Sunday, March 23, 2008

The Special Gift

My mom and I share many things. We share a love for decorating, furniture shopping and entertaining. We both love country music, salads with blue cheese dressing and Pepsi products. We both have fair skin and freckles. We often share the JC Penney's catalog and coupons to Bed Bath and Beyond. But the best thing we share is our birthday.

I think it is amazing that I was born on my mom's birthday; not the day before and not the day after, but on her actual birthday. And since the day I was born, it has been and will forever be "our" birthday.

I suppose some might say that she was given a gift on her birthday so many years ago, but I would say, that it was me who was given the gift. It is so much more than a birthday. It is a day that connects us in a way that is indescribable. I thank God for my mom and for the gift of this special day we share! Happy Birthday mom!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Goodbye to a Dream

The time has come to say good bye to one of my dreams. Tomorrow I will turn 43 and with that it is time to say good bye to the hope of more kids. I really thought that I would fall in love again, get re-married and the "unexplained infertility" I had experienced before would be gone. Hannah would love to be a big sister at our house (she already is a big sister at dad's house). Over the past several years I have extended the age deadline for my dream to come true. First it was 38, then 40, then 43. I have a friend that just had her third child at 43. And the actress Marcia Cross recently had twins at 44. I would extend the deadline to 44, but the chances of falling in love, getting re-married and having a child between tomorrow and next March 23rd seem a bit impossible!

I loved being a new mom. Hannah was so small, so beautiful and so dependent on mom and dad. Everything about her was such a miracle from God. Her little fingers and toes amazed me. I used to hold her feet in my hands and kiss them all over and say "momma gonna kiss your feet." The baby stage was one of my favorite times with Hannah. I remember holding her and singing old southern gospel songs to her. I remember rocking her in my arms as I watched country music videos on CMT. She loved country music as a baby! I loved watching her grow and seeing her personality emerge. The baby stage is just for a moment and before you know it you have a curious toddler on your hands. Each stage passes so quickly. I recently heard the quote "the days are long but the years are quick", and it is so true. Today I have a beautiful 10 year old and it seems like just yesterday I was putting frilly headbands and bows in her hair. Being mom to Hannah is truly the most precious thing in my life. Oh how I have yearned for more!

Isaiah 55: 8-9 "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways. And My thoughts than your thoughts."

I have to admit, that as the old song and the Burger King slogan say, I want it my way! But His ways and His thoughts are higher than mine. God knows the whole picture, the whole story. And tomorrow with the turning of another year, I place my beautiful dream of a bigger family into His hands. I don't know what the future holds, but I know the one who does and as sad as it is to say goodbye to this dream....I know in Him I can trust!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Making Memories

I like to scrapbook. There was a time when I would have said I love to scrapbook, but the pursuit of the perfect scrapbook page has turned this once enjoyable hobby into work! I do, however, love Friday night crops at my local scrapbook store. If it weren't for these page making, pizza eating, product buying fests, I would never get a page done! This past Friday, I took one of my favorite scrapbooking buddies with me to the Friday night daughter. Not only were we recording memories, but we were making memories. I think Hannah finished eight pages. And me, well I finished one page. Actually, the page I finished was started at the last Friday night crop, so truth be told I got about 1/2 page done! Someday I'll be caught up. I thought I would share a couple of Hannah's pages. I think she had three pages dedicated to Webkinz! The second picture is a page of our cat Lucy. Someday Hannah won't want to spend a Friday night with her mom....but we'll always have the memories!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Grace That Is Greater Than All My Sin

Recently during a Sunday church service we sang the familiar chorus:
"Grace, Grace, God's Grace. Grace that will pardon and cleanse within,
Grace, Grace, God's Grace. Grace that is greater than all my sin."

As we sang the words I have sung a million times, suddenly the last line had new meaning. "Grace that is greater than all my sin". Have you ever struggled with letting go of your own sin? Have you ever thought that your sin was too great for God's forgiveness? How could the perfect, holy, almighty God forgive you? I have thought these very thoughts, but just like the song says, His grace is greater than all MY sin!

The enemy often whispers in my ear, "you are nothing but a sinner", "God doesn't want you", "you are such a disappointment", "there isn't enough grace for the things you have done". The whispers seem to be even louder when I am thinking about ministry and service. How could God possibly use me?

David was a man after God's own heart. David was the boy whose faith brought down a giant. Yet, even after God had made him King of Israel, David sinned. It wasn't a little sin, it was a big one! Peter denied Christ after he said he would never do such a thing. Peter walked and talked with the savior. He was one of the closest to Jesus and yet he sinned. Again, not just a little sin, a doozie! I love the story of the prodigal son, because it is my story. Throughout the Old Testament the story of the prodigal son is evident in the history of Israel. Israel was quick to turn away from God when things were good. When things got bad, Israel repented and begged God to return to them. This didn't just happen once or twice, but over and over and over again! And over and over and over again, God bestowed his grace to Israel. His grace is greater than all MY sin!

