“Granny”: A Woman That Continues to Leave Her Imprint Despite Her Absence

Some people leave an imprint on your soul that never leaves. Even if they do.

“Granny” was one of those people. I met her as a young adult dating her grandson. Immediately, I felt welcomed into her home and her life. Unbeknownst to me at the time, we would share some of the most sacred moments together.

Granny’s house symbolized her worldview. It served as a refuge or sanctuary from which her natural gifts of hospitality extended to others. The simplest comfort could be found in her cookie jar “hidden” on the top shelf in the lower kitchen cabinet next to the sink. Homemade oatmeal chocolate chip cookies were the usual staple found in the round tin container.

Sometimes the hospitality went beyond cookies. Food became a central part of community around her table.  Although family usually took their places in the chairs, a friend or neighbor often found their way too. Her meatloaf had its own reputation and it wasn’t just for the taste. https://stephaniejthompson.com/2018/01/17/why-eating-meatloaf-on-christmas-reminded-us-of-how-to-love-others/

One summer, I was blessed to join the lists of others who lived with her during seasons of transition in their lives. As my fiancee and I prepared to be life long partners, she said good-bye to hers. How do you thank someone for letting you enter one of the most vulnerable and painful rites of passage? I will never forget the lessons I learned about mourning, hope, and courage as we sat together on her kitchen floor that night.

None of us thought this woman would ever give in to her mortality. She served Meals on Wheels (was even nominated for Volunteer of the Year) until one month before her death at 97 years old. Yet, just as she did in life, she taught us lessons in death.  We were blessed to share these moments with her. Despite, the tendency to push thoughts of death away, she taught us how to embrace it. Her hope extended beyond the earthly realm.

I write this on her birthday-August 12. There’s much to miss about her. But we say “toodaloo” for now. We will see her someday and her legacy is forever imprinted in our being. Her hands continue to shape others, even if she is no longer here.

What a blessing it is to partake in it.

For more on her life, visit here: https://www.redbudwritersguild.com/simple-beauty-planted-a-lasting-legacy/

This post was written for the Five Minute Friday Writing Community. Come Join us! http://fiveminutefriday.com/

 

Advertisements

On Our Anniversary: Here’s to Continuing Our Story

There’s good reason fairy tale romances involve conflict.

The characters, even fictional, demonstrate their abilities to recognize and push through adversity. The story, even with its whimsical elements, connects with us.

We all fight villains in our relationships. Sometimes, the dark forces arise within ourselves. Circumstances of the past left unreconciled find themselves fighting for awareness as time proceeds. Other times, the antagonists appear unexpectedly. Their looming size and power seem undefeatable.

What fairy tales often dismiss is the difficulty involved in fighting the villains as two people, with different personalities, backgrounds, and emotional thresholds. The goal of marriage as the final resolution is deceiving.

Sometimes, the villains appear after the “I dos”

In reality, marriage is a radical concept. Two people commit to a lifetime of unity; putting aside the inherent natural selfish ambition for the sake of wanting the other’s best interest.  The vows are made without any knowledge of what’s in store further down the road.  You could argue it makes no sense.

But God knows that.

William Goldman writes in the Princess Bride (my husband’s favorite movie), “Love is many things, none of them logical.”

What does it mean to be an imitator of God to the other person in all circumstances? How does love ground us when the earth beneath our feet is shaking?

As my husband and I approach our 25th wedding anniversary on August 7th, the realities of marriage press upon us. While we have enjoyed some whimsical moments plucked right out of  classic romantic movies, much of our marriage has resembled that of Carl and Ellie in the movie “Up.”

So we cling, individually and together, to God’s love which first loved us. It flows through us and onto each other.

“My dear, dear friends, if God loved us like this, we certainly ought to love each other. No one has seen God, ever. But if we love one another, God dwells deeply within us, and his love becomes complete in us—perfect love!” 1 John 4:11-12

Here’s to continuing the story…

This post is written for the Five Minute Friday Writing Community. Come join us! http://fiveminutefriday.com/

 

 

 

 

Who is he? Encountering Jesus Through the Eyes of the Woman in Luke 8

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Who is he?

