You Never Know

July 28th, 2014

All around you & me are people that are hurting!  People that are in a deep battle with life.  It might be their own mental state, a financial disaster, a family dysfunction….work issues, health….spiritual problems.  Anything!  For them, it can only be magnified when any other of life's struggles creep in.  Coping with stress is hard enough, throw in some small or even large issues and things can get out of control!

Just today, I read a story of a murder-suicide not too far from my house.  The authorities are still investigating the tragedy so they don't know WHO SHOT WHO first.  It was a beautiful couple with 2 kids (who were in the home when it occured) and a set of in-laws were there as well.  The picture the news showed of the two revealed a beautiful woman and a sharp dressed handsome man.  Both were smiling as if they were the happiest people in the world.

Today, we know….that was not the whole story.  Somewhere behind the scenes, problems or unhappiness must have knocked one or both of them around.  The wife was a teacher at a local school.  The article asked for prayers for the students and staff of her school.  Especially with the first day of classes coming up in just a few weeks.  Tragic, for the family….friends and co-workers/students/acquaintances.

How do you know….someone is in trouble?

LISTEN — Oftentimes, when someone is struggling they talk in a way that reveals they are in pain.  Not always but many who have had an experience with suicide victims, recall conversations filled with doom or destructive language.  Be alert to talk that is laden with hopelessness.  Offer to talk it out, pray with them…and remind them how much you care about them and about what happens to them.

TAKE IT SERIOUSLY — So many stories of looking back after a tragedy are laced with…."I didn't think she meant it!".  If someone you know and love is depressed or talking in a way out of character, consider it real!  Life is very fragile!  I know of more than one person who took their life but really didn't mean to do it.  Sometimes, crying out for help is just what they need to get it!

BE HEALTHY  –  It's impossible to be of any help to another person if you are on shaky ground emotionally yourself.  Do the work it takes to be healthy mentally, emotionally and physically.  Don't be afraid to talk out your needs with a physician or counselor.  Also, let family know….something doesn't feel or seem quite right.  Nothing is ever too silly!

I remember when I was 18 years old, the son of my mother's best friend shot himself.  He was trying to get the attention of a girl.  He never meant to kill himself….just shake her up.  The hole his death left in his family has never grown closed.  Each of them carry the scars of his loss still…. today, thirty years later.  He was only 19.  Obviously, he was hurting.  Surely, he cried out and complained or mentioned struggling. 

Who knows what kind of pain another is suffering with?  It's up to us to pay attention!  Don't be afraid to speak up or lend an ear.  Sometimes, all another person needs….is to know SOMEONE cares and hears them!

Lord

I pray for eyes to see when someone is in need.  Let me be willing and open to loving and listening.  Give me words to encourage and a heart to show compassion.

Amen

Trailer Trash

July 24th, 2014

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Well, it's here.  The day we all knew was coming.  The day of the release of the ever so popular Fifty Shades erotica movie trailer.  I couldn't be more excited!  Before you get your blood pressure up and say, "Huh? What?  You?  Excited for lady porn?" let me assure you…..I'm not excited about the movie trailer hitting the scene.  I'm excited to share my heart as to why this kind of book/movie/fantasy play is dangerous!

It's already started.  My Facebook feed is lighting up with postings from young women linking to the ever so anticipated movie trailer.  I expect that it will only get worse as the day goes on and the poster's will not only be young women but women of all ages.  Because, you know…..it is so innocent and all.

Women have bought the lie!

Erotica is not innocent.  It is not harmless.  It isn't JUST AN ESCAPE or a booster for your love life.  Matter of fact, it's quite the opposite.  Just as porn isn't healthy for a man neither is women's erotica for a woman.  For both, it gives the reader a false sense of reality!  Most of us recognize that fantasy play can set us up for disappointment.  But what I've read, heard and observed over the last year or more regarding FS is that women are justifying the fantasy in that if it makes your sex life come alive….what harm can it be?  I find that crazy mainly because…as women, if the roles were reversed and it was a husband buried deep in a thrilling sexually stimulating book series the chances of it being a boost {for her} are pretty low.

