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A Year of Cheer!

Proverbs 17:22 written in gold letters on a photo of a rainbow, Merry Hearts Medicine

Today is an anniversary of sorts because this Merry Hearts Medicine blog began with a spark of laughter on January 8th, 2014.  I am amazed (and almost a little frightened) at how fast time seems to zip by these days.  A year?  Wow…

Friends and family have read my work at times and been very encouraging to me.  Also, a few fellow WordPress bloggers have contributed comments and “likes” to my site for many months.  Thanks for your encouragement, as well!

What started out as “Blog?  What is a blog?” has grown into a fun hobby and a great way to reach out and connect with others.  I’ve enjoyed hearing the thoughts and perspectives of people in countries all around the globe.  As a bonus, I’ve picked up skills in web design, photo editing, and HTML coding.

Along the way, I added a few recurring features to this site, such as

  • Links to Joy” — posts to help us appreciate our blessings and increase our thankfulness
  • Roadblocks to Joy” — posts highlighting obstacles that may be diminishing the level of joy in our lives
  • To the Point” — very brief posts that highlight an important thought (There aren’t many of these because I am too wordy!  Lol)
  • Moments of Joy” — a post at the end of each month, highlighting an especially funny our touching experience that occurred during that month
  • And last, but not least, my developing interest in photography has led to a series of posts called “Macro Mysteries.”  These are set up as guessing games to see who can identify the objects in close-up images I’ve captured.  Though people don’t always participate, these posts have still been great fun for me.

I share my thoughts and photos for the sheer enjoyment of it, and more importantly, to increase the joy and blessings in others’ lives.  I’m not trying to win a popularity contest or grow a throng of thousands of followers, as awesome as that would be.  I decided that even if only one person is blessed by my blog, then it is worth the time and effort I’ve put in.

Feel free to stick around and peruse the site, if you have the time.  I hope it will brighten your day in a meaningful way!  If you are interested in the Bible and/or photography, you might enjoy the pages I’ve added called “SCRIPTURE” and “Favorite Photos.”

Also, before you go, I’d love it if you’d stop by my page called “Reasons to Smile” and leave a comment.  The page is a collection of things for which people are thankful.  I’m hoping the list will grow long and the page will be a place where people can come to get a pick-me-up by thinking about the blessings in their lives.

Thanks for reading!

Merry Hearts Medicine watermark. MerryHeartsMedicine.wordpress.com

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Moments of Joy: August 2015

Last month, I recounted a friend’s wonderful heart-to-heart speech that she worked long and hard to prepare.  This month’s happy moment also involved preparation — for a big surprise!  He never saw it coming!

candles spell

“Half a century…it’s a blessing to live that long, and it’s a great opportunity to surprise and tease someone!” I think as I begin preparations for my friend’s 50th birthday party.  I really want this to be a big surprise, so to help avoid arousing his suspicions, I decide to have the party two weeks early.

First, I gather ideas from friends:  “Surprise him at a restaurant.  We’ll all go there first and get ready for him.”  “Don’t do the black balloons and over-the-hill stuff, that’s just depressing!”  “Get him a walker with a bicycle horn and signs on it about how old he is!”

After thinking it over, I agree that the “over-the-hill” gag with tombstones and all black decorations is too cliche and unpleasant for this occasion, though I decide maybe just one or two black balloons might get the point across.

With a desire to make the party a little more kind, I even go to the lengths of searching for ideas on Pinterest.  There I see the sweetest poster entitled “70 Things We Love About You.”  “Hmmm…could I get 50 messages together in about two weeks time?  Why not try?!”

So begins a barrage of Facebook messages, emails, and whispered conversations to gather the loving comments for the poster.  While waiting for responses from some of our friends, I can’t resist poking a little fun at my pal by making one smaller poster covered with old-age jokes.

Why did the 50-year-old cross the road?

No particular reason.  People that age often get disoriented from time to time.

At your age, it takes you longer to rest than it does to get tired!

You’re so old, the candles cost more than your birthday cake!

There’s another really lame joke that hits my funny bone just right, so I go ahead and add it:

You’re so old, when you were born, the Dead Sea was just getting sick!

It’s ridiculous, I know, but it really makes me laugh!  (Yes, I’m easily entertained.)

