Our Family

Our Family
The Lord is my strength and my shield; my hearts trusts in him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song. ~ Psalm 28:7

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

"Extra! Extra! Read all about it: Winter Cold Freezes Kindness"

"Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless."
~ Mother Theresa

Old Man Winter. Jack Frost. February Freeze. All of these words conjure up seriously icy images. Unpleasant cold creeps into my bones even as I type (perhaps it's the draft sneaking up the open basement steps, or just the sub zero temps hurtling at my windows from the wind storm outside, or even the sound of "Mr.Freeze" battling Batman on the Lego Wii game). In any case, it's cold. Freezing. Brrrr. <teeth chatter here, for added effect>

By about this point in winter, I'm done, toast, I quit. I'm fairly certain most everyone  this side of the planet agrees.  It's not just the snow. It's the blustery cold. It's the rains that turn to ice that turn to snow that freezes solid surfaces faster than you can blink. It's the fact that my "mouse-chewed" corn pillows have been retired to the trash, and I'm left to try to keep warm by layering even more clothes on top of the 4 layers I already am wearing.  It's the "thrill" of walking kids to the bus stop, sliding down the drive, waiting while the wind hits from every direction, only to have to walk up the hill, sliding sideways, as the wind hits from every direction. You get the point.

All this griping and moaning from a woman with a well insulated, well heated home. From a woman whose gas bills can be paid without incident. And yet, here I sit, knowing full well my blessings, but still being a bit grumbly as my teeth continue to chatter.

With that being said, one thing I've noticed as the winter wears on is the rather unpleasant "fend for yourself" attitude many folks have adapted. Thankfully, the people who are in my daily life are anything but this type of person. However, as I head to the shopping centers and banks, I see fewer people being willing to hold the door, to wait for the person struggling to get through the slush, to take the shopping cart from the young mom juggling two kids and grocery items as the cold nips at her back.

I'm amazed to see the longer winter lingers, the less tolerance people have for....well, other people. Lots more horn blowing as folks impatiently travel through the melting mess. Lots more "head down, don't look now" moments when the "beggar" asks for a donation. Lots more "hurry up and wait" scenes as people rush to get in the store, forgetting about the people behind them who can't move quite as fast.

It makes me more than a bit sad. Wasn't it just a 2 months ago, as the Christmas season barreled down, that the cold, snowy scenes gave us a feeling of goodwill toward men?  Where "peace on earth" oozed from daily greetings as the new fallen snow made it all look so charming? 

What changes in two months time? So it's still cold. So what. That doesn't mean we have to let our hearts turn icy toward one another.

Case in point...As I was returning some light fixtures today at a local hardware store, there was a LONG wait. Even though I had a 4 year old saying....."WHENNNNNN      ARE WEEEEEEEE     EVVVVERRRRR      GONNNNNAAAA   BEEEEEE    DONNNNNNNEE?????? <my own emphasis NOT added here...This was ALL him. Truthfully. He sounded just like this>,  I cheerfully told the cashier today "Enjoy your day, and stay warm!"  She looked at me so gratefully, as if she was fully ready to take yet one more verbal lashing that the cold seems to spur on from people.

Now, don't get me wrong. I was cold. Tired. Hungry. Annoyed at the delay. Double annoyed at the nagging 4 year old. And late for my kindergartner soon to be arriving home while I waited for a dreadfully long return. Easy to get aggravated at her, right? But how much better was it to let a little sunshine into both of our days in such a simple way?

Driving home, the sun was out, the snow was melting and my car was toasty warm despite the winds whipping outside. Couldn't help but thing how differently both my day and the cashier's could've gone had I allowed my freezing state of being affect how I interacted with her.

My challenge to you today....despite the subzero temps outside, let the promise of spring brighten your spirit so you can share it with others. Oh, sure, we'll still be pretty cold here for a while yet. This IS Western PA, folks. And it IS still winter. And I have serious doubts about this whole groundhog prediction method. But we don't have to be frosty toward one another.

