Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Giving Out of Need

I firmly believe that you can't out-give God.  As a single parent who provided the *sole* support for my son for 13 years, I had some hard times.  When the AC unit needed to be replaced, I was the one who had to take out a loan to pay for it.  When the septic tank had to be pumped, that was my responsibility.  When toilets and sinks needed to be fixed, the bills came to me.  The list goes on.....

As a result (of these and divorce bills), I accrued a lot of debt.  What God has been doing in the last year is nothing short of amazing.  He has provided the means for me to pay off two of those debts--the latest one today!  The others are slated to be paid off in the new year.

He enabled me to double up or triple up on payments in the last six months.  I was looking at my tracking sheets today and am amazed at how He has provided for this!  All the while, He provided the means for me to continue to do for others less fortunate.

A few years ago I made the comment, "I give out of my own need."  There definitely have been many times over the years when I really couldn't afford to give or tithe, but I did it, sometimes by rearranging bills.  I knew that God would honor my giving and that He would provide....both for me and whomever He called me to bless.   He always has, sometimes in the most surprising ways.

You can not out-give God

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Hope, or is it Faith?

I have a problem with the words hope and faith being used synonymously.  In my mind, the words  hope and faith seem to be at odds with one another.  For a believer to say she "hopes" such and such will happen, she questions whether it will; therefore, her waffling is in contrast to faith.  The Bible tells us that faith is the "substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen."  Because it is impossible to please God without faith, I think believers have to go beyond the "hoping" stage; they have to believe it with certainty as though there can be no doubt. 

Let's look at the word substance in the "substance of things hoped for."  Dictionary.com lists this as one definition of substance:  "the actual matter of a thing, as opposed to the appearance or shadow; reality."  I like the last word:  reality.  So, I read that faith is the reality of what we hope for.  Think about that.  We are to accept that what we hope for is reality.  Maybe it has not come to fruition yet, but we are to treat it as though it will. 

Now, let's look at the second half of that verse:  "the evidence of things unseen."  Faith is to be the "evidence," or proof,  of things we haven't seen.  To me, this means we are to take that explanation above one step further:  We are to accept that what we hope for is reality that has not become known to us yet, but not only will it become known to us, but it is already real.  Our attitude is to treat it has already happened.

I suppose this is why I refuse to listen to my mother's negativity, and for the most part, she has stopped such talk around me.  I believe God is going to act on a certain issue in the future; in fact, He is setting things in motion now.  We forget as humans that God has His own timetable; we tend to want what we want when we want it.  So, in *my* mind, the issue is a done deal; I am merely waiting on Him to reveal what He is doing to the rest of us.

This, my friends, is the essence of faith. 

Friday, December 25, 2015

Christmas

Christmas was different this year.  First of all, wearing a tank top on Christmas day and swatting bugs the moment I step outside does not put me in the Christmas spirit.  Almost everything about it was different.  Besides the unseasonable heat, this is the first Christmas without my son.  In June I put him on a plane for Colorado to let him  know his father, whom he had not seen since 2002.  (You can do the math and infer the rest.)  For the last many Christmas Eves, he and I went out to eat:  sushi, Outback....various places.  It was a tradition that has now died--perhaps with no chance of resurrection.

Fast forward to Christmas day.  The last few years we had gone to my parents' house, bringing the repeat Thanksgiving feast that I had toiled to prepare Christmas morning.  I mean, I have had turkey and the trimmings for *every* Thanksgiving and Christmas since I was a child.  It was t-r-a-d-I-t-I-o-n.  Traditions, by definition,  are not supposed to change.  However, last weekend my mother announced, in only the *way* she can, "I want no more turkey brought into this house!"  That did it.  Another tradition's coffin nailed shut.  The one bright side is that her edict freed me from cooking.  They came up with the idea for Beaufort Boil/Low country Boil/Frogmore Stew.  I helped Dad a little in the kitchen, but he pretty much cooked it himself.

My brother and sister-in-law came this morning as they always do.  I was shocked when they said they would stay for lunch, but I think that helped my feelings because it gave me someone else to talk to and made the day go quicker for me.

I  normally love this season, but I am quickly approaching the time of year I hate the most:  January and February.  Those months have always brought on seasonal depression in me, or at least that is what I attribute my feelings to.  The tears came today, but they were not as bad as I anticipated.

So, aside from seeing my brother and sister-in-law, the day was not a total loss.  I was there when my son called my parents, so I was able to talk to him.  I also focused on thinking about a few other people to take the focus off of myself and my feelings.

Christmas is but one day, so if you are reading this and have felt the doldrums today, remind yourself of that; it is but one day.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Update on Mother

For those who know me well, you know my mother has been under hospice care since March 1 of this year.  When she came home, she was placed in a hospital bed in her dining room.  She was hooked to oxygen, and her fingernails were purple.  Fast forward to last week.  She is now out of hospice care and under care of a small lowcountry home health care company.

Back in September my dad hired a part-time sitter to help Mother get up with the walker and to help him out some to allow him to come and go and to do light housekeeping.  She strengthened Mother's legs enough that she has been sitting up for hours each day for over a month.  Hospice released her last week.

Now, a physical therapist will come a few days a week to strengthen her legs to hopefully have her more mobile.  She is a worrier by nature and is worried her long-term health insurance will stop paying for the part-time sitter.  Of course, if she gets mobile enough, they won't need the sitter any more.

When she went to see her family doctor last week to get his ok for this new company to take over, he did not recognize her; he recognized my dad.  She has lost so much weight.  Once he remembered her, he told her she was lucky to be alive; that's how sick she was.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Degenerating Before My Eyes

I am bewildered, perplexed, confused; I really don't know which adjective is most apropos.  My country is degenerating before my very eyes.  Our Presidential primaries have not even begun, but what I am seeing disturbs me to the core.  I begin this by saying I am not a registered democrat or republican; I have voted both ways.  However, I am disheartened (and all the aforementioned adjectives) that the republican front-runner is a racist.  Not only is he a racist, but he flaunts it...an "in your face" brashness that demeans anyone other than white men.  Yes, I said he demeans anyone.other.than.white.men.  He disdains Hispanics, Muslims, women....anyone.other.than.white.men.  It disturbs me because in spite of this, or perhaps "because" of this, he is the front-runner.  

