Sunday, August 15, 2010

Top Five Things to Not do and Drive!

I am sure you are familiar with top ten lists. "Late Night with David Letterman" has made a top ten list very popular. As I was driving home from Wichita Falls one time this summer, I came up with my own "top" list. I don't have ten, but have five.

Number 5 - you should not attempt to put on make up while driving. There are various reasons for this. Eyeliner is hard enough to put on when you're standing still much less when you are moving! Thick on one side, thin on the other and well, that's just not tasteful. And hit a bump in the road while you're putting on mascara and you've got a mess on your hands, especially if you don't have any q-tips!

#4 - you should not attempt to dress while driving. It's worse than dressing in the dark! The potential for putting a shirt on backwards is just too great if you are driving, and talk about embarrassing when you get out of the car!

#3 - you should not attempt to read while driving. This increases your risk for losing your place in the story! My heavens! And of you're at a good part, and have to pay attention to the road, it just delays getting to the great part of the story and that's just no fun at all!

#2. And along those lines, it's not good to text and drive. The worst thing that can happen when you text and drive is that you type the wrong word and it changes the meaning of what you're saying! For example, you learn that your team has just successfully landed a really big deal for the company and you want to let them know, so you type "Congratulations! You are on the sinning team!" You meant to type, "Congratulations, you are on the winning team!" I guess you see how that could cause some explaining??? Just not a good thing to do...at least wait until you're at a stop light to proof what you type before you hit send to avoid that kind of confusion.

And the number one thing that you should never try to do is eat a large chocolate dipped ice cream cone from the Dairy Queen while driving!!

Here's my story....

I was heading home from Wichita Falls after taking my niece home this summer. I was getting a little sleepy, so I decided to pull into one of the best Dairy Queens in Texas. Just my opinion, but this DQ has been around for at least 25 years and is always very nice anytime I stop to go in there. My weakness there is a large, chocolate dipped vanilla ice cream cone. It's what all the food in heaven is going to taste like, if you know what I mean.

I get my cone and head to the car. It's probably 93 degrees outside. The chocolate on the cone wasn't quite solidified when I got in the car, so I gave it just a couple minutes.

Mistake. Big mistake.

I put the car in drive and head out. Before I let off the break and move though, I manage to stop the ice cream that's oozing through the chocolate coating in three or four spots. Thinking I have everything under control, I pull let off the break and I'm on the move.

I'm barely on the highway again, and I look down at my hand with the cone in it to see ice cream dripping down my hand and about to go all the way down my arm. I always get extra napkins when I go in some place like that, but have you seen DQ napkins? They are about 2 inches wide and thinner than the cheapest toilet paper in a convenience store restroom (seriously, don't you think people would use less TP if it were thicker and save the store money - but that's another story....). I grab about 10 napkins and carefully wrap the base of the cone in the napkins, while driving, while wiping down my arm. I can handle this degree of multitasking. All is well.

I bite into the chocolate coating.

OOOPPPSIE!!!!

Oh my!!!!! What on EARTH!!???

The entire top section of chocolate is hanging out of my mouth and now the white, thin, milky vanilla ice cream has nothing to hold it in place and begins to pour down the rest of the chocolate, heading toward the multi layers of napkins I have at the base to my hand.

I can't eat the chocolate fast enough. I need two hands. I steer with my knee....uh, yeah, don't do this at home.....and grab the chocolate coating with one hand, the cone in the other hand, and shove the chocolate in my face and devour it without really tasting it. Taste isn't important right now. Savoring the experience and eating this cone slowly is obviously not going to be an option.

Once I get the chocolate gone, I begin to craftily twirl the cone, while now steering with the other hand, chocolate all over the steering wheel by now, and lick the rapidly melting ice cream as fast as I can to keep it from running everywhere. I think I'm getting things under control when the remaining chocolate left on the cone breaks loose. I didn't catch it, not at all.

Oh no!!!

Chocolate on a white shirt....not good, just not good.

I roll down the window.

Okay, don't hate here. I have to do something with this chunk of chocolate that's landed on my shirt and tumbling down into my lap. It's got to go.

It wasn't until after I rolled down the window that I figured out that the lack of cool air which was rushed instantly out by the 93 degree heat in the car only increased the already alarming rate at which the ice cream melted!!! It was like I had instant milk in my cone at this time. Like a faucet, the white milky substance was running everywhere. Just everywhere.

I look up and I'm not in the lane I thought I was....I'm "sharing" as my daughter calls it. I'm going right down the middle of two lanes. Now, it's a four lane road and I'm thankful I'm at least in the lanes I should be in. I look in my rear view mirror, and the only saving grace from this so far is that there isn't a car in my vision...no one is close. Thank the Lord for that. I'm sure I look like a drunk driver swerving everywhere while battling this ice cream cone.

I give up and throw the cone out the window. What I wasn't wearing of the cone, was now gone. I look down at myself and have chocolate on my shirt, the white ice cream would mix in and not be seen too bad on the shirt, except it would show horribly on the black pants I had on....I felt like I'd been through a sticky factory. My hands stuck to the steering wheel like I'd put glue on them. I didn't have any more napkins.

I begin to lick my hands thinking that might help. Nope. No good. I'm just covered in sticky goo.

I finish the next hour going home, to embarrassed to stop anywhere and get out. At this point, I just want to get home and possibly shower. I was wearing more of the cone that I had gotten to eat.

Now, obviously, my top five are very "tongue in cheek". There are more important reasons that you shouldn't do certain things and drive. Paying attention while you drive can literally be the meaning between life and death. But, I really thought I could master an ice cream cone while driving. But alas, I couldn't, and the ice cream cone won.

I was more disappointed over not getting to enjoy the cone. Had I just sat in the restaurant and ate the cone, I would have relaxed, enjoyed the cone, and had the tools necessary to clean myself up afterwards had I still made a mess. I would have had water at my disposal, at least. But my hurry to get home, and my over zealousness in needing to have a LARGE cone, helped the cone meet its demise before I got to enjoy it.

Have you ever gone through a day and at the end of the day wondered what you accomplished? Did you start the day out overzealous, but find that you're out of place and tried to accomplish more than you could? While it's good to be ambitious, it's also good to combine that ambition with a degree of reasonableness. The old adage, "Don't bite off more than you can chew" is real in more ways than one.

We are told to live each day to its fullest and not worry about tomorrow. One of my favorite sayings is (Lori-phrased and not exact, but it goes something like this...) "Yesterday is the past, tomorrow is the future, but today is called the present...take it as the gift it is and use it to its fullest."

God's word says it better. In Matthew 6:34 (New King James Version) he says, "Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble." And in James 4:14 he says, "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."

Don't rush through today trying to do too much and miss the point you were meant to get out of the day. Take each day, one day at a time, and figure out what you were supposed to get out of it. Some would say, "stop and smell the roses." I might say, "Stop and enjoy the ice cream!"

Monday, May 17, 2010

The Magic Brush

The Magic Brush

I look down in my brush and see it.

