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The Spelling Bee

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I am not holding a grudge.  Honestly.

I do, however, hold a memory in my head of the day I lost a spelling bee.

There was a stage, lots of chairs, and lots of excellent spellers.

I loved spelling bees – especially this one – you had to be special to get there.

You had to be a top speller from your grade at your elementary school – mine was 5th grade.

I don’t remember what I wore, I don’t remember being nervous, but I most certainly remember that a certain boy from another school and I were the last ones standing.

Perhaps we spelled a few words each before it happened, but it happened – I spelled my word incorrectly.

The real problem though was that he spelled it correctly.

The word was government, and just to be honest here?  It was on the 6th grade word list, which I never received to memorize.  So, yes, I blamed my teacher.

The funny thing about all this is, is that I remember that boy’s name.  Mostly because it was an unusual last name and actually kind of cool for a kid in our small town.  I thought his last name sounded like Tchaikovsky – the famous composer.

I learned this:

He won, I lost, and I was no longer a perfect speller.

No, I don’t hold grudges, but I hold on to perfection.  Most days I struggle with my imperfection.

I lose sight of a goal much easier to handle – I am not meant to be perfect, Christ is.

I am made perfect through Him and only through Him.

I am a firm believer that everything – even losing a 5th grade spelling bee – happens for a reason.

Perfection in this world is unreachable.  Holiness, humbleness, brokenness, thankfulness, etc. are possible and attainable.

Expanding our vocabulary is possible – with or without good spelling skills.

Receiving grace from God and spreading it around requires willingness, not perfection.

Accept His Grace, be willing, and spread it.

Drop perfection OFF as you walk across the stage and move forward with your life… Start now.

 

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Posted by on May 17, 2016 in Life, in general, Love

 

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Five Minute Friday – Friend

Old Tucson  {My Best Friend and Me}

A friend loves at all times.

Poverbs 17:17a

“Let me tell you about my best friend…”  (Sing with me if you know that tune!)

That was a favorite song to sing along to when I was a child in the 1970’s.  It was a theme song to a TV show called “The Courtship of Eddie’s Father” starring Bill Bixby.

Well, so let me tell you, I have LOTS of friends and acquaintances – and strangers that I treat as friends.

Just recently I met an Hispanic couple in line at Wal-Mart and had the sweetest time talking to them while the customer in front of them was having difficulties.  Believe it or not, by the end of the conversation, I knew SO much of their history.

Because I ask.  Because I listen.  Because I care.

How DOES a man get from Peru to America and survive military service in Vietnam?  Now I know.

People need to be heard.  They need to share their story.

They need to have fellowship – on a heart level – with their fellow humans.

{YES}  Even in Wal-Mart … During a long delay … When most people would be a little aggravated …

This was the perfect opportunity to do what I was designed to do – I made a friend…

Actually, I made two.

mybestfriend2  {Still Crazy After All These Years}

Curious about Five Minute Friday?  It’s like a Flashmob for writers.

A bunch of us, with a one-word prompt, write fearlessly for FIVE minutes and link up together. Join us!

http://lisajobaker.com/

 
 

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Abandoned, for a reason?

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I’m not sure this is how a writer should look, but I’m in the jammies and a robe, propped up with the pillows and my infamous wool socks… Oh, and please, let’s not forget the bifocals – at least the glasses fit the part!  Well, this is the way it is tonight because I just finished a movie that left me feeling a little desperate.  Desperate to dump on a page an unsettling piece of my childhood – all over again.  It’s better this time, though, as I see the words forming and the ideas taking shape…

All the way through this movie I felt the grumbling and churning of words and emotions that were begging to be spilled out on paper.  A confession of sorts, a purging of the angst over the childhood that didn’t go right.  It came to one word.

Abandoned.

Like a vapor, I was gone.  I was on the leading edge of being a teenager – just 13 – and my tender, young life was full of boys, dances, braces, and blue jeans.  That’s when it hit – the big change of address.  A move like none I’d ever heard of before that day – except in fiction.  A move out West.  This tiny, scrappy girl from a small town in Pennsylvania was moving to a place I had only heard of in books.  I really don’t know if I even knew where Arizona was, to be honest!  Somebody, give me a map!

