My Tail Fell Off!

Years ago, while on a missions trip after hurricane Andrew in Homestead, FL, I had a noisy encounter with a lizard. We had left some large pots in the sink to dry overnight. Judy and I entered the kitchen to put the pots away and start breakfast for the group. She picked up one of the pots, and a little lizard ran across the sink. Pots flew, we screamed, the lizard scurried. One of the men came running. The lizard was scrambling but couldn’t quite get a good enough grip on the stainless steel sink to make his escape. Joel was trying to scoop it out of the sink while Judy and I continued to scream. The lizard’s tail fell off–more screaming–as Joel finally scooped it out the window.

I imagine the lizard conversation outside the window. “What was that all about?”

“I don’t know. I was asleep in the sink, and then there was all this noise and I didn’t know what to do. I ran but I couldn’t get anywhere. I was so scared my tail fell off. Then I landed here.”

“Don’t worry. You’re safe now. Your tail will grow back. But you might not want to sleep in sinks.”

That was me yesterday, only I did the both screaming and the scurrying/tail dropping, when I went onto Amazon and saw that my book was on pre-sale. I thought I had more time. I wasn’t ready. No Amazon Author Page, No Goodreads account. Thanks to my friend, Hannah, coming by earlier in the day, my website (https://www.lisajradcliff.com) was up, but I still had work to do on it.

I’m feeling much better today. My Amazon Author Page is up (https://www.amazon.com/author/lisajradcliff), my website is up, I have a Goodreads account, and the other things I should have had done are at least started. Most of all, many of you responded quickly and positively to my request to share the link to my book, and I am very thankful for that!

Please continue to visit the Amazon page and send your friends there. Creating a traffic jam is a good thing in this case. I will use this blog to share some excerpts from the book over the next few weeks, leading up to its launch on March 1. Hopefully, that will whet your appetite to share it even more.

Thanks again for all your help. God’s timing is always perfect and often amusing. I can feel my tail growing back already!

 

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Happy Birthday, #22!

Puppy #22 turns a year old today. The birthday of a Seeing Eye puppy is always bittersweet. Of course, we want to celebrate the milestone, but it also means that his time with us is almost done. We have taught him all we can. He knows all the basic commands, how to behave in public, and has pretty good house manners. He’s been exposed to people of all ages and all sorts of places. There really isn’t much more we can do. But it’s sad to know he’ll be leaving soon.

I mean, sure, he has made me question our decision to raise another puppy–several times. But I’ll still miss him. Once he’s in training at The Seeing Eye, he’ll learn everything he needs to know to be a successful guide and will make us proud. And while a blind person may not be able to see how gorgeous he is, they’ll know what a great dog he is.

January 29 is also the birthday of The Seeing Eye, Inc. They turn 89 today. A lot has changed in those 89 years but a lot hasn’t. Originally, puppies were not raised in homes, but in kennels. As #22 looks at me from his comfy spot in the family room, I’m sure he is happy about that change. Perhaps the biggest changes have been in the training of the families raising these amazing puppies. The Seeing Eye’s success rate is higher than ever, and that is credited to the work the families put into each puppy, and that comes from the great training we all receive. (I’m not only saying this because I used to do that job!)

So, for the next few months, we’ll keep doing what we do and wait for the dreaded phone call. When I did that job, families often called me Cruella just because I had to pick up their puppy for training. This will be my first puppy returning for training with someone other than me. That will be strange. But I will refrain from calling my coordinator Cruella – I get it.

Happy Birthday, #22 & The Seeing Eye, Inc.! You both are very special!

Yardley baby             Yardley in car

Visit The Seeing Eye’s website and see the amazing things they are doing, wish them a happy birthday, or even better, give them a present! You can find them at http://www.seeingeye.org

 

Sanctity of My Life

This past Sunday was not just Sanctity of Life Sunday but also the anniversary of Roe vs. Wade. As an adopted child, I have always been thankful that my birth mother chose life. Of course, in 1964, abortion wasn’t legal. So, I have always been thankful that she was pregnant in ’64 and not ’74.

