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Choices, Decisions, and Faith, Oh My! The Journey Begins…

It had been a tough week. Emotionally drained, I dragged myself through each day! I felt disconnected, standing on the outside of myself going through the motions. It was a struggle to maintain any kind of momentum! I was caught up in the doldrums and I had no energy to stir anything up! Each morning I crawled out of bed in weary anticipation of the same kind of day.

But Sunday, Oh Sunday invited me into the new week with a full blown praise party in my car on my way to church. It was triggered by one nonsensical word spoken by a pastor in a service that was live streamed. That one word, “whoop,” sent me into a paroxysm of praise! I needed that moment. It was my moment of recovery but I still was not where I needed to be spiritually.

I had allowed my emotions to trump my faith. I was in fact dragging my faith behind me as I allowed my emotions to take the lead which led to the inevitable result, malaise and doldrums. I looked forward to nothing. I was excited about nothing. I wanted nothing. I embraced nothing. I expected nothing.

Then I picked up a flash drive onto which I had loaded some writings years ago. I inserted the drive into my computer, clicked and opened it. I immediately went to the folder labeled, “Gern,” my code word for Journal in case someone got into my computer and happened to come across it (as if their curiosity wouldn’t be piqued by this weird word). “I thought I knew what the journal contained and to some extent I did but I was not prepared for the rawness of the text, the pain and passion between each line. As I read those thirteen year old words, I had to ask myself, “Have you ever felt this way about the Lord?”

It was a revelation that my heart best so strongly for a person while those same kind of heartbeats for God were often moment based and momentary rather than lifestyle laced.

From time to time, when I am in my car, I listen to a Christian radio station that plays hymns in different slots of time. In the week following my week of the doldrums, I was driving and I tuned in to that station. A hymn played that I had not heard in years,‘I’d rather have Jesus.” At first I was locked in to the beauty of the arrangement and the singers. Then the question came to me, when was the last time I put Jesus first in everything rather than giving Him first place in a few things? How often have I intentionally surrendered the reins of my life to Him in all things?

I read the book, “in His Steps,” some years ago. I like the premise of what would Jesus do and tried to emulate the concept but as with all trends, that soon passed as a habit. The hymn challenged me to institute a “I’d rather have Jesus” mindset in all things, as best I could in this fragile frame of dust.

My journey begins now. When I reach out to try and hold on to people and stuff; when I try to control circumstances, when I put It or Them before Him, I will give it my all to remember, “I’d rather have Jesus.”

63 O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you;
my soul thirsts for you;
my flesh faints for you,
as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
2 So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary,
beholding your power and glory.
3 Because your steadfast love is better than life,
my lips will praise you.
4 So I will bless you as long as I live;
in your name I will lift up my hands.
5 My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food,
and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips,
6 when I remember you upon my bed,
and meditate on you in the watches of the night;
7 for you have been my help,
and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy.
8 My soul clings to you;
your right hand upholds me.

“I’d Rather Have Jesus”
Rhea Muller
George Beverly Shea

I’d rather have Jesus than silver or gold
I’d rather be His than have riches untold
I’d rather have Jesus than houses or land
I’d rather be led by His nail-pierced hand

Than to be the king of a vast domain or be held in sins dread sway
I’d rather have Jesus than anything
This world affords today

I’d rather have Jesus than vain applause
I’d rather be faithful to His dear cause
I’d rather have Jesus than worldwide fame
I’d rather be true to His holy name

Than to be the king of a vast domain or be held in sins dread sway
I’d rather have Jesus than anything
This world affords

I CRIED TODAY!

 

Today is “National Widows Day”

And

I cried today

But

I did not cry because I am a widow

Even though I am a widow

But

I did not cry today

Because he is no longer present

I cried today

Because some people took the time to say,

“You are not forgotten”

I did not know that tender place existed

Until

“You are not forgotten”

