The toughest thing I have ever written or presented: In honor of Steve Narup

(the son of our dear former neighbors completed suicide and I was given the honor of speaking at his celebration of life. Oh how I love Steve who is now “healed in heaven”, his mom and dad, brother and sister so much. As I wrote and painfully delivered these words my heart was feeling the great heartache of all involved. yet………

But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope. Thessalonians 4:13-14

I feel so connected to the Narup family and to Steve for our families have shared so many highs and lows together. For over 12 years the Narups lived next door to my young family in Country walk community and we literally shared a backyard. A rainbow playground set became the kids meeting place as well as the court behind our homes. My three children and Stef. Steve and Jon and the other neighborhood children built forts on that Rainbow jungle gym. They played Red Rover, kick the can, dodge ball and so many fun outside games. The hill connecting the Narup home and our OBrien home became the perfect sledding area as the children held onto each other and laughed and shouted as they raced down the hill together. They laughed and played and sometimes squabbled. Most times, they were more like siblings than neighbors. Since my children were younger and needed more supervision, I was often outside and sometimes would guide them with conflict resolution. OK so What happened ?  so What should you have done? What should you do now? You could say you’re sorry and that you’ll never do that again….ok now its your turn ….you can Say I forgive you and both of you hug or shake hands ….now go on and play and  never bring up what happened again.  The children would say they were sorry and forgive so quickly and completely and then proceed to play together as if the offence never happened……you know I think that might be one of the reasons why it says in the Bible that we must be like little children to enter the Kingdom of God.

Steve had such a kind heart and definitely took on a big brother role with the younger children. During my children’s birthday parties, sometimes he would help led a game station, I watched as Steve patiently helped and encouraged the younger children and then proudly give then a prize. Later, I watched that same kind and gentle heart grow even larger as he so enjoyed being a dad to his daughter Madison.  He was the middle child who so adored His older beautiful and vivacious sister Stef and so cherished his younger brother Jon who is so bright and creative.   He was so loved and cared for by his mom and dad who faithfully supported him as he grew and gained confidence socially and in his career. I could tell Steve was both an observer and a deep thinker. Three years ago he sent me one of the kindest birthday messages I have ever received. In it,  he thanked me for my role in his life and his family and then he told me to “stay on the path”.  I am still so touched every time I think about it:  for he reached out to me with gratitude and encouraged me to stay on the narrow path…even though he himself was struggling and searching for his own path.

On Easter Day, he used up some of his last bit of energy to get to church and say He was sorry for his sins and receive the cleansing forgiveness of the sacrament of baptism. He publicly chose to be a follower of Jesus Christ who is the Way, the truth and the Life. He chose the path that leads to everlasting life.

I was recently reminded of the story of the two men who were crucified on either side of Jesus.

One of the men was an observer and a deep thinker and recognized Who Jesus was and despite being in great pain turned to Jesus. He said, “remember me when you come into your kingdom.”

And Jesus replied, “I assure you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”

So this late convert who made the good choice…who chose to turn to Jesus while suffering, still physically died that bittersweet day.

He was not immediately rescued, and angels didn’t come to remove him from the cross that he bore.

But we know from God’s word that the man was spiritually reborn the moment that he turned to Jesus. He was completely forgiven, his wounds are now healed in heaven and he is suffering no longer.

And we trust that Steve is completely forgiven, Steve’s wounds are Healed in heaven and Steve is suffering no longer.

For God so loved Steve that He gave His only begotten Son Jesus, that if Steve believes in Him, He should Not perish but have everlasting life. 

(for those of you who are hurting now with a broken heart and feeling left behind and perhaps angry or  confused by it all ….. I believe Steve would say to you, “I am so sorry. I didn’t mean to hurt you. Will you please forgive me? “

And for those of you who, like me, feel a heavy weight of guilt and wish that you had done more for Steve or tried harder or perhaps you left some words unsaid, I believe Steve would say to you and me , “I forgive you, I always knew that you loved me. I love you and I am praying for you. I am praying that you will use every bit of energy that you have to find the path. For only God’s love can heal a broken heart.

