Being Afraid…

I joke that I am old. It drives my middle child (who is 30) nuts. She says I want to look like I am fifty. I respond by saying I am 54, so what’s the big deal?

She hates that I don’t cover up my gray hair. I laugh and tell her it’s my glitter! My silver hairs were mostly earned because of her, and she knows it. And when I look at those streaks of silver, I am reminded of the lessons I have learned earning those stripes. Like military badges of honor, that is how I look at those graying hairs.

But the truth is that I am getting older and have arrived at that stage called middle age—and I wonder how did I get here? I can tell by some of my scars that it has been a rocky road at times. There are broken bones that didn’t heal well…stitches that left their marks…and there are eyes needing ever-increasing corrective lenses. My ears are not as good as they once were. All the aches and pains of life’s wear and tear…I feel them acutely. Predicting weather changes because of the pain in the joints or even headaches that come in advance of the storms are new skills that I would happily trade for a body that does not betray. And I think the reality of my visible evidence of aging is frightening for my daughter. She sees and understands the temporal lives we live. She knows that death is a very real part of life, and that makes her afraid.

Confronting our frailty is just one of the realities of life. We somehow float through decades of life, often unscathed. Then BAM. Age smacks you right between the eyes. But isn’t it funny that on the inside, I still feel like a kid. Young, running and swinging and jumping without a care. But that inward me is in conflict with the outward me. I think that is why I feel so betrayed by my body. To do all the silly things I did as a child without ever breaking ANYTHING…and now, walking down a hill slowly is a frightening exercise…will I fall? What’s going to break this time? I can tell you I do NOT like living in fear of breaking something. I don’t like living in fear of any kind at all. Fear robs me of strength and peace.

Yesterday, I had the special opportunity to visit with a dear friend I had not seen in over 10 years. In that time she became a mother to four little boys and I became a grandmother to 4, going on 5, grandchildren. As we caught up on our lives over the years since we last saw each other, it was interesting to realize what a place fear had held in each of our lives as we walked through some very dark periods.

The source of our fear was different, but how interesting that the solution to the fear was the same. During those times of overwhelming darkness, we found our solace in the word of God. She shared that with her second pregnancy (twins) and then with her fourth child, she struggled with pre-term contractions throughout the pregnancies. Her fear of premature labor was very real. And she did not like the effect fear was having in her life. To try to combat her fear, she looked up every passage she could find on fear. Many verses she committed to memory.

Then, when she was eight months pregnant, she and her husband were involved in a serious car accident. She suffered many broken bones and a punctured lung. She did not feel her baby move for hours. During those hours, she was comforted by the verses she had already studied on fear. She had a ready refuge of peace. She was in the hospital for a week then in a rehab facility for another week. When the time came to deliver her son, her leg was in a cast. (Can you imagine giving birth with a cast on your leg?) But she had all those verses treasured in her heart, bound to her memory and ready to draw on any time she needed their reassuring encouragement.

I told her about my own period of darkness. How my husband and I waited for a miracle. Or braced ourselves for devastating news. So many months of sleepless nights. I would awaken at 2 or 3 AM and all I could do was read my Bible…for hours…soaking in the peace and comfort written over and over. Seeing God’s faithfulness revealed time after time.  Those hours spent in the Word got me through each day, and then I  would repeat cycle again. Every day for many, many months.

My friend and I agreed that it was in those darkest hours, days, weeks and months that we experienced the greatest spiritual growth. Our problems were bigger than we were and we did not have the solution in our own strength. But God did, and true to His promises, He brought each of us a peace that passed our understanding. We didn’t pretend that we didn’t have fear. We acknowledged the fear and put it in its rightful place. Underneath the perfect love Christ freely gives us.

Today, she has four healthy boys. And she knows real peace.

Today I have the evidence of God’s hand at work in creating the miracle for which we prayed. And peace has replaced my fear.

Tell me, are you afraid? Can I offer you the Source of Peace?

I Peter 3:13-15

Who is there to harm you if you prove zealous for what is good? But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. And do not fear their intimidation, and do not be troubledbut sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence;

 

Ephesians 2:13-16

But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, by abolishing in His flesh the enmity… so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace,and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross…

 

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I REALLY Need a New Body!

I am waiting.

For a new body.

You see, my body is failing me.