It is so easy for widows to be lost in the fog of grief

I do not mean a widow loses her way because of her grief

Though this is possible

The journey on the path of the new normal can be quite circuitous

Fraught with fear of the unknown

Strengths to be discovered

Obstacles to overcome

Courage to be cultivated

But this is not what I mean

When I say a widow is often shrouded in the fog of grief

I mean too often others lose sight of her because of her grief

Unable to relate to the loss

Or her struggle in the loss

They lose sight of her because of her grief

Familiar voices no longer call out to her

Familiar faces fade away

Memories are sometimes her only recourse

But they too are painful reminders

Of forced isolation

That which is too often a part of mourning

Others try to construct a timeline

For her grief

As though they know what that timeline should be

For her grief

Married friends

Challenged by her singleness

Begin to exclude rather than include

They do not realize

That “single” only means to the widow

A double bed that now only makes room for one

The spouse’s name is no longer spoken

Unless she speaks it

The stories she so treasures

No longer told

Unless she tells them to herself

It’s the widow’s walk without the wail

Or a mournful claque

To encourage the grief over loss

The supportive recognition of her sorrow

Dissipates

After “ashes to ashes, dust to dust”

She is alone

Shrouded in her grief

As though she was buried

With her husband

“Donna, you are not forgotten”

Yeah, I cried today

For additional information about “Widow Wednesday:” http://widowwednesday.com/national-widows-day/

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WHATEVER HAPPENED TO…

Sometimes posts of people I knew back in the day pop up on my Facebook page

Sometimes I scroll through Facebook pages of people I knew back in the day

Recognize faces in captured photographic moments

People I no longer see, have not spoken to in ages

This is not intentional

It is just the nature of the beast

Out of sight, out of mind

It occurs to me that I have become one of those people

You know

Like those former celebrities who no longer occupy the limelight

And people wonder

“Whatever happened to?”

Yeah, I have become one of the misplaced

People who I saw on a regular basis

People with whom I laughed and cried

People with whom I dined and traveled

I no longer see or talk to

It is the nature of the beast

To be forgotten as memory fades

And connections dissolve

It’s just as well

Especially since I am no longer that Donna

They probably wouldn’t recognize me anyway

Which is just as well

Because if they had really known me back then

They would not have let me get away

So easily

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I’m Still Here!

 

 

 

MY HEART, HER HOME

I was going through some old pictures last week when I came across one I had not seen in some time.

Someone decided to bend the top portion, perhaps to put into a wallet, I don’t know.

I thought, “I will have to get it restored because of that crease that runs right through the  face of the person in the photo.”

It is a picture of my grandmother. She died in 1964. It is the only picture I have of her, full body.

I loved my grandmother. I still think of her often. My sister and I lived with my grandparents for three years.

It was the country and the living was neither easy (for them) or fancy.

I loved it, was not even mindful of what they did not have.

I just loved being there, being with them.

Well, more my grandmother more than my grandfather who was rather taciturn and rarely interacted at any length with us kids.

My grandmother was not beautiful. She was not pretty. I’m not sure you would even call her handsome.

I see that now. I did not see that then.

I only saw her, only heard her laughter, enjoyed the food she cooked, especially the steak and gravy with rice or those fat red sausages served for Sunday breakfast after Grandpa’s Saturday trip to the  market.

They lived in the country with very few modern conveniences.

No indoor plumbing, no electricity or gas, chickens on the yard, wood stoves, tin roof, well water.

I do not remember ever being bored.

This picture takes me home.

After all, home is where the heart is.

All these years later, my heart is still her home!

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MONDAY MUSINGS: Stuck In The Middle Again

I met Grace and Frankie last year.

Septuagenarians coping with a new normal.

Divorcees who never expected three score and ten to include a roommate and dislocation from all that once was.

I have watched their lives unfold.

I have laughed with them.

I have cried with them.

I have been angry with them, at them and for them.

I have grown to love them as friends and contemporaries.

I have never met them.

You see, “Grace and Frankie” is the name of a Netflix series I discovered last year.

Played by Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin, the Anal Waspy Socialite and the Free Spirited Jewish Hippy Bohemian (who are radiant in these roles), they are an unlikely coupling as roommates but they find themselves having to run in place on the same track as they initially cast side-eye at one another.

Their husbands, soon to be ex-husbands, announce to them (around a restaurant table to waylay a scene, the husbands hope) that they are in love with each other, have engaged in an affair with one another for twenty years and now that they can, they want to get married…to each other.

Sayonara life as the ladies once knew and lived and loved.

