Thursday, October 29, 2009

People Think We're Crazy

Last weekend was OPC Getaway Chattanooga style. Before I recap the weekend, I have to address the question everyone asks..."What is an OPC?" That's not really important...the definition of an OPC lies mainly within the relationship we have. It's steeped in a heritage that spans decades. From our parents or grandparents, we all have a thread that binds us together and God made the friendships unite. If you've ever watched Steel Magnolias, I'd say that our friendship mirrors the lives of those southern ladies in some ways. We are there through thick and thin....births, deaths, sickness, tragedies, celebrations, weddings, break ups. You just can't "make" friendships like that...they are born from God's Providential plan. I thank God regularly for the blessings I have in the deep-rooted friendships of Amy, Beth, Christie and Tracy (Listed in alphabetical order so as not to elevate one higher than the other)

Tracy and Chad now live in Georgia with their sweet baby girl, Allison, yet we stay so well connected that I hardly know they aren't here anymore...until we get to see them and spend time with them, then I go through withdrawals. Chattanooga is the perfect point halfway between here and there allowing for an easy way to meet up and have uninterrupted quality time. When we planned this jaunt, I went on the hunt for just the right hotel and found the "sweetest suite" at Staybridge Suites. For $27 per person, we had a luxurious two-bedroom suite, complete with living room, flat screen TVs, kitchenette and two bathrooms. Chad and Tracy had their own bedroom and bathroom making it perfect to bring Allison along.

Recapping the weekend is a tough challenge. It's just one of those things you experience that is hard to put into words...but, since I'm wordy, I'll do my best to summarize a few of my favorite things...
  • The road trip with Amy, Beth and Christie - We hopped into my Bluebelle and took off down the highway. I love a good road trip...full of laughter, singing, and great conversations. Thank goodness my car can't talk.
  • Seeing Alllison Ruth - That baby couldn't have been more loved than she was in the 24 hours or so we were with her. I got to feed her a bottle was like the baby lottery to see who would get to feed her, dress her, hold her. And, we were able to celebrate her six-month birthday!
  • Good food - What is a vacation without good food? We had mexican more than once, an outstanding continental breakfast at the hotel, and a Carol cake. What is a Carol cake? A delectable cake made by Tracy's Mom...a favorite of Chad. She takes very good care of us, sending along plates, forks and napkins to make our party complete.
  • Random OPC groupings - The beauty of a weekend like this is how throughout our various activities we all end up to have time with certain OPCs, changing the dynamic. I'm always fascinated by this. Whether it's while someone is taking a shower, or two of us are out doing something while the rest of the gang is together, the providence of that, coupled with the conversations that take place are priceless. Conversations in shopping center parking lots....late night talks while we're trying to go to sleep...early morning pow wows while we're getting ready...breakfast table topics. All are memorable.
  • Quality, unhindered time with my girls - Even though four of the five OPCs live in the same town, getting us all together can be challenging. I cherish the time I get to share with them...unimpeded, continual time. Time where we laugh, share our hearts and are honest...knowing we'll always love and be there for each other.
  • The Vegas Moments - You know the slogan "What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas." There are many things that fall into the "What happened in Chattanooga, stays in Chattanooga." And that's all I'll say about that.

People think we're crazy. Why? We drive five hours to spend one night to drive five hours the next day just to spend time together doing nothing noteworthy. Oh, how wrong those people are. We may be crazy...but I'd do it every weekend if I could. If I had to rate this weekend, I'd give it a 9.9...I'd give it a 10 if it never ended.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Nine Years Later

It was nine years ago last week, on September 29, that my Mom left this world for her eternal home. Each year this day is always bittersweet as it falls the day after my birthday. This year was a bit more reflective as two sweet ladies passed away last week, one on the anniversary of my Mom's passing. It's always a reminder of how short our lives are and how we should cherish every moment. After reflecting on that last week, and focusing on the wonderful things about my Mom and not the sadness of my loss, I came up with five things I wish I could tell her. Now, those that know me best know I have more than five things I would tell her...but no blog could hold all that has happened the last nine years that I'd love to tell her. These five things sum up a lot and probably are the top five list we'd cover first thing if we were sitting face to face.

1. I wish I knew more about the 18 years of your waiting to have a child. - My Mom told me a lot about that time...the miscarriages, the lost premature child, her prayers for just one child...but now as so many of my friends are dealing with infertility issues, I wish I had her words of wisdom to share. Eighteen years she prayed and a time when there was very little medical advancement to help that along. Most people would have given up. My parents didn't. I'm so thankful they didn't or September 28 would have been just another day in their life and I wouldn't be writing this blog.

