Posted in faith, family, friendship, grace, life

Someone

I’ve been needing to write this for quite a while now. Until today, the words just wouldn’t come. The events described below occurred over the course of roughly eight years.

Have you ever been acquainted with, or even friends with, Someone who is obliviously careless in the way he or she treats people? For all intents and purposes, Someone is great — professing a love for God and people, and usually getting it right.

Until Someone gets it wrong. Repeatedly. And there seems to be no going back. No chance of recovery. Because Someone is completely oblivious to what he or she has done.

In the beginning, I thought I was at fault because I was putting too much value on things. It started with a table that I’d donated to a cause — a piece of furniture that had been in my family for decades, but for which I had no room. All seemed well, until one day I noticed the table sitting outside the building, the mid-century formica curled up by the recent rainstorm, ruined beyond repair. It made me so angry to see the table misused and cast aside — wasted. I regretted donating it, but then I told myself, “You don’t know who did this. And it’s just a THING. It’s not worth getting so angry.”

And so I tried to let it go.

A couple of years later, Someone asked if they could borrow my “old” camera to take some family portraits. It was not my primary camera any longer, but it was still a good camera, one my daughter was beginning to use. I took joy in passing it down to her, and I asked her before loaning it out, since it officially belonged to her. When the camera was returned, I didn’t think to inspect it, but the next time my daughter tried to remove the memory card, the eject button was broken and I had to pry the card out with my fingers. Upon closer inspection, I discovered the contact pins for the memory card were damaged. The camera was ruined. And Someone didn’t say anything. Again, I stifled my anger and reminded myself, “It’s just a THING. Maybe it was an accident.”

And so I tried to let it go.

Most recently, though, the carelessness has had nothing to do with things, and everything to do with people. Someone promised to be there for one of MY people. To fill a parental void left by an absentee parent. Someone made promises. Promises to go visit my person at college and to stay in touch. To step in where the absentee dad had left a void. Someone broke those promises. And my person was left yet again with a wounded heart.

It was getting harder to let it go.

Another one of MY people went through difficult times a couple of years ago. I’m glad to say my person is on the backside of those difficult times and joy fills her face more often than sorrow. But in the dark days she sought counsel from Someone she should have been able to trust. Someone broke her trust because she did not follow Someone’s timeline — she did not heal in the way, or as fast, as Someone wanted.

It was getting much harder to let it go.

Someone else claiming to be her kindred spirit, her soulmate, told her with all seriousness she was going to hell for things done in the dark days, and then turned around and did similar things, if not worse. All the while, Someone else pretended to be one thing around one group and another thing around another group. My person struggled to be transparent, to stop being all things to all people — she finally sought to discover who she is in Jesus Christ. In the discovery of who that is, she opened up her heart to forgiveness and reconciliation. Someone else gave her hope, and then snatched it away, telling her their friendship was ended, that they would never be friends again.

Suddenly all the pieces began to fit together for me. The carelessness with the things. The carelessness with the promises. The carelessness with the confidences. The carelessness with the “rules” — “it’s okay for me, but not for thee.” The carelessness with relationships.

And in that moment, it became easy to let go. To leave those someones behind, to realize that maybe these things happened for a reason because that place, those someones, were not where I (or we) belonged.

Each and every time I think of those someones, I try to ask God to help me forgive the hurts inflicted, however obliviously, on my loved ones and myself. I try to remind myself that those someones probably have no clue how their actions hurt me and mine. And I remember that I am someone, also — to make every effort to treat others with care and loving kindness.

 

Posted in duty, politics

Sister, Don’t Preach

A couple of decades ago Madonna released a song called Papa, Don’t Preach. The lyrics talked about a young girl “in trouble” who decided to stay with her boyfriend and keep her baby. She kept asking her father to not preach at her, reassuring him that they would be okay, even though they had to sacrifice their youth to become a family.

So in scrolling through Instagram pics earlier, I saw a post promoting a clothing store in Austin, Texas. Liberal “Keep Austin Weird” Texas. That geographic region of the Lone Star State, where Democrats congregate and castigate the rest of us for not sharing our “wealth,” for not caring enough about our fellow man.

The items of clothing I saw were a frumpy bit of plain sewing. A quick click to their website, and I was treated to a poetic explanation of their “process” from design, to production, to sale. There was some mumbo jumbo about multiple fit sessions to ensure the proper fit. I’m looking at these photos of a simple crop top and a shirt dress that have virtually no shape — how poorly must the designer be that requires multiple fit sessions to make sure a shapeless dress fits?