It’s shiny and bright and contrasts perfectly against the black background of the brush. And, the wild thing is, there’s more than one! There’s like a family in there, a colony maybe! All the second cousins showed up for the party in my brush!

“Somehow, my brush managed to pull all the shiny, silver hair out of my head,” I thought. “There CAN’T be any left on my head because of the volume that’s in the brush, just can’t be. I’ve never seen this much silver in my brush since I sprayed my hair for some type of performance.”

Isn’t that amazing? It left the brown, young looking, hairs in my head and took out all the silver. I look in the mirror, and my selective eyesight sees no silver! No silver left in the hair on my head. None, notta. All gone. The brush removed it!!!!

And you’re sitting there saying, “Uh huh, and you’re full of it, too, Lori!!!!”

Seriously, right? If I could find a brush that took out the silver, white and/or grey hairs out of the heads of people, I could sell “time with the brush” and make over a million bucks a year, don’t you think?

The advertisement might read, “Spend 15 minutes with the magic brush and rid your hair of all unwanted grey, silver, or white hair for just $49.95!!!’

Do the math.

$49.95 for 15 minutes, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year works out to be $1,750,248!!! I could easily pay employees to babysit the brush 24 hours a day, travel with the brush to various parts of the country and world, and keep the brush cleaned out and sterile for the next user. I’m sure there would be huge demands for the brush; if it did indeed, deliver as promised. That’s cheaper than a hair coloring!

I’m not sure how long the unwanted color would stay out of the hair, but I would imagine that it wouldn’t last forever, and there would be repeat users of the magic brush!

Defying age is something we’d all like to do. If you’re 20 and reading this, you might not get the concept just yet, but just wait, 30 will be here before you know it. Soon enough, you’ll realize that you are now as old as your parents were when you considered them “REALLY OLD!” and then your concept of age will change and you will begin the wonderful process of trying to defy it!

My “Old Meter” changes every year. Does yours? By that I mean, when I was 15, 30 was pretty old, 40 was there, and anything past 50 had one foot in the grave and the other one teetering on the edge. Seriously. Now that I’m 49, (and yes, I’m really 49, that’s not something I’m just saying because I want to hang onto that last year before turning 50), 50 isn’t really the age where you’ve got the foot in the grave. Now, that age is more like 80, maybe even 90! And when I’m 70, I’m sure that “old age” will be closer to 100.

We all joke about the aging process. You hear people around you, all the time, talk about parts of the body that sag now that didn’t used to, taking longer to get some where, not remembering things quite the way you used to, and just flat falling apart.

Medical tests become more and more frequent as you age. After 40, women are highly encouraged to get mammograms. An experience that really shouldn’t be privy to just the female sector of the world! I think every man should have to have their breasts smashed between two cold pieces of metal….surely some female doctor somewhere can come up with a good medical reason why this should happen? I just can’t believe the female medical community hasn’t come up with a sound reason yet.

Things like colonoscopy’s (oh those are so much fun to prepare for!), prostate exams (and no, gentlemen, this does NOT in anyway substitute for the mammogram, sorry, we have our type of exam for this, too, believe me!), and many others are recommended as we age and as our tiring body becomes more susceptible to certain types of diseases that reside in certain parts of our bodies.

I’ve had several friends pass away from cancer in the last year. I guess that’s something else we get to look forward to as we age. Friends and family begin to disappear. You go from being the youngest to being in the middle, to quickly being the oldest of those left. They go home. While we know their place with God is a much happier one, the loneliness we experience as they’ve moved away and left us, is something we experience more often with age. It’s a new kind of sadness we get to deal with more frequently.

The senses seem to dull with age as well. All of a sudden, that menu in the restaurant has to be taken across the room by the waitress before you can read it. You used to be able to tell when dinner was burning BEFORE it was too late. And your children and grandchildren accuse you of selective hearing and you honestly have no clue what on earth they are talking about. The sense of touch is numbed as you are poked and prodded by all the medical tests mentioned above, and Lord help your fingers if you are a diabetic. There’s no feeling left in those.

You creek when you walk, as potentially unwillingly release body fluids if you cough or sneeze.

It’s just not a fun process. Aging. Silver hair is the least of what happens, but it’s the one that seems to zap our vanity the most.

My daughter dated a young man that saw a silver hair in my head one time and wigged out. He seriously couldn’t believe it, and made a big deal out of it. Then, ever so slowly, he’d realized what he’d just done. He had just pointed out to a woman that she had silver hairs…..not real bright. He thought for a second, when he realized that he’d just told his girlfriend’s mother she had a silver hair, and hurriedly pointed out Proverbs 16:31 – “The silver-haired head is a crown of glory, If it is found in the way of righteousness.” Good recovery on the part of the young man, you must admit.

Now, God did put the word “if” in there. That means silver hair is a crown of glory IF you got it through the way of righteousness.

Righteousness.

I’m not a theologian, but to me, that word culminates the words truthful, honest, obedient, ethical, just, innocent, true, and sincere, just to name a few. To be righteous, to me, means that you are everything God wants you to be, which is everything He already is. It is everything He desires for us to be. We should all desire to be righteous, as it says in Matthew 5:6, Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled.

So, the changing effect that age has on my body is okay as long as I can wear it as a crown of glory. I am thankful that God is patient, because I’m working on the righteousness concept. That’s a big word with a tall order behind it in my mind.

If you think of silver hair as a crown of glory, though, it really does make it easier to swallow. I’m glad that the young man stumbled upon that silver hair of mine that day and told me of that special verse. When the magic brush doesn’t quite get all of them out of the hairs left on my head, I just remind myself that I’m growing a “crown of glory” up there!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Grannyazzi!!!!

It's no secret that I love to scrapbook, but perhaps even more than the actual art of scrapbooking, I love to buy scrapbook stuff. It doesn't matter, just stuff. Paper, adhesive, stickers, embellishments, books, magazines, new fangled gizmos they have out, DVD's....all of it, and it matters not to me if it's on sale or not, if I really like it.

I received an email that a new group of one of my favorite paper lines was arriving at one of my favorite scrapbook stores, so I had to go check it out. When I got there and saw it, I HAD to buy it all. The line was called, Mammarazzi, to go with the theme of paparazzi....crazy star chasing photographers in Europe. So, they created a scrapbook paper with that idea in mind with a crazed mother behind the camera.

How delightful is that? One of the stickers said, "RUN, MOM'S GOT THE CAMERA!!!" OMG!!! I could SO here my son saying that! (Just yesterday, actually, and he's 28!) And my newest addition to the family just looks at me, her and her little 19 month old self, and just says, "NO!" when Granny says, "Look at Granny and smile!" I haven't gotten a decent picture of her in months.

But I bought all this paper and was bound and determined I was going to get pictures of her in the bluebonnets. I thought maybe Grandpa would go with us, but he was too tired after church to go. So, Alexa and Granny loaded up the camera bag, and ventured out to the bluebonnet field.

I was so excited and full of anticipation as I just KNEW these were going to be remarkable, prize winning pictures and we were going to have so much fun taking them! I was ready!

