kindness


On June 8, 2013 two of my favorite people in the entire world celebrate a rare and wonderful  milestone. My parents, Greg and Carol have been married for 50 years!

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These two people have blessed me with a fun, exciting, and loving upbringing. To this day, they still help me with the basics of growing up. They share their wisdom, patience, love, and kindness with me and the rest of our extended family as well as a plethora of friends around the globe. They deserve much happiness and love from all of us.

So what does it take to be married to someone for 50 years? Who knows. I’m not sure there is a formula—except the basics like love, trust, generosity, kindness, laughter, joy, forgiveness. You know what that sounds like to me? The fruit of the Spirit. These two souls have God’s Spirit working in them and through them and it shows.

My dad and my mom probably have some other words of wisdom on how they’ve stayed together for so long. Maybe some selective hearing, some earplugs, some giving up of the remote control and so forth. All I know is that I love them and I am so glad they are taking care of each other.

Congratulations mom and dad!!

Below are some photos from their wedding. I can see some of my cousins in there plus and aunt and uncle and some grandparents. The wedding photographer was a friend  who took some shots for them and the getaway hot rod mobile is there—the thing that made dad look “cool” back then, I’m sure.

Aunt Elaine and Uncle Johnny and cousins with Mom.

Aunt Elaine and Uncle Johnny and cousins with Mom.

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Mom with grandpa Crowe

Mom with grandpa Crowe

The Wedding Party.

The Wedding Party.

The explaining starts today, the selective hearing starts tomorrow

The explaining starts today, the selective hearing starts tomorrow

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The new Mrs Carol and Mr. Greg Crowe

The new Mrs Carol and Mr. Greg Crowe

With Grandma Andrews.

With Grandma Andrews.

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The hot ride!

The hot ride!

Mom and grandpa Crowe

Mom and grandpa Crowe

My baby girl kitty cat is missing. I don’t know where she is or if she’s even alive. Some of you may not understand the love and bond you can feel with an animal, but if you do, you know that our little furry companions are part of our families. And when they are lost, it’s a BIG deal.

My little Karma got out of the house last weekend and instead of jumping over to my neighbor’s deck for an hour to sunbathe and stare at their dog through the safety of the glass window, she got lost and has not returned. I don’t know if Greg the owl got her, or if she got hurt in a fight and crawled somewhere to die, or if some kind-hearted person took her in and is feeding her. What I do know is that even with my other pets around, my house feels empty and I miss her very, very much.

For 15 years Karma has made me mad with her scratching up my paperwork, messed up my computer by sitting on it, stuck her paw in my water glass, meowed in my ear when I was sleeping, punched out the dog she resents, and thrown up in my bed. But, over the course of the last horrible year as I cried and cried over the loss of my family, she comforted me. Is she gone for good? I don’t know. It’s like Schrödinger’s cat. (Look it up if you’re not a Big Bang Theory fan or a physicist.)

What I really was moved to write about today is the profound support and help I’ve been getting from my friends and neighbors. My HOA board sent out a blast email for me to alert neighbors about Karma. Other neighbors have physically gone out looking for her and talked to their neighbors to see if they’ve seen anything. I’ve gotten half a dozen phones calls and lots of prayers and support from work colleagues and other friends.

Ten years ago when I moved into this house I thought I’d be here maybe five years then would go on to bigger and nicer digs. Well, obviously life and the economy got in the way of that. And I’m glad. I’ve refinanced twice and am finally fixing up the place because (and I’m just saying God—don’t make this a test or anything) I’m staying. I’ve never lived around such nice, friendly, caring people before. As I get to know more and more of my neighbors (the place is a townhome community with about 500 units), the more I am amazed at what a great place this is and it’s all because of the people here. I don’t know what the magic formula is. We are a mixed bag of races, religions, and ages. There are singles, families, blue and white collar workers, and long-and short-term transplants and locals. Of course there are occasionally the disagreements and issues here and there but I have to give a shout out to my peeps in Amberleigh—there’s lots of “good Karma” in the hood.

So, Karma is still missing and in between my bouts of tears I am getting by because of the amazing and wonderful caring support of my neighborhood family. How blessed am I? Well, God is putting me through some trials this year but he’s also giving me a great support system to survive the storm.

Oh, and if you see my baby, please give me a shout.

Karma, tuxedo cat missing since March 16.

Karma, tuxedo cat missing since March 16.

Karma, sweet kitty hanging on the neighbors deck.

Karma, sweet kitty hanging on the neighbors deck.

Karma boxing with the Grendel dog.

Karma boxing with the Grendel dog.

Karma on her throne. Have cushion, will sleep. Anywhere.

