SHATTERED

My title isn’t exactly correct as the glass and frame of the family photo was not really shattered but it was badly cracked.  Sure scared the daylights out of me when it fell off the wall but I felt I could live with the glass which had cracked across its frame…no faces were disfigured.

But finally, the other day I decided to put it in the frame that usually holds my “fruit painting.”  This painting of apples and pears was actually found in a fruit cellar in the Okanagan.  There were several paintings, but this one looked good enough to eat, so I took it home.

Luckily the frames were identical and there was no problem.  The family photo looks at me each time I travel down the hall to the bedroom and the “fruit painting” brightens up the area across from the living room.

The interesting thing is that this fruit painting has obliterated the crack in the glass.  It is so full of fruit that you don’t notice the crack anymore.

I wondered what kind of message I could take from this rather revealing fact.  Perhaps sins are like that…you put enough together and soon they simply disappear from view.  Then, later, when you frame it with your belief in God, and what it represents, you recognize how badly you have gotten off track.

Sometimes we see only what we want to see.

One of my dear friends took multi-photos of my recent birthday party.  She sent them to me via email.  There are two I might share, but the rest reveal a much older me.  The cracks and lines in my face have multiplied over the years.   I hope the new frame and glass God has for me in heaven is a shade kinder.

Today I am shattered in a slightly different way. I am going to attend a funeral.  The man being buried was one of my husband’s golfing buddies.  Now all of them have died.  He was the last apple on the tree.   The four of them had golfed together for fifty years.

But those days are long gone, so I guess the answer is to put myself in a new frame.  I hope I can help the new widow in some way.  She too is an old friend.  Maybe that’s why I was widowed so early in this group of four.  I have learned some valuable lessons along the way and I’m sure God will find some way of using them to bring comfort to others who are now feeling shattered and walking the widow’s walk.

SOFT HEARTS

My father died when I was 15 years old.  He had spent a good deal of his life away from home as he worked for the C.P.R.  After his retirement I had spent little time with him.  Of course he got a goodnight kiss every evening but a fifteen-year old’s life is full of school, after school jobs, friends and boys.  Dad was there, listening to hockey games on the radio or sitting in the basement doing odd jobs.  But that was it.  You didn’t share a lot with your parents in those days.

The night he died I was at Teen Town, the local Saturday night hang out for teenagers.  It was run by several members of the community and well attended.  When I arrived home Mom was crying and shared the news with me.

I never shed a tear.

It was two weeks before I cried and even then I felt numb…there was too much to do to allow myself the privilege of crying.  Mom was now responsible for raising three young girls on her own. It would not be easy financially, and the government didn’t step in and rescue us…so I took on several part time jobs and just hung in there, working and saving money so I could eventually graduate.

I wasn’t hard of heart.  I just had to put my grief on the back burner if I was going to be useful to anyone.  It was about thirty years later, in chatting with a counselor that I finally allowed myself to weep copiously and come to terms with his passing.

In Jan Karon’s book,’ In This Mountain’, she says, “Crying is the Holy Spirit keeping your heart soft.”

It took over 50 years before I was to cry like that again. Oh yes, I lost Mom, a sister and a brother but it was when my husband died that my heart truly broke and I am still picking up the pieces.

It takes little to make me cry nowadays. I just glance at the new photos of the great grandchildren on Facebook and tears blur my eyes. They are so beautiful. What a gift to be given during my senior years! The morning song of a robin, the colours in an Alberta sunset, the voice of a far away friend, on the phone…all touch my heart and I no longer hide my tears.  They wash over and refresh me.  And in many ways they make me more positive.  They remind me of blessings… blessings of the past, of the present and the possibility of blessings in the future.

It has taken almost a life time but now compassion is a constant compassion.  Experience has been a hard teacher, but I have found that tears are not a sign of weakness but rather the sign of the Spirit of God keeping our hearts soft.

LOVING LILIES AND THE LORD

It is nearly summer…I sit out on the deck enjoying the heat. No complaints from me.  As a previous Travel Agent’s wife, I know that in months down the road, people will be paying thousands of dollars to sit in Florida, Arizona or Hawaii, to have a day like today. These are days that are a gift from God and seldom taken for granted by Canadians.

