Saturday, January 11, 2014

January 11th: Yep - it's that time of year...again.

This morning I woke up and thought…”UGH…TODAY is THE day…the one that I dread and often pray an angel (or REALLY great friend) would show up to handle for me.  It’s the “Take Christmas Down… and Stuff It Back In The Boxes”  Day.

Usually this happens before January 11th - but this year we celebrated Christmas in January (due to those silly adult children of ours that now have a life outside of our immediate family).  Hey -  I’m JUST SAYIN! (and making myself feel better that I have a “reason” this hasn’t happened before NOW!)

So – they have all left for their homes, our college freshman has arrived back at her adorably decorated dorm and now “mom” (with some help from “dad”) is here with all the stuff that once looked beautiful/festive but this morning  just looks like “work” and a reminder that I’m WAY late in getting this done.

As I walked through the house and tried to wrap my head around the hours before me, I took a minute to look at my favorite tree in our house, our “Thank You Jesus” tree.

Years ago, (24 years to be exact),  we started with a tiny little tree and an idea to have Brittney (then 2 years old) “write” something that she was thankful for on a tiny card and attach it to a 2 & ½ foot “tree”.  I have NO idea where this idea came from…only that I KNOW it was truly God inspired as it has served as the focus for our family since that very first year.

This year I “threw it out there” that maybe we should do the tree differently (I was thinking that because the kids didn’t live here/close - that maybe we would have visiting friends sign cards instead, etc.).  ALL of the kids (even the two sons-in-law) seemed rather “offended” at the thought and immediately came up with the idea to have me send them cards and they would mail them back to be added to the tree!  Did this mom’s heart good to have them want to continue the tradition….priceless to me!

After 24 years, the tree has grown to a 7 & ½ ft tree that now ends up COVERED with notes…all 7 of us participate/write cards...and I can’t WAIT to include our grandson (now just  7 weeks old) in the process in the years ahead!


While some of the cards are very serious (and always respectful/honoring)…they have changed DRAMATICALLY over the years.  In the beginning,  the cards had little drawings of people (because they couldn’t write words yet) or scribbled writings of words like “my pooh bear slippers”, “my bike”, “Grandma who made my doll a new dress” and many, many cards with “mommy” and “daddy” mentioned (and yes – I have EVERY card still…in baggies, labeled with the year!).   As they girls got older, they wrote about  friends, teachers, specific experiences they had had,  and-  of course -  every boyfriend. J Now, they are often filled with deeper thoughts, often contain many words/a paragraph (Breanna!)…and sometimes are written on – front and back!   Basically, the cards are like a diary of every year…for the last 24!

So – before I began the process of “Take Down Christmas” – I grabbed a cup of tea and read each and every card on the tree...something that I hadn’t taken the time to do before this morning.   It was JOY to read…some funny, many “random”, but most showed the heart of each one who wrote.  I’m thankful for the many that mentioned others in our family – sisters mentioning each other, mentions of the many in-laws represented now, grandparents, grand-dogs, and of course – our newest addition…
 
 



 
 

There are mentions of different  friends….and people in their lives that have made an impact on them…



 

Random stuff that I don’t fully understand???...


 
And basically - some super cool stuff like this -
 


 

And then, this….which, makes me laugh as I remember Breanna calling  Brittney (who was sitting in our living room at the time) and saying, “Man – things sure have changed with what I want to thank Jesus for on the Jesus tree…”


And then Tom and I added a little something around it...  :)

 
 
So- I’m still feeling a little “ugh” over putting the d├ęcor away…but I’m grateful for this last morning of thinking over the past year and all the many things (yes…sex included) that I’m thankful for.  Top of my list is Jesus…without Him – there would be no point.  Second would be the precious ones that, again, filled this tree with sweet love notes to Jesus (and not only because they still ALWAYS mention “mom” and “dad”!)  J

Praying I remain thankful to THE One worthy of all praise and thanks…every day of the year!  Gratitude is a key word for me this year...just sayin.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

A Different Christmas Day - 2013

Anyone that has been around me for longer than 5 minutes knows that I was struggling with how this Christmas was going to play out.  I was struggling with our older two daughters and their husbands, (as well as our new grandson),  having other plans/being out of town and the day just being “sad” with missing being together as a family…blah, blah, blah…whaaa.

