My parents named me Laurel, after the mountain laurel flower, but I've always gone by Laurie. I feel like I've spent my whole life trying to be what other people would find acceptable, and it hasn't been until recent years that I've thought more about how GOD would like me to be. He wants my heart to be seeking after HIM and not the approval of man. So, this is where I will be working out my thoughts, removing the masks (even my nickname!), being real, and making a FREAK of myself! ha ha Any other Jesus Freaks or just freaks in general or even non-freaky people are welcome to read, discuss, encourage, or be encouraged. Welcome to my brain . . . and my heart. :)

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Because of the Martyrs and For the Discouraged

Desperate.

Depressing.

The news from around the world and in our own country and region is overwhelming.  I can barely stand to read or hear it.  What's going on?!  I know, but I can't wrap my head around it.

Am I the only one?

Sometimes it takes great effort to reign in my thoughts and focus on what's important and true.

God the Father, Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit.  Truth.

Evil exists.  Truth.

God has given man free will to choose truth or evil.  Many will choose evil.  Truth.

Truth prevails over evil.  God is stronger than evil.  Truth.

God wins.  Truth.

Satan has already lost.  And is acting desperately before his allowed time is up.  Truth.

No matter how much ground he gains in these mournful days; no matter how many heads he detaches from faithful bodies; no matter how many lies he convinces ticklish ears to believe; no matter how big the messes he makes in countries, families, and individual lives, Satan loses.  Truth.

God prevailed.  God prevails.  God will prevail.

End of story.


For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.  --Romans 8:38-39


Can't see the video?  Click here.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Dear Old Friend . . .

The person this is written about will never read this, and I will never, ever put a name with it.  Writing this is my way of working through my thoughts after having time to contemplate tragic news.  Wow, it is difficult to process something so dreadful in a Christ-like manner, as the humanness wants to take over.

Dear Old Friend,

I know what you did.  You don't know I know, but it wouldn't likely matter to you whether or not I know.  You're in a dark place now, where folks are not likely to be kind to you, and your thoughts are probably often consumed with survival.

I'm sick with the knowledge.  Part of me wishes I didn't know.  It's the kind of thing that reminds you of the bliss ignorance really is in comparison.

My heart hurts for your family way more than it hurts for you.  But there's still room for a bit of compassion toward you.  I now understand why you clung so stubbornly to your "cheap grace," a way to justify your secrets in your own mind.

The ache in my heart--I don't know what to do with, about, or for it.  I just keep praying . . .

 . . . for those who loved you--that they may find truth and healing and the true love they need.

. . . for you--that the depths that haunt you will bring you to your knees; that the prideful chains around your heart will be broken; that you, too, will find and accept truth, healing, and true love.

Prayer is all I've got for you, my old friend.  I don't have the courage to go where you are and try to talk to you, nor am I under the impression that it's my place to do so at this point.  I have no words, anyway.

Not to minimize prayer.  It's really the best thing I can do.  Whether or not you submit to what God wants to do in your life in response to people's prayers for you is completely up to you.  I hope you somehow know that someone is praying for you.  Probably more than one someone.

You SO don't deserve to be prayed for.  You don't deserve forgiveness or any sliver of kindness or compassion or friendship.

But, then, neither do I.  From a human viewpoint, I haven't sunk into the depths of depravity that you have, but your sins were no less covered by Jesus' blood than mine.  Without Jesus Christ, the Jesus of the Bible (not the one you made up), I'd be in the same depths by a different route.

I'm so thankful for His compassion, I can't not extend a portion of it to you.  How I pray you will remember your roots, your passion for truth and justice--your love for Jesus!  You did love Him in days long past.  I remember.

I more than likely won't see you again on this earth.  I don't know if I'll see you after that.  I know where I'll be, but I don't know what you'll choose in the time you have left to make such choices.  What I'm sure of, though, is that if we're both there, neither of us will deserve to be.  We won't have gotten there on our own, by anything we've done or thought or said.

We'll both get there the same way.  Jesus' grace isn't cheap, my friend.  I'm praying you'll embrace His expensive (yet free to us!), lavish grace and find peace for your obviously-tortured soul.

-L-



Monday, June 16, 2014

LM Birthday Letter, 2014

My dear LM,

The day you've been so excited about for months is almost upon us!  Your twelfth birthday (and, of course, those words cause me to choke up!)--can it be here already?

You've grown so much in the past year--both in stature and character.  I don't want to dwell too much on the past this time, though.  I want to live in the moment.

Right now you are in your room, listening to Odyssey and building something with Leggos.  You are dreaming about your birthday and talking about it constantly.  You are counting and recounting your money and planning what to do with it.  You are enjoying summer freedom and staying up late.  You are smart, funny, handsome, loveable, friendly, outgoing, inquisitive, sweet, strong, and helpful.

You have your "stuff" you're working on, like we all do, and you are learning to ask God for help.  Just remember this, now and always:  God doesn't make us aware of our shortcomings to condemn us, but because He wants us to be free of them.  What love He has for you, LM!

I hope you'll choose to walk in freedom this next year, and for the rest of your life.  In a mysterious way, that only God fully understands, we find the fullest freedom in obedience to Him.  I so want you to know this concept in ways I didn't comprehend at your age.

You're a great kid, and I'm so very thankful God chose your dad and me to receive the gift of you as our child.

Happiest of Birthdays to you, my son!

Lovingly,
Mom


PS.  LM: Since I started this new blog this year, if you want to find your former birthday letters, click here. The ones before these you'll have to ask me for (long story).  I love ya, Buddy!




Friday, June 6, 2014

Friday Night Randomness: May Favorites

Best Reads:  I can't help it.  I've been re-reading Pride & Prejudice on my Kindle.  Some books bear repeating so well.  :)  And it's free right now!
Click here for more info

Foodliness:  Love, love, love (but I'm the only one in my house who does) these Snapea Crisps, the lightly salted variety.  I found them at Martin's, but I'm sure they are available elsewhere.  I don't know how healthy they actually are, but they're a tasty snack from time to time.  They are snap peas that are baked, and they kind of puff up and become crunchy.  Something different.



From the Makeup Bag:  My eyelashes need as much help as they can get!  Alas, I wasn't born with LM's never-ending, perfectly curled lashes.  Seems unfair if I choose to look at it that way. ;)  L'oreal Voluminous mascara does a decent job.


Skin Care:  We've all heard how important it is to remove our makeup before cleansing the skin.  Some of the facial wipes out there are quite costly!  Awhile back, I took a chance when I saw that Dollar Tree carries "Exfoliating Facial Wipes" for sensitive skin.  You get 30 in a package for $1, and they work!  They even remove most eye makeup well.  They're not very thick, but they still get the job done.


