Tuesday, May 31, 2011

TV Trivia

Confession is good for the soul.

So here it is! I love to watch.......................WHEEL OF FORTUNE!!

There. I said it. It's out there for all the world to know. I am an avid fan! And the sad truth is, I've been watching it longer than some of you dear readers have lived!

Whew. That's a tough truth to swallow! Smile.

I first became aware of "the Wheel" when Frank and I were newly married. The lady who lived across the street from us watched Wheel of Fortune with more religious fervor than she applied to church attendance.

In our thinking, she was seriously out of balance and terribly old. (I recently realized that although out of balance, she was probably much younger than I am now. Sigh.)

For a short time, Meagan shared our evangelist/gypsy life without the benefit of her two sisters. It was just Mom, Dad and Meagan traveling the highways together.

She often told people that the toughest part was our evening ritual: Dinner. Evening News. Wheel of Fortune. Jeopardy. Bedtime.

It wasn't really that bad! Sometimes we managed to stay awake for a video. Smile.

But Pat and Vanna do feel a bit like old friends. Here's why -

Years ago, I was involved in a home-school group that included a mom named Linda. Now, Linda was a cheerleader in high school. And Vanna was on her squad. The two remained very good friends and stayed in touch.

Every Christmas, I got to see Vanna's newest greeting card on Linda's refrigerator. So, didn't that make me practically family with the Whites?

Okay, so maybe that's a stretch. Smile.

I still enjoy watching anytime we make it home that early. That is, if I get to hold the remote. (Frank is not as big a fan.)

Imagine the joy of my most recent Wheel of Fortune discovery. While waiting with a young church member in a doctor's office, she started playing with her phone. Usually, I ignore the activities of under-30's and their phones. Much too complicated for me.

But to my amazement, she was playing.........The Wheel! She patiently explained the finer art of tiny wheel activity and I was in heaven. I became so engrossed in the toss-up puzzle that I almost missed the entrance of the doctor!

Frank has since installed the game on my very own phone. (I love that man!) Now, I'm able to play the wheel to my heart's content while waiting for all the people I so often wait for.

I have no particular reason for this personal revelation. It just seemed like one of those things you share with friends.

And if you happen to hear that Linda is looking for her missing 1997 Christmas card from Vanna, please don't give me away! Smile.

Saturday, May 28, 2011


"Two are better than one...."

Every spring this statement is illustrated in the skies all around us. I'll bet you've seen it taking place multiple times.

Just watch today.

At some point you'll spot a large bird being chased by two smaller ones. They dip and turn while flying at break-neck speed. And the attack is evident; no need to wonder what's going on here. The two little birds are driving away the larger one.


What could possibly motivate the miniature creatures to attack the monstrous? Don't they realize that if the other bird turns, they could be lunch? Don't they understand that he has more stamina, he's faster, his beak and claws are stronger?

Sure, they sense the danger. But there is an instinct stronger than fear.


The bigger fowl has tried to make a snack of their treasured eggs. And that mama/papa duo have no intention of allowing him to succeed!

It's apparent that one tiny bird could never drive away the predator. He would simply ignore one. But TWO? Now that's a different story.

One attacks from the right, while the other catches him from behind. They work in tandem to thwart the thief. I've seen smaller birds peck, screech at, even claw a bird twice their size. Seemingly oblivious to the danger.

But they must protect the nest at all costs. And so together, they fight.

It's always an encouragement to my own soul to watch the "Goliath" finally swoop away. And it reminds me why family and friends are so vitally important. Why we've prayed diligently that our girls would find Godly spouses.

Because two are better than one!

We all need a "wing man" willing to fly with us through life. Someone who will attack the enemy with us. Someone who will encourage and push us.

William Wadsworth said, "He who has a good friend needs no mirror." Isn't that a great line?!

Solomon said, "If one falls down, the other helps lift him up..."

In just a little while, we'll head off to the flower warehouse once again. Why? Because we want to mark the union of Meagan and Nate with beauty.

They will become lifetime "wing men" for one another. When one is discouraged, the other will offer hope. When one is frightened, the other will pray faith. When one gets off-track, the other will mirror God's truth. When one falls, the other will speak life.

Just watch the sky over the next few days. I'll bet you see a demonstration of this truth for yourself. Perhaps it will remind you to thank your own spouse/friend for their work of encouragement in your life.

Speaking of which, I need to go give my number one wing man a hug right now! Smile.

P. S. I have NOT erased the followers list on the sidebar. It's actually pretty exciting to see new faces added. My computer decided to take charge and I'm getting help to put things back to normal. Thanks for your patience.

Friday, May 27, 2011


Have you ever had to wait an unusually long time to brush your teeth?