And for those that have already found the One who is the Way and the truth and the Life …I believe Steve is now praying and patiently encouraging us as he echos out what all the angels and saints around God’s throne are saying as they are cheering us on:  keep going forward, look upward   ….. .and  Stay on the path!!!!!! )

               

A St. Patricks Day Truth Bomb: What we really should be focusing on today


by Amber O’Brien


Top o’ the morin’ to ya!

Long ago this was a common greeting in Ireland meaning “the best part of the morning to you” and you my friend would say back to me, “And the rest of the day to you”.

I am an O’Brien, which on the Emerald Isle means “House or descendant of Brian”. (Brian Boru was the High King of Ireland until 1014) Since I now hold the Irish married last name of O’Brien, I am often asked how our family celebrates St. Patty’s day. While most people drink green beer and focus on the modern symbols of leprechauns, four leaf clovers and wearing a green piece of clothing so they won’t be pinched ; my thoughts have gone deeper to an awe-filled pondering, the more I learn about the amazing real -life hero of St. Patrick.

How did he do it? I wonder.

How did St. Patrick forgive the Irish pirates that enslaved him? At age 16 he was kidnapped from Britain and taken away far from his homeland and family to a wet and chilly island called Ireland and for six years was mistreated as a slave.

But this is the part that really blows my weak and unforgiving heart and mind……..after arriving home he studies to become a priest and then travels back to share the good news to the very place where he was enslaved.

Whoa Nelly…..hold back that unicorn jumping over a 7 colored rainbow and slowly and carefully Ponder with me what appears to be humanly impossible.

So St. Patrick not only forgives the people who enslaved him, he spends 20 years traveling the island of Ireland to share the truth of how Jesus came to set them free. For the Irish people of the 5th century this included being free from druidism and all kinds of paganistic practices. He was beaten during this time and robbed and put in prison and enslaved again for 60 days yet he keep helping those that continued to try to hurt him.

How do you think he was able to forgive and then spend his life shepherding these lost people who worshiped false gods and people?

“After I arrived in Ireland, I tended sheep every day and I prayed frequently during the day. More and more the Love of God increased, and my sense of awe before God. Faith grew, and my spirit was moved, so in one day I would pray up to one hundred times and at night perhaps the same.” St. Patrick’s Confessio

He states that before he was captured, “He knew not the true God” and I believe that those years of prayer including much confessions and sweet forgiveness. In fact, he begins his autobiography as, “My name is Patrick. I am a sinner.”

After six years of working as an enslaved shepherd and most of all six years of prayerfully waiting: God spoke to Patrick in a dream, saying, “You have fasted well. Very soon you will return to your native country. Then a later voice in a dream said, “Look—your ship is ready.”

He escaped and walked 200 miles to the Irish coast, boarded a ship and eventually home to his family.

God rescued him and brought him home! One would think that would be the end of the story. But God. But God and His love for the Irish people who were involved with all types of paganism and perversions.

Patrick knew the Joy and the gift of being spiritually and physically set free and he quotes this verse that so speaks to his experience in his autobiography.

“Call on me in the day of your distress, and I will set you free and you will glorify me.” Psalm 50:15

St. Patrick knew deep in his soul that he had been forgiven much and so he wanted to extend that love, as a shepherd seeks to protect and care for his sheep.

After Patrick’s escape from slavery and reunion with his loved ones; He decides to become a priest. This took 15 long years of study and preparation. It was not until Patrick was 40 years old that he traveled back to Ireland because of another dream.

He dreamed that he was given a letter from the Irish people and he heard their voices saying, ” We beg you, holy boy, to come and walk again among us”.

Guess who is believed to be the first Irishman that St.Patrick successfully shared about the One True God to?

