#christianfaith, #God's redemption, #grief, Grief, Hope, School Principal, Uncategorized

Wisdom from a Principal

I have not the foggiest idea why the story of Maggie Lee’s life and death has touched the souls it has. Truly, it makes absolutely no sense other than God’s eye toward and passion for redemption. Stories like those of Principal Smith’s helped me intuit that there were greater realities at play in all of this than I could begin to realize. In hindsight, it is easier to see God as a maker who will eventually take all of our broken crayons and melt them together into something amazingly beautiful like the cake I produced in my Easy Bake Oven 40 years ago… except cosmically better.

I am inspired by grace I cannot see bubbling up in those I can see. May you be moved as I certainly was. Here is an email exchange between my Baylor Room mate, Betsy Sone Jones and her former Principal, Alan Smith, as he contemplates retirement:

(used by permission)

FYI – I am preparing a list of things to do in my next life. One of those is to drive and actually visit Maggie Lee’s Closet in order to make a donation (a very small one since my income is going to take a hit).

I am so thankful that you brought Maggie Lee into my life and that she has stayed with me all of this time. Amazingly, I cannot imagine Maggie Lee being any more alive than she is right now.

You did a GREAT thing by helping to push this out to others and in convincing me that this was something we needed to do as a school. Truthfully – it was what I needed to do for me as it allowed me to realize that developing perfect schedules, preparing for state tests, etc. was not all we needed to accomplish with our boys and girls. We needed to foster compassion, care, giving, and love and Maggie Lee, more than anyone else, allowed me to see this. I have worked to compile a list of the people that truly impacted my life in education. Maggie Lee, even though we never officially met, is on my list.

I am proud of all that you have done for ABC. Maggie Lee would have loved your music class and would have been a great Dancing Drum student! Keep doing what you do.

###

 

#christianfaith, #holyspirit, Broadmoor Neighborhood, Butterflies, Christian Faith, God, home renovation, Hope, miracle

Rehab

It is time I came clean. It seems that no matter how hard I try to beat this on my own I just cannot. I. Love. Rehab. Adore it. Addicted to it. In each dilapidated space I see potential. I imagine that each ramshackle residence I pass could be beautiful with just a few gallons of paint and a new screened door. Or a new roof and a bulldozer for a precious few but I see original glory in those little places with overgrown grass and lazy gutters.

We have owned seven homes and our sixth was the newest we had ever purchased. The floors were pristine, the backsplash up to date, the deck wasn’t a demo. It was truly awful. It was perfect and did not need me. At all. In fact, I could only serve to mess it UP. It was a beautiful reno hiatus but I did not feel like it would be our forever home. It was an awesome address with incredible neighbors but then again we couldn’t park the bass boat out in the driveway like the true classless people we are.

I called Andy our realtor eighteen months ago because he knows my flair for the nomadic. I told him that we wanted something a little older with a few projects to keep me busy. I then threw the full force of my intermittent Adderall-Infused attention to realtor.com. I found a perfect looking house with serious internal issues so we walked away.  Then I saw The Patton House. The first time I did a drive-by was Halloween night and the scene of costumed children and neighborhood parties was something so HGTV, it confirmed that we needed to try for this one.

The grey brick  house had a large window which was circular at the top and I was in love. As I perused our honeymoon pictures months later, I realized why. My favorite photos from that week is in front of the main entrance to The Cloister on Sea Island which had an identical window, just grander.  I assume that is why it spoke to me. We got in to see the home the next day and to my great joy there was a dilapidated Butler’s quarters in the back yard. HOT DOG! A project! We made an offer and were moved in before Christmas. You know, the slowest time of the year.

We have moved a wall or two, gutted the kitchen and painted everything inside but patiently waiting in the backyard was the Butler, a perpetual burr under my saddle. So I began to tackle Rhett this week. My renovation is mainly cosmetic: ship-lapping walls, patching floors and opening him up a little. I’d love a light & airy she-shed. I guess that would make her a Rhetta. Yesterday as I was removing the solid wood front door, I had unscrewed seven of the eight screws on the door jam and the eighth wasn’t budging so I took a hammer to it. The solid door fell hard and brought with it part of the door frame. It was stuck.

