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Monday, September 25, 2017

Best Friends

Saturday, September 23rd, 2017, was one of the happiest days of my life. I got to walk my 27-year-old daughter, Brooke, down the aisle and give her away to a man I have come to truly love and trust. I never thought any man would be good enough for either one of my daughters, but Zac treats my daughter Brooke like gold, has tons of friends (which says a lot about his character), works hard every day, and is humble in all aspects of his life. It’s obvious they are “best friends” and madly in love. What more could a father want!

The wedding was at a small vineyard Arroyo Grande, and was attended by over 100 friends and family members. The ceremony was short and sweet and absolutely beautiful. They even gave me the honor of reading from the Bible to get the ceremony started and somehow I managed not to mess it up, (trust me I practiced a lot beforehand), and the reception afterwards was every bit as fun and beautiful as the wedding.

Receptions always include a toast by the “Best Man” and the “Maid of Honor”. At this wedding, the best man was Zac’s brother, Ben, and his speech was hilarious and at times extremely heartwarming as well. He spoke about how close he and Zac were growing up, how much he looked up to Zac, and how Zac always had his back. Ben’s love for his brother flowed effortlessly with every word of his toast. The bride’s maid of honor was a sibling as well, her sister. Nikki’s speech was very different as she spoke about how her and Brooke were not able to bond as children because of a seven-year age difference. But she went on to tell how she and her sister have totally bonded now as adults, living close to each other, spending countless evenings together, sharing problems and solving problems, as only “besties” can. Nikki fought back tears as she expressed her love for Brooke and how much they mean to each other.

Ben’s toast made us laugh, and Nikki’s toast made us cry, both speeches showering us with love. I don’t think there was a dry eye in the house and yes, I shed a few tears myself. But I also couldn’t stop thinking how wonderful it must be to have a loving brother or sister that you can always count on. I have a sister but we haven’t spoken in years and it’s been a source of pain all my life. But Saturday, the day of my daughter’s wedding, was also the day of my sister’s birthday. So, I decided to send her a brief note wishing her a happy birthday. I haven’t heard back from her and probably won’t, but at least I feel good about reaching out to her. Who knows, maybe if she realizes that I took time to think about her, even though I was totally immersed in my daughter’s wedding day, it will spark some small flame inside of her. If not, then I will simply appreciate all the great people in my life and be accepting of the rest.

And that got me thinking… If you have a loving sister or brother or close relative of any kind, you are blessed beyond measure. So don’t wait for their birthday to reach out to them. Tell them today that you love them. Who knows, in some small way, it just might make today the happiest day of their life!
Mr. and Mrs. Baysinger - September 23rd, 2017
Yesterday brought the beginning, tomorrow brings the end, 
and somewhere in the middle we became the best of friends.
~Anonymous

Monday, September 18, 2017

Lift Your Head (by Debby Thrailkill)

Sometimes I feel as if I am riding on top of Jesus’s shoulders as he carries me along the trail of life. Sure, that is a bold statement (and I’m tempted to knock on wood), but I know He is with me and my life is good. However, it’s not as if I don’t have struggles, we all do. I suffer with ongoing migraines and back pain, many of my loved ones have health concerns, and too many have passed away recently. Plus, the stress of surviving in the chaos that is OC is ever present. Yet I strive to be as positive and happy as I can be because blessings abound everywhere I go.

Many times, I will rush through my day, deep in my own thoughts while out in public. I hurriedly keep my head down, anxious to get everything done and head back home while avoiding interaction with others. And it occurred to me that in those moments, I can have a profound effect on others. In fact, our daily interactions with people can make a difference and sometimes we can be a blessing to others without even realizing it. Being aware of that is the first step!

For example, when our kids were growing up, we attended church quite often. But I was always busy with our four kids, getting them situated and finding a seat next to my husband. I hoped to blend in, listen to the sermon, and get on with our day. But then one day a lovely lady, dressed very elegantly and with a soft voice, pulled me aside and welcomed me. She inquired if we were new and introduced herself warmly. On further visits, she always smiled and took time to visit with me. Even though we never knew each other outside of church, she made me feel welcome… and that truly made a lasting impact on me! I started making it a point that when I was out in a similar situation, I would be welcoming to someone else. I’ve always remembered her grace, and I was saddened to learn recently that she is suffering with ALS. I have her in my prayers now, just as she always included me in hers.

