You Can Get Back Up Again

Who had a Bozo the Clown blow-up bop bag? did. I remember being so fascinated by how quickly he bounced back up. So much so, I would give him my best shot or 50 and he always bounced back….unless he was low on air and then he wouldn’t bounce back as quickly.

Have you had the wind knocked out of sails? Have you been blind-sighted or sucker-punched? Have there been times when you just wanted to go far, far away to a deserted island and never come back? Or maybe you just want hermit away in your house and never come out? You certainly didn’t feel like bouncing back and getting up on your feet again and facing the world with all of its uncertainties. I certainly have faced times like these.

So, how do you bounce back when you’re punched again and again and again? The first thing to remember is that you’re not the only one. There are many people in this world and many suffer from heartaches and disappointments, many of them are far greater than yours. That doesn’t mean yours aren’t real. They are real. Your pain is real. Your heartache is real. Your sorrow is real. Even the apostle Paul did not discount pain and suffering. He just had a different perspective. His perspective was quite simple and yet profound, “Rejoice in the Lord alway, and again I say, Rejoice” Philippians 4:4 (KJV) I believe what he is saying is that our response to difficult situations is to recognize that God is Sovereign and He is in control. Rejoice in the fact that He is God and He is good.

Does that mean we cannot question or doubt his goodness? Absolutely not. If that were the case my doubts would have never lead me to the place of understanding that God is sovereign above all things. God loves an honest doubter and in time He will reveal Himself to you if you’re honest about your doubts and you seek Him.

The second thing is to keep in mind that your suffering has a time limit. It will not last forever. Will it go away before you die? I don’t know. Only God knows the answer to that but one day, all pain and suffering will come to a screeching halt. Gone forever. How do I know this? The Bible tells me so, “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death, or mourning, or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” Revelation 21:4 (NIV). This life and all of its sorrows, trials, and pain are just temporary.

Thirdly, know that you have a friend in Jesus. He knows all about you. He understands everything you’re going through. He came not only to dwell among us but to understand us. Hebrews 4:15 says it like this, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—-yet he did not sin.” (NIV) So, if you’re struggling to grapple with whatever you are facing and you do not think anyone understands, knows, and believes that Jesus does. This will change your life. As the psalmist says, in Psalm 46:1, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” (NIV)He is always present. Always stands ready to help. And He is always near.

Don’t run away from the things that threaten to take you down because in time you can bounce back again. Sometimes you may bounce back more quickly than others but don’t be discouraged because You are not alone and you will get up again.

The Legacy She’s Leaving

As I read the words Paul penned in Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Him (Christ) who gives me strength.” I simply cannot think of a better story to share.

If you look at the preceding verses you will see that Paul is talking about this as being the very secret that he learned of being content. In every circumstance, whether in plenty or need this is how you become content, fix your mind on Jesus, and know that He is the source of your strength.

So, this is a picture of Aunt Trisha and Uncle Onald. They were married in February of 1966, in a double wedding ceremony with my Mom and Dad.

In 1969 they moved from Brevard to Winston Salem. Uncle Onald began his career as a license examiner and she began her 23-year career with RJ Reynolds.

By 1974, they bought their first and only house located on the outskirts of Winston Salem in Advance. God did not choose to bless them with children of their own; however, He did bless them with nieces and nephews and great-nieces and nephews to dote and love on.

My four children were the main recipients of their love and care. Every summer or break my children had from school, Aunt Trisha and Uncle Onald would take one of my children for a week at a time. It was their special week to eat anything and do whatever they wanted. My children always came home happy and eager to return when it was their time to go.

Over the years, they traveled with groups and alone and with my grandparents to various destinations. Dollywood was one of their favorite locations and they traveled there often until a few years ago when she began having issues with her knees.

For many years, they came regularly to Brevard to help take care of their ailing parents.

Last year in August they were called to Brevard for Uncle Onald’s twin brother, Donald. Hospice had been called in and he was rapidly declining.

Around mid-September, Uncle Onald began experiencing problems swallowing. An endoscopy and biopsy revealed that he had Esophageal cancer. He too had an inoperable mass/tumor in his esophagus. And so, the arduous chemotherapy began in October. The chemotherapy was not effective in his situation and with Aunt Trisha by his side, he passed away on December 20, 2020, at Wake Forest Baptist Hospital.