The moments of that day still linger in my mind. Some memories find themselves woven into your senses.

At times, I catch myself pushing back tinges of fear as I watch my daughter rest. Is she only sleeping?

How did deep despair and overflowing hope meet in one day?

I can never forget watching my daughter’s life slip away before my eyes. And realizing I was helpless to stop it.

I had comforted friends in their grief after losing a child. My heart broke with theirs. They bore a pain that appeared inconsolable. At least by anything on this earth. I, too questioned how one walks forward when one’s reason for living is stripped away.

But the initial sting to my soul as I shared in their pain eventually diminished.

Until the day I watched my daughter’s life gradually flow out of her body. Her breathing labored; the tone of her skin fading. Watching your child suffer draws out a fierce desire for control that previously lied dormant.

How can a mother not save her own child?

News about her illness quickly spread. My friends sat with me as I had with others.

But it was different being on the other side.

We prayed for God to grant healing. People tried to sustain my body with food. But I couldn’t eat. Worry had consumed my appetite. My concern wasn’t for me. It was for her. I had never tasted desperation like this.

Someone save her!

In the midst of keeping watch over my daughter, the commotion outside caught my attention. As scheduled, Jesus had arrived in our town as was expected. But, in the midst of my crisis, I had forgotten about it. I wasn’t quite sure what I believed about his identity. However, stories of his healing touch were many. The timing was ironic. Perhaps he could do something. It appeared hope was out of our hands.

Jesus, save her!

Jairus quickly ran to find him. I was certain that Jairus’ position would assure a prompt response from Jesus.

But it didn’t. In fact, he didn’t come right away. And neither did Jairus.

Although my friends surrounded me, I felt abandoned. By my husband. By Jesus.

What was more important than healing a child?

My child took her last breath. While we waited.

The disappointment erupted out of my soul. I wailed. My body felt numb. I remember pinching myself to make sure this wasn’t a bad dream. The tears began welling; eventually flooding into a forceful stream down my face. A loud high pitched wail made its way up through my body and out my mouth.

Never had I felt such despair.

As the world appeared to spin around me, someone ran out to tell Jairus.

Finally, he entered. My mind struggled with what to do. Part of me wanted to collapse in his arms. Yet, I felt betrayed. I watched my child die without him.

But I paused when I realized he had not arrived alone. A few others accompanied him; including Jesus.

Did he not hear that our daughter had died?

I won’t lie. Anger began building in my heart as I spotted him. I felt betrayed. Why was our daughter not worthy of healing? What reason did he have for showing up after her death?

But then Jesus spoke. With an authority and a calmness I had not witnessed in anyone else.

Stop Wailing,” he commanded.

I did not understand. I just lost my daughter! We were grieving. Yet, his voice beckoned obedience.

He continued. “She is not dead. She is asleep.”

What?!

His words made no sense. How were we supposed to believe that she was only sleeping?

He walked over to her and took her hand. The same limp one I had held. And he commanded her to get up. I stared in amazement at what I witnessed. Her eyes opened, and she stood up!

Who is he?

I grabbed her hand. The one that had felt clammy and lacked any presence of life earlier. This time her fingers, warm with the blood pulsing through them, bent around mine. I watched her breathe; her chest rising up and down. My girl was alive!

How do you grasp that reality?

Jesus saved my child from death! I couldn’t wait to tell others what I witnessed.

However, Jesus quickly ordered us not to share.

It didn’t make sense.

But earlier he didn’t make sense either. Yet he spoke and acted with an authority that commanded trust. It was unlike anything I have seen from anyone on this earth.

Jesus didn’t just save my daughter. In a sense, he saved me as well.Who is he? 

This post is inspired by the account found in Luke 8:40-56.

Thirteen Years Flew by in a Blink But God Was Aware of it All

 

 

I just wanted a peek.

As I pushed my toddler in his stroller around our new neighborhood, I noticed a crowded parking lot at the elementary school. On a Saturday, what goings-on would beckon kids to go to school? Being curious, we navigated toward the doors.

Truthfully, part of me felt a tinge of excitement that I found a reason to peek inside the place where my son would eventually attend school. Not yet, of course. Still a few years off. But, I could catch a glimpse of the next milestone.

