Thursday, September 29, 2011

When All Else Fails....

This post is by Bonnie Long, who gave me permission to share. Enjoy.



When my son was 4 years old I got him his own pony. It was a fine little pony and we enjoyed "Toffey" and my son could ride him well. So I thought since he kept asking me to let him ride on a trail I would I saddle up my horse and his pony and we would ride around our 5 acres. Everything went well until I got off my horse to take off the bridle and put on the halter to tie her up so I could help him with Toffey. Like most little kids he wanted to extend his fun a little longer so he asked if he could trot along the fence line while I did that. I was reluctant but Toffey was so good and things seemed so calm I agreed.

Much to my shock as soon as he took off the unimaginable happened. His saddle slipped to the left and his foot went through the stirrup. This scared him and he started to scream and the pony, not knowing what was going on, took off galloping. I stood there in horror watching my precious son get bounced along the ground just like a rag doll bouncing along behind a small child. Thoughts rushed through my head... “I can’t run fast enough to catch the pony. My horse isn't in a condition I can hop on and ride her to the rescue and that will take too long anyway.” I tried not to scream and make things worse. Suddenly Adam's helmet broke off and I knew he was in big trouble. I remembered the Bible saying cry out to me and I will help you. I cried out "God Help Him!" and instantly, not 2 seconds later but instantly before my words were finished, his foot was free from the stirrup and he was lying in the grass still alive.

I really don't remember what happened next in any order but I do know I could not unsaddle my horse or go to the barn for days. We took him to the hospital and the doctor said because of his age his bones were still sort of flexible so there were no serious injuries. They took x-rays of his head and all was well there. For some time he had bruises where the horse had stepped on his chest but he recovered fine.


Of course I never forgot how God intervened. I had been ignoring Him. I never read the Bible and hardly ever went to church. But, just like we would do for one of our children crying out in desperation, He heard my cry and came to the rescue.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Rah Rah Rah


Football is on my mind today since my youngest will play (hopefully) in his first middle school game ever. He's an 8th grader and a bunch of his buddies decided to go out for the team. Jonathan did well enough to be chosen and now reality has hit....he has to do what he's signed on to do! This little episode in his life has reminded me of one in my own, the time I decided to try out for the cheerleading squad.

1978 in small town America....football was king. Our little town was on the top of the heap in single A competition, having won the state championship in '77. Everybody, even my older parents, went to the games. As much as I liked football, I REALLY liked the cheers, the noise, the excitement of the crowd, so my dream of being a cheerleader was born.

Tryouts arrived. Keep in mind I had never taken one dance class, never participated in gymnastics...in fact my sister tried to help me do a back bend once and I fell on my head and saw stars. I had NO skills, but I had heart, or so I thought. I piled into the gym with the other girls and tried my best at doing a herkie (what in the world is a herkie anyway?) and various other tortuous movements. Sweat poured off of me, I grew breathless, and I grew very discouraged.

This is where I began to compare myself to the other girls, all girls I had grown up with and pretty much all friends. Suddenly they had been elevated to super star status in ability and I sank right down to the depths as the most clumsy, uncoordinated dump of a girl ever. Who was I kidding that I, Paula Mason, book reader and piano player, could ever hope to stand on the sidelines leading the town in rousing cheers?

I left that day and never went back. I talked myself out of it before I had even started, all because I compared myself to others and let my bad thoughts rule my mind. No one that day told me I was a failure...not one girl, not one coach. I told myself and put out the cheerleading fire with a resounding splat of negativity.

I watch my youngest as he journeys down this road of new experiences and I remind him that he can do it, can be strong and succeed. Setbacks are often what cause us to dig in and try harder and being discouraged is part of the game, but it doesn't have to be a game ender.
Philippians 4:13 says, "I can do ALL things through Christ who gives me strength." That tells me it's time to stop looking at the negatives, all I believe I CAN'T do and trust in the Lord for the courage to move forward in the tough places. I'm here cheering for you, even if I can't do a herkie!


