Please enjoy this beautiful poetry by by DarylMadde via Could You Spare?
I’m sitting here on my back porch, relatively early in the morning for me at least. You’ve heard the phrase “drinking in the loveliness of the morning”? Well, that’s me at this moment. It’s almost cool for the first of September, a little overcast, breezy. I look at my flower beds, the pergola the hubs built for me, the wisteria that has decided after 17 years that it wants to relocate. Hanging baskets on the porch. Rocking chairs waiting for someone to put them in motion. Wind chimes whispering, not full throated as they were designed, but quietly as if somehow they don’t want to disturb the peace of the morning. You may think I’m nuts but I feel the presence of the Lord. Yes I do. Body, soul and spirit. The love. He is love. It’s almost like heaven.
I need this right now, this beauty, this peace, this love. Isn’t He wonderful?
This morning I want to talk about faith. I’ve been exercising mine a lot lately. I’ve had to draw on it pretty regularly and I’ve come to think of it in a different way than I have before. It was a remark made by a very compassionate priest to my husband while he was in the hospital this past week. I wasn’t in the room but the hubs told me later. Apparently, my man said something to him about me. Father Bill told him that I have a great faith. Who, me? Hmm. He doesn’t know how I really am, does he? I don’t know the man well enough for him to see me in the throes of a tap-dancing fit, or having an all-holier -than-thou attitude. Father Bill doesn’t know I am frustrated, fearful, angry, selfish, self-centered, my moral compass askew at times. Trying to be strong and missing the mark. How strange. This man of God thinks I have great faith and my husband agrees. Lord, I’ve got a lot to work on. How do I live up to that?
I will say this: I do love the Lord. He has shown me His love by saving me from many perils; health issues, calamities, and indeed, from my own foolishness. And you know what? He doesn’t have to prove His love to me. For heaven’s sake, He is God. But He does, He wants to. He envelopes me with His love. He is always there when I need Him. I talk to Him and I try to listen to Him. He speaks to me through many different avenues – His Word, people he puts in my path, the beauty of sitting on my back porch. Many different avenues. I, the one who rarely trusts anyone, feel the pull to completely trust Him. He has an uncanny way of revealing Himself to those who are open to Him. I like to think I am. I get in my own way sometimes and am not as alert to Him as I should be, but I try.
Is this faith? Maybe. But you know what? I don’t want to have faith. I want to be faith. I want to have the fortitude not to ever doubt that my various situations in life are part of His will for me. I want to trust without question, not constantly have to learn to trust. I want to be faith enough to not have that knee-jerk reaction of fear every time my world cracks a bit and threatens to fall apart. I want to be faith enough to be kind and loving, to help others find peace, to not think of myself first. I am not skilled in any of those attributes but I’m trying. It’s going to take a lifetime for me to reach that pinnacle, if I ever do.
Have you ever thought about these things or am I just weird? Do you ever long to be as good as the saints and angels? Here’s a news flash. Those saints – most of them weren’t angels. We just celebrated the feast of St. Augustine, that one was a real booger if you ask his mom St. Monica. But he came around. And he was one of the finest examples of faith a person can find. (He learned it from his mom!) Amazing, isn’t it? He didn’t just have faith, he was faith on earth. The work he did for our Lord is incomparable. Praise God!
Being faith as opposed to having faith is much harder. But there is help. You know Who. Him, the kind Teacher, the compassionate Lover of all, the One Who is love. The Object of our faith. His offering to us didn’t stop on the cross, although that is the ultimate sacrifice and most important selfless act of all time. He continues to offer us Himself. He loves with abandon and teaches us how as well. He never gives up on us no matter how wayward we become. He offers us the gift of hope when we aren’t sure the sun will come up in the morning. He has a plan for each of us individually, personally. We just have to open our eyes, our hearts, our will to him. We have to strive, not only to have faith, but to be faith. One of the most marvelous things about God is that if you don’t feel like you can do this yourself, ask Him. He will show you how. He’s good like that.
If you are a praying person, I have a few requests for your prayer list:
Please pray for the Catholic Church. It appears that the enemy has wormed his way in, in an effort to destroy all God has built. The Church as a whole will never give in to this. Pray for the strength to oust this evil, to rebuild and to continue to proclaim the true Word of God to mankind.
Secondly, please pray for my beloved husband. He is very ill right now.
Third, please pray for peace. The world needs your prayers right now, this very minute.
I find that having a blog is something like having a diary and making it public on purpose. Sometimes it is hard to stay in the boundaries of what is ok to share with the world and what is not. There is a fine line. I get confused.