I was talking to my good North Carolina friend this evening, and he broached something I had not thought of---hadn't wanted to ponder.  This "candidate" is so popular because he has brought out the hidden racism in millions of people.  He is their candidate of choice.  This same friend said that contrary to uniting the country, the election of the first African-American President brought racism out of the closet (my paraphrase/interpretation of his words).  Where are we as Americans when a rabid candidate spewing hatred against all the above groups is a major party's current run-away favorite?

Another scary thought is that "if" he is the republican nominee, millions of self-professed "Christians" will vote for him..... simply because they would NEVER entertain voting for a democrat of any flavor. 

So, through this circumlocution, I come to this point:

If Jesus Christ were alive on this earth today, what would he say to this candidate and his millions of followers?  What would Jesus say about the hate-filled speech?  What would he say to the millions of alleged "Christians" who are following this man or will vote for him if he is the nominee...simply because they would NEVER vote for a democrat?   Would he rebuke them and say, "Depart from me; I never knew you," or "If you vote for him, don't do so under the guise of following me"? 

Getting Started

Some of you may want to begin helping others in a personal way,  beyond giving money to charities, but you may not know how to start.  It can be overwhelming to think of what to do.  The main thing I can say is to keep your eyes and ears open for *need*.  If you have a heart for helping those in need, God *will* place the need before you.  The key is to have your ears and eyes tuned in to listen, hear, and see.  

Some people carry Ziploc bags of personal hygiene products in their trunks to give out when they see a homeless person or others in need on the street.  Others carry nonperishable foods in their trunk for the same purpose.  When we think of buying food for the needy, it does not have to be cumbersome.  I have utilized the Dollar Tree, B1G1F offers at BiLo and Publix, and now a discount grocery store in my parents' town.  I begin with any protein products, then I look for bulk rice, canned fruit and veggies, and some treats for the children.  Now, let me relate a true story of how God placed a need in my face.

A few months ago a colleague of mine down the hall brought a girl to my room to eat something the colleague had brought from home.  She knew I had no students at the time.  When she called me into the hallway as the sixth grader was eating, she asked if she could periodically bring her down to eat.  Then, she related the child's home situation of the step-dad being out of work due to an injury.  The girls would get two meals a day at school, but there was not much for the weekends and at night.  Bingo!  God sent her to me for me to fulfill that need.  

Now, some people may discount that notion.  However, that was the one and only time Y has been sent to my room to eat.  That was simply a time God used to alert me to a need.  Once he shows you, He will show you what to do. Giving to world missions is fine, and I know churches who focus on that.  They tend to think homeless and poor people here are lazy, but I digress into another post topic. 
However, there are people amongst us every day who need help...truly need help.
Let's open our eyes and hearts to see.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Why are we here?

Why are we here--as in "Why are we on this earth"?  Some would say we are here to have as much fun and get as much as we can while we are here.  Very selfish, self-absorbed people feel this way. I used to wonder why I was born.  It has only become clear to me in the last few years that we are here to help others.  This is a harsh, cruel world, and it is just getting worse.  At times I feel I am on the outside looking in.  I see people obsessed with the latest gadgets and getting, getting, getting.  A couple of weeks ago there was a picture making the rounds on Facebook of a woman's Christmas tree that appeared to have all of Walmart under it.  She bragged on how all of that loot was for her handful of kids.  She defended her gluttony by saying she bought gifts throughout the year to get to this point.  So??  What??  That makes it alright?  There are kids going without Christmas gifts this year, and there are entire families homeless.  THAT is reality.  Last week our social worker told me that some of the angels on our angel tree were getting only what we provided; their mothers or families had nothing else to give them. So, while it takes that woman's kids hours to open their presents, there are those with nothing or those with nothing beyond what someone provided for the family.

Today I read of a Dominos pizza delivery woman in Minnesota who started a Gofundme page for a homeless man who was living in a camper with no electricity or water.  That woman, who probably works paycheck to paycheck herself, was the impetus for that man now having a new home funded through donations to that website.  That is why we are here--to do what we can for the least among us.  For, as Jesus said, "Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me." (Matthew 25:40)

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Christmases Past and Present


I find that I am living in the past a lot; I know it has to do with my mother's illness this year, as well as the fact that my father is now 88 years-old.  More and more I think about how this life is so transitory.  So, while there are things in my life right now that would be heartbreaking if I stewed there, I dwell on the past a lot....reverting back to my childhood, if even momentarily, comforts.

So, it is not surprising that I have been thinking about Christmases past.  When I was a child in the early to mid-70s, we had a white artificial tree with some (now) antique ornaments as well as ornaments I made.  (My current tree still has those handmade ornaments.)  To me, it was magical--like instant snow.  It was under that tree for a couple of years that two special dolls were born to me.  I still have them boxed in my garage, and they may make an appearance here later this month.  As a child, I didn't get a ton of toys, but what I did get was special.  I spent months pouring over the Sears Wish Book, marking things I would like Santa to bring.  My mother and I made Christmas cookies with cookie cutters, and I had a joyous time frosting them.  Those memories are priceless.  That was such a simpler time. 

Years later, when I was on my own and even after my son was born, we went to a tree farm and cut our tree.  Both in Walterboro and here there was a tree farm within miles of my house.  Then, several years ago, it got to be too much trouble finding a tree that we could get into the stand and have it *stay*.  So, a few years ago I set out to find an artificial tree.  I came across a retro white one in Big Lots, I think.  It is perfect for me.  This year it is just me, so the tree is all that is up.  This season of my life is not my own; I spend each weekend travelling back and forth to my parents' house to visit and help them.  As a result, this year there will be no international Santas, no village....just this retro tree filled with my homemade ornaments and a few special ones throughout the ages.  As long as I can, I will have a tree....that is really all I want.  The older I get, the more I want simplicity and solitude.  That will make my holiday.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Miracles DO Happen

When my mother came home from ICU March 1, she had congestive heart failure, and the nurse told me how long she had was anyone's guess.  Hospice took over.  Now, a few days before Christmas she is slated to be removed from hospice and transitioned to home health care.  Both provide monitoring by Medicare, but my parents will have to provide her personal hygiene products, which they can do.  Next week Dad and my brother will get her in the car to go to her family doctor, Dr. Haynes, for him to sign off on this.  It will be her first time out of the house since Februaury.

ANOTHER MIRACLE is that my sister in law has a thyroid issue, not Alzheimer's.  Because of insurance issues, several years ago a doctor did not thoroughly test her and labelled her as having had a stroke.  That led to a host of other issues with doctors, but a neurologist here in Beaufort finally did an MRI, and there is nothing wrong with her brain!

Two Christmas miracles .  I await a third.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Gratitude

Gratitude---being grateful for what I have and the blessings God has bestowed....

