Monday, December 31, 2007

To Provoke Your Thought

The author of the following is Dr. David J. Demko, Editor-in-Chief, AgeVenture Syndicated News Service. I had an abundant supply from which to choose and I found these few favorites.


Matches made in heaven can ignite the fires of hell.

An expert mind answers questions. A scientific mind questions answers.

Congressional neglect has helped make Social Security an oxymoron.

Always remember, when you give your word, there's a vow in it.

Any one dumb enough to believe he evolved from an ape, probably did.

The smallest minds are always found in people who have the biggest heads.

Atheists don't have faith in themselves.

What you don't know can hurt you. In other words, ignorance smarts.

Liberals don't like living with conservatives, but don't mind living off them.

Optimists age like wine. Pessimists age like milk.

If you cannot change your life, then why not change the way you live it?

Failure results from trying to please countless people. Success results from pleasing people who count.

The secret to achieving immortality is to make a difference in other people's lives.

Tackle tough things together. Success is a team sport.

You know your life counts, when others know they can count on you.

Why do those who have the least to say always take the longest time to say it?

When blaming your problems on other people, you're admitting you are out-matched.

The Riddle

~ Author Unknown

The Riddle

On a trip to Great Britain while he was President of the United States, Bill Clinton had a meeting with Queen Elizabeth.During that meeting, he asked her, "How does one manage to run a country so smoothly?" "That's easy," the Queen replied, "You surround yourself with intelligentministers and advisors.""But how can I tell whether they are intelligent or not?", asked Bill. You ask them a riddle," she replied, and with that she pressed a buttonand said, "Would you please send Tony Blair in."

When Blair arrived, the Queen Said, "I have a riddle for you to answer forme: Your parents had a child and it was not your sister. It also was not yourbrother. Who was this child? "Blair replied, "That's easy. The child was me.""Very good," said the Queen. "You may go now."

Sizing up his wife's chances in her presidential bid, and thinking backon that meeting, Bill Clinton spoke to Hillary. He said to her, "I have a Riddle for you, and the answer is very important. Your parents had a child, and it was not your sister, and it was not yourbrother. Who was that child?

"Hillary replied, "Yes, it is clearly very important that we determine the answer. Can I deliberate on this for awhile?" "Yes," said Bill, "I'll give you four hours to come up with the answer."

So Hillary called a meeting of her campaign team, from top to bottom, and asked them the riddle. But after much discussion and many suggestions, none of them had a satisfactory answer. She was quite upset, not knowing what she would tell her husband, the former President. As Hillary was leaving her meeting she ran into her most formable challenger to her Presidential Nomination, Barack Obama. So she said, "Mr. Obama, can you answer this riddle for me? Your parents had a child, and it was not your sister, and it was not your brother. Who was the child?" "That's seems pretty easy," said Obama, "I think the child would be me."

"Oh thank you," said Hillary. "You may just have ensured my nomination for the democratic candidate for the Presidency of the United States!" So Hillary went back to Bill and said, "I think I know the answer to your riddle. The child was Barack Obama.!"


"No, you dip!" shouted Bill. "The child was Tony Blair!"

This Day's Thought

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.

~ Melody Beattie

Sunday, December 30, 2007

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

I'm self-designating myself as the last kid on the block to join iTunes and download. Just completed my first CD and have listened through on the surround - most excellent! My head must have been deeper in the sand than I realized; this is the greatest invention (to me) since sliced bread! No more CDs where you like one or maybe a handful of songs; I selected each song in a specific genre and I can't wait to leave for work tomorrow so I can listen again ... heck, I might put it in the Bose on the nightstand and listen as I drift into slumber tonight.

My daughter and son-in-law had the worst thing happen today, and on a Sunday plus Holiday weekend. She has the new front-loading washer/dryer set which was a Christmas gift either last year or the year before, I can't recall. But she happened to walk past the laundry room and stepped in a wet spot. Naturally, and knowing the kids, she thought they'd spilled something .... um, until she took the next step and again, she was in carpet that was soaked. She flew open the laundry room door and there was water everywhere. It has gone into the HVAC vents, down into the downstairs den via inner walls, into the upstairs dining room and living room - it's a mess! I feel so sorry for them.

They called Lowe's and then their insurance agent - at which time they were routed to an answering service that gave them a Class A run-around. There's nothing they can do until tomorrow. LG went over and helped out; he and Skid worked on the heater unit which had ceased to operate. I offered for them all to spend the night with us; okay, I was being a little selfish in that I thought it'd be a great excuse for a sleepover, but LG says they're not panicking and are staying put.

As things go, this is really an upsetting thing to occur; however, in trying to find the silver lining, I can only HOPE that they'll get some much-needed new carpeting out of this. That would be the very best scenario, but knowing insurance companies, they'll bring out the blowers, pull up the carpet and pad and leave those things going for two or three days. We had an upstairs window in the kitchen leak during Hurricane Katrina and it seeped down the wall and soaked the office carpeting downstairs, and that's exactly what they did. However, we did get our siding replaced, new insulation on that side, and a new kitchen window, so we didn't do too bad.

All you can say is "&@!!" happens! I have to work tomorrow, btw - so WHAA WHAA WHAA!! Probably not all day, but still . . . bummer!

BUT, we're going to the TSO concert tomorrow night, and taking my best friend, Fannie D. Brown (that's nickname folks) for her birthday, which is today, and also my son and his lady. Fannie and I are the only ones of the group who have not had the privilege, so we're pretty excited. I don't like to be out on New Year's Eve, so will say special prayers for safe trips for us all. If I'm not going to be at home, this is a perfect way to bring in the New Year. Concert does not begin until 9:30 and I don't know how long they play, but we'll surely ring in the year as a group .... coincidentally, my sister and her husband got tickets on the same row as us and only 2 sections away ... freaky!!

I still don't feel well, but I'm hangin' tough, guys! La-di-di, la-di-dum ....

Peace,
Abbey

Logan, The Sky Angel Cowboy

I have a wadded pile of tissue sitting here on the desk. I didn't feel well when I awoke this morning - I've coughed and my nose is running. And I suppose I am a bit melancholy. I watched a two-hour program on The History Channel last night regarding the Marian Apparitions. When it ended, there I was, lying in my bed sobbing, worrying about the world, my family and friends, and how greatly I long for us all to be together in Heaven. The very best that I can do is to pray for us all.

Sometimes, something will fall into my day, like this documentary, and I will realize that I have not been devoting enough attention to someone as wonderful at the Blessed Mother of Jesus. I pray and talk to the Father A LOT. And I ask myself sometimes if I am giving enough attention to Jesus. Then as I read in the Book of John this morning, I was reminded again that the Father is in Jesus, and Jesus is in the Father. We are all our own worst critic, and I tend to be hard on myself . . . I'm a work in progress, as I have been since birth.

We had a guest priest at Mass last night and my daughter and I could not help but look at one another in wide-eyed amazement throughout his Homily. The readings and his message were about Family - specifically, how you can try to be a "holy family". I was so deeply touched by his message; I know that God was speaking to me and to members of my family who were seated together there. I hoped with all of my heart that his message would especially touch my husband, especially. I cannot control anyone's thoughts, emotions or behavior except my own. I've always heard the if you want someone to change, you have to change first. When I think that there is nothing more I can do, I realize that there is always more that one can do. It is an infinite list by which we live. And it gives me purpose. Thank God.

