Monday, November 2, 2015

Needs, Wishes and Regrets

Today I am pensive.
Messy on the inside.
Days like today make me reflective.
Just last Friday, I heard a grief expert discuss "Grief overload".
Surely Central Arkansas is nearing that point. 
So many young people and adults gone too soon.

1.  Never worry that there is too much food, paper products, soft drinks and snacks.  There may seems to be too much,..but trust me,..they will come in handy in the coming months.   I did not have to buy Kleenex for 2 years and every time I went to my stash, encouraged me all over again.

2.  Someone may need to step in and manage the kitchen.  I'm sure that family members are doing it fine.  I thought so too,..until I  saw my sister-in-law Susan quietly sobbing at my kitchen sink.  It finally occurred to me that she needed to be comforted instead of "working".   My BFF and her family came in on the 3rd day and flat took over.  Thank goodness.

3.  Get Addresses.  Right now,..someone start writing them down.   Not just listing the gifts, visits and calls,..but get addresses.   

4.  I am grateful that I went all by myself into the funeral home and had quiet time with Jae Lynn. 
Just me and her. 
The funeral director guarded the door so I would not be disturbed.  
Regret:  I  sorely regret not encouraging my family members to do the same. 
For some odd reason, I worried that people would think it bizarre.

5.  Someone consider videoing the impromptu meetings, prayer vigils and speeches.  The family misses much of those meaningful tributes. 

6.  I hope that there are journals,..big ones, each home for friends and family to write in.  Those 3 big books full of heartfelt letters during the tenderness of pain are some of my most prized possessions.

7.  Write a note or card.  It's perfectly fine to express your thoughts or share a memory even if you do not know the family.  Don't just sign a card,..write a little something!

8.  I am grateful my family spoke at the funeral.  I am amazed that we did it, but I had been recently inspired by Dr. Lindy Bollen when he delivered an amazing tribute at his son Kyle's visitation 4 months earlier. 
Regret:  that we did not bounce the preacher and instead fill her service with tributes, poetry, memories or songs from family members and friends. 

9.  Us adults are pretty good at demonstrations and expressions of sympathy and support, but teenagers and children?...Not so much.  Encourage your teens to educate themselves on how to assist the surviving siblings.  Their current friend- skill- set will not be enough.

10.   If you feel helpless right now, me,..TrustMe.   There is plenty of time for you to provide meaningful support. 
As in the next 20-30 years.
The specific actions of love poured onto the hurting family during the immediate aftermath may or may not be remembered. 
However,..the cumulative feeling of love and support will never be forgotten.

Friday, October 2, 2015

In His Time

Tomorrow,..this weekend, is Jae Lynn's birthday.
I celebrate the day she was born and placed into our home!  

28 years ago, my daddy asked me to sing the Sunday night special for our evening worship services.  The song I had been practicing for a couple of weeks in preparation for the solo was a song entitled "In His Time".  It was a beautiful short little song which spoke to the theology that God makes everything beautiful in His time,..not necessarily our time.
However,..that particular Sunday night found me a hot mess.  For you see, at a hospital nursery, 20 miles away was a tiny baby girl who had been abandoned at birth with the understanding that she would be placed for adoption.
With Ralph and I.

Our hospital administration, however,..was making plans to make this tiny baby a ward of the state of Arkansas as soon as all government offices opened up the very next morning.

Ralph and I had chosen to not share the baby's birth with anyone, so daddy had no idea of why I was tearful and refused to sing the song on that Sunday night. 
I recall him being a tad irritated with me.
But he did not see the Epic internal emotional turmoil.
To sing of everything being beautiful in God's time was not something I was prepared to sing,..for I was terrified that God's timing would send this child into state cusotdy and I would be sent home with empty arms.

An earthly showdown of an utter lack of Faith.
I own it.

The NEXT Sunday, however,..found me belting out the song with gusto, I shared with my church family how God's timing was perfect.  The pain and confusion of our years of  infertility had turned into a celebration of God's unusual method of blessing.
Jae Lynn entered into our home within hours of her birth and I was forever changed.

So Now.
The Song In His Time continues to be a song with significant meaning to me.
I don't/won't sing it anymore, not because I don't believe God's timing is perfect,.... But mostly just
I can take issue with God's timing, even as I place my total trust in Him.
The epic internal emotional turmoil returns on days like October 3rd.
Celebration.  Regrets.  Confusion.  Confidence.
Life.  Death.  Birthday dinners.  Graveyards.