Cowboy hats and pearl-buttoned shirts.  Houses made from stucco with clay-tile roofs.  Cactus and various poisonous wildlife.  I was excited and thought that it was really cool!  I know I was hoping that all my friends would be envious.  And what teenage girl doesn’t want to be envied?  Well, noticed at least?  Okay … maybe talked about?

Slam.  It was like someone closed a giant safe door on my childhood and home town and locked it away forever.  A place for me to remember, but never to really touch again.  Some wise person said “You can never go home again” and yes, it’s true.  Sometimes, unbearably true.

Stares came from all the kids at my new school because I was the new kid and you {Always. Stand. Out.}  So much for being envied…because if I was being talked about back home, how was I supposed to know?

You can make a career out of reinventing yourself at this new place to impress the “natives.”  It must be a defense mechanism.  But, eventually, the right people pick you out and gently allow you to enter their world.  For me, it was Carol, Muffy, Michelle and a few others with long-forgotten names.  Their faces will be forever etched in my mind though…

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Somewhere in our adulthood, we unearth it – our childhood. Everyone knows about this, right?  Not everyone sees their past as unfortunate…Some only remember glorious times and great parents.  Others can be overcome with regret and others even terror.  I remember feeling abandoned, alone, set apart, set adrift and somewhat forced to find my own way through the adolescent mess PLUS moving clear across the country.  I no longer had my 4 siblings, my long list of childhood friends, my Grandmothers, or my neighborhood full of sidewalks that took you everywhere you needed to go.  How else can I describe it other than {Night. And. Day}

Four years later, we made yet another move right after my high school graduation.  Another effortless transition?  No, but I won’t digress into some diatribe that makes you feel sorry for the kid who gets moved without any real support system.  Instead, here’s the redemptive part…

I soon married, really soon, like that Fall.  He was my high school sweetheart and newly inducted into the US Army.  In case you don’t know anyone in the military, let me just tell you… you move a lot.  Actually, his first duty station was in Korea and so we spent that first year apart except for 2 weeks of leave time.

Over the next 20 years we moved a few times, had 3 kids, bought a couple of houses…and you know what?  We did it well.  We were highly capable and knew how to prepare the boxes, the kids, and the mountains of paperwork.  No one could have adequately prepared me for this except for … Yes, my childhood.

God’s plan isn’t always clear.  It’s an adventure.  It’s a worthwhile (and continuous) lesson in patience.  Take a shy kid, from a small town, put her in a city, pour all sorts of adjustments onto her and then see what happens.  I’m not saying I didn’t spend a {TON} of energy on regret and anger over it all, but in the end, I can say with all certainty that every bit of it had {HUGE} value.  It’s still my life lesson… to learn my lessons from my life.  Or, if I’m feeling really confused, I pick out a few woeful souls from the scriptures and I can see redemption all over again.

I felt abandoned, for a reason.  And God never meant to leave me there.  Even today He means for someone to hear and understand those things about their childhood and how to have peace with it all.

I love my friends.  I have more than I can count and they live in a million different places.  And most days I’m connected to them, because they never forgot me.  It amazes me still, after 33 years, I can meet someone I haven’t seen since age 13 and with an almost audible WOOSH, that safe door opens and we all get a little thrill from looking back – together – at those 3 decades and we smile.  It’s a little slice of {HOME}.

 
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Posted by on January 3, 2013 in Life, in general

 

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An – ti – ci – pa – tion…Can’t Wait?

Would the ketchup EVER get here?  Tipping the bottle, giving it a little downward shake, I waited.  I’m not thinking about the fries getting cold or if someone else might need the bottle… I am entirely focused on the red blob – Is it EVER going to MOVE???

Anticipation is in the waiting.  It’s the build-up of invisible energy or hunger that propels us into a focused state of mind.  One thing … we are just focused on that one thing.  Maybe we’re noticing the world on the periphery, and functioning in it, but really, we’re just focused on that one thing.

