Ordeal or Adventure?

on an adventure…

Elderly Cindy takes it all in stride. “My daddy was a farmer. He used to say the only difference between an adventure and an ordeal is how you look at it.” – from Sean of the South‘s blog

Moving can be an ordeal or an adventure. Or both. For me, it’s both this time. The ordeal part is no more than anyone else experiences in moving. After what I’ve been through the past eight months it seems it’s actually going to be a piece of cake.

This is my third move in less than a year. The first two were far from being an adventure. They were an apartment and a house chosen for convenience. This next one has been chosen for a home. The adventure will be in turning it into a home. The adventure will be being with my grandkids. I’m ready.


Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord Forever. – Psalm 23:6

The Valley of Vision #3: My happy place

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I hear the phrase “My happy place” fairly often. There are signs galore with this slogan, shops and even a deli with this name. But, yesterday’s reading in The Valley of Vision puts a whole different spin on “my happy place”,

The Valley of Vision is a collection of Puritan prayers and devotions. The writings were gathered and edited by Arthur Bennett, Canon of St. Albans Cathedral, England. 

From yesterday’s reading:

“…Cause me to be a mirror of Thy grace, to show others the joy of thy service, may my lips be well-tuned cymbals sounding Thy praise…Teach me the happy art of attending to things temporal with a mind intent of things eternal…”

“…Let my happy place be amongst the poor in spirit, my delight the gentle ranks of the meek. Let me always esteem others better than myself, and find in true humility an heirloom to two worlds.”


Happy is he who has the God of Jacob for his help, Whose hope is in the Lord his God. Psalm 146:5

Lovely Cards #2

“But as for me, I trust in You, O Lord;
I say, “You are my God.”
My times are in Your hand…” Psalm 31:14-15

“What’s ahead?” has been in my mind for quite a while. I make plans because I have to go on, but I do so knowing those plans may change. My life and my times truly are in God’s Hands. I remember Chuck preaching a sermon using this very verse in Psalms – he knew then and he knew on his deathbed that he was in God’s hands.

Back in June of 2015, I wrote a post entitled When You Do Not Yet See the Way in which I quoted Andrew Murray – “Cultivate the habit of rejoicing in the assurance that the God of divine wisdom is guiding you, even where you do not yet see the way.

I don’t remember what was going on in my life at that time. It was long before the loss of my mother-in-law, my mom and my husband. I think it’s a lesson we learn and forget and have to relearn throughout our lives, that lesson of following in faith when we do not see the way.

Our true home, part two

Our home – Bham – 12/8/17

“Smiling at each other, we realize we have the same song stuck in our head, a new song, neither of us have ever heard before. His humming of it sounds like flowing water. The robins and morning stars are singing the same tune. I feel a pulsing stillness. I don’t even notice that the usual sounds of sirens and cars aren’t there anymore, the static of news, the vibrating of phones, or creepy songs about seducing a santa baby. That all burnt up forever. The old order has passed away. Instead, I hear a pulsing stillness.”  –  by Fr. Jack (Priesthood from the Inside Out blog) in his thoughts about meeting St. Francis in heaven. He continues with thoughts of those he expects to see – “To my left, the kid I picked-on in 5th grade waves at me. I wave back shamelessly. He’s holding the hand of his daughter…I realize I’m holding someone’s hand as well, warm and smooth. It’s the unborn child I buried yesterday. He’s taller than me and has wild flowing hair. I’ve never met him before, but I know him. I know him. He only lived 12 weeks invisible in his mom’s womb, but I’ve known him ‘like a thousand years.’ He laughs.”

Reading the above I felt comforted. I like to think that Chuck is rejoicing with Mom and Dad and holding little Wyatt in his arms. That he was there to greet Tim and Ed when they joined him. I don’t know, I can only wonder.


Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me All the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the Lord Forever. – Psalm 23:6

my heart

I often take song lyrics to suit my circumstances. And I think that’s okay. Music and song soothe my soul, make me think, make me cry, ease my pain and bring me joy.

I’ve taken these lyrics as my own:

What do I get when I find out I am nothing?
Who am I without my name?
How do I stop this emptiness from growing?
The dumb instructions coming from my brain

I go to my heart on my knees

I know I am not nothing, but I feel like a half these days. I still have my name, but it’s no longer wife. And yes, there are a lot of dumb instructions coming from my brain.

I go to my heart, frail as it is. On my knees in prayer.



My flesh and my heart fail; But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. Psalm 73:26

How tenderly

“To the widow of the departed Christian, there is another ingredient in the cup of her sorrow, another aggravation of the loss she has sustained, and that is—she is deprived of her own spiritual comforter and companion…How tenderly did he solve her doubts, relieve her perplexities, and comfort her in her sorrows. How sweet was it to take counsel with him on the things of the eternal world, and to walk to the house of God in company…but that tongue is now silent in the grave; those holy hands are now no more lifted up to bless the household; that mild scepter of paternal rule has dropped.” – The Widow Directed to the Widow’s God by John Angell James, 1841

Chuck was very tender when it came to handling my questions, my complaints, my sadness. He was patient with me.

I find I can walk into the house of worship alone, but sometimes I can’t make it through the service without tears. But, I did today, so it was a good day. I keep responding that I have good days and bad when people ask. It seems to have become strings of good days and strings of bad days.

