"Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." ---John 14:6
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
You have strange thoughts when your father passes away. At least, I've had them.
My dad would have loved his memorial service. The church was nearly full of relatives and friends, and kind and funny memories where shared from the aisles before the service and from the microphone later. We sang his favorite hymns and the pastor shared a message with an altar call, even. At the end, a recording was played of my dad singing The Holy City thirty years ago, and well, if you hadn't cried before, you cried then, I'm certain. A dinner came afterward and we ate and talked with people we'd not seen in twenty years.
The service was recorded, filmed, and I kept wishing we could show my dad the film later. ("See, Dad? Wasn't that part funny? And wasn't it sweet what ____ said about you?") Tom, my mom and I talked the next morning and smiled while wondering if perhaps in Heaven you're shown the movie of your memorial service. Hey, you never know.
But even more, my dad would have loved the gatherings of us all for days in his home, the home he and my mom built themselves, the house with 200 clocks on walls and shelves. They'd only recently just completed remodeling their kitchen and I could still hear their happy chatter about it over the phone--they always sounded happiest in the middle of a building project, be it cabinets, floors or clocks. Yet he loved having company even more than he loved wood-working projects and there we all were, gathered around for hours at the table and in the living room. Laughing. Reminiscing about adventures great and small. Relaxing.
In fact, during our reminiscing stories in chairs throughout the house, I glanced around just in case I could see my dad sitting with us, too. He'd been so looking forward to visiting with us kids. My mind could barely fathom his not sitting in his recliner in the middle of us and now all the uncles, aunts and friends, also. In fact, not once have I thought of my dad as being 'dead' as I've thought of others that way. No, my mind only allows me to think of him as having relocated. To Heaven. (Very strange, but very real, that whole thing.)
Not until yesterday on the long, long flight home did I get a bit of healing closure on this. See, one quiet morning my mom and I sat at the table drinking some really great decaf coffee and I asked her what kind it was. She told me and then mentioned my dad had said to her, "While the kids are here next week, let's have some really good flavored coffee for them."
Oh my. I'd think about those words and cry every time. And there on the plane I told myself, "No! Don't let yourself think about that or you'll cry all your make-up off, you'll worry your fellow travelers and you'll look like a red-eyed, red-nosed zombie by the time you walk through the Buffalo airport."
And suddenly I remembered something... It was all the stories I've ever heard of people who visited Heaven just a tiny while, but were sent back because it wasn't their time to stay. Not once could I remember anyone wanting to come back here to Earth. And it was as though God told me right there on the plane that, quite frankly, my dad didn't want to come back to us. Even if he could return in a body all healed-up--even then--he'd choose to stay in Heaven.
And I knew that to be the truth. And although there's a tiny bit of hurt in that thought, there's a whole lot more comfort in it. My dad is having an amazing time in Heaven--he's visiting with Jesus. With family. He's visiting with all the people whose funerals he conducted... with all the people from the churches he pastored who arrived there before him... and he's experiencing the wonders only dwellers of Heaven know.
... and he wouldn't want to come back here and live, even if he could.
Amazing, amazing thought.
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
Our trip was a sort of best of times and worst of times thing. And although I don't recall being hit by a train, I feel (and look) like I was.
All those airports and bleary-eyed morning flights. All those eternal hours of driving in sometimes-crazy traffic. All the jet lag, the snack food and emotions pegged all across the board and seeing my mom standing alone for pretty much the first time ever.
And man, the annoying cold I had all week. Well, all of it, everything, caught-up to me last night in the motel room (after passing a man who resembled my dad) and I found myself in the shower bawling silent sobs.
And yet the good times were many.
The visiting with relatives and old friends not seen for twenty years and the laughter as we sat in circles in my parents' living room while stories were shared by my two uncles and an older friend of my parents. My favorite story came from the meek, older friend who described taking a special eye test at the DMV and was nagged over and over by the woman behind the desk to stop using his left eye to read the plate. He kept telling her he wasn't using it, couldn't use it, because it's a plastic eye. But she kept getting after him, so he pulled the eye out and said, "See?". heh. (Turns out there was a mix-up with the eye chart plates in the viewer.) We all wiped away tears of laughter.
Well, anyway, I only have a moment now and I just wanted you to know I'm home. I'll be sharing more about our trip and my dad's memorial service over the next two days.
Thanks so very much for your prayers! We could feel them and we needed them so much.