Milchu, a high priest of druidism, who was Patrick’s former master. (Druids believed that there were many gods and worshiped nature. Ritual Sites were built all over Ireland as they literally worshiped the sun)

Imagine Milchu’s surprise to have a former slave of his come back and not only forgive him of his own personal sins, but share how All his sins could be forgiven. Patrick came back to share the truth that there is only One True God who has three names: the father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

( Did he use a three leaf clover to teach the trinity? or is this just tradition? either way He told them about the trinity and Patrick loved his former master and the Irish people so much that he came back and walked among them)

Patrick explains:

“His (God’s) gift was that I would spend my life, if I were worthy of it, to serving them in truth and with humility to the end.”

The ripple effect of Patrick’s forgiveness and mission is astonishing. What a beautiful ripple of Love: Patrick asks God for forgiveness and is set free of sin and forms a personal relationship with the good shepherd as he himself is shepherding. Then he forgives the people who kidnapped and enslaved him, and comes to tell them how to be set free of their own sins and come to know the One True God. Then Monks who came to know the one true God through the ministry of St. Patrick, lovingly write out the Bible by hand and preserve the precious Word of God. (Book of Kells) Then these monks left the Emerald Isle to share with other European countries about how to be set free. The ripple effect of love and forgiveness continues.

Patrick’s joy shines through as he writes:

I am greatly in debt to God. He gave me such great grace, that through me, many people should be born again to God and brought to full life”.

God Gives His Best to us and so we should want to Give God our best.

Just like the Irish greeting about wishing a friend the best part of the day.

Top O’ the mornin’ to ya!


Better Than Bleach

Have you ever walked into a room and knew that a diaper needed to be changed?  What if it was your own child? How long would you wait to change the diaper? Even if you knew that they would need another diaper change later that day, I bet you would help them.  

I recently read about how confessing our sins to God is like getting our diaper changed in a book by Fr. Donald Calloway, and the analogy wouldn’t leave me alone. I keep thinking to myself, “Oh Lord, a certain family member really needs their diaper changed. He/she needs to confess and be made clean. I don’t like smelling the odor of their dirty words and their angry tone.” 

And then God gave me a reality check through the words of Jesus: “Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in our own eye?”  

Ouch! Jesus’ question hit me like an arrow straight into my hardened, judgmental heart. It had been too long since I had spent time praying and asking God to show me what I needed to confess. Perhaps I am the one who is smelling up the room?  

So I sat with my journal and asked the holy spirit to convict me of any selfish words, attitudes or actions that have offended my holy Father. The longer I sat the more the spirit revealed.  

A verse I had memorized years before encouraged me that God would be faithful to help clean me up.    “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)  

So I encourage you to sit in quiet and spend time asking the Lord for what you might need to confess. Sometimes I start by meditating on God’s definition of Love in 1 Corinthians 13-4-5. “Love is patient, Love is Kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking. It is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.”  

When I reflect on God’s sacrificial pure love in I Corinthians 13, I often get a reality check that my diaper needs a changing. May our reality checks always lead to attitude checks on how we love those in our lives. 

I am slowly learning that our job is not to judge those around me but to love them and perhaps through our own joy of being made fresh, clean and forgiven; they might be encouraged to get clean too.  

So my sweet sister, do you need your diaper changed today? I know I do.  

How to Show God you are Grateful Today…. with a Kiss.

Show your gratitude to God today by giving someone a Kindness inspired by the Holy Spirit. (KISS)



Yesterday marked the anniversary of my infant daughter’s ‘Heaven Day.’
After 40 days of encouraging ups and heartbreaking downs in the NICU,
God’s loving presence embraced me as I held my baby’s beautiful, perfectly formed body for the last time. Peace covered me like the soft, warm wings of
the angels that carried her home.


Days later, while I watched her tiny coffin lowered carefully into the frozen
ground, this peace continued to cover me as the thick, white snow clings to a
barren tree.