Or maybe you've traveled overseas and discovered that most of the world considers a hot shower to be a luxury. Have you slept several nights in a bed that causes you to roll to the middle? Or have you lived without electricity for two or three days?

These experiences will cause great appreciation to well up in your heart when your "normal" is restored. That's kind of how I feel about posting today.

The only "normal" for my life right now is that absolutely everything is completely and totally AB-normal! (Too many adverbs for one sentence, but I feel sure you understand. Smile.)

Frank and I had a wonderful time teaching at the family conference in Virginia this week. (While the main emphasis was marriage, we expanded it to include relationships of all types.)

We taught five sessions over the three days and grew to love the people there. One lady put it well, "It's like discovering family we didn't know we had!" Looking at the deep issues of our lives and banding together to ask God's help, tends to bond people.

We flew back to Orlando Wednesday and hit the ground running. A small window of opportunity to post came last night and I couldn't get on Google. Seems they had forgotten me! Smile.

So anyway, I'm back. Wedding plans humming along, church family marching on, speaking engagements gearing up, perfect grandson laughing out loud, and two lonely dogs crowding my space. Life is good! Smile.

When the girls were little, someone started a tradition that marked our return home after a long trip or even a long ride. We would break into our own rendition of the nursery song, "To market. To market to buy a fat hog. Home again. Home again jiggety jog. To market. To market to buy a fat pig. Home again. Home again jiggety jig!"

(I know. Now you'll have that ridiculous tune stuck in your head all day. Sorry!)

I have a great story I've wanted to write for a looong time coming to the next post. Stay tuned......and thanks for your patience!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


Do you believe in magic?

(If you love oldies, that phrase causes a melody line to immediately leap into your consciousness. Now you'll be annoyed with me because that song will be playing in your head all day long! Smile.)

I ask this simple question because of an experience I had last night.

Our monthly church board meeting was to begin at 6:30 and I realized at 4:30 that none of my usual "helpers" would be available.

Now, our team gets together every month, husbands and wives. We share a meal that always includes healthy servings of laughter and encouragement. Then we discuss the business of the church. Pray together. Clean up and leave.

It's a marvelous arrangement that has served us well these six years.

This month, we chose to meet at the church and just order pizza.

But every woman reading this blog knows that you don't just "order pizza" for a group like this.

Most times, I have the great luxury of walking into our fellowship hall and discovering that it has somehow been magically transformed. We find an inviting set up complete with plates, napkins, utensils, cups with ice, table cloths, etc., etc., etc.

Usually this service is performed by either Amanda or Kristin. And while I say "thank you" profusely, I'm not sure I appreciated their efforts enough - until now.

Like I said, last night these ladies were otherwise occupied and the task was mine alone. I hear some of you saying, "Sheri, just how hard is it to throw some paper plates on the counter and serve pizza?!"

To which I reply, "HA!!"

Please remember that I am severely challenged when it comes to all matters of decorating. SEVERELY! As a result, even the simplest of choices about plates, cups, centerpieces and such causes great anxiety in my heart.

I'm literally surrounded by creative people who can turn a milk jug, masking tape and yarn into a designer lamp in under an hour! That's pretty intimidating.

Now, bear in mind that if you want a sermon prepared and someone to deliver it, I'm your girl.

But pulling together elements to create a casual yet sophisticated little centerpiece which coordinates with the central color theme and feel of the room? Well, my stomach is churning again just thinking about it! Smile.

As I started trying to create a pleasing environment for our meeting room last night, I was shocked to find huge waves of insecurity crashing around me. By the time I'd made my fourth change to the arrangements, I was done for!

I marched down to Frank's office and said, "I've worked really hard on setting up that room and I still feel like it looks wrong. When you come in, please tell me I did a good job!"

There's nothing like unsolicited praise! Smile.

Ridiculous. I know. But real. Very real.

Insecurity attacks us all in varying ways. And if I'm not careful, it can cripple me and keep me from ever trying anything I'm unsure about.

I once heard Oprah Winfrey quoted as never trying anything in front of others that she thought might cause her to be embarrassed. And here she is, the very embodiment of confidence to thousands, maybe millions, of people.

Insecurity is a subtle yet insidious tool of the enemy that keeps us from our full potential, if we allow it.

Let me offer this awesome statement. "God's sovereignty makes my insecurities irrelevant." - James T. Bradford. Powerful, right?!

(I never supposed that a great sermon could spring forth from the choosing of yellow paper plates over blue. But here it is. Smile.)

My point?

Simply this. Everyone we encounter today is probably wondering if they're "getting it right". Perhaps we have a part to play in their day.