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
Nearly On Our Way
Well, here's my last post for a few days. Tom and I will be flying out to Oregon tomorrow. We're due at our local Buffalo airport by 5 in the morning (big sigh about the early hour).
Fortunately I began feeling better yesterday afternoon--I even arose from the couch, spilling blankets, kleenex and McCartney The Cat, then mowed the lawn in a very light rain. But it had to be done and it felt wonderful to have energy again. Thanks so much for your prayers! Keep praying, though. As of this moment I've still not packed one single thing.
I spoke with my mom again yesterday and she's doing well, all things considered. She mentioned that my dad's oldest friend, Bob, might not make it for the memorial service on Sunday because his home was, last she heard from him, only ten minutes away from one of the San Diego fires. Any prayer for him and his wife would be appreciated, as well. His first wife passed away a few years ago. I remember as a child visiting them and she would make the best spaghetti in the world, thus spoiling me for life.
When my sister called to tell me of my Dad's passing, she ended the call by saying he'd really been looking forward to seeing us. It occurred to me today that he's still looking forward to seeing us. Knowing him as I do, I'm certain that right this moment he's as impatient as a person can be in Heaven to be joined by the remainder of his family so we can see what he has seen. He always could barely wait to share good things with his family and friends.
P.S. My comments will be suspended only while I'm away. Didn't want to return to a comment box filled with spam or other cute things. 😐
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
So guess who feels like her head was raced over by a train?
Ugh. I came down with a cold yesterday and felt feverish and extremely contagious all day. And so far this morning hasn't been a picnic, either.
It's a good thing Tom was unable to get earlier tickets Sunday afternoon out to California (he tried for hours,even mentioning the bereavement thing. People didn't seem to care.). I would have just infected all those relatives and old friends of the family I've not seen in decades. I hardly think they'd appreciate that.
Lately I've tried to stay so healthy and filled with vitamin C because of all the stress of the past few months. I so didn't want to get sick. Oh well. All those natural remedies I've been studying have come in handy because I'm so not going to take medicine. I mean it-- after all that has happened, more than ever, I'm determined to live a whole other way than most people, which means avoiding pills. Well, pills other than vitamin pills.
And if I sound rather cranky, just chalk it up to this cold, a lack of sleep, the aforementioned train-raced-over-my-head and all I am facing at this moment. (Which is my apology of sorts.)
Again, a special thanks to each of you for your comments and emails. They are so very much appreciated. And pul-ease keep the prayers coming.
Monday, October 22, 2007
I thank you so very much for your kind, understanding and sympathetic comments to my last post. Each one has meant more than you know during this trying time.
Rather than attempting a new post(I hardly slept last night), I'll just include a post I wrote years ago, one which will tell you a little about my dad. How he was always willing to help people in need, convenient or not, in season or out.
"Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it." ... Hebrews 13:2
I was 16.
My family had gathered around the dinner table one rainy Wednesday night along with our pastor and his wife. At that time, my dad was the assistant pastor of our church in Auburn, CA.
The phone rang, so my dad answered it to find that a woman was calling from a damp phone booth in a shopping center two blocks away.
She sounded anxious, he later told us. She and her young daughter were traveling to go live with her (the mother's) father. She'd thought they'd reach his home by nightfall, yet still they had miles to go--they needed a place to stay overnight, and she had no money.
My dad asked her to hold for a minute, then he turned to us all and told this woman's story. Our pastor said, "Oh, you can call Brother ______ about it. I usually let him take care of things like that."
That sounded odd to me. Shouldn't we help this woman since she called us? (Living in the parsonage, we shared the church's phone number.) Wouldn't it take a long time to get her some help if she had to make another call and start her story over with someone who lived farther away?
My dad must have thought that, too, because he told our pastor he would drive over to the shopping center and lead her to our house.
He turned back to the phone, relayed the message to the woman, then hung up. We'd finished dinner anyway and our pastor and his wife needed to walk up the hill to our church to prepare for the mid-week service. They left, then my dad went to guide the woman to our house. My mom, sister and brother and I hurriedly cleared the table and changed the sheets on the double bed in my room upstairs which always served as the guest room.
We kids loved to have company. It didn't matter whether our guests were relatives, old friends, or the down-and-out folks my dad sometimes brought home(one traveling teen even arrived with a huge Great Dane when I was 14). In fact, I enjoyed caring for the down-and-outers best--to help and encourage them, with no strings attached. My heart always felt like it would explode from joy.
