THINGS UNEXPECTED

Today the Court awarded me Guardianship and Conservatorship for my little sister—my baby sister.

I had been the baby for two and one-half years when my sister made her appearance.  She was born at home, as were the rest of us, with the doctor in attendance.  In fact, she was born not five miles from where I sit at the moment.

After her birth, when I was first allowed on my Mama’s bed, Mama pulled back the corner of the blanket which swaddled that little package snuggled in her arms, and I saw that tiny creature for the first time.    I was delighted.  Bubbles of joy escaped, as I clapped my little hands crying, “See, I told you I’d get me a rubber baby.”

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“Bottle Tot” dolls were all the rage back in the late thirties.  Made of heavy molded rubber, she cried, drank her bottle, wet her diaper and went to sleep.  You could bathe her with soap and water and powder her with talcum.  Advertisements touted her as a doll that was so much like a real baby that every little girl would think there was a new comer in the home.

I sort of turned the thinking around believing, for a moment, that the real new comer was the dolly I so longed for.  When I discovered that this doll really did cry and wet her diapers, and that she occupied too much of my Mama’s time, my joy evaporated.  “I don’t like her,” I sobbed.  “Just kick her out the window.”

Before long, however, I was madly in love discovering that a real little sister was a better playmate than any toy.  I remember her as a chubby, blue-eyed toddler with a mass of curly hair.  We were little girls together at home, after our siblings were grown and gone.  We played together, and slept together.  Our lives were and are so entwined it is as though we are joined at the hip.

I have always been there for my sister loving her and protecting her.  When I was in second grade and she in kindergarten, at recess I found her, led her around by her chubby little hand and pushed her in the swing.  Her teacher told our mother that she would never learn anything, if I didn’t leave her alone.  Through the years, no matter where around the world I was, in times of need, my sister called.

Now the unexpected, the unplanned, certainly the unwanted has happened.  My sister is no longer able to take care of herself, so it is only right that I become her guardian and assume the responsibilities that implies.

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Now, that’s easy to say, but at the same time, there is a sense of resentment that creeps in, for this is not the way I planned it?  No!  Having worked hard all my life, I thought by now I would be “footloose and fancy-free.” My sister and I would be the two prettiest old women in town having the time of our life traveling the world, doing things, laughing and playing and loving each other.  In fact, I imagined that she would take care of me in my old age.  Alas, that is not to be.

Plans and dreams of a lifetime are often shattered by the unexpected.  A loved one dies, a relationship is shattered, a fortune lost, and we are left forlorn and confused, and sometimes, resentful.

When Cecil and I married on February 9 four years ago, we looked forward to a cloudless future.  That optimistic expectation came to a screeching halt five months later, when he was promoted to heaven.

I have learned that it is not the enormity of the tragedy that determines my future, but rather, my response to that unexpected event.

My sister’s illness and Cecil’s death were certainly not crises for which I was prepared.  However, I have learned that God is never surprised by anything, nor is He unprepared.

When the unexpected comes, God doesn’t say, “Oops, I wonder how that happened?  No!  He says, “I knew all about this before time began.  I am here to comfort and strengthen you.  Take my hand and I will walk you through this and bring you out in triumph better and stronger than you ever were.”

Feeling sorry for myself I can nurse my resentment, or I can turn it over to God and trust Him to accomplish His will, for He does have a purpose in all of this.

Job said, “…He knows the way that I take; when He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold.” Job 23:10.

II Corinthians 1:3-4.  (The Message)  “All praise to the God…of all healing council!  He comes alongside us when we go through hard times…”

The sun will come out tomorrow!

HE COMES ALONGSIDE

My original purpose for writing this blog was to amass a giant audience, in order to be able to publish a book.  However, from the beginning, there was an underlying, much higher purpose that took over.

My mind said, “Make this good.  You want to publish.”

My heart said, “Touch your reader’s heart.  Make him laugh—make him cry.  Be an encourager.  Shine a light in the darkness.  Let the sunshine in.”

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However, I have discovered, through the years, there are people who reject the sunshine.  They cling to their sorrows as Linus clings to his security blanket.

Recently, I was drawn into conversation with a very upset acquaintance.   Her friend’s husband, of only a few months, had just died in a terrible accident.  He was a Godly man and ready to go, but that doesn’t make his death any less tragic or the sorrow less agonizing.

“Don’t tell me it was God’s time for him to die,” this dear woman cried.  “I don’t believe it.  I will not accept it.  What kind of a God allows such a thing?”

Then, she, who for many years has been a Christ follower, began to pull the scabs off old hurts uncovering all her past grievances none of which she has ever relinquished.

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She recounted the death of her husband and that of several children.  The death of a husband, no matter how long he has been yours, is devastating.  I can testify to that.  And—the death of a child must be unbearable.

“How blessed you are to have had children,” I said quietly.  “I never had the joy of holding a child of my own in my arms.”

Now in her seventies, she remembers, again, all those years ago that she was not allowed to hold her stillborn son before he was taken away.  To her, the pain is as raw as though she had suffered it yesterday.

“I DON’T WANT TO BE A CHRISTIAN ANYMORE!” she said angrily.

I was alarmed!  Turning away from God meant turning away from her only source of comfort—her only source of healing—her only source of joy—her only real hope.

“May I pray with you,” I asked, as I put my arms around her.

