Archive for November 2011

Once a Bridesmaid

I have been a bridesmaid only once – but what an honor.  I was just 15.  My blonde hair, straight but full of body, gently draped down the middle of my back touching the satin peacock-blue gown.  The princess inside of me was thrilled that the bride chose formal-length gowns for us – and oh, those silver shoes.  Following the ceremony, I was escorted on the arm of Prince Charming – the groom’s tall, handsome uncle.  Enough about me – what about the bride?  She wore a borrowed dress, simple but lovely.   I remember her sewing a lace trim around the train and adding some sequins to the veil.  The A-line skirt was perfect for her petite frame.  She had been my life-long mentor – herself, still a teenager – my eldest sister.

Through the years, she taught me how to play jacks, hopscotch, and tether ball.  She taught me to read music, play the accordion, sew, bowl, and twirl a baton.  Before teaching me to drive, she drove me EVERYWHERE … church, school, work, and parties.  Following this special ceremony, on November 26, 1971, things would change.  I would move into her larger bedroom and would soon be driving myself.  We no longer lived together, but we were still sisters.  The groom became the brother I never had – protector, advisor, and helper.

They started their family within a couple years of their young marriage and were blessed with two healthy sons.  Now those sons are grown, they are grandparents, and we ask: “Where did the years go?”  Sister is still mentoring, encouraging, advising, organizing; is successful in the corporate world; and, better stated in my “Sisters” chapter in Reflections, is “the supreme example of a multitalented woman.”

It seems like only yesterday we were listening to the song “We’ve Only Just Begun” in honor of the formal exchange of vows (what a perfect song).  Like all of us, they experienced a few disappointments along the way; but their marriage has stood the test of time.  I have to say that theirs is among my hall-of-fame weddings.  And I am so blessed to have them in my life.

Congratulations on your 40th wedding anniversary.  WOW!

“For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. So they are no longer two, but one.”  Mark 10:7-8  (NIV)

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Reminiscing of Thanksgivings Past

When you get to be my age, you have many Thanksgivings to reflect upon.  Why is it that I remember one very specifically and it comes to mind every year?  I don’t know why, but I am intrigued with why this seemingly insignificant one is always at the forefront of my thoughts.  I remember the boys were young.  It was during the years where I didn’t work outside of the home, but I was very busy with running a household of three boys.  There was so much to do the day before Thanksgiving.  Cleaning, preparing food ahead of time for the feast, and yet keeping up with the daily rituals and a few more out-of-the norm tasks since school was not in session.  I remember the television being on in the background in a couple of different rooms in the house.  A faith-based program that appeared several times throughout the day caught my attention but I could not sit down and watch because of the busyness of the day.  A certain portion of the program was devoted to a series of praise songs –  thanks.  From my innermost being, I longed to sit down and enjoy … and worship.  The songs were compelling … give thanks with a grateful heart … the words kept resounding in my head and ears all day long.  But there was no time to sit and enjoy or participate.  My soul longed to praise and give thanks, but other things demanded my attention.  Finally, the boys were in bed, desserts were finished, house was clean … I was winding down too, and the program came on again.  I sat down and entered into that quiet place, listened to the words, the beautiful melody, and even sang along, giving thanks to the Holy One with a grateful heart.  I fed my soul – what it had longed for the entire day.  It was the very best part of the day and somehow primed me for the official day of thanks.  I remember the feeling deep within – a sense of peace and longing fulfilled.

Many more Thanksgivings have come and gone with family and friends, but this one stands out as a symbol and reminder.  Tomorrow, when I’m restless and can’t seem to pinpoint the reason, perhaps I simply need to feed my soul.  Yes, I will give thanks and remember.

“As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God.” Psalm 42:1 (NIV)

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One Thing I Regret

Regrets, I have a few … oh yes – did I ever mention how much I love music and lyrics?  Sometimes I hear a song and all these thoughts fill my head, so I have to write them down … well, that’s another story.  As for one of my regrets … yesterday being Veterans’ Day reminded me about it …  oh to have the wisdom of “50 something” when we are but only 19.