I tried to lift the girthy door to no avail. At least it was angled so that I could slide down out the front. After the initial thud and numerous attempts to move the front door I noticed a petite, beautiful butterfly floating around the scene. I then began to laugh. Butterflies find me wherever I go. I think of the thin veil between heaven and earth and since Maggie Lee’s  passing I think of her whenever a butterfly comes around. Their whimsy comforts me and I feel visited by these little beauties in an intentional way.

“Ok, little doodle. I guess you are here to help me lift this door? I am SURE that we can do this together. Maybe you could fly under here and give it a good push?” I just grinned and tried to hoist the wooden beast again and could not. I slid down the plank and approached the door from the left side. To my shock, with a modicum of effort, I raised the door.  Then I really started to laugh. “Thank you for the help little butterfly. Who knew you were so strong?”

The orange and black visitor never came particularly close. I cleared the front doorway and instantly the butterfly was gone. Do I think my daughter was reincarnated as a butterfly to help me lift a heavy door? Do I think the butterfly’s presence brought with it insane strength? No and no. Other than owning four dogs I am not crazy. But I am aware of the whisperings of God in my still, small moments and invite those moments with open spirit.

I love to see the dilapidated be reclaimed. Especially when that structure is me.

 

 

 

Christian Faith, Hope, Maggie Lee for Good, Overcoming loss, Uncategorized

Meridian, MS

In best selling author Wm. Paul Young’s 2007 book The Shack, God invites the main character, Mack, back to the place which he describes as “the vortex of his pain,” the spot where his kidnapped daughter Missy’s body is found.  Mack eventually accepts the unconventional invitation which results in tremendous healing as each member of The Trinity work with him to gently reveal the unquenchable love The Father, despite Mack’s circumstances, has for Mack.

I first read The Shack in June of 2009 and heard Young speak in Shreveport in an event sponsored by local golf legend Hal Sutton. Sutton, who was deeply impacted by The Shack, wanted others to hear author in person. I was asked by my friends Jenny and Brian to attend. John, Maggie Lee and Jack were in North Carolina for Camp (Crestridge and Ridgecrest) while I stayed behind working.

Little could I have known the groundwork God was laying in my spiritual thought patterns as I devoured the story of a grieving parent learning to accept the loss of his daughter which he described as ‘The Great Sadness.’ How Young reconciled personal tragedy with God’s love was a beautiful, poetic picture which remained my mental screensaver as we sat with our daughter whose prayed-for miraculous recovery was simply not to be.

The FBC Shreveport bus left for youth camp in Georgia on July 12th a little after five a.m. A tire failed not long after 10 am just past Meridian, MS. The vehicle flipped and came to rest on Lauren and Maggie Lee. Brandon Ugarte was killed at the scene. An Alabama National Guard unit returning from training on up-righting overturned vehicles was traveling behind the bus, saw everything, and miraculously the Guardsmen lifted the wreckage off of our daughters.

To say that the town of Meridian, Mississippi was where our lives changed forever would be accurate. In the ensuing years since 2009 I have never had anything but sadness upon my hearing of the city’s name. Apparently it was time for all of that to change. My college roommate Betsy Sone Jones lives in Tifton, GA and always leads the Maggie Lee for Good charge this time of year. I love Tifton and wanted to be a part of their altruistic day of kindness which traditionally occurs on October 29th, Maggie Lee’s birthday.

Since Annie Bell Clark Elementary’s MLFG Day was not until mid-November I decided to go. Heading Eastward on 20 to get to Georgia would mean a trip through Meridian, MS. I had never in seven years driven past the accident site and it was time to face the music. I prayed and had others pray for me. I strangely felt like all would be well. As I approached Meridian I felt something tremendous in my spirit: the words, “God was with me the entire time.” It was an urging from Maggie Lee’s perspective.