I think most women….would feel inadequate, embarrassed or even angry that a book or movie full of S & M, bondage and manipulation was the key to her man's desire for her.

Perhaps I'm all wrong, but I don't think so!

Speaking from a woman's point of view and I realize that's all I have because I'm a chick….I can't think of anything more humiliating than for my husband to be wrapped up in a book/movie series that opens up his fantasy thoughts to forcing me into sexually manipulative behaviors (in order for our sex life to be "good"!) or insisting that I call him Master or to be so submissive that I can't look him in the eye, all in the name of kicking things up a notch in our marriage.  Naah, I don't think it would be a boost for me!

But here we are on the release day of this mega million dollar "love" instigator and the excitement among its readers will be off the charts!  In a world so on fire right now for WOMENS RIGHTS or GIRL POWER, this, is what everyone's so hyped up about?  Submission of the highest kind?  Calling it a love story is even more confusing!  Strangely, pain never need accompany love for me.  I don't associate my husband's love for me by him wielding his power or authority over me or hurting me during sex.  None of that makes me feel sexy or desirable.  It disturbs me!

So, what about all the young women who are falling for this as a way to show "love" in their relationships?  I say relationships because for many, sex isn't a sacred gift used within the confines of marriage.  It is a part of their lifestyle and is freely shared with usually more than one partner over the course of their lives.  More reason for the need to "make it spicier" than it was with another lover.  What harm is it (Fifty Shades) for them?

Again, I point you back to the story and ask, "Who finds a man that is sado-masochistic, twisted emotionally & sexually, domineering and into hitting…..a genuine source for love?".  The male character of the books has a deeply troubled past and an unsatiable desire for dark impure pleasures which he in turn uses to exploit her physically and emotionally.  Awesome, right?  As a mother to two college aged daughters….just what I DON'T hope for, for either of them.  I've prayed for both of my girl's over the course of their young lives and at the top of my prayer list has always been a Godly man with a pure heart.  One with a heart that would only have their best interest in mind and a love like is found in Song of Solomon.  A desire born out of a passion filtered through the joy and excitement given by God for each to enjoy through MARRIAGE!

Proverbs 5:19 commands us to be "intoxicated" or "captivated" in our love for each other.  1 Corinthian 7 says to let our bodies fill US with delight and to SATISFY one another….wives give full authority over her body to her husband and the husband the same to his wife, no depriving one another of that joy.  Sex is a beautiful blessing INSIDE OF MARRIAGE!  It was never designed to be vulgar, abusive or crude.  God's idea of intimacy is much different than what is depicted in Fifty Shades.  For young women, this whole premice gives a jaded view of what love & real intimacy truly are.

1 Corinthians 6:12 warns us, "You may say, 'But I am allowed to do anything', but I reply that NOT everything is good for you….you MUST NOT become a slave to anything".   For each of us that is a loving reminder that it's important to filter everything we do, say or seek out through God's Word.  Is it good for me?  Is it harmful?  Is it Holy?  Not many are concerned with seeking out God's holiness for their lives….but they should be!  Those instructions weren't given just to rob us of any FUN.  They were put in place to protect us.  Which brings me back to whether or not Fifty Shades is harmful, I believe that it is.  It's giving the impressionable readers a distorted view of what real love and intimacy is within relationships.

I can't force or influence a single person to NOT read the books or go see the movie, however….I can tell you why I believe they are trash.  They are filled with lust, violence and debaucherous actions done in a hidden dungeon where HIS fantasies are sought out at her expense.  What woman finds that appealing?  Really appealing?  How does that fill her heart with satisfaction?  How does that empower her to be all that God has called her to be?  How does that spur her on to feel loved and treasured?  For me, it doesn't even come close!

