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Sunday grace

She sat next to me at our table and asked with intense eyes that said she really wanted to know: “How can I pray for you?”

I could barely choke out the words, “Pray for endurance and strength.” It was all I could say. I’ve been weary in the well-doing.

Life can beat us up sometimes, knock us down and begin the count.

God sees and He knows what we need. He is the completely sufficient One who supplies all.

God gives us one another, a friend to halt the count long enough to jump in the fray and give us a helping hand so we can stand erect again.

Her sincere prayer at the end of our visit was enough to bring me to tears. I heard her call our names to our Father in Heaven, talking to Him as she would a friend. For she is a friend of God.

We need each other. God gives what God enjoys. Relationship.

On earth it is less than perfect with our personality conflicts and self-centered ways, but it is still the gift of One who provides for emotional needs as well as physical ones. He gives us each other.

For when one falls down, another can help her get up, dust off the dirt, bind up the wound, look into her eyes and say “You can make it with God’s strength. Let’s walk together for a while.”

Pity the one who has no one to help her up.

Strength for the journey sometimes comes through the hand and a prayer of a friend.

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. — Galatians 6:9, NIV

Sunday grace.

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The memento box and Thanksgiving

I’ve had a box in the garage for a long time. When I stored it away, I wrote on the box an identifying mark, MEMENTOS. I’ve added to the box through the years.

memento – 1. something that reminds one of past events; souvenir (thefreedictionary.com)

Perhaps some of you will understand. I’m a saver, a keeper of memories. Often I keep things too long and end up with a banker’s box full of cards, letters, notes, etc. that were just too precious to throw out at the time.

So I tossed them in a box. And now it’s filled to the brim.

During my semi-annual clean-out-the-garage day, I determined I really should go through the box of mementos. I would look at the things saved one more time and throw them away. After all, one can only keep so much stuff.

My children will thank me one day.

As I am going through each item and reading hand-written messages, I travel back in time. There are birthday cards, valentines, and thank you’s, the happy sentiments with sweet messages of endearment. I smile as I read.

Then there are the other messages, ones sent during sickness, operations, long months of illness, and seasons of tribulation common to us all. These take me back to a different occasion, the difficult times when the prayers of others held up my hands during the conflict and the struggle.

I linger over the handwritten words, remember each precious individual who took time to choose a card, write their thoughts, address and stamp the envelope and mail it to the Wright House. I consider the effort and cost.

I am reasonably addicted to the quick email, the Facebook message, or the text sent on the run. I appreciate the quick way of notification and staying in touch. Often those messages convey appreciation and care.I like sending and receiving those fast and efficient communications. But I can quickly loose them as the phone memory gets full or other messages take their places in chronological order.

So to be able to read again the thoughts of those who cared enough to send their very best, I am touched anew by their demonstration of love.

I chuckle at some of the cards. One particular couple sent Sweet William get-well cards regularly during the years of suffering with his knee. So often they were funny quips with the wife’s dry wit of humor thrown in for extra emphasis. We needed a reason to laugh. And so I do laugh again as I re-read them.

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There are notes from piano students now grown up and pursuing adult endeavors. The “thank-you” for being a good teacher from young students is rewarding.

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Some of the cards were from the grandchildren when they were small, their childish scrawl and penmanship evident of their different ages. Those unstructured letters spell more than words. It took effort for those tiny hands to hold pencils and crayons and write a few simple words or draw pictures. They are love to me.

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I read beautiful prose from my daughter-in-love, her artful way of using language. Short notes written in my one and only son’s familiar script are equally dear.

Sweet William’s cards were always well-chosen, him looking for the perfect printed words that conveyed what his heart wanted to say.

A faithful friend’s remembrance of me shows up in the annual birthday greeting. Another friend wrote a note on half of a card, making it a post card. I love that about her. She and I like to re-purpose, re-use, and as she wrote “re-mail.”

I discovered a copy of a nomination for Mother of the Year written by my one and only son when he was a teenager. I cherish his tender words even now.

I dug down deep into the bottom of the box looking for the oldest of the contents. The treasure hunt produced the funeral book when my mother died over 30 years ago. It contains a record of people who paid their last respects, people who loved my mother dearly. Inside the book was a poem by Martha Snell Nicholson that was read at mother’s funeral. I have wondered where that poem went, and it was pure delight to find it.

This isn’t death – It’s glory! It is not dark – It’s light!
It isn’t stumbling, groping, or even faith – It’s sight!
This isn’t grief – It’s having my last tear wiped away;
It’s sunrise – It’s the morning of my eternal day!

