Mr. Gonzales, Please Put in a Change of Address !

I got one of the biggest scares of my life today. You’d have to see my office to understand the layout but, it started as a one car garage.  The walls are painted Gamecock red and the concrete floor overlaid with bamboo wood. Sleek white bookcases anchor my desk.  But the white metal garage door attached to an overhead pulley is a dead giveaway of its origin. Random me loves it because I can work all day outside while I’m inside. Whether pouring rain or saturated with sunshine, I have the best both worlds but, as with all good things, disadvantages do surface. The negative with my inside/outside area? I can’t  hide.  Don’t go self righteous and act like you’ve never done it. Being a preacher’s wife doesn’t mean I’m not human. Sorry for the soapbox rant, but double standards are my pet peeve.

When inside the house, you usually have an opportunity to see who’s about to come calling. If you don’t want to be called upon, you drop to your knees, crawl to the TV and turn it off, toss the kids in a closet and play hide & go seek.

When you’re sitting outside though, you can’t do that. Drive in my yard most days when I’m working in my office and I’m a sitting duck.  If I try to put the door down, my white garage door appears. If I leave it open and go inside..well, seriously, think about it. You drive up to a house and the garage is open, but it’s not a garage, it’s a room.  A red room with a computer, books and cat who’s just had four kittens.  Either leave my stuff up for grabs (not that I think my friends would be so bold…OR..you’ll leave wondering why I never told you that Jeff Foxworthy and I are relatives. Funny girl, aye?

This morning, a Union County Highway Patrol car came barreling down the half mile lane to our farm house.  When I realized it was a patrol car, my legs turned to spaghetti and my heart dropped to my toes.  I’ve watched 48 Hours enough to know that Highway Patrol folks don’t just stop by for a glass of sweet tea.

I approached the car swallowing a cottony film coating my throat and braced myself for the tragedy ahead.  I had just spoken to my Chipper moments before, Jena was in class and Tams was watching COPS, so I assumed the visit concerned our twenty seven year old son, Josh. The man didn’t smile or say hi.  He was expressionless as he handed me a sheet of paper. You know this person?

My head was spinning so violently. I couldn’t focus on the words, let alone the name.  I choked out, You’ll have to show it to me, I’m rattled. His finger guided me to the left top corner where I read the name GONZALES. My heart floated up to its rightful position in one beat as I realized this wasn’t about anyone I knew. This is your house and address?  His finger moved over the computerized information.  Yes sir, but I don’t know the man.

By now I was collected enough to assume Mr. Gonzales had given a bogus address and for some reason Union County was looking for him. I knew the officer might ask to search the property and honestly, I wasn’t keen on Marshall Dillon taking a hike on our 57 acres, so when he repeated the questions once more, I responded in a calm, collected manner. We’ve only been here two months so I can’t say for sure who may have worked on the farm in the past. But I don’t know anyone by that name. He took the paper, tapped his fingers on the dash and sighed. Thank you ma’am. Beautiful morning, isn’t it? I bobbed my head; indeed.  The officer told me about a few people he knew close to our farm but, it was what he DIDN’T SAY that I heard loudest.

GOT ME TO THINKING about our dear friends, Heyward & Susan, who got a 5am rap on the front door. But, the name on the paper was that of their beloved, nineteen year old son, Sheldon. I’ll never forget visiting with Susan after Sheldon’s death.  Chills danced up and down my spine as she recalled peeking through the frosted glass, realizing it was an officer’s silhouette.  She explained how her blood went cold as she went to get Heyward out of bed before opening the door. She told me how she  “just knew”.  She wept, telling me how their world changed in the few moments of that unannounced predawn visit.

None of us knows what the next fifteen minutes will bring, tomorrow, next month, next year.  Life is a gift but, it is so very fragile and as I get older, I understand the gift of time.

Last month, Sheldon’s brother in law, a police officer, was shot & died instantly.  His mom had spoken to her twenty nine year old son an hour before the shooting.  Matthew’s five year old daughter will grow up without her daddy, his sister won’t share the holidays with her little brother. His parents will forever grieve the loss of a son. An unexpected visitor came calling. That is the reality of LIFE and of DEATH.

I’d like to thank Mr. Gonzales for borrowing our address.  I might even give him a hug if he happened to show up soon because it was time for me to remember how blessed I am, not tomorrow. TODAY.  I’ve been so busy the past few days, I haven’t had time to send my Joshua a text message.  On second thought, I think I’ll give him a call.

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Let the Windchimes Roll ?

I personally find the sound of wind chimes soothing.  Hearing them mentally transports to Ocean Lakes Campground in Myrtle Beach, where thousands of wind chimes ting ting a ling harmoniously to permeate the air from sunup to sundown.  Oh, go ahead!  Listen to the Music (Whoa, oh, oh, Listen the music! Whoa, oh, oh, listen to the music…sorry, I can’t help myself.)  Whether store bought  or a rusty set crafted at Vacation Bible School, wind chimes, for me, represent simplistic tranquility.

