Something to hold on to...

"Today I am one day nearer home than ever before. One day nearer the dawning when the fog will lift, mysteries clear, and all question marks straighten up into exclamation points!
 I shall see the King!"     Vance Havner

Sunday, August 11, 2013

A new A - Z

I find it interesting that my last posts were my A-Z stories.

Tonight I am thinking of A-Z in a whole new way. Take the logo for Amazon for instance, there is an arrow which forms a smile from the letters a and z, meaning they happily provide everything you would possibly need, from a-z.  However, what I am really thinking of tonight is another a-z,  quite actually the Greek alphabet's version of such.  Alpha - Omega.  The beginning and the end.  Ironically, in some odd way my two examples of A-Z have merged recently in my life.

A couple of weeks ago, I found on Amazon a free digital book for my Kindle. It is a new release, written by Joni Eareckson Tada.  It is a book about healing.  I found this book on the very day I was having an ultrasound which would prove to show something unwanted growing in my body.  A few days later, also on Amazon, I run across another free book, this one by Ravi Zacharias, detailing how God has woven the details of our lives. 

Now some would say it is merely coincidence that I would run across both of these books at this time in my life, but I choose to believe that God had a hand in this.  God is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end.  As I walk through a new medical trial in my life I know that this is where my strength will come.  

Both books have taught me much in such a short time , and yes, I am reading them at the same time.  Joni's book (first name basis?) has taught me that while I may seek physical healing for this thing hidden in my body, I should at the same time be seeking spiritual healing for the things I choose to keep hidden. As you pray for me, pray for my complacency, my negativity, my selfishness and so much more that needs refined.   Mr. Zacharias is teaching me that I should not fear these days of my life, because they have already been woven by God in His wisdom.  

Amazon has marketed well their ability to provide all we think we need, but in all reality, they can not.  All I need is provided by my faith and my relationship with my God. My Alpha and Omega. 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Z is for Zoltar

Z is for Zoltar....

Odd thing to post I know, but you must agree that my choices are limited.  The reason I chose Zoltar is because it brings up a very prominent family memory.
In 1988 the very popular movie, Big, starring Tom Hanks came out. Our boys were young, Jake was 5 and Joel was only 3.   After a while it was released on VHS, and by that time Joel was probably 4 years old.  We did not have  cable TV at that time, so for entertainment, we would rent or borrow movies from the library. Because of our TV situation we often found ourselves watching the same movies over and over again. A parent can only watch The NeverEnding Story or  Harry and the Hendersons so many times.

I asked our sister-in-law if she felt the movie, Big would be appropriate for the boys. I was desperate for something new.
Now, I must tell you that also during this period of our lives, I was a stay-at-home mom and had many opportunities to discuss our values and beliefs with both of our sons.  I called them teachable moments, and they popped up everywhere.  One day, on our way to the grocery,  the subject of hell, or at least the word hell came up.  I was not sure how or why it came up, but I reminded my 4 year old, (Joel) that we do not say that word unless we are talking about the place.  He seemed to get it, and I felt I had done a good job explaining the difference between the noun "hell" and the cuss-word "hell". He seemed to accept that it is only okay to say it if we are talking about the place. I repeated that to him a few times and was at ease.

Back to Zoltar...and the movie.

After clearing the movie with my much respected sister-in-law, we rented it, popped our popcorn and settled in for a nice family evening.  For much of the movie, I was not concerned at all.  There were a few hints of things that the boys did not pick up on, and things were going well.  The one part our sister-in-law failed to mention was a time when Billy's friend goes into the office of Billy's boss and one of them utters the phrase "a**hole".   This is NOT something that Steve or I ever say, so we were quite worried about having the boys hear that in a movie.  As I was preparing a little speech in my head as to what to say to the boys, Joel immediately makes a connection between our conversation at the grocery and the line in the movie. ( how he connected them, I will never know) soon as the phrase was uttered, Joel turned to us and said, "It's okay to say that if you are talking about one..."

