Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Sisters, Sisters, there were never such devoted sisters.......

One of my favorite movies is White Christmas. I love the Haynes Sisters and their stage act.

I love their song about being devoted sisters. Well, they don't have anything on these girls in the devotion area:

While at NG7 we talked about how many times people express shock that the four of us get along so well and don't fuss and argue. Folks, I don't understand why other people waste time on pettiness and bitterness. Life is a gift and sisters are a bonus on top of that. If you have siblings don't let "stuff" keep you apart.

This year we went to the Tulsa area for NG7. Rhonda's son, Josh, and his wife, April, graciously extended an invitation for us to stay in their home. They stayed someplace else and let us take over their home.

The first thing we did when we got together was, of course, EAT! We went to Scot's Burgers in downtown Bixby. Delicious. I love places that aren't part of a chain.

Then, it was back to Casa de Tomas and time to open the sister gifts. My gift to them was a custom necklace from Harley and Maudes. The large charm says "Here's to good women" on one side and on the other "May we know them, May we raise them, May we be them." The small charm says "Always" and "Remember" and is for our Mother and our youngest sister who have both passed away. There are four jewels representing our birthstones.

Nora gave each of us a beautiful wallet/clutch purse.

Debe gave us each a ring with our birthstone. The neat thing about these rings is that the stones were taken from our mother's "Mother Ring"! Isn't that cool?

Rhonda gave us a delicate necklace with an engraving that says "A sister is a forever friend."

We have such a good time together. And, so much of that time is just sitting around talking and laughing. I can't imagine a better way to spend three and a half days. We shopped, we ate, we napped, we ate, we talked, we cried, we laughed. It was great.

On Friday nights we share about what we did to honor Mother's memory on the anniversary of her death. The acts of kindness we shared ranged from giving money to a ministry to providing new games and toys for a children's home. All of the acts are done as Nettie's girls and represent our effort to honor Mother's generous spirit.

Saturday night is the time we set aside for spiritual reflection. This year was Nora's turn to bring a devotion and challenge to us. She talked to us about our roots-faith, family and fun. It was sweet, thought provoking (Nora's research on roots was so right one) and even funny. I loved the clothesline stories: "rotten to the core"! And the surprise ending was great! I would share but it just wouldn't mean anything to anyone but the four of us. And that is what is so special about NG-it is for US. We also choose a cause or project each year and give towards that as a group. This year we chose to help a lovely young lady in her fight against cancer with just a small financial token.

Sunday morning always finds us beginning to get a little sad. We know it is coming to an end for another year and we just hate to see it happen. We try to stay light and happy but goodbyes are just difficult. Sure, we will all be together at Thanksgiving with our families but it is different from NG. One other thing we do on Sunday mornings is decide where we are going next year. Here's to NG8 in San Antonio, Texas. We are even adding another day this time. And, we are already counting down the days: 357 to be exact!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

A Bad Day at the Fresno Bible House

Our circumstances sure have a way of trying to dictate our outlook. That has been so evident to me in the last couple of days as we deal with a potentially serious financial setback. As I started out to work Saturday morning, I was dwelling on this situation. Yes, dwelling. I know that doesn't seem very spiritual of me but it is honest. And, I really do think being real is better than being spiritual.

Back to my trek to work-since Katie wasn't in the car with me, I thought I would take a break from listening to Justin Bieber. (Because trust me, once you hear Eeny Meeny Miny Mo Lover, you will NEVER get those lyrics out of your head!) I switched over to the only CD I have in the car-Mandissa. She started belting out these words:

"Been a hard one, Been a bad one
Been a tough one, Been a sad one
It's been just one of those days
That keeps chipping away at my heart
Nothin' new here,It's what I do here
It's a stereotypical day in the life
I'm surrounded by all of the pain and the strife
But I know it's alright

'Cause it's only the world I'm living in
It's only today I've been given
There ain't no way I'm giving in
'Cause it's only the world
I know the best is still yet to come
'Cause even when my days in the world are done
There's gonna be so much more than only the world for me"

That song started me re-focusing on how temporal our problems and circumstances are. And that led me back to a memory from the day I worked in the audio visual department (this was in the era of the giant 16mm films; hey, I'm old!) of the Fresno Bible House. My co-worker, Debbie, and I were having a rough day. Nothing had gone as planned, pastors hadn't shipped movies back so we could ship them someplace else, movies were returned damaged beyond repair, we were in the middle of a meltdown. You would think that working in a place surrounded by Christians and Christian books and gifts and music and all would make dealing with a bad day easier. Not that day.

A pastor called to check on the delivery of his film. We had never met him but knew him well as he was a regular customer. Evidently, through my co-workers' tone, he was able to surmise that we were having a bad day. He told her to put him on speaker phone so he could talk to both of us. And this is what we heard,

"We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal."

We were moved by those words and by his concern for us. This pastor who didn't even know what we looked like, had never met us took the time to minister to our weary hearts. It totally changed our day. Or, actually, it changed our OUTLOOK about our day! And that's what we can do every day. The day has been given to me. It is up to me to decide how I am going to receive it.