Sunday, February 7, 2016

When You Come to Church Looking Like a Bag Lady

bag lady

When you come to church looking like a bag lady should anyone care?
My recent cashier at Dillard's most certainly would!

My mom and I were shopping the clearance sale at Dillard's Department Store last week. The cashier chatted like we were old acquaintances. Somehow, our conversation turned to tradition. She raved on about her nieces and nephews do things backward, nothing in the old traditional ways. She shared.  We listened.

She disgustedly disapproved of living together unwed, children out of wedlock and the audacity of her sister inviting her to a nephew's wedding with these important issues ignored! I’ll add here that I don’t consider these topics tradition. God doesn't approve this behavior because it is contrary to his word. I am following the conversation until she says, "And what about the way women come to church dressed like bag ladies? Didn’t their mother teach them how to dress?"  Yep, she's a flaming traditionalist.

Ms. Cashier didn’t know me from Adam or Eve's house cat. She had no way of knowing shoes are a huge obstacle for me. Dressing like a Philadelphia lawyer does not come easy for me. This is where I looked off, mind racing, feeling unworthy and disengaged from the conversation. Politely, I never commented on her question.

I’ve owned the same black jumper for almost 30 years. I LOVE that old, faded, holed-pocket jumper. My safe, trusty knee-high boots are the perfect accessory! My mom HATES my jumper. She threatens to burn the dress. Her twin sister offered to buy me a replacement if I’d throw it away and never wear it again.  My old black jumper is the most comfortable dress in my closet. I feel good about it and think it's stylish too!  I've kidded them about being jealous and envying how good I look in that tattered old plain jumper. Of course, my mom probably thinks I need a mirror! I understand mom and others and the traditions they've been taught like Easter requires a new dress.  

What people don’t understand about my black jumper is I’ve worshiped Jesus corporately in that dress more than any other article of clothing I own. Jesus has wiped away my tears that spilled down my cheeks, curved under my chin, and rolled down my neck to land softly on the cotton fabric turning it an unfaded black. I gratefully wore the jumper with both of my pregnancies. I am so thankful I can wear this dress with my knee high boots hiding non-traditional feet, looking somewhat stylish and feeling somewhat normal. I can walk into the church with this ugly dress on, unassisted, because of what Jesus did for me. When I walk into the church looking like a bag lady, I’m not thinking about my clothing. I'm thinking about worshipping a King, my Savior!

Leviticus 19:15 Ye shall do no unrighteousness in judgment: thou shalt not respect the person of the poor, nor honor the person of the mighty: but in righteousness shalt thou judge thy neighbor.

When you come to church looking like a bag lady, OWN it! I wear my unattractive black jumper unconcerned about outward appearance because:
  • a redeemed soul carries more valuables inside than a Coach purse
  • a satisfied soul shines more brilliantly than diamonds
  • a thankful heart turns more heads than Prada shoes
  • a happy countenance is beautiful without Chanel makeup
  • a praising tongue says more than a Vera Wang gown
My Mother taught me how to dress, but, who am I pleasing? The fashion police or Jesus? 2 Timothy 2:4 No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.

God is my designer,
The Happy Handicap

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Kids Do Say The Smartest Things!

Lisette Epperson is my granddaughter. My only grandchild currently. I have the blessed priviledge of keeping here during the week. I was a working mom when both my daughters grew up. I changed my mind about women in the workplace long before "Sette" was born but after being Granmom to her daily for the past two years, I so wish I could have spent this much time with my own kids. Anyway, I digress. Kids do say the smartest things. I'm blogging these to keep a personal record of some of the stuff my Sette says.

See our bucket heads in the pic? Lisette saw her bucket immediately putting it on her head calling it a hat. I said "I need a pic." She said "Let me take your picture." I gave her a quick lesson in iPhone photography and my picture above was her 5th attempt. I got cracked up watching her position me in the phone screen! Not a bad job. Her hand to eye coordination is amazing at 26 months.

This Winnie the Pooh picture hangs in what used to be my kids bathroom. I've always loved the picture too much to take it down. Lisette studied it for the longest yesterday before turning to me saying "Winnie the Pooh, Granmom!" I replied "Yes, Sette, it is Winnie the Pooh. Say hey to him." I waited for her to wave or say hey in her sweet baby voice but nothing. "Aren't you going to tell him hey?" I asked. Standing to the left of the picture looking concerned she said "He's not wooking at me!" Astounded, I had to agree.

My mom's favorite pasttime is arguing with Lisette. I usually ask mom not to argue when she does but yesterday, I was driving failing to catch the conversation in time to prevent a small argument. Lisette decided to stop it by saying to my mom, "Don't aggravate me!"

Enjoying every minute,
The Happy Handicap (or Granmom)

Friday, January 15, 2016

Pink and Black Minnie Mouse Birthday Party

Lisette turned "two"odles recently! The theme of her celebration was a pink and black Minnie Mouse Birthday Party. Here's what we did and you can too...

MOUSE EAR CUPCAKES. The polka dot liners came from eBay. The black fondant was purchased on Amazon. I used a bottle lid to cut the rolled fondant into a round disk for ears. The bows were bought pre-made at JoAnns. Be sure to dry your fondant ears by laying them out on wax paper so they will stand up on the cupcake. Wait until the cupcakes are almost ready to serve before inserting the ears into the cake. If you don't, the ears will absorb the moisture from the cake and the frosting and become limp so they won't stand up. (Trust me! I experienced this firsthand.)

