Christmas, Messes & Prose

These are words
from a blogpost by my friend, Heather. 

“when life changes… when the structure of the life you’ve created somehow slips and cracks, and begins to hurdle towards leveling… holidays have no choice but to follow. changes have to happen, and new patterns emerge, and everyone wriggles towards the most recognizable normal that can be grasped.

i have to admit, i was a bit nervous.

this is the third house we’ve been in on the third christmas in a row, and the likelihood of being in yet another house next year is quite high. i feel dizzy with the speed of change that we’ve experienced, and like my children, i yearn for some stability, some solid ground on which to get my footing. all of the change, and difference smears together into one big blur, and i try hard to pull out some thread of familiarity that i can offer my kids to assure their hearts that we are ok.

their dad spent time with us last night and again today….

but then they return home after an evening with him and his family, and the oldest son starts wailing away at us both emotionally and physically. i’ve learned that this is his coping skill when he’s angry and hurting, and i am learning to speak honestly and firmly to him to try to allow space for his hurt and anger while also protecting the hearts and souls of the other children who often become the target of his pain. it’s a complicated dance we have here now… with me as the dj- trying to offer melodies that will bring joy and peace rather than dissonance and grief. i work hard to allow him to have space to hurt, but to recognize that we are not the enemy, and as sweet Jesus reminds us in his word- we can be angry and still not sin. we managed to bumble through this hurt and get to the other end of it where he was tucked in warmly and loved, and i pray his wounded heart would be carried by the father as he sleeps. this life of fractured family has tentacles of pain that reach far and wind hard and i beg God to please extract my children from the pain and grief and try hard to instill in them the solid knowledge that they are dearly loved.”Christmas Mantle

I love how she writes. She tells her story with honesty … and honesty becomes her. (You can read the rest of this post HERE.)  She does her best to tell it well without hurting others … but sometimes, the truth is difficult. She shares poetry as she writes … not the rhyming type with A/B rhythm …. just beautiful words to tell of tough stuff and stickiness and … sometimes gore.   Isn’t it easier to hear the difficult when written with beauty in decorated prose?

I think of Anne Lamott in Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life.  She writes, “You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.”  The first time I read those words, I sat with my jaw dropped. How true. How real. And how unlike me. I am a coward. I don’t always tell the whole truth … out of fear. I am learning to face fear because I have realized that I am often a coward. Why is it anyones job to protect someone else from their very own truth … a truth that they created with their own words and actions?

Heather? She shares deep. Wounds are gruesome. Bones protrude. Blood is spilled. Scars form. Sometimes she writes right after the catastrophe. Sometimes she waits until there is only a scar left as a reminder.

It takes time … this sifting through and working out.

Life is not easy. We must take what we are given. Some navigate the difficulties more easily. It seems to me, the people who look at their messes and talk through the tough stuff, acknowledge the pain that has been created and work through the whys are the more healthy.

And as I read stories of others struggles, I feel less alone.
I realize it’s “not just me.” This is important.

So, when we tell our own stories
of our own messes
we help others feel like less of an outsider.
We offer community to others who hurt.
We write words that offer an arm around a shoulder to offer solace
that “You are not alone.”

Thank you, Heather, for sharing. Yes, my friend, Honesty DOES become you. You are beautiful and your words encouraging. In sharing your messes, you let me know that I am not alone.  You offer friendship and support.
For this, I am deeply grateful.
Thank you for your heart-wrenching but poetic Christmas prose.

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The power of a Father’s Apology

This past year, I found myself in one of those monthly, long distance conversations with my father where you go through the list of family members and friends. We discussed weather, ailments and plans for the future, who is doing what and what comes next. As usual, we covered the kids and both my mom and dad.

Sandwiched in that conversation was this beautiful statement that I never asked to hear
or even imagined as a thought to be entertained.

My dad apologized to me.

My Daddy and I - Thanksgiving holiday

I still remember one of the conversations that directed my decisions when I was young. I remember that my dad told me that it is important to choose a major in college that would give me a good base for a job with a lucrative income. He suggested that I go into the business field. If I ever found myself divorced, I would then be able to make a good living.

I still remember that conversation in part because
I had never considered that I would ever find myself divorced
and “business” felt very foreign to me.