I chose to open my thoughts with Mother Theresa, and I think I'll close with her same words again:
"Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless."
~ Mother Theresa

Have a warm, toasty today and tomorrow:)

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Don't hate me for my honesty

OK. I'm just gonna say it. Here goes. I. Do. Not.  Care. About. The. Superbowl.

There. WHEW! A weight has been lifted. Now, that's not to say I won't watch (at least some of) it. And I'll thoroughly enjoy the friendship time/family time that comes out of it. But that's mainly because everyone in my immediate world is OK to chat and laugh while the Black and Gold march up and down the field with the ball (That translates into a fun time for me, since no one will be yelling at me if I have to chat and laugh every once in while!)

I love to see how people can unite, even if it is over who scores the most on Sunday (I could come up with a bunch of other reasons for folks to unite, but I'll "tackle" that another time...did you like that use of football lingo I just "passed" by you!?!?).  And even folks out there who wouldn't know a goal post from a fence post become overnight fans just to partake in one of the biggest "gotta be a part of it" social events for all ages.

I understand. BUT.......well, I'm gonna go out on a limb, and venture to say, that unless you are ACTUALLY a player on the field getting paid to run that ball, have to tell ya, sorry, but your life really won't change one way or another over this game and its winner/loser.

Please, I'm not dissing you football fans out there. I was born and bred with a terrible towel hanging over my TV while Dad turned down the volume and let Myron Cope's voice color the world of football play by plays.
(Even with all that, a love for football never really sprouted, but at least you know where my roots grew!)

Superbowl, in my mind, is a great excuse to throw a party, hang with family and friends, root for the home team and of course, eat all kinds of normally off limit munchies. But life changing? Nah. Don't think so.

So again, I'd like to venture to say that, even you die hard fans out there, would have to admit that yes, indeed,  there ARE more important things in the world than football. Like what you ask?  Well, allow me to share.

Rainbows, or even better, double rainbows (did you see the one I posted last week?)
The smell of fresh laundry, or even better, the smell of freshly bathed babies in fresh laundry.
Flowers in bloom, or even better, flowers in bloom picked and presented by your main squeeze.
Sunshine rays, or even better, the first rays of sunshine after a dark, stormy night.
Out of the oven cookies, or even better, your next door neighbor with a plate of cookies and a cup of coffee to share.
Tears of joy, or even better, tears of joy that flow once you've laughed so hard you can't breathe anymore.
Healing words, or even better, healing words on the tail end of the statement from the doctor informing you, "Yes, we did indeed get all the cancer".
Hope that reigns out of despair, or even better, hope that reigns when you've cried out to God in despair.
Triumph over addiction, or even better, triumph over addiction that leads to more lives impacted by your success.
A tree house, or even better,  a tree house created especially by your dad with all your special requests in mind.
A spouse who loves you, or even better yet, a spouse who loves you and who remains in love with you.
A job that provides, or even better, a job that provides you a chance to grow and expand your passion without compromising your spirit or values.
A best friend, or even better, several best friends from all chapters of your life who still meet you right where you are.
A cuddly pet, or even better, a cuddly pet who doesn't mind when you shrug him off; he still looks at you like you're the best thing that could've happened to him.
Forgiveness, or even better, forgiveness that you 100% didn't deserve.
And sure, a Superbowl victory for your team, or even better yet, a victory for your team AND your self in being able to keep your priorities straight and your outlook on life unchanged by the outcome of the game.

No judgement here....I know I'm sure to be cheering right along with the rest of ya Sunday night (I won't know much more than what it means to get a touchdown and extra point, but I'll have fun trying to figure it out!) But let's just remember when we wake up Monday morning...well, life is still pretty amazing. I'm sure you can add some of your own "or even better" moments to my list. Try it. Trust me...you'll be surprised what you come up with.

"You put a smile on God's face"~Max Lucado

Until AFTER the Superbowl when the Steelers are declared victorious yet again,