Sunday, September 29, 2013

Can't leave September without spinning this on the good, old vinyl

It may be 35 years old this fall, but this hit is just timeless.  And, it reminds us all that not everything that came out of the era of disco is pathetic.

Crank it up and dance!!!!

Saturday, September 28, 2013

When Harry Met Christ

If you have known me for more than a few weeks and we've ever had a conversation about movies, you'll know that it is no secret that I can quote lines from when "When Harry Met Sally".  Above almost every other movie on this planet, the dialogue, storyline, and quirky romance speak to me.

The line that always leaves me teary-eyed, no matter how many times I re-watch it, is one of the last from the movie, when Harry declares his love for Sally:

"I love that you get cold when it's 71 degrees out. I love that it takes you an hour and a half to order a sandwich. I love that you get a little crinkle above your nose when you're looking at me like I'm nuts. I love that after I spend the day with you, I can still smell your perfume on my clothes. And I love that you are the last person I want to talk to before I go to sleep at night. And it's not because I'm lonely, and it's not because it's New Year's Eve. I came here tonight because when you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible."

What gets me about these lines is the intimacy they convey.  Harry has paid such close attention to Sally that he understands things about her that would drive other people crazy.  He has looked at her so intentionally that he recognizes her facial expressions.  He knows what he wants, and Harry wants Sally, with all her faults and oddities.

Most women look for a man who will look at her like this;  who will see the good, the bad, and the ugly in her and still say "She is the one".  That's the stuff of romance.

What's not the stuff of romance, but is the stuff of reality, is that Christ looks at us this very same way.  He know our bodies so intimately that he knew them from before they were being formed;  He knows the number of hairs on our heads and the number of freckles on our face.

He knows our like and dislikes.

He can read our body language and mannerisms and responses before we even have a clue what we were thinking, feeling, or projecting.

He dearly loves to walk alongside us and commune with us on a daily basis, but He is also the ultimate gentleman, allowing us to decide when we will ask Him along on our journey.  He loves to talk with us more than anything in the world, if we'll stop our busy lives to involve Him.

He's never lonely, but he longs for us.  Time is unimportant on his eternal calendar, yet He knows the number of our days and conspires with us to help us live them for Him.

Mostly He wants us to accept Him by saying "YES!".  He wants to build us a Heavenly home and live with Him eternally.  He wants our forever with Him to start as soon as possible.  

Romantic guy, isn't He, our Christ?

Monday, September 23, 2013


Hello my dear friend,

So much has happened to me that I do NOT know where to begin, and don't care too. :-(  All I want to say is PLEASE keep me in your prayers.  I hope and pray You and your 4 boys are well.  Tell all BIG hello for me. 


This popped into my inbox on November 10, 2012.  On November 12, I responded back, with a simple offer of a listening ear, if one was ever needed.  On November 13th, my friend was home in Heaven, unbeknownst to me.

It wasn't an auto accident or a suicide attempt or the MS that had ravaged her body that caused her death.  It was a tiny pimple on the inside of her leg, filled with poison that traveled into her blood after she innocently burst the nodule, looking for relief from the pain.

James (4:14) says "Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes."  I reflected on my sketchy recollection of this verse as I walked a beach on the Gulf of Mexico this weekend.  The enormity of the water, the vastness of the horizon, that stretch of sand made me feel very small.  It made me realize the little part I will play in this world during my tenure here.  It made me realize that, in just a few years, my friend's journey will be but a sketchy memory for most who knew her.

I thought of our times laughing together when we were single.  Of her excitement when Mike and I started dating, of our shared love of ribbing him.  Of our time together several years ago, when we stopped to visit with her and she entered the room looking as beautiful as she always had been, with a smile as wide as the beach I stood on, pushing the necessary walker as she came across the room.  I fought back tears in that moment, tears for all she had lost.  I fought back tears for being so weak in my faith, while she was so incredibly, unfathomably strong.

My friend knew in those last days that she was going home.  She was at peace.  She told her Mother that she and God had a deal that He would come get her before she had to permanently be in a wheelchair.  The night He delivered her, she was precariously close to that point.  But, He was faithful.
The holidays of 2012 were a blur of unfinished projects and bags that needed packing.  My usual Christmas cards, for the first time in many years, were never sent.  The pictures of the Nowell five, all 100 of them, never left their developing envelope.  The Virgin Mary and Baby Jesus stamps lay unused.  There was no "undeliverable to address" stamp on a returned envelope to signal that something was amiss.

And then, in a blink, it was January.  A new year.  A fresh start.  A short list of birthdays to acknowledge but a long list of to-dos to complete.  I fired off an email, sending my best wishes and hopes for a great year, with prayers and hugs and kisses, too.  I didn't notice, because life was a blur, that there wasn't the typical "thank you for thinking of me" response.

