Sunday, May 21, 2017

Dear Graduate.....

 Yesterday, as we were re-siding the boathouse, I noticed what looked like an old birds nest up in the eaves.  I reached up and pulled it down and found this....

What a surprise!!  I put it gently back up in the eaves and we continued on with our work.

The next day, I just had to see what was going on in that nest and found this....

It reminded me of the kids graduating and getting ready to "leave the nest" to start a new chapter in their lives.  It reminded me of my own journey of leaving the nest 1000 years ago.....the mistakes made and the lessons learned.  And much like these baby birds who are blindly starting this life, so are those graduating from the comfort of depending on others (parents, teachers, etc.). 

Please appease me with one last piece of advice.....



Dear Graduate,

As you prepare to cross that long stage in front of your family and friends and eagerly close one chapter and open the next, there are a couple of things this old lady whose tassel was moved from the right to the left many years ago would like for you to know:

Be An Individual.  There is a reason you are alive.  This culture we live in makes it far too easy to look alike, act alike and believe alike.  Discover who YOU are.....and don't be afraid to be different.  That goofy graduation cap on your head is a ticket to life.  You can stand out and you can be the change you wish to see in the world.  Learn to fly solo......

Help Others.  We all have a calling in life.  And if there's one lesson I've learned over all others, it's that we are placed on this earth to help other people.  In the book The Original Human Dilemma (2004), supposedly in hell, they sit around a great pot, all hungry, because the spoons they hold are too long to bring the food to their mouths.  In heaven, people are sitting around the same pot with the same long spoons, but everyone is full. Why?  Because in heaven, everyone uses their long spoons to feed one another.

Don't Let Technology Be Your God.  As someone who is writing this to you from her laptop with her cell phone charging as she types with buds in her ears, I know a bit about this subject.  Techno-gadgets are merely distractions.....just look around you....even us old people have made our phones our god.  If you are going to make a difference.....put down the cell, take the buds out and spend less time in front of the screen.  Put Real Life First.

Place God as the Driver of Your Life.  Really hear this....NOTHING else matters if you don't have God as your Driver.  You are traveling down the Highway Of This World at a rapid speed.  GET OFF....NOW.  There are exit ramps along the way and they lead to a narrow, difficult and rarely traveled path.  But this path is unlike the highway that leads to certain death and an eternity in hell....the narrow path leads you HOME.  Yes....you will most likely arrive home sore, scratched and tired from the bumps along the way, but you will LIVE to see Home. 

And be happy......as God intended you to be!


Sunday, May 14, 2017

The Gift of Mom


 
 
"Jesus' MOTHER stood at the foot of the cross.......
Jesus saw his mother and the disciple He loved standing near her. 
He said to His mother, "Woman, here is your son." 
Then to the disciple, "Here is your mother." 
From that moment, the disciple accepted her as his own MOTHER.
John 19:25-27

I love that even in His darkest moment, Jesus made sure His Mom was taken care of after He was gone.  He knew that an arrow was piercing her own soul as much as it was His side, so He gifted His Mom to John, the disciple He loved and trusted.

My mom died two weeks before Mothers Day.  I dreaded going through that weekend without her.....I was childless and now I was motherless.  But then I received a call.  A call from a lady named Pam in Winnsboro.......a lady I had met over the years as I delivered Meals on Wheels to her own elderly mother......and Pam wanted to share her mother with me that weekend.

And so she did.

She invited me to Sunday lunch with the whole family......to celebrate this lady she called Mom and I called Jewel.  She gifted me with love.....she gifted me a Mom. 


It was probably one of the kindest things anyone has ever done for me. 
She knew my heart was piercing; aching to feel the touch of a wrinkled hand touching my cheek....longing to smell the Estee Lauder perfume that always arrived moments prior to Mom entering a room.  She knew my heart had a crack in it.....so she handed me her heart.

The Gift of a Mom......I think God had it right creating her from the rib of man....the rib always keeps the heart safe.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

It's Easter Sunday.......

It's Easter Sunday......

