For Such a Time as This

A number of years ago, I was in the hospital recovering from surgery and walking around for exercise when there seemed to be quite a commotion down the hall. I ventured closer and saw an elderly patient in isolation wildly waving her arm. “She’s deaf and mute,” the nurse explained. “We have no idea what she wants or needs, and we don’t know what to do.”

As it happens, I had taken a short course in American Sign Language and thought I could possibly help. I went into the room. The nurses seemed too distracted to notice that I was not wearing protective clothing for an isolation room. The woman looked at me with desperation in her eyes, and continued to wave her arm. Then it struck me, if she toned that down, isn’t that the sign for singing?

The only song I could think of that was simple enough for my limited ability was Jesus Loves Me. So I began to sign that, mouthing the words along with the motions. Immediately she lay back on the pillow, relaxed and smiling. A few hours later she lay in the arms of Jesus.

I thought of Esther in the Bible. Mordecai had asked her to speak for the people, but, knowing that coming into the king’s presence unbidden could mean certain death, she was reluctant. Mordecai challenged her further, and then said, “Who knows whether you are come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”

We don’t always like the position we are in, but who knows whether we’re there for such a time as this?

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: Does God have a purpose for the position I’m in?

My Mother, Myself

I never studied physics, I loathed axioms, and I never believed that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.  But that was when I was young.

Few of us think our mothers had anything to do with the fine way we turned out.  Self-made women!  Risen above a humble background!  I did it myyyy way!

An alarming thing starts to happen when we give birth to children–they rebel, right from the beginning.  We feed them, clothe them, keep them warm.  We medicate and comfort them, turn our nights and days around for their convenience. And from infancy they challenge our judgment.

We teach them what we know, place them under the tutelage of others who know more; we pray for their safety and for wisdom in handling difficult circumstances.  And they’re convinced we know nothing.

We set aside our own aspirations, adjust our goals around them, live vicariously through their successes.  And they discharge any possibility of “good genes.”

We make excuses for them, love them when they’re miserable, forgive them for the same hurts over and over, take the blame for whatever goes wrong, weep for their spirits wounded at the hands of others.  And they tell us we don’t understand what it’s like to be young.

But they’re wrong.  Maybe the greatest single reason we care so much is because we do know what it’s like to be young.  Every older person was once young, but there is no young person on earth who was ever old.  Even I know that, and I didn’t study physics.

The amazing thing is that, in spite of the inevitability of all this, the indomitable spirit of motherhood lives on.  Good thing, too, or the human race would soon be on the endangered species list.

I’m not suggesting that giving birth and canonization are synonymous terms.  Still, the good qualities we possess are not apart from the way we were brought up.  There is a very direct connection between our mothers’ influence and our present lives.

To say that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree no longer sounds like a harsh assessment; it’s more of an observable fact.  I admit to being my mother’s daughter.  I have few capabilities that can’t be traced back to her.

I guess that means I’m grown up now, right?

Easter Eggs

Pysanky eggs

In a few short days, I’ll be joining my granddaughters and their children for an afternoon of Ukrainian pysanky egg dying. In this craft, we draw designs on white eggs, then carefully cover whatever areas we want to remain white with wax warmed by a candle, and then dye the whole egg with very light yellow. The process continues, with each dye bath darker than the one before, until its final stage, perhaps black highlighting the design. When the wax is removed, an incredible motif appears.

Many years ago, after watching a demonstration of this amazing art, I was eager to try it. I bought the kit holding a kistka (a little tool with tiny funnel end to hold the wax), beeswax, and dyes. And, of course, stumpy candles and lots of eggs. I was ready. The challenge was, it was mere days before Easter. Would I be able to complete them in time? It took family cooperation. The world would have to spin without my involvement for a while.

For three days, I blew eggs until my face hurt, stared into a lit candle that would melt the wax in the kistka until I couldn’t see straight. It was a marathon run, making one for each of our 16 family members. And I barely completed it by Saturday evening. Being my first attempt at pysanky, they were nice, though hardly the fine art of the photo here. But they were a work of love.

Doesn’t that put together the whole picture of Easter? The egg is symbolic of the resurrection, new life breaking out, as Christ, in His love for us, suffered, died, and then rose from the dead out of a tomb. “For Christ’s love compels us, because . . . he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.” (2 Corinthians 5:14, 15)

Alleluia, He is risen!

