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Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Lauren's 21st Birthday Party - Opening the Time Capsule

It's over, but I haven't taken down the decorations.  I think I'll leave them up just a few more days.  The party is over, but the fun memories remain!
We celebrated Lauren's birthday with a Minnie Mouse them, at Lauren's request.  I didn't want it kiddie looking, but just pretty.  She picked hot pink over red, so the sugar cookies were ordered in that fashion. A friend of ours has a business in Wichita Falls, TX, so if you're interested, I can give you more information.
My mother-in-law make Lauren's birthday cake.  She's probably made almost all of her cakes, though I remember making a few of them (very few!) and ordering one!
Lauren was excited!  This is the 21st party I have decorated for this sweet girl, but it's the LAST ONE! Ha ha!!  We will have a party for her next year, if she desires, but she knows that this was the last "big" one where we decorate and invite everyone....(though for a free meal, the family might still come :) ).
Isn't it strange how things go so quickly when days and nights sometime seem slow?  Twenty years ago, at Lauren's first birthday party, we made her a Time Capsule that was to be opened when she turned 21. I got the idea from my sister-in-law, Robin.  She had done this for her children.  But this 20 years went fast!  That first birthday party really doesn't seem long ago, though other things seem longer.  I guess special times do tend to seem not so long ago.
This note from her grandma came with a locket.  It told about the locket and how old it and the chain were.
My sis-in-law did something special by putting everything that Lauren's cousin's had been doing on her envelope.  She also put a picture, a little note written by she and her husband, and some colorings done by her small (at that time) children.
Lauren got letters from her great-grandparents, who are no longer living.  That was special and really neat to be hand-written. This note was from her dad's grandmother.  She included a $2 bill and a newspaper note about the changes coming to money.  Her grandpa also gave her $100, which looked fake compared to the money today (which really looks fake!).
This letter was from an uncle who was a Postmaster.  It was neat reading it with him right in the room that day!  How special!  He included a stamp.  They've sure gone up!
One set of great-grandparents gave her a card explaining the meaning of her name and this birthstone angle.  They've both passed away, so it was extra-special seeing this special memento and his writing.
This was Lauren's most special gift - an engagement ring one of her great-grandpa's gave to her great-grandma, who she never knew, but resembles in pictures.  He wrote a letter, which made us cry.  It is 75 years old!

I have to admit that since Lauren opened her time capsule, I've been tempted to want to peek into the boys' and see what's there!  I have been tempted, but I won't do it. I want to be surprised along with them, some day, if that day comes when they turn 21.  That will be special, just like this was.  And it will be here before we know it.....

Another thing I gave her at this birthday party was all of the birthday letters and blog posts I've written about her.  Each year I wrote her a letter (hand written many years, then these posts). I can't find a few of the years, but hopefully some day I will!  

Happy birthday, Lauren!  We are so very thankful that God gave us to you and allowed us the opportunity to be your parents. We are thankful that He is molding you and using you for His good purpose.  Continue to walk in His way and let Him direct your paths.  Love, Mom

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Happy 21st Birthday, Lauren!!!

Well, it is here.  The 21st birthday of our oldest that we planned for 20 years ago, on her first birthday.  That birthday party was special. We had family members write mementos that would be given to Lauren on her 21st birthday - 20 years later.  That time capsule was stuck on the top shelf in a closet for what seemed like would be forever away. But it didn't take long to get here. Not long at all!
There are so many emotions about Lauren turning 21.  For one, the world considers her an adult - "legal" to drink.  But you know what? Lauren doesn't care about being able to drink legally (or illegally for that matter).  That's not important to her.  It doesn't affect her in any way.  Her "party" will be fun...and she will remember it....and she won't have to worry about what she might have done during the celebration.
Lauren is more mature than I was at 21, and I was married!  She has done things I probably never would have done - like gone off to Disney World to work last semester on the College Program!  What a wonderful experience!
She's fun. She's funny. She's talented. She's beautiful.  
But more than that, she strives to live her life in a way that pleases God.  She doesn't go along with the crowd, but strives to be the example of Jesus to those around her.  
We're proud of Lauren. She is pursuing her dream of being a sportscaster, just last night having made her TV debut on the college student-produced TV show.  

She's dreamed of that since the 5th grade when she first decided to go that route.  She's job shadowed Emily Jones at the Texas Rangers and been working towards that dream since that time.

But with all of those accomplishments and dreams, being a follower of Christ and sharing His love with others is what we want for her more than any earthly accomplishments.  Our prayer is that she continues to mature, that she marries a man who has those same goals, and raises our future grandchildren up in the Lord and His church.  Nothing else matters.