THIS WEEK, I tripped over the cat and busted my face on the hardwood floor, leaving me in a crime-scene-sized pool of blood, requiring a trip to the ER and gorilla glue that now looks like a goatee on my chin.....

THIS WEEK, I missed an entire night of sleep.....jumping at each thunder crash....closing my eyes at each bolt of lightening...and holding my hands to my ears to avoid hearing the pounding rain on a roof that has seen too much rain....

THIS WEEK, I put my beloved in our unreliable handicap van and drove him 100 miles to an orthopedic surgeon to find out why he was in such pain in the one hip that was never broken.....

AND THIS WEEK
......I. Have. Felt. Broken. So badly broken.

THIS WEEK 2000 years ago, Jesus finished His walk through the mud of this world and arrived Home......He always knew this world was not His home. His chin also was bloodied......he spent a long horrific, terrifying night without sleep.....and his hip hurt as he used the muscles from it to support His body on the cross. 


He was broken.....oh-so-very-broken.
 
He Was Living Life, Friends.
Much like you and me.

A life that included blood, fear and pain......so we could be part of His family. So this journey we're stumbling through, wouldn't be a journey in vain. So that the blood, fear and pain we feel, would be full of hope and promise and love and arms holding us tight in the scary times.

Our Home is at the end of this road because of today.....Easter.....because He not only died for you....but He rose for you.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Day 3: A Roberto-Kind-of-Day

DAY 3:  January 30, 2017



Today......I had a sunrise with coffee, thank-you-very-much.  


But there was this one, itsy, bitsy black cloud that was hanging over the ship......and that one little black cloud caused all water excursions in Cozumel to be canceled.  Yep.......we had nothing to do today. 


The plan originally had been to go scuba diving.......Now lets stop right there.  Liz has never been scuba diving.  Liz wears glasses for a reason.  Liz was thinking the water was probably very cold.  Basically, Liz was just a tid-bit concerned 30 minutes of scuba training, with no glasses in very cold water might not be the most fun thing to do while in Cozumel.  I "think" I might have even mentioned this in my morning prayer journal and I "might" have asked God if He could find something else for us to do today. 

And He did.


He hooked us up with Roberto.......a divorced, Catholic, Father-of-an-11-year-old-daughter-he-hasn't-seen-in-years, Mexican cab driver who doesn't know why Catholics pray to the Virgin Mary (yes, I asked...), who graciously drove Debbie and I all over the island for the day.  FUN!!    He also has a sign on his mirror that says, "Tippers Go To Heaven".  Yep....we learned a lot about Roberto. 

He took us to the other side of the island where there is no electricity....just generators.  I bet most of you Cozumel travelers didn't know that, did you?  That's cause you didn't hire Roberto to take you to the other side of the island.....just sayin'....

He took us to the "Naked Beach" where you get 5 free minutes of a beach massage (after paying for an hour).....

where you can swing from these "not-so-safe" swings that look like they've been through a hurricane or two.....or sixteen.....


where birds bite.....(this is the English version of Spanish)....


and they make grasshoppers out of grass.....(now THAT makes sense.....GRASShoppers = GRASS)....My acridophobia (fear of grasshoppers) was on high alert and a bit creeped out......(it's REAL, people!)...


And ugly iguana's with cowboy hats that could be held and kissed for $5.....


.....we also laughed on top of sharp lava rock about the wall that was fixing to be built in Mexico.....


and then we posed, with the help of Roberto, with the massively blue ocean behind us and white sand beneath us. REST.....it's highly under-rated and by-the-way, have I mentioned lately how much I love my sister for this gift of Rest???


And when the day was nearly over and the sun was setting.....and the last couple (not us!!) made it back to the ship 30 minutes late and every balcony on the port side of the ship was filled with angry passengers yelling "BOOOOOOO" at these poor folk as they walked up the gang plank, we headed to the Dining Room to Table 616 to sit with our new dining friends Denny and Donna to eat chocolate volcano cake with vanilla ice cream.......






Monday, February 6, 2017

Day 2: It Was A Eat-Dessert-For-Supper Kind of Day

Day 2:  January 29, 2017


Fun Fact:  My sister is NOT a morning person.  Liz.....Is.  

