FULLNESS

I’m full today…full of memories, regrets, sad thoughts, happy thoughts, bad decisions, good decisions… the list is endless…and I am full of tears, so I sit and cry.

My little room in my retirement home is wrapped around me, there is a soft spring sprinkle on my window and I have just had a hearty meal of meatballs, green beans and potatoes…such good food here at my new home…yet there is a hunger inside me that is not satisfied.  I am missing my husband.  I had to make some big decisions this weekend and he was not here to support me. It is times like this I realize more than ever… I am a widow and I am alone.

There are three new books here beside me and shelves more to read at the Manor’s library, my Bible is nearby and its well worn pages give me insights into deeper thoughts but somehow today nothing satisfies.

I miss my husband’s laughter and the plans for tomorrow that we used to make.  My tomorrows hold little excitement, because he is not here to share them with me.  But life goes on and decisions for the future I have to make on my own.  I am doing lots of praying.

Finally, I wipe my tears and admonish myself for my weakness.  I have been going through old papers and the room is a mess.  There taped on my little frig is a recent pick me up that I had run into…1st Thessalonians 5:16…”Be joyful always, pray at all times.  Be thankful in all circumstances.  This is what God wants from you in your life in union with Christ.”

I recall that although it has been a difficult week, I have had coffee with friends this morning and made them laugh and I have already had several chats with the Lord and so thankful he is there to wipe my tears, dust me off and say…”It’s a nice day, now run away and play.”

So I run to the computer and share my heartache with you, knowing there are a few out there that have heartaches too and I pray God will comfort them and allow them to smile again, to pray some more and to thank him that joy, prayer and thanks are a part of our life in union with Him.

 

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THE RIGHT PRICE

This was written a few years back when I still had my condo, but I thought you might enjoy reading it….

There was a garage sale going on across the street this morning and my bible study ladies were like a bunch of kids gawking and pointing.  I, of course was trying to lead the study.  I threatened to pull the blinds and then decided that most of them were mature adults and the should be able to concentrate…alas, I was wrong and finally after a prayer  I gave up and watched as they donned coats and went over to survey all the treasurers stacked up in the across the street driveway.  I asked the owners if I would get a commission on any of their sales…but they just laughed.

The incident did prompt one of my group to tell the story of her garage sale.  There of course, were the salable items all neatly priced and a bin of ‘give away’ items..anything to get rid of the mess in the basement.  She placed a tarnished high-chair nearby.

“What do you want for this old high-chair,” she was asked.  She explained it had held her children and her grandchildren and was decades old.  The questioner just grunted and moved on.

A few minutes later a lady strolled by and walked around the high-chair several times and without even questioning its worth said “I’ll give you fifty dollars for it.”

I guess beauty is in the eye of the beholder and what she saw in the high-chair was probably a lifetime of little ones being fed and loved and cared for and it touched her heart and obviously her pocket book too.

Jesus certainly made a name for himself during his lifetime but some of his neighbours questioned, “Isn’t this the carpenter’s son?” (Matthew 13:55)  They could not see what was hidden under his ordinary appearance.

I think it is rather sad that there are still so many that just can’t understand what Jesus is all about…and yet they say there are no atheists in fox holes.  You can have a whole life time of loving the Lord and yet opt out of worshiping Him for love of the swimming pool, the ski hill, the band that is playing a gig in the local bar…Believe me, I still like the swimming pool, the memories of the ski hill and I recently bought a CD with the music of Guy Mitchell and all the songs I loved but Scripture says where your treasure is, there is your heart also…and the best treasure always was and is the relationship I’ve had with the Lord.  The rest was just icing on the cake.

 

THE WRITTEN WORD

The problem with the written word is that in today’s world, it usually cannot be erased…forgiven but not erased.   God has a much better plan.

But, put something down on paper or on the computer and it is there for posterity.  My daughters are occasionally reminding me…”but Mom, you always said.”  I might argue that they misunderstood and get away with it..but once I lay it out in print my fate is sealed.

So, I seldom argue with Ministers of the word…well, I once worked as a church secretary for two ministers and I was known to disagree…about them smoking in the office and once I did tell a Minister that no matter how deeply he was affected by the murder of a young girl, he would have to go into the Sanctuary and  do the funeral service…the church was packed.  He weighed about 200 pounds and I slightly over 100, but duty was duty and I had had the influence of the military in my life.  Consequently I usually try to stay away from theological opinions.  They (Ministers) can one-up me any time they want to, but I think I am right in saying the the Great commandment was “Love the Lord your God, with all your heart, soul and mind.” then He added the 2nd one..”love your neighbour as yourself.”  But let’s just deal with “IF you love me keep my commandments.”

