Think Laurel and Hardy

*Today’s post is written by regular contributor (and good friend) Debra Dickey. Thank you, Debra, for sharing your wit, insight, and life with us!*

Gratefully, sometimes my life turns into a comedy routine. Not that kitty antics are not laughable in their own right – but sometimes it gets even better!

Laurel & HardyLast night, my two young nephews provided a comedy skit worthy of a Laurel and Hardy routine. And because my phone reception is not always reliable, they ended up drawing my ready-for-bed, ain’t-walkin’-across-the-yard-in-the-dark, so-drove-his-truck-700-yards-down-the-road-to-my-house, to-deliver-a-crazy message -that -didn’t-even-begin-to-make-sense–nor-could-he-understand, Dad into their crazy comedy routine at 8:30 at night as well.

This was the message: (Dad)  My brother called and said I needed to go to the house to do something for Randy…. ‘cause Cody has his key….and I needed to tell Randy….. but I needed to go the house  . . . . .he REALLY didn’t understand what they were talking about…. so I’d be better off to call somebody and find out what they were talking about…..’cause he really didn’t know.”

I’m cracking up!

So I called Cody, and he tells me I need to go let Randy in the house, and tell him he has his keys and he’s on his way home.  Okay, none of this is still making sense, right.  True to typical comedy, only after it’s all over do I finally learn the actual story — think Laurel and Hardy:  Cody had gone to get his truck, but his keys weren’t there, so he called Randy at his girlfriend’s house, to go home and get his other keys and bring them to him, but Randy has lost his house key, so I am supposed to go let Randy in the house so he can get Cody’s keys and take them to him, except by the time I got the message, the other person had brought Cody’s keys, so Cody has his keys and now I am supposed to let Randy in the house, but tell him that Cody has his keys and is on his way home, but by the time I drive over and get to the end of the road, Cody has already gotten in touch with Randy, at which point Randy is waiting for me, because everything’s fine, and nobody needs nothin’!  = two nutty boys!    ( :   You just can’t make this stuff up!

I love my family, and my nephews and my niece, and would do anything for them – they are what make the world go ‘round!  They bring hilarity and a healthy dose of character to all of us with their unique personalities and their attempts to navigate life in their own way that nobody can deny. You gotta love ‘em…..and I do.

What does EASTER mean to you?

*Much thanks to Debra Dickey-Liang for serving as today’s guest contributor!*

E is for eggs we deco-ra-ted,

A is for all of them to hide.

S is for children who were see-king,

T is for the tots who find the most.

E is for extra help from Mommy,

R is running back when you are done.

Put them all together, they spell EA-STER, a word that for the kids means fun!

 

CrossAnd, of course, the other way to look at Easter would be, the Resurrection.  There is no question that I am eternally grateful for the sacrifice on the cross that was made for me, and all humanity, by the Son of God, Jesus.  Although I know, and He knew, that He was part of a Greater Plan, I cannot presume to even minutely grasp the suffering He endured to bring that plan to Perfect Fulfillment , nor as a mother, can I even begin to comprehend the anguish that Mary bore during that terrible, but fateful time, as she watched her son perish, in Absolute Submission and Perfect Obedience for the cause that He was sent to earth to accomplish.

I am grateful that Jesus rose again, and that He lives among us still.  I am grateful for the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, Who dwells within us, testifies of Christ, leads us, strengthens us, encourages us, and intercedes for us.

I am grateful that the Power of God is Ultimate, Omnipotent, and Final.

I am grateful for my generous and childless great-aunt Dean who cared enough to pick me up to go to church with her when I was younger, then bring me home again, so that I might come to know these things, and therefore have the opportunity to begin a personal relationship with Him.

I am grateful for the many followers who loved and cared for Jesus while He lived and walked among them on this earth.  I am so grateful for the love that God gives to me, as His child, the care that he extends because I am His, and the ‘peace of God that passeth all understanding’… (Phillipians 4:7) because I belong to Him — all possible because of the selfless and hallowed supremacy of Jesus Christ my Lord.

