Lee and I are on a mini vacation on the west coast staying just off the beach and can hear the waves from the patio. For the past several weeks getting back to writing has been on my mind, but today, as I woke up looking at God’s most perfect creation (the Beach), it was with a NEED to write. I guess my hiatus and pity party for life changing in the middle of the year last year is over! My plans for my life and my future went awry in May of last year. I had just come back from an amazing experience at a Writer’s conference. In my mind this was the catalyst to jump starting my writing career. I spent a week immersed in the Christian writing culture. Soaking in all of the how to’s, the encouragement and the knowledge of those that had walked the path before me and done it successfully. I am back at home for 3 days, yes, just 3 days and I get a phone call that requires my immediate action and attention. My Dad who lives 1000 miles away was in the hospital and I was needed to take care of “things”. Yes, I had these plans, and MY life was disrupted. You will notice, this was all about me. I do believe that God lead me to go to the conference, but not for the reasons I thought. I was sure that it was jumpstarting a desire that God gave me to write and speak, however, now I believe that the conference was to get me prepared for the detour my life would take after I came back. The time spend at the conference receiving encouragement, fellowshipping at every meal with new people and learning was invaluable to carry me forward. This morning, Psalm 27 is on my heart. David has unwavering confidence in the Lord and His ways. He begins this Psalm with “The Lord is my light and my salvation – whom shall I fear?” With the Lord leading our lives, we have no reason to fear. The Lord sees the big picture, the direction He knows is best for our lives, the preparation that we need to take us where we need to go. The Lord knew that I would spend most of the summer with my Dad, monthly trips over the next year and for the foreseeable future. This was not how I numbered my steps or the direction I expected my life to go. However, God knows best and takes us down unknown paths and experiences that will mold us into the person that follows him, radiates Light and leads others to Him. Psalm 27 ends with, “Wait for the Lord, be strong and take heart and Wait for the Lord.” Waiting is hard, but why is it hard? We feel like we must be productive, “doing” something all the time. But maybe, just maybe that “doing” is Waiting for the Lord.
Dear Lord, help me to wait for you today!
The day started with the stars still shining and the sun no where in sight. As a coffee addict my first stop was Starbucks to get my drug of choice, a Venti coffee. I also ordered oatmeal that I could eat on the way to my Dad’s appointment with a “movement and neurorestoration” doctor. Which really means that we were going to get a formal diagnosis of Dementia or Alzheimer’s.
When I got to Dad’s house he was ready and waiting which was a surprising turn of events since he is not a morning person (I am not sure he even went to bed).
The time for me to eat my oatmeal arrived and I pulled the packages of nuts and dried fruit out, dumped them both in the perfect oatmeal consistency and much to my surprise, there was a knife in my bag instead of a spoon. Wait? What? Why? How can I eat oatmeal on the run without a spoon? Why didn’t the person that put my oatmeal in the bag pay attention? Did she want to ruin my morning?
As I am talking with Daddy about no having a spoon and having to make do with a knife, we began to discuss all of the lessons that can be learned from just this one tiny event during a day, a week, a month and a year of challenges!
The first lesson is about begin present, paying attention and doing everything with excellence. If the person that prepared my oatmeal had done that, this would not have been a blog post.
The second is about our reaction to the things that happen. How do we handle the little annoyances? With grace? With anger? In 1 Timothy 1:14-17, Paul describes the grace that Christ has for us, shouldn’t we practice the same kind of grace?
14 and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. 15 The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. 16 But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life.
After laughing about my predicament, I prayed for the young lady that prepared my oatmeal and her day and then proceeded to eat my oatmeal with the Knife! I will not let my circumstance dictate my attitude and I will (strive) to give grace!
 The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (1 Ti 1:14–16). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.
The beach is God’s most wonderful work. I see HIS majesty in the vastness of the multi colors of the oceans, His strength in the pattern of the crashing waves, His creativity is shown in the array of shells, sand dollars, plants and animals that live in the ocean.
The beach, any beach is my happy place.
On a recent trip to a new beach on the east coast of Florida, while walking along the shoreline a cluster of large rocks that had been carved into a portion of the beach area appeared. Being adventuresome, I climbed over the rocks to get to the water side where small caves had formed. Standing still watching the water calmly dance around my ankles, the shells playfully tumble over my feet and listening to the sound of the waves was so calming and peaceful.
Then in the blink of an eye, a storm rolls in, the sky darkens, the waves get rougher.
Our lives can follow a similar pattern. One minute, all is calm in our world, we can see the shells, the water is crystal clear. And the next, a storm is brewing, the air changes, and we can no longer see our feet, but we can feel the scraping of the shells on our ankles and the water splashing higher on our legs as it becomes more difficult to even stand.
An event occurs and turns our life upside down! We are tossed about, our feet can barely touch the ground, water, sand and shells are crashing around us and there is nothing to hold onto, except Jesus. Jesus is our anchor! Hebrews 6: 19-20 gives us an assurance that Jesus is our steadfast hope. 19 We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, 20 where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek. 
