Not so plain Jane

Jane, Jane, Jane,

You’ll probably kill me for this (or at least you’ll want to).

11952017_597555627432_4960712350773105577_nI can’t stop thinking about writing this letter to you, and when I can’t get something off my mind, I take action. I think you know this about me, so I’m pretty sure you’ll forgive me even though you don’t like being in the spotlight and would prefer to be the one snapping photographs instead.

In fact, this is one thing I love most about you and have come to admire about you–you are incredibly perceptive and have me pegged very well, even better than friends of mine who’ve known me for decades.

You recently interviewed a few students of mine during a mock interview session for Oral Communication class, and the feedback you provided me with about each of them was spot on. You described their personalities, assets, and liabilities almost exactly the way I’d describe them myself, and I’ve been teaching them twice weekly since August. This ability to cut through the bull and see people and situations realistically is one reason I often call on you for second opinions and came looking for “Jane’s brain” while trying to sort out my thoughts about my recent presentation proposal.

I also know I can trust you 100% with information, secrets, rambling thoughts, and feelings. Your trustworthiness is an attribute that every person aspires to possess, but let’s be honest–not all our friends are trustworthy, or this wouldn’t be worth mentioning. 11836790_595919815612_3466892458279554535_n

When our friends Chris and Tara moved to the big city of Little Rock, I felt lonely and wondered how God would fill the hole in my life. I relied on those two for companionship, entertainment, laughter, and confidential conversation time. Even though you and I were friends long ago, I think we have grown closer because of the space created by Chris and Tara moving away; God filled the empty space in my life with something new and just as meaningful. 1977343_584011455062_4121734977188759612_n

You’re a deceptive one, Jane. . . you might appear simple on the outside with that cream-colored cardigan, jeans, and bangs, but I’ve got you figured out! You’re the life of my party for two every time we hang out.

I love you more than chocolate with almonds, Seinfeld, freshly brewed coffee, and Big’s Restaurant.

Top that.

And happy Thanksgiving, my friend.

Bethany

 

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.

God sent me a kitten

Big thanks to Debra Dickey for serving as today’s guest contributor and for another kitten post!

catI didn’t know it yet, but He was creating, protecting, and instilling a spirit of trust into the sweetest, funniest, prettiest little long-haired yellow kitten that I have seen in a long time, just for me, even before I knew how much she was going to mean to me.  She was born late last summer, the only one in the litter.  Her mom raised her in my carport, cared for her, taught her lessons, kept her safe, and shared her with us all fall. When she was older, she would come and go with her mom, then soon she was following her whole cat family to the places they go to find shelter and be warm, in the barns and sheds, or playing with the other cats high atop piles of tires and equipment that are close by.  I called her my little ball of sunshine.

Considering that all the cats around my house are purely outdoor cats and not the least bit interested in people except for food purposes, I never expected that this one would be any different!  But one day, while the weather was yet warm, as I was going into the house, the little furry thing ran inside, and began exploring.  She didn’t go far, and she didn’t stay long  — I think she was reconnaissance!   But she was cute and playful, rolling on the rug to be petted and cuddled, so I did.  Soon her mom was peeking in the back door, meowing for her to come out, not that the little one was particularly concerned, but after a time, she was ready to leave and return to her mom’s watchful care, only to occasionally dash in whenever the door happened to be open if she was around.  But most of the time, she seemed more happy outside than in.

However, when the temperatures dropped to very cold and brought along snow, her attitude changed very quickly.  She knew right away exactly where she wanted to be — inside!  By now, she and her mom have both become content with longer periods of her being on her own, so on the coldest of those days when I went to work, I left her inside and she did quite well. . .  by that I mean, nothing tipped over or broken!   Still, not being used to that much ‘alone’ time, on those days she was always really ready for me to come home so she could escape back to her natural habitat.  But, on the weekends now, when I am home and momentarily idle, her favorite pastime is being curled up with me on the quilt I keep in my chair, and there she will blissfully sleep all the day long.

The background to her felicitous and sunny appearance being so providential is simply stated:  mid-November through the first part of January in my life was a pretty bleak patch for me.  The loss of our second cat during the holidays, then only a couple short weeks later, add to that a terrifying mind-numbing six day emergency situation; numerous and challenging technical issues due to freezing weather, incredible exhausting illnesses; treacherous accident-waiting-to-happen driving conditions on ice-slicked roads; and one more family crises looming on the horizon, and you will have the brief three-week- time-span highlights that were going on in my life.  You see, He knew I was going to need her cheerful distraction…. at that precise moment in time … to lift my spirits…. user-friendly …. couldn’t have asked for anything better … she was just the right one-size-fits-all expression, a unique and timely Gift, Perfectly given.  Yes, her little funny face, her silly kitty antics, and her sweet nature, wrapped in this random act of caring, have stolen my heart.  Just a coincidence?  Not at all.

