Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Reunion


Last week I did something I have wanted to do for years: I reunited with some of my dearest high school friends. Women I have known for over forty years. Women whom, at least some of them, I haven't seen in almost forty years. 

It was beautiful. 

As each friend arrived, the anticipation grew. Smiles, tears, and laughter filled the room like the sweet aroma of summer in Coastal Virginia. For about three hours that Sunday afternoon, the clock may have kept ticking for you, but for us, time stood still. 

We caught up on everything from the bitterness of divorce to the blessing of grandchildren. Whispers of the pain of seeing parents age and change along with our own fickle bodies. We were hungry, not as much for the food on the table, but for the details of each others’ lives that we had missed. We were all so close. What had happened? Why did we lose touch with each other? Where had the time gone? We devoured each bite of information with all the compassion and love that comes with forty years of friendship. 

We passed around a yearbook, laughing over grainy photos and regrettable hair styles. We mourned the loss of friends and teachers. We reminisced about the fun we had and the choices we made- both bad and good. 

There were some who were not there with us- distance having won over sentiment. We longed to see them, but totally understood. There was, however, one person there who I hadn't expected to see. I had almost totally forgotten about her. She was almost - almost a stranger; and when I looked at her photo, I was shaken to the core. 

It was me. 

As my friends talked and passed around pictures, their laughter rising and falling like the waves we used to play in, I was in a world all my own. I was meeting myself for the first time in many, many years. 

I stared at the photo, remembering the very outfit I was wearing. I looked at how tan I was, and how slender and healthy I looked. I was smiling and happy and…confident. I think that’s what got me the most. Seeing myself through my fifty-eight year-old eyes, knowing everything I had lived through up until that time, and still seeing the poised assurance of someone who had indeed, come through her own private hell. 

There was no trace of the pain of having lost a mother way too early or having had a less-than-stellar example of a father. There was nothing that would have told you that some forty years later she would come to realize that she had actually been neglected and abused, and would finally come to terms with putting that in print. The pain was there, she just didn’t allow it to control her life. Instead, she chose grace. She chose to let God take care of the hurt, the doubt, the confusion, the fear, and the anger. 

And she lived. 

She thrived, in fact. Why give negativity the opportunity to rule your life? We are not defined by our past- we are refined by it. Jesus didn’t die so that we would wallow in our pain; He sacrificed Himself so that we could and would overcome. Life is both too short and too long to spend it feeling sorry for yourself. His love. His mercy. His courage. That’s what kept her going then, and that’s what fuels her today. 

As the afternoon drew to a close, there were promises of future meetings. Promises of doing our best to keep each other close and to not lose touch. Promises that I intend to keep- with all of my friends, including myself. I'm so glad we both came to the reunion. 


Tuesday, April 4, 2017

I Am Never in Danger of Becoming Boastful

I am never in danger of becoming boastful. Because there are always days like today. It started normally enough, getting ready for a church meeting. I was wearing a blue top and I suddenly remembered that I had a chunky blue necklace that would match really well. I managed to find the necklace and, while putting it on, I looked in the mirror. Checking out my new haircut, I noticed I had a big bunch of bent hair on one side of my head. Now, I am a symmetrical girl, and big bunches of bent hair bother me. I quickly grabbed the can of hair spray and gave it a shot like I was zapping a bug. Down the stairs and off I go!

Of course, the March winds have hung around into April, so my hair blew all over as soon as I stepped out of the door. A quick check in the car mirror to fix my hair again, but this time I got cold chills: I was badly bruised and it looked really scary! After having suffered a TIA a few years ago, I am super-sensitive to unexpected bruising, especially on my neck. My neck. 

Oh, wait.

My necklace-- the hair spray acted as a paint thinner! My cute blue chunky necklace was...melting all over my neck!

Already having everything I needed in the car, and not wanting to fight the hot wind (I have mentioned before how I am not a fan of the wind, but it bears repeating), I decided to remove the necklace and "wash" my neck with hand sanitizer and tissue, silently nodding to myself how the Girl Scoults really missed out when I quit because we never would really go camping, only make "sit-upons" and talk about camping. They could've used my resourcefulness. And I say that not to boast-- oh no-- I say that admitting that I have had to get myself out of situations like this so often, it really is the norm.

I left the necklace off as I drove to the meeting. We both needed to calm down and allow ourselves to...dry off.

I thought about how many other times I have spilled, tripped, broken, sprained, and torn. I thought about the silliness of ego-- we are nothing apart from Christ. I thought about the dear ladies who, just hours ago, asked me, ME, to speak at their church. Me, the one with the blue neck. The one with scars from deep wounds. The one with forgiven sins and brokenness. 