At this season, and always, let us truly remember the price that was paid for our everlasting spiritual freedom, the cost of which can never be measured by mortal description.  Hallelujah!  He arose!

 

My favorite WhINES

*Today’s humorous post about that terrible tendency to whine comes from one of our regular and beloved guest writers, Debra Dickey-Liang. Thanks for the post, Debra, and for reminding me to appreciate the finer things in life (all the blessings) rather than critique the things that bother me.*

Did a double-take, didn’t you?

Yes, I’ve determined that I indubitably do have a strong selection of favorite, personal, and very timeless WhINES!  A connoisseur, if you will.

Lamentable for me is Daylight Savings Time – changing the time, and rising an hour earlier for work doesn’t seem to tax anyone else that I’ve had a conversation with, but for some reason, my body, mind and stomach struggle, at the very minimum of two weeks, attempting to make this transition, while in the meantime, my appetite, as well as my animals, are completely confused.  Great!  One more hour during which I’m expected to be productive. ( :   Truly, a remarkable little WhINE, don’t you think?

And recently after working outside for three days of my vacation, in the beautiful weather, pulling weeds, raking leaves, re-potting, cleaning, and hauling debris, I was reminded of one of the more timid, yet notable WhINEs that I tend to keep in stock– the huge amount of yard work, weed-eating, and water maintenance that will be required during the months of tormenting heat, just to attempt to keep up with what I finally did get accomplished — for the whole summer long.  The first time around is manageable and rewarding, but I’m surely not looking forward to the continued aesthetic demands – why can’t it just stay that way!?  Would that classify as a blush, maybe a rose?

Another fine, yet robust WhINE in my depository is a specialty that I acquire only during this point in the semester with regard to my summer tasks.  As May approaches, faster rather than slower now, June, July, and August become an apprehensive anticipation at my desk.  Contrary to the vacation plans that most folks schedule for some R & R during the summer, those months are actually the busiest and the most potentially overwhelming days that I experience, with reference to the persistent challenges and perpetual changes of incoming freshman students!  Housing, letters, orientation, certificates, handbooks and more, all culminating with an event for over 250 students, the biggie, the ceremony….. all that is Matriculation!  Somehow, some way, it all gets done, and to my relief, astonishingly well, but frankly, reviewing my task lists always dampens the enthusiasm for what others refer to as ‘enjoying the summer break.’  Bon aperitif, coming up —

Genie-BottleAnd then there is the universally known brand that I always have on hand, a most illustrious renowned WhINE , one which I am sure that you are all familiar with — housework.  Ugh.  ( :  These days, I admit to that being one of the least favorite chores in my quiver. Because my trusty genie has apparently escaped – and who could blame her – cleaning continually gets lower and lower on the totem pole, whilst I watch the dust accumulating and longingly wish for a self-cleaning abode!  Vintage, yes?   

Too cold, too hot, too dark, too something— seems all these are just a few of the more preeminent WhINEs from my personal collection that are decanted with a carousel theme, week after week, year after year.  Quite distinguished, and completely predictable little WhINEs they are, actually!    I am certain that ‘gifting’ these WhINEs to anyone reading this would be inappropriate, so it is needful to just make fun of myself and admit that I have a WhINE penchant. . . .   Famous Grouse?  Yes, that’s me.  Too often, I moan and groan, benignly of course, but certainly not the right attitude or a model trait for one who so desires the presence of, and to be filled with, the Spirit of God!

So let me remember:  “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”  (Philippians 4:13)

Okay I’ll work on giving up WhINEs , and focus on, uh-oh, what’s that, an empty genie bottle . . . it just might work for it – yes!  . . . . plain ole W INE!    Oh man, I’ve got so much stuff to do . . .

Day 20–Becoming a vessel

*Thank you, Debra Dickey, for serving as today’s guest contributor as part of the “28 days of love” project this February. Debra’s a regular contributor to this blog; I’m thankful for the wisdom she shares and for her friendship, too.*

White River, 2012.Photo by Bethany Wallace

White River, 2012.
Photo by Bethany Wallace

[Online ‘Dictionary’ of vessel]  Rare: a person regarded as an agent or vehicle for some purpose or quality; a conduit

Honestly, I personally don’t agree that it is so rare to discover or identify a person who chooses to be, and could be intentionally described as, a vehicle or conduit for some purpose or quality – to be the vessel, then let the Glory fall where it may. Hallelujah!  I know an abundance of those kinds of folks.

