Saying Goodbye…

 

I’ve never been good at saying goodbye.  There’s always a lump in my throat, and tears seeping from the corners of my eyes.  However, life is full of goodbyes.  People move, change jobs, retire, sever relationships, and ultimately leave this world.

Saying goodbye to someone you love is heart breaking.  My Mother looms the largest in my life, for it was she who had the longest and greatest influence upon me.  I knew that Mama’s love was genuine and would never diminish or disappear.  I could always and forever depend upon that love.

Remembering the milestone goodbyes we shared brings that lump to my throat again.  There was the day in 1955, when, as hardly more than a child, I boarded a Greyhound Bus for Waxahachie, Texas and my first year in college, and the day in 1960, when I packed my car and headed for Anaheim, California and a new teaching position.  August, 1975 was one of the hardest goodbyes, when I flew away to Brussels Belgium to begin Missionary Ministry.  There was an avalanche of tears, both mine and my Moms, because I wouldn’t be home again for four years.  Goodbye was almost impossible.

However, the night watch by my Mother’s hospital bed in 1989 was, up ‘till then, the saddest of times, for I knew that death was near.  How do you say goodbye to someone who has colored so much of your life, someone who was always there, and someone who loved unconditionally?  I didn’t!  There was nothing to say.  There were no right words.  She hugged me, hugged my brothers and drew her last breath.  How blessed I was to have a mother who made saying goodbye so hard!

Goodbyes make you think.  They make you realize what you’ve had, what you’ve lost, and what you’ve taken for granted.

I have friends to whom I have said goodbye innumerable times as we have crisscrossed this nation, and traveled the world.  We are all living, what some call, our “golden years.  Because of physical limitations travel is curtailed. We talk on the phone, but we never know when the last call will come.   And I think, whether I ever see them again or not, there are no ultimate goodbyes for us, for wherever my friends are, they will always be in my heart.

The hardest thing in life is to say “Goodbye” for the last time.

When Cecil and I married, in 2013, he was almost 80 and I was 77.  To our knowledge, we were both healthy and raring to go.  We had all kinds of exciting plans.  We would travel the world, serve short term missionary assignments, spend time with friends across this country, and visit the “Great Wall of China.

We never did any of those things.  After less than four months of married bliss, in a matter of moments, all those hopes and dreams evaporated into thin air.  A frantic trip to emergency, an MRI, and the doctor’s solemn announcement brought everything to an agonizing halt.  Cecil suffered an inoperable aortic aneurism.  Death was certain.  It was time to say goodbye.  

At home, we tried to carry on life as usual, then back to the hospital and a week in a hospice facility, where they tried to teach me how to help Cecil die.  I didn’t want to help him die.  I wanted to help him live.  Cecil thought it would be wonderful, if we could die together, but I didn’t think so.  I didn’t want to die, and I didn’t want him to die.  I didn’t want to say “goodbye.”

Seven weeks to the day, after the doctor diagnosed him, Cecil died here at home.  He told me he was going to go to sleep, and he wasn’t going to wake up. That’s exactly what he did!

Saying that ultimate “Goodbye” is not a simple ‘So Long.’  It is a process by which one gradually lets go, day by day, of the one departed.  That process may take agonizing months or even years.  

Today, I am going to say “Goodbye” again.  I have written this blog for about four years, and I have loved every moment of it.  Now after much prayer and considerable thought, I have decided that it is time to lay it aside.  I have so enjoyed sharing with you pieces of my life, and the truth of God’s Word.  I’m not sure what I will do on Mondays now, and I will miss the struggle and the satisfaction of coming up with a meaningful truth, but I promise you I will be busy.  AND, who knows, after a brief respite, I may one day blog again.

So, goodbye to faithful readers and friends I have never met, and let me remind you that to those who are believers, and followers of Christ, goodbyes are not forever.  Goodbyes are not the end.  It simply means, “I’ll miss you ‘till we meet again.”

1 Thessalonians 4:16-18 tells us that one day, perhaps soon, when that trumpet sounds, whether dead or alive, we who are in Christ will rise to meet Him in the air.  “And thus we shall always be with the Lord,” and with each other.

Think about it.  No more sad farewells—no more tear dimmed eyes.  “Therefore comfort one another with these words.”