We get there, I park, and I get the camera over the shoulder, car key in the pocket, extra lens wrapped around the arm, and get the baby out of the car. She is at the age where she latches onto the hip pretty good. We brought her stuffed Easter chicken with us, thinking that would be cute in some of the pictures, her holding the bright yellow Easter chicken in the green grass and beautiful blue bluebonnets. She's got the chicken clutched by the neck, and her legs have me clutched around the waist.

We go over to a tree that I've taken my girls pictures in by the bluebonnets for years now. I try to sit Alexa in the tree.

"Ouch!" I say out loud. I've never had a python around my waist, but I would imagine the feeling is about the same as what this child is doing to me with her legs. She wants NO part of that tree.

"Come on, Honey," I coax. "Sit in the tree for Granny...please."

Isn't going to happen as the grip around my waist gets tighter. Okay, give up that idea, maybe she'll stand by the tree. Nope, my waist is getting smaller as her grip tightens even more. (And while smaller would be a good thing, basically she's just pushing the fat higher and lower, so I'm becoming deformed...) "How strong is this kid?" I wonder.

So, I get a bright idea. I ask to see the chicken. She's all about showing other people her things, and she gladly turns over the chicken. I set the chicken down in the bluebonnets and take its picture. I get the picture up on the viewer of the camera and show it to Alexa.

"See, Chicken likes to have his picture taken in the pretty flowers!!! Does Alexa want her picture taken in the pretty flowers?" I am trying to reason with the 19 month old, pulling out the only card I've got, pretty much.

She mumbles and gurgles some little phrase that I'm sure converted to something like, "Listen, Grandmother, I see all those weeds down there, and while the picture of the stuffed animal is quite adorable in the blue things mixed in those weeds, you've lost your ever loving mind if you think I'm frolicking in that mess. It's way too tall, and well, just needs to be mowed!"

But, of course, I don't understand that, so I try to set her d...o....w....n.

"OUCH!!!!" I let out a little more forcefully this time and look at her. "Easy, Killer!" I tell her...sounding like my youngest daughter.

Then, I saw it. I saw the translation of the gurgle and garble that sounded friendly, but really wasn't. I saw it in her eyes. A determination that told me this child wasn't getting out of my arms.

I drove quite a ways to get a prize winning picture of this beautiful little baby in the bluebonnets, and I decide at that second that she's not going to get the best of me. By golly, I'm Granny-azzi, and I'm going to get my picture!!!

So, I put pry her off my hip, drop my camera off my shoulder in the process and chicken goes tumbling, which sends Alexa into a massive panic attack, reaching and grabbing for the stuffed animal, and I finally get her loose and there she stands.

Magnificent, the beautiful blue see of flowers behind her. The wind blowing her hair gently back. Her little short outfit looking as if it was made for just this day and just this time. The entire setting was perfect.

Except.

For the closed eyes, red cheeks, tears streaming down the face, and mouth wide open with the most horrendous scream coming out of it, little body that's standing before me, with her little arms reached up for the only hope of getting out of these weeds around. Me.

I picked a yellow little daisy type flower for her to hold. She took it from me, stopped the wailing for 3.5 seconds, and then looked down, realized she was still in the weeds and they were touching her bare little legs, and went right back into screaming mode.

I look around to see if the police are heading toward me. I figure by now, someone has called the authorities thinking I'm trying to hurt this poor little baby.

So, I pick her up. I go to the road thinking maybe she can walk along side the road and I can get some pictures of her that way. Maybe not full facial shots (not that I'd want one of those now with her little eyes all red and puffy anyway), but a nice side shot of her touching a flower. Still a prize winner.

We head to the road. She actually wants down, so I put her down. Now, there are probably 20 cars that travel down this road, total, all year long. So, I shouldn't have to worry about cars too much. Well, until I set her feet on the concrete, and then the little side road becomes a major highway!!! Cars are coming, both directions! What on earth?

And guess what?

The child does NOT want to be picked up now. Cars are coming and she's running out into the middle of the road. My camera is flailing all over my back, the extra lens is beating my side to pieces, and this wonderful little granddaughter of mine is making me chase her in the road.

Okay, so this won't win me "Grandmother of the Year" if she gets hit by a car, that's for sure!!!!

I don't even want to think of what the people in the cars are saying to each other.

"Oh my, Henry, look at this lady and this poor little baby! She's running from the lady. You'd think that woman would have enough sense to take the child into the middle of the bluebonnets and not up here on the road. Some people!"

So, I catch the wonderful little snot, throw her up on my hip, and she arches her back, flops almost out of my arms, almost right onto her head on the concrete, and opens the mouth, and, yep, you guessed it, let out a scream that horror movie producers would pay good money for!

Cars are stopped. I don't know how many, and quite frankly, I don't care.

But am I done? Am I defeated yet? NOOOOOO! Granny-azzi is still determined to get her prize winning photo.

I regain my balance and shake the vision of her lying on the road with brain damage out of my mind as I've regained some control over the child. I have to stop in the middle of the road to pick up Chicken before it's run over, and head over to another spot that I like to take pictures in, never, ever making eye contact with anyone in the cars on the road that shouldn't have been there in the first place!

So, I have to go through a little bit of a ditch to get to where I want to go. The legs of life are gripped around my waist so tight, I can barely breathe.

I am going to accomplish my mission. I ignore the pain.

I get her to a thicket of flowers and try, desperately, to get the child to get down.

What does she do?

She grabs Chicken and throws him on the ground and points at it, as if to say, "THERE WOMAN!!! Take your stinkin' picture of the Chicken! He likes it down there, I don't, end of story!"

Well, if you think I gave up with this gesture, you're right. I did. She had me beat, in more ways than one. The bruises around my waist would be very hard to explain if anyone were to see them, #1, and #2, I'm out of spunk. Everything in me is gone. The "throwing of the chicken" was the final gauntlet. I have nothing left to compete with that. I just looked at her and said, "Alright, baby girl, Granny gets it. But one day, little one, one day....you'll WANT me to take your picture. I promise. And when you do, I won't take one. I will take at least a hundred to make up for today! I promise." And, I pick up chicken and we head to the car.

I just wanted a prize winning photo to put with my new photo paper. Was that too much to ask? I didn't think so, but the will of a 19 month old was stronger than my will, so I didn't get my picture.

I wonder how many times I've done that to God? Well, I am pretty sure I still do it to God. "Not thy will, but Mine," he tells us, but do I listen? All He wants is a perfect little life for me full of blessings and surprises along the way all put in place to make me happy. He would never put me in harms way, but would only take me places that would make me better, and bring out the best in me. He wants me to have His prize winning life!

But, I clutch onto whatever it is I can find, plant my will, and refuse to go, refuse to change, refuse to cooperate. I don't understand what He's wanting, or what He's needing, but I don't care. I'm not comfortable, and I'm not going to do it. Something might be uncomfortable. The surroundings might be different than what I'm used to. Doesn't matter. It's not what I want, so I'm going to resist with everything I've got.

God coaxes...."Come, now, dear child. My word says in Matthew 16:24: Then Jesus said unto His disciples, 'If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me.'"

