My Mother’s Table

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My mother’s table always seemed so much larger as a child. I do recall that its seating was for six, however, adding the “leaf” would seat eight. We seemed to always have at least four of us and a neighbor or two on a regular meal day. Thanksgiving was always a different story. I think my parents would have loved to have had a room built just for eating with friends and family. My grandmother on my mother’s side of the family was always with us at holiday meals. My dad was known for giving and since my mother knew this about him, she would always make extra. It was nothing to find a pumpkin pie missing because he found out that there was someone who didn’t have much on their table. This was his usual, not just holidays. My parents were truly those people who would “give the shirt off of their backs” I had some shirts come up missing on some occasions (true story).

I have blogged previously about the hard Thanksgivings, of not having as much during the coal strike, etc. you can read those in my previous blog pages (Thankful in All Things/November 2012) ..This year, I will blog about the things I fondly remember about my seat at that table.

My seat was usually to the right of my Mother with my parents at each end of the table. My brother was usually on the opposite side of the table across from me. My grandmother could always be found to my mother’s left, leaving room for one or two of our friends in the extra chairs. As far as I can remember, my seat seldom changed unless we had company, then the children would always be seated at the bar that separated our kitchen and living room. Regardless, when we were seated to have a meal, we followed the same protocol. Only after everyone was seated, my Dad said the blessing, and my mother would always leave her seat to get the extra things we needed like salt, or something else we requested. Her food, I am sure was always cold yet she never complained. My Dad finished few meals without being called out on a rescue call or someone in need. It was common for us to see his plate covered in foil, while the rest of us ate our food.

We were not permitted to argue at the dinner table (or sing) lol . Controversial subjects were for other times during the evening. Dinner time was light-hearted conversation and enjoying what we had and each other. I noticed at my own table that I have followed some of the same, no arguing..and we do not scatter to the living room, we eat together at the same table every single day.

My Mother planned weeks ahead for Thanksgiving meals. I remember her for these parts of holidays, but there are more that I remember about her table.

Her table was a place where anyone was welcome. If she didn’t have room around her table, she made room. She would pull up a desk chair, or my piano bench for a couple of us. I never once heard her say “we just can’t have all these people here at one time” never did I hear her complain about fixing extra food. At her table, you were always treated like family. My Dad was a major part of this too, I do not exclude him at all. It just happens to be that the kitchen was my Mother’s domain. It is where she served others. I never worried about any of my friends being unwelcome here. She made it a point to find out their favorites just so she could make those things for them. She never asked “why” there were extra people at her table. It was irrelevant. You were not required to call ahead of time to visit, or if she was busy, she stopped what she was doing and made time for your visit. People were more important to her than her routine, and they meant more to her than having a spotless house. She will long be remembered for her kindness to people, not her tolerance for them.

Who would have thought that I’d give so much time today to a table? It was the thread that tied us all together on many occasion. Whether or not it was a holiday, you always had a seat.. your seat. The coffee was never stale, there was always some type of dessert, and an iced cold Double-Cola in the refrigerator. It was also where I did my homework, many times it was the battle ground for a game of Scrabble or Chess, maybe canasta. Mostly, it was a place where I learned some of the most important things in my life. I find that today, where most people use their table as the judge’s bench and their non-compassionate words as the gavel, there is no room for serving, unless it is a spoonful of self-righteous judgement upon others. I surely miss my Mother’s table.

I want my table to resemble that of my Mother’s. Servanthood is a thing of the past, but if you find yourself here? I will do my best to make you feel welcome. I guarantee the coffee will always be fresh, and there will be always be sweet tea in my fridge. I can always throw together a dessert. Mostly, may you leave my table with a planted seed of encouragement and a glimmer of hope for your tomorrow. One day, just maybe? my daughter will remember her Mother’s table as fondly as I have today.

For you, brethren, were [indeed] called to freedom; only [do not let your] freedom be an incentive to your flesh and an opportunity or excuse [for selfishness], but through love you should serve one another.Galatians 5:12-14

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Why Me?

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I write in my Senior memory book. What are my goals? Where do I see myself in ten years? I have this! I know what I want for my life, I have my plans laid out in this journal. Married with two children, living close to the beach in my white picket fenced in yard, and juggling a career as someone’s irreplaceable secretary.

Life happened and two years later, I am married for approximately two months before moving close to the beach. I have never minded not having the white picket fence, I had a home and a husband that loved me. I graciously acquired a job as a secretary (okay, honestly it was more like a “gopher” job) but I was excited nonetheless. My goals written down on paper were becoming my life. I started contemplating my next goal, a family. We both agreed that after five years of marriage we would be more ready to start a family.

For the next three years, I waited. I became discouraged. There were no solemn medical reasons why it just wasn’t becoming a reality. I struggled to understand the wait. Why me? when it is so easy for so many others. You start to notice every woman with a baby in her arms, every woman who abuses their children in your view, and continue to ask Why? I thought I was going crazy at times, my arms would actually feel the ache of being empty. I still don’t have the answer to those questions. It makes no more sense to me now than it did back then.