“NO!” she bristled.

She was MAD at God!

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I drove home understanding that there are those who embrace their hurts and disappointments holding them close never letting go – enjoying some kind of dark pleasure from that intimacy.

I remembered the days, and months, and even years of journey through the long, dark tunnel of grief following My Cecil’s death.  To have waited seventy-seven years and to have lost him after only five months was unbelievable—unacceptable.  Yet, because of the grace of God and my long relationship with Him, and only because of that, I was able to accept my loss and give it up to God.

God was my constant companion through that dark tunnel, and one day, I finally came out into the sunlight again.  Thank God for His Help—His healing—His hope!

The Apostle Paul was no stranger to suffering.  In II Corinthians 1:3-5 (The Message), he says, “All praise to the God and Father of our Master, Jesus the Messiah!  Father of all mercy!  God of all healing counsel!  He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us.  We have plenty of hard times that come from following the Messiah, but no more so than the good times of his healing comfort—we get a full measure of that, too.”

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WOW!  God walks beside us through every hard time, and because of God’s goodness to us, we can be there for someone else blessing and comforting him through his hard time.

We all suffer plenty of sorrows—none of us is immune.  However, Paul reminds us that God gives each of us a full measure of His healing comfort, more than enough to equal the hard times He allows.

The secret lies in how we confront our hurts.  The closer we hold them to us—the more we pamper them—in a strange way, the dearer they become.  Healing is delayed every time we rip off the scab, and the darkness grows more profound.

OR we can turn every bruise, every wound, and every sorrow over to Him.

The Psalmist declared:  “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?  The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?  When the wicked came against me…they stumbled and fell. Though an army may encamp against me, my heart shall not fear…in this I shall be confident…For in the time of trouble He will hide me…”  Psalm 27:1-5.

REMEMBER

THE SUN WILL COME OUT TOMORROW

OUT OF STYLE

My family never could have been accused of being stylish.  At least the concept was not important in our home.  However, because of Mama’s ingenuity and nimble fingers, we were always clean and neat—not a bad looking bunch.

I remember standing in the middle of the floor while Mama, with scissors and newspaper fashioned a dress pattern, trying her best to make it like the one she had seen in J.C. Penney’s, occasionally holding it up against me to make sure it would fit.  I adored every new frock she made.  We were “homemade,” to be sure—from top to bottom.

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Mama taught me to sew on her old treadle sewing machine, when I was still a little girl.  By the time I was a young teen-ager I was making my own clothes.  I remember the stinging remarks of my classmate—one of the elite—making fun of my homemade dress.  To that point, I had been extremely proud of my ability to fashion a garment for myself.

That was, perhaps, the moment when I first began to think about style.  Yet, I have never been consumed with it.  I love pretty clothes, but I have always worn what I like—the things that look best on me regardless of whether or not it is the latest fashion.  I’m usually two or three years behind the times, and never really seem to catch up.

I have a lovely necklace that is made of hundreds of tiny golden glass beads strung together in a torsade.  I wore it to church a few weeks ago, and one of my pastor’s wives remarked, “O, did you know gold is coming back into style.”

Being who I am, I replied, “Imagine that!  All this time I didn’t even know that it was out of style.”

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Many people are obsessed with the need to be stylish.  I have observed people, particularly women—young women—who insist on wearing the latest style only to look ridiculous.  There is little individuality in this world today.  We follow the crowd like bunch of sheep.  We are not only expected to dress according to the present trend, but our speech and conduct must be politically stylish as well.

However, if you are a follower of Jesus, it is not the trends of this world or the crowd that will determine your style.  I do not speak of clothing, necessarily, but I speak of our manner of living.

Think of it!  The fashions of this world change from day to day. It’s enough to make your head spin.  It’s difficult to keep up, and the pocket book suffers.  We’re never quite sure whether or not we are trendy enough.

Am I wearing the right clothing?  Do I drive the right car?  Is my house nice enough?  Is my background impressive?  Do I run with the right crowd?  We want so much to fit in—to keep up with the times.

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It is comforting to me to know that Christ’s way never changes.  It has been the same since the beginning.  In fact you could call Him downright “Old Fashioned.”

The prophet Jeremiah, in 6:16 (the Message) tells us to “Go stand at the crossroads and look around.  Ask for directions to the OLD road, the tried and true road.  Then take it.  Discover the right route for your souls.”

1 Peter 2:21.  “For to this were you called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps.”

This simply means that we are to trace His life exactly.  Remember Kindergarten, when your teacher gave you a fat pencil and a paper with the ABC’s printed on it.  It was your task to trace over those big letters until you could get them right.  It wasn’t easy, but you finally did it.

This old road is difficult to be sure, but He has set an example, and He has forged the path.  When we place our feet in the prints He has left, we are living His lifestyle.

In Philippians 2:5, we read, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.” We are to think as Jesus thought, to love what He loved, to hate what He hated.  Our thoughts, desires, and motives should be the thoughts, desires and motives, which filled the heart of our Lord.

WE ARE TO IMITATE HIM—TO REPRODUCE HIS IMAGE.

 THE OLD ROAD is not very popular in our world today.  It is a road less traveled, but it is the road that leads to peace, and rest, and joy and contentment.

You can choose to live according to the changing fashions of this world, or you can live the Life Style of Christ.

 

the sun will come out tomorrow!