To shorten this story, when the woman and her 7-year-old daughter arrived we showed them my room upstairs. They commented on my lime-green walls and teen decor, then they settled-in while the rest of us walked downstairs. We'd all planned to attend the midweek service that night, but it was decided that I'd remain at the house in case our guests needed anything (in 1975, we weren't as paranoid about strangers like now).
So the rest of my family climbed the backyard hill to the church and I sat at the kitchen breakfast counter with my English Lit. homework.
Fifteen minutes passed then the woman and her daughter came down the stairs with their big suitcase. With smiles, the mother said, "My daughter really wants to go see her grandfather tonight instead of in the morning. So we're going to leave now, but we do want to thank you so much for being willing to have us stay. We really appreciate it and please do tell your parents how grateful we are."
She gently shook my hand, picked up her suitcase and then both mother and daughter stepped out the front door.
This turn of events surprised me. I just stood near the door wondering if it would be ok with my parents that I let these guests get away so soon without convincing them to stay.
And then it hit me--after they'd left, I'd heard no car motor start up. Their car had been parked just feet from our house front, yet I'd seen no headlights (the door was half glass and next to our huge window). My heart pounded as I pulled back the curtain and saw nothing out on the dark, wet street.
Thirty years later, I still believe what I told my family when they stepped through our door that night after church-- that we had entertained angels unaware. It was as though they'd stepped from the door and vanished. And my story must have sounded convincing because they all still believe it, also.
We Christians will never really know until reaching Heaven just how many angels crossed our path to test what we had learned, believed and what we had become.
And yet? If we cooperate with God in the little annoying trials of Every Day, we'll always be willing and prepared for any angels who may call upon us on an otherwise normal rainy autumn night.
"... be prepared in season and out of season ...Be hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined." ... 1 Timothy 4:2, Titus 1:8
"The golden moments in the stream of life rush past us, and we see nothing but sand; the angels come to visit us, and we only know them when they are gone."
Sunday, October 21, 2007
My family can really use your prayers right now.
My sister called a few minutes ago, and well, my dad passed away this morning.
It was sudden. His lungs had filled with fluid (they think now it was pneumonia and his weakened heart couldn't handle it). The ambulance came, worked over him, but were unable to help.
The doctors had said he had at least three months left. Immediately, we made our plans to fly out there upon hearing that news. In fact, my parents even wished we could come a few days later than when we're planning to come since my brother had planned to arrive after the 1st of November. So we could all be together as a family. But they understood that life doesn't always line up like that and were fine with the fact we were arriving on this Thursday.
My sister lives in their town and she even emailed me last night and there was no sense of urgency in her words. And so often in the past, I've even sensed when my parents were simply going to call me. I've known ahead things like that concerning them. But today there was none of that. This is a shock, all around, even for my mom who constantly cared for my dad (he'd been improving lately). Tom said maybe it was a sign it was just my dad's time and God wanted him home to spare him from the darker side of Parkinson's.
Mostly, besides being sad and shocked, I am so upset with doctors right now. How they couldn't even accurately diagnose how long my dad had left and too often, they couldn't even decide what was currently wrong with him. They had my dad on so many medications over the years, med's which only caused more problems, which then required more med's. And for years my dad was in pain, even sometimes praying to die and go to Heaven.
It's been so hard knowing how to pray for someone who is praying to die.
My dad was a Baptist minister for many years and do you know what his favorite verse has always, always been? It's the one which says, "Eye has not seen, nor has ear heard, nor has it entered into the heart of man what God has prepared for those who love Him."
And now, during his first hours in Heaven--he sees. He hears. He knows what is kept from all of us until we cross over into that place God has prepared and I'm positive it's all beyond what he ever imagined.
My dad's sister, my Aunt Marian, went to that place only ten months ago. I told you about her here and here. And I described to you how I could almost see my grandparents, my Aunt Marion and my Uncle Ray at an outdoor table in bright light sitting, drinking amazing coffee and laughing. Well, just now I realize all along there's been an empty chair at that table, one ready, waiting for my dad.
And now I see him there, too.
Friday, October 19, 2007
Dealing with Disappointment
Years ago I began learning this: If you can't deal with disappointment, you're gonna have a real hard life.
I mean, like in August when we put our house up for sale, here's what I imagined: Within a couple weeks, we'd have 2 or 3 couples out on the front lawn arguing and fighting over our house. "We got here first!," someone would shout. "No, we did! And we're gonna buy this house! We love it with all our hearts," someone else would say with clenched fists.
heh. Ok, so maybe that's an exaggeration.