I opened the door and gazed around. The PTA fun fair was taking place. So this is what it looks like.  I took it all in. The energy. The sight of children scampering between friends. The brightly colored trim on the painted cement walls. The inspiring slogans that drew my eyes to the central hallway leading to the classrooms.

I saw the desire in his eyes to join the community. But we didn’t. He wasn’t ready and neither was I. I just wanted a peek. Steering the stroller in a u-turn, we made our way back out the door.

It feels like that moment happened recently. But it didn’t. In fact, our peek happened 18 years ago. He attended that school. And the intermediate school. And the junior high. And high school.

Thirteen years of school (plus two years of community college) done in a blink.

How did that happen?

Every parent reflects on the twilight zone moments of parenting. How do the days appear so long and the years short?  How do you find yourself surprised by the quick pace of scheduling the rituals of senior year when you have known about them coming for nearly thirteen years?

Finding peace in that tension between enjoying a peek and trying to be fully prepared for the transitions in your child’s life can be a challenge. Yet, comfort can be found in the reminder that our children are not ours completely. God is fully aware of who they are and where they need to go. We are blessed to help steer them and get peeks into those milestones along the way.

Even Mary was aware of her role.

So he went back to Nazareth with them, and lived obediently with them. His mother held these things dearly, deep within herself. And Jesus matured, growing up in both body and spirit, blessed by both God and people.”  Luke 2:51-52.

I will be thankful for the peeks; finding comfort that God sees the whole view.

This post was written for the Five Minute Friday Writing Community. Come join us! http://fiveminutefriday.com/

 

 

 

 

 

How Can We Help Other Sheep Find the Way to the Shepherd?

“When he looked out over the crowds, his heart broke. So confused and aimless they were, like sheep with no shepherd.” (Matthew 9:36).

Truthfully, doesn’t that describe all of us?

We all set our eyes on something that we think will bring us fulfillment. The dream job, children, the perfect relationship, the padded bank account. Sometimes, the dream isn’t even extravagant. It’s simply believing that something in particular will be the “magic” pill that will fulfill us-no more debt, affirmation that we have value, a restored relationship, an apology.

The problem is that we follow the wrong path. We may find short term fulfillment along the way but then what?

As humans, we all are seeking a shepherd. Even if we don’t know that’s what we need.

How do we see people?  Do we see each others though Jesus lens?

In our digital group specific world, it becomes all too easy to compartmentalize those in our spheres.  Do we see those with whom we differ or disagree as “them” or fellow sheep?

Jesus wants his sheep to find him.

Jesus says this in John 10: “8-9 I’ll be explicit, then. I am the Gate for the sheep. All those others are up to no good—sheep stealers, every one of them. But the sheep didn’t listen to them. I am the Gate. Anyone who goes through me will be cared for—will freely go in and out, and find pasture.

Pastor Scotty Smith writes, “Our greatest need today is the gospel… not being understood or having people “get us”; not being vindicated or appreciated; not having more money or less stress; not having children that make us proud or a spouse that loves us well; not a different body or a different job.”

How do we help other sheep find the way?

Lost people are everywhere. This week, as you go about your days, pray for God to open up your senses. Practice finding those opportunities and engage. Practice being open to God interrupting your agenda.

As humans, we all are seeking a shepherd. Even if we don’t know that’s what we need.  May we enter the pasture show where he is found.

This post is written for the Five Minute Friday Writing Community. Come join us! http://fiveminutefriday.com/

 

 

Why I Am Encouraged by David to Fight My Goliath

He taunts me.

The Goliath that stands before me.

Oh he knows whose I am and the army that surrounds me. But he doesn’t care. He knows that one simple stone of fear cast my way could paralyze my senses.

His voice has threatened my security in days past.  I have responded by resisting his efforts to bring me down. But recently, remembering the source of my power and identity has been challenging. Repeatedly, he has crossed my path and I am tired of fighting him. My body holds the tension of stiff muscles and a cautious mind.

What if he appears again?

The size of my Goliath appears daunting. From an earthly perspective, I appear as a grasshopper to his massive size. With what resources could I possibly defeat him?