“GOODBYE,” and God Bless ‘Till we meet again.

Just so you know.  My puppy is home again, and I have decided I can keep the little mutt after all.  

 

Remember, the sun will come out tomorrow!

 

 

 

DOES PRAYER WORK?

 

Can you really pray the clouds away?

In 1938 Herbert Buffim wrote the song, “Pray the Clouds Away.”

“When you hear the thunder booming, when you see the lightning flash,

When the castles you have builded have fallen with a crash, 

And when everything around you has all crumbled to decay, 

If you will just start right in praying, you can pray the clouds away.”

 

Last week a cloud appeared on my horizon.  Oh, it wasn’t a booming thunder cloud.  My home was not in danger.  No one was dying.  I had not lost my last nickel, and the world wasn’t coming to an end.  It all had to do with my computer.  Since I know next nothing about this technical monster with which I deal every day, when something goes wrong, tears are often my first resort.

It was my e-mail.  All of a sudden I could not access my e-mail.  The screen said, “Century Link—Welcome Home.”  I was instructed to type in my e-mail address and password.  I did that, clicked “Login,” and in little red letters, I was told either my address or password or both were wrong.  I knew better.  I have had the same address and password for the last eleven years, but I obediently entered them again.  In fact I entered them a dozen or more times to no avail.  I was extremely busy, so I gave up until a couple of days ago, when I called Century Link.

After waiting 20 minutes, I carefully explained my problem to the voice on the other end of the line.  “Oh, we can fix that,” he assured me.  So after I had answered a myriad of questions, he went to work.  I could hear him typing and muttering, then he said, “Mrs. Reese, there is no evidence that you have ever had an e-mail account with us.  “Well,” I replied.  It has worked well for me for the past eleven years.”  So he typed and muttered some more.  Finally he called a tech to help him, but neither of them could find my e-mail.  

After nearly an hour, their only solution was no solution at all.  They would open a new account for me, but that meant losing all the e-mail addresses and other information I had accumulated through the years.  I wasn’t happy with that, so Chris kept searching, and I started praying.  Do you pray about such things—the “little” things?  Surely God doesn’t care about computers!

It was a very short prayer—just seven simple words.  “Lord, please help Chris find my e-mail.”  I had scarcely finished my prayer, when I heard an exclamation at the other end of the line.

“Did you find my e-mail?” I asked.  

“Yes,” he replied.

“How did you find it?” 

“I don’t know,” he answered hesitantly.

“Well, I know,” I told him.  “You may or may not believe in prayer,” I said, but just a moment ago I prayed asking The Lord to help you find my e-mail.  That’s how you found it.  Thank you so much for the time and effort you have put in.  I give you credit for that, but I give God the credit for finding my e-mail account.”

Chris thanked me for being appreciative, but he had not one word to say about my prayer.  It was not the time, nor was there opportunity to speak further, but I am sure he will think more than once about my prayer and how he found the e-mail.  There is no telling how God will use that brief encounter with Chris.

After we hung up, I thought how quickly God had answered my plea.  It is not always that way.  Most of the time I have to wait, and wait, and wait, and sometimes God simply says, “No!”

Later, I realized that God had not only answered my prayer about the e-mail, He had answered a prayer I had prayed that morning.  I had asked Him to connect me with someone that day to whom I could be a witness.  

Guess what!  Prayer does work.

In Philippians 4:6, there is wonderful counsel direct from God.  “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.”

James 4:2 says, “…you do not have because you do not ask.”

Matthew 7:7, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.”

God promises that people who pray are far better off than people who don’t.                             

Oswald Chambers is credited with having coined the phrase, “Prayer Changes Things.”  Things do change for the better through prayer, and we change for the better through prayer.

I don’t know what cloud hangs over you today.  It may not be bigger than a man’s hand or it may cover the whole sky.  No matter!  Take the Apostle Paul’s advice.  Do not spend your time worrying over it.  PRAY!  God knows how to chance the clouds away, big or little, AND don’t forget “…with Thanksgiving!”

 

REMEMBER, THE SUN WILL COME OUT TOMORROW!

 

LITTLE THINGS MEAN A LOT

“Blow me a kiss from across the room

Say I look nice when I’m not

Touch my hair as you pass my chair

Little things mean a lot.”