We can be successful parents in many ways, but if we have failed at teaching them the spiritual truths of God's Word, then we have failed.  Lauren knows that and believes it.  She knows that is the most important thing in life.

Lauren, we love you to the moon and back. We look forward to spending the weekend with you and seeing you open your time capsule and other special gifts.  The years have passed quickly, but we're thankful to have seen you grow every step of the way.  We are thankful God allowed us to be your parents.  We have been blessed by having you in our lives.

I'll leave this post with my favorite passage, which you've known most of your life.  Follow it, always.
I love you!!
MOM :)

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
    and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways acknowledge him,
    and he will make your paths straight.
Proverbs 3:5-6

Monday, September 21, 2015

A "People Meeting" at the Oklahoma State Fair

Sometimes things happen in a way that you just know God orchestrated it.  And even though you can't prove it, you just know it.

Saturday we spent the day at the Oklahoma State Fair. It's a family tradition of 29 years, only skipping one time in the span (for our firstborn's birth).  This year was special because we hadn't seen our college girl in almost a month and she and the college boy were going to be with us for most of that day.  We saw Disney's "Frozen on Ice", which was magical and beautiful!  Those tickets were purchased in January!

After leaving the ice show, our daughter had to leave, my husband went to see the show pigs, but the boys and I got in line to ride the Ferris Wheel.  In front of us were two little girls.  A man and woman stood along with them, but weren't in line for the ride. He and I made small talk during the wait.  He said he had quit smoking after having pneumonia several times and how the doctor told him it was either quit smoking or quit breathing.  After we got further in the line, he and the woman stayed back while the girls stayed right in front of us.  One of the little girls talked to me a little, even asking who I was riding with.  I told her I was riding with my boys, but I almost asked if she wanted me to ride with them. She was scared.  I decided that I should just stay with the boys and those two girls ended up having another young boy with them in their cart.

When we got off the ride, it was time to leave the fair park.  We started towards the gate, but over to the side, we could see that something was wrong.  The man I had talked to in line was on the ground, propping up the woman.  She was having, what appeared to be, a seizure.  I told my husband I was going to help - which he didn't realize that we had been with them for the whole time we were in line.  I asked if he needed anything and he said yes, that he needed help. My husband went for help and I got the two girls and moved them out of the main flow of traffic and out of the way.  I asked the one that I thought was their daughter if she wanted me to hold her. She did.  The other one stood near me. I tried talking to both of them.  The younger girl was scared. It was her mom and she was afraid of what was happening.

I knew the girls had just seen Frozen because we had already talked about that in line.  Two more women walked up with their young girls and they stood so that their view was blocked from what was going on with the women.  It was very scary and to see it, even scarier!  One of those women asked if the two girls wanted their "Olaf" snowman mugs.  That was so sweet of them to give those girls something like that!  The girls ended up laughing a little, but were still scared - especially the daughter of the woman who was having trouble.  She told us that the man was her mom's friend.  They were leaving the park to head home, so this was delaying that trip of about 1 1/2 hours.

The paramedics came. They put the woman on a stretcher. It was pretty obvious she wasn't going to be leaving, but would be going straight to the hospital.  She smiled a few times after the seizure stopped, but was in pain and distress most of the time.  Later the man told my husband she had just gotten out of the hospital the week before, and had been diagnosed with lupus, but she wanted to take her daughter to see "Frozen". It was important to her, even if she might not have been feeling 100% well.

As they took the woman on the golf cart looking ambulance to go to the hospital, the man came and got the girls. He was so thankful that I took them and stayed with them. After the other women and girls had left, I had my boys come talk to the girls a little bit, just to distract them from what was going on.  As they got up to leave to go to the hospital, the young girl that was just a friend began to cry. She was wanting to go home to her family.  The man assured her that he would call and see if they could come get her soon.

The rest of that evening, all I could think about was that family.  Was the woman okay? Did we do enough to help? Was there more we could have done or should have done? Could I go find her at the hospital?  My heart was so sad, even though I knew we had helped, I couldn't get it out of my mind.  I also realized that God was using us that day....that HE had caused that "People Meeting" (will talk about below) and that HE prepared us to be there for that moment.  Things like that get to me.  They make me realize how much He does in our lives ever day, even more.

Sunday morning we worshipped with the Memorial Road Church in Edmond.  The preacher was a professor at Oklahoma Christian, just preaching as a guest. His lesson was entitled, "Reach Out", but had to do with the fact that God sets up "People Meetings" for us all of the time.  These meetings are not change, but prepared for us by GOD, and He wants to use us for a particular reason.  That lesson also seemed to be planned. It was just what I needed to hear.