Most parents know all about this one.  Of course we always love our kids, but when they reflect the rules (commandments) we have made for them, I must admit they become even dearer.  I am talking values that are scriptural…kindness, patience, giving loving..perhaps the first few words a child learns are “yes, no, wait and share.”

So what does God mean when he says keep my commandments.  Sometimes scripture is not always clear and different interpretations cloud some of our understanding but we remember these are the commandments that Jesus spoke about to people in the Temple.  He knew they were God’s word.

It is not always wise to be tolerant of bad behavior.  I wasn’t with my kids and I’m not with myself or others…i.e. I just ate a whole bag of popcorn…plain stupid and now I have a stomach ache.  If we make mistakes or something is wrong, then let’s be brave enough to say so and fix it.  But I do agree that forgiveness is essential and bitterness is not a pretty package.  I tend to lean on that old standby…What would Jesus do?”  What do you lean on? What guides the decision-making in your life?

QUESTIONS FOR THE LORD

We are all so different, even in families and I guess that gives us a certain stability, otherwise the foundation of our families would tend to lean all one way.  I am a planner and my husband tended to go with a kind of gut feeling.  It made for interesting conversations and a few arguments but no outright warfare.

We used to live across from a small lake (how I loved that little blue house with its view of the lake), anyway, there were several small slews at its side with tall grassy sections and many a time I would just sit, ever so quietly and watch.  Often there would be little yellow ducklings bobbing out of the grass here and another one there and then the mother duck would appear and attempt to round them all up.

Now geese are different.  In precise rows with Dad or Mom at the front and the other at the back, they would sail down the lake like they had been trained by the Canadian Armed Forces…very impressive.

So actually ducks don’t go in rows, geese do and they both have their own personal way of handling their young and like human parents we do much the same and then our time together is gone and eventually the little ones fly off on their own.

God has arranged us in families and I am finding that that isn’t just for the children’s benefit.  Now that my senior years are upon me, I am reaching out to my children and my younger friends for advice and support.  The other day a young lady I know saw me carrying something that was obviously a burden and was by my side in a minute to help…that courtesy made my day.

Travel or cruises are not on my want list any more but a warm smile, a friendly hello and a helping hand gives me a glow that lasts all day.  Things no longer need to be planned to the last detail and I have pretty well stopped multi-tasking…a phone call with an invite to coffee can change my plans for the day in an instant and I thank God that there has been these extra years to enjoy all the gifts he supplies without the worry of messing up my work list…the ducks and geese can do their own thing…now there’s time for talking with God and asking him those deep questions, like…why do the goslings swim in straight rows and the ducklings scamper all over?  Questions only he can answer.

THE OTHER SIDE OF THE STORY

At the writing of this article there has been a dialog about suicide assisted death.  Although I worked as a Hospital Volunteer for over 40 years I had only been asked once to sit with a dying patient; however I did sit with my mother in law during her demise and I sat with my husband as he gently slipped out of my arms into the arms of the Lord.

Many, who have read my blog in the last few years have read the story of his terminal cancer and his stay in hospital for four days before his death.  May I share with you again, a bit more of the story.

When Harry first had cancer my main concerns was “pain.”  Throughout his ordeal the doctor assured me she had lots of medication for pain and not to worry.  And she was right.  The morphine he used during the last six months helped considerably and the oxycontin for break-through pain was a godsend.  I am not saying that this works for all kinds of pain but I thank God it worked for his.  With its help and home-care we managed until nearly the end.

On his 2nd day in hospital he said he’d had a dream the night before that he had died.  I asked the doctor about it and he said my husband had had a heart attack that night. (His heart had been weakened 17 years earlier by a heart attack.)  I didn’t share with Harry, that this second heart attack was more than  just a dream.  I just smiled and assured him I would be there for him.  We had two more good days.  He drifted in and out of consciousness but we had special moments and I thanked God for those last few days when I could still have him close by.

The morning of his death he was fussing a bit and I called the nurse and she advised me that he would go quickly but he would be able to hear what I said.  So, I leaned over his bed and asked him if he was in any pain and his last words to me were, ‘No pain, no pain whatsoever.’

I thanked him for our years together, for our two little girls and told him to go with the Lord, that I’d be okay and be with him sometime soon.

Those moments have carried me through almost 12 years of widowhood.  Yes, that last year was a hard one but we discovered things about each other we had never known.  He loved to be read to…something I didn’t know and I loved reading stories aloud.  His afternoon nap was always proceed by my reading the Daily Bread meditation, something we had never done before.  Those extra months showed me a new side of a husband I had lived with for 54 years…they were a gift God gave us.

Perhaps it was selfish of me; I knew they were not fun-filled days and he didn’t feel that great…cancer is a hard thing to live with but we looked forward to every moment we had together.  We knew that this special time was slowly slipping away, so it was very, very precious.

