Monday, February 28, 2011

Happy Blogiversary to Me!

Well, friends, it's been exactly one year since my humble little blog began.

365 of days have lent themselves to 48 posts.
(That is, 48 posts that made it from words on my heart to writing on the Web...dozens more still waiting in the mental archives.)

My tiny corner of the blogisphere has become a homey place I look forward to spending time in...sharing my heart and getting to hear from yours.

And it's been quite a year...

There's been grumbling and gratitude
and a store clerk with attitude.
The sorrow of death and joy of birth,
and thoughts on productivity, for what it's worth.
I've preached the power of my walking shoes
and truly wanting whatever you choose.
Love can be shown in really strange ways
and I'm trying to savor all of these days.
I've been spiritually revived and found resolve
and as God prompts I'll continue to blog.

Whether it's been about the meaningful or mundane, thank you (truly, I thank you) for reading along and sharing in these moments that make up my journey.

[The title of this post is an ode to my "Friend" Monica's "Happy Planiversary"/"Happy Vegasversary."]

Thursday, February 24, 2011

To Zing or Not to Zing?

Today I encountered a person I was really tempted to zing.
(Watch You've Got Mail to understand what I mean.)

On my daily walk with the boys we pass a local pet store. To Noah's pure delight, we stop and admire the puppies prancing in the glass enclosures. Occasionally we go inside to check out the variety of other cuddly creatures. As we came upon the shop today, Noah got super excited and repeatedly asked to see the kitties. He loves kitties.

So I turned the double stroller 90 degrees and entered the little store. The smiling ladies who usually man the front counter were nowhere in sight. The place was altogether vacant. As I was explaining to Noah that the cat cages were empty because all the furry kitties had found nice homes, an unfamiliar woman emerged from the back of the store.
"Can I help you with something?" she asked.

"Oh, no thank you," I replied. "We're just enjoying the animals."

"That's what zoos are for," she said sternly.
It took me a moment to realize the implication of her remark.
In an instant I was shocked and sad and angry.

I wanted to say...

"Excuse me? Do you seriously want to deprive an innocent child from the joy of marveling at a fluffy bunny or scaly snake because you're not sure our presence is going to improve your bottom line? You are a sad, bitter woman to say such a thing. My son loves animals. And today's browsing very well may have turned into tomorrow's buying, but you better believe that this is the last time I'm ever coming into your stinky store. Though I walk by here every day, when my sons gets his first goldfish or gofer snake, puppy or parakeet, I am going to trek on down to PetCo and happily give my patronage to a big-business chain instead of your sorry little independent excuse for a quaint small-town store. Good day."

In other words, I wanted to zing her.

Instead, I turned the stroller around and said,

"Thank you. Have a nice day."
And walked out.

All the way home I replayed the conversation as it happened, and the one I had wanted to have. I honestly didn't feel better for having been polite instead of lashing back. I was so irritated that this lady's attitude was now going to deprive my little boy of a simple daily pleasure. I felt that she was rude and I wanted to repay her with rudeness. And as I walked away I wasn't sure why I didn't.

Then the words from the verse I had memorized earlier in the day came to mind:
Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law. -Romans 13:8
Huh, I thought. What's the application in this context? I'm not indebted to this salesperson. I don't owe her anything..."except the continuing debt to love."

Without forethought or intention, God had used his Word written on my heart to allow me to love this woman with my words...or lack thereof. Not because I'm amazing. (No, I wanted to zing her.) But because he is.

As I continued to reflect on the incident, I began to feel good about my response. Not only do I want to be a good example for my boys, but I also want to be a good representative of the God I love and live for.

What if I would have lashed back with the verbal sewage in my mind and then (somehow) been asked by the woman, Are you a Christian? I would have undoubtedly felt ashamed. Or what if she was having a horrible day? What if she had just lost her dad or was in the middle of a personal crisis or was under financial stress and a harsh word was her unfortunate way with dealing with it all? Though I didn't feel it in that moment, I'm so thankful that God's love and compassion somehow permeated my heart and made it to my mouth so that my words did not offend.

*     *     *

Later in the day I became doubly thankful God helped me hold my tongue...

When my husband got home from work I shared the incident with him. He suggested I inform the store owner of the encounter so they're aware of their employee's poor conduct. I thought that was a good idea and told him I'd think about it. But later when I was in the other room he decided to call on my behalf to relieve me of the burden.

