Tuesday, March 26, 2013


4:19 a.m.

In my dream, I hear a coach's whistle.

I open my eyes to the reality.   


Smoke detector low battery indicator.

Why don't these things ever happen during the daytime?!

I find the offending detector, and even more amazing, a replacement 9V battery.  Without raiding a remote control airplane or the like.

I wake up my teenager (of course, it is one of the detectors on the 9 foot ceiling, beyond this momma's reach), and he stumbles down to replace it, not grumbling too much.

4:26 a.m.  Done.

Crisis averted.  No alarms will start going off, waking the house and perhaps the neighborhood.  (Been there, done that, don't want to do that again...but that's another story).

Some days, I feel like all I ever do is put out fires (no pun intended...well, maybe there was).  Something is breaking, something necessary has run out, someone hurts themselves.  I feel like I should buy stock in Calgon, because those "take me away" moments happen so frequently.

As the frustration mounts, some days I boil over.  I let loose the frustration at all the little things color my world, affecting the big things...like my kids.

It is wrong; it is sin.

Right after Keith died, one of the dear men he worked with came over and changed all my smoke detector batteries.  That was the way he wanted to honor his friend and our family.  It was very sweet.

He told me at the time to mark the day on the calendar so that next year I would know what day to replace the batteries.  I gave him lip service, saying I would...but I did not.

Since then, I have had to replace most of the batteries in the same way as described above...waiting for the chirping, then rushing around finding a battery just in time to avert the entire electrically-tied system going off.

Preventative maintenance.  PM, my Marine husband called it.  Necessary in my house.

And necessary for my soul.

When I get to the explosion point over dirty socks, dirty dishes, dirty dogs, the problem is not with them...it is with me.

Have I read my Bible enough?  Have I spent enough quiet time with the Lord?  Have I counted my blessings?

These troubles are going to come.  My life is still going to be my life, filled with many bumps in the road, many distractions, much to do.

It is my attitude toward it that can...and must...change.

And, with the Lord's help, and plenty of PM, it will.

[Jesus said,] “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” - John 16:33

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Spin Cycle

My dryer is in pieces in my laundry room.  Blech.

The part is on order, and one of my sweet friends will be putting it in for me, but...we are going on Day 11 of no dryer.

Don't try to come to my bedroom right now.  I would definitely tackle you if you headed up the stairs.  My bedroom looks like something out of the Beverly Hillbillies.

I could wait until the dryer is fixed to wash, but that may mean that we have to climb over clothes to get to the beds.

 There has been a great side-effect of this time without a dryer, though.

As I handle each piece of our clothing to hang it individually, I have been aware of God's provision and blessing to us. 

My guys tend to pick t-shirts as souvenirs when we take a trip.  I have had a lovely trip down memory lane, reflecting on all the fun places we have been, all the joy in being together. 

We have been truly blessed over the years with the number of hand-me-downs we have.  Clothes in our own family have lasted well to be passed down from boy to boy, but also dear family and friends have passed down many things to us.  Looking at a load of clothes, the number I have actually had to purchase is relatively small...often just socks and underwear.  Huge blessing!

And...we have plenty of clothes to wear.  There are widows around the world, around our nation, who are struggling to put a meal on the table for their families, much less purchase the necessary clothing, and yet...here I am with clothes to spare.  Blessing again!

I would not have noticed all of these blessings, had I not been put in the slightly uncomfortable position of hanging up my clothes to dry.  This light and momentary trouble has brought me closer to God.  Praise Him for that!

In this fast-paced world where we are over-taxed, over-committed, and over-tired, don't we sometimes need just a few minutes to relax and reflect on our blessings?

I sure am glad over these past couple weeks that I have had a few moments to reflect on mine!

But...I will be glad to have my dryer back.

Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him. - Psalm 34:8

Monday, March 18, 2013

The End of the Story

My almost-8-year-old is a read-the-last-page-of-the-story guy.  I am not quite sure how it happened.  To my way of thinking, that is just wrong.


Sometimes I peek...not to read the whole page, but just to see if a certain name is mentioned, so I know if that character makes it through whatever their trial is.

Don't you wish you could do that with the story of your life?  Just take a quick peek to see how things work out?

God has His reasons, I know, for not telling us the end of the story here on earth.  And now I think I know why...or at least have a better understand.