2. I have become you, Mom - As much as I may fight it, I am my Mother's daughter. I can talk to anyone, anywhere...the very characteristic that drove me nuts about her as a child. I remember wanting the telephone as a teenager (for you young 'uns, no cell phones in my teen years) and having to wait for her to make all her calls. Now I know where I get that gift of gab. I can make a non-phone talker into Alexander Graham Bell. I love giving meaningful gifts that are specific to the recipient...I love writing notes throughout books when I give them as gifts...I love to read, and am loving it more every day...I cry at the drop of a hat...I'm crafty (both in wit and skill)...I speak my mind, though mostly filtered through tact and eloquence as she taught me. Yes, all those things and more have turned me into my Mom.

3. My love for discipleship and mentoring was a direct result of your passing - This may sound odd, but the passion for discipleship, mentoring and pouring into younger girls and women truly was ignited after my Mom's death. What I realized was how much her life impacted me...not because we sat down and did a Bible study together each week (we didn't) or did any of those things the mentoring books tell you about structured meetings. I watched her live life....I watched her go through tragedies...I saw her flaws and her failures...I saw her successes and strengths....and I saw her walk through the valley of the shadow of death. Those are lessons learned by living life side by side. Mom, you are the inspiration of that calling in my life.

4. One of the greatest lessons you taught me was to make my friends my family - Being an only child, born to older parents, my Mom taught me from a young age that she and my Dad wouldn't be here forever. Thankfully, my Dad is still going strong, but that lesson included her instruction to make lots of close friends who are your "family" until you have a family of your own. Since I'm single, that lesson has been oh so important. I am blessed beyond what I deserve to have great friends who love me like their own family. And, I feel the same about them. I used to listen to that lesson from her and never give it a second thought. Now, it is like gold.

5. The prayers you prayed for me are still being lifted up today - My Mom never ceased to provide humor in most situations. Sitting next to her at just about any function was a hoot to get her colorful commentary whispered in your ear. One of her ongoing comments that carried a bit of humor, but a ton of prayer was "I just want to see you married before I go on to my reward!" Well, obviously that didn't happen, but almost until the day she died, she wanted that, desperately, for me. I think because she knew the blessing my Dad was in her life, not to mention the lifesaver she was for him, and she wanted that same blessing for me. I have an army of people who still pray that prayer for me today...and for that, I'm forever grateful. And, hopefully, if God blesses, I will marry before I go on to my reward. Mom, God is faithful and your prayers are still at work.

I am eternally blessed to have had a Mom that wanted me so badly she waited 18 years to have me and taught me more than I could ever have imagined. "Those who sow in tears, will reap with songs of joy." - Psalm 126:5

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Lessons Learned from Four-Year Olds

I love working in the four-year old Sunday School class. This once-a-month privilege always teaches me so much more than we ever teach them. A couple of weeks ago was no exception and I walked away with a few lessons learned...

1. You can make a fashion statement with purple makeup on your face - A couple of the girls unloaded their purse and the next thing we knew they were covered in purple makeup. They weren't shaken by the Indian war paint look they were sporting, but we figured the Mommies might not be too happy with this emerging trend. Miss Carolyn took them to the bathroom to wash their face. But, I couldn't resist calling one of them "Purple Piper" the rest of the day.

2. A chariot can be pulled by a zebra if a horse isn't available - Mr. Matt was playing with the kids and having them pull a chariot as we prepared to hear the story of the conversion of the Ethiopian. No horse was available to use to pull the Mr. Matt improvised...and we used Marty the Zebra. All the Madagascar characters from Disney Happy Meals are ready to fulfill any biblical role necessary at a moment's notice.

3. Potty time can evoke the best discussions - As crazy as it sounds, I love taking the girls for potty time. They always tell the greatest stories and bonding happens when you do something, so, um, personal, I guess. On this particular Sunday, I had two interesting discussions. One little girl said she had a younger sister, and she was going to have a baby brother, but right now, he was growing in her Mommy's tummy. Sounds reasonable, right? But, her Mommy isn't pregnant. This same girl has told the teachers each week it's her birthday...I think we have a comedic genius on our hands. Another little girl described in detail how her Mommy handles her clothing when she has, um, an accident. I'll save you the gory details. But she implied these "accidents" happen frequently. I've protected the innocent by withholding their names. What happens in the potty, stays in the potty.

4. We all have fears - the only thing that changes is the focus of our fears - Hannah sat with me at the table doing a puzzle and was all snuggly, which I love, but she seemed a bit sleepy. I asked her, "Hannah, are you sleepy?" She said, "Yes, I didn't sleep last night. The storms scared me." I just gave her a hug....and was reminded that I was afraid of storms at her age too. My Mom taught me Psalm 56:3, "What time I am afraid, I will trust in the Lord." to get me through the storms. To little Hannah, that storm may be the scariest thing she encounters. But, for me, I have different storms now. In either case, Psalm 56:3 is the best answer no matter the storm.