Peace Through the Storms of Life

I have to laugh at myself, so this coffee pic seems appropriate.

Hello, Thursday morning friends! Thanks for stopping by this morning. I’m reminiscing again, but for a different reason.

NOTE: I accidentally entered the wrong date. This was supposed to post on Thursday!

Once upon a time, I had three beautiful aunts. Actually, I had one more out west, but I never met her. And oh yes, there is my uncle’s wife in Idaho I never met, too. But that’s another story.

My brothers and me with Aunt Edna’s kids, minus one not born yet. We were a handful!

Tennessee family. I had three lovely aunts, my dad’s two sisters, Jenny and Fran, and his brother’s wife, Edna. Growing up in a close family meant a lot of love. My aunts were like “other mothers” to me. Sometimes, I could talk to them more easily than my own mother. But, I always knew Mom would hear about it. They were all great friends who told each other things like that.

Aunt Jenny and Aunt Fran died several years ago, within days of each other. Aunt Jenny always looked after her younger sister, so I joked that she stopped by the nursing home on the way out and  took sis with her. And that was okay. Our hearts hurt, but we knew where they were.

This week, Aunt Edna left. She was a survivor. She survived colon cancer and lived with a colostomy for many years. She endured many losses in her life. But her love stayed strong. Though she was little, she was a fierce warrior where her family was concerned.

11738096_10205150625025104_478638103348948120_n
Mom on left, Aunt Edna on right.

I like to think she passed that fierce love to all of her children—those she gave birth to, those she loved like her own kids, and the numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren who called her “mammy”.

My heart aches at this loss. But if the alternative is not to have love, then I say it’s worth the pain. I’ve experienced great joy in life because of these three women who loved me unconditionally. I think it would be a greater loss and heartbreak to go through life alone.

Aunt Jenny, always smiling.

A kiss going in, a kiss going out, and sometimes, a kiss just because. That’s what we said about Aunt Jenny, but it could easily be said of all the aunts. They never missed an opportunity to show affection and love, because they had learned the value and importance of physical touch, and making your feelings known.

Peace through the storms of life, that’s what unconditional love provides. A shelter in the storm. Knowing you’re loved and accepted somewhere, by someone. In this in-your-face, confrontational world, it may be an old-fashioned concept.

Aunt Fran & Me (I’m the little one).

Or, maybe it’s a southern thing. All I know, is I will miss their hugs and kisses.

I’ll miss Aunt Edna’s voice. But the love is still there, because she never missed an opportunity to pass it on.

So, now it’s our turn. The baton is in our hands.

All I Want for Christmas Part 2

There are a number of Christmas stories, books, and movies that begin with the line, “All I Want for Christmas…” — and one very silly song. I won’t mention that one, because I don’t want to get it stuck in my head. Hey, I’m doing you a very great favor here.

Christmas time is here...
Christmas time is here…

So, Hallmark Christmas movies are a genre all their own. The tendency is toward sap and silliness and incredible situations. Even the credible ones tend to be quite predictable. Don’t get me wrong, I love some of those silly offerings. And every once in a while, you stumble across one that is truly delightful.

I have a few favorites. They’re not all made by Hallmark, but definitely in the genre:

  • One Christmas Eve is a total blast! I laughed so hard.
  • A Season for Miracles–angelic!
  • The Christmas Bunny–different, but I liked it.
  • Christmas with Holly–mostly because of the location, and the Basset hound.
  • A Christmas Card–it has everything–an icky fiance, and curly fries.
  • The Road to Christmas–wonderful actors.

Okay, that’s enough. Most of these are romances or contain romance, but not all. The couples meet and fall into forever love in just days! But something in them appeals to me. Laughter, love, warmth…and honestly, by the time Christmas gets here, I’ve watched too many. I feel like a total glutton. I’m ready to move on. But if you like to watch them all year, they are available. Nice to know.

But the time comes when you need to get your head out of the Hallmark movie and face real life.

family-310364_1280Because there are some people out there who need a positive influence in their lives. They need us to share the love passed down from our Heavenly Father and the Savior we celebrate during this season. Hey, if your pocketbook is a little too slim, find other ways to bless your friends and family. Don’t be a Scrooge!

So what’s my Christmas wish this week? Time to watch movies? No. That would be a little shallow, don’t you think? Fun, but frivolous. And besides, I wished for time last week. So this week, I wish for gatherings and fun and fellowship. My holiday house is open to sons and their wives, their families, and carloads of granddaughters (one of my favorite things). The best recipe for fun and laughter is a house filled with those you love.

chip-1And maybe someone will come and bring their dog. I’d love that.

