My Matthew 25

When I saw the movie Hacksaw Ridge about pacifist Pfc. Desmond T Doss who saved 75 men in the battle of Okinawa without firing a shot, I felt compelled to write this spin on Matthew 25. The deal is, no matter who we are or what we believe, we all have felt utter abandonment and despair. Desmond felt it when he was trying to save “just one more,” in a seemingly futile effort. Even Jesus felt forsaken, left behind. “And at three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Mark 15:34)

‭‭Ultimately what makes a difference in this world is choosing to do the right thing anyway…no matter what.
Sometimes the right thing is letting someone else help us through a difficult time. Other times it’s us helping another. Often it’s easier to be the rescuer than the rescued, and we resist asking for or accepting help. It’s a humbling and vulnerable experience to be in need, and we often feel anger since it is a useful secondary emotion that gives us energy to keep going, but the grief underneath all that rage really needs to be released and experienced. When we face it head on, we’re able to reach out to others who are wrestling with their own suffering.

My Matthew 25

I was sad
So I made someone laugh
I was alone
So I invited someone in

I felt hungry
So I made a feast and invited all
I was in rags
So I clothed another

I was cold and sick
So I took care of another
I was ignored
So I saw and acknowledged

I was disrespected
So I showed respect
I was misunderstood
So I strived to understand

I was in silence
So I sang a song of hope
I couldn’t see
So I took the hand of another who had vision

I was afraid
So I gave courage
I was abandoned
So I tried to make others feel at home

I felt judged
So I gave someone grace
I was unloved
So I loved with all of my heart❤️

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Of Compasses, Maps, Light and Love

A compass is important if you have a destination in mind. I remember my brother having one and him showing me how to use it in our backyard. Nowadays we have our phones that have maps that tell us exactly how to get wherever we’re going. We wouldn’t even think of trying to find a place we’ve never been without clear directions, yet so many of us claim we want to find real, lifelong love with another and don’t start out with any instructions or clarity on how to reach that goal.

Many say they want an eternal love with someone, but once boredom, difficulties, and everyday life sets in, they’re either out the door or at least thinking of turning the knob. Love doesn’t just happen, it is chosen. Feelings of “love” can hit you quickly, but deep, trustworthy, I’ll-go-through-the-fire-with-you kind of love only comes from two people making daily conscious choices to stay. I’m always reminded of that beautiful Steven Curtis Chapman song, I Will Be Here.

“Tomorrow morning if you wake up,
And the sun does not appear
I, I will be here
If in the dark we lose sight of love,
Hold my hand, and have no fear
Cause I, I will be here
I will be here when you feel like being quiet
When you need to speak your mind,
I will listen and
I will be here when the laughter turns to cryin’
Through the winning, losing and tryin’
We’ll be together ’cause I will be here
Tomorrow morning if you wake up,
And the future is unclear
I I will be here
As sure as seasons are made for change,
Our lifetime’s are made for years
So, I I will be here
I will be here and you can cry on my shoulder,
When the mirror tells us we’re older,
I will hold you and
I will be here to watch you grow in beauty
And tell you all the things you are to me
I will be here.”

Both people have to be “in it to win it.” And both need to have an example of what kind of relationship they’re trying to achieve. God’s Love is given to us as our compass.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭13:4-13‬

One can’t create eternal love alone. It takes two people with the same compass or map, always hoping, always striving, always believing, always trying their hardest. Healthy, long term relationships take a lot of hard work and determination. They never just happen.

If you’re searching for eternal love, you’ll never find it. You must become it. It starts with the love God has placed in your heart and He is your compass, your map, your example. You must also be discerning in choosing a person with whom to invest your time and love. Do they have your same goals, the same compass and map, the same values? These are important questions that need to be pondered and wrestled with before commitments are made, and of course, make sure you have a trustworthy compass in hand, as well as a light to see the way.

“Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.”
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭119:105‬ ‭

Against All Odds

Against all odds…guess who’s turning 4?

Happy birthday Eevie Elouise Mulloy, life warrior! Thank you for being the hope we all need in this world filled with disappointments, tragedies, and despair! Every day you remind us that prayer matters, hope exists, miracles happen, and faith makes a difference! Whenever I feel depressed, I look at a picture of you or I hear you laugh and say my name and my countenance does a 180!

I remember this day four years ago when we first knew how very ill you were…the bruises, “blueberry spots” all over your body, your white blood cell count at 565,000. When they life-watched you with your daddy to KC I was so afraid that might be the last time I’d see you, you were so frail. I’ve never, NEVER prayed so hard and so long for something that was seemingly so hopeless. Congenital acute lymphoblastic leukemia is so rare, Wichita had never seen it. 1 in 5,000,000 births and a 17% chance to make it to age 2, 5% chance to age 3.

