Celebrating New Life

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Every first is difficult. There will be Birthdays, Father’s Days and Anniversaries that will be celebrated without your earthly presence. We will celebrate them from here, while you celebrate new life there. Traditions that we make help us to remember how much you meant to us. We will each find our own way to preserve our memories of you.

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I was only your daughter-in-law, but my memory of you began as a little girl. You were the owner of Macs City Parking Lot in town. We always parked there. Always. If the sign said it was full? Momma always said, “It’s okay- he always finds a place for us. I can’t remember meeting you back then, I was more interested in the shopping trip. I do know that you did always find a parking space for us, and I can’t remember having to walk very far because of it. I laugh now, because Derek probably parked our car long before we met in 1986. What a small world.

It took awhile for me to get to know you, but years later I come to respect the person you were, and what you stood for. I would later learn just how much of a prankster you were and how much you liked to joke. Stories upon stories you told us about growing up and working at the parking lot and the people who you met along the way. The thing I remember most…were your testimonies of how God had spared your life in more than one accident or circumstance. How you trusted Him, regardless of any situation.

I will say that I know you were not perfect. I say this, because I know you hated flattery. I remember how you would recite scripture that “our righteousness is as filthy rags” and we are just passing through this life, trying to be a light to those that need Jesus. I can only imagine how many lives you touched through that part of your time here. I know mine was one of them.

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On a day that I was struggling with not having any living parents and feeling like an orphan, you called..out of the blue. Your words were short, but said that you had me on your mind and you just wanted me to know you were praying for me. I said okay, and pretended that everything was fine. I hung up the phone and the tears flowed. I was not okay. I was grieving and heartbroken. I learned then, that you were obedient when you felt the unction to pray for someone you acted upon it. It was a gift to me that day, and I would later call you and tell you that you how much I had needed that call.

I can still hear you say “Hey Dee” on the phone, and it makes me smile. You were always kind to me. Honest, yet truthful in your words. I have always been thankful for that. Plus, we made a good team working on projects together. (Hey? I learned to hang vinyl siding didn’t I?) You were a good foreman!

I would also learn how important you would become to my daughter. So many things you shared with her that will never be forgotten. There is not enough word space to write all of those things. She adored you. She still says that you were her best friend and dreams of riding one of those white horses with you in Heaven. I know it will be a celebration like no other.

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So, today, we will make a new tradition in our household in honor of your Birthday… a trip to McDonald’s to have your favorite, a strawberry milkshake. It will be our way of celebrating your new life, while remembering the old.

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Our joy will one day outweigh the sadness we feel. Besides, you asked her not to be sad, so we will try to have more smiles and stories in our tradition. We will celebrate “Pa” and keep pressing on towards our reunion. Until then,

Happy Birthday in Heaven, Celebrating New Life.. as it should be.

2 Corinthians 5:17

Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.
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Blessed Beyond the Mess

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Life can be messy. Cleaning up after a mess can be frustrating and difficult. How do we get from being in a mess, to being blessed beyond the mess? I’m sure that my beloved Sister would not have taken me seriously two months ago if I had poured out these words to her. Often it is only after we have come through the fire, soot, etc. can we really appreciate hindsight. In my dear Sisters situation, it only took a matter of minutes to see the blessing.

Psalm 91:11

11 For He shall give His angels charge over you, To keep you in all your ways.

The house is normally filled with the sounds of laughter of grandchildren. The evenings would normally be busy with playing with Nana and Paw, getting ready for bed with a story and goodnight kisses. Sleeping beauties would have been tucked in bed in their own rooms, the joy of having loving grandparents…but not tonight.

.Proverbs 3:6

In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.

An uneventful night with just her and her husband, both tired from the normal work day. Sleep. Tomorrow, the sun will shine and the day will start anew. She has jokingly has said.. “I wish I had a maid!” She closes the doors behind her that lead to the downstairs area. No need to heat more than you have to in this cold winter. All is quiet, another day has come to a close.

