"The choices we make change
the story of our life." ©
Saturday, December 16, 2006
May the blessings of this Christmas season be upon you. We are taking the remainder of the year off from blogging and will return in January with a very special announcement. Stay tuned.
God be with you and yours!
Sunday, December 10, 2006
Day Seven of Seven
This is my last blog on U-Turns this time around, so I want to close with this Christmas story from our family's history. I hope it will bless you as it has me.
On Christmas morning, 1912, in Paducah, Kentucky, fourteen-year-old Charlie Flowers and his three brothers and two sisters huddled in their beds, fully dressed, trying to keep warm as the wind howled outside their small frame house.
It was a desperate time for the family. The coal had run out. There was little money--none for gifts. Their tree with decorations made from scraps of colored paper had been given to them the night before by a local merchant who said he "couldn't sell this last one." And earlier that year their father had died.
To pass the time, the children joked and shouted stories from their bedrooms across the hallway from one another. Then suddenly a racket from the alley at the rear of the house broke into their games.
"Charlie," his mother called, "would you see what's going on out there?"
Charlie pulled on his shoes and ran out back. There stood a man in a wagon bent over a load of coal, shoveling it into the shed as fast as he could.
"Hey mister, we didn't order any coal," Charlie shouted. "You're delivering it to the wrong house."
"Your name's Flowers, isn't it?" the man asked, still shoveling.
"Well then, there's no mistake. I've been asked to deliver this to your family on Christmas morning." Then he turned and looked the awe-struck boy square in the eye. "And I'm under strict orders not to tell who sent it," he teased.
Charlie ran into the house, his coat tail flapping in the cold morning wind. He could hardly wait to tell his mother and brothers and sisters. God had provided.
Charlie Flowers died in 1994 at age 96. And right up to the last year of his life, not a Christmas went by that he didn't tell the story of that sub-zero Christmas morning of his boyhood when two men gave his family an unforgettable gift.
It wasn't the coal that was remembered or cherished, Charlie often recounted--welcome as it was--but rather what two men brought to his desperate family. One, for his gift of recognizing their great need and taking the time to do something about it, and the other for being willing to give up part of his own Christmas morning to deliver it.
That gift of so long ago has continued to warm the Flowers family from one generation to another, as Charlie's son--my husband Charles--calls to mind these two unknown men each Christmas morning and whispers a prayer of thanks. Then we as a family praise God for His gift on the first Christmas morning––the gift of His son, Jesus Christ, whom He sent to a needy world--the One who makes possible the U-Turn that brings each one of us to Him, our Lord and Savior.
God bless each of you and my thanks to those who sent comments during the week. May Christmas this year be special for all of us and the new year, bright with the promise and hope that Jesus brings.
Saturday, December 09, 2006
Day Six of Seven
I've made a few U-Turns in my life, and I imagine I'll make a few more—and not just at a stoplight. But I'm concerned with a different kind these days. I call them You Turns. I notice as I grow older that I'm more concerned with 'you' than I am with myself. What a refreshing observation that is. I'm sure if my mother were still alive she'd like knowing that. I remember a time in high school when she said with conviction, "The whole world doesn't revolve around you, Karen. You just might want to focus on others for a change."
Now why didn't I think of that? Probably because I was 15 at the time and really did believe the whole world revolved around me.
Today it's fun to see how many You Turns I can make.
• Chatting with the grocery bagger, a young man who is mentally challenged but who has a smile to die for.
• Complimenting the receptionist at the doctor's office on her efficiency and welcoming words.
• Waving a driver to go ahead of me into traffic.
• Fixing my husband the kind of lunch he loves: hot soup, cheese bread, salad with olives and a chocolate cookie for dessert.
• Visiting a neighbor in the hospital as he recovers from bypass surgery.
I feel good when I make You Turns. And I can tell that others like it when I do. One You Turn can lead to another and another until suddenly I find myself making another major U-Turn in my life--from self-centered to selfless. I think I'll stay the course. I like this new direction. My life is becoming brighter and I see the love of Jesus brightening the lives of those around me.
"We love because He first loved us" (1 John 4:19). Lord, help me to keep on loving.