But here you are…against all odds 4 years old today and free!!! Free from blasts, cancer, chemo, Hickman lines, feeding tubes, FREE! Every day…every.single.day. is a blessing, a day of rejoicing, a day of thankfulness! Oh happy birthday my precious girl! Oh happy life! Aunt KK loves you more than you even know!!!❤️

Choose Love

…if anything matters then everything matters. Because you are important, everything you do is important. Every time you forgive, the universe changes; every time you reach out and touch a heart or a life, the world changes; with every kindness and service, seen or unseen, my purposes are accomplished and nothing will be the same again.
Wm. Paul Young, The Shack

I live by the above sentiment. It was already in my heart before I ever read The Shack. Whenever I feel depressed it’s from feeling like nothing I do is significant. When someone tells me I’ve helped them or impacted their day for good, I feel important and useful. I think most of us are wired this way. It’s a human trait.

I believe everything we do is important. Every encounter we have with another person has the potential to impact them and/or ourselves in a positive or negative way. Once we truly see each moment for the opportunity it is, the power that it holds, we might become more conscious and deliberate in our thoughts and actions.

This is by no means easy, yet we all know most worthwhile things in life rarely are. Becoming aware of our own negative self talk is the beginning to being kinder to others. It’s impossible to love another if we hate ourselves. Often a person who is rude or downright hateful is treating others the way they feel they deserve to be treated. God knows our innermost thoughts and desires. He knows how we berate ourselves, and His answer is grace. If we can truly bring ourselves to accept grace and forgiveness, we can begin to love ourselves, and in turn, love others, seeing each moment in our day as an opportunity to make a difference, to be the change.

Today, let us see the world around us with new eyes. Let us remember everyone we meet is “fighting a hard battle” and needs grace. Let us choose to treat others with kindness and compassion, with the understanding that such things are eternal and have an immeasurable impact on the world around us. Let us choose love.

Denial

Denial gets a bad rap. We’re actually skilled in it because denial is a powerful tool. It can help a person survive in a terrible situation. Children who are powerless to change their environment can amazingly survive and even thrive in certain ways, because their denial keeps them from giving in to despair.

However, denial becomes dangerous, reckless, and detrimental if we continue to live our adult lives saturated in it. Often we grow into adulthood without recognizing we are no longer powerless to change our circumstances, and in turn we don’t take charge of making our own decisions. We may align ourselves with another strong personality who will help us continue the childhood patterns of relationships that are familiar.

Unfortunately, familiar is not synonymous with safe. Physical, mental, and emotional safety and health should be our goal in all of our relationships, yet in order to achieve this, self-awareness needs to occur, and self-awareness is a lifelong journey, not a destination. It takes dedication as well as a caring and skilled therapist’s help. So many of us are bewildered as to why we keep ending up in bad relationships, why we have such terrible self esteem, why we self-sabotage etc. but we don’t tackle the core problem. As my therapist always reminds me, “De-nial ain’t just a river in Egypt!” Self-awareness only comes through honesty. You can’t get to the castle on the hill without taking the path through the forest that surrounds it, and you must take it one step at a time.

So many people see therapy as a desperate last attempt to save their sanity instead of a healthy decision to move in the right direction. We go to the doctor, the dentist, the chiropractor, even the hair salon for regular appointments, yet our mental and emotional health is ignored. Mike and I decided years ago to be proactive with our marriage as well as our mental and emotional health. We started out in marriage therapy and realized our marriage wasn’t the problem…WE were. I was bringing my own baggage I’d been carrying for my lifetime into our relationship and he was bringing his. We’d never even opened up the luggage to sift through it ourselves, yet we kept throwing our suitcases at each other(metaphorically of course)! We began to realize individual therapy was going to be much more productive since we would have to focus on our own issues instead of pointing the finger at each other. Our marriage started getting healthier when we individually started getting healthier. Imagine that! Yes it seems obvious, but for some reason most of us don’t connect the dots to see the full picture. Could it be denial?
“I’m ok, I just need a good nights sleep, a better job, a night out…”or worse…”an affair, a divorce, a new family.” Usually the problem stems from within and no other solution will provide a long term fix.

As Dr. Scott Peck reminds us in The Road Less Traveled, “Life is difficult.” That means, relationships, jobs, traffic, children, everything we encounter is “difficult”. The sooner we acknowledge this and deal with it in reality, head on, ready to understand who we are, what makes us react the way we do, and what we want for ourselves and our loved ones, the better our difficult lives will be.

 

Change

There is nothing permanent except change. Heraclitus

No matter how much I work on accepting change my heart still aches for things as they once were. I was headed to get Starbucks and donuts this morning with the labbies in the back seat, just like every Saturday morning, and was reminiscing on our family time together in Nashville, “the glory days” as I call them.