This popular song was written by Edith Lindeman and Carl Stutz, was published in1953, and Billboard ranked it as the #1 song of 1954.

I really know nothing of Edith Lindeman and Carl Stutz, or why they wrote this song, but I can’t help wondering what difficulties they may have weathered or losses they may have suffered.  For, it seems that somewhere along life’s journey, they may have learned something about what is really important.

Take a look at some of the lyrics:

“Don’t have to buy me diamonds and pearls

Champagne, sable and such…

Give me your hand when I’ve lost my way

Give me your shoulder to cry on

Whether the day is bright or gray give me your heart to rely on…

Send me the warmth of a secret smile

To show me you haven’t forgot…

Little things mean a lot.”

 

During this past year—this very unusual year, I have learned to appreciate the little things more than ever.  In the beginning, self-quarantining wasn’t a big problem for me.  I was used to being alone, and I certainly had plenty to do to keep me busy.  Of course, I had always had an option—just jump in the car on a whim and go—to the mall, the grocery store, or lunch. 

 

Then all of a sudden everything changed.  Being home alone wasn’t fun anymore, and I was tired of eating my own cooking seven days a week. 

 

Early one Saturday evening, I decided to venture out.  So, off to Taco Bell I went.  Of course, the restaurant itself wasn’t open but drive through was doing a booming business.

 

I ordered a “Nachos Bell Grande” with lots of hot sauce.  When I glided up to the first window, a lanky teen ager greeted me with a big smile, and agreed to give me the senior’s discount.  You have to ask for it at Taco Bell.  

“Don’t forget the hot sauce,” I reminded him.

This became my Saturday night ritual.  All week I look forward to it.  Nachos are my treat for the week, and my escape from the house.  But the best part is, that teen age boy who takes my order and my money.  It wasn’t long before he began to recognize my voice.  

“Yes, I know,” he said with a laugh.  “You want lots of hot sauce and a senior’s discount.”

He’s always very warm and friendly.  Actually, I miss him when he is not there.

LITTLE THINGS!  A telephone call from Germany, or my girlfriend on the east coast, a gift of wonderful grapefruit fresh from the tree, a friend coming to set up my newly purchased puppy playpen, beautiful tulips from the people who deliver my groceries.  LITTLE THINGS!  These are the things that have kept me going.

I don’t need a Prime Rib dinner at Texas Road House.  A sweet young man at Taco Bell fits the bill.  When I’m lonely and alone, I just need someone who cares, and I believe we all feel that way.  

Honestly, being in the ministry for so many years, I was sort of used to people doing nice things for me.  Of course I liked it.  Who wouldn’t?  However, during this year of disease, distress, and destruction, I have had to recalibrate my thinking to some degree.  I watched while neighbors, friends and total strangers have sacrificed to provide for those in need.  They have not only given stuff, but have given of their time and energy.  They have given themselves!  At the age of eighty-five, I am determined to give myself.  That may not be much, but it’s the little things, the caring that matters.

In Mark 12:41-44, Jesus tells of an offering He observed.  He saw rich people giving much. Then a poor widow came and threw in two small coins—two cents.  Jesus told His disciples, “…this poor woman gave more to the collection than all the others put together.  All the others gave what they’ll never miss; she gave extravagantly what she couldn’t afford—she gave her all.” 

In 1 Corinthians 12:28, the Apostle Paul speaks of some of the gifts God has put in the Church.  Apostles, Prophets, Teachers, workers of Miracles…and He places the gift of “Helps” right in the middle of the other great gifts. We sometimes have the idea that, if we can’t be something great, we can’t be anything at all.  Fact is most of us will never be Prophets, Teachers, or Apostles, but we can all be helpers.

Virginia, she is in glory now, was a missionary with me in Belgium.  She was the poster child for the “gift of helps.”  She was always there to do the menial things that no one else had  time to do.  She thought she was not of much use, and sometimes longed for a more elevated position.  Only in heaven will she understand what an essential place she played in her service to God and others.  Her little things were indispensible.

You may never be a person of renown, but you can be a Helper.  In the end, with your “Little things” you will have given more than all the greats.

 

REMEMBER, THE SUN WILL COME OUT TOMORROW!