 

Anyone care to venture a guess on how many greenbacks each of these items will set you back? Hmmmm?

You can be the proud owner of a boxy top that resembles a short hospital scrub shirt, or the gym top my sister wore with culottes at the church school she attended in junior high for the very (un)reasonable sum of $150.

If you are more interested in the 100% cotton buffalo plaid shirt dress that looks like something my grandmother wore to clean house in, it will only set you back $268.

The Bible teaches us to be good stewards of that we’ve been blessed with and that which we earn through our labors. Part of our motivation for doing so should be our increased ability to help others with what we do not need for ourselves. If I ever plunk down $268 on a

sleeveless shirtdress that’s meant to be your summer staple. easy to throw on and dress up or down with slides or strappy clogs

please take me out to the woodshed and give me a good whipping for being so self-indulgent and wasteful.

As for those of you who don’t see anything wrong with this kind of wasteful spending, don’t preach to me about my fair share and what I owe my fellow humankind. Is it any wonder that government assistance programs are so woefully inefficient when people think it’s okay to spend almost $300 on a potato sack dress?

Posted in faith, family, life, remodeling, renovations

Coincidence? I think not!

There’s a cliche that goes something like this: “The devil is in the details.” When googling the quote I discovered there’s also a version that states “God is in the details,” and today I found this to be exceptionally true.

A few months ago, a dear friend, Sonja, called me to ask for details regarding the house we were preparing for sale. A young woman had come into the office where she works, along with her mother, and in the course of their conversation my friend discovered the young woman was looking to buy a house in Alvin. I remember my first reaction was, “Oh, we are NOT ready!” So with the disclaimer that we still had a good bit of work to do, I gave her the address to pass along to those who inquired.

With so much left to do on the house, I didn’t really think about it anymore. My sister and I kept working on the house and finally listed it with the realtor. We had a false start the day before the house actually went on the market — a young couple expressed interest in it, but in the course of walking through the house, a problem was discovered with the brick walls: they were a little loose with age! We immediately contacted masonry companies for repair quotes and hired a company to secure the walls around the entire house. We were relieved that the repair was not horribly expensive, but still well done. By the time the work was done, however, the young couple had moved on to another house.

I don’t really know the order in which things happened after that — my sister had more contact with the realtor during the sales process than I did. But I do know that in a very short period of time, we had two offers made on the house. One was our listing price and the other was several thousand dollars less. We were thrilled to have two offers and it didn’t take long to agree to the best offer. After inspections, some minor repairs were indicated and we offered a repair allowance which was accepted and we had a deal.

So today we met at the title company in Pearland to sign all the papers. We found out for certain that our buyers were twin sisters, one of whom had been the young woman who inquired about our house when talking to our friend, Sonja! They were absolutely delightful young ladies — hardworking nurses who’ve been raised with a view to the future. In visiting with their mother, who came with them, we learned at the age of 24, they decided they wanted to invest in a home, rather than throwing hardearned money away on rent. And here’s the crazy, “oh my gosh, it is such a tiny, tiny world” bit of the story.

We exchanged our stories — where we were from and what we did. I mentioned I live near Lake Jackson, the mother mentioned her son worked at Brazosport College. I said, “Oh! I teach photography there in the Community Education department!” She gasped and exclaimed, “My oldest daughter is in your class!” I asked if her name was Angela, and “Yes, yes it is!”

So several months ago, this very sweet young lady called me to ask about what kind of camera she needed and told me how much she was looking forward to the class. Several months ago, her mother and one sister walked into my friend’s office and mentioned they were looking for a house to buy in Alvin. And today we discovered all these paths that seemed completely separate were actually very close indeed.

I would definitely say God is in the details. I take a great deal of joy in knowing these sweet young ladies, fellow Christians, will be making their home and memories in our childhood home. I am pleased that such good people will be the new neighbors of the neighbors we have been so fond of for so many years. 

I think our mother would be so happy. I know she would. I know I am.

Posted in family, life, love

Teach His Feet A Measure

I ran by the Alvin house earlier this afternoon to do a little “cleaning” in the garage before the closing next Monday. There were some odds and ends left on the workbench that needed to be thrown away or taken home. It didn’t take very long to sort through everything, and as I worked, I found history repeating itself in a way.

I can’t count how many times I saw my daddy stop working on whatever project he had going in the garage — building an instrumentation panel, cutting lumber for a project, or working on one of the vehicles — to walk out in the front yard and stare up at the sky. He’d scan the blue, shielding his eyes from the sun with one hand, listening to the hum of an airplane making its way thousands of feet above us. It would only take him a second or two to spot it, and then he would impress me by identifying whatever kind of plane it was by the shape of the wings and the sound of the engine.

