NOT DEAD YET

I don’t want to alarm anyone with my title…but as I type this, the title does describe my present position. I think it describes the position of anyone who is presently reading this.  We are at this moment…alive!  I am as guilty as anyone else in not taking these ‘alive’ moments and making them into beautiful memories for tomorrow.  We get so obsessed by our planning for tomorrow we sometimes forget to live for today.

My story this morning is about a Polk Dot Hypoestes…nope, it’s not a dress but it too has pretty pink dots on it.  It is a plant a friend gave me a while back.  I usually have good luck with plants but not this time.  It grew lanky…I trimmed it.  It began to lose leaves…I gave it more light, I fed it bits of fertilizer..and then finally I put it in the bedroom window and said, “It’s up to you.”  So there it sat pouting, while I visited my other plants.  I don’t coddle them, but they know I appreciate their sharing their unique beauty with me.

Today I pulled up the bedroom shades and looked at my ‘polka dot’ plant.  The leaves had fallen off and three stems were now nude, but there at the base of the plant were two tiny shoots with green leaves and pink polka dots.  Wow! It was like a resurrection.

Within minutes I had it in the kitchen, cut off the old shoots and gave it a fresh drink.  It will now join a miniature rose that is sitting on the kitchen table…it needs a little company.

Life is sometimes like that too. We grow straggly at times, and it seems just at those times another crisis appears on the scene and we wilt a bit more.  About then, we often just back away from everything, convincing ourselves that perhaps God is telling us that he doesn’t need our input anymore…our job is done…we put ourselves in the bedroom window and wait to die.

But God knows that hiding way deep down inside is the child he created and the gifts he gave her that are still valuable and usable and he has a plan for them to be used.

Do you really think he would waste what he has built into you? He can use those gifts in some way to make this world a little better place.  So you’re a widow…comfort other widows, so your grandchildren are not around…cuddle babies in the hospital…you  can’t drive anymore…phone your friends, or offer to do phoning for non-profits…read to the blind, help the handicapped and be sunshine for those whose lives are in darkness.

I bet you’ll find lots of tiny green leaves of your gift, just needing a bit of water and direction, that will grow into new gifts for God to use out there in the world.  He has a plan for your life, so get out of the bedroom window and take a look out the living room one….a whole world is out there, waiting just for you.

WHAT’S IN A NAME?

I am crying.   Tissues are scattered around me…what would we do without these toss away tissues?  I have just been chatting with my older sister.  Yes, older sister. She is over 90 years old.  I fill her in on the family and she does the same.  Besides DNA, we have in common a deep faith in God.  What a blessing!  This doesn’t always happen in families.  She doesn’t roll her eyes when I speak of my beliefs, she just smiles and nods her head.

I have so many great memories of her in my childhood as she was the one assigned to take me to school and to Sunday school  She was part of my married years too. Her husband and mine were the best of friends and they spent hours on the lake ‘fishing’ and sometimes they even caught something!

But finally, after ten minutes on the phone it is time to say our goodbyes.  I say “I love you” and  she replies, “I love you too, Paddy.”  I hang up and the tears continue to fall.  She is the only one allowed to call me that…well, her and my Harry.. My Dad laid that Irish name on me when I was born and she continued with it.

I find it amusing that so often people when announcing the birth of a boy or girl, are often questioned, “What are you calling the baby?”  Names carry important messages.  Scripture says that God has named us and we are His.  That’s who we are…God’s children. We, when we were small babies, didn’t really know our names or who we belonged to, but our parents did…so God knows who we are and whom we belong to…He has already named us.

My tears have left me with a sniffle, but the tissues still surround me.  They are reminders that for a few minutes I have stepped back into the past, a past that is often bitter sweet, but there comes a time to throw out the tissues and take a chance on today.  God has promised that He will never leave me or forsake me and who knows the wonderful surprises He has in store for me today?  Time to go and see.

RUNNING AWAY FROM HOME

Many long years ago my two girls, aged 3 and 5, decided that they would run away from home.  They packed up their two little doll suitcases and were about to leave when their Daddy drove up.  They explained that they were not happy at home and were leaving.

Without even the shade of a smirk he furrowed his brow and asked , “I wonder if I can find two little girls that might like to go watch some special ice-skating at the arena, I’ve got these two tickets.”  Well, it was hardly a minute before they had marched back inside and deposited their suitcases on their beds.  Dad’s invitation was just too good to refuse.

The other day I had a real upset. You know, the kind that eats at your insides and you spend hours sorting it though, trying to deal with it. I could not run away from it and it smoldered for two days and then finally I knew I had to deal with it.

