My Journey Along the Narrow Way

Posts tagged ‘childhood’

I Miss Halloween…

I’m a big fan of Halloween.

There, my secret is out.

Before I was a Christian, this really wasn’t a big deal for many people.  I was one of “those” people who decorated their house for Halloween.  Even when we lived in an apartment, I was always the one that not only decorated my apartment and the door, but also the entire breezeway.  Halloween has always been one of my favorite holidays because it’s just don’t-take-yourself-serious kind of fun to me (and don’t-take-yourself-serious pretty much sums me up).

Once I became a Christian, in some circles, I kind of felt like I had to go underground.  It’s not like anyone overtly said anything to me but I just felt funny saying anything about my love of Halloween.  But still I loved it, just more to myself.

So I’m just going to share my philosophy on Halloween.  I’m not asking anyone else to “convert” to my way of thinking, I’m just trying to explain myself to everyone who wants to know.

I really like Halloween.  I like giving out candy to cute kids (and even not-so-cute teenagers).   I like decorating my house with cute “monsters”, jack-o-lanterns, and the like.  I like watching spooky movies, especially the older classics.  Tonight I plan on watching the original Frankenstein like we did every Halloween growing up.  And no, I don’t take it all seriously.  I don’t get into anything “dark”.

I miss the times when we would just put on some old clothes of my dad’s and put dirt on our face and trick-or-treat as hobos.  The whole neighborhood of kids would go in a big group together.  We knew all the neighbors and were safe.  Our dads would hang back behind us with flashlights and escort us around.  It was simple and it was great.  Then we would all usually hang out at someone’s house to get sick eating loads of candy and watch Frankenstein or Dracula or the Mummy until late.

There was no concern about it being dark or dangerous.  No one looked at you funny for celebrating.

Now I understand that there is a lot of darkness in this world.  There are things that people allow their children to put on to trick-or-treat that I’m frankly very uncomfortable with.   I’m not saying that is good at all.  And if you choose not to celebrate Halloween or ever allow your children to trick-or-treat, I’m not going to condemn you or say something ugly to you about it.

So tonight, I’m going to pass out some candy and watch a movie.  Don’t worry, tomorrow my Halloween decorations will come down and I’ll decorate for nice, respectible Thanksgiving.

Praise You in the Storm…

Once, when I was around 11 or 12 years old, my mother was going to the grocery store.  I really, really didn’t want to go so I begged my mom to let me stay at home alone.  Now this wasn’t something that they allowed often, but my parents were just starting to let me stay alone from time to time.  Because it was only going to be for around an hour, my mother decided to let me do it.

My mom had been gone around 20 minutes when a really big, nasty freak storm hit our area.  I grew up in Redlands, California, and anyone from there could tell you that rain is a pretty rare event.  It is on the edge of the desert so we wouldn’t get rain for months on end.  However, sometimes when it decided to rain, it would do so with a vengeance.

This was one of the times.  Within a few minutes the winds started blowing, then howling.  There was lightening and thunder booming.  Then there was massive rain.  Then the hail came.

Our dog, Kasey, was terrified of storms.  Probably because there had only ever been a few in his whole life.

Kasey immediately started panicking, which threw me into a full-fledged panic as well.  We both decided that under the table would be a real good place to hang out.  I don’t think I’ve been more scared than that but a few times in my life.

I remember running to my mother and pretty much throwing myself at her when she got home.  She, of course, was very upset that I was so scared and upset.  I was just glad to have my mother there to comfort me and make it all better with some of her homemade chocolate chip cookies.

Today it is storming like crazy here in Alabama.  It reminded me of that day and others in my life when there have been storms, tornadoes, earthquakes, and such.  Growing up in California I have seen my share of earthquakes, and living my adult life in Alabama, there have been many times tornadoes have gone through the area.

Nahum 1:3 says, “…The LORD has His way in the whirlwind and in the storm, and the clouds are the dust of His feet.”

If we are fearful of the weather, doesn’t it make more sense to be even more fearful of the Maker of the weather?

It is God who causes the weather.  He determines where it will rain and where it won’t rain.  He created the weather and He controls the weather.  In Amos 4:7 God tells us, “ I also withheld rain from you, when there were still three months to the harvest. I made it rain on one city, I withheld rain from another city. One part was rained upon, and where it did not rain the part withered.“

There are many other examples of God sending or withholding weather for various reasons:

Jonah 1:4 – But the LORD sent out a great wind on the sea, and there was a mighty tempest on the sea, so that the ship was about to be broken up.

Job 37:13 – He causes it to come, Whether for correction,  Or for His land, Or for mercy.