Musically Speaking:  Love this!  When we sing it in church, I find myself singing or humming it for weeks to come. :)



Home Theater:  LM and I enjoyed watching this adventurous family-friendly movie on Netflix, and I highly recommend it!
Click here for more info.



Candle:  The only candle I burned in May was a "Huntington Home" Spa candle, in "coconut milk & mango" scent.  I love the smell of coconut, and, though I love mangoes, the mango scent overpowers the coconut milk and smells a little to sweet or something.  I'm not a fan of candles that smell like food usually anyway, but the word "coconut" swayed me this time.  It's fine, but I'm not crazy about it.



App:  I go back and forth between reading my physical, crinkly-paged Bible and reading on my phone or Kindle.  In May I mostly read from YouVersion.
Click here for more info.



Human:  My favorite human for this month has to be Landon Austin.  He's doing a very decent thing (which will be obvious in the near future) to support my upcoming Young Adult Christian fiction series, due to be available on Kindle later this summer.  I've loved Landon's music for quite awhile.  He does fantastic covers (often better than the originals!) and records his own original music, too.  Unforgettable voice and scads of talent.  He has a funny vlog channel, too.  Here's his latest (I think) cover:











Tuesday, June 3, 2014

I Wish . . .

I wish I never hurt anyone unintentionally (or intentionally, for that matter).

I wish I was wise.

I wish I was more decisive.

I wish I learned some things more quickly.

I wish I always knew the right things to say.

I wish it wasn't so hard to take a risk.

I wish I spent more time praying about these things instead of wishing . . .






Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Undeserving of the Dream?

So, the plan is that I'm publishing a series of eBooks on Kindle this summer.

Ever since "going public" with this tidbit, I've been struggling with feeling unworthy of having this dream become a reality.

Why?

I guess the main reason is that it's not that huge of a dream for me.  Let me explain.  I've been thinking about people who have a dream, and they're so passionate about it and do everything they possibly can to make that dream come true.  There's nothing they won't do, no avenue they won't exhaust to see their desire become a reality.  Some are consumed by it day in and day out, night after sleepless night.

It's never been that way for me.  From the second the idea of publication took root in my heart, it's been an exciting idea, but my attitude has been, "I don't want it if You don't want it for me, Lord.  Do with this manuscript whatever You will."

When I think sensibly,  I know there's nothing wrong with that attitude.  But then the sappy side of me engages and I think of so many who, despite all their passion, never see their dream realized.  Or struggle so much harder than I did to reach the desired destination.

And that makes me feel undeserving.

But what I've been reminded of  the past several days is that, with God, nothing is about what we deserve.  What I deserve.

If I had my just desserts, I would be either dead or living a very miserable life right now.  I would be separated from God forever.  I would have nothing of any sort of value.  I would BE nothing of value.

God doesn't deal with who deserves what.  It's not about that for Him, because Jesus more than makes up for what we lack in the deserving department.  He uses people who are willing to be used by Him for his purposes, and He decides what those purposes are.  What an honor to be a vessel for Him, despite my lifetime of screw-ups and unsavory things I have said and done. That He chooses to use me in any situation is an honor.

There's no one else I could say that about.  Who wants to be used?  But God is so perfect and loving, I can trust Him to use me in the purest and most loving ways.

What I need to stop doing is comparing myself with other people, my story with others' stories.  This isn't about comparing or measuring up.  It's about what God wants to do through me.  I don't have to have a dramatic story for it to matter or for it to accomplish God's purpose.  I believe that now.

Please remind me that I believe it should I falter in my thinking again! :)






Friday, May 2, 2014

Friday Night Randomness: April Favorites

April!  We finally had some spring-like days--such loveliness!  Here are some of my favorites from the month of April.

Best Reads:  I've had four books going on in April.  Pretty much at the same time.  I'm not sure how or why I'm doing this, as it's very uncharacteristic of me, but it's just what's happening lately.  In addition to trying to finish the Bono biography I talked about last month, I've also been reading:

Click here for more info.

Great book so far. I need to finish it and think it all through some more.


Click here for more info.
I was needing a fresh parenting perspective.  The title is awful in my opinion, but you can't always judge a book by its cover.  I may do a full review on this later, but this gave some helpful and effective insights.  And it made me laugh out loud several times, too. :)


Click here for more info.
This one kind of fills in the gaps left by the other one.  Seriously, the two of them together have helped me look at things I'd never thought of before.


Foodliness:  Spicy Sausage Pasta
Not exactly the healthiest, but my little family loved it.  And it's not very spicy, but still flavorful!



From the Makeup Bag:  Love this eyeshadow palette called Petal Pusher from Wet & Wild.  Only $5 at Walgreens, Meijer, and probably other places, too, but the colors are really pigmented and have some staying power.  I don't use all eight colors.  The lightest pink is my favorite for the lid and the one below it for the crease (in other words, I don't go by how they've labeled the colors).
Click here for more info.


Musically Speaking:








Not sure why this video is showing up like this, but it's a Landon Austin and Ellie Swisher cover of this  melodic lullaby.  It haunts me in a lovely way.  Though I'm one of the few Americans who hasn't seen the movie, I've heard Taylor Swift's version of this song and (sorry, Taylor!), this one is so much better! (I'm making a sheepish face right now.)

 


Home Theater:  Didn't have time to watch much in April, but LM and I enjoyed watching  "The Greening of Whitney Brown" on Netflix.
Click here for more info.




Candle:  I've been enjoying my Tuscany lilac candle, tiding me over 'til my real lilacs bloom.
Found this at Meijer, but it's not on their website.  Click here to order online via Shopko


App:  Seriously, this is so boring, but the app I used most in April was The Weather Channel one.  Yawn!



Human:  So, it's not my intention to regularly have my Favorite Human of the Month be someone I actually know in person, because I know and love so many wonderful people and would never want to appear to be playing favorites.  But they say there's an exception to every rule, and I can't let this one go by because of some silly, self-imposed rule. ;)  So, April's "Favorite Human" is actually a duo:  My newborn nephew, Jonathan and his mama, Betsy (my sis!).  They're both the bomb in my book.












Tuesday, April 29, 2014

That Cancer Thing: A Year Later

Like anyone else, I was scared it would happen to me.  But I couldn't imagine it ever would.

That "C-word" is beyond frightening.  To hear it applied to you feels like a dark force trying to drown you, and, for a moment, you feel like you can't breathe or think or move.

You don't want to have to say goodbye yet.

Then you look up.  You have to.  And you see it even in the darkness.  Hope.  Like a rescuing rope.  And you grab onto it.  Sometimes you feel your grip loosening, but you can't let go altogether.  

Lots of faithful prayer warriors and a major surgery were my treatment plan.  It was such a relief to have it gone.  But then you hear the aftercare plan--quarterly re-checks for a year, then every six months for two years, then yearly--and every time that doctor appointment approaches, you start to wonder, just a bit . . .

