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An Old Wooden Rollin' Pin

The other day I was holding my grandmother’s old rollin’ pin in my hands. You know the one. Wooden with little lines and cracks from years of use. The handles are a little wobbly. Yeah, that one.

That rollin’ pin made the best biscuits. If I could close my eyes and travel back all those years for just one bite of those light, buttery treats, I would do it. But, memories are all I have.

My grandmother was a chubby thing. Short. Round. Her fingers were little sausages. But she could do two things with them that held me captive, play the piano like no one else and roll out dough like she meant it. When her small hands went to work, her fingers flew over the keyboard at lightning speed and her fingers grasped that wooden rollin’ pin while she rolled out the perfect dough.

I remember the scent of her, the fire in her eyes when someone angered her, and the compelling way she said my name, Lene. That’s what she called me. For some reason, I always remember her as being forever the same. Weird, isn’t it? She was in her early sixties when she left for home, but she always looked the same to me. She was always—Grandma.

The reason I was holding that rollin’ pin in my hands is my 25-year-old daughter, the mother of my granddaughter, is moving into her own apartment. We were going through my kitchen drawers and cupboards, separating some things for her to get started in her new place. If you’re like me, you have so much parting with a few things is hardly noticeable.

Objects hold very specific memories, strong ones when they’re associated with either great love or great hurt. That rollin’ pin took me back many years. I nearly handed it off to my daughter, but something held me back. I gave her all my baking supplies, I really don’t plan on baking much anymore. I gave her grandma’s cookie cutters. But for some reason, I couldn’t give her that rollin’ pin. I was probably threatened with that thing a time or two in my younger years but it still holds a special place in my heart.

I was only 28 when my grandmother died. She was still very young and had her life been different, she could have lived to see her great, great granddaughter. Changing the past isn’t possible. Changing the path to our future is and I plan on making every moment I have count.

My granddaughter is now a couple of months past 2. My relationship with my own grandmother got me thinking. How am I cementing the bond between Tink and I? What smells will she remember me by? When she’s a new grandmother what will be an object that sparks her greatest memory of me? Will she hang on to a few things that were special to me?

You know, that rollin’ pin is going to stay put. Perhaps it has a few more cookie baking sessions in it after all. I see cut out cookies in my future with smeared icing and gobs of sprinkles.

Memories…the stuff a good life produces.

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Week 4: It's OK to Make Mistakes

Week 4: It’s Okay to Make Mistakes

Hi! Welcome to week 4 in a series of 7 Things I Wish Someone Would Have Told Me—an article I wrote for Hello, Darling Magazine. Last week I shared Social Etiquette is Key. If you didn’t get the chance to read it, either scroll down or click here. This week’s post ties in with some of what I shared last week in regards to making mistakes. Last week’s mistakes dealt with social blunders. This week, we are talking about accepting the fact we are going to make mistakes, it is part of being human. I pray these posts are touching you right where you are at and helping you in some way.

Here is what I shared with Hello, Darling Magazine:

I learned to strive for perfection, another safety precaution. The better I did something, the less trouble I got into and the better I felt about myself. Eventually, striving to do well turned into the driving desire to be perfect. My ambition hindered all of my relationships. I allowed myself to feel superior toward anyone who did not adhere to my standard. I am so thankful I can now smile at my mistakes.

Perfection. What a myth. What an empty promise. What an unattainable goal! Perfection is an elusive state of being, one that we will never reach, yet, we try with all our being, all our might, to get there anyway. It doesn’t exist in human form. The harder we try, the harder we climb, the harder and farther we fall. Ouch. And falling hurts. Especially when we expect crazy things from ourselves.

God never asked us to be perfect. In fact, He didn’t even ask us to try for perfection. Why? Because He would never set us up for failure.

Where does our desire to be perfect come from? How does it begin? I believe it begins when we are very young and is reinforced as we grow older as we try to please those in authority over us. We yearn for approval. We want someone to give us a pat on the back and say “good job.” When that doesn’t happen we try harder. And harder. And harder. Then one day we wake up and realize the futility in our attempt. At least some of us do. Some never see the proverbial treat hanging just out of reach and each time they move a little closer, the treat jumps back a little farther.