Just for fun, I decide to get a little nostalgic and refresh the memories of those who were around in 1965 with history and trivia from that year.  Researching on the internet to gather facts and photos reveals a few surprises for myself that I didn’t realize occurred that year.  Newspaper articles and advertisements are particularly entertaining.

newspaper ad for Pepsi from 1919

This ad is actually from 1919, but I think it’s funny!

Here’s most of the facts list I manage to compile, in case you’re interested:

How did the money flow in 1965?

  • Household income averaged $6,450
  • Gallon of gas was 31 cents
  • Bread was 21 cents
  • Houses averaged $13,660
  • New homes averaged about $21,000
  • Rent was about $118
  • New cars cost $2,650
  • Postage Stamp was 5 cents
  • Payphone call cost 10 cents
  • Hershey bar could be enjoyed for 5 cents

What happened in 1965?

  • The respirator replaced the Iron Lung
  • The President was Lyndon B. Johnson
  • Life expectancy was 70.2 years old
  • Population of the world was 3.345 billion
  • Population of the USA was 194 million
  • First person to walk in space (for 12 minutes) was Soviet Cosmonaut Aleksei Leonov
  • The optical disk, now called the compact disk, was invented by James Russell
  • Malcolm X, the Human Rights Activist, was assassinated at a Harlem rally
  • 1965 was the first year that health warnings appeared on a pack of cigarettes
  • The skate board and super ball were the hottest toys
  • Walt Disney premiered “The Sound of Music”
  • Men began to grow the hair longer
  • Women began to wear their skirts shorter; the mini skirt was the fashion
  • The first US combat troops arrived in Vietnam
  • The Beatles released the movie & album “Help!”
  • The Voting Rights Act became law, allowing African Americans the right to vote
  • The Gateway Arch was completed in Louis
  • Hypertext was introduced for linking to the internet, and the rest is history…

The two weeks of preparation fly quickly by, as all my weeks seem to do these days, and the big day arrives!  Even with one or two close calls, my friend never catches on to the party plans; and with the aid of several other friends, the decorations and the crowd are in place for the big reveal.

Strangely enough, the lady at the cash register messes up his ticket as he tries to enter the buffet restaurant, giving us plenty of time to all get in the party room ahead of him while he’s straightening out his tab.  When he finally enters the room, a chorus of voices join in to sing “Happy Birthday” to him.

The stunned look on his face is priceless!

He shakes his head and tries to turn around to leave, but several friendly hands drag him farther into the room as we finish the song.  The rest of the evening is filled with friendship and fun, and a special piece of cake with one huge (8-inch-tall) candle smashed into the center of it.  (We warn him that at his age, one candle for each year was just too much of a fire hazard.  Tee Hee!)

It is a happy evening, an occasion that strengthens friendships and creates fond memories.  And, luckily, I don’t even get in too much trouble for all the old-man jokes.

There is a drawback to all the fun I’ve had, though.  The next time I have a special birthday approaching with a big round “zero” on the end, I’ll have to watch my back and be prepared to be on the receiving end of the teasing.  I’m sure my own black balloons are floating just around the corner!

Moments of Joy: July 2015

Last month, I shared a cartoon about homeschooling that gave me a chuckle because it struck way too close to home for us this year.  (My daughter is now scheduled to finish her Algebra lessons about three days before we begin the next school year in a few weeks.)

This month’s true story recounts a touching connection of friendship that was interrupted by an embarrassing rescue.

empty highway stretching off into distance

Several ladies I know and love have put together a plan to have monthly devotional/relationship-building meetings to help all of us learn more about each other and grow closer as friends.

“What a lovely idea this was!” I think to myself while scanning the faces of a circle of women spread across a crowded living room during our second gathering.  My attention is drawn to a lady in the corner as she stands up with a couple of sheets of paper that slightly vibrate back and forth in her nervous hand.

I send her a wide smile of encouragement as her trembling voice begins reading the heartfelt words she has so painstakingly prepared to tell us this evening:

“Share your weaknesses.

Share your hard moments.

Share your real side.

It’ll either scare away every fake person in your life, or it will inspire them to finally let go of that mirage called ‘perfection,’ which will open the doors to the most important relationships you’ll ever be a part of.” *

I don’t know if you remember or not, but last time we met we went around the room saying something about ourselves that the others may not know. When it came to my turn, I mentioned me and my family performing at the community theater.

We were dressed as frogs and performed ‘Green-Eyed Lady.’ As part of my costume I wore huge swim goggles, I guess to resemble frog eyes … I also mentioned that the only way I got through that was that as soon we hit the stage my goggles fogged up and I couldn’t see two feet in front of me, much less the audience, so I was good to go and able to act a fool.