We already knew this "might" be a stumbling block for us, so we planned ahead.  I loaded up my laptop and books, clothes to wear and shoes by the door right before going to bed on Day 1.  I snuck out about 6:00 am of Day 2 with all my "stuff" and headed for the smell of coffee.  There was no smell of coffee....coffee was on Floor 9 rear of boat.....we are on Floor 8 front of boat.....boat is 177 blocks long.  Liz needs coffee.

Lugging my laptop, my cell to take pictures with and needing coffee...like NOW, I finally locate it.  I then head for a "warm" place to sit, plug in (our room had 1....count them... "1" plug outlet...period) and journal.  I found the coziest little corner windowsill...with a plug outlet underneath....and a super view of the sunrise.  I'm all set....computer out and plugged in....cell in camera-ready mode....when...wait-for-it....the coffee cup turns over....next to the laptop.....on the cell....down the wall straight to the plug outlet.  May I take this moment to remind you....I haven't had a sip of coffee yet.


I move the computer first.....unplug.....grab the cell....and look frantically for something to clean up the mess I've just made.  All I find is "Discounted Masseuse" flyers lying on the counter and proceed to soak up coffee with 5x7 copy paper.  A lot of copy paper.  Like....no-one-got-the-discounted-massage-because-they-didn't-know-about-it lot of paper.

I make it back to the room after writing not-so-nice things in my journal to find my sister like this.....pure r-e-l-a-x-a-t-i-o-n!

So I give it a try.......

It's been awhile since I've really relaxed.....like "Really" relaxed.  It's been a sucker-punch kind of year and after the first 24 hours of unplugging from Facebook, Email, Texts, Calls, Life.....well, I was kinda understanding why people get a hut on the beach somewhere and just "disappear".  It was nice to just disappear for a bit......


We gave ourselves permission to eat dessert for supper......


We laughed till we almost peed at the Comedy Club as he attacked Bubba in the red tank top on the front row....


We were "blinded-by-the-light" from the laser light show in the Ivanhoe Theater (try saying that without singing the tune in your head....I double-dog-dare-you......)


And danced to 70's Trivia Night as we swung our hips, lifted our flabby arms and lit the flashlight on our cells to Bad Bad Leroy Brown.


Today - Was - A - Good - Day

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Day 1: Leavinnnn'.......On A Big Boat..Don't Know When I'll Be Back Again.....


THIS......was the temperature on my Jeep thermometer when I pulled out of the driveway last Saturday morning at 5:50 am headed for Mexico.  I had promised to wake Chuck up before I left, but as I looked into that cherub-face of his as he slept soundly in our nice warm bed, he suddenly blurted out a snore like someone had just suddenly stopped the music by dragging the needle off the record without ever lifting it.  I felt he needed his rest.


After passing 2 wrecks, a dead deer and a shut-down freeway, I met my sister in Ennis....a little over two hours from home in a Walmart parking lot.  We turned the Jeep over to my brother-in-law and loaded up her Volkswagon and headed south.  #together.....#1stSisterTrip.....#CanWeGetAlong?


Debbie and I have never been on a Sister-Sister trip alone together.  We are radically different in many ways.....and wonderfully alike in others.  Every trip we have taken together in the past have included our Mom or her daughter or our husbands.  But never just she and I.  To say we started praying about this trip a month in advance is an understatement.   We were nervous....excited....apprehensive....and hopeful.


She unloaded me, and-the-4-tons-of-luggage-it-takes-for-two-Calloway-women-to-survive-5-days-in-Mexico, on the curb in Galveston.  Being the seasoned cruiser she was, her parting words to me were, "Stay right here...I'll be right back.  I'll park the car and catch the shuttle back to the terminal."  So I waited.  And waited.  And waited.  I watched as a van-load of laughing Red Hat Ladies jumped out and headed in the opposite direction of where I was sitting....and then a bus-load of disabled teens headed in that same direction....and here I sat.....posting on Facebook, "Cruising' with my sissy.....however I seem to have misplaced her at the moment...."