After his unexpected death, one would expect devastation. But not Aunt Trisha, she had watched his fast and steady decline. She’s said over and over, “Oh, I am so grateful that God chose to call him home. I miss him but I know that I couldn’t have taken care of him at home.”

Now, this brings me back to the point of this writing. Much like Paul, Aunt Trisha has learned the secret of being content in all circumstances. She knows that her strength comes from the Lord and she knows that she “can do all things through Christ who strengthens (her).”

What a remarkable legacy she has and is displaying in her life. It’s one I don’t want to soon forget.

Love is the Better Choice

For months I have been silent, well silent for me. It is golden, right? Maybe, maybe not. I am going to try to steer clear of getting on a soapbox because I could certainly do that as well. Actually, I could quite possibly in the course of one writing hit on many but my rants are pointless because what I would rant about I would actually need to be pointing fingers back at myself for doing. Let’s face the real fact, I am a flawed individual. Pure and simple. I make mistakes. I make poor choices. I do dumb sometimes. But because of the grace of God I am forgiven (past, present and future) for my sin and shortcomings.

What I want you to know and what I need for you to hear is that I love you. I love you because like me, you are created in the very image of God. And whether you believe it or not, God said of man, “It is very good.” (Gensis 1:31). That means all of humanity is very good. However, going on a little further in scripture we see that we are the ones who muck it up. Look at Ecclesiates 7:29 (MSG), “Yet I did spot one ray of light in this murk: God made men and women true and upright; we’re the ones who’ve made a mess of things.” This is called freewill. Because we are created in the image of God, He also gave us the right to choose. His desire is that we choose to live in fellowship with Him but He will never force us. He will only pursue us.

Personally, I am saddened by all the negativity fluctuating these days. But you know what breaks my heart more, the fact that I see brother rising against brother. I see so much hatred and so little love. This is so upside down from the way it’s suppose to be. How have we gotten so far away from knowing that love is far greater than hate? We, and I am speaking to those who are Christians, have taken our eyes off of our first and greatest love, God. Because we are told that the greatest commandment is to, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:37-40. Folks, we can do better. We have to do better. We are made in the image of God and because we bear His image we should do better. We should strive to love our fellowman.

I’ve been reading Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis. If you’ve never picked up this book, I strongly encourage you to do so. It is power packed with so much truth. He is so pragmatic and practical but mostly he’s a deep thinker and he processes through what Christianity really means. Look at what he says about good and evil : “Good and evil both increase at compound interest. That is why the little decisions you and I make every day are of such infinite importance. The smallest good act today is the capture of a strategic point from which, a few months later, you may be able to go on to victories you never dreamed of. An apparently trivial indulgence in lust or anger today is the loss of a ridge or railway line or bridgehead from which the enemy may launch an attack otherwise impossible.”

The small seemingly insignifcant choices we make today will make huge impacts down the road. He also says earlier in the chapter, “Do not waste time bothering whether you ‘love’ your neighbor; act as if you did. As soon as we do this we find on the greatest secrets when you are behaving as if you loved someone, you will presently come to love him.” We are not all going to think alike. We certainly do not look alike. We do not behave alike but what we all have in common is that we are ALL created by God. We are the only thing in creation that He did not speak into existence. We are formed by the very hands of God and He breathed into our nostrils the breath of life and that is why we should strive to love one another deeply because “love covers over a multitude of sins.” ( I Peter 4:8)

It’s Your Graduation Day

Dear Amy,

Today is your graduation from college day! Wow! You made it. You overcame some great obstacles and you finished well, both on the field and in the classroom. I know this is not the Pomp and Circumstance we were hoping for, but it doesn’t make us any less proud of your accomplishments and the way you held together through some very adverse situations throughout your college years. You have endured well.

I will never forget about four weeks into your Freshman year, I was feeling pretty low. I was missing you. Maybe not missing you as much as the activity that always surrounded you. I had been asking God for quite some time to grow our relationship to a deeper level. That day, you called me and you were homesick and tired. The 5:00 AM practices were not exactly what you bargained for. The class load was heavy. Being away from home for the first time was hard for you. You cried, and Amy rarely cries. I almost cried with you. But instead, I encouraged you to keep on. I told you that it would get easier. And you actually believed me, maybe for the first time in your life. It did get easier. You found your rhythm.

