"There is a mystery to all love. Why does this one man so move me? Why does this small corner of our planet make me feel that I am home?" - Two-Part Invention by Madeleine L'Engle
Love for people truly is a mystery. Why did I fall in love with Chuck? How is it I love my children, and grandchildren, more than anyone else’s children? What is this connection to my brothers? How do I explain this love for my parents? Or the special bond I’ve had with a very few dear friends? And the cousins!!
More mysterious than that is God’s love for us. I could make a long list of attributes I love and admire about all the people I mentioned. But, what attributes do I have that would make God love me? The only good in me is what He’s put there.
But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. – Romans 5:8
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.
In my search for advice, empathy, survival tips on grieving, I’ve come across some helpful articles. One place where I found a relatable story was at modernloss.com
These words from Elaine Ross rang true with me:
We never had a sweeping declaration of love conversation.
For 18 months, I’ve been falling asleep hoping to dream the words we left unsaid; and I’ve been waking up hoping to come upon a letter he’d forgotten to give me.
I allowed him to take his last breath without saying those precious words?….
It wasn’t until I taped the last box of his clothes and carried it into the car did I realize what I had found in that closet. The business card on which I wrote my cellphone number down the night we first met, every Father’s Day card and birthday present and random art project the kids ever gifted to him, printed Excel spreadsheets with all our home vendors with phone numbers and contact names (which would have been helpful in those first days of widowhood), and pages upon pages of treatments, medical and natural. What I found was in fact what I was looking for: acknowledgment of how much he loved me and the family we created, of how often he quietly and bravely faced his own mortality, of how certain he was that I would know best how to find our way forward…
The deeper meaning, then, is not found in the things we said, because we didn’t, but in the way we approached our truth.
Some of the things I have found that let me know I would find my way forward were the books of his I have to read, the index cards of Bible verses, the baseball glove, the folder of letters, the grandpa mugs and “No, You Can’t Have a Sip” mug, the little black book of user names and passwords, the budget spreadsheets where he had slaved over the figures for months, figuring out that, yes, he could retire. Yes, we could make a go of it. We just didn’t know then that it would just be me making a go of it. But, he planned well and took care of me. God knew and He takes care of me.
Do I want Chuck back? Yes, with all my heart. Do I doubt God’s plan? No, but neither do I understand it.
I used the song “Living of Love” as a springboard for a post last October. Once again the lyrics hit home. Some days aren’t easy, But, some are surprisingly wonderful. Yesterday was a mix of both. I heard a good message at church, but could hardly sing the hymns for the lump in my throat. I went to Pastor Eric’s home for lunch where I met some new people and got to know them a little bit. I listened to Eric’s mom tell funny stories and remembered my mom who could tell some funny stories. And Mom had a few good jokes up her sleeve, also. Just ask my family about the southern lady on the train.
If the days aren't easy and the nights are rough
When they ask you what you're thinking of
Say love, say for me love
Say love, say for me love
No matter how rough and lonely the nights, I can still Say Love. I think of God’s love and how He has not forsaken me. I think of Chuck’s love and all the little things I miss. I think of my kids’ love and all the ways they show it.
I’m sitting in the backyard testing out my fire pit and reflecting on the blessings God has sent me in the past 3-4 months. This list is not comprehensive, but a start at saying “Thank-You” to God and to those He has used to bless and uplift me.
To my daughters, Katherine and Leah, who were my anchor in the storm. Their love was expressed over and over in their actions, from making phone calls and making decisions to giving insulin shots and massaging feet. And finding this little house that is slowly becoming a home.
To my sons who called and visited and lifted my burdens in numerous ways. They provided expertise and they provided conversation and they gave love.
To my daughter-in-law, my third daughter, who gave so much advice and held Chuck’s hand on her last visit, with tears in her eyes and love in her heart.
To friends, known and unknown, who prayed when I couldn’t. I felt the prayers holding up my feeble arms.
To my little brother Norman who gave of his time to get me moved – twice – and provided his home to me and his heart. And his cooking- top notch stuff.
To my big brother David, who talked to me in the night as I walked Ruby, who knows firsthand the pain of losing a spouse.
“Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous” I Peter 3:8
To Al, who drove across town to take my car to get new tires. And visited Chuck. And Darlene who made cake.
To Holly and Ken, who visited and prayed and fed us with deliciousness and gave advice and showed the spirit of Christ in actions.