I’d actually like to “publicly” apologize
to all that I wept with or complained to. 
Sorry you had to put up with my “bah humbug” attitude.

With our youngest daughter (18 year old college freshman) at home with us – I used her as my “excuse” to be worried with how the day would play out.  While I was concerned over making the day special for Brooke,  I was also feeling a little (ok...more than "a little") weird about having just Tom, Brooke and me sitting around the Christmas tree staring at each other after exchanging a few gifts (all of which Brooke asked for/knew about…one she even bought for me to give to her!)

I was actually surprised, proud and happy when Brooke insisted that we just wait to “do Christmas” till our family could all be together – on January 2nd.  So – with that plan in place, we decided to find a place to serve on December 25th.

Having no luck finding a charity/organization to partner with, we prayed about it and then came up with our own plan to reach out to our neighbors (something that’s been heavy on our minds after a recent home fire across the street)!  “Operation Bless Our Neighbors/Friends” began a week ago with a “planning meeting” at Panera and included two loooong days/nights of baking!
 

Christmas morning we woke early, finished one more batch of peppermint patties and packed up the many bags/tins to deliver.  We typed up a note to attach for our neighbors…as well as a different one for our friends.
 
 
We began in our neighborhood…left the house around 10:30am and walked house to house.  We made it clear that we were just “dropping off and running” (no pressure for them to invite us in, etc.) and were greeted with surprised looks and lots of shocked “Wow!  That’s so nice of you!” comments (evidently, passing gifts to your neighbors…or even getting out to meet them…is somewhat of a shock to most these days).

We didn’t freak our new friends (neighbors) out by asking them to pose for a picture but – here we are as we were heading out the door…


After walking our street, we loaded up the car and made random stops…some were “obvious”ones- like good friends and lifegroup peeps that were in town…but some were people that we KNEW were shocked to see us...like a new pastor/co-worker (hasn’t even officially started work yet) and his sweet family who just moved here from California -
 
 
….And then there was a special stop at Brooke’s “second home” (best friend’s house) from the time that she was 4 years old – up until about 10th grade. The girls text occasionally and “like” stuff on instagram/facebook but haven’t been physically together for the last few years. It was JOY to make our surprise stop to reconnect – and they seemed genuinely touched that we came by.
 
 
We found most friends un-showered, bed hair/no makeup, and still in their sweats or Pj’s (one even ran past the front door half dressed…oops/haha!)...but we were greeted with big hugs and all were willing to take a picture!  Here are just a few...


IT WAS…
A TOTAL BLAST!

Our second to last stop was totally unplanned and really “different”…while driving past the “Haggard Farm”, Tom decided that he really wanted to stop, offer cookies and thank the family for providing so much joy for us over the years.  Our girls have grown up loving all of the animals on the large piece of property (in the middle of Plano) and Tom announced, “If we go by and the front gate is open, I’m going up!” -  Keep in mind,  we have no idea what “Haggards” actually live there! We were ALL shocked when the large security gate was actually open and so we just made the long trip up the main drive…right to the front door.  Unfortunately, Tom knocked…and knocked…and knocked…but no one answered.  It was so cute to see him standing proudly at the door (Brooke and I stayed in the car – ready to make a quick getaway…in case security was called!!) with Brooke sweetly whispering, “Please answer…please answer…this is so important to him, I really want them to answer!” (She loves her daddy!)


What I loved about today was the spirit in which “Operation Bless Our Neighbors/Friends” was carried out.  Brooke and I spent hours together making lists and baking, baking, baking.  Tom joined us this morning as “head of operations”/packing and then navigating us through neighborhoods.  We loved taking “group selfies” at the doors with our friends at each stop.  We loved saying “Merry Christmas”, in person, to so many people that we love…and hope to grow closer to in the coming year.