You didn’t come home after your Freshman year, you stayed, worked a job, and worked out with your coach. You wanted to improve and that was the only way you knew it would happen. You were dedicated, not only for yourself but for your team.

Your Sophomore year, you moved into an apartment. Apartment life was much better than dorm life for you. You made tons of new friends. You also lost your biggest fan in October of your Sophomore year, your Papaw. Instead of allowing a shadow of despair to overtake you, you used his influence and his life to propel you to do better. You loved social life but you didn’t falter in your classwork or on the field. You performed well and you were part of the Southern Conference Women’s Championship Team. Again, you decided to remain throughout the summer and work with your coach, continuing to improve your skills and strength.

At the start of your Junior year, you were pumped. You were excited, not only for the school to start but you were ready for track season. You had worked hard and diligently. You were where you wanted to be athletically. However, a wrench was thrown into your plans and you learned very quickly that things aren’t always what they’re supposed to be. Your coach resigned and went to another team. You were devastated. But instead of quitting, you endured. You struggled a bit during the indoor season but you had no coach. Finally, during the outdoor season, a new coach was hired. You performed well. I know you wanted better finishes but considering the circumstances, you put your best foot forward and you encouraged your teammates to do the same.

During the summer you again remained in Cullowhee to work with your coach…..but one day, you thought it was a good idea to be funny and try to cannonball dive into 2 1/2’ of water. It didn’t turn out funny or to be a good idea at all. But we did see God’s hand of protection over you. The injury you suffered was only minor compared to what it could’ve been.

This injury put a halt to things for about a month. It afforded you some downtime which was much needed and gave you lots of time with your Mawmaw. She spoiled you and took great care of you. She loved every minute and I didn’t hear any complaints from you either. It also gave you perspective on life and how quickly things can change. It only took a split-second decision, didn’t it?

You recovered from your concussion. You returned to Cullowhee and resumed your practice schedule. Then classes began and you were back in the groove once more. One final rodeo: The Senior Year.

There was so much anticipation leading into October. Practice was going well. You were feeling more confident than you had in over a year. Then the unthinkable, your new coach announces that he is leaving to take a new coaching position. You were not quite as devastated the second time as the first time; but again, you had no time to prepare for this blow. A new coach was hired more quickly but you as well as your teammates still felt very alone. But again, you persevered and continued to practice and try to better yourself and encouraged your teammates to do the same.

Then on January 2, in a moment, a blink of an eye, you saw your life pass before you. The wreck happened so quickly you didn’t even know how to respond. By the time I arrived, you were shaking and in shock. When you put your head on my shoulders and cried like a baby, while I held you in my arms, through your sobs you kept repeating, “Mommy, I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.” The accident wasn’t your fault but sadly the only witness, who knew the accident wasn’t your fault, fled the scene, and didn’t leave his name. I calmed you down and told you, “Amy, you don’t need to worry about this. It will all be okay. You are alive and not hurt and that’s all that really matters. Right now, the only thing you need to worry about is finishing well in track and finishing well in school. That’s your job right now.” You agreed. Again, we saw God’s mighty hand of protection covering you.

On February 29, 2020, at the Southern Conference Indoor Championships, you took the bull by the horns and you finished in 3rd overall in the Shot Put. Not only did you finish in 3rd but you also had the best throw of your college career. You endured. You finished well.

A week later you would leave for Spring Break, only to learn that once you returned from Cancun you would have another week of Spring Break and then all of your classes would go online. Then the following week, the biggest blow, all spring sports would be canceled. It felt cruel and hard. Again, this is just not how things should be.

You didn’t allow the announcement to unravel you, instead, you put more effort into finishing well in the classroom. On Wednesday, you turned in your final paper. You completed your studies at WCU with excellence. You finished well. You endured. You persevered with grace and dignity.

Life is sure to throw some more adversities your way; however, I want you to remember that God will always see you through. His grace has brought you safe thus far and His grace will lead you home.

Today is your Graduation Day and it might not look the way it should but let it always be a reminder that in life things don’t alway work out the way we envision them; but in the end remember what C.S. Lewis says, “Hardships often prepare ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny.” And always remember that your Daddy and I are proud of you and your accomplishments; but we are most proud of the character that is developing in you.