Both life and death are a part of our time here on earth. The birth of a baby takes effort and some pain and the death of an individual can follow the same path but the Lord has promised he would be there for us every step of the way…and he was and he always will be.

CLEANSING

Most women will agree, I believe, that one of the greatest machines ever invented was the dishwasher.  It has freed us from chapped hands, frizzled hair  (leaning over a dish pan for an hour) and many a family argument…(you washed yesterday, it’s my turn today.)

Actually, one of the fondest memories I have is of my two girls standing in front of the sink, singing their hearts out as they did the dishes.   Good memories!

I don’t mean to be the least bit irreverent but God is like a dishwasher.  In him I dump all the messes I made through the day…I added a “sorry” (soap) then I let him take the mess away and leave me with a new day, (or dishes).  Sometimes my “sorry” isn’t as sincere as it should be and those sins come back and haunt me, like a dirty dish that didn’t get properly cleaned.

Water has its place in scripture much the same as it does in today’s world although in Ezekiel 36:25 it says, “Then will I sprinkle clean water on you and you will be clean.” Obviously we do not have to be doused.  I’m sure a theologian can answer my question…was this the first baptism?

We live in a sack of water before we are born and we seem to be attracted to it ever after.  A resort  without a pool is not very enticing and the sight of lakes and rivers always turns me on, but then I was B.C. born and raised.  Most children enjoy their bath times and most families have great memories of bubbles, baths and babies.
But like the dirty dishes, sin piles up in our lives…Jesus was tempted but he never fell into the things that haunt us…not just an unkind word, but an unkind thought…you think God doesn’t know about those?  Think again.

I was talking to a friend after church, remarking on how her little girl had grown…as a baby she had been in her mother’s arms in the pew in front of my husband.  He was enchanted by her.  Now he is gone and the baby has grown into a lovely young lady with a baby of her own.  I said something to the effect that kids are a lot of work and she replied, “Yes, but they are so adorable, you can’t resist them.”

I wonder if God feels the same way about us…He sees the messes we make and the mistakes and the temper tantrums and he still continues to pick us up and cleanses us in the mercy of his love.  Like a clean dish pulled out of the dishwasher, he tell us to go into  the world and be prepared for whatever he puts on our plate… so be prepared…it might be something scrumptious!

HOUSE BUILDING

“Go answer the door,” I was instructed, as the knock sounded again.  I was not very old but felt proud to be given the responsibility.  There stood a young man of about 21 years.  He looked a little worn around the edges, but the Depression was on and we all looked that way.

“Your Mom in?” he asked and I called her to the door.  She recognized him as the son of a family she hadn’t seen in ages.  He told us he was without a job and a place to stay.  We took him in that day and he never left…he became one of the family, like a much older brother. My father worked for the railroad and was seldom home.  He filled a role that was often empty.

Perhaps more than anyone else he shaped who I was to be…and I became the boy of the family.  What a wealth of experience I learned at his hands…shingling the roof, pouring cement for the basement, gardening, sawing small logs for the furnace, painting rooms, there was nothing that was considered too difficult, consequently the house became my school for learning things many of my girl friends knew nothing about.  We tore that place apart, one room at a time and I loved every moment of it.  In my mind I can go back to every room and pencil in each window and door, every stairwell and closet and even describe the lino that was on the floors.  It took a lot of work but along the way I learned skills and had experiences that were not often available to many girls in those days.

C.S. Lewis in Mere Christianity says we are like a house that God is renovating for His purpose.  I think back to the splinters from the roof shingles, the itch on my legs from the insulation we laid in the ceiling and the sawdust I packed from the garage to our sawdust-burning kitchen stove.  Not all my scenarios were pleasant but they taught me things I would never learn anywhere else and they made me into the independent person I became.

I also recall my terrible asthma as a child, limiting my breathing and how I refused to let it stop me from singing, which I loved…the singing was a blessing in disguise as my lungs need that exercise.  I recall how the same sickness visited me as a young mother, when we were in the Air force and how I got help from the best medical doctors….ones that would probably never been available to me as a civilian.  And the list goes on.  God in his wisdom used the very negative things that were happening in my life to make positives out of them.  He was building a house out of me, a house he could live in.

Of course these are all the physical things that were going on but in the meantime I was being changed spiritually.  I had wonderful Sunday school teachers, great Choir leaders and opportunities to be involved in every part of my church.  Thing were  put on hold for a bit as my marriage and babies came on the scene but God wasn’t finished with me…my house is not yet completed and I am always astounded at what he might want me to change next…I thought I already had it right!  But He is patient and ever forgiving and in retrospect we have had many good years building this house together.