I’ve Been Nominated … Go Figure, I’m Late

Looking through some old e-mails I noticed I had been nominated for the Versatile Blogger Award by the incredible blogger Karen of A Life Less Scripted! This is such a cool award because it helps spread the word about so many incredible, thought-provoking blogs, like Karen’s. I hope I’m not too late.

Below are the blogs I consider award-winning, also. If I’ve nominated you, it’s because your blog inspired me, made me think, made me laugh or cry (likely both) and I want to celebrate you.

If you find yourself nominated, here’s how you pay it forward:

  • Thank the person who gave you this award
  • Include a link to their blog
  • Select 15 blogs/bloggers that you’ve recently discovered or follow regularly
  • Nominate those 15 bloggers for the Versatile Blogger Award — you might include a link to this site.
  • Tell the person who nominated you seven things about yourself

Here are seven things about me:

  1. I love the breakfast in bed my husband brings me.
  2. I embarrass my kids very easily.
  3. Although I don’t watch too much television, I’m hooked on Big Brother and Dancing with the Stars.
  4. I’m diligently working on finishing my third manuscript.
  5. I like dogs as long as they live in your house and not mine.
  6. I put chocolate in my hot oatmeal.
  7. Most importantly, I’ve been given a second chance in life that I don’t want to take for granted.

Here’s an eclectic list of blogs I’ve nominated:

Shadows of Love

In My Opinion

My Broom

firestorm2012

A Miniature Clay Pot

Steven Watkins

Sober Boots

A Life Less Scripted

When My Father Wakes Up

Wendy Scheaffer Photography

Obsecrations

Katherine’s Daughter

Wordserve Water Cooler

Rachelle Gardner

Donald Miller

Take a moment and visit these blogs; you’ll hopefully agree that your time spent at these blogs is worth the visit.

And thank you, readers. I’m honored and humbled that anyone takes the time to visit here.

Robin

… The Rest of the Story

I posted not too long ago about some fears that I had regarding returning to my childhood hometown to catch up with friends and family I haven’t seen for many years. Would they welcome me with open arms or would they hold me at arm’s length because I hadn’t measured up to their expectations?

The answer is yes.

But I must say that God blessed me abundantly though it all. I experienced the warm and all-encompassing love that only could come from a person who has known someone for years. It was wonderful to chat over pizza and share my heart with them. What a blessing it was to offer up my brokenness—not try to hide it or justify it—and have them see it as a part of my past, not as what defined me; and then love me unconditionally. It was also incredible to get together with my best friend from years long past and pick up on our relationship just as if we still lived down the street from each other. The only noticeable changes were our waistlines and the ages of our children. I even had the opportunity to share my brokenness to the next generation—as an example of God’s grace. Additionally, I was blessed with the gift of spending time with a grade school classmate who had dealt with her own brokenness … and we shared with each other the miracles that can only come from an all-powerful Heavenly Father. I get chills thinking about sitting with her at her kitchen table, holding hands and praying together. To top off my time away, I had the greatest opportunity to connect with new friends who told me I was a blessing to them. What a gift!

And I concerned myself with not being enough?!

I could tell you about the moments of awkwardness when I was with other folks who did, in fact, continue to see me as someone who will never meet up to their expectations. It happened; it was real. But it’s not worth mentioning. I can say, without a shadow of doubt, that the blessings I received far outweigh any snubs or awkwardness I dealt with.

It’s always scary to face down fears … but I didn’t do it alone. Thank all of you who prayed for me in my struggle. I felt God’s protection was all around me.

I can’t wait for my next trip back!

Treasures in Dad’s Room

Even though my family of origin was pretty dysfunctional, one of my favorite pastimes when I’m feeling a bit low is to remember stories about my dad and how he honored my feelings and held them close to his heart.

I always jumped at the chance to be with Dad in his room—the Gun Room. It was a treat to steal away with him when he went upstairs to his room. He kept guns, cameras, family photos and film equipment, and special sentimental pieces from his childhood there. I am certain he kept us out for our own protection when it came to the guns. We were all told the only time we were allowed to go in there by ourselves was if the house was on fire and we could safely get the family’s 8mm films out and save them from being destroyed. Other than that, the Gun Room was strictly off limits. Whenever I saw him in there, I would beg to join him. And he always obliged. While he worked away on whatever project he was concentrating on, I looked around his private sanctuary with marvel. I would fold my arms behind my back holding tightly on to my wrists, just to make sure I did not touch anything. I did not want to run the risk of inadvertently grabbing for something and causing harm.

One of the items I often searched out was a stuffed bird, about the size of my palm, with wild ostrich feather plumage glued onto it. Dad kept it secured away in a glass cabinet I was completely mesmerized by its splendor. It was so odd to see this delicate piece of fluff surrounded by items dedicated to hunting and killing animals. I made stories up in my mind about why this fragile object was set apart with reverence and displayed only for Dad’s eyes to see. Was it a gift from a princess he had rescued from the grips of a ferocious dragon? Was it a piece of treasure he had found while hunting with Indians? My imagination knew no boundaries.

I figured—with all the wisdom that a four-year-old could have—that since Dad liked it so much, I should give it to him again. Father’s Day was quickly approaching and, lucky for me, Dad and I were already in his room, so I had access to the sacred bird. When Dad was not looking, I carefully walked over to the display case and opened it. Slowly, I reached into the case and carefully grabbed the stuffed bird. I held it in my tiny hands as if it were precious jewels. I abruptly left and took my stolen booty to my bedroom. Securing the bird in a safe place, I left my room to bring back newspaper and masking tape. With all the care I could muster, I wrapped the stuffed bird as his Father’s Day gift. I was sure he would be thrilled with my present.