But, I took his advice. After I received an Associate Degree
from a small liberal arts college where creativity and individuality were fostered,
I found myself at Georgia Southern  heading towards a business degree.
What I remember about Georgia Southern was feeling lost.
The school was huge. I lived off campus and had no friends.
I remember that I was absolutely blown away by the computer class that I took that first quarter.
Twenty-five years ago, a computer class was on the basics of using a computer
and code. *crossed eyes*
It was tough and I bombed it.
I’m fairly certain that I had a second academic class .. that I also failed.
But, the class that I remember well was an art class. We were allowed electives
and my heart chose a creative course. I knew I needed a creative outlet.

We had an entire quarter to do three or four projects. The projects could be in any medium that we chose. I remember that they had  very loose parameters and I was SO excited. The one thing that was fixed about the project was that each of the items created had to use the same subject. The subject that I chose to use was a flamingo.

I still remember what my flamingo painting looked like. It was abstract and quite geometric.
I remember being pleased with my final pieces, but I was especially pleased with that painting.

But, overall that quarter I did poorly. I was put on academic probation.
I had recently met and started dating my ex-husband.
We married that May and I did not return to school for almost 25 years.

My father’s advice was logical and strong. It was what he knew to be right.  It was good advice.
And yet, it was not have been the best advice for me.

Me and DaddyBut, as we played catch up that afternoon many months ago,
I found my father … a man over 75
apologizing to me   …. nearly 50
about an event that happened over a quarter century ago.
Basically, he said that his advice might not have been the best for me
and that he was sorry that he had advised me to go into business.
I’ll be honest. I was quite moved.

Thankfully, my father and I have never had animosity between us.
It’s not as though this was a huge rift that needed healing.
We’ve never wasted time angry at each other.
I don’t ever remember spending a single day “not speaking to” my father.
And yet, those few words, offered great comfort. They were accepting and strengthening.

Through the years, I’ve heard some very good advice concerning forgiveness and apologies.

Good advice for forgiveness
is to learn to accept the apology that you were never offered.
Good advice for offering an apology is
an apology that uses the word “but” mid-way, isn’t an apology at all.
Don’t ruin an apology with an excuse for your actions.

And the best advice of all
is that the only apology that is too late
is the one offered to someone who has already died.

We all make errors. We all find ourselves needing to say, “I’m so sorry” for something along the way.
An error doesn’t become a mistake, until you refuse to correct it.  – Orlando Battista
The person who believes he owes no man an apology is only fooling himself.

I am thankful that my father is a humble man. He is honest and forthright.
His word is good and his intentions are upright.
What a sweet blessing to know, too, that he knows that he is not above making mistakes
and that years after an event, when it comes up in conversation
he is quick to offer an “I’m sorry.”

Yes, the power of a Father’s apology is mighty.
Thank you, daddy.
I love you.

My parents made it look easy

I’ve wondered if it was just a generational thing. Or maybe my parents learned it from their parents. Maybe it’s the way things have always been … until now. Or maybe it’s just that my friends and I talk about it.
The fact is: Being an adult is hard work.
Being a child is, too. But, when you’re young … especially a teen, you think
“When I grow up, I can do what I want and life won’t be so tough.”
Most of us find that nothing could be farther from the truth.
All people struggle. But it seems as though past generations didn’t talk about it. I know there were people in the past who did because philosophers, doctors, researchers, social scientists and the like are all thinkers. Hippocrates labeled personality types back 300-400 years before Christ. So, self-examination and studying life’s struggles, motivations and behaviors is not new.

Glory, my Sunshiney girl, and me

Glory was the first one to talk to me about it. When she was young, she was chomping at the bit to “grow up.” I knew that meant “move out and do what I want.” She had a job working as a nanny/babysitter for 15-20 hours a week when she was 13. She was a swim team coach and also a life guard as soon as she was old enough. She bought a car within a month or two of turning 16  … and she had to pay for half.  As she grew and got antsy to do adult things, I would reassure her that adulthood would come soon enough. Focus on “today.”  Live, enjoy, learn, work, play … but don’t rush the big stuff.

Within just a few years, she would come back and say, “Man! This adult stuff is for the birds” or “I don’t want to be all-grown-up any more!”