Over the last several weeks, as I’ve learned more about my birth parents, the thought that I could have been an abortion statistic has become even more real. When my birth father found out about me, he gave my birth mother money and told her he wanted nothing to do with the baby. I can’t help but wonder, if it had been 1974 and she was in the same situation: pregnant, 4-yr-old daughter, no husband, no hope of a future with or help from the baby’s father, brand new job, money to make the problem go away, how tempting it would have been to end the pregnancy–end my life.

My pro-abortion friends will not like that I said if my mother had chosen abortion, it would have ended my life, killed me, but that is exactly what it would have done. And not only my life, but just think of the rest of my family. My three boys and four grandchildren wouldn’t exist. All of our lives never realized if my mother had had the opportunity to make a different decision.

I have learned that my birth mother was a very strong person. So, there is every chance that even if abortion had been legal, she would have chosen the difficult road of carrying a baby, giving birth, and then giving that baby up for adoption. I’d like to think so. Some of the family members I have met have said that they have thought about me so many times over the years and wondered if I was happy. That is what happens when you give a baby up for adoption. But I have friends who have chosen abortion. The things they think about are the overwhelming guilt, shame, and regret that they took away their child’s chance of a having a happy life.

I don’t know if there is a more difficult road than that of recovering from the realization that you killed your child. I’ve watched women go through it, and their pain is greater than anything I have ever seen, even that of parents who have lost children through illness or accidents. My heart breaks for them as well as their baby that never saw life. I am glad that Sanctity of Life Sunday doesn’t just declare that abortion is wrong. It emphasizes life and also recognizes those who have had abortions, reaching out to them in love, offering support and comfort.

The legalization of abortion has taken away the sanctity of life. Sanctity means the state or quality of being holy. All life is sacred because we are created in the image of a holy God. So many people now have no regard for life. As I write this, I am seeing another mass school shooting has taken place. Why should this surprise us, when we don’t think the most vulnerable among us have the right to life? This isn’t a political issue for me. It is me.

Thanks, Mom, for choosing life.

Search for the Supermoon

We turned onto our street, and there it was, bigger than life, the supermoon. Wow! It was huge, mostly orange, hanging just above the trees. Instead of turning into our driveway, we decided to head toward the moon and maybe get an even better view of it.

Since our house was on our right and the moon almost directly in front of it, at the end of the block, we turned left. Where did it go? We seemed to be on the top of a hill where it would be most visible, but no moon. We kept driving. The road seemed straight. The moon should be right in front of us, but it wasn’t. Then we saw it again, out the driver’s side window. We turned left at the next stop. Again, no moon. Then we saw it outside the passenger side window. How does it keep moving? We stopped the car, and I clambered up an embankment to get a picture, through the trees. It looked much smaller now and farther away. It was hard to get a good shot.

I returned to the car, and we drove home. Up and down a few hills, constantly on the look out for the supermoon. Nothing, until we turned onto our road again. Déjà vu. I think I could have watched the super moon rise best from my front porch.

The week before this astronomical event was Christmas. I had been reading the account of Jesus’ birth in Luke 2. I decided to keep reading in Luke and came across Luke 3:4-6 around the time of the supermoon.

As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet,
“The voice of one crying in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord,
make his paths straight.

Every valley shall be filled,
and every mountain and hill shall be made low,
and the crooked shall become straight,
and the rough places shall become level ways,

and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.’”

A lot of people saw the supermoon. Most of them got better pictures of it than I did. These verses made me think of our search for the supermoon. We thought we were headed straight for it, but the road we took was more crooked that it looked. We would crest a hill in anticipation of a moon on the horizon, but we were still in a valley, hiding the moon.

