A special place

A special place
A porch swing can = Forever!

Thursday, December 31, 2015

The Snow Globe Effect

 There is something so serene about a snow globe.  Fascinating really, life in miniature.  I've talked about that before. This year, however, I saw a deeper meaning in that small glass ball full of water, fake snow and the lovely images inside.  See if you agree:

Most of the year, our lives are somewhat the same.  We are moving along day to day, working, living, and moving on a somewhat predictable path.  Not a lot of pause for change or reflection, for me, my memories are tucked away, too busy to be called to the forefront. If you lived in a snow globe, you might say your life and path were fairly unshaken.  Then, the weather cools a little, the leaves change and the temperature drops, and I feel Holiday mode approaching.  It's like I bumped the Curio cabinet, and the snow globe has a little swell, no storm, just a little stirring of the waters.

I unpack the fall decorations, pumpkins and squash and apple candles, mums and hazelnut creamer for the coffee, and oops, here comes a memory, unbidden....  A young mom raking leaves in the yard with her boys.  It's cold in Kentucky already, we experience a real fall and we are all laughing..the snows globe is bumped again. Focus, Heather, ..move forward, too much to do for memories today.  
It settles a little.  

Then, it's Thanksgiving, The platter comes out, memories of the friend from which it came, memories of our second dinner at Aunt Gladys' house when I was a kid (She was a marvelous cook!), of Daddy carving the Turkey, or Mom making us dress up for dinner, memories of my mother in law teaching me how to make greens, my friend Debbie teaching me how to make deviled eggs, of  our first Thanksgiving...and they just keep coming.  It's happened...the snow globe has been shaken, what started as a gentle snow has become stronger and I can't even see the quiet scene inside.  It takes me a minute to find my way again... The forward focus has been clouded by swirling snow and I'm disoriented.  One uninvited, but eagerly received memory brings another, and another...

Thanksgiving is over and I go ahead and bring the snow globes out of the cabinet and place them around the house.  They are calm again, but this time, it's the calm before the storm.

Now, It's time for Christmas. As decorations come out, the cards start coming, the carols are played, the familiar scriptures are read, the memories come in droves. Our ornaments tell a family story, children's first Christmases, of art projects so proudly presented, of places we've lived and people we've loved. I see stockings filled and emptied too many times to count, a nativity scene that my parents started over 68 years ago, an ornament my husband and I hold close because we were never able to hold it's namesake,  a lighted palm tree in the front yard, a new tradition.  Our children and their spouses tell of new traditions and I see grandchildren experiencing our memories through fresh eyes for the first time. It's a blizzard, I'm lost in the snow globe snow.   The swirling memories are wonderful, chaotic, unnerving, priceless, and with them come tears, laughter and many other emotions that I try to keep in check all year long.  

In all of the chaos and clutter and swirling of emotions, we know that a snow globe does not stay swirling forever.  For every snow globe, calm follows a storm.  For us, it comes on Christmas Eve. The last sermon has been preached, the family preparations are made, the orange cinnamon rolls are ready for the morning and whether it's two of us or 13, the snow globe calms and focus returns. I think of Advent, the time of preparation for the birth of Jesus, Our hearts are being prepared for the birth of the one who was born in the manger so long ago.  Advent is a journey...Along the way, there are unexpected turns, twists and challenges that bring us to our destination.  For me, it is a heart full of joy for the life that has been given to me, and made right by the baby born so long ago.  It is acknowledgement of His loving care, tender mercies, time of provision, times of comfort and incredible joy.

The year is almost over now, the snow globes are all calm, there will be a few swells of memory tonight.  The globes will be the last decorations to be put away for this reason:  the beautiful calm scene, the peace and strength we have to move forward has been crafted by the swells, gentle snowfalls and blizzards that are my life.   

So, if you feel a little uneasy during the holidays, find a snow globe and embrace the snow globe effect.

Happy New Year!

Monday, August 3, 2015

Lessons Learned at the Piggly Wiggly...Reading, Runaways, the Rapture and Pop Psychology and soo much more!

As a product of the deep South, there is one landmark that is both iconic and heartwarming at the same time.  It is as constant as the rain in August, as trendy or as laid back as it's location, and it has a way of making you feel at home where ever your journey may take you.   It's also a place where I have felt comforted, faced fears, learned some lessons about life, and received sage advice!  For me, that icon is the Piggly Wiggly. I am sure that Mr Clarence Saunders of Memphis, Tennessee wasn't thinking about all that when he opened his first Piggly Wiggly in 1916, nor was he thinking that there would be over 600 stores in 17 states 99 years later from which people could glean. so much more than groceries!