I used to be the most negative person I know.  When I was in my 20s,  I believed that if the worst could happen, it would.  I can't pinpoint exactly when I began to change, but it happened after my cancer in 2007, I think.  That and the sub sequent surgeries and chemo grew my faith.  It has gradually increased until now when it is in full-blown mode. 

At this point in my life, I can not tolerate negativity.  I would say I have made a 360 degree spin around.  My life is not without its problems, which very few people know about, but it is a blessed life.  I look at people I know who have some of the most plum positions at work, and they are ungrateful, complaining people.  I just don't get it.

At this point, I am looking at retirement in 18 months......18 months.  Up until this past summer, I didn't imagine it would be possible for financial decisions I made 17 years ago.  Then, God arrived on the scene, and He arrived in a BIG way.  Aside from setting me up financially to retire, He has blessed me in so many ways:

1.  I get to spend quality time every weekend with my parents, who are 84 and 88.  Dad has been blessed exponentially, and Mother is even making inroads in her health.
2.  I have a plum position at work where I a now teach 3rd-5th graders.  I am still in awe of God's sense of humor in handing me this position.  Me?  with 3rd graders?  Who would have thought?!  Not me in a gazillion years!  :)
3.  I can impact people at work (big and little) with my baking.  He has given me a passion for baking, and dare I say, a gift?
4.  I am in good health, and so are my family members.
5.  I have 3, yes 3, part-time jobs.  If I plan right, I can work them all in the same day with my regular job.  Never in a bajillion years would I have believed I could work at home from my computer in my pajamas in front of the fire with my catavisors (supervisors).

This is somewhat of a rambling, but it is what is on my mind right now.

God is soooo   good; I do not understand ungratefulness.

 
 

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Faith and Negativity

This life is hard enough without my being inundated with negative people, naysayers.  I don't divulge much about my life and problems with many people for two reasons:  there are people who ask but really don't care; all they are interested in is gossip--- and there are naysayers--people who claim to have faith but look at the immediate circumstances and don't see a future of change.  I will not have those kinds of people in my bubble.  I don't need to be brought down by either type of people.  I know who my God is and what *HE* is capable of-----and *HIS* capabilities are limitless.  I am done trying to prove that to anyone.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Total Reliance

I just left my Saturday visit to BiLO.  My third graders won the monthly competition, so I had to get ingredients for their chosen prize:  an Oreo cake, not cupcakes.  As I was getting what I needed from the baking section, I noticed a sale on chocolate sprinkles and peppermint sugar.  $2 a bottle---not a big deal, except they were "extras," not necessary.  I thought of Lucas, who had requested chocolate sprinkles.  The peppermint sugar would go well with my planned Christmas cupcakes.  I said a little prayer to God to make sure He provides for what I need if I make this little splurge.  He knows my paychecks will take a hit for the n ext year. On the way home, it hit me:  this is what He wants.  He doesn't want Sundays only+ He wAnts Monday through Saturday, too.  This is what a relationship with Him means.  He wants us talking  to him over chocolate sprinkles for a brown-haired little 9 year-old named Lucas, too.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Childhood Memories

Can you see the two huge pine trees about where the grass is missing in this picture?  You can't?  I can.  When I look at this site in my parents' backyard, in view of the bathroom window, I am transported back to the early-mid 1970s.  There are two large pine trees and tucked between them is a camper shell---blue---my playhouse after Dad decided to sell the truck.  This was where the idea to become a teacher was birthed, I suppose.  (though I did NOT go to college for teaching)  I had a play kitchen set and dining table out there.  I would line the dolls and stuffed animals up and "teach" them.  Mother has told me she could hear me from the bathroom window (In those days we had 1 bathroom for 5 of us.)

To the right of where I stood to take this picture are two graves:
My first two cats are buried here by the garage.  The top one, Fluffy Marie's, is not legible because of algae that has grown on it.  This one, Priscilla Mae ("Prissy") was my very first cat I got at age 12 when my poodle died.  Prissy's mother was my paternal grandmother's barn cat.  My dad made these headstones for them, and I carved their names and dates into the concrete.
 
My parents bought this house before I was 2; they have lived in it since I was 4.  Someday, too soon for me no matter when, all of this will be gone-----sold.  So, I am capturing the memories while I can.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Hope in the Dark...

The last few days have been emotionally toiling.  I have felt like pulling the covers over my head and not emerging until spring.  God has given me a couple of nuggets to strengthen me.  The first was a phone call with a Fayetteville, NC area code; that could mean just one person---my guardian angel who began as a fresh-faced student in my English class in August of 1988.  He encouraged me for about half an hour as I got to work this morning.  The second nugget was this: 

http://www.aholyexperience.com/2015/10/how-to-keep-hoping-when-you-really-just-want-to-give-up/

It is a wonderful read, but the crux of it is that there is hope in the dark.  There is always hope in the dark.....That hope is faith.  We must have faith in the darkest of times.  That is what faith is; if things are going well, we don't need faith.


Sunday, October 25, 2015

When God is all there is

Life sucks.  It stinks.  People you love will deliberately (or not) hurt you.  They will deflect responsibility and play the blame game, assigning all of their problems' origins  to you.  No one can help; all your "friends" are absent.  There is but one you can run to, count on---and that's God.  He is always there to listen; He knows before you ever utter a word.  When God is all there is...

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

The tears flow

uncontrollably............The tears flow....not tears of sadness but of joy...uncomprehending joy.  How could God love me that much?  How could he love me enough to put a person from my past back into my life to offer encouragement when I am down? 

The tears flow when he tells me that my early morning prayer text signaled to him his meeting with a less-than-forthright boss would be ok.....

The tears flow.........uncontrollably when I think of the impact he says I had on his life....

The tears flow when I think of the little ones....and the not-so-little ones who lumber into my room each Friday....whose faces show indescribable joy when they bite into a simple cupcake...........

The tears flow when I think that such a simple act brings them such happiness..........

The tears are flowing unchecked tonight................