I have a friend who recounts a similarly impactful story. She recently volunteered to lead Vacation Bible School for Foothills Church in RSM and she shared with me how she would be nervous when she was up on the stage, acting and telling a story to the children who were intently watching and listening below. She would smile as she found herself becoming larger than life (out of her comfort zone) in order to entertain and inspire the kids. Afterwards, at a women’s retreat, ladies were encouraged to write anonymous notes to one another. When my friend opened a note left for her it read, “You are the reason I am here.”. It went on to say, “You’ve been a blessing to my family and our son was so touched by you at the VBS he attended, that he encouraged our family to start attending church together.”

As the summer turns to fall and the busy holiday season comes upon us, I encourage you to reach out of your comfort zone. All you have to do is lift your head to realize that your interactions with strangers are just as important to Jesus as your interactions with your loved ones. You can change the lives of others with a simple act of kindness, a friendly smile, or even a simple word of encouragement. Our lives are larger than we think. Just as we are carried when we need it, our thoughtful interactions might just help us carry someone else on our shoulders when they need it.

Even the most routine part of your day can be a 
spiritual act of worship, holy and pleasing to Me.
~ Romans 12:1-2

Monday, September 4, 2017

Appetizer Moments

We have a huge family that’s very close, so we get together a lot to celebrate. It might be a birthday, a wedding, or a holiday, but whatever the occasion there’s always good food to be had. That’s because there are a lot of “foodies” in our family, but unfortunately, I am not one of them. The only thing I can cook is scrambled eggs and it took me several years to learn how not to burn them into oblivion. So I’m often selected to help with the appetizers, instead of the entrĂ©e, and I kind of like that role.

Last week we celebrated my oldest son’s 34th birthday at our Beach House and the whole family turned out. To make it extra fun (and because my son is a huge fan of the show) we set up 3 tents on the beach with a super long table and decorated everywhere with “Game of Thrones” paraphernalia. A lot of people came in costume true to the show and of course we needed food that would be true to the show as well. My job was to barbecue a combination of mini-meats as appetizers, so I cooked up some of those awesome little smoky sausages and miniature veal wieners and used wooden skewers so you could easily munch “meat on a stick” and not even need a plate. I think they were a big hit, but to be honest, they were just a small sampling of the awesome food to come. The main course included Kibbeh, which is a classic Middle Eastern dish made of bulgur wheat, pine nuts, minced onions, and Levantine spices mixed into finely ground lamb (or you can use camel meat if you really want to go uber classic). Kibbeh is something we only make for special occasions (because it’s so labor intensive) but it is absolutely delicious beyond description.

Creating appetizers as a taste of something awesome to come… got me thinking. We experience a lot of “appetizers” during our lifetime. Small moments of joy when time stops and heaven blooms right in front of us. I’m not sure I’ve noticed all of the appetizer moments in my life, but looking back I can see them now.
·         I remember the smile on my Dad’s face when I was 6 years old and I peddled my bicycle in front of our tiny little house in Memphis for the very first time.
·         I remember the pounding of my heart as my dog and I slid together on a big piece of cardboard down a very steep dew-covered grassy hill in the avocado groves of Southern California when I was 10.
·         I don’t remember the first time I ever kissed a girl, but I do remember being about 14 when a girl kissed me for the very first time… and I thought I was going to pass out.
·         And I remember how stunningly beautiful my wife looked as she came down the aisle at our wedding, truly a foretaste of what angels must look like.

Appetizer moments happen all the time and they don’t always come from the kitchen. Sometimes they come from heaven!

I looked at my hands to see if I was the same person. 
There was such a glory over everything. 
The sun came up like gold through the trees, 
and I felt like I was in heaven.
~ Harriet Tubman