Life Goes On

Did you ever notice how birthdays have a way of showing up every year? No matter how I hide or run, there it is waiting for me, same day every year.

Great. Super. I’m so excited.

Not.

But then, life isn’t so bad when you get right down to it. Sure, I have the cheapest dumb phone available. Sure, I sit home, day after day, trapped with no vehicle because my husband feels that he actually has to go to work. Sure, my kids come home, interrupt my work to tell me about their day and proceed to dirty the dishes I had just washed, again. Even with all that and more- life is pretty darn good.

My dumb phone is nevertheless a working phone ensuring that when my kids or someone else needs me, they can reach me. Since my number is given to a chosen few, I am not swamped with calls that are not important. My dumb phone can even text, which for me, who hates to actually talk on the phone, is a wondrous thing. Now if I could just get to the point where I can make appointments and sell stuff by text instead of phone or face to face, I would be on cloud nine.

I sit home without a car most days, but I also have this lovely computer that allows me to do what I love, write. Day after day, I sit here and write my own stories or critique the ones my friends have written. In this way, I can add to the stockpile of well written words that millions can access for entertainment and encouragement. Added to that, I have a husband who supports my literary efforts and has a strong work ethic, even at a job he hates. He agrees that it is important for me to stay home and focus my efforts on my writing and raising our kids even if a second income would help pay nagging bills.

My kids come home from school everyday with their noise and their appetites. but I am grateful they have food to eat, a good school to learn stuff in and maybe best of all, they feel comfortable enough with me that they can tell me the ups and downs of their day. How many moms have teenagers who actually like to spend time with her? I am blessed.

Now my birthday looms over the horizon and as I look at the halfway point of another decade I realize something. I am far from where I wanted to be when I reached this point. But where I am . . . with all its trials and blessings. . . . is right where I want to be. Not that I wouldn’t mind some of those fancy electronic gadgets, or my own vehicle, or a maid to do those darn dishes-again. I am human enough to want such things. But when you get right down to brass tacks;

Life is Good . . .

Spring Pond1

 

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Remembering

Most of us, at some point in our lives, lose a loved one a parent, sibling, friend, spouse, child, and the list goes on. We think of them often, especially when they first leave us. As time moves on we don’t forget, exactly, but we think of them less often. Then something happens to remind us and the bittersweet pain of remembering returns.

Yesterday at church, we observed communion. Normally I would take the cracker dipped in juice and return to my seat where I would search my heart to find the sins that like to lurk quietly in the corners. I ask forgiveness and promise to keep trying before eating the elements. All good things, I believe.

Yesterday I did that, but in the midst of my praying, a thought came. Do this in Remembrance of me.

Remembrance.

All these years I have been focused on myself, my prayers and thoughts about me and my shortcomings. I remembered him, but often just as a way to clean me up. Was I missing the point?

So I sat there, with my eyes closed and remembered.

Now I wasn’t around when Jesus actually walked the earth. So I’m not able to remember him the way his disciples did, but images began to come. Pictures of his birth in the manger with the angels and shepherds; of Jesus as a boy standing in the temple and amazing the elders. I saw pictures of him laughing and holding children, walking on water, embracing those whose lives he touched.

Some images were paintings created by the great masters, others done by artists unknown and unrecognized, but each one had touched my heart in some way. Some images were ones my own imagination created as I have written stories about him; healing the woman bleeding for twelve years,  raising Jarius’ daughter from the dead, freeing the man possessed by Legion, giving Bartimaeus his sight and feasting with the tax collecters.

The images went the distance, from his birth to death and beyond. I saw his resurrection and ascension into heaven on the clouds. I remembered the ‘God Moments’ of my own spiritual walk.

All this happened in the space of a couple of minutes, but it was so powerful, so real, I wanted to share it with you.

When was the last time you sat and just remembered? We are so busy in our everyday lives that we forget the big picture. Take some time for your own remembrance. Refresh your spirit with his presence in your life today, because our remembrance of our Savior is not like that of our loved ones. Jesus still lives, though perhaps we don’t see his face. He is waiting to commune with us every day if we just seek him out.

Vine and branches

Taking Time

066I have been blessed by a visit this week. My sister and two of her girls took time out of their lives to drive hundreds of miles in order to spend time with those of us still at the ol’ homestead (My parents, two other sisters with kids and me and my family). They usually come out once or twice a year, but the visits are often hurried and busy with other things. This time, they came out for a whole week. We didn’t have to share them with my sister’s in-laws. There was none of the hustle and bustle of the holidays. There were no big parties or celebrations. There was just them and us.

The first few days they were here, I saw them to say ‘hi’ and to give hugs, then I was back doing my own thing at home. We all got together for dinner on Sunday and stayed the afternoon in a family meeting . . . necessary, but not exactly fun and games. We played a few games, gave hugs and back home I went.

Late Sunday night I thought to myself, ‘how foolish’. Here was a much beloved sister come all this way for some good old fashioned family time. She brought two nieces that are usually busy with paper routes, gymnastics, dance, riding lessons and school to be able to come for extended visits. And how was I spending my days? Enjoying them, getting to know them on a deeper level?

Nope. I was hope fiddling on my computer, reading and watching TV. Nothing important. Nothing that wouldn’t still be there when they went home again.

Yesterday, I changed that. I stayed home long enough to do my most basic chores, then went to find them. We spent the day together. We went out to lunch, did a little local sightseeing, walked along the lake; nothing big or expensive. But oh so priceless. The girls and I had such fun, laughing and teasing each other. My sister and I talked; nothing earth-shattering, but a connection strengthened, a renewal of our friendship. We took time to get to know each other again.

We took time.

A little thing. Moments, a blink of an eye, then it is gone. But what a gift to have the time to give. What a blessing. And I almost missed it.

Oops. God just tapped my shoulder . . .

I haven’t been spending the time with Him that I promised I would.

“Yes, Lord. I know what you’re saying.”

If blessing come from spending time with a sister, how much more blessing will come when I spend time with my Creator, my God, my Savior.

Lord, I know that my life seems busy and sometimes it seems like spending time with you is just one more thing to add to the list. I know that it is important. I know that you want to spend time with me. I also know that when I spend time with you, everything else just fades away and your grace showers down. Please forgive my neglect. Help me to remember to take time to spend with you. Lets do lunch today, Ok?

 

091I will meet you there.

Holding On

When you reach the end of your rope tie a knot and hold on.

Have you ever heard that? I remember seeing it on a poster when I was a teen and it stuck with me through the years. Back then the end of my rope dangled over the cliffs of rope's endhomework and tests with the jagged rocks of failure waiting below. Somehow I always managed to get back on track and avoid that dreaded fall. Again and again I was brought back from the brink by my faith in God and my family. Their support and encouragement kept me going.

Now, decades later the memory of that poster has come back to haunt me. No longer in danger of failing the tests of high school, now I battle endless bills and housework. I strive to provide my husband and kids with a home that is happy and healthy -although I seldom offer one that is clean and tidy.  I make sure there are clean dishes and clean clothes if not clean floors and tables. I am not a great housekeeper, as anyone who has been in my home can see.

I am a good wife and mother. I am a listening ear for my husband after a stressful day at work, I am my kids cheerleader and drill Sergent depending on what is needed. I help with homework and dreaming alike.

But there are days when I feel that not only have I reached the end of my rope, but it is fraying and thin. I tie that knot and hold on. Digging my nails deep into the coarse fibers, straining with everything I have left to hold on. Because now failure isn’t just about me and my future, failing now would cut deep into the ropes that hold my kids and my husband above their abyss. We are a family and what affects one will affect another.

Sounds good, right? The benevolent mother sacrificing for her family because she is the glue that holds it all together . . . except my glue is weak and ineffective. There is no way I can save those I love the most. I am not strong enough. I am not able to battle my own depression. Not to mention my families trials and struggles. I can’t.

That is hard for me to admit. I have always been proud of my strength. Strength of will, strength of character, strength of spirit. Even now when I can admit it, say it, share it with those who read this post . . . inside, I am still trying to do it alone even though I know I can’t.

So what is a mom to do? I can’t save my kids. I can’t save my husband. Heck, I can’t even save myself.

The knot at the end of my rope is slipping. Soon there will be nothing between me and the abyss.

But wait, there is Something, Someone who is helping. The knot on my rope is retying. A big strong knot. In fact, it is a platform; a strong and steady place for me to catch my breath and climb back to level ground.

Because Kate  loves me, says the Lord, I will rescue her; I will protect her, for she acknowledges my name. Psalm. 91:14 (paraphrase)

And there it is. Only God can do it. Over and over He has proven His faithfulness to me. He knows my weakness, even better than I do, and has always been there to save me from myself. When the depression rises up and despair sucks the joy and hope from my life, God is always there to remind me of His grace in the little things. Slowly, slowly I am learning to trust. Inch by inch I am learning to loosen my grip. When it becomes too much and I cling tight to my rope again, fearing that yawning gap waiting to swallow me, I am not alone. God puts his arms around me and whispers comfort in my ear, just like I did when a little one woke with a nightmare, I held them close and whispers prayers and songs of comfort.

I know I can’t save my self or my family. I also know that I can trust God to save us, we don’t have to rely on our own feeble grip to hold on, God is holding on to us and for us.

After taking the picture of the rope for this post, He sent me this on the way back home . . . a little bit of life and color amid the gray stones. Color amid the Gray