Karma on her throne. Have cushion, will sleep. Anywhere.

Now that Valentine’s Day has come and gone, I can talk about real love. I say that because I’m an anti-Valentine’s day kind of person. Now, hold your judgment for one minute while I explain. I actually love romance. I’m a hopeless romantic. But to me, stamping a date on a calendar that puts pressure on men to deliver something special takes the fun and the romance out of the equation. We’ve commercialized this romantic love into a special love-day package. Step one; make reservations at a restaurant where they have a special meal including dessert and wine at a neatly packaged price. Step two; buy a bouquet of flowers and some chocolate (or if you’re a lucky girl, some major bling). Step three; smile, and know that any responsibility or creativity in displaying your love and feelings for your wonderful girlfriend has been taken care of for you so any real intimate sentimentality or originality has been squashed.

Me? I want to know that my true Love is thinking about me at random times during the day when we are apart. I want him to show me that—in his own unique way—be it a text, a flower on a random day, a note that shows he’s been paying attention to what’s important to me, or maybe just a smile and a kiss when we are standing in line. Romance for me is that he knows I hate calling repairmen to come fix things so he does that for me without asking. That he knows I love to watch Downton Abby so he stays quiet during the episode and records it for me if I’m going to miss it. Or that he listens when I rant and doesn’t always try to fix what’s wrong, just supports me and lets me know he’s on my side and there for me. That’s love to me. That’s romance. Oh, and a quiet lovely vacation on a secluded beach “don’t stink much neether.”

But let’s talk about love in general—not just romantic love. Love has many meanings, both in the dictionary and to each individual. It is the most talked about subject on the planet and for good reason. Want to know why we are here? It’s to love. To love each other and to love our creator, God.

One of the things that made me know I was on the right track when I finally put my faith in Christ was that all the questions I was having about things I didn’t understand in the Bible and in the world were put aside as something that I could trust God about and that would be revealed to me later (or not). Why could I trust Him? Faith. But also because Jesus told us what we really need to remember.

“Love one another; just as I have loved you, you are to love one another.”

He said “love” three times in one sentence and since Jesus didn’t stutter, I’m pretty sure he was emphasizing the word, love.

All of us—Christians and non Christians alike could use a dose of this every morning. A daily reminder of how wonderful the world would be if we first chose to love.

I was listening to the radio the other day and the speaker I was listening to said we are living in an “I” world. There’s the iPhone, the iPad, iTunes…you get my drift. He said we need to get out of that thinking and start helping each other. Interesting thought.

So, how to start.

Well, for me, I’ll start by not getting upset at the other drivers on my way to work tomorrow morning. I’ll look in the eye of the guy with his hand out and give him at the very least my respect and concern. I’ll pray for the people who hurt me and my family and friends and boldly ask God to turn their hearts toward love. And I’ll keep looking for my allusive true Love. But in the meantime am very blessed and thankful for the love of my family and friends.

Yes, we Christians come in all shapes and sizes and are equally guilty of succumbing to the pressures and traditions of the secular world. While we do put God first on our list of priorities, that doesn’t mean we can’t rearrange a schedule or two to accommodate cultural traditions and special events. What I’m saying is that we’ve decided to start our new small groups next week—when football season is over.

There’s going to be a lot of praying today—not just in church but on the ten yard line, before the extra-point kick, and for many, for the hangover cure on Monday morning.  At church we’ve been reading and studying a book written by our pastor, Mark Batterson called The Circle Maker. One of the recurring themes in the book is to pray big prayers.

For example, when your team is losing by 21 points and there is only a minute left on the clock and it seems completely impossible for you not to lose that ill-conceived bet you placed while the tailgating was in its early stages—that is the perfect time to pray for a win. Why? Because it’s the impossible situations—the miracles—that give glory to God. If it’s not a miracle, we tend to give the credit to coincidence or frankly ourselves. So in other words, go big or go home.

There are so many stories in the Bible about monumental miracles that God performed. It’s these seemingly hopeless situations (a band of three hundred men defeat an army of tens of thousands; the Jews’ triumphant victory of Jericho not via battering rams but by walking circles around the city; feeding 5,000 people from a few loaves of bread) that show just how glorious and wonderful God is and that He alone can make ANYTHING happen. It’s living with RAW DEPENDENCE on God that allows His work to be done.