SIDENOTE:Wind chimes” appears to be two words in Webster’s, but, I thought it was a compound word. If I use it both ways, I’ll be sure to be grammatically correct! :D)

One of the first things I was  anxious to do when we moved to Morgan Meadows, was put out my bird feeders and wind chimes.  I spent an entire morning deciding what was going where, but there was no doubt that the most elaborate set of chimes would grace our patio so that we’d be able to hear serene, calming, fairytale melodies from….clanging metal objects… yep…the mood just changed.

On top of Morgan Meadows’ hill gentle, country breezes are far more like gale force winds! The wind chimes don’t sway, they CLANG. I mean they clang, clang, CLANG!   Now, it didn’t help that my sinuses were (and still are) at war with pastures full of hay and pollen.  My bottle-necked eardrums weren’t hearing familiar tunes at all.  They were trying to decipher tones that had morphed into fingernails on a chalkboard, heavy metal, makes your skin crawl noise!

Another peek at me:  By nature, Lis Morgan is a stubborn girl, prone to hold out as long as possible before admitting a mistake. Please note:  I said, BY NATURE!  Don’t plan to use my admission as your ammunition should you want to make me look bad down the road.  I’m also, by nature, an expert at self restraint so the X’s cancel out the O’s.

So, back to the story.  A few nights after I hung the chimes, I was in the kitchen attempting to read a Taste of Home magazine while those pipes clanged and banged like there was no tomorrow!  I was about to blow a gasket when alas, my knight in shining armor came to the rescue! 😀   Chipper was sprawled out on the sofa watching a favorite Everybody Loves Raymond when I noted the television volume steadily rising.   Finally, he yelled out over the top of Ray’s whining, “Lis!  Those wind chimes have got to GO!  I sooo want to use Frank Barone’s infamous slang term, HOLY CRAP about now to add pizazz, but, being that my Chipper didn’t actually say HOLY CRAP, I reckon it’s best not to embellish.  But, if he had thought to throw it in, wouldn’t it have been the funniest thing? (Did I forget to mention that Chipper tried to tell me that I was putting the chimes too close to the house?  How do you suppose I forgot that part? **wink & shrug**)

Between you, me and the fencepost (or is it gatepost?) I was so over those wind chimes!  Therefore, it was not the time to act like a cantankerous, old bitty!  I grabbed my new Ephesians 5:22 Submission Jacket and a flashlight, and prepared to exercise my wife submitting skills!  I walked to the edge of the back yard’s perimeter and easily located a sturdy branch.  Those pipes didn’t miss a lick!  They began to clang up a storm before I could properly secure the hook.  As silly as it sounds, it brought me comfort to think that the cows might appreciate the wind chimes contribution to our farm more than my family and I had. (I may as well go ahead and confess that they ended up EXACTLY where Chipper had suggested they go in the first place….yeah, well, whatever.)

As I drifted to dreamland that night, I had to perk my ears to find the faint ting ting a ling drifting in a cracked window….I fell in love with the sound of my wind chimes all over again.

GOT ME TO THINKIN….. If we admitted when we’re wrong, let go of our pride and adopted a less is more mentality, wouldn’t our life be less complicated?  You can get too much of a good thing, no matter how good the good thing is!  Think about it……

Advice is great, but, it’s best to give it only if asked! And, should you solicit it, don’t go ballistic if you don’t like what you hear because that updates your status to big baby!

Talking to be friendly is great, but, there is a time to hush. Note to self: More often than you think, Miss Congeniality is secretly referred to as a PEST!

Love is great, but relentless smothering can lead to death!

Knowledge is great, but, who in their right mind eagerly anticipates spending an evening with Mr. & Ms. Know it All?

Kindness is great, but overextending ourselves may lead to feeling taken advantage of and unappreciated.  Ironic isn’t it, that an act of kindness has been known to be at the root of deep bitterness?

I could go on and on and on(remember that 70’s song, On and On?  Loved it!) but that would be belaboring a good point too much.   We’d serve ourselves and others well if we learned how and where to draw the line.

For years I’ve pondered AGUR’S prayer found in Proverbs 30.  At one point, he requests: Give me neither poverty or riches, but feed me with the food allotted to me, Lest I be too full and Deny you.”

I can’t think of anything I love more than gigantic Snow Crab legs, dripping in melted butter.  Hmmm… GOOD!  And, I can think of nothing I hate much less than hugging a toilet bowl at 2:30 in the morning because I didn’t know when to back away from the table!

I don’t want to miss out all the good things I’m blessed to enjoy, so I plan to keep reaching for the stars and living life large!  But, I do hope I’ll always have enough sense to know when I’ve had my fair share of a good thing.  Pepto and Rolaids can only take care of so much!