I’m not sure how we will carry out this new TRADITION in the future but, Christmas morning now looks differently to us...

...and I’m already dreaming of the year we rent a HUGE bus/party van and load up the adults and ALL the grandkids and drive around town together!  Ahhhhh…the thought alone brings me GREAT joy!

Happy Birthday Jesus…I’m so very thankful for the gift of you!
It was fun to PAR-TAY with you today!  - just sayin.
 
 

 

 





 


 
 
 

 
 


 

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Blessings from 2012

Earlier this week, (on Twitter) Bill Hybels (Senior Pastor of Willow Creek) wrote: “I’m working on my Top 10 Blessings from God in 2012 to share with my family on December 31. We read and explain all 10 to each other. Try it!” I immediately thought, “Gosh – wish we would do that” and then tonight I thought, “Well, why don’t I?” :) So – after a few quiet moments thanking God for the MANY blessings from this past year - thought I would share the following with my family and anyone else that might find this list!

Top 12 Blessings of 2012

1. Continued grace when I fail and mess up – from my man, my girls/family, friends, co-workers and those I lead/serve…but mostly/completely/fully from my Savior.
2. A new son (in-law) that is the answer to the many prayers we prayed for an amazing, Godly man for Breanna. Their wedding was a blessing to plan, attend and celebrate.
3. Another college graduate in the family – as Breanna graduated from OSU!
4. Brittney & Phil living close (in Denton) and the planned (and unplanned) times of meeting up for meals, TV shows or random times together!
5. Watching Brooke continue to grow and mature through highs and lows of this year…and sitting back (and praying) while she figures out this “relationship with Jesus/do I only believe what I believe cause my parents have told me to” thing for herself.
6. “Bailey” – Brooke’s new BFF/pound puppy that has completed our family (for now).
7. Another year to work on being a better wife and partner for Tom. Thankful for the 4 times I worked through the study “For Women Only”…and my desire to keep doing it!
8. Women in my life that want to learn, grow and hold each other accountable. Love women that desire growth/change and challenge me to do the same. I am blessed with AMAZING girlfriends!
9. Jobs with paychecks that provide for our needs.
10. Health and safety for our entire family.
11. A new home that became a perfect fit for us and an answer to dreams we hadn’t even thought to dream.
12. A job that I continue to love, am challenged (and sometimes frustrated) by and that often makes me pinch myself to see if it’s really “real”.

Thank you Lord for the amazing love you shower on me and “mine”. My cup overflows and I’m overwhelmed with your goodness. My prayer is that as I enter 2013 (a gift from you), that I will become more and more aware of how praiseworthy you are and the importance to STOP and say “THANK YOU” way more often than I did in 2012.

I'm a blessed girl...just sayin.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Confession Time: My (almost) date with "Magic Mike"

Written July 10th – 12:15 AM (for some reason my blog just wouldn’t let me upload it before now?)

So – this is one of those times when I feel God’s leading on what I am to write about. I’ve known I’ve needed to write it for days…just been avoiding it. But – in order to sleep tonight, I begin…”It’s Confession Time”.

Recently, with of a group of sweet friends, the conversation came up - “OK…so, who is going to see “Magic Mike”?” (for those of you living under a rock…”Magic Mike” is the new “stripper movie”- let’s just call it what it is, folks! – that has sold out across the country this past week). After two seconds of silence, laughter broke out and then a bunch of “funny” comments began about how we could make that happen and when.