As a young girl, I had to clean the creases in the linoleum floor with a butter knife and a toothbrush. One little square at a time. A mop wouldn’t do. Not even washing the floor on my hands and knees was good enough. Nope, I had to get every little bit of dirt out of each little crack. It took hours.

Is it any wonder I became obsessive about perfection?

I remember the exact moment I acknowledged I had a problem in this area. The towels. I always wanted the towels folded exactly the same. I wanted guests in our home to open the linen closet and see these beautiful, color coordinated, towels that were just sitting there, waiting for them. It was as if they opened the door to a rainbow that made them happy, that made them smile. Then I had kids. And I wanted to teach my kids responsibility. And I wanted to say their efforts were good. And I didn’t want them to think they had to be…or do…or look…perfect. In other words, I didn’t want to pass my own desperate quest for acceptance onto my children. If you saw my daughter’s room you might think I went a little too far in the opposite direction. I would have to agree with you.

Thankfully I did not allow this character flaw to continue. My children have never had to clean the cracks in the floor. Although I did make my daughter wash the kitchen floor on her hands and knees once as payment for an astronomical texting bill. But, that’s another story for another time.

Join me next week when I share “You Don’t Have to Please Everyone.” Boy, this one is tough! See you next week!

Blessings,


Darlene

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Week 3: Social Etiquette is Key

Week 3: Social Etiquette is Key

Hi! Welcome to week 3 in a series of 7 Things I Wish Someone Would Have Told Me—an article I wrote for Hello, Darling Magazine. Last week I shared Laugh! Cry! Be Angry! Just Feel Something! If you didn’t get the chance to read it, either scroll down or click here. For those of you who did see the post, did you get a chance to express yourself—and show others you aren’t made of stone? If you feel comfortable, share your experience in the comments. I realize that some of these posts hit us right in the heart. I know some bring up uncomfortable memories. I am hearing from you…but through email and private messages. Thank you for letting me know you appreciate these posts and they are helping you in some way.  Now…onto week 3.

Here is the story I shared with Hello, Darling:

In high school and into adulthood, I seriously lacked in the social department. I laughed at the wrong moment in a joke. I said the wrong thing at the wrong time. I repeated myself to the point I would become annoying and irritating. I didn’t know any better. No one ever shared with me the secrets of self-awareness and reading social cues.

I remember high school well. For the first time in my life I felt like I belonged. Not immediately. And certainly not all the time. But, there were moments.

There were also moments I made a complete fool of myself. I remember those all too well. Like the time I decided to start a food fight and threw an apple against the stage doors. Yep. I confused everyone with that little trick. I have to wonder what my peers thought. What is wrong with her? Is she special needs? If I remember correctly most everyone just stared at me for a moment then pretended it didn’t happen. I can say I learned my lesson very well. I never threw another apple against a stage door. Truly, I didn’t.

You can attribute some of my lack simply to youth and lack of maturity. But not all. By the time a child enters high school, she should be somewhat trained in determining what is and what is not appropriate behavior. All my social etiquette do’s and don’ts came from learning experiences. All of them. They were hard lessons to be sure. But I can tell you I remember each and every one of them. So, perhaps someone did me a favor.

People say we learn our best lessons from experience. At least that is what my daughter says…no matter how much I want her to learn from my mistakes and save herself the heartache.

John Maxwell puts it like this:

“A man must be big enough to admit his mistakes, smart enough to profit from them, and strong enough to correct them.”

Experience truly is our best teacher.

The question is, are we recognizing our own mistakes? Are we learning from them? Are we fixing them?

Only you know the answer to those three questions as they pertain to your life. I can say mine is an ongoing project. I am constantly seeing my faults, learning from them, and correcting wrong behavior.

I have no choice in the matter. I want to move forward in what God has for me and growth is a requirement.

Have a fantastic week!

Blessings,

Darlene

 

 

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Week 2: Laugh! Cry! Be Angry! Just Feel Something!

