Monthly Archives: May 2012

City-Slickin’ Redneck Vacation

My husband and I grew up in the upper Midwest,
married and stayed, mostly living in the country.

We hunted, camped, fished, gardened and daily performed other self-sufficient practices.

We wore tennis shoes, jeans and t-shirts almost every day,
except Sunday.
This uniform was even office wear.
If you wore buttons and shoelaces that weren’t white
you were considered dressed up.

Ya’ know, we had that  total
Redneck and Lovin’ It Thang
going on.

*

The Lord has a sense of humor and moved us to
a large city  in the Pacific Northwest eight years ago.

*

So, I don’t mind wearing high heels to the grocery store,
and my hubby now owns dress slacks AND matching socks,
he rocks the socks, I tell ya’,
but there’s still a little bit of Redneck left in us.

That’s why I’ve coined the term
City-Slickin’ Redneck.
We are styling both these worlds with our looks and our lives.

Eight years later, we  still aren’t in the habit of reserving a
camping site 9 months ahead of time
at one of those well-groomed, fakey camping places.
Who in the world plans their life that way?
Other than all the bajillion people that live out here, that is.

This Memorial Day, we dun did us some
City-Slickin’ Redneck Camping.

*


For the City-Slicking part,  we procured some fine cuts of beef
and some organic ‘shrooms for our main cuisine.
(For you Rednecks that haven’t slicked to the city,
that word cuisine just means food.)

*

Anybody nicknamed “Bubba” is automatically a
Redneck,
so this grandson ate a tube steak.
A Redneck one at that, because I don’t think it
was free-range, organic, nitrate/nitrite free.

*

The theme of our weekend wasn’t that we had an
astounding plan that thrilled and amazed everyone.

The plan was just to
be together.

We had a long year of suffering, grief and loss.
There was a huge need to celebrate the simple things,
like family, green grass, new books, endless cups of coffe,
and love so deep words aren’t always needed.

The simple plan met simple needs and wants.

We all like to eat.
We all like to relax.
We all like to stare at a fire
and giggle about past family experiences.

Think our campsite looks a little suspicious?

You’re so smart.
That’s the Redneck part of our celebration.
Yea, this IS our backyard.

Urban Camping,
another phrase I invented, is amazing.

I didn’t have to make a reservation,
pay a fee,
fill the cooler,
air out the sleeping bags,
test the air mattresses,
etcetera,
etcetera,
etcetera.
(Random trivia, name that movie!)

I simply started a fire in the early afternoon,
grabbed a book,
and began relaxing.
Gradually, the rest of the family was drawn to the scene,
especially when the food arrived.

When the fire was doused,
we all crawled into our OWN comfy beds.
Ya’ know, the kind that don’t have to be rolled up in the morning?

We woke up when we wanted to,
not when the bad camping neighbors cut through
our campsite on the way to the bathroom.

We didn’t have to fight I-90 traffic back into suburbia,
wishing more people had stayed home for the weekend.

And the next morning we….

….your gunna’ hafta’ wait to hear what

 the City-Slickin’ Rednecks

made for breakfast…

I’ll give ya’ a hint…..

ya’ need tu drink a lot of coffee…

and keep the can.

Never, Ever Forget

The traveling Viet Nam War Memorial came to the
Pacific Northwest a few summers ago.

We  had arrived home from Montana that afternoon,
but  knew we needed to summon up the energy
to give our kids a lesson in life, war, loss and pain.

We casually touched weapons that had been hauled
through dark, bug-infested, enemy-hiding jungles.

Weapons that had to kill before the handler was killed.

We grieved for all that suffered during the Viet Nam War.

As these men were talking,
my heart rejoiced that they were alive and well.

I get angry beyond reason
when I read about the treatment of the vets
when they finally returned home.

The war never really ended for them.

I wanted to throw my arms around the vets
and apologize for my country,
but I didn’t.
Instead,  I shyly smiled and prayed for them as I passed by,
unable to express what was truly bursting in my heart and mind.

At times I felt I shouldn’t intrude in others’ grief.

These were their sons and daughters, their friends, their spouses.

 Though the engraved names didn’t belong to anybody we knew,
I still cried,
because I felt the pain all around me.

I  wanted to throw myself down and sob out my heart,
but I didn’t.
I blinked back the tears, took pictures
and tried to share with my children the passion I felt over this monument.