I didn’t think too much about it until I started seeing so many women commenting about going on facebook (as well as hearing casual conversations about women planning to see it with friends, etc.). I even heard about women taking their daughters (even teenagers) and a sick feeling started in my gut. I began to notice on facebook that women took pictures with the sign at the theatre – all smiles with their friends…and yet NO ONE was mentioning how “good” it was afterwards?? Still, the “Let’s Have a Fun Girl’s Night” side of me prevailed when, during a group text message dialog, I (yes, “I”… Lori Eubanks) made the comment “If I REALLY did this – I would seriously need to go someplace outside of Plano. I would die if anyone saw me!” As soon as the words left my head (and my fingers pushed send), I felt a wave of “WHAT??? HOW SERIOUSLY SICK IS THAT? SOMEHOW YOU THINK THIS IS “OK” or “FUN”AS LONG AS NO ONE SEES YOU?” What started as a stupid, casual (“funny”) comment became a moment of humble, personal and PRIVATE repentance (that I’m now making public).

Jump ahead a day or two and I start getting bombarded with blogs (some that I follow – some that just appeared in my email/facebook) regarding women and sexuality…mostly due to the popularity of “Fifty Shades of Gray” and “Magic Mike” (I’ll reference some at the end of this). God used each and every one of them to pierce my heart on this subject that is so dear to me.

You see – I’ve been vocal over my disgust and sadness over pornography and my deep concern with the sex trade industry (that I feel WAY too many of us don’t know enough about). I’ve counseled women (my three daughters included) about the dangers of EVER letting pornography enter their minds…and home. I’ve prayed for the purity of my man and the men my girls would choose to be their husbands. I’ve seen porn destroy marriages. I’ve seen men and women leave their spouses over their addiction to a computer screen. I judged people for taking their children to see “trash” and yet here I was willing to let that same trash enter MY mind/home. I was compromising and allowing something that I KNOW breaks the heart of God into my mind. I began to imagine what I would think/feel if the roles were reversed and Tom planned an evening with “the guys” to go watch a “stripper movie” with the hottest women from Hollywood. I began to see Tom’s face if he ever knew (not because I wouldn’t tell him where I was going but because he probably wouldn’t really have a clue of the entire content) that I sat in a theatre laughing and clapping over some “hot guys” taking off their clothes. The more I thought about it, the sicker I got.

So – this apology goes out to “my girls” (friends) for being, in any way, a willing/supportive participant in considering seeing this movie. I’ve confessed my regret over my comment to God (and been forgiven…thank you Jesus!) and wanted to explain why I, personally, am not willing to participate further.

Please know that I truly don’t want ANYONE to think this is about “them” – this was all about ME (this confession). However, I just couldn’t be silent when God asked me to “come clean” and share MY struggle with falling in to the trap that Satan is luring women to…it’s the same trap that he has been using (mostly on men) for a very long time…to make something BEAUTIFUL that GOD created (SEX) into something twisted and sick.

So here are some blogs that were of interest to me – and might be helpful/of interest to you…

I totally agree with this blog entry (written to church leaders/pastors) and think it’s a great read on how WOMEN are the new targets for porn, etc…

http://gregatkinson.com/lust-no-longer-just-for-men/

Another good read on this subject , that says it MUCH better than I could and talks in detail about “Fifty Shades of Gray” is a blog I receive regularly - “Hot, holy & Humorous” (if you have any questions regarding sex – she’s probably covered it!) :

http://hotholyhumorous.blogspot.com/2012/07/why-i-havent-talked-about-50-shades.html

And finally: a bold entry that has been posted by others on facebook but with great thoughts (I’m REALLY proud of this young woman…and proud that my daughter shared this/posted it earlier this week on facebook! THAT’S MY GIRL!!):

http://melissajenna.com/2012/06/30/50-shades-of-magic-mike-in-which-i-am-very-uncool/

So… there you have it. I’ll just enjoy the dance moves of Channing Tatum in the original “Step up” (Hey, I’ve had three teenage girls in the house, we have EVERY dance movie made in the last 15 years…but, rest assured, we won’t EVER own “Magic Mike”). Just sayin.

