Friday, April 29, 2011

Unplanned, But Never a Mistake

Big Attitude in a Small Package

Today I celebrate the 33rd birthday of my firstborn child.  There is really no way to describe a mother's love.  I certainly couldn't understand it until I experienced myself.

I was only 18 when I found myself unexpectedly pregnant.  I was single, barely out of high school, naive and scared to death.  But I already loved the child growing inside me.  Back in the '70s, being unmarried and pregnant was a much bigger scandal than it is now.  But no amount of personal shame would have prevented me from giving birth to this precious gift.

For many years it was just the two of us.  Then I met the man who would become her father.  He loved her immediately, which was fortunate for him because we were a package deal.  Shortly after we were married, he adopted her.  And from that day forward he has never thought of her as anything but his own daughter. 

Over the years we've been through just about anything you can imagine.  We've experienced happiness, sorrow and unbearable pain.  But through it all I've loved my daughter with all my heart.  And I'm proud of the strong young woman she has become.

Some of the best things in life aren't planned.  They come along unexpectedly and give you joy you never thought possible. 

Sunday, April 24, 2011

He Did It For Me...and For You

Romans 5:8 - But God demonstrates His own love for us in this:  While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

I love Christmas.  Family gatherings, good food, watching children's faces light up as they open gifts, it's truly a special time.  And in the midst of it all, I enjoy attending the Christmas Eve service at church.  After all the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, it's wonderful to relax and remember the reason for our celebration:  the birth of Jesus Christ.

But the holiday that touches my heart more than any other is Easter.  To know that Jesus offered Himself as a sacrifice to atone for my sins is more humbling than I can express.  I've struggled with this my entire life.  What makes me so special?  And how do I live with the guilt?  But God doesn't command us to comprehend this; He only requires us to believe and accept this precious gift. 

I find it hard to speak to others about my relationship with my Savior.  It has nothing to do with being ashamed of Him.  It has everything to do with being ashamed of me.  After all, I'm not the best representative for someone so holy.  I have failed Him in so many ways.  But He gave me the gift of everlasting life.  And all I had to do was reach out and take it.  The least I can do is let others know that the gift can be theirs, too. 

May God bless you this Easter Sunday and every day.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Gold and Diamonds and Memories, Oh My!

Someone recently asked the following question:  If you had the opportunity to trade your original wedding ring(s) for something with a larger stone, more modern, or just more to your liking, would you do so? (This was assuming you still had the spouse that came with it.)  I was faced with this dilemma a few years ago.  So here's my story...

I had been married at least twenty years.  I can't remember where I was or why I noticed, but much to my horror I discovered the diamond was missing from my engagement ring.  I immediately tried to retrace my steps (just for the day, not the entire twenty years), but the stone was nowhere to be found.  For days I searched my house, my car, my pants pockets; everywhere I went, I searched.  Eventually, my obsession with finding the diamond died down and I gave up.

Fast forward (months? years?  I don't remember how long):  I was cleaning my laundry room and pulled out the washer and dryer to clean the floors.  (Trust me, this isn't a regular habit of mine...I'm pretty sure it was the only time I've ever done that.)  For some reason...instinct or divine intervention...I decided that rather than simply sweeping up the piles of debris, I would actually search through the dust bunnies (and quite possibly actual bunny carcasses) to search for lost treasures.  And there amidst the filth was a shiny object smaller than a pencil eraser.  A really tiny pencil eraser.  Could it be?  I was giddy with excitement!  I showed my husband, but he wasn't convinced it was my diamond.  Maybe he was under the misconception that he had bought me a bigger stone.  But I pulled out my engagement ring setting, placed the mini jewel on top of the broken prongs, and bingo!  It was a match.  I set the pieces aside, unsure if I really wanted to spend the cash to put Humpty Dumpty back together again.  After all, if my husband thought my original diamond was bigger than the stone I had found, didn't I owe it to him to repair my ring with a better representation of his love for me?

Time went by (again...months? years?  I have no idea), and it was Christmas.  My granddaughter had been hinting at a surprise that her grandfather had for me.  And yes, you guessed it.  Presented to me all shiny and pretty again was my engagement ring!  But the diamond in it now, if you believe it could even be possible, was smaller than before.   When my husband had taken it to the jeweler to have the stone reset, he learned that what he had in his possession wasn't a real diamond.  The jeweler  claimed it couldn't  be the original stone because it was too large for my setting, but I think that was only because the prongs had broken off.  No matter, I had my ring back. 

Now the question remains:  Was the stone I found beneath my dryer the one that had been in my ring?  If so, my husband was ripped off by the jewelry store where it was purchased.  If not, what was it and where was it from?  Life is full of mystery.  Or something.

Now that we've taken the scenic route, let's get back to the point of the story.  Why didn't I replace my engagement diamond with a larger one?  I'm sentimental.  I also have a difficult time parting with clothing and toys my children have outgrown.  I can't part with clothes I've outgrown, either.  Something to do with remembering a time when I was younger and thinner (I also heard someone say this on a show about hoarding--we'll save that topic for another day).  And there has never been a photo so bad that I could bear to throw it away.  I like to have something tangible to go along with my memories.

My engagement and wedding rings are a reminder of all the years my husband and I have spent together.  Good times and bad.  They are reminders of where we started and the journey we've taken since.  They were chosen 28 years ago by my then-boyfriend, who totally surprised me when he got down on one knee and proposed.  I remember the moment when marriage was no longer just an abstract idea, and I had to decide if I was ready to commit to spending the rest of my life with this one man.  Those rings have been with me during childbirth, tragedies, heartbreak, joy, sadness, loneliness, and everything else life has given us.  My rings have experienced more air travel than I have due to the countless times I've thrown them across one room or another in a fit of anger.  They remind me most of all that God sent me one special man... not a perfect one, but one handpicked just for me.  Sometimes I need a visual reminder of that.  And sometimes I just need something to throw.