To Candace who was supportive in a time of need, who knows loss, and who gave me a bird feeder that brings me birds and joy every day.
To Darla, Jeannie, Robin, Peggy, Erica and Lee, who reached out and loved on me.
To Aunt Amy who was always a supporter of our family, and is no stranger to loss. She has empathized with tears and I love her.
To the nephews and nieces who have given the strength of their youth and reached out to me across the generational divide.
To Judy and Sheryl and Crystal and Maureen and Sarita who text and call and write letters from Birmingham. A sweet combination of southern hospitality and Christian fellowship.
To cousins, those childhood friends who are forever linked to my heart, no matter how many years go by. Thank you for all the prayers and conversations.
To my sisters in widowhood who have grieved with me and have suffered their own loss: Mary, Beth, Libby, Pam, and Tommie.
To Mark and Eric who prayed with me over the phone and Steve who texted scripture and encouraging words and prayers.
To Dorothy who prayed and wrote a poem, because those are her gifts.
Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world. – James 1:27
“Behold, God is mine helper: the Lord is with them that uphold my soul.” – Psalm 54:4
My husband got me a copy of Gordon J. Keddie’s Prayers of the Bible: 366 Devotionals to Encourage Your Prayer Life. Today I was struck by this verse. I thought of those in my life that God has sent to uphold me, to support , stand by and sustain me. Beginning with my mother, who though we didn’t always agree, she never left me. I think of Marshall Heath who supported Chuck spiritually and arranged for some financial support for us when we went off to Clearwater Christian College. During that time, Ann and Moose Wacker also gave us financial support and sent encouraging letters, one of which I came across recently that brought them back to my mind.
Years later, Chuck’s Aunt Amy did the same when we moved to Georgia. Her financial help was a reminder of her love for us and support of our ministry. So many others, too, have helped us and loved on us over the years. They have upheld our souls in prayers and in preaching. And God, our ultimate Helper, has allowed us to to the same for a few others along the way.
….there are seasons in a believer’s life – and sometimes the seasons change suddenly…Faith is perplexed and yet goes on pleading. The psalmist does not use God’s baffling him as an excuse for disengaging with God but as an incentive to press on with him. from – The Way of the Righteous in the Muck of Life by Dale Ralph Davis
I don’t know just what season I’m in right now. It’s like the rainy season – sprinkled with showers of doubt; covered in clouds of despair. But sometimes, the clouds will break up and the sun will shine through and I am reminded that God is still there, always there, even when I doubt.
The Psalm begins this way in verses one and two:
Why do You stand afar off, O Lord Why do You hide in times of trouble?
The wicked in his pride persecutes the poor; let them be caught in the plots which
they have devised.
Why? I’m always wondering why. I find myself too full of questions and doubt. But, the psalmist sees that God is good in verse fourteen:
But You have seen, for You observe trouble and grief, To repay it by Your hand.
The helpless commits himself to You; You are the helper of the fatherless.
And again in verses 17-18:
Lord, You have heard the desire of the humble; You will prepare their heart;
You will cause Your ear to hear, To do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed,
That the man of the earth may oppress no more.
My prayer for myself is that God would change my whys into words of trust. That I would
trust in Him to shelter me in the days of darkness and give me joy in the rays of His grace.
“…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.
That is how life goes – we send our children into the wilderness. Some of them on the day they are born, it seems, for all the help we can give them. Some of them seem to be a kind of wilderness unto themselves.” From Gilead by Marilynne Robinson
I’ve read this over several times, but don’t really know what I can add. The sentiments expressed just really got to me.
My hope is in the LORD.
He turns a wilderness into pools of water, And dry land into water springs. – →Psalm 107:35
“We draw people to Christ not by loudly discrediting what they believe, by telling them how wrong they are and how right we are, but by showing them a light that is so lovely that they want with all their hearts to know the source of it.”_
– Madeleine L’Engle
This hits very close to home. I have looked at the verses in Matthew about being “salt and light” and have had to ask myself, am I being salt and light in this world? Does anyone ever look at me and think, “I wonder what makes her so joyful? There is something different about her. I want what she has.” I am afraid that most times I blend right in with the complaining crowd; I hide my light under a bushel instead of shining and reflecting Christ.
My prayer is that I would shine for Christ. That I would remember the words of that childhood song, “This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine”. But, I need to remember the light is Christ’s, and not my own.