My coffee was enjoyed on the deck this morning where I overlook my neighbour’s back deck and her small garden.  My own garden is tucked into the base of my deck and I can’t see it unless I glance down.  Her garden is awash in lilies…the most beautiful yellow lilies that shine like a beacon across the lawn separating us.

If I asked her for a bulb to plant in my garden, she is gracious and would probably give me one.  But this is not about owning the lilies, this is about “enjoying” the lilies.

My grandchildren have things in their lives that I will never have in mine.  I am happy for them but those “things” would not add a scrap of enjoyment to my life, although I am sure they do to theirs.

One thing we enjoy together of course, are the memories of what once was and the delight of the great-grandchildren, whose tiny faces and soft smiles warm my very soul.  I can’t hug these little ones as they are miles away but I know how much joy they are to my grandson and his wife, so I thank God for Facebook and the photos that greet me each morning.

My best friend is moving away, I can be terribly sad or I can be happy that she will soon no longer have to worry about filling her kitchen shelves and making meals.  There is always the other side of the coin.

My friend Helen plays the piano.  How I would love to sit and feel those keys pour out a melody of song…instead I sit and my keys pour out words, words, words.

Each of us has a large or small gift to share, so instead of envy I give thanks.  My words will not change the world but maybe today they will lift your spirits and be a bright light in your garden…recognize your own gifts and today share them with others…it will brighten their day.

NO LONGER A FOREIGN LAND

“How can we sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land?” Psalm 137:4

I had not sung except in church for nearly six years and yet once my life had been full of song.  My first memories are of my mother singing to me softly “Sweet and low”, and that was just the beginning.  Song was a part of my very being and the house rang with childhood songs, school songs, musicals and duets with my sister .

Our school musicals were a testing ground and the audience not too critical and we had so much fun.  For a few short weeks we were a family like none other, held together by story and song…then there was the performances and suddenly it was all over and we stepped back into the real world again.  There is always another side to the coin.

Church choir was apart of my life…learning the words was easy but it was the lilt of the notes that enticed me.  Soon I was doing solos and later singing at weddings.

For a number of years after my marriage there was no time for singing, except to my two little girls but finally they were grown enough for me to get back to what I so loved…singing the hymns that had been written on the pages of my mind years before.

Then after 54 years together, my husband died.  I no longer sang in the house. How could I possibly sing.  I was in a foreign land..the Land of Widowhood and I could not sing in this foreign land. I tried but ended up in tears, then finally just gave up.

Six years later I was busy tidying the house and realized that I was singing OUT LOUD. I stopped in amazement. Was that really my voice filling the kitchen.  Yes, yes..it was.  I consciously tried again and again the music poured out of me.  No tears, just notes and they were in tune.

It had taken six long, empty years but I guess God felt the time was right.  The foreign land I was living in had become more familiar. The pain had eased.

I still long for those bygone years but I have found lots of promise in my new land  of widowhood and I can sing here to the Lord in a land that is no longer classified as a Foreign Land.

 

 

EXPLANATIONS OF MY FAITH

A strange thing happened on the way home from Bible Study one evening.  The only male in the car shared his understanding of his slant of the Catholic religion. (I often wonder if it is as confusing to Catholics to understand our beliefs as it is for me to understand all things Catholic…but I try.)

One lady in the car said she really didn’t know about being “born again” but tried to live like a good person.  Another lady wondered if she had to have a “Damascus” experience to be “saved.

Well, of course, I just jumped in with both feet and I am not sure if I confused the issue or if there was any clarification with the words I said as I shared the following…

“I was twelve years old, when I first felt the presence of God in my bedroom. I had been reading my Bible and suddenly I felt like Jesus was there…I could almost see the sandals on his feet.”  That moment probably formed my life like no other.  God was real, God was not just a word in a book, God was somehow touching me.  A bit scary but a bit wonderful too.

The follow-up to that experience was that I was suddenly marching to an entirely different drummer.  Of course, school and friends were important, but God kept pushing me into all things religious and I got steady doses of it at Sunday School, Vacation Bible School, Explorers, CGIT, church choirs etc.  Way back, we actually had Bible Study classes in our Home Economics room, if you wanted to attend…and I attended.