Happy, happy Graduation Day!

I love you,

Mom

Photos by: Sarah Scoggins Siak

Let it be enough

I posted this photo along with the following explanation and because it seemed to resonate with a lot of folks, I am just going to go ahead and post it here. This is a struggle bus I ride on a daily basis and I am learning just to let what I do today be enough.

This is hard for an individual like me. The one who’s always thinking I could’ve done more. The reality is finally setting in and I am beginning to see that it’s not the amount I get done in a day but rather the heart with which I do it that gives me the most satisfaction. There’s a verse in Philippians 2: 3-4 that says, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” For me, it is better to do a little with the right heart and motives than a lot without a heart and for self-satisfaction and personal gain.

A Fast Spreading Infection

An infection, especially a bacterial infection, left untreated can wreak havoc quickly. Oh, I’ve heard about incidents where folks left infections untreated and serious problems resulted from not taking care of the problem. In some cases, amputations of appendages and even death. I just didn’t realize how quickly an infection can spread until I had one.

One day in late May, I decided to treat myself to a manicure and pedicure. It’s not something I normally do. It’s one of the luxuries I don’t care to spend money on, except occasionally and for special occasions. This particular day, I just needed a “pick me up”.

The next day, as the day progressed, I noticed that my left thumb was tight and it was trobbing a little. But when I glanced down at it, it had the appearance of a bug bite. It was the end of May and the mosquitos were out. I brushed it off and didn’t think anything else about it until later in the day.

During dinner with Terry I jokingly said, “Look at my poor thumb. It’s swollen and it has a fever.”

He said, “Well, when you get home put some ice on it. It looks like a bug bite.” (See, I told you, in my previous blog, his answer for everything is “ice”. )

By the time I arrived home my thumb was throbbing. It felt as if my heart was beating in my thumb. Not to mention, the swelling was getting worse. My thumb was so tight I could barely move it. So, I did what Terry suggested. I put ice on the darn thing and began my Google search to determine what bit me. After several searches and looking at pictures of bug bitten fingers, mine didn’t exactly fit the bill. So I Googled, “Why is my thumb swollen around the nail?” One of the first articles talked about bacterial infections related to manicures. Suddenly it dawned on me that I had the manicure the day before and that’s exactly what happened. I had gotten an infection. Then I recalled an odd comment the nail tech made to me, “I don’t like that color. Why you choose that color?” (And yes, he said it this way because he’s Asian) I also remembered during the process of cutting my cuticle he gouged me a little in the lower left corner of my left thumb. As I looked at my fat thumb, I could see tiny remnants of dried blood from the small gouge mark. No wonder he didn’t like the color, I thought as I recalled events from the previous day. But honestly, if the infection hadn’t set it, I doubt I would’ve even noticed it.

I slept very little that evening. My thumb was having a throb fest. By the next morning, it was more red, swollen and feverish. In fact, I couldn’t bend it. Terry, Alex and Amy suggested calling the doctor. I tried arguing but they kept saying, “You don’t complain about pain unless it hurts.” That is true, I do have a high tolerance for pain and sometimes it’s a blessing and sometimes it’s a curse. Also, I knew from what I read the night before that I did need to seek medical attention.

My dermatologist wasn’t available until Friday and my PCP was out of town but I did get in to see the PA. As soon as she looked at my finger, she said, “Wow! Bet you won’t go back to that nail salon again!” She explained that this type of infection can go south very quickly and she was very concerned. She prescribed a 10-day antibiotic and told me that I had to soak my finger five times a day in Epsom salt and water. Then I had to use warm compression on it after the soaking. She suggested I do this for the next three days and then cut back as the infection got better.

As I was leaving I was trying to find some humor in all and said, “Well, I knew my thumb was sick because it was running a fever.”

“To be honest, you are running a fever and that indicates the infection is already spreading. Your body temperature is 100.4,” she responded.

“Wow! I never run a fever and my normal body temperature is 97.6, not 98.6. I sure am glad I came today and didn’t wait, ” I answered back

“If it gets worse or your fever gets higher, go to the ER immediately. Do not wait.” She earned as I was leaving.

Driving home, I kept thanking God that the pain was so intense that I had to go to the doctor. Otherwise, I would’ve waited and the outcome may have been much worse.

