A savvy person whose blog I read recommended choosing one word to focus on for the coming year. That was January 2016. She said it would be better than a New Year’s resolution since it would be a daily reminder of that which is important. Her word was something practical like “Simplify” and worked well for her since she’s a homemaking guru. I liked her word and even have a metal sign hanging in my kitchen with it written in big red letters. But I couldn’t very well use her word. I thought on it a while and was just about to give up when the word “Flourish” came to mind. What a great word! Instead of just getting things marked off my to-do list, I would focus on flourishing. Why do things half-hearted when one can flourish?
Happily I found colored pens and wrote my word, then placed the notecards in strategic places around the house. When I looked at the fridge, my word would remind me to do things better than average. When I checked the bathroom mirror, the notecard there would encourage me for the day. Another card would mark my Bible to remind me to do all for the glory of God. As I continued to edit my book I decided to add the word to a scene since it’s not a term I use very often.
This is part of a phone conversation between a mother and her grown adopted son:
“‘Honey, talk to me. What’s going on?’
Shawn had a hard time speaking and it took a bit til he could reply. ‘I’m in a hard place Liddy. Please pray for me.’
She waited and felt her own tears rising. ‘I will honey. Where are you right now?’
A shiver went through his body so he started his truck and turned on the heater. ‘I’m up at your prayer garden but I’m sittin’ in my truck. It’s turned cold all of a sudden.’
She tried to brighten his mood. ‘Did you get to see the sunset?’
He relaxed a little remembering all the times they’d watched it together. ‘Yep. It was GLORIOUS!’ He used her word with a flourish and she laughed.
‘Glorious huh? That sounds about right. So I reckon God’s still splashing His love all over the North Carolina sky. I don’t think He much cares for Alabama. He makes them wait an hour on their sunset.’
Shawn was quiet and knew she was trying to cheer him up. He breathed another prayer about how much to tell her. Somehow it didn’t seem right to break the confidence he and Tessa shared.”
When I typed my new word, it was then I realized the problem. A red squiggly line marked it. I had spelled flourish wrong on all my notecards. I was completely disgusted with myself. How can I flourish when I can’t even spell it? Florish is not a word!
I collected my pretty cards, ripped them to shreds and tossed them in the trash.
A short five months later I learned that I have cancer. As the news got out I was suddenly overwhelmed with care packages and cards and Facebook messages and prayers. Love and kindness was showered on me and my husband. Ladies at the school where he works painted the giant rock out front and put my name on it in pink. People mailed us gift cards for groceries and meals. Flowers cheered me with happy faces and promises of better days to come.
Fast forward to New Year’s Day 2017. Our beloved pastor encouraged us with a beautiful message about becoming intentional in our walk with the Lord by prayerfully choosing one word to focus on. I bowed my weary head and prayed. I knew which word it would NOT be. Then it came, like a firm but loving reprimand.
“Lynna! Will you ever realize that you are truly loved? You’re not stupid. You are loved.”
I took a pen and wrote on the notecard “Love(d).”
Because the Lord and many others have loved me so well, I too can learn to show love. Too bad it took cancer to help me see it. But praise God for the revelation! With this new focus, who knows?
I might even flourish!
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We don’t have a lot of traditions in our family. Most of what we established as a young couple has long fallen by the wayside as our three daughters have married and started traditions of their own. But one thing we hold tightly to is the habit of eating beans and cabbage for New Year. Everybody knows that doing so insures lots of coins and cash for the next twelve months. And anyone who knows us has been witness to how well that works for our family.
[I really need a sarcasm font.]
Therefore, in order to keep any more financial crap from hitting the fan I proceeded to cook a big pot of white beans. Hopefully the good luck fairies were not already ticked off as I waited til January 2nd to do so. I had in fact started the process on the 1st by thawing out the hambone we’d saved from Christmas and the chicken broth David had frozen at some point. Both these items make a big pot of beans taste like manna from heaven. As stated before, we use white beans, either Navy or Great Northern rather than Pintos which tend to give us gas, and not the kind that currently sells for $2.39 a gallon.