We lived in Tennessee from ‘97-2005, our oldest boys were 5 and 2 1/2 when we first moved, and Tristan was born there in 2000. Those years stand out in my memory as golden. I loved just being at home together, the five of us, I enjoyed having the boys’ best friends over, hearing them play together, seeing Tristan run after Keenan and his friend Zachary, saying, “I go to wackree’s house too!” Cub scouts, basketball championships, family vacations, just being in that bubble of time was such a privilege. Sometimes when I felt exhausted and annoyed by my three children, I remember telling myself “these days will soon pass and you’ll wish you could have this time again.” Such wise words, passed down to me from my beautiful mom of course.

And yet, change is constant, and without it, I might never have fully appreciated those “glory days.” I wouldn’t be a music teacher, or Aunt KK or Grandma, I wouldn’t be relaxing on the couch with my feet up writing this post. I believe change is so difficult to accept because as Ecclesiastes‬ ‭3:11‬ ‭says, “He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” Eternity is in our hearts. We somehow internally know that the way things are is not as they should be. We were made for more than this. We long for the consistency and constancy of eternity, as earthly time quickly slips through our fingers like sand and imbeds lines on our hands and faces.

If I could choose which timeline to be in for all eternity…how would I choose? Would I choose King Jon as my invincible dad, marching us kids up a mountain trail singing along the way, or the glory days of Nashville, or Monday’s with Eevie and playing with Theo? Impossible choices that luckily never have to be made! Instead, I must bow my head in inexplicable gratitude that I have these amazing memories, and I’m still here, enjoying making more through the many transitions of life.

And in my heart that longs for forever, I have the hope that each one of these windows of time is eternal with me, and someday I’ll revisit one and all with no fear of loss or pain. Someday I hope I’ll see my dad young and vibrant with that mischievous twinkle in his eye again, conquering heaven’s mountaintops, along with every other beloved moment I’ve been so privileged to experience.
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HeeHaw!

I bawled my eyes out last night. The stress of planning and preparing a music program for 200 students brings all of my other frustrations and difficulties to the surface. Most of the time I can avoid my sadness about dad’s condition and other life issues but when my stress level rises, tears begin to fall. I’m so lucky to have an understanding husband who listens with a tender heart and consoles me with such love!

I thoroughly enjoy writing music programs as well as a few original songs now and then, but having to be organized and making it all come together smoothly does not come naturally to me. A couple of weeks before the programs, tension begins to build at the base of my neck and quickly travels to my shoulders. I start waking up in the night panicked that I’ve forgotten to do something, and the songs keep running over and over in my head. By the time the concert comes, I literally never want to hear any…ANY of those songs again…in my entire lifetime.

Luckily, I’ve got some “Rockstar” parents of students who help me in my weakest areas, such as props, sets, and backdrops. I am NOT crafty….I’m the kind of person that goes to craft fairs to BUY other people’s darling creations! If I didn’t surround myself with amazingly talented people, my students would show up to their HeeHaw(yes like the old tv show-you KNOW how I love corny jokes!) concert stage decorated with maybe one hay-bale and a Walmart scarecrow with a magic marker sign reading “HeeHaw.” I’m SO THANKFUL for talented, artistic, crafty people!!!(You know who you are!)

Then there are the teachers who are so helpful and encouraging, always there to lend a hand and say something I need to hear. The past few days I was feeling really exhausted and the rehearsals hadn’t gone well. Then one of my colleagues said, “I can’t believe how good you are with our students! You always do such a great job!” Yes tears of gratitude filled my eyes!!! It was just what I needed!

Somehow in the midst of all of this I’ve managed to take all of my Halloween decorations down and put up turkeys and pilgrims, bewildered at how fast October passed and realizing Thanksgiving break is two weeks from tomorrow! November will fly faster than the last month, ESPECIALLY after next Tuesday’s programs are over!

So, in the spirit of my 2nd and 3rd grade HeeHaw Concerts, “Thanks for being here for the show, but it’s getting late and it’s time to go, so there’s…NO MOW!”(cue HeeHaw music)

 

When October Goes

It’s the last day of the best month of all. As you know, I wait for it all year and here we are, ready to say goodbye again. Barry Manilow has a song from his Paradise Cafe album that kind of sums up how I feel on this day each year.

There’s a bittersweet ache that comes as I remember past October’s filled with people I’ve loved that are no longer a part of my life. Each year, October gives me a different, more vulnerable perspective and I feel more deeply the love shared with those that are now gone from me. Others seem to experience this at Christmas, but mine comes early…I guess because Autumn was always our family’s most cherished season. The Halloween costume parties through the years, wondering what our boys would choose to be, gathering together carving pumpkins and making Halloween gingerbread houses, and putting aside differences with other family members, to enjoy the traditional festivities together. Love, peace, joy, and excitement reigned and animosity, bitterness, and hate weren’t invited to the gatherings. I guess that’s why my heart always hurts when October goes. I realize another one is now in my memory and I haven’t been able to heal all of the relationships that are in those past happy October memories. Some of them can never be fixed, there’s too much pain, but love is still there and it goes deep.

