Tuesday, July 31, 2012
When I was 19 years old, I was part of a group of students that protested outside the United Nations in NYC. Yes. I carried a picket sign in a protest outside the U.N. That's priceless, isn't it? It had been years since I thought about that trip. Then I ran across a few photographs. (And no, the photo above was just for fun. That was a few years before my time.)
Anyway, there I was at the U.N. In my very cool - fake leather bomber jacket with fur trim on the collar carrying a sign that said "Christians for Cambodia." I was a sophomore at Clemson. I have no memory of the circumstances that led to me going. Mostly what I remember is that I had never been on a plane in my life, but I dearly wanted the experience. I'd also never been far outside of S.C., so the thought of flying for the first time AND getting to see New York City was too good to miss. I signed on!
I never shared that trip with my girls until just a few years ago - and they looked a little shocked at the visual of their mom picketing at the U.N. Kate thought it was pretty cool. I remember Taylor's mouth hung completely open --- as she muttered, REALLY??!??
To be honest, I had to google before I sat down to write this blog what was going on in Cambodia at that time - about 1978. I do remember the jest of the protest. I don't remember the specifics. Wikepedia says that it was during that time that the dictator, Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge took over the government in Cambodia - and within a few short years, over one million of that country's people had died of executions, starvation and disease. That's likely what our protesting was about. Injustice in Cambodia.
You know. It's interesting the direction our lives take. I can look back now and see a pattern of dots connecting through the years. Maybe even starting with that trip. At nineteen, I had a terribly low self esteem. I was painfully shy. I think I decided to go on the trip because it would force me to do something I would ordinarily never do. It would force me to become something I wasn't. I wasn't self assured. I wasn't strong. I wasn't brave or daring -- but the idea of flying to NYC and protesting at the UN sounded like the kind of thing I wanted to "be."
I liked the idea of it -- and felt if I stepped into that experience it would somehow make me into a different person. I think it worked a little bit. That was one of my first encounters with intentionally taking a step to do something "uncomfortable." We avoid that very often, you know! Doing anything that causes us to feel uneasy. But, you know what I discovered? It did not kill me! Amazing! I did something "uncomfortable" and it did something quite the opposite. I grew stronger.
I have a young friend, Melissa Norris, who shared this good word recently.
Saturday, July 21, 2012
I learned Thursday that the house I grew up in was struck by lightening during an early morning storm - and burned to the ground.
It's just beginning to sink in with me. It's a powerful attachment. The house I call "home."
My mom and dad built that house in 1970. I was 12 years old. Until that year, our family moved around a lot. My dad was just starting his own business. We didn't have a lot of money - and my only experience with "home" was the rental houses I shared with my parents and three brothers.
Building that house in 1970 was a big deal for my family. We were finally putting down roots - and it felt really good. We were moving "back home" - closer to family. Closer to my grandparents. Closer to all my cousins and friends at church. At the foot of Ceasar's Head Mountain and minutes from Table Rock. It was a great place to grow up.
It's strange what you remember about the house you grow up in. I remember the sinks! For the very first time, I had my own bathroom -- with a cool brown sink. There were double avocado green sinks in the kitchen, a bright red sink in the boy's bathroom and a lovely blue sink in my parent's bathroom. Wow! Sink memories!
My dad installed the mantel over our fireplace upside down - and never changed it. The smooth side faced down and the uneven - rough side faced up. When my mom put candles or decorations out during holidays, they never sat level. My mom had a sewing room, but all of our meals were shared in the kitchen around a table she's still managed to hang on to all these years later. We had classic 70's "wagon wheel" light fixtures hanging in the family room and classic green shag carpet.
That family room is where I had prom and high school graduation pictures taken. It's where I beat my brothers leg wrestling, opened Christmas presents and watched hours of Miami Dolphin football. Over the years in that house, I baked cakes with my cousin, Karen, took long walks with my best friend, Myra and dreamed about what my life would be like when I got older. I listened to the Carpenters and John Denver in that house - and a very young Michael Jackson. And yes, even though it's tragically similar to Miranda Lambert's song, my favorite dog is buried in the yard there too. His name carved into an old tree stump. Sweet, Jake.