I am confident that what happened Saturday was a "People Meeting" arranged by God.  I only wish I knew the names of that man and woman. I know the two little girls' names.  I want to find out how that woman is doing.  I need to know she is okay.  I pray for that moment in that day, that man saw the love of Jesus.  I told him I would be praying for him. I wish I had prayed with the girls.  I was going to at one time, but other people came up, so I didn't. I should have.  I've prayed for them and for the woman and man a lot since then, but wish I had then - with them.  That would have showed them the power of God and the love of Jesus even more. That's my biggest regret in the whole thing.

So as you go throughout this week, be aware of the "People Meetings" that God may be arranging just for you.  He has prepared in advance, good works for you to do.  Don't miss those meetings.  Realize that they are from God. Share His love.  Share His Son.  Do what you can.

For we are God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:10

Friday, September 18, 2015

Too Good to Not Share!

=====  Thursday's Thought For The Day (Sept. 17, 2015)  =====

                       DEALING WITH CRITICISM

    A wife was making a breakfast of fried eggs for her husband.  Suddenly, her husband burst into the kitchen.

    "Careful," he said, "CAREFUL!  Put in some more butter!  Oh no!  You're cooking too many at once.  TOO MANY!  Turn them!  TURN THEM NOW!  We need more butter.  Oh no!  WHERE are we going to get MORE BUTTER?  They're going to STICK!  Careful.  CAREFUL!  I said be CAREFUL!  You NEVER listen to me when you're cooking!  Never!  Turn them!  Hurry up!  Are you CRAZY?  Have you LOST your mind?  Don't forget to salt them.  You know you always forget to salt them.  Use the salt.  USE THE SALT!  THE SALT!"

    The wife stared at him. "What in the world is wrong with you?  You think I don't know how to fry a couple of eggs?"

    The husband calmly replied, "I just wanted to show you what it feels like when I'm driving."

    Criticism.  We've all experienced it.  Sometimes it is justified, sometimes it is not.  But none of us like it.  No one enjoys being told they are doing something wrong.

    Guy Woods has written, "Inasmuch as criticism is inevitable, we must, in order to be happy, acquire an ability to rise above it.  He who is overly sensitive to the opinions of others is at the mercy of every gossiper of his acquaintance.  Some folks purr like a kitten when stroked by praise; but when criticized, they become resentful, discouraged, and quit.  It is highly essential that everyone discover a technique for dealing with the adverse opinions of others, and use it regularly and effectively."

    Let me offer several brief bits of advice when you are criticized:

(1)  Expect criticism.

    Realize that the more active you are, the more criticism you will receive.  There's an eminent British cabinet officer's wife who is said to have kept this embroidered motto on their living room wall:  "To escape criticism, say nothing, do nothing, be nothing."  Who catches the criticism?  It's the ones who are out there in the middle of things with their sleeves rolled up.

(2)  Criticism can serve a useful purpose.  Learn from it.

    Recognize that some criticisms are certainly deserved.  Even when critics are unkind and when they exaggerate our failures, there may still be some truth in what they say.  So, when faced with criticism, we need to look at the situation honestly and ask these questions:  Is it true?  If so, how can I overcome the condition that caused it?  If not, is there something I can do to eliminate future criticism of the same type?

    "The ear that hears the reproof of life will abide among the wise.  He who disdains instructions despises his own soul, but he who heeds reproof gets understanding." (Proverbs 15:31-32)

(3)  Having gotten any benefit we can from criticism, we need to forget it.

    There are times when people will criticize you and the best thing you can do is just to keep on serving God.  We've got to accept the fact there is no way that unfair criticism can be dealt with.  In a lot of situations, the more you may attempt to answer criticism, the worse the criticism becomes.

    Paul said, "But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by a human court.  In fact, I do not even judge myself.  For I know nothing against myself, yet I am not justified by this; but he who judges me is the Lord." (2 Corinthians 4:3-4)

    As we receive criticism in our lives, may God help us to be honest enough and humble enough to look into our hearts and make changes that are necessary, and gracious enough to ignore that criticism which is unfair.

Have a great day!