Soon after all my friends and family went back to their own lives, I realized
why the loss of a child has been described as having one’s arm cut off. The
limb will never grow back, and the pain is agonizing as the process of the
raw, open wound slowly heals. Insensitive comments and pat explanations
sting as if salt is being rubbed into the open wound.


My husband and I both carried gaping wounds and grieved differently. As a
result, we could not comfort each other. During this lonely, terrible time of
darkness, my sensitive small daughters each regressed as they reacted to the
recent rollercoaster of events and emotions. The oldest, who before Megan’s
death had been potty-trained, reverted and started to cling to me for support.
Both vied for my attention, and bickered between themselves. I struggled to
care for them as the grief sapped so much of my energy.


For example, I remember standing at the sink one day, and yelling out to God,
“Why did you give her to me… only to take her away?” Tears ran down my
cheeks and I shook with pain. Underneath my anger cried a hurt little girl
who felt that God had ignored her prayers. Truly, I had begged for God to
heal my baby.


A few months after both the funeral and my emotional outburst to God, I
bundled up my two older daughters (three-and-a-half, and two-years-old),
and drove to the local mall. Soon after we arrived, I decided to buy ice cream
for my precious little ones in the food court. When I approached the register
to pay for it, the cashier explained that our treats had been taken care of. The
bearded man explained, “Each day a man comes here, and picks someone to
buy ice cream for. Today he picked you and your little girls.”


Oh what a sweet kiss from God when I needed it the most.


My need wasn’t money, for I had plenty to buy ice cream. But what I had
needed to know was that God saw me. I needed to know that He cared about
me, and that He would tend to my tender faith and raw questions.


I now had proof that I was not alone. This was the beginning of my awakening
to the fact that God saw my sore, hurting heart, and grieved with me. He
would gently guide me through my journey, and help me one moment at a
time.


God’s loving touch of sweet provision soothed my raw, hurting heart as cool, sweet ice cream runs down and coats a sore throat.


Twenty-four years later, my eyes still fill with mist when I remember how I
felt during this time, the lowest and loneliest season in my life. But then those
sad tears join with ones of gratefulness as I also remember God’s personal
kisses of kindness.


I now realize how important doing acts of kindness anonymously can be,
for then the recipient does not have to use up energy to repay anybody back.
Because of this, the recipient can truly receive a gift from the hand of God
⁠—the One who is The Giver of all good gifts.


I call these inspired and Spirit-led acts of kindness giving a KISS from God.



A KISS is different from the often referred to, “Random Act of Kindness” or
“RAK,” which has the connotation of just being due to random luck. Instead, a
“Kiss” in not accidental at all, but consists of who looks and prays for someone
who is hurting, and by listening to God, takes action for how to best respond.


“What is Love to me?” someone might ask.


A small cone of vanilla ice cream given by a stranger.

Best.Day.Ever.

By Amber O’Brien

 Our brother died the other day

Our heavy hearts sore and severed

But how can we grieve

As those who don’t believe?

For he’s having his Best Day Ever.

he stands transfixed, healed now in Heaven

Praising the one who lives forever

So how can we grieve

As those who don’t believe ?

When he’s having his Best Day Ever.

he’s Praising Him in Paradise

Feasting on the Great Tree of Life

he’s rejoicing with the angels

 Beautiful in dazzling white.

  As God collects our precious tears

  We trust His Love that lasts forever

So while our hearts do grieve

    At the same time we do believe

    That  he’s having his  Best. Day. Ever !!

     (A Day that will last Forever and ever.)  amen

                                                                      

Love Kit

Dear Sweet Sister:

A Love kit consists of special verses created for a precious brother or sister to savor. What better gift to give a struggling or grieving sister or brother ? Or perhaps to celebrate a sister or brother during a joyful time? You can place these on index cards and attach the objects and place in a pretty bag. Perhaps place on sticks and put these in a flower pot or perhaps in a fresh baked pie as my video on the @sistersneedeachother facebook displays. Have fun! let me know of any verses and objects you add. You will be refreshed and blessed as you put a Love kit together.