His appearance morphs. Sometimes, he is disguised as financial difficulties. Other moments, he pops up as expectations or disappointment. Illness, both physical and mental have resembled him. And then when he really wants to wield power, he looks like guilt.

But what all encounters have in common is the threat to hold me captive in fear. To keep my eyes focused on the problem and not my power. When that happens, I lose hope. My throat tightens. My chest feels heavy. My arms feel paralyzed.

How did David do it?

“The Israelites, to a man, fell back the moment they saw the giant—totally frightened. The talk among the troops was, “Have you ever seen anything like this, this man openly and defiantly challenging Israel?”

David names what he sees. ““Who does he think he is, anyway, this uncircumcised Philistine, taunting the armies of God-Alive?” (1 Samuel 17:26)

Reality check: Goliath is not as powerful as he appears. His strength lies in intimidation; from outside not within.

.David is reminded that God is enough.

God, who delivered me from the teeth of the lion and the claws of the bear, will deliver me from this Philistine.” (1 Samuel 17:36)

God reminds me of previous encounters with him.  He is enough

David was fit with the assumed armor and weapons that others believed would help him in the battle. However, in his complete faith, refused what was offered to him, “I can’t even move with all this stuff on me. I’m not used to this.” And he took it all off.” The weapons the world offers to me look enticing but they are not what God desires for me to use.

David looked his Goliath in the face.

So must I.

“David answered, “You come at me with sword and spear and battle-ax. I come at you in the name of God-of-the-Angel-Armies, the God of Israel’s troops, whom you curse and mock. This very day God is handing you over to me.” (1 Samuel 17:45-46)

As I look my current form of Goliath in the face, I am choosing to recognize the armor I bear. It’s the same one that David chose: God’s word; living and active.

11-14 This commandment that I’m commanding you today isn’t too much for you, it’s not out of your reach. It’s not on a high mountain—you don’t have to get mountaineers to climb the peak and bring it down to your level and explain it before you can live it. And it’s not across the ocean—you don’t have to send sailors out to get it, bring it back, and then explain it before you can live it. No. The word is right here and now—as near as the tongue in your mouth, as near as the heart in your chest. Just do it!” (Deut. 30:11-14)

We are not guaranteed a battle free life. But we are assured we are not alone as we fight. When we ask for God’s help, we, like David show others where hope is found.

“…the whole earth will know that there’s an extraordinary God in Israel.” (1Samuel 17:46)

How can Goliath win?

 

 

Why I’m Learning to Leave Things Undone

 

I’m learning that to be more like Jesus I have to do less.

It’s a hard lesson. Painfully so. Because recognizing that I can’t complete everything on my agenda brings feelings of frustration and disappointment. Truthfully, I must ask myself, “Whose agenda am I trying to accomplish?”

My personality is such that I set high aspirations. I love connecting with people. In addition, I naturally gravitate toward those in my sphere who are struggling.  The pull to check-in regularly through some form of contact is hard to resist. Guilt surfaces.

In my world, so much calls to be done. I have a hard time prioritizing because it all seems urgent.

What would happen if I didn’t do it all?

That question pierces my soul because I know the answer.

God will meet the needs.

My mind quickly jumps to the scriptural reminder that Jesus chose not to do it all.

35 In the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed. 36 And Simon and his companions hunted for him. (Mark 1:35-36)

Not everyone was healed. The disciples had to solve their own problems. The voices calling out looking for him never received a response.

God met the needs.

Katie Reid, in her new book, “Made Like Martha,” writes, “When I act as if it’s all up to me, I elevate my doer’s heart above my dependence on the One who is not served by human hands.”

ouch

“I forget that He is the One who gives life and breath and everything else…..His divine power gives me everything I need for life and godliness.”

God knows the needs. And how to meet them. Maybe it’s through me. But maybe it’s not.

I am learning to attune my ear to the voice of God telling me what the “one thing” is.  Doing that brings liberation.  Abundant life even.

Because I’m learning that being more like Jesus involves less of “me.”

This post was written for the Five Minute Friday Writing Community. Come join us! http://fiveminutefriday.com/