I received an email this morning with a YouTube clip that made me cry like a baby. It is entitled "Logan, The Sky Angel Cowboy". This is guaranteed to bring a tear to your eye, so get those hankies ready. BTW - this clip reminds me of my grandson, Bay. He is but 7 years old, but he relates everything in his life to God. He blesses this entire family by bringing us all back to the most basic theology; he makes me want to be a better person. I love you, Bay, and I am so very proud of you!

Go to YouTube.com and search for "Logan, The Sky Angel Cowboy".

Peace and love,
Abbey

Today's Heartlight

VERSE:

I am the LORD: that is my name: and my glory will I not give toanother, neither my praise to graven images. Behold, the formerthings are come to pass, and new things do I declare: before theyspring forth I tell you of them.
-- Isaiah 42:8-9

THOUGHT:

No matter what happens over the next few days, months, oryears, God is already there! He is not bound by space and time. Hecreates reality by his powerful word. While some may tremble withfear because of the unknown, Christians can take comfort in knowingthat wherever we find ourselves, our Father is already there. He isalready working on our deliverance and salvation. Even now he isdeclaring new things for us -- things about our future that wecannot see. So as we journey into our unknown future, let's makesure we journey with the one to whom the future is not unknown.

PRAYER:

Thank you Father! You know where my life and my world areheaded. With so much tumult about the changing of the year and thepassing of time, I consciously and confidently trust that my futureis in your hands. There is no other place I would rather it be!Please bless me with confidence and banish anxiety from my heart asyour future unfolds before me. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen

Saturday, December 29, 2007

We Are a Family

I have been reflecting on the fews days of Christmas that my family gathered together at one event or the other, mostly at my house where tons of food was prepared, shared and the leftovers cramed into two refrigerators until I sorted it all out today.

If I had to number all of the occasions and things that we shared as a "family", what I refer to as a very speical Family Reunion was held at the home of my cousin Audie and his wife, Kathy's, home in Trussville on Sunday, December 23 would be Number One. First, I have to give thanks to the Lord for making this happen. And second, it cannot go unnoticed the work that Audie and Kathy, especially, put into this event for this family. Uncle CV cannot manage steps and my aunt, I'm sure, was anxious about having so many people at their house. My cousin took over and offered his home for this very special occasion.

Their home is spacious, immaculately decorated, and it had something special for everyone. The very large game room was added a few short years ago as a place where my second cousin and their son, Joshua, could entertain friends and just have fun. It is enormous and contains a large screen television, ping-pong table, pinball machine, pool table and a game tables for chess, checkers, poker or whatever you want to play. Kathy converted the ping-pong tables into a large and beautifully decorated serving table. It was full to the brim with delicious food. The children had a blast outside on the trampoline, the jungle jim, inside on the pinball and pool table. There was no worry of watching them or them whining that they wanted to leave (as children do when they are bored).

The above photograph is of the three living siblings of the union of my Daddy's mother and father. My grandfather had six or seven children, I cannot recall, from his deceased first wife when he married my grandmother. So the family was quite a large one. My Daddy is on the left, Uncle CV is in the middle, and Mama H is on the right. Right to left, they are 79, 77 and Dad will be 76 on January 2nd. The specialness of this occasion is that in our family, as there is is a lot of families, there have been estrangements for various reasons over the years. Daddy is my adoptive father, and Mama H is my birth mother. It sounds strange, however, I was fortunate in that I always knew my birth mother. Living in Texas most of my life, my Daddy and Mama H have not had a close relationship. It was almost a quest that I took on getting everyone together this Christmas. Nobody is promised "tomorrow" or even the next minute of your life. It was the most important thing that I have ever attempted in trying to get everyone together for a love-filled gathering. It was an enormous success, as evidenced by the smiles on the faces of the brothers and sister above.

Since Daddy's birthday is January 2nd, and I will not be with him nor have the time to mail a gift to him, I try to give him his birthday present before he leaves to go home. I had purchased two identical frames from my grandchildren's school fundraiser a year ago and had been holding onto them for the right occasion. The frames are a beautiful cherry red with an oval shaped opening for the 5x7 photograph. "Lord Bless Our" is engraved above the silver, oval-shaped metal emblem on which is engraved in large letters "FAMILY". I made this picture for my Daddy and gave it to him. When he opened it, I saw his eye well with tears, which he fought back, but as I also shed a tear, I told him how important this occasion had been for me.

My Uncle CV was involved in a car crash in 1996. He was exiting the interstate in Tuscaloosa, driving his friend's car which had recently been in the shop for brake servicing. The brakes failed and he was unable to stop at the bottom of the exit where the light was red. The vehicle was struck by a truck and the impact centered on him, the driver. Sweet Uncle CV was near death and so broken that no one, not even the doctors gave him much chance of survival. His son and my cousin, Audie, had him transported to UAB when he was stable and it was a very, very long and difficult recovery for him. Today, nearly 12 years later, he is quite feeble, his left side in particular being almost paralyzed. He lives in "his chair" and his speech is slurred. The great thing about Uncle CV is that he has never, ever lost his sense of humor. Moreover, he is more kind and gentle and loving, especially of all of the children in the family. Through his own children, he has come to accept Jesus in his heart. How truly wonderful this has come to pass before it was too late for him. Uncle CV loves my grandchildren, especially Bailey. He loves the way Bay has always, even as a small tot, come straight to him, shook his hand and asked him, "how are you feeling?"

Mama H had a quadruple bypass about three months ago and is still recovering. Doesn't she look lovely? I have to say that I feel blessed again that it appears my family ages very well LOL! I hope that I have inherited those genes! I think it was her surgery that really caused the Holy Spirit to touch me and place this great desire in my heart to bring the three of them together. I am so pleased, but it was not for me, it was for them. An opportunity has been created for them to be more loving and accepting of one another. I hope they make good use of it.

We all have our lives and our own little family units; we work, we play together and we get too busy to remember each other. As one by one, my descendants have passed, I have longed with a greater urgency for more knowledge of my family history, to know more about people that I grew up visiting from infancy forward. Many of them, actually most of them, are gone, and I find myself wishing that I had been able, or more wise, to sit with them, talk to them more, ask questions and make mental notes of the history that is in this one family. Every family has it. If you are reading this, take this lesson: Take the time, even five minutes, when you see a long lost relative and ask them about their childhood, about their siblings, things they did, things they recall, and so forth. Keep your family heritage going. Pass it on to your own children. Take them to the cemeteries with you when you visit the loved ones who have passed. Tell them who they are and what you know about them. Keep your family love alive. I did not learn this until well into adulthood and I wish I had done this before so many left us.

Finally, this is a photograph of the three above as children, standing with my Paw White and Mama White. I have it in an antique frame in my curio and it is a very special picture. In fact, I'm gathering all the old photographs that I can get my hands on from various family members. I want to frame them or place them in safe places so that they will be labeled and my own descendants can see from where they came.