These days, she has become a permanent fixture in my life, a totally spoiled rotten fuzzy ball of Velcroed-to-my-slippers fluff, sometimes annoying, but mostly lovable.  I look for her every day, she also looks for me.  She’s quite independent — coming and going at her leisure, staying in at night, or not, eating on demand, romping through the house, then sleeps where she pleases.  She makes me laugh; she too often wakes me before it’s time; she asks for very little, yet she gives much in return.  She loves unconditionally.  She affectionately fills the hole that only He knew would come to exist.  We call her umm, him, Stinky  🙂 .

 

 

Christmas is family

*Special thanks to writer Toinette Thomas for sharing her Christmas memories in today’s post.*

It’s is pretty much impossible to talk about holiday memories without talking about family. Family makes the holidays for me. After getting married, my holidays became our holidays, and we had to start dividing our time between our two families. People may joke or even seriously gripe about in-laws, but where I’m from, you take the good with the bad and love anyway. I make a point most of the time not to distinguish in-laws, distant cousins, what have you… it’s all family to me.

So today I will share two funny memories spent with both of my families.

Let’s start with a tale of Christmas with the in-laws. My husband and I have been married for eight years and have spent either Thanksgiving, Christmas, or New Year’s with my new family every year, alternating with mine. In all the seven years prior to last year the holiday celebration was simple, sweet, and pretty much the same. Then someone got the idea to take me, because I was whining about missing seeing lights with my family, to see the lights at Bristol Speedway…

This is where I had an inner monologue with myself to talk myself out of throwing a colossal fit. For seven years I’ve been sitting around watching football and Hallmark movies when I could have been looking at light as Bristol Speedway!

Anyway, the lights were amazing and so was the time in the car; driving around and singing to Christmas music was reminiscent to the tradition I’ve spent with my family, but that wasn’t the end. At the end of lights show, you get to actually drive on the Speedway. For someone who’s never done this, and didn’t know it was even an option, that was really awesome!… Then there was more.

There was a little carnival set in the middle. It was snowing and freezing cold, but my husband and I took our nephews out to walk around and eat sweet treats. My father-in-law even choked a little on some spiced apple cider, but we did warn him not to chug it- he’s a little feisty sometimes.

It was a truly wonderful experience I’ll never forget.

Now for a funny moment spent with my family.

clark-griswoldA few years back, my family was all gathered for the holiday trying to figure out what to do as we awaited midnight.  This group opens presents to accommodate my sister’s in-laws (see how we all work together so nicely!). We decided watch a holiday movie. This was back been my sister’s youngest was about six and the oldest was ten, I believe. Everyone decided they wanted to watch National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, a truly funny movie in my personal opinion.

Since the movie was not scheduled to air on basic cable that night, and my family didn’t have Netflix then, my mom had rented it. Immediately, my husband and I cautioned everyone that as much as we love that movie and think the older cousins would be okay to watch it, we were concerned about the language for the little ones. We pointed out that the TBS version is a little different than the theatrical version, but no one seemed overly concerned. Needless to say that we all watched it and enjoyed it, but there were quite a few gasps, red faces, and covered ears and eyes from time to time… and when Clark Griswold made his comment about “Danny #@&$ Kaye”, the whole family fell out, the movie was paused, my mom said a prayer, and we explained to all the kids that that was not an appropriate way to talk.

What’s really great about this whole story is that the kids remember it fondly. They talk all the time about us letting them watch that movie unedited and that it was an important part of them understanding how the world is and maybe how it should or shouldn’t be. Now that the kids are older, we all still watch that movie together and love it. We even quote from it throughout the year in anticipation for when we’ll all be able to see it together again.

 

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!

 

Choosing to smile

Regular readers of this blog have enjoyed reading Henry Petty’s guest blog posts. Henry hosts his own YouTube vlog as well as a WordPress blog. I’ve known Henry since college and have watched him grow spiritually, professionally, and personally. He’s a loyal friend and generous person, but I believe his best quality is his ability to see the bright side of grim situations. To the casual observer, he may seem like the most carefree person on the planet who must have had an easy life–how else could he laugh, smile, and share so freely?

Henry and the love of his life

Henry and the love of his life

Let me assure you that it’s not because he’s had an easy life. He chooses to laugh, smile, and share in spite of the obstacles that he’s overcome, and his faith and hope fuel him to inspire other people to do the same. And that is what I am most grateful for about my friend Henry.

Take three minutes away from your strict schedule, stressful shopping excursions, and obnoxious out-of-town guests to enjoy this vlog from Henry :). I’m sure the fun will be contagious.