Last week I had my last quarterly re-check exactly one day after the anniversary of my surgery.  A year already!

I had it really easy compared to some, yet it wasn't easy.  As always, though, the Lord used it for good in ways I could never have imagined it could.  He touched lives besides mine in ways that never would have happened without the suffering.  He touched my life in the lessons I learned, and I find that these principles are true in any difficult situation!

1.  God is in control.  This was solidified in my mind.  I knew it before.  I know it better now.

2.  God uses the prayers of His people to affect lives.  Again, I knew this, but experienced it in a way I hadn't before.  I'm a worrier.  I become easily uptight about things I can't control.  I can't say that I was never afraid, but there was a peace in my soul that was so far beyond what I'm capable of on my own.  There were so many people praying for me, and I knew it the whole time.

3.  Take one day, one moment, at a time.  Everything came at me so quickly--all kinds of tests and possible results and next-step tests based on results. . . oh, my word, it was an overwhelming onslaught of worrisome-sounding procedures.  The only way I could find to cope was to not look beyond the next thing, whatever it was.  I had to stop Googling, too!  It was a matter of facing one thing at a time and not worrying about what came next.

4.  Live in the moment.  This kind of goes along with number three, I guess.  Though it seemed like I was always going to some sort of medical facility for awhile there, and I was going a lot, there were many more moments that I was just living my normal life.  I needed to force my mind and spirit to be present in the moment I was living, not dwelling on what was to come.  If I was playing Monopoly with my son, I made sure to be focused on him (and how badly he was beating me!).  If I was talking with my husband, I gave him my full attention.  If I was doing laundry or dishes, I thanked the Lord that I was able to do them.

5.  It's okay to be the recipient of help.  Oooh, this was a hard one for me!  I love to help people!  But somehow over the years I've become so independently minded that I rarely asked for help with anything.  There was no way, though, that I could be laid up for two months of recovery, not able to do much of anything, and not accept help.  And several people told me that it was a blessing for them to help, which I understood because of how blessed I feel when I get to help someone.  I realized that maybe I had been robbing people of potential blessings because of my hesitancy to ask for help.  Not that I need to go looking for reasons to ask for assistance, but it's okay not to try to do everything on my own.

6.  God is good, no matter how the outcome seems to us.  Self-explanatory.

So, I couldn't let this anniversary go by without giving my Lord a shout-out.  I could definitely be a better student, but I couldn't ask for a better teacher. :)




Monday, April 28, 2014

Home: A Haven of Mercy


God's Grace and Mercy Quotes http://www.closerdaybyday.info/2010/05/exodus-34/
Home should be a place of mercy.

If you live alone, show mercy to yourself.

If you live with others, show mercy to them.

The world out there is merciless.

A godly home is a haven of mercy for those who dwell there and those who visit.







Friday, March 28, 2014

Friday Night Randomness: March Favorites

March is almost over!  Here's what I've been loving this month.

Best Reads:  I've been reading two books this month.
Click here for info.


                    
Click here for info.


I'm almost done with the Duggar one.  It's a delightful read.  I just love those Duggars!  So encouraging and informative. Bono is a deep person, with a mouth on him. An unorthodox Christian.  It's fascinating to read what makes him tick. I'm borrowing the book, so am trying to get through it quickly, but I'm also putting some thought into what I'm reading, processing what he says through the lens of Scripture, and that takes time.  Bono is a complicated guy.  There's so much I could say, but I think that's a post in and of itself.



Foodliness:  LM and I have been loving us some vanilla Greek yogurt with cut-up strawberries and granola sprinkled over it.  Makes a perfect afternoon snack to tide us over until dinner.

From the Makeup Bag:  I love the L'oreal Naturale True Match Mineral Foundation.  The packaging leaves a lot to be desired, but mineral foundation in general is so much less of a hassle than liquid, in my opinion.  And this particular one does just what I want it to, and no more.  Love it!
 

Skincare:  Witch hazel instead of toner?  Don't mind if I do!  Doesn't smell all floral-y, but does the trick! 

Musically Speaking:  This was the song I was obsessed with during most of the month of March.  I still love it, but have gotten over it, if you know what I mean.



Home Theater:  We haven't had time to watch much of anything this past month, but, when we have a chance, we have been enjoying the Murdoch Mysteries on Netflix.  It's a Canadian show set in the early 1900s, and, though we have skipped an episode here and there, we enjoy the characters and the stories.  Think CSI, but less blood and gore.



Candle:  You know, I really didn't do candles this month!  I'm not sure why.  I love candles.  I'll likely get back into them in April.

App:  Still loving my Motivated Moms app for organizing household chores and anything else I want to add.  Here's a link to a post I did a few years ago that explains more about it.  Love, love.

Human:  This month I'm going to say Michelle Duggar.  She inspires me to try to be a more patient mom.  I've always wondered if her patience comes naturally or if she fights against anger like I do.  Reading the above book about the family, I discovered that she battles anger, too, and that encourages me! :)

Dental Hygiene:  Um, this is not likely to be a regular category, but I soooo love my new toothbrush that I got from the dentist last week.  It works well, but, even more importantly (?), the color is divine!!  I have never loved to look at a toothbrush so much in my life.  The color makes me happy. lol
Oral-B Advantage 3D White Vivid Medium...
The shade is actually a little lighter than this, but this is close.







Friday, March 21, 2014

Friday Night Randomness: The 70s/80s Kid Tag

For this week's Friday fun, I chose the 70s/80s Kid Tag, and I tag whoever wants to do it! :)

I was born in 1968, so spent most of my childhood in the 70s and my teenage years in the 80s.

1. What were your favorite TV shows?
Little House on the Prairie, The Waltons, Incredible Hulk.  As a teenager (80s):  Moonlighting, Miami Vice, and the sit-coms like Cosby and Family Ties.

2. What show did you watch when you came home from school?
Brady Bunch, Partridge Family, Munsters--it was always reruns, except when there was an After School Special. :)

3. What was your favorite commercial?
In the 80s, the Michael Jackson Pepsi commercials.

4. What was your favorite clothing store?
I'm trying to remember the names of them:  The Limited, Deb, Lerner, Beneton, Contempo (?)

5. What was the weirdest fashion trend you remember?
70s--gauchos   80s--Probably parachute pants.  It didn't seem weird at the time, though!



6. What was your favorite book?
70s--All the Nancy Drew books;  80s--The Flowers in the Attic series (though, if I'm remembering them correctly, I wouldn't recommend them now.)

7. What was your favorite toy?
The computer punch cards, paper, and file folders my dad brought home from work (the file folders held all the "cases" my detective self was working on) and the leftover dittos my 2nd grade teacher, Mrs. Cupp, gave me to play school with.  And Merlin



8. What was your favorite game?
Sorry!, Perfection, Aggravation

9. Who was your favorite music artist?
70s--Donny Osmond and Shaun Cassidy;  80s--Michael Jackson








10. What was your favorite candy and/or snack?
My sisters and/or friends and I would sometimes walk or bike to a deli on 95th St (Oak Lawn, IL) called "Country Kitchen," I believe.  They had penny candy there, and we would get Swedish fish, Bazooka, Smarties, etc.


Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Almost Time to Let Go


When you create something, it's like your baby.

My "baby" is being prepared now to be made public later this year.

For human consumption.

Open to scrutiny and haters and scoffers.

Oh, my heart!  My heart is in that baby!  My tender heart.  What will it withstand?

All the hours, the tears, the laughter, the sighs, the pain, the mingling of past reality and dreams. . .

I kinda want to hold on.

But, just like when a literal baby grows up and it's time to let go, there's excitement to see what he or she will do!

Maybe, just maybe, my "baby" will entertain someone, or even challenge someone to think about things differently.  Maybe someone will relate.  Maybe someone will change her path.  Maybe someone's heart will be broken, in a good way.  Maybe someone will smile.

Maybe.

Lord, my "baby" is really Yours.  It has been from the start.

Do with it what You will.

Monday, March 17, 2014

The One Thing I Want More Than Spring . . .

This has been a long winter.

But I can't bring myself to complain about it.  There's something I want more than spring, something that can't be procured through any outside source.

It's contentment.

I read an excellent book* on contentment one time (or two times, or three times), and the one thing that has never left my mind is the story of a missionary in Africa, who had to take her outdoor thermometer into her hut when the temperature reached 110 degrees, because any higher temperatures would cause it to start melting.

She had no air conditioning, no fan.  Nothing to comfort her as she tried to sleep at night. 

After she died, her daughter found a journal her mom had kept during her years in those conditions.  One of the entries was about what her missionary mom had learned regarding how to develop and maintain contentment.

The one point I can't ever get out of my mind is, "Never complain.  About Anything.  Not even the weather."

I've been doing my best to practice this ever since.  It just spoke to me!

Today, LM told me his buddy had started a protest against winter.  LM thought it was funny, and I probably would have, too, at his age.  But, though I wouldn't expect a sixth grade boy to be in the same frame of mind as me, and I don't think anything negative toward LM's comrade, it didn't strike me as funny.

"I guess he wasn't thinking about the fact that winter days are what God has given us for now, and He wants us to give thanks instead of complaining," I answered gently, rinsing out a glass in the sink.

"That's true, but it was still kind of funny," LM replied.

I completely understand what he's saying.  He's eleven.

But I've come to understand what that dear missionary woman understood.  I don't live by it perfectly by any means, but it's a part of me now.

Contentment doesn't keep company with complaint.  Gratitude nurtures contentment.  Contentment does not equal getting my own way.

Contentment is far superior to getting my own way.

So, I want contentment more than I want my own way.  Sometimes, anyway.

Therefore, I won't wish winter away.  I will anticipate spring and happily embrace it when it arrives.  But, I'm okay for now! :)

*Click here for purchase info.




Friday, March 14, 2014

Fun Fridays: TMI Tag

 For this week's random, lighthearted Friday night post, I decided to do the "TMI Tag" I've seen around.  I have no idea where it originated, but here is my TMI:


What are you wearing?  Faded blue jeans, navy hooded sweater

Ever been in love?  Absolutely! :)

Ever had a terrible breakup?  Mmmm, not really.

Any tattoos? Nope.  I'm not anti-tattoo, just not something I've ever wanted to do.

Any piercings? My ears are double pierced, but, because of my sensitive skin, it hurts to wear earrings, so I think they've kinda closed up.

Favorite show? All-time favorite is The Brady Bunch.  My favorites on Netflix are "19 Kids and Counting" and "Once Upon a Time."

Favorite bands? Toby Mac, U2, Newsboys

Something you miss? Sometimes I miss my old record player and records!  I mostly miss family that I don't get to see often.

Favorite song?  Can't get this one out of my head the last few weeks.  The acoustic version is even more beautiful than the studio version.  My favorite lines are, "I can't fight you anymore, it's you I'm fighting for," and "Birds fly high in the summer sky, and rest on the breeze.  The same wind will take care of you and I, we'll build our house in the trees . . ."  So poetic.  Deep sigh. lol  "Ordinary Love," by U2
  
How old are you? 45

Favorite Quote?  "Words which do not give the light of Christ increase the darkness." --Mother Teresa

Favorite actor? Jimmy Stewart

Favorite color? I'm far too indecisive to truly have one favorite anything, but to choose one color is especially impossible.  There are so many lovely ones!

Loud music or soft?  Depends on my mood.  Probably more loud than soft, though. :)

Where do you go when you're sad?  I often can't really go anywhere, because I have too many things I need to do.  Sometimes I retreat to my bedroom, or outside if it's nice.  Wherever I am, I pray.  I know God doesn't need me to be in a certain place in order to hear me.

How long does it take you to shower? Some of these questions are funny.  An average of 10 minutes, I suppose.

How long does it take you to get ready in the morning?  Anywhere from 15 to 45 minutes, depending on how much "getting ready" I'm doing that day.

Ever been in a physical fight?   No, other than my sisters and I slapping and pinching each other occasionally when we were little. lol

The reason I blog?  I love to write.  Blogging is a way to organize my thoughts, and hopefully encourage others along the way, too.  This particular blog is an exercise in transparency, something I feel like I need to practice more.

Fears?  Spiders, tornadoes, heights--big time!  A bit of claustrophobia as well.

Color your hair?   I haven't for quite a few years.  I used to color it blonde in high school, and, maybe a decade ago, I went through a reddish phase, and then a blonde highlight phase.  I may color again someday.

Last thing that made you cry?  A tough parenting day today.

Last time you said you loved someone?  Today, a little while ago.

Meaning behind your blog title?  Look at the top of this page, under "Transparently Me" for the explanation. :)

Last book you read?  I think it was Reshaping it All by Candace Cameron Bure.

The book you're currently reading?  I'm going through two at a time, and very slowly, too!  They are completely unrelated to each other! lol  A Love that Multiplies, by Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar; and Bono, a biography by Michka Assayas, a French journalist.
 
Last show you watched?  Okay, okay, it was a Brady Bunch episode with LM, okay? lol :)

Last person you talked to?  LM (my son)

The relationship between you and the person you last texted?  Hold on, I have to look . . . She's my mom, I'm her daughter. :)

Favorite food?   Trying to choose a favorite food is as bad as trying to choose a favorite color.  Mexican is always good, though!

Place you want to visit?  Besides wanting to visit all of our far-away family members, the places I'd like to go that I've never been are:  Ireland, Israel, Prince Edward Island, places where Laura Ingalls lived.