And then by December 1st, Tom and I would be trekking our merry way down to Richmond to the pretty house on a huge, peaceful lot we'd bought and Tom would carry me over the threshold. (Now there's a huge exaggeration.)
But things haven't quite worked out like that.
No one's been out on the lawn having a tug of war over our house--we've not even received any offers. Although we've come close twice and too, last night we had a very promising showing(!) But even if we sell the house today, still, because we live in good ol' New York, escrow, barring a miracle, will take two long months to close. Good-bye driving down to Richmond on December 1st. (Not to mention the powers-that-be who are hiring Tom have so much on their plate right now with other projects, that they keep pushing back this month's meeting with him. And back and back and the snow keeps looming closer.)
So, see what I mean about dealing with disappointment? But I know how vital it is to remain positive and overflowing with faith. To trust God no matter how things appear. To not allow my mouth to ramble any ol' negative, doubt-filled, hopeless junk it wants. The power of life and death are in the tongue, just as the Bible says. I believe that. I've seen it work for both life and death.
And if I'm going to stroll around preaching that to others, I'd sure better be preaching it to myself, first--and acting on it.
It's so good for me to be disappointed sometimes. It helps me remember that God knows best--I certainly don't--and that,ultimately, I'm not in control of much in this life.
Often, disappointment has humbled me.
So am I disappointed? Ok, a tad. But I'm encouraging myself in the Lord as King David did, reminding myself that God certainly knows what He's doing, my life is in His hands so I'd better not go leaping out of those hands into my own plans and desperate quick-fixes.
For I don't want to have to apologize to Him down the road because I panicked and forgot all that. Been there, done that, way too many times already and I so desire to finally grow past it.
"...for we walk by faith, not by sight..."
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, with all your mind, with all your strength..."
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
Enjoying the Empty Nest
Just thought I'd run this one again for any of my fellow empty-nesters who are new to my blog. Enjoy your day!
Lots of women in Blogland are approaching the empty nest. I'll admit it--it's a wild time... a sad and scarey time and yet it's a marvelous, re-awakening time, too. But basically, an empty nest will always be what we, ourselves, make it. It doesn't have to be horrible, but it can be, if we so choose.
But I so choose to make my empty nest the marvelous kind... and it's that type of nest which I want to spread around to those of you who are about to enter one.
Below are just some suggestions of how to make the empty nest phase into a fun, all-things-made-new phase. I'll bet you can think of a hundred more ideas, but this is just to get you started.
Rebuilding Your Empty Nest:
1. Think "now I can do some of what I've always wanted to do, but couldn't." Think 'anticipate' not 'dread.' Think 'a beginning' and not 'the end.'
2. Go back to school and get your degree.
3. Use your computer and your city library to become an expert in an area you've always wished you knew more about.
4. Redecorate a few rooms in your house. Study the art of home decoration and the use of color. Help friends decorate their own homes.
5. Plant a garden ( a container garden counts, too). Study and learn all you can about making things grow.
6. Become a volunteer anywhere help is needed in your community.
7. Write a book.
8. Become an excellent photographer. Enter some photography contests or just share your photos online.
9. Begin a collection of something you've always loved. Go treasure hunting at junk shops and yard sales.
10. Make scrapbooks with all those family photos you've been meaning to organize.
11. Make the most of having a freer schedule. Leave earlier and shop before the crowds are out. Or stay out later and have fun without worrying that the kids are home wondering where you are.
12. Volunteer at church.
13. Get into shape. Walk with a friend each day or start a support group for others who wish to get healthy.
14. Take lunch to the beach or to a park. Have picnics with your spouse or with yourself and a good book.
15. Organize your home. Start with one room at a time and get rid of the clutter you've been meaning to toss for years.
16. Read all those books you've never had time to read before.
17. Join online email groups who share your same interests. Or start one.
18. Regularly visit a house-bound neighbor. Take her little surprises.
19. Become an expert chef. Create a custom-made cookbook. Enter cooking contests.
20. Create the incredible home library you've always wanted. Search used bookstores and places like www.Bookfinder.com and www.Amazon.com for favorite books and dvd's. Organize them alphabetically so you can easily share them with your friends.
21. Start a tea party group in your home which meets once or twice a month, taking turns in each other's homes. The group can occasionally go on 'field trips', also, to fun places.
