More Covid Effects?

image via wild apricot

Does anyone know of a church relatively close that does evening services? I’d love a Sunday night service but Saturday could work too. After Covid for the past year I’ve really loved our mornings at home on the weekend.” – posted on a neighborhood facebook page

This struck me as a very sad commentary on not just the effects of the “pandemic” but on our culture.

  • The person asks about a church – no denomination as it didn’t seem to matter.
  • The person is looking for a convenient service, something that wouldn’t interfere with Sunday mornings at home.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful for the opportunity to watch/semi-participate in church at home. When things starting shutting down last year, before we even knew about Chuck’s illness, we watched our church in St. Augustine from afar. When our children came to Birmingham we were able to share with them together in our living room. For a few of them it was the first sermon they’d probably heard in years. After Chuck died, there were a few Sundays I just couldn’t face people yet and I was grateful to hear His Word proclaimed via YouTube.

But, as soon as I was able I attended in person, even though it was at two new locations where I had to/am having to get to know a lot of new people. What a difference; what a blessing! Now I crave that fellowship with God and His people. I pray God does not let me slip back into habits of ease and mediocrity.

Sighs and Petitions

“The Christian’s heart is constantly sending up sighs and petitions to God, regardless of whether he happens to be eating or drinking or working. “ – Martin Luther

I know I do not pray enough. I try not to tell people I’m going to pray for them without actually doing it. “Prayers!” on facebook just isn’t enough, but neither are empty words. Guilty.

But God is patient and kind and puts up with my feeble prayers. I do believe He hears me when I don’t even realize I’m sending up those sighs and petitions. And I am grateful for those who I know are praying for me. Many prayers have lifted me up this past year.

Your words have upheld him who was stumbling, And you have strengthened the feeble knees;  -  Job 4:4

Law and Decisions

“It is easy to make a law; it is more difficult to make wise decisions.” – from Putting Amazing Back Into Grace by Michael Horton

The song above, “A New Law” by Derek Webb really packs a punch if you listen carefully. Derek seems to have gone off the track in recent years, but he may be finding his way back. Either way, this is a good song.

...I don't wanna know if the answers aren't easy
So just bring it down from the mountain to me...

...Don't teach me about moderation and liberty
I prefer a shot of grape juice...

Don't teach me about loving my enemies...

Sometimes it’s just easier to give up asking questions. Sometimes we have to because there are things we aren’t intended to know yet. But, asking the questions is okay, even when it’s hard.

I don’t have to avoid the wine as I was taught as a youth; i just need to use moderation. And loving my enemies? I’m ever learning better ways to do that.

A

Finding Common Ground

August, 2019 – Tampa

“First, we have an incredibly weighty existence which requires that we respect God and our neighbor whether the latter is a Christian or not. It means that we should expect to find common ground with non-Christians as a natural part of human existence.” – Michael Horton

I find myself thinking about my neighbors a lot lately, mainly because I’m still new in the neighborhood. When I meet someone, I try to remember to write down the person’s name when I get home and something to remember them by, like a house number or a dog’s name. I’ve met 14 neighbors on my street so far. I’ve found a little common ground, such as other dog owners, someone who recently lost a family member, and one who likes strawberries. There are differences, too, such as a practicing Buddhist, the young couples, the single mom. But we can all talk about yard work, termites, and good restaurants. I just want the conversations to one day go beyond watering the yard to something more substantial. All in good time; all in God’s time.

Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’  -  Matthew 22:37-39

The Six Degrees of Matt Redmond

This is about Matt Redmond, author of The God of the Mundane , not the well-known (to some, not me) worship leader Matt Redman.

I had to do some digging around back in time for this post, so bear with me. On August 22, 2013, I wrote a post titled Daily Praises – you can read it HERE. I first heard of Matt and his book via my husband who heard of him via Rev. Shane Lems.

Fast forward nine months and we are living in Birmingham, Alabama, where Matt lives. Somehow I found him, read his book, and interviewed him for a small local newspaper. We met at the library and I got to know him a little bit. I have searched high and low for that interview/article to no avail. But, an offshoot of that meeting was that in addition to our faith, we also have a love for music in common, his much deeper than mine. But he was the one that connected me to a guy who sold me tickets for the first Avett Brothers’ concert that Chuck and I went to. At the concert we saw Matt and were able to meet his wife Bethany. This was now November of 2017.

Jump ahead again to 2021. I’m attending Holy Trinity Presbyterian Church where I now live in Tampa and I meet a sweet woman named Suanne. She tells me about Tim Challies and I sign up for his emails. So, today’s email has a list of book recommendations and guess what shows up? Yep. the new edition of Matt’s book!

Side note: I just finished reading Ordinary by Michael Horton, which is similar in many ways to Matt’s book. Of the two, I’d probably recommend Matt’s only because it seems more focused on the topic, whereas Horton’s rambles around a little more. And, FYI, Matt’s was published first.

We and us

November, 2018

"But if Hugh dies first, would I ever be able to stop saying "we" and say "I"? I doubt it. I do not think that death can take away the fact the Hugh and I are "we" and "us", a new creature born at the time of our marriage vows, which has grown along with us as our marriage has grown." - Two-Part Invention by Madeleine L'Engle 

I find myself struggling when I talk to people who don’t really know me yet. I think when I say “we” I confuse them. But, so many times it’s just not the right time to tell the whole story. And If I just say, “My husband passed away last year,” they are left in an uncomfortable position sometimes. They always say, “I’m so sorry,” but then there is this awkward silence.

