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Posts Tagged ‘Life’

I just realized that I hadn’t posted yesterday!
I have been hard at work (avoiding) preparing a message for this weekend (on aging!!).
So, in lieu of a belated new post, here is my contribution, from over five years ago.
Now to get a handle on this message …

Although I am only thirty-nine (with four years experience) I am becoming more acquainted with aging, and it’s changes each and every day.

There are some changes that come with ‘time passing on’ (this is hubby’s way of referring to aging) that I quite like.

I love the lines that are forming just outside of the corners of my mouth, and my eyes, because they are evidence to smiles and laughs. I may not remember every individual event that caused my face to smile, but the lines will never hide that joy has filled my days.

I love that I have been plucking my eyebrows for so many years that the hairs almost never re-grow anymore.

I love that I do not have to concern myself with pimples, other than the odd one or two.

I love that, because my hair is … silvering … I have a natural excuse to become an even more blond, and I now have a number(s) to identify and define my hair color 😉

There are also some changes that have occurred that I do not favor so much.

I do not like that my knees have decided I need to pay more attention to them, and they attain my attention in the most uncomfortable of ways.

I do not like that some foods that I ingest want to burn themselves into my memory (or at least into my esophagus).

I definitely do not like the anticipation of body parts migrating in a southerly direction.

But, I especially do not like that the appearance of my hands is changing.

The famous, all-knowing ‘they’ say that the way to most accurately guess the age of woman, you need to only to glance at her neck or her hands.

As each year passes, I have noticed subtle changes happening in my hands, that I am not so happy about. The lines in them are deepening. They need constant re-hydration from rich lotions. I seem to have lost the ability to grown my fingernails to even the slightest length, without their splintering. There seems to be more skin, as it is losing it’s youthful elasticity. They sometimes even ache … but it is their appearance that is more disheartening to me.

It is a frequent occurrence that I glance at my hands, and have no idea whose hands they are. They surely cannot be mine, because mine do not look so … so … aged. Then I realize they move when and where I will them, and so they truly are my own.

Maybe the changes in them bother me, because my hands were the body part(s) that I actually liked about myself. Maybe I thought I would be immune to the normal, natural results of ‘time moving on.’

All that said, maybe the wrinkles, the lines, the shorter nails and the loosening skin are all characteristics of hands that have been held by generations before me, that have held on to the children I gave birth to, that have made meals for those I love, that have held the hands of people readying for eternity, that have written or typed words of encouragement, that have touched the shoulder of one carrying the weight of the world, that have folded in an act of pray, that have been kissed by the man of my life, that will one day be taken by my Redeemer as He welcomes me into eternity.

Maybe they are like the laugh lines I so adore on my face. Maybe they are the lines of hands that have loved, and been loved in return.

So, I’ll keep slathering rich lotions onto them, so that, although they will be marked by the lines of time, they will still be welcoming to the touch of those who need a hand.

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It’s been a week filled with talk of death, confirmed and pending.

Our kids often say their friends find their relaxed, nonchalant manner of speaking of death odd. I remember one day, years ago, when one of our kids had a friend over. At dinner time I announced that dinner that night would be funeral food, and the eyes of our visitor popped from her head. What followed was a discussion of how sometimes, when there is food left over from a funeral or memorial reception, it gets shared with those who were involved in the service. As hubby is a pastor, who officiates many such services, he sometimes gets offered a plate of the left overs. This is not a normal event for the typical household.

Our kids are often privy to the technical details of funeral planning, of the humanity and humor of funeral directors. They hear of their dad’s visits with those who are dying, and of the stages leading up to the final earthly breath a soul makes. They have heard him speak, eyes heavy, voice unsteady, of having visited so one for the final time, knowing that he will not see them again until reaching that Fovererland of eternity. This job of pastor is as much about saying goodbye as saying welcome.

I like that our kids are growing up in an environment where they see and know that death is part of life. That grieving and tears are okay. That loss touches everyone. That no man or woman is an island, and death touches many.

I also like the frequent reminders that death is inevitable, because death, more than anything else, reminds me to live.

Last week, with each Facebook update, my heart paused, my lungs emptied of their air, my eyes filled, my throat swelled. Death is around the corner for a woman, and cancer is the vehicle that is driving her there.

A young mom, who I’ve only met a couple of times, yet she has been on my prayer list off and on for the past eight to ten years that she has battled this disease. She, her husband and three (nearing, and into adolescence) children have been give the news that their wife and mom only has days, maybe short weeks to share a smile, a laugh, share the embrace that says security and unconditional love.

