Granddaddy was a Hillbilly Scholar

Ever hear this phrase? -“If you wanna hear God laugh, tell him your plans.” The country duo Van Zant used it as a song lyric in Help Somebody.  I’ll admit it-I love Country music, my favorite is a little classic Kenny and Dolly circa mid 80’s. My love for country music should come as no surprise. My dad has a pickin’ porch on his property in rural east Texas. (Pickin’ porch-a porch that looks like a western store front made for playing bluegrass music. My daddy has a banjo and a handle bar mustache-true story.) The first line of Help Somebody -“Well, granddaddy was a hillbilly scholar, blue collar of a man.” Ok… so none of this is my point, but I couldn’t help myself-let’s regress.

The song, with it’s deeply highbrow lyrics, came out in 2005. It was the same year when the life I had planned for myself had taken a dramatic turn-probably why it struck me so. I learned so much that year- including the realization that we have such little control over life’s really big stuff.

If you look back at the things that have happened to you along the way, do we not have times when we say-  “Whoa…I did not see that one coming.”? My experience, this thing that I hadn’t planned for, left me on my knees calling out. It also brought me to a beautiful place of growth and joy.

BanjoPicking-Small

Jeremiah 29:11-13 (NIV) 11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

As we enter into this new year, I have my idea of what I’d like the coming year to look like. I have goals for my personal and professional growth. I’ll also do my best to remain open to what God may have in store for me-cause who knows.

In 2015, no matter where it may lead us, “Let’s Prosper”

In this, let us pray,

“Jesus as we enter into the coming year we ask for your favor, may we prosper. Help us to relax the grip of control we have over our lives Lord so that we are able to recognize the direction you may place before us. Amen.”

Also,

“May my peers think none less of me, now that I’ve exposed my love for The Gambler, and Islands in the Streams. Amen.”  

Oh-Yes…my Ugly Step Children

I love Thanksgiving. It’s the one time of the year when I peel potatoes, whip-um up with heavy cream, butter, and cream cheese (I mean that’s a call for celebration alone). Pair my mashed potatoes with all the other turkey day deliciousness, a glass of wine and most importantly great company and there you have it-a lovely holiday. Normally my house is filled with loved ones on Thanksgiving. The bird gets cooked in my oven. Last year was an exception.

I was driving to work on a Tuesday morning-a Tuesday like every other.  It was the week prior to Thanksgiving. I was chatting with my hubby through Bluetooth-our quick “hey I’m off to work, have a great day” conversation. I was turning from one county road onto another-following a green traffic arrow through an intersection. When, much to my husband’s horror, he heard the sound of screeching tires against pavement, crushing metal, and finally…my screams. The driver of the other vehicle had barreled through his red light. He struck the drivers side of my vehicle propelling and spinning it through the intersection.
A moment later there was a man at my broken drivers side window, a window I was certain I had broken with the force of my head. I looked in his direction but couldn’t make out the features of his face. He told me that an ambulance was on its way and that he would stay with me. That was my last memory of the accident scene-as if someone switched a light off. The police officer told my husband that I wasn’t lucid and could only follow simple instruction.

The rest of that day, and even the hours leading up to the accident is a discombobulated string of memories with whole chunks of time unaccounted for. I remember lying on my back, seemingly tied down wondering where I was, when I saw my husband’s face over me. His face I could see clearly. He explained where I was, what day it was and more importantly where my kids were (safe at school, thank goodness). I asked him in a matter-of-fact unemotional way if I was dead, and then I asked if he was dead (so sorry my Love).

It’s taken me months to process what took place that day. Just a month or so ago, thinking about the events of that day, I realized that I never saw the faces of the people who helped me that day. Not a single one-not the crash witness who came to my side, not a police officer, not an EMT, not a single doctor or nurse. My memories include looking towards them but unable to process their faces. I’m sure there is all kinds of science behind this-my bruised brain not being able to take in a new face.

Here is the beautiful thing…in that same hospital room where I couldn’t take in the face of a stranger, the faces of my loved ones were as clear as any other day. My very alive husband (again, sorry Love), my dear friend, who made it to the accident scene, announced she was my sister and climbed into the passengers seat of the ambulance, my mother, my sister, my brother-in-law-all crystal clear and comforting. My brain-my heart, already had a place for their images…what a blessing.

So, this Thanksgiving when my house is full and I’m on my second piece of whip cream loaded pumpkin pie, I’ll be thankful for the faces I love.

My Thanksgiving reflection, well this year it’s so simple.

“Thank you Jesus for the faces of my loved ones, for images that are etched deep inside of who I am-certainly, this Lord, is a reflection of abundant blessings.”

Oh-and Yes…I guess I must confess, apparently I have ugly step children. When you’ve been hit in the noggin doctors and nurses come in one after the next to ask questions-seemingly this helps determine just how many lights have been knocked out. When asked how many children I had, with an unsympathetic seriousness I told a doctor that I have four (nope, not true-just two), the oldest two were from my husband’s first marriage (umm…married to my high school sweetheart-I’m his first and only), making them ugly children (hmm, this one is tricky, I guess I’m quite comfortable, even on a subconscious level, with my husbands frequent declarations similar to “Thank Goodness you look like your Mother.”, My Love, seriously…terribly sorry). The kicker, I won’t claim them as my own (you know on the account of their ugliness). Really? Yikes-this-I have no answer for. Perhaps…it’s time for some self-reflection.

10277333_10203325166277380_8492833909844713877_n

Loving one Another and other Matters of the Heart

We’re called to love one another. Jesus said so-it’s our second commandment.