Do you have a crush?  YES!!!   I recommend nurturing a crush one one's spouse! :)

Last time you kissed someone?  About 15 minutes ago.

Last time you were insulted?  Hmmm.  Not sure.  I try not to take others' opinions of me too seriously, unless they are lovingly confronting me about something.  Not that I haven't been insulted.  I just can't think of anything serious enough that it stayed with me.

Favourite flavor of sweet?  Chocolate, of course!

What instruments do you play?  I took about 6 years of piano as a kid, but haven't kept up with it enough to say "I play the piano."  It was something I enjoyed, but didn't have enough natural talent to be great at it.  I'm okay with that. lol

Favorite piece of jewellery?  Definitely my engagement/wedding rings.  They are the most meaningful.  But then there are all the necklaces, bracelets, rings, etc. that LM has made/bought me over the years . . .  I'm really not into wearing a lot of jewellery, though.

Last song you sang?  See my favorite-right-now song above. :)

Who should answer these questions next?  I tag anyone who wants to do this!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Mighty Mouth Mom

I've got this sore throat, see, and it's making me think about how I speak.

Most people, at least in their comments to me, think I'm nice and sweet.

My husband and son know otherwise.

Oh, I don't scream and holler, and I am nice and sweet to them, probably a majority of the time.  But my mouth gets the better of me more often than I care to think about.

It started out with Hubby.  During our dating, engagement and early years of marriage, I would unleash on him words that surprised me after I heard what I said. He was tough enough, wise enough, to see through my facade of words, into my hurting heart.  He was mature enough to hold me accountable for those words in a loving way, without returning insult for insult.  He didn't play my games, but didn't abandon me, either.  I didn't realize it then, but I needed his "tough love." 

The Lord grew me in that area, and it's rare that I speak even the slightest bit harshly to him.

But then there's my son.  My precious son.

We two spend lots of time together, and we're both stubborn in certain ways.  Plus, I often feel this urgency about him learning all he needs to know and being all he needs to be by the time he leaves the nest.  I let the panic get the better of me sometimes, and I don't watch my words.

I'm not talking here about cursing at him or yelling at the top of my lungs.

But, I'm too often not careful.

Everyone else in my life gets the benefit of my stopping to think before speaking something difficult.  It's the way it should be done, and everyone deserves that courtesy.

But my precious gift from God doesn't always receive that courtesy.  That respect.  From his mom.

I'm getting better.  I really am.  But I'm not there yet.  I don't know if I'll ever be "there."  Has there ever been a mom who consistently spoke perfectly to her children?  I don't want to be too hard on myself, yet I don't want to let myself off the hook too easily, either. 

Because, no matter what anyone else does or doesn't do, I'm still responsible for my words, and for the spirit in which I say them.

Our precious treasure came to us as a wounded, angry toddler.  It hurts my heart deeply to think that anything I've said, or how I've said it, has wounded him more deeply, or opened wounds that could have remained mended.

It's the healing words he needs from us.  Accountability, absolutely!  But not with careless words or attitudes.

Maybe LM isn't all that different from any other child.  Yes, he had a rough start to his life, but every child is born, with a sinful nature, into this cold, cruel world.  Every child hurts over something.  Every child has a God-shaped hole in his/her heart and is trying to figure out what goes there.  Do we show them how God really is by the way we treat them and speak to them, or do we misrepresent Him with carelessness?

Lord, help me to speak words of life and encouragement and truth into my son's life, with an attitude of humility.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

When I Couldn't Say "I Love You"

Why can't I have a romantic cry once in awhile?  You know, like in the movies or in books, where a girl can wade on a sandy shore while she cries, or lie on a lofty tree branch, or stroll a grassy meadow, surrounded by sweet-smelling wildflowers?

I'd settle for escaping to the shade of the apple trees in our "back 40" on a sunny spring day, apple blossoms showering their fragrant petals over my face to wipe away my tears . . .

. . . or whatever.

But, no.  When I have a chance to cry at all, it's usually at the most inopportune times, when some straw or another has broken the camel's back, and there's no time or opportunity to choose a location.  While washing dishes, while sorting laundry, while teaching my son algebra or sentence diagramming.  It's never "right."  It's never dramatic in a good way.

I did have a perfectly romantic cry once in my life.  And it wasn't just romantic in the sense of imaginative or impractical, but it involved a boy-girl romance-romance!

Yes, I was in college and spending lots of time with Kevin (my now-husband for anyone who didn't know!).  We sat on a bench or a ledge somewhere on/near a beach in Chicago, the waters of Lake Michigan meeting the sky in the distance, the wind blowing through my hair (um, I had an asymmetrical hairstyle at the time, and the only part long enough to move around with the wind was the front--no full head of shiny locks to float on the breeze, but still!).  On the other side of me, the city lights twinkled and winked, and their beauty seemed to exist just for our sake.

I don't remember the small talk that preceded these words, but I remember the important part.

"I love you," said he.

And then I cried.  It was like we were the only two people in the world, and it was the first time I cried in front of him.  It wasn't that I didn't love him.  I did very much.  But, for some weird reason, I couldn't bring myself to say it out loud.  I had misused that word "love" too many times.  I knew Kevin was the real thing, and that scared me senseless for awhile!  I was afraid of true love, afraid I would fail.  I didn't know how to deal with true love.  I knew I had to treat it differently than the game-playing and attempts to control others that I had been guilty of before.

I loved him, but I just couldn't bring myself to say so.

I'll never forget how he swung down from the bench, got down on one knee so he could see me face-to-face, and kindly asked, "What's wrong?" in the quietest, most tender of voices.  He took my hand and just waited patiently for me to finish crying (like he has so many times since).  If he was unsettled by my tears, he never showed it.  He brushed my hair from my eyes a time or two and whispered a compassionate encouragement every now and then.

I cried mainly because I didn't know what was wrong with me.  Why could I not verbalize what was in my heart to the only one those words had ever truly applied?  I had easily said them before when I only thought they meant something.  Now they really did, and I couldn't utter them.

I wonder how he felt that night.  I haven't asked him if he even remembers it.  I think of it every few years or so, but I never remember to ask him that question.  I'll bet I will now, though. :)

Obviously, the story doesn't end there.

A few days later, he called me right before being wheeled to the health center because of a dangerously high fever and severe abdominal pain.  It turned out he had food poisoning and would be fine, but I didn't know that at the time.  I met him there as he arrived and was shocked at the green tint to his face.  I hadn't realized people could really look green!  I so wanted to say, "I love you!" as the nurse pushed his wheelchair toward the mysterious, unseen back rooms.  I wondered if he was going to die without knowing how I felt.

The "mean" nurse wouldn't let me back to see him, so I wrote a note, which she agreed to take to him.  I wrote all kinds of things about how I hoped he would feel better quickly and that I would be praying for him.  Then, as if an afterthought, on the bottom of the paper I wrote, "By the way, I love you."  We laugh about that all these years later (that was 26 years ago!!).