Today's Heartlight

When I read today's verse, my thoughts went directly to recent events in my life which, I have felt for a long time, were the result of envy and jealousy. Those deadly sins have no place in an individual's world. These are attributes that I have personally fought to banish from my inner thoughts, for they contribute nothing but damage to all relationships - with everyone, not just family.

VERSE:

For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.
-- James 3:16

THOUGHT:

So, what are your goals and plans for the New Year? Do you havegreat dreams and laudable goals? I hope so. But, please join me asI seriously look at why I set the goals I do and make the plans Imake. In the afterglow of Christmas, that great season of giving,let's make sure our plans for the future are not selfish or basedon envy, lust, or greed. Instead, let's set our hearts to reachgreat heights for God's glory and to do great things to be ablessing to others. Otherwise, all our attempts to reach greatthings ultimately will end in chaos, heartbreak, and destruction.

PRAYER:

Eternal God, please be with me as I seek to set goals for thecoming year. I want to do great things for your glory. Please useme to accomplish your will in the world in which I live and in thegroup of people to whom you have sent me. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.

Friday, December 28, 2007

I'm so tired, I'm so sore . . .

My tail's a'dragging this evening ... two days' really hard work and I'm beat. I forgot to mention the biggest surprise of all Christmas Eve. We decided to open our gifts because we had just about all of the family here. My two grandsons kept going over and looking behind the sofa ... I sort of noticed it, but you know how you're talking in a crowd, and something you notice slips out of your head as quick as it slipped in? As the kiddies helped Mimi pass out all of the gifts, I lean over and see a huge gift behind the sofa. I lug it out and it is addressed to none other than moi "From HO HO" . . . we agreed that we would not buy gifts for one another, my hubby and me, but I bought him two little items in Gatlinburg over Thanksgiving and spent all of $35.00 total!

I saved his gift for last ... the kids helped me tear it apart, and low and behold, it was a brand spanking new Washburn acoustic guitar! I became warmly flushed and teared up all at the same time. I was totally surprised and that's pretty hard to do. I am so darn curious, people have a really hard time surprising me with anything. If I get a whif that anything is going on, I'll investigate all the leads until I find the source. Anyway, seems there were several people here who were "in" on this .. my brother-in-law came equipped with an electronic guitar tuner, but his lips were sealed, all the while feigning about some "little bird". Nobody would tell me how they knew, LG wouldn't say where he bought it, nada. I learned two chords that night. And I played them every way possible - flamenco, jazz, slow and sexy, and a little country too.

My soul sista knows that I'm talking to her when I say that soon I will have music to accompany my singing (I hope). My fingers are already sore. I got it out and tried to read some chords that I printed on the net and it is completely Greek to me. Plus, I have really small hands and I'm worried that the neck may be too large. I think you can buy or special order guitars with a smaller neck for people like me ... or maybe I'm just gonna have to bone up and exercise those fingers (like I did every day for six years when I was taking piano as a child). Gosh I hate it, but I may have to clip my nails a bit, too!

Called about lessons today and boy, they aren't cheap. I know a couple of people who taught themselves, and my brother-in-law is pretty darn good. I was totally mesmerized when I heard him play, knowing that he had learned off the net and all. He's a better man than me. I gotta take the lessons .... I need the structure of going and having someone sit there and direct me and instruct me in every aspect, or I'll let it fall by the wayside.

While I was recouperating from jaw surgery, I read Clapton and The Beatles (the latest one) and all I thought about was writing songs, maybe being published some day. I've had two desires in my heart for a very long time - to either write a book, or write music. I told someone that I was going to do one or the other in 2008. And I don't like the taste of crow ..... la di di, la di dum, la di di, la di dum .....

Pictures to make you Smile


There ain't nothing like a good POWER NAP . . . .








I'm getting so fat, I can hardly scratch my butt ...



Man, these morning walks are killing me . . . WHEW!









Hey buddy, I'm tawkin' to you, gimme my ball back!





Heartlight

The Lord blesses me in many ways every day, and this is just one of them - by sending these verses and thoughts and prayers. Sometimes, they seem to reach out directly to me, but I know that there are many who can also be touched by them. It is my blessing to be able to share them here. If you could see me now, you would see me Smiling!

VERSE:

Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to mygospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to therevelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the worldbegan, But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of theprophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, madeknown to all nations for the obedience of faith: To God only wise,be glory through Jesus Christ for ever. Amen.

-- Romans 16:25-27

THOUGHT:

God doesn't just bless us. He establishes us! He makes usstrong! He matures us into solid and true disciples. He does thisin many ways. One of the most important, however, is through thewords the Holy Spirit inspired and shared with us through Jesus'early disciples. As this year moves towards its close and anotherstands at the door, let's make a renewed commitment to spend timeeach day in the Bible. Let's not let this powerful tool and greatresource for living be relegated to being a coffee-table book or agood luck charm to take with us to church.

PRAYER:

I thank you, O God, for your Spirit that breathed out yourmessage through human agents. I thank you for those human partnerswho shared the Spirit's message with us in Scripture. I thank youfor the many fine translations of the Bible that are available tous today. I thank you for the freedom to have a copy of the Biblein my home. Please help me not squander the incredible blessing ofyour written word. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.

THIS DAY'S . . .

We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trails for we know that they are good for us- they help us learn to be patient. And patience develops strength of character in us and helps us trust God more each time we use it until finally our hope and faith are strong and steady. Then, when that happens, we are able to hold our heads high no matter what happens and know that all is well, for we know how dearly God loves us, and we feel this warm love everywhere within us because God has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.

~
Romans 5:3-5
The Living Bible

To see what is in front of one's nose requires constant struggle.

~ George Orwell

Thursday, December 27, 2007

I awoke from the most wonderful dream this morning

I don't know about you all, but after five days off - five days that were packed full of social obligations and entertaining - returning to work was, on the one hand, kind of nice. But on the other, I'm totally brain dead. What's worse is that they expect me to actually work! No, I'm just kidding ... I do expect to work, moreover, I had forgotten that last week before the long holiday, I promised to help a couple of lawyers for a co-worker who is out this week. There is a big bond closing happening tomorrow, so they've had me (excuse the expression) "balls to the wall" all day today. Gee, I thought I'd mosey on in, pull up the old Explorer, surf a little, read a few email, and then get down to business of posting something truly meaningful, if not interesting on my blog. Sorry to disappoint, but it is what it is.

The biggest thing that I can gripe about today is the handful of posters on our local forum who are always putting other people down, getting their little and o-so-tight panties in a teensy little tight-wad over people who disagree with them, arguing about arguing. I used to love going on the forum, seeing how other people felt about local issues. Guess what the longest string was today? How Santa on the firetruck didn't get to some streets in certain neighborhoods until after 9:30 and the poor kids had to go to bed before he arrived. One even complained that her kids waited outside for an hour and a half in the cold! Get a life, people! Whose responsibility is it for your children sitting outside in the cold air? hmmm? And if you haven't taken them to see Santa before Christmas Eve .... well, you're just plain lazy.

You see, the fire department does this as a little extra something special .... they're not paid to do it, they're not contracted to do it, and they make no promises to be any certain place at any certain time. In fact, they don't have to do it at all. I guess I just can't understand the way some people think. They say that "ignorance is bliss" and I would think all of these people should be fairly blissful. Au contraure!