Today I stood in the front yard and stared up at the sky, scanning the cloudless blue, for the source of the familiar sound. I’m pretty sure it was a single engine prop, and I am certain it had two wings, but other than that, I’m sorry to say I didn’t inherit my daddy’s magic gift for plane identification. I do know the sun glistened off the fuselage as it turned and headed out toward FM 1462, and it was a beautiful thing to see. My Grandma Power, Daddy’s mama, once told me that Daddy would build airplane models when he was a little boy, before he could even read the instructions. She said he would look at the pictures and figure out which pieces went where.

He graduated from a small high school in East Texas, where the number of seniors allowed each a quotation in the high school yearbook. Daddy’s quote was, “Pluck out his flying feathers, and teach his feet a measure.” I always thought that was so funny!

A few years later, his passion for flying would be the thing that saved him, though. His daddy, stepmama, and little brother asked him if he wanted to go visit some family out of town. He had some work to do on an airplane at a little country airport and said, “Not this time.” On the way home from that visit, there was a terrible car accident and my daddy’s daddy didn’t make it. There’s no way to know for sure, but if my daddy had gone with them, he probably would have been driving. The loss of his daddy made him so safety conscious  when it came to vehicles — he ordered seatbelts and installed them in his car because back then, they were not standard equipment. He would not even begin to drive until we were buckled up safe and sound, and he passed that on to me. He teased me that the car seat AJ and I bought for Jami looked like it was designed by NASA. He may have teased us, but I know he was pleased.

He lives in New Orleans now, but I’m pretty sure when a plane flies over his house he stops whatever he’s doing and walks out to the backyard where he can see the sky. He shields his eyes with the palm of his hand and looks up at the blue for the Cessna he knows is there.

I guess I was serving in a supervisory capacity on this aviation project.
Posted in faith, family, friendship, life, love

The Gift of Lifetime Friends

My guy and I, along with our girl, spent years 1997 – 1999 living in Huntsville, Texas. We moved there, where we’d originally met in college in 1985, when AJ accepted a position in the Human Resources department with the state prison system. Though short, those were good years for us, in large part because we became friends with another married couple who would prove to be more like family than friends.

We visited a church called Family Faith one Sunday and really liked it. The worship was powerful and the sermon series on family was spot on for what we needed at the time. I don’t think it was very long at all, maybe two or three weeks, that one of the ladies there, Lucy Arnold, told me, “You need to meet Alena. I just know you will be great friends.”

I am so grateful for Lucy’s intuition, because she was 100% right regarding Alena. I was 33 years old, Alena was 24 — we immediately hit it off and became fast friends. We both loved to read, we were both relatively new mothers since we had toddlers and she had another baby while we lived in Huntsville. I loved how easy it was to talk with Alena — about anything and everything. She always took her life experiences and turned them around to what God had done for her, what He had taught her. Even though she was younger than me, I learned so much from her!

The bonus of our developing friendship was the friendship that grew between our husbands, too. When two married women become close friends, friendship between their spouses is not always a given. The fact that the four of us enjoy each others’ company so much is a real gift and one we do not take for granted, and it was Clyde who officiated at our wedding vow renewal a few weeks ago. A two hour drive now separates us, but when the opportunity to fellowship presents itself, we are delighted to rearrange schedules, whatever is needed to be able to spend that time together!

Today is Clyde’s 60th birthday and with his characteristic spontaneity he decided to take a day trip to his favorite place, the beach. Alena contacted us to see if we could meet them and their kids out there and, of course, the answer was “yes!” We made it out to Peregrine, going toward San Luis Pass, and the guys got the little portable grill going for hot dogs while Alena and I took a walk down the beach. Such a sweet visit catching up with each other! Upon our return, a fire pit had been dug and a small wood fire was burning in preparation for s’mores. We sat around the fire and talked, and then Clyde wrapped up our evening by leading us in a couple of worship songs.

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Friends and sisters by choice. ❤

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Lots to smile about – we’re together!
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Alena & Clyde, with their kids, plus a few “extras” along for the ride!

How I miss having these people nearby! I love you, Tauriainens! You are the best! ❤

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Alena & Clyde Tauriainen, AJ & Laura Jinkins

 

Posted in family, life, love, marriage

Encouraged & Reassured; Joy is a Choice

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My beautiful, strong, independent daughter.