It was about this time I decided to leave my post and follow the bus-load of handicap teens.  This is when I found my sister.  I'm not pointing fingers or anything.....but it wasn't my fault.


We made our way into the terminal where us and our 2,798 new friends each got our ticket-to-ride and boarded the boat...umm..ship.  And this......was Day 1.


Friday, February 3, 2017

REST......

February 3, 2017


I've been home from Mexico for almost 24 hours......Chuck's snoring on the couch with his little beany on his head keeping all that hotness called Charlie inside his skinny body......and I'm sitting here in my favorite chair catching up on bills, emails and trying to find matching siding for the side of our house.  Life is back.....

About 5 months ago, my sister Debbie and I met for lunch at Maggiano's in Dallas.....a favorite for both of us.  A shared chopped salad and 16 baskets of bread later, she asked me if my passport was up-to-date.  "Well of course its not up-to-date" I tell her....I never go anywhere.....much less out of the country.  She gently "suggested" I might want to get to working on that.   I remember tilting my head....as if that would make sense of the whole comment....and plastering a question mark on my face.


My sister can't keep a secret.....she "planned" to keep the secret...but she can't....it's impossible.  She blurted out that we were going on a cruise the end of January and this was her gift to me.  A gift for the crappy year I had had.....it was her way of saying, "Dang girl, I want to help but don't know what to do....so I'm going to gift you some R-E-S-T from the chaos and take you to Mexico!"  Sometimes.....you just need to fly away.....



She planned everything.  EVERYTHING.  She suggested Chuck's son, Troy and his brother, Doug, tag-team by staying with my beloved while I was gone "just in case" he took a tumble in the lake in his wheelchair or something.  She suggested I make a trip to CVS to get that updated passport picture taken and she suggested I buy a new swimsuit.


And before I knew it, January was here......friends were loaning me "cruise-wear"......and male family members were bringing A/C thermostats to install and brisket to eat and preparing to teach Chuck how to cook while I was gone.   We were ready to Rest.


And this, my friends, is the story of our Rest..........




Saturday, December 24, 2016

Merry Christmas from The Etheridges



As I'm typing this to you, it is pouring outside..... The lightening and thunder and pounding-on-the-roof rain is a constant reminder of a year ago.  Not that I'm counting, but we are 3 days, 12 hours away from that fateful day.....and here come the rains.

At one of the Water District meetings I attended earlier this past year, a man whose house had also flooded, stood up and said, "I don't want to be considered the Poster-Boy for Flood Victims."  I squirmed in my seat....felt a sting that I had possibly made myself just that.....the Poster-Girl for Flood Victims.  After all, I had Blogged about this flood most every day for weeks and months and allowed everyone-and-their-mother to walk through the muddy water with us.

Those man's words, whether he realized it or not, were wise words.  Yes, I still feel deep anxiety every time it rains....wake from sleep at the clap of thunder and pray till the rains stop....have friends who start praying for the Etheridge's every-single-time it rains....so I guess we really are the Poster-Family for Flood Victims....like it or not.

But I also hope we are the Poster-Family of God.....remembering the enormous grief He must have felt to allow His only Son to leave the comfort of Heaven, knowing full well the pain He would eventually endure....just to rescue you and me from the flood of life on this earth.   It's proof He loves us just as much.

He was the Poster-Boy of GRACE.

Merry CHRISTmas.......we hope you enjoy our Video-Christmas Card.....

(Click on Link)


Sunday, November 20, 2016

When 109 becomes 1 Again

I woke to the sound of rain and thunder this morning...first "real" rain since late Spring.  I prepared my coffee and stood on the back porch in the dark for a few minutes......enjoying the coolness of the air and the flashes of light screaming across the sky.

It was almost like the skies had something important to say about this day ahead.......


