Wednesday, March 23, 2016


Rethink church has done it again!  I'm really enjoying their Instagram word of the day photo challenge!  This is the second blog post that has been directly inspired by them.  This morning I looked at the word for today-rejected and my mind began to fill with all the ways rejected applied in my life.

Rejected-I've been rejected by the boy I had a crush on in junior high but you know it was okay because God had the perfect Handsome guy already picked out for me.  I just had to be rejected a few times before I would meet him.  Those rejections taught me to really appreciate and value the "perfect" mate!  One might even say I'm crazy blessed to have him!

Rejected-I've been rejected by friends.  Ones I thought would stand by my side through thick and thin who simply turned away when things got tough.  We all have been stabbed in the back with the malicious words of someone we thought we could trust.  Those rejections have taught me to guard my tongue and to use care with the people with whom I choose to associate.  Momma used to say "if you waller with the hogs you're going to get dirty."  Of course I thought she was crazy until I knew rejection and saw those who had rejected me had a long line behind them of people left feeling hurt and betrayed.  I choose my friends carefully, I may not have lots of friends but the ones I do have in my "tribe" are people who would go to the end for me and I for them.  I sure am crazy blessed to have a few quarters rather than hundreds of pennies in my life!
Rejected-I've been rejected by family.  Ones who don't return phone calls, have only seen my kids a handful of times, refuse to allow us to come visit them when we're in town, ones who still think I'm that 10 year old little girl who doesn't know anything.  Their rejection has taught me to value my parents, my husband and our kids.  It has helped me to work with our kids encouraging them to apologize for the hurts and forgive one another, helping them learn that they can be friends and supporters of one another as they grow older even if they have different lives.  I love that College Girl will call and say, "hey can I come spend the night so I can hang out with my sisters?"  She is working hard to maintain a good, positive relationship.  There I am being crazy blessed again.
Rejected-I love to shop the clearance plants at the garden center, picking up the ones that have been rejected because of a broken blossom or a few smashed leaves.  Bringing them home and nursing them back to vibrancy is a rewarding challenge.  Their rejection has taught me patience and nurturing which flow through to other aspects of my crazy blessed life.

Rejected-all of our pets have been adopted from shelters they were rejected by owners who no longer wanted them.  We've brought them into our homes and our hearts, making them part of our every day lives.  These rejected fur babies have shown me that even the outcasts have love to give and they crazy bless us every day with their love and affection.

Then it was as if I was watching a movie play out before my eyes.  A movie of a story I've read countless times in my life from the book of Matthew chapter 27 the story of Pilate letting the crowd choose between Barabbas and Jesus.  I could see the angry crowd, smell the dust and filth in the air, I could taste the sweat pouring off my face, I could feel the ropes that bound and my heart pounding in my chest as if I was Jesus.  Pilate pointed to Barabbas and the crowd shouted to let him go free and then he pointed a me and the crowd erupted with angry cries of  "Crucify, crucify, crucify...." and my heart broke at that moment I realized I had no idea what rejection was.

I couldn't possibly understand being the most innocent person to ever walk the earth and be rejected by an angry crowd.  He was blameless, innocent as a newborn.  So rejection here on earth by a few people is nothing I can not handle.  Rejection was endured by the Son of God, it can be endured by me too!  I'm privileged that He carried away my guilt, my shame and left me the ability to enjoy my crazy blessed life a little bit stronger after my rejections.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Accumulate Positive Experiences

Accumulate positive experiences...a dear friend shared this piece of advice with me yesterday.  I immediately had to write it down.  Not just random positive experiences but intentional ones.  Seeking out every day some positive experience.  I'm one of those people who sees the glass as either half full or refillable but somedays my glass is utterly empty and I desperately need it to be refilled.  The concept of intentionally accumulating positive experiences is very attractive to me.  So I jotted down a few things that are "positive experiences" for me:

  • walks
  • gardening
  • 5-finger intentional prayer
  • a cuppa coffee in the morning sunshine
  • reading without interruption
  • blogging
  • cooking

That was a pretty quick and easy list to come up with and I'm sure I could think of more if I put my mind to it.  I think I really like this idea so I decided to do a quick Google search and I'm thrilled with this new (to me) approach at life!  I found positive admonitions like, do pleasant things that are possible NOW!  My favorite by far was: be mindful of positive experiences.

