Friendly Reminders

Now that school is out for summer, I look forward to many conversations over coffee with friends. I love the connections which begin and grow from this practice. They bring renewal in ways which often surprise me.

Sometimes they also bring friendly reminders. Here are a few much-needed ones I recently received.

  1. Perfection should never be my goal.
  2. Honesty in friendship is a necessity.
  3. Daily prayer provides daily renewal.

The first reminder concerned perfection, an ideal we are bombarded with on all fronts. You can be the perfect wife, mom, friend, teacher. Fill in the blank. That goal always leads to disappointment. Why? We are not flawless creatures. We do not live in a picture-perfect world.

Admitting our imperfections and hearing someone else say, “Me, too” is powerful. That one simple phrase takes away a small piece of the loneliness which often accompanies my inward thoughts. It provides a beginning, a binding with another heart.

The second friendly reminder was honesty. Truth, even spoken by a friend, is not always easy to receive. Just this week, a friend said to me, “I have to talk to you about something.” She went on to share observations about certain attitudes and my need for an adjustment. 😉

Although her words were difficult to hear, they brought a sense of relief. They took me back to the beginning realization-I am not perfect. And that is ok! I can, however, seek to be better.

Another friend reminded me of the importance of daily prayer. It holds the power to renew my mind, even when I don’t know what to pray. It also reminds me that God loves me in spite of my faults. And affirms my purpose at this moment, on this day.

As summer begins, my heart wants to soak in these beautiful reminders. I’m quite certain more reminders will be needed in the coming days. But for today, I am thankful for honest words from caring friends. And I will end this day with a prayer for rest and renewal.

“Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.” Psalm 139:23

Tomorrow is a new day! Grab a friend and a cup of coffee! ❤ ☕️

A Stormy Week

It has been quite a week here in Oklahoma. Day after day brought flooding rains, damaging winds, and tornadoes. I’ve lost track of the number of times we heard the tornado sirens. Not to mention the flood sirens…

The Arkansas River flows through our part of the country. Due to the excessive rainfall, the river is rising at record levels. The amount of water being released through the lock and dam systems increases daily. Many towns have already experienced devastating floods, and it is far from over.

The most concerning moment for our family occurred two nights ago. Emergency phone alerts woke us up around midnight. We turned on the local news. Another tornado warning. This time we were right in the storm’s path.

By 12:45 A.M. I was sitting in the closet with Ryan, Rachel, and our dog, Poppy. Gart remained close by, listening to the weatherman and watching outside conditions. When he entered the closet, closing the door behind him, we knew the situation was serious.

Strong winds and popping sounds were heard overhead. The lights flashed off and on a couple of times. And just like that, the storm was over. The damage was minimal, only a few branches in our yard. Other areas were devastated. Less than a mile away, power lines blocked the road.

There is no rhyme or reason to explain the paths of such storms. They rise and fall with no respect to the ones affected or the destruction left behind. There are no automatic exemptions.

The truth is, there will always be another storm. This is beyond my control. So how do I respond?

As the storm approaches, I watch and pray.
As the storm rages, I hope and pray.
As the storm passes, I trust and pray.
Once it has passed, there is work to be done.

His thunder announces the coming storm…

Job 36:33

I would hurry to my place of shelter, far from the tempest and storm.

Psalm 55:8

He stilled the storm to a whisper; the waves of the sea were hushed.

Psalm 107:29

Baby Number Three

When Gart and I moved to Guthrie, Oklahoma in 1997, we were a family of four. Our son, Robert, was 2 ½ and our daughter, Rachel, was only a month old. Although I do not recommend moving with a one-month-old, we were excited about this new adventure.

The house we purchased was built in 1924 and only had around 900 square feet. The outside was red brick with an arched front porch. Inside, there were wood floors, lots of character and only two bedrooms. Though it was small, it was perfect for our little family.

At that time, I was a stay-at-home-mom. Our one boy and one girl was the perfect combination. Friends and family assumed we would not have any more children, and we pretty much thought the same thing. That is until around the time Rachel started walking…

Suddenly, I wanted to have another baby. I just knew our family was not complete. When I mentioned it to Gart he asked, “Where in the world would we put another baby?” His argument was logical. We did not have room, nor could we afford to have another baby.