Monday, October 12, 2015

Shaking the Past of Failure

There is a time when I have to shake off the past....shed that skin before it consumes me and takes me back to that dark place...the place of Failure.  The place of I failed as a parent.  I failed as a Christian.  I failed as a teacher.  I was never good enough and never will be good enough.  I don't measure up in any area. To shake this, I must excise people from my life.  The perfect people have to go.  In their perfection they are toxic.  I must surround myself with the real people....the blemishes...the imperfect.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Thinking Inside the Box

This is the inside of Mother's precious box.  I have written about this before, but this is very dear to her.  Whenever I bathe her, she is very particular about where I put this and makes sure she gets it back when I am done.  It has items she wants near her:  Vicks Rub, a compact with mirror, lipstick, eyedrops, and Benedryl.....oh, and the tissues.   This affords her a modicum of control in a situation where she otherwise has no control.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Time marches on

I have been coming here to my parents' house every Saturday and Sunday now for five months.  I missed one Sunday.  I am tired.  God knows the deal I made with Him to enable me to continue this pace.  He has kept His end so far, and I have kept mine.  There are weekend days when I just want to stay in bed.  I don't like the drive even though it is only an hour.  My back yard needs attention, but I have no time for that now.

Yet, I relish this time with them. Changing Mother, bathing her....and all that encompasses.  Dad is almost 88, and Mother is 84.  Time marches on.  I am almost 53, a number so foreign to me forty years ago.  We don't know how much time any of us have, so I make the best of it.  He will give me strength for each day to do what I must.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Laughter

There is always laughter when I visit my parents.  Much of it centers around Mother's bodily functions.  Weird, I know, but she initiates it.  As I have said before, she has this child-like laughter.  Yesterday when I walked in, laughing was the first thing we did. 

When I walked into the kitchen, Dad was at the counter with a plastic Walmart-type bag--the kind that is killing our environment.  When I asked him what he was doing, he replied, "I'm taping it."

"What?!"  I asked incredulously. 

"I'm taping it.  We go through too many here to throw it away because of holes."

He was referencing, of course, the bags needed for my mother's hygiene needs, to put it delicately.

I shook my head as I walked into the former dining room-turned-her-room.  I greeted her, "You two are a mess.  It's obvious you grew up during the Depression."

Then, I noticed a new "covered" trash can by her bed.  "Why did you get that?" I inquired.

"Because we smelled the other one too much," was her and Dad's response almost simultaneously.

The "old" one was an old shredder whose mechanism had broken.  They used that as a trash can as I do my old broken one.  When I asked Dad where that one was, he replied, "It's in the back bedroom as a trash can."

We laughed, and so we started the day laughing over Mother's bodily functions and the ingenuity borne from being a child in the Depression.  If you are, you improvise, you make do. 


Before I left, she told me I would have to write a story about this.  Last week when I read them this entry, here, about making memories, she laughed, Dad stonily kept his emotions in check, but I broke down, and she offered me a tissue.  I expected her to be the one most upset.  She asked for a printout of it, so that is what I am doing next.

Then, it will be off to see what today's visit brings.  And I will start taping my bags.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Making Memories

  Here are some pictures that will stay with me for the rest of my life when I think back on my time with my parents during Mother's hospice time.



Here is a glimpse into our Saturdays and Sundays together.  I usually get to Walterboro between 9 and 10 am.  Dad always has the back door unlocked for me, so I just go on in.  Mother is, of course, in her hospital bed in the dining room, while Dad is in his recliner in the living room.  We go through just about the same thing each time.  When I ask her what she had for breakfast, she invariably says, "Ginger's cake."  You see, I alternate baking her this lemon bundt cake (in *her* bundt pan she gave me a few years ago) and an apple bread.  She likes a slice with her morning black coffee.  A bundt cake like this will last her about two weeks.  She always tells Dad not to eat too much of it. 

Sometimes then, Dad will leave and go run errands to Walmart, the Dollar General, and other stores.  He has his list, mostly for snack items like in the above picture.  It is funny because when he is gone, Mother usually says, "I don't know what he has in there (meaning the kitchen snack corner).  He doesn't tell me what he buys."  When I took the snack counter picture above, I took my phone to her to show her.  She shook her head.  Sometimes she says, "Well, he doesn't offer me anything."  I have to add that she is horribly allergic to corn and any corn products.  He has to make sure corn syrup is not in anything he gives her, and we know that is difficult.  She does get potato chips and there is a type of cookie she can eat.

Between 10 and 10:30, which is not long after I get there, she begins the lunch talk.  There is great debate on what we will have for this very important meal.  Most of the time on Saturday Dad will go get our lunches.  She pours over the menu from Daily Land, or she will ask him what coupons he has for Wendy's....or she will ask how we feel about shrimp fried rice from the Chinese restaurant.  There have been times when he has gone to two different fast food joints to get our orders. 

Sundays I cook.  Dad will often go to their church's Agape service on the second Sunday.  No matter, at 10:30 Mother starts telling me she needs the radio to listen to their church's 11 o'clock service on the radio.  A few minutes to 11, I put the radio on her hospital tray and turn it on for her.  Then, I go into the kitchen and begin cooking.  We have the same thing now each week. Two students from my earliest years teaching married and live in the same neighborhood.  They and their son are rabid fishermen.  We have enough fish for about a dozen meals.  I prepare Caleb's fish and the baked potatoes and salad.  By the time Mother finishes listening to the church service, it is time to eat.

Sometimes after lunch on either day, we will take a nap.  I go to the back bedroom, turn on the fan, and close the door.  I might sleep for half an hour or so.  Because I am a light sleeper, I hear anything Mother says.  Dad naps in his recliner while he can.

Along about 2:30 I bathe her.  I have written of this before.  About a month ago, Dad asked, "I bet you never thought you would be changing your mother."  I replied, "You do what you have to do." All of that routine is just second nature now, and I can bathe her in twenty minutes.  Afterwards, I leave for home.

I thank God for the sweet memories I am making now.  Long after they are gone I will have these pictures and this blog to look back on.  Those pictures encapsulate what I will remember most about my time with my parents.  Dad's love of all things snacky will resonate with me forever.  The above picture is his main snack stash, but he has some in my childhood bedroom, which became Matthew's tv room in later years.  He also has some in the hall closet, though when Mother had me look last weekend, it was empty of snacks.  I don't keep any unhealthy food in my house, but when I go to my parents' house, my mind goes back to my childhood, and I have some of his junk food...be it chips or ice cream, I am a kid again.