Now, Lord…can I get some sleep?? I’m worn out reliving this.
Lori




Wednesday, April 11, 2012

"100 Things"

I actually wrote this over two weeks ago while I was in Phoenix and had lots of time to think, pray and write. Saw this idea on another person’s blog and thought it was a great way to get my initial thoughts out…as well as to catch some people up on my life (since I haven’t blogged in over a year) it’s called… “100 things” 1. I’m currently in Phoenix. 2. My husband is here for training with his company – Cabela’s...I'm along for the ride. 3. I’m proud of him for getting a promotion after working there for less than a year. 4. When he took the job, we praised God for “something” – after a year of unemployment...it's been a GREAT place for him - great company and people. 5. We are now at about 60% of his former income - like many people we know. 6. God is good – the only reason we have survived the past two years is because of HIM. 7. Tom is one of the hardest working men I know. 8. I appreciate the fact that he has always been willing to do ANYTHING (job wise) to provide for our family. 9. I often feel guilty for having my “dream job” when has not had his. 10. ugh. 11. We have, once again, learned so much during this time of financial stress. 12. I’m thankful that we have remained a “team” and stronger than when we started. 13. I am fully aware that this kind of stress/hardship can kill a marriage. 14. Because of our experience(s), we have great compassion for people who WANT to work (and are willing) but just can’t find a job. 15. I often struggle with God over not having the desires of my heart – in the area of an awesome job for my man. 16. We have seen Him work in amazing ways as Tom has had great influence in his current situation and know that God has him there for a reason. 17. We are thankful for what He has done. 18. Brittney (oldest daughter) and her husband Phil (and dog, Ted) moved from Tulsa to Denton in December 2011. 19. It’s AWESOME to have them an hour away. 20. Phil is able to work his job from home…and Brittney just got a great job at an OB/GYN office. 21. Their apartment is adorable. 22. There is something cool about your daughter/son-in-law inviting you for dinner at their place! 23. Definitely worth the hour drive to be there! 24. Breanna (middle daughter – although I hate that “title”) got married almost three months ago. 25. On January 21, 2012 she married Jeremy and became “Mrs. French”. 26. There is truly no greater joy than to see your daughter marry the man you have prayed for/about since before she was born. 27. He is a good man who loves the Lord, comes from a great family and adores our girl. 28. Doesn’t get any better than that. 29. Their wedding was fun, God honoring and went by way too fast. 30. I wasn’t prepared for the let-down that I would experience once it was over. 31. I thought that it would be different with “wedding #2”…instead I think it was worse. 32. I can’t believe my baby girl is a married woman. 33. I still cry thinking about it and struggle with understanding exactly the “why” behind those tears. 34. I keep saying I need to “process through” the event…but I’m not sure how or what that really looks like. 35. I feel like everyone in the family went through the event, enjoyed it and checked it off the list and has “moved on”. 36. Not sure why I can’t. 37. I might need some professional help – which I do NOT see as a “weakness”. 38. Just sayin. 39. Breanna & Jeremy “technically” live in Duncan, OK. 40. However – He is about to be in Carrollton/Addison (TX) for 14 weeks. 41. He has a room-mate at the hotel (2 bedroom extended stay place)- which makes it difficult for Breanna to be with him. 42. She/they are sometimes in Carrollton, sometimes in our home, and sometimes in Duncan. 43. I know this is a tough time for them – especially her. 44. She wants so badly to be together in their own house, with their new wedding gifts – creating a home together. 45. On the bright side – this means we get to “host” their dog/our grand-dog, “Sky”. 46. While I was furious when Breanna brought this sick little puppy home almost a year ago, I have grown to love her. 47. Thankfully, our dog (Zoe) is learning to tolerate Sky’s puppy behavior – although she LOVES when Sky goes to her crate at night and Zoe gets to relax. 