He ended up speaking with the woman who identified herself as the store manager and acknowledged that she matched the physical description I gave.

He explained what was said. She was completely apologetic. She didn't remember saying that and said that she loved kids and welcomed all visitors into the store. She felt terrible that I had somehow misunderstood her and assured that she would never intentionally say that and was so sorry if she hurt my feelings. She asked that I please come back anytime I'd like.

*    *    *


I honestly don't think I misheard her.
But she sounded very genuine.
And really, it doesn't matter who is right.

Someday soon...maybe tomorrow...I'll go back to the pet shop.
If she's there, I'll talk to her.
And I'll trust God to lead me through the conversation.

With God as my guide, no zingers needed. 

Saturday, February 19, 2011


There are many things you consider when choosing a spouse: personality, physical attraction, religious beliefs, life goals, and overall compatibility, just to name a few.

And then there's the inlaws. Most of us have heard the old saying,
"You're not only marrying him, you're marrying his whole family."
This is usually said as a warning. As in, be willing to welcome (or at least tolerate) all the baggage your future inlaws will bring. Like the uncle with no concept of personal space or the sister who gives backhanded compliments. [Not my personal experience, just random examples.]

For better or for worse, when you marry someone, you are saying "I do" to the whole inlaw enchilada.

Chris and his dad on our wedding day.

So naturally while dating, Chris and I talked about this...knowing that neither of our families were perfect and there were prickly areas on both sides that would require acceptance.

Now, five and a half years after making my vows, I believe that "warning" was less a word of caution and more a word of encouragement. For any inlaw baggage I've dealt with has truly paled in comparison to the blessings I've enjoyed.

I could write an impressive list of all the ways Chris' parents have blessed us over the years. But none have touched my heart more deeply than the acts of love and service they have shown me following my father's passing. 

As soon as they heard the news, my father-in-law was on his way to pick up Noah so I wouldn't have to run after a two-year-old while the shock and pain of my dad's death was so raw. Taking Noah gave me space to grieve and Chris the freedom to support me, as well as the time we needed to focus on all the immediate tasks of planning the funeral. They are the best grandparents in the world and I was so blessed to know that my son was in their fun, safe, loving care.

The blessings continued when my mother-in-law told me she was going to complete my work for the month to my credit. (I'm a part-time, independent contractor for the company she works for full time.) This meant that I didn't have to attempt to concentrate on work in the midst of my sorrow or worry about not fulfilling my professional obligation or suffering financially.

Three days later they brought Noah home with his backpack full of clean clothes and a beautiful bouquet of flowers. They offered their continued help and support. Watch the boys during the funeral. Make food for the reception. Whatever we needed, they were there.

They came over early the following Saturday to clean my house. I needed a clean house. I also needed fresh air. So while I took the boys for a long walk, Chris and his parents vacuumed and dusted and scrubbed. I was humbled. And so very grateful.

The next weekend they were back. We were having a huge garage sale for all of my dad's things. As the sun began to rise, my father-in-law helped Chris set up tables and carry furniture out of the garage. My mother-in-law stayed inside with me and the boys...I couldn't handle haggling with strangers over the price of my dad's books or sweaters. When I was ready, she went on a walk with me and the kids and later picked up lunch for us all. They helped pack up all the unsold items and took as many bags as their Honda would hold to the Goodwill.

So many tangible acts of love.
So many selfless acts of service.
(Now I know where their incredible son gets it from!)

Pat and Lelia, the word inlaw no longer fits.
You are my family. My second mom and dad.

My blessing.

(Note: Lelia hates pictures of herself, which is why I'm "blessing" her by not including one.)

Friday, February 11, 2011


I'm 29 years old today.

It's been 15 days since my dad passed away. He was 59.

2 pieces of my heart run and crawl around outside of me.
Noah is 2. Elias is 7 months.

I've been married to my best friend for 5 years, 6 months, and 13 days.

I cried this morning thinking about how this is my 1st birthday without my dad. He would have called me and left a message that said,
"Hi, Becky, it's your dad. Just calling to wish you a happy birthday. I'd love to take you and Chris and the boys out to celebrate if you want. Anytime is good for me. Whatever works with your schedule. No pressure. Love you."
I did get 2 voicemails, 3 birthday cards, 14 text messages, and 65 Facebook posts from other friends and family sending me birthday wishes.