In the driveway of that house, I had many a good night kiss with this young kid from Dacusville, who drove his mama's Cadillac when he came to take me out. I loaded down my car and left for college in that driveway - striking out on my own for the first time. Family and friends showered me and Scott with bird seed in the driveway of that house as we left our wedding reception to start our life together.
Lots of happy memories. And, to be real. Some very sad ones too. That's just living.
I've been reminded of a very important truth over the last few days. Nothing in this life lasts forever. While I want to live out my life loving and caring for people, especially my family - and while I want to live out my purpose in this world - the purpose God has called me to do, it's best to keep a very "light" hold on this world. We are just passing through.
"For this world is not our permanent home, we are looking forward to a home yet to come." Hebrews 13:14.
Monday, July 16, 2012
It's become nearly obsolete. Sending handwritten notes & letters.
I have this box in the top of my closet - completely full of handwritten notes and letters that Scott & I exchanged throughout our courtship -- from high school to college and then after. Tons of them. Those days in our relationship would be completely lost to me now, without the letters.
Some were notes passed in the hallways of our high school. Others were mailed back and forth at college, when I was at USC and he was at Clemson.
We still write letters and notes to each other. He's left me handwritten letters in my suitcase, when I've flown to the other side of the world without him. He's left me notes by the coffee maker so I'll see it first thing in the morning. We almost never buy birthday cards or anniversary cards, we write letters instead.
What a wonderful momenta of our relationship.
With texting and facebook messaging, handwritten notes are becoming a thing of the past with couples. Years from now, many couples won't have the benefit of pulling out a stack of old letters to read. The texts will be long since deleted. The messaging may be the same -- long since gone.
I don't know about you, but a handwritten thank you always means the most - especially if the writer puts some thought into the message - not just thanking you, but really making you feel that your gift was enjoyed and appreciated. When I get a really good one - I hang onto it. It goes in the basket beside my chair in the living room. I even pull those out from time to time and enjoy reading them a time or two more.
I don't remember who gave me the idea, but someone encouraged me once to write a handwritten letter telling the people closest to me what they meant to me. I remember sending my mom that kind of letter once. I don't remember what I said, but I'll never forget her reaction. It meant a lot to her.
On Scott's 50th birthday, I took the idea a step further. He's the kind of man that often underestimates the good he's done in his life or the impact he's made in this world. I think there's something about turning 50 that causes all of us to re-evaluate and question where we are in life and what we've accomplished. In advance of his 50th birthday, I invited friends and family to secretly mail handwritten notes or letters so that I could collect them and give them to Scott on his birthday. He was overcome.
He cried over the letters and read each one. Even since then, I'll pull out the box of letters again when he's had a tough day - and he enjoyed them all over again.
Handwritten notes. I want to keep writing them and receiving them. Life moves on, but the letters allow us to hold on to people and experiences a little longer. I like that.
Saturday, July 7, 2012
I have a special friend that well into her 90's now. Ruth. She moved away from Greenwood to live near her daughter several years ago, but I call her every year on her birthday. I remember her telling me once that she looked at herself in the mirror sometimes and couldn't believe how old she was. Then she would throw her head back and laugh - as she often did.
I'll never forget her telling me "....I still feel like 16 on the inside. I don't feel any different at all!.." I've never forgotten that.
Today I turn 53.
I'll attest to what Ruth said. It's going by fast!
This morning in the study notes of my Bible in the book of James, I read:
"...life is short no matter how many years we live. don't be deceived into thinking that you have lots of remaining time to live for Christ, to enjoy your loved ones, or to do what you know you should. Live for God today. Then....no matter when your life ends, you will have fulfilled His plan for you..."
I'm taking that as a word on my birthday.
This year, I want to take more chances for Him, live with less fear and be willing to be uncomfortable for Him. I want to open my heart wider to people and love more freely through Him. I don't want to miss a single opportunity He has for me. A single experience He has for me. If I'm blessed to see July 7, 2013, I hope I can look back at this next year and say......you did the thing! You lived each day. You loved. You were willing to forgive. You lived with courage and showed kindness. You took chances. You made a difference. That's what I want to be able to say.
"Happy Birthday, to me."