Thank you Jesus for being my anchor when my life is out of control and I am being tossed about by the waves of life’s circumstances.
 The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). (Heb 6:19–20). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.
Since, that phone call on May 28th of this year, my time hasn’t been my own. My dad was in the hospital after a fall, had an infection, and would remain in the hospital for 9 days. then, 30 days of rehab and the gradual process of returning home to live by himself. My dad lives 1,000 miles away. Fortunately, for me, my brother has a house “in town”, (he and my sister -in -law live in "the country") with a beautiful view of a small lake and is available for me to stay in while I am visiting. The house has seen people come and go over the years, but at the present time, it is not occupied by humans. However, the house came with a CAT. When my brother bought this house, this skinny predominantly white cat with dark brown and tan markings was hanging around the house and has been here for the last 8 years. On my first visit, after KittyKitty requested to come in, I asked, “What do I do with the cat?” The answer was simple, “Whatever she wants, if she wants in, let her in, if she wants out, let her out. Keep food and water in the bowls, both in the kitchen and on the front porch, AND Love on her”. So, that is what I have done, let her in or out, feed her and loved on her.
But, I have come and gone over the last 3 months, spending most of the first 6 weeks in town, but home to Houston for a few days at a time. My husband, Lee, was here with me for a week and as we were discussing the Cat and what she does while no one is here, Lee suggested that she was just like Paul, content in her circumstances, whether in the house or not, with people to pet her and talk with her or not, and with a full bowl of food and water or not. Look at Philippians 4:11-13.
11 Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. 12 I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. 13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me. 
Are we content in our circumstances? Do we let our circumstances define us or how we feel and look at life? Or are we content? And let the JOY of the Lord define our lives?
The next time you are challenged with your circumstances, remember the CAT that came with the house and her disposition to be content with or without, inside or out, with people around or by herself.
 The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). (Php 4:11–13). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven. Ecc 3:1
Yesterday, marked the beginning of school in our area in Houston. In our 26 plus years of parenting with 5 children, we have faced many firsts and lasts. In recent years every beginning of a new school year was a first or last. First day of middle school. Last first day of high school. First time a child drove to school. Last year our older boys were in school together. This year marks, the last first day of High School for Shelby, and the first day of high school for Mason. The last year that Lee and I will have 2 children in high school. The last year that we will have a child begin high school. The last time that we will support 2 different high schools. The last year, there will be more than one child in a "back to school" photo.
Exciting times and sad times. Easy times and hard times. Time for everything and a season for every activity. Solomon describes a season for every activity in Ecclesiastes 3. This passage was a powerful reminder that we all have seasons of sadness, happiness, grief, searching, building, etc. My season of "active" parenting is winding down. We have such a short time left with the last two and the season will come to a close. Have I done everything I should?, have I taught them what they need to know? are they ready to embrace the world?
Today, as a sit back and enjoy this season of first and lasts, I will rest in the arms of Jesus, that we have "Trained up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it." Proverbs 22:6. This has been the scripture that we hold on to as our children grow up and make their own decisions and leave the nest. First and last we entrust them to God and pray continually!
What season are you in? Is it a first or last? Embrace and enJoy the season that you are in, for we all know it passes quickly.
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). (Pr 22:6). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). (Ec 3:1). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.
Patiently sitting in a straight back uncomfortable chair in a sterile doctor’s office with my Dad waiting on the Dr. The room was filled with the necessary equipment for exams and procedures, the ominous looking machines with scopes attached and monitors glaring at us. Although, that captured my Dad’s attention, he was most enamored by the picture on the wall. You have seen them, the almost cartoon like drawing of a beach with the Wooden beach rental chairs and an umbrella in the middle. This picture prompted a memory of more than 50 years ago of a young teen age boy, earning gas money during the summer on Clearwater beach and my Dad began to talk about the job of putting out the chairs, the fact that it was $2.00 a day to rent them. “It wasn’t a bad job, but when I got the job with the City as a Lifeguard, it was a pay raise and a promotion. I was the one in charge on the beach.” A sweet conversation ensued about his time working on the beach.
I believe with all of my heart that the ocean is God’s best work! It is my happy place. I do my best work on the beach, listening to the waves crash, watching the waves creep up the sand, but never go too far, and simply soaking in the vastness of the deep blue-green ocean. When trouble abound, I head to the beach for clarity and direction. My Dad instilled in me a love for the big beautiful body of water, from my first swim in Clearwater beach at the ripe old age of 3 weeks.
Sweet memories of times gone by are more available than the simple things of now, like, what was eaten for lunch or how long he has to stay in rehab. I was reminded this morning, that we need to reminisce and we need to reflect on our journey with God as well. Through all of our good times, today and yesterday, God is with us, He reminds us of what He has done in our lives, through the lessons from Deuteronomy 8:2-3:
“And you shall remember the whole way that the Lord your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, that he might humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep his commandments or not. 3 And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord”
Lord, help me to foster those memories and not get frustrated with answering the “today” questions over and over again.
 The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). (Dt 8:2–3). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.
