It was six years ago I received stunning news. Just five weeks before our wedding, my fiancé called–not-face-to-face–mind you, and told me the wedding was off.
I needed to be alone and think.
I was shocked to my core. I took off that Easter weekend, not wishing to hang around and pretend things were fine, for they were not. Instead, I drove to the Oregon Gardens to be alone and think.
I sat still.
While reading in my room by the fire, I came across a verse in the Bible I’d not noticed before. Their strength is to sit still. That’s what I did. I sat still. Thinking. Praying. Reading.
I realized I was not alone.
Later, I strolled among the few flowers that were blooming at the Gardens and as I sat in the spring sunshine, I realized I wasn’t alone. Jesus was walking with me in my sadness and shock. He knew and He cared. I drove back home, knowing I’d be alright. Just not right away.
I was wrong. I needed to sit still for awhile.
I didn’t know the future, just like all humans don’t. But if I did. Would I be surprised! Just a few miles south and east of my home, lived a man named Jim, who was mourning the loss of his wife. He needed another year to work through his grief and be ready to meet me. Though I thought it was the other guy, I was wrong. I needed to sit still for awhile.
It was good to sit still, though that is not my ordinary response to most anything. I’ll share one stanza of a poem that fit my situation and perhaps yours today, too:
O Soul, keep silence on the mount of God,
Though cares and needs throb around you like a sea;
From prayers, petitions, and desires unshod,
Be still, and hear what God will say to thee.
Mary Rowles Jarvis
What will He say to you?
What is family?
What is a family? I once saw a sign up sheet for a potluck with the term “family of one”. How can you be a family of one? I guess it’s possible, for bringing food to a potluck, but really? I can’t imagine what it would be like without my family. My husband. My children. My grandchildren. I’m also talking about the family I was born into; my parents who are now gone, and siblings. We siblings are getting older and one day, we will say goodbye. I don’t like to think about that and often deny that I will, but know it is in the future.
We shared our past, talked about our future.
We had a sibling rendezvous last weekend. We spent four nights together, sharing meals, playing dominoes—our favorite game to play and chat together–with long talks about our past, our future.
They accept me as I am.
With the exception of Jim, I feel safest with my siblings. Just like my husband, they accept me for me—no matter what. They might not agree with me. They may even strongly disagree with my choices—relationally or politically, but they still accept me as I am.
I cherish our family get-togethers.
I cherish our sibling get-togethers. Where we accept each other unquestioningly. We remember long family road trips from our Portland home to the midwest where our extended family lived. The four oldest divided the back seat in half, Joyce and I on one side, Roger and Eileen on the other. Betsy was up front, because she was the baby. There was her long-awaited birth, waiting for Dad to pull into the driveway so he could tell us if we had a brother or sister. We remember different people from our past, food we loved, friendships we had. I remember my brother teasing me unmercifully—which helped me cope later on with things challenging.
We laughed at each other’s remembrance comfortably.
This year we celebrated Eileen’s birthday. Each of us described an event about the two of us and she had to tell us where and what happened. She filled in the blanks. We laughed at each other’s remembrance comfortably. That’s sibling love.
There was birthday cake for the birthday girl.
Best of all, we were together.
We ate. We sipped wine. We played dominoes. We laughed and cried. We prayed. Even read poetry. Best of all, we were together. That’s family.
What are your memories?
What memories do you have of your family? Are there ones you want to recall? Are they loving ones, yet honest with real conflict that happens in every family and relationship? Let me know! I’d like to hear your story.
Old hymns with a new twist on the melody and rhythm.
We’ve been on a road trip. I found I love road trips–probably a throw-back from my childhood. A road trip for me is a time to think, look out at the scenery, and listen to music. “Let’s listen to this one,” I said, pulling a Jars of Clay album out. It was an album I’d listened to over and over after my second husband, Blair, died. I listened to it nonstop–no other music would do. Jars of Clay are contemporary Christian music artists. This album featured old hymns with a new twist on the melody and rhythm.
Amidst the sorrows of the way
Lord Jesus, teach my soul to pray
Let me taste Thy special grace
And run to Christ, my hiding placeYou know the vileness of my heart
So prone to act the rebel’s part
And when You veil Your lovely face
How can I find a hiding placeHiding place, hiding place
Strange how music brings back memories.