LOLLIPOP PARTY FAVORS. Pink and White Swirl Lollipops were bought from The sticker pattern was bought and downloaded from ETSY. I printed them on label paper, cut them out and stuck them to the pre-wrapped lollipop and arranged them in a white and black letter box with some pink tissue paper, all I had on hand. They were a nice decoration for the table and the kids (and adults) loved them!

THE FOOD. We served a good mix of sweet and salty. The party was at 3 pm which is a good "snack" time. No need to serve sandwiches because it's just after lunch and before dinner. Potato chips with dip, Pretzels drizzled with white chocolate. Mix pink food coloring with white chocolate for the pink chocolate. Fruit with "pink" dip. Mix one 8 ounce container of strawberry cream cheese with one 7 ounce container of marshmallow creme.  Keep it simple and serve water to drink. We also made the birthday girl a LARGE cupcake of her own!

THE TABLE. Lisette's Mom arranged the streamers over the table. The polka dot balloons were ordered on Amazon. A local florist filled the balloons with helium for 60 cents each. My Mom and I made the birthday name banner. We will design a custom one for your birthday here
The LARGE Minnie Mouse Lisette received as a present just hours before the party proved to be the "piece de resistance" as the table centerpiece! Minnie fit perfectly into Lisette's rocking chair.
THE FUN TOUCH. Mickey and Minnie Mouse Ear Headbands purchased on Amazon! We all had fun wearing them. Lisette's birthday was in November. We visited the Magic Kingdom in December and wore our ears!
Fun, inexpensive party! Oh and I embroidered Lisette's birthday shirt that said "She's Twoodles!" Her Mom paired it with a pair of black and silver polka dot leggings. Cute, cute! Check out Lisette's Easy and Inexpensive Frist Strawberry Birthday Party too!

Please leave a comment with your inexpensive pink and black Minnie Mouse Birthday Party ideas. Everyone would love to know!

The Happy Handicap

Thursday, January 14, 2016

I Am Still Beautiful

breast cancer

I've known Shaan Hawkins since she was born. I watched her grow up in the same church as my children, sing in the same children's choir and attend the same high school. I never really understood the depth of the statement until October 2013 when I learned Shaan was scheduled for a double mastectomy due to aggressive breast cancer. The news was hard to grasp. Shaan at 27 was just two years older than my eldest daughter. 

On that evening in 2013, I reflected on a song from her childhood. I remembered her singing. "He's my rock, my sword, my shield, he's the hub in the middle of the wheel. He's the Lily of the Valley, the Bright and Morning Star. I don't care what people say. I'm gonna get on my knees and pray and I'm gonna wait, wait right here till my Jesus comes." My heart broke and I prayed.

Shaan had just given birth to her second child when she was diagnosed. I couldn't start to imagine the fear, the questions or the tears of her family, husband or herself. I've followed Shaan's story for 2+ years now. She's been through so much never losing her smile and sense of humor or desire to help others. Please refer to her video in the right sidebar to watch and hear her story of survival as told to a group in Orlando, FL. I know you'll agree with me. Shaan is a jewel! Her life hasn't been overshadowed by breast cancer but instead has been illuminated by courage and strength. I encourage you to support her fight for life by giving to her breast cancer fund. You can also read more of her story and receive updates of her ongoing journey by clicking the link.

SURVIVOR! Oh, so sweet! Shaan Hawkins, you can always say "I am still beautiful!", because you are!

Admiring Survivors,
The Happy Handicap

Friday, January 8, 2016

Five Basic Lessons of Unconditional Love

unconditional love

One week down, 51 more to go! How was your first week of 2016? We ended 2015 with a trip to the McKlevey Transplant Center at Emory. Steve began the evaluation process for a double lung transplant. He didn't get listed yet. He goes back in three months for further evaluation. When we married 30 years ago, I thanked God (and still do) for someone who loves me in my "condition". I never, for one minute, considered my health would ever be better than his.

I accepted my plight early in life. I liberated myself in 2010 when I shared my story in Labeled by Humanity, Loved by God. Birth defects are humbling. The world is harsh and getting harsher. Abnormalities are more generally accepted today than 50 years ago but still categorized poorly.  I watch my husband struggle uncomfortably to fit in with his new-found requirement for oxygen supplementation. I've overcome the stares of a perpetual limp from curious people. I'm pained he has to endure the torture and breathlessness of a chronic lung disease coupled with feeling inadequate due to human standards.

Our goal for our children is unconditional love. The one thing our children will never do is make others feel degraded or less for any reason. Here are five basic lessons of unconditional love we instilled: 
  • Different is good. Diversity was cool in our home before it became a popular buzzword. 
  • Prayer before pity. Pity may not be a bad thing if displayed correctly as compassion. I choose to avoid pity because most often it comes across as sadness or misfortune. A prayer is always the best option.
  • Wear a smile. A smile is so much more comforting than that furrowed brow frown. Since I have exploited myself and Steve has been sick, I've been greeted with way too many sad faces. Go to a mirror, think of something sad and watch your face. Caring does not a sad face make.
  • Keep your eyeballs to yourself. Short and simple. Do not stare, gawk or crane. Jesus gave us a neck to bow before him in honor and praise.
  • Take time for all. Individuals are put into our lives for various reasons, some we understand and some we may never have revealed. Judgement may cost us a blessing.
When I momentarily forget our greater purpose, I cling to 2 Corinthians 12:8-10. "For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.

Yes, Jesus loves us...

The Happy Handicap