Thursday, March 28, 2013

Child's Play

Last week my husband's grandma died and all five of us made the trek to Marion, Indiana for the visitation and funeral.  The services were held at the same funeral home they had used for his grandpa's services nine years ago, so there was a bit of familiarity.

I was certainly familiar with the funeral home in my town growing up.  For one thing, my grandpa worked there, helping out a little after he retired.  It was a building on the end of the main square that doubled as the town furniture store, so if the weather was bad, the line for the viewing would weave in and out and around couches, chairs and lamps.  Nothing like a captive shopper.

I don't think I could count the number of times I have worked my way through those love seats, seemingly a lot of times for my own family.

However last week was a first for me, trying to somewhat corral three small children for several hours during a visitation.  At one point I had Natalie chasing her newfound cousin through the chapel, Melina practicing her dance moves in the adjacent room and Aiden swinging around on the brass sign that identified the room as that of Shirley Thompson.  And the time they were using the casket as cover during hide and seek.

It flooded me with memories that are so clear of playing with my own cousin at my grandma's visitation when I was eight.  We probably did some of the same things and I can certainly recall making visits to grandma's casket-side to check on her.

As adults we are too refined for children's games in the presence of death.  Watching my children respond to the death of a loved one reminded me of how obstinately life moves on when someone departs.  You can't stop it.

I felt it when Loran died.  Melina was a baby and had just rolled over for the first time when I got the call that he had succumbed to cancer.  I had no time to grieve until the funeral when my mother-in-law took Melina for a short time so I could attend.  I cried and cried throughout the service in that dark room.  As soon as it ended, I followed the woman who had given me a ride out the door and was immediately blinded by the bright sun.  Suddenly my window of grief had closed and I was rushed back to my waiting baby and then work a little while later.  Life moved on.

Death cannot stop life.  Life will prevail every time.  I saw it in the sunlight that day and I saw it in the actions of my children last week.  Their little hearts know and we have the daunting task of reminding them as they grow older.

1 Corinthians 15:55-57

New International Version (NIV)
55 “Where, O death, is your victory?
    Where, O death, is your sting?”[a]
56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Rebound Lover

I could hear just a hint of it in her voice last Sunday. As we sped up 31 with our husbands talking in the front seat, I told Frances that we'd be gone for a few days, that we were headed back to Georgia for a short vacation.

"Oh. So, did you like it there?"

Go ahead and go for a few days. But don't get any ideas in your head about staying. Don't forget what you have here.

I was so excited to start a relationship with him. It was all hopes and dreams mixed in with fear of the unknown. I had no idea he would turn out to be such a cruel heartbreaker. The end itself was almost too much, surreal at its core, with a denied reality that would have been too painful to deal with all at once. But the worst was being around him even after it was over. To constantly have to face him. Like being beat up over and over again. New scar tissue ripped open from yet another encounter.

And then I found you. From seemingly nowhere, you reached out this hand to me and pulled me to my feet, helped me brush the dust off. There's this connection with us that goes without saying because we've travelled such a similar road, you and me. Somebody broke your heart and left you for dead and all you'd really given was love. You invited and I accepted and you swept me off to a secluded place and told me I was loved and valued and had something beautiful to offer. You made me into a truer me. I am yours now. Not because you're pleading with me to stay. Not because I have to. But because I love your easy-going way. Because your love is so innocent at its core. It is basic and simple and strong. And asks for so little in return.

I didn't come here this week with any expectation of running into him. I really just wanted a chance to relax. But he's here. A new him that's gone through some sort of rehab that weeded out all the lies and the hate. What's left is a new sort of heartbreaker: what if...

I see glimpses of what we could have been. The laughter and the love and the comaraderie. The team that could have moved mountains. It makes me ache inside because I think we could have been such a good fit, you and me. You have all the glitz and the glamour, the fast pace and lights. I want to be with you again. To try out this new beginning you've made for yourself. You are now what you were supposed to be then.

But I belong to another. One that deserves to be so much more than just a rebound lover. These few, precious days we have will be bittersweet, teetering between the laughter and tears as we rediscover each other and both wonder without words. And when it's over, I'll walk away, back into the strong arms at the other end of this love affair.

Thursday, January 12, 2006


How strange to be back. Vacationing on the streets I drove everyday for almost two years. We drove around last night, noting the changes and things that have stayed the same.

And I wonder how Newnan would view me through the same scrutiny. Anything different? Only familiar?