Monday, September 26, 2011

Anxiety

Hi Ladies. It is highly probable that we have all suffered from some type of stress or anxiety during our lifetime. Dealing with the stress is also a challenge. In the mist of everything God wants us to cast all our cares upon Him. I have learned that I do not have to carry my burdens alone. I have resources within the church, my family, and my friends to help during times of stress.

I wrote this poem about a year and a half ago when I was diagnosed with acute anxiety syndrome. It was quite severe. My husband had been out of a job for almost 8 months and we had no income. I was homeschooling at the time and trying to find work as a substitute teacher in the county high schools to pay the bills and "stay above the water." It was slow going every day. The stress started to affect me physically. This is how I felt; some of you may be able to relate.

Anxiety

The tingling sensation creeps up my arms
The tight ache envelops my shoulders
The head begins to scream with pain

Instantly I am seized with the disease

The light pierces my eyes
The noise overwhelms my ears
The voices push me away into madness

Instantly I am seized with the disease

Rest for the weary
Rest for the downtrodden
Rest for the overworked

The dark room invites me
The quiet entices me
The peace overcomes me

Rest for the weary
Rest for the downtrodden
Rest for the overworked

The silent stillness restores my sanity
The disease creeps away
the pain a mere memory until tomorrow

Instantly I am seized with the disease


When the doctor explained to me what was happening to me, I knew my God was the great healer and better than any medicine the doctor could prescribe. The healing began slowly and I began to understand that my journey through life was not mine alone to bear. I am so thankful that He cares for me and restores me when I call upon Him.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

OK, God, I'm Listening!


Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him,and he will make your paths straight.

Proverbs 3:5-6


God has put some situations in my life recently that have really made me trust in him and he has definitely come through for me too.

Being a caregiver for senior citizens, I sometimes get called into homes and have no idea what I am getting into until I get there. For someone who is a planner and likes to be prepared, this has stretched me beyond my comfort zone.

One day I went to a lady’s home who was clearly a hoarder. She had mild dementia and her husband was in the hospital. She tended to wander outside, so I had to keep an eye on her and go out with her. Well the 3rd time we went outside, we closed the front door, but this time it was locked.

OMG, HELP….I prayed, literally.

I didn’t know what to do….it looked like it was going to rain, I had never been there before, and my phone was in the house. Well as she started searching her car (not really sure what she was looking for), I was trying not to panic. It was a split foyer, so I decided to check the windows and one was unlocked….. coincidence?! …. I think NOT ….. I think God provided me with a way to get out of this situation.

Oh, but remember the part about the hoarding?? Yes, the basement was full, but somehow I managed (God, again) to crawl over all the stuff without getting hurt or breaking any of it and making it back to the front door. Crisis averted and my lady was happy and safe back in her home.

All the trials of being a caregiver for the last 6 months have paid off. Monday I officially start my new job at Benton Middle School assisting a handicapped student. So now I have a schedule and a plan…..God’s plan, not mine!

Sheila

Thursday, September 22, 2011

“Every good and perfect gift is from … the Father"


… who does not change” (James 1:17, NIV)

September is a tough month for me. It marks the end of summer, our season of rest, family bonding, and adventures. It ushers in big changes such as early alarms, new teachers, colder weather, unfamiliar coaches, and a lot less “wiggle room” in the schedule! One little flip of the calendar page initiates an avalanche of events and responsibilities. But the hardest thing about September is this: saying goodbye to my kids as they set off to school for a new year. I’m reminded that each one is growing older and another year closer to her/his eventual departure. Time is ticking away, and I am forced to accept it – like it or not! My heart wants to screams, “freeze!”