To me, that's God saying, "Deny what has you so grounded to this way of life. Deny what has you afraid to follow me. Deny it all, and come on, let's get on with the life I would have you live. I will never leave you, I will never forsake you. I won't take you somewhere and then just leave you."

And yet, I clutch. I grab. I hang on to what I can of a life that's partial, sometimes broken, and I keep control, for what ever reason. Makes no sense. But God's patient with me, ever working, gently getting me to let go. God's patience amazes me. Does it amaze you? Can you see it in your life? Times when you refused something so vehemently that you thought maybe your denial was "right" until God caught you a little off guard and you gave in...you changed. And after the change, actually caught yourself saying, "Man, God wanted me to do this a long time ago. Why didn't I?'

Duh.

Let's just say I'm very thankful I serve a patient God. I'd be in big trouble if I didn't.

And by the way, I took the little munchkin BACK to the bluebonnets, but was smart enough to take the parents this time, and guess what?

SHE STILL WASN'T HAVING ANYTHING TO DO WITH THE WEEDS and I STILL didn't get my prize winning picture. But Granny-azzi is patient. She's learning from the best. She will wait. And one day, that perfect picture opportunity will present itself, and I'll get it!!! And I'll put it on my scrapbook paper and relish in the joy of having that perfect picture to go with that perfect paper. She might be 21, and I might be 90, but it will happen!!!!

Granny-azzi doesn't give up!!!!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Scales - 1, Lori - 0

So, I have a problem that I need your help with. Do any of you have any idea where I can purchase a set of scales that actually work? I mean, that actually show me the truth – what I want to see – what I expect to see after DAYS of starvation? Scales that will tell me that I AM losing weight? I weigh in every single morning, just to see what the damage from the day before is, or if my efforts are going to be rewarded.

Here’s a typical morning in my bathroom:

“Good morning, scales!! How are you today? Good mood? Bad mood? I will have you know that what you are fixing to tell me will influence the type of day that every one I work with is going to have!!! So, be nice to me, okay? I was good yesterday….it has to show up in what you tell me, just has to.”

The scales almost mock me back. “Good day? Birthday cake? Come on, tub-o, you know better!”

And I step on the scales, hold my breath - do you hold your breath? Seriously, does that make you weigh less? I have no clue, but it makes me feel better, so I do it – close my eyes for a couple seconds waiting for the scales to register the tonnage, and open my eyes to see what kind of day I’m going to have.

It doesn’t matter what the scales say, I write it down. If they go down, I’m motivated, and ready for the day. If they show an increase, I look at them, kick them slightly, and write the number down, or try, because that’s usually when my pen doesn’t want to work, so I like have to dwell on the number and write it over and over until the pen decides to work. It’s like the entire system is mocking me……”Ah HAH !!!! You shouldn’t have had that piece of cornbread yesterday….good for the lips, bad for the hips!!! HAHAHAHAHA!!!”

So, a mystery to me is how it takes 7 days, one full week, to loose two pounds, but takes only one day to gain 4? So, what I gain in a week, say 10 pounds – very easy to do, done it many times before – will take me 5 weeks to loose. Seriously. It also amazes me how skinny people are always skinny. I have a friend and she has two skinny daughters. I have both her girls out eat their dad, my husband, and my husband's best friend – all three – in one sitting. There isn’t a fat pocket on either body. Do you know people like that? Skinny no matter what they eat? I think the rest of us just need to hold them down and force feed them bread until they explode….I just don’t know if there’s enough bread in the world to do that!

So, how one person can eat anything they want and not gain weight is a mystery to me. How I can LOOK at chocolate cake and gain 2 pounds in an instant is a mystery to me…just baffles me. Each and every one of us is different though, different in many ways, with our metabolism being just one of them.

Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get. Not true Forrest, I know exactly what I’m going to get – another week added on to my goal!

Since we’re talking about mysteries this morning, let’s talk about another one I struggle with. The memory.

Can you please explain to me how I can hear a song I haven’t heard in 30 years and recite every single word to it without even thinking about it? And yet, when you ask me what I had for lunch yesterday, I struggle. I can remember every detail of the day I got married, but can’t remember where I put my purse at night to grab it for church the next morning. I can remember exactly how I felt when the doctor told me my second daughter was going to be twins and my son was just four months old, but can’t remember how I got a huge bruise on my hip that just appeared out of no where.

I have often wondered if I could go back to school and further my education, but then I fear that I wouldn’t be able to stay awake long enough to read anything in a text book, let alone remember it. But when I take professional education classes to maintain my certified public accountants license, if the tests are in my area of expertise, I can take the tests and pass them without reading the material. So it just baffles me, this brain of mine, what it holds and what it lets go. I can remember every single address of where I’ve lived during my lifetime, but it took me three years to remember the address of where I currently work and still don’t remember the post office box number.

It does surprise me that I remember to weigh in every morning. I wonder if that is because when I do concentrate on my weight, it’s important to me and I make a concentrated effort to remember that? Surely not…..you think? Maybe? And if I really want to loose weight, I think more about what goes in that I normally do, and so the knowledge of that when the scales don’t say what I want them to say comes sweeping back over me. Surely not….you think? Hmmmm…..knowing that now maybe makes these things “less” of a mystery now, maybe. Hmmmm…..

Well, here’s another mystery for you…..

My relationship with God….Many of you can sit here today and state that you are a Baptist and have always been a Baptist, and you have a testimony. Some of the rest of you can say, “Well, I wasn’t always a Baptist, but I distinctly remember the day that I came to know Jesus and invited Him into my heart.” That’s always made me wonder about me……the word “TESTIMONY” has always bothered me since I’ve become a member of a Baptist church. Fortunately for me, no one has ever walked up to me and said, “Tell me your testimony, Lori.” If they had, I probably would have busted out cyring right there on the spot and left and never come back. See, I’ve not always been a Baptist.

If you were to give that one name, like they do the mixing of dogs – labradoodle… .labrador and poodle – chiwinny – chiwawa and weeny dog I mean how to you mix chiwawa and a dauschund!!! It’s a weeny dog, thus, chiwenny. So, if you were to give a name to what I’ve been in my spiritual life, you might say I’m a BaptiCathTerianOdist – Baptist – Catholic – Presbyterian – Methodist. Raised Catholic – Married Presbyterian, Tried Methodists, and have been Baptist since 1987.

Like the old Phil Collins song says, I’ve known Jesus all my life. But, see, that’s the mystery. How? How did I come know him?

I have no clue……and when there’s something that we don’t know, it’s a mystery to us, right? We know it happened, but we aren’t sure when or how…..

As I began to work on this story, God told me that he would reveal this mystery to me. I'd talk to a couple friends about a time in my life on different occassion lately. What that really was, was God, tapping me on the shoulder, and telling me..."Lori, this is it, this is your testimony. The most important story you will ever tell. It's the story of how you met me. So, share it. I am revealing to you the mystery."