Exodus 9:23-29 – And Moses stretched out his rod toward heaven; and the LORD sent thunder and hail, and fire darted to the ground. And the LORD rained hail on the land of Egypt.  So there was hail, and fire mingled with the hail, so very heavy that there was none like it in all the land of Egypt since it became a nation. And the hail struck throughout the whole land of Egypt, all that was in the field, both man and beast; and the hail struck every herb of the field and broke every tree of the field. Only in the land of Goshen, where the children of Israel were, there was no hail.

Deuteronomy 28:24 – The LORD will change the rain of your land to powder and dust; from the heaven it shall come down on you until you are destroyed.

1 Samuel 12:18 – So Samuel called to the LORD, and the LORD sent thunder and rain that day; and all the people greatly feared the LORD and Samuel.

And that is just what I found in a five-minute search.

Clearly, God is in control of the weather.  He creates the storms and then He sends the wind that blows them away.

So what do we do with this?  We praise God for the weather!  We marvel in the beautiful snowflakes (that He so rarely sends to Alabama!).  We are thankful for the wonderful rain that waters the trees and plants and flowers (all also His handiwork) so they will bloom.  We trust in Him during the drought, knowing that His will is being carried out.  We are amazed with the long, vivid streaks of lightening that pierce the sky.  And we sing to our Great God!

From the highest of heights to the depths of the sea
Creation’s revealing Your majesty
From the colors of fall to the fragrance of spring
Every creature unique in the song that it sings
All exclaiming

Indescribable, uncontainable,
You placed the stars in the sky and You know them by name.
You are amazing God
All powerful, untameable,
Awestruck we fall to our knees as we humbly proclaim
You are amazing God

Who has told every lightning bolt where it should go
Or seen heavenly storehouses laden with snow
Who imagined the sun and gives source to its light
Yet conceals it to bring us the coolness of night
None can fathom

Indescribable, uncontainable,
You placed the stars in the sky and You know them by name
You are amazing God
All powerful, untameable,
Awestruck we fall to our knees as we humbly proclaim
You are amazing God

Casper in the Bottle…

When I was fairly young, we had a lava lamp in our living room.  It was a really funky-looking lava lamp with a pale green light and white lava in it.  Remember, this was the early 1970’s and a lava lamp went well with our early 70’s decor.   Anyway, I was convinced that the lava in the lamp was actually Casper the Friendly Ghost [before you say it, yes, I realize I was a very strange kid].

I loved Casper-in-the-bottle.  He was always there and I loved to turn the lamp on and watch him fly around.  I also loved to talk to him.  I think at first my parents probably thought it was really strange.  But after a while, I think they just found it amusing.  My love affair with Casper lasted only a little while but eventually, sadly, I grew up and moved on from my friend Casper.

It’s really funny to me how we just love certain things as kids and then as we grow we outgrow them and leave them behind.

When I was twelve, I decided that I was madly in love with, and going to marry, Shawn Cassidy.  The minute I laid eyes on him I was totally smitten as only a 12-year old can be with someone complete unrealistic and unattainable.  I loved all of his gumball pop music.  I knew every song by heart and pretended he was singing them to me.  I watched the Hardy Boys Mysteries show religiously the whole time it ran from January 1977 – January 1979.  I remember that I cried when it went off the air. 

One time there was a massive fire in the canyons above where we lived in California.  Everyone in the neighborhood was walking up the road to get closer and see the wildfire.  I remember being so upset with my dad because he wouldn’t let me walk back down the hill to our house and the Hardy Boys was about to come on.  Oh, for that to be my only worry now!

Well, twelve came and went and all of a sudden I was giving away my Shawn Cassidy t-shirt and was definitely too cool to listen to his music anymore.  However, the boy-bug had definitely hit so it was off to cooler guys to adore.

It’s funny to me that we are so fickle.  I mean, I realize it is really good to move on to more mature things but sometimes my interests come and go quicker than the wind. 

The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 13:11, “When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.”

We are to grow up and give up our childish ideas and things.  I admit that when I thought back about Casper, the Lava Lamp Ghost and my Shawn Cassidy crush, I giggled.  But I also thought about how silly and childish both of those ideas were. 

So it is with Christianity.  There is something so very sweet about a brand-new “baby” Christian.  They are excited, exuberant, and want to tell everybody about what they are learning.  And we can definitely learn a lot about our first love and retaining that exuberance and excitement.  But baby Christians only know a little bit about God’s character.  They only know a little bit about a lot of Biblical things.  And that’s fine because they are babies.  What isn’t fine is when you see a person who has been a Christian for years and years and they still only know a little bit about a lot of Biblical things.

The Bible tells us we are to “…grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”  2 Peter 3:18   We are not to stay the same as the day we were saved we are to learn more about our Lord.  We are to strive and struggle and study and in doing so, we know more and more about the character of God.  We grow in faith and become mature Christians.  