So, be prepared.  You're going to see Facebook, Twitter, television…..talk shows all squealing with delight over the hot new release of this phenom.  Be prepared to handle all that its power of influence holds over millions of women.  Don't be afraid to deny yourself the pleasure of joining in….remember, what we put into our minds and hearts rules us.  Fill your life with good things, Phil. 4:8  "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things".  Fix your eyes on those things!  I promise, none of those things will hurt you!

Lord,

My heart aches for those caught up in believing that a source like Fifty Shades is a picture of love and intimacy.  I pray for the hearts and minds of women everywhere that YOUR TRUTH would prevail over each of them and that FS would be revealed as the trash it truly is.  The enemy has found a foothold into many lives through this book & movie and I know this was never your design for love.

Amen

Hidden Years

July 22nd, 2014

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Now that my kids are grown up and I have the ability to look back and see….just how far we've all come, I get it!  I get what God was doing with me and in my kids lives all those very important years.  While I've always been a believer that God has a plan, back when I was in the mama trenches….it was what I clinged to most.  How else can a mom to 3 under 4 hang on to her sanity believing anything but GOD HAS A PLAN?

It was there, in the hidden years that God was using me to mold my children into the people He wanted them to be…..someday.

I won't lie, I grew weary!  I fell short.  I complained and felt many days like I didn't count for anything.  Or that I was wasting who I was as a person.  Don't get me wrong, I loved being a mom.  But if you've ever been a stay-at-home mom with a bunch of kids….losing your identity is one of the biggest challenges you can face.  Those times sneak in and try to rob you, don't let it steal your joy or desire to give up being THE MOM GOD HAS CALLED YOU TO BE!

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The hidden years are the most important in your children's lives.

I hear it all the time, your kids are only little for a little while!  Every time I speak to or see one of my grown kids my heart reminds my brain….."Just yesterday, you were looking down into that face!".  Our "little while" sped by at mock speed leaving me with sweet memories and thankfulness that I hung in there and did the work!

Yesterday, a friend posted a saying on Instagram about disciplining your children while they're young so you can enjoy one another when they are teenagers.  I thought about that and smiled knowing how close my kids are to one another and to their dad and me.  It was hard to stay consistent with training them to behave but doing it day in and day out paid off.  I love being around my kids and so do other people.

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I didn't have the distractions that most mom's today have…..I didn't have a blog or internet to pull my attention away from my kids needs.  I was full-on, all the time!  How grateful I am for that.  I was needed and had I been buried in a cellphone or a laptop, I would've failed in many ways.  Kids don't just turn out….well-rounded humans.  It takes time, it involves sacrifice and it includes a pile of trial and error!

So, for you mama's trying to balance it all…..YOU CAN DO IT!  Don't miss out on real life training with your small (for now) children because you are wrapped up in Twitter, Facebook or Instagram!  Those things will not call you up and ask you, "Mom, how'd you do it…raising kids seems hard and boring?".  The long days of rocking cranky kids and reading the same books over & over are worth it.  Even the multiple baths each day because "someone" uses her hair as a napkin every single meal.  All of it is important to what God is doing in both of your lives!

I'm certain that for me, God was using every single moment for His Glory.  The hidden years gave me the advantage of taking life one day at a time and allowing me to speak God's love into each of my kids hearts.  I didn't have to rush or hurry or even pound it into their heads…..every day held something teachable for them and for me.

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I can laugh now when I think about how long I stayed in a nightgown somedays….when at the time, I thought I was a horrible mom!  I realize our schedule was "our" schedule and we all survived!  I like who they are….and I see that in spite of my many human errors, they are amazing young adults that please God with their lives.

Why would anyone want to miss out on being a part of that?

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Lord

Thank you for the hidden years of my life.  I see just how much I needed them.  I'm so grateful for the time YOU ALLOWED me to have with each of my children.  Help me to encourage other mom's to jump all the way in with the long days of raising their kids every day!