Instead of just walking in and being the recipient of their "gifting" without marking it, maybe we can be the ones to identify the "magic" they've created.

"What a terrific haircut. Thanks so much!"

"You served that burger quickly and by the way, thanks for the great smile."

"I appreciate you returning my phone call promptly."

"This letter states exactly what I needed it to, thanks."

"You've been such a patient teacher for my child. We couldn't have asked for anyone better."

Get the idea?

Choose to be the one who gives a "knock out punch" to the insecurities plaguing someone else. In the process, you may be surprised to discover your own fears diminished!

And by the way, "Thanks again, Kristin and Amanda!" Smile.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Game On

A special plane landed at Orlando International Airport last night.

The airliner carried one Nathan Andrew Smith. You probably saw a flash of light in the southern skies around 7:30 PM. That was from the smile of one Meagan Elizabeth Hawley who greeted the afore mentioned Mr. Smith. She was one happy bride-to-be!

Now, they have greeted one another at airports for years but this “gathering of the arriver” was a little more special. You see, a wedding will be taking place on July 23rd. July 23rd of this year! In case you’re big on numbers, that’s approximately 68 days from now.

Meagan (having also lived through a closing semester of college with its projects and final exams and papers) had determined that all major wedding planning would need to wait until AFTER Nathan could get through graduation.

(Run-on sentence for a run-on situation. Smile.)

Time sensitive issues were decided in a very low-key manner shortly after the engagement. Ceremony location, reception plans, honeymoon, the DRESS………. Then, the waiting began.

And in the fullness of time, Nathan Graduated.

Now comes each of the nitty-gritty, must be decided, financial evaluating, schedule wrangling issues that accompany all weddings.

On Saturday, we visited a massive warehouse-type place to garner ideas for decorations. Thousands of square feet containing flowers, favors and even furniture. All under one roof.

At one point, Meagan got so overwhelmed that she just sat right down in the floor and leaned back against a ten foot high, flower-laden shelf.

Knowing her all these years, we felt it best to let her sit quietly for a moment! Meagan has always been one to know what she wants and know how to make it happen - simply. Great qualities to have when there's a wedding to plan.

The man of the hour has returned.

The woman of the hour has her list in hand.

And it’s "game on" for the happy couple!

Kinda glad that my part is to cheer from the sidelines. How about you?! Smile.

Saturday, May 14, 2011


I have been “unplugged” from Embrace the Grace for over a week now and I have missed it terribly!

This past week end was full of wonderful activity and I kept thinking, “I’ll get to sit still and write tomorrow.”

Obviously, “tomorrow” didn’t afford any quiet either. Then Frank and I left Monday for the annual gathering of fellow ministers from across the state.

I got up very early Tuesday morning to post and discovered that the hotel only offered free internet in the lobby. (In room service - $20.00 per 24 hour period. No thanks!)

Staying focused long enough to write would be almost impossible for me in such a great expanse packed full of “people-watching” opportunities! So I decided to wait until I could get home.

That’s when I discovered that my dependable, always reliable blogger connection was: “temporarily unavailable”! What?! Really?! You’ve got to be kidding!

(Even now, I’m writing this as a Word document and hoping that I’ll successfully follow Becky’s instructions to get this online! Sigh. All I know is that someone must really need the thought at the conclusion of this post.)

Wonderful Activities? Did someone ask what wonderful activities? (Maybe not. But here’s a report anyway. Smile.)

On Thursday, our dear friends Steve, Becky and Sarah Smith arrived so that we could all start celebrating Nathan’s college graduation together. Such a special time! We partied and enjoyed the company for three days.

It would be improper to miss the opportunity to brag on Nathan just a wee bit here.

While working 30 hours a week; carrying 21 academic hours; faithfully attending church; and nurturing a blossoming relationship, Nathan Andrew Smith somehow managed to also graduate with honors! Can someone say, WOW?!

Of course, our celebrating was woven in around: wedding preparations, a three hour graduation, quick meals here and there, Smith family/Meagan bonding time, a couple of bad colds (Kristin and me), preparations for Mother’s Day, and packing for district council!

(Did I mention that some days it’s hard for me to find a free half hour? Smile.)

I hope to give a few specifics about our wonderful Graduation/Mother’s Day weekend later. But this morning I feel a bit compelled to share this thought.

During one of our services this past week, the speaker shared a powerful African proverb. “Keep the fire burning brightly. For as the fire lights the darkness and roars with dominance, it becomes impossible to hear the stalking lion and fear is driven away!”

What a challenge to us for every area of our lives.

If we feed the passion of our dreams and callings, they will grow and completely overshadow any pitiful “roaring” of the enemy. I like that thought!