Does this trouble you? Or, is it just me who’s prone to melancholy? True, I do have a hard time with goodbyes. My parents split up when I was 9 and we moved far away (half way around the world, to be precise). I never knew when I’d see my dad next. So when he finally came, I was overcome with grief, knowing that the goodbye would soon be coming. The feeling darkened the entire visit. But this is different, right? Tell me I wasn’t the only mom fighting tears at the bus stop (or the boo-hoo breakfast)!

This summer, our family took a weeklong vacation at Myrtle Beach, from Sat - Sat. We started a new tradition - taking turns listing our favorite memories. We went in a circle: “watching the sunrise on the beach, car air-conditioning after walking Broadway, the lazy river and turtle races at noon, Captain Hook putt putt, and boogie boarding on Wednesday”. Huh? “Why Wednesday?” I asked. My husband responded, “Because on Wednesday, you’ve settled in and still have lots of time before vacation is over. You’re just enjoying the moment without thinking of the end.” Yes! Perfectly said! And, my husband is the most stable person I know.

So, I know I’m not a nutcase. That’s good. But now what? What do I do with this insight? I’ve been asking God this very question. I think He’s given me His answer. God wants me to release my desperate grip on yesterday, in order to receive today and tomorrow. Release. Receive. Trust the author of every good and perfect gift to continue giving those gifts. The One who blessed me yesterday will bless me again today (and tomorrow). Our world says: “All good things must come to an end”. God says: My mercies are new every morning (Lamentations 3:22 – 23). I’m going with God. Sad goodbyes happen. But happy hellos follow. I’m going to open my eyes to receive more good that’s coming.

Just before Labor Day, my mother-in-law passed away. It was very sad. She was an amazing person and we miss her terribly. Since then, God has shown me 2 things. One: Nothing stays the same. Our time is like sand in an hourglass and God knows the number of grains. We will all say goodbye to this world one day. Two: Since my mother-in-law was a Christian, she is now in heaven. (Thank you, Jesus.) No more tears. No more suffering. And no more goodbyes. Ever. Isn’t that the best? And it happened when she let go of this world (her yesterday) to reach out for eternity (tomorrow forever).

God is good, and He will always be good. This, James says, is a fact we can live by. So why not treasure the memories while allowing for new ones? God’s best is yet to come.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Looking Through Different Lenses



Sometimes God hugs come in ways we just don't expect....even through reading glasses.

I was having one of those stressful mornings. You know the kind when time just gets away from you and nothing seems to go right. On top of everything else, I had to get ready to leave the house for an appointment that I was really dreading. Fear and anxiety gave in to the “what if” game. The usual red flags that remind me that I am believing something that isn’t true were plowed over by self-focus. “What am I going to do if this doesn’t turn out good?” “What am I going to do IF….????” These thoughts were running through my head as I was preparing to leave.
My eyesight isn’t so good lately and I found myself looking down at blurry make-up, blurry papers, and a blurry computer screen. In fact, everything within my reach was out of focus. This certainly wasn’t helping me in my hurried state. Where did I put those reading glasses? I really need to tie those things around my neck! Well, I found them and put on those often-needed lenses. Immediately things came into focus. And guess what? God spoke to me in that very moment. I had to stop in my tracks. He showed me I was viewing things through my fears and insecurities. But I had a choice here. Just like putting on those glasses was a choice, I had the choice to look at things through God’s eyes. There’s peace there. He sees everything clearly and I don't have to understand or figure everything out. He sees the big picture! I could choose to trust Him. My loving Father reminded me that no matter what the circumstances may be, He is loving, trustworthy, forgiving, and faithful. Resting and trusting in Him to supply all my needs brings immediate relief from strain and striving. There isn’t frustration over things not looking how I think they should look. He knows and meets my deepest needs..no matter what. Nothing escapes or surprises Him. He is constant and He is faithful…even when I am not. He is El Roi (the God Who Sees)! Those reading glasses are my little reminder! Love those God hugs!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Trying Something New


It's been pointed out to me by a dear friend that my recent posts have all dealt with fear. I suppose that's true and as authors are told to write about what they know, I MUST know a lot about fear. Let's just say that I'm going to carry on the theme.