The sentiment echoed again and again as I located the exact spot of the accident, slowed down, pulled over far into the grass and exited on the passenger side of my car. Down the embankment I walked and heard again, “God was with me the entire time.” Which I completely believe to be true. Meridian, as it turns out, is not scary after all. Perhaps I stopped to tell her so. Like so many unpredictable days in this unplanned journey, God’s ridiculous grace splashes upon me and simply makes my days doable when there is no reason at all why they should be.

#christianfaith, #funny, Married love, Uncategorized

Three Easy Steps to The Perfect Marriage…Buahhhh


Today John and I have been married 22 years. Our marriage is so old that it could’ve ordered a beer last year. That’s old. The great truth I have learned is that the longer you are married the less you expect of your spouse and the more you expect of yourself. I have learned much from this opposite I married.

In the infancy of our dating period, John cooked dinner for me. In his deadpan humor he teased me about my utensil usage. Manners being of paramount importance to me, I was devastated. I wept on the phone to my Mom and Dad that night. “Mother, he criticized me for not using a knife on his chicken. It was a free-standing chicken breast. Very. Tender.  He. Thinks. I do. Not. Have. Mannnnnerss.”

I could literally hear my Southern Mother’s neck hair stand up through the phone. “It is completely acceptable to use a fork to cut ANY poultry which is not on the bone.” Miss Manners replied. My Father had more pedestrian words to offer,  “Reel him into the boat and if you get him in there and don’t want him, you can always throw him back” My bruised feelings over his imagined criticism quickly faded but my romantic feelings did not.

I couldn’t throw him back. I was smitten from the first time I saw him walk across campus with his monogrammed L.L.Bean book bag.  He had me at the monogrammed L.L.Bean book bag. In a sea of Divinity students who not only exegeted Hebrew passages about Noah’s flood but appeared by their pant length to be anticipating a second one, John was a stand-out.

We actually first met six years prior to seminary when my high school choir sang at his home church in Tyler. They were one of our “concert” stops. Such the Baptist love story. I briefly dated one of his high school buddies and after college in Seminary this guy kept telling me that I looked familiar. He connected the dots before I did and we have been together ever since.

The first time John came home to Houston, my Father greeted him with a huge bear hug. The look on John’s face was reminiscent of the picture of Lee Harvey Oswald being shot by Jack Ruby. He comes from a long line of hand-shakers which is totally great, just different from that which I was accustomed. I have come to realize that life is not done your way or the wrong way. These are the things you do not necessarily  know going in.

Tonight James Taylor is in town. He was so sweet to schedule this date for us. I have loved his music since college. His is the first song on the first mix tape I ever made for John and I labored to his greatest hits with both of my children. James is boss. So we will celebrate this love God has graciously given and the love we have chosen to stick with in good times and bad. His book bag and dark hair are gone but he will forever have me: heart and soul.

Farm life, Motherhood, feeding a family, picky eaters, chihuahuas, Red barn, Farmers, Uncategorized

So God Made a Farmer

barn

Maybe it was Paul Harvey’s “So God Made A Farmer.” which impacted my child. Or, perhaps it was weekends at the family farm in Troup, TX where his father rode horses as a child or maybe it was the Little People Playhouse Barn at his Grandmom’s house which planted the agricultural seed in Jack. At any rate, he loves the dirt. He told me proudly the other day, “You need a farmer three times a day” He is right.

This Summer Jack is working on Bundrick Farms as a hired hand. 40 hours a week. Just a week on the soybean farm and his neck is literally beet red. His nails are dirty and his Wranglers walk in on their own from his F-250 but he loves being outside. His hard physical work means that my cooking which takes a lax turn in the Summer has to be on point. I have to feed the farmer.

There is a holy food-provider calling for a farmer as well as a parent. Whether you are a Mom nursing a baby, a Dad nursing a sick child or even nursing a cold yourself, the little people look to you for nourishment. Even if your kids bring their kids home to visit. Inevitably I get a text requesting a list of breakfast items whenever I go home to my 75-year-old Mom’s home.

