Friday, April 4, 2014

Potential Blog Post

I was sitting in the, um, restroom. I was giving my discouraged, blah self a pep talk of sorts, completely unrelated to my location, and I realized how often my life feels like a potential blog post. Potential but not actual, because my life tends to feel like the beginning of a blog post, not the pretty, resolved ending of a blog post. 

Today, my pep talk sounded something like this:

"I've been looking forward to baking these pretty cookies all week. I planned and prepared. I set aside the time. Why am I not enjoying the process? I mean, James said, 'Count it all joy, my brothers, when you face trials ...' I don't even feel joy about baking cookies. COOKIES. PRETTY cookies. 

"OK. This probably has to do with my attitude. I was doing fine until something didn't go as planned. And then Huxtable jumped on the counter and clawed at my cookie dough. And then I was angry and yelled at my husband. 

"I know! I need to list off all the things I'm thankful for in this situation, and then I'll have joy like songbirds in my heart, and I'll love baking these cookies. 

"I'm thankful for Huxtable. I'm thankful I bought an extra package of cookie mix. I'm thankful I'm using cookie mix and not an elaborate, taxing scratch recipe. I'm thankful for my husband. 

"There. 

"That should do it.

"That didn't work. 

"Oh! I know the REAL lesson. I didn't include the Lord in all of this. I bet I'll feel better once I include Him and stop thinking about myself so much. 

"Something still isn't working."

Now I'm writing this blog post. Why am I writing this? Partly because I'm procrastinating on those cookies. Mostly because I think it's important to be transparent. 

My life is far from a great blog post. My attitude is far from joyful and grateful at many given moments. I don't always turn to the Lord. I don't always feel refreshed when I do. 

But I still have hope. 

I have hope because God promised that He will finish the good work He started in me. I have hope because I know that this season of blahness isn't because God put me on a shelf while He took a sabbatical. He's working through the blah, even using it.

I have hope because my story isn't just a life that needs to look pretty and tidy and put together and perfect so that I have all the right external proof that I am a child of God. My story is a part of HIS story. I know how His story ends, and that's way better than any blog post about my life. 

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Hidden Love Notes: A Simple Way to Encourage Your Spouse

My husband's love language is Words of Affirmation, so I enjoy finding new ways to speak his language. The other day, he had spoken one of my love languages of Clearance Candy, and I had an empty plastic heart sitting around (because I ate said clearance candy). As I was cleaning the house yesterday, I had a fun idea to put that little plastic heart to use: hidden love notes. 



I pulled out some paper hearts I had stashed from Valentine's Day, and they were the perfect size. Love notes don't always have to be 13 pages front and back. They can be a couple of sentences and still encourage the one you love. 


You may have noticed there are extra hearts under the note. I'll get to those in a moment. 

Once I closed up the heart, I hid it under his pillow so he would find it when he pulled the covers back to go to bed. When he found it, he exclaimed, "Hidden treasure!" Win. :0)


"So why the extra hearts?" I'm glad you asked. Now it's Husby's turn to write and hide a note for me! We'll keep passing it back and forth, surprising each other with love notes. Keeping the extra paper hearts in the plastic heart increases the odds that we'll actually follow through - no I-couldn't-find-the-paper-hearts excuse. Perhaps I should add a tiny pen or a golf pencil. 

We're looking forward to this simple way to encourage one another and deepen the love in our marriage. 

Are there little things you do to encourage your spouse or speak his/her love language? I'm always up for new ideas!

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Remembering Our Grandmothers

Within the span of 15 months, Joseph and I lost three of our grandmothers, Ruth Dyer, Clyde Kirkpatrick, and Helen LeGette. Losing these three women in such a relatively short time period has been difficult to say the least. Today is the one year anniversary of Grandmama Clyde's passing, and we decided to do something that would honor all of them today. 

We live in Grandmama Ruth Dyer's old house (important distinction, because we also have Grandmoma Ruth Judy). She had a bird bath in the backyard that she enjoyed viewing from her windows. We have discussed moving the bird bath and using the spot for a fire pit. We decided to make a little memorial garden instead. 

When Grandmama Clyde passed, the funeral home gave us wildflower seeds we could plant in her memory. Today seemed like the perfect day to plant them, and the bed around the bird bath seemed like the perfect location. 


Full disclosure: We're pretty clueless when it comes to yard work and gardening. If these flowers don't grow, we're putting in that fire pit. 