As I read again this treasured poem, I am aware that some who wrote me have died. They also have seen their eternal day.  At 30 years past, I am nearer mine, and it does not seem fearsome at all but pure glory.

I’ve just touched the surface of the box of Mementos. This is going to take a while, because I simply must read each card again.

I consider these people represented by saved mementos, some who came into my life for a season, and others who came to stay. Both are vital to us as human beings. Relationship is the gift God offered in Eden and once again at the cross.

As Thanksgiving week implores me to remember my blessings, I count my friends and relations. I am blessed indeed to have people who care about and love me. I am equally blessed to be able to reciprocate that love.

Jesus told his disciples, “I have called you friends.”

Friends walk with us in this journey of life. They help us carry our burdens. They laugh with us, cry with us, pray for us, and sit in silence with us when there are no words. Without them we would be poor indeed.

I am thankful for God’s gift of people. They show me how to love.

 

Investing for the future

Since my one-handed typing is slow and tedious like everything I do these days, I want to share some places I visit that often lift my eyes and heart upward.

This one from Proverbs 31 Ministry is on point. We may not be able to change the world but we can influence one person. Ask God who your person is and then start investing for the future.

Hope you enjoy . . .

THE QUIET IMPACT OF ONE WOMAN

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may ending

i had a little hand surgery this week. i say little because it seems small in comparison to the many procedures sweet william has endured and the serious issues facing people for whom we pray. but actually it was a big deal to me, and i was a bit wimpy with my brave face on.

one-handed typing is a challenge. i won’t post a picture of my bandaged appendage. you’re welcome.

little things are difficult, like taking off the cap of my medicine bottle and snapping the leash to maisie’s collar.

the entire week felt like a plan coming together. the house got cleaned, the laundry caught up, maisie had a bath after rolling in something stinky, and i finished piano lessons with my students in preparation for taking off the next month.

my neighbor offered help walking maisie, and a friend brought us dinner. (and all of us rescued maisie when she slipped out of her harness and ran the neighborhood, landing hot and panting in a marshy puddle. second bath in three days.)

sweet william is doing his best to care for me, opening those pesky containers and fixing coffee.

i say all that (and type without caps because it’s just hard and taking a ridiculously long time) because i may not be posting much in the next couple of weeks. i plan on taking care of peggy this time around. i don’t always do that well. i have pressed on and been the “strong one” enough times. i’ve dried my tears and walked the hard road alone occasionally. i’m not sorry i did. but this time i need to practice self-care which i am learning is not selfish but necessary from time to time.

the month of may will end with a quite weekend for us at the wright house. there are library movies and books in a basket, frozen meals and sandwich fixings in the fridge, clean clothes in the dresser drawers.

there will be walks down our lane with the honking of geese, the sweet smell of honeysuckle, the sun on our faces.

i will rest and recuperate. i will give thanks to God who made these bodies to heal themselves, for refined medical procedures and kind personnel, for the one good hand that carries the load for a few weeks, for sweet william brewing a strong pot of coffee and asking what he  can do to help, and for friends and family who care enough to call, to text, to come, to bring food.

i am blessed beyond measure. even on my wimpiest day.

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Pooh Bear wisdom

There is a lot of wisdom in the simple brain of a bear called Pooh.

A little bit of it says, “You comfort me as I do you. Aren’t you glad that we make two?

The wise man Solomon said, “Two are better than one,” and “It’s better to have a partner than go it alone. . . . And if one falls down, the other helps.”

And I say, isn’t it the truth?

When I am sad and someone shares my burden, it lightens it somehow. And when I am happy and someone is there to celebrate with me, it doubles the blessing.  Isn’t that rather incredible?

Friendships are more of a blessing than houses and lands, better than bank accounts and retirement benefits. They require time to cultivate, like a garden of flowers, but the reaping brings fragrance and beauty and delight.

Friends deserve grace for they grace us with a kind of commitment not found in contracts. They give themselves. They offer who they are. And are we not blessed by their giving?

I treasure my friends. I wonder if they know that? They are the ones with whom I can talk openly, be very honest and real and know they will love me anyway. They listen with their hearts when my words come out jumbled.

When they say they will pray for me, they mean it. They are OK if I cry. They are often the ones throwing out the lifeline that keeps me afloat when the troubled sea threatens to overwhelm me.

I am grateful for them. They are comforting like a cozy blanket on a chilled evening.

Let me be a good friend in return. Let me love lavishly. Let me not be offended easily. Let me forgive quickly and ask for forgiveness even quicker. Let me listen more and talk less. Let me see through the words to the soul. Let me pray when I promise I will.

Let me be as good a friend as you are to me.

