A taste of something better…

Sitting here in a condo at the beach and all I want to do is go to bed. So tired, it’s been a long day. Why am I here, you ask? My husband and I are celebrating our belated anniversary this weekend, 23 years of marriage. (That’s a long time!) It’s just me and Jeff, none of the kids came with us. So what do we do? We eat at a fast food chicken place, get a few groceries at Publix, then sit on the couch and watch Castle. (Well, I am watching Castle, Jeff is busy as a bee on his laptop. Guess it’s easy to see who the pathetic one in our relationship is.) I know, incredibly romantic. The people upstairs are moving the entire condo around, at least that’s what it sounds like, or an elephant is dying up there, one or the other. We’ve been wanting to get away as a couple for a while, but now that we are here, we feel kind of lost and exhausted. Life sure does take its toll. Dealing with people, no matter how nice or not nice they may be, can be taxing; to be able to disengage from our schedules is a task all on its own, and now, all we want is sleep. I wonder if the Lord meant for our lives to be like this? (I’m pretty sure you and I both already know the answer to this question.) To be so busy that we stay on the brink of wanting to run away from it all. I know I need to slow down, to really take time to rest and learn to relax. Not just physically, although I realize that is important, but to rest from my mind. Anyone else need a break from themselves too? Now that I am here and I have a few minutes to breathe, to think, all I want to do is stop thinking. To be able to rest, to put a period at the end of that thought pattern and start a new paragraph. To just quiet my mind. Which makes me wonder, what does it mean to really rest? I mean, technically, I am sitting here on the couch not doing a thing, but I don’t feel like I’m resting. My mind is going a thousand different directions, and since I wasn’t really guarding my thoughts, they were mostly negative or worrisome. Anybody? Can anyone relate to this? I wonder why it is so easy to think negative thoughts. Why is positive so much less natural? I wish I were the kind of person who just naturally thought the best about situations and people. It seems like in my human condition, I tend to think the negative first and then have to talk my way to the positive; almost convince myself. It’s exhausting. Maybe all of this is why I love to read the book of Psalms; David’s thoughts and prayers to the Lord. His journal, or maybe it was his blog. 😉 He was so raw and honest, and I can relate to so much of what he was feeling. Well, I am not a shepherd who was being chased by a crazed king all over the countryside for a decade, but I can understand the fear, frustration, feelings of injustice and insecurity that he expresses over and over again throughout each entry. It brings me hope to see that such a devout man of God, one who God called “a man after His own heart,” can feel such things and still call God his Savior and declare that He was the best thing that ever happened to him. I find comfort in knowing that I can pour all these feelings out to the Lord and He will still claim me and call me His own. I think it even strengthens our relationship, the honesty and transparency in the confession of all this stuff in my head.  So, I’ll just keep on telling Him the good, the bad and the ugly and keep on reading Psalms to find solace to remind me that I am not alone in these thoughts. And I’ll keep trusting that I am growing even if it doesn’t feel like it sometimes. One day at a time. Orange Beach, that’s where we are this weekend, it is beautiful here. Sandy beaches, magnificent blue water, the distinct smell of salt in the air, beautiful sunsets, peace is all around me, mine for the taking.   I plan to make a conscience effort to take it all in so I can carry it home. This weekend has potential to be a fabulous get away with my husband, before the demands of school, kids, work, life set back in.  I’m praying that I can get my mind focused on all the good so I can truly enjoy it. I don’t want to miss this time, this day, this moment. Life is too short.

A taste of one of my favorite books of the Bible, from one of my favorite heroes:

“Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.” Psalm 139:23-24

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In our neighborhood lives a yellow calico cat, my niece and nephew have lovingly named it “the Carlson’s cat.”