“…those holy hands are now no more lifted up to bless the household; that mild scepter of paternal rule has dropped.” I found this to be so true during this first Christmas without Chuck. I had hoped to step into his place and lead the family in scripture reading and prayer, but it just didn’t happen. And I felt like a failure. I don’t know how to be the spiritual head of my family. This is part of the cup of my sorrow.

Not a widow INDEED, but still…

I’ve thought a lot about widowhood and ministry the past few months. I mentioned it in an earlier blog post HERE . I’ve been saddened to see how other widows, not just me, have been neglected by the church. Widows who were and are faithful church members. Widows who have lost their husbands of many years, who were also faithful servants of God. One whose husband was a retired pastor himself. But where is the church in all of this? Even if these widows aren’t “widows indeed” they still need to be ministered to. At least checked on now and again by their pastor or elder or deacon.

“The Bible has much to say about ministering to one another besides the giving  of money…If you assume she (the widow) is fine just because she attends worship each Sunday, you are failing in your ministry to her. Regular visits at her home are the best way to fulfill the James 1 command… It is also the best way to know her and to interact with her so that she will feel comfortable divulging other needs.”  –  The Undistracted Widow by Carol Cornish

In my case it took me being the “squeaky wheel” to receive a call. Part of me felt ashamed, felt that I should be able to go it alone. I have brothers and children, so why was I complaining? Don’t get me wrong, my family and some friends have been a HUGE help and comfort to me. Yet, when it came to spiritual things, I wasn’t sure where to turn. I ended up pouring out feelings to a former pastor, one with a shepherd’s heart. And God, in His mercy, helped me.

The Lord intended for His church to be a support system, but we can’t be a support system if we don’t know each other.”  – Leaving Darkland by Ed Wallen


I see now that not knowing each other is one big hindrance. I see that it is a two-way street, one I hope to travel and become the one who ministers to other weary travelers.

Providence

Numerous have been the manifestations of God’s providence in sustaining us. In the gloomy period of adversity, we have had ‘our cloud by day and pillar of fire by night.’ We have been reduced to distress, and the arm of Omnipotence has raised us up. – Samuel Adams

I have been going to a griefshare group for three weeks. Out of all the ones across the city, I chose this one at the beach.This week I struck up a conversation after the meeting with a woman at my table. She lost her sister to COVID in August. 69 years young. As we talked, I mentioned State Farm. I saw something flicker in her eyes. She asked a few questions and it turns out she worked with Chuck before we moved to Birmingham. Sat right next to him.

Isn’t God amazing? He constantly reminds me He is here. When I forget to pray or just can’t, He is here. When tears choke my voice in church during the hymns, He is here. In the sunrise, the sunset, and the breezes in between, He is here.

The Lord will command His lovingkindness in the daytime,
And in the night His song shall be with me—
A prayer to the God of my life. - Psalm 42:8

I thank God for sending Cindy to me.

Kindreds Spirits in this new life

Red Mountain

I am slowly reading a book called A Widow’s Journey by Gayle Roper. It is like picking up someone’s journal and almost mistaking it for my own. Her husband’s name was also Chuck and the things she relates hit so close to home it’s weird. But in a helpful way.

She talks about how much of her schedule revolved around her husband’s schedule. “I sometimes thought how much I’d love to do what I wanted when I wanted. Now there’s no one to build my life around. I set my own schedule, and it’s scary to have the freedom I thought I wanted.” Wow – so honest. And so me.

She ponders which is better, a prolonged decline to the end of life or a quick death. She tells of the difference between herself and her friend who are both widows, yet with different experiences.

“We both lie alone at night. We both cook for one. We both lug our garbage to the curb each week…but our ache is the same.”

I found such a friend yesterday. She became a widow about a month and a half after me, but she had essentially lost her husband long before to dementia. Finding these kindred spirits has been a blessing from God, my Father who is watching over me.

I cry aloud to the LORD;

I lift up my voice to the LORD for mercy.
I pour out before Him my complaint;
before Him I tell my trouble. 
Psalm 142:1-2

Four boys born in the days of COVID-19

hopesure

I know four little boys born within about a week of each other. Each one precious in the sight of the Lord. Each one with families who love them. It keeps reminding me that yes, life goes on.

First is Ryker, born to a young man, Jarrod, whom I have known since he was about nine months old.  He holds a special place in my heart. Jarrod has had a lot of ups and downs in his life, but he is now a wonderful father who is following Christ.

Next is Elijah. His daddy is also special to me because I got to know him as we went through the new members class at our church. Then he got married and is now a father of two. Elijah’s mommy, if she has her way, will be sure he grows up to be a Harry Potter fan. 🙂

Born the same day as Elijah, Henry is sorta related by marriage. Henry was born with a fairly severe birth defect and has already undergone one surgery with flying colors. I’ve known Henry’s daddy since he was a boy and he, too, has grown into a fine young man.

The last one is closest to my heart. My niece, Ella, had baby Wyatt at only 27 weeks. He weighed two pounds, 10 ounces. I love every picture I see and can’t wait to meet him.

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I was cast upon You from birth.
From My mother’s womb
You have been My God. -Psalm 22:10

 

In this time of fear and uncertainty, we can be sure of one thing:

The Lord also will be a refuge for the oppressed,
A refuge in times of trouble. – Psalm 9:9