Throughout the last few weeks in church, Pastor Mark had been sharing story after story of answered prayers. We know they were answered prayers and not coincidence because we mere mortals could not make them happen—only divine intervention delivered these miracles. I kept leaving the services with an overwhelming sense of joy. Story after story—on and on—it’s a true testament that God is at work with us everywhere all the time. It made me wish (and pray) that our news programs would someday turn into hour-long segments of testimonials of the miracles and answered prayers of God. Can you imagine how wonderful our world would be if we heard about these stories all the time? People would become hopeful instead of depressed. People everywhere would start praying and waiting patiently instead of living a life in want of instant gratification. I am confident that someday that is exactly how it will be. We may need to wait for the second coming, but it will happen. It just would be much cooler if it happened sooner. (Or is that instant gratification rearing its ugly head?)

I would very much like to hear your stories. Your answered prayers. Let’s start telling the world about them so we can give hope to others. I would also like to hear about your big prayers. I want to pray for you. I’m going to make a circle here on this blog. I’m praying that people like you will reply to these posts and share your stories and your prayer requests and then share them with your friends and family and your Twitter and Facebook followers and anyone else you come across. Let’s start the ball rolling right here. It’s GAME TIME people!

I’ll start and put myself out there in the hopes that others will follow.

Today I’m praying for:

Opportunities to travel the world to see the beauty that God has created. I pray that I can take stunning photographs and write about the experiences to share God’s glorious creation with others. I want to meet people and learn about their cultures, traditions, and beliefs and to educate and share those wonderful stories with others. And I want the courage and opportunity to share with the people I meet my testimony about how God has blessed me.

Healing—to be pain free from my joint and back injuries and to become fit and healthy enough to climb mountains and play sports again.

For legal help for a friend’s sister. For her to break free of an abusive relationship and get help in the form of physical healing, a job, and a new home.

My friend who is pregnant to be relieved of the physical suffering that comes from being pregnant and for a perfectly healthy baby who will one day come to know Jesus.

For the healing that needs to happen with family members.

To be filled with the fruit of the Spirit and emanate light, grace, and love so that those who meet me will see the joy and freedom that comes from accepting Jesus and putting your faith in God.

As usual, the Christmas season is bustling with activity. It started early this year because our team at work is providing Christmas gifts for a local family in need. This is something I cherish doing each year. I know we should be looking out for these families and children all year long, but at least we can make some kids smile on the morning of Christmas. I can see their faces in my mind—eyes wide open and smiles from ear to ear. And the parents must have a tug on their hearts as they see their kids enjoying presents like other American kids.

So in order to get presents for these kids, I needed to go to Toys R Us before Thanksgiving. Holy hell. A Saturday afternoon spent at that place in the holiday season is my version of what eternity in hell would be like. And to make things fun, God had a great laugh by making me go back to exchange both the gifts I got—on two different occasions. But I’ll tell you. It didn’t take away one bit from the absolute joy it is to give a gift to someone else. Especially a kid in need.

My nieces then asked a huge favor from me. They wanted to go shopping on Black Friday. I told them they owed me big. That was the day we were supposed to sleep in (or fake it while Grandma finds a way to make enough noise to bring the entire house out of bed). But no. I went shopping. On Black Friday. Kill me now.

After that I was beginning to have enough (not completely but near enough) of the material side of Christmas. That night we went to Longwood Gardens to see the Christmas displays. If you’ve never been, I highly recommend it. It’s so beautiful and the horticulturists who work there are master artists. Not just the display of lights but the various trees and flowers as well as the gingerbread houses and trains—oh my, it’s just so incredibly fun and breathtaking. I was so inspired I went out and bought more crap to decorate my house. Okay, so I wasn’t quite done.

But now, today, after spending a really fun dinner last night with friends and their adorable three-year olds, I started really thinking about the advent. I listened to a sermon online tonight about God’s will and plan for us and how we need to be ready and open for opportunities and to always seek His council before making decisions. So now I’m inspired for the right things. God. And preparing for this season when we celebrate the birth of Jesus. I’m going to light my advent wreath candle tomorrow and say a prayer. Something like this (note, this is something I got online from this Web site and it’s by Victor Hoagland, C.P.—the beginning part, the other part is by God via the prophet Isaiah):

As our nights grow longer and our days grow short,
we look on these earthly signs—light and green branches—
and remember God’s promise to our world:
Christ, our Light and our Hope, will come.
Listen to the words of Isaiah the prophet:

The people that walked in darkness
have seen a great light;
on those who lived in a land as dark as death
a light has dawned.
You have increased their joy
and given them gladness;
They rejoice in your presence
as those who rejoice at harvest,
as warriors exult when dividing spoil. Is. 9:1-2

Then all pray:

O God,
rejoicing,
we remember the promise of your Son.
As the light from this candle,
may the blessing of Christ come upon us,
brightening our way
and guiding us by his truth.
May Christ our Savior bring life
into the darkness of our world,
and to us, as we wait for his coming.
We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen

So I thank you God for pressing upon my heart the true reason for Christmas. I pray for all of you reading this that you have a joyous Christmas filled with love and mercy and time spent with loved ones. Especially those wonderful children who bring so much joy to our life.