Most people who read that group of words above would, more than likely, focus on the hard ones.  But I,.. Jae Lynn's momma,.. live among them all quite easily now. 
This weekend, I plan to laugh, sing, remember, be filled with love and celebrate the life of Jae Lynn Russell.

Friday, January 11, 2013

He Knows All Things

I love Peter. 
I do.
That crusty impetuous fisherman blesses me. 
 Reading all about Peter gives me a road map of how messed up people are still welcome in God's service.

In the last chapter of Matthew, the scene opens with Peter,...back on his fishing boat. 
He had left the boat 3 years earlier to follow Jesus, and probably hadn't gone back to it until,....he denied Jesus during his trial and crucifixion. 
A very public failure for a very strong man.

Now, a few days later, Peter is sitting across the campfire from Jesus.
I imagine he is ashamed.  Maybe unsure of the relationship.

The next few lines have been the subject of many a sermon,..several of which I have struggled to understand.
It is a familiar exchange to most of us.
Jesus asks Peter 2 times, "Peter,.do you love Me?"and both times Peter replies "yes Lord, You know I love You".
But the 3rd time Jesus asked "Peter,...are you even my friend?"

I wonder how long it took Peter to respond. 
and I wonder why I never paid attention to Peter's response to that last line until recently.
"Lord you know all things.  You know I love You" 

Peter knew Jesus could look straight into his heart and see his true intentions, even when his behavior and actions were awful.

There are times when I'm horrified at the thought that God sees directly into my heart.
Then there are other times when I am grateful that He can do so.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Lost is OK

She listened to my instructions and left with confidence.

She was traveling just a few miles from home. 
She had traveled the roads hundreds of times before.
She was on her way to a close friend's home where she had been often.
She was lost.
LOST I tell ya.

"How in the world...." I asked..
"I know mom, but I did all the things you told me to do" 
(of course it is my fault)

Now, Abby was alone on an unfamiliar road with no idea of how to get the car heading back in the right direction.
A bit embarrassed.
A little scared.
A lot frustrated.
Lots of crummy feelings.

What's the only easy thing to do?
Just come on home.
No matter where she is, she can always find her way home.
In her mind though, was a Trip Fail.

Getting lost a few miles from home is not often where we find ourselves.  But then again, I swear I've been lost sitting smack-dab in the middle of my living room.  Had no idea where my life was heading.  The scary thing, is that those times, I don't even think I realized I was lost. 
I've spent days/weeks/months in a busy but spiritually aimless place in life.
Maybe I should call it "listless" instead of lost.
To me, me,..that's a Life Fail.

In my opinion, Abby was heading somewhere specific and saw things she never saw before.
She nows knows to listen better,..clarify directions from others.
She now has a much keener awareness of how to get to Tammy's house. 
She knows exactly what to do next time she finds herself at that intersection.
She solved the problem and found her way home.
Lessons learned and lost no longer.
I'd call that a successful afternoon.

Here at the New Year, if you ever have read my blog in the past, you KNOW I love to make goals, resolutions and plans. 
It's just helps me focus.
The teacher thinks it's a weakness.  He wishes I would just sit down and relax.

The thing is,..I am highly prone to getting flat-out-lost in the mundane, the routine, the apathy that has plagued me most of my life.
I desire passion, but I'm terrified to pray for it.
I know full-well that passion often comes to us through pain.
I wanna be brave but I often feel like a spiritual chicken.
I want to avoid all crummy feelings associated with heading somewhere and then getting lost.
This year, I've not written any detailed goals and resolutions, but have firm plans to be more intentional in life.
I'm going to be intentional about being intentional.
Pay attention to where I am going, and try my best to listening to God.
I'd rather follow God even if I don't know where I'm going, than sitting in my living room, lost listless as can be.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

A Letter To Me

Dear Me,

Well here you are 25 years after. 
Who would have thought it?
Not you.

25 years ago, you, who seldom gets super stressed about anything, almost fainted with worry and anxiety over a 7 pound baby locked away in the back room of your hospital's nursery. 
She was protected and hidden from you but mostly all your friends who were abuzz with excitement at the prospect of  an unexpected adoption and who kept running up to the hospital nursery for a glimpse of "Becky's baby"  (who wasn't Becky's baby at that time).

What a day that was.

But today? 
Well,...days like today simply aren't imagined. 

Like those Spring days in 2004, I know you still wonder how this happened.  The question seems bizarre, I know you don't speak it out loud to many people.  You  know what happened,..yet you still struggle with the reality.  It jumbles up your mind, but don't worry,..most people won't notice.