Love kit

I lift up my eyes to the mountain. Where does my help come from? My help come from the Lord, the Maker of Heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip-He who watches over you will not slumber; Indeed, He who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. Psalm 121-1. (wiggly eyes)

Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. Luke 12:6-7 (two pennies or yarn for hair)

And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. 1 Peter 5:10. (glue sick)

For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, “Do not fear; Will Help You”.   Isaiah 41:13. ( life-savor candy )

Listen to me, O house of Jacob, all the remnant of the house of Israel, you whom I have upheld since your birth, and have carried since you were born. Even to your old age and gray hairs I am He, I am He who will sustain you and I will rescue you. Isaiah 46:4. ( gray yarn)

Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. Luke 12:6-7 (two pennies or yarn for hair)

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love which binds them all together in perfect unity. Colossians 3 12-14  ( band aid)

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. John 3: 16-17 ( a candy mint or peppermint life-savor- you are worth a mint)

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. James 4:8.    ( a magnet- plastic letter magnet)

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose. For those God foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. Romans 8:28-29. ( rubberband- be flexible while you wait)

He will cover you with His feathers; Under His wings you will find refuge;His faithfulness is a shield and rampart. Because you have made the LORD your dwelling—My refuge, the Most High—No evil will befall you,No plague will approach your tent. For He will command His angels concerning youTo guard you in all your ways. Psalm 91:1  ( feather)

The #1 bucket list Item

May you rejoice in the wife (husband) of your youth. Proverbs 5:18

As i was walking down the beach today I overheard an elderly lady chatting with her friends. “Do you know what the number #1 bucket list item is? She paused and excitedly exclaimed,,,,’To fall in Love.” and then she paused, smiled and said “Again”.

Was she a widow? divorced? All I know is that she would put falling in love….Again at the top of her bucket list.

As I continued to walk along the shore, I remembered a simple poem I wrote many years ago (see below) about how God desires for us to fall in Love again and again with our spouse for He came to make all things new. We can’t control our spouse or change him, but we can ask God for help to be the best wife, mistress and best friend to our husband as possible.

How to Fall in Love…………. Again

Oh give my husband a brand new wife
One that will serve him lovingly
G
ive him the helpmate he deserves
And may that “new wife” always be me

Oh give my husband a hot mistress
One that will surprise him lovingly
Give her energy and fresh ideas
And may that “mistress” always be me

Oh give my husband a new best friend
One that will listen lovingly
Give her wisdom to find the good
And may that “best friend” always be me   

Would you like a few practical suggestions on how to spice things up?

A sweet sister confessed over lunch last week that her and her husband were in a bad rut and weren’t communicating ahead of time about their needs.

I told her “How about picking an emoji and sending it so the each other earlier in the day so the night doesn’t go too late and both prepare to get to the room before both our too tired?” Then dear sister when you are in the bathroom preparing for your rendezvous, say a quick prayer “Lord, give me a desire for my husband” Then put on some lipstick, perfume and maybe some high heels to help put you in the mood.

Does your husband work like a microwave in the bedroom? and you are more of a crock-pot? how about communicating using sports analogies. My friends husband loves sports so we thought up a way to relay the message using baseball terms. “Sweetie, you can’t get a home-run with out touching all the bases”.

Consideration and mutual respect needs to go both ways. If one is too tired than make a plan for when a rendezvous will work. “Tonight I’m too tired, but tomorrow morning will work”. If you were the one to postpone then be sure to follow-up and show your husband that you do find him desirable.

Marriage is such a sacred gift and we need to do all we can to nurture and protect it.

Here’s to falling in Love. Again.