Alan Smith
Helen Street Church of Christ 
Fayetteville, North Carolina 


Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Ladies' Salad Supper 2015

A few weeks ago it dawned on me that I hadn't had my annual ladies' salad supper for 2015, so as soon as I found an open night, I snatched it for the event.  
One of my favorite things about this event is the stories that are shared by the ladies.  I mentioned those stories in a post recently, and how I wish we had some videoed in the past.  This time we videoed and few of the ladies.  Raenell has some funny stories and always has a smile.  
Verna is just hilarious.  I gave out some folded questions and everyone got two or three.  One of hers was, "Who makes you laugh?".  Her niece-in-law answered for her as she sat next to her, "Me, myself, and I"!  That's so true!  She has really funny stories and interesting stories, such as graduating from business college at 17 years of age.  Thankfully, I got her stories on video, as well!
 If you haven't seen the Thanksgiving plates at Hobby Lobby, you should!
 This is my favorite one....the leaves and woodsy looking on.  I especially liked the small napkins that said, "I'm Thankful for YOU".  I thought they would go great for the salad supper because I am truly thankful for each of these ladies.
 (No, it's not fall, yet, but it went with the decor! The tablecloth doesn't, but I didn't want to go to the shed to get the burlap ones :).  It worked, I suppose.)
 The wood look on the napkins was going to be my inspiration for doing stick/wood centerpieces, but I decided to just go with what I had around the house, without making up anything new.  I like the big wood slice and had more....but they were in that shed I didn't want to go to!
 Some of the questions were: What was your favorite childhood memory? What did you want to do when you grew up? Is there anything in life you haven't done that you wanted to do?
 Did you and your spouse fall in love quickly or did it grow in time?  What was your neighborhood like where you grew up?
What was your favorite job? What was your least favorite job?  And lots more.

I'm thankful for these ladies who took the time to join us last night.  I pray that it was uplifting and encouraging to them, just as it was to me.  Thank you for sharing your stories.  That's how we get to know one another better. I'm thankful for the bond we have as sisters in Christ.  

Monday, September 14, 2015

What Angers You?

Yesterday in Bible class the teacher made an interesting comment.  He said that anger is the opposite of love, that whatever angers you is what you love.  I was talking to my boys about that later and one of them said that it couldn't be right because he gets angry with people, but that doesn't mean he loves them.  (We then had a little lesson on how we ARE to love everyone, but he knew that, just meant he didn't LOVE, love them.).

I kept thinking about that lesson and how anger related to love and realized something.  If people anger me, then what is it about the people that anger me?  To be honest, it's usually because they aren't doing what I want them to do, or they aren't doing it how I think it should be done!  What angers me is that I'm not getting my way!

So this morning before school, I talked to the boys again and asked questions:

Question: What about people makes you angry?
Answer: When they are being a doofus!

Question: But WHAT about it is making them a doofus?  Is it because they aren't doing something the way you think it should be done?  (I mentioned that I was thinking this way because of my own issues, not theirs!)
Answer: Yeah.

Question: Why do you get angry if it's not done how you think it should be?
Answer: I'm not in control.

Question:  So where is the problem.
Answer: With me.  (I confessed that it's the same way with me!)

Then later when I was talking to my husband about it, we mentioned that selfishness was the problem.  I want it my way!  And most likely, you want it your way, too!  And my husband said what we know from God's Word, that it boils down to pride.  Pride is at the root of many sins.

So what angers you?  Look deeper than the surface.  It may not be what you think it is.  Sin should anger us.  Sin angers God.  But our anger should never cause us to sin.  That's when pride has to be turned to humility.  Sometimes I won't get my way. Sometimes you won't get yours.  Sometimes we have to swallow our pride.

 “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, Ephesians 5:26

For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. 1 John 2:16

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Road Kill

Driving on the highway a few days ago, I noticed lots of road kill scattered along the way, with vultures and buzzards flying around and landing to eat their findings.  In our area, those birds are what we see eating the decaying animal flesh, but at night other carnivores come out to devour the remains.

Road kill makes me sick to see.  I can't look at it!  I just have to look away or straight ahead to keep my eyes off of the gruesome sight!  And thinking about those vultures and buzzards eating it is sickening, too! I would have put a picture of road kill on this post, but....... YUCK!!

Spiritually speaking, if you aren't growing, you're dead.  You're road kill, in a sense!  Anything that isn't growing is in the process of dying.

If you aren't changing for the better, you're not in the process of being transformed into the image of Christ.  If you can't look back at your life last year, the year before, five or ten years ago, and see that you're a better human being, then you aren't growing IN Christ.  Becoming a Christian is the first step in the process (which may have begun even before then as you learned about Him), but continuing to grow in that relationship is allowing the Holy Spirit to work within you.  That means putting away the selfish and fleshly desires you once had, exchanging them for fruits of the Spirit.  Good fruits that change us for the better, change us into being more Christ-like.