I don’t really remember seeing my parents struggle. They have always been a strong team. My dad has always been amazing. He worked at work and then came home and he worked at home. He built, repaired and reinforced.  He put family first. And he loved and supported my mom.  While dad was at work or out-of-town, my mom took care of everything domestic. She cooked every meal, cleaned every dish, washed every stitch of clothing, drove my brother and I everywhere we needed to be and she loved my daddy like a treasure. I know things had to have been tough at times, but they never let me know they struggled.

Mom and Dad, on our Christmas stroll at the tow path on the Savannah River, 2010

Me? God knows I’m a mess. And I’ve been open with my kids. I have made huge mistakes and been quick to admit them, ask for forgiveness and work hard not to wreak that same havoc repeatedly. I struggle with obedience to this day. Just last week, I did something that would have seemed insignificant to anyone else … but I knew God didn’t want me to do it. Within a few hours, I was paying for it. And as I thrashed around the house, looking high and low for some lost item (that was directly linked to my foible), James came out to ask, “What in the world are you doing??” I quickly told the whole silly story and explained that this was all because of my silly little disobedience … that OBVIOUSLY  mattered to God … because all disobedience matters to Him. James just laughed at me.

But, he gets it. And he knows that even adults make mistakes and it’s okay to struggle.

As James and I chatted in my room just before I went to bed the other night, I again said, “Being grown up is tough. I don’t know how Grandma and Grandpa made it look so easy.”  He said, “They really do. They make it look effortless.” As we talked, we decided it must be, at least in part, due to their exceptional ability to be a supportive team. I know my dad would never walk out on my mom. He would never leave her stranded or unprotected. He is dependable. And my mom has my dad’s back. I have never.ever.ever heard my mom speak an unkind word about my dad.
ever.
They are stalwart and brawny for each other. I watched my parents gently care for their own parents right up until each one passed. Broken bones, dementia, cancer, Hospice …. all the way to the end. And ya know, my parents had that example set for them. I knew my great-grandmother well because she lived with my grandparents for years and years. If I ever have ever seen my folks struggle, it was the way of emotional and physical exhaustion that came from watching a loved one slowly die … and they knew they were helpless to stop the pains that came with that journey.

My sweet Mama and Daddy - Lee and Dub

Yes, my folks made it look easy. They set a wonderful example.
And I am trying to do the same for my own kids.
My life is different.
My circumstances are different.
And I am built differently so I am a different sort of parent …
but when all is said and done,
my kids will know that I was there. I was honest.
And I was sure to warn them
that being an adult is not as easy as it looks.

Politician, Preacher, Poet

I have only seen him dressed like this one time … the day these photos were taken.
He looks … professional … and official  …
like a preacher or a politician …
which are, in reality,  labels that he wears well.

Travis

But, when I think of Travis, I see him like this ….

or this.

He lives in Aiken, South Carolina which is about a thirty minute drive from Augusta. He moved to the area just over a year ago. He worked for the City of Aiken as an attendant at the skatepark that Joy loves. I participated in a bike event that began and ended at the park complex where he worked. Joy was there with her dad, so I went in to visit with her. That is the day that I met him. (I wrote a bit about that here)

Joy introduced me to him and we talked for a few minutes. Then I saw a book on the counter. It was about politics, religion and culture throughout the world. I asked him about it.
And our friendship began.
He’s a blogger and a thinker. He loves history and politics … and God. He’s not very good at math and has a terrible sense of direction. He uses words like lyrics and is, in fact, quite a poet. He asks questions. He listens to the answers. He loves to skateboard and has an adventurous heart. He loves people and he knows God has something exciting in his future.
And he’s my friend. Travis

He comes over to Augusta fairly often for work. When he’s finished, we’ll grab an afternoon cup of coffee or a movie with Joy. We enjoyed most of Arts in the Heart and some of Westobou together.
And when there is silence … it’s not uncomfortable.

We are far enough apart in age (he’s James’ age) that there is safety. Neither of us has to worry that the other will misconstrue words or intentions. I know that I can be myself and he’s not going to think that I want any more than friendship.

And the best part?  He doesn’t mind my incessant questioning and constant observant pondering. He’s never told me that I “overanalyze!” How refreshing!

In fact, a recent text said… 

A conversation with time….. hmmmm…..
I love this guy!