Before closing, I have to explain the dishwasher-turned-pantry.  Several years ago I was looking for something---it may have been crackers---and Mother said to open the dishwasher.  I didn't know they no longer used it.  There were the crackers.  She has had both shoulders replaced and can not reach up.  For practicality, they moved most of their every day food items to the dishwasher.  What an ingenious idea for the elderly or handicapped.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

The Box

Before my mother became sick, she controlled the finances.  She told my father what he could spend and what he couldn't spend.  Relinquishing control of the checkbook was probably the hardest thing for her after becoming bedridden.  She has had a Kleenex box in the bed with her for months, but last month, he gave her a "piece of money" to squirrel away in it along with her lipstick and a few other little medicinal items.  This has made all the difference in the world to her.  She now has some control...and it comes from that box.  When I start to bathe her or change her and move the box, she says, "Don't lose my box."  She wants me to be careful with it.  I ask her where she is going to spend that little piece of money, and she just says, "I don't know; he gave it to me."

What happens when all the tissue is gone?  Her treasures are moved to the next box, and so it continues.............

Sunday, August 16, 2015

"Well-done, good and faithful servant"

Today after I bathed Mother, I brushed her hair, and she asked for her lipstick.  I gave it to her to hide away in her Kleenex box with her other "goodies." In spite of being bedridden, she wanted to look presentable, pretty.  When I teased her, she said, "There are no good-looking men around here."  I motioned to my father and said, "What about him??"  She laughed her little girl laugh.  The last few months she has resorted to that:  a little girl laugh.  Much of what she says is reminiscent of a school girl now, complete with a hearty, child-like laugh.

It has been five months now since Mother came home from the hospital with congestive heart failure under hospice care.  The last few weeks Dad has had a caregiver come in Monday-Friday to help her exercise her legs and get into a wheelchair for a time.  We are still waiting on the long-term insurance to kick in so the caregiver can be five days a week for most of each day.  Let me just say:  NEVER< EVER use John Hancock Insurance.   NEVER!

The last few days Mother has been getting mixed up or confused.  One night she saw someone who was not there, and today she thought Dad was six years older than she.  (He is three years and nine months older.)  There are other little things that she is confused about as well.  It's not Alzheimers, of course, but I attribute it to old age. 

When I came in this morning, she was hungry.  She had gotten mad at Dad earlier and refused to eat breakfast.  He had snapped at her over something she accused him of, but he had apologized.  He was hurt.  She had accused him of not doing something for her when he has devoted the last five months, indeed, the last 66 years, to doing just that.  He told her that he promised her all those years ago that he would take care of her the best he could, for as long as he could.  For the last five months, that is exactly what he has done.  He has stayed in that house, day after day, caring for her.  He has left on the few days when my brother or I am there each week. That is when he goes to the stores, not out to have fun. 

All I could think of each time he has said he will take care of her as long as he is able is this:  One day when he meets Jesus face-to-face, He will say, "Well done, my good and faithful servant."  Dad is the hands and feet of Jesus to my mother. He is the model of Christ-like behavior to his wife. 

Saturday, August 1, 2015

"When I meet Jesus"

This afternoon while I was washing up the hospital basins in Mother's bathroom after I had bathed her, I heard her whispering to Dad over her hospital bed.  It was something about her pink robe he had bought her last month for her birthday.  When I re-entered the room, I asked if that was what she wanted to wear when her new .part-time caregiver tries to help her get up.  In a low, shaky voice, she said, "You know, when I meet Jesus.  Do you think it is alright to wear that?"

I replied, "You can wear what you want."  Dad reminded her that my sister-in-law Carol had been buried in the matching pantsuit she had made for her wedding to my brother just four months earlier from when she died in 1975.  

I need to add that my mother is no closer to meeting Jesus than you or I, meaning that only God knows.  I knew since she came home under hospice care in March that she had congestive heart failure.  Somehow, she did not know, and I guess Dad had forgotten until the hospice office told him yesterday.  Now, in her mind she is closer than ever to "meeting Jesus."

Of course, she meant she wants to be buried in that pink robe.  It does not matter what we are "put away in" because when we do meet Him, we will be in glorified bodies.  Our earthly shell in that casket is for the mourners left behind because, in fact, those of us who belong to Him will never be more alive than when we meet Him.

Friday, July 31, 2015

"I'm not...enough"

How many times have you told yourself, "I'm not good enough," or "I'm not skinny enough," or "I'm not smart enough."  Whatever "it is," it's the devil talking to you...and to me, trying to defeat us.  God tells us in Psalm 139:14 that "I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well."  Meditate on this part:  "I am ...wonderfully made."  Try repeating it over and over when you are thinking negative thoughts about yourself.  If that is not enough, what about this verse from Genesis 1:26:  "Then God said, 'Let us make man in our image, after our likeness."  Yes, we are made in the likeness, the image, of God.  I have trouble with this one at times, but since He said it, it is true.  God does not lie.

American culture, in particular, has labelled women who are not size 0 as nothings, less than worthy of any consideration for anything.  All we need do is look at the fashion magazines at the check-out line for confirmation.  THEY are the ones who are lying.  The world's idea of beauty and worth are distorted in Hollywood and the fashion industry.  We are not to look to them for our self-worth, for we are to be set apart from them. While we are "in" this world, we are not "of" this world.  We get our worth from God, not the culture.

When you start to doubt yourself, your looks, or your abilities, remember who made you.  Commit Psalm 139: 13-14 to memory: "It was you who created my inward parts; You knit me together in my mother's womb.  I am fearfully and wonderfully made" by the creator of the universe itself.  Let that sink in.  God knew us in our mothers' wombs.  He made us the way we are.  Whether we are tall, short, or average, He knew that before we were formed in the womb.  He knew our hair, be it curly or straight.  He knew our skin tone, be it pale, dark, or in between. 

So, when that nasty voice in your head starts to berate you for whatever reason, push it down.  Don't listen.  You ARE good enough!

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Attachment

 
 



God tells us not to be conformed to this world.....not to become attached to it .....I take it a step further in that we are not to become attached to "things."  There is the story of the rich  man who asked Jesus what he needed to do, and Jesus told him to sell what he had and give it to the poor.  This saddened the man because he was very wealthy.

Thirteen years ago this month I bought my house.  I knew  the moment I saw it that it was for me; it had my color scheme as well as the fireplace I wanted.  It has served me well.  But, I am not attached to it.  In fact, I am open to selling it after I retire if God moves me.

However, I "do" have an attachment to my parents' home where I grew up, and I am trying to reconcile losing it.  When my parents are gone, I am to sell it and divide the profits.  They have owned it since 1964 and lived in it since 1967.....almost exactly 48 years.  Dad retired from the Air Force for me to begin private kindergarten here.

This house has memories.  I walked through the backyard to my elementary school for grades 1-3; the playground is right behind their house, and now if I visit during a school day, I can hear the kids playing.  Then, I walked the sidewalks to another nearby school for grades 4 and 5.  Also, down the street there was a neighbor with a circular  driveway.  I have vivid memories of racing my bike through puddles on that circular driveway.