October remembers the love and graciously reminds me, so when October goes, I regrettably say goodbye to those memories for another year. However, I also look forward to making new happy ones with the next generation of spooks!

Ah! October…thank you for the ache in my heart, it is a memory of time gone by and love lost, which is “better than to never have loved at all.”

When October Goes (Manilow)
And when October goes
The snow begins to fly
Above the smoky roofs
I watch the planes go by
The children running home beneath
A twilight sky
Oh, for the fun of them
When I was one of them
And when October goes
The same old dream appears
And you are in my arms
To share the happy years
I turn my head away to hide
The helpless tears
Oh, how I hate to see October go
And when October goes
The same old dream appears
And you are in my arms
To share the happy years
I turn my head away to hide
The helpless tears
Oh, how I hate to see October go
I should be over it now, I know
It doesn’t matter much how old I grow
I hate to see October go…

 

I Can’t Imagine!

When you have dogs…
you will always have trouble finding a place to sit…and just forget sitting next to each other!

Walking can also be a problem, and any type of activity, especially baking or cooking, can be treacherous. You must always…ALWAYS assume a dog is right behind you. Never take a step backwards without looking. Many potential trips to the emergency room have been averted by proactively checking all the dogs locations. They can be very helpful in the kitchen as floor cleaners…I can’t remember the last time I had to bend over to pick up dropped ingredients. Even spilled flour seems to be a favorite delectable.

Mornings are not for your quiet coffee time. They are meant for morning potty-ing with obnoxious barking at joggers at 5:30am, breakfast, 2nd potty-ing with 2nd obnoxious barking at walkers at 6:15 am, crazy running and chasing time at 6:30 am, and fighting for the seat next to you while you finally eat your breakfast and drink your coffee…without quiet time.

Lunchtime is potty-time and play ball time, but only the right amount. Too little won’t get the Labrador’s energy out and too much will trigger too much water intake quickly followed by excessive vomiting. Moderation is a difficult but necessary lesson for labs…and their people!

Dinner is the most important time of the day. You can tell it’s all they’ve dreamed about during afternoon siestas. Your dinner, their dinner, each other’s dinners…all of the above. This is when the aforementioned care in the kitchen is especially important.

Another ball game is appreciated before dark, and then resting on the couch or even on top of you while you’re on the couch watching tv is another favorite pastime. By the time you’re ready for bed they’re already snoring. As long as there’s no thunderstorms in the area, you can rest easy. If thunder can be heard, two of them need to sleep next to you all night while one sleeps downstairs with your teenager and the other is too deaf to hear the storm.

Ahh…life with dogs can be difficult, annoying, time consuming, exhausting, but life without them?? I CAN’T IMAGINE!

The Scary Truth

Tonight we had our annual Halloween costume party. It was fun as usual, soups, breads, desserts, wines, crazy costumes, Halloween gingerbread house contest, and a piñata for the kids. I was Winnifred Sanderson and Mike was the zombie Billy Butcherson from Hocus Pocus. I love October!!! Now I’m sitting writing this post after everyone has left, while Mike, Tristan, and Dillon are headed to their annual “Field of Screams” Haunted House. I don’t go. I never go. They don’t want me to go. We’re all pretty sure I might accidentally kill someone if I ever go to another haunted house.

There’s something I haven’t shared with you that might change your opinion of me. Many of you think I’m a kindhearted person. Yes I love Jesus, I try hard to do what’s right, I try to be painfully honest. Well, since I’m known for speaking truth, here’s an ugly fact about me. You DO NOT want to be in a crisis situation with moi.

I know this because many years ago I went to a Haunted House in Nashville with my husband and another couple. Most people go to these things and scream and laugh and have a great time. My imagination is MUCH too strong and something completely triggers my primal “fight or flight” instinct. As soon as we encountered our first frightening ghouls I completely flipped out…started screaming like a banshee, grabbed Mike and used him as a human shield, and when he stepped aside, grabbed my girlfriend and shoved her, yes, actually threw her into the guys with chainsaws. What’s even more bizarre is the chainsaw guys were hysterically laughing at me and couldn’t even stay in character, but it didn’t matter…I was in survival mode. It was ugly.  It was downright scary.

Talk about being humbled. I realized that day what a selfish person I am! If we’d been on the Titanic together, I would have shoved you into the icy water as I jumped on the last lifeboat. Yep. I’m that kind of person. I hope in a real situation I would be much more valiant and heroic, but I doubt it. That’s why I don’t go to Haunted Houses. I would rather stay home and write this blog of scary truth to face the fact that I would sacrifice every last one of you to demon clowns and chainsaw maniacs to save myself. Doesn’t honesty count for something??