For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart. (Jeremiah 29:11-13)

Sunday, March 29, 2009

A Bug's Life

In the beginning, two weeks ago, I went into the master bath and heard a slight racket. I leaned in toward the linen closet door and believed there was something in the walls. For those of you who don’t know me—I have an intense fear of bugs, critters, wildlife, etc. My heart started racing and a big lump rose up in my throat as I reached for the doorknob and hoped and prayed that something didn’t jump out at me. Much to my relief nothing happened. I treacherously began moving some things around to see if something would stir—nothing! I thumped on the wall to see if I could hear any motion—nothing! This went on for about a week and as the days went by I got more paranoid.

I began wondering what might be inside the walls. Was there a mouse in the house and if so, was it doing some major damage inside the walls? The more I thought about it the more worked up I got. Then last Sunday as I was stepping out of the tub I heard movement again but this time it sounded as if it was coming from above. I looked up just in time to see what I thought was a wing come thru the air vent. Thus, began the bird in the air vent saga. Was I relieved? No! Because now I began pondering how that thing got in the air vent and how it was going to get out. Okay, if it got stuck then it would probably die in the vent and then stink up my house as it was decomposing. Was I thinking too deeply now?

I got to work on Monday and began talking about what I thought was causing all my grief. My coworkers weren’t helping as they gave their personal opinions of what might be up there. Some said a small bird, a raccoon, and a squirrel and with each new suggestion I got more and more worried. Tuesday evening I noticed that the critter seemed to come to life when I would turn the lights on. I also noticed what I thought was tiny wings on the floor. I put them in a little pill-size Ziploc bag and brought them to work with me. I approached a male colleague who likes to hunt and asked him if he would mind coming out to check things out and he said yes.

I planned the whole rescue. I would shut all the doors so that if it were a bird it would be contained in my bedroom. I would remove the screen from one window and we would shoo it to the great outdoors. I even had an empty box so that if there was a nest it could fall from the air vent into the box and we would relocate the nest to a tree.

Brad got up to the air vent and turned on a light and told me that there was a huge spider in the vent. What! He turned a light on and showed me what appeared to be fangs. Well, you may have well have gotten the smelling salt ready because I was ready to pass out. Then the critter started moving again and he said, “Nope, it’s not a spider it’s a big bumble bee and he showed me the head.” That would explain where the tiny wings came from. I got a knife and Brad cut the head off. He tried to remove the vent cap but it was very secure and we worried that he might break it in removing it. I sprayed bug spray up toward the air vent and turned the vent on. We were pretty confident that there wasn’t a nest because while the vent was running Brad held a piece of toilet paper up to it and the air sucked it up. Thus, there were no airways being blocked.

Brad suggested the following as to “how” the bee may have gotten in. He said they come out in warm weather and get disoriented with cold weather. Our weather has been going to extremes so the bee probably thought it was springtime but then when the sunset it was very cold. Brad believes the bee may have flown into the air vent and got disoriented. Then I turned the blower on and the blades probably chopped some the wings off. The thumping noise was probably the bee trying to fly but it was hovering between the air vent and the blower blades. Once I turned the vent on and left it running for about 45 minutes I opened the flap and IF the bee could get above the blades it could get out the vent.

I am glad to say that I haven’t heard any more strange noises coming from the air vent and I haven’t discovered any more wings. I’m also glad that it wasn’t a spider or bird. Thanks to all my friends at Viewpoints and Twitter who kept me sane during this ordeal. This story, however, only has a happy ending for me because there is one less bee in the world today. They say every story has an ending and every ending is a beginning.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Farewell to Natasha Richardson (1963-2009)

This morning on the way to work I cried as I thought about the passing of Natasha Richardson. I didn't cry because I lost a friend or loved one. I cried because that's what I do when things don't quite make sense to me. I cried because my heart went out to the many friends and loved ones who were mourning her and I cried because I realized it could have been one of my friends or loved ones.