These soldiers will never bring bouquets to spouses, mothers, or sweethearts.
Instead of life and love, the bouquets left for them smell of sorrow and death.

They are brought because pain makes people want to DO something.

Instead of caressing loved ones’ faces,
fingers only trace their names
etched into black, cold, lifeless marble.

Yet, everyone is thankful,
wonderfully thankful,
grief-strickenly thankful,
that at least there is something of the loved ones to touch.

Even if it is just a name

…etched into

……….cold

…………….black

………………lifeless

…………………….marble.

The shadows  on the marble are reminders
of the men and women that should have been standing there.

They estimate 58,000 lives were lost during this War.

For each life lost, dozens back home suffered
wounded hearts, empty lives and endless pain.

As with every war,
the lost of these young lives
left holes in generations.

Kids grew up without daddies,
fiances were never married,
mothers and fathers never became grandparents.

I was a kid during this war.

My fifth grade teacher, Mrs. Hayes,
pulled the roller shades down, turned off the lights,
and made us watch a documentary on the war.
I can still hear the clickety-click of the machine as she wound the film
through the reels and began playing the black and white movie.
Quickly bored, I was acting up and complaining so loudly,
she stopped the big-reeled machine and chewed me out
in front of all my classmates,
not even bothering to march me to the coat room.

She thought I should be paying attention
because, she passionately explained,
these were AMERICAN young men, people’s neighbors, people’s sons.

I remember my initial embarrassment for being singled out,
then the shame of my indifference.

 I share my passion and my compassion with my children,
hoping they’ll be influenced, as I was,
to  open their hearts and minds to the  suffering around them.

 

(Award Winning Photo By John Moore/Getty Images)

When I saw the picture of Mary McHugh
weeping on the grave of her fiance in Arlington National Cemetary,
I wept over my computer.

We’ll have holes in this generation, too.

But, maybe, we as a nation, will welcome home the vets
the way we should have in the 70’s.

The traveling, grim, marble memorial
should and can be the reminder we need
to keep history from repeating itself.

Welcome Home, Vets.

Best Parenting Advice

Years ago I asked Ann, mother of nine children,
for her best parenting advice.
Hoping for a soliloquy, because I needed lotsa’ spiritual ammunition,
I was even prepared to take notes.
Never one to mince words,
she looked me in the eye and said,
“Pray about EVERYTHING!”
That was it.
She didn’t expound other than giving me the
 example of potty-training, then re-emphasized,
“Whatever stage you are going through, PRAY!”
Moving to Washington  in 2004 with six kids ages 2 to 18
gave us much to pray about.
The biggest heart need was for friends.
We all needed them.
It was especially challenging because I gave birth
 to the first five kids in about 9 years, then had a 7 year gap,
then had Rebekah.
If another family had teenagers, they didn’t have toddlers.
The families that had toddlers, didn’t have teenagers.
We constantly, daily, prayed for friends for our children
and for ourselves.
We longed for friendship and fellowship.
Then I joined a home school co-op that was four blocks from my house.
Amazing, huh?
Another answered prayer for a woman who doesn’t like to drive in traffic.
It was even more amazing to meet two other families who had teenagers,
a 7-10 year gap,
and a little girl.
Girls who were kinda’ growing up as an only child
because her siblings were so much older.
Last year we had a Keepers At Home group with our girls.
Think Girl Scouts with spiritual purpose.
We enjoyed mother-daughter bonding as we
handsewed flower headbands.
(How-to blogged in this post.)
The girls celebrated their handiwork and their friendships.
The moms rejoiced in fellowship and answered prayer.
Our older children have moved onto college,
and some out of our homes,
but we will share the years ahead.
We still marvel at the Lord’s gracious Hand in allowing
divine appointments to cross our paths
so we could travel the journey together.
He is a prayer-answering God.
Whatever stage you are at with your hubby, your kids,
your ministry, your health, your circumstances,
the advice hasn’t changed since it was given to me over two decades ago ~

“Pray about EVERYTHING!”

What About That Toilet Seat?

 Writers wax eloquent about this topic.

 Comedians garnish laughs and build their careers by bringing it to light.

 Marriage counselors discuss it with struggling couples.

 Where two or three married women are gathered,
the subject is likely to come up.