Everyone grins or laughs at the image of her and her family, all green and goggled.  She glances around the room, smiles, and continues:

I need those goggles today! Believe it or not, my husband likes talking way more than I do. I tend to listen more than speak, which I guess in some circumstances is a good thing, but not for what we are here for today.

For some odd reason, when I get around you all I’m encouraged. I’m encouraged to do things that I would never do; I’m encouraged to be better; I am on fire for God. So when that sign-up sheet floated around last time, I was prompted to sign up …

For the last several weeks I’ve gone back and forth about what I would like to speak about today and over that same time I, myself, have evolved into the subject I’ve decided on. That subject is BEING REAL.

Over the last few weeks I’ve come to know more of you on a deeper level, and in turn it has allowed me to lower my infamous relationship wall. I’ve come to realize that once I got to know some of you better I found out that we are so much more alike than I ever thought.

We are told in James 5:16, “Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” I believe that this is a crucial part in forming the relationships that God intended us to form.

I have to admit that you guys SCARE me! When I look at all of you, I see all the goodness that you exude. When we first started attending worship, I was so intimidated by you all. I felt as if I would never live up to any of you and your abilities. That you all were so much further in your walk with Christ, that somehow you all had figured out how to get it all right.

Looks of surprise flash across many faces in the room.

“Scared of ME?”  I think in amazement.  “ME… ‘having it all together’?  Yeah, right!”

I didn’t feel that way because of anything someone said or did, but it was my own insecurities in all of their glory. You all have been so good to me, to my family, to each other. You all have shown me what being Christ-like truly means.

You see, I didn’t grow up attending church. Until I married, I never really had a christian example. So I’ve needed a huge learning curve when it comes to attending church, becoming a christian, and living the way I should.

As the years have gone by and I’ve continued my walk with Christ, I’ve grown to learn that I most definitely am a work in progress, and that is OK! The more I get to know you all, I understand that you feel that way as well.

We all fall; we all need start-overs; we all need examples. What is important is that we get back up; we brush ourselves off, pray to the Father, and start again.

What is also important is who is there when we do fall. My hope is that when–not if, but when–I fall that you all will be there. Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 says “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor.  For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, For he has no one to help him up.”

A few eyes around the room are getting misty as we all meditate on the meaning of her words that strike so true.

So, I will begin…This is me, being real. Hi, I’m Tabitha.** I often fall short, and I sin. I do things that are against God and His word. Do I regret it? Yes. Do I pray for forgiveness and repent? Yes. Do I need your help? Yes.

Everyone’s eyes are glistening now…

More times than not, I’m a wreck. If you come across me and I appear to have it all together, I promise, I do not.

You may see me smiling while coming through the door on Sunday morning, but there is a high probability that me and family were just arguing in the car. I work 50 hours a week outside the home. I have laundry piled up, and we eat out too often. I watch too much TV, I don’t work out enough, I get too many Pedi’s, and the list goes on and on.

I don’t study enough. I don’t reach out to the lost enough. Although I fail at so much, I try, I strive, and I keep on keeping on. I pray to God for forgiveness and strength. I love God.  I believe in Him and His word.

This is me, me being real. I need each and every one of your help. I need you in my life. I need you as my friend. In order to do that, I need to be me, to confess my trespasses, and to know that you will love me as Jesus does…flaws & all.

“And she thought she wouldn’t do a good job speaking to us?” I think as I wipe a tear from the corner of my eye.  (Yes, I’m a crybaby.  I freely admit it.)

I not only need this, but I believe by doing this we are fulfilling a commandment given by Christ. Church and the christian relationships we form are just like anything else in life. You get what you give.

You can’t walk into the Church building, find your designated seat, listen to the sermon, and then as quickly as the final “Amen” is said, rush to your vehicle. Believe me, I tried; it didn’t work.

Over time, I found myself sitting in the sanctuary with this suffocating feeling of loneliness. As tears fell from my eyes, it occurred to me that there was something extremely wrong with this picture. I was sitting in a room full of the people who loved me most in this world, and my wall was so tall that none of you were getting over it.

If it were not for those who kept pecking and pecking at me week after week

She narrows her eyes and targets meaningful glances at several women, which elicits chuckles from many of us.

and for me fervently praying about it, I would still be covered in that feeling of loneliness.