Just to help you understand how seriously my doctor’s office took this infection, the PA called me for the next three days to make sure I was improving.

As I sit here and recount this story, it reminds me of how sin infects our lives when it’s left unchecked. You see, sin is like a bacterial infection. The longer we wait around to take care of it the longer it will take to get it out of our lives. Ravi Zacharias says, “Sin will take you farther than you want to go, keep you longer than you want to stay, and cost you more than you want to pay.”

Jesus stands ready to forgive and make you well. But you have to call on Him and trust Him through the process. Just like I did with my doctor. Do you remember when the Pharisees and Scribes came complaining to the disciples about why Jesus kept dining with the sinners and tax collectors? ”And when Jesus heard it, he said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.””
‭‭Mark‬ ‭2:17‬ ‭ESV‬‬

This is my normal thumb size
This is two days after the manicure and you can see how swollen it is. If you look closely, you can see the tiny gouge mark in the bottom left corner of my thumbnail.
This was two days after I started on antibiotics. It’s still swollen but now you can see exactly where the infection is because of the red streak.
A side view of my fat thumb.

Did I go back to the nail salon and call them out? No, I didn’t. I do not think it was intentional; however, I have not had a manicure since that time. Will I go again? If don’t know. Every time I think about going, I am reminded of how costly this manicure could have been. And you know what, that’s exactly the same way I need to think when I am tempted to fall back into my same old pattern of sin. I need to be reminded of how much my sin cost Jesus. His life.

Do you need a little red wagon?

When my oldest son, Ryan was about 13 months old and showing no signs of interest in walking, I along with our beloved pediatrician became concerned. Oh, there was no concern for fine motor skills or cognitive development. He was already talking a blue streak. He manipulated objects meticulously with his hands and his eyes always seemed to be studying how things worked. He crawled and could get anywhere he wanted to go. He would pull up and stand but wasn’t really interested in holding your hands to walk and absolutely no interest in walking on his own.

One day during a routine office visit the pediatrician suggested purchasing a little red wagon made by Fisher-Price. (Like the one below( She said it would encourage walking. Also, it would serve as a dual purpose ride-on toy as well.

We made our purchase immediately upon leaving her office. We excitedly gave Ryan his new toy. We attempted for days to encourage him to stand and push the wagon, he rejected our efforts. He wasn’t keen on using it as a ride-on toy either. Oh no, not my Ryan. He was far more interested in the seat. He quickly noticed the seat lifted up. He spent hours lifting and lowering the seat. After a few weeks, he discovered there enough space to hide things under the seat. Often when we were missing items, we would ask Ryan and he would crawl to his wagon, lift the seat and proclaim, “Here!”

Finally, after about a month, he would use the handle and walk a little but if he had somewhere he wanted to go quickly, his knees hit the floor and he crawled. I guess you could say we were making some progress. Just not fast progress. It would be another month before he would officially take his first real steps and walk.

As I think about this story, it reminds me that some things happen immediately and some things take time. Sometimes, we need help and encouragement to take the next step. Sometimes we are like Ryan, satisfied to be crawling when we should be walking. It’s a place called complacency.

Have you been there? Are you there now? I have been and I can tell you that it’s not a good place to be. You don’t flourish when you’re complacent. You know why? Because you’re so satisfied with yourself or the way things are you don’t see a need to change. It’s sometimes referred to as the silent killer.

The Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary defines “complacency” as “a feeling of calm satisfaction with your own abilities or situation that prevents you from trying harder.”

So, how do we combat complacency?

Get a little red wagon and learn to walk. Actually, yes.

Let’s break it apart

  • First, recognize areas of your life that need growth and change. Ryan needed to learn to walk and we had to get something that would promote growth and change. Again, keep in mind that sometimes these things take time. Don’t get discouraged or give up easily if change and growth don’t happen quickly. Winston Churchill says, “There is nothing wrong with change if its in the right direction.
  • Be willing to admit your weaknesses. Everybody has them and sometimes we need help to overcome our weaknesses. Ryan needed the assistance of the little red wagon.
  • Don’t be afraid to take risks. In order for Ryan to learn to walk, he had to take the risk to fall. Granted he fell a lot at first and I think this is the scariest part of taking any risk. There may be some failure along the way but is rarely does a reward happen that doesn’t have a risk involved
    Avoid the trap of laziness Ryan became lazy about walking because crawling was easy for him. He could get to everything he needed or wanted. He didn’t realize until he started walking/running that he could move a lot faster. Most often its self-absorption that will keep us in the trap of laziness.