Perhaps this resonates with me because it seems lately in too many areas of my life I feel overwhelmed.  At the end of the day I feel as if I've been put through an emotional wringer; I seem to forget to be mindful of my positive experiences because they've been unintentional and I haven't even noticed them.  I am at a place in my life right now that I need to be mindful of the positive, maybe to even go so far as to schedule that positive!

Handsome and I have been accumulating positive experiences in our marriage without giving it that name, we've been "dating the alphabet" again.  Our goal is to date our way through the alphabet, we've made it through the letter "C" so far this year.  We're looking for our "D" date so if you have any ideas, bring them on!  It is incredible what an afternoon movie can do for your positive mental attitude!  I need more of those moments not just as a couple but for myself every day.

This Lent rather than giving up things, I took on some positive habits, one of those is journaling every day.  But I think I've been doing it wrong, I've been using it as a stress relief and often it has the negatives of the day and I forget to include the positive.  I'm going to re-do my nightly journal and include at least one positive each day, in caps at the top of the page.  The idea is I want the positive to be the most visible part when I thumb back through.  I must remember my own motto "always crazy blessed!"

Take some time today to not only find the positive but to actually plan for and accumulate some positive experiences!  So when you see me looking a little more relaxed and a little less exasperated, you'll know I've been accumulating those positive experiences in my life because after all, "today is a good day for a good day!"  Thanks Anna & Mellissa for helping me remember just how crazy blessed I am every day!

My friend Mellissa's positive admonition to me in the midst of my 15 doctor note visits from October!

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Damn Yanks!

Every region has their a teenager in the 70's, my sister had a friend from Michigan who actually thought Oklahoma still had tee-pees and Indians riding around on horseback scalping the white people.  When he came to her wedding in 1985 he wondered where all the Indians were.  Here in Arkansas people from other places tend to think we are all "hillbillies," you know the barefoot and pregnant stigma in a dilapidated home with dirt floors!  Texans like everything larger than life and isn't everyone a movie star in California?  And then there are those Damn Yankees, everyone knows they are self-centered, impatient and say things like "coffee" really weird.  (I found the picture below at and it gave me a chuckle.)

In my life, I've been crazy blessed to have many friends (and even some family) who were Yanks-of course in my backwards Oklahoma mind the Yanks primarily hail from the purple area above! Last fall one of those Yanks had the nerve to set foot right smack dab in the northwest corner of Arkansas and begin to call our state home.  Right away I was inclined to like this particular person because I could tell she was smart, mature and worldly...all the great things from the purple zone; I could quickly see she was just a little "snarky"-in case you're not familiar with the term snarky I'll share my favorites from several online sources: snide, crotchety, and sarcastic-whew!  My kind of person!  I hoped we'd be friends.

Soon we were Facebook friends, messaging and texting then came the big day she suggested we take our friendship to the "next level" and talk on the phone.  I haven't laughed so hard in years!  This friend and her family have definitely been a blessing.  Along with all those silly things above, I've come to know a dependable, trustworthy, kind and compassionate human being.  One who can read on my face what I thought I was bravely hiding.  One who is willing to put aside her dislike of hugging someone not in her immediate family as she springs out of her chair and throws her arms around me because "your eyes screamed I need someone to hug my worries away!"  One can never have too many friends,  especially the kind who can see inside!

I absolutely love living here in northwest Arkansas, an area where the "newbies, outsiders and new folks" outnumber the "natives" at least 2:1!  I've learned that stereotypes rarely hold true and friends can come from all over the world! Just trying to #keepitreal by sharing some thoughts from my crazy blessed life!

Saturday, March 5, 2016


On Instagram, I follow  ReThink Church, one of their catchphrases is "We think it's important to live our faith both inside and outside the church walls, serving our neighbors and those around the world."  On Fat Tuesday, they posted a photo-a-day Lent challenge; each day has a word associated with it and you're supposed to post a picture and explain what it means to you.  I've been faithful and haven't missed a day.  Each morning I look at the word of the day, ponder and pray about it, then watch through the day for the right picture to go along with the word.  Today I was confronted with the word "endure" and I had no idea how I would capture it.  I looked up the word endure with my handy-dandy cell phone and this is what Google shared with me:

I felt that really didn't give me much to work with.  So I got up and got my Saturday going which meant full speed ahead much like any other day   (Have you ever heard the saying, "You never know what someone is going through.  Be kind.  Always."?) .  Handsome was heading out for a day with the guys working on a truck or something-he needed a cooler, ice brick, fruit, etc. for a lunch, Jessica had to be taken to shooting sports, I had to go to the pharmacy-drop and fill a prescription since I had a family member in the emergency room until almost midnight last night, etc.  It's funny when I dropped Jessica a sweet friend stuck her head in my window to say "hi" and instead asked me what was wrong, just one look was all it took for her to know I'd already had a rough day.  I smiled and explained a bit...she wished me well like a good friend who understands does.  Jessica and her stuff hopped out of the car.  I then headed off on my way, dropped the prescription and was picking up doughnuts for a Saturday morning treat for my folks when Jessica called because she'd forgotten her glasses so home I went to get the glasses to take back out to the Quail barn to turn back around and head to the store to get the medicine.  I finally got home looking forward to a strong cup of coffee and while it was brewing I checked my email.  The subject looked positive and full of hope but when I clicked it was dark and hateful.  I ugly cried.  I really, really ugly cried.  I curled up on my bed and cried some more.  Then I pulled myself together and headed to pick up Jessica.  That sweet girl can brighten any day!

Like a good mom I took her to get a movie from the Redbox and lunch at Taco Bell.  We got home and I headed out for some sunshine and dirt therapy.  It was there that peace came, not just because I had sobbed it all out but a real peace.  An understanding and a realization of a blog that needed to be written.  As I worked in my little square foot garden to pull out some pesky weeds using my new, shiny garden tool I came across a pecan buried in the dirt.  To pseudo-quote my favorite move, "there's a pecan in the garden that ain't got no business being there," was what actually went through my mind, I think I could actually hear Morgan Freeman uttering the words.  Maybe it was his role playing God that got me to thinking about that pecan in comparison with the "A Little Hope" pecan tree growing a stones throw away.  What would that pecan have to "endure" to become a mighty 100' tree that the one in my yard aspires to become?

Again, I turned to handy Google for the answer.  I encountered some really technical stuff about "dry storage" and "the pecan must be buried in loose soil and moistened enough for the enzymes to be stimulated for 1-2 weeks..."  Have you ever had a pecan tree?  My grandparents had pecan trees, my parents had pecan trees and we've got one just a few years old that is heading toward maturity.  One of the things I learned is not every year is a nut producing year.  The conditions have to be just right-cold, warmth, rain, birds, bagworms, etc. so when we get those nuts if we want the seeds to become trees "man" has to do certain things or it just won't work.  But God, He can work miracles with a few of His magnificent creatures-squirrels and birds, and the weather-dryness, moisture, cold and heat through HIM have the ability to come together to create a mighty tree.

I'm not sure where the pecan in my garden came from, a bird could have carried it from some tree across town to the family of squirrels that lives across the street to find and bury in the soft soil of my garden hoping to come back to it for a mid-winter snack. That single pecan in my garden interrupted my time talking to God as He said, "listen."

So I listened and I heard birds chirping, the wind through the pine trees, my neighbor replacing his front windows, another neighbor running his air compressor, the children across the street playing annd laughing. I began to hear the message that we all live and work together whether it's a marriage, a family, a book club, a job, a church, a ladies organization-in any of these situations we are in a "facultative symbiatic relationship," meaning we are together BY CHOICE.  These relationships should also be "mutualistic" meaning the relationship is BENEFICIAL TO ALL parties/members.  Let that sink in for just a minute, okay?  In these situations I've mentioned we are together by choice in a relationship that should be beneficial to all.  But is it?  These relationships are not give-give or take-take, they are give-take and we have to work together with honesty and respect.  We must respect one another enough to be honest when we are hurt or disagree and work to resolve not just hold it inside and allow it to destroy us.  It's so easy to get caught so up in our own agenda/feelings/hurt that we forget that we are in a relationship BY CHOICE and that it should be BENEFICIAL TO ALL.  I had prayed, I had listened and now it's time for some discernment. 