So, this is me…goggles off, my heart shown, me being real.

My prayer is that this talk has made some sort of sense and it has fallen on loving ears. Thank you for listening; I love you all.

Tears and hugs are shared all around, amid exclamations of praise and approval.  Tabitha has opened her heart, taking a risk by reaching out to her friends and allowing us to do the same.

What a blessing friendship is!  It requires nurturing and commitment from both sides of a relationship, but what rewards it reaps!

~~~~~~~~~~~

Once our eyes are all dried (for the most part) and all the sniffles snuffed, we are encouraged, in order to further “break the ice,” to share either our scariest or funniest moment we can remember.

The first story involves a misunderstanding in a foreign country: several people yell animatedly at a woman in a vehicle who is waiting for her husband to return.  She sits huddled between piles of luggage, weeping aloud with her children pressed to her chest, thinking she was about to be attacked or even murdered…until she finds out they men were only trying to tell her she was in a vehicle where children and luggage are not allowed.

I smile and think to myself, “That was a good one!  Scary AND funny!”

During the next story, I notice I had missed a text message from my spouse.  I step out of the room to try to contact him, with no success.

Hearing a pause in the conversation, I walk back through the doorway, raise my hand and announce, “I have a funny story to share!”

Everyone settles in and kindly gives me their attention, so I begin, “I just noticed this text message from my husband.  It says…’Your husband has run out of gas near the Tinytown** exit.  Forgot I was low.  Light never came on.  If your meeting is almost over I’ll wait for you.  If not, I can walk back to Tinytown.’ “

A loud round of laughter and expressions of “Oh, no!” erupt around the room.

“So, where is he now?” one lady asks.

“I don’t know.  I tried to call him twice, but he won’t answer.”

“What are you going to do?”  “How will you find him?”  Other women inquire.

“I guess I’ll drive down the highway and search for a beat-up silver truck sitting on the side of the road.”

I proceed to explain how this is not the first time my dear hubby has been in this situation, and that his warning light probably didn’t come on because the bulb burnt out from being used so often.  (I’ve seen him literally roll up to a gas pump because the car engine died as he turned into the gas station!)

“Are you really going to go rescue him?  If he has to walk, he might learn a lesson.”

Upon hearing this comment, I can’t resist a brief recount of the time my husband walked seven miles in penny-loafers at 2 a.m. after running his gas tank empty.  (Remember those shoes?  Those were not built for comfort!  Ahhh, the adventures we had in the days before cell phones!)

All joking aside, though, I am beginning to get concerned that he is not returning my calls.  It has already been over 20 minutes since he sent the text message so my daughter and I share a few more hugs before bidding an early goodbye to our friends.

~~~~~~~~~~~

Another 20 or so minutes later, I turn off the highway at the Tinytown exit.  I turn left to cross over the freeway and ask my daughter to look farther down the freeway from the bridge to see if she can spot her daddy’s truck.  Nothing.

After coming down off the overpass, I spot a tiny figure in the distance, bobbing along through the tall grass beside the highway.  Relief relaxes my tension and I debate whether or not to blow the horn and watch my husband jump like a scared cat.  (Yes, along with being a crybaby, I must also admit I can be a little ornery, too.  Lol)

As we draw near, I can see that my poor man is dressed head-to-toe in navy blue and black synthetic dress clothes that are clinging tightly to his sweaty frame.  The air conditioner in the car is blasting on high to combat the 98 degree temperature and nearly 100% humidity of the sultry summer evening.  I decide to have pity and give only a small beep on the horn to alert him of our arrival.

He turns around with a guilty grin on his face as we approach and quickly climbs into the back seat with a sigh of pleasure at feeling the cool air blowing.  He says he decided the 45 minute walk was a better alternative than sitting in the “oven” of his truck.

On the way home to get the gas can, my husband declares, “I wanted to walk more, so I definitely got my exercise today!”

I appreciate his positive attitude.  When it’s all said and done, why not try to have a laugh about the situation, rather than letting it ruin your day?  He was glad to discover that his new shoes are comfortable (and well broken-in now), and he’s sure he must have sweated some toxins out of his body.

He arrives home later after filling the truck’s gas tank to the brim at a nearby station.  I hear him immediately go to the kitchen to prepare a tall glass of ice water; then he steps into the living room where my daughter and I are reclined on the couch, turns sideways, and asks, “Am I thinner?”