When I was 7 years old, I woke up one morning to a whole new world. For four days, I got myself up, got myself dressed, and got myself to school, and then got myself home. The adults in my life pretty much ignored me and my four year old brother, as they went about doing what ever it was they were doing. It was three days before I got to see my mother in the hospital, cut up and bruised almost beyond recognition. She had been in a car accident. When I’d ask about my father, the subject would get changed quickly. No one wanted to talk to me about it. The doctors didn’t want me to see him. I guess that was a truth.

Until Thursday night, December 13, 1968. My grandmother pulled me aside and said, “Honey, do you know what an angel is?” Now, I was an avid reader growing up. I read anything I could get my hands on. I don’t know who gave it to me or when I got it, but I had a book of children’s Bible stories that I loved to read.
“Of course, Grandma. I’m seven years old. I know about God and His angels, “ I replied.

She looked at me, and I could read something in her eyes I hadn’t seen before. “Well, the angels came and got your Dad and took him to heaven because God needed his help in Heaven.”

I don’t remember crying at all. I don’t remember feeling anything really. I don’t know if my being all of 7 years old and believing I was so grown up made me think I shouldn’t cry, or if I just didn’t really understand what she was saying. I knew what she meant, but it was just not real.

I remember going to bed after my grandmother told me God needed my Dad and talking to God, out loud, for the first time in my life. We’d never really had occasion to talk before. My family didn’t go to church, except when we were with our grandparents in Ohio, and we went to Mass. I didn’t understand a word they said, I just followed when to stand, sit, kneel, sit, kneel and repeat whatever was being said when I was supposed to. I remember everyone getting in a line to get food, but I wasn’t allowed until I had First Dominian or something like that.

But that night, the conversation went something like this: “Okay, God, I guess I can’t blame you for needing my Dad up there in heaven. He’s a very strong man and I’m sure can do a lot for you up there. I really don’t understand, though, why you didn’t have other people up there, because I kind of need my Dad here, too, but I guess it’s okay. As long as you’ll stay here with me and be my Dad, ok? Don’t let me come home from school the wrong way and help me do good in school and be smart and help me know good people from bad people. Please.”

I’d never opened a real Bible in my life, and wouldn’t until I was well into adulthood, but I knew in my heart what was there. I knew, at the age of 7, that God really wasn’t a mystery and that His grace was extended to a 7 year old little girl that went to school and took herself off the rolls the next day, without an ounce of fear in her. She calmly explained that she was moving to Texas so her grandparents could take care of her until her mother was better. The principal drove her home that day, visibly upset, because there wasn’t an adult there help withdraw the child from school. She told me how brave I was, and I guess I was. I knew what needed to be done and I did it. Fear wasn’t an option.

So, I guess you would say at the age of 7, I knew Ephesians 17 "that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth and length and depth and height, 19 and to know the love of Christ, which surpasseth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God."

….I don’t know that I completely comprehended with all the saints what was going on in my bedroom that night, but I certainly knew the love of Christ as a child and trusted it with everything that I was. And I was filled with enough fullness of God that it helped me survive what would be the toughest year in my life that year, with the move to Texas, the rehabilitation of my mother, and the putting of my family back together. I matured about 10 years that year.

I’ve had a good friend tell me recently that to be afraid and be a Christian is almost an oxymoron. If you trust in the Lord like He tells us to, with all our might and all our strength, and lean not on our own understanding, fear shouldn’t be an option. And yet, with the powers of the world, it is. But in my little 7 year old head, I’d had the conversation of a lifetime, and at that point, fear wasn’t an option. It’s probably the most convicted I’d ever been in my life.

So, that’s where it started, my testimony. Ever since then, I won’t tell you the ride’s been an easy one, but I will tell you that my life has been blessed beyond what the little 7 year old would have ever dreamed possible! My favorite Bible verse is Ephesians 3:20 20Now unto Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,
I just asked for Him to be my father, and He has done just that. I didn’t have to ask, or even think it, throughout my life. I just trusted that He would give me what I needed, and He has, and then some.

He's given me friends through my teenage years that have guided and directed, and most recently returned those friends to my life while adding new ones at the same time. He's provided for me financially and in a wonderful community. He's blessed me beyond what I ever knew growing up with a wonderful family. And the granddaughter. Oh my word, how He has blessed me with her, beyond anything I could have ever thought or imagined on my own! And I could go on and on for longer than you could read.

So, I wasn’t at vacation Bible school, I wasn’t at a revival, I wasn’t in a moving church service, when I came to know Jesus as my personal Father – I was in my bedroom – and I remember the night vividly, as if it were just last night – wait, what did I do last night? I don’t remember. But today is a good day because I’m pretty sure I lost weight this morning, but I really don’t remember…..I'll have to go look at my paper.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

BEST MOM IN THE WORLD

The other night, we were sitting at the kitchen table eating dinner. Now, this in and of itself would tell anyone that knows me that things weren’t normal at our house. Something was wrong, out of place, because #1, we are at home for dinner and #2, we are at the kitchen table. But that aside, my youngest daughter looked at me and said, “Mom, how would you like to be the best Mom in the whole world?”

Now, Mom’s, where does that question take your mind? My daughter isn’t 8, she’s not even 16: she’s 21 ½ years old. She’s very independent and pretty strong willed. She doesn’t usually ask for much, but I have been there through some pretty important steps in her life, helping, guiding, and doing what she’d let me do.

So, my mind whirls a bit and goes from one end of the scale of, “Well, I’m already the best Mom in the world with everything I’m doing, she should already see that!” to “What on earth else could this child possibly want? She pretty much gets what she wants and has things pretty easy as it is now!”

“Okay,” I say. “I’m game. How can I be the best Mom in the world?”

“Well, it would be really awesome if you’d let me drive your Charger to work tomorrow….” And she hesitates.

This is an easy one. I don’t care if she drives my car. But there does seem to be something else. (Isn’t there always something else with our children?)

“Yes, and since you’ll have my car here, maybe you’d be a great Mom and take it to the tire store and get the oil changed and the tires rotated for me,” looking imploringly into my eyes. Also note that she backed off the best mom in the world to just being a “great” mom.

Now, there are not many things I detest doing. But going to the tire store and sitting there and waiting for however long it takes is right up there with fighting the crowds at Wal-Mart in my book of least favorite things to do. Removing fingernails sounds more inviting.

But I agree to the task. What red blooded American Mom can refuse the title of “Best Mom in the World” for such a small price? Right?

I’ll just add it to my list. My list of things I have to do for everyone else. Do you have one of those lists? My list is a little long right now and a tad complicated.

As I said, us eating at home at the kitchen table is somewhat of a rare occasion. As with a million other families, we, on a pretty much daily basis, eat dinner out. After working all day and all gathering back at the house after work, it’s all we can do to make the decision of where to go to eat, much less have the energy to actually stay at home and cook something. Society just makes it easier to eat out and we’ve most definitely done our fair share to keep all the local dining establishments in business.

But exactly two weeks earlier, my husband had open heart surgery for the second time in our lives. This time was a triple by pass. My heart was worried and the actual surgery was quite stressful. The two days after were also no piece of cake, but the recovery since then has been remarkably better than the first time.