Hi! Welcome to week 2 in a series of 7 Things I Wish Someone Would Have Told Me—an article I wrote for Hello, Darling Magazine. Last week I shared Don’t be Afraid to Ask for Help. If you didn’t get the chance to read it, either scroll down or click here. For those of you who did see the post, did you swallow your pride and ask for help last week? Take a minute and tell us about your experience. Did it feel good? Bad? Indifferent? Were you glad you asked? I can’t wait to hear your story. Until then…onto week 2.

Have you ever had relationship with someone who seemed rather stoic? Perhaps they didn’t smile much or didn’t respond to your jokes. You walked away from coversations wondering if it was you or them. You ended up analyzing them and then shrugging your shoulders. I can tell you from experience, it’s not because they are indifferent. At least for most people. Most of the time they are trying to figure out the correct response and from experience I have learned it’s best to not respond at all. It’s safe that way. And we like to be safe. Don’t we?

As I stated in the excerpt from point 2 in 7 Things I Wish Someone Would Have Told Me:

Laugh! Cry! Be Angry! Just feel something!

From an early age, I learned that if I stifled my emotions, I would get into less trouble and draw less attention to myself. As an adult, I am less emotional than the average woman. I’ve been accused of not feeling anything and being as cold as stone. I know that I feel. I can see it in my writing. I’m still learning the best ways to show that I love, I hurt, and that I hate.

Humans are emotional beings. This is how God made us. We do not have to make excuses for feeling. While we should never allow our emotions to rule us, we should never try to exile all emotional responses—God wouldn’t have given them to us if we weren’t supposed to have them.

Being able to cry with a friend who just lost a loved one or rejoice with your daughter as she gives birth to your first grandchild is an honor. Embrace those emotions. Don’t fear them.

My challenge for you this week is, if you are like me, and tend to hide from your emotions, go out on a limb and crack a smile. Dance a jig. Jump up and down. Stand outside and let out the loudest whoop you’ve ever attempted. If emotion is no stranger to you, then your challenge is to give a little grace to the person who you’ve deemed “cold as stone.” You have no idea what they have gone through and where they’ve been in order to necessitate those chasms in emotional expression.

Emotions can be awesome and freeing. Emotions can also be controlling and overwhelming. Balance is key. Finding balance is the hardest part.

See you next week for week 3, Social Etiquette is Key!

Blessings,

Darlene 

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Week 1: Don't be Afraid to Ask for Help!

This week, I want to tell you: Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Everyone needs help. You are not weak. You are not a burden. You are a human being who cannot do it all.

It took me a long time to understand this concept. At times, I still drag my feet when asking for help. I’m working on it.

Here is the story I shared with Hello, Darling.

I was a late bloomer. Because of the abuse in my childhood, I hit puberty as a shy, timid girl who feared her own shadow. When I started menstruating, I had no idea what to do. I never had the wisdom of a female role model. I wadded up toilet paper to keep from being thoroughly embarrassed. My periods were extremely light and only lasted two days. But I feared asking for help. I never thought anyone would want to help me, and I was fearful of admitting I had needs.

By the time I reached high school I had people in my life who loved me, who would have helped me if only I had asked. But I didn’t.

Because of how I was raised, I never asked for anything. Ever. What a bad habit to have to break. These are the experiences that define us if we let them. We cannot let them. We must be willing to let go of those negative behaviors that keep us from accomplishing God’s call on our lives. Sometimes we hold onto the bad like we would hold onto precious jewels. Don’t be afraid to let them go. I know it’s hard. I know they protect us when life is unfair, unkind. But they also hinder us. We will always fall short of our potential if self-preservation is our sole focus.

Sometimes I chastise my daughter for always having to learn the hard way. She came by the trait honestly. She got it from her mother. I saw need as weakness. I always prided myself in being self-sufficient, battle ready, and able to do anything I put my mind to. As an adult, God allowed me to be in situations that required me to get help. I hated it. I fought it. I stomped my feet and shook my fist. I didn’t need anyone. I believed in God but I believed in myself more. He was patient with me as I learned my lesson. (And my husband has every right to blame our slow climb to success on my stubbornness.)