When I was small, we had one bathroom for the five of us.  It was not until I was grown that my then-husband and my dad built another bathroom as well as a breakfast room from the carport.  Memories.....

Also, as a child I remember climbing a ladder to the ROOF to help my dad, uncle Robbie, brother, and his friend reshingle the roof.  Dad even remembers me pushing the shingles to my uncle.  Today, I could not do that. As a child, I was brave and wanted to be a "big" girl.

I found out there is no Santa in that house.  On Christmas Eve one year I let our poodle out one more time before bed.  Behind the house was a box.  When I peered in, I saw the desk that Santa was to bring me later that night.  I just knew at that point, but I kept it to myself.

It was in that house that I remember the fake white Christmas tree of the early '70s.  I loved that white tree......so much so that I bought one myself a few years ago.

It was in this house that I began my fascination with current events.  I can remember by third grade sitting at the dining table eating breakfast while simultaneously watching the news and reading the Charleston newspaper.

When my husband and I separated, my son and I lived with my parents for nearly three years.  That house has special memories for him as well; he has his own attachment t.

So, I am trying to prepare myself for the day when my brother, son, and I meet at
 the house to take what belongings we want; the rest I plan to sell and add to the estAte.  It will be an excruciating time for my son and me as we realize we will be saying goodbye to the house that has been such an important part of our lives.  

I constantly remind(talk myself into) myself that it is "just" a house, and the memories will live.  I must not love the things of this world...........

Friday, July 24, 2015

The Battle

"For our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world powers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens."  Ephesians 6:12

These are dark times in this country.  Summertime is supposed to be a carefree, fun time for kids out of school and families on vacation.  Yet, the last two months have been replete with a rapid fire of shootings resulting in mass murders.  It began with the Mother Emanuel shootings a short drive from me, and it has continued with shootings at military recruitment stations as well as in personal homes and another theater, this time in Louisiana.

We turn on the news any night, any time of the year, and we get the same thing:  death, death, and more death.  Children are killed or maimed in drive-by shootings, families are murdered in their homes by those close to them, people are shot dead at work or while enjoying a fun outing.

As awful as all of this is, we as Christians need to never lose sight of whom we battle.  Yes, these are men (primarily) who carry out these atrocities, but make no mistake about who is behind it.  The devil is real, as are his minions.  The Ephesians verse above makes it crystal clear to us believers:  we battle not man, but the powers of darkness that surround us.  And....it is getting worse.

I have had young people not understand how someone could do these things; my reply to them is that there is evil in this world.  Ultimately, there are two factions:  good and evil...and they are in a constant battle.  The good thing is that we Christians know the ending already......and our guy wins.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

God has a sense of humor/Man may plan his steps, but God directs his path

I could not decide on a title for this post; I even considered "The best laid plans of mice and men."  Ultimately, all three pertain to this.  Bear with me while I relate this little vignette.

 Twenty-six years ago I began teaching English and would continue to teach that subject in grades sixth-AP English.  About the same time I took the Praxis test in English, I decided to also take it in elementary education to "make myself more marketable."  I had zero intention to teach elementary school.  My personality would mesh more with older kids, and I certainly did not want to teach anything but ELA..  Fast forward to a month ago.  The week after school was out for the summer, my principal called and told me she was moving me for this next year to the 3rd-5th grade Gifted and Talented pull-out position in the Lower Academy (My school is pre-k-8.).

I relate this because while I had other plans for my last two years prior to retirement, God had other plans.  I never had any intention of teaching elementary, so He does have a sense of humor.

I know people who design their lives---where they will live and what tbey will do----and God has jerked them right back where He wants them..  It is a matter of who controls their lives:  God or them?

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Reflecting on God's Faithfulness

Today marks my 8th year cancer-free.  When I look back over the last eight years, I am in awe of God's faithfulness to me and my family.  I went through the six months of chemo without too many problems, other than my hair thinning.  The very last chemo treatment did have to be halted due to extreme back pain, but the doctor says that happens sometimes. Evidently, I didn't need it, though.  Throughout the chemo, I was able to work pretty much all the time, except on days when I had to take off for the chemo.  In the ensuing years, I have been able to recoup and surpass my prior sick days,  so I have days to take to help my parents if needed.  God is faithful.

Almost four years after I was diagnosed with colon cancer, my precious father was diagnosed.  Where my tumor had perforated the colon, his was a flat tumor on the side of the colon wall.  At 84 years old, he had surgery on a Thursday, was home the following Tuesday, and the Monday after that he was back on his riding lawn mower.  God is faithful.

In February of 2015, Mother was initially hospitalized with pneumonia.  After a week in ICU, she was sent home under hospice care with congestive heart failure.  Here, almost five months later, she is still bedridden in the hospital bed, and hospice still comes five days a week, but she is still hanging in there.  Her mind is still good, but she is too weak to get out of bed.  God has blessed Dad to be in good health to take care of her.  My brother cleans their house on Thursday and is there if they need him.  I go on Saturdays and Sundays to bathe her and relieve Dad so he can get out.  God is faithful.

I praise God every day that He has blessed us with my parents' overall good health; Dad has his mother's genes as she lived to be 92.  He has problems with skin cancers, but his health otherwise is pretty good for an 87.5 year old.

On top of all of this, I have a new position at work this fall, one that will reduce my stress exponentially.  That is a HUGE blessing considering what I may face with my parents.

God is good, and He is faithful.  Be encouraged that if you hang onto Him, He can get you through any of life's trials.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

66 Years Later

You can read the beginning of their love story here

June 15 is my parents' 66th wedding anniversary.  Yes, 66 years!  Here they are today:

If you have read this blog for a few months, then you know Mother is under hospice care.  She was sent home from the hospital the first of March with congestive heart failure.  Hospice comes in Monday-Friday to bathe her and the RN comes twice a week.  Dad is her primary caregiver, though.  I go on Saturdays and Sundays to bathe her and change her, basically to give him a break.  Some Sundays he goes to church. 

Hopefully, by mid-July the insurance will allow her sitter to start so Dad can have more help than he does have. 

God has been so faithful and good to us to allow Dad, at 87.5 years, to still be in really amazing health with a sharp mind to be able to take care of her at home.  Her bed is in front of the dining room window, so she can look out if she wants.  Also, my brother lives nearby and is their "maid" once a week, and he can come if they need him more often.