On Father’s Day, after dinner was finished, Mom and Dad were having their coffee and The Boys ran out to play. I ran upstairs to bring down my special gift for Dad. Standing before him I ceremonially offered him my carefully wrapped package. He looked at the crumpled ball of newspaper encircled with bands of masking tape and pulled me up into his lap so I could have the perfect view of the unveiling. As he carefully unwrapped the mound of tape and paper, he revealed the soft, fragile stuffed bird that I had taken from his glass cabinet. He paused, smiled and said that he loved it. Thank you for the perfect present, Robbie. This is such a cute bird. I’ll keep it forever! With that, he smothered me with hugs and kisses. I strutted away as if I had just been awarded a national medal for being the most loving and awesome child of the year.

Later that summer, we began to prepare to celebrate Dad’s birthday that September. He never wanted much of a fuss, but we enjoyed honoring him the best we could. I had no idea how to out-gift Father’s Day. Then the answer came to me. One day while he was in the gun room, I asked to come in so I could see his precious treasures. Again, I carefully opened the display case and grabbed the feathered masterpiece. And as before, I took it to my room and wrapped it with newspaper and masking tape.

When the time came for presents after dinner, I made sure I was at the front of the pack. Dad, once again, scooped me and my ball of newspaper and masking tape up and pulled me on his lap.

Then he opened the present.

When he saw all the plumage and beautiful colors, he never missed a beat. He raved on about how beautiful this present was and how he was so pleased that I knew just what he liked. He never let on that he recognized the bird from the glass case in his room or that he even knew I had taken it. Instead, he made a fuss over me and my re-re-gifted item that had already belonged to him. He made me feel like I had offered him the moon and it was the most special gift he ever received.

In my preschool mind, life with my dad was the most perfectest life ever.

I have so many wonderful memories of my father. With Father’s Day around the corner, I will—just like every year—miss his hugs. Memories will have to be enough.

If possible, find something to thank your father for. You’ll be glad you did.

Even in the most dysfunctional family, there are good memories. What stories do you carry in your heart?

Review of Ascent From Darkness, Michael Leehan

From an early age, life seemed to leave Mike wanting. His family life was dysfunctional, he never felt safe due to suffering a nearly lethal attack from a stranger, and he had been labeled suicidal due to an accidental overdose from pain pills and alcohol. In his search for relief from fear and desperation he prayed, but only found hypocrisy in the Christian religion he saw around him. It wasn’t long before Mike sought and then embraced life as a Satanist. From the making of a blood covenant with Satan to hearing, seeing, and experiencing his evil minions, Leehan’s life was controlled by Darkness.  Ascent From Darkness journals his trek back from Satan’s isolation and destruction to Jesus’ grace that waited for him.

Leehan’s style of writing was easy to read. I thoroughly enjoyed reading the story, although I found the graphic details involving satanic worship a bit disturbing. Because he wrote about well-known characters (e.g., LifeChurch members and Pastor Craig Groeschel), I have no doubt that all the explicit details shared in this book are true. Unfortunately, I found I needed to stop reading and distance myself from the book for a couple of weeks to be able to return to it with a discerning and prayerful spirit.  This helped when I continued into the later chapters.

I strongly recommend this book for well-grounded Christians only.  Evil is real and all around us. Citing one example of Leehan’s account of the evil spirits’ saying, “I don’t think he can see us,” should be taken as a serious warning; be sure that they are always looking for new victims.

Déjà vu all over again

Living in Central PA, life is spectacular. Beauty is all around and easy to take for granted.

It wasn’t all that long ago birds were waking me in the morning with incredible harmonies. When I went outside today I realized that the robins are no longer here; they’ve left Summer ’11 behind.

It is now mid September and the grass is still a gorgeous shade of green. Without a word of warning it will soon change to a dull, drab hue of goodnight-for-the-winter yellowish brown.

The sun has begun to replace the warming direct overhead sunshine with the blessings of beautiful slanted rays, filling our senses with awe at the incredible spectrum of color.

The smells of grilling burgers and chicken once filled the neighborhoods … now there are whiffs of smoke from burning fire pits that linger in the evening sky.

Yes, the days are getting shorter, with the sun joining me later than it use to and leaving me earlier than I’d like.

I’ve been here before … it’s the end of another summer. I took it for granted, acting as if it would be here forever. I should have known that Summer ’11 would need to go; yet somehow I never thought it would.

Next year I’ll plan my summer days better … or maybe I’ll just lean back and appreciate the beauty like I’ve always done in years gone past.

Friends in the Strangest Places …

I live in Central Pennsylvania and experienced a glancing visit from Hurricane Irene this past weekend. I am now beginning my second day with no electricity at my house and am writing this blog from a coffee shop outside the non-powered area. It could have been much worse; this area suffered slight water damage and most of the power outages were the results of downed trees, pulling wires with them.

But the most amazing thing is happening—people are leaving their homes and sharing with their close as well as not-so-close neighbors. They are sharing stories, words of encouragement, and provisions. Leaving my neighborhood, I saw folks who, before Irene, would bicker over property lines … now working side-by-side, picking up debris and branches; really working together. In the coffee shop, people from different social backgrounds are sitting together sharing their stories on how they managed the storm.

Writing in this coffee shop is definitely out of my normal schedule; I should keep my time here short so I can get back home with more ice to save what’s in the freezer. But there are also reasons I need to stop writing … I have new friends to meet and support to offer.

Maybe having Irene stroll by Central PA had a few advantages after all.