Lessons I learned from a neighborhood tragedy

I heard a loud knocking at my door. “Have you seen Bill and Jane?” my neighbor frantically asked. “No,” I replied.  She explained,”They didn’t show up for lunch with their children today and they aren’t coming to the door or answering their phones. We’ve called 911.”

I slowly shut the door while a chill went down my spine. I started to pray.

Soon, a group of concerned neighbors had gathered on the driveway of Bill and Jane’s home, my husband among them. Looking through the upstairs window, I saw the unfamiliar van of Bill and Jane’s son in the driveway. And soon, I saw the Sheriff arrive. I prayed even harder. And then I saw my husband walking home.

Standing in our kitchen, he relayed to me the tragic news. Jane was found dead in the home. Bill was alive, but he had fallen and was unable to get up. An ambulance was on its way to transport him to the hospital.

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Do you ever pray “Jesus, take me now?”

“Jesus, take me now” I uttered as I slowly pulled the covers up and over my head.  There in the darkness, in the despair of my soul, I told my Savior that I was ready to be with Him.  I was ready to leave this earth and be translated into heavenly glory.  I selfishly didn’t care about anything else at the moment – my family, my calling, my responsibilities.   I only cared about escaping this present world and to immediately be in the perfection of the next.

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I’m no longer afraid of the Ravenel Bridge

I’ve always been afraid of being trapped in a car under water. I’m not sure when I developed this phobia, but it probably began when I was a little girl going on adventures with my dad, brother, and uncles. We were driving out in the country in Anson County, NC.  Deep in the woods, we began driving driving over a swamp.  But we weren’t driving on a DOT-constructed bridge, we were on a man-made, rickety one lane bridge that looked like it was simply some  2×4’s nailed together. I was beyond scared.

I was terrified.

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Actually, I wasn’t a horrible mother after all…

It was Saturday night. I was snuggled down under my covers and my eighteen year old daughter, Hannah, was sitting on the bed beside me. A freshman in college, she had just received a surprising grade on her English paper. Expecting an A, she received a C. Confused and upset, her tears slowly rolled down her face. Knowing she had to head back to ECU the next day, she said something I thought I would never hear.

“Mommy, I don’t want to go back to school.”

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Peaceful living in spite of the threat of nuclear war

I jokingly blame a lot of things on my older brother, Scott. Being five years older than me, he loved to tease his little “see-ster.” For example, when I was in elementary school, I thought my nose was too big. Being a a gullible blond, I believed Scott when he said that my nose would get smaller if I would exercise it. I wiggled and wiggled my nose but it never lost any weight.

Scott was interested in everything military-related.  He had two uncles in the Air Force, which fueled his fascination.  Scott spent his time making model fighter jets and drawing ships and wearing camo and playing “war.”  We watched a lot of Hogan’s Heroes.  And in the seventies and early eighties, the US and Russia were in the midst of the Cold War, so Scott talked a lot about Russia and imminent threat of nuclear war.

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After 30 years, I finally made peace with my appearance

I grew up in a brick ranch house in Mint Hill, a tiny suburb of Charlotte that had one traffic light. Behind my house were woods and a creek where my friends and I loved to explore and play. Across the street, behind my friend’s houses, were verdant cow pastures. I had a wonderful childhood in this peaceful neighborhood.  But what I loved most about my brick ranch home was that the front porch had double (french) doors complete with glass storm doors.  These doors were the perfect backdrop for taking pictures.

                    My friend Ashley and me in front of the storm doors

Standing on the front sidewalk and facing the doors, it was like looking in a mirror. My dream was to be a cheerleader at my junior high school, and these mirror-esque glass doors meant that I could practice my jumps and see how high I was getting. Jumps were always hard for me. I’m petite but solid so when I jumped I did not fly like my skinny-legged friends. It took many hours of practice for me to finally nail the holy grail of cheerleading – a Russian- but I was persistent. I finally did it.

Strangely, what I remember most about all of those years of hard work on my jumps is not the euphoria of achieving my goal of doing a Russian, but the unkind words that were uttered when I was trying but failing.   I can’t remember who said it, but I will never forget the words:

“Lisa, your butt is so big you can’t even get it off the ground.” (more…)

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The unexpected story of the cottage garden desk

Once upon a time there was a desk. It was a well-made desk, constructed of real wood and hard nails. Its panels were not constructed of particle board and glued together in China.  It was not sold at Wal-Mart.  No, this desk was the real deal. And this is its unexpected story.

Its past is shrouded in mystery. Perhaps it sat in a fancy foyer in a mansion, and each day the mail, full of good news and bad, was laid upon it. It could have served in a little girl’s room…a place of reflection where a growing girl could diary her hopes and dreams. It could have been in the apartment of a young woman, a strong support for her laptop while she searched for jobs. God alone knows where it came from and what purpose it served.

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Could it be true? Am I lovable?

We almost collided with each other in the ladies bathroom entrance. I was headed out, and my friend Alisha was headed in. Happy to run into each other, we started to talk. We continued our conversation as we left the church building, joined by Alisha’s friend, Jonathan. We hugged, said goodbye, and headed in different directions.

As she was walking away, Alisha said something to Jonathan that I overheard:

“I just LOVE her.”

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Are you “Fine” or are you Living Broken?

A few months ago I had lunch with a friend at Moe’s. We ordered our lunch, sat down, and had some small talk. Then came the expected question: “How are you?” At this point I always struggle with how to answer. If I’m having a hard day, do I smile and say, “I’m fine” or do I take a risk and choose to be honest? That day, which was a hard day, I took the risk and chose to be honest.

“I’m living broken,” I said.

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How a change of perspective can lead to happiness

I was cruising through the North Carolina countryside on two lane roads that wove between cow pastures and dilapidated barns. The early morning sun was streaming through the fall leaves, and there was a touch of fog shrouding the cotton fields. I was enjoying seeing the old timey farm houses and the huge bulls that loitered near the road. I was drinking my coffee, listening to podcasts, and taking in God’s goodness. It was a glorious morning.

happiness

Until a white SUV, just like mine, pulled out in front of me.

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