I have a sore back. My glasses don’t correct my vision. I broke a tooth…well, technically, I broke the crown for my messed up tooth.

I have to take a bunch of medicine because different parts of my body don’t like to work the way they are supposed to without a little help.

Hey, I even have a cool, SWISS STAINLESS STEEL SCREW in my foot. Would YOU like a screw for your foot? Doubt it.

I have gone well beyond the stage of feeling invincible. I feel extraordinarily VINCIBLE. (I know, that isn’t a real word, but it works better than my body does…)

Several of my Facebook friends (yep, I have them, too) were sharing their physical ills and the need for divine intervention for relief from an array of bodily failings. Some serious. Many annoying. All impacting their quality of life.

Some of the comments were humorous…we are a funny group of women, after all. And it reminded of a cartoon I saw MANY years ago…

There was a long line of women in angelic robes…they were discussing their brand new heavenly bodies. One of the ladies muttered to the woman behind her, “I thought that my heavenly body would AT LEAST be THIN…”

As we commiserated with each other, several voiced the same desire…for that new, glorified, heavenly body we will receive when we are finally home with the Lord Jesus.

2 Corinthians 5:1-3

English Standard Version (ESV)

For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.  For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked.

The promise in scripture about our old bodies being replaced with new bodies that will no longer become ill, or broken, or sinful is our great and confident hope as we wait for that great reunion, face to face with our Savior.

But as I considered that thought, of having a brand new body that would never break down and get old, I was again reminded of another spiritual truth…Jesus, although in heaven with a glorified body, still bears the scars of Calvary in His own body.

Why doesn’t He have a perfect, unbroken body now that He is in heaven, seated at the right hand of God, the Father? Why does He still have scars in His hands, feet and side? Why is His face still marred from the beard that was torn from His face? Why are the marks still on His head from the crown of thorns that He wore?

Because Jesus, in His great love for each of us, chose to be the eternal Lamb that was slain for sin. While His believers look forward to those new bodies…we will also be seeing the visible proof of His love for us borne in His body through out eternity.

His love for His children is endless…so many times He could have chosen to leave us on our own without a remedy for our sin that separated us from Him. Yet, He left His throne, descended to this earthly realm and took on human form. The God-Man, Jesus, willingly separated Himself from His rightful home in heaven in order to physically make a way of escape for mankind from certain eternal death.

And He chose to continue to bear those scars as a reminder to us of His great love, so freely offered to us, yet at such a great cost.

In the Silence of Beginning
(The Lamb, Eternal, Slain)

By Chris Juby

In the silence of beginning
Spoke the love prepared to pay
So the wellspring of creation
Was the Lamb, eternal, slain
In the glory of the Godhead
As the universe was made
Was the promise of redemption
In the Lamb, eternal, slain

From the blood of righteous Abel
As the world gave way to hate
Every sin cried out for vengeance
For the Lamb, eternal, slain
By the code of temple worship
Sacrifice of blood was made
In that sacrifice, the shadow
Of the Lamb, eternal, slain

On the cross, in desolation
As he bore our sins away
Hear his prayer “Father, forgive them”
See the Lamb, eternal, slain
Through his blood we have forgiveness
For he died to take our place
Death itself has been defeated
By the Lamb, eternal, slain

Now alive in risen glory
Though the wounds of love remain
Holding out the Father’s mercy
Know the Lamb, eternal, slain
When that final kingdom trumpet
Heralds his triumphant reign
We will worship him forever
Hail the Lamb, eternal, slain

Birthdays and Anniversaries and Special Days…

February 9th…

Not a national holiday.

Not a religious holiday.

Not my birthday. But it IS my nephew’s birthday. Happy Birthday, Sean!!!

Not my wedding anniversary. BUT…it is the first anniversary of MY BLOG!

But those, as special as they are, do not come close to my number one reason for loving this day.

February 9th is a special day because…

Still so happy together

Still so happy together

On February 9, 1979, my now-husband of almost 33 years promised to marry me with a little ring from Woolworth…symbolic and pure…and its worth was not borne in the cost of the ring, but rather in the cost of that promise.

Little did he know what all that promise would bring to his life…a mixture of great joy and great sorrow…trips to unexpected places…laughter and tears…a life of changes for a man who liked things to stay the same.