Today’s post is ok to share with the world. Some might find it surprising but I want to share with you about my former mother-in-law. She recently passed away and was laid to rest yesterday. My hubs and I went to the wake the night before and I, at last, was able to introduce him to many of my former family, something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. My ex-husband’s family is large. I was nothing more than an immature kid of 18 when I married into it. The marriage didn’t last long but the relationships did, at least, I think so. To this day I still feel a sense of family when I am around them.
Verla Mae White. 1926-2018. Her funeral Mass was beautiful, a real testament to the lives she touched and blessed. Her pall bearers were her grandsons, my two sons included. They were all so handsome and grown up. And they were proud to lay their ‘Granny’ to rest.
She was a wonderful woman, married for a lifetime to Artis White, bore him five girls and one boy, and was a very faithful Catholic woman with a special devotion to the Blessed Mother. She was kind, laughed a lot, loved to dance, and adored her family with all her might. Verla Mae made the neatest biscuits. They were about 5 inches across and flat. We called them flying saucers. Man, they were good! I loved to watch her make them. Her small hands making a well in a mound of flour, baking soda and powder, add milk, pull out a handful, shape and pat, pop on the pan and into the oven. I loved them with jelly smeared on the top. You couldn’t split them for buttering, they were too flat but they were delightfully crispy on the bottom. Makes my mouth water to think about them. There was only one thing she cooked that I couldn’t eat – baked chicken and dressing. She would bury the chicken under mounds of cornbread dressing and bake it that way. The cornbread dressing was delicious but the chicken had no color at all. It came out as white as it went in and looked like – well, dead chicken. My then-husband said it tasted fine but I couldn’t put it in my mouth to see if it was good. I understand that she did change her way of baking chicken and dressing years later. She didn’t have to. No matter what she cooked everyone knew the finest ingredient she cooked with was love. And many people loved her. In fact, her family, meaning brothers, sisters, cousins, and their off-spring, often visited her home knowing a good time was inevitable. She had a way of making everyone feel like they belonged. I remember in the ‘old days’ many weekends and every holiday was spent in the ‘middle room’ of her home playing music, dancing, and cutting up. She strongly believed in family.
I can honestly say if it wasn’t for her, I probably wouldn’t be Catholic. It’s true. When her son told her he wanted to marry me, Mama said “she’s not Catholic”. That sealed the deal and led to my baptism and confirmation. Bless her heart, she stayed on her knees for her children and their spouses. I could have learned a lot from her if I wouldn’t have been so stupid when I was young. A few years ago, I was blessed to see her when I visited her church on a Sunday morning. She told me then that she always has loved me and always will. She said she never stopped which is amazing when you consider I left the family way back in 1981. That was the way she was, the way she is. Love doesn’t die, it doesn’t pass away. It is the only thing you can take with you to the afterlife. Maybe I can learn from her after all.
Wow, those were some good days. Too bad I didn’t appreciate it then as much as I do now. Of course, I believe that now is the best time of my life, but there is no harm in looking back and selectively enjoying what was. Granny’s funeral gave me that, especially with all of my kid’s first cousins, the pall bearers. It was so good to see them all together. They still call me Aunt Nancy. One of them even told me he had good memories of spending time at our house as a child. He said I was his second Mom back then. My heart melted, flipped, and rejoiced when he said that. It was a wonderful revelation.
One more thought afforded to me from seeing this family in reunion was brought about by the sense that my boy’s first cousins, second cousins, etc, seemed to look at me with a different than normal intensity. At least it seemed so to me. I figured it out later. Yes, I did and it was a shock. Just as I had looked upon Granny, her husband, and her remaining siblings as being ‘old’, now too were the younger ones looking at me and my peer in-laws as old. Let me say ‘older’ instead. But nevertheless, we are next in line. Oh heavens. How did this happen!?
Oh well. It is the way of life. God’s design is quite complex with the end result intended to meet us where we are. He knows how we need to see the past through older, more mature eyes. He knows that age and experience tend to put down strong roots and bear fruit beneficial to many. It’s kind of like “I am the Vine, and you are the branches”, right?
What a good God we serve! Rest in peace, sweet Verla. Thank you for everything and please give Him a hug for me.
Please pray for peace, y’all. The world is a dangerous place. Storm heaven with your prayers!
Yesterday was quite a day for me. I had a ton of things on my to-do list, not the least of which was a fast trip to Lafayette, a Dr appointment, and having the oil changed in my car. I was only a thousand miles over due for all of it. I had to get serious and get accomplished.
