Friday, September 30, 2011

Five Minutes: On Friends

Each week Gypsy Mama chooses a word or topic to write on for five minutes, no editing, free flowing from the mind. I started joining in the fun a few weeks ago, prompted from Sara. As many of you know from reading my blog, Sara has been very sick and on her way Home. Sara danced into the arms of Jesus late last Saturday evening and though the world has lost a most encouraging woman, her faith has become sight and she is whole. Bittersweet, but rejoicing. I'm thankful Sara has introduced me to Gypsy Mama and many other bloggers who inspire my days. Even at her death she was challenging those there, as she lay in her casket wearing a t-shirt that said "It's Not About Me." Fly to Jesus, Sara, your chains are gone.

Today's topic: On Friends. Ready. Set. Write.

Friends are my lifeline. Being an only child and having very little blood family, I have encircled myself with friends that are just like family. This was a lesson my Mom taught me eons ago when she just knew because she and my Dad were older when I was born, that I'd live a lot of my life without family. And, if I didn't marry and have my own family, she pushed me to make sure I had close friends. I've often wanted to create a word to define that role of "friends that are like family"..."friendlative"..."Fami-friend" just seems appropriate to deem it as a word.

This week it has become even clearer to me the importance of my friends. When celebrating a new year of life, or the passing of a loved one, my friends, not family, are the ones that have been there. It might seem odd to those that have lots of family and their lives are surrounded by such, but even those of you with that blessing, don't miss the blessing of extended family through the friends in your life. The funniest story related to "friendlatives" was one time when I was filling out paperwork for the doctor and they asked for my "next of kin that doesn't live with you." At that time, I was living with my Dad and my Mom had passed away a few months earlier and my Grandmother, the only other "kin" had just passed. I looked around and gave them the name of one of my best friends, Christie. Later, I told her, in case she ever got a call, and laughed at her new "next of kin" title. She is now affectinately knows as my "NOK."

Friends...even the Bible speaks of their importance ..."There is a friend who stays closer than a brother." (Proverbs 18:24)'s more than a TV show, it's a true blessing

Monday, September 26, 2011


As my blog title implies, I'm a person of great reflection. This week my mind is replete with memories and reflection as I approach growing another year older and experiencing the 11th anniversary of my Mom's passing. It seems I'm a bit consumed with loss recently. My company was recently acquired, causing a loss of co-workers to layoffs and a loss of what we've always known to new and exciting territory. Sweet Sara, a blogger I've followed for about a year or so, just left this world for Heaven, all to soon for our liking, but just the right time for her. After years of being confined and homebound due to a debilitating disease and multiple complications, she is now free from pain and whole...and surely dancing down the streets of gold. Losing her at a young age brought back memories of my sweet friend, Jan, who is surely greeting her at the feet of Jesus. Lest we get mired in this discussion of loss, let me move on to the true focus of this post...time...or more specifically, decades.

I'm about to celebrate another birthday, of which I'm thankful for, but I'm reminded that I've lived many decades. And, I'm closer to being half a century than I am to being a quarter of a century. The day after my birthday marks the 11th year of my Mom's passing...the beginning of the second decade I'm living this earthly life without her. I could fill the ocean with things I wish I could tell her, which clearly means we'll have plenty of time to catch up in eternity. Each passing year I've tried to keep her legacy alive. I once referred to it as keeping a remnant of her life for future generations. I've suceeded in being the fun, creative gift giver she was, and give her the credit for my giddyness when coming up with just the right gift idea. The older I get the more forthright in my opinions I become...thanks, Mom. And, I can talk to just about anybody, just like she used to do and would drive me to crazy embarrasment. I am on the precipice of accomplishing another task...completing a crocheted afghan. I've attempted two projects before (they are stuffed in a garbage bag because I can't bear to just throw away the yarn, though I'm edging on hoarder status with that statement). I've finally found just the right pattern and hope to have it completed for my friend, Christie's, brother and sister-in-law's baby due in December.