48. Right before the wedding we had our precious border collie, “Annie”, put to sleep. 49. I still look for her in the house and have moments of missing her sweet face and wagging tail. 50. Brooke wants another dog – “a friend for Zoe”. 51. Another reason I’m thankful that Sky is around – for us to hold off that desire! 52. Speaking of Brooke (our youngest/last) – she’s hilarious. 53. She’s a junior and I am blown away by the young woman that she is. 54. In many, many ways – I wish I was more like her. 55. She’s one of the most unselfish people that I know. 56. She reminds me not to judge others. 57. If we ever have a “ugh” morning (due to lack of sleep or waking up late) and words are said – I often get an “I’m sorry” text message from her within an hour. 58. She says sentences that begin with “Your mom…” about 100 times a day. 59. If she ever gets a hold of your iphone – you will surely find hilarious pictures that she took of herself on it. 60. Lots and lots of pics…and some are not “cute”. 61. She has been dating her boyfriend for over two years. 62. I love how healthy their relationship is – not ALWAYS needing to be together, supporting each other in their faith and making family and school the priority, etc. 63. They are fun to be with. 64. I can’t begin to imagine life without her in our home (when she goes off to college). 65. I’m pretty sure I’ll be on meds and in therapy after she leaves (that’s an authentic/not judgmental statement). 66. just sayin. 67. She’s an excellent student – I just need to teach her how to REALLY do the laundry! 68. She makes any day “worth it” to me. 69. She’s JOY…and a party… wrapped up in skin. 70. I love my job. 71. Women “do it” for me (in, obviously, a totally non-sexual way). 72. I’m beyond blessed with several really good friends. 73. I love that I have several different circles of friends. 74. They fill my bucket in different ways. 75. I have a hard time letting go of friendships. 76. I’m a “for life” kind of girl/friend. 77. I’m realizing that some women are not like me – and only do friendships that last for a “season”. 78. I don’t think that’s bad…just hard for me to do. 79. I have a group of women that I am able to be completely “me” with. 80. I think they love me any way. 81. I have friends that hold me accountable and would be on my doorstep in minutes if I called them – or if I was getting off track. 82. That’s a HUGE comfort to me and something I wish everyone had. 83. I also have friends that I unapologetically watch “The Bachelor” with. 84. Monday nights are definitely a highlight of my week. 85. It’s a gift to laugh as much as I do with my friends. 86. I love my church – and the fact that my girls wouldn’t think of getting married any place but there. 87. My heart grieves for those that don’t know connection like our family does. 88. I’m passionate about marriage - I hate divorce and HATE that I know several close friends feeling the pain of it right now. 89. I think marriage is not for wimps and people give up WAY too easily. 90. I do believe there are times when divorce is needed and the obvious answer. 91. I also believe that divorce happens way more often than it needs to. 92. I’ve often been “warned” that I shouldn’t be so vocal about my love for my husband and how strongly I value marriage. 93. I often have to remind Tom that some of the struggles we have, I believe, are a result of us being bold and strong on our stand for marriage – since Satan would like nothing more than to see US fail/be destroyed. 94. We have agreed and believe that God is bigger, better, stronger. 95. Our marriage is a process – I’m thankful that we both make it a priority. 96. Sometimes/often I suck at being a wife and mother. 97. I’m sure I’m going to make huge mistakes in my new role as a “mother-in-law”. 98. I’m thankful that God offers grace – and that my family does as well. 99. I can’t end this without mentioning how much I love facebook…oh, and my friends would be shocked if I didn’t make #100 - “just sayin”.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