I’ve heard these verses from Luke and Isaiah taught as metaphors. The valleys being lowly and humble people, while the mountains are the proud. But my search for the moon made me think, maybe when Jesus returns these verses will be fulfilled in a physical way. Not everyone could see the supermoon. But everyone will see Jesus because every obstacle will be removed, whether that is a mountain or their own pride. However it works, I know I won’t have to search for Jesus. The valleys will be filled, the mountains made low, the crooked ways made straight, and everyone will see him.

There will be another supermoon at the end of the month, and maybe I’ll get to see it. Jesus will come again at a time that we don’t know, but I know I won’t miss him. Whether he changes the terrain or the hearts of people, no one will be able to miss him. For now I look forward to his coming and live as if it could be today.

A Grandmother’s Love

This was one of the best and most unusual weeks of my life. On Wednesday I flew to Florida to meet some of my birth family, including my grandmother. Excitement and nervousness jockeyed for position in my mind. How would this go? Would they accept me? It’s one thing to talk on the phone and exchange emails, yet another to meet face to face.

After checking in to our hotel and getting some lunch, it was time for meeting #1, my aunt and uncle. As soon as we pulled into their driveway, my uncle appeared on the porch with a big smile on his face. As I approached him, he welcomed me and opened the door. My aunt stood just inside. With tears in her eyes, she gave me a big hug. I heard my uncle saying that as I got out of the car, it could have been Jeannie (my birth mother).

We had a delightful time looking at pictures and telling stories. Laughter punctuated the conversation. It was a great start to our visit. After supper, we went to the assisted living facility where my grandmother lives. She was excited to meet me. As she turned in her chair to see me, she shook her head and said, “Oh my.” For a few seconds she just stared at me. Then she took my hands in hers and said, “It’s my Jeannie.” She looked so happy. We hugged and then talked about her life and stories of Jeannie growing up. It was great.

The next day, we all went to visit my great aunt, who is 99. She stared at me for a few seconds, too, before saying to my grandmother, “That’s your Jeannie.” We had an amazing time with the two of them. More stories, more laughter. So many times when I laughed or did something, they would say, “that’s Jeannie.” It was amazing.

As I said goodbye to my grandmother that night, she hugged me tight and said, “I love you.” At first I wondered how she could love me–she doesn’t really know me. But in an instant I understood why she could say that. I’m her granddaughter. Just like I love my grandchildren, even though I don’t know yet who they will be. From the moment I first saw them, I loved them. Really from the moment I knew about them, before they were born, I loved them. This visit was the meeting most of us have at the hospital, peering into the nursery, figuring out whose nose she has. My grandmother didn’t have that, but she often wondered about me and my life, and she loved me. It was easy for her say “I love you” because she has for 53 years.

The nerves have been replaced with a sense of overwhelming blessing. What a gift to have more people in my life who love me.

Heart Trouble

I am wired today. No, I’m not wound up or hyper. I’m actually wired, connected to a heart monitor. Why? My irregular heartbeat is more irregular than usual. So for 24 hours, I am sporting a very fashionable group of wires, attached to my chest with pretty red, green, brown, and black snaps–almost Christmasy.

Prior to placement of this lovely monitor, I underwent an echocardiogram, which is an ultrasound of the heart. The technician, Tim, is a very nice young man. He did my last echocardiogram four years ago. He hasn’t changed a bit, wish I could say the same for me. Tim should play poker. He is an expert at not reacting to what he sees or hears on his equipment. I don’t know what he thought about it, but I can tell you, it didn’t sound anything like a heartbeat. No distinct thump, thump. No gentle swishing heard on baby ultrasounds. Nope. My heart sounded like an alien conversation from a Star Wars bar scene. I think it was insulting some other alien and was about to be vaporized.

After leaving the cardiology office, I needed to stop at the post office. My red snap and wire were clearly visible. I hoped the postal employee didn’t think I had a bomb strapped to my chest. I just wanted to send a Christmas present to my granddaughter and get out without a SWAT team surrounding the building. The postal employee may also play poker. If he noticed my wiring, he didn’t react to it, unless there’s an under-the-counter alert button. But I left before SWAT arrived.