On the other hand, we had the most wonderful five days of Christmas that I can recall in recent years. Every minute was filled, which was right up my Daddy's alley. He's one to get up, eat breakfast, clean up, dress and then walk into a room and ask, "so, what are we doing today?" And if you don't have something planned, it seems like a very long and uncomfortable moment. What's more, he loves to ask who's coming, and why certain ones are not coming. I am so happy to say that he must have been completely pleased because there were no uncomfortable moments and I kept things going such that he dropped dead in the bed every night.

I can already tell you my most fond memory of this Christmas. It is Christmas Day, when my whole family is gathered around my L-O-N-G tables (al la the Last Supper), holding hands to recite Grace, and as my little Bay does every year, he has a special surprise. When we finish our blessing of the food, he asks everyone to join him in singing "Happy Birthday" to Jesus, which we all did. It was the most fantastic rendition of that historic song that I have ever been a part of. Simply magical and moving.

My mom was going to make peanut butter balls with Hannah, but I guess I overbooked our time, so she left her utensils and recipe and I will enjoy this with Hannah instead. When you are the only girl of the family, you tend to feel left out sometimes. The boys capture so much attention because of their boistrous activity and clever humor. My Hannah is a little lady and so special and sweet. She needs her Mimi time more than the others, and Mimi needs her, too. So Dad just called and says they are stuck in the Dallas airport, probably until tomorrow. To coin his most famous phrase, "what a revolting development!" At which we usually laugh because it's tongue-in-cheek, but this is the traveler's worst nightmare. Been there, done that! As for me, I'm spent. I'm actually seriously considering having a nice cold Bud on the patio, probably with the heater going, when I get home. I just cannot think of eating; I'm too grossed out. Special K sounds really spectacular right now.

Gotta scoot .... more later!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

This Day's . . .

You can never truly enjoy Christmas until you can look up into the Father's face and tell him you have received his Christmas gift.
~ John Rice




And Mary said to the angel, “How shall this be, since I have no husband?” And the angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God. And behold, your kinswoman Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For with God nothing will be impossible.” And Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.

~ Luke 1:34-38




The best things in life aren’t things.
~ Unknown

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Educating Children

While there is much ado regarding Jamie Lynn Spears, I decided to write a little about my own experience with regard to that dreaded time when you know that your child's hormones are going wild and you want more than anything to save them from themselves (and what may prey upon them). I don't mean to sound cliche-ish, but I accomplished this with brutal honesty.

I have a daughter and a son, and they are 12 years apart in age. I had to experience both sides of the spectrum. I was preggars at age 17 with my daughter, and as I have already written here, it was disasterous as far as the relationship with the father. Marrying just because that's "what's best", I found, is not the answer in every case. But, returning to where I was . . . from my own personal experience from puberty, through high school and on to when I conceived my daughter, I was able to provide her with a first-hand account of every possible situation in a male/female relationship at that time in one's life.

We went from boys telling girls how much they "love" them and how they "won't tell anyone - PROMISE!", to what actually happened to me, to all of the things I missed out on by making a foolish choice. Imagine how we laughed when she would come to me and say, "remember when you told me that a guy will tell you [this or that]? Well, he did! And I told him I was going home to tell my Mama!" That was the funnier side of this. But imagine my pride when she would confide in me such illicit details, when none of her girlfriends would tell their mothers what they had for lunch, much less details about conversations with the opposite sex. They told me, though.

At times, it was embarrassing for me to be so honest about my own mistakes and promiscuity, and I knew I was taking a huge risk in divulging such details to my own daughter. It was probably even more embarrassing for her initially. She has always been such a modest individual and this was not easy for her, but on the other hand, she knew that I knew what I was talking about. Little by little, I built an enormous, solid wall of trust, brick by brick, that nothing in this world could possibly shatter. You cannot put a price on such a solid foundation in a relationship.

Sure, she made her little faux pas that all teens make, but on a lesser scale than her friends. She amazed me. She ran with schoolmates whose parents were more permissive than me, friends that were in the "popular" crowd . . . and I made her angry more than a few times for denying her some of the privileges that some of the other popular girls had. However, you would be surprised how, over the years, one by one, many of those same girls' lives fell apart. I've seen them die, turn to prostitution and drugs, marry, have babies and divorce several times and on and on. And we (she and I) seem to share a certain sadness when we hear bad news about a former running buddy from her high school days.

I believe today, she appreciates our relationship more than then. She is a mature mother of three, did everything in the right order, came to me about contraceptive advice when that time came in her life, and she is a devoted Christian.

With my son, I was equally as honest. On that side of the coin, I couldn't stop nagging him constantly as he went into puberty and became a young man whose hormones raged. I was constantly telling him, "use a condom, use a condom"; "do you have a condom in your wallet?"; "are you practicing safe sex?" I suppose it was even more embarrassing between he and I than with me and my daughter because we were of the opposite sex, and I am, after all, his MOTHER. I could not fathom my baby boy becoming a father before he had his life on track as an adult. I worried myself sick about it. I knew when he became sexually active by simply observing the behavior of the girlfriend in his life. It drove me crazy. And in turn, I drove him crazy, but to this day, I'm glad that I did.

Bottom line, this is really, REALLY serious business. Sadly, today's society is so liberal where it concerns sex. You have no choice BUT to protect your children, and in my most humble opinion, that is to be stone-cold honest with them. Educate them, support them, let them know that no matter WHAT the topic, that they can tell you anything! The only way to convince them of this is to be equally as honest with them, even though it may be a tad embarrassing. Be the example, first. And when they do come to you, be prepared to make good on the promise that you made to them. You cannot freak out, rant and rave, or show your emotions. You must be prepared to keep a level head, and in your heart, you know that you have to, for this is your child - your flesh and blood. This is the individual that you would die for, so what's a little embarrassment between two loved ones. I'm talking that unconditional love that only exists between parents and their children. I'm not condoning nor endorsing pre-marital sex, but let's be real. If you don't believe it could happen in your family, then you have your head in the sand or elsewhere . . . it can happen in any family.

Take that chance, be honest. Your child's future depends on it.

God bless,
Abbey

On Taxes

The next time you hear a politician use the word "billion" in a casual manner, think about whether you want the 'politicians' spending YOUR tax money.

A billion is a difficult number to comprehend, but one advertising agency did a good job of putting that figure into some perspective in one of its releases.

A. A billion seconds ago it was 1959.
B. A billion minutes ago Jesus was alive.
C. A billion hours ago our ancestors were living in the Stone Age.
D. A billion days ago no-one walked on the earth on two feet.
E. A billion dollars ago was only 8 hours and 20 minutes, at the rate our government is spending it.

While this thought is still fresh in our brain, let's take a look at New Orleans. It's amazing what you can learn with some simple division . . Louisiana Senator, Mary Landrieu (D), is presently asking the Congress for $250 BILLION to rebuild New Orleans. Interesting number, what does it mean?

A. Well, if you are one of 484,674 residents of New Orleans (every man, woman, child), you each get $516,528.
B. Or, if you have one of the 188,251 homes in New Orleans, your home gets $1,329,787.
C. Or, if you are a family of four, your family gets $2,066,012.

