Friday, November 17, 2017

Touched by an Angel

I got to see Angel again this week.
And this time she stayed awake during my entire visit. *smile*

We sang together, I told her about what I just finished studying in Ephesians, and we talked a little bit about spiritual warfare. Angel isn't verbal enough to tell me stories about her life, and about the warfare she waged as a mother of several children. But she was able to communicate that she did spend time praying for her babies. And the way she joins me in prayer with, "Yes, Lord." and "Mm-hmm" and "Amen" gives me a hint of the passion she must have expressed when she prayed.
It's beautiful to imagine Angel on her knees, crying out to God on behalf of her children.

When it seemed she needed a break from trying to converse, I got the Connect Four game her son had set out for us. Saint and I had spoken about "playing" this game before, and I understood that Angel no longer has the cognitive abilities to actually strategize and follow rules. So I just handed her chips and we took turns dropping them into the slots. Sometimes Angel needed help steadying and lifting her hand to the top of the board, though once she made it that far she was able to drop the chip into play. And she actually connected four before I did in all three of our contests! *wink*
But when that third game was over, Angel said her arm was getting sore - so we suspended play and she put her arm back under her blanket to rest.
And I wondered to myself how many things that hand/arm combination has done over the past 100 years.
*How many hugs has it given to scared or hurting children?
*How many sheets and towels and sweaters and trousers has it folded?
*How many times has it comforted a tired husband?
*How many beds has it made?
*How many dinners has it prepared?
*How many neighbors has it greeted?
*How many prayers has it lifted up to heaven?
And I thought, Yes, sweet Angel. Rest your arm.
Because when a body has been at work for over a hundred years, I guess it ought to be able to rest any time it wants to!


Thursday, November 16, 2017

Seeing from the Other Side

Yesterday a friend asked me if I have thought about writing another book.
And the truth is, I have.
Actually, last summer when I had the night shift driving home from Colorado - and everyone else in the van was sleeping - I came up with the title, sub-title, and eleven chapters.
I haven't taken it any farther than a memo on my phone, though.

But due to recent events, and things I've almost said, I'm thinking maybe I ought to get writing.

The thing is, my kids are getting close to being grown up.
They're 21, 19, and 17 now.
The struggles I had with them when they were small don't weigh heavy on my heart and mind anymore. (We've moved on to other struggles!) And as God has been growing them up, He's also been maturing me - and helping me differentiate between things that matter, and things that don't.
In fact, it has come to the point where I almost told a young mother, "This, too, shall pass."
Another time I almost said to parents of a new-born, "You'll make it. Just nap when he naps."
Those are two of the statements which made me cringe during my kids' younger years - every time someone spewed said them to me.
But, but, now that I'm on the other side, I know they're true statements. Having gone through what those young parents are presently going through, I now know the hard times won't last - and the little-ness of their little treasures won't, either. And, like all the grown-women and grandma's who have gone before me, I am eager to encourage them with sage advice and words of wisdom. Which I am certain will alleviate their distress and help them enjoy the moment.
The good thing
The problem is
No, it's definitely a good thing.
The good thing is, before those words came out of my mouth I remembered how they sounded to me when I was an irritable mother in the midst of the struggle. Although now I trust the words were always spoken with good intent - and in accuracy from hind-sight - at the time they did little to nothing to encourage me. Rather, I fell deeper into my pit of mommy-guilt because I wasn't enjoying.every.moment. And I seemed always to feel just a little more of a failure each time someone implied (Unintentionally, I'm sure.) that they made it through whatever I was facing, so I ought to buck-up and face it, too.
I didn't need sage advice and words of wisdom when I was an irritable mother. I mean, maybe later they would have been good to hear. But what I really needed first was for somebody (preferably one of these "older" moms who had been there) to tell me that what I was going through really was hard. That it was OK for me to feel overwhelmed. I needed her to tell me she had cried, too, and sometimes she didn't want to be a mommy anymore, either. My heart was longing for her to validate me, and to assure me that I wasn't a failure. Oh, if she would put her arms around me and pray, and affirm that God was still crazy in love with me - even when I was a slobbery mess.
Yes, those kinds of words would have been so much more valuable to me than the advice to "enjoy them now" because "they're only young once" and "this, too, shall pass."
I mean, I'm seeing the younger years from the other side now, and I know those words are true. But when I was an irritable mother, those words didn't offer the grace I needed.

So that's why I'm thinking maybe some day I'll write,
"When I was an Irritable Mother: A Grandma's Guide to Giving Grace".
What do you think?


Tuesday, November 14, 2017

We're Better Together

Tuesday night last week there was a significant frost, and Wednesday morning it looked like ALL the leaves had fallen overnight.
So Friday, I recruited Matthew to come outside and help me gather a few tarp's-worth of leaves to dump in the pines. You know, because he had the day off of school and I thought he ought to do something constructive. And the terrible, horrible, no-fun process of raking leaves was underway.

When Saturday arrived it seemed everyone was somewhere else, doing something else, so I decided to just go out by myself and get some raking done.
And the raking part was fine.
I mean, I wasn't enjoying myself by any means. But I managed to get through it.
However, when it came time to drag the tarp full of leaves to the pines to dump, I realized the task simply was not meant to be for one person. That is, dragging it was easy. But pulling one end over the other and pushing the middle up while trying to pull the bottom out and repeatedly releasing stuck parts of the tarp which had gotten caught by low-hanging branches, all the while trying to avoid said branches so you don't get poked in the eye, and did I mention how heavy a tarp full of leaves is? Well, it was just too much for me. (OK. It wasn't too much in the sense that I wasn't able to finish the task. But it WAS too much for me to be willing to try it again. *ahem*)
So I decided to quit the terrible, horrible, no-fun task of raking leaves. (Which, by the way, was far more terrible than it had been with Matthew's help the previous day.)
Just as Brian was coming out to help.
And, although I really wanted to quit, I knew I could continue if I wasn't alone. So I picked the rake back up and my man and I got a whole lotta raking and leaf-dumping done.
In not a lotta time.
Oh, there are still plenty of leaves to rake, but I am confident we'll get it done.