Part of my hesitancy was protecting myself. Admitting I had needs meant I had to let people near my heart, a heart that had been broken so many times I wasn’t sure if it could handle any more pain. God had bigger plans for me than hiding behind a painted on smile, plans that required my heart to both love and be loved. Giving Him free reign wasn’t easy, but it was worth it. I can’t imagine my life today if I had held on to such a self-centered belief. I have learned it is okay to ask for help. It is okay to not measure up.

Do yourself a favor. Grow. Let go. Ask someone, anyone, for help. When we allow others to help us, we are more prone to help others. And what a joy that is!

Come back next week for the second thing I want to tell you.

See you then!

In Christ,

Darlene

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7 Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me

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In the spring of 2014 I ran across a request for articles for Hello, Darling Magazine, the magazine associated with MOPS International. One of the subjects caught my eye…and my heart. I sat down and wrote the article “7 Things I Wish Someone Would Have Told Me.” The article was published in the summer 2014 magazine.

I am going to share an elaborated rendition of that article in seven different posts. These posts are deeply personal and very revealing.  Most aren’t for the weak of heart. Some of the subject matter may be offensive. I’m sorry. I will still share because these experiences have shaped me into the person I am today.

You may identify with some of them or possibly all of them. Chances are your experiences are different than mine. They are uniquely, and sadly, yours. Just as mine are mine.

It’s okay though. I came through the hard stuff stronger, wiser, compassionate, and loving. I pray you did too. Just in case you are still battling your past, there are a few things I would like to tell you.

I grew up as the oldest child of a broken marriage. My mother married my father when she found out she was pregnant. It happens. Life happens. Another dysfunctional family is not out of the ordinary. We were in no way unique. We had problems. Just like everyone else. Four children later, my parents divorced. I was 5 years old.

I lived with my mother through my eighth grade year. It was not a pleasant experience. I have very few memories from those days and most of what I do know was told to me by my grandmother or an aunt. I do know that I never felt comfortable, never felt loved, and never felt I had a place in this world that fit my definition of home. It is not my intention to bad mouth my mother so I will offer no details of my younger years. She has her own demons she must face and forgiveness she must seek. I must answer for my own missteps and mess ups. That is more than enough for me.

The summer before my ninth grade year I went to live with my father. My father had remarried and had three young children at home. I no longer lived in fear, but I didn’t really know how to live. I was suddenly living with people who were a family and it was a foreign concept. They ate meals together, at a table. They went places together. I actually got a class ring. I still have it in my jewelry box. In spite of all my awkwardness and social blunders, the world became a huge pond of opportunity. I began to dream.

Even with a haunting past, I believe there is a time to let go and move forward. Moving forward does not necessarily mean we forget. We have an opportunity to learn from the past by dealing with it, not just sweeping it under a rug and pretending it didn’t happen. The next seven weeks I’m going to share with you the seven things I wish someone had told me so I wouldn’t have had to figure them out on my own. These seven things helped me overcome the victim mentality and learn to take responsibility for my own actions, both the good and bad.

I pray these posts encourage you to go after everything God has for you…and you let go of a past that is keeping you from your future.

 

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Something Special, Just for Me!

Since switching website providers I'm going to be posting some blog posts from several years ago. I think these are worth reading again. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do. 

A couple of days ago in my special prayer time, I was kneeling at the recliner in our living room, sitting quietly, listening for the voice of the Lord to speak to my heart.  I remembered our pastor telling us how God would sometimes speak a scripture to him to look up and how it would apply to his life.  I have heard of others doing this as well.  I asked the Lord to give me a scripture like he did those around me.  I was quiet.  I was listening.

All the sudden Ezekiel 4:12 popped into my head.  I wasted no time.  I went straight to my Bible in anxious anticipation of what the Lord was going to reveal to me.  I read these words:  "You shall eat it as barley cakes: and bake it using fuel of human waste in their sight.”

HUH?  Really?  This is the verse you had for me?  I shook my head, hoping this was my flesh and not the word the Lord had for me.  I told this story to couple of people, hoping for some insight, only to receive laughter.  I will never forget what Ezekiel 4:12 reads.  I guess that is one way to memorize scripture!  God does have a sense of humor!