I am a talker.  (You may be surprised at that...not.)  Sometimes, in order to work things out, I like to talk them through out loud.  I used to do it to Keith all the time.

After Keith died, I would still have these out-loud conversations, using the boys as a sounding board in the same way.

But it did not have quite the same results.

I would talk through out loud the planning for a particular day:  Maybe we will get up and run the errands, and then stop for lunch on the way home, and then start school...

The only problem was that the boys would get focused on the wrong part of the story:  Going out to lunch?!  We're going out to lunch?!  Yay!  Where are we going?  Can we go to _____?  (Insert boys who are now debating--loudly--the place we are going to for lunch.)

The boys would get totally focused on the wrong part of the story.  They took what was a maybe, a possible plan, and made it into reality--and started putting their own caveats into it.

Maybe that is why God does not give us--does not give me--that peek at the rest of the story.

I would get focused on the things ahead, and not take into consideration the things of now.  We are here for a purpose, and if I get caught up in the future too much, then I am not in my present, doing what I need to be doing in my present, putting my own spin on a future that may or may not be in my best interest...instead of trusting a Plan that is perfect.

So...I resolve to work through every page of my life...as it comes...and not worry about the ones that are too far ahead for me to see.  I will get there eventually...in God's good time, and with His good grace.

And if not...if His plan is not for me to walk the pages here on earth...then I get to the ultimate last page...eternal life with Him in Heaven.

I have already been told how the Big Story ends.

Amen and amen!

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. - Ephesians 2:10 (NASB)

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Once a Marine Family, Always a Marine Family

A couple weeks ago, we had the extreme joy of going to the graduation of a dear young man from Basic Training at Parris Island.  Ooorah!

It was also a time of reflection for us as a family.

You see, Keith graduated from Parris Island 35 years ago this May.

We are a Marine family...yet the boys know only bits and pieces of that life, especially the little ones, since Keith retired when I was pregnant with the oldest.  Oh, they have been on base, seen the pageantry at Memorial Day (Keith is buried at Quantico and we are there for the celebration every year), and know quite a few service members, active duty and retired, from church...but they did not live the life.  Neither did I for that long, since we married near the end of Keith's military career.

But I want them to know.

Patriotism is, to many, an old-fashioned value.  Not so in this family.  Keith proudly served his country, and talked about at least one of the boys following him some day...becoming a third generation Marine.  Maybe after seeing the obstacles, the hardship, and also the honor, courage, and commitment, one of my boys will choose to follow in his footsteps...and step on the yellow footprints.

As we walked around the base, listening to this dear young man's story of his experience, Keith was constantly in our thoughts.  I had been on Parris Island once with Keith and heard his recounting of the island and the training.  Even nearly 20 years later, he had very strong feelings and memories.  I shared with the boys what I could remember that their dad had said.  I pulled out his boot camp pictures and let them laugh at his bald head and serious expression.  I shared the memory book Keith and I had made together as he neared the end of his military career, recounting the stories and awards.

As we walked through the museum on base, we saw pictures of Marines through time and what they did while at basic, and in their careers.  And I recalled my Marine Corps birthday balls, Keith in his blues, Keith is his Alphas, and in the utilities he wore each day for 20 years.

And when they played the National Anthem and the Marine Corps Hymn, I cried...as I do every time.  Freedom isn't free, and my husband knew that, respected that, and did something about it.

The last stanza of the Marine Corps Hymn reads:

Here's health to you and to our Corps
Which we are proud to serve
In many a strife we've fought for life
And never lost our nerve;
If the Army and the Navy
Ever look on Heaven's scenes;
They will find the streets are guarded
By United States Marines.

My Marine is now guarding the streets of glory.  I miss him every day, sometimes every minute.  I am sure that 20 years down the road, no matter what happens, I will miss him.

But, thanks to wonderful experiences like the one we had with our dear friends, my boys will have an understanding of who their dad was, what he did, what was important to him.

And so will I.

And for that I am very, very thankful.

Sing to God, sing in praise of his name,
    extol him who rides on the clouds;
    rejoice before him—his name is the Lord.
A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows,
    is God in his holy dwelling.
God sets the lonely in families,
    he leads out the prisoners with singing;
    but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land.
- Psalm 68:4-6

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The Ripple Effect

Have you ever thrown rocks into a pool of water?  I'm not even talking skipping them; just tossing them in.  They inevitably make ripples.