What’s your greatest wish? Is it an impossible dream, or is it a maybe–something within the realm of possibility. Faith is believing, so I’m going to stock the fridge, do some baking, and be ready for that wish to come true.

Gratitude

Gratitude. It’s not just a synonym for thankfulness, it’s a state of being. Something that is often forgotten. Those nine lepers in Jesus’ day (Luke 17:11-19) missed a blessing by not sticking around to say, “Thank you.” Yes, they were miraculously healed, which is a gift in itself. But in their haste—their excitement over being cleansed of this horrible disease, did they forget something? Where was the gratitude?

“Were there not ten of you,” Jesus asked the one who came to thank him. “Where are the nine?”

Shame on the nine.

Shame on me, when I forget to say thanks.

illustration-1546834_1280

What does the word gratitude mean to you? What thoughts enter your mind when you read that word? Do you think of things (inanimate objects)? Do you gaze around at your personal possessions? The roof over your head? Or do you think of your health? Are you thankful for each new day when you wake up and get out of bed?

Some don’t wake up. Some can’t get out of bed.

I tend to think of people. Those who are special to me. Family, friends, and those acquaintances who may become good friends in time. These are the most pleasant of gifts. Folks who actually care whether or not you wake up in the morning.

Some don’t have anyone.

turkey-1456681_1280On Thursday, we gather together to celebrate a turkey. Of course, I’m kidding, but it does sometimes seem that way, especially at my house. If I put a turkey in the oven, they will come to see me. If there’s pumpkin pie, it’s pretty much a guarantee. 🙂

This year, I’m especially grateful for the loves of my life, my husband, my sons, their wives, and those precious grandchildren. I plan to make gratitude a big part of our celebration.

I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving Day. And if you have all the things above—a roof, possessions, health, family—I hope you remember to express your gratitude for those gifts. If you don’t have some of these things, but you have your health, you can be grateful for that.

In Philippians 4:11-13, Paul the Apostle writes:

“I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” (New International Version)

Happy Thanksgiving!

Save

Save

Standing Out or Outstanding?

outstandingI love my friends and family. I have an amazing group of people surrounding and supporting me.

They think I’m outstanding. I guess that’s what I love most about them. They believe in me.

lonely-273629_1280Sometimes, we don’t really appreciate the ones that God has placed in our lives. They might be the ones who are encouraging us to try harder–don’t quit–don’t give up. Keep on going, even when things look really bad. Even when you want them to stop encouraging you, because you really don’t want to keep going.

You want to quit. You want to forget you ever tried. But that’s not really an option I can take. No matter how much I might want to. The degree of OCD in me won’t let me quit. If I’ve misplaced something in my house, I WILL NOT QUIT until I find it. I will move everything in my house–clean out every closet and drawer–until I find what I’m looking for. I’m pretty much the same with other things in life.

I can’t let it go–which  can be a positive trait–or not.

You can stand out in any arena.

What does it take to make it? Here’s my list–

  1. Work hard.
  2. Study hard.
  3. Stay focused.
  4. Be friendly.
  5. Be kind.
  6. Help others.
  7. Pray hard.

startup-593324_1280These are not necessarily in the right order. I’m still working on them. Number 7 has become very important in my life. I know it helps me stay focused. And probably helps me with all the other ones.

“Work hard so you can present yourself to God and receive his approval. Be a good worker, one who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly explains the word of truth.”–2 Timothy 2:15 NLT

If you do the things described in this scripture, you’ll stand out. Most people will appreciate your efforts.

However… in Ecclesiastes 12:12, we read: “But, my child, let me give you some further advice: Be careful, for writing books is endless, and much study wears you out.”

I had to laugh at that one, especially since it seems to be aimed at writers. 🙂

And then in Acts 26:24 — “Suddenly, Festus shouted, ‘Paul, you are insane. Too much study has made you crazy!'”

He definitely stands out! I think perhaps Paul was talking the civic leader’s ears right off his head. From my research, I believe Paul could’ve done that.

So the end of the matter is this:

If you choose to go for outstanding in life, yours will most likely NOT be an easy life. However, the rewards are great, though you may not receive them until after you’re gone. But if you’re passing knowledge along to those coming after, either through writing, teaching, or spreading the Gospel of Christ, the reward is ongoing.

sisters-781098_1280And don’t forget the ones who are encouraging you in your daily life. Listen. Learn. And as you have opportunity, thank them. Give them a hug, let them know you were listening. Sometimes the encourage-r needs encouraging.

May you stand out in life. May your path be blessed and your life outstanding.

Save

Save

Save