Like so many around the world I was in shock when I heard about the accident. She was on a bunny slope. She fell down a slope that millions of children have probably fallen down. Was she being stupid or foolish? No! Was it lack of common sense that she didn't have a helmet on? I don't think so--I have never seen anyone wearing a helmet at a ski resort. I fell down a beginner slope and got separated from my youth group for several hours and vowed I would never ski again. It was just a sad and unfortunate event.

I had a gut wrenching feeling in the pit of my stomach that she wasn't going to make it. I cried when I read Liz Smith's column Tuesday that she was brain dead and I cried again last night when I heard Joan Rivers declare on CNN that she was only kept on life support so that her boys could see her alive to bid their farewells.

I probably never really knew who Natasha Richardson was until I watched the 1998 remake of Parent Trap. I loved her personality--she was young and vibrant. She was beautiful and her role as Lindsay Lohan's mother just came natural to her. I think she would have played the role perfectly even if there wasn't a script. I think it could have been given to her hands down without an audition. Richardson was someone who loved people and life. I loved watching her act and she will be greatly missed.

The media has declared this a freak accident. The autopsy revealed it was an accident sustained by serious injury to the brain upon impact. But what the world calls an accident the Lord declares to be part of His plan. With God there are no mistakes. It wasn't a mistake that she got on that bunny slope and fell. It wasn't a mistake that she sustained an injury. It was part of a bigger plan. I know many are asking, "why?" Why now? Why her? Why did it have to end this way?

As a Christian I have learned that there are many questions that I will never know the answers to. That is, until I meet the Lord. I can't always understand God's ways--His ways supercede my greatest expectations. Sometimes there is no rhyme or reason to the trials and tragedies that mankind experiences but be patient and wait upon the Lord. He makes all things beautiful in His time.

To the family I would say cherish the memories you have of a fun, multi-talented and loving daughter (Vanessa Redgrave), sister (Joely Richardson), niece (Lynn Redgrave), wife (Liam) and mother (Michael and Daniel). To the boys just remember this: You lived under her heart for 9 months and now she shall forever live within yours. Gone but not forgotten--she shall be remembered. YOU, the family may be her greatest legacy.

Don't begrudge the Lord for welcoming another angel home. Don't try to live in the past because you can't revisit it and don't be angry about a future that never happened. Enjoy today. You have this moment to make a difference, to dance in the rain, to blow bubbles in the wind, to make snow angels, to throw caution to the wind and have the adventure of a lifetime. I believe that is how Natasha Richardson would want it.

Weep for her today because you miss her and are grieving but as the tears fall and the nights get cold and lonely turn your face toward Heaven. Natasha was a star here on earth--she reigned in Hollywood and Broadway. Now she is a star in the greatest story ever known to man. An Eskimo legend declares this:

Perhaps they are not stars, but rather openings in Heaven where the love of our lost ones pours through and shines down upon us to let us know they are happy.

Let the Lord comfort you in a way no mortal man can. He cares for you. Tears are a language God understands and when answers aren't enough there is Jesus.

In closing I would like to share a poem that I heard on an episode of Little House On the Prairie:

Remember me with smiles and laughter. For that is how I will remember you all. If you can only remember me with tears. Then don't remember me at all.

My thoughts and prayers go out to the family and I know I will shed more tears in the days to come but my refuge is in the Lord--praise God the Comforter has come! To the Lord we just say thanks for sharing this special person with us for 45 years.

To my family, friends and fellow bloggers. Don't let a day go by without telling someone how much you love and appreciate them. It might be the last opportunity. Tomorrow may never come. Take care and God bless.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Standards vs. Convictions

Have you ever wondered what someone meant when they said they were under conviction or that was a conviction in their life? Well, I grew up in church and I often heard my pastor preach on convictions. As I got older I began to think that those convictions had to be a part of my life or belief system for me to be considered a decent person. But then I got older and wiser and I learned to discern why I believed what I believed and I came to a wonderful and glorious conclusion. There is a difference between standards and convictions.