All the while, believing that I could own stock in the EPT company considering my number of purchases? One day in March, I finally saw a positive test result. I was determined it was an error, so I purchased two more. After a third positive test, I called my husband and with trembling hands, I dialed the number to my Ob/Gyn. Knowing my struggle, they told me to come straight to the office for blood work. My lab results would show that finally, I was pregnant and a due date for late November. What an anniversary present this would be!

Within a few short days after my appointment, my joy would be turned to discouragement once again. More blood work would show that my pregnancy hormone levels were not increasing, but declining and the signs of miscarriage would soon overtake me both physically and emotionally. I never wanted to know what it was like to be one of these women, the horror stories you read in the back of the “expecting” books. I am here. I am more broken than I have ever known, my dreams are turned to ashes. I ask again, “Why Me?”

I can be honest here in my whitespace. This is my story. I struggled. I questioned everything about myself, about my faith and even the lack thereof. I had awesome friends and family that encouraged me..and I had those non-compassionate ones that said all of the wrong things. It was during those times that I vowed to remember what it felt like to have someone discourage you, to make you feel less because of your struggles, to judge you because of your infirmities. I learned through my experience the kind of person I never wanted to become. I also learned of the power of encouragement, from the smallest amount to the largest. I also learned that it’s okay to just be sad with your friends.

The day came, the one I call – the end of my rope. I remember my prayer vividly. I asked God for a favor. I didn’t ask him for a child. He already knew the desire of my heart. I asked him to remove my overwhelming desire for one, if it was not his plan for my life. I had come to the place where I was no longer able to handle the disappointment. I again asked “Why Me?” and I heard …”Why not you?” (meaning, I am no different from others that have had the same pain) I can’t say that I “gave up” after that prayer, but He gave me a type of peace that I didn’t understand. I was functional again and at least I managed to handle my emotions little by little. Was I still heartbroken? Yes. Thirteen years seemed like a lifetime of hurt and disappointments. At times, it was some of my darkest moments. I shudder sometimes even revisiting them, but I am determined to learn. I am determined to use my story to encourage someone else. I know the dark places of discouragement and being broken.

My story would continue to unfold in those thirteen years, I had already begun writing the last chapter here, the end. I had come to terms with this part of life. The last dream I would have of my stepdad, nearly a year after his death..I saw him handing me a white wrapped bundle. He said “This is yours”.. end of the dream. I know that God uses things that are dear to our hearts, I don’t know why He used him. I still don’t understand, but it seemed important to mention.

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I would reluctantly purchase one more test…after thirteen years of infertility.  This would be my “beauty for ashes” … my daughter. Her name would be biblical, Hannah-not because she was a barren woman, but because she was diligent in her petitions, she was a prayer warrior who was “real” with God. She is now 13 years old..forever a part of my story.

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Whatever your struggle…be real. Everyone has a purpose and a story. Who knows? The small things in your story, may become a huge spark of encouragement for someone else. If you find yourself asking “Why Me?” maybe your story has to be written for a greater purpose.

Isaiah 61:2-4 To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified.

My Favorite Sweater

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sweaterCold winds blow today, temperatures are falling quickly. I scan the closet for something warmer to wear, something comfortable and cozy. Where did I put my favorite sweater from the past year? I know it has to be in here somewhere, but sifting through the rack of long sleeves and hoodies, it seems to have been misplaced. I really wanted to wear my favorite today,  so I take a little more time to look until it finally appears. I pull it over my head and in an instant, I feel warmer.

I began to think about why it was my favorite? Did someone special give it to me, no. Does it fit better than my other winter clothing? not especially. It just simply makes me feel better. I like the way it feels, especially on a more than usual cold afternoon.

As I wear my sweater, my mind always goes to cozy. Those people in my life that give me the same feeling as my sweater. The parts of my heart that are always warm and cozy when I think of them. I wear them just like my favorite sweater, wrapping them and holding them close to my soul. I am warm….I am always loved here, unconditionally. It doesn’t really matter how cold it gets on the outside, my heart feels the warmth.  Some of the threads have been thinned, worn with time,  but still have the capacity to serve as a layer of love.

As you feel the chill in the air this winter season, my prayer is that you never let your favorite sweaters totally unravel, mend the tattered threads and take special care of them. Appreciate the love they give, especially on the coldest days…and never take for granted the warmth they bring.

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30 Thankful Things

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I have decided to not join in the the daily post of being thankful this year and list them all at once in my blog. I know this list is not complete, because  there is always something new to be thankful for. I treasure it more than a “bucket list” because the thankful list is an everyday occurrence. It is also a place I will be able to revisit….when I feel a little less than thankful. Other than “God” and my “Family” they are in no particular order.