And the reference to “Paradox” is about a poem that he wrote.
We have recorded it on video.
I’m working to edit the footage.
I hope to have it ready before he gets home in January.
I can’t wait to share it with you.

So, I share my friendship story with you
to ask you to pray for him.
Travis is on a mission trip right now.
He’s about half way through his month-long trip.
Would you join me in praying for strength, safety, health, focus and energy
for him and his group of travelers?
I haven’t been in touch with him
but my gut tells me that they need prayer.
Don’t get me wrong … I don’t think there is a problem,
I just know that being away from home, with a new schedule, new food and new surroundings
can be wearing after a while.
Please pray for endurance, enthusiasm and good health.

I am crazy, ridiculously blessed to have so many wonderful, rich friendships …
friendships that include this politician, preacher, poet.

A HalloWedding

I am drawn to people who are honest, open and real.
Paula is just.about as honest and open as they come.

You don’t ever have to wonder what Paula’s thinking,
because, chances are, she’s already told you.

She has an ability to speak with brutal honesty
about even the most difficult topic
without crushing your spirit …
unless, of course, she WANTS to crush your spirit.
If she WANTS to injure, prepare to be lanced.
But, she is not mean-spirited, critical or malicious.
She is open, observant and kind.
Paula is my hero.
I asked her not too long ago if she is ever afraid.
She said “No.”
And, for some reason, I believe her.

I carry fear in my back pocket … so as not to be out of reach. I can quickly pull it out to keep me from saying what I really think or feel. Because, I don’t want to be rejected. Others have called it wisdom. But, this trick is not wisdom. It is a weakness. It is not bravery. It is cowardice. I know that fear is not from God,  but I haven’t yet pinpointed all the areas that it has laid hold. And it only controls me in a few areas, but in those arenas, fear has great power. Because, I allow it to do so.

Paula lives in a different place.

Paula is only a few years younger than me. I know that she was engaged at least once, but she has never married …
until now.
On Halloween, she married her best friend.

She and I went to Columbia, SC last year to take some photos. It was then that she told me about the start of her friendship with Will. They had some mutual friends on Facebook. Will noticed a few of Paula’s comments – snarky and sarcastic, I would expect – and he was intrigued. He asked to be her friend, inbox messaged her and their friendship began. As I listened to her to share the details of the first chapter, I was so excited for her. You see, she’s not your average girl. She has an affinity for horror and loves Halloween. She’s a passionate Star Trek and Disney lover and she LOVES movies and some video games.

As I have been privy to the writing of their story, it has been so encouraging to hear her smitten stories of Will. They are so well matched.  A sci-fi and horror enthusiast, too, he loves superheros and Marvel comics. Will is a man of few words and he’s not highly excitable. Paula fills the silence and is all over the place with energy. He affectionately calls her “Squirrel.” They balance each other well. I don’t believe I’ve heard of a fight yet.

Their wedding … naturally … was held on Halloween.

Paula planned and designed the wedding
with Will’s elbow grease to help.
Their cake was mounted atop this coffin …
a hand-crafted wedding gift from a friend.

Everything from the guest book ….

to the bubble bottles
fit the occasion.

Spiders in webs ….

bats …..

and ravens fit the theme.

In the most unusual way,
the entire night was fittingly beautiful
for a wedding.

Most guests came dressed in costume.
After removing her dark purple, velour wedding gown,
Paula turned into Super Girl and Will became Thor for the reception.

With their car waiting outside
to whisk them away into the dark night,
we enjoyed a reception while talking and dining on delicious treats.

Paula and Will give me hope. Paula stayed true to herself. She waited longer than “average” to find a suitable mate. And her patience was rewarded. Like Della and Jeff,  Paula and Will have a foundation of friendship and common interests that their marriage is based upon. I know that there are women who look at married men and think, “I wish he was mine.” I have never done this … BUT, I can say that I look at certain marriages and pine for a relationship that is similar. Only God knows and time will tell if I am ever to be blessed with such a friendship, but I certainly consider myself blessed to see examples of well-fitted couples.

Paula, thank you for being my friend. It was a gift to be able to watch you begin this wonderful adventure with Will! Thank you for being true to yourself. Without even being aware of it, you give me courage to do the same. You bless me, friend.