The beans had simmered for hours and filled the house with a great aroma. Chunks of ham fell from the aforementioned bone with promises of yumminess. David made the slaw since he prefers his cabbage with mayo, vinegar, and a touch of sugar. His bowl of beans is capped off with a helping of slaw right in the middle so that the bean to slaw ratio is perfect. This one dish wonder is further perfected with cornbread. We happened to be watching America’s Test Kitchen while the beans simmered. The cooking wizards demonstrated how to bake the perfect cornbread muffins. I did not however write down the recipe as I knew I could watch their technique then find the measurements online. Once they finished I went to my writing room, opened the laptop and noticed my email inbox was full. Plus a quick glance at Facebook revealed best wishes from friends and friends of friends as well as pictures of children of people I tried to remember; all celebrating Christmas and New Year with trips to grandmas everywhere.
David stepped into my writing nook and mentioned that the beans may need more chicken stock as they had cooked down to an occasional bubble which resembled a volcanic eruption. I hoped that wasn’t a sign of stomach issues to come. I closed the laptop, stirred the beans and praised God for keeping them from scorching. Apparently I had been sucked into the quicksand of social media for much longer than I realized. I took my beloved’s hand and asked if he was ready to eat. He knows that’s his cue to ask the blessing. He lovingly gazed at me with something akin to wonder. After forty some years of marriage I should have recognized that questioning look. What I mistook for admiration of my bean cooking skill was in fact his thinking face; as in, should he say out loud the question which swirled in his brain. Instead he prayed a sweet prayer asking God to continue to work in our lives in the coming year; for strength and healing; and a special thanks for blessing us and bringing us through one of the hardest times of our lives.
We dipped our beans, added the slaw and sat down to watch football. Something was amiss but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. Once again chemo brain gave me the feeling that I was forgetting something. Finally I asked. “Does this taste okay? I think it’s missing something.
David looked at me with a smile. “It’s great!” he said between bites. “Even without the cornbread.”
Dagnabbit! I had looked forward to cornbread all day and somehow forgot to bake it. Oh well. At least the good luck fairies only care about beans and cabbage. Hopefully they were sufficiently appeased. In fact, maybe that’s what we’ve been doing wrong all these years. Maybe it’s the cornbread that’s been nullifying the coins and cash. I’ll let you know how this year goes. Perhaps we’ve finally stumbled onto the key to financial success.
But I have to say that at some point I’m going to bake some cornbread. After all, money’s not everything.
Posted in Fun | Tagged beans, cornbread, new year | 8 Comments »
Happy Birthday Ann! Some fun just never gets old!
Lynna's Wonderful Life
I met my friend Ann the first time as we waited to pick up our kids from school. Like me she had two in elementary and one in the car. We hit it off immediately, mostly because we shared the same warped since of humor. By summertime we piled the kids in the car and headed to Morrow Mountain for swimming lessons and pbj’s several times a week. We were at best a six ring circus on wheels. Make that eight counting the clowns in the front seat. Angels flew low surrounding her station wagon on all those trips up and down the mountain. Not one mishap! We won’t speak of the twenty-five mile per hour zone and the park ranger with nothing else to do. I’m sure he’s gone to Glory by now and is happily handing out tickets to all those flying past his little cabin doing thirty…
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The game was a blowout. I started to go to bed but it was only 8:30. In an effort to not be so blame old I was determined to wait until at least nine p.m. before turning in. Besides, it was the Belk Bowl in Charlotte. We were pulling for the Virginia Tech Hokies but they were down 0-24 at the half. The stadium actually began to empty.
I have no idea what their coach said to them. What would you tell a team that’s played awful for two whole quarters looking miserable on both offense and defense? Apparently he knew they were capable of more and told them so. For after the halftime break the Hokies came out like gangbusters. By the end of the third quarter they were up 27-24. And all those fans who left early were kicking themselves for giving up too soon.
The next morning I asked David the final score since I gave up the ghost before it was over. He said the commentator mentioned that it was one of those games that legends are made of. From that day forward the coach can look at his teams and say, “Remember the Belk Bowl of 2016 when we were down 0-24 at the half and came back to win 35-24? We kept Arkansas from scoring another point after the half! It’s in you to win this game too if you don’t give up!”
Have you ever been so far down that you’ve considered throwing in the towel? Finances were so terrible you had no idea how you’d make it. Or sickness consumed your life to the point where you thought you might die and wished you’d hurry up. That’s the stuff legends are made of.