What did I learn from the Pig?   Here are some things I learned as a child:

-Everybody was always smiling at the pig!  I loved the red aprons and pigs on the butcher's hats.
The employees knew my parents by name.  People spoke to one another, and grocery shopping was   an event, not a chore.  I loved the samples, especially the smoked sausage slices on the toothpicks.

-I learned a little about myself too, even as a preschooler.  I must have been a little rambunctious, because I was never released from the buggy.  I was given a book from the book rack in the front of the store and that took care of things.  I didn't ask to get out and I learned that I loved to read!  By the time I started school I had amassed a huge selection of Golden books!  The not-escaping and the love of the book rack at "The Pig"  will come into play much later in my life. 

--Just face it, the words "Piggly Wiggly"  are just fun to say! And that pig is always smiling. If you can't find some obscure spice or different item, its a sure bet you can find it there! 

As an adult, God can use anyone or anything or any place to get our attention:  Guess where he has taught me a few things...

--Fast forward a few years, still living in the South, Geogia this time.  I'm a young mom with 3 toddlers.  The Gulf War was just cranking up, tensions were high everywhere.  My mother was quite the expert in Biblical prophecy and had been talking on the phone all day about Armageddon, the rapture, and the end of days.  The President was speaking on TV in just a few minutes and all eyes were to be glued.  However, diapers wait for no one.  My husband said "hurry", so I dashed to the very large urban Piggly Wiggly to get diapers with my three year old son.  In this huge, usually bustling store, I counted 4 people including us.  The cashier, the manager and us...An empty grocery store is eerie...even the beloved "Pig".  My son was antsy, so I make rookie mistake #1...I let him out of the buggy.  He was right there, then we passed the candy aisle and he was gone.  I called, I yelled, the cashier came running, we ran up and down every aisle, and it hit me:  "The rapture has come and I have been left in the Piggly Wiggly and he is gone. Wow, who is gonna believe that I got left behind at the Pig?  Oh, wait, everybody I know is gone, now!"  More sobs.  Just as I am inconsolable, I feel this tug on my leg..there he is, no rapture, no getting left behind, just me and my son, reunited in the empty Pig.  Buddy, that was it, though.  From now on, "sit in the buggy, get a book and learn to read!"  I get the buggy incarceration, now!  

--The town we are blessed to live in now is beautiful.  Everything is artsy and cute!  The Piggly Wiggly here has a huge papier mache Pig, there are t-shirts that say, "Party with the Pig", there is a full wine section with mahogany shelves, fine cigars and a wine steward with frequent Wine-tasting events.   but there are also alligator bites, oxtails, pork brains, chitlins and fine cuts of meat!!  See... something for everyone!

--I was having a particularly rough stretch a couple of weeks ago in dealing with some issues.  I was tired, aggravated, hurt and having trouble finding some boundaries in my own life.  Then, there it  was...the book rack in the front of the store.  On the side with the Inspirational books I saw it:  it was way down at the bottom: People Can't Drive You Crazy If You Don't Give Them The Keys. by Mike Bechtle.  I have no clue what the book is about, I may read it one day, but the title is enough for now. Now, when I encounter people, I try to tell myself that they are not getting my keys!!!

--As you can tell, there is more to the Pig than good deli fried chicken, fresh produce, wine, cigars, boston butts, butter, eggs and samples.  So much more awaits...check out the book rack, the smiling faces, the kids corraled in the buggies and those having a shopping experience and maybe leaving with some life lesson that can't be bought with a debit card!  


Friday, July 10, 2015

It's crazy, I know...

     I remember sitting in the dark theater at 14 with my friends, watching the swimmers on the screen having a great time, then hearing the "doo-doo,doo-doo, doo-doo" music and then...well, you know what happened next.  Mister Shark had lunch.  Ever since seeing Jaws the summer of 1975, I've had a healthy respect, a bit of fear and a fascination with those most daunting of God's creatures....and this is the week of the year that I get to indulge in that fascination a bit...SHARK WEEK!!!

     The day after seeing the movie my family and I went to the beach for a week.  Now, back then, the Gulf Coast wasn't known for Great whites, but I just couldn't get the movie out of my mind.  I saw fins everywhere I looked.  The water was unusually dark that week and so was my imagination! That's when I decided that I would be the great Marine Biologist and "Shark Whisperer."  After all, the water would be safer if we could all just get along, right?"  I began reading books about sharks, talking to my dad and relatives about sharks as many of them had been on the water their whole lives. After a lot of laughter by the "old timers" and after a lot of research I learned that sharks don't want you to whisper to them and they don't understand "nice". When they see us, they just think "Snack!!"  SO, I put that little dream in the box, along with the Astronaut dream and went about my life.

