Joy Unending

Here I am, after a long day of work, sitting at the computer and watching Joyce Meyer on the t.v..  I’m really tired.  But in spite of a full day of janitorial cleaning and working in the office, I am content.  Bone tired, but I am so blessed to be able to work.  I’m still employed, thank you, Lord.

But as I think deeper about my job, I am blessed to have legs that work so that I can walk up and down the stairs vacuuming and doing my other duties.  I have two arms to dust desks and clean bathrooms with.  I have eyes to see while driving to my various accounts. 

It’s always good to look back at the end of the day and count our blessings.  God is so good but sometimes we don’t think about those special blessings that happen to us throughout the day. 

I’m healthy, and so is my spouse and two sons.  We are all employed.  We have a beautiful home.  We have cabinets and fridge full of food.  We have cars that run well.  So many blessings.  But too often we take those for granted, thinking perhaps that we, as God’s children, are entitled to them.  It is good to take a step back and recognize how awesome our God is. 

He loves us unconditionally.  He loves us even though we can be unloving at times.  As a loving Father, He only wants the best for us.  He wants to bless us with good things.  God is a Father to the fatherless and to those whose fathers were never there for them, either physically or emotionally.  

I want to say, thank you, to my Father.  I may not always make time for Him the way that I should.  Not that He demands it but because He deserves it.  God sent His own Son to die for mankind so that we could be reconciled to the Father.  What a gift and at the same time, what a sacrifice.  It is good to remember the goodness of the Father at all times and never take His gifts for granted.  Thank you, Father.  I love you.  Thank you for taking this dry, ugly lump of clay and turning it into something beautiful to Your glory.  Blessed be the name of the Lord. 

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Being Grateful

Looking back upon my 48 years of life thus far, there are so many things that I am grateful for.  My husband is my best friend.  We met after I placed an ad in a Chicago newspaper back in 1987.  He was one of my replies.  It’s a funny story how we met.  My husband had something that he was looking forward to on 8-7-87, calling it ‘Destiny Day’.  He told his mom that something big was going to happen that day that would change the rest of his life.  Wow, was he in for a surprise!

I, on the other hand, had dated someone about a year previously who had passed away in September 1986.  This man, unfortunately, was an alcoholic, and only 23 at time of his death.  In my sorrow, though we were no longer dating at his death, I prayed that God would send me someone else that I could help, since obviously I could not help this young man. 

So as you probably have already guessed, my letter to my future husband landed snugly in his mailbox on 8-7-87, his Destiny Day.  Enclosed with the letter was a not so flattering picture of myself.  Why I enclosed that photo, I’m not sure, but my now husband said that if it weren’t for Destiny Day he wasn’t sure if he would’ve called me.  Ah, God works in mysterious ways, doesn’t He?

And I did get a chance to help my husband with an addiction he struggled with, and God healed him from that.  Though it took many years, I hung in there and my husband put up with my emotional weepy-side, and we had two sons who are both young men now. 

So, you see, I am very grateful for how the Lord worked things out for the best.  I guess I can say, “He puts us through a test, and then works things out for the best.”  Thank you, Lord, for keeping Your eye on us and providing all that we need, not just what we think we need. 

 

A Mother’s Heart

My heart aches for my older son, Malachi.  He is the one who has Asperger’s, the high-functioning form of autism.  The thing that he wants to do for a living is giving him a horrible time.  See, what he wants to do is fix cars.  His job currently is to fix his dad’s car’s brakes.  And it’s not going too well.  And now, the Asperger part of him is resurfacing again –  he cannot get the job done and he is in tears.  That’s how I know that my son has something different about him that other eighteen year old males probably do not deal with.  The emotional side of the disorder.

I sometimes still get frustrated with him for being so overly emotional.  He is so upset that he cannot fix the car the way it should be, and he’s afraid of disappointing his dad.  It’s never easy when you have a child with some disorder because one side(the rational) of you wants to yell at him to grow up, and the other more sensitive, motherly side wants to hug him and tell him not to be so upset.  That it’ll all work out.  Perhaps he needs better tools.  Perhaps he just needs more time to succeed at it. 