As I look at the new Christmas tree we put up today....a whole 144 hours before Thanksgiving....I see the red cardinals scattered throughout this new tree.....a tree that replaced the old Christmas tree which is now making its home at the bottom of Lake Cypress Springs so fresh crappy will have a place to live next year.  And I can't help but think about my cardinal-loving Mom and a Christmas this year without my Jewell.....my 109 year old Meals on Wheels friend.....family really......who, as of today.....this very day at around 10:45 am.... arrived Home.  She limped to the Finish Line after a very exhausting long run.  She was most assuredly met there by her handsome-Jimmy-Dean-Look-Alike husband Roger.....her Mom and her Dad who thought she hung the moon.....along with her grandpa- the-postman she loved dearly.....and hundreds...if not thousands....of family and friends who loved her from the deepest part of their souls.  What she didn't realize until 10:45 am this morning was that she made a difference.....a huge difference....on a lot of lives. 

She made a difference in my life.


In all the years I knew Jewell (June) Clay; in all the times she was asked how she was feeling or if she hurt anywhere.....her answer never changed: "I'm fine....I don't hurt at all.  I'm happy right where I am".  109 years old.....weeks away from being 110....and she was fine right where she was.


Three weeks ago, I was visiting her in her home and felt led to turn on my phone recorder...something I'd done many times before.  I asked her one question, "Would you want to be 16 again?"  She tilted her head as if to think about that for a moment and said, "I'm satisfied right where I am".

video
https://youtu.be/xDaCsmddFSc

I would venture to say Jewel knew she was close to the Finish Line....that she could see it ahead ...it was in-sight.  She might have even heard Roger encouraging her on....."Just a little further, Honey.....you're almost there....I'm waiting for you." 

Thank you Jewell....for slowing down and walking with me awhile on this earth.  
I am a better person from knowing you.  

Now go.....RUN to the party that is waiting for you.....your birthday number just started over......




Sunday, November 13, 2016

Life's Shell Game.....



What you discover about life’s shell game 
is that it’s hardest to follow the pea when you’re the pea. 
~Robert Brault



A little over a week ago, my friend Pam and I jumped in the Jeep and headed to the southern most part of Dallas.....a 2-hour drive from our East Texas home......to stand in a line of Christian ladies just like us....so we could look eye-to-eye into the beautiful eyes of Ann VosKamp.

I met Ann three years ago....not literally...but in the pages of her book 1000 Gifts.  It changed my life.  I felt the axis of my world shift ever so slightly to the right and a strange sense of Peace took over where Fear used to live.  I love this woman.  Like...I LITERALLY love this woman.  And here I was....getting to meet her face to face.  It was better than meeting Elton John.


It was just the day before meeting Ann, Chuck and I had taken a little bit of East Texas with us when we made the same 2-hour trip into downtown Dallas to UTSW.  We were meeting with Dr. Hornberger....Chuck's urologist.  We didn't realize until we were well on our way that we had dressed alike that day.  We looked like two country bumpkins coming to the "big city" in our bright red flannel shirts.  We laughed (although he was asleep when I snapped this picture...LOL).....


There was more red going on that day than just on our flannel shirts, though......there was internal bleeding...there was soul-bleeding.....there was "I-hope-this-isn't-what-I-think-it-is" bleeding from our hearts.

But it was what we feared.  Cancer....with a capital C.  It's difficult even writing that 6-letter word to you.....


 It's Fall....and I remember something I read Ann say three years ago ....."Count the blessings of this life.....number them....write them down."  So I grab my journal I've been writing in....I open straight up to #423 in my Thanksgiving Journal...."Thank You, Lord, for the season of Fall.....the beauty just before the rest of Winter."


"You defeat your dark when Thanksgiving is your default. 
It is in the dark that God is passing by."
Ann VosKamp

And I must admit, it's hard sometimes to not look up into the heavens and ask "Why??  Haven't we been through enough this year, Lord?  Why?"


And then He gently reminds me of the scripture I just painted on the freshly sheetrocked living room wall as He meets me on the dock each morning and we sip our coffee together....waiting in anticipation for the gift of a sunrise He hands me when the sun clips the tops of the trees over the Carmichael's house.....

"When you go thru deep waters, Liz,
I will be with you."
Isaiah 43:2
 

And I trust Him....cause He sees tomorrow....I just see my feet.