I did something a little unorthodox for a female in the mid-70s after my high school graduation – joined the military.  I came from a very simple life in a small town where finances were limited and probably less than half of the girls attended college.  I was a good student, however, and should have found a way to attend right then.  Joining the military appealed to me.  If I joined the military, I could use the GI Bill to receive my education – just a couple years later.  I scored really high on the military entrance exam and was allowed to be trained and to go into any field I desired except that of an auto mechanic. 🙂  I chose finance and accounting.  After basic training and my extended training in finance, I was assigned to a regular job where I worked and interacted with civil service employees even though I was in the military.  I enjoyed military life and my work and began even then to further my education by enrolling in night courses.  During my second year, I was ordered to attend a meeting one seemingly ordinary fall morning.  I entered the room and discovered that I was the only invitee to meet with a major from West Point Military Academy.  He had my personnel folder in front of him and began asking me various questions.  About a half hour into the session, I realized I was being interviewed to be a cadet in the first graduating class at West Point to include females.  At the end of the session, I was told that I was accepted and had two weeks to decide.  In retrospect, I did not have the maturity to make this important decision.  It should have been a “no brainer.”  But at 19, the eight-year commitment seemed overwhelming.  I elected not to accept the appointment.  Quite frankly, I didn’t realize the opportunity that I was letting slip away until years later.  This was one of those opportunities that would not come again – yes, a regret.

Pondering life-changing decisions like this is why I selected a proverb as my epigraph in Reflections.  I had set my course with this decision.  It was not a bad course.  Ten years later, I was blessed with a healthy baby boy; within five years, was blessed with another two; and had already experienced success in the corporate business world.  But perhaps I could have had both.  After all, it was ten years later, and the commitment was for only eight years.  Who knows, I might have retired a general by now, worked in the Pentagon or White House – you see, we don’t know.  But this one thing I do know, I set my course; and a higher power was still at work throughout my lifetime as I took each step.

I am proud to say I am a veteran of the United States Army.

Army

And as I ponder the regret of not fulfilling my potential in this area, I still have an appreciation for life’s blessings.  So today, 30+ years later, I can set my course again and watch my steps unfold as I acknowledge this higher power.  It’s a new day.

“In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.”  Proverbs 16:9  (NIV)

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Sticky Fingers

I don’t like being the victim of a thief.  It takes me a little time to work through my emotions and eventually reach forgiveness – even when we don’t know whom to forgive – thus one of the reasons there is a chapter entitled “The Thief” in Reflections.  Writing “The Thief” brought me to a place where I could finally find peace with the incident.  I suppose stealing is the end result of coveting what another person has, deceitfully taking with the intent of never returning.  Why would a human being violate another in this way, especially someone close to you? 

Another incident:  I had a very special pair of earrings stolen my senior year in high school.  They were a Christmas gift from a friend who was later killed in a car wreck just a few weeks before graduation.  The week of the funeral, I had very good reason to believe a friend and fellow classmate took them.  Although I was never able to prove it, I learned other friends had witnessed her stealing and had overlooked it.  I was appalled and instead exposed her.  I moved away shortly after graduation and eventually the sting diminished.  At our ten-year reunion, I could tell she was uncomfortable; and before leaving town, I confronted her again – not to condemn but to forgive.  I needed to do that, and she hugged me.   Years later, my sister found a pair of similar earrings and bought them for me for my birthday – what a sensitive and thoughtful thing to do.  Each time that I wear them, I remember the one who gave the original gift who is no longer with us, the one I forgave, and the one who replaced them.  Memories – precious memories all around.

I have yet to experience any precious memories from the theft described in my book Reflections, but I still had to come to terms with the betrayal and forgive – forgive the unknown transgressor.  This was difficult, and I didn’t really know how to do it.  But somehow writing that chapter released me to forgive.

More recently, I’ve even found a little humor when I was violated in a similar way again.  Perhaps I’m just getting old and more accustom to people’s shortcomings, understanding that I, too, stumble and fall.  I was at a conference exhibiting Reflections.  On my table, I displayed a couple copies of the book, business cards, bookmarks, and other PR material.  On one end of the table, I displayed what I had donated in a gift sack as a door prize: an autographed hardbound copy of Reflections, a jar of my famous family-recipe apple butter, and a candle labeled “Reflections.”  We were told the room would be locked overnight and it would be okay to leave everything set up.  The next morning, I was getting settled in at my table and noticed the candle was not there.  Immediately I checked the boxes behind the table to make sure my stock of books hadn’t grown legs.  Oddly, nothing was missing but the candle – an inexpensive candle I purchased simply because of the name.  I had to laugh.  I turned to the exhibitor next to me and said:  “I think I should be offended.  Someone took my candle but left my pearls, my precious cargo – the books and the apple butter.  Must not have been pearls to them.”  🙂  Oh well – what more can I say?

“For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.”  Matthew 6:14  (NIV)

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