The trip to Laffy was a success. Good news from the cardiologist! In fact, I told him “if this is what normal feels like, I wish I would have gotten a pacemaker years ago!” He smiled. I don’t think he quite understood me. But he’s not on the receiving end of going from 40 beats per minute to 60 beats per minute instantly. The best way I can describe it is being in a drag race. You know. You’re at the starting line and all you can do is idle. Then the green flag drops and somehow you’re in the ride of your life. This is no ordinary cruise. This is what life feels like! I’m so thankful to have that experience, especially since I’m young enough (ok, by my standards) to enjoy it. Ain’t God good?
The appointment behind me, on to lunch. The only reason I even mention it is because I wasn’t a good girl for lunch and maybe a confession is in order. In my mind the success of my doctor’s report meant I deserved to treat myself to grease, cheese, and sugar. How screwed up is that? But I never even considered I could be shooting my own self in the foot. *sigh* One day, I’ll learn. I’ll learn to think first. Maybe. Lord, please help me.
On to get my car’s oil changed. And gas. The little computer thing in my vehicle said I could go 48 miles before I ran out of gas which only added to my angst. Then to make matters worse, straight in front of me on this busy street, a little dog was practically skipping in the middle of the road, not a care in the world except for the two boys walking on the side of the road. He kept his eye on them but wouldn’t go to the side they were walking on. Instead he was dodging traffic and finally settled on trotting directly in front of my vehicle as if he thought he couldn’t come to any harm there. I, on the other hand, was breaking into a stress sweat, the worst possible kind according to the commercials on tv. Blowing the horn didn’t make the pup move. I rolled down the window and hollered at the boys. “Is this your dog?” The smallest one looked at me and nodded. The oldest boy just kept his face in his phone. I told them “son, you need to get your dog out of the road. He’s going to get hit or cause an accident.” The oldest boy waved me off and mumbled a few choice words I won’t repeat and something about not wanting to go all the way back home with the dog. The dog trotted to the side of the street with the boys. I drove on to the nearby gas station but I wasn’t happy. I was seriously worried about the unleashed dog and the potential for disaster. And I was fuming about the oldest boy’s attitude. In MY day… oh you know how that goes.
I was still worried after the side trip to the gas station. I had to drive back to the area I last saw the trio because it was right where I needed to go for the oil change. The boys and dog were still there. The dogs was darting everywhere, in and out of traffic, causing drivers to either brake or swerve. I pulled up beside the boys and got out of my car. “Let me have your mom’s phone number and I’ll call her to come get the dog.” The youngest started to say something, the oldest started to swear. He cursed me up one side and down the other. I lost it. An argument ensued. Yes it did. It ended with me getting back in my vehicle and retreating to a far away place in the parking lot so I could calm down. Then it hit me – call the police. So I did. The nice dispatcher listened as I relayed what was going on before very pointedly asking me if I was calling about the dog or the kids. Well, the dog of course. The belligerent kids were their mother’s problem, not mine. But I do have to admit my blood pressure had to be high. The nice lady said she would send a patrol car.
Again, I had to return to the boy’s vicinity (oil change, remember) and I parked where I could see the boys. On my way into the store, the oldest one spotted me and raised his hand, one single digit at attention. You know the one I’m talking about. He saluted me all the way to the store. The only thing I said was I’m sure your mother would be proud. That remark momentarily dropped the middle finger salute.
The store had big commercial windows that made it easy to watch what happened next. The pup was playing in the grass on the side of the street with the youngest kid. I was happy to see the boy pick up the little thing and walk back in the direction from which he came. The oldest kid saw him leaving and caught up with him and started fussing. The little kid kept walking, apparently in defiance to what he was being told. I was proud. All this time the oldest kid never took his phone away from his face. From his expression, he seemed to be even more annoyed. About one minute later a pick-up truck pulled up behind them and a man got out. It appears heated words were exchanged. Then a police cruiser appeared, lights flashing. I turned away and went about the business of asking for an oil change. To be honest, a store clerk who watched the whole thing go down told me “good luck with that one. He comes in here and steals all the time.”
While waiting for my car to be serviced, I phoned a friend so I could ventilate. That was when I had the thought – what if the cops came into the store and arrested ME for harassing little children? Not that they were little children. The oldest was 17. I knew that because as he was spewing at me, he mentioned that he was no kid, he was 17. Lord have mercy.