The Webster’s dictionary defines standards as: a model, rule or guide and it defines conviction as: strong belief. So, what does this mean to you or me? Simple: Standards are guidelines you live by. They may have been established by your family, friends, school, or society and you have been taught to adhere to them. Convictions, on the other hand are strong beliefs that you adhere to and to a Christian, they are often what one is willing to die for.

I was raised to believe that a girl was more modest if she didn’t wear pants or too much makeup. I was also raised to believe that a Christian young person would abstain from listening to rock music, attending movies and hanging out with the wrong crowds because to be associated with the world was to denounce your faith. So for years I attended a public school and never wore jeans, pants, shorts and so forth. For years I refused to go to movies with family and friends and for years I would not listen to anything but church music. But did it make me a better Christian—no! I realized that my faith was stronger than the world’s list of dos and don’ts. I realized that I could still serve the Lord while wearing a pair of jeans, although I do believe in being modest. I learned that I wouldn’t go to Hell if I enjoyed a pop song or country music with my family and friends. I have chosen to listen to Southern Gospel music because I love the message and I know it is pleasing to the Lord. I choose to dress modestly so that people will know that I value my body and my testimony.

I was also taught to not participate in an activity that might cause someone to stumble or to question the sincerity of Christianity. Standards are not always based on Biblical principles but convictions will be. The Bible preaches on modesty but no where does it tell a woman she cannot wear pants. The Bible says, "I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes" but no where does it tell a Christian they cannot go to the movies. On the other hand, I would use that very passage to remind myself "why" I choose not to watch rated R movies, sexually explicit movies, to view porn, and so forth. The Bible will talk about singing hymns and praises to the Lord but no where does it say a man will be condemned to Hell if he is listening to rock or country music. However, I would use the passage to remind myself to abstain from music and lyrics that encourage a person to live in a manner that is not pleasing to the Lord. In the end: You must know why you believe what you believe.

As a child you can blame it on your parents and/or school but someday you will have no one to blame. Stand up for what you believe in and don't be ashamed of the gospel of Christ.
Now my convictions are a different matter. I will claim the cause of Christ until I die. I have made my profession of faith and have put my trust in the only person that has the power to save—my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I will live a life that I believe is pleasing to Him and when in doubt I will ask the question: What would Jesus do? I will be counted among the believers who fight for a cause. I won’t back down when people ask me what I believe about abortion, homosexuality, premarital sex, and so forth. Yes, those are my convictions—I am not basing my personal opinions on what the world has told me to believe but rather I am believing in the final authority, the written words of Christ.

It is true that we are known by the company we keep. It is also true that we shall be accountable for how we treat God’s children. I have learned a lot through the years and I learned that it’s not always what I say and do that matters but what I believe. I have learned to love the sinner no matter what and to hate the sin.

I’m not sure why I wanted to write on this subject today. Perhaps it is because I’m tired of people telling us how to live by the world’s standards and laughing at us when we choose to live for the Lord. You may never meet me here on Earth but I hope that we will be brothers and sisters in Heaven. If you should meet me and forget me you have lost nothing but if you should meet the Lord and forget Him, then you may lose eternity.Take care and God bless now and forever plus one more day! Always in my thoughts and prayers for an even brighter and healthier tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Child's Play

As an adult have you ever wished you could go back in time? Not way back to another era but rather back into the years of your childhood when things seemed less complex. People speak of the inner child or the child within. Well, I am young and full of life. I am always playing and I guess that's what keeps me going. You're going to grow old when you quit playing.

I have precious memories of my childhood when I would play with dolls with my younger sister and friends. There were times when I was playing with matchbox cars or having great adventures in the forests behind my home with my brothers and other children in the neighborhood. As I got older it seeemd I had to put away the childish things but childhood keeps calling.

If you will slow down and take time to enjoy life you will have a moment to release the inner child. I do not have children of my own although I hope and pray that it is in God's plan for me to be a mother some day. But until then I will be thankful that He has given me beautiful niece and nephews and friends with beautiful children as well. A day with any of them will take you into another world and you will forget about all the burdens that weigh you down.