I am not a big fan of cats. Don’t get me wrong, I will never be one of those people who wishes cats weren’t created, I will never have a bumper sticker on my car that says, “the only good cat is a dead cat.” I don’t wish any harm on them, I am just not a big lover of them. I have some very precious friends who love cats and have several; some of them have “I love my cat” bumper stickers. I will never have one of those either. Actually, I never planned to have a cat, and technically, I still don’t. Until recently, or recent months, or maybe recent years. Let me explain. In our neighborhood lives a yellow calico cat. This cat is well cared for, and lives outside. You can tell it loves its life by the way it prances around and stands proudly staring at anyone who notices him. (I think it’s a him?) For some reason, it really likes our house, like a lot. As a matter of fact, some of the folks who live near us thought it was ours. (If you’re reading this and live on our street, the yellow cat isn’t ours, seriously.) Our niece and nephew have lovingly named it the “Carlson’s cat.” We have come home many times to see it perched on top of the trash can or the hood of one of the cars in the driveway. More than once we’ve had to stop short of parking in the driveway because the cat is in the middle of it, staring at us, almost daring us to come any closer. He hides under the cars, waits by the front door, plays in the back yard, and I won’t even go into how much it loves to frustrate our dog. At first, this was so annoying to me, I could not understand why this cat picked us?? There are a lot of other houses on the street, why was he here so much?! But, as the days, months and years have rolled by, I have gotten used to him. Now it is no big deal to see the cat, I’m even tempted to name it. He’s become a part of the scenery of our home. I even find myself looking for him if I haven’t seen him in a few days, worried that something might have happened to him.   (What in the world, I’m not a fan of cats.) But, this one has grown on me. Because of his consistency and constancy, we have developed a mutual respect for each other; almost protective. A comfortable, working relationship. There have been people that come into my life from time to time that remind me of this cat. People that show up unexpectedly and I think, where do you live? Can you go there please? But, they persist and continue to come around. Annoying me, and making me see a side of myself that I try my best to hide, even from me. They show up at unexpected times, like when I feel my worst and don’t want to see a soul or when I’ve tried my best and they notice everything wrong with me. They perch themselves in places where I can’t miss them, making me feel frustrated and not good enough. I know, I know, they say I shouldn’t let people bother me, I’m still working on that… Recently, as I was thinking about some of these people, I realized that, just like that old cat, I find myself slowly growing to care about them and others who have been so difficult for me, even praying for them. I don’t know if it’s time, or familiarity, but I do know the Lord is doing a work in my heart; to love those who are tough on me. It’s still annoying at times, well, many times, but I’m praying to see things differently. Change is good. (And I’ve had a lot of it lately.) I really do want to love those around me as Jesus says to and to appreciate all living things, including cats, especially the “Carlson’s cat.” As a matter of fact, when I see that old cat I’m going to use him as a reminder to pray for those who frustrate me, for their heart and my own. I’m going to pray to see things as they really are, trusting that they are in my life for a reason. So, maybe I do like cats, or at least this one.

Moral of the story: Just because a person’s first introduction in your life feels negative, doesn’t mean it has to remain that way. What starts out negative, can turn to positive if given time, prayer and plenty of chances!

I have never met anyone who loves their driver’s license picture-seriously, never. I go to great lengths to keep mine hidden.

I have never met anyone who loves their driver’s license picture – seriously, never.  I go to great lengths to keep mine hidden.  It’s easier these days than it used to be.  Those of us who have been around a few years remember that we used to have to flash it regularly, back in the day when writing checks was the norm.  (I am showing my age here, I know.) It was always a dread to write the check, hand it to the cashier and hear the unpleasant words, “can I see your driver’s license, please?”  I remember paying extra to have my license number printed on my checks  in hopes to avoid having to show it.  Never worked. I mean, not only do they manage to get the worst picture you’ve ever taken in your life, but it also proudly proclaims your weight, height and, if it could, any other any embarrassing fact about you. (My driver’s license pictures over the years range from, wow!  She’s awkward to Man! Is she receiving medical attention for that?)  I can still remember the heat in my face as I would show my picture and mentally be rehearsing how I would explain my weight. “Why, yes, I know I don’t  look exactly like the picture, I may have gained a pound, or twenty,  since I renewed the license.” Or, “Please tell me you don’t recognize me in the picture, that would totally make my day.”  Recently, my son had to get his license renewed; he was so hopeful to get his picture updated.  You see, when he took his last license picture he was in the, “I’m not gonna smile phase.”  He honestly looks like he doesn’t feel good.  It’s bad, I’m saying that and I’m his mother.  You get the idea.  Anyway, he went to the DMV, which is everyone’s worst nightmare (sorry if you work there, it’s nothing personal), and waited his turn.  He had already decided this time was going to be better; he would smile and feel proud of his picture.  Be willing to show anyone who wanted to see it, no more shame.  So when his turn came, he sat in front of the camera, waiting for the 3,2,1 countdown, smiling from ear to ear in a very unnatural,  yet strangely happy looking pose.  Click, the picture recorded on the computer.  Feeling so glad for the opportunity to change the previous picture he waited for the go ahead to get up and let the next poor soul in line behind him have theirs taken.   But, no command for “next” came. Quite the contrary, she gives the countdown again, 3,2.1, awkward smile, a little  more  tentative and  curious this time.  Wouldn’t be as good as take 1, but okay.  Still no command to move on.  (We all know we do not move until we’re told in places like this, that can result in embarrassing barks from the employee, again, sorry if you work there, just speaking from personal experience.)  Finally, she pipes up, “I’m sorry, sir, the system doesn’t seem to recognize you while you’re smiling. I am going to need you to make the same face you made in the last picture so you can be identified. What??  NO!! He didn’t want to be “identified” by the same face!  He was ready for change, positive and different. He wanted others to know it, he was way over the not smiling phase, yet this computer was not going to let him move on. How sad.  So, he makes the same face, gets his picture taken, the computer recognizes him, he gets his license, and moves on…”next!” Hearing this story, I couldn’t help but think how true this is in life.  We make a change, God does an amazing work and folks around us don’t “recognize” us.  They don’t know how to process this new person that is being shaped and becoming different, so they try to put us back in the mold we want so badly to lose association with.  We become forever branded because of past choices or hurts.  Or maybe we do that to others, someone who hurt us and now they will forever look the same because we think we can’t or we won’t recognize them in any other way.  Never allowing them to change or break free from the old person they were…nope, please stay where you are so I can identify you.  How sad.  I want to really work on this, to allow those in my life seeking change to be given the opportunity in the data base of my mind.  To allow them a different “picture.”  Did I mention earlier how thankful I am for the debit card age?  I still have a terrible picture on my license, and I would have to be an elf to weigh what is says I weigh. (It’s tough to be honest with my myself about it, especially with 5 people standing in line behind me and I know they are craning an ear to hear what I say!!)   And now my poor son has the same type of picture on his, he has officially joined the ranks of adulthood. (That is part of the criteria for adulthood in my book, hating your license picture.) Now he will shudder when he has to show it as well. I want his experience to be a reminder to me to make a conscience effort to not be like the DMV and keep people in a box, unwilling to recognize them differently. I want to let them proclaim their new picture and hide their weight like any other decent adult!