The whole incident stayed with me all the way home. I fumed, I prayed, I complained to God about it. Later, I sat in the peaceful seclusion of our back porch and relayed to my husband what happened . He listened and gave me his opinion about juvenile delinquents and cautioned me to never stop anyone on the side of the street ever again. “You don’t know kids these days. One of them could have pulled out a gun and shot you!”
It wasn’t till later I finally calmed down enough to listen to what God had to say about it. Later was too late. I should have consulted Him first. He would have told me to go into the store and buy a leash for the dog, bring it to the boys and make a sorry situation better. I could have taken the high road but I didn’t. I gave into what, quite frankly, turned into a control game. I ‘lost my religion‘, as we say down here in the South. I could have, should have, done something different. I could have, should have, set a good example for the kids. I could have, should have, offered kindness and compassion. The truth is, it turns out I was a Saul before he became Paul.
Lord, I thank you for the lesson but I’m sorry I didn’t see it sooner. I’m sorry I didn’t think to do the right thing. I’m sorry I didn’t practice what I preach. Please forgive me and help me do better next time. In time. Not as an afterthought. Bless those boys, Lord and please put someone in their path who can and will lead them into the right direction. And please send a dog guardian angel to take care of the pup.
Don’t forget to pray for peace, y’all. Let’s storm heaven with our prayers!
“My child, if you accept my words and treasure up my commandments within you, making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding; if you indeed cry out for insight, and raise your voice for understanding; if you seek it like silver, and search for it as for hidden treasures—then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.”
Full disclosure: the following post may be boring to you. The reason I say that is because, well, it just takes me a while to figure things out. I’ve always been a late bloomer, perhaps a bit slow on the scale of “aha! I get it!” That’s not news to anyone I went to school with, worked with, or fell in love with. You, on the other hand, probably figured things out like a normal person. I have never ever professed to be normal. Sometimes that sucks but most of the time it rocks. My husband says I wake up in a new world every day and he is right, but maybe not the way he thinks. It works for me.
I want to talk about love. I’ve learned a lot about it over the years. And because I’m slow, I’ve made a ton of love mistakes. After all, I was single for 20 years between husbands. I’m afraid I spent my young adult years with a screwed up thought process about love. I simply didn’t know the reality of it, just the romantic fantasy of it. I hate that because I sure wasted a lot of time, time that I should have been using to lay a strong, solid, informative foundation for my own off-spring. Unfortunately, I have to take responsibility that my children didn’t really have a good example to follow. Thankfully, my precious (almost middle aged) kids don’t hold it against me. I think. I hope. Does that ring a bell with anyone?
It wasn’t all bad. You know what they say about mistakes – what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. I hate that cliché but it is true. I’m strong. Very strong. That isn’t an acquired skill, it has to be learned and earned. I’m a survivor.
There is a huge difference between love and infatuation. Everybody knows that but not everybody acts like they believe it. These days most people fall in and out of love like they change their clothes. And the funny thing is it really feels like love. So they go full on with all the trappings they think love entails. Then it’s over. Hurt feelings. Move on. Repeat.
People, that’s not the way it’s supposed to be. Of course, I’m not saying this is the way it is for everybody in the whole world, especially not the young couple I have in my mind and prayers today, but people in general from what I’ve observed and experienced. It’s like our society has morphed into something else. You decide if this pertains to you or someone you know.
My point is something like this; love shouldn’t be all about feelings. That won’t last. You’ve heard that before, haven’t you? Feelings are important, don’t get me wrong. There has to be an attraction factor first. That is a feeling, but one based on all kinds of biology and psychology stuff, believe it or not. Which leads me to this – for heaven’s sake, don’t mistake lust for love! Lust is definitely based on feeling. Lust equals sex. Sex does not equal love. Sex can be a wonderful magical part of love, in fact it can be an amazing by-product of love. But you don’t have to have love to have sex. Lust is not all there is to love.
Loneliness is another love risk factor. We have all been there. Dare I say we have all fallen in love a time or two because of loneliness. Trust me, being alone is much better, in fact, much easier than fooling yourself into thinking you’re in love based on feelings (read lust). There is nothing worse than making yourself be in love with someone after the reality of truth sets in, and it will.
