Wednesday, April 25, 2012

"Some People Call it Fate"

Don't get the wrong idea.   I don't think about it very often.   Just sometimes.   What if?

My grandma (that's her below with the cat eye glasses)....was Lila.   I love that name.  Her first husband, Ben Tillman Hendricks, died from injuries he suffered in a car accident in 1937. Lila was left the widow of three small children.  She later married my grandpa, Wister (the firmly planted man at her side) - and they had one child together - my dad.   I've wondered before, what if the accident that killed Lila's first husband never happened? and my dad had never been born?

An older couple - The Tanner's - were living their lives out together on a small farm in rural Dacusville in the 1960's.    Both Mr. & Mrs. Tanner were tragically killed in a car accident.  Their children put the farm up for auction following their deaths.  My husband (Scott's) parents wanted to leave the big city of Greenville at the time and move back to the country.  They learned of the property being sold and placed a bid at the auction.  They had the winning offer at the auction.  Scott was six or seven years old when his family moved to the farm.   That series of events would put Scott at the same High School as me about ten years down the road.   We met and started dating at that high school.  I wonder sometimes how different my life might have been,  if the Dublin's never bid on this farm in Dacusville?   What if Scott & I had never met?

Pickens High School - Home of the Blue Flames!  

I know......we were SO young!

We did meet, though.   We started dating when we were 16 years old!  We fell in love,  finished Clemson together in married in 1982 and started our life.   Young college graduates, we had no money, hand me down cars and a cat, named Booper.    Scott was unhappy at his job as a financial planner and looking for something more "meaningful."   He came home one afternoon after interviewing for a job as the District Executive with the Boy Scouts of America -- a job in Oconee County.  He got the job!  The following day, however, an executive in the Scouting Office decided to change plans - sending Scott, instead, to Greenwood County.  He thought Scott was better suited for the area.    I've wondered,  what would our life and our kid's lives have been like if  Scott's had been sent to Oconee as planned?   What if we had never moved to Greenwood?

Our sweet little home in Greenwood

I've even seen interesting "what if's" with my children.    Kate applied for med school at MUSC - and was "wait listed."    MUSC was her first choice for PT school, but she didn't get an immediate acceptance     She had no other option but to apply to the only other PT program in South Carolina --at  the University of South Carolina.    While in school at USC, she met her future husband, Josh.     I've wondered during all the wedding planning going on for the last six months, what if she had gotten into MUSC when she applied?

Kate & Josh
Do you think about the what if's?

Some people call it fate. I believe everything happens for a reason.   As I've gotten a little further down the road of life, I can see all the ways that God has been "working things out." He is working out His plan for my life in the circumstances, the accidents, the moves and job relocations and the unexpected.  

I love this passage from "Jesus Calling" - my devotional by Sarah Young:

"Let me prepare you for the day that stretches out before you.  I know exactly what this day will contain, whereas you have only vague ideas about it.  You would like to see a map, showing all the twists and turns of your journey.  You'd feel more prepared if you could somehow visualize what is on the road ahead.  However, there is a better way to be prepared for whatever you encounter today:  Spend quality time with Me...My abiding presence is the best road map available..."

Despite all the unanswered questions and the "what if's" of my life, I'm trusting Him with how it all turns out.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Shocking Tattoo & the Story Behind It

People that know me (at least many of them, anyway) were shocked recently to see that I got a tattoo.   In a beautiful font, I had the words "...I know a song of Africa..." tattooed on the inside of my left forearm.

I LOVE it.   It's a constant reminder on my arm of something that is in my heart every single day.  Africa.

After three trips in the last five years,it's hold on me continues to grow.

I read in the study notes of my Bible this morning from Colossians - "...following Christ means loving and serving in this world..."   Africa immediately came to mind, of course.    We can serve Christ anywhere. You certainly don't have to leave your community to serve.    But, I'm thankful this morning that I did get to go.  Here are some of the images from that very first trip to Kenya (June 2007) that give you a glimpse into why I was so completely and forever taken by this county and it's people.  I'll carry these images with me for a lifetime:

The tattoo, by the way, is a line from the movie, "Out of Africa" --

If I know a song of Africa, of the giraffe and the African new moon lying on her back, of the plows in the fields and the sweaty faces of the coffee pickers, does Africa know a song of me? Will the air over the plain quiver with a color that I have had on, or the children invent a game in which my name is, or the full moon throw a shadow over the gravel of the drive that was like me, or will the eagles of the Ngong Hills look out for me? 

