Wednesday, May 8, 2013

56 things I've learned in my 56 years

Today is my 56th birthday.  I spent most of the day on the beach.  It was a great day.  I thought I'd share 56 things I've learned in my 56 years on this earth.  I hope you know most of these things.  I'm glad I can share these things with you and I look forward to learning more as I continue to live my life.
  1. God is good, all the time.
  2. I'm never going to be perfect. 
  3. Marriage is tough, but it is worth the effort.
  4. Being a mother is a tough job.
  5. I made mistakes in my parenting, but I was always doing my best.
  6. I am a child of the creator of the universe. 
  7. Telling the truth is better than lying.  The truth will always come out.
  8. My parents loved me more than I'll ever know.  Everything they did, even the things that hurt, they did because they loved me and were doing the best they could.
  9. Saying "please" and "thank you" go a long way.
  10. Worrying about things changes nothing.  Worrying just wastes time and keeps you from acting.
  11. You cannot pray too much.
  12. Church people are going to let you down.  Put your faith in God, not people, even good people.
  13. Saving money for a rainy day is better than looking for a loan.
  14. Accepting the way you look will allow you to have more vacation pictures with you in them. 
  15. Trust your gut.  If it doesn't feel right, don't do it.
  16. Every day is a new chance to do better. 
  17. Say "no" when you really want to say no. 
  18. Say "yes" to yourself.  Don't put yourself last on your to-do list.
  19. Exercise gratitude.  Don't take your blessings for granted.
  20. Smiles are contagious
  21. It's easier to clean up messes right away than it is if you wait until later.
  22. You can't hold a baby too much.
  23. Be encouraging to a mom having a tough time with her toddler in a store.  Don't give her a hard time.
  24. Be on time.  Making people wait for you is arrogant.
  25. Remember that school teachers aren't always right and you know your child better than they do.
  26. Some people cannot be taught.  They just refuse to learn.  I call them knuckleheads.
  27. Don't carry a grudge.  Keeping hatred in your heart for someone is like drinking poison and expecting them to die. 
  28. Get along with your neighbors. 
  29. When people tell or show you who they are, believe them. 
  30. If you can get a job you love, you'll never work a day in your life.
  31. If you can't get the job you love, do a good job at the job you have while you are there.
  32. Be kind to your parents.  Even when they get older and lose their health and mental faculties.
  33. Walk as much has you can.
  34. What goes around comes around.  Be kind to people.
  35. When you have your health, you have an easier life.  Do what you can through diet and exercise to keep yourself healthy.
  36. When things don't go your way, work on solving the problem, don't be a victim.
  37. A good night's sleep is a way to solve many of life's problems.
  38. Money and things do not bring happiness.
  39. Happiness is multiplied when it is shared with others.
  40. The only person you can change in this world is yourself.
  41. No one can steal your joy.  You have to give it away.
  42. Remember that your children don't live in the same world you grew up in.
  43. If you buy a new shirt, throw an old shirt away.  This way you won't collect too much stuff.
  44. Watching too much t.v. or playing video games too much is just keeping you from participating in life.
  45. Nobody sinks into poverty by being generous.
  46. Don't use God's name in vain.  
  47. Words have power.  Be careful with what you say to others and what you say to yourself.
  48. Drink water.
  49. Tell the people you love that you love them.  Out loud!
  50. Don't gossip or participate in gossip.  No good can come of this.
  51. If it sounds too good to be true.  It most likely isn't true or good.
  52. If you don't want EVERYBODY to know something, don't put it on facebook.
  53. Be friends with your siblings.  It's the longest relationship you will have with anyone you know.
  54. Pick your battles in life.  Pick them carefully and then, don't lose.
  55. Pick up the check when you go out for a meal with your dad.
  56. Troubles don't last.  And time is a great healer.
I'm linking over at Emily's at Imperfect Prose on Thursdays.