Washington , D.C .. HELLO!!! ... Are all your calculators broken??

Tax his land,
Tax his wage,
Tax his bed in which he lays.
Tax his tractor,
Tax his mule,
Teach him taxes is the rule.

Tax his cow,
Tax his goat,
Tax his pants,
Tax his coat.

Tax his ties,
Tax his shirts,
Tax his work,
Tax his dirt.

Tax his tobacco,
Tax his drink,
Tax him if he tries to think.

Tax his booze,
Tax his beers,
If he cries,
Tax his tears.
Tax his bills,
Tax his gas,
Tax his notes,
Tax his cash.

Tax him good and let him know,
That after taxes, he has no dough.
If he hollers,
Tax him more,
Tax him until he's good and sore.

Tax his coffin,
Tax his grave,
Tax the sod in which he lays.

Put these words upon his tomb,
"Taxes drove me to my doom!"
And when he's gone,
We won't relax,
We'll still be after the inheritance TAX!!

Accounts Receivable Tax
Building Permit Tax
CDL License Tax
Cigarette Tax
Corporate Income Tax
Dog License Tax
Federal Income Tax
Federal Unemployment Tax (FUTA)
Fishing License Tax
Food License Tax
Fuel Perm it Tax
Gasoline Tax
Hunting License Tax
Inheritance Tax
Inventory Tax
IRS Interest Charges (tax on top of tax)
IRS Penalties (tax on top of tax)
Liquor Tax
Luxury Tax
Marriage License Tax
Medicare Tax
Property Tax
Real Estate Tax
Service charge taxes
Social Security Tax
Road Usage Tax (Truckers)
Sales Taxes
Recreational Vehicle Tax
School Tax
State Income Tax
State Unemployment Tax (SUTA)
Telephone Federal Excise Tax
Telephone Federal Universal Service Fee Tax
Telephone Federal, State and Local Surcharge Tax
Telephone Minimum Usage Surcharge Tax
Telephone Recurring and Non-recurring Charges Tax
Telephone State and Local Tax
Telephone Usage Charge Tax
Utility Tax
Vehicle License Registration Tax
Vehicle Sales Tax
Watercraft Registration Tax
Well Permit Tax
Workers Compensation Tax

STILL THINK THIS IS FUNNY?

Not one of these taxes existed 100 years ago, and our nation was the most prosperous in the world. We had absolutely no national debt, had the largest middle class in the world, and Mom stayed home to raise the kids. What happened? Can you spell “politicians”? And I still have to "Press 1 for English".

This Day's Verse



In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.”

~ Luke 1:26-33
The New International Version

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Virus Alert: Advent Virus

Be on the alert for symptoms of inner HOPE, PEACE, JOY AND LOVE. Be on the alert that many have already been exposed to this virus, and it is possible that people everywhere could come down with it in epidemic proportions. This could pose a serious threat to what has, up to now, been a fairly stable condition of conflict in the world. Some signs and symptoms of THE ADVENT VIRUS:

~ A tendency to think and act spontaneously rather than on fears based on past experiences.

~ An unmistakable ability to enjoy the moment.

~ A loss of interest in judging other people.

~ A loss of interest in interpreting the actions of others.

~ A loss of interest in conflict.

~ A loss of the ability to worry.

~ Frequent, overwhelming episodes of appreciation andthankfulness.

~ Contented feelings of connectedness with others andGod's nature.

~ Frequent attacks of smiling.

~ An increasing tendency to let things happen rather thanmake them happen.

~ An increased susceptibility to the love extended by others as well as the uncontrollable urge to extend it.


This virus can and has affected many systems. Some systems have been completely cleaned out because of it.

He who has no Christmas in his heart will never find Christmas under a tree.

Serious Business: I am mad as hell, and I'm not going to take it anymore . . .

If you have not already heard on today's news, the latest "celebrity" to announce her pregnancy is Jamie Lynn Spears, sister of Britney. Jamie Lynn, who appears in a popular Nick show, is only 16 years old. Before you draw conclusions, read on.

Before hearing the "news" on the "TODAY" show, I had already heard earlier via someone else in an early morning phone call. The initial reaction of the two of us was shock. I don't know if my shock is the same as everyone else. That first blow brought to mind, "Dear God, what next? How much more can this family take?" Then, as I always do when I am getting ready for work, I had the television tuned to NBC and listen to the "TODAY" show. I cannot fully convey my disappointment in the way their announcement of this "news" was presented. Surely it was not only I who detected slight smirks on the faces of Meredith and Matt's fill-in. I was disappointed to the inth degree in them as journalists.

I've posted many times on my former blog my feelings about the news media in this country, and this is a typical example of biased, emotion-filled, and prejudicial reporting. I intend to send my comments to NBC as well, you can be sure.

About Jamie Lynn's "situation", first and foremost, she has stated that she intends to have her baby and raise it. I commend her. At the age of 16, there must be a multitude of her entourage who would do their best to talk her into aborting this innocent child. First and foremost in my prayers today are Jamie Lynn and her unborn child.

People, unwedded pregnancy is not big news today, as it was when I was her age. Being frank and honest, I am not ashamed to say that at the age of 17, I was in the same situation. Abortion was not even an option, and if it were, it was not then nor ever an option for me, personally. I had one school-mate whose mother took her to another state to secure an "illegal" and dangerous procedure when she became pregnant. No, I kept my child and married the father, who would eventually abuse me physically and mentally. This union lasted a mere three years, and included two separations based on his whim as to whether or not he could handle marriage and fatherhood. I feel I am, by experience, knowledgeable enough to speak on this subject. The child I brought into this world is the most beautiful, caring and loving daughter, granddaughter, sister, wife and mother that any parent in this world would be proud to claim as their own. She is my best friend and always has been. I was blessed, while there are many who are not as blessed, but that is another issue. How many times do you think I sat at home as I drifted through the end of my teenage years and into my early 20's, watching other people my age (without children) going their merry ways, having fun, dating, going to college, and beginning their lives on a more socially normal path? It had to be thousands of times. But, I never regretted keeping my baby girl. Having her in my life gave me purpose when I felt I couldn't go on. It's much too emotional and deep to discuss here . . .

Young girls fall into these predicaments every day, in every walk of life. Jamie Lynn is not unique in this way. The only difference that is readily apparent is her celebrity, and for that, she will be scrutinized to no end in the "media". For me, the scrutiny of my family and school-mates was hard enough; I cannot fathom being in the public eye to the extent that Jamie Lynn is. This is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, and sadly, her "situation" is more socially accepted than 35 years ago. In the celebrity social circles, it seems that the norm is to conceive, and then maybe marry. Oftentimes, this is intentional. On the other side of the sword, I do not believe that Jamie Lynn planned to have a baby at 16 years of age.

This is no laughing matter; this is a life, rather, two lives - that of a very young mother-to-be and that of her unborn child. This is nothing to be mocked or ridiculed. Were she in her 20's, perhaps it would be news, but she would not be ostracized to the extent that she already has been just today with this announcement; and, I assure you, with the media in this country, it will sell and they will continue to rape her dignity as long as we as a collective public buy into it.

