neighbor of hers was on her last days of life. Her name is Peg. Breast Cancer had gotten the best of Peg and my mother was her only source of life outside of chemo.  I did not know Peg personally, but knew that my mother had taken Peg “under her wing” when she found out how sick she was.  Peg had no husband, but four kids who wanted little to do with her; they had their own “issues”.  It was another sad story.  For the last two years, my mom had been driving Peg to the beauty shop, taking her to lunch, sitting at the hospital with her, going grocery shopping for her and (being a breast cancer survivor herself) gave her words and prayers of hope to go on.   And while my mom did not “know her well” she freely gave her time to make Peg’s last year of life bearable.  Peg’s daughter was the only one who regularly came to check on her mother, but could not stand to see her in such a state, so my mom would send her home and sit with Peg.  Yesterday, on what may have been Peg’s last day on this earth, her sons reluctantly came to say their goodbyes…they were outwardly indifferent to their mom’s plight but still, my mom would patiently talk with Peg’s kids and give them words of love and support.  “Mom ”, I said, “How can you just sit there and watch Peg die?  How can you deal with all the dysfunction of Peg’s kids and stand so strong?”  My mom in all her wisdom said, “This is what I do.  I am just called to do this for those who are in need. I plan to be there when God takes Peg home, Georgie…how could I not?”  

I feel like such a lightweight compared to people like this, but at the same time I know that God is teaching me a lesson through their stories. It is how I live my life after knowing such stories that is important. That when times are dark, and those days will surely come, the grace of God will give me strength to make it through.

 I have proof.

Saturday, October 17, 2009


Eight year old Gus was handed a full diaper, compliments of his brother, Henry.  It was chilly outside so when Gus reached to throw the diaper away for his dad, he exclaimed, "Wow!  This would make a great hand warmer!"

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

A Tale of Two Birthdays

There is nothing more bittersweet than a child's birthday.

We celebrated two birthdays in September:  Rebecca and Henry.  My firstborn child, Rebecca, turned a happy 17 as we celebrated with a surprise party at the local Pizza Hut.  Over 20 of her friends met me at the restaurant and at the appropriate time, ducked under tables and chairs so that she would not see them as she walked into the place.  She walked through the door, completely expecting a quiet family dinner of pizza and soda, but instead found all her friends jumping out of their hiding places yelling, "Surprise!"  We ate over 12 pizzas, countless sodas, and two birthday cakes.

Later in the evening, Rebecca came over to me and said, "Mom, they all came out for me?"  I replied that she was so blessed to have so many good friends who love her...including her chaotic and loud family.  Happy Birthday Becca!

And then there is King Henry who turned three.  He is a man of simple tastes and asked for the same cake he had when he turned two:  "Da Hamburgur Cake".  I think the other kids get more delight in the cake than Henry.  They marvel at how much it looks like a Hamburger.  Personally, it grosses me out.  I mean, here you have a cake that looks like a real hamburger, but when you take a bite out of it, it is sweet!  Weird.

We celebrated Henry's birthday as a family.  My plans were to go to Bullwinkles (which is essentially, a more classy Chuck e Cheese's)...but when we arrived, it has closed.  Boo.  But you know, when you are three, you have no idea the fun you missed!  So we decided to go down the road to the Olive Garden. Henry could have cared less where he went, he just wanted his hamburger cake to go with him.

We pulled out one of his presents at the restaurant and Henry was delighted to play with it the entire dinner.  Good for us, good for him.  We ate a relatively normal dinner with minimal interruption and Henry ate nothing, but played with his new hot wheels garage.  After dinner, we pulled out our hamburger cake, and well, every head turned in the restaurant.  They were amazed, or horrified...I was not sure really.  Let's just say the cake had a rough trip over after Nick shoved the cake under the chair. It was kind of smushed, but I did my best to fix it.  Henry didn't care.  He blew out his candles and ate his cake.

Three is gonna' be great for my little guy...Happy Birthday King Henry!

Friday, October 09, 2009

Rescue Me!

I am one of those girls that likes to be rescued and I am not ashamed to admit it.   I enjoy being rescued from uncomfortable situations that I cannot fix and some that I can.  I like it when men in my life come to my rescue out of chivalry or love.  I am NOT ashamed to admit it; it was just how I was raised.  I blame it all on my father.  As a youth, anytime I asked for his assistance, he was there.  When I was sick at college, he would stop everything, get in the car and drive two hours to bring me home.  If I had a flat tire, my dad would find a way to matter the location.  He made me feel special because he never complained.  He did it for love; and I knew it and loved him for it.  He made me feel safe and wanted.

There were two instances this week in which I needed to be rescued.  Nothing big mind you, but problematic none the less. The first instance was in the parking lot of a bagel place I frequent regularly. Not thinking, I kept the air conditioner in my car running which in turn drained the battery of any power.  Sure enough, I turned the ignition and heard the familiar "clicking' that indicates that my battery was dead.  Drat!  My husband was out of town, so I immediately called up a few male friends who I knew would know what do do.  No one was home so I was out of luck.  Sadly, I started to panic and wanted to cry.  I wanted my dad and while he lives over 1000 miles away, I knew that if I called him he would COME. But I knew that was probably an unrealistic solution so I thought of a viable Plan B.

So I called a local tire place located just down the street and asked if there was anyone there who could come to the bagel place and give my car a jump.  Sure enough, a young boy no older than 20 years old offered to come down and help.  He arrived with the power box in hand and hooked it up to my car, but it did not work.  He offered to call AAA for me, but I was not sure how long that would take so I asked him if he would consider bringing back jumper cables to jump my car the old fashioned way.  I knew he was busy and had many more things to get done, but he nodded his head and off he went to get cables.  After about 10 minutes I was on my way; my car all juiced up.  I offered the young man $20 for his trouble but he would not accept it.  Rescued!

The second instance is gross, I assure you.  It involves a certain insect that, I am sure, line the walls of Hell:  Roaches.  I hate them.  They scare me more than any other creature on this planet partly because they are ugly and partly because they show up when you least expect them.  Such was the case earlier in the week when my son Nick mentioned that he saw a big roach next to my lower kitchen cabinets.  I dreaded walking near the part of the kitchen where the devil's favorite insect might be.  The next day, I had forgotten all about the roach and started making dinner.  Sure enough, the little demon showed it's tenticles. It's long brown body scurried past my foot and I started screaming as if my arm was cut off and bleeding all over the floor! Henry thought the whole show was hilarious and mimicked my squeals.  But my husband, Chris, instantly knew what was going on.  He knows that certain pitch...the cockroach scream.... where he will, no doubt, be called on to save his wife.

"Chris, I saw a roach! Get it!"   Chris calmly looked around the cabinets and could not find evidence of any devil roach.  He went into the garage to get some insect poison, returned to the kitchen and sprayed the places where he thought it might go.

Not two hours later, I open up the cabinet under the sink, jumped back about three feet and saw IT. Devil cockroach was there..on it's back..its little legs squirming in the air, but basically dead.  YUCK!  My hero scooped the thing up in a napkin and disposed of it!  Rescued and loved!

Hug your hero today and let him know that he does not have to rescue a damsel from a fire-breathing dragon any longer.  But saving her from dead batteries and evil cockroaches...the modern hugely appreciated!