To a child, and really most adults, Christmas is like that.  It falls on December 25th and regardless of work, school, or home life – our focus gradually begins to become all about that day.  Family traditions of decorating, shopping, meal-planning all become honed in on by everyone.  Stores might be reminding us earlier each year about the shopping days left on the calendar, but truly, we turn our focus towards Christmas on our own schedule.

My Christmas tree went up early this year.  I decided I wanted a new one after almost 20 years of using the last one.  It was still in great shape, and complete with instructions, so I donated it to my favorite thrift store charity.  I picked one at the store specifically with pine cones attached to the limbs because that’s my style – woodsy.  I think this year I also started playing my Christmas music selection a little early too.  Anticipation… not for Christmas, but for Christ.

Everyday I feel His presence in my life.  Every day is a day to celebrate not only His birth, but His second coming.  Just as His presence as a King was promised by the prophets of old, we anticipate the next step in God’s kingdom calendar – Jesus’ glorious return.

I remember my Dad showing me how to insert a knife into the glass bottle to help the ketchup release and come out a little easier.  Boy, how we’ve progressed into plastic bottles with squirtable tops!  We’ve solved the waiting problem with ketchup, but shouldn’t we still enjoy the waiting that comes with Christmas?

 
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Posted by on November 28, 2012 in Christmas, Life, in general

 

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Perfectly Weary

Dry lungs.  That’s how best I can describe them.  Deprived of oxygen or just plain lazy would also be fitting.  Dizziness, well, more like uncontrolled spinning, occurs in my head quite frequently.  Tired, in pain, barely breathing and somehow I’m getting the laundry done.  Somehow I’ll manage to cook dinner – I think.

Tea is steeping, Christmas music is playing and for the first time in 4 days it is quiet.  It feels like a major accomplishment to get to this moment today – a time to actually think and concentrate.  A time to do a few chores, and a take a few moments to collect myself and renew slightly before something or someone beckons me.

A slight reprieve, badly needed.  A greater reprieve, I pray, is one day closer.

I wasn’t always like this.  I remember only too well the days of boundless energy.  Early years of running and playing with complete abandon.  Standing back flips, front walkovers, and long hours of stretching, dancing, and twirling.  I write of those days and time stands still in my head.  I can still feel the pasty, sweaty chalk on my hands and clearly feel the hardwood gym floor under my bare feet.  I can picture all the gymnasiums I’ve ever romped and flipped around in.

The face of the my gym teacher opening the doors for us before school hours was a welcome sight.  Each day I left the house early in the cold and the dark to go practice in the gym.  Later, I proudly wore blistered hands to class, much to the shock of my fellow students.  They didn’t understand how much I loved those early morning workouts.

Pausing, I sip my tea, allowing the pain in my neck and arm to lessen.  Even writing is painful.

I have loved making quilts, mosaics, and all sorts of crafts over the years.  I used to love to clean house, make dinner, do yard work, and chase after kids.  It was all so tiresome, but when the end of the day arrived, I didn’t regret much.  It was accomplished with reckless abandon as well.  Pure energy and drive… perhaps with a little too much perfectionism added in.

Well, the truth is, I had and STILL have way too much perfectionism in my life.  I struggled with a perfectly ordered life and house and now I struggle – with a body that does not fulfill my mind’s idea of how it should function.

In my spiritual life, along the way, I have found the desire to meet God in all things – every situation I was in and with everyone I met.  That used to be so simple because I was looking outward.  Now I find myself desiring to rise above the trappings of my human flesh – above the physical, the mental, and the emotional ideals of perfection, to see where I am in God’s plan.  It’s not easy.  It’s a part of my spiritual journey that is taking longer than I desired, but I can only imagine how wonderful the end results are going to be when God is finished with this part of His plan for my life.

I imagine when I look back upon this physically painful time it will diminish in intensity because of the enormity of what God will have accomplished.  In the meantime, my prayer life is being renewed and scripture is once again at the forefront of my day.  I think He has me right where He wants me, and today, I hope I make Him smile.

Philippians 4:12 & 13

I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty.  I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.  I can do everything through him who gives me strength.

Psalm 121:1,2

I lift up my eyes to the hills – where does my help come from?  My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.

 
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Posted by on November 14, 2012 in Life, in general

 

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