"A Day of FIRSTS"


So - I am still in Phoenix and truly loving having this time away with God and my man. I'm bursting with things that I'm learning/that God is showing me and reading and writing a lot. I've stuck to a strict "no TV during the day" policy and I've been shocked how quickly the days go when I'm totally quiet! I'm also doing some things that I've NEVER done before - eating different places, stepping in to a conflict in the hotel pool (documented that story on facebook, if you care to hear more), first visit to "Trader Joe's" and FIRST TIME EVER THAT I HAVE BEEN TO A RESTAURANT AND EATEN ALONE!"

While the last "first" might not be a big deal to you - it was to ME. I've grown up believing that eating out is a "treat" and even though we do it way more than I ever did as a child, it's ingrained in me that it's "special". So - I guess that's why I've never done it alone...if I'm out and hungry, I wait till I get home or run through a drive-through and eat on my way. It's never appealed or made any sort of sense to me to pay restaurant prices to sit by myself. It also goes to a weird side of my "people personality" that I feel bad for those that I see doing it. I've often told my own father, "Please don't go to the movies alone...cause people like me spend the entire 2 hours feeling bad that you are alone and/or have no one in your life to share it with!". I know...I'm crazy...but it's just how I think.

So - Wednesday/yesterday was THE day that I was going to conquer the "I don't see the point in eating alone" thought. I entered Cracker Barrel (the only restaurant within walking distance) and GULPED as I said, "Just for ONE, please". Ugh.

I was seated (did I mention - BY MYSELF!) and purposefully positioned myself to see people come in - just to have some human interaction! After ordering, an elderly couple shuffled in - he was pushing his wife in a wheelchair and I was immediately struck at how tenderly he positioned her at the table and then bent to put on her "brake". Instead of sitting across the table from her, he chose to sit next to her and sweetly asked her what she would like to drink/eat. I, obviously, don't know her medical condition (and "shocker" - no, I didn't go up and ask!) but it appeared that she was mentally OK but couldn't really speak. She pointed to selections and he patiently asked questions and she nodded.

I was trying not to appear "stalker-ish" (although - YES...that's their picture at the top!!) but could barely take my eyes off of them as he spoke tenderly and even his interaction with the waitress was precious and kind. When their food arrived, he took her plate and cut up everything in to little bite-size pieces and then helped her get her fork and tucked her napkin in her other hand. Only then did he focus on himself and getting his food ready. During the meal he would ask her "yes" and "no" questions and she would nod or shake her head. With her limited ability to answer - they "talked"/communicated the ENTIRE MEAL.

I couldn't figure out why this was so touching to me but, as I stood to leave I just had this overwhelming urge to let them know. I wasn't sure how to do that so I paid my bill and then the "pay THEIR bill and write a note" thought popped into my head. At first I argued, thinking, "I don't want to embarrass them and they totally appear able to pay their own check!" (in fact, that was another thing that touched me - she looked beautifully put together in a pretty skirt and sweater set -which I'm assuming he helped her with). Still - the thought remained. So - I went back in and asked for their waitress and told her that I didn't want her to say anything to them but I wanted to pay their check and then asked for a piece of paper to write them a note. The waitress looked surprised and said, "I don't know how to do this so, I'm going to get the manager" (??)...but as she left, I wrote a simple note to thank them for the gift of watching them interact with each other - that I witnessed true love and devotion in action and was so thankful for the example/encouragement it was to me.

The funny part of this story is that as I wrote I was flooded with tears (more on the "why" behind that in a minute). I was standing at the hostess station writing and tears are rolling down one cheek. Out of the corner of my eye I noticed a different hostess walk up and quickly offered me a napkin...and then, in a THICK Asian accent said, "Oh no lady - you ok? Your meal no good today? I sooooo sorry!" I said, "Oh no, the food was great..no problem!" but she would NOT let it go and got louder and louder with her questions..."Please, sweet lady - I help you. What's your problem? Why you crying today? Someone here not nice to you...you want to speak with the boss?". At this point I'm embarrassed (people are looking)...and laughing...and still crying! I couldn't get out of there soon enough and wondered why, of all days, I didn't have my sunglasses handy!

The "Why?" behind the tears? I didn't figure it out till later (when I was processing walking home) but - two reasons:

First: Yesterday was also the first time I have been away (not there/with them) while me dad was having surgery. It was suppose to be a "simple, no big deal" kind of thing but when I spoke to my mom in the morning, I could tell she was nervous - which made me feel anxious about not being there. The couple reminded me of my parents and my prayers for them that morning. It also made me thankful for the awesome ways my mom has always cared for my dad - during hospital times as well as "daily life".