300.  Another birthday
301.  Being treated like a queen by my husband
302.  Birthday calls from all my family
303.  My son singing Happy Birthday to me over the phone
304.  The day isn't over yet so there is more fun to come

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

It was worth waiting 20 years for an answer to my prayer

1 Thessalonians 5:17 says, "pray without ceasing"

This is easier said than done.

I have a story of a 20-year old prayer that I have seen answered by God in the most amazing way.  I'm going to start by telling you that I've always believed that God answers prayer.  I've been taught that God answers all prayers.  I've been taught his answers can be "yes," "no," or "wait."  I'm going to tell you that when God answers a prayer with "wait" it can be a long wait.

I've shared the joy I've experienced watching my son take the huge step of living independently.  This, my friends, is the answer to a 20-year old prayer that I had no idea would be answered in the way it was.

I'm on vacation this week.  I'm in Daytona Beach, FL.  My husband and I drove down here to enjoy the sun, surf, and sand.  One of the pleasures of that 14 hour drive is the opportunity to talk with each other.  Sure, I do most of the talking.  Yet, I'm smart enough to know that if I allow my husband to take a turn at leading the conversation, I can learn a lot about him.  So, I let him talk.

And I listened.

My husband and I were chatting about the work that needs to be done on my son's house, the cost involved, and whether or not I'll be able to quit working in June.  This is important stuff in our lives.  It's also busy work.  It's the kind of work that can keep us so busy that we don't check into the deeper feelings we have about life.  And then he said this..., "you know honey, this whole thing with our son's house and my retirement and where we are in our lives right now is all divine intervention.  You know I couldn't have planned this all out.  Things just fell into place.  It has to be God directing this, because it turned out so perfectly."

Me, (silence with mouth agape).  When I was finally able to speak all I could say was, "yeah."

For 20 years I've been praying for my son.  When he was 3 years old I was told he had learning disabilities.  At this time they couldn't give his disability a name.  They called it everything from ADD to ADHD to aspergers to pervasive delay disorder to executive function disorder to depression to dyslexia.  I medicated him.  I gave him therapy.  I hired tutors.  I brought him to psychiatrists, to psychologists, to doctors, to therapists and specialists.  I wanted to fix my son.  And all the while I prayed to God to heal my son.

Elementary school was a nightmare.  My beautiful son couldn't read.  The school couldn't teach him.  We held him back in first grade.  At the end of second grade he still couldn't read.  I took him out of school and taught him to read at home.  And I prayed, "God heal my son."

We sent him back to school in sixth grade.  The school told me they would have to hold him back.  I fought back.  I made them put him in seventh grade.  I told them if he didn't move forward he would be 16 before he entered high school and the chances of getting him to go to high school at all would be slim.  They would be creating a high school drop out and I wasn't having it.  The school agreed and allowed him into the seventh grade.

Middle school was a challenge, but we lived.

High school was the nightmare that made elementary school look like a walk in the park.  And I continued praying, "God heal my son."

My son was not being healed.  In fact, all of the experts told me my son could not be healed from his disability.  It just was who he is.  We were told he would most likely live with us for his whole life.  We needed to accept this.  I continued to pray, "God heal my son."  I was losing hope.

He was in a youth group at a church, and they just didn't know what to do with him.  It broke my heart.  I didn't expect the people in a public high school to accept my son.  I knew life would be tough for him there, but I thought he would be safe in a church youth group.  I was wrong.  They just aren't equipped for special needs kids in churches.  But it broke my heart.  And I continued to pray, "God heal my son."

I'm going to have to tell you, I was getting angry with God.  Seriously, it was going on 15 years of praying this prayer.  My son was not getting better.  I was pretty sure my son was going to be living with us for the rest of his life.  We tried to have him take college classes at the community college.  This was a dismal failure.  He didn't go to class.  He didn't even take the books out of the shrink-wrap.  He just lived in the basement and lied to us about attending classes.  Not only did I think God was ignoring my prayer, but I thought he may have been making things in my son's life worse.

And I continued to pray, "God heal my son."