I just shake my head and laugh, wondering how long it will be before we get to do this all again.

~~~~~~~~~~~

If you’ve read this far through this post, you are a patient person, indeed.  Before you go, I’d like to reward you with the following tidbits of wisdom.

From my husband:

Wow, those off ramps from the highway are SO much longer than they look! They don’t seem long at all when you’re driving, but WHOA when you’re walking they seem to go on FOREVER!

If you run out of gas right after an exit on the freeway, it’s not the best choice to coast as long as you can before pulling over.  It just means you have that much farther to walk back to a gas station.

From my father:

Gas up your vehicle when it gets down to a quarter of a tank.  That way you won’t suck up into your engine as much of the junk that has settled to the bottom of the tank, and you won’t ever end up sitting on the side of the highway because you ran out of gas.

Sharing your

[*quote by Dan Pearce in his book: Single Dad Laughing]

[**Names of people and places have been changed for privacy.]

Moments of Joy: June 2015

Last month I shared a collection of small events which brought me joy — life’s simple pleasures.  This summer has been such a blurry flurry of activity that for the first time I am late in sharing my “Moment of Joy.”  Thus, June’s post will be short and simple compared to my usual monthly vignettes…

Cherish the moments while they last because time goes by so fast.

“Summer break”?!  How did it get to be summer already, and who has time to take a break from anything?

While perusing my WordPress Reader, I chuckle at this cartoon shared by Betty Jo in her homeschooling and humor blog called “Still Learning Something New.”

1239964_10152391170061204_1301493503_n

You see, In January 2015, my brain says, “My daughter will start high school soon, and this is the last semester we have to just enjoy ourselves and allow her to be a kid.  We need more free time to visit family and friends.  We need more time to bond and relax!  This will be wonderful!”

Then my mouth says, “Let’s take it easier this spring for a change, so we can enjoy more free time!”

Of course, my student responds, “Sure!  That sounds great! Yay!  Wa-hoo!  All right!  I love it…”  (She says something along those lines, anyway.  I don’t quite catch every word she is yelling while her sparkling eyes dance with excitement.)

Now, in July 2015, as I sit grading a stack of algebra papers on the couch beside my mildly-depressed daughter, my brain says, “The things you put off in spring, you will pay for in summertime.  Was it worth it?  I don’t know, but it sure was fun at the time.  Sigh…OK, the square root of 24 plus negative four times three X squared…”

Moments of Joy: May 2015

The moment of joy I related last month was a fun one — seeing the smiles and looks of confusion on my loved-ones’ faces after a hard-fought battle to present them with a secret surprise.  This month was a hectic, emotional roller coaster.  Instead of telling one story, I’d like to mention a few simple pleasures that brought a smile to my face over the last four busy weeks.

photo collage of young pullet chicks in the grass

The tiny baby chickens we bought this spring are adorably feathered-out and testing their new wings.  The twinkle in my daughter’s eyes and the giggle on her lips makes me smile as I watch the chicks fly up and down from the ground to her lap and shoulders.  Their antics are comical as they stretch up and flap their wings, run in excitement with their heads near the ground like tiny race cars, and chase each other in circles to steal whatever worm or treat one of them finds.

black letters shaped like people that spell the word friendship on a colorful background

There is a lady I’ve known for years, and though I have tried many different approaches, I have never been able to develop a real friendship with her.  I have made deeper connections with her sister and a couple of other family members, but had resigned myself to the fact that she would always keep me at arm’s length.  I guess some people never “click” as friends.

Well, this seemingly-shy lady has begun to step out of her comfort zone to reach out and make connections with more people.  After soliciting help from myself and a few other ladies, she has even organized us into having a monthly get-together in order to spend more time together and become closer friends.  Our first meeting is later this week, and I’m looking forward to learning more about these great women.  There’s always room for a few more friends to bring joy to my life.

photo collage of sugar snap peas and strawberries growing in a garden

The cool of the morning feels refreshing on my skin as I step onto the back steps early in the morning.  I look up to see clouds floating gently by.  Robins, cardinals, sparrows, and mocking birds make background music as they feed their first sets of fledglings for this year.

I tiptoe across the grass and step over the short fence which surrounds my garden, while the thick layer of wood mulch keeps me from sinking into the sodden clay soil.  What a wet spring we have had this year!  While others watch from a distance as their berries rot beyond the soggy, tilled soil, I patter around the mulched paths of my no-till garden enjoying a tasty breakfast of fresh strawberries and sugar snap peas.  This is such a pleasant way to start the day!