Amen

I’m Not Jealous

July 21st, 2014

For 11 days now I've been completely on my own!  Me, a happily married chick in her "late" forties all by herself!  For those of you counting, 47 and of those 47 years I've been married for 25 of them.  Out of those 25 years, I haven't had to do ANYTHING I didn't feel like or want to do.

My hubby…..is a gift from GOD!

I've thought about how much I love him and miss him every single day since he left for Texas.  We don't do apart!  Except this go round, we haven't had a choice!  He's working on a huge project at the ranch and me tagging along just wouldn't fit.  He'd be worried about me and I would be miserably bored.  So, staying home and taking care of things around here is my gift to him.

The jolt of reality for me is….

I'M NOT JEALOUS OF SINGLE LADIES!!!

I can't think of ONE SINGLE THING that they have in their life that I'm envious of, not even cooking all the cheesiest meals I can dream up! The endless amount of free time is fun for about a day and then I'm ready to share a great meal and conversation with my guy.  Even when he's being annoying (and face it, all people get annoying here & there!) I miss having him around.  I don't even mind him throwing his clothes down in the closet!  The amount of stuff he just takes care of without me ever having to think about is endless!

You'll never hear me singing ALL THE SINGLE LADIES tunes.  I appreciate having a man who loves me and takes good care of me.  I don't just love him for all the hard stuff he does either.  I love having him to talk to and share all that's going on in my day.  With him in Texas, that's not easy to do.  Phone connections are miserably difficult and it is frustrating trying to text out feelings over a cell phone.  So, no thanks!  Our normal close connection is strained and awkward!

I've always heard absence makes the heart grow fonder and I certainly would agree but missing out on one another's lives for more than a month is torture!

So, for you single gals:

I'm not jealous of your lives.  You are definitely someone to be admired!  You hold a lot of life together all by yourself and that's not easy to do.  All the housework, yardwork, bill paying, home maintenance, car care, meal prepping, shopping, pet loving, personal security, one-person laundry, activity attending and holding down a JOB…..all of it, just isn't fun to do alone but you make it look easy!  And if you are a single mom, you are even more amazing!  I can't imagine the additional stress of doing it all alone!  I am more committed than ever to pray for the single ladies & single mama's around me.  Your lives are incredibly valuable and I will never skip a chance to lend a helping hand ever again!

God,

Thank you for reminding me just how blessed I am to have a great man to share my life with.  While marriage and companionship isn't for everyone…..I'm eternally grateful that I have such a special man to love and care for me.  Protect him while he's far away working and help me to keep the home fires burning.  I look forward to another 25 years of living life together!

Amen

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Good For Me, Will

July 18th, 2014

In just 1 week,  I have scored big by stopping in at Goodwill.   After painting in my master bedroom….. I knew that adding a side table was a top priority to pull my look together.  So,  I went to Home Goods and browsed around hoping to find something "inexpensive"  to set beside the pretty reading chair in my room.   While the bargains are a plenty in HG…… Good deals on small tables were nowhere to be found.

Unless I wanted to pay over $140!

Now,  I love decorating but not when it gets wasteful.   I like to buy NICE items at a fraction of the real cost.   I'm not ashamed to be thrifty!   How else do you think I can afford clothes and shoes  for my fashion loving family?   And yes,  every member likes looking good! 

I shop like it's an Olympic sport!

I left Home Goods bummed and thought about stopping in at Goodwill down the street.   Since it was around 7:30pm I thought surely there would be no special deals left…..

And then I saw it!  

Not only did I find a good deal….. I lucked up and found a steal!   A beautiful real wood table that was full of style and charm for $9.99!!!!!

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It is perfect for the spot I had in mind!   I cleaned it up and now it holds a lamp and some books…. And I'm feeling super rich because I paid so little for it!!

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I've lived here 7 months and have never visited the super Goodwill warehouse.   Mainly because I had no idea where it was!   Who knew I'd been driving right by it all along?