Once I got close to completion of this next rung of the legacy ladder, I was already itching for the next Momism to conquer. And I saw her sewing machine sitting unattended and the perverbial light bulb went on above my head. My Mom sewed all sorts of things and her Mom, my Granny, was a seamstress by trade. I would be a natural, right? I started strolling the aisles of the local fabric store back in May during a day of retail therapy and "Rose" time when I was convinced to enroll in their sewing basics class. As I bought a pattern and fabric (assuming Miss Superhero here could figure it all out by myself), the cutter told me I'd be a pro after this 3-hour class. And so I went. And I loved it. When I came home, I used my first lesson on my own machine...threading the bobbin and threading the needle. Now this may sound easy to you non-seamstresses, but, not so. I dug out the instruction book (as the sewing instructor said we might need to do) to follow the steps to prep my sewing machine for business. And as I flipped through the pages of that instruction book, I found this....

It was a certificate that my Mom and Dad signed to commit their home to be a home of prayer. Why it was tucked between the pages of the sewing machine owner's manual is still a mystery to me. Threading bobbins and sewing machines became minimal as I studied this document closely. It was signed on November 9, 1957...a decade after my parents married. Now that is significant for a couple of reasons. First, my Dad wasn't a believer when they married, yet by the time I was born, he was so solid in his faith, I would assume he had been a strong believer since his childhood. This commitment came 10 years into their marriage, about eight years or so after Dad accepted Christ. He was still a baby Christian yet learning what it meant to be obedient. Second, it was 8 years before I was born...almost another decade. That's huge. They had been married 10 years...and childless. I know many couples in today's medical advancements that try for six months and are certain they are destined for a life of infertility. Yet my parents had been married for 10 years at this point and no children, though I know they wanted a family. And, they were committed to making their home full of prayer. Oh how I'd love to ask my Mom how it felt to surrender to this commitment when knowing a prayer she had for a child seemed to remain unanswered. For someone like me who has prayed for a husband for those many years and more, I could use her wisdom and life experience there. In just a providential moment of seeking the steps to use my Mom's sewing machine, I found a priceless little commitment card that speaks volumes.

I did eventually get the machine prepped for sewing, though I have yet to be inspired to take on that first project. I feel that urge to sew coming back again, so my training and toil won't be in vain. But, if I never finish a project, the fact that I was able to stumble upon this jewel of a testimony was worth it all. Married a decade with prayers unanswered. Almost another decade before a child entered their life. And decades later I am impacted by a commitment card my Mom...who has been gone a decade...felt compelled to save. To her, maybe it was a tangible to show her that God does answer prayer and He still performs miracles. Oh, how precious to think I'll continue to learn lessons from my sweet Mom for many decades to come.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Five Minutes: Growing

Each Friday, Gypsy Mama chooses one word to write about for five minutes, unedited. For those that have read my blog recently, you know that this was also a weekly exercise sweet Sara participated in, but she is soon to be heading Home to see her Savior. As of this afternoon, she was still the same, though her body was showing signs of fully shutting down. Be in prayer for her family as they journey a road that isn't easy to travel, even with the assurance that Sara will soon be whole and free of pain.

Today's word is: Growing. Five minutes, ready, set, write...

It's the first day of Fall, which means the leaves will soon be turning vibrant colors and falling off the trees. Then Winter comes. And although the white snow covers the ground and looks so pretty at first, the cold and wintry weather isn't my favorite season. But, before you know it, the ice will thaw and the buds of Spring will poke their heads through the green grass...and I become as giddy as Lucy Van Pelt with a football for Charlie Brown knowing the cool and warm breezes have returned. The changing of seasons means growing.

Just today, one of my employees brought her sweet 14-month girl to the office. It seems only yesterday we were weeping together over her desire to get pregnant and the challenges she was having to conceive. Now, as her little girl blows me a kiss good-bye and she toddles out with her Mom, I realize how fast she is growing. The time of infertility and want of a child has quickly faded.