22. You've paid for lessons for your children, how about taking your turn now? How about taking lessons in singing or dancing or rollerskating or writing or?
23. Use this time to get to know God better. Sit with Him on your sunny porch each day or go out for coffee with Him. Listen to Him. Learn from Him. Enjoy Him.
24. Enjoy Life!
And if it's having children around your home that you miss:
25. Become a Big Sister/Big Brother to a child who needs a friend.
26. Volunteer at local schools or Vacation Bible School.
27. Babysit, but not with the old attitude. Instead, see it as 'grandparent practice' and enjoy the kids you care for. Take them places, cook with them and teach them the things a grandparent might teach them.
28. Start an after school or summer program for kids in your neighborhood. Have them meet in your backyard to play games, make crafts, have snacks and have stories read to them, etc.
29. Start a neighborhood children's library in your home. Spend time setting up an organized library, complete with cards to sign books out and little prizes for your own summer/winter reading program.
The possibilites truly are endless!
Friday, October 12, 2007
So It's Lipstick Now?
Oh great. Now lipstick is poisonous. Well, lots of them have lead inside them.
Is anyone else as tired of all this as I am? Lead in toys and paint and gas and window sills and the dirt and etc., etc.?
Well, maybe I'm not tired of hearing all this bad news, but I am sick of worrying about it. I mean, hey. I've only used lipstick for a mere, oh, 32 years, or so. What's there to worry about? (argh)
So as with everything else, this will just be another thing which I will research and learn about and then make necessary, informed changes. After which I'll trust God for some extra mercy and protection from this world I'm stuck in at the moment. (Just this morning I was thinking it's a miracle that any of us reaches the age of 50, given how polluted and dangerous our world appears to be.)
I mean, what's a girl to do? Go without lipstick? Uh, not this girl.
And she's not going to sit around adding lipstick to her list of Things To Worry About. She's been trying to keep that list very short and well, there's just no room for something this small.
P.S. Speaking of worries.... I have a correction to make. The five discs in Tom's back which are messed up are herniated, not ruptured. I thought I had that info. straight, but alas, no. Herniated discs aren't as serious as ruptured ones--they can, apparently, wait awhile to be taken care of.
Estate Sales for Non-Vultures
An autumn rerun! It's been a few years since I first posted this and since Tom and I may go to an estate sale today (haven't heard if there's one nearby, but hey, you never know) I thought I'd share this once more. This time of year I'm all 'yard-saled-out', but the decorator and romanticist inside me never tires of estate sales.
Estate sales here back East should be advertised as Time Tunnel Trips. I tell Tom that I go to estate sales with him to tour the old houses, not really to buy anything. He sort-of understands that.
I shouldn't even go at all. I come away from these much-loved, non-altered, early 1900's houses and then it takes hours to shake the house lust from my heart. When I walk up the stairs of these old farmhouses, American Foursquares or Victorians, I'm catapulted into dreams normally reserved for nighttime. You know, the type where you wander around in a large, strange house opening doors and stepping into rooms you never realized were there.
Well, it's like that.
Usually I don't even see the knick-knacks displayed with price tags upon tables. And I pay little attention to the estate sale 'vultures' as I not-so-fondly call them, the harried, non-reverential people out to discover re-sell-able bargains. No, I wander zombie-like from floor to floor soaking up the pleasant vibes reverberating from the walls. The leftover aura from years-now-gone when housekeeping was a respected art and a happy family was all that mattered.
Through dreamy-dazed eyes I see yellow kitchens with their original glass-fronted cabinet doors (if there's an ironing board cupboard or a breakfast nook, it takes me days to recover). There's often green and red wooden-handled utensils beside the rainbow of Fiestaware and rolling pins. I think about the hands, now stilled, which used those things as I step through pocket doors and wander through the three-windowed dining room, barely scanning the dishes and embroidered linens on the covered table. No, I choose to peek into the cute little closet with the file cabinet and childrens' drawings beneath the stairs and the closet made into a library.
Sometimes there's a music room/ sewing room with a piano and a closeted sewing machine desk. I look at the old sheet music and the walls almost echo with a family singing. The sconces over the fireplace, the overstuffed chairs from the 1950's, the books in the built-in cases where they've been sitting for eons~~my eyes miss none of it.