When I read that update, the one that spoke of a time limit for this life, I sighed, heavy.

Then I thought to myself, how would I live my life, today, if I knew it was one of my last on Earth? Particularly, how would I live today, as a mom?

I’ve decided not to share how I would live, but I am challenging each of us to ask this question of ourselves. I am challenging each of us to live, today, as if we knew it to be one of our last.

I also ask you to please pray for this woman, and her family as they all walk her, together, to heaven’s gate.

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IMG_1197.PNG As I sat in the school library, my attention was grabbed by a group of grade eight middle school students, working together on a group project.

It was one young man, in particular, who caught my gaze.

He was awkward … in every way possible.

His glasses kept slipping down his nose.

His round face, and body indicated that his upward growth had not yet stretched him vertically.

His clothes looked like ones a mom would buy (I’ve been that mom) without asking his opinion (though, to be fair to mom, maybe he didn’t really care what he was wearing).

He slouched in his chair, feet dangling inches from the carpeted floor.

Although his appearance was awkward (and I’ll bet his voice cracked, as well) it was the conversation with the girls in his group that captivated my attention.

The girls, oozing that early maturation that adolescent girls benefit from, were obviously speaking a language that he had yet to learn. They were talking quickly with their lips, as well as with their demonstrative hands. They giggled, they planned, they organized the role of the awkward boy in their project. The other boy in the group had an athletic build, and he smiled and laughed with the girls, causing the girls to hang on his every word. He was not awkward but amazing!

The young man looked like a fish out of water, totally and completely out of his element, his comfort zone, getting deep into uncharted waters.

And the girls giggled.

I have talked with this awkward young man. He is bright, makes wise choices, has compassion on others, is a great student … academically and behaviorally, he has a twinkle in his eye that makes one feel safe, heard, valued.

Here is what those giggling girls need to know:

that plain caterpillar will emerge from his adolescent cocoon a beautiful, graceful butterfly.

Now he might still not fully understand the language of females, and he may never have the buff body of an athlete, but the wise choices he makes, the use and development of the brain in his head, and his compassionate heart will grow him into a man of honor and success.

Right now, those girls are oblivious to this … right now he is oblivious to this.

Watching this young man in his group reminded me of 2 Corinthians 4:18

“So we fix out eyes
not on what is seen,
but on what is unseen

since what is seen is temporary
but what is unseen is eternal.”

So often, in the midst of the difficult, the ugly, the painful or the … awkward, we simply cannot ever imagine life being different or better. Our focus is completely on the mire of today. But God can see our future … all of it.

He knows where we are heading, and He plans to go there with us.

Just like me watching the scene in the library, believing that this young mans future looks so much brighter than his present, God looks at us in our awkward life situations and He knows what is to come for our lives, for our eternity.

Today is just a step in our life, lets keep our gaze on the unseen, who sees all.

 

 

 

 

 

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I love almost all fruits that I have ever tasted.

I love the sweetness

the juice they produce

and the way I feel after eating fruit.

Earlier today I was thinking about fruit too, but a different kind of fruit.

The fruit I was thinking about was the kind that is not edible, but it can be palatable. It is not something you can pick off a branch and hold in your hand, but when it is there it is all that you can see, and smell. It is not something that provides a taste of sweetness, but it’s absence can leave a sour taste in ones mouth. It is the fruit that comes from a living, nourished, well-watered life rooted in the Creator.

By no means am I indicating that I am a living example of that fruit, but it is a goal that I have for my life. I know how sweet my life is when I am connected to the branches of the Creator. I know of the amazing things that can be produced, that can happen, when I am producing the fruit I was intended to produce. I know how wonderful I feel, how purpose-led my days are when I am taking in the aroma, the energy of the God who lives.

When my life is rooted in the soil of the Creator

I am healthy

I am growing

I am sweet (desirable to be with) for those around me.

When I look at trees in an orchard, I cannot tell what trees they are. But, when I look at the fruit, hanging off their branches, it is easy to identify what types of trees they are. It is by their fruit that I know them.

In the same way, for many people, the only way they know who the Creator is, is by His creation. And His most spectacular creation is that of humankind. We are his creation, and how we live our daily lives is the fruit of His creation. It is through the fruit of our lives that others can see where we are rooted, what is feeding us, who makes us grow, and whether or not we are sweet (desirable to be with).