Memories

Contest: Blog

MEMORIES

It may surprise my friends to learn that I actually have a very good memory. Not for what I ate for breakfast, or where I was yesterday, or what appointments I might have today, but for the funny and strange and poignant events of the distant past.

John O’Connor was a friend of Mom and Dad, and often visited, driving his Model A Ford. “Uncle” John only had one leg and walked on crutches. We looked forward to his visits because he gave us rides in the rumble seat of his car. One day he came with a surprise: boxes and boxes and boxes of candy and gum. A small candy store around the corner was going out of business and all of its contents were being auctioned off. It had been decided that the third bidder, whatever the amount, would take all. Uncle John was the third bidder. For twenty-five cents, the full contents of the store were his.

Since Uncle John had  no children of his own, we became the recipients of much of the stock. Never before had we had any quantity of candy in the house. There was a dilemma, though. There was bubble gum in the assortment, a treat we were never allowed to have. “My father was a doctor,” Mamma would tell us, “and he said you could choke on it.” Her father had actually been a pharmacist, which I suppose was kind of like being a doctor back early in the 1900s. He had also died when she was two years old.

That isn’t to say that I never had bubble gum before that special day. Once I took a kitchen knife outdoors and scraped some up off the sidewalk. It’s okay, though. I did what all of us kids did for safety when food was dropped: hold it high, kiss it up to God, and then it was all right to pop it into our mouths.

This morning I shared this story with Ray, who then shared some odd memories of his own childhood. Then, once again we remembered how important it is to hang onto old memories and keep making new ones. Life is fleeting and takes its toll as we ultimately lose strength and cognizance. One day, memories will be all we’ll have.

 

Christmas Lives On

We’re coming to the end of January, when few people are still enjoying the decorations that have brightened their homes for many weeks. Not one to go with the flow, I’m wth those few. The bright star, the little red Christmas tree, the Christmas cards taped to a wall, there’s all still there. But not by plan this year. It’s the gifts.

Every fall I look for universal gifts that would please all of the young boys and girls in the family–a formidable challenge. The boys were an easy plan. The eleven grand- and great-granddaughters?  It wasn’t until December 6 that inspiration struck. What girl wouldn’t want a mermaid blanket—a wrap to snuggle in with a huge fan tail? After learning the kids’ favorite colors, I ordered them, three to be drop-shipped to Tennessee.

Two days later, I received the confirmation statement and found they were shipping only two to Tennessee, and in the wrong colors. The other order was also a mishmash of errors. Quickly I got back to them, cancelled those orders, and returned to the Website to reorder. Detail by detail, I carefully made out the order. What could possibly go wrong now? Then there is Murphy’s Law.

Suddenly the prices were half again higher, not to mention that the shipping had been uncomfortably close to the blankets’ cost.  I emailed the company questioning this. And the days wore on. They never replied, but a week later, the prices were back to normal. I ordered once more, and a week after that received notice that they were shipped. But where were these coming from and how long might it take to reach here?

Christmas came. Christmas went, and finally, in mid January they arrived. I could easily have bushed all of this aside, telling myself I learned a lesson and would next year get on it earlier.  Then, remember Murphy’s Law? One blanket was missing.

It’s late January now, and that last one has not yet arrived. I can’t take down the Christmas decorations when the season is still hanging by its thumbs awaiting that last piece, can I?

In my young days, I asked the Lord to give me patience. I had no idea that it would be a life-long process, and I want to say, I get it now, God. But this small matter, as everything else in my life, is in His hands. We wait and trust and accept. May I have this peace when the dark days come, too. Meanwhile, the decorations that say JOY are still here for my pleasure.

Happy New Year

happy-new-year

I love New Year’s Day! I love the symbolic blank slate that says all things are beginning anew. For the first half of my life, I disdained New Year’s resolutions. Maybe I simply wasn’t into traditions. Or Maybe I was too naive to realize how much I needed to change. Theoretically, of course, each day is new and can be an opportunity for growth. But there’s something more definitive about January 1st.

Of late, I look on New Year’s Day as a time to seek the fruit-of-the-spirit goals that in my youth I believed would drop upon me as the rain from heaven. When I sought patience, though, life became a long waiting game. Endeavoring to become a more loving person, I was confronted by hate around me.

But year by year, I understand more the gifts God desires to anoint me with, and I am challenged again to open my heart and mind to be filled.

May the old be left behind now and may the Lord bless us all with a new year of joy and love.