Saturday, April 21, 2012

A Spirit of Fear

I've been fighting a spirit of "fear" this week. I don't like admitting that. It's that dreaded week that comes across my calendar every year -- check up time. Ask any cancer survivor. Most I know dread the whole experience of check-ups. You walk back into the hospital or the doctor's office - you have the tests or exams. All of the emotions and fears you pack neatly away during the other 51 weeks of the year, come back to the surface. At least that's how it is for me.

On a day to day basis, I don't think about my cancer so much anymore. I'm six years out from my diagnosis. Low grade endometrial stromal sarcoma. I've had NED (no evidence of disease) since 2006, but annual CT scans are required - and chest xrays to watch for it's return. 50% of women with this cancer have it recur, so the annual check ups are important. When I flipped my April calendar over and saw the yearly appointment for next week -- ugghhh! Me and fear started our annual banter.

It's so easy for me to recognize the damage that fear can do to OTHER people.

(This seems to be a trend in my life.)

I know people that have made a lifestyle out of fear. They wear it - they hide behind it - they use it as an excuse. If it's possible, I think they grow quite comfortable with it. It's so easy for me to see that they're missing out on valuable opportunities and experiences in their lives. Fear hinders. It neutralizes effectiveness. I can see it so easily in someone else.

So, why do I allow it to whip me?

I've been ineffective and distracted all week. I won't lie. I don't feel that I've accomplished anything worthwhile. I've been tired. It's worn me out. It's reflected in my house this morning (dishes on by the sink, a pile of laundry waiting to be folded, mail stacked too high.) I've pretty much given the enemy a "golden pass" to smack me around this week!

As I sit here writing this post, I'm wondering why the heck I've done that? I think this is a good time to change things up. Instead of sacrificing a whole week of my life to fear and dread -- I think I'll shift the focus.

God has reminded me several times this week that the best defense against fear is "trust" in His faithfulness. I could sit and write out tons of examples of how He's provided for me, protected me, walk through tough experiences with me, surrounded me - and comforted me. That needs to be my focus this week.

 "..For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love and self discipline..."
 2 Timothy 1:7.

How about you? is fear keeping you from living out your purpose for being on planet earth? or being really effective in your life? is fear keeping you from doing something you've dreamed of doing? We do just get one shot at life, you know.

I'm reminded when I sense fear rising up in me -- that fear does not come from God. If it's not from God -- pretty sure I don't want it.

The enemy will be so displeased with that approach. Hmmmm. He's had so much success over me this week, that's a pretty good reason to embrace it! No more "golden passes" this week from me.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

"I'm just passing through"

I LOVE traveling somewhere that requires an airplane. I'm happy when I travel. I smile when I travel. I love everything about it. I love the planning for a trip, the anticipation of a trip, the packing for a trip -- and the going on a trip. I even love the food on airplanes. I love the experience of traveling to my destination. I love being there. I even love the coming home part....and then I love planning the next trip.

That's why this verse in Psalms caught my eye last week:

"...for I am a guest - a traveler passing through..." Psalms 39:12.

I've... for sure..... not always seen myself that way.

Once when I was very young, I thought of life as a permanent condition - the world revolving around me. Admittedly, I was that person for many years. If you sat me in the middle of the universe, I could see all of the planets rotating happily around "me." I never thought about my life coming to an end. How could the world actually go on without me? No way. I had to be here for the universe to continue.

Not so much anymore.

What happened? Time, I'm sure.

I began to see myself as this infinitely small "speck" on the radar of the universe. Thousands of generations have come before me. Then -- here I come along for a blink of time -- and many more generations will likely come after me.

I think that's a much healthier way to view myself. If I'm not taking up permanent residence, I'm a guest -- and my time is temporary. It's important that I get on with it.

That's my desire.

To live well. Not in the material sense of "well" -- but to live as "fully" as I can. The Bible describes it as living "abundantly." Not great wealth or even great health -- but abundantly -- being highly effective -- being used in people's lives -- making a difference -- loving God and loving people.....allowing yourself to be made "uncomfortable."

We won't be here long. Just a blink of time. Let's get on with it-- because we really are just guests -- and we're only passing through.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

My Best Makeover Secrets: Crib Springs & Old Mantels

Two years ago I discovered a totally unknown love - buried deep within me - turning very ordinary spaces (with little personality) into something "warm" "inviting" "eclectic" "vintage" and just plain "interesting." I've logged my fair share of time on HGTV --I'm especially fond of the makeover shows with small budgets.