It brings to mind the feeling I had when our Georgia friends visited Twelve Mile one summer afternoon:

Look at me. You're not seeing me for the first time, but maybe you are. This is what I look like when I'm living from my heart - loved, accepted and being myself. Comfortable in my own skin.

Someone once asked Karen Hughes if George W was the same guy she had started working for years ago. Her answer was "yes, but moreso."

Determined, but moreso.
Full of integrity, but moreso.
Confident, but moreso.

I left so defeated. And now I'm back. In a better place than I was at the peak of our time in Georgia.

And I can't wait to enjoy the best that Newnan has - to savor those things which make my heart soar with just a memory, rooted in the knowledge of where I am now.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Observations on the Drowning of Non-Swimmers: One

I came across an old article tonight that is like a magical key, made to assist in unlocking thoughts that have been stored up inside me for several months now. "Observations on the Drowning of Non-Swimmers" was written by Frank Pia in 1974 and originally published in the Journal of Physical Education.

I would have to agree with Pia that the first step is recognizing someone who is on the verge of drowning:

The drowning non-swimmer neither advertises the fact that he is drowning, nor is it self-evident to any except the trained eye.

I come in contact with drowning people everyday. But for the first time, in all these years, I've spotted a victim that I can't seem to tear myself away from.

And thus begins the journey on a site that has been left alone for far too long.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Discounted Floor Models

It's always scary to buy a floor model because there's just no certainty in what you'll get. They're usually an incredible deal or an extreme rip off. I think the worst aspect is chance because there's just no guarantee...literally.

We've been fortunate enough to (knock on wood) always luck out with floor models. For instance, our stereo is a floor model that I bought with eighth grade graduation money. That's pretty enduring.

Other models I followed in eighth grade have recently fallen apart. I'm not referring to a stereo or tv this time. These were models that helped to shape my life, found in the local church.

Our family started going to "my" church when I was six. At that time, they were simply the pastor and his wife, but more importantly the parents of my first crush. But as time passed, I realized they were so much more.

He was the second one in the driveway when we found out my grandma had been killed. He was the one that baptized me at the age of eight. He would give these great sermons with notes from a greenbar printer that were still all attached so when one page would start to fall off the pulpit, they all would follow. She was the perfect complement. She volunteered at the Crisis Pregnancy Center and always got stopped for speeding on the way there and back. She was there for everyone in the church when they needed her. I remember when all the ladies of the church passed around a cross-stitch of the Proverbs 31 Woman and each worked on a separate piece to present to her. She taught me the bible school song, "forget you bible, forget to pray and you'll shrink, shrink, shrink." When I was still in grade school, she let me dress their new baby, assuring me that it was just like putting clothes on a doll and that I could do it.

They were the last pastor's family that actually had a true friendship with our family. We actually did things together. Suppers and ice cream. They loved us and they cared sincerely about what was going on in our lives.

When they moved out of state at the end of my eighth grade year, I thought I was going to die. A foundation had been ripped our from under me that I had relied on my entire "christian" life.

Years later, I remember driving across Indiana in a big red truck with my future husband and we were talking about what our future would be like, what our plans were. He wanted to go to seminary and become a pastor. What did I want to do? I wanted to be her.

Plans changed, directions shifted and then they shifted again and I found myself in a tiny community in Indiana as a pastor's wife. Mike has known how much I adore this pastor's family. He even had a chance to meet them when we were in college. He has known that I wanted to be her and model my life after her in many ways. He even used to tease me - "Are you ______? Are you?"

And then this year, the year I became a pastor's wife myself, I found out that my models had fallen apart. They had separated and are now getting divorced. And I don't really know the details, but it sounds like a lot of it falls on her. On the one I wanted to be.

Another reminder that nothing here comes in a box with a warranty. We're all just out there, possibly broken, most of us in ways that are invisible to the naked eye.

It's a good thing God is a risk taker.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Second Hand History

Early last week, I heard the news that Peter Jennings had passed away. It caught me by surprise because I hadn't even heard that he was sick.

Between Good Morning America and Fox News I caught a few stories on his life and one phrase a reporter used struck me. He commented that Jennings had had "a front row seat to history." At first I thought that was an odd statement. Don't we all have a front row seat to history that's created during our lifetime? But I know what he meant.

Jennings was there and I was in my living room.

I've always thought that the overflow was a rip-off. You know, the room you're sent to if you arrive too late to get a seat in church on Christmas and Easter. It's just not the same when you're watching a screen - there's the sense that you're missing the overall big picture, not to mention the "feel" of the room.