 

After seeing so many posts online regarding the “Day Without a Woman” protest, I honestly thought the world had gone stark raving bonkers. Seriously, who would have thought we’d see women walking around a few weeks ago in pornographic craft projects gone bad in protest?

Then my daughter, Jami, posted a link to this article on her FB page, and I was encouraged and reassured that there are still intelligent, responsible women walking this planet.

via ‘A Day Without a Woman’ Protest Is Challenged by Women Who Say #WeShowUp to Work

The article and the numerous responses of levelheaded women it documents give me great comfort in knowing there ARE strong women out there who don’t whine and complain about perceived injustices. They know they are strong and capable of taking charge of their own destinies, choosing their own paths. It makes me incredibly proud to know that my daughter recognizes what a truly strong woman does and is making her own path in this world without expecting accommodations, but by doing the work needed to achieve her dreams.


To continue the protests, this came out: Some Women Are Striking From Smiling Today. Apparently, smiling is a form of “emotional labor” — and women are tired of being forced to appear pleasant and/or happy. According to the article, “emotional labor” is a term that was coined in 1983 (a year after I graduated from high school) and it refers to putting others first in order to keep things going smoothly and make others happy. Supposedly, women walking down the street are being commanded by passersby to smile, and cautioned that an unfulfilled request can escalate into something undesirable. I’m trying to remember the last time I was out walking about that someone demanded that I smile. Oh, that’s right! NEVER.

Here’s a question for you, whomever you may be, whatever you may be (male or female): Why are these people so determined to be miserable? Whatever happened to taking one’s circumstances and making the best of them? There’s a good chance that, in the process, those circumstances will improve thanks to the effort. I’ve found that when I think of others in a kindly and caring manner, it is often returned to me. Treat my husband like crap? Refuse to think about his needs? I’m pretty certain I’ll reap the harvest of what I’ve sown. But care about him, do what I can to make his day a better day? I find he returns the love.

We just celebrated our twenty-fifth wedding anniversary, and my husband surprised me with a wedding vow renewal at the beach in Surfside, Texas. He spent a year planning an event that was perfectly us. He had the beach as his background (as a Galveston BOI, it’s his favorite place) and with our sisters’ help, he made sure I had the “pretties” I enjoy so much. Our road to that day (and to the future ahead) has not always been smooth. There have been times that we both thought “what the hell have we done?” Thankfully, we’ve never thought it at the same time, and we’re both too stubborn to quit on each other. So here we are. And here is the blog post he wrote that proves to me success is to be found in focusing on and loving others, not whining and complaining about how life isn’t fair. He said,

When I look at Laura, this is what I see. After 25 years, I do not see a beautiful, young, sexy thing. I see a part of me that has consistently withstood the trials of life and yet remained true and has stayed the course. To me, that is more beautiful and sexy than anything else in this world, and the stories we can tell!

I cannot think of any more beautiful words than those. Of course, a third wave feminist will take umbrage at the phrase “a part of me” — the outcry will be “I am my OWN person, not a part of any man” — and for those who can’t see the forest for the trees, I feel sorry for you. You get so caught up in the minutia that you can’t see this is a man who will give his life for me, who loves me as much or more than himself — who remembers every thing he’s ever heard me express an interest in and does what he can to make sure I have the enjoyment of that thing, the fulfillment of my goals and dreams. On the flip side of that, he is a part of me — I am committed to him with equal fervor.

If I’d only focused on the negatives, and refused to see the positives, odds are great we wouldn’t have lasted and I would have missed out on a ceremony that truly means more to me than the one we experienced in 1992. The first wedding was nice, there’s no doubt. It was in a church, I had the beautiful dress, we were surrounded by friends and family, and there was a big cake and punch. But the truth? Our renewal says this:

I kept my promise, and I choose to keep it again.

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My sentimental husband created our own “unity” ceremony using sand he’d taken from the Galveston beach when he went off to college in 1985 and dirt he got from a crawfish hole in the back yard of my childhood home in Alvin. The Galveston sand and the Alvin dirt, mixed together, is now contained in a glass jar labeled “Galvinston”. ❤

So on the days that aren’t perfect, the days I roll my eyes and think, “What have I gotten myself into?” — I choose to remember he may be thinking the same thing. And then I remind myself of the good times and the promise of more. I choose joy, no matter the circumstances. Choosing misery and complaint only produces more of the same, and is rooted in selfishness. My prayer for all these confused women is that they try joy for a change. Focus on others and see if things turn around. You might be surprised.