So, yeah, it was kind of a back-handed way, but it was a start!  After that, I had no trouble saying those words, except, over the next several years of our engagement and new marriage, when I would withhold those words out of anger, to "make a point."

Now, I still become angry sometimes, but I can't ever withhold those words.  In fact, though I say them to him several times every day, I make an extra effort to make sure I say them when I'm angry.  I've learned that love certainly doesn't end because of a disagreement.  The only thing that causes love to end is when one or both people allow it to.  Period.

So, anyway, I should be grateful I've had a romantic cry in my lifetime:  romantic setting, romantic circumstances, romantic outcome.  I'll remember that the next time I'm blubbering as I'm cleaning the toilet or folding laundry, and wishing I could escape to the apple trees. ;)


Monday, March 10, 2014

Grace and the Single Mom

She knows how she got here, but not the particulars of how she'll get through it.

A childhood races by so fast looking back, but when Baby's not quite here yet, Mama's staring uncomfortably at an overwhelming path of mountains and valleys that disappears into the horizon.

Alone.  Baby Daddy has other plans.

Alone.

Except, she isn't really!

Thank You, Lord, that she's never alone!  Thank You for life.  Thank You for mercy.  Thank You for grace!

Grace.

It's all around her.  It's in her belly right now.  It's in the house she calls home.  It's in a good job.  It's in family and friends surrounding.  It's in thousands of prayers sweet to the Lord's hearing.

It's in a room FULL of ladies, all bearing gifts to welcome a new baby.  Generosity, probably sacrificial for some or all, celebrating him who is growing and preparing to meet the world, his new home.

Grace makes me cry when I stop to recognize it for what it is.  Especially when it touches me and my loved ones so profoundly.

Grace will get Mama and Baby through.  Baby will learn grace through watching Mama.

Both will look back one day and see grace after grace after grace . . .

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Laurel and the Devil Go to Law School


I dreamed last night that I walked into my first day of law school (???!!!), sat at a desk, and watched the professor dump a bunch of documents, photos, and two pieces of buttered toast on each student's desk.

He explained that he had a legal riddle for us, and we were to use the items on our desks as clues to write a paper on a certain aspect of the law.

Try as I might, I couldn't make heads nor tails out of what I was supposed to do.  I even noticed, as my classmates were hungrily munching away on their toast, that the two pieces of toast on my desk were engraved with tiny letters that presumably contained some sort of message.  I studied it, but couldn't understand.

To make things worse, my haughty professor kept hounding me about what I had come up with so far, and each time I answered, he ridiculed and mocked me.  I'm not into name-calling, but since he was a figment of my imagination, I will freely call him what he was:  an arrogant jerk.

I don't know if I ever handed anything in, but, later in the dream, I found myself in charge of a reception for the new law students.  I opened the door of the classroom and entered a beautiful reception hall, which had either been magically decorated, or I had been very busy before class, before becoming aware of my dream.

The devil was there--oh, yes he was--in the form of a beautiful woman, standing alone by a table in the back of the room. She was impeccably dressed, made up, and coiffed; but her true identity glared through her eyes at me, and was reflected in her evil smile. 

I confidently marched up to her and told her in no uncertain terms that she was to leave immediately.

She didn't argue.  On her way out, though, one of my classmates, a happy, hippyish--looking guy, locked eyes with her, smiled, and followed her out the door.  She looked back at me with an evil, smug smirk, and the two of them disappeared.

Then I awoke.

A crazy dream, to be sure, but it reminds me of how I see my life sometimes.  I often feel like I can't make any sense of things that everyone else has figured out.  I've got all these pieces of my life that I'm trying to fit together properly, all these "clues" about what I should be doing or how I should be doing it, yet feeling inadequate to put it all together correctly.

I know my enemy, and frequently sense his lurking presence, a powerful coward waiting to pounce on any weakness.  I, too, know the power I have over him through Jesus Christ, but am all too aware of the footholds I willingly offer.

And I feel more than see the evil, smug smirk. 

How grateful I am that my peace does not depend on me.  I was born too far gone to ever grasp it.

How grateful I am for Jesus, who is mightier than any pompous person I might encounter, who knows how the pieces of the puzzle of my life fit together, and who has already conquered my enemy.

And He invites me to walk in that victory . . .


Monday, March 3, 2014

The "Passive" Gossip-er


The "passive" gossiper.

That was me.

Oh, I'm sure over the years I have talked about people when I shouldn't have.  I felt convicted about that early on, and cut way down.  Like that makes it better.

But, several years ago, I realized that I was still participating in gossip, even when I wasn't saying a word.

I was listening.

People can't gossip without an audience.  The audience is just as guilty.

But I was more than happy to listen to the flapping gums.

I've come to learn that the truth is thus:  There's rarely a good reason to discuss with others anything about another person that would be embarrassing to that person for others to know, nor anything that person has told me in confidence.  It's not okay .  . . whether the person is struggling with something, or had a bad day, or is sinning, or has hurt me, or has said or done something I disagree with.  And it certainly isn't okay just because I want it to be okay!

To tell others how someone has hurt me instead of going to that someone?  Cowardly.

To tell others about someone's mistakes or embarrassing circumstances?  Cruel.

To talk about someone because there's nothing else to talk about?  Lame.

To criticize someone behind his/her back?  Poison.

And listening to it perpetuates the problem.

Then there's the fine line between gossip and "a prayer request."

I'm not talking about biblical discipline here, which sometimes requires more than one person knowing about a situation, but even that is after a one-on-one conversation.

Gossip can sneak up on me, and when it's over, I realize what hit me and that I didn't have my guard up.

I'm still trying.

And that's the truth. :(


Friday, February 28, 2014

Fun Fridays: What's in my Purse?

I've decided this blog can use some light-heartedness once in awhile, so whenever I post on a Friday, it will be something random or fun or stupid or humorous or a combination of any of the above.  There's a "tag" I've seen the YouTube beauty gurus do (if you don't know what I'm talking about, see my post from last Friday) called the "What's in my Purse?" tag, where they. . . well, show what's in their purse!  I have no idea how much they stage those, but I assure you, I did not take stuff out of my purse or know what exactly would be in there, other than the stuff I use all the time.  LM helped me with it.  I used an old camera, and the color is a bit off, but everything else is genuine. lol  So, let's see what's in Laurel's purse . . . 







Now I tag whoever wants to do this! :)

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Dreaded Confrontation

All through my childhood, and right on into my early adult years, I thought confrontation was something to be avoided like the plague.  It was scarier to me than almost anything else.

I didn't confront people when needed.  I didn't know how.

I didn't take confrontation (loving or not) well.  I didn't know how.

I still don't know how, but I'm learning.