My slumber was abruptly disturbed at 5:37 am, “Mrs. Kicker, this is Solaris rehab calling, it is not an emergency, but we wanted to let you know, your Dad fell this morning and has a couple of “skin tears”. Throughout each day that I am not living out of a suitcase at my brother’s lake house, I get a variety of phone calls, texts or facebook messages about my Dad’s condition, asking for a decision about his care, just letting me know what has happened or a general report on his condition.
You see, in just a few short weeks, we have gone from that ominous Power of Attorney, “just in case something were to happen”, to a daily deluge of health decisions, financial decisions, and business decisions. A constant drip, drip, drip.
In essence, my life and my family’s life have been put on hold during this season. Little did we know that when we received that phone call that my Dad had fallen and was in the hospital, that I would spend 8 days in FL, and then come home only for weekends in the weeks that followed and that pattern will continue for the foreseeable future.
I have grown weary, weary of doing good. That is what this is right? caring for a parent, is good.
29 He gives strength to the weary and strengthens the powerless. 30 Youths may faint and grow weary, and young men stumble and fall, 31 but those who trust in the Lord will renew their strength; they will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not faint.
Isaiah 40:29-31 has such a good reminder of how the Lord will give me strength as long as I trust in the him and seek his direction. Every morning I seek the Lord, ask for direction in my decision making about my Dad and strength to carry through.
My bucket is getting full of the constant drips, but I will not let it overflow!
My big girl pants didn't fit today. And quite frankly, I just didn't want to put them on, they are tight and pinching me. I am tired, and I am weary.
This week has been filled with visits to the hospital, visiting Rehab facilities, Dr's offices, a Pharmacy, banks, lawyers, accountants (Dad's office) clothes shopping, cleaning 20 years of dirt, and a mound of laundry (truly a Mound!)
So today, my big girl pants just didn't fit. After the morning visit at the Rehab, another trip shopping to try and find some clothes that would fit, another load of laundry, I found that I was exhausted and needing rest and a mental break. When at home, I love a Sunday afternoon nap, curled up with a good Christian novel, escaping through the pages to experience another place and time. Rest came this afternoon through the pages of a well written novel and a solid nap.
Writing and watching the brilliant oranges and pinks of the sun setting over the lake at my brother's house with the calico cat that came with the house laying beside me and reflecting on the past week.
I am reminded of all of the people that have touched my life this week. The bigger than life receptionist at the hospital with her stylish golden hair against rich cocoa skin. Thelma, greeted me with a bright smile and kind word every time I walked in. Kayla, a daytime CNA, who is a petite spitfire with a long blond ponytail and an authoritative gentleness, she chose her profession well. The adorable "candy strippers" (I am sure that is not what they are called now, but they were back in the day) 70 plus year old ladies with Fiona Headbands and brightly colored bows adorning them, that offered a word of encouragement and a magazine to pass the time.
And then, I encountered some crabby and not so nice people that probably should have chosen different professions, one not dealing with people all of the time.
I strive to have a smile on my face and be one of those people that make a positive impact during an encounter, like Kayla or Thelma or the little old ladies handing out magazines. But, I am sure there are days that I fall into the Crabby category and shouldn't be around people.
With God's grace, I can start over, put on my "Big girl" pants, be Joyful and make a positive difference in someone or a 100 someone's life today!
How often do we (and yes, I am including myself in this statement) Rush right past moments in life? Much of our time is spent scheduled out and we are rushing to the next thing, checking that task off of our to do list. How many Joyful moments do we miss because of trying to stay on schedule? I almost missed a very special interaction and this beautiful rose last week.
I was traveling for business in California and wanted to get my walk in before I left my hotel. My hotel was backed up to a residential area, but I didn't know the area, so I am cautious not to get too far away. As I was walking, I decided to go over 2 streets instead of just one. (a crazy decision) A few houses down, an older gentlemen was testing his sprinkler system and motioned for me to stop and he would turn off the sprinklers so I could walk on the sidewalk. My response was "no worries, I can walk in the street". As I was about 2/3 of the way past his house, I threw over my shoulder to him, "Your yard is beautiful", he answered, "no not really, not yet". And this is the moment I almost missed because I was checking the box, of having my exercise done for the day. I stopped and went back and engaged him in conversation just for a few minutes. We talked about the deep rich color of his rose bushes. AND, that is when my blessing came, He went over to the rose bush, pulled shears out of his back pocket, cut the Rose for me and brought it back and handed it to me.
That Rose traveled through several cities in CA and then home with me to Kingwood. When I checked into a new hotel or went through airport security, it was an opportunity for me to share the Joyful story with the valet attendant, the desk clerk, TSA and other people that commented on the beautiful rose.
A few minutes of slowing down and a conversation with an older gentleman has allowed me to Experience Joy over and over again. And I hope that I was able to bring him a bit of joy as well.
I hope that I can remember to slow down and Experience the Joy that each day brings!
DaLee J Kicker
So many things define me... married to the love of my life for 34 years, mom to 5 plus one (a son & daughter -in-love), a bible study teacher, a full time professional, and now a published Author.