Dr. Crandall Miller was a professor at SEU when Frank and I attended. He started every class with this statement, “What you feed grows and what you starve dies!”

Simplistic yet profound!

There are days that I “feed” the lion of fear and he quickly grows to gigantic proportions. But when I choose to “feed” faith instead (by prayer, reading, listening to good teaching) my faith grows and fear starves to death!

I guess some reader must struggle with these very thoughts today. Please know you aren’t alone. Feed the fire of Passion and Faith! Starve those fears. Let you God-dreams take the position of dominance!

Whew, I just preached a great sermon to myself! Smile.

Hope your week-end is blessed.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

The Whole Truth

Happy Cinco de Mayo!

I wish I could say this is a holiday celebrated by our family down through the years. But the truth is, we have no ethnic heritage to speak of. Frank and I are simply two kids that were born in the deep South; with a European linage we've never really traced.

So, we celebrate vicariously through other friends who ARE blessed with fabulous ethnicity. The advantage to this would be our ability to join in with multiple celebrations: Italian, Hispanic, African, Norwegian, etc. Kind of a plus if you think of it in those terms.

Today actually finds me in a rather unpleasant circumstance.

I'm sitting in a law office waiting for Frank and Kristin to get through the rigors of a deposition. Six years ago, a car hit our girls as they were on their way to a secondary college job.

We owned the car (Frank's part of the deposition); Kristin was driving (her part of the deposition).

To people who deal with this type of legal matter on a daily basis it's no big deal. Simply tell the truth. But for the rest of us, it's nerve-wracking!
  • What kind of questions will be asked?
  • The accident happened six years ago!
  • Will the opposing lawyer be antagonistic?
  • How many times are you allowed to say, "I don't really remember."?
To top it all off, Kristin has a terrible cough that Ny-quil and Robitussin haven't been able to quell. (I've waited a long time for an appropriate place to use the word 'quell'; there it was. Smile.) So, I hear her coughing non-stop in the room next to me.

I can't see her but I know she's shivering with cold and nerves. I know she's alternating between her two nervous habits: a foot wiggling back and forth, back and forth and the single bouncing leg. I know she is occasionally taking deep breaths to steady herself. And periodically she will push her hair back behind one ear.

I know these things because I'm her Mama and I've observed these habits since her elementary days. I know these things because like all Mamas, the nuances of my children are memorized and rehearsed multiple times every day as I think of them and pray for them.

Yep, I know these things.

Although I can't be in there with her (I'm offering moral support from the next room), her daddy is. And better still, they are both joined by the Heavenly Father!

No walls - legal, medical, emotional, literal - can keep out the greatest Encourager during our most unsettling moments.

Ah, the peace in knowing the simple truth celebrated by every culture!

Monday, May 2, 2011

A Special Touch

Every living creature needs touch!

Many years ago Frank and I came across an interesting fact. Psychologists say that we need an average of eight meaningful touches a day in order to maintain emotional well-being. (Better get started. Smile.)

We thought that truth mostly applied to human beings. But I've come to believe that Gracie and Bella think they too must have meaningful touch. Or else they get naughty!

Life around "Wedding Central" has been pretty busy. Not much time for sitting and petting; not much time for long walks. Our major contact with the pets has been: feed, water, turn them outside while making coffee, "Hurry up! Go already!!"

So Gracie decided this past week to let us know she needs some attention. She became part goat and started eating every imaginable "non-food" item she could scavenge. The boiling point came when she destroyed Frank's cap from The Pearl (a favorite golf course in NC).

We nearly had a shih-tzu rug!!

She has been relegated back to her kennel any time we leave. And Bella (who had started running off) has to be closely monitored when we let her outside. Neither one of them has been happy with the changes.

And lest you feel badly for the "critters", Frank and I both spent a little extra time with them last night and again this morning to catch up. Smile.

The touch response starts early with human beings. It has been precious watching Spencer as he interacts with Joy and John. At just three months of age, he responds to their touch. When Joy kisses his cheek, he turns his head toward her every single time. It's amazing.

I had him in my office yesterday morning while mom and dad prepared for the upcoming worship service. He stared cooing and "talking" to me. Gripping my finger with his tiny, determined hand. It was impossible for me to turn away and get any work done myself.

His little voice had tentacles that reached in and totally commandeered my heart!

(Frank, who could hear his grandson talking, had to exercise serious self-discipline in order to stay in his office and keep working. Smile.)

All this connecting caused a scripture to really come to life for me this morning. "The children of your servants will live in your presence; their descendants will be established before you." Psalm 102:28.

What better promise than to know that God intends to take hold of us; establishing us and our descendants? He has the whole world in His hands!

That's a meaningful touch indeed.