The one who needs a Savior every day of her life. 

I called one of my sisters to share a laugh and to revel in humility-- and to adore the only one Who deserves to be boasted upon. 

As God continues to bless me and as He allows me the honor of serving Him in so many different ways, I know I will always stay humble and totally emptied of myself. Because I will always be one step away from a blue neck.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Dear Christian Millennial Sister (aka, Jesus Girl),

Thanks so much for taking the time to read this. I know that time is a concern for you and, with no pictures and more than 140 characters, I appreciate the investment you're making. I also respect you enough to know that you have a sense of humor. I mean, I saw your snap with the poodle ears and big tongue-- girl you're hilarious!

I want to take this opportunity to explain a little about myself (and my generation) to you; after all, there are many "open letters" circulating from "you" to "me," so it's only fair that I am accurately represented. Remember- there are no losers here-- we are all winners. (Again, playing on that sharp wit of yours)

Number One:  I am a Boomer (short for Baby Boomer). Our generation is named that because we were born between 1946 and 1964. That era was know as the "Baby Boom," and the world population increased by over 76,000,000 during that span. I know this sounds like a boring statistic, but pretend it's you and read it again. SEVENTY SIX MILLION PEOPLE. There are a lot of us and current health care is good. We're sticking around for a while so you may want to understand us. Plus, you'll be wiping our drool when we're really old, and we want you to get to know us while we're still coherent. 

Number Two: Mine is the first generation to survive/be part of/be subjected to the temptations of mind-altering drugs, the sexual revolution, modern news media, satellite communications, and modern technology. My generation, unlike our parents', understands many of the dangers and challenges you face on a daily basis. What's more, I'm here to help. I just don't know how to let you know that without making you think of me as a drugged-up, sex-crazed, techno-weirdo. And what you think about me matters. A lot. I want to love you. In fact, I really don't want there to be a label on either of us. Growing up, our parents (and the people on our color tv) drilled into us that we were to "bridge the Generation Gap" and that we were all the same- "Do NOT Discriminate!" Now what do we have? Labels: Boomer, Millennial, Gen X, etc. Please do not mistake our confusion with disorientation. I still remember my address, so you can relax and let go of my elbow. 

Number Three: In all honesty, we, the Boomers, are a little in awe of you. You have come so far in your walk- much further than many of us when we were your age- and also you wear cute layers of denim and lace. And don't even get us started on the blue hair. You're so stinkin' young and you prepare a pretty good devo (and by the way, when we hear "devo" we think of the punk band with flowerpots on their heads, so pardon us if we seem confused. Again, you can let go of my elbow).  Just- please don't get too far ahead of yourself. Even with all of the Bible tools at your disposal, you still need some Life under your boho stretch belt. I mean, I'm glad you're having the conversations about marriage and babies and clean food. I'm thankful you have a good Foundation- you'll use it when you're riding out the storm. 

Number Four: I promise never to say "adorbs" if you promise not to call me "cute." When you call a middle-aged or older person "cute," you may think you are being nice. Some of us may like it- or maybe we just can't hear as well as we used to. But it also can be interpreted as belittling and disrespectful. Puppies are cute. My generation survived witnessing multiple assassinations, the Vietnam War, the Civil Rights movement, Watergate, Sept 11, and the Gulf Wars. Not to forget, polyester and Alf. We are a lot of things, but we are not "cute." 

Number Five: Finally, I would love nothing more than to spend time with you. Honest, quality time discussing anything and everything that is on you heart and in your mind. My friends and I don't have all the answers, but we know Who does, and we are eager to both lead you and learn from you. But we don't want to "butt in." So, if you want to talk, we're here to listen. I'm here to listen. Just let me know. You can IM, text, tweet, or find me over on Insta. 

Because we're not as boring as you think. 

Love,
Dolly

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

The house I grew up in had a huge picture window in the front room. It was a Cape Cod, built in the 50s; why wouldn't you have a picture window in the 50s? Life was great! Communism was defeated, there were great big cars in the driveway, and everyone played in the street. So naturally, Mom would need a big, shiny glass picture window to dress in tie-back sheers. One that would frame the picture of her man coming home at the end of the day. 

I used to love to look out of that window at the plum tree, the front gate, our dogs. But didn't take me long to know that there wouldn't always be a dad pulling into the driveway and coming up the walk. And, when he did, it wasn't all that great. 

So I learned not to look too far past the glass. 