With that promise two lives began a lifetime of change as we have been woven together into something we never could have even imagined. Neither one of us really resembles the people we were at that time–not physically nor in any other way.

Gone is his afro–and pic. Streaks of gray are now faintly visible. Gone is the mustache (he kept THAT for a lot of years!) and wide leather watch band that he custom made for himself.

Gone are the crazy clothing combinations (well…that may be an exaggeration since just yesterday he dressed as if he were color-blind…). His ginormous glasses are a bit more contemporary these days.

As for me…let’s just say that I am a more well-rounded individual. In more ways than one. 😉

Just yesterday, Curly Top assured me in her tender, special way–“I am the Curly Top, Nana. You have gray hair.” Ahhhh…the honesty.

But the things that I loved about him so many years ago, I still love today. He is FAITHFUL. He is FORGIVING. His love is UNCONDITIONAL (and believe me, I have tested that one more than once). His smile is still always on his face.

Those things matter so much to me. My love for him is based on things that endure and grow, not on things that disappear or fluctuate. Each and every day I know he will remain true to me because he continues to remain true to His Savior and Lord.

Family members still laugh at all of our “special anniversaries”…the first meal…the first, second or third ring…first kiss…we have a lot of special days. And I hope we never forget any of them. They are mile markers of the love that has grown and mellowed. It is a love that endures.

I think it is very important to celebrate the big moments, days and years. Every single day should be worthy of celebrating another day of life. So often we squander the opportunities to celebrate those little things and we take for granted those little, seemingly insignificant details that make up our daily lives. They need to be celebrated, too.

We forget the miracle of every. single. breath.

So join me today…celebrate the most wonderful gift. Life. Abundant life.

2 Corinthians 9:8

 And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.

1 Timothy 6:17

 Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God,who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.

Ephesians 2:1-10

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy,  made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.  And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus,  in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.

Hoarders…

My daughter says I have a problem.

I say she is wrong.

She says the first stage is denying there’s a problem.

I say she doesn’t have a clue.

You see…I love fabric. Especially vintage fabric. I don’t think there are many fabrics that I can’t imagine doing something with that will tickle my fancy.

Isn't this pretty?

Isn’t this pretty?

What I don’t seem to have in excess is free time. Actually, I don’t think I have had any since my first grandchild was born, and he is almost seven.

So my fabric has been holed up. Some of it hasn’t seen the light of day for a good many years.

Until recently…

Redwork panels done by my grandmother...

Redwork panels done by my grandmother…

My father was going through my grandmother’s hope chest and came across a number of quilt squares of redwork that she had done as a child. If you look really closely, you can see her tracing lines that were done by hand.

I wish I knew how old she was when she did these…it would just add to the beauty of their history.

I decided the time had come to use some of my precious hoard of fabric to do something with these…

You must understand that while I LOVE to sew, I am self-taught. That does bring to mind the question of exactly how much I can teach myself…Let’s just say that the things that I am confident doing are the things I like to do the most, and that variations on that theme take me a little further in my skills.

But I don’t do zippers. Nope. Not a bit. And I really would like to learn. One of these days.

I started pulling out my beautifully organized tubs of fabric…color-coded in clear containers, stacked like a rainbow on a huge storage shelf in my “craft” room. I basically just store my stuff in there and pull it out to the dining room when it is time to work…

My daughter hates it…

The first thing I made turned out to be my favorite.

My favorite month...

My favorite month…

IMG_3137

I was born in February…just barely…on Leap Day…Last year I became a teen;)! And, of course, Valentine’s Day is in February. And so is Curly Top’s birthday. So much fun going on, so I took some time making this pillow for me. Kind of like a birthday gift to myself.

Some of these fabrics were bought sight unseen on Ebay. They carry a pretty good assortment of vintage and retro fabrics, and since I hold onto my fabrics until the right idea pops into my head…well, if the colors aren’t perfect, eventually I will find a great match and make it into something.

I had a lot of fun using up some remnants that I got for about a quarter…

Looks just like my dogs...Joe Bear, Dia and Belle

Looks just like my dogs…Joe Bear, Dia and Belle

I love birds...

I love birds…

My gardening moved indoors...

My gardening moved indoors…

Some of these fabrics are so old I don’t even remember where or when I got them.