Matthew 22:36-39 New King James Version (NKJV) 36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?”37 Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’

Flip on the news (you pick the cable network depending on the spin you’re in the mood for).  In the end it’s all the same-we mostly stink at this. On a global scale-as a whole-we’re failing rather miserably. It can be disheartening in the least.

Scrolling through my Facebook news feed one morning this last July I came across this posting of a fellow “Heart Mom” (as we affectionately refer to one another-another mom whose child, like yours, was born with heart disease).

On July 28th, 2014 Liz Tauer wrote~

blog photoThis is Willliam’s heart friend Luke. They attend Camp Odayin together and have been bunk mates for years. When Luke was 8 months old he was abandoned in a train station in China. He remained in an Orphanage until Mayo offered him a medical visa. The doctors in China thought he had Pulmonary Stenosis (narrowing of the artery) which would explain why he was alive. Upon arrival to the U.S. the doctors learned he had multiple severe heart defects including the one William has. It was and is unexplainable why he survived. The doctors here fixed him and today he has amazing parents and a family and we are blessed to know him. Luke hounded his parents to get to the hospital to see William. I foresee a lifelong friendship. –with the Nassif Family.

I couldn’t shake this photo or the story behind it-I brought it into my day. I thought about all the beautiful ways that in this story people chose to love one another. What an awesome contrast to the “globally-we stink at this” stories that fill up the network news.

Luke’s birth mother abandoned him at a train station. Yes, she walked away from her child-but possibly this was a selfless act-her only option to give him a chance at survival. -Loving one another

The Chinese orphanage, Mayo clinic’s medical visa, pediatric cardiac doctors, nurses and surgeons -Loving one another

The Nassif family opening their hearts to Luke (yes-Rob and Carol, I already hear your humble rejection to this one. Yes-I know you have been blessed beyond measure by having Luke in your family, yes-I hear you-it was nothing-he’s your son) Yet stillLoving one another

Camp Odayin-this beautiful organization that provides so much for these kids with heart disease and our families, their donors-both corporate and individuals, staff and volunteers who all make it happen Loving one another

The most remarkable example from this post-the way these two young men (and their caring families) choose to support each other. -Loving one another

May we see ourselves in this-recognizing a similar way in which we can love one another in our own lives.

“Jesus, all that surrounds us in this broken world can leave us feeling disheartened. Help us to honor your commandment. Help us to recognize ways in which we can love one another-in the way that you have called us to. Amen”


Please Note, Photo and subject matter shared here was done so with the knowledge and blessing of both the Tauer family and the Nassif family. Thank you for allowing me to share. Oh, and yes-that little unexplained bit about why Luke survived, I might need to tuck this gem away for a later post. ~Mindy

Joy-for Always

Hairdressers hear all kinds of good stuff–I know I’ve been guilty of spilling some myself. The juicy, profound, and sometimes guarded parts have a way of spilling out. If I’m honest- it doesn’t take much for me.  Snap on that nylon apron and spin my chair around-from there it’s a done deal. Thankfully, there are other places where equally authentic dialogue is shared. I’m grateful to be on the receiving end too.

I’ve been a dental hygienist for a dozen or so years now. There is so much about my job I enjoy. Without question the thing I enjoy the most is the unexpected way in which some people-well-spill it. I imagine in part it comes from a place of physical vulnerability -a blinding light, lying flat on your back, having to trust that I know just where all those sharp pointy thingies go. Some pretty awesome conversations arise. Some I’ll never forget.

One such story ~

He was comfortably in his eighties. His face was soft and his cheeks spidery red. His clothes were neat and worn thin from a decade or more of Tide. He inquired about my personal life-asking if I was married and if I had children. I told him that I was, that my kiddos were little and in charge (just three and six years of age at the time).

His smile widened in an instant, as if to imply that I was in the middle of something magical. He urged me to enjoy every second and to find a way to remember as much as possible. It seemed too many of his moments had escaped him.

I asked about his family. He said he had raised four children. He expressed how that period of time felt like three lifetimes ago. He said, “They are all grown of course, and have raised families of their own, some even have grandkids-if you can believe it.” Then, as if realizing it for the very first time he said, “Sometimes when I think back at that time of my life- it was so quick-so-fleeting I wonder if it ever really happened.” . . . and with his awareness, tears filled his eyes.

 “Whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.

James 4:14 (NKJV)

vapor blog

Ever since that touching conversation, each time the “they grow up so fast-like crazy fast” conversation arises, I think about him. I think of this sweet man with equal parts sadness and appreciation. My appreciation comes from him sharing something so intimate with me-in the hope that I might really get it. He hoped that I may fare better than he. My sadness is in that perhaps since the time his children were little, at least three lifetimes ago, he hadn’t experienced true joy.

So now that I’ve blinked for a moment in my own life-it seems that my babies, well . . . are no longer babies at all. My daughter enjoys lifting herself on her tippy toes, increasing her height advantage so that she can easily look down upon her mama. I’ve recently recognized that in a pinch I can wear my son’s shoes-a bit of an epiphany. Yep, it’s happening-my magic is moving forward at an alarming rate. James 4;14 says our life is a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.

I’ve decided to handle this epiphany in a couple of different ways.

  • I’m going to dig deep-to engrain this time into my memory. Etch it in there . . . somehow.

Now this one’s a biggie-and probably most important.

  • God willing my vapor will be as long as a vapor can be, and throughout each life stage-

I will seek Joy.

For this and all things, I will call upon the Lord~

“Heavenly Father, Thank you for this crazy-beautiful life, help me find joy within each passing moment of my precious vapor. Help me to etch in the good stuff and to continue to seek you-always. Amen.”