Friday, March 24, 2017

We Call It Mom

 Lyn, Mom, Becky

She is clothed with strength and dignity;
she can laugh at the days to come.
She speaks with wisdom,
and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
She watches over the affairs of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness.
Proverbs 31: 25 - 27


I looked at the clock a bit ago.  It's three o'clock.  In the afternoon. 

I have been sitting in my recliner all day and I really don't care who knows it.  It might seem to some that I'm eating the bread of idleness.  The fact is, I've been very busy, watching over the affairs of my household.  My extended household, that is.  Wisdom and faithful instruction have been working overtime because...that's what Moms do. 

You see, this is a Mom Day.  Both of my daughters are in stressful circumstances today...one with a health issue and one with a career opportunity...and somebody has to be at the ready to listen, encourage and offer advice.  And in between phone calls and texts, pray.  Because God certainly can't work this all out without my faithful instruction, can he?  'Scuse me...it's the Mom talking. 

The best thing I know is that this Mom, nor any other, is at the wheel of this ride called Life.  As my pastor has pointed out to me - and to our congregation as a whole - God is not pacing the  halls of heaven wringing his hands and wondering what to do next.  He has His plan, and He will be there in the midst of the plan.  The answer to it all is simple:

                                  Thy will be done.

Still, we use our Google and research possibilities.  We have brains and we're expected to use them.  We can only make the right choices when we are informed.  We look up airline information just in case we need to make a quick run to the bedside of a sick daughter.  We search for answers...information...encouragement for ourselves and our loved ones.  God's got this stuff.  We just have to be faithful.

It's strength and dignity, armed with a laptop and clothed in pajamas. We call it Mom. 

Saturday, March 4, 2017

An Ash Wednesday Faith Breeze



...did you not know
what the Holy One
can do with dust?
                                       -Jan Richardson

Our pastors were away on a trip to the Holy Land.  I was asked to assist the visiting pastor with the Ash Wednesday service.  While I have held the communion cup and dispensed the bread many times, I had never dispensed ashes.  I looked forward to it with a mix of joy and humility.  And a great deal of apprehension.  The logistics are a bit more challenging than tearing bread from a loaf or holding a cup for the dipping. 

As it turned out, there was no cause for concern.  The visiting pastor was our District Superintendent...a pastor who has risen through the ranks of the church to the administrative position over all the churches in a district.  In other words, this wasn't his first rodeo.  He was at ease and put the rest of us at ease.  He showed me how he dipped his thumb into the wet sponge then into the bowl of ashes.  With the dark residue on his thumb, he made the cross on the person's forehead.  The words to the Believers were simple: "Repent.  And believe the Gospel." 

The service progressed...the songs sung, Scriptures read, meditation given.  Then the invitation for the people to come forward to receive the ashes.  They made two lines, one in front of him and his assistant (the sponge holder) and one in front of me and my helper.  This was a profound experience for me because this congregation includes many who have taught me and many who are close friends.  Doing what I was charged to do, I held my emotions in check...looking these beautiful Christian people in the eyes and saying "Repent...and believe the Gospel." 

About halfway through the group, in front of me appeared Ava.  Ava is four years old and she and her grandmother often share the table with me at Wednesday night supper.  Ava is a doll baby.  Big, beautiful eyes, long brown hair, lovely features.  She stood there, looking up at me with those innocent wondering eyes, holding her mother's hand.  For a split second, I wondered if I should put ashes on such a small child...what is the doctrine of the church?   This was not a moment of doctrinal purity.  It was a moment of "Jesus loves you."  I dipped my thumb in the ashes, bent down and made the cross on that tiny forehead.  I could not speak.  Holding my breath, I marked her mother and her grandmother, and the line moved on. 

Later, I took the evening's program and across the bottom wrote a note to Ava.  I simply wanted to confirm what I know she hears from her pre-school teachers and her grandmother..."Jesus loves you."  I gave the note to her grandmother.  Maybe someday, when Ava is an adult and goes through her grandmother's things, she will find that note and have some memory of the night she got her ashes from Miss Sue at church. 

For me, it was the highlight of the evening...a true Faith Breeze moment when the veil between heaven and earth was very thin. Who knows what the Holy One will do with the dust that makes up a little girl named Ava.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Mimi's Miserable Maddening No-Good Messed-Up Morning



January 12, 2017.  What you are about to read is the truth, the whole unvarnished truth and nothing but the truth.  SO HELP ME GOD!

Judith Viorst wrote this kind of story first.  In 1972, it was Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.  The story chronicles a day in the life of an 11-year-old boy whose every experience that day is wrong and something he hates, from waking up in the morning to going to bed that night in the very pair of pajamas he hates more than any of the others he owns.

I thought of that title and the story that goes with it on this day when I was doing granny duty at the home of my younger daughter.  Alexander, I thought, let me tell you a REAL story!  Just to give you the facts...the background of this experience:

- Son-in-law was less than two weeks post-op from gastric surgery.
- Daughter was committed to speak at a music teacher's conference in Tampa and needed to be away from home from Wednesday night to Saturday night.
- Mimi went to Jacksonville to keep life going for 11-year-old Charlotte and 7-year-old Nathaniel. 
- To get to school on time, they have to be up no later than 5:45.  That's a.m.  I am not an a.m. person.
- And did I tell you they have three cats?  Yes, three.

I arrived at the house Wednesday afternoon in time to pass Becky as she was leaving.  Her message was basically "You got it, Mom.  See you Saturday.  Thanks."   Notice she did say "Thanks."  I can never say my children are not appreciative.  The really good news for me was that Victor was now off his pain meds and was able to drive.  I'm okay to drive in their neighborhood but getting on the throughways is another story.  Nothing short of panic.  Getting the children to school involves not only getting on I-295, but crossing the St. Johns River on a very long bridge that bottlenecks horribly every morning and every evening at rush hour.  The very thought of it made me shiver and shake with anxiety.

Wednesday evening went fine.  Kids did homework, got their baths and got to bed with little confusion.  Victor and I conferred about dealing with the morning.  "Don't worry, Ma," he said.  "I'll set my alarm and get us all up at 5:30."  Great.  He's very reliable.  I can handle breakfast and fixing lunches.  I was sleeping in Charlotte's bed and she happily took the raised Aerobed which essentially made her room wall to wall bed.  Her bed is very comfortable and I told myself everything would be fine in the morning and I could relax and have some down time while the kids were in school.  Good plan.  You know where this is going, right? 

Somewhere in the early hours of the morning, I had a very vivid dream.  I saw a clock...read the time...6:30.  Bedlam.   Remember thinking "Wow, glad this is just a dream."  I rolled over and looked at the time on my phone.  6:30.  YIKES!  My heart flipped over.  "Charlotte, wake up! It's 6:30!"  I threw back the covers and put my feet on the floor to stand up.  In a moment in time that plays in slow motion in my memory, my feet touched the carpet and slid right out from under me.  I did not fall.  I simply slid...all the way to the floor.  Charlotte raised her sleepy self on one elbow and took in the scene through half-closed eyes.  Her grandmother was wedged in a hole between her bed, the end of the air bed, her closet, and the small computer desk and chair. 

The struggle began.  I've gotta get up.   The more I tried, the more my feet slipped.  I couldn't get them under me enough to push myself up and there was nothing to lean against to push up on.  The computer desk and chair are flimsy child-sized things and I would have torn them up had I grabbed them for support.  No need to call Victor...he can't pick up anything because of his surgery.  I AM STUCK!  The panting and pulling and scuffling continued and Charlotte continued to stare at me.  I wanted to cry but that wouldn't have helped anything.  Divine intervention...that's what I asked for.  Finally, I was able to get enough of that air bed in my hands and in desperation rolled myself up onto the end of it.  Don't mess up your bad shoulder, I thought...that's all you need to do!  I stayed there for a minute on my knees, praying for strength and breath, and eventually staggered to my feet. 

"Charlotte," I panted again, "please get up and get moving.  We are in trouble.  We have overslept by an hour."  Victor was anguished when I woke him up.  "I'm so sorry, Ma.  That's the first time I've slept through the night since my surgery.  I didn't even hear the alarm!"  Waking Nathaniel up adds another dimension to the confusion.  He's deaf and has a cochlear implant which he takes off at night leaving him completely unhearing.  I turned on his lights and tickled his feet.  Then I jerked on his leg.  I was just before picking him up bodily when he finally came to.  I was not his favorite person at that moment.

The next 25 minutes are a blur.  Lunches had to be dealt with and we didn't have anything Nathaniel wanted.  I grabbed my wallet and gave him lunch money.  Charlotte fixed her own.  Neither sat down to have any breakfast.  They were barely dressed and had their stuff gathered when Victor hurried them out the door.  "If we don't go now, we'll be behind the buses and we'll really be late."  They went out through the garage and I realized they needed something to eat.  I had a box of protein bars.  I grabbed four bars and ran out to catch them, my bare feet freezing on the concrete floor. This was a January morning and it was cold.  Waving the bars at the car, I ran out and thrust them into Victor's hand and he took off down the street.

God help those children, I prayed.  What an awful way to start their day.  Guilt fell on me like a blanket.  As I turned to go back in the house, I was met with the sight of the half-open kitchen  door and Lucy The Cat strolling into the garage that was a wide open path to the street.  I forced myself to be calm.  I refuse to deal with a runaway cat this morning.  I got past her without spooking her and got to the door.

"Here, Kitty.  Come on Lucy."  She stood still, eyeing the situation and the crazed figure calling to her.  I hit the button to close the garage door and it started to rattle as it closed.  She jumped to life and bolted for the safety of the kitchen.  I followed her in and slammed the door.

Leaning against the wall, I worked to catch my breath and get a grip on my senses.  What in the heck was all of that?  Two cups of coffee later, my pulse had begun to return to normal.  It's the start of a day, I thought.  I'm their grandmother...we can DO this!  God help us to make tomorrow morning better.  That's all we can do, isn't it?  When life goes haywire we just have to pull up our big girl britches and carry on.  I looked around at the house and knew I could at least help out and make things better here.  Do what you can, wherever you are.  I needed some mindless activity...someplace to get my granny motor going.

I took a deep breath...and scooped the cat box.

The End.










Friday, January 27, 2017

Legacy


THE FAMILY WE LOVE
Ed, Becky, Sue (me), Andrew, Nathaniel,
Charlotte, Jack, Lyn, David, Victor


All together for the Holidays, this was the start of a very busy time for our family.  I say that and then I think...so when is it not a busy time for a family?  But this year has been especially eventful and we have drawn so much strength from each other. 

Other posts will share details of various situations but just let me say Becky's family was taking center stage this year with her Christmas singing schedule which wound around a serious bronchial infection, Victor's upcoming gastric sleeve surgery which we got the date for just the day before this picture was taken, and Nathaniel's second cochlear implant due in January.  Don't think Lyn's family was perfectly quiet and passive.  Our week with them was a gift of good times. 

To cut to the chase for this message, shortly after Victor's totally successful surgery, Becky had to be away for a music teacher's conference where she was a featured speaker.  Victor wasn't quite strong enough to deal with children, so I spent a long weekend in Jacksonville doing the granny thing.  That's one of those life things you wouldn't take anything for, but it's not a walk in the park, either. 

The pay-off came when Becky got home Saturday night and said "Mom, I wrote you a Faith Breeze."

And here are her thoughts:

On my way home from a very eventful weekend, I was driving on a nice country road when I passed a field.  Standing alone in that field was a chimney...a brick chimney that was obviously part of a home at one time.  It made me think: what will be standing when I'm gone?  What will people remember?  What is my legacy?  My hope is for others to see my face in Christ, in my love for my family, and in my music.  There is a danger.  If we're not careful in our actions we can let things creep in that might skew the way others see us.  This would compromise our legacy and our testimony.  That chimney standing alone told me to reach toward heaven...to stand firm like the bricks...reach straight up to heaven with all I have so that Christ alone will be the legacy.

I am so humbled to say this is part of my legacy.  For Ed and me, each face in that picture is a unique reach into the future...a one-of-a-kind Designer Original headed down their own paths planned before they were born, just as ours were.  When we leave them, they will carry on with the tasks ordained for each one, for they all know the Lord.  God help each one of us...each Brick...to stand firm and reach straight up to heaven so that Christ alone will be the legacy of our little family.

Have you thought about what will be standing here when you're gone?  What are the bricks in your chimney?  I pray they are reaching straight up to heaven.

Wishing you Blessings and Breezes!