While they say "timing is everything", her timing is much less than stellar. However, I would ask that you keep The Serenity Prayer at the forefront and realize that she has accepted that which she cannot change, and so have I. I accept her as a sister who, for whatever reasons, probably made a foolish mistake as a young girl who did not realize the gravity of her actions.
This child will be born, with the Grace of God, healthy. Years down the road, whatever is written about it, its mother, father, or family will be readily available for it to read. Do you not agree that it is deplorable when the privacy of this delicate situation is so invaded with not one ounce of thought toward this child's feelings, not to mention Jamie Lynn's?

I am grateful and thankful that she has chosen to have this child, and that she plans to raise it. What is left for us as Christians is to keep this young girl and her unborn child in our prayers. Pray for her safety and health and that of her unborn child. Pray for her family and their acceptance and support of Jamie Lynn. Pray that God will put his loving arms around them and keep them in His care today and always.


And finally, please join me in writing (emailing) your disgust to any and every news outlet whenever you see story like this appear with such journalistic bias and prejudice. Let them know that this is not acceptable journalism; this is not "news" that is going to benefit this country, the world, or even your small place in it. If I came face to face with Jamie Lynn this morning, I would embrace her, congratulate her, tell her everything will be fine and offer myself to her for whatever she may need.

In Christ,
Abbey

We LOVE Santa . . .




MERRY CHRISTMAS . . . .

Monday, December 17, 2007

Christmas Quiz

Thanks to my friend, Leigh, from "General Ramblings" for posting this quiz ... I'll take it and insert my own answers.

Welcome to the Christmas edition of getting to know you. Okay, here's what you're supposed to do, and try not to be a SCROOGE!!! Change all the answers so that they apply to you. ......Tis the Season to be NICE!

1. Real tree or Artificial? Artificial (we're O.L.D.), but love driving by the Boy Scout tents and seeing the families picking out their trees! How great a memory that will be for them.

2. Tinsel or popcorn? Neither

3. When do you put up the tree? Right after Thanksgiving, but we were late this year due to a trip.

4. When do you take the tree down? Before Midnight, New Year's Eve or its bad luck.

5. Do you like egg nog? Yes! With a little spike, pleez.

6. Favorite gift received as a child? My phonograph and two Beatles ablums.

7. Do you have a nativity scene? Oh my, yes.

8. Hardest person to buy for? My Daddy - he's an immaculate dresser and I can't afford his tastes; and otherwise, he has everything he needs. I found a good one this year, tho, so I'm really excited - a hand carved bald eagle, carved from wood, about 2 feet tall - it's gorgeous.

9. Easiest person to shop for? My children.

10. Mail or email Christmas cards? Always mail (and I try to write a Christmas letter)

11. Worst Christmas gift you ever received? Hard to answer because if someone was kind enough to think of me, who am I to criticize?

12. Favorite Christmas Movie? Christmas Vacation

13. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? No ... I seem to find a use for everything - LOL.

14. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? Dressing - I love my mama's dressing.

15. Clear lights or colored on the tree? I always liked twinkling colored lights, but after years of listening to LG harp about a pre-lit tree, we got one - it's all clear lights, but I suppose it's pretty - just not traditional enough for me.

16. Favorite Christmas song? Silent Night

17. Travel at Christmas or stay home? At home, thank goodness! Although, sometimes I think it would be nice if I didn't have to do all the work.

18. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer's? Maybe, I'm not sure.

19. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning? As kids, we always had to wait until morning, but now that we're older and have Christmas Eve parties for the family, we try to do it that night and then have Christmas Santa with the grandkids on Christmas morning. It's all good.

20. Most annoying thing about this time of year? That the Spirit (The Birthday of Jesus) seems secondary to the masses, appears it's all about how much money people are spending. Not to mention that decorations were up in September.

21. Favorite ornament theme or color? I don't have a theme, but have a lot of circus ornaments that my mother gave me years ago, which I have added to. Also, a set of 12 ornaments that I received as a gift - The Twelve Days of Christmas.

22. Favorite for Christmas dinner? Ham and lots of it.

23. Naughty or Nice? I try to be nice, but I ain't perfect.

24. What do you want for Christmas this year? Peace in the valley, some day.


Amen and Merry Christmas.

Time Flies When You're Having Fun


Here we are - one week from Christmas Eve. By that time, half of my parents' visit will be through. By that time, we will have been to Nashville to place poinsettias on my Granny's grave and to visit my Mother's family for a few short hours. By that time, we will have spent an afternoon at my cousin's home in Trussville, gathering as many of my Daddy's family as possible. I am particularly excited about going there as his wife is a decorator, and she loves Christmas so much that she puts up a decorated tree in every room of the house. Talk about work - but it is the love that I see. By Christmas Eve, we will have taken all of the grandchildren, and my folks' great-grandchildren to Zoolight Safari. I have never seen it, but I hear it is fantastic. I saw a news report from there the other night and note that they also manufacture snow. Mr. and Mrs. Claus will also be there, which is an added treat.

So there we shall be - Christmas Eve. Our tradition is to attend the Children's Mass which is at 4:00 p.m. I always loved midnight Mass, but when there are little ones, you just have to be practical. We will have quite a lot in numbers from my family and son-in-law's family and it will be such a loving and close service. I am so excited about this one element of Christmas. The Christmas Eve Mass is the most beautiful one of the year, followed by Easter Vigil and Easter Sunday.

Following church, everyone will come to our house for food, fellowship and a few libations. Sound like fun to you? It truly is. It is a lot of work, but I enjoy every minute of it, and me and my Mother in the kitchen together -- well, it's so special, what I refer to as quality time.

We will smoke our turkey breasts and ham beginning early, early Christmas morning. We will walk around to our grandchildren's house and see all of their Santa, have biscuits and sausage and Krispy Kreme donuts. Back home again, Mother and I will spend hours preparing food, and Daddy and LG can chill a little. This is a great time for Dad to fall asleep in the chair, and LG will tend his smoker and help get tables and chairs ready. People will probably begin to arrive shortly after noon and this Birthday will culminate at dinner, where we will break bread and share as Christ did with his disciples before his death. We will pray over our food, our loved ones and the ones who are in need, without homes, without family, and those who are away from their families and in harms way for your sake and mine.

Whew ~ I'm tired already, but I managed to swing an extra day off from work, so Wednesday will hopefully be late sleeping and spent winding down. Mother and Dad leave on Thursday so it works out good. And before I know it, Christmas will be over and it makes me a little melancholy ... we do so much planning and preparing, and it seems to go by so fast. Guess that means that we're having great fun, for we all know that time really does fly if you are having fun.

On another note, I was particularly struck by the Dalai Lama's quote that I posted today. Finding that happiness inside isn't from just receiving, whether it is compassion or gifts or love, it is also in the giving of the same things that you wish for yourself. Hence, "do unto others as you would have them to do unto you."

I'm a little under the weather today. I pulled a muscle in my ribcage doing all the cleaning and nesting yesterday; my head hurt all night and still does; I was nauseated and all I kept tasting were the mussels in the pasta dish I had ordered at Carrabas .... we much prefer Petrocelli's, and it's a certainty now. So, I have begged off from the office for the day. May I will get the presents wrapped, if nothing else. Only three days left to do all that needs doing before the onslaught, so I best get to it.