And I really don’t like being introduced as the woman who just lost her husband. I’d rather tell people on my own terms, in my own time, in my own way.

So, yes, I’ll always be a part of “we” but I’m also “I”. Whoever that is.

Conjoined

Montana, August, 2015

“A love that depends solely on romance, on the combustion of two attracting chemistries, tends to fizzle out…A long-term marriage has to move beyond chemistry to compatibility, to friendship, to companionship. It is certainly not that passion disappears, but that is conjoined with other ways of love.” – Two-Part Invention by Madeleine L’Engle.

Chuck and I were compatible, though we had some different interests. I learned to enjoy baseball, but would never achieve the knowledge or full enjoyment he had in the sport. But, I could sit in front of the TV with him and watch a game, though often with my Chromebook in my lap.

The “other ways of love” came with putting each other ahead of ourselves. It didn’t just happen. It takes work to keep a marriage going. It’s a give and take, a making time for each other. It’s being okay with a little time apart. It’s talking and it’s sitting in quiet.

It’s a sweet camaraderie.

One Year Ago

Savannah, Georgia – early 2000s

One year ago Chuck posted this on facebook:

As some of you are aware, I put in for retirement effective June 1 and we placed our home on the market. The house went under contract immediately and we close on 5/19/20.

Unfortunately a few weeks ago I was diagnosed with stage four pancreatic cancer. We have consulted with UAB oncologists and decided to return to Jax, FL as planned and I have an appointment at Mayo Clinic this Thursday.
I wish all of you the very best in all life as to offer. Angie and I covet your prayers for strength, wisdom and that the Lord be glorified in our circumstances.

According to the Scripture all 'our days are numbered' so whether mine are few or many "I with body and soul, both in life and death, am not my own, but belong unto my faithful Savior Jesus Christ; who with his precious blood, has fully satisfied for my sins..."

Please forgive me if I ever offended you in anyway, it is never intentional but still there is no excuse.

I pray his blessings upon each of you.

Just a little over a month after this Chuck was gone.

I just finished reading Two-Part Invention by Madeleine L’Engle. I didn’t realize when I started it that it was not only a memoir of her marriage but a very detailed telling of her husband’s death. They were married forty years and their relationship was so very much like Chuck’s and mine, though our lives and careers couldn’t have been more different.

She tells of their first date: “But we had talked for ten hours without noticing the time passing.” This is very much what happened with us – maybe not ten hours in one setting, but we talked and talked on each date. I miss those talks.

Communication or Waiting?

c/o neurosciencemarketing

The PAD prompt for April 17th was “Waiting”. But, I got to thinking, the poem I wrote on April 3, with the prompt of “Communication” could have done just as well here.

The past ten months I have done a lot of waiting. Waiting on hold. Waiting on mail. Waiting for the right house to come along. Waiting on other people. In all of this, I have waited on the Lord. Not always patiently I am sorry to say.


Wait on the Lord; Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart;  Wait, I say, on the Lord! – Psalm 27:14

So, here’s my poem from April 3rd.

Communication

Press one
Your wait time is 14 minutes
For the next available representative
Name
Phone number
Date Of birth
Last four of your social
Repeat  
Press two
Your wait time is 23 minutes
How may I help you?
I’m sorry, but I can’t help you with that
Let me transfer you
Repeat
Press three
Please remain on the line
I’m  sorry for your loss
Your husband’s date of birth
Date of death
Last four of his social
Call us if you haven’t received it in 60 days
No, it takes up to 14 days after processing
No, it takes up to 28 days
Repeat
Press four
A death certificate
A driver's license
A marriage certificate
Repeat
Press five
Your address
Your former address
Beneficiaries 
My supervisor isn’t available
Leave your name and phone number
Repeat
Press six
I’m sorry, our office is closed

Moving Forward

I’m not one for looking for signs and wonders, but sometimes it’s just interesting how God can use seemingly insignificant things to direct our thoughts. I follow a blog called DC Widow that has been very helpful to me. Her post from March 11 was good, but it was a comment from a reader that got me started on the idea of moving forward. The reader, Steph, said, “Nora McInerny’s TED talk about not moving on but moving forward is spot on…” so, I looked it up and she was right.

At breakfast I picked up the AARP bulletin to scan it while I ate and the cover jumped out at me: “The Path Forward”.

AARP Bulletin

Then, at lunch I did the same with the latest copy of Southern News, from Florida Southern College. Inside was was an article heading “…move forward without forgetting the past.” Wow. It all goes together.

Southern News, Winter, 2021

I am moving forward, well, literally I’m moving south. In two weeks. I closed on my home in Tampa on March 5, then stayed there a week on an air mattress, painting walls and planning. At the end of each day I just drove 1.6 miles to my son’s house where I was fed and loved on. Now I’m finishing up packing and preparing for my third move since last May. It’s been exhausting, not just physically but emotionally. I have to keep stopping myself from the thoughts of “this isn’t how it was supposed to be”. I remind myself, rather, “this isn’t how we planned it.”

Carole King’s song, Anyone At All, comes to mind. I have loved that song ever since I saw “You’ve Got Mail” years ago. It felt like Our Song. It feels like it even more now.

“You’ve become a memory I can’t erase…” “It wasn’t in the plan, not that I could see…” “…that’s what catches me when I fall
I’m so glad it was you”