Captain James Cook was a British explorer, navigator and cartographer who ultimately rose to the rank of captain in the Royal Navy. Cook made detailed maps of Newfoundland prior to making three voyages to the Pacific Ocean, during which he achieved the first European contact with the eastern coastline of Australia and the Hawaiian Islands, as well as the first recorded circumnavigation of New Zealand. (Wikipedia says this....not me.)

You're probably wondering why I'm writing about this guy who lived many years ago and who most of us remember from some vague mention in 7th grade world history. What fascinates me about him was the fact that he never went to sea until he was 18 or 19 years old. He was born on a farm, raised to follow in his ancestors footsteps, and didn't know a bit about sailing, navigating, etc, yet ended up being one of the world's best known sea captains and explorers. He could have played it safe and stayed with what he knew, but he dove in (no pun intended) and learned everything he could about his new passion. He didn't let his late start stand in his way.

My son Jonathan has decided he wants to play football. He's 13 and has never played with a team, or in a league, but he's not letting that slow him down. I'm busy thinking that he'll get creamed because he's not as experienced as other boys but Jon is not worried. He's decided to tackle his new passion (stop the puns already!) and isn't letting his inexperience slow him down. Everyday I get to hear of the great practices and the great plays and I'm happy that he's happy. He is NOT afraid and as a result, is having the time of his life.

Have you been thinking it's too late to do something you've wanted to do? Have you quit before you have begun because all the other kids will know how to do something and you won't? Let's try something new....trusting God for the courage to do it, stepping out in faith and not letting fear of the unknown hold us back. If Captain Cook can do it, and Jonathan can do it, why can't WE dive into something and live life passionately? Last one in is a rotten egg!



Friday, September 16, 2011

Local Marriage Conference Opportunity




McLean Bible Church is hosting a conference "The Marriage You've Always Wanted" to be held at the Tyson's Campus on the weekend of October 7-8th. Check it out at the link below. It's wonderful when local churches open their doors to those seeking answers.

http://vimeo.com/29149182


Thursday, September 15, 2011

God's Grace

I wrote this poem one year after the World Trade Center attack on Sept. 11, 2002. I shared it in Connect Group on 9/11/11 and wanted to share it with you all as well. I hope it stirs your hearts and gives you hope.

God's Grace

As I sit and watch the world outside
I seem to look with new bright eyes.
The trees are bowing with such grace and poise
And God speaks through the trees with a soft and tender voice.

Listen carefully as they rustle and sway
You, too, might hear what God has to say.
This world was not meant for such hurt and sorrow
Trust me today and I'll give you tomorrow.

As I sit with a kitten on my lap
And a kicking child in my womb
God reminds me
This world was not meant for doom.

He willingly gave his life for me
My decision to live for Him was His plea.
Take a moment just to pause
For you dear child are a worthy cause.

Your life is a light so let it shine
Although this world may not be kind.
In your heart this you must know
My son awaits to welcome you home.

Your life is but a season
And I alone hold the reason.
Stand high like the trees
And still be able to bend upon your knees.

- Sharon Hinkle

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Dangerous Road Ahead!!


Mrs. Ruble was a very old lady by the time I came along. She lived up the road from our house and my mother often sent me to check on her or to take her a plate of food, or tell her of some bit of news. I was scared to death of her for no other reason than she was old and had such lifelike pieces of sculpture in her house, I was sure they were real and would get me.

She had lived in her home for a very long time, so long in fact that the roads had been re-routed since her girlhood and were no longer in the same place as they used to be. She had driven the old roads so many years, day in and day out that it was embedded in her brain. When the city changed them, Mrs. Ruble found it hard to change too.