I think men may actually be better equipped for the family chef role because they don’t mount their self-esteem on the teeny-tiny whimsical palette of a four-year-old. It’s almost as if men don’t obsess about the child’s ever-changing preferences of Oreo Thins over Nutter Butter bites or something. They do not envision their child on a therapist’s couch as a result of buying orange juice with pulp. Men are amazing that way. At least mine is.

Perhaps my brain is bogged down with minutiae like which Apple Juice brand gives my child gas or the best way to time a toaster strudel icing-packet defrosting to coincide with the strudel being perfectly brown. Like our family data plan which is always ahem being used to capacity, my mind routinely hovers at the 96% used storage. Because of the Sumatra / French Roast gymnastics I work through while staring at the Keurig aisle.

My cart looks embarrasingly conflicted: Atkins bars for lo-carb John, fresh fruit, Greek yogurt for me (John Stamos brand because…ah…John Stamos) raisins and then whoa-look out: Mountain Dew, Swiss Cake Rolls, whole milk, pizza rolls, bar-be-que and cheese. I have to pack a farmer’s lunch for Jack, a balanced dinner for all of us to eat together and consider canine teeth, a hound doberman’s ear infections and treats to bribe a spastic black lab.

I finally gave up making the dog food from scratch for the little girls when I went back to work last Summer. The Chihuahuas have brittle teeth it turns out so I was actually making their soft food. It was cheaper that way. Now that I splurge on the Fresh Pet refrigerated log of dog food, every bagger in every Brookshire’s grocery store now looks at me like I am NUTS.

“Fragile teeth,” I lamely try to explain.

“Do you COOK this?” they ask. And I mumble some throw-away line like “No, the dogs do,” when what I really want to say is “There’s a $5 in it for you if you just quietly put the food in the bags, follow me out with them and squeeze them into my micro-car which I will have to rearrange my trunk crap for you to do so.”

When I arrive home and lug my carefully-selected bags of food into my home all I can think is “Thank you, God, for this food.The food means that there are people both furry and not as furry that I get to feed. I have money with which to buy food. I have people in my home who eat that I get to do life with. And even if I occasionally strike out with the off-brand meatball with something magically crunchy inside, we are here together to eat, pray, love and laugh.

After we lost Maggie Lee, going to the grocery store was a draining experience. I had all of her preferences stored in my brain and no longer any need for them. In the nearly seven years since, the sharp reality of incompleteness has softened as I consciously stare at the tremendous blessings I have left. I know what I have left is greater than what I have lost. I will always choose to look through that lens.

Good luck to all of us this Summer as we rise to the holy calling of feeding our families. Whether we have a fend-for-yourself policy, have to step up our game, are eating home-grown tomatoes or Captain Crunch for dinner. God made a farmer. Aren’t we glad?

 

#holyspirit, Christian Faith, God, Hope, Overcoming, Perseverance, Survival, Uncategorized, wisdom

You Do Get Points for Surviving


I don’t know much at all but as I hugged my friend who lost her daughter 18 months ago, I relayed those words: You do get points for surviving. I did not tell her to cheer up. I did not tell her that her Grandson’s graduation would be a snap and I did not tell her that I knew how she felt even though I have buried a daughter.

That simple statement has echoed in my mind so many times. God knows how it feels to be in the weeds, devastated and angry. Jesus felt these emotions. And it is not just my opinion that we get survival points,  the Bible flat out tells me we do. This verse in James celebrates the fact that if we can simply stand we get everything. Psst…here’s the thing- He HELPS us to stand. When we have nothing left, He pours into our spirit with His Spirit and enables us to stand.

Whatever the test, whatever the devastation, disappointment or dismal diagnosis- you can stand! Persevere because you do, after all,  get points for surviving.

