Lolly’s House…

Being a grandmother…now, three times over, the holidays take on a bigger significance for me.  After becoming a mother many, many years ago, things shifted to being about the children…my children. Holidays became a whirlwind of happiness and exhaustion!  Now, my children’s generation is experiencing that whirlwind first-hand, and I’m able to plan for each event with a little more energy since I don’t have to be up at night for the 3am feedings…

Even though I still have one child at home, I’m trying to find my new role as the supporter and enabler. My house is transitioning from “Mom’s House” to “Lolly’s House”.  But what does that mean for me as a woman…a person?

I’ve never looked at becoming a grandmother as a lesser-role. As far as responsibility and influence go, it’s like the rest of my life: as my age increases, so should my wisdom and influence…

And if that’s the case, then I have an increased responsibility to use that influence not just in my immediate family, but also everywhere I have a voice.

I think many women struggle to find their voice or their place as their nest becomes more and more empty. For me, I choose to tackle this by constantly filling my nest…

Every year my nest gets fuller, rather than emptier.  I could have never had biological children at all and I still could grow my nest and increase my influence.  

All women have a voice and a place regardless of their motherhood status.

So, how does this paradigm shift in my life affect my every day?  How does it affect my view of the holidays?

Well, of course, my role as “Lolly” is enriched by thinking about the holidays through the eyes of my grandchildren, but what if I didn’t have all these kids to help me find my role?

Halloween clarifies this for me every year.

If you know me, you know that I’m not a big celebrator of Halloween… The creepy and the scary is just not my thing.  In fact, when my kids were little, we basically just pretended that the day didn’t exist.  

Left to my own devices and in my own comfortability, I would just turn the lights out and act like no one is home…

But as I’ve gotten older and my influence has increased, I have begun to look at the world around me less from the perspective of my own comfort and more from the perspective of others.

Hospitality has become something that I cherish.  It’s become like an art-form for me.  So I don’t really feel that I have the luxury to not think about others during the holidays…

It’s not just about me anymore.

Nothing brings this fact into focus more than Halloween.

If it’s truly about others and making them feel loved and cherished, then I have to take a second look at this holiday.  The truth is that there is no other day of the year that people of all kinds come eagerly to my door…they bring their most precious possession: their children to my door and allow me to “ooh” and “aw” over their costumes, they let me give their little ones gifts in the form of treats…

They ask me to be hospitable and kind.

I have the privilege of showing them what coming to my house feels like…Lolly’s House. It may very well be the only visit to a grandmother’s house that they will get to experience during the whole of the holiday season. It may very well be the only kindness they experience all day…week…year.

I may be overstating the significance of this one day…but what if I’m not?

I’ve begun to look for meaning in life not just from being a mother or how many kids I have been blessed with, but rather how much of a blessing I can be to as many as God brings into my path.  And since I’ve begun to look for these opportunities, I’ve found my place.

So no matter how full or empty my nest is, I’m still “Lolly” and there’s always kindness to be shared at my house…Lolly’s House.❣️

And that makes me smile, even if I have to wade through scary clown costumes to do it!😱

Peace to you…


My Renaissance Man…

In honor of our 27th wedding anniversary, I thought I would repost a blog that I wrote years ago…because I wrote it for my “Renaissance Man” then; and it’s even more appropriate now that I know more of what his “renaissance” truly cost.
I also know more of what love really means.

Happy Anniversary, Babe. This one was, and is, for you:

“So I went to a great sushi restaurant yesterday for lunch. It was Ah-mazing; it was so good that I took Byron back there for supper. During lunch, I kept thinking that he would love the modern yet organic decor, and he would think their new age/jazz music was cool, etc…
When we got there, they gave us the table I knew he’d like (It has these cool orange wingbacks – super comfy).
So as he was “popping” edamame, and drinking Voss (his favorite sparking water), I began to think about how much he’s changed since I met him over 20 years ago. 

To say that he’s different now is an understatement. He didn’t branch-out very often, back then, in the area of food, decor, music, or the way he dressed. He was a typical “meat and potatoes” Texan – everything normal and predictable – no surprises! Then, he met me, and God called him into the pastorate…
For years, he did the whole normal pastor thing, the double-breasted suits and the pastor hair (he DID have hair). He never was particularly political, but he could “bring it” in the pulpit – so he was always “successful”. His administrative skills and loyalty (and the utter lack of the typical “messianic complex” that most in the ministry suffer from) caused him to be a great associate, then senior pastor…Then, he began to desire more – more than the safe, predictable ministry at which he was excelling.

So he did something that was absolutely contrary to his very existence up to that point. Something that no one would’ve recommended. He changed.He changed everything from his philosophy of ministry to his hair.

He shaved his head and threw out the preacher pretense. He started looking for ways to experience more out of life than canned green-beans and pot-roast. He began to truly look at people as opportunities for connection rather than a project to feel successful.
(I think the latter may be taught as a seminary course “How to feel successful in your ministry by how many circles you can run around in without ever truly effecting life-change” – well, the title may not be that long!)

He began to refuse to be in bondage to the dictates of the religious, but instead really asked “What would Jesus do?”.
He began to demand more of himself and those around him, and ask the question, “Why is this community of faith placed here in this area – are we accomplishing the work of Christ, or just building a legacy unto ourselves…?”
He asked, and the masses answered – vehemently (the religious) and overwhelmingly (the unchurched). He was vilified, attacked, threatened, lied-about and betrayed – and yet he continued to push for more…more change, more authenticity, more love of the person of Christ rather than the tradition of man.
He walked on through the fire and the storm, and never wavered except to say to me, “If it becomes too much, just say the word, and I’ll leave it all behind, today, because I am no success in my ministry if I lose you and the kids…”

So, sitting at dinner last night at a sushi restaurant, watching him eat exotic food, comment on his new love of a very different decor than he was supposed to appreciate, and wearing a brightly colored “floweredee” shirt – And all because I wanted to go there, and I wanted him to try the food and see the decor, hear the music, and I had given him the pretty shirt…etc., I considered all of the ways he had changed.
So I commented on how different he was than “back in the day”, and he answered, “Yeah, I’m different, and it all boils down to one thing: “I fell in love…”
That is what it all boils down to with him: LOVE. 