Well, the years advanced and Mrs. Ruble became forgetful and her driving grew more and more erratic and that's when the fun began. See, she was driving the old ways in her brain but the roads were no longer in the same place. Even worse, the original road was straight down the hill while the new road was a round about lane, with an easier incline.

One fine day, Mrs. Ruble set out for the store and to the shock of all concerned, she took off down the old familiar path, bumpity bumping over grassy hillocks at a terrifying speed and angle. Everyone held their breath! Would she make it??? Look out Mrs. Ruble...the old way is not the best way!!

I'm happy to say she made it and we all breathed a bit easier. Family took the keys and she moved away to live with those who could care for her, leaving the neighborhood a safer but more boring place to live.

I've been thinking about her for some reason and how she relates to my own life as a mom, wife, friend, Christian, etc. My mental vehicle goes where I've always allowed it to go, sort of on automatic pilot, and that has to stop. I've allowed myself to get into ruts of my own making and my own thinking....I'm not good enough, I'm not capable, God can't use me there because I don't have any particular talent, who would want me and I'll probably just fail anyway. Dangerous road ahead!!!

No, I need to change and travel along God's path of assurance and love, trusting in Him to do the work and letting him do the driving. I know if He's behind the wheel, we're headed in the right direction!

Psalm 32:8 I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you.

Monday, September 12, 2011



Holding on to Summer

Do you find yourself trying to hold on to summer?
As an old song by Nat King Cole states…Those Lazy Crazy Days of Summer. You’ll wish that summer could always be here.

Summer was fun with some lazy days…life was less packed with a have-to-do list. The list was still there but not as much pressure to accomplish all or to have such a set schedule. There was perhaps time to sit on the deck and enjoy your morning coffee…time to plant and harvest a garden…time to enjoy the beauty of planted flowers…time to go the beach and build sand castles with the kids….read a book for pleasure…..eat ice cream on a hot summer day…cool down at a water park…..time to slow down and enjoy creation.

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good: his love endures forever Psalm 16:34

I just love that – forever part! All good things come to an end. Summer comes and goes. Seasons change…..nothing lasts forever. But, that old saying is not true! Step away to your quiet place and thank God that it’s not true. Thank Him for his love and for His goodness that does last forever and His forgiveness.

Just think with each change of season there is something new…..yes, the beginning of school can be a challenge along with all of the after school and weekend activities. A new chance to change things…to become an even better wife, mom, grandmother, aunt, sister, etc. A new time to invest in the future of those you love. To become a mentor to someone. To reach out to a neighbor. To be a servant.

Remember the summer, but be challenged with the fall. A chance for a new beginning. Pray for wisdom as you venture into fall. Wisdom as to where your time should be spent. You will need wisdom to meet the entire have-to list with an attitude of service and love. Schedule time for you to rest and to refresh your soul and don’t forget to add a dash of FUN.

Friday, September 9, 2011

God smacked!!!

Ever been God smacked? I'm talking about those moments when God makes something so clear to you, it's almost as if He's smacked you upside the head.... you know what I mean. Well the other day I sure got a doozey!


I've always been fond of Proverbs 3: 5-6 - "Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Lean not on your own understanding; in all you ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your path."


I think it just makes me feel good to know that can always lean on him and he will get me through things - whatever they might be.



So I've been praying for my daughter - something pretty specific - for the past few weeks. Sometimes I pray and it's just words in my head, no clear answers. Other times I might pray and it's more like a cnversation with God. Well, the other day I start praying for my daughter and it quickly turns into a conversation. Suddenly, I'm hearing "I've got this". Woa, ok, thanks for pointing out my doubt, I'll continue my side of the conversation now. Then it happens.... I hear "SHE'S got this!". ERRRRTTTT! Slam on the brakes! I think I've just been told! It was as if God smacked me upside my head to tell me to have a little more faith in my daughter. Woa, in all my weeks of praying this is something that had never even crossed my mind!



