Saturday, February 28, 2009

Bubbling Over

Have you ever done something really dumb, even though you knew it was dumb when you did it? Well, I did.

Last week, I had a dishwasher full of dirty dishes and an empty dish cabinet. The reason? I was out of my little dishwasher tablets. And I kept forgetting to go to the store to get some.

And the dishwasher was really, really full. I thought about taking them all out and washing them by hand, but who wants to do that? So finally, and this brings me to the really dumb part . . . I put liquid dish soap in the dishwasher.

Just a tiny bit, mind you. I knew that too much would cause a bubbly, sudsy mess all over my kitchen. But I was desperate. And I thought, surely, just a little bit won’t hurt.

So I turned on the dishwasher and went my merry way, relieved that in about an hour, I would have clean dishes. But I got more than I bargained for. I got a really clean floor, as well.

A few minutes later, I returned to find bubbles spewing out of the bottom of my dishwasher. I guess even a tiny bit was too much. I turned the dishwasher off, grabbed a towel, and got to work. Then I grabbed a plastic cup and began baling out the suds that were piling up in the bottom of the dishwasher. Cup after cup after cup of the sudsy mess . . . and I finally got to the bottom of it. But then, I had to bale out the water, because that water was contaminated. I knew if I left it, I was just have more suds on my floor.

Half an hour and one aching back later, I had emptied the mess. I finished the dish cycle with plain water, and there were no more mishaps. But honestly. It would have been easier to do the dishes by hand.

The whole experience kind of reminded me of the “garbage in, garbage out” lecture my mother used to give me. You put the wrong stuff in the dishwasher, you can’t expect it to operate properly. You put the wrong stuff in your mind, you can’t expect your life to run smoothly.

Just saying.

But the good news is, I went to the store that very day and got some dishwasher tablets. And my dishwasher hasn’t spewed bubbles since. The same is true for our minds.

Sometimes we do dumb things. We contaminate ourselves, thinking that surely, just a little bit won’t hurt. And before we know it, we end up with a big ol’ spewy mess.

But if we take the time to clean it up, and to bale out the bad stuff, we can always start fresh. Then, if we fill our minds with good things, things that are healthy and positive and gracious, well . . . things start to operate more smoothly.

And hopefully, we’ll remember next time not to put the wrong stuff into our minds and hearts. Even a little bit of it is too much.

Just saying.
Philippians 4:8 “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Sick Days

During the last few weeks, we’ve had a lot of sick days around our house. As a matter of fact, we’ve had more sick days than well days. And because we are a loving family, and we like to share with each other, we just keep passing things back and forth.

We’ve had it all. We’ve had the coughy-sneezy-sniffly thing. We’ve had the headache-fever-achey thing. We’ve even had the yucky stomach thing. We’ve had so many bugs at our house, I’ve been tempted to call the exterminator.

Tissue box We run the gamut at our house of types of sick people, too. My daughter is ready to call 9-1-1 when she stubs her toe, but she doesn’t want to actually be sick. She runs from the thermometer, and insists that she (cough) is (achoo!) fine.

My dear husband refuses to acknowledge sickness of any kind. He just gets grumpy and keeps going like the Energizer Bunny. And heaven help the person who tries to baby him. He is a tough guy.

So he just keeps going and going until he finally falls over, and the rest of us stand around at a distance and watch to make sure his chest is still moving.

“Is he dead?”

“No, I think I saw a little movement there.”

“Maybe you’d better check his pulse.”

“I’m not gonna do it! You do it.”

“I’m not gonna do it!”

Then, about an hour into his coma-like sleep, he starts snoring. Loudly. And we all breathe a deep sigh of relief.

My son tells it like it is. He would much rather be out climbing trees than sick in bed. So, when he says he doesn’t feel well, he means it.

One such time, he complained of a stomach ache.

“Mom, do I have to eat dinner? My tummy really hurts.”

“Are you sure you can’t eat just a few more bites?”

“Okay, I’ll try. But it really hurts.”

A few minutes later . . . well, I won’t go into the gory details. One of these days I will learn to listen to my son when he tells me his tummy hurts.

Later that evening, the poor guy was holding his stomach. “Mommy, it hurts! It really hurts. Mommy . . . I think I’m having birth!”

(Please remind me to have “the talk” with my son.)

But, within a couple of days, he was out climbing trees again. It did my mother-heart good to see him back to normal. Now, if I can only keep him from falling out of a tree and breaking his arm . . .