Now, thinking about the "wisdom" (flawed as it might be), in that statement from a four year old is mind blowing.  I guess it is true what they say about "out of the mouth of babes"

Y is for...yams

Y is for yams.  I love them.  Steve does not.  That is all I have to say about the letter Y.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

X is for reX

X is for reX

I know that  had to stretch myself a bit to come up with this letter, and I would prefer to post nothing before I am prepared.  Finally I am prepared. It will take a bit of introduction to get to my point, but bear with me.
     Currently Steve and I are at an Indianapolis hospital, caring for his mom who had surgery.  I took over her care when Steve's brother, sister-in-law, and then his sister had to leave.  I have been here for 5 days and 4 nights.   
     Hospitals are both wonderful and awful places.  Mom's care has been superb, and we have no complaints in that department. However, a 5 star hotel for family members, it is not.  I have made the best of the situation though, and the nursing staff  has been wonderful in meeting many of my own needs.  
     After about day 3 though, exhaustion sets in (could have taken a "x" from that word as well).  My mind was less clear, my body weary, and my emotions running wild.  I have such a new appreciation and understanding for the young parents that have to endure this; sometimes for months.
     Yesterday was particularly rough.  Mom experienced some post surgical side effects that I, by myself, and running on empty was not able to handle. I was breaking down, I knew it, and I also knew I needed help if I were to be any good for Mom.  Thankfully, Steve arrived at about 8:30 local time.  We went for a quick bite to eat, then returned to the hospital.  Since I was not thinking clearly, I decided against getting a hotel room at that moment because I thought as late as it was, we would save money by tag teaming in recliners or the cot in Mom's room.    Steve took the cot, and I went off to search for a recliner.  Thing is, I was just too tired to relax in that recliner.  After returning to the room a few times, and emotionally breaking down when a security guard asked if I was okay, I finally decided after midnight that the price of a hotel would be the best present I could give myself.  I was driven to the hotel by another hospital security guard, and I checked in.

Ahhh, the power of a shower and un-interupped sleep.  

Now, finally, we come to the letter X, almost.

     The hotel where I stayed provides a service for folks such as me.  We are able , without pay, to reserve a regular room to take a nap or shower. They give you 1 1/2 hours, then you simply turn in the key and return to the hospital.  I took advantage of this on Monday and it was such a blessing.  I was so impressed with this service, and so grateful that I wanted to pay somebody something.  The hotel will not accept it, yet this thought remained in my mind.
     As I left my room this morning, I passed a woman, who had obviously been recently injured (arm in cast, limping, multiple bruises). I then requested a shuttle back to the hospital, as did she.  We were told that the shuttle was running very late so I called Steve and asked him to drive over to get me.  I also asked if he could drive someone else back too.
     In the little time we were waiting for Steve, I learned quite a lot about Melanie and REX.  They are married, and drive their own big rig for a living. Melanie was at the wheel on interstate 74 when Rex decided to take over.  As he got up to move to the cab from the sleeper, he stumbled,. Melanie took 1 hand off the wheel to try to help him, and Rex without thinking, grabbed for the side of the wheel for something to hold on to.  This split second decision caused their lives to be turned upside down.  Melanie lost control, laid  the rig down on it's right side and then lost consciousness.  When she came to she realized that Rex had been thrown from the truck and was in the median with paramedics. Alive, yet much more serious than she, they both were flown to this hospital.  Melanie  has had surgery, and while still healing from injuries, she will be okay. The road to recovery will be longer for Rex, as he is still in ICU.  Melanie and Rex are from Ohio, they were headed with a load of furniture to California, where in fact, all of their kids live.  They now find themselves in a strange city, and in circumstances they never imagined.
     I listened to Melanie, and was actually drawn into her story,  feeling as if I was truly invited into their lives. She needed to tell her story, and quite honestly, I needed to hear it.  It is easy, in the midst of your own trials, and fatigue to forget others, and to become so self focused.  
     At that moment, I felt a nudging, which many times is overlooked.  This time though, I could not deny it.  I reached into my purse, and pulled out some money, not much, yet just enough to at least buy a couple of meals. She resisted at first, but I explained about my free shower earlier in the week and how God told me to find someone to "pay it forward", I then told her, she was the one. 
     Finally Steve pulled up, and we dropped Melanie off at the door before finding our parking space.  As we walked back up to the entrance I realized that this is a big hospital, with many rooms, and every one has a Rex or a Melanie. In every room someone's life has been turned upside down.  I then asked God to place His mighty Hands over this place and bring comfort into these lives.
     I wonder though, how many times I have ignored a Rex or a Melanie.  We ask someone how they are. They say fine.  We know they are not really, but we leave it at that.  I think that in reality, our lives would be so much more in perspective if we took these moments to invest in the lives of others.  
     I am reminded of this scripture:
"But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint."  Isaiah 40:31
I have read before (sorry I cannot remember who said it) that just perhaps the word "wait" in this passage is not what we think, that maybe instead of being thought of as passive, such as sitting back and being patient, and waiting on God to do something, that maybe it is a very active verb.  Perhaps it is waiting on God such as a waitress waits on us.  That when we are actively serving God, then He will re-new our strength.  And, perhaps, this was realized in my life today.  Only after I stepped outside of myself, and found someone to minister to in God's name, have I been renewed.
    I am glad I waited to write about the letter X until it involved a lesson from God.
     We we see both how long it takes for Y and Z, and what God has in mind for them.