 Pregnant women are given serious warnings
to watch for this behavior by their spouses.

toilet,

Apparently, I’m not the only married woman who  had this problem.

 Durng pregnancy, midnight trips to the bathroom were grueling.  I  heaved myself up, trying not to bounce my husband off  the bed. Because he faced a classroom of teenagers each morning, I left the hall light off.   I felt my way down the hallway with my toes,  testing one step at a time, so I didn’t  lose balance if I stepped on a Lego or a ball. I left the bathroom light off, too.

More than one time I  carefully lowered myself onto the seat  in the dark and SPLASH!  My awkward body  made contact with the slippery narrow porcelain ridge then slid  into the water.  The winter temperature of toilet water in an unheated mobile home was frigid.  Heaving a large body out of a small hole was frustrating. Trying to quietly clean up and simmer down in the dark took a lot of energy.

When my dear hubby learned to lower the lid, he forgot where the laundry hamper was placed.

As a newlywed, my friend, Julia, had described  marriage to me. She said, (gushed)  “I just love picking up his socks off the floor, because it means  I have a husband to care for and love.”     When reaching for those dirty Hanes, she would think thoughts of love and pray for him. Still single, I pined for stinky socks in my bedroom.

When I married the next year, I got the stinky socks. I copied her loving attitude for many years, but  recently  had to refresh my attitude.

Our hamper is outside the door of our bedroom.  But, night after night, the clothes are dropped in a  little pile  on the floor  inside the bedroom door.  The distance from the pile on the floor to the hamper is 59 inches.

I measured it. 

Once, to demonstrate to my husband his incompetence,  I picked up his clothes, opened the door and deposited them in the hamper, teasing and  counting aloud, “One-one-thousand, two-one-thousand.”

I timed it.

He laughed at my Academy Award winning performance, smiled, nodded, and agreed to comply.  Score!  It lasts a few days every few days.

Instead of forcing the issue, I was forced to look at my heart. I was concentrating on things he didn’t do.  Little, tiny things.  I was not celebrating the things he does.  The big, amazing things.

My husband works 10-12 hour days and cooks dinner at least once a week.  He runs errands and fixes things on the weekends.  He makes sure I take my medication and brews my coffee every morning.  He delivers a steaming mug to my bed or desk, or leaves a love note beside the coffee pot if I am still sleeping.

If he does so much for me, why am I so unwilling to do something so small for him?

I will only have to walk 59 inches.

I measured it.

It will only take two seconds.

I timed it.

Thirty years later, my friend Julia is still right.

Those dirty socks mean I have a husband to love.

 

He Gave Me Jesus

Years ago, I was in a barren place.

I was experiencing Bible teaching that consisted of
reprimands to an individual or the body and
guilt-ridden rebukes for not conforming to a man-ordained  standard.

I clung to the Word, but craved Spirit-filled preaching from the Word.
My heart longed to be changed by someone who had been in the presence of the Lord
and could bring me into His presence as well.

When Ann Graham Lotz came to town with her revival message, I had to go.

A hit-and-run victim on the narrow road,  this event  was my spiritual CPR.

I heard the
Name of Jesus
more in one hour than I’d heard in the last few years.

She was accompanied by Fernando Ortega,
who sang the theme song of the revival, “Give Me Jesus.”

I didn’t know at the time, that song would carry me through the next
ten years of trials….

…living in five houses in 2 years,
having four teenagers at a time,
three bouts of cancer,
two divorces in my family,
and one miscarriage.

Many mornings I watched this video over and over on YouTube,
emptying myself of doubts, fears and trials and re-filling with the Name of Jesus.

I also determined to never again let other believers
or God allowed trials affect my joy and my faith.

Like David, I learned to encourage myself in the Word.
I studied the Bible, listened to sermons on the radio,
listened to good music and invited others to our home Bible studies.

I didn’t go to Fernando’s concert just to admire him as an amazing artist,
but to thank him for the ministry that carried me through ten years.

We  had the opportunity to meet him ahead of time and express
our gratitude to him for impacting our family and for putting the Lord first in his music.

He was introduced, it was said well in the opening prayer,
“We love this man’s music because we love you and he turns our hearts to you.”

Instead of standing on the people’s admiration and praise for his music as a pedestal,
Fernando pours it out as a drink offering and creates more worship  with his music.