Truth is we all fall short. I have yet to meet anyone, Christians included, who were sin free. Our sin problem is exactly why we need a savior! If we could fix our sin problem ourselves there would be no need for the cross. Even the most righteous don't measure up to God's standard. Without the cross, we are all condemned. But according to Romans 8:1 we have a savior who rescues us from our sin. "Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus". Yet knowing this, we often condemn ourselves. Allowing past sin to infiltrate our lives; believing the lie that we are failures who can't possibly be used by God. 1 John 1:9 says "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness." Psalm 103:12 tells us "as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us". Our sin is forgiven. Our sin isn't a match for His grace! His grace is greater than all MY sin!

Isaiah 1:18 "Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool."

Saturday, March 8, 2008

No Explosives Founds

The police dogs sniffed my broken laptop and didn't smell any explosives! This whole laptop thing has been quite the experience. I arrived at the airport police station today and the doors were locked. There was a sign that said "for entry pick up phone". I picked up the phone and explained I was there to pick up a laptop I had left at baggage claim. After explaining the whole long story I was allowed entry. I took the elevator up to the third floor where I was greeted by two police officers. I again explained the whole story and they questioned me about what type of computer is was, what did the case look like and was there any thing to identify that it was mine. Luckily I had put some of the conference materials inside one of the case pockets. The conference attendees list was among the materials and they were able to find my name. They gave me the broken laptop and I was on my way. Hallelujah, this story is now done!

Friday, March 7, 2008

There's No Place Like Home

Business travel seemed so glamorous when I first started my career. I was excited to see new places and meet new people. It is usually far from glamorous. I have certainly had some fun business trips and have been to some fun places, but there is no place like home!

This week I had a business trip that turned out to be one mishap after another. It all started on Tuesday. I was leaving for Orlando on Tuesday afternoon and discovered on Monday night, while packing for said trip, that I didn't have an adequate pair of shoes for that certain pair of brown pants that I just had to take. Not a problem. I could run out to the shoe store during my lunch hour on Tuesday since my flight wasn't until later in the afternoon. Tuesday morning was filled with meetings and by the time I left for lunch my mind was in about 10 different places. Apparently my mind was so distracted that I didn't notice my speed! Yes, I was pulled over for speeding on the way to the shoe store! The whole speeding ticket thing is a story all of it's own, but for now I'll just say that sometimes a friendly, positive attitude, can make even a bad situation end with a smile. Anyway, I did get a ticket. I still had to get shoes. I hurried (without speeding) to the shoe store and picked out the perfect pair of brown shoes.

Back at the office I packed up my work things including my laptop computer. It was important to take my laptop so I could do some work as well as possibly blog while I was in Orlando. Seven of us were going to a conference and a few of us had to stay at another hotel due to the conference hotel selling out. I have to admit that I am somewhat of a hotel snob. I don't need a really expensive hotel but I am picky. I like clean, comfortable and safe. As soon as I walked in the lobby I was a bit suspicious about this hotel, which actually is a "resort". That sounded nice when I read "resort" on the itinerary. They put me in building 6. The lady at registration showed me a map of the property and explained how to get to building 6. I was a bit worried by the map. I was lugging around a heavy suitcase plus the laptop (which is heavier than it looks). I walked down a paved path lined with palm trees passing by a couple of beautiful swimming pools. The grounds were beautiful. I continued walking and walking and walking some more. Building 6 is at the very end of the property.

When I finally arrived at building six, I discovered my room was on the second level. There were no elevators. Before tackling the stairs I had to take a little rest. After a minute or two I was ready to conquer the stairs. I lugged my heavy suitcase and heavy laptop up the stairs. By the way, I was wearing one of the highest pair of heels I own. By the time I reached the top of the stairs I was exhausted. I looked for my room number but the sign with an arrow pointing straight ahead lead me nowhere. I discovered this only after walking up and down the same hallway several times. I figured out the arrow was pointing in the wrong direction. When I finally reached my room, I grabbed the back of a chair to steady myself as I tried to unload my arms and the chair was sticky. Not a good sign. The room faced the parking lot and it immediately didn't feel safe. I would use the word motel for this building rather than hotel. The room was very old and given the sticky chair it didn't appear very clean. I was tired, my feet hurt and I just wanted a clean, comfortable, safe room.

I called the front desk and they agreed to move me into their "tower" rooms which were more like a hotel. But, the only tower room they had left was a smoking room. I decided the smoking room would be better than the sticky chair room. I lugged my very heavy suitcase and laptop back across the property. My feet were killing me. I opened the door to my new room and was almost knocked out by the smell. It stunk! Not like smoke, but like men's cologne that had been sprayed to mask the smell of smoke. Ick and double ick! Again, I totally admit that I am a bit particular when it comes to hotels, but this was icky!