Friday, January 13, 2012

W is for Why?

W is for Why?
It has been a long time since I posted, I thought I would zip straight through the alphabet. Who would think I would get hung up on the letter “W”? There are so many good W words.
And, many more I could have chosen.
Nothing motivated me, nothing struck a chord. Today, on a day when I have so many emotions fighting for exposure, it hits me.
Such a small word.
I remember when our oldest was just a little boy. He was consumed with this word. He was not content with simple answers, but wanted to know the “why” in every circumstance. His “whys” varied from: why he didn’t get his way in a particular instance, to the more complex “whys”. Why does the light switch actually turn on a light? Why does thunder roar? Why does the water come out of the kitchen sink. His “whys” were soon muddled with “hows”, and he became full of wonder. After my futile attempts to answer such questions, and after a day when all I did was repeatedly answer, I came up with a solution to appease both of us. When I could no longer satisfy him, I would just tell him that I did not know, and that we would have to ask Uncle Jim. This was a stroke of brilliance on my part. Jake would patiently wait until the next time my brother stopped by, and then bombard him with his saved up questions. I remember clearly the day that Jim sat at our dining room table and drew out a diagram, complete with circuits and breakers, to explain that there is a lot going on inside the walls behind the light switch. He convinced Jake that turning on a light really isn’t magic.
It is odd, that as grown ups, our “whys” are not so easily answered.
Today, I am struggling with a “why” that Uncle Jim cannot solve.
On this day, another little boy, one that I am sure was full of “whys” and full of wonder, has gone to live with Jesus. He lost his battle with a serious illness and after just 5 years on this earth, and has left a terrible void in the lives of those who love him.
I did not know this boy. I knew his father and his father’s family, I knew some of his mother’s family, and I had met his mother. Not knowing him has not made this any easier to understand. I have still asked why.
If you have followed my blog, you know that I am a Christian. You know that I do not blame God for things that I have endued. You know that I continue to love and trust Him. But, does that always mean I understand Him?
There are many scriptures that bring comfort, but not complete understanding. Yet, I realize that we only hold a small piece of the puzzle, and must wait to see the complete picture.
It is not my brother that I wait for to explain the answers, yet a loving Father. One who knit this little boy in his mother’s womb, one that knew everything about him. A loving Father who has numbered our hairs, and our days.
I may not know the answer to this “why” while I live on this earth, but I am patiently waiting for my visit with my Father, when I will sit with Him and ask Him all of my saved up questions.
At the top of my blog is a quote. It has hung out there for a long time. I am drawn to it often:
"Today I am one day nearer home than ever before. One day nearer the dawning when the fog will lift, mysteries clear, and all question marks straighten up into exclamation points! I shall see the King!" (Vance Havner)
My “whys” will be answered.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

V is for Vodou (Voodoo)

is for Vodou (Haitian name for voodoo)

Now, the first thing I want to say is that I do not practice or have any belief in voodoo, but it does bring up a strong memory. I feel that by including this in my blog, it will be a reminder to me of Haiti's greatest need.

In 1993, after watching the slides from missionaries that were based in Haiti, I had a strong urge to go there. I honestly felt such a calling, if you will, to leave my family and be part of a team from our church that was going on a 2 week trip to assist the mission already based there. I told my husband that it was not that I really wanted to leave, but that I wanted to go. I have rarely felt so strongly that I was supposed to do something as I did then. It was in July, and I traveled with the second group from our church. Most had left a few days before, but due to some prior commitments, 4 of us traveled later.

Here I was, arriving in Haiti, when I had barely traveled anywhere else. This would be my first real plane ride, and many other firsts. I must admit that the first day there, I wondered what I was getting myself into. I developed a serious migraine on that first day, and wondered if I could make it.

As the days went on I knew I was supposed to be there, yet I still was realizing that our cultures are so very different. Everything was different, the poverty, the lack of communication abilities, the landscape, and the religion.