#christianfaith, #holyspirit, #humor, #maggieleeforgood, Blacklab, Uncategorized

If Being Right is Wrong…I Still Wanna Be Right

If being Right is Wrong…I still want to be right

 

  I know what my faults are. I do not feign perfection. I am well aware of what lies in my own soul. In our congregation we have addicts, ex-cons, prostitutes and even a Junior Leaguer. We are all sinners saved by grace. If that grace covers someone like me then of course it covers everyone else as well. But even I have blind spots. Occasionally, like the father of all chin hairs accidently discovered while driving, I am surprised by a glimpse of something ugly in me. That I never saw before. Prior to my launch into my latest furry discovery, here’s a look at a few of my vintage flaws:

1) I lack that part of a human brain which knows how to fold a fitted sheet…or anything else that may come out of the dryer

If I am folding three t-shirts I will fold them three different ways. May even roll one up in a wad if the mood strikes. I never did puzzles as a child. I do remember stapling black pieces of paper together the length of my body and tracing myself with a white crayon: a life-sized Jinny crime scene at four. I did have Lincoln Logs…which I taped together. Not a linear thinker.

2) I suffer from extreme multi-tasking over confidence

The gap between what I think I can accomplish and what I can realistically accomplish is a pretty profound. I no longer try to cook and change diapers but I do wand on mascara en route to work, a holdover from my hour commute to Baylor Medical Center. Right this second Evangeline has a hi-temp glue gun welded to her back seat carpet, remains of a mobile salad-consumption-attempt and red light faux-nail application fails. I have memorized comedy bits, frosted cupcakes and refereed a Chihuahua death match all in my sedan which makes me I think that I can do it all.

3) Procrastination

We moved into our old new home in December. I promptly re-tiled the fireplace in a beautiful limestone. I grouted it 3 weeks later and now, nearly March, the wire brush sits plopped in front of the project. It is as if I am signaling to any unfortunate visitor, “The smeared-toothpaste grout patina will one day be removed by the handy wire brush resting motionless on this mantel. Right here. It sits immobile to signify that one day, like Central Expressway, the project will reach completion.” All I need is a permanent “excuse our progress” sign.

I am not an overly competitive person. I don’t love an argument. I have never thought that I was one who needed to be right. At least not always right ALL the time. So when this scene unfolded and made my neck hair stand at attention I was surprised at myself. Whenever I find that something insignificant brings out my worst, I know that it is time for a deep breath and a hard look at the state of my soul.

This nugget of self-realization hit me quite out of the blue at an adorable shop yesterday. Three weeks ago I bought a reasonably-priced galvanized tray and I wanted my friend Lisa to see the cute store from whence it came. The shop’s entrance was canopied by illuminated twigs and tied with teeny chalkboard signs encouraging one to “relax,” “breathe” and “buy more crap” O.K. Not the last one. But if Magnolia Market had an illegitimate second country cousin twice removed this place would be it.

Lisa is a lady. She acted predictably: classily oohing and aahing as I blurted out, “I WANT TO BUY ONE OF EVERYTHING IN THE WHOLE STORE!” like Will Ferrell jacked up on candy corn. I love Lisa because she is self-possessed and has awesome cheeses at her home at all times. I could knock on her door at three a.m. and in five minutes she would fart out a seven layer dip and some exotic cracker with which to scoop it out. She can still wear shorts. I stand amazed. Anyway, she loved this place as I knew she would.

The owner flitted around rearranging succulents and cotton ball wreaths; the whole place hearkened back to an idealized farm-house life minus the hassle of actually milking anything. I excitedly complimented her bird cages, porcelain berry cartons, cow creamers and pedestals. The merchant, clearly over my initial enthusiasm, struggled for another way to phrase “thank you.” Just then Lisa picked up the tray I bought three weeks prior. I said, “I love that! I got that tray three weeks ago.” That statement shed light on a hidden fault as bright as the rusted bed spring fixture shining above me. As it would happen, I rather enjoy being right.