Take heart dear ones. It will get better.
Amidst the sorrows of the way
Lord Jesus, teach my soul to pray
Let me taste Thy special grace
And run to Christ, my hiding place.
It’s still in the birthing stage…
I’m working on a new book with the help of my husband, Jim. We’re combining our stories of previous marriages–the highs and lows—and our story. Today I’m going to give you, dear readers, a sneak peek at a portion of the story. It’s still in the birthing stage…..
I wish I could say our marriage was perfect in every way, but I can’t. We were young. Neither of us had ever lived on our own. It was our pattern of communicating that started out so wrong…….
I had the heartbreak of being a part-time dad and a full-time step-father. I’m a family man and always have been. I love my three kids, and I never dreamed I’d be a step father, let alone, a divorced father. When I pledged wedding vows to her, I meant them. It’s true, we were practically kids on that March day in 1969. I was not even twenty years old…….
There are many pluses in remarriage. We are settled. We don’t need to prove anything to the other. We learned from past mistakes that some things just aren’t important enough to argue about. Our relationship is unique. Jim’s background is similar, yet different than mine. Both of us were raised in religious homes—but the difference lies in denominations—his, Catholic and mine, Baptist.
That’s it for now. What do you think? Do you want to know more? I’d love your comments.
We looked alike…
I can’t remember life without her being in it–she’s younger than me by 22 months. We looked alike–at least to those who weren’t family–and our names got mixed up, too. She was sometimes called by my name, sometimes they called me by hers.
We shared secrets and sadness…
She was a ready playmate. Always there. Growing up, we shared the same room and often the same bed. She makes me laugh. We were “the girls”. Our mom dressed us alike and later we borrowed each other’s clothing. We still like to shop together–she’s always finding good stuff for me. She’s my beauty consultant. There were some tussles as youngsters, but I don’t recall any fights or arguments past our teens. There was loyalty–and still is. We shared secrets and sadness–then and now.
She’s a gift!
Eileen is beautiful on the outside and inside too. She is fiercly loyal and a patriot, and smart, too. I’m proud of her. Best of all though, is our shared faith in Jesus. If I need prayer, she’s the first person I call or text. What a gift my sister is. I love each of my other four sibs, but today, Eileen, I honor you! I don’t want to think about separation in this life–I can’t imagine life without you, but I know this isn’t the end–we’ll share eternity together in Heaven!
Happy Birthday, Sis!
The Unbeginning End
I’ve been contemplating that title for weeks now and still cannot take it in. Unbeginning End.
He is so much bigger than our finite minds can imagine.
I’ve been focusing on the character of God the past few months and the above mentioned title keeps arresting my thoughts. He is so much bigger than our finite minds can imagine–but try to focus on just one of God’s character traits, the Unbeginning End. A hymn writer–can you tell I enjoy old hymns?–expressed these words that I can’t fully comprehend, but also cannot forget:
Thou hast no youth, great God,
An Unbeginning End Thou art;
Thy glory in itself abode,
And still abides in its own tranquil heart:
No age can heap its outward years on Thee
Dear God! Thou art Thyself Thine own eternity.
Frederick W. Faber (1814-1863)
There is so much to God that we don’t understand.
There is God. He has no beginning and no end. He is His own eternity. Wow. There is so much to God that we don’t understand, our finite minds just cannot comprehend. I suggest you focus on that one phrase. And know you can trust the God who is: The Unbeginning End.
Why don’t we just get moving? I asked myself. Then chastised that voice. What’s wrong with me? God made him that way. He feels more comfortable if he knows what’s next.
I realized something had changed in my thought process.
I realized something had changed in my thought process. Yup….the “drugs” were beginning to wear off. Drugs? Yes. Those wonderful, dazzling, beautifully electrifying drugs that take a man and a woman on an exciting journey, when the sparks of love begin. They electrify and charge the brain, releasing endorphins that give pleasure to our heart and soul.
It was a choice and the feelings followed.
Yes, the drugs were wearing off, but love remained. The difference was in my choice. To love. Accept. Serve–even when I didn’t feel like it. It was a choice and the feelings followed. Now we’re in a period where there’s love, yes, but also commitment. Contentment. Comfortableness. Acceptance. Our drugs lasted nearly two years where both of us were blind to the blemishes in the other’s personality.