But, every now and then there would be the random re-run of Jaws, or a vacation visit to an aquarium somewhere around the southeast with my family would make me want to dust off the old dream.. especially with the Sharks safely behind glass.  Then, a few years ago, it happened! A whole week each year on Discovery channel dedicated to Sharks!!  SHARK WEEK!!!! There they are, swimming around, lunging at boats, and chomping at other would- be "shark-whisperers" in steel cages.I just sit there with my mouth open.  I don't think Sharks have gotten any nicer, or are any more eager to "get along" with us, but evidently other scientists have had the same idea as I once did.  They play music for the Sharks, they study their brains and try to befriend them.  But invariably, there they are, ripping off their shirts showing off their shark-bite scars.  Good call, not to follow that dream!

Here is what I've learned from my fascination with Sharks, Jaws and Shark Week:

1. It's generally safe to go back into the water, unless it's not! 

2. If you see a big shark, you need a bigger boat!

3. Getting into a cage to whisper to a Shark isn't a good idea.

4.  They don't make friends, they eat tires, rafts, boats oars, license plates, and people, no refined        palate, there.

God made everything for a reason, Sharks have their purpose and I have mine...and it's okay if we all just don't "get along" in the water!

Happy Shark Week Everyone!

Friday, January 9, 2015

Where the good stuff happens.

We had family portraits taken over the holidays, what a gift and a blessing it was!  As I was looking over the prints I was transported back in time...

When I was a child and a young adult and I thought about my future, only one word came to my mind: NORMAL!!!!  I didn't want to stand out in any way.  I wanted long straight hair (lol, to those of you who know me), I wanted to live in a normal house on a normal street with normal neighbors (or any neighbors). I wanted to wear normal clothes and have normal parents who had normal jobs who bought normal food and on and on and on it went....Oh yeah, and I wanted to love a normal God. 

I think I spent a lot of my life trying to appear "normal."  not really having a whole lot of goals other than that.  If I did, they were a vehicle on the ride to "normaltown."  My wrong-thinking told me that if I appeared normal, then nobody would look close enough to see the real me.  The picture of a perfect life was much more preferable in my mind.

I love my husband so much..He came into my life and loved me whether I was normal or not.  He may have thought he got a normal girl, but in time he learned that I was a mess.  But you know what?  He didn't care, and he is still here, he loves me anyway!

When our boys were young, we did all the normal things in the normal ways.  We played sports, went to church, had great friends, family and a normal looking house. I even have a few family portraits to prove it.  I could finally rest, I had excelled at being normal. What????

There was one huge flaw in all of that...Our God is not normal, he can't be put in my box or anyone else's for that matter. He knows that until you let that thing go that you are holding on to sooo tightly, He can't work in your life.

As a result of that, over a series of events, the normal things I held so dear were gone, a flood, a restoration, a beautiful home, a call to a life of service, no permanent roots, NORMAL was gone...

All of these changes were not done at once, it was like the peeling of an onion, a layer at a time, some of those layers were painful, some were liberating (like shedding your shoes and socks and putting on sandals at the end of winter), some were even joyful, but all along, I wasn't alone, The God who was doing this surgery was making me more and more His, I had to worship at His feet, not at the feet of all the idols in normaltown. 

I have learned that there is more joy in the chaos of life, that normal is over rated, and who really is normal anyway?  That God loves us just where we are, He sees us all as a "beautiful mess." and the best thing is, that I am His "beautiful mess" and so are you.

Now, back to the pictures.  I was struggling so hard to find the perfect pose for a frame.  With 13-14 of us, there wasn't one single shot where we are all perfect and normal...and then I saw them.  There were two pictures; one of my husband and I with all of the grandkids, 4 of them are under three, and they are all screaming except Layla, our big girl.  It is hilarious really, but not at all normal.  Then there is another, it shows all of the parents and aunts and uncles trying to make the little ones stop crying or look at the family.  I asked the photographer to shoot that one! It's my favorite..Happiness dwells where Normal ends for me!

Saturday, August 2, 2014

My word for the day.

Coke has  a new promotion right now that has a name on each label.  The point is, these are supposed to be the names of people you would like to share a coke and a smile with.  I purchased a drink on the way to work and when I looked at the label I just laughed.  Mine said FAMILY.  That is exactly who I would like to share a soft drink with!

But....Who is my family?

I immediately think of the old saying, "Me and mine" (I would add: and those who belong to "mine".)

But then I realized that in our lives we have all types of family.  My sister said,"God puts the lonely together in families". That's true.  There have been times in our lives that others have stepped in to fill the void of our families when we are absent from each other.  There is church family, work family, friends that come together as families,  and they are all "Me and mine" in some way, aren't they?