Dealing with hurt is always a personal thing.  I do a lot of praying and I go from one end of the spectrum to another…forgiveness, anger, then compassion for the other person, then irritability…on and  on it goes.   Finally I “ran away from home” and headed to the local Canadian Tire store.  Yes, an odd place for a woman in crisis to go…no dress shops for me…it was Spring and I needed FLOWERS AND PLANTS.  I needed to see God in his creation and assure myself that He was present, even if I was upset.

And He was there.  Within an hour I had rearranged my mind, my physical body and my spirit to be more in line with God’s will.  He wanted peace for me and I managed to find it.

It would be so nice to tell non-Christians that being a Christian means you’ll never be angry, never hurt and always happy. But, no way.  Being a Christian means you’ll be all of those things but you can deal with them by realizing that God is there, in the little problems, the big disappointments and especially in the solutions.  Like the “Daddy” my little girls had, the Lord has new gifts to offer, a brighter tomorrow and the tickets to a better life.

Just reach out and stop running away from Him.He has so much more planned for you.

WHERE HAVE ALL THE YEARS GONE?

Some years ago I visited some very young nephews.  They insisted we all play a part in their imaginary Star Wars game…when they got to me, they looked at my white hair and announced, “It’s too late for you Auntie Pat.”

I’m find that I am too late for many things nowadays.  How I wish I could ski again; now it is but a memory and really not a good one as I spent a lot of time with my face in the snow.  And even a few moments jiving to the music of the 50,s would leave me breathless…but oh it was so much fun!

But it was interesting the other day to hear my daughter discussing me with one of my friends.  “I think she is some kind of preacher.” She has sat through a few of my bible studies as I tried to explain what Max Lucado had written in the study guide. Max and I get along fairly well, but there are a few times when I have felt like phoning him and asking where he came up with ‘that’ particular question.

I have led this group for over ten years and so far these special friends keep appearing at my door every Friday morning.  I guess God doesn’t feel that it is “too late” for me and that there may be a few more good years left in this senior.

Yes, the senior years have put limitations on many of life’s activities.  It is humbling to find my driving abilities are not what they once were and a trip to the Mall includes a lot more ‘sit down’ time than it used to.  And these limitations are on the list for most of us …either today or down the road.

But one thing the years do teach is compassion.  You see a young mom struggling with her family in the grocery store.  Been there, done that! You walk through the hospital and find a not so young woman, pushing her sick husband in a wheelchair and you say…been there, done that! You see a senior, who used to bring his spouse to church, now walk alone to his car after church and you say…me too, and you know the ache in their heart.

I may not be able to play in Star War games with my nephews but I can still carry on and God may still have a few chores for me to do.  He will let me know.

 

 

DO NOT BE AFRAID

My growing up years were during the 2nd World War, yet I do not recall being afraid…well maybe a little afraid for my older brother who was over in Italy with the Seaforth Highlanders, fighting that war.  I adored him.  He did come home; badly wounded but still his old corny self, saying “Hello brat, give your big brother a hug.”

The War certainly permeated our lives and the radio and movie theatres were full of bad news but we ALL prayed.  The whole country was on good terms with God.  They say there are no atheists in fox holes and there were few atheists in Canada…those who were kept their mouths shut.

There was a scarcity of so many things…tea, coffee, butter.  I remember when margarine came on stream…ugly white plastic bags with a small orange bubble inside.  You had to squeeze the bubble to get the colour into the margarine.  It took a bit of work but it did achieve a more “buttery” look once it was done.

Of course school, church, family, music and boys filled my life but behind it all was the voice of Churchill, telling us what was going on “over there”and that we should “neva, neva give up.”

Our churches were full, full of young people, learning quickly that life was a very precious commodity.  We were perhaps more serious about things then, than today.  Just feeding a family and staying alive was our goal in life.  The newspapers and scary telegrams told of losses that literally decimated families.  But through it all there was hope.

We were clinging to Luke 12:4-7…”Do not be afraid, even the hairs on your head are numbered.”  God would not desert us.

Today’s television and radio news fills our eyes with horrors that give us nightmares…and we are overwhelmed and cry out to God…”Where are you in this awful mess and what can we, small as we are, do about it?”

I guess what we can do is PRAY!  Pray for those in government that they will have the wisdom needed and the fortitude to find right ways of handling situations that often break our hearts and we can beseech a loving God that He will remain faithful.

I look back over those wartime years…World War 2, the “Cold war”, the Korean War, etc. and I remember that God did not forsake us then and will not forsake us now and I live in hope that with Him beside us, there will be a better tomorrow.