 As we start out we “as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby.” (1 Peter 2:2)  But see the what the Bible has to say about the danger of staying with only milk.  Hebrews 5:12-14, “For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food.  For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe.  But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.”

So those who are of full age or Mature Christians, should be eating the meat of God’s Word not just the milk.  They should be studying God’s Word, digging into it, meditating on it, discussion it with their friends, listening to preachers who rightly discern the Word of God.  And like a person who is eating meat, you should be growing strong and healthy.

Open up that Bible.  Start reading and knowing God more.  Just like exercise, the more you do it, the stronger you will become! 

And don’t worry, I still think of my friend Casper everytime I see a lava lamp and it makes me smile!

This is the Dawning of the Age of Aquarius….

Everyone who knows me well knows that I love music. My life is lived to a soundtrack and I can pretty much tell you what was going on in my life and what I was feeling when I hear a song from way-back-when. My friend Kathryn and I used to break out into song at the drop of a hat during most any situation. She is one of the few people in my life who have the same “soundtrack to my life” kind of thing going on.

A couple of days ago, Bella and I decided to watch the movie “Hair”. It’s a pretty old movie (made in 1979) and I used to LOVE to watch it. I know my mom didn’t ever watch it because if she had, she would have never let me watch it – mostly due to some of the topics (and lyrics) in the movie. Aside from the naughty things in the movie…that movie really calls to me on a base level. I think it’s the wild-child freedom of the 60’s it portrays. That’s why music is such a part of my life. I am a flower-child born just a little too late. I have always been a free spirit…just a little different from everyone around me. I have a tendency to be a little crazy. I know a lot of people around don’t know that about me, because I’ve learned to hide it pretty well when the situation calls for it. But ask the people who know me best and they’ll agree. There’s just something not right about me.

Looking back at my life, I can see God’s grace in this too…

First off, being such a free-spirit, I definitely needed a firm hand on me growing up. God chose the perfect family to adopt me. It consisted of a father who was a nice straight-laced auditor and a quiet, demure, godly mother (think June Cleaver only even sweeter!). Even though I was raised in California, it was in a small, upscale, sleepy little town called Redlands. We walked to school past the orange groves, came home to home-baked chocolate chip cookies, and played in the back alley until my dad whistled for us to come home for dinner. Sometimes my quiet parents probably wondered what they had gotten into with this lively, free spirit that they brought home.

Second, God gave me a love of music. It always grounded me back where I needed to be when I was flitting around. It makes me happier when I’m sad, it calms me, it excites me. When God drew me to Him, music definitely taught me deep truths and allowed me to worship Him with wild abandon. It even gave me a place to plug in and get to know people via singing in the Adult Choir. There are not many strong memories in my life that don’t include music. I love that I can still hear a song I heard as a child or teenager and I can feel those feelings like it is right now. It gives me a way to remember the important things in my life.

So that being said, I’m going to turn on some music right now. I think a nice, eclectic mix of worship, contemporary Christian, old rock, a smidge of country, and a little sprinkle of pop should do the trick. Who’s ready to dance?

Fresh Cut Grass…

fresh cut grassWhenever I take one of those quizzes that seem to get passed around via email or Facebook, there always seems to be a question asking what your favorite smell is. Invariably, I always have the same answer – Fresh Cut Grass. A lot of people seem perplexed by this answer and want to know the reason behind it. So here it is…

One of the earliest memories I have is of my daddy. I was around 3 years old, no older than four. I know this because we still lived in Colorado, where I was born and lived until I was four. I was in the backyard and I was swinging on the swing set. My daddy was cutting the grass in the backyard. He had told me that the only way I could be in the backyard while he was mowing was to stay on the swing.

So that’s what I did…I swung and swung and swung the whole time my daddy was cutting the grass. It was spring or summer at the time. I remember the sun shining but it wasn’t too hot or too cool. The sky was a most beautiful blue color. The breeze was blowing by as I went back and forth. The only sound was the sound of the lawnmower.

And the smell…it was wonderful: this fresh, sharp smell of the grass. It smelled clean and, I can’t describe it any other way but green. This smell is all wrapped around in my mind with memories of my daddy. If I smell fresh cut grass he is all I think about. I don’t think that there is really a way to separate the two. It’s all about the emotions of those particular moments of time.

That memory is one of the few memories I have where I can remember exactly how I felt right then. I remember the happiness of being outside with my daddy. I remember how free I felt. I had none of the weight of responsibilities, worries. I knew that there was nothing to worry about or to fear because my daddy was there and I was safe. I just was in the moment and enjoying the moment.

This is such a blessing to have this memory. I think that when my daddy is no longer here on this earth, this will be what I remember more than anything else.