So, for the last two weeks, I’ve been wife, mother, grandmother, cook, nurse, employee, boss, church treasurer, tax preparer (it’s April of course and the families taxes are due), bill payer, physical therapist, and now the chance to be the best at one of them was presenting itself to me, so now I’m also the “car girl.”

Why not? I work at home in the mornings and try to go to work in the afternoons. I try to wear all the hats. Last time this happened, 11 years ago, the children were all still at home, and I was very involved in the community. I didn’t survive that first by pass with flying colors, let’s just say that. I didn’t pay any attention to me and lost myself in trying to be everything to everyone else. This time, I was prepared for that and am going to try not to let it happen.

So hard for women to do…..so very hard. But, I keep going back to Isaiah 40:31 “Yet those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength. They will mount up with wings like eagles. They will run and not get tired. They will walk and not become weary. “

One of the hardest things for me to do is wait, and that’s the first thing that verse tells me to do….wait for the Lord.

While Richard was in surgery, I laid out my timeline. They take him back at 7 or so, prep him for an hour, start the surgery at 8, take 3 to 4 hours for that, so he’ll go on by-pass at about 11 and they’ll close and be done by 12…let’s add an hour good measure and say he’s done at 1 p.m. So, about 2 p.m., I should be able to see him and make sure they did their job. He will have to stay in SICU one night getting done that early and might get into a room the next morning.

This is my plan. I’m prepared to wait that long. I’ve got this under control.

“Yet those who wait for the Lord…….”

Why is it that God’s timing is never what I plan? This is Question 42 when I get to have some one on one time with the man in heaven.

Anyway, God’s timing for the day was something more like this:
5:50 a.m. Arrive at the hospital
7:12 a.m. They take him back for surgery
8:55 a.m. Started surgery (okay so, I add an hour to my schedule for this….now we’re done at 3 p.m., still dealable, I’m good.)
1:06 p.m. on bypass (now remember, based on my schedule, I thought he would be on bypass at 11 or so….so add yet another hour….4 p.m. now)
3:12 p.m. off bypass (my timeline had him off by noon – now three hours behind, looking more like 5 p.m.)
4:15 p.m. talked to the doctor, he’s out of surgery and they are closing. I should be able to see him at about 6:30 (4 and a half hours after my schedule)

They called out to inform us of the progress, and in between 8:55 a.m. and 1:06 p.m., they called three times just to tell me that “redos” take longer. Well, that would have been really nice to know BEFORE I did my little schedule in my mind, don’t you think?

Then, the doctor tells me that he will keep Richard in SICU for two nights. Well, ALSO NOT in my time table, blast it!!!!

“Yet those who wait for the Lord….”

Okay, I get it!

So, I suffer through two days of having him in SICU where I can’t stay with him and can’t be in there when they are giving him meds, etc. I know he’s going to want ice chips for hours when he wakes up. Are they going to give him his ice chips? Just makes me crazy. Visiting hours are just insanely restrictive. 6:00 a.m. to 6:30 a.m. (get real, okay?), 10:00 to 10:30, 12:00 to 1:00, 5:00 to 6:00 p.m. and 8:00 to 9:00 p.m. Four total hours. Four. And I get two days of this. Two days of waiting for visiting hours. Waiting.

“Yet those who wait for the Lord….”

But Saturday came and two emergencies came in and they got him out of SICU in record time and up to a room. Good deal. That part of the wait is over.

So, I stayed the night, Saturday night (have to keep the timing all down here, it’s more than easy to forget what day of the week it is and don’t even think you keep track of what day of the month it is!), and am planning on leaving in just enough time to go to Palm Sunday’s service at church and the children’s Easter Egg hunt afterwards with the granddaughter. I take a shower.

Well, if you want to call that a shower. Showers I’m used to have hot water. Where is the hot water? I mean seriously, where is the hot water? I stand there forever trying to be patient. (Romans 5:3 And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience.!) Taking a cold shower is definitely a tribulation in my book…..and really, do I need a cold shower to teach me patience? But, try as I might to wait for hot water, it didn’t take more than 15 minutes for me to realize this was all I was going to get. Coldest shower I’ve ever taken in my life.

I’m done. The nurse comes in and I ask about the hot water. “How do you order hot water? I will pay extra for it.”

She smiled and said, “Well, unfortunately, you don’t. This is the one room in the hospital that doesn’t get hot water. We’ve had maintenance look at it many times and they’ve explained why it won’t get hot water. I don’t understand the explanation, but what you got is as hot as it gets.”

Well, just wonderful. Yet again, that would have been nice to know a couple hours ago!

Isaiah 40:31 “Yet those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength. They will mount up with wings like eagles. They will run and not get tired. They will walk and not become weary. “

Okay, I’ve waited and yes, I guess I did gain new strength. My waiting skills had no choice but to improve and my patience meter got better, to a degree. So, now I can move into the next part of the verse – run and not get tired. As I nurse him back to health, I have more to learn and will definitely need the Lord to keep my stamina where it should be. I know I won’t be able to do it on my own. Remember, I’ve been here before and failed miserably, so I have to better this time.

I guess there will be times when I will need to walk, like the shower. Be patient and try to let things come around.

God rewarded my patience and sent him home a full day before I thought he’d be able to go home. (Yes, I’m still making my own timelines.) Now we are home and the nursing begins.

So, I’m back in the present. I’ve not been told I’m the best wife in the world, or I’m the best home nurse in the world, or I’m the best cook in the world…..so I need to grasp onto this idea of being the best mom in the world in the midst of learning a few more lessons on waiting, patience, and calmness. The ego could handle this little “best” thing, I’m thinking. Seems pretty easy to earn this title.

To the tire store I go. I wonder how long the wait is? I’ll plan on two hours, so if I’m out in less that, I’ll be happy………before this, I would have given it 30 minutes before I got tired of waiting, so while you might not think I learned anything, I really did.

(BTW – it was a 45 minute wait! I was so surprised when they pulled her car around and it was done in front of 2 or 3 people that were there first! I walked out of the tire store with a skip in my step – with wings like eagles!)

God is good.

Monday, March 8, 2010

The Fence

As you've read in my blog, I love animals, and have grown especially fond of Labrador Retrievers. We've had three now, living in this house, with the newest addition being just months old.

King is something. He's curious, he's playful, he's obedient, he's smart (well, more on that later), he wants to please, but the one thing that he really is right now, is a puppy. A 50 pound puppy.

Those of you that have little dogs, like Pomeranian, miniature anything, can't relate to that statement, but imagine your little 6 month old Fifi with her cute little tricks and jumping around and cute little yappy bark that's just too sweet, in the body of a 50 pound 4 hand high, will jump up and look you straight in the eye, PUPPY! Yes, it's an experience that only large breed dog owners can relate to.

When King gets excited, the house moves, and everything IN the house moves. We didn't take anything down for the granddaughter, but we take it down for the PUPPY voluntarily, or it will involuntarily come down when he gets to romping and playing.

