A lot of of packin’

 

A lot of movin’, A lot of rollin’
A lot of drivin’, A lot of strollin’
A lot of leavin’ here
A lot of arrivin’ there
Trying to go just about everywhere
A lot of thinking about where I’m going next

I could add a whole verse here about a lot of packin’ :

A lot of packin’, A lot of sortin’

It’s nerve rackin’, We’re transportin’

A lot of leavin’ there

A lot of arrivin’ here

Goin’ on a lot of love and prayers

A lot of thinking about where we’re goin’ next

 

I’ve wanted to write a post for a while but have been so overwhelmed by life. To try to make a long story short, I’ll share my husband’s facebook post.

From my husband…

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.

 

So, here we are in Jacksonville. We are home. One more night in a hotel and we move into an apartment for six months.  This is not the move we planned. We were going to buy a house -our last home -in Jacksonville with cash so we would have no mortgage payment going into retirement. God had others plans. And He has provided for us.

My husband will start chemo next week. Our lives will be much different. But I look forward to a sweet time.

There have been many silver linings in all of this. I have seen God’s providence. Had there not been this “pandemic” our two daughters would not have been free to come help us as they have. We have seen amazing things with these two girls. Young women. Their love and care for their dad and me has been overwhelming. From cooking, packing, and making phone calls for me to massaging feet, taking vitals and tracking meds and food for their dad, they have been here for us. I could never have done it without them.

Our sons, too, have poured out love and help on us. Our oldest with his nursing skills has been a comfort to lean on, traveling back and forth from Tampa, which is NOT a hop, skip, and jump away.   The younger son, thankfully working a new job, maintains constant contact and cheers us up. A few weekends ago they were all at our house in Bham. It was the first time we had all been together in over 13 years.

Silver linings and blessings from God.

 

 

If You’re Reading This…

…then you are still here and have another year to be thankful for.

 

2019  is almost in the books. For these things I am grateful:

  • Grandchildren who make it possible to attend Grandparents’ Day at their school and to have Bell Camp at our house
  • Children who still love me
  • Southwest Airlines who make travel pleasant
  • All the beautiful places to hike in and around Birmingham
  • Ruby, my hiking companion
  • Students who make my days interesting and make me feel welcome when they greet me with  “Mrs. Bell! You’re my favorite sub!”
  • Friends who read books with me
  • Record stores and bookshops
  • Cousin re-connections and family reunions
  • Weddings and birthday celebrations far and near
  • The Avett Brothers in concert with only a few sprinkles
  • Seeing old friends in Jacksonville
  • Being protected from snakes at Red Mountain and Lake Guntersville
  • 41 years of marriage
  • Good neighbors
  • New friends that make me smile and old movies that make me cry

Here’s to 2020!

“May the road rise up to meet you. May the wind always be at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face, and rains fall soft upon your fields. And until we meet again, May God hold you in the palm of His hand.”

 

 

 

 

 

Thoughts on Grace – Look to Jesus

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Extravagant Grace is a book written by Barbara Duguid. She uses John Newton’s teaching on sanctification to explain God’s sovereignty over sin. Duguid is the wife of a Presbyterian pastor in Pennsylvania and the mother of six. The quotes in this series come from her book.
“When we are standing tall and strong we do not tend to look at Christ – we don’t need Him. But when we fall flat on our faces, overcome with sin and weakness, there is nowhere else for us to look but to the One who has died our death and lived the life we should have lived.”
How many times have you found this to be true? Yes, I praise and thank Him when the big, obvious answers to prayer are seen. I am joyful when an unexpected blessing comes and I give Him the glory.
But what about every day, when it’s the same thing you did the day before? I think I sometimes forget to go to God when everything is going smoothly. I forget to be grateful when everything is going as it should.
Seems some of us go from blessing God to begging Him. What would your friends think if that was the way you treated your friendship? Don’t you think your friend wants to just hang out with you sometimes?

My prayer is that I go to God every day, not just when I’ve messed up big time. Because, really, I mess up every day.

Fear not, for I am with you;
Be not dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you,
Yes, I will help you,
I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.

Isaiah 41:10

Cathy – Part Two

The prompt for Day 25 of PAD was “exercise”.  In a round about way I turned to thoughts of Cathy, my best friend who died on March 8th. This poem can’t begin to convey our friendship, but it was helpful for me to write it. Before the poem, though, I’d like to share a word that’s new to me but fits right in here –

Propinquity– the state of being close to someone; close kinship

My friend Cathy and I experienced propinquity.

 


Cathy

All those excursions we took before I left
come back to me now in photographs
we walked the downtown streets
to bookstores and cafes
laughing at inside jokes from our youth
You were so witty
We scoured antique stores for handkerchiefs
and old jewelry and hidden treasures
and since you could no longer exercise, you traded
me your Zumba CDs for my glass chickens
And now I’m miles away and you are gone,
but I still look for handkerchiefs
that I know you would have liked

Cathy – Part One

Those friends from middle school are unique. They are the ones you grow up with and make memories with that last forever. I’ve drifted away from most of those, but about six years ago I reunited with Cathy and we became closer than ever. It’s like we fell right back into that kinship that all the years had not erased. We began to hang out a few times a month – it might have been a concert, listening to an author speak, going to a class, poking through a bookstore, or whatever we could find to do. A few years ago we even went to several funerals together. In March I had to go to one alone. Hers.

I don’t even know where to begin to think about Cathy. She was the kind of person who made you feel she was truly interested in you and your well-being.