As for me, well, I’m the biggest baby in the house. The only problem is, I’m the mom. And the mom isn’t allowed to get sick. So I usually end up pretending I’m not sick. But then I feel sorry for myself and I get caught up in the whole “poor little me” game, which is worse by far than just admitting that I’m sick and staying in bed. When will I learn?

But I shouldn’t complain. Truly, I have the greatest kids and the sweetest husband in the world. When I am sick, they fix me hot tea and plump my pillows and stroke my hair and tell me how they wish I felt better. Sometimes this outpouring of mercy and compassion lasts for the better side of fifteen minutes.

Have you noticed that we don’t appreciate our health until it is taken from us? As I type this, I am taking a deep breath. With my mouth closed, even! And I am so grateful for a nose that works. Right now, for the first time in a month, we are all healthy. I feel very blessed.

So I suppose that even in sickness, there is good. For it is in sickness that we learn to value our health. It is in sickness that we learn to be grateful for the little things, like clear sinuses and clean toilets. And it is in sickness that we are given extra opportunities to show our love for one another.

3 John 2 “Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well.”

Friday, February 13, 2009

Be Mine

“Mom, can I have some chocolate? Pleeeeeeease?” I’ve been hearing this for weeks, now.

“No. It’s not Valentine’s Day yet.”

“Pretty please, Mom? I’ll share with you!”

“Well . . . okay. Maybe just one box.”

We have now completed three heart-shaped boxes of chocolates. And it’s not even Valentine’s Day yet.

Valentine box My favorite thing about Valentine’s Day is the chocolate. Did you know that in 2006, there were exactly 1,170 U.S. locations which produced chocolate and cocoa products? And 39,457 people were employed at these establishments. The total value of shipments for these chocolate-producing firms was 13.9 billion dollars. In 2007, the average American consumed 24.5 pounds of the stuff. It is quite possible that in 2009, chocolate may save our economy.

The thing I really love about Valentine’s Day is those little candy hearts. You know the ones – with the little sayings on them? I like to string them together and see what kinds of sentences I can make. BE MINE – HOT STUFF – WANNA KISS? Of course, you have to be careful about who is looking over your shoulder while you’re making sentences. The results could be wonderful – or disastrous.

But the thing I love the best about Valentine’s Day is the flowers. Pink roses. Yellow daisies. Purple chrysanthemums. You name it, I love them! And the absolute best is when they get delivered to your place of work while all your friends are watching. Then you can smile and read the card, flutter your eyelashes and blush a little, then replace the card in the envelope and tuck it discreetly into your purse. Hey! Nobody really has to know they are from your Aunt Emma.

In 2007, an estimated $416 million was spent in the U.S. on cut flowers, ordered from 20,227 florists. My word. Come on over to my house. For the right price, I’ll give you some real fresh ones. I’ll even tie them up with a pretty bow. Then again, you probably better go to a real florist. Those flowers could very well kick our economy back into action.

My absolute favorite thing about Valentine’s Day is the diamonds. Or rubies. Or small, shiny, sparkly things of any type. Did you know that in 2006, there were 28,300 jewelry stores nationwide? And you’ll never guess how much money was spent on jewelry in February, 2008: $2.6 billion.

Two. Point. Six.

I think the jewelry business may save our economy this month.

But truly, the thing I love more than anything else about Valentine’s Day is less costly than any of the sweets and treats listed above. As a matter of fact, it’s downright cheap. My all-time favorite thing about Valentine’s Day is the mushy, sticky, gluey home-made Valentines that my kids will make for me. You know the ones – they tout witty and original sayings such as, “MOM spelled upside-down is WOW!” and “To the best mom in the universe!”

Priceless, I tell you.

1 John 4:7 “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God.”

Monday, February 9, 2009

Hanging Up

I really admire telemarketers. After all, they put up with a lot. They are hard-working people, just trying to make a living, and what do they get for their efforts?

People like me. Or worse, people like my dear husband.

A typical evening at my house has at least one episode like this:


Me: “Hello?”

Telemarketer: “Hello. May I please speak with Mr. or Mrs. Brooooom-bug?”

Me: “I’m sorry. There is no one here by that name.” Click.

Hey, I was telling the truth. There is no “bug” in my name.

Telephone 4

I know I should be more patient, more forgiving of mispronounced names. But they always call right in the middle of something important. Like Wheel of Fortune.

So, if you are a telemarketer, I apologize. You are a much more patient person than I am. I should take a few minutes and listen to what you have to say.

But I make no promises.

Honestly, I’m not as bad as my dear husband. Nobody, and I mean nobody deserves what he dishes out. Telemarketers, please accept my humble apologies on his behalf. He really is a good guy.