I want to wish my blogger friends a very Blessed and Joyous week. Let the rough end drag - if it doesn't get done, it will take care of itself or wasn't meant to be. Just be happy and love everyone around you, and especially, great all those strangers that you meet along the way with a smile. You never know when you will touch someone's heart and make their day.

Love,
Abbey

This Day's


The heart is a triangle which only the Trinity can fill.

~Thomas Watson




If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.

~Dalai Lama

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Today's Verse From Heartlight

VERSE:

For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is ableto succour them that are tempted.
-- Hebrews 2:18

THOUGHT:

Jesus was tempted like we are! He suffered like we do! God inhis grace made sure that we have someone in heaven who knows whatit is like to face suffering and mortality. This knowledge is notonly omniscient wisdom. Jesus also guarantees that heaven'sknowledge includes human experience. Aren't you thankful that Jesusknew suffering and mortality and that he now lives to redeem, tobless, and to ultimately help us mortals?

PRAYER:

Loving and Almighty God, I know you know me and what is best forme. But Father, I'm even more confident in your care andunderstanding because Jesus shared in our wrestling match withsuffering and mortality. Thank you, Jesus, for pleading my cause atthe Father's right hand. I ask for the Father's continued grace inyour name, Lord Jesus. Amen.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Christ Was Love

Unknown Author - Received via personal email today:

Each December, I vowed to make Christmas a calm and peaceful experience. I had cut back on nonessential obligations -- extensive card writing, endless baking, decorating, and even overspending. Yet still, I found myself exhausted, unable to appreciate the precious family moments, and of course, the true meaning of Christmas.

My son, Nicholas, was in kindergarten that year. It was an exciting season for a six-year-old. For weeks, he'd been memorizing songs for his school's “Winter Pageant”. I didn't have the heart to tell him I'd be working the night of the production. Unwilling to miss his shining moment, I spoke with his teacher. She assured me there'd be a dress rehearsal the morning of the presentation. All parents unable to attend that evening were welcome to come then. Fortunately, Nicholas seemed happy with the compromise.

So, the morning of the dress rehearsal, I filed in ten minutes early, found a spot on the cafeteria floor and sat down. Around the room, I saw several other parents quietly scampering to their seats. As I waited, the students were led into the room. Each class, accompanied by their teacher, sat cross-legged on the floor. Then, each group, one by one, rose to perform their song.

Because the public school system had long stopped referring to the holiday as “Christmas”, I didn't expect anything other than fun, commercial entertainment - songs of reindeer, Santa Claus, snowflakes and good cheer. So, when my son's class rose to sing, "Christmas Love," I was slightly taken aback by its bold title.

Nicholas was aglow, as were all of his classmates, adorned in fuzzy mittens, red sweaters, and bright snowcaps upon their heads. Those in the front row - center stage -- held up large letters, one by one, to spell out the title of the song. As the class would sing “C is for Christmas,” a child would hold up the letter C. Then, “H is for Happy,” and on and on, until each child holding up his portion had presented the complete message, "Christmas Love."

The performance was going smoothly, until suddenly, we noticed her; a small, quiet, girl in the front row holding the letter "M" upside down – totally unaware her letter "M" appeared as a "W." The audience of 1st through 6th graders snickered at this little one's mistake. But she had no idea they were laughing at her, so she stood tall, proudly holding her “W.” Although many teachers tried to shush the children, the laughter continued until the last letter was raised, and we all saw it together. A hush came over the audience and eyes began to widen. In that instant, we understood the reason we were there, why we celebrated the holiday in the first place, why even in the chaos, there was a purpose for our festivities. For when the last letter was held high, the message read loud and clear:

"C H R I S T W A S L O V E"

And, I believe, He still is. Amazed in His presence... Humbled by His love.

May each of you have a Merry Christmas as you reflect on His Amazing Love!

In The News . . .


Japanese scientists have "successfully" cloned a glow-in-the-dark feline. This is not a joke, and if it were, it still would not be funny. It is claimed that this "successful cloning" will help scientists in their study of human genes as they relate to illnesses. I'm not buying it ...

I liked Rosie a LONG time ago .. when she had her daytime talk show. I lost all respect or any positive feelings that I held for Rosie when she was on "The View". I read in today's news that none other than Hulk Hogan is the latest celebrity to take on Rosie. From FoxNews.com, Hogan was apparently asked by a reporter which celebrity he'd like to see a Gladiator (from the newly revamped show "American Gladiator") pummel. His answer: "Without a doubt Rosie O'Donnell. Somebody needs to shut that big mouth up," and I couldn't agree more.

On the lighter and a more interesting note, the article regarding a possible finding of a ship once commandeered by Captain Kidd is a must read. Check this one out:
http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,316786,00.html

Will Princess Diana's privacy ever be respected? Probably not. Truly the most famous woman in the world, we now see her most private, handwritten letters. I fail to see the purpose in publishing these personal notes, or how they may relate to her death. People have joked at the expense of lawyers for years; but, there is a much worse lot than lawyers, it's the media.

I just got my hands on a copy of the independent investigators report to the Commissioner of Major League Baseball with respect to the use of illegal performance enhancing drugs, et al. It is two inches thick ... I turned it over to an avid and voracious reader and asked for a synopsis. Baseball, football, and basketball = obnoxious salaries.

Today's Verse from Heartlight

VERSE:

I will praise the name of God with a song, and will magnify him with thanksgiving. This also shall please the LORD better than an ox or bullock that hath horns and hoofs. The humble shall see this, and be glad: and your heart shall live that seek God.

-- Psalm 69:30-32

THOUGHT:


Our praise should not only please God, it should also produce joy and gladness in the streets among the poor! Why? Because praise invites us to not only applaud God for what he does, but to also join him in partnership as he does it. God's generosity, which evokes our praise, should stir our generosity, which in turn blesses others and leads them to praise God!

PRAYER:


Holy God, Almighty and majestic King, you are worthy of all honor and praise. You have done wonderful and mighty things. You have poured out your blessings upon me. You have kept your promises and provided me with the way of salvation. Please empower and strengthen me as I commit myself to bless, serve, and encourage others for your glory. In Jesus' name. Amen.

This Day's Smile!


The foolish man seeks happiness in the distance; the wise grows it under his feet.

-- James Oppenheim

Thursday, December 13, 2007

My Conversion


I documented this factual account of my faith journey several years ago, but misplaced it. After reading "Transformation" by my fellow blogger, "lbratina", I am inspired to document this account again. At the outset, I need to make it clear to all who read this that no maliciousness or snubbing of any religious sect is intended. I once read in "Dear Abby" when she was asked how you keep from offending others about their chosen faith. Abby advised her to simply say, "I am sure that your religion is a very fine one, or else you would not have chosen it for yourself." This is exactly how I feel. There is but one God among us all, so please, keep your sensitivities out of things and read this for what it is .... how I found my way Home.