The best way to avoid becoming complacent is to do the following:

Put one foot in front of the other

Risk and Reward- Our Story Continued

There’s a picture that hangs now on the wall in our guest bathroom. It has traveled for many years and houses with us. It hardly works with any of our decors but it’s such a part of our story, I will not part with it.

This picture is of the 13th hole at Augusta National called Azalea. It’s the first picture we bought together as a couple and we actually purchased it on our honeymoon almost 25 years ago.

This isn’t the exact picture we have but close to it. It’s interesting to me that it’s the first picture we purchased as a couple and here’s why!

  • I wasn’t keen on golf. I didn’t understand why anyone would want to spend hours chasing a little white ball around.
  • It represented the first major conflict we had as a couple before we were married
  • I was no good at it.

So, why in the world would I go along with Terry and choose that picture. To be honest, I liked it. Something about the colors of the azaleas in full bloom contrasting with the white sand bunkers and lush, meticulously manicured bent grass drew me in and I wanted it as much as Terry. I don’t remember exactly what we paid for it but I do remember it was on sale!

I’ve done a little research to learn that this particular hole on Augusta National is one that is considered one of the greatest risk-reward holes in golf. It’s also considered one of the easiest holes on Augusta National because now most pros can reach the green in two shots giving them an opportunity to possibly eagle the hole or at least make birdie. However, the key is a good tee shot and a good second shot. If the tee shot isn’t good, golfers have a chance to make up for it with their second shot, but placement on the green will require strategy and careful consideration. Even the pros can putt the ball right off the green into Rae’s Creek, the tributary that protects the green. Just ask Tiger Woods. A poor second shot can land you in Rae’s Creek. However, for many golfers who play this hole under par, there is no reward without taking a risk.

I find it very interesting that we would have chosen such a beautiful depiction of what God would do in and through us over the past almost 25 years.

For both of us to love and trust again was risky. In some ways, I think Terry took a much bigger risk than I did because he chose to take on the responsibility of not one but three of us. He risked a lot to marry me. He also willingly gave up a lot to marry me.

Because of the deep wounds from my past, my risk was giving my heart fully to him. It was a choice that I had to make. I had to learn to trust him and this was not easy for me! It didn’t happen overnight and it wasn’t instant and complete trust when we did get married. It developed over time.

It’s also interesting to me like mistakes on the hole can leave you in a place you don’t want to be. Mistakes in marriage can also land you on unfamiliar territory and you have to carefully consider how to make your next shot better. But if that next shot lands you in the water, you simply take a stroke penalty and continue play. You don’t give up until the ball goes in the hole. But there are times when you get it right and it’s truly a remarkable feat.

Folks, I can tell you that our marriage is no picture book fairytale. Oh, but being determined to pick up each other’s faults and failures and love each other no matter what has been the best risk with an ever so great reward!

There’s rarely a time when there’s not a risk involved in a reward. There will be times of failures, setbacks, disappointments but its just deciding if the risk is really worth the reward.

The Stolen Magazine

Do you know you don’t have to show children how to misbehave or be selfish? It’s embedded in their thinking as soon as they’re born. Yes, really!

I certainly was no exception, just ask my Mama. She’ll tell you! I was horribly difficult and hard. Full of sass and of myself, just ask her. If she tells you differently, she’s just trying to be nice and she’s not telling the truth.

I mean any child who would hold their breath until they pass out has issues and I certainly had my share and in truth, I still do.

Anyway, I vividly remember going to the drug store in downtown Brevard one afternoon. I cannot remember why we went, I just remember the magazine rack was calling me the minute I walked in. I was a huge fan of Sesame Street and there it was staring me right in the face. A Sesame Street magazine. Full of entertaining articles and games. It beckoned me. I took it off the shelf and decided that I needed to take it home with me. Sadly, Mom didn’t agree and told me to put it back. It wasn’t that easy. In my mind, it was already going home with me and so I clung to it for dear life as Meanwhile, Mom kept telling me to put it back.