A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticks closer than a brother. – Proverbs 18:24

Cathy truly stuck close to me, like the sister I never had. I could talk to her about anything. I don’t think I’ll ever have another friend like her. I thank God for the time he gave us.

Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints. – Psalm 116:15

In Eudora Welty’s Delta Wedding, Aunt Ellen was described as “…seeming exactly strong enough for what was needed for her life.”

This is so much like Cathy. She had a quiet strength that took her to the end with hope and grace. For the two years we corresponded via snail mail and texts, she never grumbled. Rarely would she mention a hardship, but when she did it was more like she was just telling me about it, not complaining. She would talk about the future, the adventures we would have. When I went home to Jacksonville and took her out, she never let on how long it took her to get ready; how she had to wait for some of the drugs to get out of her system before she could function.

We would go out to eat and she would eat like a bird, then have the rest packed up to take home. But, we would sit at the restaurant for several hours just talking.

chamblins

“Books were there… when I found a friend who loved books as much as I did and we could read together or spend an afternoon running our fingers over the spines.” -Mandy Shunnarah, from I Don’t Do It For You: A Reader’s Manifesto via her blog, Off The Beaten Shelf

This was us – we could spend hours rambling around bookstores like Chamblin’s Uptown in downtown Jacksonville. I will always miss my book buddy.

God’s Love & DNA

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“…there is an absolute disjunction between our Father’s love and our deserving.” – from Gilead by Marilynne Robinson

I came across this quote I’d written down while reading Gilead and it was the word disjunction that caught my eye. I’ll explain about why later. Disjunction means a lack of correspondence or consistency.

There certainly is no connection between God’s loving us and us deserving His love. I speak for myself, but I know it is true for us all. What in the world can we do to deserve God’s love above anyone else? Or at all?  There are no works we can do to merit His favor.  There is a multitude of works we can do, though, to show our love for Him.

Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share,

I Timothy 6:18

So, back to the reason this word jumped out at me. In my latest long-term substitute gig, I’ve been teaching 7th grade science. We are learning genetics and just yesterday we talked about nondisjunction. As an English teacher at heart, this word threw me because it seems to begin with two negatives.  Even though my math skills are poor, I know two negatives make a positive, so now I’m confused.

Nondisjunction occurs in the process of meiosis when homologous chromosomes fail to separate properly during cell division. So, to back up, junction is the process of joining. So, that would seem to mean that disjunction would be a splitting apart. Which makes sense; it’s a lack of connection. So, it seems like NONdisjunction would be a lack of splitting apart. But, no, it is actually a lack of splitting apart correctly. NOW I get it! I feel much better.

Back once more to the original quote –  I am trying to put these thoughts all together. God’s love does not come to us because we deserve it. We could not apply the word nondisjunction to this situation, because there is NO correct nor incorrect lack of splitting apart of these two ideas – God’s love and our deserving. These two will never correlate.

One thing I do know is that as I learn the intricacies of DNA, I am more awed than ever at the way God created us. And more overwhelmed at the fact that He loves me.

 

The Secret of Perfect Rest

am1

Andrew Murray wrote a book titled Abiding in Christ, originally published in 1895 but still relevant today. The following posts in this series are a combination of his thoughts and mine.

Now He not only says, ‘Take My yoke upon you and learn from me’; become My scholars, yield yourselves to My training, submit in all things to My will, let your whole life be one with mine – in other words, abide in Me.

This shows me I need to be a student of the Word, to learn from Christ is to be in His Word. I am sorely lacking in the exercise of being a scholar of Christ. Yet, as Murray says, “entire surrender to Jesus is the secret of perfect rest.”

Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.  –  Matthew 11:28-30

He Does All Things Well

wedding

Picture taken at my niece’s wedding

“Jesus knew when to be restrained and when to be radical. He transformed a wedding party and demolished a shopping mall” – Woodrow Kroll

You can read the full story in John 2:1-25

At the wedding, Mary went to Jesus with her need. We can follow her example in going to Jesus with our needs, too. And we can trust Him to do the right thing. He always does. He made the best wine. What an example to us in the way we treat our neighbors. We should give the best, not the leftovers.

Just as with the wedding, Jesus did the right thing when he cleansed the temple. He does all things well!

And they were astonished beyond measure, saying, ‘He has done all things well. He makes both the deaf to hear and the mute to speak.’ – Mark 7:37

Don’t Cry

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Don’t cry over spilled blackberry jam
You can always have honey
Don’t cry when you get to the edge of the cliff
But rejoice in the profound beauty below
Don’t cry when you hear her voice on the answering machine
She was happy when she left that message
Don’t cry about the clouds
For they are full of mystery
Constantly shifting
Forming shapes, changing colors
Bringing a sweet rain
Or a fantastic lightening
Don’t cry when the needle approaches
What it contains is for your good
It will put you to sleep
Until it’s all over
So, don’t cry
Let it rain over you
You can always have apple butter
Don’t cry

August-2013

Wait, I Say

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I was listening to a sermon a while back by Alistair Begg, and something he said stuck with me. It was this: “There are lessons in the waiting room.”

No one really likes waiting, whether in a grocery store line, at a drive-thru, or in a doctor’s office. Or through a very long Birmingham winter. Yet, if the lessons there aren’t learned, the time is wasted. I know I have wasted away many of these cold, gray days wishing for Florida’s warmth, literal and familial, instead of counting the blessings of a fireplace, food, shelter, husband and dog.

Spring is just around the corner, and I know that even though the trees may bloom and the grass may green, my heart will stay stone cold if I remain ungrateful for all the good things, and even all the hard things, God has given me.

Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD. – Psalm 27:14