For the most part, we’ve been conditioned to seek acclaim, to go for the gold, to have our name in print, to be sought out for our diverse and multi worldly successes.  And so we should work hard, so we should absolutely do our best, so we should strive for the goals that get us where we need to be.  Yet we must not also forget that we are working neither at earthly employment for only earthly rewards, nor with only earthly tools for earthly recognition, but with, and for, a higher Authority, who supplies tools in the form of omnipotent gifts and resources, and who introduces goals and missions for our omniscient ‘work’, that far-reaches our day-to-day jobs, going well beyond these finite terrestrial expectations.

Certainly, I am much aware of what is involved and how much is required to become even slightly successful at genuine vessel-age (J). Truly, there must be a putting aside of one’s own ego, a mighty attitude adjustment, and an alteration in one’s own heart and mind in accordance with one’s own personal walk of faith.  Letting God fill your being with what He will, then use you as He chooses for His Honor and Glory!   Surprise, surprise, it’s not always easy.  Matter of fact, sometimes it’s downright hard!  But despite those drawbacks, in the midst of even those challenges, you won’t be surprised to learn that it is being done, and quite phenomenally, on a regular basis, by persons of every sort, in all walks of life!  People who are sensitive to the leading of God’s Spirit, people who walk and commune with God for greater understanding, people who seek first the kingdom of God.

Yes, people do it every day.  Spouses.  Parents.  Regular people.  Lovely people.  People who invite the best for others, people who are acquainted with the big picture, magnanimous people who love watching others succeed, then go about the business at hand and take the time to help those in their sphere of effectiveness to find their true path, to aspire, to learn, to strive for their goals, to recognize and own their particular accomplishments and achievements, then celebrate those successes right alongside them … without ever giving a thought as to who should receive the credit!   Modest, they say.  I say otherwise.  I say:  Accomplishing the Mission that we were put here to accomplish by following the Guidelines that we were put here to follow. So it is written as ‘The Gift of Love’:   “And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.”  [I Cor. 13 (13) ]

“The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway. Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough. Give your best anyway. For you see, in the end, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.”—Mother Teresa

Isn’t that truly what love is?  Whenever possible, be the vessel.  Well, look at you . . . you’re already doing it!

There’s always a rock

*I’m very thankful that Debra Dickey-Liang sent me this post for today sharing her 2013 word of the year with us. What’s your word or theme for 2013? What’s on your mind? What are you learning right now? What will you be grateful for 11 months from now?*

During my everyday life, with its various tasks and responsibilities, I am invariably looking for, and finding, life-analogies – serious analogies, hilarious analogies, and alas, analogies that hit the nail right on the head!

ImageThe other day, I was out for my weekend walk with Maddie, and we came to one of the usual places on the trek where we cross the branch from one side of the field to the other, and I began to pick our way through the vegetation and duck under tree limbs to find the best way to accomplish that without a mishap.  As this happened to be shortly after the last snow had melted and filled the branches and creeks more than usual, the water level was definitely up, there was quite a bit of run off, and the crossing was fairly wide with several deep spots.  But tada! Never to be disappointed, just where I needed to go, I saw a number of rocks, exactly the right size, perfectly spaced, sticking up out of the water, just enough to make it possible to step across to the other side with ease.  Isn’t that the way it goes?  Coincidence?  Hardly.  My preference is to refer to such occurrences as miracles !

Now before you scoff, let me clarify my personal definition of miracle.  I most often choose to think of a miracle as something ordinary moved to a position of extraordinary.  So see, it fits!

