Saturday, September 6, 2014

Once Upon A Time

30 years ago today, September 7, 1984, I married Steve Douglas and became a wife and a step-mom for the very first time.  It's hard to believe that it has been that long ago since we began our journey into married life.   

Steve Douglas was a fun-loving, hopelessly romantic, life-of-the-party kind of guy.  He was side slappin' funny and sometimes I didn't know whether to laugh hysterically or to crawl into a deep, dark hole.  We met at Tulsa Baptist Temple after I was asked to teach a CPR class to the Singles Department at the church.  Steve was a part of that class and his first course of action the first night was to lay down on the floor and beg me to do mouth-to-mouth on him because he was dying.   I thought he was a class clown and had to ask him to please quit interrupting the class with his behavior but I did end up secretly laughing ALOT at his funny antics. 

After the class ended, I would see Steve periodically when he would come into the bank where I worked and where he happened to be a customer.  We would exchange pleasantries and visit for a few minutes. Two years passed before he asked me out on a date (after a little urging from the ones responsible for all this--Bernard and Judy Peace)   Four and half months later--we got hitched!  

Steve was already daddy to Jamie, 14, Jared, 12, and Jana, 9, when we got married.  We would eventually add Matthew, Justin, and Kimberlee to that mix.  God has been more than faithful and more than merciful to our family. I am so thankful that He allowed me to meet Steve and become his wife.   I am even more thankful that He allowed me to become step-mom to Jamie, Jared, and Jana and eventually mommy to Matthew, Justin, and Kimberlee.  I am thankful for the godly heritage that Steve had and that Steve himself trusted Christ as his personal Savior.  As a young believer in my walk with the Lord, I am thankful for the example Steve set in faithfulness to church, faithfulness in tithing, and faithfulness to support missions.  I am thankful for his dedication to being a good daddy, a loving son and brother, and for being a servant to anyone that needed help.  He was a man's man but had a heart of a giant teddy bear when someone was down and out.  He taught me alot about life, about love, about God, and about living without regrets.  We were married 9 years, 3 months, and 12 days before he passed away suddenly from a brain stem stroke.  

Steve's legacy lives on in his children, grandchildren, and now his great-grandchild. Even as I am now blessed with a wonderful second husband, sometimes I look at what Steve and I started 30 years ago and wish he could have experienced all that life churned out with our family.  I know he would be proud of the kids, and their kids, and all their accomplishments.  But most of all, I know he would rejoice that they know Jesus and claim His name.  

My niece, Tara, as flower girl.

Steve's niece, Misty, attending the guest book.

Steve and his best man, Gary Bragg, checking to see if I would be late for the wedding  (a bet Steve wagered and lost, and, as a result, would spend his honeymoon night playing cards at Bernard and Judy's house with all the singles from the church!).

Judy Peace making sure everything is where it's supposed to be.  

Jan Smith, Matron of Honor.  A wonderful friend and mentor who changed my life for the good!
Jan Smith, the skinny bride, and my bridesmaids, Jamie Douglas and Judy Peace
My two brothers, David Bluford and Tony Bluford, walking me down the aisle.
The wedding party along with Gary Bragg, best man, and groomsmen, Bernard Peace and Jared Douglas
Mr. and Mrs. Stephen Douglas

Steve and Lori with Jamie and Jared.  Where was Jana???
Steve's parents  "Gankie and Pops"
He disappeared during the reception and showed up ready to leave in a toga.  
One of those crawl-in-a-hole moments.

30 years ago!  Who'd thunk!

Fast forward--Our inheritance
Kimmy, Justin, Matthew, Jana, Jared, Jamie

Thank you for sharing in my memories.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

InsightOut: 8 Years and Counting

InsightOut: 8 Years and Counting: I can't believe its been 8 years since Rich and I stood in front of God and witnesses and pledged ourselves to each other till death do...

8 Years and Counting

I can't believe its been 8 years since Rich and I stood in front of God and witnesses and pledged ourselves to each other till death do us part.  Rich assured me today that he doesn't want to kill me yet and I stood in agreement with him--I don't want him to kill me yet either.  