He has learned, through adversity, to love with abandon. He has been willing to sacrifice everything for love. He is one of the few people in this world who has earned the right to say, “I would die for you.”, and you can believe it.
He is becoming a true “Renaissance Man” on a mission of love and mercy. It’s a beautiful thing to observe someone doing what they were truly born to do.

So, to me, he’s a renaissance man – my renaissance man – and I love him and am grateful for and proud of all the changes…It’s been quite a ride, and I’ve never been more excited to see what’s in store for tomorrow. I am truly blessed.”
…and I still am! Happy Anniversay, Babe. I love you more…


The Journey Home…

With “National Suicide Prevention Week” (September 5-11) in mind, I was rereading some previous blogs…trying to remember the journey. I need to keep the hope always in front of me – to be reminded of why we must continue to move forward. I needed to be reminded to share the message that I have received…the love letter – even though my uniform may be tattered and torn. To relay the message of hope to all of the other war-weary soldiers out there, on their own journey home. 

Because we all must keep moving in the direction of hope.

A Message from Home (25 May, 2007):

I recently watched a movie which reminded me of the one thing that people have in common: the need to belong, to be loved above anything or anyone else – to feel “home”. In this beautiful yet brutal civil war movie, no amount of physical hardship can stand in the way of a soldier’s journey home to the only place where he truly feels loved. So, he trudges across bitter terrain and endures the utter lack of food, shelter, and safety – all to return to where he feels he belongs. He doesn’t even know if his pre-war sweetheart has waited for him. He only has one letter which begs him to return soon, “…if you are fighting, stop your fighting and return to me. If you are marching, stop marching and return to me. Return to me.” 

So he does. It takes him months, perhaps longer. Yet, nothing deters him because he has to keep moving in the direction of HOPE.

We all do that, don’t we? – move in the direction of hope. The only other option is to give up and die. It is a part of the human condition to experience the desperate need for love, to belong, to be home. It gives us breath – without it we die.
There are people all around us who don’t know where the hope lies. They would give anything to feel that they truly belong. They would traverse any distance if they could only receive the message that there is someone, anyone who would be waiting for them – a place where they would be received and accepted. Don’t we, as Christ-followers, know that such a place exists? We’ve received the message. God has said to us all, “I love you – desperately, passionately, above anything else. Stop marching. Stop fighting. Return to me. Return to me and be home.”
Maybe we need to be reminded of the love-letter in the pocket of our tattered uniform. Maybe we need to read it again to remember what lies in store for us. Maybe we need to get up and get back on the road home. Or maybe we just need to give someone else the message, so they can begin to travel in the direction of hope.

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” – Plato

Today is a new day to keep moving in the direction of hope and to offer that hope to someone else.

The struggle will lead us home.

Peace to you…


Crushing Violets…

“Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.” – Mark Twain

How do you forgive someone…I mean, really forgive?

Are we mandated to just “forgive and forget” as if we were never offended…damaged…betrayed…broken?

Well, the truth is that we were not made to have to even fathom the concept of forgiveness since we were made to live in The Garden…in perfection.

We were not made for this world with its viciousness and filth. But, of course, we do live in a fallen and sinful world where predators prey on the most innocent among us. So, how do we forgive?

Just like the violet, we’ve been crushed – the fragrance that comes from us after that “crushing” is not determined by how we feel about the “heel” that crushed us, but instead by the choice to be the opposite of that “heel”.

I choose to look at forgiveness this way: As long as I let my anger, resentment, hatred, fear…etc. consume me, I am still controlled by the one who offended me. I choose to work through my grief, yes, but not allow my focus to be on the offender, but rather to be on my own healing.

Because hatred toward another, no matter what the offense, will always damage us more than them.

I’m trying to master this myself and am by no means there yet, but I do long for the day when the actions of others – past and present – don’t consume my thoughts, control my emotions or steal my peace and joy.

Forgiveness just means letting go by a choice of the will.
It doesn’t mean condoning or enabling; Instead, it’s an understanding that a God is far more capable than we are to deal with the offender, and we can’t possibly focus on revenge or retribution…or even carrying a grudge, and properly focus on healing at the same time.

Forgiveness means freedom because the freedom is for the violet…not the heel that’s left covered in the fragrance like a constant reminder.

The truth is that forgiveness isn’t about the offender; it’s about the one who is wounded. To “forgive and forget” is a phrase mistakenly used to describe how we should look at the one who has offended us. Instead, I believe it’s an attitude of mental, emotional and spiritual freedom that allows us to “forget” in the sense that the offense neither defines us nor controls us.

The beauty of forgiveness is that it allows us to fully function in the rhythms of God’s grace.
And by that grace we can heal and live in the freedom – the way we were created to live.

Because we were not created to have to forgive (we were made to live in fellowship with God and man in The Garden) it is a truly supernatural act – we are never more like our Creator than when we function in His power…
And I just believe it makes God smile to see us live in such freedom.

Choosing to forgive is a choice to not live beneath your privilege, but instead to just be free!
Peace to you…

Angie ❣