Thursday, June 11, 2015

What is Normal?

            I’ll happily spend money on lunch dates with friends, fragrant candles, pretty journals, and anything for my granddaughters. I think that makes me quite normal. Just don’t ask me to buy appliances. I don’t mind if the ones I have are old and outdated as long as they work. But lately, many of them haven’t.
            In the past nine months, I’ve had to replace an iron (which I think belonged to my sister, Kay), a gas grill, coffee pot, toaster, refrigerator, washer and dryer. Maybe that’s normal, too.
            While each has a story of its own, let’s focus on the dryer. It was given to my daughter, Elise, when the owner moved to an appliance-furnished apartment. She and her three roommates used it for a year and when she moved, she gave it to us. It worked for a couple more years, gradually declining until it operated on only one cycle. At that point, last August, I bought a new one.
            An hour after the delivery men left, my youngest daughter, Victoria, came in from the garage and asked, “Where’s our dryer?”
            “Don’t talk to me about it. I finally gave in and bought a new one. They took the old one away.”
            “So where’s the clothes that were in the old one? I’m scheduled to work in an hour. My uniform’s in the dryer.”
            My husband called the store to track down our dryer and the last load of clothes it had dried. Since the delivery men were in a nearby neighborhood, he met up with them to recover Victoria’s clothes, and made it home in time for her shift at Sicily’s.
            Always looking for validation that I’m normal, I said, “The men must have assured you that this happens all the time.”
            “On the contrary,” Michael said, “They said this was the first time it has ever happened to them.”
            I guess author Patsy Clairmont was right when she wrote, “Normal is just a setting on your dryer.”
            I hope this dryer lasts for many years. So far, so good. It even plays a little tune when the clothes is ready. If my stove did that, maybe I’d cook more often.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Pave Your Trip to the Altar with Prayer

          More brides will walk down the aisle in June than any other month this year. The money spent on these celebrations will be part of the estimated 72 billion dollars spent annually on weddings. Long before the actual event, hours upon hours are devoted to making sure that every detail is planned and perfected. I’m not sure how much time is spent praying for the big day, but for me, years have been spent in prayer for my children’s spouses.
            Maybe that sounds odd, but even before they were born, I thanked God for ordaining their steps, including the ones that lead to marriage. In addition I prayed for their spouse, sight unseen, name unknown, and asked for God’s blessings on their lives as well.
            A year ago, my daughter, Elise, shared her list of qualifications for her future husband with me. He must exceed her in height and weight, be kind, and a good provider. In addition, she wants a man who will be a gentle and patient father to their children, and he must be able to pick her up.
            “To carry you over the threshold?” I asked.
            “No! In case we go to the beach for our honeymoon and I start to drown.”
            “But you can swim.”
            “Riptide. He must be able to pick me up and carry me to the shore.”
Elise is not the only person to ever write such a list. One teenager of American missionaries to China was sent to Korea for high school. Although she envisioned her life as a missionary to Tibet and an “old maid,” Ruth penned her qualifications for a spouse.
“If I marry, he must be so tall that when he is on his knees he reaches all the way to heaven. His shoulders must be broad enough to bear the burden of a family. His lips must be strong enough to smile, firm enough to say no, and tender enough to kiss. Love must be so deep that it takes its stand in Christ and so wide that it takes the whole lost world in. He must be active enough to save souls. He must be big enough to be gentle and great enough to be thoughtful. His arms must be strong enough to carry a little child.”
Ruth never became a full-time missionary to Tibet. Or an old maid. Instead she became the wife of Billy Graham and a missionary to the world.
Whether you’re in the midst of writing your own list for a spouse, in the planning stages of a wedding, or an innocent bystander, enjoy your journey. I hope it’s one you’ve paved with prayer.

Lauren's Graduation

Nothing was going to ruin my day – not the threat of rain, the traffic, or even the fact that I had brought my three-year-old granddaughter, Adeline, to a college graduation. Adeline’s mother, Lauren, had insisted her child be there to watch her graduate.
            I chose to look at all the cars moving slowly through Hammond as a good thing. Like my family, thousands of people had dedicated the morning to support their graduate. Each graduate’s story is different. For Lauren, the degree marked the end of a college education put on pause in the last semester by the birth of her daughter. My husband, Michael, never gave up on the dream that Lauren would finish college, but I thought that her job as a single mother was enough of a challenge.
When she decided to return to school, Lauren had the support of her entire family, but we were useless when it came to Calculus. Before the first class, she contacted her high school Math teacher, Mary Smith, who agreed to tutor Lauren. Miss Smith became an invaluable part of Lauren’s success.
As the graduates filed into Southeastern’s University Center that morning, somewhere among the thousands of people who filled it, my mom was crying as she always does when she hears Pomp and Circumstances. Michael was crying, too, and Adeline was watching as her Nanny ‘Lise pointed out Lauren in the crowd.
 To Lauren and to the Class of 2015, Congratulations! Your degree is the crown of years devoted to your education; however, I hope it is not the end. Keep learning and continue to keep your eyes open to knowledge.
            A survey revealed that one-third of high school graduates never read another book for the rest of their lives and 42 percent of college graduates never read another book after college. I hope the Class of 2015 does their job to improve these statistics. Be good stewards of the brain God issued to you and never stop learning. Above all, place the Word of God on your "Must Read" list of books.
Just as important as the lessons you’ve learned in the classroom are the ways you’ve grown as a person, the friendships you have formed, and the deeper understanding you have acquired of yourself and others. Remember the love of your family and friends.  Remember your own sacrifices and hard work.  And remember God really does have a special plan for your life.
God has blessed you with unique talents and abilities. Use those gifts well. Eric Liddell discovered one of his talents on the track. Running was his favorite sport and he excelled at it.  He said, "I believe God made me for a purpose, but He also made me fast. And when I run I feel His pleasure." 
Prepared to run the 100 meter race in the 1924 Olympics, he was Britain's hope for winning a gold medal. However, Liddell dropped out of the race because it was scheduled on a Sunday and he refused saying, "Sunday is for worshipping God, not sports." Instead, he qualified for the 400 meter race to be run on another day. He not only won that race, but set a world record in the process.
This graduation milestone marks another leg of your race; the end of one endeavor and the beginning of your next. May the future hold many new joys and accomplishments and be a continuation of all of the good things you have already achieved.