And second: As I watched this couple, I couldn't help but think of how I serve MY spouse. I was convicted thinking/wondering about how I look at Tom and if others see devotion and love (and more importantly - does he?) and my willingness to focus on him and show my devotion by serving him well. I walked out of Cracker Barrel (which, by the way, I believe was my SECOND visit ever!) wanting so badly to BE this couple...knowing that whatever is to come we would be a team and devoted to serve the other. BIG GOAL...thankfully we have chosen not to try it alone ("I can do all things through CHRIST who strengthens me!")

By the way - please don't think "well" of ME for buying their meal...it was GOD'S idea/prompting - not mine. I pray that the gesture was a blessing and encouragement to them but - truly - it was the best $20.00 I've spent lately.

And, truth be told...while my husband is GREAT at doing things like that, "picking up a check in a restaurant for a stranger" was another FIRST for me. Just sayin.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

"I'm Baaaaaack..."

I am both shocked and embarrassed at how long it's been since I posted on this blog..but "I'm back" and currently have lots to type/say!

God is giving me, once again, the desires of my heart...some time away with Him.

I'm currently sitting in a hotel room in Phoenix, Arizona. My man is here for business (more on that later) and I am "along for the ride" for a MUCH needed (more than I knew) time for me to sleep, pray, read, walk, study, work and BLOG/write! To say I've "looked forward to" this time away with God (and Tom) is a huge understatement but after arriving two days ago, I can say that I not only wanted this time...I NEEDED this time...desperately.

I'm blessed to work in a place that encourages "DAWG" (Day Away With God) days. We are encouraged to take a few each year - days just to stay out of the office - go and do something that connects you with God and refills your soul. I've been a huge advocate/spokeswoman for "you need to take a DAWG day and get refreshed" with co-workers and friends..and yet I have been horrible at doing it myself. To that end - the last few months I have felt myself drying up mentally, emotionally and even spiritually (I'm picturing a grape shriveling up to a nasty looking raisin). I've been going through the motions and often have felt, "If I can just get through this week..." (unfortunately - I was beginning to think that EVERY week). I'm thankful for people in my life that finally said, "YOU HAVE GOT TO TAKE SOME TIME OFF AND REFUEL" - all the way down to my parents, children and siblings that purchased the plane ticket that forced me to be here. In regards to rest/refueling, I've definitely been living the "do as I say, not as I do" motto. Ugh.

While getting reconnected with God is top on my list..a very, very close second is reconnecting with my husband. Due to our non-compatible schedules, two very stressful (financially) years, and too much focus elsewhere, we are not in a great place (not to sound dramatic or alarming - just truthful). I can be honest and upfront about that since many would still consider us "good" or "OK" (and basically, that's true)...but we have always wanted to be "great"! Marriage is VERY important to both of us; we consider it a passion and a calling since, from day one, we have had to fight hard to have one that truly honors God and is a joy to both of us. So - I'm thankful for a week of eating dinner together EVERY night, some FUN (like going to see a spring training game for the Rangers) and some deep conversation that will help us work out some kinks and grow to love and respect each other more.

On our first night here (Sunday), Tom gave me a hug when we got in to bed and said, "I'm really glad you are here". The only thought I had was, "My biggest fear is that I'll leave in the same condition that I came". I'm thankful today for a God who has met me in both humorous and deeply personal ways in the last 48 hours....and am already beginning to feel like "Lori" again - which is so much better than the "??" I was being the last few months.

I feel better...more "me"...just writing/typing my thoughts out (and finally posting SOMETHING on this blog - that was God's idea in the first place!).

As I prayed over recommitting to post more on this blog (believing I do have plenty to say), I was going to make it my "goal" to not end EVERY entry with "Just sayin"...but, SERIOUSLY - is there any better way to end one's thoughts??

I'm JUST SAYIN!