I don't recall witnessing much healthy confrontation in the world around me as I grew up.  I'm sure I did, but I don't remember it.  I probably wasn't paying attention.  I mostly picked up on the extremes of "confrontation," either ignoring it altogether or bulldozing.  Either extreme is self-centered.  I, in my silence, was just as self-preserving as any bulldozer-type.

When I finally realized I wasn't as noble as a peace-keeper, that I was, instead, a coward, I slowly faced the fact that I needed some courage and some insight into healthy confrontation.  Though I felt like the cowardly lion, I knew better than to go to Oz or anywhere other than to the Lord.  I now know He was awakening me to this major fault in myself and was preparing me for His loving instruction.

Because . . . well, if no one confronts anyone else, then a lot of bad things, which might have been prevented, will happen.  Or someone might not realize how much I love them, because I didn't care enough to try to help them see what they haven't seen themselves.  Or I have no hope of being like Jesus, because He confronted people all the time.  He knew how to do it, though.  Perfectly.

And if I take confrontation the wrong way, then things can get ugly . . . worse instead of better.  Who wants that?

The only two people I have felt complete freedom (from fear) to confront are my husband and son.  And, yeah, now that I think about it, I've been a bulldozer with them at times.  My husband puts his foot down before I can bulldoze right over him.  I still apologize because my attitude has been wrong.  And I owe my son an apology probably several times a week for the horrible confrontation skills I choose to use with him at times!

So, what I'm talking about in this post is confrontation with anyone but the people who live in my house, I guess. :) I mean, as far as being afraid to do it.

Here's what I've learned so far about confrontation (if you have anything to add, or if you think I'm off-base in anything I say here, please feel free to leave a comment below.  I love to learn from other people!):

About Being Confronted:
  • If someone is being purposely rude, name-calling, or using ad hominem tactics, it's okay to not take what the person says seriously or to heart--in fact, it's better not to.  But, if they want to discuss it calmly later, I should always be open to that kind of conversation.
  • I'm not right all the time.  There are things people need to confront me about.  It's a fact of life.
  • When someone takes the time to lovingly confront me about something, they should be appreciated.  I know how hard that can be!  I need to thank the Lord that they followed His leading instead of holding back like I always used to.
  • Being the one confronted takes some maturity and humility.  For instance, if someone tells me something I said or did came across in a way I didn't mean it (and that has happened more than once!!), where before I would have become angry with them for having "the nerve" to call me out, now my natural reaction is, "Oh, my gosh!  I had no idea that what I did or said made them feel bad!  I feel horrible that what I said/did caused them to feel that way!"  I'm better able now to think about the other person, rather than attacking or trying to make them feel wrong for their feelings. Thankfully, I have forgiving people in my life, and they aren't confronting me about it because they want me to feel horrible, but to clear the air and to help me know for the future how certain things come across, so I don't obliviously make the same mistake again and again.  What love!
  • I need to prayerfully consider what the person is saying before embracing or disregarding it, checking with Scripture to see how their words measure up.  If they are correct, I need to humbly take the next steps.
  • I need to guard against defensiveness.

About Being the Confront-er:
  • God calls us all to do this from time to time.
  • It's not comfortable, but it should not be ignored.  I need to allow God to strengthen my courage more than I nurture my fear!
  • Never confront a relational issue with the sole objective of receiving an apology.  This is my own policy--I'm not certain yet if it's right or wrong, but from my study of the Bible as a whole, I feel like it's right.  I don't really think "my feelings were hurt" is worth the efforts or possible negative results of a confrontation.  In my opinion, it should be a benefit to the other person as well (with the understanding that they may not receive it that way), in helping them to see something they didn't see so they don't inadvertently repeat an offensive behavior; restoring a relationship; helping them overcome a habitual sin, etc.  It should never just be about me and my feelings.  Anybody see this differently?
  • I need to be balanced.  I'm not even close to being too far in the other direction (bulldozer) at this point.  I've gone from letting everything go to confronting some things, but I probably still let some things go that should be confronted.  I never want to cross the line to the other side, either.  This is where my next point comes in.
  • I need to pray, pray, pray before confronting (or letting it go), to make sure the Lord really is laying it on my heart, to be certain my attitude is right, and to ask for the right words to say.  I also need to pray for the person who is to be confronted, that their hearts and minds will be open, instead of defensive.
  • I need to always be a student of the Bible, so I know right from wrong, what's important to God, and how Jesus handled things.
  • I also need to not cower to anyone/anything trying to change the definition of "love" that is found in the Bible.  Many will say that love does not confront, does not hold accountable, will never cause pain.  That's just not biblical!  Confrontation and accountability, with kindness and a spirit of restoration, are part of biblical love.  And sometimes people cry or feel anguish when they realize an error they've made.  That's not a bad thing!
  • I need to speak with humility.  I am utterly aware of my many imperfections (and that maybe I have more I'm not aware of yet!). I'm never someone who has "arrived" talking down to anyone else.
  • I need to trust God with the results.   The person may be receptive or not.  They may be defensive or not.  They  may be mature about it or not.  I'm not responsible for any of that.  I'm responsible to be obedient to my Lord.  I can't let the possibility of a hateful retort or the possible "turning the tables to get you back" keep me from obedience.
  • I need to allow myself to be human.  I can't get it right every time.  I'm typically decent with words, more so with the written word, except in situations of confrontation.  That's where my words get the most tangled up, and I feel like I say things I didn't mean to say, or don't say things I should have said, and usually feel like I've done a horrible job.  But I can honestly say I've always done the best I knew how right then.  Maybe I'll improve with time and as I seek and gain more wisdom from the Lord.  When I make mistakes, I need to learn from them and move on.
  • I need to keep it between me and them.  If I'm not willing to talk to them about it, I shouldn't be talking about it with anyone else, either.  It's not okay to cause humiliation or to taint others' view of anyone with gossip!

The issue of confrontation is just one of many areas the Lord is working on in me.  *Deep sigh.*  I'm so thankful for His patience with me! :)

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The MIRACLE in Infertility . . . Yes! You read that correctly! :)


It was a nightmare!

Every Mother's Day.  In church.  A nightmare.  "All the moms, please stand up!"

And I would stay in my seat and try to swallow the sobs that wanted to escape.

It wasn't the standing up and being recognized in church I wanted.  It was the reason behind it that mattered to me.

I wanted to be a mom!

When we first got married, I wasn't even sure I wanted children.  I was on birth control pills, totally oblivious to their risks and not foreseeing the damage they would do to me personally.*  My mind was so me-centered at that time, having children was kind of off my radar.

But the time came when Kevin and I both wanted to be parents.  And we had to wait.  And wait.  And wait.