Those Darn Cats !

I’m highly allergic to cats.  They make me sneeze with an annoying rhythmic pace and cause my eyes to swell and turn a hideous striped pink color. But does that stop me from having cats?  Nope.  I’ve got three at the moment and one of them is expecting her third litter of kittens any day now. SIDENOTE:  I don’t need any Bob Barker echoes reminding me to control the pet population, so no comments on that! My Matilda happens to be a rare girl that even our vet hesitated to spay.  In case you don’t watch The Animal Planet, the longer haired, yellow tabbies (yeah, like Morris) are, for the most part, Tom cats. Females are far & few between.  Therefore, I’m simply on a mission to help save this breed from becoming extinct.

So, back to the cats.  They’re outside cats, but, since we moved to the farm, I’m more inclined to leave the doors open during the day, and my cats have decided that inside the house is super duper nice! No matter how many times I put them out, they find a way back in.

I know you won’t believe this, but, last week, as I was cleaning up after supper (I’m returning to my roots…you’ve been right all along, Mama, the night time meal is indeed, supper!) So, anyhoo, while I dried the pots, I heard a strange noise and discovered mommy to be Matilda, non-chalantly letting herself in the back door.  I watched in utter amazement as she wiggled her paw in, pushed the screen door open and waddled inside.  Hello, Kitty!!!

Needless to say, going in and out of the house has begun to pose a dilemma because there’s literally a cat lying in wait at every door. So as I sought to outsmart my cats, GOD whispered, “Count me in.” You’re saying, huh, about now aren’t you?  Just stick with me, here, people and you might learn something!

After some careful observation, I concluded that each cat achieved entry with an entirely different approach. Matilda hangs around the back door because she knows it’s the door that is most often used.  I guess she assumes that once the big door is left open, she can handle the flimsy screen door!

Hallie-Boo, on the other paw, is sneaky. (I named her that because she’s white but tattooed with the the colors from that old Halloween candy we grew up with, you know, sticky kind in orange and black wrappers) No lie, this cat lives up to her name! She spends her days and nights peeking through the windows to see where we are.  When she sees anybody get up from where they’re sitting, the girl has done her homework and knows where every doors is! When a knob turns, she’s there!  She even got brave enough to sneak contraband in this weekend and proudly put it on display. Poor little bird!

Finally, Hancy’s method is perhaps the most clever of all.  She’s still a kitten, so all she has to do is stand at a closed door looking sweet and precious. No waiting and no sneaking! Even my Chipper can’t resist those pretty green eyes gazing up at him so pitifully! Hancy shows up at the right place, purrs a time or two and she’s in!

GOT ME TO THINKIN….This is where GOD picks up the story.  Just like those darn cats, HIS children allow sin to enter our lives over and over even though we are highly allergic!  Whether it’s the old familiar sin that hangs out at the back door because it’s usually cracked or the sneaky sins that we don’t intend to commit, but, give into when we find ourselves caught in a precarious situation.  Like my Hallie-Boo, Satan and his demons are always lurking around in the shadows of our day to day routines, ready to pounce when we least expect it. And, although GOD warns us over and over that we can’t handle Satan on our own, the warning goes in one ear and out the other!

And what about the things we toy with even though we know there’s a risk involved?  If we dabble in something that seems harmless and yet  can’t shake that uncomfortable nagging about it, we’d best leave it alone while we can still get away!  Let me put it this way.  Hancy’s tiny paws aren’t really that dangerous right now, but as she grows, I can guarantee you those claws will get longer and sharper!

Think Pinnochio and Jiminy Cricket.  Albeit a bit corny, that’s the way I visualize our relationship with THE HOLY SPIRIT.  HE is ever present to warn us about people, things, places, habits, etc. that are detrimental, but in the end, HE won’t stop us if we’re determined enough to carry on.  Imagine what it must be like for HIM to watch us marching into another one of Satan’s landmines singing  Zippitty Do Dah like mindless morons.

GOD’S Word is explicit. For us to live in CHRIST, we should avoid sin.  We can’t claim constant ignorance or keep offering the same lame excuses.  Why do you sin? Why do I sin?  I’ll tell you why, because we want to.  Yes we’re human and none of us are going to be perfect and blah, blah, blah, but I, for one, will not claim to put up even a reasonably noble fight to remain holy for MY FATHER.  Worst is, when the time comes to reap the consequences of actions we were gung-ho to do, we have the audacity to question why GOD would do this or that. 

Well, duh? Like we’ve told our kids and our parents told us and their parents told them and their parents told them, you play with fire, you’re gonna be toast!  Yeah, I know, I changed that last part, yada….yada….I like toast better….

So, I’m sure these darn cats will continue finding their way inside the house, but, at least I’ve got their number now…you guessed it, nine. And, I’m giving THE HOLY SPIRIT permission to call my number, out any time as well, because I really don’t like allergies!

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