But I do know about the white chenille on the February pillow…When I hemmed my grandmother’s bedspread for her about twenty years ago, I saved the portion that had been cut off…

See?

Grandma's old bedspread and Grandma's old redwork...these mean a lot

Grandma’s old bedspread and Grandma’s old redwork…these mean a lot to me…

So…when my daughter starts calling me “hoarder” and threatening an intervention, I believe I will take her by the hand and drag her to my room so I can remind her about the good things that come to those that wait…

Little Miss Mind-Your-Manners…

Yes...YOU!

Yes…YOU!

Have any of you been struggling with the flu? Or maybe an extended case of the creeping crud? Or maybe bronchitis?

If you watch the news, you will know right away that you are not alone.

There. Do you feel better? I didn’t think so.

The reason I bring up this topic is because the “seasonal” illnesses have been such an awesome learning opportunity for the little people in my house.

Over Christmas, my youngest grandchild and my son-in-law were so gracious that they shared their nasty virus with me. Sharing. I think I once wrote about it being highly over-rated?

Anyway, it knocked me on my backside. And then…the holidays were over, and the little cherubs came back…one by one.

Someone showed up with a boogie nose. And then sneezes. Someone else showed up with a yucky cough. And like good little doobies, they all shared.

{Could someone please explain to me WHY three year old toddlers think LICKING THE TOYS is a great way to play? Gross.} But I did discover that you can put wooden blocks through the dishwasher without them getting ruined. Several times. (I used a mesh laundry bag. See? I shared.)

So…as someone who suffers from asthma and chronic bronchitis, I really don’t get colds. I just get really sick. And for some reason, my asthma has gotten worse the last few years, and I don’t know why. Could it be because I live in the 6th worst city for allergies and asthma?

The asthma attacks are scary, for me and for my family. Last night, I had a bad attack. But it also came with a silver lining. Sort of.

An aside here: Do you ever wonder if you are getting through to little people when you are training them in manners? Well…I have confirmation that they really do listen.

As I was coughing and gasping for air, little Curly Top stood right next to me and whispered, “Nana, cover your mouth. Nana, you’re coughing. Cover your mouth.”

Yes. I was coughing. But I was holding onto the counter because I felt like I was about to black out. No. I wasn’t using the manners and rules I have been teaching. I was struggling to breathe. And I couldn’t get my inhaler inhaled because I couldn’t stop coughing. It was scary. I was afraid. My daughter was afraid. She almost called 9-1-1.

And little Miss Manners? She was very persistent. The entire time I coughed, she reminded me of the rules. Very softly, but also very insistently.

Once I got calmed down, I was able to chuckle about it. Now, the proof of this pudding is that when SHE coughs, she actually does tuck her little face into her elbow. Ever so sweetly.

If only they would all read the article I sent out about not sharing germs in the first place…

Today would be a great day if…

Remember this? Just give it a listen…

Do you have an ear worm now?

Well…that is how this day has been. It just has gone on and on and on…

Even now, it’s still dragging on. This will be one of those nights when I will ask if it’s late enough for me to go to bed. (And there will be a unanimous “Yes” from my family…)

Some days are like that…

Kids that just won’t cooperate…

A calendar that is just too full of “stuff”…

And a whole lot of “holiday cheer”… that really isn’t so cheery…

It is one of those days that a career change comes to mind…RETIREMENT in a seniors only community! Or living off the grid in an RV…

But then I think about it…do I really want to understand shuffleboard? Am I ready for my husband to wear white leather walking shoes? Do I want blue hair? (Actually, my son-in-law has a blue mohawk, so maybe blue hair isn’t so bad???)

But in all honesty, some days are just a huge reminder of the glorious future awaiting me in the presence of my King and Redeemer…far away from the trivial and irritating things that sneak into my day and try to steal my hope for the future and joy for THIS day.

I am hoping that I can correct my course now and try to end the day well…kind of the way I would like to see my life’s course at its end…ending well. Achieving that “well done, good and faithful servant”…

How do YOU handle those not-so-great days?

 

Yes…He Thinks He Can Fly

(Please note: I decided to tweak the original post and re-blog it. 🙂

After over 32 years of marriage, I think I know my husband better than anybody else. But, like most married people, we find that the longer we are together, the more intimately we know each other. That can lead to some VERY interesting learning experiences.