Then I did the unthinkable, she turned her back and I slid the magazine under my shirt. Oh, I knew what I was doing was wrong but I was going to have that magazine one way or the other. If she wouldn’t buy it, I would take it. Besides, they had several and wouldn’t miss just one.

Surprisingly, I made it all the way home with the magazine. I carefully placed it on the floorboard. After we got home, I ventured back out to the car to retrieve my magazine. Apparently, Mom thought I was acting slightly sneaky or sly and so she came out the door just in time to see me with my stolen magazine. She was mortified, to put it mildly.

“Kelly Annette, is that the magazine from the Drug Store?” (You always know when the full name comes out it’s never going to end well)

“Yes.”

“I didn’t buy it for you which means you stole it. You took something that didn’t belong to you. I am so disappointed in you.”

She fumed a bit more and then finally said, “You and I are going right back to the Drug Store and you are going to take the magazine back and apologize for taking it.”

I think I have purposefully forgotten the ride back to the Drug Store, probably a good thing.

Mom was so embarrassed by my behavior but she marched me right back into the store and then she made me stand there and notify the sales clerk of my wrongdoing. Now, I was the one who felt embarrassed. I knew I had done wrong when I did it but now I had to come face to face with my crime and it didn’t feel good.

Needless to say, I learned my lesson about shoplifting.

When I think back on that day, I am reminded of a few things.

First, I wanted something so badly I took matters into my own hands and I did something wrong to get something I wanted. I justified my actions by reasoning that one wouldn’t be missed. And it makes me wonder, how many times since then I’ve tried to justify my actions or behavior.

Secondly, Mom made me take responsibility for my actions. Did I want to apologize and take it back? Not at first, I really wanted to keep it even though. I knew it was wrong. But because Mom insisted that I do the right thing, I had to take responsibility for myself. At the time, it may not have seemed like a big deal but later in life, I’ve had many opportunities to take responsibility and ask for mercy. I also learned there’s more shame in not taking ownership of bad choices than admitting my mistakes.

Third, I learned a valuable lesson in doing the right thing even when it hurts. Initially, I didn’t feel remorse for taking the magazine. In fact, my apology and admission of a crime, at the time, was very forced and not heartfelt. However, over time, I did feel sorry for taking the magazine. I began to realize the predicament I had caused Mom and myself. It took a long time for her to trust me in a store again and I don’t know if she ever took me back to the Drug Store again.

In truth, if Mom had not made me do the right thing, I don’t know if I would strive to do the right thing today. Parents, teach your children. Train them to take responsibility for their actions. Teach them hard lessons but love them through it.

Lessons from Winnie the Pooh

I must confess, I love Winnie the Pooh. I mean how can you not? He’s a “chubby, little cubby all stuffed with fluff.” He’s so simple and yet so profound. I think that what I love most about him. Not to mention, my oldest and youngest both adored him when they were young.

I’ve known plenty of people in my life, including me, sometimes who’ve sat around in my own little corner waiting for someone to call. Waiting on that invitation to hangout and much to my dismay, the call did not come. The invitation hasn’t been issued and I am disappointed.

But what if I decide to initiate and move from my little corner and into theirs? What if they’re awaiting my invitation? What if they need me more than I need them? Or better yet, what if I find by moving out of my comfy, cozy chair, I am actually moving beyond myself and growing in the process of going?

You see if I stay where I’m always comfortable and expect people to come to me, I am making it about me. In the end, I am going to be disappointed and disillusioned because I was putting hope and expectation for others to meet my needs. However, if I get over myself and go to their corner of the Forest, then I am taking the focus off me and making it about someone else.

In doing this, I have learned that often the reciprocal is true. Once I step out of my comfort zone and into theirs, more often than not, they’ll eventually step into mine. But sometimes they won’t and I just have to be okay with that. You see in a relationship it’s not about what I can get out of it but what I can put into it that matters. If I am putting in time and effort because I am attempting to draw something from it, my attempts are a wasted effort and are of no value to me or them. You see, there’s a beauty when we can give of ourselves and expect absolutely nothing in return.

So, what if they fail to reciprocate? Sure, you may feel a twinge of disappointment but all is not lost because, in the process of getting out of your little corner in the Forest, you’ve learned that it’s not about you.