Sayonara to a future filled with retirement and grandbabies and exotic trips around the world.

Sayonara yesterday, hello uncertainty.

I feel their pain, their sense of loss, their severed identity.

The ex-husbands move on with life as usual with the desired partner and no drastic unexpected changes (well, maybe one).

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Grace and Frankie have to figure out exactly what is “moving on.”

This is not an attempt to review the series, and I suppose some of the material should be problematic for me, but it isn’t.

Instead, I want to talk about the “lossness” with which the women struggle, loss that is palpable throughout each episode.

Who wants to be seventy years old having to figure out the rest of their life, however long that life might be?

How do you pursue purpose at a stage in life when you thought you had accomplished pretty much all you were going to accomplish by that stage of the game?

Grace and Frankie stumble and fall, regain their equilibrium to move awkwardly forward like a blind person in a unknown space.

They have to learn to walk again, 69 years later, and they have to learn how to negotiate their own way through the rest of their life without fear hobbling their stride!

Eventually, they become fearless and fierce in pursuit of their own voice.

Real life Graces and Frankies take note.

Sometimes the end really is the beginning

I see you, Grace and Frankie  I see you!

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MONDAY MUSINGS: Afterwords

She walked into the church on Easter Sunday morning dressed in a light blue “church” suit and a silver ornate hat on her head. I watched her from across the room and as she walked to her seat, I noted how she stood out against a backdrop of Sunday casual.

I grew up in the era when clothes had a category. There were work clothes, school clothes, play clothes, church clothes. On special occasions there were party clothes, Easter clothes, Christmas clothes.

Church clothes were aka Sunday Best and everyone, kids to adults, wore their Sunday Best every Sunday. Often, Sunday Best was the same outfit every Sunday, but it was always pristine, freshly cleaned and ironed.

I think about those days in light of the casual ambience of today. “Come as you are,” almost looks like “ready-roll.” For those of you not familiar with this term, it means an individual rolls out of bed and rolls out into the world just as they are, “ready-roll.”

Church wear is pretty much casual wear these days and I get it. Following Christ has nothing to do with the clothes one wears into the sanctuary. Fellowship with the saints is more about the blood of Christ than the red sole of a shoe.

But, my Sunday observation got me to thinking. Here are my thoughts, my “Afterwords:”

Back in those days when there were church clothes and work clothes, my grandparents and parents needed that distinction. The work week for them was tedious and back bending. More often than not, they had no authority, no power. They were subject to the whims of the system that defined how they could be, where they could be and who they should be. Those work clothes reminded them of just how powerless they were in a world that demanded so much of them as it did its best to drain them of value and self respect.

But, Oh, those church clothes! Those church clothes, that Sunday Best ensemble, welcomed them with open arms. Those clothes reminded them of sanctuary, that place where they could celebrate one another and rejoice in the presence of a God who loved them beyond their reality. Those church clothes strode proudly into a place that was 100% their own.

Those church clothes, plain and simple, were worn with a regal posture as the saints greeted one another before walking into a house whose doors were always open to them. Hats were crowns worn on heads held high in the presence of the King of Kings.

I never saw my grandfather in anything other than a blue suit jacket, a khaki shirt and khaki pants on Sundays. But, dressed in his Sunday best, he was the superintendent of the church, and in that place he was that intelligent, self-taught, learned man he always was.

His work clothes were farm laborer clothes, but his Sunday clothes spoke to who he really was from the inside out. His Sunday clothes kept him sane and insulated from the wretched demands of those work clothes. His Sunday Best was his best and in them he was always at his best!

No, clothes don’t seem to have categories anymore. But, for some of us, those yesterday clothes categories remind us of just how far we have come by faith!

I must remember this the next time I see someone dressed in their Sunday Best!

 

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Photograph from the book CROWNS.

TUESDAY THOUGHTS: Praying On Purpose

It was supposed to be just the one prayer

A single thought that demanded release

“I pray today

for the woman”

Just one thought

I thought

But each day

Thoughts

Kept returning

Morphed into prayers

Day after day after day after day

“I pray today

for the woman”

Unrelenting

Focused Concern

For a woman

Unknown

Unseen

By me

But apparently

Known

And

Seen

By God

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“I Pray Today. . .”