My husband is 6’4″–I am 5’4″. He is thin, I am not. He played basketball, and you must totally believe me when I tell you I did not.

There are those similarities–we both wear glasses, we both have hardware holding the bones together in our left feet. (I know, what are the odds? So did his father…freaky!) We love music.

Even our professions are the same–we “teach”–he teaches high school Spanish and I teach potty training, drinking from a cup, how to share, blah blah blah. We both love what we do.

Where we truly differ is in the gravitational pull and how it affects our sleep.

A few years ago, I was awakened by heavy breathing. Most married people may not find that particularly curious…but I had just been clunked on the head. Nathan was thrashing around–totally asleep.

I started to worry, thinking he was ill or having a seizure or something, so like any good wife, I woke him up. It took some doing, but he finally came around only to tell me that I had interrupted his lay up shot.

Excuse me? Yes, he was making the game winning lay up in a basketball game. It must have been a championship game, because he had never played so well.

After assuring me that he was all right, I tried to get back to sleep, but his dream had made me a bit introspective. I couldn’t remember the last time I even remembered a dream.

As a child, I recall having vivid dreams. I could never sleep with my arm hanging over the side of the bed (still can’t) because I would dream ‘awful snake’ dreams.

I had a recurring funny dream about germs running all over the bathroom and attacking my toothbrush. Those germs looked like really crazy, transparent stick figures with several appendages. Apparently germs made a significant impact on my psyche.

But recently, I had not had any dreams that I could even recall. Hmmmm…what could that mean?

My husband has developed some health issues in the last few years, so I pay closer attention to his sleep patterns now.

He had another one of those “active” episodes the other night. As I tried to analyze his sleeping behavior, many thoughts were tripping all over themselves, trying to get to the front of the line.

I thought…it must be his heart…or maybe that neurological problem is acting up…

So I watched him in the darkness. I listened to his breathing and even took his pulse…of course, his pulse was racing. And he was muttering something I could not make out. I had to waken him.

I shook his shoulder…then I tried nudging him with my elbow…finally I rubbed his chest a little and he woke up.

“I can fly. Let me get back to sleep. I am flying and teaching and it is really cool,” he said, breathlessly. And I sincerely mean, he was out of breath.

“Are you sure you are all right?” I asked him.

“Yes. I just need to get back to this dream.” So he went to sleep, continued his “flight” and I just stayed wide awake.

He thinks he’s superman. My husband actually thinks he can fly.

Now, I do agree that he is a very talented and special man, but this flying was taking us to a whole new level, even for him. And I am not trying to play with my words, either!

I didn’t know if he would remember the dream in the morning. But he remembered his dream very vividly.

FYI–In real life, he teaches pre-school Sunday School. He explained that in this dream he was teaching his Sunday School class, but for some reason was unable to get their full attention, so he began to fly upward, heavenward. The higher he flew, the more the children listened.

(Honestly, wouldn’t you listen if your teacher started to fly?) He must have taught the lesson of his life while flying above those children. I couldn’t begin to tell you the lesson content…I was just trying to reconcile the concept of flying…

I have thought about his dream at length and it has caused me to think a little bit more deeply than just the humorous side of this story.

My husband has had a motto for his life since before we even met–a personal code of sorts. It was as if he carried a balance around in his pocket and whatever the “thing” was, it was put on one side of the balance. The other side of the balance always was the same: Will this count for eternity?

That personal code was what drew me to him when we first met–he had an eternal purpose for his life and he lived (and still lives) every single day with the same question: Will this count for eternity?

I find it comforting and reassuring somehow that even in his subconscious state, he continues living by his code.

I’ll Fly Away

Some glad morning when this life is over,
I’ll fly away.
To a home on God’s celestial shore,
I’ll fly away.

I’ll fly away, O Glory,
I’ll fly away.
When I die, Hallelujah, bye and bye,
I’ll fly away.

When the shadows of this life have flown,
I’ll fly away.
Like a bird thrown, driven by the storm,
I’ll fly away.

I’ll fly away, O Glory,
I’ll fly away.
When I die, Hallelujah, bye and bye,
I’ll fly away.

Just a few more weary days and then,
I’ll fly away.
To a land where joy shall never end,
I’ll fly away.

I’ll fly away, O Glory,
I’ll fly away.
When I die, Hallelujah, bye and bye,
I’ll fly away.