We took turns shoveling out things that decided to grow in the wrong place. I am not good at shoveling. That's one of the reasons I married such a manly man. 


Then we planted six of the little hearts around the bird bath. Sigh. We should have prayed over them. They need the Lord's help. Maybe it's not too late. 



We purchased three butterfly stakes from our local Family Dollar to honor each of our grandmothers. 


We thought they were cute. 

The finished Memorial Garden:


An attempt at a selfie with the garden:


I like that we can see it from the windows on the back side of our house. That's the only way we'll know if the flowers are growing, because we aren't really outdoors kind of people. 


It already rained on them, so who knows, maybe our little garden has a chance. If not, I already have a DIY fire pit or two pinned on Pinterest. 

We love you, Grandmama Ruth (2012), Grandmama Clyde (2013), and Grandmama Helen (2014)!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

A Night of Watching


Grandmama Helen has been in ICU since Saturday. Since Saturday, our family has been in and out of her room, taking turns being with her - sometimes one at a time, other times several of us sitting in a row hoping and praying they won't make some of us leave. If you've ever had a loved one in the hospital, you probably know what it's like. 

Sitting. Waiting. Pacing. Watching. Sitting. Watching. Waiting. Watching.

Watching the monitors. Watching for signs of agitation. Watching for her eyes to open. Watching loved ones to assess how they're handling everything. Watching nurses come in and out. Watching facial expressions of the nurses and doctors to discern if there is a reason to hope or a reason to fear. Watching how quickly a nurse responds to one of many alarms so we'll know next time if it's an alarm to fear. Watching people care for her when I don't know what to do. Watching people lean on one another. Watching the IVs drip … drip … drip. Watching the doctor talk to the nurse to see if he whispers something to her that he didn't tell us. Watching for something to happen. Watching for direction from the Lord.

In the midst of all the watching this morning, I did my daily Bible reading. I read about the Passover in Exodus 12, and I was encouraged in an unexpected way.

You may remember the events that led up to the Passover. Joseph's brothers sold him into slavery, and God put him in a position of authority just under the Pharaoh in Egypt. By being in that place of authority, God used Joseph to save Egypt and his family during a great famine that lasted seven years. All of Egypt was grateful for Joseph, and his family moved into town. After Joseph's death, a new generation of Egyptians forgot about him, and they mistreated the Israelites. That mistreatment turned into cruel slavery, and God heard His people cry out to Him to save them. He heard them and raised up Moses to free His people. He used a series of plagues to accomplish His mission. 

The tenth plague was the death of all the firstborn in Egypt. In order for their firstborn to be spared, God gave Israel a special set of instructions, chief among which were each family roasting and eating a lamb without blemish and spreading its blood on the lentil and doorposts of their door. Then death would pass over them. 

That had to be a terrifying night. There was such a sense of urgency as they obeyed God's instructions and prepared their meals. Then, oh then, when death came through and the screaming and wailing started in all of Egypt. Oh, how terrifying that must have been as they waited, watched, and trusted God to keep His word.

And He did. He kept His word. Their firstborn were spared.

And Pharaoh said they could leave. So all of Israel grabbed what they could in great haste, including a whole bunch of gold from all the Egyptians who were more than eager for them to leave, and they left in the night. 

And here's the verse that encouraged me:

"It was a night of watching by the Lord, to bring them out of the land of Egypt; so this same night is a night of watching kept to the Lord by all the people of Israel throughout their generations" (Exodus 12:42).

Did you see the word "watching"? The Lord watched His people whom He had just freed. When I read that verse, I conjured up the image of a mother watching her sick child through the night, an active watching. A tender, loving, protective watching.

There is a difference, though. The mother may experience fear of the unknown as she watches, like Israel may have experienced fear the night of the Passover. God does not experience fear of the unknown, for He is sovereign, omnipotent. He knows all things. Nothing catches Him off guard. He is in control, working all things together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).

The same God who watched the Israelites that night is watching my grandmother right now, and He's watching all of us watching, too. He isn't surprised when an alarm beeps or when Grandmama Helen seems agitated. He knows what the doctor is going to say before the doctor says it. He understands the numerous emotions we're experiencing. 