Friday, December 08, 2006
Day Five of Seven
I never realized until now (living within ten minutes by car from three of my grandchildren) how many advantages there are to being a grandparent. In case you haven't yet experienced this divine season of life, here's a glimpse into some of what you can look forward to. As a grandmother you'll have:
• someone to remind you to cover your legs with a towel at the beach—so the blue lines on your legs won't show.
• someone to spot the stray hair growing out of your husband's ear so you can pluck it before he goes out in public.
• someone to tell you she loves the feel of your hands just when you're noticing how old they look.
• someone to jump up on the kitchen counter in one bound—to reach a bowl or a cup that is too high for you.
• someone to tell you that your shoes are 'cool,' your earrings are just the right color, but your knit turtle neck shirt shouldn't be tucked in. "You're supposed to wear them over your jeans."
• someone with whom to make cookies, read bedtime stories, skip in the rain, laugh at knock-knock jokes, and fall asleep in front of your favorite cartoons.
Being a mother is superb. Being a grandmother is supernal! Thank you, Lord, for grandchildren. Gettin' old ain't so bad after all!
Thursday, December 07, 2006
Day Four of Seven
The thought of cleaning house puts some people to bed. But for others it's a reason to get up. I'm one of the latter. I don't LOVE housework but I find it satisfying in an odd sort of way. I like chasing those dust bunnies around my hardwood floors and actually catching them, and I love the look and feel and smell of a lemon-fresh bathroom. But most of all I get pleasure from wiping down the photos and art work that adorn the walls of our home, laundry room, and garage. Yes, garage. We have paintings and photos there too.
I got in touch with this new dimension of cleaning a couple of years ago when we did a major overhaul––you know, the kind that involves painting walls, peeling off ugly wallpaper from the guest bathroom, and discarding clutter––the stuff I never should have purchased in the first place. I wonder what treasure today will be tomorrow's trash. Hmm!
Anyway, back to cleaning. As I spritzed the glass and dusted the picture frames that held photos of my children, my husband, my parents and siblings and myself, I got misty-eyed. I even cried over some. How could that pudgy little toddler be a man of 40 today? How could my darling daughters once standing on the balance beam in their leotards be mothers of their own children? Two of my kids are 'boomers.' Where does that leave me? In the dust! (Pardon the pun.)
Being amazed, however, has given way to gratitude. And it continues to this day, December 7, 2006, as I prepare my home for the company arriving for the holidays. I will never clean my house again with the same 'let's get it over with' attitude that marked cleaning days of long ago. Now I use the time to lift my head and my mop and broom toward heaven—blessing God and thanking Him for the gift of life, especially the lives of the people I love so much, whose framed photos I dust and hold close to my heart. Even cleaning one's house can be a kind of U-turn—from obligation and duty to praise and gratitude. ". . .give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus" (1 Thes. 5:18).
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
Day Three of Seven
I shop for some of my groceries at Nob Hill Market. Sometimes I refer to it as Snob Hill because the prices are a bit higher than Save-a-Lot, but I love the atmosphere, the wide selection of organic produce, and the many familiar health food brands that I favor.
This week I pulled into the parking lot in front of the store, in a hurry, as usual, and did not make a note of the slot I chose. I simply dashed in, bought more than I came for, what else is new, and rushed through the check stand. As I wheeled my cart out the front door, a young man with a Nob Hill shirt headed me off. "May I help you to your car?"
I smiled but waved him off. "It's okay. I can manage. Only two bags. No problem."
He took the cart right out of my capable hands. "I insist. Besides, I like getting out in the fresh air."
I tried to talk him out of it, but he'd have none of my persuasive chatter. Then my heart pounded—FAST! I had forgotten where I'd parked. Darn! If only I'd stop and pay attention this wouldn't happen so often. I was caught. As the man waited for me to direct him to my car, I admitted my memory lapse.
"Good," he said. "It will take longer." Then he winked and nudged me with a shoulder. "Is that why you didn't want me to help you out?"
"No," I lied. "I just didn't want to take you away from your work."
He smiled—knowingly. I guess he'd heard that line before—from other grayheads like me. "What does your car look like?"
Look like? It looks like it's lost—that's what!
I pasted a smile on my face. "Gray, like my hair. A wagon with a rack on top."