Here is another defining factoid of love; don’t think you are in love because you need him/her. It doesn’t work. We all need someone. That’s the way God made us. We were created to couple. But being needy is a different thing altogether. Being a needy person entails looking to a partner to meet all of your emotional needs and that just never works. It’s not fair to saddle another person with that much responsibility. You cannot depend on someone else to make you happy. Loev doesn’t make you do that. Part of being a mature person is learning to be in charge of your own emotional stability. Coincidentally, you can’t constantly keep rescuing your partner from whatever. There is nothing wrong with being partners with your partner as in supporting and helping each other. That’s what you are supposed to do. On the other hand, if you feel like you have to fix everything in your partner’s life, if you are in a frenzy to make sure he/she has everything you think they need, that’s not love. That’s co-dependence. And co-dependence is a much, much harder problem to work out than being infatuated rather than in love.
After you sift through the difference between infatuation, lust and love, loneliness and neediness, the learning curve goes way up. Oh my gosh, learning to compromise is a big deal. There is, in fact, an art to it. You simply can’t get your way all the time and expect a relationship to work. It won’t. People develop resentments, then maybe a little pay-back enters the situation, finally living without that selfish ass begins to look more and more attractive. Don’t go there. Give a little. You know you have reached a higher level of true love when you wake up in the morning and your heart asks “what can I do today for him/her?” Don’t tell me that’s based on feelings. That is based on action, loving, considerate action. Here’s another thing; don’t go getting all hurt when he/she says something you don’t agree with. Or, for that matter, does something you don’t agree with (Cheating and all illegal activity are the exception! J ) I’m not saying that you should put up with everything. I’m saying please keep in mind that just because you are a couple doesn’t mean that your partner should think and do everything the same way you do. There is a huge difference between men and women, if you didn’t already know that. There is the learning-to-be-compatible part. Compatibility is another art form, much like compromise. You have to work at it. Of course, the bonus would be that a couple doesn’t have to work too hard at it, that compatibility is what draws them together. That would be a wonderful thing but don’t assume it is going to pop out at you automatically.
There is another dimension of love – Holy Love. Because we are all made in God’s image, every one of us is capable of holy love which is the absolute best, loveliest, safest, most comfortable, happiest kind of love imaginable. It is the kind of love in God’s eyes when He set in motion the plan for man and woman. Of course, human beings have continued to screw that up since Adam and Eve, but that’s another story, another blog post. The point is holy love is what we should all strive for. It is love that goes beyond the norm, love that endures the good and the not so good. It stares down anything that causes pain and discomfort, loss and difficulties. Holy love happens when two people commit to feeding their relationship with good, not selfish desires. Holy love works through the nastiness that sometimes accompanies life. It joins two people as one (even if one or both of them snore, fart, and kick in their sleep). It perseveres through every cold, flu, or illness known to man. It holds together during calamity, heartbreak and hardship. It never gives up. Holy love unites a couple in ways that are difficult to comprehend these days. A couple can share a holy love even if they are as different as cats and dogs. Ask me how I know.
Holy love doesn’t just happen. It takes a lot of work to achieve. It would seem that holy love is rarely sought after. How sad. Holy love is truly a reward for hanging in there when times get tough.
I invite you to interact with me. Leave a comment, like and share my blog, agree or disagree. It’s all good. Now that I’m finished with brain tumors, pacemakers and other life interruptions I’m going to get back to my blogging and writing. I can’t wait and I’m so looking forward to getting better at it! I hope I never ever stop learning.
Peace of the Lord be with you! And please don’t forget to pray for world peace. So many lives depend on it.
It was so hard for me to get out of bed this morning. The alarm went off at 6 a.m. and I turned the bedside lamp on. At 6:30 my sweet husband came into the room with a cup of coffee and told me “I heard you snore so I thought I better do something.” What? Me, snore? Yeah, that was me. Oh how I wanted to sleep! But here’s the thing – I wanted to see Jesus more than I wanted to sleep. I practically had to scratch my way out of the warm and cozy trap that is my bed and adjust my crown of attitude into one more conducive to dedicating my Sabbath to the God of Glory, instead of What Nancy Wants. If attitude can get a person anywhere, projecting a good one is a start. So, half an hour late already, I struggled to set about getting ready for early Mass. Wonder of all wonders, I managed to get dressed and head toward Bunkie town.