By now I'm lost in nostalgia and feeling transported, alone, though the vultures are rushing fast-motion up the stairs past me. But I creep up slowly, touching the rail which the woman of the house must have touched twelve-thousand times. At the top, there are green and sky-blue taffeta formals hanging over bedroom doors with striped hat boxes just below. The bedrooms are painted pink, robin's egg blue or are wall-papered in stripes and have fuzzy worn carpet, the largest has a little bay-window-room where there are two chintz-covered chairs beside a table spread with vintage magazines and sepia-toned photos in gold dime store frames. And vintage clothes stuffed into closets. And a sea foam green chenille bedspread upon the bed.
Usually by the time I cross the hall, I'm wondering if people will walk through my home like this when I am gone.
There are 1940's toys in the attic and piles and piles of books, games and dress-up clothes. And a baby walker, the old kind with red, blue and green far-from-hygienic wooden beads. It's in the attic where I usually wonder if anyone helping with this estate sale once played with these toys as a child or if they were the ones who used flour-and-water paste in the scrapbooks in the corner.
I usually save the basement for last, because they push me over the edge. Basements, that is. Not the vultures (though they have been known to get rough). Often the basement is tiled 1950's style and there's an old kitchenette complete with enameled stove, refrigerator and a wringer washer. And a couch from the 1960's, oil paintings, a bar and paneled walls. I imagine teen parties in the days of Buddy Holley and Elvis~~it's impossible not to see all that in my mind.
If I buy anything before my return to this decade, it's usually just a trinket, a souvenir, maybe a small black ceramic elephant. I purchase it to remind me of a walk through a house and all the lovely visions I had there. Just a little something to help me recall a family, especially a woman, who I'll never know,a woman with an unknown story, who lived out her married-life in one house, with one man. And who I am almost certain, did so happily.
Tuesday, October 09, 2007
When God Asks That We Pause
Sometimes, like now, I cannot be alone enough. The day doesn't hold enough hours for me to get my fill of being by myself.
I know, that sounds, well, odd. But it's what I was thinking just now while sitting at our dining room table, reading, pausing at times to gaze out the windows to stormy skies.
I hope you don't think it's a bad thing, this craving whole days of aloneness. Actually, I've learned to recognize it as a healing time, a preparation time, a strengthening time. My days and months ahead will hold enormous changes, so God is preparing me and giving me an overflow of aloneness to draw from for the upcoming days when my pace will quicken and I'll be far away in unfamiliar places. And most likely, praying for some minutes alone.
I can fight these times, or I can hold them close. I can whine, "What will everybody else think?" or I can just enjoy the solitude, the silence and His breath at my ear.
Going where He is leading, well, always it's my choice. And when it's His will, there is always a way.
Monday, October 08, 2007
Face It: Life Is Always Changing
"To everything there is a season.... a time.... a purpose..."
You won't believe what I did yesterday. I sat on our couch and looked through the yellowed, splattered cookbooks we received as wedding gifts (way back yonder) and some I bought soon after. I tore out my favorite recipes, slipped the pages into clear plastic sleeves, then placed them in the cookbook I'm creating of my most useful recipes.
Then I threw my old cookbooks away.
Oh, now don't go hyperventilating, or anything. I'm keeping the cookbooks I've bought in recent years from estate sales, ones from the 1920's and a smattering of others which are just plain fun to read even when I've no intention of actually cooking anything.
But yes, it was a big deal getting rid of those others I've used for the nearly 29 years of my marriage. Yet we are moving, we're downsizing and trying to keep the weight of our stuff down to an affordable minimum moving-van-wise.
But more--we're beginning a whole new season and that requires changes to be made and things and stuff to be let go of.
It's funny. People hear that "to everything there is a season" verse and they nod their heads and exclaim, "Yes! That's so true." But then they/we--
--refuse to move when God is nudging them to a different place.
--stay angry at Life and God when loved ones die.
--go ballistic when someone confronts them about letting go of their clutter.
--refuse to change their diet after they turn 40, even while suffering for it.
--cannot release adult children nor understand when those same children--those adults--lash out.
Well, as for me and my house, we are going through more changes all at once than we've ever faced before. And we are learning and relearning:
--to roll with the punches.
--to seek God and His ways all day long in everything.
--and to want what He wants for us, even if it means letting go, moving on and facing a whole lot of the unknown.
Because the worst thing we can do is to stay behind when He is on the move. That scares me way more than any changes I may face.