At this same time my husband was becoming increasingly unhappy at his job.  His company was not appreciating the work he was doing.  It was odd, because his work was bringing money into the company at a time when finding clients was becoming a tougher and tougher thing to do, but there you have it.  They didn't think the work he was bringing in was of the caliber they believed the company wanted to have done.  After a year of defending himself and his work, everything came to a climax with an Obama Chia Pet.  (God works in mysterious ways)  One day my husband went to a luncheon with a bunch of people from his office and a woman who had left the company.  It was a fine day in January.  They woman had received an Obama Chia Pet as a "white elephant" gift at a Christmas party.  She thought my husband would enjoy it.  After the lunch he carried it into his office and the janitor, a black man, saw him carrying it into his office.  The janitor was offended.  He wasn't a little offended.  He was SUPER offended.  In fact, he was unable to continue working that day because he was so offended.

Now, not only is my husband not doing the type of work his bosses believe the company should be doing, but he has offended the janitor by carrying an Obama Chia Pet into his office.  So what happens?  My husband's boss calls him into his office and asks him what he thinks they should do in response to the janitor in the office being SUPER offended.  One suggestion from the assistant office manager was for Sensitivity Training in the office.  My husband was incensed.  My husband is not a racist.  This Obama Chia Pet was an item sold in any Walmart in any city in this nation.  My husband did not create this object.  All he did was carry it into his office.  My husband didn't mince words.  He told his boss, in no uncertain words and with some pretty course language, that Sensitivity Training was not needed in the office.  In fact, if they needed to blame someone to save their butts, they could say they fired him because he was retiring.  They could have 2, 3 or 4 weeks notice, whatever they needed, but he was done.

I continued to pray, "God heal my son."  But, I quit going to church.  I continued to have hard feelings against God.  I was losing hope.  This, in no way, looked like I was being blessed or even looked after by God.  I was feeling abandoned by God.

In the year that followed we had to evict the crappy tenants we had living in our rental house.  I've written about that mess, here.  It wasn't easy to get them out, but we did.  Then we had to clean up the mess.  These tenants trashed the house.  They broke everything.  They lived in our house the way pigs live in a sty.  (there was no way anyone could see this as a way that God was answering my prayer)

It was a this time my husband believed the best thing we could do was to fix the house and offer to sell it to our son.  (who would think the answer to my prayer would come through my husband)

Together my husband and my son worked to fix the house.  Of course, my husband worked harder on the house than my son did, but he still did quite a bit of work.  They washed walls and ceilings.  They ripped out carpeting.  They painted and scraped and cleaned and replaced appliances and repaired plumbing and worked and worked and worked.  As my son worked on the house he began to get more and more on board with the idea of purchasing the house and living in it.  When we first approached him with the idea of living in the house and having roommates to assist him in paying the mortgage and utility bills,... He... Was... Terrified.  After putting sweat equity into the house, he was feeling much better about the whole thing.  In fact, he was seriously getting on board with the idea and even getting excited about it.

My son bought the house from us last December.  He moved into the house in February.  His first roommate moved in the house in March.  He now has three roommates and he is loving life.  He is feeling confident.  He is taking a college class at the community college.

My son is still dyslexic.  My son is still on the autism spectrum.  My son is living independently.  God heard my prayer.  God answered my prayer.  God may not have answered my prayer the way I thought it should be answered, but he answered it the way it needed to be answered.  If I can say anything about what I learned while waiting on God it is this... don't give up on God.  God is faithful.  God answers prayer.  And, God's time is not my time.

But, God is good.  All the time.

290.  The beach
291.  The ocean
292.  Feeling very small and insignificant when looking over the vastness of the ocean and yet knowing how special I am to the creator of that same ocean
293.  Seeing old friends
294.  Time alone and away from the typical stresses of life and reconnecting with my husband
295.  Resting
296.  Reading
297.  Taking the time to relive this story of answered prayer in my own mind
298.  Sleeping late
299.  Going on a sea cruise