The owner looked up through the micro-herb garden to correct me, “Oh no, I remember that you bought the one that was a little larger with a ring at the top.” I stared blankly and felt my face ask, ”Could this be true? Am I mistaken? Don’t I know one two-tiered galvanized tray from the next? What kind of animal AM I?”

My lack of response evoked an even more passionate attempt from the owner to jog my memory.  “Yes, the tray you bought was a bit wider and instead of the wooden handle there was more of a ring on the top.” She made a ring motion with her right hand which she thought would bring it all home for me. “That’s the one you got.” Her speech slowed and eyes widened, as she firmly reminded me that I had not in fact purchased that particular tray but rather one like it, you know the one with the ring that stupid people buy.

I did not comment because I thought that perhaps she was right. She seemed so confident about what I purchased on my first and only visit to her shop weeks ago. Maybe I was wrong and she was hiding an enormous hippocampus under her organic, locally-sourced flax garden hat like people who can remember what they ate for breakfast in 1987. I struggled to remember our black lab’s first birthday party when I used the tray. My mind’s eye revealed decorations, Pupperoni in galvanized cups, homemade dog cake and human food: cake balls with blue #1 picks on top. No ring that I could remember.

Curiosity got the best of me and so with a grove of petite olive trees blocking the owners view, I used my remaining cell battery to search for conclusive evidence. With the moral high ground to retain, like Atticus Finch, I needed evidence to vindicate myself. This completely uninvited and unwarranted accusation must be answered, right?

I scrolled through photos until I found Cash’s Birthday montage. (don’t judge) Impatiently, my fumbling fingers enlarged the picture of our kitchen table. Alas I saw the galvanized tray just as I had remembered. A slight wooden handle adorned the top. Glee flooded my soul. I was right and that could only mean one thing: she was wrong. Buzzing with vindication, I wondered what to do next? Should I casually saunter over to Lisa and prove my innocence or do I go straight to the heart of the matter and show the owner that I was right first?

My innards rejoiced, the embarrassment left my face and my left hand held the proof that I wasn’t off my nut. Right? Then the piety set in. How dare she accuse me of recollecting wrongly? The nerve. Who does this person think she is? Then it happened; I felt a twinge in my gut. A zing which, when I listen, helps me to simmer down when something flies all over me. A still, small prompting warns me.

“Why does this matter so much to you?” I felt The Spirit question, “Why are you bothered by this? Slow your roll before your mouth blurts out that which has up until now thankfully been reserved to your head.” I breathed deeply and wondered why I felt like I had to be right? Why did this even begin to matter to me? Why would the accusation of me not remembering the details of an idiotic yet adorable kitchen accessory get under my skin so?

I recognize consistently that when I am offended by the small stuff that my heart has gotten janky somewhere along the way. The fact is the rightest thing we can do at times is not insist on how right we are. Chances are if I am feeling defensive that there is something in my soul out of whack. I am not meant to be a defensive soul but a hearty one with a loose hold on blessings, with nothing to prove and nothing to lose.

Christian Faith, God's redemption of our worst-case scenario, Hope, Maggie Lee for Good, Uncategorized

When God Sets You Up

There are rare and magical moments in life where God sets us up for the easy win. Like a Father positioning the tee ball tee at the perfect level for home run success, I feel God sets us up for beautiful-swing-for-the-fence moments as well. I am convinced that at times God gives us all we need and gleefully watches us stumble on the holy ground of divine preparation. Let me tell you why. 

Three Sundays ago was the anniversary of the bus accident which took my 12-year-old’s life. I felt prayed-up and ready to roll through the day, determined that it was going to be a thankful day. Just before our church service began I noticed a lady brushing her teeth in the ladies room. The collection of fauxbric Target bags indicated that she was homeless. Her name tag read Treva and as she brushed I greeted her and took note of her bright blue eyes.

Church was a sweet refreshment to my soul and as I was leaving, Charlene caught me to tell me that Treva needed ladies clothes. Maggie Lee’s Closet clothing was too small for her and I apologized for not being able to help. I ran through options as I walked to my car. When I opened my car door a large white bag in the back seat caught my eye. I had totally forgotten about my recent closet purge. 