While working on a Bible study by Donna Pyle on Jeremiah 29:11&12, I came to understand the message that God was trying to teach me.  While it is great for me to ask the Lord for revelation, through His word, through words of affirmation by those around me, and through Him speaking directly to my heart, I am to desire what He has for me, not what others have.  I desired the type of communication others enjoyed with the Father rather than the communication itself.  I wanted to see the Father do for me what He did for others. 

I am sure that someday God will choose to use that method of communication to communicate with me. Or maybe not. It was not wrong of me to desire Him to communicate with me in that manor.  My only error, my only miss-step, was in desiring what others have. 

Jeremiah 29:11&12 gives us this insight:  “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future, then you will call on me, and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.”

I’m going to add verse 13 as well:  “You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with your whole heart.”

God has plans for me!  Those plans are not leftovers from someone else, they weren’t thought up at the last second, in hopes to appease me.  They were mine from the very foundation of the earth.  His desire for me, the road that He has chosen for me, was carefully and meticulously set-aside just for me. 

I don’t know about you, but that knocks the wind out of me and makes my legs a bit wobbly.  God believes in me!

So God knows the plans he has for me, all good mind you, but He wants me to call on Him, pray to Him and seek Him with my whole heart.  I do not know that I could accomplish that if I wasn’t spending time on my knees!

 

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Kendall's Secret by Nora Ballew

Hi everyone, 

Once again I'm bringing you a new release. This one sounds really good. I'm looking forward to reading it. 

Kendall's Secret – A New YA Release by Nora Ballew


The town of Waterville, Pennsylvania is home to Kendall Ross and her friends, Justin, Hannah, Alex, Megan and Owen. Together, they are JOY, the first youth praise band their church has ever had. “Kendall's Secret,” the first in The Praise Band Series, is available now on Amazon.com.


From the back cover:

Kendall’s world revolves around her family, the church youth band, and an endless stream of text messages with her friends… until a tragic accident claims her sister’s life and leaves Kendall carrying a painful secret. Her mother, her friends, even the police don’t know what really happened that fateful night on Crooked Hill Road.

Shattered by grief and tortured by her memories, Kendall knows if she tells the truth, she may never be forgiven. But if she doesn’t, someone else will face certain persecution. Will she ever find the courage to reveal how one choice, one word, changed everything?


From the author:

Everybody does it. That's the battle cry of the teenager, and sometimes it is all too true. Kendall didn't do anything that her friends and even her mom and other adults weren't doing. That's why Kendall didn't seriously worry about texting while driving. It wasn't really that big of deal, was it? Perhaps not. Until that last one, that last message that changed Kendall's life forever and ended Hayley's. Read her story for just 99 cents until July 31, 2015!


http://www.amazon.com/Kendalls-Secret-Praise-Band-Book-ebook/dp/B011SMMKX8


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Right Angles by Sherry Chamblee

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Right Angles by Sherry Chamblee

Hi everyone, 


Every now and again I'll post a little something here for you to check out. I would like to introduce you to Sherry Chamblee, author of Right Angles, her newest release. If you have a minute, head over to her website, or check out her other books on Amazon. All the links are below. Have a wonderful day! Be blessed!

Darlene 

 

The 4-week Bible Study/Devotional, Right Angles, is going live.



Oftentimes in life, our biggest problem comes from the angle we’re looking at things. When we straighten out the perspectives, in our own minds, we might just see the solution readily available. That’s why our perspective should always be guided by the Bible. God’s Holy Word is the only straight angle that will keep us in the proper perspective.




This 4-week devotional for women offers a unique perspective from the daily life of a mom of six, a full-time caregiver, and a crazy cat lady all rolled up into one person.

Dealing with topics such as: getting lost in an elevator, everybody’s got baggage, following your heart, and loving what God loves, Right Angles: A Women’s Devotional looks at things we women deal with on a daily basis.

This devotional will be on sale for 0.99 cents from July 25 – July 27, 2015. Available on Amazon at

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B011BJEK4K

 

You can also find more from Sherry Chamblee at www.sherrychamblee.weebly.com or her Facebook page at

https://www.facebook.com/authorsherrychamblee

 

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