So, as I watch, I'll be thinking of the Lord watching, especially when I'm here having my own "night of watching".  And I'll be comforted.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Hero of the Week: Grandmama Clyde

This post has been on my I Intend To Do list for a couple of weeks now. As soon as I found out Grandmama Clyde was sick and likely didn't have much time left on this side of Heaven, I knew I wanted to feature her as Hero of the Week. I hope she doesn't mind that I didn't get around to honoring her until today. (She almost never complained and had such a sweet spirit, so I think I'm OK.)

Hero of the Week
Clyde DuRant Kirkpatrick
1927-2013



Rather than starting from scratch with a post, I'm going to share with you the eulogy I gave at her funeral. I wish I had transcripts of the sweet words my cousins, Zack and Michael, shared. They made us all laugh, which she would have loved.

If you'd rather watch it than read it, Joseph captured it on his iPhone (thanks, babe). Forgive the ugly cry.

I began by reading Proverbs 31:10-31.


Starting in my late teens and early twenties, I wanted to be the Proverbs 31 woman. She was my hero. A few years ago, I came to the realization that my grandmother was the Proverbs 31 woman, and she was my hero here on earth.




She devoted her life to serving the Lord by serving her husband and her family. She maintained the house, prepared meals for her family, and showed hospitality to all who entered her home.


Grandmama worked diligently with her hands. She enjoyed sewing and other handwork, and she made clothes, blankets, decorations for every holiday, and gifts for others. She even passed on her sewing skills. I believe all of us grandchildren had a lesson on making pillows or Barbie doll clothes at some point.




We all have memories making cookies with her. There were pictures of us making cookies for Christmas, Easter, and Valentine’s Day. She seemed to really love those times with us. It was a tradition that meant a lot to her, and to me as well.





When Grandmama and Pop Pop went camping, they often learned new games, and they enjoyed teaching those games to us. I remember playing the card game Hand and Foot with them one night. I was doing pretty well, and I made sure they knew it. Grandmama said, “Alright, now, you’re getting a little cocky.” She was right. She wanted us to learn and be successful, in big and little things, but she wanted us to do everything with humility.

Grandmama modeled friendship and loyalty for us over the years. She made friends wherever she went, and she maintained those friendships.

She loved to travel, and she and Pop Pop traveled as much as they could. They always thought about us while they traveled, and they sent us postcards, being sure to tell us they were looking forward to seeing us. Even when they were miles and miles away, we were always close to her heart, and she’ll always be close to ours.



When I was in second grade, I came down with the chicken pox. They lasted two weeks. Because I wasn’t allowed to go to school, I went to Grandmama and Pop Pop’s house every day. I remember lots of grilled cheese sandwiches and lots of tea parties. She was so good to me when I was little - and as I got older also.

She and Pop Pop were always supportive of me. They went to my tee ball games, dance recitals, school plays, award ceremonies, Girl Scout recognition days, graduations, and anything else I had going on. Grandmama loved being involved in my life, and I’m really glad I have all of those memories of her being there cheering me on.

Grandmama loved helping us any way she could. When I was little, I was in Girl Scouts. On the weekends, while I was staying with my grandparents, I would scour my handbook for projects I could do to earn badges. I would find one, show it to Grandmama, and ask her for help. She almost always replied with, “Sure!”

We heard the word “sure!” so many times. As we watched the wonderful video Dianna made, we recalled how much Grandmama just loved life, and she lived it to the fullest. We heard “sure!” so much because she was always willing to spend time with us, almost no matter where we asked her to go.

She also had a joyful spirit and a great laugh. A couple of years ago, we all went on a cruise. Grandmama went out into the ocean with us and began swimming as carefree as could be. While she was out there with us, she giggled like I don’t think I’d ever heard her giggle before. It was almost like she was a young girl again, and it was awesome.





Grandmama always talked about how much the Lord had blessed her over the years, especially with her wonderful husband and family. We girls especially love to hear the story of how our grandparents fell in love. Personally, I think it’s one of the greatest love stories ever told. A few years ago, Grandmama wrote this letter to me. I’d like to read part of it to you.

"To start with I'll tell you how I met Mark. I met his sister, Betty, my freshman year at Winthrop and we became good friends And we ended up rooming together our last two years. I had been home with Betty a few times while Mark was away in the service, and I really liked her parents.

Mark came to Winthrop one weekend to date someone that he had been dating. And I was dating someone else. The girl he was dating got her report card for the semester and her grades were awful. She was a very good student and made very good grades as a normal thing. This upset her so much that she couldn't continue her date with Mark. My date for the weekend had already left so Mark and I ended up together. Later it was found out that the wrong grades were sent to her and the gardes she had really made were very good. So this was the beginning of Mark and I getting together. My good fortune!