Love Always Wins

I’ve been thinking a lot about the word Love lately as Dave and I just celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary, and so I thought now would be a fitting time to share this poem I wrote last year. The I Corinth. 13 love chapter ends with the words, Love Never Fails…but I prefer the more powerful phrase Love Always Wins. (so much so that it hangs on a plaque above my stove) For our anniversary we went to the newest Sight and Sound production titled JESUS and in this spectacular, state of the art production one quiet scene spoke the loudest. At the last supper, Jesus invited Judas to sit next to him and lovingly he kneels down and carefully washes his feet. Jesus, all God and all man, the Maker of Heaven and Earth kneels down to wash the feet of his betrayer. Isn’t this our own story? While we were yet sinners, the holy God of the universe kneels down to take the form of a human and then rescues us by pouring out his own blood to wash us completely clean. Will you let Him wash your feet? and then Will you wash the feet of those causing you to suffer?

Love Always Wins

 Oh my sweet friend, True Love Always Wins

Come to The Well again and again

Fill up to the brim with all that’s true 

He came to restore, make All things New

Oh my sweet friend, True Love Always Wins 

Oh my sweet friend, True Love Never Fails

Once we sat helpless in death-rows jail

God’s red love lavished to set us free

Long- suffering turns the prison door key

Oh my sweet friend, True Love Never Fails

Chorus:

True love is bloody and sometimes it hurts

True love kneels down and then takes off His shirt

Love washes our feet and seeks all to Save

Love always wins for He conquered the Grave

Oh my sweet friend, True Love Always Wins

Love covers the ugliest of sins

        Pull out by the root your bitterness

Pay forward God’s undeserved forgiveness

Oh my sweet friend, True Love ALWAYS Wins

Love is like Mushroom Risotto #LovelikeJesus 1.

Love is patient. ( 1 Cor. 13:4 )

Dear Amber:

I am so tired of waiting. My prayers seem to no avail, as I wait on God to help a relationship that has grown hard and cold. I feel like curling up in a ball and giving up. What should I do?

Dear Sweet Sister:

My arm felt heavy as I continued to stir the mushroom risotto well past the 25 minutes promised in the recipe. I yearned to cook a rare homemade meal for my husband and my son who was visiting during Christmas break and I decided to try something new. Since I love to order mushroom risotto at restaurants, I decided to give it a try. The secret is to slowly add the boiling stock one ladle at time and to keep stirring and Stirring and stirring. The goal it that the Arborio rice when bitten will be “Al Dente”which means: soft on the outside and firm in the middle. (not too hard on the outside and not too soft either..think goldilocks and how she kept trying to find “just the right bowl, chair and bed”). Mushroom risotto requires the diligence of stirring while tasting and not leaving the stove until it is JUST RIGHT.

I almost gave up. I started to doubt myself. Maybe I didn’t follow the directions correctly I thought to myself. We had another new dish (chicken) that was now sitting on the counter getting cold. Maybe I should just give up and call it quits. I kept tasting the risotto and the rice was grainy and hard. Ten more minutes past the recipe range and I was still stirring.

And then my husband came downstairs to see how things were coming along. He took over the stirring. He kept adding water and stirring and tasting some more. Finally, after 10 more minutes of “long-suffering:)” the risotto was Al Dente. The rice felt so soft on the tongue that it seemed like creamy puffy pasta. Yet the final product was firm enough so that the rice was not mushy and each morsel distinct. The flavors of mushroom and chicken stock blended together perfectly. So delicious and so. worth. the. wait.

So how does this help me Amber with this friend who now won’t speak to me? or This spouse who will not forgive me and is giving me the cold shoulder and silent treatment? Oh and the long suffering of having a child who has such a hard heart and acts so angry at me after I have given so much?

Oh Dear Sister…..your loved ones heart is like the risotto rice kernel that still needs to be stirred. Keep Standing, add some liquid love of kindness, and patiently keep praying for them. I needed my husband to help me along so I didn’t give up. Find a sister to pray with you for your loved one. Stir together in prayer on the phone after sharing your aching heart. Be on guard that your own heart does not become hard but instead trust God’s recipe of Love. My challenge for you this year of 2019 is for you to read I Corinth. 13:4-8 every morning. Read it slow and mediate on this powerful recipe of how to change hardened hearts to perfect Al Dente ones. Ask God for help on how to better love your friends and family. Ask him for the perseverance to not give up and to keep stirring until the hard shell of your loved ones heart becomes soft. (toward you and most of all soft to God and His will)

Don’t leave the stove sister because your loved ones’ heart IS slowly softening. Keep stirring and ask a trusted sister to stir with you. We sisters need each other.