One night in particular, while we were trying to sleep (we slept on the roof of the mission on cots due to the heat) we could hear voodoo drums in the distance. That was definitely a strange experience for me, and to be honest , I felt evil around me. I prayed very hard that night, Although I knew that my God is greater than any evil around me, I needed to speak His name over and over for my own peace. I also prayed for the people of Haiti. We think sometimes that their biggest problem is their poverty, and that groups go there just to meet physical needs. We see and hear often of humanitarian groups that provide food, and medical help. Yes, these are real needs, and the poverty was overwhelming. But their greatest need is for the Lord God to rescue them from the evil that is all around them.

It has been many years since I returned from that trip, and to be honest, I do not think of these people as often as I should. There have been quite a few people that I know that have gone on similar trips since then, and each time it causes me to remember Haiti. I hope that somehow the focus of this post will also help me, and perhaps for those of you who read it will remember the Haitian people as well.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

U is for Ugly

is for Ugly.

Now, I must admit that the letter U had me stumped for a very long time. Well over a month. I did not want to go with umbrella, or unicorn, or anything starting with "un". I had to wait until something inspired me. With the current heat wave I am not getting inspired by much, so the challenge was great.

Today it hit me:

Not the word you would expect me to devote a post to. This blog is about the "Silver Lining", and the whole concept of that is supposed to be positive. Is there anything positive in such a word as ugly?

I think so.

The first thing I think of is the old adage, "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder". Well, isn't the same true with ugly? Be it dogs, decor, or even people, we all have different ideas about which one is pretty or ugly.

I have a scar.

It is quite large, and in reality is shaped much like the letter U. By the world's standards it is undesirable, unattractive, and ugly (three Us). But think about this. That one scar on my body is a reminder of the grace of God, a reminder of surviving what I later learned was a cancer that was very much not in my favor, and very much a smile from God. (You can read about 'A smile from God" here)

During our summer youth conference we sometimes have a small group ice breaker called "show me your scar". It is amazing that people young and old really like the opportunity to tell the story about their physical scars. You will hear stories about bicycle accidents, sports injuries, and surgeries. There is something about talking openly about what people are taught never to discuss or question. It is rather "freeing". It seems to turn what one would think of as being ugly into a story. I just happen to have a visible scar close enough to my face that makes it seem a taboo subject to talk about.

I will admit that in the weeks following surgery, I was quite concerned about the appearance of this scar, and even blogged about my thoughts regarding it. You can read those initial thoughts here. But as time has passed and admit-tingly, as the scar and my opinion of it have improved, I realize that is is quite beautiful in many ways.

I do not think of it as ugly anymore. Truth be told, sometimes I forget I have it, and sometimes it takes me noticing that someone else, a stranger, is fixated on it before I stop to think about it.

I have taken this to heart. When I see a scar on someone else, especially if it is large, or facial, or what some would call dis-figuring, I try to remember that there is a story behind it. That perhaps that scar has saved their life, that perhaps that scar is a reminder of a serious event that has changed them, but I will never think it as being ugly.

If ugly is also in the eye of the beholder. Let's behold beauty instead.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

T is for Teaching

is for teaching

I am not technically a "teacher".
-But I teach. I have been a teaching assistant with our district for 16 years. In high school I was in the Future Teachers of America club, but I did not really want to be a teacher. I wanted to be a dentist. I decided though, midway through my senior year that I would go to Bible College and possibly teach Christian Education in a church setting.

Things changed again, and I returned home in the middle of my junior year for a number of reasons. My mother was seriously ill, and that is where I needed to be. Strange though, because my first job after getting married had nothing to do with teaching, but instead had everything to do with dentistry. I worked for an orthodontist for over 5 years.

Then after a few years staying at home with our boys, I returned to the workforce. I became a teaching assistant with our local district. First, I helped in an early childhood classroom. We had a morning class, and then all new students for an afternoon class. May I just go on record to say that those teachers work their behinds off? Imagine a class load and all of the paperwork involved of about 40 children total? Kudos to them.

After a few years, I switched over to older kids and have spent the last 13 years with 4th and 5th graders. The best part about my job, is that also for the last 13 years I have worked with the same teacher.
She is amazing as a teacher, a "boss", and as a friend.
She teaches with respect towards each student, and plans amazing activities for them as they discover more about the subject. You might say she has been my "boss" during these years, because I do work under her direction. Lucky for me, she respects me as well, and allows me to be creative in my own right. I am allowed to teach many subjects in small groups, and allowed to teach my "very favorite book of all time" to the entire class each year.
More than any of that, she has been my friend. 13 years has brought both joy and sorrow in each of our lives and we have shared each together.

I do love my job. I love teaching, but I also love the fact that I have been so blessed with who I work with.

Sadly, this next school year will be her last before retirement. She will be missed, and I will hopefully find another like her to continue my own career.