Some days (weeks, months … years) I am pretty sour, or poorly rooted, or malnourished, or withered. And it is never because of the Creator … but is always because I have not responded well to the pruning (struggles), or I spent too long focusing on receiving the  watering (selfishness), or the light (the externals), or I am overly concerned about growing farther away from my roots (independence). If only I would focus on where I am planted, and recognize that it is only through the purposes of my Creator that I can thrive where I am, and produce the sweetest of His fruits.

What is produced in my life, is only a reflection of what I am attached to, and of who is granting me life. And this is only possible as I relinquish control, and allow the nature of my Creator God to produce the fruit in my life. And that is good fruit … always in season.

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It was a Sunday morning when, although I was fighting a miserable cold, the joy of singing in corporate worship to my Creator was such a joyful experience and privilege.

Until, I started to look around the sanctuary. I was dismayed to see many people not worshiping. There were people standing with their mouths closed. There were people sitting reading their bulletins. There were people sitting … staring straight ahead. There were people standing, looking around the room … oups! That was me too!

I found myself to be very critical of those who I was watching. Until I realized that maybe there were reasons for their non-participation in worship.

Maybe some of them were dealing with sorrows so deep, so dark that they could not open their mouths to sing the words. Or maybe they had been dealing with illness or physical conditions that are so debilitating that they could no longer sing songs of joy. Or maybe there were those who were facing their own private financial crises, with their demise, the demise of their family just around the next corner. Or, maybe they simply cannot sing … now that I can so relate to (well, my family can relate to my lack of vocal abilities).

So, I turned my head towards the lyrics of the song on the screen at the front of the room, and continued my own participation in the corporate worship:

“Blessed be Your name
When I’m found in the desert place
Though I walk through the wilderness
Blessed be Your name

Every blessing You pour out
I’ll turn back to praise
When the darkness closes in Lord
Still I will say
Blessed be the name of the Lord”

And I thought, oh how I love this worship song, because it parallels the biblical story of Job … the man who God allowed Satan to take away all that was of earthly value to him. Job was inflicted with painful sores on his skin, his lively hood was destroyed, his children and wife died. And, through all of that, how did Job respond? “The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised.”

But wait, that means that Job had suffered sorrows, illness, financial crises and earthly loss of family members … just like the possible reasons (excuses?) I had guessed that people in church might not be singing.

But wait!

There is one difference … Job kept praising the Lord.

May I not forget that despite all that Job lost of what he loved, despite the pain, the sorrow, the loss and the personal crises that Job faced, he never stopped praising the Lord.

“Give to the Lord the glory due to His name;

worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness or in holy array.”

Psalm 29:2

“I tell you, if they (you … His disciples) keep quiet,

even the rocks will cry out.”

Luke 19:40

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*Though written three years ago, Momma Guilt continues for this Momma … I bet it does for us all … and continues to the end of our Earthly lives.

Once upon a time, there was a girl who was growing up. And this little girl had dreams, aspirations, hopes and goals for her future. She dreamed of one day getting married, having babies, and doing it all just like she has seen on TV.

Unfortunately, she was born in 1969, and the TV moms who she  had modeled for her … were perfect!

There was June Cleaver, who, other than the obscure name her son Beaver had … was perfect.

Then there was Marion Cunnigham, who was ALWAYS making homemade goodies, not only for HER kids, but for all their friends!

Then there was Clair Huxtable, she made the concept of working mom look so easy! And she even had her, always loving, obstetrician hubby, who did most of the cleaning and cooking!

Ah, and then Caroline Ingalls … that woman could fix a fence, mend a sock, and chase Laura all over the prairies, and still get an enormous homemade dinner on the table, with enough to feed the weary traveler!

And, finally, Jane Jetson … even in space-time animation June Cleaver lives … and in size 8 (I have worn size 8, by the way … it just had a ‘1’ in front of the ‘8’).

All of these women had the same things in common …

– they were all slim … I am green with envy

– they were all pretty … so much to aim for

– they all were perfectly accessorized … this is where my love of my (faux) pearls originated

– they always made their hubbys happy … sigh

– their kids always loved and appreciated them … momma guilt!

The other day, I found myself deep in the mires of MOMMA GUILT … ever been there, ladies?

It had been a busy week, with another busy week to come (and so on, and so on, and so on …). So, Saturday was full with a To Do list that had no hope of getting done.

While hubby was finishing up his sermon (because he had spent the week dealing with ‘immediate’ stuff), and hoping to get some yard work done, I was to take our son to a birthday party, and get a few errands completed.

I got very few of those errands done, as I decided to throw in ‘dress shopping’ … grrr! I had hoped that the few ounces I’ve lost would make that a more enjoyable process … NOT! I think what I would need to lose is the whole, freaking, left side of my body! But, I digress!

Then it was time to pick my son up from the party … and I was scrambling … because I was late … again!

When I got there I was pounced upon by son … ‘mom can so-and-so and I get together today?’ Now, I admit, I hate lack of planning, on a good day, but, when my To Do list is long, my brain cells cannot even begin to think about adding more to it! So, I said … ‘NO.’

And this is where momma guilt began … Not really, of course, because that is with me ALL the time! You see, I have this dream in my mind of getting the ‘Mom of the Year’ award … and I have had that annual award … on January 1, until 12:01am, when I blow it. But, I digress … again.

Lets just say the ride home was very quiet … and I felt it! When I did try to converse and soothe, I was met with ‘but Mom …’ And, my momma guilt let me feel the full weight of his sorrow. Not because his present sorrow was so valid, but because my momma guilt is so close to the surface for me when it comes to my son.

– I was home fully with my daughters … I started back to work before my son entered kindergarten.

– I taught my daughters how to cook, to sew, to read … my son, not so much.

– He is eleven, and I still haven’t taught him how to ride a bike 😦

– I have rarely gone on school field trips with him … his sisters … many!

– I rarely play any ball sports with him.

Wow! Can I wallow, or what? Suffice it to say, that on this particular day, EVERY violation, every failure, every fault I have ever made, in the life of my son, I remembered and felt. Also, suffice it to say, I threw my own pity party, lasting most of the entire day! And, my To Do list … not so much got done.

Once I had shed my guilt-ridden tears, went out on my own (that is the key … on my own) to get groceries, had a good dinner (thanks to the grocery store providing fresh bread and roast chicken), talked to my mom on the phone (I don’t need to tell her whats happening … just hearing her voice makes me feel better), and played a very neck-and-neck game of chess with my son … the day was seeming brighter.

It’s amazing how taking the time to see how his video game system works, and playing a game with him seems to help us to reconnect once again.

I know I will never get that elusive ‘Mom of the Year’ award, but the good night hug (that just about asphyxiated me), along with an eye to eye, ‘Mom, I love you so much,’ from my boy made my momma guilt fade …

Take that June Cleaver, Marion Cunningham, Caroline Ingalls, Clair Huxtable and yes, even you Jane Jetson!

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Sometimes … the past comes back to haunt, and once in a while … it comes back to soothe and reassure.

It was a sunny, warm spring day. Hubby and I had packed our modern picnic lunch (also known as fast food, picked up en route to the park), and were heading to a local park with our 20’ish month old daughter.

We drove until we found a park that we had not been to before (and I do not remember ever returning to again). The park was large, with a soccer field and baseball diamond towards the back. Parking was at the front, near the street. Also, towards the front was a small playground area with swings, and a sandbox. And near the playground were just a few picnic tables and benches.

Our daughter was very eager to get to the sandbox … we were very eager to eat our fast food picnic lunch, before the hot and crisp fries became cold and flopsy. And so, she played, and we ate … all of us enjoying the respite that a park provides.

And then, there she was …

A little girl had arrived at the sandbox, seemingly out of nowhere. She was a blond pre-schooler, who seemed older than her years. As quickly as she appeared, she befriended our daughter, and the two of them played, in the sandbox and on the swings, as though they had known each other all of their lives.

As we enjoyed watching their play with each other, we finally realized that this delightful little girl did not seem to have an adult with her. When we asked her who she was there with she pointed to the baseball game, happening towards the back of the park, and said, “they’re over there.” Although we thought it odd for her parents to allow her to be so far from them, at such a young age, we felt we had no alternative, but to believe her.

The two girls sat on the swings, and we responded to their requests to push them. As hubby and I pushed, we marveled at how the two looked so similarly, they could be sisters. Their blond hair swaying in the breeze, and their blue eyes shining with delight, their contagious giggles. Why, they could be … sisters …

And it hit us both … they could be sisters. They looked so much alike, their age difference … why that delightful little girl could be the same age as our first baby, who had never made it to live with us.

It had happened over three years before. At four months into our first pregnancy … the baby, our first baby, died (this wasn’t to be our first such loss, as over the years it was to happen four more times). We never knew the gender of that child, but we had named it, to provide for ourselves some bit of identity. We had decided on the name Alison, because it could be a boy, or a girl’s name. The name is an old one, meaning noble or truth.

The two girls continued to play happily, until it was time for us to leave.

Then we asked the little girl her name … and she smiled at us, and replied, “Alison.”

 

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