Perhaps things look so bleak that you can’t imagine pulling out a win. But I’m telling you it’s possible. “Dear brothers and sisters when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your endurance is fully developed, you will be mature and complete, needing nothing. If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and He will give it to you.” –James 1:2-5
I remember a time just three years ago when I was too sick to work and David lost his job very unexpectedly. Two days later he wound up in the hospital with kidney stones. That low point in our life was overwhelming. But it was the stuff legends are made of. God provided miraculously for all our needs one day at a time as it would be a solid year and a half before he got another full time job. Now we are in a different kind of battle as I struggle through cancer treatments with David by my side. Once again the Lord is developing our endurance. I know it’s an opportunity for joy and believe me when I say I’m trying. But to be perfectly honest, I don’t skip through each day as if it’s a joy to be alive. However, something inside tells me that since God has seen us through so many other trials, surely He will remain faithful in this one too. So we ask for wisdom, and endurance and even a little joy knowing He has a purpose and a plan for our lives. He’s delivered us before. Why in the world would I throw in the towel and give up at half time? Be encouraged dear friend. Look back at how far you’ve come. There’s a wonderful victory ahead! He knows you are capable of more. It’s in you to win this time too if you don’t give up.
“So if you are suffering in a manner that pleases God, keep on doing what is right and trust your lives to the God who created you, for He will never fail you.” -1 Peter 4:19
Just 3 years ago
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Fun stuff from a Christmas in yesteryear.
Lynna's Wonderful Life
One summer at a family picnic a beloved nephew commented that he likes those tall Tupperware salt and pepper shakers because they don’t have to be refilled often. They’re great for camping since they have lids and are airtight. I made a mental note and thought how nice it would be to find him some at a yard sale. Though everyone in the family had owned a set at some point, I hadn’t seen mine in years. So I added “Shakers for Jason” to the list of kindnesses that I will never actually get around to.
One day while digging in an extremely low cabinet for a possible lid to match a sour cream container, what did my eyes behold but a pepper shaker from yesteryear. Yep! Still had pepper on the lid. Pulling every container and lid from yon cabinet did not reveal the wife to the set. Apparently…
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Hooray Faithful Readers! My Christmas novel is ready! I’m so excited to have it finished and on Amazon. It will release Wednesday, December 7th. When you read it, be sure to look for pictures of grace, Christ’s unconditional love, and even a little glimpse of heaven. I hope you like it!
To view it and the others in the series, click the “Shop Now” button on my Facebook “Lynna Clark-Author” page. Or shop Amazon at Blue Meadow Farm series.
As always, thanks for reading!
Posted in Fun | Tagged Blue Meadow Farm, forgiveness, redemption | 8 Comments »
I think I need a new hat. My head is cold. With the recent change in weather I’ve been made aware of how much hair adds to one’s temperature. So to Downtown Salisbury we went. The Stitchin’ Post was our first stop. The sales clerk there was so pleasant and sympathetic. Without even having to tell her that I wouldn’t want to bear my bald head out there in front of God and everybody, she offered a dressing room where I could try on hats. The kindness of some folks is a little bit amazing. The hats were beautiful but at the time not quite warm enough. However I will never forget her compassion.
So up the street we went to Timeless on the square. I had visited there early in the cancer diagnosis looking for a wig. The co-owner also offered a dressing room last June when this started. She understood firsthand how it feels to be suddenly bald as she has been through cancer and all the horrible side effects of the treatments. But unlike me she is very young. Still she sympathized and brought wig after wig for me to try. I couldn’t make them work for somehow when I gazed at the reflection looking back at me, all I could see was a Muppet with too much hair for the amount of face. Plus the hair was very young. My face… not so much.
It was then I decided to make do with a hat.
When I popped back into her shop six months later she hardly recognized me. But again she very patiently showed me every hat in the store and tried sweetly to find what I was looking for. I felt like Goldilocks except for the golden locks. Nothing suited me. I needed something to cover my ears. My ears are cold too. Obviously she understood. She has been where I am.
I don’t know the story behind the compassion of the lady in the Stitchin’ Post. I didn’t even get her name. I wish I had. Maybe she’s been through cancer too or maybe she’s cared for someone close who has. Or maybe she’s just one of those rare souls who looks for ways to comfort others. Whatever the case, she reminded me of the verse which tells us to work willingly as though working for the Lord. [Col.3:23]
Both ladies exemplified Christ to me that Saturday. When all this is over I sure hope to come out on the other side a lot more sympathetic. My care for others in times past has been less than commendable. But in the mean time I must go search through our winter gear. Surely there’s a toboggan in there somewhere.
My head is cold!
Posted in Fun | Tagged cancer, hats, Salisbury, Stitchin' Post, Timeless | 5 Comments »