Recently I have been spending a lot of time at my best friend's house. She has children who are my age and between her two daughters she has four grandchildren ranging from 9 months to 10 years. She has three grandsons and one granddaughter. Halie and Gavin are in the picture with me. Halie is five and my little Miss Lovebug. When I am around Halie it is as if the world has stopped turning and you are in a playroom and don't have any cares to beset you. Gavin will be three on St. Patrick's Day and he is my "Mister Blue eyes."

The other weekend Halie wanted to stay at her Nana's so that she could have a sleepover with "Aunt Gigi." This sleepover literally meant sleeping with me on the sleeper sofa. So, how do you have a sleepover with a child? Easy--you follow the child's cues and you play along with her and in the end you have both made precious memories.

I have been babysitting Halie and her older brother Hunter since she was born. I have played with them so much through the years that sometimes I don't think they realize I am an adult. I think they see me as a playmate.

I taught Hunter how to play Candyland and Chutes and Ladders so I thought it fitting to teach Halie. So, I took the games to her Nana's and we set out to play games that would enhance her counting skills and color recognition. At this time, Gavin (3) has joined us so I am diligently teaching him how to recognize colors in Candyland. Later we were in the playroom playing with dolls and in the kitchen. We were serving up pizza and cake, making funny egg sandwiches and spilling tea and coffee everywhere. We were watching The Wizard Of Oz and later we watched Space Buddies.

We leave the playroom and it's off to the foyer to build a fort. Nana gives us sheets for the roof and we take them from a sofa in the entry room to the dining room table. Then we use a large comforter so that we can have "carpet." We crawl into the fort; which by then can accommodate about four or five people comfortably and I begin reading The True Story Of the Three Little Pigs. Halie and Gavin love this story and want me to read it again and again. We pretend like there are ants in the house and we must get rid of them. We pretend like we are being invaded by aliens and we must protect our fort and then we pretend like the fort has turned into a castle and we are princesses waiting to be rescued by Prince Charming. Our adventures just take many twists and turns throughout the evening. The other adults leave us to our playtime because it gives them a chance to visit and they know that the children are having fun and so is "Aunt Gigi."

Later into the evening it is time to give the children their baths. When at Nana's they insist on taking baths there and if I am there they usually insist that I bathe them. Okay, let's go gather up the bathtime toys and get some bubbles going. Halie and Gavin have the time of their life and then the hugs and kisses and goodnights are said and everyone but Halie leaves. She knows she is having a sleepover with Nana and "Aunt Gigi."

We pull out the sleeper sofa and get our selection of movies together. Halie wants to watch Mamma Mia and then Celtic Thunder. Into the last 20 minutes of the final movie Halie falls asleep on my chest. She is snoring loudly and I think to myself: "This was the end of a beautiful day and she will know that another sweet memory was made."

Don't let being a grown-up rob you of having fun. If you have children get out there and play with them. Establish family game nights, interact with your little girl as she plays dress up, plays with Barbies and/or dolls, or in the kitchen. Engage in your son's activities as he plays with soldiers and trucks. Get outside and play ball with your children. Go bike riding with them or get the waterguns out and play until everyone is soaked. Pull the coloring books and crayons out and sit at the dining room table for a while. Put a favorite movie in and pop some popcorn and spend some time with your children. They aren't going to stay little forever!

This is dedicated to my niece and nephews (Jonathan, Marcus, Katherine and Elijah) who are still having fun. This is also dedicated to all the other children in my life who give me an opportunity to have fun and to laugh until my stomach hurts. And this is dedicated to all the parents out there who entrust their children to me.

At the end of the day you have that great sense of having made a difference in a child's life. There is no greater joy than to have a child jump into your arms and hug and kiss you and want to know if you want to play with them. Don't put it off until tomorrow because for many, tomorrow may never come.