Time

My dad was born May 31, 1932. If he was still alive he’d be 90 years old today.

He died when he was 63 years/seven months. My husband died a week from being 63 years/seven months. I’m about three weeks away from being 63 years/seven months. All that to say that soon I will have lived longer on this earth than Dad and Chuck. It puts time in a different perspective when I look at those facts. I’m just not sure what it all means.

I’ve been thinking of all the things Dad missed, but really it’s all the things we missed without him being there. We didn’t get to hear his jokes and silly phrases. He didn’t get to see me graduate from college at 39. He didn’t see his grandkids graduate from anywhere. He never knew about his five great-grandkids, so they never got one of his goofy nicknames. He missed the weddings, too. 

And I think of what Chuck will miss. In two weeks he will have been gone two years. It seems like yesterday and it seems like a lifetime ago. Here again, it’s me who will miss him sharing all the events, the milestones, the joys, the sorrows with me.

I am becoming more aware of the Now and the Not Yet. Now, on earth, is still good. The Not Yet is better. I cling to that. 

It’s April Again!

I look forward to April every year. It’s poetry month. It’s PAD – Poem-A-Day- with Robert Brewer over at Writer’s Digest. It’s reconnecting with a few poets I’ve met there. It’s feeling creative once more. It’s looking forward to reading the prompt of the day and being challenged to produce. It’s being able to express so many cooped-up feelings. It’s mostly happy and sometimes sad and always a month of possibilities.

Day One: “F”

Future and Present

Future and present me 

to past and present you:

Do you remember how much I love all things time/space/dimension travel?

Today I heard that Beatle’s song

When I’m Sixty-Four

and I won’t be able to sing it

when I’m sixty-four

because you will always be sixty-three

and come November

I’ll be older than you

for the first time ever

***

I’m already losing my hair

like my mom

and your’s was still thick 

like your dad’s

If you were still here

we might be doing the garden

digging the weeds

We were going to scrimp and save

in our moonlight years

***

When I’m sixty-four

you’ll be forever sixty-three

and I’ll still need you

Thoughts from Elisabeth Elliot – Part One

I was looking back today at some quotes I jotted down when I was reading Elisabeth Elliot’s book, The Path of Loneliness. I want to share a few, along with some of my thoughts.

"How blessed I have been to have been a wife."

My thoughts exactly. To have had all the ups and downs, joys and sorrows of 41 1/2 years of marriage is something for which I am ever grateful. To have grown up in the LORD with a man who cared for my spiritual welfare is something that is a true blessing.

The reality was beginning to sink in: despite friends and family who cared about me, I was essentially alone for the first time in my life."

This is so true for me, also. I went from being at home (two years in a dorm didn’t count as alone) to marriage. Until Chuck died, I’d never lived alone.

Where is my home ultimately? My home is where Christ is...God has made a home for me in order for me to share that home with others. "

God has given me a home in Tampa, Florida. A home I have been able to share with others, whether for a meal or a few nights. What most of those who enter my house don’t know is what a blessing it is to to have them there.

My larger family are those who also know Christ in an intimate way."

God has provided me with a larger family at Holy Trinity Presbyterian Church. I have sisters there. I have pastors and elders who truly care for me: they shepherd my soul, they check on me, they pray for me. I have a place to serve.

The loneliness of widowhood was an exit from the comforts and consolations of having a husband, and an entrance into the strange world of having to make unilateral decisions again and to learn to say 'I'instead of 'we'."

Those unilateral decisions have about been my undoing this past week. I long for someone else to make some decisions for me. Someone to just say, “Here’s what we’re going to do…”


					

Our True Home, Part Three

My Home – Tampa

I’ve written some thoughts about heaven, HERE and HERE. So it was comforting to read words from Andrew MacLaren on speculations about heaven in his sermon on First Corinthians 15. It helps to know I’m not the only one with questions and wonders. But, also not the only one who knows that I don’t need to understand it all.

There lies in it the idea of repose. ‘They rest from their labours.’ Sleep restores strength, and withdraws a man at once from effort on the outer world, and from communication from it. We may carry the analogy into that unseen world. We know nothing about the relations to an external universe of the departed who sleep in Jesus. It may be that, if they sleep in Him, since He knows all, they, through Him, may know, too, something-so much as He pleases to impart to them-of what is happening here. And it may even be that, if they sleep in Him, and He wields the energies of Omnipotence, they, through Him, may have some service to do, even while they wait for their house which is from heaven. But there is no need for, nor profit in, such speculations. It is enough that the sweet emblem suggests repose, and that in that sleep there are folded around the sleepers the arms of the Christ on whose bosom they rest, as an infant does on its first and happiest home-its mother’s breast.   

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

Non-patriotic?

I think I am opposite from the definition of patriotic: having or expressing devotion to and vigorous support for one’s country. I have become less and less patriotic the past 20 years or so. Memorial Day, July 4th, Veteran’s Day all hold little meaning for me. When 9-11 happened I was so on fire for our country. But within ten years the disgust I felt for the deceit of our government had grown so much that I didn’t even want to vote.

“There is no thing as a Christian nation other than the body of Christ.”- from Putting Amazing Back Into Grace by Michael Horton

Many churches have twisted their brand of religion and patriotism so much that it is hard to tell them apart. Being a “good American” does not make me a Christian. But, being a Christian should make me a good citizen. Can I be a good citizen without being patriotic? I think so.

Theodore Roosevelt said, “The first requisite of a good citizen in this Republic of ours is that he shall be able and willing to pull his own weight; that he shall not be a mere passenger, but shall do his share in the work that each generation of us finds ready to hand; and, furthermore, that in doing his work he shall show, not only the capacity for sturdy self-help, but also self-respecting regard for the rights of others.” I think I’ve fulfilled that requisite, but there are others I struggle with.

Most lists of "Good Citizen" qualities include the following:

Obeys the law / Respects authority.
Contribute to Society and Community/ Performs Civic Duty.
Loves his/her country/ Patriotism.
Courtesy and respect for the rights of others.
Trust worthy and Honesty.
Tolerance.
Accountability.
Moral Courage.

I am thankful to be an American. I treasure the land and I delight in its people. But, its government and ideals are harder to hold dear.

Tears are healing


"Music, too, tends to pluck at the chords of emotion. Tears are healing. I do not want to cry when I am not alone, but by myself I don't try to hold the tears back. In a sense this solitary weeping is a form of prayer."  -  Two-Part Invention by Madeleine L'Engle


November, 2018

I understand exactly what she means. I try not to cry in public, but it’s difficult at church sometimes. Oh, that music. The hymns he loved get me every time; at home it might be other music. Especially, but not limited to, The Avett Brothers. Occasionally it’s a scene in a movie. Or a beautiful evening sky. Or dates on the calendar.

Sometimes I’ll come across something that probably only I would understand. Like a book he read where some of the sentences were underlined. He would use an index card and make the lines perfectly straight. I’ve even found a card a time or two, with the edge faintly marked with ink where he had used it.

He was by no means OCD, but he did have these little endearing habits. Like buying the same socks and underwear at JC Penney. Or washing his work shirts every Tuesday. As often as my schedule allowed I’d do it for him. And he always thanked me. Now, this was YEARS into our marriage, not when I had four kids running underfoot and would have loved him to wash some shirts for ME. But, we all tend to mellow and learn so much as we age. As we should. And he thanked me!