Flash back: In June, I had the true honor of being one of the many prayer ministers at the Steubenville South Youth 2017 Conference in Alexandria, Louisiana. Long ago, when the movement first came to this part of the country, I was a part of the prayer team but took a hiatus when I married Pete and moved further south. It felt so good to be back into it this year. Man, if only I could tell you in human words what it is like to gently nudge a young person to the Way! All that to say this: The message, the speakers, the music, everything was great. It was mighty. A person would have to be a pillar of salt not to be moved. Hosted by Paul George, who by the way, knows how to get a young person’s attention (“clap once if you can hear me, clap twice etc.”) That really tickled me. The speakers were quite the line up of young adults who knew where they had been and know where they are going. Fr. Leo Patalinghug (EWTN, & Beating Bobby Flay – think “Holy Guacamole”), Megan Mastroianni, Chris Mueller, Sarah Swafford. Our own Josh Blakesley Band (http://www.joshblakesleymusic.com), and guest Sarah Kroger(http://www.sarahkroger.com) provided absolutely perfect music.
I’ve been a fan of Josh Blakesley & company for years. In fact, although my beloved and I are in our -ahem- 60’s, we have been known to travel the 40+ miles on a Sunday evening to Mass in Alexandria during which the music is rendered by said band. Enter Sarah Kroger. I had not heard of her before Steubenville South 2017. I found a couple of her CDs for sale and scored.
Ok, now flash forward to today: On the way to Mass, my thoughts were the usual “gosh I’m getting old, how did this happen, maybe it’s too late to do so-and-so, my memory is missing, something is wrong with my brain, gosh my hands hurt, oh, my back, this oldage is killing me, on and on and on.” Suddenly for some strange reason, I heard Sarah Kroger singing. Oh yeah, I forgot I was playing her CD. The words I heard captured me, literally dragging my attention away from my internal dialogue. Wow. How did that happen? The song must have been written for that very moment in my life. No? Well, you might not think so but I do. Let me say this about that; isn’t it amazing how God’s timing is perfect and how He reaches us exactly where we are and exactly when we need Him? Here, read these words.
“I thought by now I would be running on an open road
Not here standing with a heavy load
Unable to move
I thought by now it would be everything I ever dreamed
Not unsure of what there is for me
Or what I should do
And I can’t see straight and I just can’t seem to find my way
So I’m letting go, I’m letting go
For once in my life
I don’t need to know. I’m just letting go
Oh I’m letting go.
And like a friend this heaviness is settled in my soul
I don’t have to hold it any more
You whisper to me
“Be still don’t fight. Just let me make the burden light”.
So I’m letting go, I’m letting go
For once in my life
I don’t need to know. I’m just letting go.
Oh, I’m letting go.
I will not be afraid to open up my hands
I will not be afraid to let you in
I will not be afraid, your love is more than I could know
So I’m letting go, I’m letting go
For once in my life
I don’t need to know. I’m just letting go
Oh, I’m letting go.”
Powerful, huh? I meditated on that after I took a seat in church. The message I got from that wonderful song is simply to stop worrying and trust more. Sounds like a cliché but it is what it is. It comforted me. It helped me see that the course my life has taken is not so far off what it should be. I am more aware of the road I am on. If I can let go, if I can trust.
Now here’s where it gets Real. To my delight, Father Taylor Reynolds was the Celebrant for Mass. I’ve watched him grow up in Bunkie. His mother is a lady I know and admire. He is with our parish for the summer before he returns to Rome in the fall. So you can imagine how it warmed my heart to see him this morning. When Father Taylor read today’s Gospel (Mathew 14:22-23) he had my complete attention. What he said afterwards brought tears to my eyes. And it still does. It is the story of Jesus walking on water. Allow me to paraphrase the homily. First Jesus leads the disciples to the boat, rides with them to the other side of the lake, and then leaves them and goes off by himself to talk to his Dad. The guys on the boat carry on until the wind gets tough, the ride gets rough and terrible fear moves in. Suddenly, they look up and see Jesus walking on the water toward them. But, as Fr. Taylor pointed out, he didn’t calm the seas. He didn’t tell the wind to stop. He did, however, say “don’t be afraid”. Peter told Jesus “Lord, if it’s You, tell me to come to you on the water.” Jesus said “Come” So, Peter stepped out of the boat in faith. Then he faltered. But Jesus reached out and caught him. Thank God! Fr. Taylor pointed out how close Jesus was to Peter as he took his faltering steps and started to sink. He was right there, close enough to grab him. What wonderful news! What a fantastic analogy!
So the lesson God gave me today goes like this; Life is a journey, yet another cliché, but true none the less. On this journey we hope we are doing the right things. We have our problems, our burdens, our forks in the road. We don’t know where to turn. We need Him to show us the way. We need to trust Him through the storms. We need to step out in faith and know that Jesus is right there for us when we falter, and feel like all is lost or it’s too hard to carry on, or we don’t know what to do. We need to believe.