And a couple of months later, the phone rang in the middle of the day.  It was Joyce, my friend's Mother.  My birthday wishes had been opened, once passwords had been pried from the mail provider's lists.  And Joyce realized I.didn't.know.  She was sorry she hadn't called earlier, but she just couldn't.

There we were, the Mother Joyce having lost her daughter, talking to the daughter who had recently lost her Mother Joyce;  irony from the start.  It was a beautiful end to a beautiful life, she said.  We had been faithful friends through the years.  She loved the pictures and little gifts I would send.  She was blessed to have known us.  She would send a package with funeral information, now almost six months old.  We cried and tried to talk through our tears.  There was little left to say.  It was done. 
I want to heed the Psalmist's plea "Teach us to realize the brevity of life, so that we may grow in wisdom."  I want to be wise to the things that matter most in this life.  I want to strip my life of the unnecessary and fleeting and worthless.  I want to live a life that pleases God so much that I can feel it.

Today I wrote a very long overdue letter;  a letter of apology, asking for forgiveness.  I intend to print it out and read it to its recipient.  It will take me three times longer to read it than it would if I just handed it over, but it is important that my brokenness be seen.  It is important that I choke up over my past actions.  It is imperative that I do this right.

You see, I've come to understand the brevity of life.  I've come to see that I am a vapor.  I only live and move and breathe because of a great God who knows not only the number of hairs on my head, but also the number of my days.  And, because I am not privy to that information, I have to live today as though it is the last. So, I won't tarry in delivering this note and tearfully exchanging its meaning with the one who deserves it.

My friend's life taught me so many things about searching for beauty in tragedy and finding God in the little things and keeping the faith through adversity.  

But, maybe most importantly, her life taught me this sense of urgency.  This desire to go and heal, even when I'm fearful and worried and hesitant.  

Thank you, Robin.  You are missed.

Monday, September 16, 2013

No Money-Back Guarantee, Just a Good Old-Fashioned Lesson

Recently, we (not the royal we, but the hubby and I, collectively) gave a gift to a friend who really seemed to be in a tough spot.

When I saw the opportunity to bless this person as I went through our calendar and budget, I didn't hesitate to ask Mike what he thought.  He admitted he had thought the same thing.  And so, as usual, when we find ourselves on the same page regarding an issue, we move forward. 

In case you missed it, I used the word "gift" about this transaction, which should translate "something given voluntarily without payment in return".  But, because Facebook exists and I can see what this person is doing, day in and day out (sometimes hour by hour...), I can also see that the situation we viewed as dire was, in fact, not so.  It seems that friend is out on the town many times per month, doing things we Nowells have deemed "outside of the budget" for us as a couple/family.

Honestly, this last dinner to event just about threw me over the edge.  The budget I have for my entire family, for the entire month of September, probably couldn't have covered this one couples-only evening, much less the many events I had already seen throughout the month.  I'll admit it:  I got angry.

Angry because I felt, in some small way, that I had given to someone who didn't really have a need but accepted the gift anyway.  I felt jealous that "proper" dates, where Mike and I dress up and go out just as a couple, seem to have gotten swallowed up by life.  Honestly, I wanted my money back. 

And this is where the reality hit me.  This is where I had to stare the ugly truth in the face:  sometimes I just don't give freely.

When I hand a dollar to the beggar on the street, I pray he will use it well and that he won't end up with a can in a paper bag with my money.  But, I give anyway.

When I write a check to a charity I trust and send it off, I pray the CEO won't abuse his/her privilege and that the greatest portion of the money will go to the work the charity supports.  I wonder about this sometimes, but I give anyway.

When I donate to the church, I pray that the vestry and clergy will find the best place to spend the money and that they spend in a way that preserves as much of the contribution as possible for the budget line that reads "missions".  But, I don't give it as much as a second thought most days, and I give anyway.

Somehow, I can easily give to those I won't see again or I'll likely never meet in person or those who have to be accountable for my gift.  But, to those I'm closest?  Those who I'll see in person and follow on Facebook and talk to on the phone?  Those who have no responsibility to account for the gift or tell me whether or not they loved it?  That is so much harder. 

When I look myself in the mirror on this issue, I'm frankly ashamed.  The blessings I have in this life are ridiculous.  They are over-the-top.  They are so above what I need or could have dreamed or expected.  And every last one of them is a gift.

My whole life is a gift. 

And I have the nerve to whine over a paltry few dollars that I am able to give?

The ultimate gift was given to me when Christ died for me.  He knew, going in, that I could choose to walk away from Him.  He knew I could decide His gift wasn't enough.  He knew I could reject Him for eternity.  Yet, still, He gave freely.

May God give me a heart to do the same.

And, may He forgive me for my selfishness, jealousy, and judgmental attitude as well.