Psalm 46:10
Be still, and know that I am God;

Morning awakens to another day. She notices the headache, but not all that unusual. She’s a little more sleepy than normal. Tired. Still yet, she knows she is blessed to go to work and teach about the God she knows. Then life happened. Messy life shows up.

They notice the film that coats their pajamas. Something is not right. Where could all of this soot have come from? They make their way to the downstairs. The door is opened, and in an instant, they are engulfed with a rolling black cloud.

Jeremiah 29:11-13
For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.

A faulty heating unit, hissing through the dark hours, would cover their entire home with its black soot. Destruction was rampant in less than 24 hours, life just became messy. Only by Grace, had there been no explosion and only by Grace had they been awakened to see the morning. Blessed beyond the mess.

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It would be 56 days later…. weeks of dealing with insurance claims, and clean up, and hours of feeling helpless before they would be transferred from living in a Hotel during the holidays to the home they knew. Yeah, that’s hard-messy life to deal with.

She lost things she can never repair – damaged furniture, keepsakes and sooted crevices that she will always see. Although most of it can be replaced, my sister could not have been. She knows this. Blessed beyond her mess. She has been weary and worn, but most of all she has been strong for her family and a testimony to those around her. God sees.. God hears. He bottled her tears.

How many times has God gone before you? Detained you in your busy day, only to notice you were taken out of harms way further down the road you travel? He has plans for you. Good plans.  Life will happen, and yes, it will get messy…really messy at times, but He can work in the midst of our messes. He will give us Beauty for Ashes… even Beauty for Soot!

She has no doubt why her grandchildren and daughter were not there that night. She has no doubt why she chose to shut that door leading to the downstairs. Divine intervention, hiding under His wings.

God is faithful in all things. He blesses beyond our messes!

Don’t take one of your days for granted, look for the blessings and press through the messy parts!

Romans 8:28

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose

Be the Glue

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How many times have you gotten it stuck on your fingers? You want it to stick, but not to your skin. Made to fix just about anything, Krazy Glue will hold anything together. No one doubts its capabilities to work when needed, and they are just afraid of it enough, to respect its effectiveness. It comes with many warnings of misuse, but for the most part it works.

This week I have thought about glue. I have thought about “being the glue” that sometimes holds things together. There is always that one person, that seems to hold everything and everyone together. It is reliable, and strong and sometimes holds on like a bulldog regardless of the situation swirling around them.

Most of us have this quality, especially if we are the peacemakers in our circles. We always find a way to fix things, regardless of the energy it takes to do so. It drives us to make things better, to make sense of the chaos and disappointments that sometimes attempt to break us. Mostly, being the glue, encourages us to engage, to find solutions to tough situations, and hold together our most prized posessions…the people we love.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7

New International Version (NIV)

4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

I felt it was important to add the “love” verse here. Being the glue is always for a better outcome. It is never…ever…. to be the force that hardens a situation for your own benefit. The quest to be “right” and everyone else wrong, just so you can boast your “I told you so’s.” Yes, you have to sometimes may have to be more like “Krazy Glue” – stubborn and durable enough to hang in there to see the end result.

Don’t be misunderstood about the word “Crazy/Krazy” There lurks a different kind…. one that is fierce and harsh and “in your face” crazy. It’s the kind used by my highest of pet peeves.. Mean People. Personal agendas that serve only themselves. Eventually, this type of glue hardens and cracks, leaving an even worse issue of brokeness, a weight akin to cement…holding that person in their own weighted sorrows.

Be the glue…..holding together in love what is close to your heart. It may be your spouse, your children, or your family as a whole. Don’t grow weary in well-doing, attempting to bind together the good things that are worth it.

And…. if you are not the person in your circle that serves as glue? it’s okay. Not all of us are meant to be the glue. However, I do hope that you appreciate them for what they do hold together – It’s a tough job! And when they seem to be having a little Krazy glue moment? Let them. No one person can be strong 24/7, and that’s okay too.

Breathe. Be the Glue when  you have to. The most beautiful Mosaics were taken from things that were broken, crushed and discarded…. but what an amazing piece of art that is left for us all to enjoy… only because someone was willing to Be the glue.