Nine Months Today…

I was sitting outside on the screened in porch this morning to pray and to write some things that were rolling around in my heart and mind. I got to thinking about an old wives tale that someone recently told me. In this tale, a redbird, Cardinal, can represent people you love who have passed. When they show up, it’s supposed to signify that the person is visiting. I’m not saying that I believe it is true, but I kind of like the idea of it. My heart was broken this morning and as I said earlier, so I was on the porch enjoying watching the birds fly and listening to them sing when I thought I saw a red bird on the backyard fence. I walked over to the edge of the porch to look, but to my disappointment, it wasn’t. It was some other type of beautiful bird singing to welcome in the shiny new morning. And then suddenly, as if receiving a Que that it was his turn to go on stage, a beautiful bright red bird came swooping in and landed on the fence. I don’t see Cardinals very often, so this was kind of a big deal. It made cry and laugh at the same time. I tried to get a picture, but it was just a little too far away, so I just stood there and stared at it wanting desperately to capture the moment. I wanted to save it and tuck it away for future days when I felt the same heaviness again. Through the mixed up emotions I was feeling, this echoed through my heart…the Lord speaks to us, look around, he speaks. I just stared at the beautiful bird for a moment before it flew away, thanking the Lord for the smallest sign of his presence, his nearness, this morning to my broken heart. #heisfaithful #heisnear #lookaroundyou #goneninemonthstoday #missingmom

I am blogging? What?!?

Let me start out by saying, I have no idea what I am doing!  I literally had to go to google to figure out how to even post on this thing!  I am very hesitantly stepping into some deeper water here.  I have been so surprised and encouraged by the responses I’ve been getting on Facebook about my statuses.  So many of you have encouraged  me to start a blog.  Some of you out of love and others just  want to stop seeing all the words I post on Facebook. ha!   Either way, I am starting to feel that this is where I belong.  Sitting with my cup of coffee talking to each of you over the “table” of this post.  (yes,  I am a confessed coffee addict)  Nothing complicated, or particularly insightful, I just love people, observing them and writing about what I see.   I enjoy sharing words (lots of words)  about my every day life. I’m simple and probably not always grammatically correct and I tend to love run on sentences.  But, nothing brings me more happiness than putting on paper (or a computer screen)  what I’m learning and having someone else relate and tell me so.  I see life in stories, I feel like I have a constant narrative going in my head.  I am always looking for the lesson to be learned by the simple happenings around me.  I am not a “writer” and certainly not  an author or anything, really.   I just love making pictures in my mind out of words.  So, hang on and hold on as we get to know each other, I am a mess, as you will soon see.  But, I love Jesus  deeply and I pray everyday to be more like him.  Not sure what this is all gonna look like, I guess we’ll discover it together.  Can’t think of anyone else I’d rather make this journey with.