Let go. Release the heaviness in your soul, your burdens, your insecurities. Step out in faith knowing that He is in control and He won’t let you go. He’ll be there for you and with you throughout your journey. “Be still, don’t fight. Just let Me make the burden light.”
I’m praising Him for that lesson today! Oh Jesus, I’m loving you! Thank You from the bottom of my heart! I wish I could convey my concern and compassion to the many who have not yet entered into a life with Christ. It just doesn’t make sense not to want to love and be loved, not to want a richer life with riches that matter and carry over into the next life, the one that is Eternity, not to want a better, more meaningful life. I’ve had a life without Him, although as a believer I thought I had it all. Wrong. There is more. So much more.
Below you will see the CD cover I reference by Sarah Kroger. She’s awesome.
Pray for peace, people. Our world needs your prayers.
Nobody, and I mean nobody, likes change, that is, the change that interrupts our lives and makes the world we know uncomfortably different. I’m tired of the old cliché that states change is good, necessary, and a catalyst for growth. *foot stomping* I don’t like change!
But I don’t want to be stagnant either. And because I am a believer, I live by the assertion that I must change to live up to the potential assigned to me by God. What? Am I so full of myself that I actually think the almighty God of heaven and earth knows me personally and even takes the time to direct my path if I ask Him to? Yes. Period. Therefore, I must accept change as it comes and then discern how I choose to react to it. I must exercise my faith to allow whatever change is at hand to make me a better person, one more worthy to live up to God’s expectations of me. In the meantime, I don’t want to miss any of the graces He wishes to bestow upon me as a direct result of my decision to accept the direction of His hand over the changes of my life. And in the bigger picture, the change that effects me will have an affect on those around me. It’s a domino effect, you see. The changes in other’s lives influence me, the change in my life influences others.
Simple truths, right? Yeah, it’s easy as long as it is happening to someone else. “Therein lies the rub.” In case you didn’t hear me the first time, I don’t like change. But change is a lesson we all have to learn and grow from, hopefully. It’s a lesson that creeps up on us every day and demands we pay attention. It is stubbornly present and won’t let go, much like a dog and his favorite bone.
We liken change to either good or bad and, face it, the bad changes are the ones that really get our attention. Unfortunately, the good changes are the ones we accept, perhaps joyfully, but more often than not, without a second thought that they may, in fact, be blessings and graces sent from you-know-Who. Both good and bad are golden depending on our reaction to them. Uh huh. It’s true. Let me illustrate why I feel this way.
I haven’t blogged much since I had a brain tumor removed in August 2015. Even though it was a simple (! Did I just say that??), nearly painless surgery, it has not been without it’s effects and that has taken some adjustment to get used to. For example, I have written the previous sentence three times. Moving on… My memory is affected. I don’t remember a lot of the more recent past, things I have done, places I’ve gone, most notably, people I’ve met. Not too many weeks ago I was in a grocery store and a couple passed by me. They greeted me by name as if they knew me well. I had no idea who they were. I nodded to them, smiled, and proceeded on out the door. But it bothered me a so much that I didn’t recognize them that I had to go back into the store and find them. That lovely couple was gracious enough to understand my explanation that I had no idea who they were. I apologized to them and told them about the effects of my surgery. I felt like a fool. But they were kind and actually seemed happy to fill in the missing blanks. What a relief!
All of that just to say this: I’ve been through a lot of changes lately. Trust me. And I suppose there will be more to come. God, please grant me the grace to go through them the way You would have me to.
So, some of these changes I’ve been through recently have been pretty hard. They get the most attention, of course. The biggest and hardest change has been the death of our former daughter-in-law. Erica was not without her issues. If you are a human being, you too have issues. But Erica’s issues were a bit out of the ordinary. The first time I met her (she answered the door at my son’s house and promptly closed it in my face) I thought she was incredibly rude. Little did I know she was afraid of what my reaction to her being in my son’s house would be. Poor thing. I often wonder what on earth my son told her about me to cause that fear! No matter. I learned to love her. In fact, the day she married my son I fell in love with the brilliant loving smile she gave my son after they were pronounced husband and wife. Aside from that, she bore my first grandchild. When he was born I felt a love like I had never felt before in my life. She was responsible for that. Had it not been for her, who knows if I ever would have discovered what unconditional love was all about? Erica and my son divorced after their difficult marriage refused to survive. They were forced to continue their contact with each other in order to raise their son. And by the way, that boy is awesome which speaks to the success of their efforts. Even so, they went their separate ways. Not too many years passed before Erica became seriously ill. The choices she made hindered any healing that we all prayed for. Over time she lost function of her kidneys and liver and had to go on dialysis. Eventually, her circumstances dictated she live in a nursing home until she could get on her feet. The rehab was good, she was successful and was ready to be discharged to home. The last time I saw her at the nursing home she was so happy and full of life and ready for a new beginning! We rejoiced and she ascertained that her healing was certainly due to Divine Intervention. Then she had an accident and smacked her head on the concrete. It was the last assault her body could tolerate. Within two weeks she was gone. She died at the age of thirty seven just when she was getting her life in order. Now, I’ll be the first to tell you that our God has a purpose and a plan for everyone. But I had a hard time accepting it, even now, a hard time believing it. My head says no way. My heart says it has to be. That, my friend, is the definition of faith; believing in what you cannot see, like it or not.