Sunday, October 07, 2007
Changed My Mind! Here's Where I Want to Move
Okay, so being a woman, I have the ol' prerogative to change my mind. So I did.
Now I want to move to Mt. Airy, N.C.. 'Thelma Lou' from The Andy Griffith Show lives there now. You can read an extremely spiffy article about her adventure here.
Sign me up, too. Start loading the moving van. I am so there.
Saturday, October 06, 2007
Go Ahead. Tell Me It's Impossible
Mostly? I like it when people tell me a certain thing just cannot be done. That what I'm hoping to do is Impossible.
Why? Because it gets my blood bubbling. Suddenly I feel energized, able to conquer all. Tell me life is just oh-hum-sad-sickly-tiresome for everyone and in my head this will play: "Impossible? Well, I'll show you!"
Heh. (I'll bet you didn't figure me for that kind of person, did you?)
Always, I've been like that. Mostly because since I was a tiny girl, I've believed God and not just in Him either, but believed what He said in the Bible.
That He could do anything, always provides what we need, nothing is too hard for Him, including healing people. I believed that as a child, even while growing-up in churches which, much of the time, taught otherwise.
A cute example? I still recall, at 6-years-old, arriving home from church and standing beside my mom while she fumbled in her purse for her key to unlock the front door. She was very pregnant at the moment with my little brother and for the first time I wondered, "How did the baby get inside her in the first place?" And although my family had only recently begun attending church, immediately I thought, "Oh well, God understands all that. Maybe He's the one who places babies inside of mothers."
That personal example of childlike trust still makes me smile today. It still teaches me something, also.
It's good to outgrow some things, and trust me, I've outgrown a whole lot. But this believing God can do what He wants to do--and if He wants to help me, He will--well, I'm not planning on ever outgrowing that. Not ever.
Have some extra time to read something inspiring and sweet? Here's a true story I really, really enjoyed: A Life Without Left Turns.
"Birds fly in flocks, but eagles fly alone." ... Joyce Meyer
I'm still here... Some people race around telling everyone their problems, other people spend time alone to avoid talking about what's happening. I have always been of the latter camp. So if I don't write here much this month, don't worry--I'm just being me.
And too, I'm preparing for our trip out to California later this month to visit my parents. Tom got the plane tickets, but can you believe I won't be able to sit beside him all the way from New York City to Portland? Well, barring a miracle or a nice, understanding person who doesn't mind switching seats. Or is that illegal in today's world? (She asks, not being a frequent flyer... not being a frequent risker of life and limb. heh.)
God's been sitting beside me on the couch, nudging me, reminding me to count my blessings. And of course, He is always number one on that blessings list. It's amazing all the small things I've added to that list:
It's autumn, my favorite season
Our house is in nicer condition than ever, since we've been readying it to sell
At least it's not snowing
Our bills are all paid
Our daughter is healthy and happy
Things, all-around, could be much worse
...in fact, sadly, we were reminded of that last thing yesterday when we discovered Tom's co-worker's brother was killed in Florida this week in a road rage incident. His 12-year-old son was with him and is in critical condition and his mother (the man's wife) was just told she has only three years to live.
That certainly put things in perspective for me. Knocked some sense into me and a whole bunch of self-pity out of me. Big-time.
For the past year as Tom and I have taken country drives, sat in movie theaters and eaten breakfasts inside many old-fashioned diners, God has whispered to me, "Treasure these times while you have them. Appreciate them and store each detail inside your memory."
Well, you hear that kind of thing and it can make you panic and ask, "Why? Is there something dreadful looming just around the corner?" Yet I didn't ask that question, because I prefer to keep believing for the best. I refuse to even think our best years have been lived already. And besides, if I'm dreading the future it becomes impossible (for me) to treasure the present.
Anyway. I appreciate, so very much, all the comments you left after my last post. They've reminded me that God provides a way where there is no way. And trust me, that's one Bible verse which has been zipping around my head a whole lot lately. That one, and:
"You will keep Him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you because he trusts in you."
And right there is the challenge--to keep my mind on Him and not on the problem(s). To keep my mind in a peaceful place--a place of trust-- so I can more clearly hear from God as to what I should do in each situation as it arrives.
"Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope, through the Holy Spirit."
"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."
Thursday, October 04, 2007
Well, things just keep getting better and better around here. arghh.
