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

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Lessons From the Let-Down

I sank into my favorite chair and took a deep breath. 

Photo by Julie Manwarren
What a week it had been! My sister flew in from Indiana. Two of my daughters and their little sons came in for the weekend. My book signing turned out to be a wonderful time of greeting friends from the community and area churches, some closely associated with my late husband, Barry. They came and they stayed, coffee in hand, seizing the opportunity to catch up with old friends and meet new ones. Afterward, the family gathered around my dining room table to sip soup and recount God's blessings as many took our story home with them that day

Photo by Julie Manwarren
On Monday evening, my sister, and I enjoyed our dad's famous chili, and together, watched old slides, once again hearing his navy stories and enjoying poses of us as little girls with very young parents. The next couple days we shared meals, raked up leaves (Dad's and mine), and enjoyed just being together until Wednesday evening, when Barb boarded a plane heading west and I led a Bible study on Chapters 11-14 of my book. 

On Thursday, I fulfilled my time in the dentist chair, ran to the Ronald McDonald House to present them with a check (proceeds from the book signing) and a copy of Penned Without Ink for their library . . .  then finally found my chair.


But I don't do let-downs well. 

By Sunday evening, my eyes were "gunky" (as my mother used to say), bloodshot, watery, swollen, and irritated with bags underneath. An uninvited case of conjunctivitis brought my go-go-go pace to a screeching halt. The side effects from the drops reduced me to sitting alone in my living room with the shades drawn, wearing sunglasses, and squinting to try to read blurry texts from my girls. 
Google Images

A let-down, indeed!

But in spite of all this, I wanted to listen . . . to listen to the still, small voice that often whispers truth at times like this. Here's what I hope to take away from this experience:
  • An even greater appreciation for Barry, whose eye issues never left him after the car crash. Again I remembered 2 Corinthians 4:18: "The things that are visible are temporal (brief and fleeting), but the things that are invisible are deathless and everlasting" (AMPC).
  • An increased sensitivity to those who suffer illness alone, who can't drive themselves to pick up what they need, who don't have someone present to talk things through.
  • An awareness that perhaps my life should include a little more down time. It's been a hectic eighteen months since Barry passed away. Maybe I need to make time to finish a quilt, read more, and have friends in more often.
  • A renewed realization of the fragility of life. James 4:13-16 came to mind, especially verse 15: "If the Lord is willing, we shall live and do this or that." All it takes is pink eye or some other where-did-this-come-from ailment. Or rolling fog. Or any number of "unexpecteds," and we again realize God's sovereign control and our human frailty.
  • A sense of comfort, knowing that God regards me with compassion, and nothing - not even my contagious eyes - could separate me from His love and grace (Romans 8:38, 39).
The meds are doing their jobs well. I am much better and oh-so-grateful to be on the other end of this week. 

So, when you're on the downside of a let-down, remember to listen for the whispers from the God who cares about all that happens to us.


Tuesday, November 1, 2016

A Way to Remember

So, what's the best way for you to remember? 

What do you do to remember to make that call, bring the chairs to your in-laws, or take the library books back? I'm a great one for making a list or placing a card with the task written in bold on the kitchen window sill or setting the timer. When I forget I find myself inconvenienced, annoyed, or just plain frustrated. You, too?!

To remember important events or places and to honor the people we love, we celebrate holidays, birthdays, and anniversaries. We visit cemeteries with carefully chosen epitaphs. We sponsor 5K runs in honor of a cause or in memory of a loved one. Even in biblical times, a pile of stones or any number of sacred objects reminded the ancients of certain lessons, lest they forget their heritage. When Jesus observed the Passover with His disciples, He instructed, "Do this to remember me."  

Last week, a small group gathered on a hillside behind a local church to plant a tree in memory of Barry. They wanted a tangible way to remember him . . . the humble, quiet man who contributed to their Bible study and nurtured in them an even deeper love for the Word of God.

We gathered at the assigned place as the tree expert from Corky's Greenhouse began to dig the hole, shoveling out rock and sod together. Once the Tulip Poplar was placed, we each poured a shovel full of dirt around it, then watched as the finishing touches brought stability to the ten foot tall sapling. 

We circled closer and each, in turn, thanked God for Barry and for all he had taught them and for this token that would remind them of the lessons learned around their study table. Tears slipped down my cheeks as I listened. After the last "Amen," the sun burst out from behind a cloud, warming faces and hearts together. 

I'll never forget this day . . . and all it represents. And I have a hunch that I'll be driving home this way more often . . . just to get another glimpse of Barry's tree . . . 

A wonderful way to remember, don't you think?!

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; 
but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. 

He is like a tree planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither.
In all he does, he prospers.
Psalm 1:1-3
Tulip Poplar Blossoms