SAWDUST BURNERS

The title to my blog might mystify some of my readers but maybe there are a a few that still remember ‘sawdust burners’.  We had one in our kitchen when I was a ‘kid’.  The ordinary black-topped stove had a large metal bin on one side that actually ate sawdust.  The sawdust flowed down, feeding the fire below and heating the adjoining stove.  It actually worked very well and I ate many a meal that was cooked on that very stove.

Storing the sawdust was a bit more of a challenge and we had a spare room in the basement that contained the sawdust (and a chute outside that when opened allowed the sawdust to feed into the room.)  I am sure it would break all codes and regulations today but no one seemed to be concerned so much about those things years back.

My job as the oldest of the three youngest, was to go to the basement, bring up the sawdust and Mom would pour it into the metal bin.  I recall hauling one 5 gallon pail up then eventually being big enough to haul two of them at a time.  I was a bit of a tom-boy and loved the challenge.

Sometimes the burner needed fuel in the evening and it was my job to go down to the basement and get it.  That meant turning on a series of lights along the way.  One evening I inadvertently left on the light in the room with the sawdust…not a good move as the new load that had been delivered the day before, had pretty well filled everything to the ceiling.  I don’t know what sent me down an hour or so later but I noticed the light was on and when I went to turn it off I smelled something.  Even in those days I had a nose like a blood-hound. I have trouble seeing and hearing but a scent I can pick up anywhere.

When I got Mom downstairs we realized that yes, some sawdust had started to smolder.  It was by the grace of God I hadn’t burned the house down.   The odd thing is that the house did have a fire years later, when I was long gone.  All the upstairs rooms were destroyed, including my bedroom which still holds so many memories for me.

When I look back I can see God’s grace and mercy in so many situations in my life.  I must have kept Him busy.  I was a precocious child…not mentally but physically … trying out anything.  The climbing rope in the gym didn’t stop me (I went right to the top).  I helped my uncle put a roof on our two story house.  I was small but fearless.  And eventually I learned to carry four, yes four, five gallon pails of sawdust to the kitchen, from the garage, where eventually the sawdust was stored as a safeguard from my burning the house down.

It is hard to give up those adventures of the past…now carrying in the groceries is a challenge but God is still keeping watch over me and I think I am still giving Him a few laughs.

SIGNS

I spent my childhood in a small town in the Fraser Valley of B.C.  Idyllic would best describe those growing up years.  A very few people had cars and we walked everywhere.  It was good exercise as the whole town was built on a hill.

Our home (yes, on a hill) overlooked the Matsqui Flats, the Fraser River and from the back yard I could see, in the distance, Mt. Baker, (and alas, I took this view for granted, and it was so beautiful.) A small mountain was in the foreground and each winter there would be a scattering of snow on it, in the shape of a spaniel dog.

I can still hear my mother exclaim…”Well, I guess winter is here, the dog is on the mountain.”

I see a rainbow and in it is the promise of God’s grace. I see the Canadian geese  fly
overhead in April…spring is around the corner.  I see on Facebook, my great-grandson sporting a space in his teeth…one tiny tooth gone already, the baby boy is growing into a man…well down the road, but this new tooth will go with him,  God is revealing his plans.

My own fragility is becoming more apparent…no night driving, can’t see properly, no big meals, can’t digest them, no climbing up the 15ft. stepladder anymore, my balance isn’t that great…so many signs are telling me,…Pat, you are no longer young, no longer middle-aged, you are old! “Baloney, I am older,” I say to myself…but God says, I have sent you signs that point the way to a new future.  Not one I am afraid of, for He is with me all the way, but one I am attempting to plan for as I like things organized…I can almost hear God laughing at me as I type this as He knows I hate leaving a mess anywhere.

A friend of mine died recently. I spoke to her three days before, knowing she was not feeling that well.  Should I have just dragged her off to the hospital?  She had family in town.  Was it my place to take action, or would it have been intrusive?  I guess there will always be regret…but were there ‘signs’ that she was really ill…did I miss them?

God is not silent although He seldom speaks audibly.  He doesn’t have to, as all creation shouts out at us…”Look, I am here…I painted this sunrise for you, caused this giggle in a child, put this ‘purring’ in a kitten, this sweetness in your orange juice, this affection between two people, this love for your child…look, I am here!

A well known hymn states, “Open my eyes that I might see, glimpses of truth thou hast for me.”  It wouldn’t be a bad idea to start each day with a similar prayer on our lips for God is constantly sending us messages of his love for us.  We just have to open our eyes to the signs.