Yes, together.
Because we're better together.
Not only when it comes to raking leaves, but also raising children, growing in Christ, facing obstacles, working through life-changes, enduring hardships, and even celebrating victories.
Too often, however, it seems like everyone else is somewhere else doing their own thing. So we put on our big-girl panties and we try to do it ourselves. And we usually end up overwhelmed and tired, and ready to quit. Who's with me on this???
So today I am offering you the lesson I learned last weekend while raking leaves.
Quit trying to do life on your own. God has surrounded you with people who can help in various ways. It's called the Body of Christ. So let's live like a body instead of as individual parts.
Even as I exhort you to receive help, so I implore you to watch out for others.
When you see a need, grab a rake and go offer support!


Monday, November 13, 2017

Friday, November 10, 2017

Touched by an Angel

So I had my first "official" visit with Angel this week.
She was lying comfortably in her recliner, covered with a soft blanket when I arrived - listening to some good ol' gospel music. A cushioned bench sits right next to her recliner, so I sat down beside her and was ready to get to know her a bit.
But my sweet Angel was so warm and cozy, she just wanted to sleep. (Livin' for 100+ years makes a lady tired, ya know!) Thus, the majority of our time was spent with her eyes closed, and my eyes fixed upon her - wondering about the stories and wisdom and lessons she holds in her heart.

In her moments of wakefulness I tried to engage Angel in conversation. I asked her about the people in the pictures on her dresser and hanging on her walls - but she mostly didn't remember who they are. We looked at a small plaque "to Mother" which sat on her dresser, and I read aloud the poem printed on it. (We agreed it must have been a gift from one of her children.) We took note of the good-looking young men who were singing gospel on the TV. And she was able to tell me that she sang alto when she was in her church choir. Alto. Just like me!
But, like I said, most of the time Angel wasn't aware of me, because she slept.
That is, she wasn't very aware until it was time for me to leave and I asked if I could pray for her. As I held her had and prayed, something in her woke up and she was praying right along with me.
Mmhmmm, Yes, and Amen.

She may not have a mind which remembers everything or everyone anymore. She might have forgotten who gave her certain gifts. I'm quite certain she doesn't know who I am yet. But she knows her JESUS and she sure remembers how to talk to Him.
It was a moment that deeply touched my heart.


Thursday, November 09, 2017

I'll Take It

So, last night we were sitting at the table just talking after dinner, and Josh shared a fear he has about deep water with sticks in it. As the conversation continued he laughed about his irrational thoughts that "something" could get him in said waters (I think he was a bit embarrassed to be making his confession.) and I felt compelled to share my own irrational fears, just to let him know he isn't alone.
Because I was so excited that he was still at the table with us! I wanted to keep it going. *wink*

Anyway, I told the guys about my long-standing phobia regarding our laundry room in the basement. Until recently, when I would turn off the light and go upstairs (This trek involves walking through the bathroom, a small hallway, around the corner, and up the steps.) I had the ridiculous worry that a bad guy was going to jump out of the shadows and attack me. I told them that when no one else was home I would run that distance - but when others were here, I tried to act calm about it. *ahem*
I also told them about the comfort it gave me when I knew one of them knew I was down there. Because if I did't come up in a reasonable time I felt confident someone would come to check on me. (If they hadn't heard my screams when the bad guy attacked.) But if they weren't home and they didn't know I was downstairs doing laundry, well? I feared they might not miss me until...
"Dinner time!" Matthew suggested.
Brian added, "Yeah. My clothes aren't clean, and I'm hungry. Where's Mom?"
We all were laughing, but I feigned heartbreak and said, "Awww, come on, guys!"
And Josh came to my rescue with these words: "It's OK. We love you, Mom."
I smiled and thought, Well, that was pretty close to having my 19-year-old son say, "I love you, Mom."

I'm still cherishing the moment. *sigh*


Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Adulting 101

So, last week I shared a story about one of my sons learning an adult lesson the hard slightly expensive way. And today I have another one.
That is, another adulting story.
About my other son!

Yesterday morning Matthew was having a hard time waking up. Until he remembered something which caused him to groan painfully and hit his pillow. I figured he had just remembered a homework assignment, or something like that. And I asked, "What's wrong?"
Matthew hit his pillow again and said, "I have stuff in the washing machine and now it isn't going to be ready when I need it!" Then he jumped out of bed to go put the laundry in the dryer. (Not sure if he forgot to put it in the dryer Sunday night, or if he planned on getting up earlier Monday morning to do it. Either way, he was feeling the crunch.)
And I?
Plodded back to my room to sleep for a few more minutes.

As I lay in bed, it occurred to me that Matthew's clothes would dry quicker if he just put in the items he needed to wear. I could very easily put the rest through later in the morning. But before I could drag myself out of bed to offer that solution, I had second thoughts.
I thought, What will my solution teach him, except that I'll come to the rescue when he doesn't plan adequately? What harm will come to him if he walks out the door in damp clothes? Or the dry clothes he wore yesterday? I'm really comfy in my bed. There is really no good reason to interfere with his consequences. So I rolled over and closed my eyes. *grin*
And when I walked into the kitchen as Matthew was heading out the door, I noticed two things.
1) He wasn't naked.
2) His clothes looked dry.

So I quickly concluded, Matthew is big enough to manage his own problems. #parentingwin