3 is the number of times I cleaned up throw up and washed bed linens from my poor Noah Bear. I used about 47 tissues to wipe 3 snotty noses and lots of salty tears. (I'm SO over this winter cold season!)

But taking care of sick kiddos by a sick mamma was helped by 1 beautiful bunch of flowers from my amazing husband and 1 delicious bouquet of fruit from my sweet friend.

And when I'm sad, thinking about Dad, God brings Psalm 103 to my mind and speaks to my heart about how the darkness and redemption in Dad's life is a testimony to the truth of His Word.

So what do all of these numbers add up to?

Immeasurable blessings.

Infinite opportunities to trust lean hard on the Lord.

I don't know if I'd call this a "happy" birthday. But I am full of hope.

So, hopey birthday to me.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Remembering Dad

A week ago today, my father passed away.
These are the words I shared at his memorial service.

 *     *     *

As I thought about what I wanted to share today, I thought about many of the things Dad loved:

Coffee, Necco Wafers, and ice cream. Polo shirts and puzzles. Sports, sports, and sports. Dad loved reading John Grisham books and traveling around the world. He couldn’t get enough blue cheese dressing on his salad or meat sauce on his spaghetti. He loved playing croquet at the park and Chinese checkers at the kitchen table. He was always up for a chicken dinner at Knotts or a hot dog at Angel stadium. Dad loved American history, family genealogy, and a good breakfast buffet. But most of all he loved his daughters, his grandchildren, and our faithful God.

Like all of us sitting here today, my dad wasn’t perfect. And I know he wouldn’t want me to tell you that he was. But as I’ve thought back on his life as I knew him, I am truly blessed by so many wonderful memories…so many meaningful moments when my dad was there for me when it mattered most.

When my mom woke up in the middle of the night to find our garage engulfed in a roaring fire, Dad was there to fight the blaze with a garden hose while Mom ushered Annie, Mary, and me (and my favorite stuffed monkey) to safety. He lost a slipper but helped save the house.

When I was a Girl Scout, Dad was there to take me to the Father Daughter Dance. He twirled me in my pink poodle skirt and let me have punch and cookies to my heart’s content.

When I stood for my trumpet solo at the East Whittier Pops Concert or at the free throw line on the basketball court…when I crossed the finish line after three miles at a cross country meet or after 400 meters around the track, Dad was there cheering me on.

He was there for our yearly trips to Big 5 to buy new basketball shoes. He helped me pick out my retro aqua track cleats. And when I earned my Varsity letter, he was there to take me to Sergeants in Uptown Whittier and let me spend as much time as I needed to decide what style of jacket to get and which patches should go where.

And Dad was always there to take us to Disneyland. I don’t know a parent who enjoyed the Magic Kingdom more. Together we zoomed through Space Mountain, zipped around the Matterhorn, and held on to our hats and glasses for the wildest ride in the wilderness. Disney parades and stage shows and churros. Dad was there for them all.

When I needed to tour the San Gabriel Mission for my fourth grade project, Dad was there. And later when it came time to tour college campuses he was there for that, too. Together we weighed the pros and cons of each university and I knew he’d support me in whatever decision I made.

When I spent a college summer in Kings Canyon National Park, Dad and Esther drove the windy mountain roads to come see me work and minister beneath the clear blue skies and massive sequoias.

Birthday dinners at Benihana, graduation brunch at The Ritz, Dad was there to celebrate each meaningful milestone.

And of course he was there on the three most important days of my life, too…he walked me down the aisle when I said “I do” to my amazing husband, Chris. And he held Noah and Elias on the days his grandsons were born.

And like all dads, he was there to teach me things. How to be as competitive as he was at Gin Rummy, Sequence, Pounce, and Risk…though Risk I never won. He taught me that you can never use too much Scotch tape when wrapping presents. Peanut butter and pancakes are a perfect combination. And you can fit any amount of luggage and souvenirs in the trunk of a compact car. “It’s solid geometry,” he’d say. “Solid geometry.”

And at the end of his life, whether he was trying to or not, he taught me more than I ever knew about God’s amazing grace. That there is no valley too dark or pit too deep for the redemptive love of God. Through Dad’s life, I saw the Lord answer what at times I thought were impossible prayers. Dad’s struggles and triumphs, life and death have strengthened my faith in immeasurable ways. And perhaps that is the greatest gift a father can give.

Ralph D. Pickett
October 21, 1951—January 27, 2011

I love you, Dad.