school textbooks and binders lying int the green grass

On a day when the ground is (almost) dry enough (for a change), I break out the riding mower to manage our growing jungle of a yard before it gets tall enough to require a crew with a bush hog and hay bailer.  Round after round the grass is slowly beaten down to a manageable height (I say “beaten” because the blades are too dull at the moment to actually cut anything).

As I approach the large trees in the middle of our backyard, I cast a longing glance toward my hammock that I have not had time to enjoy so far this year.  Refocusing my attention, I carefully steer across a section of the 200 foot ditch I dug through our yard several years ago in a desperate attempt to turn half an acre of part-time pond into a usable lawn.

Suddenly I realize I am no longer moving, but am sitting in the middle of the ditch tilted over to one side!  After a second of shock, I remember to turn off the blade and assess the situation.  There in the ditch, lying peacefully under my beloved hammock, is the front wheel of the lawnmower.

“What?!”  I think to myself.  “Lawn mower wheels don’t just fall off!  This is something that happens in cartoons; this doesn’t happen in real life!”

I go into the house to gather tools; and after a loud wrestling match involving a wooden board, a crowbar, a heavy jack, and the much heavier riding mower machine, I manage to securely reattach the wheel.  All the while, I’m trying to be very careful not to re-injure my back that I hurt two weeks earlier when I fell on the concrete steps to our back door.

As I’m packing up the tools and equipment, my neighbor calls across the fence to ask if I’m having trouble.  Though he’s in his 70s, he also has never heard of a riding mower wheel deciding to leap off its axle and take a break.

I tell him the unusual things I did to get the wheel back on without hurting my back and how he had missed the great show I had put on for the neighbors when I bounced down the back steps and then shuffled around in slow motion for over a week.  He told me to call him first next time so he would not miss out on the entertainment.  Aah, my sweet, sympathetic neighbors.  Lol  We have amused them a lot over the years with the crazy things that go on in our yard.

To sum up this growing story…I finish mowing the lawn and go inside the house to enjoy a cool glass of water.  When I step into the living room, there’s my daughter with books spread all over the couch, taking notes from her science book in preparation for her upcoming test.

It warms my heart to have a trustworthy child who will work independently.  She can tell that I’m going to be outside for hours, but she continues to work without me checking on her.  She knows exactly where the answer keys to her tests are in the filing cabinet in the other room, but she never touches them because she realizes that what’s important to me is the process of learning, not just grades.

I smile at her and praise her efforts as I think to myself, “Next week, I think it will be her turn to mow the grass…”

Moments of Joy: April 2015

Last month, I told you about a simple invitation that strengthened bonds of friendship.  This month’s story contains a special surprise that was nearly impossible to keep secret!

a long table set beautifully with unique tea cups, cloth napkins, candles, and flowers

Staying in the bed and breakfast that I described in a previous post is something my mother has only experienced once in her lifetime.  The image of her walking in the fifteen-foot high entrance door with her suitcase and looking around with wide eyes of amazement is something I will never forget.

So as I think about plans for our annual spring “girl trip,” I talk to my husband, who agrees we should splurge and surprise her with a second stay.  I immediately go online.  Arrangements are made.  Anticipation grows…

There are close calls during conversations with my daughter:

“Where are we staying?” she asks.

“Where do we usually stay?” I counter before quickly changing the subject.  “Will you please put this clean laundry up in your room?”

There are unexpected phone calls from the incredible inn hostess, Rebecca:

Mom pulls my phone out of my purse because I’m driving.  “Your phone says ‘Wildwood B&B’…Isn’t that the bed and breakfast?  Why would they be calling you?  Are you up to something?”

“Oh,” I respond, “I looked at several places on the internet when I was making our reservations, and I left a comment on her website.  Isn’t she so sweet to call me?  What a nice lady she is!” (Well, that is all true…I just left out the part about booking rooms at that particular location.)

We finally end up at the Inn under the ruse of showing the place to my daughter’s friend, despite my mother’s protests:  “I’m not bothering these nice people.  They are so busy and will be checking in guests soon.  I’ll wait here for you.”

“Hmmm…she won’t get out of the car,” I think to myself.  “How do I work this one out?”

The girls and I get out, cameras in hand, and walk around the corner of the building toward the front entrance.

