Sunday, July 4, 2010

Happy Birthday

Monday, July 5th is very special.  It is my husband's 58th birthday!  He was actually born over 2 weeks early, because on July 4th, 1952, his mother went rafting on the "hooch" and ate almost a whole watermelon!  There might be medical value to this for you docs out there.  None-the-less, he backed his way into this world and has celebrated life for 58 years.

I love this man more than he will ever, ever know.  You know the old saying that love grows?  It does.  It  grew with every moment we have ever shared together, good ones and the bad ones, too.

He is stubborn, set in his ways, not much for social situations, but definitely a homebody.  He is a talented guitarist, a wood craftsman and maniacal about our yard.  Don't let him paint, though, because a one day job will take him 3 weeks.  Don't misunderstand, he's very good at painting.  Everything must be perfect, taped, sanded, covered, meticulously finished down to the last detail.  I swear, he has never let a drop of paint fall from a brush that was in his hands!  My kitchen cupboards did not have doors for over a year.  In desperation, my daughter and I finally did it ourselves when he wasn't home.  We're stubborn too!

Getting older is something we all think about.  After all, considering the alternative, I think getting older is much preferred and heading in a rather positive direction.  We begin to notice a few more aches and pains and that maybe they don't go away as quick or completely as they used to.  Things sag, we get brown splotches, hair grays and thins and our memory is not always at its best.  But, getting older also has its perks!

Kroger, for example gives senior citizen discounts on Wednesday, which for some reason, they tend to give me without asking any more.  Oh well, in the times that we are in now, 5% is 5% and every little bit helps.  Of course, Social Security has started to send us our statements regularly so we can see just where we are!  That's a laugh!  AARP has been bombarding us for years to buy their supplemental insurance, burial insurance, and every other kind of insurance that someone could possibly need.   I just ignore those monthly mailers and toss them into the garbage can.  I'm not ready to admit yet, that I am joining the ranks of being old, with exception of course, to the discounts that some retailers offer us to placate us and make us feel special.

One such occasion occurred on my husband's 55th birthday.  He used to spend time with his mother on Wednesday nights during the summer.  They would go get a bite to eat, watch Lost or the Bachelor, then he would head home..  However, on the occasion of his 55th birthday, it just so happened that Kohls was having a BIG sale, so off they went to buy whatever item had to be purchased.  In his case, it was a massive stack of neatly bundled white wash clothes (which he uses to clean the spray starch out of HIS iron, I am probably the only person in the whole world that has neatly pressed damp white wash clothes lying in the laundry).  At the check out, his mother looked at him and reminded him that officially, he was now a senior citizen at Kohls.  Don't forget your discount!  His first official extra 5% on his first official senior citizen birthday!  I won't ever let him live it down as I am ornery like that!  It was so cute, he even called me while he was checking out to tell me about his newly acquired special discount.

I will let him sleep late in the morning.  Later in the day, we will be honoring him on his 58th birthday.  A nice cookout with the kids and then we will celebrate with a couple of memorable gifts that will only mean something to him.  Any guesses?  I would tell you, but he may read this before the big reveal.  Don't want to spoil the surprise!

So, if you get the chance, tell him Happy Birthday and many, many more!  I'd like to keep him around for a long, long time.

Happy Birthday, Spray Starch Man.  I Love You!

In The Arms Of an Angel

One of my favorite movies of all time is "You've Got Mail".  I don't think that Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan could make a movie that didn't tug at your heart strings a little.  It's so sweet and romantic and it's predictable.  The soundtrack features Nilsson's "Remember" and "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" and your heart melts.  You've got that lump in your throat, your eyes get misty and maybe a tear trickles down your cheek and you feel like a total sap, a 100% total sentimental fool.  But that's okay.  We don't see or hear enough of that type of sentimentality these days.  Sometimes, I think we really need to be reminded of the dearer, sweeter things of life, like love, simple beauty, sacrifice and happy endings.

If you've been following me on this "journal journey", you know very well by now, that I wear my heart on my sleeve.  I tear up at commercials that a lot of people would ignore, because I am that 1 out of 100 person that can't help but seeing an adorable baby and having an "awe"  quietly escape from my mouth.  The Hallmark commercials just absolutely do me in.  And to quote Nilsson, I "Remember".  I can't help it, that's just the way God hard wired me, so sometimes, I have sappy sleeves.  I have a soft spot as big as Texas and I look for the greater good in every situation that comes my way.  That's part of that "lemonade" mindset.  My glass is never less than half full - all the time.