But again it is the emotional outbursts that give him away.  His sensitivity to loud sounds or bright lights.  Malachi is not very patient when it come to doing something mechanical.  Even though he’s loved cars all his life, he still finds it difficult to get the job done right.  And as his mother I need to remember that though he is eighteen, six-feet tall, and his voice is as deep as his father’s, he still has trouble dealing with problems when life throws him a curveball. 

I’ll explain to him again that it just takes time.  Time to get the job done right and to be patient with himself.  He’ll get there in due time.  Sometimes it just takes him a bit longer to understand how things work.  To take a step back and think what to do next.  He’ll get it eventually, I know.  I’m his Mom and I’m on his side – always.

Second Chances

When I was younger, and dealing with the maudlin life of the typical American teenage female, coping with societal angst, and hormonal flare ups, I lived a cloistered existence. 

I wore my disgruntled youth like a warm, comfortable bathrobe.  My lagging self-confidence swirled around me like quicksand.  I was a lonely, confused teenager looking for acceptance wherever I could find it.  But fearing the onslaught of my classmates taunts, I tired of not fitting in. 

I turned to writing to ease my solitary existence, releasing a pained soul with each strike of the pen across pristine white paper.  And release the pain it did.  Looking back, I can say that I have been blessed with a natural ability to free my imagination and to create beautiful prose. 

I no longer felt the need to rid the world of my miserable existence.  I had gotten my second chance.  Back then I could scribble away my angst in red ink, pine away in blue ink, and release hateful thoughts in black. 

Now with each tap of the keyboard, I can continue to create new worlds, new adventures, new characters, and even new words(thank you, Dr. Seuss).   Back then I knew I had discovered a new reason for living(as immature as that sounds to me now), and opened up an outlet to unload my frustrations.

Now I believe that I can better understand the true depth of the human condition; love and hate, anger and complacency, life and death.  I no longer fear the common stranger as I once did those many decades ago.  I could view them not as potential enemies but as weary, fellow travellers along life’s myriad of quirks and temporal heartaches, and joyous celebrations.  Thankful that not only have I given strangers a second chance at getting to know the real me, but myself as well. 

30-Year Reunion

I’m starting to get nervous now.  Only a few more weeks and I’ll be attending a family picnic with former high school classmates.  Was thinking about attending the formal reunion the night before but thought better of it.  Between the cost, the location, and my husband not wanting to go made my decision pretty easy.  But it’s been many years and bad memories ago.

I never fit in with any clique in high school.  I was basically your average loner.  The last one picked for the P.E. team, and sometimes not even picked at all, just put on a team by the exasperated gym teacher.  I was never very athletic, but I was a pretty fast runner.

The reunion has got me wondering about my former classmates:  what are they going to think of me now?  I was quiet, and a bit strange(okay I was pretty strange) but weren’t we all in high school?  With Facebook it has been easy catching up and keeping up with their lives.  Where they live, what they’re doing for a living now, if they’re married or not, how many kids.  But I still have those old butterflies in my stomach, returning to that wallflower persona. 

And I wonder what I’ll be like at the picnic.  Will I talk to a lot of people?  I was never very open or outgoing, even now.  A lot of the people who are supposed to attend the picnic are people I didn’t really know.  Will I have a good time?  Will my family?  

But I’m going to take a few deep breaths, dig out my Senior yearbook and allow myself the pleasure of  reminiscing.  I had some good memories.  Senior Breakfast.  Having a short piece of fiction published my senior year in our school’s literary magazine, helping out in the library my senior year, and just plain looking forward to graduation day. 

So I think it will be fun.  I need to go there with an open mind and in the spirit of camaraderie and just enjoy the day.  It’ll be interesting to see what everyone looks like in person.  But come on, 30 years is a long time.  I’m sure that we’ve all changed quite a bit.  Grayer hair, rounder middles, hearing not so good anymore, nor our eyesight.  Ah, perhaps I will color my hair and drop a few pounds in the meantime…well, I do have three weeks to go!  I can do it.