A wonderful staff lady pops out the front door, introduces herself as Charlotte, calls me by name, and ushers us in the front door to show us around, while the girls march up the porch steps behind me and look at each other in confusion.

I reveal the big surprise to the girls and soak in their squeals of delight, causing Charlotte’s jaw to drop.  “They didn’t know?!  You are a tricky one!”

We head back out the door to gather my mother.  I ask Charlotte if she will break the news to Mom, and I give her a suggestion of what to say.  She is immediately on board with the idea.

She strides up to my mother’s open car window with a hearty, “Hello!  Welcome!  Since you’re here, why don’t you just go ahead and stay?”

I have already leaned my head into the driver’s window, grinning like the Cheshire Cat, fully expecting my mother to turn around and yell at me for tricking her.  Instead, I barely can make out the words, “Oh, no, we can’t.  We already have reservations at a hotel, but thank you.”

Charlotte looks across at me helplessly, so I add, “No, Mom, maybe we should just go ahead and stay HERE.  Yeah, we should do that!”

She turns to me with her brows furrowed together.  The instant she sees my painfully-wide grin, her expression changes.  “You did it AGAIN, didn’t you?  You sneaky rat!  Are we staying here?”

“Yes we are!” I exclaim triumphantly.

We all burst out laughing, and happy tears glisten in our eyes as another special mother-daughter-granddaughter trip is off to a great start…

Moments of Joy: March 2015

Last month, my daughter created a touching moment that nearly melted my heart.

This month’s post shows the unexpected impact a simple gesture can make and the joy and friendship that can grow from it.

friends and families seated in a restaurant

photo by Edmund Yeo

I’ve gathered my things off the pew, chatted with multiple friends and acquaintances, and am heading toward the door of the church building on a Sunday evening.   As I turn a corner, I see a sweet friend of mine standing by herself in the foyer (for the retelling of this story, let’s call her Beth).

Beth is a fun lady to talk to.  She is such a kind soul, but also quite a character!  Blunt as a butter knife, she will usually tell you exactly how she feels about any given topic of discussion.

Knowing several people had agreed to go out to dinner after worship, I wondered if I should invite her to go with us.

“There’s probably no point in asking her,” I think as I approach her.  “I don’t ever see her going out to eat.  She’ll probably be embarrassed when she says ‘no’ because we both know why she can’t go.”

We’d previously had lengthy discussions about ways to stretch grocery dollars and make cheap, nutritious meals at home.  One Sunday morning, she had told me that she would not be back for evening service.  When I showed curiosity about it, she explained it was because her car was nearly out of gas, and she did not have any money to fill up the tank.  To put it simply, she lives on a very tight budget.

I decide to ask her to dinner anyway, at least just to show her that I care about her and enjoy spending time with her.  To my surprise, she thinks for a brief moment before responding, “I’d love to go.”

We converse for a while until everyone is ushered out the door by a pair of “starving” girls, and then we head off to the restaurant.

We are all soon seated around an L-shaped set of tables, with drinks in hand and food ordered, before either girl has enough time to collapse from hunger!   😉   We form a motley little group:  several teens of various ages and interests (military, singing, professional target-shooting, etc.), several adults (big-game hunter, editor, homeschool mom, etc.), and our somewhat-older friend Beth.

The food is good, and so is the conversation, which varies over multiple subjects.  The restaurant is crowded and noisy, especially when part of the staff comes out clapping and singing to a customer for their birthday.  We enjoy sharing stories and laughs long after the food is gone from our plates.

After watching the girls devour a “molten chocolate cake,”  Beth places her hands on the table, leans forward, and with a slightly-raised voice announces:

“You know what?  Now that the meal is over, I want to tell you all something…Last week was my birthday.”  I laugh, knowing that she waited until now to announce this so we wouldn’t embarrass her by asking the waiters to sing to her.

“Well,” she continues, “this evening is like a present to me.  It gets lonely living by myself, and I am really having a great time with you guys tonight!  Thank you for inviting me!”

“How sweet and straightforward,” I think.  “We should share feelings of appreciation like this with people more often!”

 We all tell her how glad we are that she joined us and how we need to spend more time together, and she reiterates how special this meal is to her.  I feel the warmth of loving friendship as she looks into my eyes and smiles.

I’m amazed at times how a gesture that seems small to one person can make a big impact on someone else.

When we all finally push back from the table and go our separate ways, my family drives home with happy bellies full of food and a happy hearts full of thankfulness.  What a great way to end a great day!