Please don’t misunderstand, I am fully aware that God is in the BIG MIRACLE business – note, creation, the parting of the Red Sea, the birth of Jesus, feeding the 5,000, just to mention a few.  But I choose to also acknowledge such everyday, out-of-the ordinary occurrences that regularly show up in my day-to-day life, as miracles too.  Time and time again, I have had the good fortune to be the recipient of many well placed ‘rocks’ in this existence known as my life.  My fear is that I have not recognized them all, but my hope is that I have remembered to praise the Heavenly Father for each and every one that has been bestowed.

ImageSo the word I have chosen, per Bethany’s example, is ‘MIRACLES’, because, honestly, I could use a couple right now.  There are currently two concerns at the top of my prayer list for which I ‘pray without ceasing’ . . . . and I’m sure those probably won’t be the only two!  Yet I trust, and I know in Whom I believe, that, somewhere at each crossing, there will be a ‘rock’ …. or two, perfectly placed, at exactly the right spot, to make it possible to get across to the other side, perhaps with ease, perhaps not, but safely, with God in the midst of that miracle.

So my personal challenge remains, to look for, recognize, acknowledge, praise, and thank God, not just for the many ‘miracles’ in my own life, but for everyone who seeks His blessings.

“If (Because) God is my Strength,

     Though I may be on a precipice of doubt

And fear and intimidation,

     He can make my feet walk over the high places

With safety and confidence.      (Habakkuk 3:19) 

Gifts

*Special thanks to Debra Dickey-Liang for serving as today’s guest contributor!*

My Mom and Dad were always two of the hardest working people that I have ever known, and they taught their children those same work ethics. They also taught us honesty, integrity, strength of character, and what it means to be part of a family. They passed on their many gifts to us as their children. Yes, I was very lucky!

I recently came across this aphorism:  “The purpose of life is to discover your gift.  The meaning of life is to give your gift away.”  Wow!  That particular truth is mind-boggling.  Hey!  My parents did a great job!

ImageBecause our livelihood was farming, we didn’t take vacations.  But one summer when we were teenagers, my Dad surprisingly bought a boat and water skis!  Now, you would have to know my Dad to understand how completely out of character that was for him, (not to mention the expense) but let me tell you, we packed up the back of the truck many times with camping gear and cooking supplies, drove to the lake, and had a BLAST.  Only years later did I learn from my Mom that my Dad had just decided that that would be a great way for us as a family to do something fun together. Isn’t that amazing?  Gifts. 

As the oldest in a large enough brood, I helped look after, take care of, and was counted on for almost every aspect of our family life.  So whether by nature or nurture, my “gift” turned out to be caretaker.  (Look that up in your thesaurus sometime – the definitions are boundless!)  So yaaay!  I know what my gift is!  But wait!  I have only discovered half of the lesson . . . .

Hmm….a caretaker.  These are just a few of the interesting synonyms that my thesaurus mentions:  a person who maintains something, an interim, a guardian, an observer, a watch-keeper, a guide, a good listener (I just threw that one in there because it should be on the list).  Yes, those all fit nicely into what my life has been all about!  I like it.  But how do I, or have I, gone about giving my gift away?

Turns out, it was simple!  I became a Mom.  Yep, that’s all it took!  Not that my own children are the only beneficiaries of my gift, because I was already a daughter, a sister, an aunt, a friend, an employee, and a responsible person, so interestingly enough, you will very often see me with a little buddy, seemingly drawn to me by some sort of predestined magnetism which I have learned to value and appreciate.  Mine truly is a gift, my gift, a gift that I wish to use wisely, remembering to cherish its meaningfulness and its worth from The Giver of All Gifts who saw fit to bestow it and grant me the opportunity of Service within it. 

*I’m grateful for my friend Debra for sharing her gifts with me as her friend–and thanks, Debra, for sharing your gift of writing with us.*

Life review of gratitude

*Special thanks to guest writer Debra Dickey-Liang for sharing with us!*

A person that you are extremely grateful for . . . .

As I read that sentence, my initial reaction was:  “How in the world could you pick just one person?!?”, because immediately, a score of people, and the reasons that I am grateful for them, just overflowed into my consciousness. Thus, this lengthy narrative became an expression of enormous personal gratitude and acknowledgement of the personification of God’s perfect love through His chosen people, revealing a whole litany of worthy recipients of great honor and acclaim.