When he walked on stage and began worshiping,
he had no idea what I’d been through in the last week~
two deaths and a jail sentence for an innocent man.
But, when he played and sang, I felt like it was just for me.
Sensing the mood of the crowd around me, I think everyone felt the same way.

When he played Sleepless Night” I knew the Lord had given me the song for the next 8 years.

Oh, I even got to sing with him.
At one point, I dared to harmonize.
It was amazing.

Only problem, he probably couldn’t hear me because I was singing along with the other  ticket holders.

Like Cinderella, we didn’t want to hear the chiming of the clock.
When the ball ended,
we had the encouragement, the rest and the joy we needed
to go back into the fray of our individual walks.

He gave us Jesus.

Too Good To Be True

“It’s too good to be true.”

We’ve heard it.
We’ve said it.
We understand the meaning ~
we’re either skeptical, or about to receive
an  unbelievable bargain or blessing.
Years ago, when I  made a committment to healthier eating,
I wasn’t aware how much it would cost me.
At the time, I didn’t imagine I’d end up paying $4
for a loaf of whole grain, preferably sprouted, bread.
So, when I found wheat bread for only $2 a loaf,

it seemed too good to be true.

Only two bucks?
Wow.
I was seriously thinkin’ about stocking up.
Until I turned the loaf over and read the label.
See the third ingredient?
High fructose corn syrup.
It was only one of the three sugars used to make this
“healthy” wheat bread.
I paid $4 for the loaf with less sugar and higher protein.
That’s why there are so many
warnings to read the fine print.
We don’t need any unexpected surprises in life.
We don’t want to find out later that
something we thought was
good for us,
actually wasn’t.

I’m so glad there’s
no fine print in the Bible.

If the Bible  says something is good for us,
it is.
If the Bible says something is bad for us,
it is.
 If the Bible says something is going to happen,
it will.
If the Bible says something won’t happen,
it won’t.
His promises are
The bargain bread disappointed me,
but the Bible never has.

It’s always good,
and it’s always true.

Psalms and Hymns and Spiritual Songs

My heart had been overwhelmed with physical and spiritual trials.

I was crying  out to the Lord,
even when  I wasn’t even sure what to ask of Him.

Once, a little whisper came to my heart,
“Music.  You need music.”
The Voice reminded me of a verse I had memorized a few decades ago
about psalms and hymns and spiritual songs.
I started listening to more Christian music, watching youtube videos,
and singing during the day.

 

It helped.  Music  sooths the soul.

 

Then, we received a phone call from a Chrisitan friend we hadn’t been in touch with for years.
When you get a phone call like that, it’s for a few reasons.
1.  Someone you have in common died.
2.  They need something from you.
3. The Lord is working through them.

 

We were thankful to learn that #1 wasn’t the reason, nobody died.
We thought it was #2.
A man going into the mission field was coming to our area,
needed to be picked up from the airport,
given a place to stay for a few days, then brought back to the airport.
We were busy, we were stressed, for a few minutes I doubted the Lord.
“Now, Lord?  Really? Now?”

 

But, I’ve learned.  The Lord makes no mistakes.

 

I repented of my questioning and agreed.
We’ve committed our home to the Lord for hospitality,
and He was just receiving our offering to Him.
To bring someone into our home at a time when our hearts
were battle-sore and weary was not a mistake. 

By faith we trusted. 
By faith we ventured to the airport late at night,
picked up a stranger, and brought him into our home,
trusting the Lord’s plans were for our good.

 

When hearts are one in Christ, there really are no strangers,
just brothers and sisters we haven’t met yet.

Remember my hungering cry for music to soothe my soul?

Remember my trusting by faith the Lord was working
something for good in my life?

 

 

The Lord knew what He was doing.

 

This brother had a guitar.
This brother loved to sing praises to the Lord.
This brother ministered to our battle-weary souls in a way youtube couldn’t
begin to touch.

 

It didn’t take long to figure out why the Lord called on us at a time
when our hearts were weary with well-doing.

It was #3  – The Lord was working through that
friend we hadn’t talked to you years.

 

He wanted to answer those wordless cries of my heart
and bless our family with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs.

 

Thank you, brother Tim.

May the Lord bless your service to Him, as you blessed us.