 Do I respond with the same "tongue" I was dealt?  Do I try to defend myself?  Do I act like nothing has happened? So I grabbed my bible and sought advice.  Here is what I was met with Matthew 7:1-5  "Don't judge, so that you won't be judged. You'll receive the same judgement you give.  Whatever you deal out will be dealt out to you..." which goes so well with Jesus telling Peter later in Matthew that the number of times we forgive is not to be counted. Unlimited forgiveness.  I choose forgiveness, total and complete forgiveness.  

Forgiveness is one of God's magnificent creations that allows us to endure any circumstance.  I think I found my picture for today.
#crazyblessed #rethinkchurch #rethinkphoto
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Friday, March 4, 2016

Don't tell me I look good....

I'm not afraid to die.

I know those I love will miss me but really they'll be okay. They'll have my memories...and an awesome wisteria!  We talk openly about death and dying in our home.   Almost three years ago we lost James-Teds dad-to pancreatic cancer.   We were so blessed that he was able to take his final breath in the comfort of his home surrounded by family.   While we miss his smile and ornery chuckle,  he still is with us every day from the crazy tape measure to the sparkle in the eyes of his grandkids.  We often tell stories and share his memories.

As for me, my family has known for years my chosen funeral song is "Spirit in the Sky" and that I want a celebration of my life.  They know the generalities of my funeral like I don't want to be cremated, I don't want a casket or a concrete vault or even to be embalmed!  I want a soft blanket or "death shroud" and to be placed gently and lovingly into a hole somewhere in the earth; they can plant a nice wisteria on top for me to fertilize (I'd be okay with a tree).  Check out this video!

Green Burials: Life After death
Posted by The Huffington Post on Thursday, February 25, 2016

You've stuck with me this far, if you'll hang around a little bit longer I'll share with you what is really on my heart.  About a year ago I read a blog about "death midwives" and I felt a strong call.   I really believe this is a path on which I am meant to journey.  Sounds crazy,  right?   This is what I feel is a great description taken from BeyondHospice

"The work of death midwives does not duplicate the work of professionals such as nurses or funeral directors.   We work alongside them and our skills are not medically oriented,  they are more heart-oriented.   This work can be done in any setting...when a loved ones death is dignified,  peaceful and meaningful it can be a sacred experience for those left behind."

Death, a sacred experience-dignified, peaceful and meaningful.  How beautiful.  I was blessed to be with my Grandma Cassel when she drew her last breath.  I believe she was at peace and ready to go, she looked so calm as she inhaled deeply and left this earthly place behind.  Many families would like to have this type of experience as would their loved one but they need help expressing their desire.  Death midwives assist the family as they prepare for those final moments and the days that follow as they celebrate the life of the one they have lost.

I'm feeling a deep call but I'm planning to take the slow path.  I have a need to get a better understanding of my own religion and faith before I begin to help others.  I'm currently taking an online course through Harvard via edX along with 20,000 others from around the world on Religious Diversity in order that I might:
  • learn tools to better understand how religions function in human affairs.
  • interact constructively with peers from diverse religious, worldviews, regions of the world, experiences and perspectives.
I also recently signed up to take the Basic Lay Servant training with the United Methodist Church.  Yesterday I learned the one I had planned to participate in was cancelled.  At first I was really upset then I checked out the link that was sent and learned that the dates in April work for me to take both the Basic & Advanced in the same weekend!  WOW! There was a window that shut but a door swung open wide so I could walk right in.  So in April I'm going to take the first (in person) step toward books will arrive next week so I can get started on my homework that is due when I attend class!

I'm so crazy blessed to have so many opportunities to learn and grow!  I hope you'll keep me in your prayers, thoughts, blessings, chants, etc. as I begin my journey. (Oh, by the way when I die IF my family does some type of funeral and you see my dead body please do not utter the phrase, "she looks so good!"  I won't look good, I'll look dead.  Just dead. Because I won't be there any more the spark that gives my body life will have moved on to a better place and if you utter those words I'll be haunting you!!!)

Tachrichim (burial shrouds) are traditional simple white burial garments, usually made from 100% pure linen, in which Jews are dressed by the Chevra Kadisha for burial after undergoing a taharah (ritual purification). Shrouds are white and entirely hand-stitched. They are made without buttons, zippers, or fasteners. Tahrihim come in muslin or linen. Regardless of gender, they include shirt, pants, a head covering, and a belt and winding cloth.: