Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Let It Be

Packing the final boxes and bins at Mom and Dad's home. They've moved to a smaller apartment and downsizing is happening once again. And touching those precious items that stir memories and emotions is happening once again as well.

My mom had asked about her cedar chest, the wedding gift from her mom and dad years ago (how many? So many...) She knew there would be no room for it in their new home so I had already stored it away. I promised that it would stay in the family one way or another - at least in my lifetime.

"I just want to see those things one more time." So we dutifully brought some tangible memories to her for a final inspection.

Browned, fragile shopping bags from Sibley's (a once-upon-a-time premier department store in Rochester) housed her yellowed wedding dress and veil. She touched the fabric once more as I looked over her shoulder. "My mother made this for me by hand." I looked at the tiny stitches and marveled. My grandmother - the one who watched me as a preschooler, the one I watched as she fell to her knees in pain with her first heart attack, the one who wrapped her arm around me to comfort and assure me of my worth and her love, the one who always put a fresh molasses cookie in my right hand and another in my left hand as I asked, "One for my twin brother Darryl?" - that same grandmother had held this delicate fabric in her very own hands, carefully moving the needle in and out as she crafted a beautiful gown for her only daughter.

"Only it was white!" my mother remarked with such surprise.

"It is truly antique white now," I replied with a smile, genuinely appreciative and in awe of what time does. Always does.

That day a folding chair was brought into Daddy's "man cave" so he could sit as we sorted his seemingly endless stack of CDs. Daddy bravely faces time, knowing that these are somewhat obsolete in many ways, already becoming passé. He acknowledged that they would not be treasure to many.

I looked over his shoulder at his shelf filled with literally dozens of complete opera scores. Immediately my mind's eye recalled him sitting in his easy chair with a score on his lap, singing along as his state-of-the-art stereo filled the room with the music of Puccini, Verdi, Menotti. Rarely Mozart. He was never a real fan of Mozart's operas.

Today I folded that chair for storage and the room is empty. My eyes filled with tears. The season of this room belonging to him is past.

Time leaves its mark. I see it everyday on my face. I see it in my hair. My body feels the mark of it in joints that are aging.

My folks are now settled in a new, smaller place. They've managed to bring many treasures with them, for which I'm glad. And they left many behind for me to continue sorting.

I'm discovering faded 1950 Valentine's cards signed by my grandparents and sent to their daughter who was away at school, birthday cards inscribed with my Dad's familiar writing "Ken and the kids".

Photos of Daddy as a little boy in times and places long ago and far away.

Broken Christmas baubles and a somewhat crumpled Easter bonnet purchased at said Sibleys in 1962, with the original receipt in the box (note: $15 in 1962 is equivalent in purchasing power to about $124.72 in 2018.) That Easter bonnet was well recollected by me as a prize possession of Mom's for many years (for a Depression Era baby that was one huge investment!) Over the years I have found it repeatedly, carefully tucked away in its box, surviving every move...until now.

Time has had its way every where I look. Faded. Musty. Crumbling.

And as more time passes we add another word. Irrelevant. How many photos do I find at auctions, saved for decades in a box in the attic only to be viewed by me, a stranger wondering who this might have been and what they were named?

God has a better plan. Eternity. Never ending joy in His presence. Forever and ever.

And to that I say, Amen. Oh, let it be, let it be.


Thursday, August 01, 2019

Days. And the End of those days.

There are specific verses in the scriptures that cause me to ponder and contemplate.

But there is a certain category of verses that stops me in my tracks without fail. Here is one example:
"So David rested with his fathers, and was buried in the city of David." 1 Kings 2.10
I have recently finished reading in 2 Samuel of all the mighty exploits of King David along with many trials and difficulties. Pages and pages. A long, full, accomplished life. It's taken me several days to read about all he did.

Similarly I read of Moses, or Joshua. Or Solomon, Paul.

And it is always the same.
"So Moses the servant of the Lord died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the Lord." Deuteronomy 34.5
"Now it came to pass after these things that Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the Lord, died... And they buried him within the border of his inheritance..." Joshua 24.29
Such verses never fail to give me pause. I stop short. I actually gasp - every time. It somehow catches me by surprise.

Not the fact of it. Rather the instant finality of it. All these pages telling of all their full-of-life deeds come crashing to a standstill with one word.

A man's entire life, his whole existence, his "being" STOPS. And no matter how it is prefaced, I find it to be abrupt; it is instant. It is a blink of an eye -- they are here and then...not.

That first verse quoted above gives an important perspective and piece of knowledge. David rested "with his fathers". This simple phrase clues us in: this has gone on for generations. This is not unique to David.

We all know that. At least I think we all know that. But how to grapple with such knowledge. What to do?

We can ignore it, push it aside, pretend it isn't so. And live in continuous "surprise".
We can fill our lives with "doing", grab for all the gusto we can, stack up the accomplishments.
We can savor each moment, commit it all to memory, build memorials and fill photo albums.
We can exercise, use anti-aging creams, try to stretch the moments and make them last.
We can spend our lives on religion, sacrifice for the good of others, gain accolades of sainthood.
We can imagine that this life alone is worth living for along with all of its pain and sorrow, sin and failure, suffering and brokenness.

No matter. In the end, it will be the same for each one of us. One moment here, the next...not.

However greatly you live your life; whatever degree of wealth, fame, success you amass; no matter how much you are loved when you are gone -- there is nothing to be done about the finality of life here in this world. It is an end appointed to all. There will be one simple summation: he died.

One man has overcome death. Only One man. And He is willing to share that victory over death with anyone who will ask and accept.

It seemed only right to tell you once again. He is the answer for the question: what to do?

Every time I stop short, gasp, and recall our days and the brevity of those days and the end of those days, I myself remember His great gift of eternal life. And I give thanks all over again.

Monday, June 17, 2019

Never Ending Love Story

If romance and sexual intrigue become a source of fulfillment in your life, will your focus be on you or others?

Would you be fulfilled in providing sexual intrigue even if you stopped experiencing the thrill?

Will you feel a void when romance eludes you day after day?

How sad when the source of one's fulfillment is anything other than eternal, never-changing, and absolute faithful Love Himself.

My Savior. My Jesus.

The Lover of my soul forever.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Settled

transition - the process or period of changing from one state or condition to another

It's been a good while since I've written here. A nudge from a dear friend today caused me to check the date on my last post. Time to get at it again, is basically what she said to me. We need friends in our lives, don't we? Good friends, at any rate.

So, what's with the random dictionary entry at the top?

My most recent post was October 2018. Eight months ago.

There's one question I hear routinely from folks these days, "Are you all settled now?"

Well, uh, yes. Well, sort of. Yes, it's certainly home. Uh, no - I mean - we don't have routines. We've not established tenure yet. Um, I think we are. Well, there are some bins I've not even opened yet. And undone things. But we're here.

So the answer should be, "I can't quite tell."

Here's why. We are still transitioning. The change of home was just part of it. The "I'm done with the daily rhythm of schooling" doesn't tell it all.

What looms large in my soul is the quest for a label for this season. I know what I'm transitioning from, but what am I transitioning into? Is it this busyness? Is this the next big thing? What is this busyness about? Is it adding up to a big chunk of Something with a familiar label?

Day by day, one step here and then another till I feel like I'm running. As soon as one idea comes and begins to have fruition another tide of vision rushes in and overtakes the last.

So are we still transitioning? Or is this the plan, the thing I am to be accomplishing? I don't see a blueprint before me. I don't see the whole picture. So I take a step, hoping it is in the right direction, wanting it to add up to something somewhere someday.

This isn't like motherhood, with a schedule to determine and fruit to monitor and success to measure.

That's because the move itself wasn't the culmination of transition. It was just one wave of the process. Is this still the process, or is this the thing, the fruition of that transition?

I'm rambling, dear reader. My thoughts, my sentences, seem as fragmented as my actions. Self-written, compelled, moved without my moving them. "Lord, is this You? I hope so, Lord! My time is running quickly and I want it to be all used for You."

Self discipline is not my forte. I am motivated by passion - readily motivated by passion. Motherhood was a passion with built in constraint. I liked that. I loved that. It suited me perfectly, or so it seemed.

But here I am, without a blueprint, full of vision and passion but without built-in constraint because I don't know the end goal. I don't know the thing. It doesn't have a label. I feel like I am pioneering without a clear picture, a bit of that unknown adventure that is exhilarating and unsettling in turn. In fact, so unknown I'm unsure as to whether we're still transitioning or if we've arrived.

So, are we all settled now?

Settled in Him. Absolutely, totally. And I'm wondering if that will be the answer from here on in.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Wives and Mothers and Time

You have 24 hours each day. We all do. For those who are Christians, there is a realization that all of those 24 hours belong to Him. But how He wants us spend those 24 hours is dependent upon commitment, responsibility, and promise.

If you are a wife or mother, many of those hours are, in large measure, spoken for. They are already spoken for because of relationship. We are our husband's teammate and helper. We are our children's nurturer and provider. Fulfillment of these things requires time, energy, and creative use of resources. So everyday a portion of time, energy, and creativity is already "given".

I recall an important lesson in my life. It was an especially busy season with many demands from relationships and community outside the home. I wanted to be willing to stretch myself and sacrifice more, to give of my time and energy until it hurt. But when was it too much? The clamor to do more, go more, and be more for so many others was deafening and confusing, overwhelming me night and day, day and night.

Until He spoke clearly to me. "You cannot sacrifice something that is not yours to give."

"What? I'm wondering about giving of my time and my energy, Lord. That's what I'm wondering about. I want to serve better and live sacrificially."

"I know. But you cannot sacrifice something that is not yours to give."

Gently He helped me see that my best time and energy had already been promised when I made a covenant to my husband and ensuing family. That time and energy was not mine to sacrifice to anyone or anything else. Any sacrifice was to come from the overflow, the extra, the remaining time and energy that I could freely call mine to use.

There is no certain clear formula given. What you have to give may change from day to day, season to season. Some days and weeks there is plenty of overflow. Some seasons there is little or none. That is how living by principle works - no hard and fast list of rules, only application of simple truth. Am I meeting his needs, serving his vision? Have the family needs been met, needs beyond food and clothing even? Have I read that story, helped establish routine chores, created order and peace? Is this home a refuge for them, a shelter?

It is a day by day sorting, a week by week "reality check", a willingness to take stock and determine when I need to say "no" and when I am free to say "yes". Always a plan for keeping the main thing the main thing.

It's a delicate balance, but one to work toward keeping; guard your time for them before you give your time to other.