My job has become very administrative through the years, so it's not unusual for me to look for and find "creative outlets" in my work. This one had to come from the very hand of God -- because it tapped a passion and love I never knew I had - for Makeovers!

All in all, I was able to lead the makeovers of three senior centers in Abbeville, Greenwood & Edgefield counties with funding from some innovative friends at our Area Agency on Aging. There's too many ideas to share in just one blog, so I'll pitch them out occasionally in my writing - and'll see an idea you might want to try at "home."

Today -- it's decorating with crib springs & old mantels!

This may be my # 1 favorite: Wire Crib Springs Converted to an Innovative Bulletin Board:

(There's no end to the things you can put on the crib springs (I used old photos, vintage postcards, old car tags, antique kitchen item & memorabilia!) Also love this hand made primitive table from one of my FAVORITE shopping locations -- the quaint town of Ridge Springs, SC -- only $175 for the table. Ridge Springs has great shops & even better prices! A great day trip! About 45 minutes south of Greenwood enroute to Columbia. Also love the old Webster's dictionary tied with a leather strap & the vintage suitcase. )

Mantels are a favorite too --and I never let the fact that I don't have a fireplace stop me from mounting a mantel on a wall -- it automatically warms a space. Here's some of the mantels I've used - (also well priced at $75- $125 average.)

I'll be sharing more makeover pictures. Hope you enjoy!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

"God took me to the wood shed this week.."

From where I come from, being taken to "the wood shed" meant a good "butt whoopin." Yes, my Pumpkintown raising is showing! (My mother would be so proud since I've been calling Africa my homeland for the last five years.)

We didn't have a wood shed when I was a kid, but my brothers and I got our share of "whoopin's." I feel sure they deserved many more than I did. (Smile.) If you knew them, you'd agree that is true!

Anyway....back to my story.

Sometimes I just get too big for my britches. I'm headstrong, opinionated and stubborn...........okay, you can stop & disagree with me at anytime. I profess very often that I love humility in people...and I do. There are two things guaranteed to stop me in my tracks and turn me completely against somebody --- one is arrogance -- and the other is prejudice. I can't tolerate either one in a person. If I see it in somebody, I'm done with them! Told you I'm opinionated.

Strangely enough, however, God took me to the wood shed this week for one of my own pet peeves.
Arrogance....lack of humility. One of the hazards of being in the same position at work for a very long time is that you can get too big for your britches.....and I'm not talking about my weight. I'm the executive director of a non-profit in Greenwood. A 25 year veteran of the organization. I've been around the block a time or two....if you know what I mean. I have a very supportive board of directors that I report to and that I'm accountable to, but it's been a very LONG time since I've had a "boss" in the traditional sense. And....big suprize...I like that!

A relatively new staff member confronted me about something she had a genuine concern about at work this week. She came to me and just spit it out...she didn't mix words -- she just said it. And my response? ((at least in my spirit))....."Oh no, she did not just ask me that!" "She did not just question ME about that!" I was fit to be tied. I'm not a screamer. I don't yell, throw things or show out. So what did I do? I put on a professional, appropriate face and said all the right things back ---(and when she left my office, I had a hissy fit all by myself!)

Oh my! I chewed on it. I replayed it in my mind. I rolled it over & over as women do. I even did what I heard in the movie "The Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood" -- there's a line in the movie that says as women, "we roll something over & over, we chew on it until it loses it's flavor and then we stick it in our hair and wear it for a week or so." That is SO ME!

I have no idea why I do that, but I do!

Anyway, after I chewed on it, got mad about, played it out in my mind as I stomped across my treadmill that night and talked about the injustice of it with my husband (who unfortunately has to hear about such things) - I began to settle down and hear God speak to my heart about it.

It went something like this.

God: about through showing out?

Me: well, I don't know...maybe...maybe not.

God: I'm pretty sure you were wrong. I'm pretty sure you were
slightly less than humble - that word you like to throw around and admire so much in
other people. Pretty sure I didn't see much humility in you, child.

Me: hmmmm. yeah. I hate it when you're right. Can I just say that?!

So, the next morning, I went to work and humbled myself before this person and apologized. The relationship was restored. The offense was forgiven. I admitted I was wrong. And the best part about the whole experience? I'm visual -- I told you that before. I believe God grinned over me just a little bit when I humbled myself in this situation. Lord knows, I don't get it right half the time, but I'm going to think twice before I make my next trip out to the wood shed. Maybe me & God can put another trip off for at least a few days, anyway.