We each have a life story, penned without ink, read by the people around us. Who's writing your story?

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Crossing a Different Kind of Atlantic

This Thanksgiving, I feel a little like a Pilgrim.

Not that I have much in common with the brave little group who sailed into Plymouth on the Mayflower November 11, 1620. They chose to leave all they knew to come to a wild land of unknowns   . . . all for the sake of religious freedom, so the story goes. I wonder if some of them had second thoughts. Yet not one of them sailed back to Europe with the Mayflower after the harsh winter.

In one sense, they left their past behind. Yet in another way, they brought it with them. Their customs, their dress, their values . . . their God. The Pilgrims, as we call them, arrived and stayed in the New World, bonded to their tried and true beliefs. Likely, the very beliefs that gave them the perseverance to follow hard after what they perceived to be the will of God.

Maybe their experience is a little like what happens when life changes for us. We find ourselves crossing an Atlantic of another sort, leaving behind the familiar to discover a season of unknowns, of risks, of uncertainties. Sometimes we make the journey because we desire change - perhaps a new job, better habits, a new baby. And sometimes we're in a new place without our choosing it - an illness, financial loss, or the death of someone close to us . . .

Like the Pilgrims, we bring the past with us, too. The past with its victories and defeats, its wisdom-gaining experiences, its values and beliefs. And the underlying assurance that we have an everlasting God we can trust, no matter where we find ourselves, no matter what happens in our life stories. 

So, this Thanksgiving I want to give thanks.

For the past: For nearly thirty-six years as wife to a man who loved God first, then others - especially me. For all he unwittingly taught me about life, helping me ahead of time with the adjustments and unknowns. For all he poured into our children. For his example of perseverance and grit.

For the present: For God's abundant grace, provision, and care. For the kindnesses of so many who have made this journey bearable and offered up prayers on our behalf. For children and a family who call and care. For the gift of grandchildren.

For the future: For the promises of God which never expire. For new opportunities and experiences. For a coming "New World" of eternal life "forever with the Lord," where we won't be pilgrims anymore.

Have you crossed a different kind of Atlantic recently? Let's gather with the Pilgrims and Indians of the seventeenth century and remember our past and present blessings and the assurance of a bright future.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Pullin' Out the Paint

I love our home.

Our family moved in on the last day of July 1987. We overlooked the worn shag carpet, the1970s flowered orange wallpaper, and the steel windows, which we had to push from the outside to close. We knew we'd someday remodel the kitchen with very little cupboard or counter space surrounding the old ceramic sink. Yet to us, it became our home. With a wonderful job opportunity for my husband and two little girls underfoot, we moved in with young energy and resolve.

Over time, we tore up old carpet, tamed walls with quieter colors, replaced windows, reworked the bathroom, and after much deliberation, gave the kitchen a makeover. In 1998, we tore down the tiny garage and replaced it, doubling its size and adding a guest room in the back. More recently, we sided and insulated. In between all that, Barry mowed the grass, cleaned out gutters, and repaired broken faucets and leaky pipes. He primed and painted. He took good care of our little "estate."

He's gone to live in his heavenly home now, where he's free from all the chores he so faithfully took care of day after day, year after year. I suddenly inherited all those responsibilities. And I'm finding it a bit overwhelming.

Our daughter, a senior in high school, has done a wonderful job keeping the yard looking trim. I've appreciated help from extended family, neighbors, and friends. Yet I worry about how long I can live here and keep the place up. Our place. Our home.

In the past couple weeks, I've noticed a couple of neighbor friends, single like me, caulking and painting. One just retired and the other is 70-something. There's courage to be found in the initiatives of those around us. I've set mouse traps, cleaned siding, and fixed doorbells the past few months, so why couldn't I scrape the doorway leading into the garage, pull out the paint, and brighten up the side entry a little?

I suppose someday I'll have to trade this property for something smaller, but in the meantime, I want our home--my home--to be more than plaster and paint, I want it to be warm and inviting, a safe and nurturing space for all who cross the threshold, with room to sense God's presence and study His Word, to pray and write and laugh and cry. 

To grow.

So next time you're pulling' out the paint, remember the deeper purposes of home. And even when we have to downsize, we can take that part of it along with us.