Despite his logic, I could not shake this feeling. It did not help that my closest friends were pregnant. Everywhere I turned, it seemed as if there were more babies. I would often cry, but discussions with Gart were not successful. We would only end up arguing.

I soon realized that this was not the right time for discussions and began to pray. My prayer was simple, “Take this desire for another baby away from me or give Gart the same desire.” Sometimes I felt silly praying the same thing over and over, yet I continued.

Almost a year passed. Although the desire was not completely gone, at least I was not crying all the time. My restlessness was easing. I was about ready to accept that the answer must have been no, and I must have missed it. Though a little sad, I knew it would be ok.

About a week after my revelation, the most amazing thing happened. Out of the blue, Gart said to me, “You know, I think you were right. We should have another baby.” What a surprise! And Ryan Lee Morris was born in November of 2000.

Now we were a family of five, still living in a 900 square foot house. We remained in that house for two more years until a job change took us on another adventure. What a sweet two years. I still miss the times we had in that tiny cottage home.

Well, baby number three graduates from high school tomorrow. He is 6’3 and handsome. A kind, sensitive and funny soul. He is also an artist. I am so proud of the young man he has become and can’t wait to see what the future holds. Our family would not be the same without him.

We love you, Ryan! ❤

Rollercoaster

A rollercoaster often starts out slow, moving upward, tension building as it climbs. Once it reaches the top of the first incline, the real adventure begins. Twists, turns, rolls, and spins jolt the whole body. Squeals and screams express excitement and/or fear, depending on the rider. Then it stops, just abruptly as it began. Cue feelings of relief.

When I was younger, rollercoasters were a thrill. Riding over and over, I would laugh and scream, loving that rush of adrenaline. That is no longer the case, and it hasn’t been for quite a while. As a matter of fact, I once had an anxiety attack in front of my kids involving a rollercoaster.

We had taken a family vacation to Kansas City. A fun road trip which would include shopping, museums, eating, and an amusement park. The kids were excited. Each had a favorite activity on the list. And everyone was looking forward to the amusement park. Everyone except me.

Looking back, I now realize anxiety crept in before we even arrived in Kansas City. Any mention of the park would cause my stomach to nervously turn and tears would start to form. I would suddenly feel tense, my heart racing. And then I would push it all away, trying to breathe and focus on the activity at hand.

What I didn’t realize, was that pushing these feelings away did not get rid of them. It only buried them temporarily. And when we simply bury feelings, they are sure to resurface at some unsuspecting moment. When they do, controlling them becomes almost impossible.

We stood in line for a ride, the Patriot, I think. As we waited, I felt sick. I found myself taking deep breaths, working hard to keep it together. I told myself, “You are not being logical. There is nothing to be afraid of.” But I could not seem to accept what I knew to be true.

As we approached our turn, I didn’t know what to do. My thoughts were frantic, not making any sense. Once the gate opened for our family to take our seats, I couldn’t get on. Embarrassed, I said, “I can’t do this,” and walked through to the exit.

My tears could not be held any longer. I was so mortified. My family was having an adventure, and I was missing out. Not wanting the kids to see me so upset, I attempted to pull it together.

As my husband and the boys took off to ride more rides, my sweet Rachel hung out with me. We got snow-cones and sat and talked. She reassured me that it was ok. My embarrassment was not erased, but I knew my family understood.

I did manage to return to that ride before our day was done. Somehow, I pushed through the anxiety and rode the darn thing one time. Once was enough. I certainly cannot say I enjoyed the experience, but there was a brief sense of relief. A few minutes of overcoming the illogical which often accompanies anxiety.

Support of family and friends, medication, recognition, and prayer have helped decrease these feelings and make the remaining ones more manageable. It would be foolish to think I will never experience anxiety again. Since life itself is much like that rollercoaster, it is to be expected.

My goal is to continue learning how to live contently, despite events or circumstances. That includes times of grief and celebration. Recognizing that the rollercoaster does not control my reactions. That is on me. And admitting that I sometimes need a little help is the first step in beating those feelings of anxiety.

Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Psalm 139:23

Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content. Philippians 4:11

Flat on my Face

Flat on my face, not a position I would intentionally choose. This phrase conveys negative connotations and feelings of discomfort. Though it was not from a fall, I spent some time in this unpleasant position today.

I had an MRI this afternoon as a follow up to some previous tests. The check-in was not unusual. I filled out forms, answered questions, reviewed history, signed consents…donned lovely hospital fashions and prepared for an IV.

For this particular series of images, I had to lay flat on my stomach, face down, arms stretched out above my head. Towels covered everything and cushioned my face and elbows. As I said, not a position I would purposefully choose. But necessary, at least for a short while.

Earplugs in place and a panic button in hand, the table begins to slide into the tube. I would hear no voices until the test was finished, about thirty minutes unless I squeezed that panic button. And even though there were moments I wanted to shout, “Is anybody there? Are we almost done?” I remained still and silent, the panic button un-squeezed.

As the machine began to do its job, loud noises surrounded me. Many different timbres, volumes, and tempos filled the small space. Feelings of panic filled my head. “Just breathe. You can do this.” I began to pray. I silently sang some favorite hymns.

When anxious thoughts crept back in, I would start the whole process over. I must have repeated the same three hymns several times, not to mention Psalm 23. The words, “We’re all done,” never sounded so sweet. Pretty sure my response was, “Thank goodness!” 🙂

Changing back into my clothes, I looked in the mirror. Towel marks imprinted on my face. Gart noticed them as soon as I entered the waiting room. They wouldn’t last but provided a temporary reminder of the previous thirty minutes.

Tonight, those marks have disappeared. The loud noises quieted. Some amazing truths remain. Prayers are powerful (my own and my friends). Hymns and pep talks are powerful. Knowing Gart was in the waiting room the entire time, also powerful.

These truths all worked together to provide assurance. Assurance that I could keep from squeezing that panic button, and that I would not remain flat on my face.

Thinking of summer! 😉

Happy Anniversary!

Fifty-four years
Quite a long time
To spend with someone
Morning, noon, and night

Coffee in the morning
Always a kiss goodnight
Moments in between
Praying for all to be right

An example for our family
And all others they may meet
Showing a love so strong
Though also simple & sweet

Happy Anniversary Mom & Dad!
Your wedding vows held true
Richer or poorer, sickness & health
To you both-a grateful Thank You!

Stuck in the Mud

Have you ever felt stuck?  You take a step, suddenly realizing it was the wrong step to take. I remember having that literal experience once as a kid. My cousins and I were playing kickball, a common activity when we were together. Someone kicked the ball into a ditch, and I went to get it. The minute my foot sank into the mud, I knew I was stuck.

For a brief moment, I felt a sense of panic. It seems a bit ridiculous looking back now. What could possibly have happened? Maybe I’d seen too many television portrayals of people sinking into quicksand. You know the ones. A bystander yelling at the would-be victim to be calm and still, yet panic sets in and they proceed to sink until their hand finally disappears.

All I needed to do was stand still and call for help. And of course, help came. With a group of cousins around, I certainly was not alone. One of them assisted with pulling my foot out of the mud. The only casualty that day was my tennis shoe.

Many steps taken in this life are much less literal, yet come with much more significant consequences. So what happens when a step is misguided or poorly chosen? Certain decisions in my teen and young adult years left  me feeling trapped, afraid my life was messed up permanently.  Regret and guilt crept in, causing me to feel like I was sinking further down in the mud.

Thankfully I eventually discovered ways to counter those fears. Simply choosing to be still, although difficult, was a start. If I could just wait instead of panic, maybe another bad decision would be avoided. Next, it was time to call for help. That help came in different forms. A prayer, a simple phone call to a friend or family member-often both.

“Casting the whole of your care (all your anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns, once and for all) on Him, for He cares for you affectionately and cares about you watchfully.” I Peter 5:7

“…but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” Proverbs 18:24

A friendly listening ear often guided me toward a fresh perspective. There was not always an easy or instant answer, and that was sometimes hard to accept. Yet in spite of unavoidable consequences, with some guidance and faith, I was able to take a step in a new direction, no longer feeling stuck in the mud.