Wednesday, March 12, 2014

A farewell to my Aunt-friend...

I can hardly recall a moment with my Aunt that I didn't cherish for so many reasons.  She was a beautiful person... cheerful and sweet, caring and thoughtful.  One of my earliest memories was prancing about her kitchen in her strappy white heels and a slip - my didn't I feel like a princess!  She really was remarkable at making you feel valued and loved.  She and I were penpals when I was 9 or 10 and we exchanged letters back and forth for several years.  I am not sure she realized how special those made me feel... that she took the time to write me and respond to letters I sent her.  Her smile and her soft eyes always seemed to invite you into an embrace, a heartfelt sharing of your life and a conversation that made you feel like you were the only one on the planet she was interested in, in that moment.  Just a few months ago, she told me that "even though I was adopted, and not 'really' a blood relative, she always thought of me as one of the family;  belonging".  I never felt anything but.   
As I've grown up, our family times at the farm have been treasured times of laughter, music and fun.  We would play games, do puzzles and play duets on the piano.  Aunty Rita would put on the loveliest of spreads - full turkey dinners, pies and desserts, meat and cheese trays, crackers, olives!  She was the best hostess!  
When Uncle Omer died, I found myself drawn to her... we spent lovely afternoons sharing lunch, talking as women... as friends.  She shared her heartaches, and drew me out of mine.  She talked to me about her hopes and dreams, and I shared mine.  We connected on a level I wouldn't have anticipated and it was a comfort to me and an unexpected blessing.  
As this past summer came to an end and autumn began, she was very ill.  I considered it a privilege to visit her every other week for several months.  She lit up when she saw me, she hugged me fiercely and cried on my shoulder.  It was not a sign of weakness to me, but a sign of deep trust and friendship that we had cultivated.  She was my friend.  I loved her dearly.  
Sunday was our last visit.  She didn't talk, and didn't open her eyes more than once.  She gripped my hands tightly, though, and I knew in my heart she knew I was there and was happy I was.  I sang, "the Lord bless you and keep you... the Lord make His face to shine upon you and be gracious, gracious, gracious to you, the Lord lift up His countenance upon you and give you, give you, give you peace".  She is at peace now.
Aunty Rita, if you never knew, I hope you know now how much you were treasured.  How much you were loved.  Your friendship to me was incredible and I will never forget our visits, your kindness, your openness and your love.  You have left a beautiful hole in my heart.  You will never be forgotten.


Wednesday, March 13, 2013

What the Gospel means to me...

Gospel literally translated means “good news” or “glad tidings”.  At 5 I believed that good news and asked Jesus into my heart while I bowed my head at my little desk.  Many times over the next years, I would doubt that good news, and used my juvenile power of persuasion to beg forgiveness and ask Jesus to come back into my heart.  I knew what the good news was – that God had sent his son Jesus to earth, to take on the form of a man and live the life of a man; to be put to death as a man as atonement for all the world’s sin, and to rise from the grave three days later, completing the debt and returning to the right hand of God until he comes again.  I knew that, and yet somehow I believed that my childish sins were so grave that I alone needed to continue to ask for salvation – time and time again.  As I matured, though, the gospel changed shape and became something I clung to… something I grabbed hold of, white knuckled and fierce… moments when it would seem like I was Dorothy in the tornado, my life swirling around me in a black cloud.  The Gospel was there… the truth of who God was (is), who his son was (is) and what that meant for my life.  The truth remains, whether I doubt it or not.  The truth remains, whether I trust it or not.  The truth remains, whether I deserve it or not.  For God so.loved Joy… that He gave his only son, that if Joy believes in him, she should not perish, but have eternal life… God did not send his son for Joy to condemn Joy, but in order that Joy might be saved through him.  This is the truth of the Gospel for me.  I am not condemned.  My sins – past, present and future, were nailed to a cross on a hill, with a man who was God who took them willingly, and died in my place.  It’s that simple and that profound.  I did nothing to deserve this… I will never earn it and yet my life profits from it every single day.  I don’t know if I will ever live my life fully embracing this Gospel I love… this story of the Christ I love… I think it’s one of those things that you rediscover over and over.  It’s that awe-inspiring, jaw dropping, “I don’t deserve this, but I can’t NOT take it” gift from a God who loves me… and a Christ who embraced the darkest parts of me to allow me to embrace His light in my life.  This is the Gospel.  This is my good news.  

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

A journey? Sure... why not?

You think you have things all figured out.  At least that's what you tell yourself.  Maybe in the quiet - in the aloneness - honesty can come and you can realize that you don't have a clue.  And maybe that's okay.
Journey's can be like that sometimes.  You can think something your whole life and never really take it to heart, and suddenly you turn a corner and there it is.  This thing, staring at you.  Daring you to see that it's different than you believed.  Different than you imagined.  Different than you dared hope.
This journey is a lot like that for me.  I'm not really telling you anything... yet.  I think that's just where I am right now.  But I can tell you this... it's a difficult journey.  It's a hard, painful, beautiful journey.  There's lots to come.  I'll have lots to share.  For now, I'm marinating in all that's new.  All that's different.  All that's tangible and real and lovely and hard.  
It's emerging... I'm emerging.  Anxious to see what God has in store......

Friday, January 27, 2012

A heap-load of patience, Lord... please.

Single parenting at it's best is tough.  It's not easy being the only adult in the house... not having another person to support, bounce ideas off of, relax with, give instruction.  As a mom, my job is never done.  There is always another question to be answered, always guidance to be given, always support, unconditional love and encouragement.  I want my children to know that they are good enough -

Single parenting at it's worst?  Let me offer an example.  

My 10 year old daughter comes into my room this morning.  "Mom?  Does my hair look greasy?"
She has brushed it, pulled it back into a low pony and has a look in her eyes that says, "please say no".
I said, "not at all... why sweets?"

She pauses... "dad said I have really greasy hair and said I have to shower before I come to his house".


Are you KIDDING me?  My fragile, beautiful, insecure, delightful TEN YEAR OLD daughter is being told by the man who is supposed to love her without compromise or condition, that her appearance isn't adequate and she needs to do something about it.

I look at her and tell her that she looks just gorgeous and she says "okay" in a voice that says "I don't believe you, but thanks for the effort" and she goes about her routine.

I'm left sitting here, fuming and indignant at the man who has the NERVE to make my daughter feel like she's less than perfect (based on her APPEARANCE) and my "mama bear" thoughts are running rampant.  I don't know the answer.  I don't know how to restore my daughter's heart but to beg the God of the Universe to intervene and show her Love that covers all, renews all and unabashedly pours out on her  Oh, and while you're at it, Lord?  Remind me.  I know her hurt and have felt that inadequacy myself and still need a nudge now and then to lift my eyes to the Maker of the mountains, from whom my help comes.  

Lord, hear my prayer... wrap my daughter's heart in Your hands and cover her in Your cloak.  Allow Your truth to permeate her wounded heart and give her the strength to look to You for her approval, and not toward empty, earthly approval.  Give me strength to do the same... and grant me patience and wisdom when it comes to her father.  I cannot function in my own strength on this one.  Speak to his heart - remind him of his job as a father... encourage him to realize, before it's too late, that he is to show her Your love.  Your all consuming, unconditional, freely given, abundant love.  Guide me as a parent - I want my children to be whole, happy, fulfilled and free.  
In Your great name...