The other day, I ran into a dear friend who had some wonderful news!  After a career change, a difficult job from which she was eventually let go, and working two part-time jobs to make ends meet, she finally was given her "job of a lifetime," right in her career field.  I was praising God with her, thanking God for His faithfulness.  Along with the pain on this journey, she is already able to see the blessing and the reason for this path, at least in part.

This journey put her in contact with a family whom has become precious to her, a family who doesn't know the Lord.  Through nannying for this family, she has been able to bring Jesus to them in ways they might not ever have see Him.  Praise God!!

I was able to glory with her...because she had shared.  The struggles, the whole journey.  It became part of her testimony.

My responsibility is to see my own life in that way.

I am one to post signs on my fridge:  different scriptures that I have been given to focus on for a time, poems, things I have found posted on the Internet, great quotes, etc.

My latest addition to my fridge is the simple quote:  "Expect Divine Appointments Every Day."

I have been given a certain testimony by the events of my life.  I am the keeper of this testimony, and just like everything else in my life, I need to steward it well.  It's not a contest of whose road is harder, longer, more filled with potholes.  It's a matter of doing everything to the glory of God, even stewarding the testimony.

Sometimes that means me talking in a public and/or personal way about my loss, about single parenting, about what my life looks like now.  Sometimes it simply means keeping on keeping on, for we never know how far the ripples go.

But by neglecting to speak of my testimony when presented with an opportunity, with a divine appointment, is poor stewardship on my part...and could have long-reaching effects on the community of God.

Rather than deal with the might-have-beens, I resolve to steward my testimony, even when painful at times.

I do not know the plans of the Maker of the universe, and I often wonder how He can use a tired, sometimes grouchy, rather ordinary child of His to change the world...but He just might.

Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. - 1 Peter 3:15b

Thursday, March 7, 2013


The other morning on the way to church, we saw a very common sight for February in Virginia...squashed skunk.

Apparently, these little fellows become amorous this time of year, and during their nocturnal romances, they are so blinded by love that they don't pay a lick of attention where they are going and wander right out into the road.  Poor things!  You're thinking, "Poor us to smell the after effects!"

Um...I have a confession to make.  I really enjoy the smell of a dead skunk.  My family is scandalized that I would confess such a thing.  They think I should be committed.  While they are holding their collective breaths until we pass, I am breathing deep, enjoying the odor.

Let me try to explain why I like it.  That pungent smell when you stumble upon a skunk is shocking, but to me that is a good thing.  I tend to like the shocking, at least when it is shocking me back to my senses...and that one is surely clearing out my sinuses.

Perhaps that is true in my walk with Christ as well.

I am stubborn.  (Keith is in Heaven snorting, "Ya think?")  I want to have my own way, and often thwart God's good gifts and perfect plans by clinging to my own.  Oh, I know mine are imperfect.  I will be the first to tell you that.  But they are familiar, and so at times I stick to them.

I hope I am getting better at this.  I really want to be on board with God 100% - 100% of the time.

But I am Balaam in need of a discerning donkey...and an angel in my path.  I ignore the planks and the specks, so long as I am going where I think I need to be going.

But, praise Him, God loves me enough to send the holy 2 x 4 to smack me back into place.

The things that cause me to sit up and take notice...are things that I need to take notice of.  The pungency seems to be necessary to get it through my thick skull...and maybe my thick nasal passages.

I have learned a lot of lessons in the past 5 1/2 years without Keith.  Some of them have been quite painful.  Maybe they needed to be that painful...that pungent...for me to get them.  Maybe that would be the only way they would make an impression on me.

I don't feel like this was God picking on me.  This was God preparing me...loving me too much to leave me the way I was, following through on His plans for me and my life...and the life of my family.

This is a lesson that I need to remember as each tough situation comes up in the future, be it financial, relational, or spiritual.

How about you?

Praise our God, all peoples,
    let the sound of His praise be heard; 
He has preserved our lives
    and kept our feet from slipping.
For You, God, tested us;
    You refined us like silver.
You brought us into prison
    and laid burdens on our backs.
You let people ride over our heads;
    we went through fire and water,
    but You brought us to a place of abundance.
- Psalm 66:8-12