I still have a couple of old school friends from those days and I should ask them what they thought of my single mindedness.  I think I practiced my preaching on them… It followed through right into my relationship with my soon to be husband…church was where it was all happening and I found myself also visiting his Pentecostal one…often with his Mom.

Then ‘life’ stepped in…as it often does…marriage, children, various postings both overseas and in Canada and finally a move out west…and there I was teaching CGIT, Sunday School and back in Choir.  I even became a Church Secretary for five years.

So, when my friend asked about Salvation I tried to explain that what had happened to me was not exactly going to happen to her.  She is quite a different person.  God knew exactly how to reach my frenetic personality…keeping me busy, busy in the church.  Yes, he had touched me so specifically when I was young, but guiding my energy was what I needed at the time.  What she needed might be quite different.  God had already placed her in several situations where she had to reach out to him and her salvation was an on-going happening and to just keep trusting him.

There was a silence in the car and I laughingly said, “Okay, that’s your sermon for this evening.”  I’m not sure what lasting effect it will have on anyone, but at my age there is not that many years to tell others about God’s love and the part he plays in your life, so I laid it on them…they are dear friends and I think they listened…only God knows.

TREES AND BABIES

Now you are probably wondering how I am going to possibly tie together trees and babies.  Well, it started with the idea of the tree out front which is budding out again this spring. I noticed that the lower branches are filled with buds while those at the top are still waiting tight in their little sheaths.  I thought they were something like children in that they grow from the bottom up.

The tree out front has such a special place in my heart, as during the last year of Harry’s life, he sat in his big easy chair and watched the seasons spelled out in its foliage.  Gardening was always my thing, but he seemed fascinated by the tree.  It went through all its particular stages before his September death…he never saw the tree stripped bare of its leaves and I often felt like the tree, that Fall and winter,  bereft of all that had been so close to me for so many years.  But God in his mercy knew there would be needed rest and that come the spring I too would find there was still life in me and seasons to be experienced.

On the radio yesterday a psychologist was speaking about how a tiny baby is learning from the very beginning.  It is absorbing information and constantly using that  to become that which God has in mind.  We learn step by step, like babies and the tree out front has grown step by step until it has become mature and offers food to the birds and shade to the flowers underneath.  It has fulfilled its purpose.

And we are much the same; growing physically and spiritually, ever changing. He has a plan for us.  Sometimes we aren’t too discerning but hopefully we are fulfilling his purpose.  What an adventure this is…  with his help, achieving God’s plan for our lives.

GOOD DEALS AND CONDO FEES

Today, God’s creation is covered with snow.  I am less than happy about snow, as it is April but perhaps the earth needs a bit more rest and what could be more restful than sleeping under the cleanest white blanket you have ever seen.  And although for others it may entail a half hour of shoveling, for me, those days are gone forever and the cleanup crew for our streets has just left…a luxury that is covered in my condo fees.

For everything there is a price.  It would be great if living accommodation was free but even your tent space in a park costs.  I have lived in many places; some of them in different countries and none were free…not even the gravel pit we stayed one night, as overflow parking for our truck and trailer.

And someone had to pay the price for our home in heaven.  that accommodation didn’t come cheap…it cost Jesus his life.  Sometimes I think we have become somewhat blase about the price he paid…Easter reminds us that he laid his life on the line, not just for a few folks living in those times, but for all of us for all times.   So in some ways he has paid the price again and again.

In the past twelve years my condo fees have risen over 50%. I imagine other condo owners have the same complaint.  And of course taxes never go down either. There is no free ride on this railroad of life.

We are very much taken by advertising that lists ‘Free’ products…you know, that old come-on about buy one get one free. I think I got caught up in it recently which some packaged soups.  I have about a dozen of them.

Actually I think we all like a bargain and the best one I have found was in Revelations 21:6 which says…”to anyone who is thirsty I will give the right to drink from the spring of the water of life with out paying for it.” ..and who wants to miss a bargain like that one?