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At Bethany

There are some places where you just feel at home.

Scripture suggests Jesus visited Bethany on a number of occasions, and I wonder if He didn’t feel quite at home among friends – Martha, Mary, and Lazarus.

There is something about their interactions and conversations that suggest the nature of the friendship they shared.  Martha confronted Jesus with her frustration about doing all the work by herself.  Both sisters honestly questioned why He didn’t come when they sent word to Him about Lazarus being so sick.  Lazarus sat at the table with Him more than once.  Martha confessed to Jesus that she believed He was the messiah.

There is honesty in their relationship with the Son of God.

During Jesus last week before the crucifixion, He was in Bethany.  Matthew, Mark and John give their perspective of a story that many commentators agree is the same scene.  A dinner.  A woman.  And a jar of expensive ointment.

Mary’s gift of her perfume and the anointing of Jesus’ head and feet is extravagant worship.  It was misunderstood and criticized by those who witnessed it.  But it did not deter her from giving her best.

The story compels me to search my own heart, to examine my own worship.

In this story, Martha is serving, again.  It’s her gift.  Let’s not be too hard on her for the other time she let her to-do-list get the best of her.  I’ve been there.  The fact is she was good at hospitality, and Jesus enjoyed the benefits and blessing of being in her home.

May I offer such a welcome to others.

And Lazarus?  I wonder if he and Jesus shared secrets about the other world that only one who has been there and come back could understand.

God placed great value on relationship.    In the garden of Eden.  In the calling of Abraham.  In His face-to-face conversations with Moses.  In His faithful love to Israel.  In the sending of His Son.

At Bethany, Jesus was among friends.  They would warm Him and offer themselves and their gifts, as varied as they were.

Perhaps they helped Him face the days ahead, the days of sorrow.  Perhaps they just loved Him.

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Daily joy

I messaged a friend last night that I’d been a little under the weather, and then commented what an odd statement that was.  So I looked up the actual meaning of the phrase.  It can mean a little ill or a little drunk.  Being a teetotaler my whole life, maybe I should look for another apt description of the last few days of being a little ill.  I often remind myself to be careful of using the common sayings I’ve heard all my life.  Once I was speaking to a group and used one such saying, completely ignorant of its meaning.  A relative told me later what it’s origin was and I was embarrassed for days, maybe weeks.  I still remember it with chagrin.

flagsI missed getting to post about Veteran’s Day.  And I wanted to give honor where honor is due.  The men and women in our armed services deserve my thanks on more than just one day in November.  I remember my dad who served in World Word II, the stories he told of God’s very real presence in battle conditions.  There are friends my own age who served during a very unpopular war when the riots in the streets of our own country shared as much news time as did events in Viet Nam.

There is the man who used to be a boy in my Sunday school class; we wrote letters during his military service.  I once worked with someone preparing to be an army chaplain.  I found out he carried a gun to work, and somehow that made me feel safe.

And then there was the young soldier of a young wife who gave his all on the battlefield.  Sweet William and I got the call that every family dreads.  We shared as much as we could the tremendous loss this family endured.

I wanted to say “thanks” to them and all who serve and make my life better.

But it is Friday now, the week mostly gone.  I’ve had to cancel appointments and piano lessons because I was not up to venturing out and didn’t want to spread my germs.  My calendar and to do list have been rearranged and rescheduled.

In spite of my less than perky self, there has been joy along the way.  I started a quilt project with the encouragement of friends who offered instruction.  It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a long time but lacked the courage to begin.

I had coffee with a friend one morning.  It had been too long since we had seen each other.   Our conversation was full of catching up.  There was so much we had to say to each other.  We laughed and teared up and planned on more time together.

Sweet William has been tender during my discomfort, helping out when he could, staying close and spending time with me while I vegetated on the couch.  He watched Hallmark movies with me without complaint.

There was an email from someone dear who said kind things and was thankful for our friendship.  And I think I am the one who is blessed.

Some young friends came today to help with a project that was too much for us.   Volunteers from Habitat for Humanity had scheduled to pick up some building supplies we no longer needed.  Sweet William and I wondered how it was all going to happen with the two of us not being a good whole right now.  Our young, strong friends were an answer to prayer.

During this week of not feeling so well, I’ve had a warm house and warm pajamas, over-the-counter meds to relieve my discomfort and a honey-vinegar mixture for my cough, texts saying I was being prayed for, and people.  It’s the people who bring so much to my life.

God’s Word has been sweet, as always.  In His presence is fullness of joy.  He is good even on the worst days.

His blessings fell like droplets of dew each morning, even during a week like this.  And that is reason for joy.