The Sweet Aroma of Encouragement

I’ve written about her before.  She’s beautiful.
She has a smile that is wider than the day
and eyes that sparkle the bluest I’ve seen …
but her beauty is so much bigger than that.
She has an energy for life
and love for encouraging people
that can.not be ignored.

A little over a week ago, she came home.
She had to be hospitalized with asthma problems.
I didn’t even know she was in town.
The day she was released, before heading home to rest,
she made a flower run.

With friends, she chose several bunches of flowers
and made “drop by” runs
to leave flowers as a surprise on door steps.
I was in the living room, so I saw her try to sneak up.
I interceded .. opening the door and offering her a hug.
She and her friends were on a mission … so ….
we chatted for just a minute
and made plans to get together before she headed home to Asheville.

I found out later that Britt and her friends
took at least one bouquet of flowers
with a sweet note
to a complete stranger
in my neighborhood.
Isn’t that lovely?
Have you EVER been given such a gift?
One that has no strings attached
and was meant to purposely, fully, richly bless you
with not even a THANK YOU expected in return?

a.m.a.z.i.n.g.

…. and she didn’t tell me about their gifting adventure.
One of the friends in on the project was the one to share the story later.

And the flowers … were gorgeous.
She wrote a sweet little note about being courageous.
I haven’t talked to her in quite a while.
We haven’t really conversed in a bit …
and I haven’t even shared yet, here on the blog
just how much I have realized that fear has impacted my life.
but.she.knew.

She continues to bless me.
But, the other side of the card said much.

… cultivate a warrior’s spirit.
This is a tough one for me.
I am quick to fight for others!
I will swashbuckle to the end for someone else …
but I am not sure where or HOW to draw the line in the sand
to fight for and protect myself.
But, I’m learning.
I am scared … and scarred
but I am learning.

These beautiful lilies sat on the desk beside my dining table for days and days …
until they began to drop their petals.
At that point, I moved them to the counter by the kitchen sink
where I prepared to pour away the water
and toss the spent blooms …

when I noticed that these sweet blossoms
were still pungent to smell.
With tattered stems
and wilting blooms,
they still had a beautiful, sweet aroma.

So, I pushed them to the rear of the counter
and have let them sit
for day upon day
dropping petals
yet smelling sweet and strong.

Like Britt’s surprise visit …
like her sweet gifting …
long after her exit,
the sweet aroma of her encouragement
that spoke right into my life
where I needed it most …
where I was questioning and struggling …
remains pungent in my life.
Oh, that God would use me
in this way
in the lives of others.
Praise be to Him.

Vows Under Moss Covered Boughs


I love her like my own.
Glory and Nina have been best friends for ages.


I wouldn’t dare NOT be there
on that sultry afternoon.


Excitement draped
like moss on the oaks … heavy and dense and thick.


She was stunning
as she walked down that earthen aisle
to be passed from the arms of the man who raised her from a little girl
to the hand of the man who will raise her up to the Heavenly Father from here on.


There were no piano keys pounding out a demand-to-stand wedding march.
We stood to the lilting melody of a violin serenade the bride to the groom.
It seems so right and proper with overcast skies and a breezy southwest Georgia summer wind.

We sang of His jealousy. He loves us so. I cannot fathom the depth.


I trembled as I watched her eyes move from him
to the paper in her hand … vows written from the depth of her heart.
And what surprised me
was that I saw her history …
I heard her upbringing in her words.
We live our lives, bringing to today, where we have been
and what we have seen, heard and experienced.

 

Nina spoke ….

Bryan, from the moment I said “Yes,” I looked forward to this day,
but I never thought that it would get here this fast.
From the moment that we started dating, you completely changed my life.
You gave me something to look forward to in my day.
I can’t remember a night in the first year we were dating
that we didn’t talk on the phone until nearly 2am.
The biggest quality that stuck out to me about you at the time
was your trustworthiness.
I knew that I could trust you with all of my secrets,
and eventually with my heart.
I promise
to never take that for granted.
I promise to obey and respect you
as the authority that God has placed over me.
I promise to keep you accountable.
I promise to let go and trust you with decisions,
knowing that God is leading you.
I promise to spoil you when you aren’t feeling well,
but most importantly
I promise to love you forever and through all things.