The first ingredient for Love is patience. The last secret ingredients are these: Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres,

Love. Always.Wins.


The Day the Drycleaners Held my Clothes Hostage and My claws Came Out

It all started innocently enough. My husband was out of town, so I took over the dry cleaning for him as this normally was something he took care of. We had been using this dry cleaner for over 20 years which is owned and operated by an Asian couple who still struggled with English but have faithfully worked to run their own business year after year.

The female store owner recognized me but she didn’t seem interested in small talk. “Phone number? ” She demanded in broken English.

I gave her my husband’s cell. She seemed irritated when it didn’t work.  Next, I next gave her my cell. It didn’t work either. I then gave her our old home number that we don’t use anymore.

I just wanted to drop off the clothes. I gave her my husband’s cell again.

Then she started to ask me something that I couldn’t make out. She seemed offended that I didn’t understand her and as her frustrated rose  she walked away from the counter. When she came back, I asked if I could pick it all up by Saturday (3 days later) as we both were going out of town on Monday. (I didn’t realize how early at the time) This is the first time I’ve ever asked for a specific day, but I needed the dresses for the convention.

“can’t do that “, she said stubbornly.

“Ok” I said bowing down…” How about early Monday?”

She said 8am. Problem averted I thought. I’ll just pick up the clothes early Monday even though they are closed on Sunday and the clothes would most likely be done on Saturday. It’s fine, I thought. She must have been having a bad day.

Chatting with my husband later that day, he informed me that we were leaving early (like 7am early on Monday).

“No!”  I thought. I need to go back and face this bitter, unhappy women?  I need to ask her for a favor? I started to make a game plan as I drove over. I would ask her nicely after I give her the old phone number that she still has in her computer. I would apologize and take blame for not knowing what number was in her system. And if she wasn’t able to help me? I would ask for the clothes back and have them cleaned at our hotel.

“Hello”, I smiled as I walked in.

“clothes are not ready” she barked out without a smile.

“I know” I said still smiling “I found out from my husband the number you have in your computer . I’m so sorry as it is a 20 year old number.” She put it in as I waited to ask her for my request.

“So I just realized that we are leaving at 7 am on Monday morning. I was wondering if I could please pick up the clothes on Saturday?”

“No..can’t do that”

“Then can I have my clothes back?” I countered.

“No…they all mixed up back there…I no can find them”.

I tried to remain calm but part of me was thinking of calling for backup. Like 911 backup. I could feel the tension rise as my face felt flush and the claws in my hands started coming out.

“Can’t you use the numbers on the receipt to find them?   I inquired. “Those are my property”.

We were at a standstill. My clothes were now held hostage and like two cowboys in a western film we both had our hands on our weapons. And so  I tried a different tactic.

“20 years”.  I said with pleading eyes and a questioning voice.

She just looked at me …we both had our paws out, claws ready.

So I then tried my last resort plan.  I made a threat.  “If you don’t help me, my husband won’t come here anymore.”

She agreed that I could pick them up at 5 pm.

“Not one minute earlier”  she said.

And then she gave an explanation of her frustration in rapid execution, but I could only make out the phrase, “it is smelly back there.” ..then she turned around and with her back to me she put up her right hand in a “never mind you wouldn’t understand” wave.

“You both work very hard,” I said…she didn’t turn around.

Driving  away my heart grew increasingly sad and heavy. I would receive the clothes earlier and I didn’t need to call the police; but I started to put myself in her shoes and the Holy Spirit began to convict me.

Continue reading “The Day the Drycleaners Held my Clothes Hostage and My claws Came Out”