Tom had an MRI last week and he just came home and told me the results. He has a six-inch long water-filled cyst in his spine (a spine which resembles a roller coaster due to his having had polio, etc.) and around 5 ruptured discs, as well. The doctor said no surgery is needed now, but someday--
Never before in our life have we faced so many tests at once. Most of me at this moment is wanting Tom to retire so we can just buy a little homestead in some state where it doesn't snow, or have hurricanes or tornadoes and where real estate is still sane (anyone have any suggestions?). And then hide away from the world and grow a garden, raise chickens and goats and a dog. And then see that Tom gets retrained for something less strenuous. Or maybe have a bed-and-breakfast inn. Or a guitar shop (we had one once) with a little book nook.
Or all of the above.
I keep telling Tom that lots of people do that everyday. Many folks make such huge changes around age 50. But when I have him almost convinced he keeps coming back to what about medical insurance for all the future surgeries he will need? What about how expensive it is when you're not getting insurance through your job? (I wish he'd check out other forms and types of insurance. Some people have found sane companies which are not through their employer. Guess I'll have to check it out myself.)
Any prayers would be appreciated. And any creative ideas, also, in my comment box. I'm open to just about anything at this moment. We'll just have to pray that Tom will be open to the right thing, too, whatever that right thing may be.
As of this moment, I have no idea.
P.S. Tom's doctors told him they'd help him get on disability--they said there should be no real problem with his (very real) case. Tom sees that on the horizon--he'd just rather it not be this soon.
Wednesday, October 03, 2007
Tom and I will most likely be flying out to see my parents at the end of this month. My dad is back in the hospital; it appears he has Parkinson's and little time left to remember us, and well, little time left.
So much of what I've written in this blog is now being put to the test and vast amounts of my life are more up in the air, unsettled, than ever. But you know? God has been preparing me for weeks, months, even years for this unsettled time. He's been keeping me close to His heart, stopping me in the middle of my days and calling me to come sit with Him so He can infuse me with the strength, courage and trust I'll need later.
He knows all about--and is great at--later.
And if I'm smart, I'll keep coming away with Him even when it would seem a better use of time to keep busy in certain situations. Even when coming away seems like the slow, lazy and unproductive way.
Jesus knows best. Always has, always will. And as long as I remain calm in His peace, everything will be all right. One way or another. Or yet another way still.
Monday, October 01, 2007
Moving On Out Of The State of Confusion
"Teach me your ways, oh Lord..."
You probably didn't know I once lived in the state of Confusion. I was big on on knowing things ahead of time and figuring everything out for myself and planning, arranging and being thought of as smart.
What a burden.
Instead of just deciding to go supermarket shopping, I'd think, "If I get there early, there will be fewer people. But wait! The workers won't have had time to re-stock the shelves if I go too early. Now, if I go later, I can get some housework done around here first, but I really wanted to make dinner early and I'd need groceries because the cupboards are bare. So when should I go buy groceries??"
(Can you say, "Complicating the simplest thing on Earth?")
If I broke something around the house I'd try figuring out when would be the best time to tell Tom. Right away? Tomorrow? Someday when he was in a good mood? Next month? Or just wait until he discovered it for himself?
If a friend didn't speak to me at church I'd wonder, "Did I do something wrong? Did I forget her birthday or anniversary or did I promise to do something and then not follow through? Could she be mad at what I said to her over the phone last week? Or did she just not see me today?"
(Whatever happened to just asking?)
There were whole years my entire life was like that. And I wondered why I didn't have any peace. Duh.
Now? I want God's ways, not mine. I want to know what He thinks I should do. I so don't want to figure things out--I just want to hear from Him.
There's a kind of pride in wanting to figure things out for myself. If I do get it right, then I can be a little proud of myself for doing so. As in, "I figured out what's going on. I saw what was actually happening. No one else had to tell me, no, I put the pieces together all by myself."
There is no glory going to God in that I stuff. No, for me, there's only headaches and worry while trying to reason-out the future and trying to read people's minds. And complicating what was never meant to be complicated.
With this whole potential move to Richmond in the next few months, I could be making myself crazy. I could aim to figure out how this will all go. When will this house sell? What if it doesn't sell? What if we have to rent something in Richmond awhile? And what if, while we're renting, all the best houses get sold?"
What if? What if? What if?
But I already lived in that state of Confusion--and I refuse to return. Instead, I'm choosing to listen to the God who knows all, the One with all the wisdom I'll ever need.
And I'll leave all the headaches to Him.
1 Corinthians 14:33
"For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace..."
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