 

My eyes welled with tears as I thought,
“Dear child. Yes, those tender words are perfect.
But, ONLY through the power Christ and presence of His Holy Spirit
will you be able to walk them out.”

If there is a young lady who can follow through with those promises
it is Nina.

She has seen struggle
and experienced it, as well.
She is wise and patient and gracious.

 

I didn’t rush with the crowd to the reception.
I ambled alone … drawing the humidity deep into my lungs,
fellowshipping with God and
swatting gnats as I walked
while remembering how much I love this sweet part of Georgia.

I didn’t rush with the crowd
in part because I was alone.
Surely, every other person at the wedding
was part of a couple.


Funny how some events can remind us
of certain aspects of who we are.

I spent a good bit of time outside on the deck
peering inside … rather than in the midst of the gathering …
simply so that I wouldn’t stand out.

Part of my struggle may well have been because
the decor and setting of the entire day
looked like something I would create for myself.

 

Wood slabs were scattered about.
Birds, ancient books and sweet photos
adorned the tables.

Delectable homemade, hand-mixed sweets
in fluted paper
found themselves perched upon antiques.

Burlap and banners … with words and phrases reminded us that this was the start
of “Happily Ever after.”

And that is surely my prayer ….
Happily serving Him beside him
ever after.

From start to end
the day was breathtaking and surprising.
It seemed such an appropriate start
to a lifetime of love and commitment.

I will pray for them passionately.

“Mom” love at “Home”

I drove into the darkness.
We dotted our way across south Georgia last week.
I knew Saturday night ….
would be a late night.
For the first time ever, all five of the Lovett family members would be performing
and even on stage at the same time during The Nutcracker.

Three party guests, Drosselmeyer and The Snow Queen.
They danced. Joy and I sat in wonder.
The performance
with South Georgia Ballet is always exquisite.

After the performance, there are festivities followed by a wonderful dine at Applebees. This year, there must have been forty of us at dinner.  It was such fun to talk and chat and laugh with these girls, guys and friends.

Joy and I chose not to spend the evening at the Lovetts home twenty minutes away. We drove through Cairo, past their home and on through Bainbridge to the lake, to Mom and Dad’s house. I wanted to be at their home that we might worship on Sunday morning with them. I didn’t want to displace a gracious Lovett child from his bed … again. I wanted to be in Bainbridge to have lunch with my folks
before we went to Rusty’s memorial service.

At 1:15, Joy and I crawled into Glory’s little car and headed “home” …
because “Home is where your Mom is,” right?

Only moments after closing the car door, the phone rang. Glory’s face came up on my iPhone screen. I answered to tears, “I’m so glad that you’re up,” she cried. Generally, 1:30 a.m. is close to the time I am getting ready to r.i.s.e …. NOT near the time I hope to be going to bed.

Earlier in the day, Glory ate lunch at a restaurant that she frequents. She had sushi rolls. Within thirty minutes she felt sick. She said that she WISHED she COULD throw up.
She had left work a bit early and been at home on the bathroom floor for hours and hours.
All she wanted to do was sleep … but she couldn’t.
And there I was …. a lightyear away and helpless.
I talked her through finding a Help-a-Nurse phone number,
talked her through picking a hospital
and prayed.

She readied to head to the hospital,
I drove through the night on the other end of the state
and my mind raced.

I don’t remember being so far away from a child before
when they needed help …
there wasn’t a friend she could think of who would join her for companionship at the emergency room. There were friends … but they had worked late or had to be in early … her brother and her boyfriend were both out of town. The thought of my weak, twenty-year old daughter heading to an emergency room at 2:00 a.m. …. on a Saturday night … alone … in Augusta …. was quite unsettling.
Who could take my place, I wondered?

As I thought of people I might be able to call at 2:00 in the morning …
as I tried to think of someone I could find who would happily roll out of a toasty bed
and don shoes and a jacket to head to an emergency ….
as I tried to think of a friend who could explain to her husband WHY she was abruptly
dressing to leave home ….. someone who wouldn’t get upset with me for asking for help
from afar ….
I wondered …. who would not be irritated by my intrusion? Who loved their children similarly to how I love mine?
I thought of Anne.
She is the closest thing I could think of
to “me.”
I hoped she wouldn’t mind my calling her.
I prayed she would …. find pleasure in my asking her …
that I trusted her that much … knowing she would love my girl and be a presence of peace.
“I’d be happy to, Karen. Thanks for calling to ask me,” was her response to my request.