"You need to do [this, that, and the other thing--meds, procedures, fertility treatments, etc.] to increase your chances," well-meaning people would say.  There were those who didn't seem to understand that we knew our options, but did not feel peace from the Lord about most of them.  Not that they were wrong things to try in and of themselves, but they weren't what God was telling us to do. (If you love someone going through this, please don't tell them what they need to do, even if it's out of intense love and caring for the person.  "Have you heard about . . ." comes across so much better!)

HE was telling us to wait on Him.

My friends were having babies left and right, and I was SO genuinely happy for each new life, each precious baby I got to hold . . . and give back.  I was ok with that.  I never begrudged another mom her child, in thought or action.  As much as I wanted one of my own, I couldn't possibly be envious of such a gift bestowed on my friends.

But the ache of empty arms was still there.

In the meantime, I had learned I had a condition called PCOS, which makes it difficult or impossible to conceive, extremely easy to gain weight and difficult to lose it.

Fun stuff! 

Then, God put adoption on our hearts.

He caused the desire to adopt a child to grow until it enveloped our hearts, and we knew it was time to start the process.

Again, more waiting.  I may write separately about our adoption story sometime, but suffice it to say we waited, in all, almost fifteen years to become parents (well, from the time we were married).

I've said it a million times, and I'll say it a million more . . . our precious son was worth the wait!  If our dream had come true any sooner, it wouldn't have been him!  And that would never do!!

The miracle in my barrenness was even bigger than having my dream fulfilled.  The miracle was what took place in my heart while I was still waiting.  The miracle was the joy I was able to choose and the contentment I experienced even as my longing grew.  I still felt sorrow.  Many times.  But joy and contentment made the sorrow bearable.  I trusted my Lord.  I knew if He never gave us a child to raise for Him, I would be okay.  My life would still be meaningful in whatever ways He wanted it to be.

Dear reader, whoever you are, if your arms ache to hold a sweet child of your own, take heart!

The Bible tells us that children are a reward and blessing from the Lord.  But it does NOT say they are the only ways God blesses or rewards people, nor does it say that something is wrong with you if He doesn't choose to bless you in that way.  Don't let anyone, not even yourself, convince you of that!

I can't guarantee that God will give you a child to raise for Him, but I can tell you these two things:

If He does, the wait will be worth it.  You will understand just what I mean when the time comes.  You just will!

If He does not, you will have two choices:  bitterness or joyChoose joy!

If He does not, He has a good reason.  He will take care of you and fulfill you in other ways.

I have an understanding of how you feel.  E-mail me if you wish to talk about it or if you'd like me to pray for you (pink email button is over on the right side of this page).


*This is not a post for or against birth control.  Just my experience.

Blessings,
Laurel



Monday, February 24, 2014

Where's the Joy?


I remember days, in my early twenties, when I woke up so very heavy-hearted, I could hardly drag myself out of bed.  The pain was so intense, it hovered over me all day and into the night, until a few hours of slumber brought escape.  On the nights my dreams chose to haunt me, there was no rest after all for my weary mind and soul.

Then, I would wake to this pain's smothering fingers once again.  Every day.  For a couple of years.

To this day, I don't know why I was so sad.  But I do know why I didn't have joy.

I didn't have joy because:
  • I equated joy with happiness. But joy is an attitude, while happiness is an emotion.
  • I wasn't praying or reading my Bible much.  At the time, I didn't see the point.
  • I was focusing on what I didn't have that I still wanted. 
  • I had a rebellious heart toward the Lord and toward authority.
  • I was giving in to depression.

I had almost everything I thought I wanted.  I was young, had a wonderful new husband, a good and fulfilling job, family, friends, always things to do.

But nothing is ever enough when you're trying to walk your own way, instead of in step with the Lord.  Nothing is ever enough to satisfy us fully.  Nothing is ever enough to keep sad times away.

No, no, no . . . the sad, unjust, terrifying, heart-wrenching times will find their way to every one of us.  And when you're suffering from depression, as I was, even little troubles can seem insurmountable.  My depression was not a medical problem, as it is for some.  Mine was a spiritual issue I needed to deal with.

And then I did.

I can't explain it in any other way, except the Lord's work in my heart, but, one morning, I woke up and knew what I needed to do.  I determined to FIGHT those waves of anguish, and cling with all my might to true joy.  I fought, and I fought, and I fought, until, on another distant morning, I woke and realized I didn't have to fight anymore.  Joy had become a habit!

Now I have joy almost all of the time because:
  • I understand it's an attitude, something I can nurture regardless of my feelings.
  • I'm reading God's Word daily, and studying it for concentrated periods of time regularly. I now understand it's my life, my breath, my nourishment--vital!! I turn to the Lord in prayer all the time, instead of trying to make it on my own.
  • I've learned gratitude.  I can't begin to explain the difference it has made to choose to be thankful for what I have, instead of focusing on what I think I want.
  • My rebellious heart has softened.  Most of the time. ;)
  • I CHOOSE it.  I choose joy.

Not perfectly.  None of the above have been mastered by me, no siree!  But day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute, I'm trying.  As I'm learning and growing and loving my Savior more with each moment I spend with Him, I want to tell anyone who will listen about what I've learned about true joy.

He is worthy.  That's enough.





Friday, February 21, 2014

Beauty, YouTube, and Laurel (It's a bit embarrassing, but totally true) . . .

So, I don't spend all my time thinking deeply or doing things that matter.  I DO waste time sometimes, too!  Here's a perfect example.

Friday nights are often "Guys' Night" around here, where Kevin and LM spend time together doing guy stuff or watching a movie together or something.  Whatever they end up doing, it always includes food, laughter, and conversation.  I'm all for it.  They have a solid relationship, and that doesn't happen without time spent together.  (The good Lord knows LM spends plenty of time with ME during the week! lol)

If I have nothing worthwhile to do on those Friday nights, wanna know what I sometimes to do to try to balance out the hormone level in this house (even the dog's a male!)?

True Confessions:  You might find me on a Friday night . . . well, ummm. . . . okay . . . watching beauty gurus on YouTube!

Yes, it's true.  Try not to judge. ;)

I know, I know.  It's sooo shallow (not the ladies themselves, but the subject matter), but the truth is that I love makeup and all that girly stuff!  I don't have tons of time to devote to all that stuff, and I will never look like those young beauties, no matter how much makeup I might pile on, but they are FUN to watch!!

I'm laughing at myself right now.  I really am.  I'm too old to find pretty much anything on YouTube entertaining (other than 80s music videos), but I DO love to watch the beauty channels.

Maybe you would, too, if you had tiny eyelashes like mine and needed to know the best mascara to use. ;)

So, if you're a girlie-girl who has some free time sometime, and want to see what's going on in the beauty world, here are some of my favorites:

   
GlamLifeGuru (Tati) 

Nikki Phillipi (She is Donna Reed's great-niece! :))
BreeLovesBeauty (Cambria)

Don't worry. If you don't have time for such frivolity, you're ok without it. lol :D