We have been blessed to share our anniversary date with a lot of special family and friends.  Most notable are my best friends, Don and Robin who celebrated 31 years together

and my first in-laws, Gankie and Pops who, for the first time, celebrated their 47th year of marriage in heaven together.  

We've seen a few changes in our short 8 years together.  All the children have flown the coop and are being productive citizens in society.  We've grown our family with one new granddaughter and one new great-grandson.  We've gone through loss of jobs, remodeled a house, sold a house, bought a house, remodel a house, tried to make babies, said too many sad goodbyes to family and friends, experienced a few hospital stays with several surgeries, and now are providing full time care for Rich's aging parents in our home--a job that is not for the weak or for those with weak marriages!!!   I had a cousin that told me once not to marry Rich until I saw him mad.  I told her Rich and I would never be able to get married then because he just doesn't get mad.  This last year, I finally saw Rich mad (not at me) and I heard him raise his voice once (again, not at me).  I have to say, I saw my husband in a different light in those moments and I found him to be quite sexy!  Ohhhhh Yes!!!! Interestingly, Rich and I were married for three years before we ever had a disagreement--then I found it so funny that the disagreement dissipated into thin air.  We have never really truly had a fight.  Disagreements, yes, but not a fight.  

I asked Rich a few questions this evening as we shared our finely catered anniversary dinner with his parents (El Chico and I made chocolate cake for dessert).  Thought I'd share with you Rich's words of wisdom:

What is the funnest thing we do together?
     Go thrifting.

What has been the hardest thing about marriage?
     Trying to figure you out.

What has been the easiest thing about marriage?
      Sharing the same faith.

There were three things you were looking for specifically in a mate--a godly woman, a faithful tither, and what was the third?
     Good teeth?

What advice would you give to others concerning marriage?
     Make sure you know what you are doing, seek God's guidance, and get plenty of sleep.

Did you know what you were doing?
     No!  But I left it in God's hands.

Happy 8th Anniversary, my love!  I am forever grateful to a merciful God who saw fit to bring you into my life.  I love you forever Richard Nelson!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

InsightOut: Brother Tony 04/10/14

InsightOut: Brother Tony 04/10/14: I was only 12 years old when he left.  It was a day that I would remember forever.  Tears blurred my vision and my chest ached from a break...

Brother Tony 04/10/14

I was only 12 years old when he left.  It was a day that I would remember forever.  Tears blurred my vision and my chest ached from a breaking heart that muffled silent screams.   Even at such a tender age, I understood far too much about the ways of life and, therefore, understood why he had to go.  As he prepared to leave, I knew I could not ask him to stay.  He was my idol, my playmate, my best friend, and he was my brother.   He was only 13 years old himself.  Far too young to face the bigness of a world he had not seen.  And yet, he was determined  to make a better life for himself.  Determined to find a way to simply  As I sat on the edge of the bed quietly begging him to take me with him, he simply stated, "I love ya', Sis.  I'll be back to get you one day."  With that spoken, he gently tossed an open package of Marlboro cigarettes on the bed and left.  I picked up a lone cigarette that fell out of the package and desperately wanted to light it and smoke it--a terrible habit all of us kids pick up at way too early an age.  I stuffed the cigarettes in my pocket and ran out of the house to watch my brother as he headed for the alley behind our house.  Wearing his prized cowboy boots, a cowboy hat perched just so on his head, and a guitar hanging upside down behind his back, I watched my brother disappear into the horizon.  

My brother's name is Anthony Lee.  Tony for short.  It would be a year and a half before I would see him again.  He made good on his promise though.  He came like a knight in shining armor and plucked me and my younger brother out of a muddy ditch where we were hiding after we too ran away from home in search of   He became my hero that day--this brother of mine.   He was a huge part in forever changing my life in a good, positive way.  

I remember one day when we were having a slug fest with each other. We were probably around the 10 and 11 age.  At one point, Tony ended up punching me in my head.  After he painfully slung his arm around my shoulder, we just stood there, slightly hunched over, trying to catch our breath.  That was when he told me he thought he broke his hand.  His hand had already started to swell and was turning purple.  Oh my!!! We were both so scared and knew we were in big trouble!  Being the bright children that we were, we got our stories straight and told our grandmother (that we lived with at that time) that Tony tripped over the cat and fell into the small gas stove that heated our living room.  It worked. We escaped danger that day but Tony didn't escape a trip to the hospital and a cast on his hand and arm.  I don't recall ever physically fighting with my brother again (well unless you count that small incident when we were 18 and 19 respectively).