First and foremost, I am grateful for my parents.  My mom and dad were always the most grounded, genuine people that I have ever known; honest, upstanding, hard-working individuals who taught me well — full of integrity.  A close second are my siblings.  Each of my brothers and my sister have added their own unique layers of individualism and goodness to my life, and I cannot imagine how I would have grown into the person that I am without all of them.

Then there’s my Grandpa Short.  I was the first grandchild, and boy was I spoiled!!  He loved me without reservation, and I loved him back just the same!  He treated me like gold, and let me have the run of his house — no child could have asked for a better grandpa .  . .  Hey, I said I was spoiled!

I am grateful for teachers who saw more in me than I saw in myself.  I am grateful for aunts who extended generous invitations into their homes and day-to-day worlds, not only looking out for me, but granting me new situations and interesting places.

I am grateful for people who have treated me kindly.  Kindly, while I was learning, and who exercised patience and understanding to help me navigate new systems, processes, and protocols in order to perform at the highest level of efficiency in whatever I do; for people who have gone out of their way, above and beyond normal expectations, to show me kindness, lend extra assistance, or, unannounced, to drive back to Little Rock to quietly check on me as I slept in Mom’s waiting room, concerned because I was by myself.

Photo by Jessie Covington of Say Cheese Photography

I am grateful for special friends.  People who have come into my life for a time, a reason, or a season.  Each specially given just at the right time  . . . . when I needed them most!  Friends who gave me a purpose, but who gave back much more than they received; friends who saw my need and surreptitiously took me under their wings and cared about me and watched over me without expecting anything in return; friends whom I have always known that just continue to become more important in the niche that they fill;  friends who remain friends even if I don’t get to see them as often as I would like; friends who are just nice people to exchange a laugh and joke with; friends from a lifetime ago that still break into a smile and give me a huge hug when we meet; friends who have opened their homes, shared their resources, and invited me to engage in their cultures and customs with amenity; people whose lives I entered by way of marriage, embraced me without hesitation, then loved and cared for me as if I had always belonged there; friends who are my children; friends who I know because of my children — some who have it rough, yet never complain.  So many, many people to be grateful for!  Each and all, supplying their own unique and wonderful blend of character and spice of diversity that so richly enhance my life.  A veritable bevy of mortal souls sent with Divine Purpose, that infuse every chapter of my being with an essence of grace and love unequaled, by whom I have been extremely privileged to be touched along this road that is mine to walk.

I am grateful for people who are good to my children; I am grateful for generous and caring neighbors; I’m grateful for people who began as mentors, and quickly earned my admiration and respect because of their authentic spirit, attitude, and strength of character; I am grateful for the person who generously shares her ‘blog’ space, graciously allowing me a writing opportunity that only now do I realize I had been longing for;  I am grateful for ‘little’ people  who come my way, in the form of nieces and nephews, who are way cool, fun, and all without an ounce of insincerity,  each and every one making a contribution of value that adds great dimension to my existence, a variegated and multicolored tapestry of extraordinary facets that glimmer and sparkle in everything that I do.

And a bit surprisingly, this ‘life review’ turned into a tearful and emotional journey of commemoration and remembrance . . . .  \

As I thought back over a lifetime of people, I was deeply and profoundly humbled to recount the indescribable number of wondrous and diverse ministering spirits that God, through His Bountiful Grace and Omnipotence, has placed upon my path, to know, love, and be loved by, throughout the years  –  rare and priceless jewels of great and lasting beauty; innumerable and immeasurable, with blessings beyond compare.

And so any endeavor on my part to denote the gift of one Divinely inspired ‘pearl of great value’ as more cherished than another ‘precious gem’ perfectly given, would nowhere begin to Glorify the Giver of All Gifts, from Whom all Blessings flow, and in Which we Believe, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.(James1:17)   Amen and Praise God, I am extremely grateful for them ALL.

 

 *And I am grateful for my friend Debra who shared her life review of gratitude with all of us. Who makes it into your life review of gratitude?*