I lifted the heavy bag and realized that my donation this lady would facilitate the need to give her a ride. I handed the bag to her and asked where I could take her. The shelter? The Salvation Army? No. Instead she wanted a ride to the place where she had been living: a park.  I asked if she was sure that was where she wanted to go and she insisted it was. 

I dropped her off and glanced back to see her dump the contents of the sack onto the cement table. Such a basic need clothing and rediculously easy on my end because God had arranged it all.  

In the six years to the day since I have lived life without Maggie Lee here with me, I have felt a million moments of divine set up – the relentless good deeds on her birthday, October 29th, the cast of Broadway’s Wicked becoming a part of Maggie Lee for Good Day and even just this past week Khaki Fest which provided new school uniforms to 147 Shreveport kids. Had I tried to conjure up this goodness on my own it would have been a sweet disaster, I am certain.

God, however, stoops to meet us where we are in our toddler tantrum: face down in the dirt with huge neon bat long-since thrown and whispers, “How bout we give this one more try?” 

Christian Faith

And They Said it Would Never Last

The main news story for the rest of the world in the Summer of 1994 was O.J. and Nicole. For me, it was holy matrimony. The morning of June 25, 1994 was rainy in Houston and when the sun shone it brought a humidity comparable only to the jungles of Viet Nam. The ceremony was personal and the nuptials sweet. Our cake hit the floor even before we made it to the reception and my Mom and her twin, Aunt Jinny, hit the dance floor with a line dance forever seared in my memory.

The vows we spoke that day were a promise entered into with huge intention and even greater naivety. The dreams of for better were an ocean engulfing any scant row boat of a for worse. I suppose a mind fixated on possible trial and tragedy would never have the chutzpah to commit. Life as it has unfolded has brought phenomenal betters and unfathomable worsts to our doorstep. Land Sharks of loss and beautiful FTD deliveries of joy. That, as I have come to realize is the deal you strike when you join lives.

I searched for my person and found him. He passed the trailer test (my friend’s standard for true love: would you marry this person if you were to live in a single wide with him the rest of your life? Don’t judge.) This was before the nice ones they have today which are more posh than my home. John completed me and still does. He is brave, methodical and ridiculously kind. He is funnier than I am and has layers of empathy and depth which I respect and adore.

We are the perfect match for such an unlikely match. My seminary room mate Gina from Arkansas was sweet and beautiful. I was the loud one. When word got out around campus that John and I were dating, people would correct him, “Oh, you mean you’re dating Gina?”

“No, I’m dating Jinny. The crazy blonde. You may have smelled her perfume before you saw her in the library. Yep, she’s the one.”

He was and still is the one because we try to grace each other and we’re in this thing for the long haul. I call him Father Teresa because he is so committed to helping the poor. He’s a great Father, husband and friend. This saint also makes me head-cuss more than anyone else on this big blue marble. Likewise, he still wonders what planet I came from at times. His handsome dark brown hair is now 50 shades of grey and I these days I sag in some truly unfortunate locations.

John is now and forever my better or worse. How did I ever get so blessed?

Young love
Young love
Christian Faith, God, wisdom

To Enter into Eternal Life

I love Barclay’s thoughts on The eternality of God:

Now let us take eternal life. It is far better to speak of eternal life than to speak of everlasting life. The main idea behind eternal life is not simply that of duration. It is quite clear that a life which went on for ever could just as easily be hell as heaven. The idea behind eternal life is the idea of a certain quality of life. What kind? There is only one person who can properly be described by this adjective eternal (aionios, Greek #166) and that one person is God. Eternal life is the kind of life that God lives; it is God’s life. To enter into eternal life is to enter into possession of that kind of life which is the life of God. It is to be lifted up above merely human, transient things into that joy and peace which belong only to God. Clearly a man can enter into this close fellowship with God only when he renders to him that love, that reverence, that devotion, that obedience which truly bring him into fellowship with him.