Even though I loved to play outside, I never minded rainy days. Living near the coast, rain drenched our windows. Strong gusts of wind blew in quickly.  When I could see the underside of the silver maple trees, I knew a storm was on its way. Our soft, circular sofa was just the right height for me.  On my knees, face close to the window, I watched as the storm moved in. Once the rain began slapping against the glass, I would find a droplet and trace it all the way to the bottom. It may seem like that would be boring- it was anything but! 

Sometimes the drops would start off strong, only to dissolve completely before they ever got close to the bottom. Others would begin their trip down the glass alone and then join forces with another drop, and maybe another, until they were consuming the water on the glass and flooding themselves toward the end. But some droplets- looking no different from any others, would travel slowly down the pane, dodging, stopping, and navigating until they reached their destination. 

These drops originated over 6 miles up and they made it all the way to my front window. Fighting their way to their destination, nothing, I mean nothing, was going to stop them. Deter them, yes; stop them, not a chance. Rarely did a drop ever go straight down. It was normal, even expected, to be detoured. 

And there we have the life-lesson. You knew it was coming, didn't you?

We are all created individually, and specifically, for a purpose. Our lives are fleeting, compared to the eternity that awaits. We may choose to navigate with a partner, we may travel this journey without one. But we can count on life's journey never being straight and predictable. And, once we invite Him into our lives, we can count on our Creator's presence forever and that He will never, ever leave us totally alone. (Hebrews 13:5) 

The rain that ran down my front window dripped off the wooden frame directly into the flowerbed. It wet the shredded newspaper, clean crushed eggshells, and coffee grounds that my mom put behind the most beautiful azaleas I have ever seen. My mom knew that the ground needed to be prepared and it had to be fertile. Our house was near a lake; it would do no good for the rain to hit the hard, thick clay that made up the lake bed. But combined with the organic material that Mama so faithfully supplied, our azaleas had a color I have never seen anywhere else. A cross between purple and fuchsia that celebrated the uniqueness of our Creator. They were thick and healthy and they provided a shelter for our sweet dogs, tiny sparrows, and a fleet of Tonka trucks and Hot Wheels. 

As I write this, the Sun is coming out after a Sunday that included a dynamic presentation of the Gospel at 8am, hard, cold rain, and even snow (on the last day of Winter)! It's been a full and wonderful day. And I know that, as great as that sermon was, it would do no good if I didn't prepare my heart to receive the message that was presented. Our lessons in this life do no good if we do not receive them into an open heart. And, once received, if we don't share the knowledge that has come our way, what good are they?

So as the Lord sends us a shower of messages, pray that your heart will be the fertile soil necessary for them to flourish and bloom. And prepare to be astounded at the blessings yet to come! 

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Well, I don't know about the rest of you, but so far for me, 2017 has been a great year! 

I woke up. Seriously. I know, as a believer, the options are win/win. But still, the Lord saw fit to give me another day on the planet to serve Him and to tell others about Him and His unchanging, unconditional love. So that's a plus in my book. 

I woke up alongside the man I have loved for almost 33 years. Again, a win!

In addition, I woke up after a good night's rest under a roof of our own, safe, warm, and loved. Not everyone is able to make that statement. People in our own neighborhoods go to bed hungry, fearful, and lonely. 

After morning devotions, (a freedom we should never take for granted) I chose what I would wear from many options. A luxury, for sure.  I showered, changed, and we left for church. Praise God! We belong to a church comprised of an amazing congregation of people, led by healthy, God-honoring, humble leaders. Again, not everyone is blessed with a strong body of believers and healthy church leadership. 

Following church we came home in our own vehicle, prayed together, and left to take lunch to my sweet, 90 year-old mother-in-law. God is so good! We laughed and fellowshipped together, and then, on the way home, my husband and I took a little drive just to detour and have some time together. 

Now that I'm home, the dishwasher is loaded, dinner is warming, and I am relaxing. I'm tired, but praise God in heaven that I am; it means I am able to walk on my own- another blessing I NEVER take for granted, after my foot surgeries!

So yeah, this new year's off to a great start. Maybe, just maybe, this year we could just stop now with 2017 and go ahead to 2018. Who's gonna stop us? The "Calendar Police?" People, lets just quit while we're ahead. We have no idea what kind of stuff awaits us this year. Seriously. Cash it in and run for the hills!I saw 2016- it wasn't pretty!

Obviously we can't do that. We have to march through this year, head held high and shoulder-to-shoulder. But I know this: God is in control and He will continue to be. So let's rest in the knowledge that tomorrow, January 2, holds as much promise and hope as January 1 did. Pray, worship, seek Him, and reach others. For the next 364 days. 

See you tomorrow! 

Reunion

Last week I did something I have wanted to do for years: I reunited with some of my dearest high school friends. Women I have known for o...