Then it was my turn to cry. I teared and thanked her.

I am in awe with thanksgiving … grateful for every.single.gift of friendship that I am presented.
Oh, that I would always be a “Yes” friend.
I pray that “I’d be happy to!” would roll off my tongue without hesitation …
any time of the day or night.
My desire is that I would find, “It is my pleasure,”
to be a truthful response to a cry for any type of help.

We pulled into my parent’s drive at 2:30 a.m.
Glory had made it to the hospital, was seen and released within forty-five minutes.
Anne had scurried to get to the hospital to spend a long night …. but wasn’t even needed.

But, it wasn’t her being there that was as important
as her eager, willingness to respond when called upon.

Yes, “Home is where your mom is.”
I was thankful to have had a chance to visit my own mom at her home during Thanksgiving,
thankful to return “home” to my own children and embrace my daughter,
and thankful that, when I was nowhere near either “home” …
God provided a “mom” to fill my shoes.

Thank you, Lord, for friendships of “mom” quality
that are a reflection of your “Yes” love.

We do not know ….

A cardinal watches me over his feathered shoulder from my parent’s deck. He clicks and chirps to his bride afar, summonsing her closer. She answers, but hasn’t shown herself just yet.

As I write, it is Saturday morn. It is a quiet, breezy morning. The sun has been up nary an hour. A clock ticks on the wall on the porch and I hear Kingfisher, Cardinal, Crow and Chick-a-dee nearby. I think of contrasts.

Yesterday, these skies were almost cloud free. They were clear and crisp and blue. But, this morn, we wake to overcast … the sun’s rays struggling their way to the earth.

Yesterday, I sat in this wooden porch chair, my mother beside me. My father sat in the left hand chair while Stone occupied the chair seen on the right. Sun flooded this outdoor living room as we chatted about the Civil War, family history, camping and a life time of interests. I sat and thought how I’d like time to stand still. He was with me for a day. But the day would come to an end and he would climb into his Rodeo and drive back to his life. I will miss him terribly today … and those to come.

Yesterday afternoon, Stone and Jet, Joy, my mother and father and I climbed into this pontoon boat and made a wide circle down sloughs, through tributaries, past Spring Creek and back past Hutchinson’s Ferry Landing on Lake Seminole. We watched Osprey, Heron, and Eagle light, swoop and soar above and around us. Coots by the t.h.o.u.s.a.n.d sat on the water and skittered out of our way as we plowed past and through them. I loved listening to Stone point out all the birds to Jet, describing how to tell one from another, their mannerisms and markings.  I loved listening to my dad share lake facts with Stone.

Thursday afternoon, after lunch, we watched a half dozen grown men line the dock next door to watch a powerful little red remote control sport boat zoom.zoom.zoom up and down the slough. It was so much fun to watch the boat and watch the men … having so much fun.

Thursday afternoon, this thoroughfare from the house to the boat dock was filled with grown boys (my brother, Rusty’s brothers and his nephew) that tossed a football back and forth … all thinking of past years when Rusty was there to join in on the spinning, airborne leather, testosterone and muscle.

Thursday night, father and son, sister and brother, mothers and children sat around this fire pit. We listened to tunes, lyrics and laughter, stories and memories spill forth. I sat and savored and thought of how l.o.n.g it had been since I had shared fellowship of this type with these people – my family and the Rodgers.

Wednesday, my father, my brother and I sat and talked with Russ on this deck. We talked about Russ’ son, Rusty, and other topics that have now blurred in my memory. What has not blurred is that  our time was sweet. I delighted in the fellowship … my brother coming down too seldom …. Russ being still beside my father just as rare a treat for me to enjoy. Life is busy. And we never know what tomorrow holds.

I sit in the still
in the quiet
and am reminded
that we know not what tomorrow holds.
The loved one you know with cancer could die soon …
but just as easily
a car accident could take her life
or a heart attack could take his.
We do not know what tomorrow holds.
Love on the people around you.
Seek out those that come to mind.
Pray for them. Send them a card. Share how much they have meant to you.
Because …
truly
we do not know
what tomorrow holds.