I'm going through a season of life where my company has been acquired...and this is about the 655th time I've been through such an experience, albeit different every time. And I find myself adapting, waiting, adapting and waiting some more as I travel the journey of integration. It all is a part of growing. Growing in my career. Growing in my faith.

We are always growing. Each day we grow a bit older, and hopefully a bit wiser, but we're always growing in some direction. I want to grow well. Be that beautiful flower that blossoms fully and sends out an aroma that is unmatched by anything else in the world. Growing is good. May I make every day of growth matter.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Five Minutes: Joy

Just last month I decided to follow the challenge that Sara set forth each week, following Gypsy Mama's lead by taking one word and writing for five minutes, unedited.  It was a way for me, amidst my busy life and full head of words I want to put on a page, to blog quickly, succinctly and satisfy my creative writing ache.  Today those who follow and love Sara are praying for comfort and peace as she is preparing to go Home to be with Jesus.  Her life motto, her phrase, and a hashtag on Twitter that is trending in her honor is "Choose Joy."  So Gypsy Mama's word today is:  Joy.  Though today my heart is heavy for Sara, I'll choose joy.  Ready, set, write:

When I think of joy, I immediately am reminded of that acronyn - "Jesus, Others, Yourself" - and quickly realize that order is what drives us to experience true joy.  We sing "Joy to the World" at Christmas time...we say we're filled with joy about certain circumstances or experiences, but joy should seep from my pours even when my circumstances and experiences aren't exactly as I'd like or all that I want. 

I've never met Sara, the Choose Joy gal, in person, but reading her blog daily, I feel I've come to know her personally.  Through a very debilitating disease that left her homebound and hardly able to breathe, she would pour out the greatest wisdom and words to convict my heart on a daily basis.  I deal with a chronic illness too, one that affects my immune system, though, unlike Sara, I don't have the multiple complications, allergic reactions and other issues that are causing her body to just shut down.  I've become quite convicted when reading her blog as it points me to Christ and Joy everytime I read it.

Yesterday, after two full days of meetings on integration and process changes due to my company's acquisition, my head was full of information and sorting through all I'd heard.  I checked on Sara's blog for an update and saw where Hospice had been called in and her family was gathered around her as she awaits been escorted Home.  I shed a tear and quickly remembered that what's important is not the temporal, not the day-to-day, but the eternal.  And I am driven to choose joy.

Friday, September 09, 2011

Five Minutes: Changes

I've chosen my own "five-minute word" today.  I normally link up to Sara who is the inspiration for the five-minutes posts, but right now, she is taking a much needed break.  Pray for Sara.  You may not know her at all, but read her blog and her bio and you'll find one of the most amazing women on the planet. 

Today my word is "changes."  Five editing...ready, set, go.

There was a time in my life when I loathed change.  As I grew older and change smacked me in the face, I realized the blessings that can come from changes.  Oh some changes aren't blessings - losing loved ones, declining health - but changes in many ways are refreshing.  After dealing with lots of change in my life, I almost lived to crave change.  But then there are some days I think I must be nuts for that kind of craving and should stick with chocolate.

When I reflect over my life I see the winds of change everywhere and think..."Wow, how did I get through that one?"  I quickly realize "only by the grace of God."  Recently I've dealt with a big change in my life.  The company I love and have worked for the last six plus years was acquired.  This isn't my first rodeo and I've been through this before, but always was one of the severed casualites.  This time, I'm not.  And, I'm blessed with a job, albeit a bit stressful in the midst of transition, but hopefully full of promising opportunities. I had to say good-bye to co-workers that were friends and even had to tell two of my own team they had to go.  And once again I reflect on how I got through that and realize the truth of God's Grace.  I press on living in God's Grace and knowing that God is never surprised and I am right where I am supposed to be for this season of life.  Until He decides the next change is ready to happen.