He spotted it and within a moment he loaded my bags into the trunk, my face returned from red to white, and I was on my way. Drat! I thought being a baby boomer was tough. Imagine what's ahead when you slip into elderly. No wonder I've had no trouble writing for the over-50 crowd. All I have to do is live my life, take a few notes, and presto, I have a book!! Help, Lord! I'm Having a Senior Moment and another Gettin' Old Ain't For Wimps. Both have sold over 100,000 copies each so I know I'm speaking to somebody out there. Maybe Allison and I should get together and write a combination that is sure to be a winner: Growin' Old Is Just One U-Turn After Another.
Dear God, I'm so glad you've promised never to leave nor forsake me (Joshua 1:5)––no matter what!
Tuesday, December 05, 2006
Day Two of Seven
I remember a time when Boom! Boom! was the sound of my brother and his buddy playing 'war' with their toy guns. Now it refers to a whole group of people called boomers born between 1946 and 1964. I missed this target range by eight years. The more appropriate chant for me is Pow! Pow! Power! An investment counselor told me recently that based on my current age (68) I have a life expectancy of 110. With that in mind—I'm just a bit past middle age. Wouldn't you agree that's a powerful position to be in? Cruise lines, investment brokers, physicians, travel agents, car sales people, retirement village developers, and time-share operators are all after me and the big bucks they assume I have.
Then there are the vendors who think my 'real' age is what matters. They presume I live on a 'fixed income' and I see no good reason to tell them otherwise. These compassionate individuals offer me a discount on movie tickets every afternoon, hamburgers and fries for half price on Tuesdays at Dinette Don's, a free breakfast at the Senior Center every Friday morning, a low-priced concert ticket for the local symphony––if I have it in me to climb to the rafters for a seat, and free lemonade and cookies if I stop by the bank on Monday afternoons, instead of Friday afternoons when all the 'earners' are cashing paychecks.
But most important to me are God's promises, especially the one from Isaiah 46:4. "Even to your old age and gray hairs, I am He, I am He who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you."
Ah yes, I'm into THAT kind of pow-pow-power! And I'll keep right on enjoying these benefits till I'm 110! I've made a U-turn for life and I'm never going back again.
Monday, December 04, 2006
Day One of Seven
U-turns, second chances, new beginnings. Sometimes I can hardly wait for them. And sometimes I feel like a kid being forced to eat those green things Mom said are good for me. Does that ever happen to you? For me 2006 has been a bit of both--anticipation and anxiety. Now that I'm at the end of this year of change and challenge, I'm excited to shout "Yeah! God! You always know what's best for me. Why do I ever doubt it?" He keeps picking me up, dusting me off, and letting me start all over again. This year the fresh start is in a new city in a new house near our youngest daughter and her family. This is something I've always wanted but never thought I could have––for all kinds of reasons I made up, like not having enough money, or time, or believing it would take too much effort, etc., etc., etc., as the King of Siam said with a wave of his hand in The King and I. I saw boulders in the road. But God removed them, one by one. He's into U-turns. He took my longing and turned it into a possibility. So here we are--in a house of our own in the beautiful Central Coast of California surrounded by acres of strawberry farmland, the Pacific Ocean nearby, and the Diablo Mountains behind us. I can see the stars at night in the cold black sky, hear the waves crash on the shore as I drive north on Highway 1 and feel the cool breeze sail down the mountains in the early morning.
All this in a community of other people over 55 who, like my husband Charles and I, are also making U-turns, eager for new adventures and new friendships. As one neighbor put it, "There will be no strangers here. We're going to take care of each other." And so today I am turning again--with thanksgiving and praise for the gifts of faith, friendship, family, finances, food, fitness, fun––and second chances.
Sunday, December 03, 2006
Starting on Monday, December 4th we're in for a big treat as author and speaker Karen O'Connor joins us for a full week of postings on the God Allows U-Turns blog!
Karen O'Connor is an award winning author of more than 50 books, and is an accomplished speaker and a writing mentor with Long Ridge Writers Group and the Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Group. Karen's latest successes are in the 'senior market'--boomers and beyond. Titles include: Help, Lord! I'm Having a Senior Moment! The Beauty of Aging (Regal Books) as well as "Gettin' Old Ain't For Wimps, Gettin' Old STILL Ain't For Wimps, and just completed for 2007 publication, Walkin' With God Ain't For Wimps (Harvest House). Visit Karen's web site for more information: www.karenoconnor.com.
Come back and visit and tell your friends!