Well, he's just gotten too big to be in the house. That's all there is to it, so it's time to put him on the electric fence that we had installed after the first lab devoured $500 in chickens! (Do you have any idea how to price a good laying hen? Expensive lesson I didn't really care to learn!)

Invisible Fence is a wonderful, trustworthy, tried and true product. But, King, adorable as he is, dug up one of the wires in the flash of an instant and chewed it right in half. He obviously didn't have the receiver on, or he might not be with us today. I don't know. So, we got the fence people out here, and after a couple attempts, got the fence up and running again. Our fence was installed in 1995 and the technology has changed just a tad since then (imagine that), and I fought not to have the wonderful new system installed. But, by the time I was done, probably would have only had to pay a couple hundred more dollars and had a whole new system. Life is full of lessons.

So, the puppy is "on the fence." You spend the first week walking him up to flags that mark the fence and pulling him back. The collar would beep when he got too close. You try to make him understand where his boundaries are. When he exceeds his boundaries, you let him know with a stern pull on the lead and he responds. King was very quick to respond to this kind of training. He didn't want to displease me, so he figured out I didn't want him near the flags. Even when I would try to distract him, he wouldn't go within four feet of the flags.

The next phase puts him on the collar live. When he gets within so many feet of the receiver, a small shock is sent through the collar to the dog. It's not enough to hurt the dog, but they do yipe as the sound combined with the vibration scare them, but it doesn't hurt them. (Please, animal rights people, it's okay.)

You walk the dog in a zig zag pattern around the yard, reemphasizing the "safe" areas. If the dog gets into the fence, you let them come back into the safe zone and praise them highly.

King's first night on the fence was such a huge success. He just had to be walked into it once before he felt the twinge and heard the beeping and he was done. Enough for him. Flags mean stop here. He and I walked and walked the yard and he didn't make a single mistake. I dropped the lead and let him run just a little bit. Kind of outside the training, but he deserved a little bit of a reward. My husband had stepped outside to watch and King ran to him, just running and playing. Just as I was telling my husband how smart he was, the dog decided he was ready to go back in the house and headed for the patio door.

The CLOSED patio door.

Before he could stop himself completely when he realized the door was closed, the dog's full force of his 50 pounds hit the door.

My husband just looked at me and said, "You were saying?"

You know, it's a good thing God doesn't put a collar on me to keep me within my boundaries, to keep me from doing what I'm not supposed to do, or from going where I'm not supposed to go. My batteries would be dead all the time, I fear. They say that certain breeds of dogs will test the fence daily to make sure the boundaries are still there. I guess I do the same to God. I test my boundaries all the time.

God tells us that when we become His, we are to put the world as we knew it behind us. We shed that old life and put on a new life. A life of God. Colossians 3:8-10 "But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator."

That's pretty powerful. "Renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator." Wow.

I once tried, fairly recently, to go through a single day without sinning. I didn't think 24 hours would be that big a deal, since I spent 8 of it sleeping. Should be able to do it. Just one day.

Well, like the little funny says, I was doing really good until I got out of bed. Seriously, though, I did fine until I got in my car.

Road rage.

Mean anything to you?

It does to me. I'm sorry, but about 75% of the population loses all sense when they get behind the wheel of a car. And, I'm the kind of driver that doesn't mind telling them about it. Anger, rage, malice (sound familiar). I knew the MINUTE I said something out loud to myself, such as, "You moron? Still asleep? You need to wake up and DRIVE!!!" that I'd sinned. The very second if flew out of my face, my collar went off and I knew...."OOOPS, Oh Lord, I have blown it already and it's not even 6:30 in the morning yet! Okay, I get the point, I will try again tomorrow."

Again, next day, just fine until I got in the car. The devil put everybody on the highway in front of me that had either no sense of urgency about them, didn't care that I was coming and just pulled out in front of me, or just about took out the side of me, on my way to work, lunch or home that entire week. I've never seen as many drivers get to me as they did that week. My collar battery was dead by Wednesday.

But, God doesn't really put a collar on us; instead, he sends the Holy Spirit to guide us gently and easily through lives trials and tribulations. A very good friend of mine, very wise and very learned in the Word, tells me all the time that the Spirit speaks to us a thousand times a day, in its still small and quiet voice, guiding us, directing us, helping us. All we have to do is listen and heed the Word, and we'll be better off. Follow the guidance - listen to the new self that is being renewed with God's teachings through the Holy Spirit continually and the rewards are great.

We don't need collars, thank the Lord, we just need to follow God's love, wisdom, and desires for our lives and live in the New Covenant that He's given us. We know our boundaries, they are very well defined for us. Watch for the flags and avoid the ways of the old life.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

If You Stumble

A very good friend gave me a plaque for Christmas. She told me about it the day she got it. "I saw something today that made me think of you, so I bought it," she said proudly. Gifts like that are fun, you know the giver saw something of you in it. I like that.

When she gave it to me as part of my Christmas present, it was a very nice plaque. It said, "If you stumble, make it part of your dance." Now, I really liked the statement, but wasn't sure if that meant I stumbled a lot when I danced or not. She's known me for a fair number of years and watched me as I worked with my clogging dance team. Both her daughters dance with me and she was in a show with us once, too. I really think she was referencing what I tell my dancers. I always tell the team, "keep dancing, no matter what." I always stress the importance of entertaining the audience and having the confidence to keep going. Keep a smile on your face and the audience may not even notice your mistake and if they do, they will appreciate your effort, so like the plaque said, if you stumble, make it part of the dance. I've preached this to my dancers for as long as I've had the team. You know, sometimes you have to careful of what you tell others to do....especially when you're in a leadership role.

We were at a performance, a little girls beauty pageant in a small town where everyone knows everyone and family is rooted in the community. Every little precious contestant had their parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins, neighbors, and teachers all at the pageant to watch the little darlins get all dolled up and strut their adorable lil selves all over the stage. We were the entertainment while the judges scores were being tabulated, so needless to say, no one moved and it was a packed house; standing room only.

I always talk to the team before a big show like this and we pray. "Remember, keep dancing, no matter what! If the music skips (this was honestly before tapes and cds, so we were using records on a record player), just pick it up and keep dancing." The prayer usually goes something like, "Dear Lord, please help us remember to glorify your name in everything we do. As we dance, Lord, please help us put a smile on the faces and hearts of those that watch us today, bring joy into their lives, Lord." Well....again, I really need to watch what I pray for.

Two of my dancers were going to do a duet together. They'd worked so hard on the number. They choreographed it and taught it to the team, and since we had a 30 minute show to fill, they were going to do the routine as a duet. They changed it a little, and I helped them - I knew the routine and the moves it took to make it a duet as well as they did. Back in the day, I could remember things a lot better than I do now.

Good thing I knew the routine, because one of the duet members got sick and couldn't make the performance. The other girl was devastated, she so wanted to dance"her" routine. So, me being the versatile director I was at that point, and oh so much younger, told her not to worry. I would dance the routine with her. It came time for us to dance. We switched our reversible skirts in the changing building, and waited for the prior number to be over. Then, she and I took the floor after I announced the she wrote the routine with a friend that couldn't make it and I was the "stand in". The child and her parents were just busting with pride.