Along with the monitor, I was given a chart to track the time and symptoms if I feel chest pain or shortness of breath. They will compare my chart with the monitor, which will help them diagnose what’s happening. This got me thinking (while checking my rearview mirror for the SWAT team). Wouldn’t it be great if I had another heart monitor, a monitor that would alert me when my spiritual heart is not right.

It could beep if my motives are questionable. Maybe it would give me a little jolt when my attitude is bad. When my sarcasm is not funny, but hurtful, the little line would jump. I’m pretty good at justifying my motives, attitudes, and quirky personality. (See, I just did it.) But if I got a print out of what my heart was doing during the day, would I be shocked to learn how bad off it is?

But God has already supplied a monitor to test our hearts. Hebrews 4:12 says: “For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” So it seems to me the best way to monitor my heart is to study God’s Word daily and talk to him about what changes need to be made to correct my heart problems. I am confident at least one of my hearts can be correctly diagnosed and treated. And a healthy heart is a happy heart, which I hear is good medicine, so there is hope for both hearts after all.

 

Raising Boys (or Fights, Football, and Stinky Feet)

In the past few months, a few parents of young boys have asked me the secret to raising boys without losing your mind. I’m not sure I achieved that, but my boys have grown into really wonderful men–that, I think, is what they are really asking about.

It’s hard to believe that one day these boys, who at the moment are half killing each other, could possibly turn out OK. Most of us aren’t trying to raise the next president of the United States. We just want them to stop fighting, stop calling their brother names, and stop making such a mess. These parents just need a little encouragement that this, too, shall pass.

Talking with these parents has caused me to remember the days of having three young boys in the house. There were days (most of them) that it was total chaos. Since we homeschooled, they were with me all day, every day. There were always books and papers and toys everywhere. Buzz Lightyear broke the glass on a museum-hung, signed artist print as he was “falling with style.” They used whatever they could find to sled down the stairs. And, in case you didn’t know, boys’ laundry smells bad–really, really, bad.

One of the things I remember them doing happened when I thought the older two were mature enough to stay at home alone for a short time. But when I returned home, I saw the glass in the bird feeder was shattered all over the ground. What could have happened? I asked the boys about it.

“How did the bird feeder glass get broken?”

“Jason shot it with the bb gun.”

“Why were you shooting at the bird feeder? You know you are not allowed to do any shooting when I’m not home, and definitely not from the kitchen window toward the neighbor’s house.”

“I wasn’t shooting at the bird feeder. I was shooting the onion off the top of it and missed.”

“Why was there an onion on the bird feeder?”

“Because we didn’t have any apples.”

“Why were you going to shoot an apple off the bird feeder?”

“Because that was safer than shooting it off Tim’s head.”

Can’t really argue with that. As a creative homeschool mom, the thought went through my mind that this could count as music and history. No, no, I need to use this teachable moment to let them know what they did was very wrong.

“Don’t tell your father. Someday this will be a funny story. Today is not that day.”

And that’s how we survived boys, not taking anything too seriously, and always having each other’s back. Sometimes that meant not telling the other parent everything that happened in a day. It worked for us. We were always on the same page with discipline and direction for our family. So, it was OK if sometimes I didn’t know things they did and sometimes Dad didn’t know–we were on a “need to know” basis. I don’t even like it now when they tell me things they did that I wasn’t aware of at the time.

That’s how we kept our sanity. Well, that, and a lot of prayer. We prayed individually, as a couple, and as a family. We didn’t do everything right, but we loved each other. I see their cherubic faces when I read in Proverbs that love covers a multitude of sins. I think we had a good balance of overlooking inconsequential wrongs, disciplining when necessary, forgiving quickly, and laughing whenever possible.

So, I guess that will be my advice to these frazzled parents. And one more thing, hold the things of this world lightly because they are probably going to get broken.

Before you know it, the boys will be grown and dealing with their own little ones while you relax in the quiet of your empty nest and melt at the faces of your perfect grandchildren, who are driving their parents crazy.