Loving Christ

I am a Christian.  Jesus is a very important part of my life.  I have taught my two sons about Him also.  But now they are old enough to decided for themselves what they choose to believe.  I will not force them to follow me and my faith.  No one, and I mean no one, should be forced to believe.  God does not want people to believe and trust in His Son out of fear or because they are looking to gain something for themselves.  Being a follower of Christ is never easy.  So many people nowadays mock that sort of blind devotion to one true God.  But it is still easier than what others experience in other countries.

Many in other restricted nations are banned from their villages, lose their jobs, or spouse and children because of their newfound faith, or even imprisoned, tortured, and killed.  We here in America take our faith for granted.  Many think that God is some genie in the sky granted wishes and when prayers for wealth and other material possessions go unanswered, people become disillusioned.

The only promise we are given, as followers, is eternal life with Christ in Heaven.  I personally like that idea.  I’ve had supernatural experiences in my life that are difficult to talk about in fear that other people will think I’m a bit insane.  But I know what I’ve seen, and felt, and heard.  No one can take that away from me.

Jesus loves you.  No matter what you have done in your past.  And believe me I’ve committed many stupid and dangerous things in my own life.  Too many people think that they are beyond God’s love and forgiveness.  I say that that is a pile of crap.  Only the devil can deceive you that much.  But I know, many people don’t believe that he even exists.  But I believe. 

God is there for you.  All you need to do is believe on the name of Jesus Christ and you will be saved.  You don’t have to give a ton of money to any church to earn your way into Heaven.  This, I believe, was a tremendous sin committed by the church those many centuries ago with the selling of indulgences.  And not allowing the ‘normal’ folks a copy of their own Bible which they could read and understand for themselves.  God never said to torture those who didn’t share the Christian faith.  He said others would know His children by their fruit – how they choose to live their lives to glorify His name.

There is good news in His word.  Christ came to earth to die for the sins of mankind.  You can choose to believe or not.  I still believe exactly what the Bible says.  Call me naive or old-fashioned or ignorant, it doesn’t matter to me.  I choose to believe.  God does not hate the sinner, but He does hate the sin.  We are all sinners.  We have all done wrong things.  Hated others, envied, lusted, fill in the blank here…but the good news is that you are loved and there’s nothing you can do to change that.  That to me is such wonderful news. 

 

Being There

Life comes at us fast.  One day everything seems normal, and the next moment hell can be breaking loose in our lives.  We can suddenly lose our job, our home, our spouse, our health…so many unexpected misfortune can bombard us at any given moment.  Scary.  But life was never meant to be soldiered on alone.  We need other people in our lives to help us get by.  Wasn’t it the Beatles who said something about getting by with a little help from our friends?  Sometimes it’s hard, though, to ask for any help.  In this computer age we seem to be drawer further and further apart from each other.

Back in the ‘old days’, families lived close by each other, or many times in the same house, or apartment building.  That’s what my parents did when my siblings and I were little. Help was basically around the corner or right downstairs.

But now we have distanced ourselves.  Almost as though we are each living in our own separate cocoon.  We may not think that we need other people.  We have been taught to be self-sufficient, independent, and self-reliant.  Then explain to me why there is such a raging amount of stress, and depression, and loneliness in this country.  I say we need to keep in close contact with those we love.  They can help keep us sane.  From going off the deep end!  I’ve personally gone through a lot of struggles in my past.  I thought that I could do it on my own.  But I was wrong.

Even doing a kindness for a complete stranger is in a way being there for them.  I held the door for a lady this morning at a local bookstore this morning and the first thing she started to say was, “Oh no” but was gracious enough to allow me.  Then she in turn held the next door for me and wished me a good day and I the same for her.  See?  That wasn’t so hard now was it?  Love others.  They need it so desperately.  People are hurting so much from being away from loved ones, from familiar surroundings, from life as they once knew it.  I don’t think people want to live in shells or cocoons.  They want to be free to express themselves as they are.  People do need people.

So what I guess I’m trying to say is, be good to one another.  Life is precious.  It is short, sometimes shorter than what we expected, either for ourselves or for those we love.  Tell them often that you love them.  Don’t wait to tell those whom you care about what they mean to you. Tomorrow may be too late.