In just a few short hours our family is going change again...We are blessed beyond measure with children, their spouses and grandchildren.  Life is good!  We are adding a bouncing 16 hear old young man to the mix for a year!  His name is Jimmey and we couldnt be more excited than to add someone else to share a coke and a smile with!

Jimmey is from another country, he has different experiences to bring to our family, and hopefully we have some slices of  life to share with him!  We do, however have one thing in common:  We all love and serve the same God.

So, as Jimmey makes his final steps of his journey to Fairhope, We pray for his Mama back home,  we are thankful for the opportunity we are blessed with,  and we pray that Jimmey feels safe and loved enough to share a coke and a smile this year with his American family!

Feeling a little thirsty?

Monday, June 2, 2014

Are you a "Foot Person?" or a "Wings Person"?

     One of the earliest art projects that I remember as a child was drawing butterflies by tracing your feet. You just simply take of your shoes,  cross your feet on a piece of paper in front of you and trace around them.  You add some antennae in the cleft between them, color them beautifully and "Voila"...butterflies!  If you turn them around and trace them, the picture just looks like feet.

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Many years later, I was a young mom attending a women's conference, and the topic was; are you a "foot person or a wings person?' The very first thing she had us do was to trace our feet and make butterflies, and then trace our feet the correct way.  You can guess the direction this is going...I am sure.  

Sometimes we are "foot people"  just putting one foot in front of the other, looking at the ground, or not too far ahead, and just simply "getting by".  Sometimes the heaviness of life beats us down and we just cant look up.  Each step is a heavy one, each mile a long one, each day  another one we just "made it through", the blessings are hidden, and the possibilities are few through the fog of life.

Other times we are "wing people",  soaring in the realm of possibiliites. We are doing what God created us to do, operating joyfully within His plans and seeing how blessed we really are. We see the person God intended for us to be.

I have to admit that I have spent way too many days being a "foot person" and way too few being a "Wings girl".  But when those "Wings" days come, I do not ever take them for granted. I find myself aching to live life in the realm of "possibilities"  not the agony of the "Feet".    Jesus never promised that we would live in the stratosphere and that all of our days would be "Wings" days.  He promised that we would never be alone, that we would have grace to make it through the "foot" days.  The foot days are made bearable by  the promise in Isaiah 49:31, "Those that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up on Wings as eagles, They shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint."

So, If you are a "foot person" right now, hang on, wait on Him, you are gonna soar before too long, and if you are a "Wings" person right now, enjoy the fabulous ride!


Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Is a Breeze Just a Breeze?

This is absolutely the best time of year!!!  I love that first morning you step outside and the heat doesn't open the door for you; when cool air blows over your exposed toes!  You just want to breathe a little deeper and smile a little more.

Rejuvenation....It's the best way that I can describe it.  As coastal Southern Summers go, it was long, wet and hot.  Not terribly hot, but hot enough.   It makes me think of how lovingly God cares for us.  He knows when we are in need of a change;  in need a fresh brush of wind into our lives from the Holy Spirit. Where we saw the "sameness" of summer life each day, we now look around and see a bluer tint to the sky, a falling leaf or two and the whispers of the fall breeze.  Where our Spirits were tired and full of fatigue and weariness, we can now taste and feel and see a fresh wind blowing in us and through us and if we allow Him to, we can feel whispers of life, love and affirmation spoken into our lives.

Not every breeze that blows through our lives is calming.  Not every wind is a puff of air from the Holy Spirit.  Some are howls in a storm, some are North winds blowing a chill into our lives....

But for today, and this special season of the year, when I feel a fall breeze, I will thank my God for His incredible care and for the fresh wind of the Holy Spirit and reach for the rejuvenation that He offers to us everyday, and especially now.

An old Keith Green Song keeps blowing through my heart today:

Rushing Wind

Rushing wind, blow through this temple,
Blowing out the dust within;
Come and breathe your breath upon me:
I've been born again.

Holy Spirit, I surrender; take me where you want to go.
Plant me by your living water,
Plant me deep so I can grow.

Jesus, you’re the one who sets my spirit free;
Use me, Lord; glorify your Holy Name through me.

Separate me from this world, Lord;
Sanctify my life for you.
Daily change me to your image,
Help me bear good fruit.

Ev'ry day you're drawing closer;
Trials come to test my faith.
But when all is said and done, Lord,
You know it's been worth the wait.

Jesus, you’re the one who set my spirit free;
Use me, Lord; glorify your Holy Name through me.

Rushing wind, blow through this temple,
Blowing out the dust within;
Come and breathe you breath upon me,
For I've been born again.