My ancestors have, for many years before I was so much as a twinkle in someone's eye, been of the Pentecostal faith. Primarily, they attended either Churches of God or Assemblies of God. These faiths were given the label "holy rollers" who knows how many decades ago because of the mystical event of people "speaking in tongues" ... but I am getting ahead of myself. My mother's mother, my Granny, attended the same First Assembly of God Church all of her life, and my mother attended the same church until she married. Sadly, even though my mother was a devout Christian, because she met and married a man who was divorced, she was "cast out" of her church. This hurt my mother so deeply that to this day (she is now 76 years old), she attends church regularly, but refuses to "join". She fears something awful happening again and she says she would not be able to hold up to it.

Nevertheless, Mama made my sister and I go to church, again at one Assembly of God or another, off and on throughout our upbringing. I recall that my Daddy never went, or if he did, it might be on Easter ... this because he worked 6 days a week and Mama said he needed to rest because he was so tired.

I never cared much for church as a youngster. We had the Sunday School books and the "lessons", which I never did and subsequently, I was never able to answer any questions or contribute to the class when called upon. This was embarrassing. The fact that we would go to Sunday School and Church so irregularly also contributed to my shyness about participating. Whenever we went, I recall envying (one of those 7 deady sins) the other kids who went every week for the close friendships they had, and for the fact that they knew one another so well and conversed among themselves so easily.

As I said, speaking in tongues was an "event", for lack of a better word, in the eyes of this young child. We'd be standing and the minister would be praying and out of the blue, someone, I only recall it being females, would begin shouting in a language that was so foreign that it sounded neither European nor Asian, and certainly not English. It was a wailing type of prayer, a crying out toward heaven, and I remember staring and being admonished by my mother to bow my head and look nowhere but the floor! I know that this is a most holy event in this faith and I revere it. But, as I grew into adulthood, I never felt comfortable in church.

When I left home and was on my own, I did not attend church, nor did I pray with any regularity for several years. I cannot say that I was rebelling; I was merely lost and did not know which direction would take me "home". I was living in Los Angeles and was madly in love with someone who I thought was heaven sent. He was a svengali of sorts and took me and my little girl under his wings, and he molded both of us into what he wanted us to be. That included agnosticism. To this day, and even though I know I have been forgiven, I was blind and young and am deeply ashamed that I ever used that term in association with my Lord in Heaven.

When I left Los Angeles, I moved to the South at the encouragement of my sister. She was married, had two children, and attended a local Baptist church regularly. I was wanting to do the "right" thing for my own child and I began going to church with my sister's family. Once again, it was short-lived. I felt completely lost. I came away from services without any feeling whatsoever that I had been "touched" by the message that was so thoughtfully given by the minister. My mind would ramble to and fro, I couldn't concentrate, my interest waned.

I met and married a man of Italian descent, and thus, he was of the Catholic faith. I had attended one Catholic Mass as a young girl and it was a wedding. Other than the fact that it seemed to be an awfully long service, I was even more struck by the reverance, beauty, and mysticism of the Mass. Of course, I didn't understand anything about it, the meaning of any gesture or prayer. In fact, I had a rather eccentric aunt who joined the Catholic Church many years before and her two sons, my cousins, were instructed in the Catholic faith. I recall them visiting as boys crossing themselves after we said Grace over our meals. I found this curious. If memory serves me correct, in our "circle" (i.e., family and social acquaintances), Catholicism was viewed as a rather strange religion, and therefore, me being as curious as a cat, witnessing even a small gesture such as crossing oneself added fuel to the fire.

I began attending Mass with my Italian husband, and in doing so, he showed me how to follow the Mass and the prayers and readings in the Missel. The first Catholic church I attended was about 100 years old, and I call it the old school of Catholicism - it was extremely gothic and beautiful. Slowly, I learned the responses by heart, when to kneel, when to stand, when to cross, genuflecting in and out of the pews, and engaged in the crossing with Holy Water as I entered and left the Sanctuary. This particular parish was old and consisted of a lot of old people, which wasn't very conducive to our young family, so we relocated to another parish near home. The priest was so nice, and there were so many families with children. Much more, there were activities for every type situation, single, married, children, teens ... it had everything. With our children in school locally and participating in sports, we found people there that we knew, or that my husband had gone to school with. Slowly, I began to volunteer for this or that which is how we made a lot of church friends.

After a year there, I had been so touched by how much my life had changed, how much I looked forward to going to church, that I knew I had to be baptized into this faith. In order to do that, one must go through Catechism, which begins in September of each year and ends at Easter Vigil Mass. The classes are held one night per week. We had a class of about 15 non-Catholics and as we went through this learning experience about this wonderful faith, we bonded. One class-member lost her husband two months into the sessions, which brought us even closer together. We learned absolutely all you could about Catholicism, the rumors vs. the truths, and the more I learned, the more I felt God speaking to me, "this is where you are meant to be, my child". I embraced it fully. Whenever I went to Mass, I felt the Holy Spirit all around me; I seemed completely blissful when I left church and my life took on a change for the better.

As I've grown older, I have learned so much more about my faith and I am closer to my God than ever in my life. I look back at the times, as a 20-something, riding on the back of a Harley, going 90 mph down a California free-way with no helment and think, "yes Lord, YOU were with me then." And I think of the three times that strangers knocked at my doors when I was alone and I saw them through the peepholes as they kept begging me to open the door for one mundane reason or the other (which I did NOT), and I think, "yes Lord, YOU sure were watching over me then." And I think about my children and what wonderful children they were and how they have grown into good, kind and productive adults, and I think, "yes Lord, you've been with me all along."

I turned my head away from Him thousands of times. For this, I have been forgiven, but the obstacle I face is forgiving myself. God has been with me from the time I was conceived to this day. I had a serious surgery in 2005 and contracted a staph infection. The pain was horrendous and I had to undergo a second surgery. My recovery took four months, most of which was extremely painful, not including the four months preceding the time the staph was found. During that time, I was in such agony - I cried out every day, "My God, why won't you heal me? Why aren't you helping me?" Why, why why.

The long and short of it is this: The Lord brought me home, but not before I was brought to my knees. I am, and will always be a sinner. But the difference is that I acknowledge it to the One that matters most, to God, every day of my life. I talk to Him every day; I talk about Him to others every day; He is in my thoughts in everything that I do. The greatest gift that I have ever received was the ability to Forgive. To me, that is the single most difficult thing that God asks of us. And to be able to do that, albeit so difficult at times, well, my heart is overflowing with love for Him and His Son, Jesus Christ.

I was lost for most of my life. I was given up for adoption, experienced some things prior to that that no child should ever experience, and have had a rocky road as an adult out of my own naivete. In Catholicism, I found my peace and the Home I have searched for all of my life. After spending time worshipping in His House, I feel cleansed, refueled and ready to face whatever is around the next corner. Thank you, God, for bringing me Home. I promise, I will never leave You again.

God bless you all with peace and love,
Abbey

This Day's Thought and Verse


The Holy Spirit loves so to arrange men’s circumstances that they are brought within the sphere of God’s influence.
-- Maurice Wood


With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may count you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may fulfill every good purpose of yours and every act prompted by your faith. We pray this so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.

2 Thessalonians 1:11-12
The New International Version