It's closer to me than the Goodwill I normally shop at….. Crazy!

I decided to get proactive and find this place on Sunday.  Imagine my surprise when I found how close it was to my house….   Grr!

Shopping here is not for the wimpy!   This is big league thrifting!   People were wearing GLOVES!   The workers rotate bins full of stuff every hour on the hour and the shoppers go to town.   Then when you're finished all of your items are weighed and that's how you make your purchases.   By the pounds!   And it is cheap!  

It was a little overwhelming for this newbie,  however….. I safely wandered around casing out the place because I have big plans of finding some special deals in this thrift Palace!

While looking around I found this – -

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A brand new Vera Bradley purse with tags (and it's a new pattern) for a whopping. 36 cents!!!

I paid 36 cents for a $38.00 designer purse!!!   Squeeee!

Fast forward to last night.   Ally was in town visiting me while all my guys are in Texas and we thought we'd do a Goodwill run.   The store was packed!   Annoyingly busy but we managed to squeeze our way into the furniture section where we found a pair of these – - -

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For….  $14.99 each!

These are solid wood and in perfect condition!!   I bought one for my bedroom and Ally bought the other for her living room!

The moral of the story?

Get out there and look…. Super good deals are everywhere!

Goodwill means good deals y'all!

One Year Ago

July 15th, 2014

 

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Just one year ago….I was stepping into a world that I couldn't imagine.  As I sat in a cool darkened room in sunny Florida watching and waiting as my mother struggled through her last day on earth, I had no idea how different my life would be.  This particular day was very long.  Family and friends visited, loved ones called and encouraged all while Gates and I comandeered all the activity going on around us.

We were brave.  Or naive.  Who can say which?

Out of all the family members….it had to be the two MOST EMOTIONAL of us all — holding bedside vigil with my dying mother.  I think about that week so often.  How we barreled down the highway for the long trip to be with her (just the two of us) not really knowing how hard it was going to be.  But God….

God knew and He arranged it strategically just for Gates and me (and MOM).  Between the two of us, we managed to play like puppets for her and she loved it.  We sang, we quoted scripture, we told stories….we teased and we even made some mistakes that week.  Watching someone die is excruciating, especially when it is your mother.  Oh, but it's all part of life.  So, we bravely soldiered on….like we knew exactly what we were doing.

By the last day, each of us were tired to the point of giving up.  Looking back, I see how God orchestrates every single detail of a person's life & death.  Nothing happens without a heavenly plan.  I believe it's for the best that we don't know every detail otherwise we would try to intervene.  For me, I was going through the motions as best as I could that day.  And I have no regrets.

This long year filled with so much change kept me occupied until I remembered.  At the strangest of times…..I would think, "I have to call Mom and tell her this…she is going to laugh so hard!".  And then I would remember.  I caught myself buying items for my house and thinking, "Mom is going to love that I have this!".  And then I would remember.  If I struggled, I would think, "Mom is totally going to sympathize with me!". And then I would remember.  "She is going to be so proud of ________!" and then I would remember!

Grief is different for every person but the same for us too.  Each of us have to weather it….somehow, someway!  I am grateful for all the closure between my mother and I.  Our history was painful, harsh and many times cruel.  But not the last year of her life.  Hurts were healed (not all forgotten … but almost) and hearts were mended.  I can't tell you how badly I needed that and the peace that it gives me knowing she could waltz right on in to heaven wearing her sassy pants and bragging her head off about her kids & grandkids gives me an assurance that everything is OKAY!

I miss her but I don't want her back….well, I say that but I do want her around for moments.  I don't want her sick or struggling here on earth ever again!  I want the good parts and in this humanity that can't be the case.  Heaven is home and that's where I want her to stay.  I'll see her again.  I have that promise and when I feel sad or sorry for myself, I remember…

……my mother is in heaven, waiting for me!