You go on out to her grave and remember the good stuff.  And you know what?  Go ahead and remember that bad stuff too.  Because it's a good reminder of how far you have come.   

Today, you can be thankful that you no longer hit your knees about halfway across the cemetery and have to crawl and sob the rest of the way to her grave.
Today, the memories of wonderful moments are not full of torture at the thought of never making more..
Today, you can dream and ponder Heaven without praying to go there.
You are doing well at family gatherings, holding hands in prayer and being thankful for those still present rather than focusing on the ones already home.
You are rich in friends.  Rich I say!  The relationships are deep and truly wonderful.
Today, is good.

Today, treasure the thought of being her mom and enjoy the gifts of her presence in your life. 
Of all the moms in the world, got to be Jae's.
She lives still.
Keep going Becky.  Altho things aren't always easy,..neither are they always hard.
Who would have thought it?

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Wrong Sides and Roundabouts

My wandering, wonderful daughter is now in Australia.  
Seeing new stuff, enjoying making new friends, struggling with employment issues, 
but in general having the time of her life.
She recently shared with me her experience of driving in a foreign country. 

In Australia, all cars must drive on the left side of the road.
Personally, I find that would be mind-boggling, but it seems to not bother much.

Another factor which could add to this complication is that her vehicle is a stick shift.

Here's your mind-exercise....
Pretend you are holding the steering wheel with your right hand 
and having to shift gears with your left hand.
all while driving on the left hand side of the road.

Still another complicating factor is all of this is that the intersections are all "roundabouts"

Getting out of a roundabout is dependent on knowing the name of the road you wish to get on and then knowing where the exit is located within the circle.  
Also, in Australia, the pronunciation of street names are not remotely phonetic.  (They may have given directions to turn onto O-NESS street which happens to be spelled like JONES.)
It's disorienting to the driver.
I had a friend tell me that when she was there, she had a passenger in her car reminding her to
"Stay left!  Stay left!"
Turn here!
Stay left!
Go around again and stay left.  
Now get right."

Sometimes, I think grief and pain is like that.
People in deep soul-pain are in a unfamiliar, foreign place which they've never been.
They have no experience and are utterly unprepared to navigate the overwhelming journey.
Emotional wrecking is common.

I will forever be grateful for the friends who entered into my roundabout of pain to encourage me.  The ones who wrote me letters, notes, called me up on the phone, took me to lunch, asked me into their home or came to visit me in mine,..until I could find my own way onto a road of healing.
"I've no idea how you feel but I love you."
"I'm sorry for your pain."
"I'm here."
"I've been in your shoes."
"you are doing good"
"I'm here"

 and then there were those who heaped more hurt onto me.
(They aren't forgotten either.)
Maybe they didn't mean to be mean,....but their stupid impatience made a significant and unforgettable impact on me.  People in pain need more quiet concern than others.

Luckily I have way more memories of friends who gave encouragement than
I do of the "friends" who were hurtful and mean.
Some people can't say that.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Here I Am.....

For some reason, I woke up wanting to read the Abraham and Isaac story in Genesis.  
I wrote about it a while back 

For some reason, this place in my Bible has very little writing all around it.  
Now I don't know why that is,... because usually when I study a story in-depth, it usually looks like this......

Anyway, maybe it was good that I'd not written much about Abraham because if I'd cluttered up my margins like I'm prone to do,..I might have missed something.

Three specific times in this story, Abraham says the same exact statement.
"Here I am"
Those were Abraham's words when the Lord calls his name one day out of the blue.
Now I have wondered if Abraham had wished he hadn't been so confident and willing to do "whatever".  Surely he didn't know when he eagerly offered himself that God was going to instruct him 
to offer his son on an alter.

Then later in the story, Isaac, confused, calls his dad's name.
Abraham's response to Isaac?
"Here I am"
How different he probably sounded then.  
I can picture Abraham confused and hurting.
Wishing to possibly comfort and reassure his beloved son, yet full of internal bewilderment.

Then a few verses down, we have the earthly spectacle of an eternal moment.
Abraham's arm is raised to do the unthinkable.  
He has never been so desperate, never felt so anguished,...
Yet,..he obeys.

God calls his name,.....Abraham! 

sobbing?,....."Here I am"

Now I'm no Abraham, I'm more like a conglomeration of all the disciples worst moments put together.
But I still want to be like him,.....

I want to say in any circumstance
Here I am...