I try to remember this when I think about my Heavenly Father too. I have the same innocence and sense of complete protection from God. I have no weight of responsibilities and worries because I have nothing to worry about or fear because my Father is here and I am safe. I am just in the moment and enjoying the moment. And I thank my Heavenly Father for my earthly father who first made me see these things.

Lookin’ Good…

Between my Junior and Senior years of high school, I finally convinced my parents to let me move back to Alabama from California (for the whole story, see Falling in Love (or God’s Plan for my Life) part III). Once the decision was made I didn’t have a whole lot of time (maybe a month) to figure out what I was taking with me and getting everything packed for the move. I ended up packing two huge suitcases and I’m not talking about today’s suitcases, these were old monsters from my grandmother – that hard Samsonite luggage with the interior lining that looks like coffin lining.

I spent the whole month also trying to pick out just the right outfit for my reunion with Bud. I wanted to look just right since we hadn’t seen each other for a couple of months at that point. After much searching, I finally found the right outfit! I found these great hot pink pants and a white ruffled shirt with multi-colored stripes. I thought I looked fantastic!

They day for my departure arrived and I spent a lot of time trying to get ready. I had a day-long trip ahead of me (a plane ride from Ontario, CA to Dallas, TX then change not only planes but airlines, then another trip from Dallas, TX into Birmingham, AL). As the plane was about to come into Birmingham, I freshened up so I would look great for Bud.

So they picked me up and we lugged my massively heavy suitcases into the car and proceeded to drive to Montgomery. Bud’s family had decided to have a cookout in my honor. We got to his house and all three of his sisters, their families, and Bud’s parents were there for the cookout. Boy was I glad that I looked so spiffy with all these people there.

Bud and I fixed our plates of barbeque, baked beans, potato salad, deviled eggs, and a big ole glass of sweet tea. We decided we would sit outside on the picnic table to eat. Bud sat down and I decided to sit next to him. BIG MISTAKE!

The whole table flipped over as soon as I sat down. I’m lying on the ground with the picnic table on top of me as well as all that great barbecue, baked beans, potato salad, deviled eggs, and about a gallon of sweet tea.

So there I’m laying…a huge mess of food and tea with everyone in the family running out to stare! So much for a good impression. The funny thing is I think that really broke the ice. To this day someone will bring it up out of the blue.

And I will say there is probably a good reason my middle name ain’t grace cuz I sure don’t have any!

 

Falling in Love (or God’s plan for my life)…

I was recently remembering how it felt to fall in love. I know what you are thinking right now….”oh no, not a mushy, I-Love-My-Husband post!” And it isn’t really… It is actually the story of how God worked in two unbeliever’s lives to bring them together and bring them to the point we are at now.

Bud was born in Montgomery and lived in the same house that his parents still live in to this day (which is four houses down and across the street from where we live now!). He was the youngest child and only boy of four children. So he was spoiled rotten by his parents AND three older sisters. His dad was a cabinet maker who owned his own business. His mom was a stay at home mom who also did the books for their business. He was also a redneck all the way.

My life was as different from that as you could get. I was born in Denver, Colorado and was adopted by my parents at the age of 2 months. I had one older brother who was four years older than me and was also adopted. We moved every three-four years. By the time I was in ninth grade we had moved as follows: Denver, Colorado, Redlands, California, Montgomery, Alabama, Redlands, California (long stint of 8 years this time), then back to Montgomery, Alabama. My dad was an auditor for the Department of Defense in the Air Force Audit Agency. My mom was a stay at home mom who worked part-time as the church secretary when we were older.

As for religion, Bud grew up as a Southern Baptist. His dad was chairman of the deacons at one time and they were all VERY active in church. When Bud was around 11 years old, there was an incident in the church and Bud’s father was unhappy as to how it was handled and consequently left the church. While they went on to another Baptist Church, they were never as involved ever again.

I grew up Lutheran. My dad had been Southern Baptist but switched to my mom’s denomination after marriage. I was “sprinkled” as a baby and was confirmed in ninth grade. Both Bud and I were as lost as could be….

My family moved back to Montgomery when I was in the ninth grade. I was absolutely miserable in this totally alien place. Everyone acted totally different and there were a lot of race problems. Having spent a lot of time in Southern California, I was oblivious to racism. My parents were not racists in anyway. The only experience in my life of racism was when I was in elementary school.

I saw the most beautiful Barbie in the world and I wanted her so bad. She was African American with the loveliest black hair and brown eyes. At the time, most every Barbie only had blue eyes. Since I have brown eyes, I was mesmerized with this brown-eyed Barbie. I had to have her. My mom got her for me and I was so happy. That is until we started playing Barbies the next time and my best friend wouldn’t let my beautiful black Barbie be the mommy with my white daddy Ken doll. She told me she had to be the maid. I was so mad and hurt that I packed up my toys and went home.

Part II coming soon!