Now please don’t go without enjoying a little laugh from an old sitcom, Laverne and Shirley. This is Lenny and Squiggy singing a powerful message about the holiday!

Each year when spring starts to show its face I think, crap. Why? Because I have serious allergies, the weather behaves like a manic-depressive, and it reminds me of mud. Rain plus the leftover deadness of winter. I love the snow in winter and around D.C. I always feel like we didn’t get enough. (With the exception of the 2009/2010 winter.) I love summer when it’s warm enough for the beach and the fall feels so good and is so pretty.

Poor spring. I’m hard on you but there are days when you prove to be so lovely and so uplifting that we can’t help but say you are beautiful. Today I walked the dog and felt the cool sun on my face. Last weekend I hiked through a park with my family and the dogs. It’s a time of newness when we watch as things grow and bloom all around us.

I was thinking of all this because of my nephews. They are just the sweetest boys. They are still kind of little but growing up fast. I love visiting with all of the family to see how all of the kids are growing and blooming. Even my neighbors and friends kids are delightful. Another year, more new skills, and the things that come out of their mouths just make you smile. It’s that same feeling of spring. I don’t want to leave the last season but a little reminder of something new makes you enjoy where you are and what you are doing.

So last weekend my nephew Harmon said something to me that made my heart grow a few inches. I was telling my brother that I might want to hire the girls (my nieces) to come down and help me with some landscaping work on my house. Harmon asked if he could come and I told him that he was too little but that in about ten years he would be my go-to guy. “What’s that?” he asked. “It means when I’m old and need help with heavy stuff, I’ll call on you,” I replied. And then Harmon said, “Oh, okay. Well, I’ll come down and help you and you don’t even have to pay me.”Love it. Love him. All those years of presents and trips have paid off. I’ve got my ticket now and am no longer worried about my old age. My nephews are going to have my back. Awesome.

But for now I am going to enjoy the fact that they are still little. Harmon and Tyler, we can linger a little longer in this season—you don’t have to grow up too fast.

I am blessed.

Discipline your son, and he will give you rest; he will give delight to your heart.
(Proverbs 29:17 ESV)

My friend Bob, a wise and generous man, told me a story the other day about how Mother’s Day came about. I’d like to share that with you. I took this off the Web site the Holiday Spot.

In the United States, Mother’s Day was first suggested after the American Civil War by social activist Julia Ward Howe. Howe (who wrote the words to the Battle hymn of the Republic) was horrified by the carnage of the Civil War and the Franco-Prussian War and so, in 1870, she tried to issue a manifesto for peace at international peace conferences in London and Paris (it was much like the later Mother’s Day Peace Proclamation).

It should be well to remember that Howe’s idea was influenced by Ann Marie Reeves Jarvis, a young Appalachian homemaker who, starting in 1858, had attempted to improve sanitation through what she called “Mothers Friendship Day”. In the 1900’s, at a time when most women devoted their time solely on their family and homes, Jarvis was working to assist in the healing of the nation after the Civil War. She organized women throughout the Civil War to work for better sanitary conditions for both sides and in 1868 she began work to reconcile Union and Confederate neighbors. Ann was instrumental in saving thousands of lives by teaching women in her Mothers Friendship Clubs the basics of nursing and sanitation which she had learned from her famous physician brother James Reeves, M.D. In parts of the United States it was customary to plant tomatoes outdoors after Mother’s Work Days (and not before).

It was Jarvis’ daughter, Anna Jarvis, who finally succeeded in introducing Mother’s Day in the sense as we celebrate it today. Anna decided to dedicate her life to her mother’s cause and to establish Mother’s Day to “honor mothers, living and dead.” She started the campaign to establish a national Mother’s Day. With her friends, she started a letter-writing campaign to urge ministers, businessmen, and congressmen in declaring a national Mother’s Day holiday. She hoped Mother’s Day would increase respect for parents and strengthen family bonds.

So on this Mother’s Day I say, “Mom, you are the best. I love you. Happy Mother’s Day.” And since no one says it better than God, here’s to you Mom.

 Proverbs 31:26-29

She speaks with wisdom,
and faithful instruction is on her tongue.

She watches over the affairs of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness.

Her children arise and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:

Many women do noble things,
but you surpass them all.

 And just for fun, here’s a song that says it all.

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