Tom Hanks character, the big bad monopoly book store owner, has fallen in love with vulnerable Meg Ryan, the owner of a quaint little family owned bookstore that he has run out of business.  I've seen this film more times than I count, and it gets me every time, every single time.  I don't sit there watching it and say, "it's him, silly, it's him".  I sit there and watch it as if this were the first time I had ever seen it, like it is all fresh.

Then comes those commercials with Sarah McLachlan.  It goes something like this "Every day in America thousands of animals suffer from cruelty and neglect. Thousands were rescued last year, but for thousands of others help came too late."  They show numerous heart-wrenching pictures of dogs and cats that have been abused and they are all looking at me with those deep, sad eyes.  In the background, you hear McLachlan's voice singing her song "Angels".  That's it!  I'm toast.  If my throat didn't already feel like it had un-swallowable lumps in it already, it does now.  My heart is heavy, my eyes are teared up and it's about all I can do to sit there and subject myself to this commercial, so I look away and wipe my eyes.  They got me, and they got me good.  Unfortunately, they played that commercial at least 4 more times during the movie.  I finally started changing the station so I didn't have to see or hear it again.

Yes, the ASPCA gets a little bit of money from me once a year.  My daughter is just as bad, and has personally rescued, restored and found homes for more strays than I can count.

Advertising companies know our weak spots.  They know that songs like "Angel" will touch us.  They know that those Hallmark commercials are going to reach that soft spot in a lot of viewers.  Deep, sad eyes of abused animals are going to tug at our hearts.  They're good, they are really good at what they do - and they know it!

So, why didn't I just get up and change the channel, you ask?  Why did I subject myself to the "fuzzy moment's" of not just the movie, but the commercial?  The answer is simple, we all need that stuff from time to time.  We need it because we live in a world that can be and usually is just exactly opposite from those "fuzzy moments" a great deal of the time.

Several years ago, I was the Children's Minister at our church.  I served for 7 years.  During my service, we created a Puppet and Clown ministry and we toured every spring break.  We also went to churches in Atlanta and performed.   All of our comments and reviews were good, but what blew me away was the feedback that came from one church in particular in downtown Atlanta.  They thought we were too evangelical.  WHAT!  Isn't that kind of the point of the whole thing?  It's not just about silly skits, making kids laugh and magic tricks.  There's a message in everything we did.  I was dumbfounded.  Did this person totally miss the whole point of the performance?  If so, I was very sad for her.

This all brings me to the point of my mushy, sometimes evangelical rambling.  It's not just been about old movies and sappy commercials.  This is why, we can all be in the arms of an angel.  We all have tough moments when we need to be carried, when our burden is too much to bear on our own.  Those are the moments when our Angel lifts us high in His arms and lightens the load for us so that we can bear our burden with His help.  We all need to know that it's okay to ask for help.  It doesn't mean we're weak, it means we are human, and we are vulnerable in one way or another.  The He in my life is Jesus.  He is my rock, my salvation, my strength, my light, my truth.  He is my "Angel".  When He is not carrying me, He is walking right by my side.  We talk a lot, multiple times throughout the day and I tell Him "thank-you" every chance I get.

Something I like to share is "I can do everything through Him Who gives me strength", Philippians 4:13.  It's true.  It is my mantra.  If a situation arises that I think someone else needs to hear it, I quote it to them.  At my house, we call it 4:13-ing it.  I share the verse with them and let them know that they need to not only hear it, but they need to believe it - and, generally, I will then ask them to repeat it until they can say it with such strength and believability, that they have convinced me that they are ready to "walk on".  Does that make me too evangelical?  Maybe for some people.

God puts people in our path for a reason.  There is purpose behind absolutely everything that happens to us, sometimes we just don't know what that purpose is.  

So, as you make your way through this day and the next and so on, remember this - that the person standing in your path was put there for a reason.  Maybe you will find out why, maybe not.  Regardless, good or bad, be a "lemonade" person all of the time.  Look for the good in every situation and every person.  Maybe, just maybe they need to see that example so they can learn to do the same.  But most important of all, I am, you are, we are all "in the arms of an Angel".   "May you find some comfort there."

In His Glory~