"Wild Wild West" started playing and the first 8 beats were hip shakes....you know, just bouncing your hips up and down. We had on a fun belt with guns in the holsters and everything. The guns were part of the routine that would come out at some point. We started moving around, people were clapping, and crowd was getting into our performance. Between the two of us, we had enough stage presence to fill the park. We were bringing down the house. This felt really good.

Oh, wait....THAT didn't feel so good...what on earth..... Something around my waist snapped, gave way, or something. I bobbled a little in the dance, but kept going. The other dancer gave me a look, as she sensed the wrong step, but quickly recovered as I picked up the steps again.

But then, the unbelievable happened to this mother of three. I felt another snap around my waist. In that second, as I tried to keep dancing, I twirled, stopped, and my skirt kept twirling....all the way around and down to my knees. The only thing around my waist was a gun belt!!! I tied tried to stop the skirt with my elbow as I felt it going down in the turn..but there was no saving it.

As quick as I could, after recovering from the turn, I reached down and grabbed the skirt. On its way up, it got stuck in the gun holster....holy smokes! I miss a step, then a 4 count and now I'm up to an 8 count I've totally lost.

My poor 14 year old partner did everything she could to keep dancing and started calling the steps to me through her smile. I managed to get the skirt up, but guess what? It's time to twirl again! This time, the skirt didn't slow down, and didn't make a pit stop at the knees.....it went straight to the floor!

Did I mention there were grandparents there? I saw women covering men's eyes and mothers covering their children's faces in the flash of a second!!! The Ray Stevens song, "The Streak" had new meaning for me now, only it wasn't "Don't look ETHYL!" It was "Don't look FRED!!" I also heard at least one wolf whistle, if not more, in the midst of everything.

Now, if I followed what I'd told my dancers for years, I would have stayed out there and danced, but all sense of what I should do left me!!! I ran off the stage to the small building we had been lining up in and making our costume changes in. I left a poor dancer on the stage that DID practice what I told her and just kept going. I believe she got a standing ovation when she was done, and if she didn't, it was only because the audience was still in shock and couldn't move!

Before I go any further, you need to know that we wore bloomers underneath our skirts. The skirts were pink and black and the bloomers were black. They were plain, no ruffles on the butt or anything, so they just looked like underwear, basically, but they really weren't. We wore them over our hose and everything else....but to dance in them, stand alone, with my skirt around my knees, at my age, well, just wasn't happening. I'm sure my face was as red as the stripes on the American flag in that flash of an instant.

As I stood in the room trying to fix my skirt during the last minute of the song, I wondered how on earth I was going to walk back out on that stage and talk to those people! I considered just staying in there until Little Miss Whateveritscalled County is crowned, and everyone goes home. Then, I considered just changing into my street clothes and sneaking out and running to my car.


So, as I was deciding which of those two choices would best suit my humiliation at that point, I remembered something.

The team.

The group of children and adults that I said "The show must go on" to at least a million and one times. The group of people that depended on me to announce the shows, to coordinate the show, to give them that look of encouragement when they seem a little unsure of themselves, you know, me, the director, the leader, the guide.....I would be letting them down if I hid out in the room or just ran for the van.

I had to put aside my vanity and face my audience. So, I start getting myself ready to go back on stage....I just won't look into the eyes of the people - over their heads, just slightly..... try to picture them all naked......remember, they all put their pants on one leg at a time. Maybe Grandpa didn't see anything and his heart wasn't affected. Oh my! How could this have happened? What went wrong? What happened to me wasn't anything I did, it was just "one of those things" that sometimes happens. Do I make mention of it when I go back on stage, or just act like it didn't happen? The song is nearing an end, and panic is welling up in my throat. I had switched my skirt and pinned it 14 times by now. It was going no where. Do I tell Grandma that it won't happen again?

When the song was over, I walked back out onto the stage and thanked my little duet partner for continuing the dance and introduced the next dancer, who was an older teenager that never smiled when she danced, except for this one performance. I didn't make mention of the incident, as I thought that would be best for those with pace makers in the audience. I just announced the rest of the show and danced with my hand held firmly to my skirt, even though it was pinned. Yes, I missed some hand movements, but such was life.....and EVERYONE in the audience knew why, that skirt wasn't going anywhere!

Oh my word, did I catch if from the team when we were done!!! "I thought you said...." and on and on and on. I wasn't going to live this one down for a long time. Many of the parents recorded the show, and I fully expected to see it on America's Funniest Home Videos at anytime. I showed my dancers, though, that anything can happen to anyone at any given point in time. And while, keep dancing no matter what, might be a good motto, there are times when you just can't do it.

My dancers learned that I wasn't perfect. It was a hard lesson for all of us that day.

I'm not perfect. I don't do everything right. I do make mistakes. I am reminded of this just about everyday of my life. My children remind me, my spouse reminds me, my boss and coworkers remind me, and the songs on the radio even remind me, that I'm not perfect. In certain situations, I do have to try at perfection more than at other times, but all I can ever do is strive. I think sometimes, the closer I get, the further away I really am. When one area of my life seems to be in order and I've got everything together, another area will unravel uncontrollably and I'm left there standing with it all around my knees, just fumbling to pick it up and put it back together again.

That's when you have to do just that, though. Pick it up, and put it back together again, and ask God for help and guidance to make it all go back together right. Proverbs 3:5 says "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight." That's comforting to me. I don't have to be perfect, I don't have to make the path right or straight. All I have to do is trust in God, acknowledge Him, and He will do the rest for me.


It takes a lot of courage, sometimes, to fix things that have gone wrong, though. That day, the hardest thing I did was open that door and walk out there, fully clothed, and with my smile on. I knew everyone was embarrassed for me, and I figured some never wanted their spouses to see any part of me ever again, but I had to go back out there. It wasn't that I felt the need to "save face" as much as I needed to show the young people with me how to handle something like this with grace and poise. But, inside me, there wasn't a fiber of my being that wasn't petrified of the reaction I might have gotten.

2 Timothy 1:7 God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love, and of self-discipline." I prayed as I opened the door, "God, be with me, give me the words to say and help me avoid the ones I shouldn't say. Guide me, God. This is an embarrassing moment for me, and I need to come out of this with dignity and pride. Please, be here, at my side and show your strength through me."

Now you might not think that this was an appropriate time to call upon God the Father to get me out of this mess, but in my mind, at the time, He was the ONLY ONE that could get me out of this mess. He's never let me down when it was important.

And he didn't that day. I had people come up after the show and tell me they were impressed and amazed I returned. "Good for you!" they said. "You are excellent example for this young team of dancers," they said.

Years later, I saw the video of this actually happening. I was just as embarrassed and every feeling came rushing back to me that I experienced that afternoon, but by this time, I knew the end of the story, and I knew I'd rise above the sheer terror and embarrassment, with the help of God, and end the show with a spirit of power, love for the team, and the self-discipline to not flee.

By the way, my skirt was always pinned after that, and we never switched sides during a show again! I do learn!