That was an attraction to both of us.
For example, both of us are planners–that was an attraction to both of us. But Jim’s planning is different than mine. He needs to take an hour by hour excursion of his day–even several times during the day. Here’s a glimpse of a morning conversation:
Jim: “Let’s think backwards and plan the day. We need to leave at 10:00.”
Me: “I need thirty minutes to get ready. Don’t forget we need to eat breakfast, too…..”
Jim: “So. We leave at 10:00, get ready at 9:30, get something to eat at 9:00, walk at 8:00. Do our devotions before that. Great! We enough time!”
In his mind, it’s all settled. He can relax. For me, it was a lot of talking and planning to just say, “We have 2 1/2 hours before we leave.”
We love each other for who we are.
But, that’s love. Letting Jim be Jim. The careful, methodical, and a bit OCD Jim–who is also very patient and kind. He needs to be, to live with me. That person who growls at the other drivers in traffic, gets all worked up when there’s a deadline, who giggles when you’re trying to be serious. Who gets impatient. That’s me. We love each other for who we are, yes. And when we wonder about the other……we choose to love. And love follows. Someone once suggested to substitute your own name where the word love is when reading the love chapter in Corinthians. Shirley is patient, Shirley is kind…..Uh oh….that isn’t me all of the time–lots of the time.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
We’ve had so much fun these past four years.
Thanks for reading my blog!
I didn’t know what to do with it.
I’ve been cleaning lately. January is a good month to de-clutter and I’m doing it. I didn’t quite know what to do with a little piece of baby clothing I came across. A little kimono. White flannel with tiny sleeves and neck. My babies used it–I can see a creamy stain by the neckline. The flannel is dotted with little balls–a sure sign it has been washed numerous times. I didn’t know what to do with it, so I left it on the counter in the laundry room. I would not use it for a polishing cloth, no, my babes slumbered in it! I didn’t want to give it away. My grands who live near me are far past needing it. Do they even use this type of garment any more?
Both were my own special dolly.
Every day as I passed the laundry room, I saw that frock lying on the counter. It reminded me of being a new mommy, sometimes not knowing what to do for a fussy baby. Mostly, I remember the overwhelming love I had for each of my two. Both were my own special dolly. They grew and they changed. Had children of their own.
They have the same soul inside.
As I contemplated that little piece of cloth I decided to pray differently for them. Though they are giant sized compared to the nightie now, they have the same soul inside. I prayed, not for the adults they are now, but who they once were. Helpless. Needy of me, their mama.
Their soul and hearts still need their mother’s prayers.
They don’t need my physical care any longer…but the little nightie reminds me their soul and hearts still need their mother’s prayers. So I think I’ll keep the precious piece of fabric to remind me to pray. Until I’m no longer here on earth to pray…..
Mamas, does seeing a tiny garment that your own little one wore, bring tears to your eyes? I’ve been weeping since I began writing this…and I really don’t know why…..I looked up mother in my concordance and came across this gem in Isaiah 49.
Can a mother forget the baby at her breast
and have no compassion on the child she has borne?
Though she may forget,
I will not forget you!
Isn’t that promise amazing? As if we mothers could forget….He promises what’s impossible for her…to ever forget. I’m resting on that promise.
I’m always glad when I get through January and early February. Why? Because there are hazardous dates in there. Reflecting back though, I can say I was never alone.
This morning I read Psalm 116, and picked out some phrases that stood out to me. That psalm could have been the song Jesus and His disciples sang after the last supper.
Here are the phrases that stood out to me:
He heard my voice
I was overcome by distress and sorrow.
The LORD is gracious and righteous, full of compassion
The LORD has been good to you.
Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his faithful servants.
I will sacrifice a thank offering to you and call on the name of the LORD.
He heard my voice.
Looking back on my January’s and the first week of February have for the past twelve years brought back memories, mostly sad, yet full of hope. During those early years, I remembered difficult times, yes, but I also remembered the closeness of my Savior. I called out in my distress–and he heard my cries. He heard my voice. (verse 1). Just as the psalmist, I experienced sorrow and distress when my loved ones left this earth, I was overcome by distress and sorrow (verse 3b). Yet, The LORD is gracious and righteous, full of compassion. The LORD has been good to you.