I remember another time when I was 14 and Tony was 15.  We were both out driving around one night (yes, I know).  We ended up at one of Tony's friend's house.  This guy came outside and leaned into the car window where we sat.  It was fairly obvious that this guy had been drinking.  He kept throwing glances and smiles my way and being a typical 14 year old girl, I wanted to barf!!!  Mr. Buzz Lighthead made some kind of remark somewhere along the lines of  "pretty and 'bout it". Brother quietly reached under his seat, pulled out a bazooka (I'm pretty sure that's what it was), stuck the bazooka in Buzz's face and calmly said, "That's my sister, dude.  You say one more thing to her and I'll blow your face off."  Yep, my hero!

Many years have passed since we were that young.  We've lived our lives apart for most of that time.  Even though we don't see each other often, we can call each other and pick up where we left off.  Brother did go on to make his life better by making the lives of others better.  He may or may not have lied about his age to get into the armed services early.  He may or may not have fought in a war the world knew nothing about.  Cold war was a term used during that time.  It wasn't cold--it was real.  One summer, north Tulsa was burning from an industrial accident and 55 gallon drums of explosive gases were bursting and hurling through the air like fire missiles and burning all houses they were hitting.  City buses were sitting on the south side of the north/south dividing line and the streets where closed at the dividing lines.  A large scale evacuation was taking place but numbers of people on the north side were leaving their houses with no transportation to get to those city buses waiting to temporarily house misplaced people in the sizzling 100+ degree heat.  My brother called a radio station begging for help to evacuate people who had left their houses so urgently.   There were barefoot people, handicapped people, mommies with small children, and frightened elderly people.  No help came.  But Brother had a pickup and instead of getting to a safe place himself, he went around and picked up people in the neighborhoods, drove them to the buses and went back in to haul more people out.  He has definitely lived the "other" in brother!  He has worked to improve his neighborhood, rallied and petitioned the city to build a park for his neighborhood, hosts yearly neighborhood BBQs, organizes groups to help clean the city, volunteers with Habitat for Humanity, and rescues kids that have no one and no place to go and gives them a place to live and food to eat.  He didn't want to have any biological children because he so strongly believed there were too many abandoned children who needed a home.  He only formally adopted one child but there are countless others that call him Dad and now Grandpa.  And on top of all that, he is a brave cancer survivor. 

Today is National Siblings Day.  It is also Tony's birthday.  Although the years (and perhaps the military) have skewed his memory as to the real date and year of his birth, I know how old he really is.  Thank you Tony for all you do and for all you have done.  Happy birthday brother.  I love you to the moon and back!

Sunday, March 9, 2014

InsightOut: Tears Are a Language God Understands

InsightOut: Tears Are a Language God Understands: It was with anticipation and excitement that I grabbed the ringing phone to sit down and have a long awaited chat with a dear friend. We ha...

Tears Are a Language God Understands

It was with anticipation and excitement that I grabbed the ringing phone to sit down and have a long awaited chat with a dear friend. We had been having trouble connecting with each other recently and it looked like today was finally the day we could catch up with a good talk.  I was prayerful that the Lord would use me to encourage my sweet friend in the midst of all the struggles and trials she and her family had experienced in recent months. We had the normal "good to hear your voice" and "how are the kids" chat.  I was feeling confident that I was "spiritually prepared" for a wonderful conversation with "Mrs." and curled up in a comfy chair with the phone in my ear.  I don't remember exactly the timing of it all, but it was pretty early in the phone call that "Mrs." sincerely asked, "How are YOU?"  It started deep within my soul--this unnamed hurricane swirling within my chest. What in the world was happening to me?  I tried to answer "Mrs." but I couldn't.  After an awkward pause, she asked, "Are you there?"  Yes, I was here but those words lay silent upon my quivering lips.  Despite my feeble attempt to hold it back, my emotional hurricane of some recent heartbreaking disappointments, fatigue, and even the merciful presence of God's grace in my life made landfall and a torrential stream of tears flowed down my face.  I was sucking in air, my voice was cracking, and I knew this was welling up to be one ugly cry!!! Eventually, I was able to answer my clueless friend (as in unaware) but would never fully regain control of my storm throughout the remainder of our conversation.