I guess as a mamma, I sometimes worry about things involving my kids more than my kids do (case in point). But, I can turn it over to God and he just might remind me that he's in control - or that I'm worrying a bit too much. Not sure about you, but that's something I really needed to hear this week :)

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Sesquicentennial

Remember that record-breaking heat wave a month or so ago? Remember the intense temperatures combined with sweltering humidity that had city officials issuing heat advisories and telling people to stay inside? Remember that day where Northern Virginia was the hottest place in the entire country? Remember how sane people did everything they could to find air conditioning wherever they could?

Well I’m not sane. That weekend, I and about 30,000 other people spent those days outside, wandering Old Town Manassas, soaking up the sun and history. I was one of many volunteers for the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, also known as the Sesquicentennial. It was 4 days of reenactments, exhibits, tours, lectures, and music all centered around life during the war. For those of you who are history buffs, you can understand why one would be excited about this; for those who aren’t I’m going to try to explain. Hopefully this won’t sound like a history report.

The best thing about history events like this is it’s so much more than just another history lesson. Rather than just reading about what happened, you get the opportunity to experience how it was – it’s history come to life! You can see how people slept, ate, dressed, played, and worked in the 1800s. More than that, you can learn how they handled the crisis that came their way; how they faced the adversity and challenges of war literally in their backyard; and how they sacrificed family, friends, and home to fight for what they believed.

There were military camps artillery demonstrations, dance lessons, musical interludes, and hundreds of reenactors spread throughout the Historic Manassas area, but it would take a long time to tell you about everything, so I’ll tell you about my three favorite events.

Coming in at number three was the Confederate Cemetery. I’ll admit a slight bias for this one because this is where I was volunteering for two of the four days. I asked to volunteer there because I’ve long had an affinity for old cemeteries. I love the stories literally buried in the grounds (plus they’re just kind of cool-looking). Our cemetery has many Southern Cross of Honor winners (the Confederate equivalent of the Congressional Medal of Honor) and a memorial to the Confederate soldiers killed during the war, as well as a Union soldier who earned the Congressional Medal of Honor. If you want to know some stories, feel free to ask me – I had to memorize a lot of them.



The runner-up was Liberia Plantation. Living in Manassas all my life, I’ve heard about it many times, but it’s rarely open to the public. For the Sesquicentennial, it opened its beautiful doors and let us look around a bit – it’s a gorgeous house and if you get the chance to visit, I recommend it. A highlight of Liberia Plantation was a reenactment of Rose Greenhow, a female spy during the Civil War. She spoke of how she passed secrets that were pivotal to the Confederates’ success in the 1st Battle of Manassas, as well as what life was like after she was captured. And she never went out of character, despite many people trying to trip her up with their questions



And now for my favorite event of the weekend! The reenactment of the 1st Battle of Manassas was amazing. Several hundred reenactors fighting exactly as their 1800s counterparts did. There was gunfire, cannons booming, horses running, rebel yells… it was intense. And those poor men (and women – they painted on mustaches and beards) in all that wool clothing, running around in the heat! The battle was the highlight of the weekend for me.
video
video
These videos give you an idea of what the reenactment was like, but it was a lot louder in person. (For instance, the little popping noises are actually gunfire.)

So why is this important? Maybe it’s not, but it was a major event in our little hometown, and I was honored to be a part of it. I used to think history was boring, but then I had a teacher who made it real for me; she made it “come alive.” Too bad she didn’t bring one of those cannons into the classroom!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Knowing the Truth


In the movie, The Help, there is a little girl named Mae Mobley. She is a white child who is considered to be plain by her very pretty mother. As a result she is not petted and flattered but is treated with shame. The maid, Aibileen, tells little Mae Mobley every day that she is kind, smart and important. Every day so she'll remember and store it up for the times she won't hear it from her own mother. The scene made me cry because it reminded me of my own childhood.



You're stupid.
You're ugly.
Nobody will ever want you.
You're fat.
You don't have any friends.
You'll never have a husband.