But he likes to toy with the sales people. He makes up stories using strange accents. Don’t ask me why he does it. I’ve been married to the man for nearly twenty years, and I’m still trying to figure him out.

One such time, the phone rang.

“Hello?” answered Mark.

“May I speak with Dr. Mark . . . Brooooom . . . bug?”

Well, Mark was in an especially feisty mood that evening. In a deep southern drawl, he said, “No, he don’t live here no more. He’s serving twenty to life at the state penitentiary.”

I wanted to die right then and there.

But then, from the other end of the line, came a tentative voice. “Oh, I see. Well, this is the Baylor University Alumni Association. I was just wondering if Dr. Brooom . . . bug is still the pastor of Central Cities Church.”

I have never seen my husband turn so white. “Uhh, yes. He is.”

“Okay, thank you.” Click.

What goes around comes around, wouldn’t you say?

Often when I answer the phone, it is a recording. Now that drives me crazy. When that happens, I just hang up. I don’t even try to listen to the message. Maybe that’s not the good, kind, loving thing to do. But I have to tell the truth. I’ll probably keep doing it.

I’m so glad God never hangs up on me. He always answers, every time I call. He’s never too busy or too distracted to hear what’s on my mind and in my heart. Not only that, but He’s always glad to hear from me! He is delighted to listen to every word I say, no matter how small or petty.

And He always responds with patience, wisdom and love.

Zechariah 13:9 “They will call on my name and I will answer them; I will say, ‘They are my people,’ and they will say, ‘The Lord is our God.’”

Monday, February 2, 2009

Under the Rainbow

I am so embarrassed.

I’m not talking just a little bit of a blush, here. I may have to move to another town. Seriously.

You see, I got a new vacuum cleaner a couple of weeks ago. Not just any vacuum cleaner, either. I got a Rainbow vacuum cleaner. Top of the line.

Well, actually, it’s a twenty-year-old model that has been rebuilt, but still. Any Rainbow is better than the old bag of wind I had been using.


I filled the canister up with water and went to work. I even moved my furniture around, so I could vacuum up underneath. I had vacuumed one and a half rooms, and I did something I probably shouldn’t have done. I decided to take a peek at that water.


One and a half rooms, and you would not believe the mud and the gunk that was in that canister. It was quite possibly the nastiest thing I’ve ever seen.

Well, I emptied it out, filled it up with clean water, and continued.

Three times, people! Three times I emptied black, gooey mud out of that canister.

And to think, I have had guests in my home. With all that stuff hiding down in my carpets. And my poor children have been living here in the midst of it! I am unfit, I tell you.

I finally decided to call it quits. I hauled the vacuum into its hiding place, then walked around my house and admired my handiwork. It was almost like getting new carpet. Everything just looked and smelled fresh and clean.

But then, a few days later, it was time to vacuum again. This time, I did half the house before checking the canister. Sure enough, when I emptied it out, it was mud. But I noticed something.
It wasn’t quite as thick and black as it had been the first time. Oh, don’t get me wrong. It was still nasty. But there was a slight improvement.

I called my mother, who is a long-time Rainbow owner, and told her the good news. She assured me that each time I vacuumed, I’d see an improvement. Over time, the Rainbow will do its job.

I have to tell you, friends, that aside from being totally embarrassed by the filth I was living in, I feel great! The air in my house smells pure and clean, and my carpet seems to be turning a lighter color.

I don’t know what my previous vacuum did. It certainly didn’t clean my carpets. I think it must have just moved the dirt around some, so it wouldn’t be so noticeable.

I wonder how often I’ve done that in my own life. I know there is stuff I need to clean up, issues I need to deal with, but try as I may, I just can’t seem to accomplish much. So I just keep moving those things around, spreading them out so they aren’t quite so noticeable. And all the while, my life just keeps getting muddier and muddier.

Sometimes, I just have to face the cold, hard truth. There are some problems I’m not qualified to deal with. Thankfully, I know Someone who is. You know Who I’m talking about, don’t you?

Yep. He’s the original creator of the rainbow, which is a symbol of God’s promise to mankind. And God always keeps His promises. Just like my Rainbow vacuum has the power to pull all the dirt out of my carpets, God has the power to pull the dirt out of my life. And He’s promised to do exactly that, if I let Him.

Oh, it doesn’t always happen immediately. With God, it’s often more of a process. But I’ve found when I consistently depend on Him day after day, week after week, He does His job. Gradually, my life feels fresher, more peaceful. Gradually, I notice the mud seems . . . not quite so muddy.

And eventually, I find my life has completely changed colors.

Psalm 51:10 “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.”