1. God

2. My Family

3. My Awesome Friends

4. Music

5. Do Overs

6. Sunset views from my front door

7. Memories

8. My Brothers

9. Homeschool

10. Christmas

11. Sunny Days

12. Lessons Learned

13. Promises Kept

14. The Ocean

15. Health

16. Daisies

17. Coffee

18. Bon-Bons

19. Alone Time

20. Good Books

21. Sunrises on the Beach

22. Our Pets

23. Mercy – renewed every morning

24. Health

25. Thanksgiving

26. Pinterest

27. My church family

28. Hannah’s Smile

29. Blue Skies

30. Wisdom, whether I use it or not.

I hope you use the month of November to count your blessings and the things you are thankful for… may we not forget them long after the holidays are behind us.

I Thess. 5:18     “Be thankful in all things”

I Wanna Be Your Friend

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One of my first time “guest bloggers” for today. Thank you so much for sharing your heart. Enjoy and never forget to encourage one another…Be a Friend.

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Those simple words sometimes mean something more. You could say yes or no depending on that person. You could become best friends, or worst enemies. (And I hope you never get any foes, just friends.) but lets face it, there are mean people in the world, and we simply can’t be everyone’s friend, but we can try. Some will let you in and accept you, others just walk away or worse, even bully you.

Being nice to people works, of course, but sometimes it doesn’t work and you just have to accept that. I have seen two friends be close for a really long time but then something happened and now one is on his/her knees begging for a second chance. I’m not shouting out names, I would not do that because that only hurts people more. I’ve been in that situation. I know how that feels, it hurts like crazy, especially when you know there is no second chance. Yes, even though I’m young,  there are still stupid things I have done. I  wish I could have re-done and knowing what to do and make it right. We all have made stupid decisions and sometimes find ourselves saying “God, why did I do that?” You just ask for forgiveness and try to not do it again. Make up for it, do nice things for people and you will have a good reputation, but most of all, be yourself. If for you,  being yourself is mean and not so nice, you need to find your true self, because most likely that is not you. It happened to me, I prayed and asked God to help me and to be a better person, and he helped me. I have changed, trust me I have made a difference in my life and going back to my grumpy aggravating crazy self, I just think “thank goodness I changed because I was wrong. Maybe you don’t know some of the things I did but trust me, some things you don’t want to know.

I still stumble and I  am not perfect, just human. We all are and we all stumble. This has been a rough year, but some of the good has made up for it. Lots of change, some people aren’t on this earth, but are in our hearts. Some just watching us, laughing at things we do, proud of us when we accomplish something good or something we really want in life. Some of you, I know are going though something hard, frustrating, or you just miss someone. I hope you find your way, and have a good rest of the year. I end with this:
If you have no one, don’t worry, Jesus will send you someone. Besides that, he is one of the best friends you will ever have, that’s what my Pa said, and Jesus was and still is his best friend. Except this time, I think he is riding some of the most beautiful horses in the world, doing what he loves.

Sunday Shoes

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I saw him walk by me with them on. I noticed they were brand new and had to have only been worn a few times. I smiled on the inside when I saw them. I know the mixed emotions it brings to wear something that belonged to someone you cherished. I was silent, fully aware that this was one of those moments that breaks your heart and starts a piece of healing at the same time. Sometimes it happens to come in unsuspecting forms, even shoes.

I smile when he shows me the shoes on his feet Sunday morning. “What do you think? he said. I reply “Oh yes, they are nice ones” I don’t let him know that I have noticed these shoes long before now. I wondered if he would ever wear them? Some folks are funny about wearing things that belonged to someone who had passed on. For me, it was my mother’s Old Navy gray t-shirt. It was just a shirt, but it was hers nonetheless and I loved wearing it. It was comfortable.  I am pretty sure that my husband wasn’t wierded out by his Dad’s shoes, but I still know enough about this part of life to know that he never took a step in them Sunday morning that he didn’t think about him. In time, they will just be a great pair of comfortable shoes, but this day, even I was preoccupied with the “shoes.”

The shoes have no magical qualities. They will not lead my husband down any divinely directed path, metaphorically. They are just shoes. Shoes that for now, trigger memories. He has had plenty of time to watch his Dad’s steps, learn from his mistakes, and rejoice in his victories. We learn from our parents through the good and bad. As time goes on, we hold these truths in a sacred place, continuing to process the influences they have had on our lives.

I am sure that my father-in-law was glad that his shoes made it to church another Sunday, since that was a huge part of who he was. Just like the shoes and ourselves, we are none perfect and have no magic tricks to lead us toward the right paths, but the shoes reminded me of something different today. The shoes were practically brand new, just like my father-in-laws’ new home, brand new like the grace of God that we receive new every morning. The shoes represented the paths that we choose and the consequences we have from our decisions. They reminded me of the Sunday school song.. “Oh, be careful little feet, where you go”…

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My prayer is that with every step, they soften his grief. May every time he slips them on,  good memories replace the others. I hope that he feels a little more peace with each time he ties the laces. Yes, they are only shoes…. but I am confident in the way that God uses the things around us to impress our hearts.

What will you allow him to use to speak to you today?

Psalm 32:8 “I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go; I will fix mine eyes upon thee.”