You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh[a]; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.

So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever[c] you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Galatians 5:13-25

Are you growing?  Are you changing?  Or are you road kill, waiting to be devoured?  Think of Satan as being the carnivore.  If you allow him the opportunity, he will devour you.  Get moving! Get to growing!  And never, ever stop!

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Road Trips

Over Labor Day weekend, we took a few road trips.  Saturday we went to visit one of our college kids (the other one was out of town).  Joe and the boys played golf together, then we took him out to eat. It was fun getting to spend a little time with him, and I shed a few tears as we left.  It was okay because I know he's happy and having a great experience, both academically, but also spiritually and socially.  It's been great for him.

Then Sunday after worship we went to see my parents in Lubbock.  My sister, brother-in-law, and their kiddos came for supper that night and we enjoyed that time together.  We came home last night.

Road trips are great! Some take more planning and packing, such as our recent trip to Colorado, but these two trips didn't require much planning or packing.  Which means there wasn't much unpacking to do, either, which is an added bonus!

In our spiritual lives, we are on a "road trip", so to speak.  It's a destination like no other because there will be no return.  When we get to where we are going, we will stay there - for ETERNITY!  That's hard to even imagine!

For this road trip, we can prepare and "pack" along the way.  We have a map and guide, God and His Word.  The Word tells us the way to go, how to get there, and what we can expect along the way.  Some take the wrong path, some choose the wrong road, but hopefully and prayerfully, the guide will get them back on that straight and narrow road to the final destination.

This road trip is like no other, but it's also more important than any other.  It is the road that leads to eternal life.

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it." Matthew 7:13-14

Thursday, September 3, 2015


One thing about the new "Seasons of Life" ladies' class that began last night is that I want it to be a lot of discussion, not just me doing the talking!

Last night I asked a question: "What was your favorite season of life?".  I loved hearing all of the comments and stories the ladies shared.  It's a great way to get to know each other better and a great way to learn from each other.  Our experiences are all different, but then a lot the same.  Something someone else went through may be something I am going through, so it helps to hear their stories.

Until this past spring, I had a ladies' salad supper ever year. I guess it totally slipped my mind this year, so I'll have it soon.  One of my favorite memories of all of those gatherings is listening to their stories.  Some of those women have passed on and I miss their stories! A few of them we should have recorded. They were hilarious! Great times.

Everyone has a story to tell, but most people would rather tell their story than listen to someone else's.  I think I said this recently, but I don't think we can hear it enough.  Listen to people. Listen to their stories.  They are important to them, but will help you, too.  Part of the help may be that you just practice sitting there and really listening!  Sometimes that's hard to do.  Really listen. Hear what they are saying. Take the time to care.  Show concern.  Be genuine.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

"Seasons of Life"

Tonight I'll begin teaching ladies' Bible class after taking the summer off. This new semester will be called "Seasons of Life".  There are many different age groups in the class, from mid-20's to 80's, so these lessons will be geared to learn from each of these "seasons".

It's fitting that this new class corresponds with the beginning of my very favorite time of year: September, October, November, and December.  I love this season!

The scripture basis for the class will be this:

 "Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God." Titus 2:3-5

There was a time when I was one of the youngest women in the class.  Not so anymore!  Now I'm middle-aged, so am teaching the younger ones, but also still learning from the older ones.  This passage is so good.  Women learn from one another and that's what I want this new class to be about - sharing and learning from each other.

This new season of life I'm in, with two children gone and two still at home is weird.  It's great to be able to have the youngest two and spend time just with them, but the house is quieter, less messy (Even though the youngest two say they are the messiest and it will be messy!  Truthfully, I'm the messiest of them all!), and just different.  Sitting at our huge dining table that seats 10 is just different with four.  It's weird, but we will get used to it soon.

With each season of life, we have different ways that we can serve God.  That will be another aspect of ladies' class this semester.  When all of our children were young, I felt like I wasn't doing anything for others because I didn't have the time.  Now that it's less busy, I can make meals for others, visit others, and do more "work" for the Lord.  But I truly was working for Him when the kids were little.  They were my work!  And the two here at home now are still my work.  Too many stop this work as the last one or two are left at home.  The youngest can be neglected and spoiled in a way, left to do for himself/herself.  I want to make sure that doesn't happen with ours.  He'll need just as much guidance and supervision as the others have had - maybe more.

So what season of life are you in? Which has been your favorite?  Which has been your least favorite?  Reflect on those questions today.  Take the time to share with someone else about your season of life.  It's quite possible that something you have gone through and share will be something they needed to hear.  
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