We started writing each other. He invited me to dances at Clemson and he came to Winthrop for dances. This was after he was at Clemson. With us getting together at Clemson and Winthrop and corresponding, it wasn't very long before I knew that I liked him very much. And I think the feeling was mutual. ...

I graduated from college in May of 1948 and Mark was there for the graduation. And I was at Clemson, with Mark's parents, when he graduated in January 1949.

By this time we knew that we wanted to get married but we wanted to wait until he finished Clemson in January 1949. So we were married in April 1949. And it has been a wonderful almost 60 years and I think our love for each other has grown so much during this time. ...



Writing this has brought back many special memories. The Lord has really blessed us. We hace three very nice sons - three daughters-in-law who are like daughters to us and six wonderful grandchildren. ...

You asked about any attributes Mark had that I liked. He was considerate, caring, and thoughtful and still is all of this and more."

Grandmama’s love for Pop Pop was evident to all who knew her. It was a love that grew stronger over the years, and it never wavered. Pop Pop, never, ever doubt that your wife loved you more than anyone on this earth.

 


As much as Grandmama loved Pop Pop, she also loved the Lord. Growing up, Grandmama and Pop Pop read the Bible together every morning after breakfast. I used to love when they would let me read. Grandmama helped me learn catechisms when I was little (please don’t ask me to recite them now!), and she helped me complete my Bible study worksheets during the summers. A couple of weeks ago, Grandmama was recalling her time battling breast cancer. She said she didn’t know how people could get through things like that without the support of family, friends, and the Lord.

Over the last couple of weeks, these verses in Philippians have been on my mind:

“But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.”

Our hearts ache because Grandmama is no longer here with us on earth, but her heart is rejoicing, because she is in her rightful home, and she is no longer suffering. I like to think she had a temporary visa here on earth, but her true citizenship was in heaven, with her Heavenly Father.

Seeing Grandmama pass on Good Friday was a beautiful experience, because Christ was on the forefront of our minds. We rejoiced because we knew Jesus was no longer on the cross, and Grandmama was seeing Him face to face. He told His disciples, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except by me.” Jesus made a way for Grandmama Clyde, and He made a way for all of us as well. There was a celebration in Heaven when Grandmama went home to be with the Lord, and I know she would want each of us to have celebrations of our own some day. I’m sure she would be one of the first people there to greet us. If you don’t have a relationship with Jesus, I’d love the opportunity to talk to you about Him. I know Grandmama would really want you to get to know Him.

I’m thankful that because of Jesus we have hope and peace. We know that our grief is temporary, because we’ll see Grandmama again someday, and that’s a precious gift, because I miss her like crazy already.


Grandmama Clyde, I love you, and I can't wait to see you again someday in Heaven.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Hero of the Week: AJ Paris

Years ago, I had a Xanga site. Do you remember those? I attempted a regular feature, Hero of the Week. Let's just say I didn't stick with it, and 2 out of the 5 hero posts were the same person. Oh well!

I've been thinking of adding a Hero of the Week post to this blog. It will feature normal people doing normal things with God's grace. 

Hero of the Week originated at my elementary school, Homewood Elementary. We were the Homewood Heroes (our mascot was a heroic tiger). Each class had a Hero of the Week, and each week's hero had a small bulletin board in the hall that featured photos and/or memorabilia the student selected so other students could get to know him/her better. It was super cool, and I always loved it when it was my turn to be Hero of the Week.

I saw a picture of my cousin, AJ, on Facebook today, and I felt prompted to start my Hero of the Week series. I think she's an excellent first hero.

Here are some things I think are heroic about AJ:

  • She loves the Lord and rests in His grace, trusting He will guide her, grow her, and give her everything she needs.
  • She loves her husband, Jason, and she supports him at home and in his role as a youth minister.
  • She is a wonderful mother, clearly fulfilling her calling by the Lord.
  • She is one of the only people I know who is doing what she said in college she wanted to do with her life.
  • She isn't ashamed of the fact that some of the earliest plays she wrote were with me on our greatgrandmother's front porch.
  • She created a video with me to submit to Oprah. Even though we never mailed it in, it's awesome, and she's awesome for doing that with me.
AJ, thanks for being heroic in your everyday life. Thanks for trusting the Lord and being an example of a godly wife and mom to the rest of us. Thanks for being one of my dearest friends over the last 31 years (hope you don't mind that I just called you out on being 31). I love you!