Has that ever happened to you?  Have you ever been ready to talk to someone calmly only to have a major meltdown through tears?  It's so aggravating!!!  Believe it or not, there was once a time in my life that I couldn't cry.  My childhood was, let's say, less than ideal and I learned at an early age not to cry over hurts that were bigger than spilt milk.  I carried that hardness into my teenage years and my early 20's.  It was only after a loss of a child that I allowed God to soften my callused heart and I gave myself permission to cry tears of grief.  After that time in my life, it became easier to shed tears of joy, compassion, forgiveness, happiness, anger (don't recommend it), repentance (recommend it), and unfortunately, more grief.  

Someone once told me that God had bottles for our tears.  I thought I'd check that one out (because I have the sweetest, most tenderhearted friend, Denyce, that I'm sure has oodles of bottles stored in heaven!) and here's what I found.   Psalm 56:8b says, "put thou my tears into thy bottle:  are they not in thy book?"  Apparently women use to slide their tears into bottles for their men who were off at war. When the men came home, the women could then show the men how much they lamented their absence (women--always looking for attention!).   But this verse says THY bottle and THY book.  My tears do not only fall on earthly soil but God gathers them into HIS heavenly bottles and at that moment, I am remembered by a loving and compassionate God who knows my pain, my sorrow, my joy, and my heartache. Isn't that just beautiful!!!!  (I know!  I could cry too!)

I am thankful for my gracious friend that day that had to patiently listen to my wailings and blubbering speech.  I am thankful she was compassionate enough to even say, "Let's pray about it!"  and did.   I am even more thankful to an invisible God who sees my visible tears and gathers the drops for His bottle and then writes it down.  I am humbled that His ears are attentive to my cry (Psalms 34:15).  Thank you gracious and merciful God for loving me!  Praise your Holy name!

Saturday, January 25, 2014

I AM Enough

"God, please let everything go OK today, help Mom not to cry, and please calm my nerves," I prayed as I scurried about the house making beds and trying to throw some makeup on my face.  We just found out Rich's brother, Bob, was on his way over to see his mother for the first time in four months.  I'll spare you the details, but for whatever reason, Bob had chosen not to visit his mom since we brought her to our house from the nursing home.  Now he was on his way and I was feeling anxious and intimidated by his impending arrival.  As I flitted about making a bed, my thoughts immediately went to "I'll call ___ and ask her to pray while he is here that everything will go alright and that he'll be content with the care we have been giving his mom."  It was in that moment that God just spoke to my heart so clear and said,

"I am enough."

Talk about stopping me in my tracks!!!   

Simply put.  "I am enough." 

Instantly I felt ashamed that I hastened up a prayer of help and then didn't trust HIM for the complete calm and assurance that I know He would give. I am so guilty of wanting to share my burdens with a close friend, to ask them to pray with me, to ask them to pray for me, when I just need to trust God to be enough.  It is scriptural for others to help us bear our burdens and for others to pray for and with us (Gal 6:2 and I Tim 2:1 for starters), but this wasn't one of those moments.

So.... I answered, "Yes God, YOU are enough!"

And the visit?    Afters weeks and weeks of constant crying, fussing, and bumbling speech,  the dementia fog seem to lift a little from Mom and she recognized  Bob, was able to converse pretty clearly, had a pleasant attitude, didn't cry for almost two and a half hours, and get this.... called ME LORI!!!! Not once but TWICE!!!  (for those that haven't followed me, Mom has only said my name a few times in the almost 8 years I've been in this family).  Bob is gone now.  Right now Mom is sitting with Dad crying and having a hard time.  But oh how thankful I am that the GREAT I AM was enough, heard my hastened prayer, and gave me the desire of my heart.

Friend, is God enough for you?

Job 27:10  Will he delight himself in the Almighty?  will he always call upon God?