It is with joy….
The psalm comes full circle. God heard, had compassion, was good, and gives salvation. I will lift the cup of salvation (verse13a). He reminds me: Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his faithful servants (verse 15). During the memorial services of both my parents, my husbands, I was able to give thanks for what God did in their lives and mine as well. At the time, it was a sacrifice to give thanks. Yet I know they are with the Savior in Heaven.
Precious means: of great value; not to be wasted, or treated carelessly.
It is good to look back, to give thanks.
It is good to look back at our loved one’s lives. To give thanks for them. To see how God gave me compassion, comfort, love, and salvation.
Looking back more than 25 years ago now, my dad entered Heaven’s gates. Twelve years ago, my first husband, Bill, entered those same gates. Eight years ago, Blair entered them. And Mom, nearly eight years ago, entered the gates. There are many more names I could mention, but these are the closest ones to me.
They were huge blessings to me….
Each of those people: Henry, Rose, Bill and Blair were huge blessings to me–and to others too. It isn’t a sacrifice any more to give praise. I experience gratefulness for the memories. But more than memories, I will see each of them again one day, when it is my time to leave this earth. It’s getting closer every day.
I’m reminded of the words of Isaac Watts, a renown hymn writer of the early 18th century:
I love the Lord; he bowed his ear,
And chased my grief away!
O let my heart no more despair,
While I have breath to pray.
Of great value
Take heart, those of you who are grieving still. Where giving praise is a sacrifice. In time, remembering won’t be as painful and the precious memories–“not to be wasted,” “of great value” will cause you to rejoice for their lives, no matter the time they lived here on earth.
Read Psalm 116
I suggest you pull out your Bible and read Psalm 116 and write down phrases that speak to you. They will be unique to you, but possibly, similar to mine.
Look back and reflect.
I pray you too experience the comfort and compassion that only God can give. And one day, you can look back and reflect those precious memories.
Next week, I’m going to share with you the unexpected joy I experienced…..Stay tuned!
I’m sitting here in a recliner with my feet propped up at or above my heart. I had some minor toe (hammertoe, if you are curious) surgery on each foot yesterday. I had instructions to keep both feet up above my heart for two days, then hip level for two days, and then I’m free to move as much as I like or am able. Once the stitches are out, I can wear regular shoes. For now, here’s what I’ve got to wear:
My first thought was now I can read for hours and not feel guilty! Interestingly enough, I could only read for a short time before wanting to get out of my chair and do something else. In order to heal from this as quickly as possible–and that’s my goal, I must stay down. My second action was to pick some movies from my on-demand cable and have a movie marathon. Problem is, I don’t feel like it! Isn’t that crazy? It’s a reminder to me that we human beings just aren’t that content.
But godliness with contentment is great gain.
I Timothy 6:6
What is wrong with me? Why do I want to escape from one place to another. And when I’m in that place, want to be in the other place? I would like to honestly say what the Apostle Paul said:
I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. Philippians 4:11
I’m learning to be content, but I’m not there yet. I have contentment about a lot of things, though. I love my husband and want our years to go on and on and on. I love our home and don’t want anything else. I enjoy being a mom and grammie, yet they aren’t in my personal care anymore–and the grandies are in their parents’ capable hands.
I know some of you would really like to not be where you are. You might have a scary illness there might not be a cure for. Your loved one might be very ill with something frightening. You might be as I once was, lonely and wanting a mate. Wherever you are and whatever circumstance you might be in, join me in learning to have at least a mini moment of contentment.
In the Bible study I’m in, we’re looking at Prayers of the Heart in the Psalms. I’m enjoying the Psalm 3 this week. Here’s a few of my favorite verses:
But you, Lord, are a shield around me,
my glory, the One who lifts my head high.
I call out to the Lord,
and he answers me from his holy mountain….
I lie down and sleep;
I wake again, because the Lord sustains me….
From the Lord comes deliverance.
I am learning some lessons even now as I write this blog. For one thing, I have the time and help to have this procedure done. I don’t have a job to go to, children to chase after. I have my sweet man to take care of me. They told me the hardest part of this type of surgery is staying down–even though you don’t feel that bad. OK Lord, I’ll try to be content. And listen. Be thankful. And again, be content. Oh yes, I’m working on the “godliness with contentment” too.