Tuesday, July 31, 2012

My Thoughts on Support Chick-fil-a Day


I woke up thinking about all of "this" today. Generally, when I wake up thinking about something, it's with me in my thoughts all day. Sometimes blogging helps me process information. I'm going to try that with "this."

I'm sure most of you know that Chick-fil-a has been in the media quite a bit recently because of their "anti-gay" stance. I have "anti-gay" in quotation marks because I don't think the fact that the owners of Chick-fil-a support the biblical definition of marriage makes their company "anti-gay." From what I know of the company, they welcome everyone into their establishments, and they serve ALL of their customers with respect. I'm confident all of their guests get a good dose of "my pleasure" (employees' response to "thank you"), regardless of sexual orientation.

I'm sure most of you know that there are two major sides here that I'm going to over-simplify into the boycotters and the supporters. I'm going to say that I don't fall into either category, because I don't think I really fit into either one.

Now I'm going to share all of my random thoughts. You can read or not read. That's your right.

As a Christian, I have to look to Scripture. This whole Chick-fil-a issue isn't about chicken. It's about family and homosexuality. Would you agree?

I believe that Scripture teaches that marriage between a man and a woman is a beautiful mystery, one that plays an important role of portraying the relationship between Christ and the church (see Ephesians 5:25-33).

I believe that Scripture teaches us that we are to love our neighbor, that we are to "walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us" (Ephesians 5:1; see also Matthew 22:35-40).

I believe that homosexual acts are sinful (see Romans 1). I say "acts" because I'm not sure saying "homosexuality" is sinful is spot on accurate (I welcome Scripture that will help me understand, if you'd like to share). I'm fat. I'm not sure being fat is sinful, so much as the gluttony that leads to me being fat is sinful. Does that make sense? I also believe there are a whole host of sins. If you decided to read Romans 1, you'll see one list of sins. Did you find yourself in that list? I certainly did. If you've ever been disobedient to your parents, you're in the list. I don't think any of us can escape the list.

I believe that Christ died for us, even though we're all in the list.

"All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." (Romans 3:23, emphasis mine)

"But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:8)

"If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved." (Romans 10:9)

I believe there are some genuine believers who are homosexuals.

Do I question their salvation because of their homosexuality?

No.

Do you question my salvation because I'm fat?

Probably not.

Do you question my salvation because I've been disobedient to my parents?

Probably not.

Do you question my salvation because I was disrespectful to my husband yesterday?

Probably not.

I could go on, but I won't.

Now I'm going to be honest with you. I don't know what to do with the fact that there are genuine believers who are struggling with the sin of homosexuality. I don't always know what it looks like to love them (or the nonbelievers in the LGBT community) - and I believe with my whole heart that I am called to love them, just like they're called to love me even though I'm fat, even though I walk around every day with undeniable evidence of my sin covering my bones. I don't know what it looks like to love them in the realm of civil rights and laws and such. I don't know. I wrestle with it. I need to study Scripture and read and pray and beg God to show me how he wants me to live.

Now back to Chick-fil-a.

I don't believe boycotting Chick-fil-a is the loving thing to do, because boycotting Chick-fil-a doesn't just affect the owners. A boycott will affect the employees and their families.

I don't believe participating in Support Chick-fil-a Day tomorrow is the loving thing to do, because it will not show love to my neighbors in the LGBT community. What I may see as supporting the owners' rights to their beliefs could be interpreted as an intentional, hurtful act toward the LGBT community, and I don't want to do that.

So, while I won't be eating Chick-fil-a on August 1st, I am not boycotting Chick-fil-a.

For those of you planning to participate in Support Chick-fil-a Day, I challenge you to pray and ask God to reveal your motives to you. If it really is just about supporting the rights of the owners, OK. But if there's even an ounce of an "I'll show THEM" motive, I encourage you to ask yourself if that's loving. Jesus told his followers that the second greatest commandment was to love their neighbors as themselves. Would you think it was loving toward you if someone did something with an "I'll show THEM" motive and YOU were a part of the THEM?

For my friends in the LGBT community (and I suspect there are more of you than I know), I do love you. Know that I'm wrestling with all of these things. I want to hold fast to what Scripture teaches, and I want to love you. I'll probably blunder along the way. I need grace, both from the Lord and from you.

If you made it this far, thanks.