As it would happen, on the day before Erica’s wake, my grandson and I went out to lunch. He is very nearly fourteen years old now and such a man already. I had heard from one of my former neighbors that my old house, the one I poured blood, sweat, and tears into, was being demolished. This I had to see for myself. So on the way back from lunch, the boy and I drove past my old address. The neighbor was telling the truth. There wasn’t a house standing, there was instead rubble strewn about, piles of bricks, pipes reaching out of the ground as if looking to connect to something, anything. Lumber, solid, hard heart-pine and oak, was stacked along the perimeter of the old house’s stead. Ghost-like, lonely. There was a man sitting on a pillar of bricks and one standing close by, obviously the workers employed to take the house apart. He approached me as I pulled up and greeted me like a long lost friend. He didn’t know me but somehow he recognized the attachment I had to this place, this ground on which a lifetime was lived and children were raised. He let me tell him how I loved this place when I lived there, how I raised two boys there, how I remodeled the kitchen and built that deck laying in pieces over in the far corner. He smiled knowingly as I told him that was MY home, the one I bought and paid for myself. As if to comfort me, that darling man proudly assured me that he had already removed the kitchen cabinets and, in fact, had recycled them into another project he was working on. And the doors. And the beautiful parquet floor that I put down piece by piece on the floor. (My knees have not been the same since!) His eyes lit up and he told me he figured I was the one who stained the glass on the back door and bathroom windows. Yes! It was me! He proudly led me around the back of the property to show me he saved them somehow knowing a person would come around asking about them. Yes, me again.
For the next few days after Erica’s funeral, I mulled over these big changes set before me. Big big changes. You know, I came to understand something. I spent more time living and loving, and trying to live life in that old house than I have anywhere since, at least so far. I learned about myself and others. Life lessons. Heartache. Joy. Self-discovery. I had hard lessons about growing up. Sacrifice. Selfishness. Forgiveness. From 1987 to 2001 I lived there. I sold it in I think 2002 or 2003. I poured heart and soul into that old house. I gardened to my heart’s content, coaxing flowers from the earth, fashioning sidewalks and secret flowerbeds. I labored and was constantly surprised at the results. Working on that old house gave me the confidence I lacked previously to accomplish many things, personally and professionally. I think there was not one inch of that house and the ground beneath it that I didn’t touch. My identity was tied up in that house for a time but I wasn’t sorry to let it go. It was, after all, just a building. I was grateful to have had it. It sheltered us and gave us a sense of security. It had a foundation when I didn’t. Then the boys left home and I got married and moved away. Change happened.
I can in no way compare loosing Erica to the tearing down of my old house. That would be ridiculous. I can share my reaction to the changes. Loosing Erica hurts. Her presence leaves a hole in the life of her precious son and all who love her. The demolition of the old house merely evokes sentimental musings. Both soul and building are now memories, albeit one more poignant than the other. One leaves behind a legacy, a life, and now love eternal. The other, just memories.
I am a better person for having loved both. They represent different planes in the plan of life. I have learned lessons from each; patience, perseverance, love, frustration, epic failure, joy, happiness, satisfaction, hope, forgiveness. Yes, big changes indeed.
Eternal Father, You Who loves us in ways we can’t imagine, thank you for the gifts You have given. Thank You that Your daughter Erica touched my life, gave me my first grandchild, and taught me lessons no other could. Thank You for that old house and the lessons I learned there; the strength and stamina I needed. Please let me keep these blessings in my heart always and never be afraid to think of them and grow from them. Father, I’m asking that my faith be strengthened to accept Your will and not question it. Thank You again, my Lord, that You love us.
Please don’t forget to pray for peace.