I was not a happy camper in this hotel, but I figured I just would have to make the best of it. I called my coworkers who were staying in the conference hotel and they said it was wonderful. Instead of sulking, I decided I would pull out the handy laptop I had dragged half way across the country and check my email. The laptop didn't work. I plugged in the power cord and pressed the power button and nothing! I had used this laptop earlier in the day and it was fine, but now it was totally powerless. Ugh!

We all met up for dinner that night at the conference hotel, and I had a bad case of hotel envy! Once back at our lovely hotel, one of my coworkers discovered her toilet had overflowed. Her bathroom was a mess! And when she tried to call the front desk her phone didn't work. She called me on my cell phone to ask me to call the front desk about her toilet. On a positive note, this hotel did have good pillows. We stayed in the icky hotel for two nights, and for the last night we were finally able to get into the conference hotel. As grateful as I was to be in the nice hotel, I had to lug my heavy luggage and the broken laptop to the new hotel (via taxi of course). I'm not sure why, but I seemed to have only packed high heels for this conference. Why oh why didn't I pack a pair of tennis shoes? By the end of the conference my feet were swollen, blistered and throbbing with pain (but I did look good in my shoes, especially the new ones!).

I enjoyed the conference. I enjoyed the group of people that joined me on this trip. I enjoyed the Florida weather (except we got caught in pouring rain one night). But by Friday morning, I was ready to come home. Despite the fact I was leaving 70 something temperatures and going to 20 something temperatures with snow, I was ready to go home. At the airport we went through one of the longest security lines I have ever seen. Again, why didn't I bring tennis shoes? My feet were killing me! Once through security and at the gate we were greeted with the news of a flight delay! Due to weather the flight was delayed. And then delayed again. I just wanted to go back to Kansas. I tried clicking my high heels together three times, but it didn't seem to help. Finally, an hour and a half later we were headed home.

All went well on the flight home and it appeared that the end of the trip was mishap free. That is until I got home, pulled my suitcase from out of my trunk and realized I no longer had the broken laptop! I sat it down at the baggage claim and must have forgotten to pick it up. I called the airport and the airport police now had my laptop. They were calling in police dogs to sniff it! Good grief! So today, I am headed back to the airport to retrieve the broken laptop, assuming the dogs didn't sniff anything!

Next year this same conference will be held in New Orleans. I hope I get to go again, I truly do enjoy this conference. But, I will pack a pair of tennis shoes, make reservations early enough to be in the conference hotel and I think I will just forgo the laptop. No matter where I travel, the words of Dorothy ring true...."there's no place like home"!

Monday, March 3, 2008

Young Hollywood

I am a celebrity news junkie. I love watching entertainment television like Entertainment Tonight, Extra and Access Hollywood. I devour celebrity magazines and I go to at least once a day (truth be told, I go to more than once a day). I know more useless celebrity facts than I should probably admit. I could win a celebrity trivia game hands down! At work recently, I had a meeting with a sales rep from one of the top celebrity magazines and we probed her for any scoop she might have, but as it turned out I was the one filling her in on the latest news! I will probably never forget Thanksgiving 2005.....the day I found out Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey were splitting. I was so disappointed. I really hoped they would make it.

I'm not sure why I am so fascinated with the lives of the rich and famous. Maybe because I dreamed of being a famous entertainer myself. But whatever the reason, I enjoy knowing who's having babies, who just got engaged, who just split, and who is nominated for a grammy, oscar, golden globe or razzie. Unfortunately, most of the time the headlines are more about who just entered and then left rehab, who is going to jail for DUI, or who just died too young.

But yesterday I read a unusual headline. I was sitting at the Jiffy Lube, while my car was in for an oil change, just flipping through a celebrity magazine when I read the headline "Jonas Brothers Virginity Pledge". The popular boy band publicly declared their personal pledge to abstain from sex until marriage. The band of brothers all wear purity rings to symbolize their promise to themselves and to God that they will stay pure until marriage. Wow! You go boys! I love the Jonas Brothers! More importantly, my daughter loves the Jonas Brothers. I am so glad she has role models like the Jonas Brothers and Miley Cyrus. Miley Cyrus, aka Hannah Montana, is another great example. Miley and her entire family have shared many times about their faith in Christ. My daughter wants to be just like Hannah Montana!

Hollywood seems like a completely different world with its own set of rules. The lure of fame and fortune and all that world offers is strong. But even with all the riches and earthly pleasures, it appears many living in that world are desperately searching for something more. The Jonas Brothers and Miley Cyrus already have that something more. They are salt and light to a dark world. Tempation will be great though. Satan won't just sit by, he'll attack. I think we should start a prayer chain for these young people. Just think if people across the country started praying for young hollywood. This country's youth look to emulate celebrities from the way they dress to the way they live. I want more headlines like the one I read yesterday. Pray with me for Nick, Kevin, and Joe Jonas, Miley Cyrus and the rest of young hollywood. Never underestimate the power of prayer!