I am praying for 67 years.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Nugget from Heaven

Today, my soul was refreshed.  A student I had 25 years ago came to town to see me, and we spent four hours at lunch and reminiscing.  I had not seen her since graduation....and I cried when I saw her and when we parted.  At the time I had no clue the effect I had had on her.  I have thought much of that in the last few years.  We don't know how we may influence those we come in contact with.  I needed this nugget from God today.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Through the valley...

"yeah, so it turns out the greatest faith is found in the deepest valleys, climbing the highest mountains, through the blackest night. 
That'd be us -- right about now. 
Yeah, so it might look bad, hard, miserable, impossible --- 
but the thing is? 
Nobody gets gold medal faith, unless they've gone through some Olympic-hard trials. 
Nobody gets strong faith unless they've felt real weak. 
Nobody gets to stand tall unless they know what it feels like to think they can't stand at all. 
The time to hope --- is exactly when it looks hopeless. 
And no matter how things may look down and out? 
In the midst our setbacks -- 
God is setting things up for a *comeback of our joy!*"

                                       Ann Voskamp


I am beginning the hardest stage of my life right now, harder than cancer or anything else I have experienced.  I covet the prayers of those of you who do pray.  I can not share it at this point, but one day I will.  Thanks to Debby and Rick, who have been an incomparable encouragement.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Weary

Weariness is a word that most people equate with physical exhaustion.  For me, it is not physical but mental.  My life is marked by a lot of turmoil at this time; there is my mother's situation as well as some personal issues.  I am t.i.r.e.d.  Today is one of those days where I just want to bury my head in the sand and not come up.  I have little to hold on to physically, so I have to keep these verses in mind: 

       Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.    Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.  (Matthew 11:28-30)

       He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength.  Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:29-31)

I must focus not on the present, but on the promises God has given me of the future.  Consequently, I remind myself this is but a momentary affliction.  It.will.not.last.

       "For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison." (2 Corinthians 4:17). 

       "And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose." (Romans 8:28)

       "Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."

       "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope."

   

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Obedience

For a few weeks now I have been bathing Mother on my own on Sundays.  Starting yesterday, I added Saturdays to it as well.  Dad won't have help for her on Saturdays again for a few weeks, so I told him last week I would come Saturdays and Sundays; it's only an hour away, and he needs me.

Dad stands beside her bed and directs me on which pads go under her and how to situate them.  Today, I bathed her in twenty minutes; I am getting better.  Today was also a first in that I "changed" her without Dad's help.  Somehow, she tends to slide down into the "valley" of the bed as she calls it.  Dad has trouble pulling her up due to arthritis, so when I am there, I hoist her up when she needs it. She also likes to lie on her side for awhile, so I roll her over and prop the pillow behind her.

When I go, I try to give him as much respite from the physical demands as possible.  He always goes out to the store and/or to get us lunch, and after we eat, he takes a nap in his recliner.  I sit in the dining room where Mother's bed is, and we chat some.  Today, she told me to go take a nap as well, so I went into Matthew's old bedroom and slept for about 45 minutes.  We all napped.

We don't know what life will bring.  I never imagined I would be changing my mother, applying hot rags to her hemorrhoids, or bathing her.  However, it must be done.  A month ago I never thought I could do any of these things.  It is obedience....simple obedience.  "Honor your father and mother...."

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Fear

2 Timothy 1:7:  "For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline."

Psalm 115:11:  "You who fear him, trust in the Lord--he is their help and shield."

Psalm 56:3:  "When I am afraid, I will trust in you."

Isaiah 41:13:  "For I am the LORD, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, 'Do not fear, I will help you.' "

 

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Reversal of Roles

Today I helped my father bathe my mother.  I never imagined our roles would be reversed, but life is unpredictable.  It is a bit disconcerting to see your mother naked, exposed, vulnerable.  About mid-way through, it became easier, and as I told Dad, "You do what you have to do."  She is bedridden and can not do for herself.  Hospice sends a certified caregiver to bathe her five days a week, and Dad pays a woman on Saturdays to do the same.  Still, he is the PRIMARY caregiver and had been bathing her on Sundays.  Daily he is the one to change her, to get her food, to refill her glass. 

So, I had to put aside my own feelings and think of my father.  He is 87 years-old, and it is difficult for him to physically turn her and pull her up in the bed.  After we finished today, I told him that starting next Sunday, I think I can do it myself---to give him a break.

I am reminded of Ephesians 6:2:  "Honor your father and mother" (this is the first commandment with a promise), "that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land."  Also  1 Timothy 5:8:  "But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever."

So, at this stage of my life, this is my calling....how I spend my Sundays.  No, I am not in church, but I am doing what I am meant to do.  I don't know how long my parents will be here, and it is my responsibility to do what I can to help them. They have always been there for me; now, it is my turn.


.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Life's Not Fair

"That's not fair!"  How many times have I heard middle school kids say that?  Too many to count, and my response is always the same:  "Life's not fair; build a bridge and get over it!"  This week I have had to eat my own words.  I feel God is teaching me through this as well.  Then, I began to think of just what is not fair.  Here is the litany I came up with:  Is it fair that a wife has to endure habitual beatings from her husband?  Or that a child is victim to beatings by his parent?  What about the person who works her fingers to the bone at work to see subordinates and incompetents promoted, both literally and figuratively?  Is it fair that homeless people are treated like scum?  Or, is it fair that they are even homeless at all in the richest country on earth?  Is it fair that the very wealthy pay little to no taxes while the middle class in this country bear the brunt of funding the government?  Is it fair that able-bodied adults milk the system to enjoy welfare payments at the expense of honest, hard-working individuals? 

You see, what's not fair is subjective; it depends upon our life experiences.  Ultimately, God is the great equalizer, the judge of what is fair and what isn't.  Ecclesiastes 3:16-17 states, "I saw something else on earth; In the place of justice, there was wickedness, and in the place of fairness, there was wickedness.  I thought to myself, 'God will judge both the righteous and the wicked; for there is an appropriate time for every activity, and there is a time of judgment for every deed.' "

So, every time I think to myself, "That's not fair," I will remind myself that God is the ultimate judge, and He will eventually right every wrong.  It is not my job to dwell on it and question when He will act. 