You .......fill in the blanks. These are words I heard over and over as a child and as a teen. You might wonder who would say such things to a child and then to a developing young woman. Let's just say it wasn't my parents or my sister. Perhaps as we get to be closer friends, I'll share more with you, but for the time being we'll call him Hurt. His goal was to cause as much of it as possible and to this day I don't know why.

What I do know is this. I have lived most of my life trying to believe differently and it is only through the love of the Lord Jesus Christ that I have been able to accept some different phrases about myself.

You are loved.
You are beautiful.
You are wanted.
You are MY precious child.
You are MY wonderful creation.
You are MY workmanship.
You will shine like the stars.
You are full of goodness.
You are more than a conqueror.
You are SET FREE!

Have you been believing lies about yourself? Don't you long to hear the truth and know in your heart of hearts that you are precious to Jesus? I hope you do know that and will repeat over and over that you are all of these wonderful things and so much more. Aibileen had it right. Let's start learning new truths about ourselves to store up against the lies.






Friday, September 2, 2011

Lesson in Contentment


The mailman arrived with the usual letters and one very interesting cardboard box. It wasn't a large box, but rather was long and thin and just big enough to be interesting. No one ever sent us packages and so this box brought all the kids to the kitchen to see what was what. Who could have sent it? We did have relatives who lived in far off places, but the return address was unknown and that was no help.

Mom asked Dad for his pocket knife and she very carefully cut the tape. Oh, we could barely stand the suspense as she slit tiny slits and edged the top off. At last the box was open and we could see the wonderfulness of what was inside. Laaaaaaaa.....it was.......a fork. Yes, it was a FORK! What in the world? Who could have sent us a FORK??!! This was no ordinary fork but it was, instead, the most fantastic, the most wonderful, the most amazing fork of all forks in the land. It had Japanese writing on it and it became the symbol of all that was out there in the world and all we didn't have right there at home.

If you had taken a tour of our silverware drawer, you would have found a hodgepodge of items. my grandparents had moved in with us, so add those in. My mother had cared for her father before that and so add in the Clark bits. My dad had been a bachelor for a while, so toss in the batching oddments. We had always eaten with whatever was set by our plate and never really noticed any difference.

The fork changed that. Every meal became a fight because the three of us wanted THE FORK. Fried bologna tasted so much better with THE FORK. Mashed potatoes went from good to sublime with THE FORK. Pot roast on a Sunday reached the heights of heights, but only if you ate it with THE FORK. Kids rushed to the kitchen to set the table so they most amazing and wonderful fork would be by his/her plate....the losers ate with the drab old silverware, no sparkle, no shine, no Japanese letters.

Of course, the fork became like any other fork and fell into the jumble in the drawer and the magic was over. I didn't think much of it until we cleaned out my mother's house and found it. Big and clunky, cheap and tacky looking.....VERY 70s in its design....how could we have fought over that ugly thing? I had a good laugh reminiscing and shared the story with my sister-in-law who was helping me.

I've been reminded of THE FORK this week. I've been to some homes of some friends and they are wonderful and beautiful and ORGANIZED and CLEAN and I came home and saw my own home as cluttered and busy and in need of a good scrub before I could enjoy it. I went from being content to discontent in less than 60, and it took a little reminding from my wise 13 year old son, to be thankful for our home. It's warm, inviting, comfortable and casual and HOME. ( I suspect he's trying to get out of the major cleaning session he sees on the horizon, but I'll give him credit for helping me out of the funk.)

It's so easy to let discontentment eat away at us and destroy our gratitude and our happiness. I Thessalonians 5:18 says to be grateful in all circumstances. I'll be thankful for the hodgepodge of silverware in my drawer (where DID all that stuff come from??!!!) and I'll be thankful for the beautiful home the Lord has provided...even if it's festooned with a few extra cobwebs and dust bunnies. Drop in and see me sometime and you can have the special fork.