And this week I was reminded that my seemingly front row seat to history is merely a seat in overflow. I'm fully dependent on people in the "main" room to give me an adequate picture of what's going on. And they all have different angles, don't they? From ABC to the local paper to Fox News to internet blogs.

Jennings has vacated his front seat to history and I can't help but wonder what kind of report we'd get if he were to come to us live tomorrow for World News Tonight. Afterall, he's now had the ultimate face to face interview with the most well-known figure in history.

Jennings' Search for Jesus has ended.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Ten Thousand Beside

Have you ever felt the Spirit urging you to spend time with him? Some people, like John Eldredge, describe it as waking up in the middle of the night and not being able to return to sleep. Me, I've never experienced that particular perspective. Once I'm asleep there's only one thing that wakes me up - an alarm or allergies. Maybe that's why I always feel the closest to God when I'm living in the Midwest. I'm extremely allergic to just about everything here. And it always happens in the wee hours of the morning.

I went to sleep last night dreaming about sleeping in this morning. I finally had a free morning where I could do it. But of course, allergies came calling at about 7am. They're relentless. I tried to stay in bed, but they were too bad. As I fought it, that thought came to mind, it would be a great time to read your Bible.

I fought some more and finally left bed before I woke Mike up with my sneezing. This is how I found myself on the couch with Romans. The Lord works in mysterious ways, even through excessive snot.

Since I have unofficially proclaimed August 3rd as rhetorical question day...Have you ever felt like God answered a prayer before you had even spoken it?

I feel like he does this for me all the time. Either that, or I never remember what I pray. It's like the groaning that Romans 8 talks about, with the Spirit interceding on our behalf.

I groaned a lot during my three month job search. I got a job immediately when we moved here and I inwardly groaned, full time? I didn't want to work full time every day of the week! Inwardly, I dreamed of the perfect job:

I would like to work part time so that I can be home enough to keep my house in order.
I'd like to be around to get to know the people at our church.
We really need better benefits than what the church has provided.
I really want maternity coverage so we can afford to have a baby.
I don't want to wait 3-9 months for maternity coverage to become effective.
I don't want to work at a manufacturing place.
really want to be involved in radio on the side. That's my passion.
I don't know how we'll pay for childcare if we ever have kids.

And for some reason, the God of the universe seems to delight in giving me the desires of my heart - every time. He's done it my entire life. Even when I don't ask.

I found the FedEx job on Monster.com. The header read, "Part Time with Benefits!" That caught my attention, so I wrote down the address and went on a search for it the next time I was in Kokomo. When I drove up and saw the place, I immediately crossed it off my list. It was just a big pole-barn kind of building with a bunch of trucks backed into it. I couldn't even tell where I'd go in to turn in my resume. I called Mike and told him I just couldn't bring myself to do it. I was coming home. I wasn't that desperate yet.

About a week later, we were both down in Kokomo for some reason and I wanted to show Mike just how bad the place was that I had almost applied. We drove up and he said he didn't think it was that bad and that I'd probably go in that little unlabeled door on the side.

Oh well. They probably weren't still hiring anyway.

Another week later, I was getting desperate. I found myself at this manufactured structures place, filling out a resume for a low paying job in a place I knew nothing about. This was the low point. I came home and called FedEx and asked if they were still hiring and they were.

I drove down right then to turn in my resume. I went through that little door we had decided must be the entrance and almost knocked over the Senior Manager. It was a good thing he was there because once you're in the big building, there are a bunch of trucks parked everywhere and you have to walk a little further in to find the actual office. If he hadn't been there to take it and walk me back to the office, I probably would have looked inside and turned back around and marched out to the car, once again proclaiming that I couldn't bring myself to work in a place like that.

I almost missed what God had waiting for me. He had offered this gift that I looked at twice and said wasn't good enough for me. Finally, I accepted it enough to begin to unwrap the package. And what a treasure it is...

I'm working part time at Fed Ex in the afternoons with plenty of time during the day to keep up on housework and hang out with people.
I get full, immediate benefits that became effective on my start date.
Last week I was hired as a part-time announcer on the weekends at WBCL in Fort Wayne.
If we have kids, I'll be home during the day to take care of them and Mike will be home when I'm gone to work in the evenings. No childcare costs.
And if you've really followed my blogs and remember that I wanted a commute? I got that too. :)

So, my package was delivered via FedEx, a company where one of the slogans is "The World on Time." How ironic.

Great is Thy Faithfulness.