Monday, April 20, 2015

Convicted

God did a number on me yesterday......and I needed to be taken to the woodshed.  For awhile now I have been holding my tongue with a certain person close to me who challenges me in that area each time I am around him/her.  We all know someone like that:  a nasty, mean person who deserves to be told off.  "Deserves to be told off."----Well, who am I to cast stones that way?  Am I perfect?  Far from it.  I thought I was doing very well holding my tongue; after all, I constantly remember what the Bible says about the tongue:

  Proverbs 18:21:  "The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit."  Then, there is Matthew 12:37:  "For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned."  Finally, there is Proverbs 13:3:  "Those who guard their lips preserve their lives, but those who speak rashly will come to ruin."

There are many other verses about the tongue, especially in Proverbs, but you get the drift of what God is saying.  We.are.to.think.before.we.speak.  Is that easy to do?  No, absolutely not.  However, as I said, I thought I was doing well.

Then, last night I saw something on Facebook that convicted me.  I have written before how God has used Facebook.  I figure He is hip; He will use whatever means He knows will get our attention.  And, He knows I am on Facebook a lot.  This is what convicted me:

    This is from Jesus Calling by Sarah Young:  "To live at peace with everyone, you need to    control   not only what you say and do, but also what you think.  It's common to assume that your thoughts about others don't matter much, as long as you keep them to yourself.  However, I am fully aware of all your thoughts.  When you indulge in negative thinking about someone, your relationship with that person is damaged.  Those hurtful also affect your relationship with Me, and they may have a depressive effect on you.  The remedy lies in turning to Me and seeking My forgiveness.  Then, ask My Spirit to control your mind and help you think My thoughts.  This is the way of Life and Peace."
 
     As though He were afraid that would not get my attention, this was on a college friend's status this morning:  "There will always be people in your life that are unlovable in your eyes, but our Lord Jesus told us before his death on the cross that we are to love unconditionally.  It is His commandment to us!  Put a little love in your heart, people...remember the world will be a better place for that love you share."
 
     So, I stand convicted, convinced, however you want to word it.  Is the passage from Jesus Calling from the Bible?  No, of course not; however, it is biblical.  If God is concerned about what comes from my mouth, isn't he concerned with what goes through my thoughts to lead to my mouth?  The Bible also tells us we are to hold captive every thought:  2 Corinthians 10:5:  "We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ."  To me, that is even harder than taming the tongue.  So, when an unsavory thought about someone comes to my mind, I have to harness it and dismiss it.    This is what I have to retrain my mind to do:
 
          "Finally brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever
       is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--
       think about such things."  Philippians 4:8.
 
I have much work to do...............
 

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Used of God

God has a way of using the most innocuous people, if we let Him.  When I began teaching English in August of 1988, there was a (I think) fifteen year-old sitting front and center, grinning from ear to ear.   When I look back at that first year, I don't remember much except the students, and he was a card, as the idiom goes.  He was constantly cracking jokes and was the life of the class.  I loved that group that encompassed Nichole, Chris, Shedrick, Scott....  They were smart, smart kids, and as a first-year teacher, they fueled my passion for teaching high school English at a poor, rural school in Colleton County, Ruffin High School.  I would stay at that first stop on the teaching circuit for eight years.  Through the subsequent years I would make my way to schools in Walterboro and Beaufort.


Flash forward to 2011 (again, I think) and a funeral held in the gym of that first school.  Whom did I spy across the floor but that student.  What memories flooded back as I hurried down to hug and speak to him.  He was the same, yet he was a grown man with a family of his own.  His face had not changed a bit.  We subsequently became friends on facebook, and what a blessing he has become to me!  God has sent him as an encourager in dark times.  Just when I am feeling spiritually low, I get a phone call or text message from Him.  He is allowing God to use him to minister to his little ol'  high school English teacher of so very many years ago.  It is awesome how God uses people from our past to minister to us.  He makes and flourishes those connections. 

Sunday, March 1, 2015

A Love Story Spanning the Decades, Part I

June 15, 1949 was the date of my parents' marriage; Mother was three weeks shy of 18, and Dad was 21.  Their love started in an era where times were simpler and vows seemed to mean more than they do today.  Let me start at the beginning.

My parents met when my mother was probably about six years old.  They lived in Bamberg County, South Carolina in a "hole-in-the-road" known as Little Swamp Community, not too far from Lodge and Smoaks.  My father's daddy worked for the railroad and was often away from home.  Dad was one of four boys that his mother basically reared by herself for much of his childhood.  His daddy was killed in a car accident in 1946.

Mother lived "across the branch," as they  called the woods, with her parents and four siblings.  Her daddy was a poor farmer who grew cotton, among other things.  She and my father attended the same one room school house and church.  In those days, country folk in that area had socials that centered around cane grinding and peanut boiling.  It was at one of those peanut boilings when she was probably about 15 that she announced to some of her cousins that she was going to "marry that boy one day."  And that is what she did.

Fast forward to June of 1949.  My grandfather drove Mother to Bamberg to buy her a new dress in which to get married.  One day shortly after, she came in from the field, kicked off those shoes, and said, "I'm done with you, old shoes!"  On the 15th, her eldest brother drove them to the parsonage in Smoaks and waited in the truck while they went in and got married.  The next day they took a bus to Columbia and the following day continued on to Clemson where they were to live while Dad attended the University and tried to support them.

This thing called "faith"

One.day.at.a.time......

So, I have this little nondescript blog that no one reads.  I have it to basically process my thoughts...when I feel "moved" to do so.  At times it functions to whet my spirit when it is dry.

This morning I am numb, depressed even, over what the next few weeks, months, or years will bring.  I am not in a comfortable spot.  I don't like change, yet change is a primary component of life.  Only God knows how much time my mother has left in her earthly body, one that I have classified as "bionic" because of shoulder and hip replacements.  I worry about my father--my rock, my hero--and I worry about how I will handle it when they are both gone.  See, they have put me in charge of their estate.  I have only halfway listened when Dad went over directions/procedures with me....contacting the Air Force base in Charleston, social security, on and on and on.  The smart man wrote everything down, too, because he knows .....he just knows......

Yesterday when the enormity of it all was pressing down on my shoulders, a friend reminded me to take it one.day.at.a.time.  This blog is old; birthed from my cancer experience, if I remember correctly.  On sun shiny days I have no problem remembering this.  Well, I am entering the not-so-sun-shiny days of my life.  This is what brings us back to our faith. 

One.day.at.a.time "I can do *all* things through Christ, who strengthens me."

It does no good to wallow in worrying about tomorrow;"Today brings enough trouble of its own."
Yet, we are, after all, only "human."  This is something I have to make a concerted effort to do.  One day, one step, one breath at a time....