being  I am currently on “break” from school. My courses run in eight-week sessions with a two week break between. I had grandiose plans of getting so much done, but today is the last “official” day. And nothing is done.

No laundry, no changing my textbook/study center, no closet cleaning, no swapping out winter clothes, no basement hoeing, no plant planting. No “thing” is done. I didn’t actually hope to accomplish all of that, but I thought I would get to one or two things on the list.

Even though I sound discouraged, because I do like a tidy home and a lovely yard, I am not. All these things will get done when they are supposed to, if they are supposed to. You might be walking up my porch steps as I put away the last pair of underwear or wash that last pan, but “just in time” works. If November comes and I pull a sweater out of the dresser in my bedroom, where it has been for the entire summer and fall, then I’d say I’m ahead of the game.

So if I accomplished none of these “things” — where did my break go?

Two events come to mind. One event was a “must do.” Our lives are made up of those. Not because others dictate to us, but because we understand the importance for ourselves of doing them. This “must do” was attending my uncle’s funeral. Nearly all of us understand the “must do” component — while you want to support your family and be there for the event, the “must” part comes because no one likes facing death. But it is part of our lives and it is a fact of our history.

The other event was only a “must do” in that it was time for us to get away. But this was mostly spontaneous, especially in that we didn’t actually plan where we were going and just decided along the way. We didn’t actually book hotel rooms, either. Well, I guess that’s not so unusual for us. We just “hope” it works out and we might find a deal. My poor kids can tell you how this usually worked when traveling long distances!

So we ended up enjoying four nights and five days of spontaneity. Each night, the hotel room hunt was successful. The capstone night was finding the Common Man Hotel and Restaurant in Claremont, New Hampshire. What a lovely place. And we were offered a discounted rate, besides!

We didn’t have any particular agenda; no schedule to keep; no people to meet. So we drove, relaxed and rested.

But always present was one extra visitor that we didn’t invite. It was “that guy,” Cancer. He’s always with us these days. Though the doctors have indicated he is not active, neither do they say he is gone. And sometimes, we are reminded that he invaded our lives because of treatment side effects.

So in our wanderings, he was there. But because we were able to cut out other stresses, the time together was refreshing and brought us closer together. I recently heard a friend say that she is “living” with cancer — we are still learning how to do that.  It is a challenge to teach yourself to live in the moment; knowing that cancer wants to limit the moments. Our journey has been somewhat calm, so far, compared to others we have known. We are thankful for that and it reminds us to pray for those who face very hard treatments and prognosis. Our long weekend resulted in some much needed rest, introspection, conversation and rejuvenation.

So those things that I thought I’d get done during break don’t matter. Life isn’t about “things” — it is about moments. Our wonderful, happy, spontaneous moments this past week — that was living.

Here’s what we got to do!
Friday morning – rescheduled MRI in Rochester;
Friday night – Syracuse (NY) Mets ball game – Tim Tebow at bat x3 ;
https://www.milb.com/syracuse

Saturday morning – breakfast in Syracuse with Titus and Abigail  
http://www.thegemdiner.com/menu/ – “World Famous” Gem Diner;

From here I thought we were going to Boston, but the traffic dissuaded us.

Saturday afternoon – stopped in to see Bud’s Dad;
Saturday night – Dinner at Lizzie Keays (Bud’s sister’s restaurant in Warrensburg, NY)
http://www.lizziekeays.com/

Visit with friends in Thurman, NY;
Sunday morning – church at New Hope Church – Queensbury, NY;
http://www.sharingnewhope.org/ — excellent place to worship!
Sunday – Lunch with Bud’s Dad – Bud’s locally famous spaghetti;
Sunday afternoon – Andover, VT;
Sunday night — The Common Man Inn and Restaurant in New Hampshire
https://thecmaninn.com/ – a must do for you!;

Monday – Andover, New Hampshire
AND Andover, Maine
Had a great late lunch here:
https://www.facebook.com/AndoverGeneralStoreandDiner/;
Tuesday – Joshua Chamberlain Museum in Brunswick, Maine – Bud’s “History fix” – a bit of history about a Civil War general.
http://pejepscothistorical.org/chamberlain

and Home!

Our “Talk”

Broken-Together-image1Earlier this month, Bud and I were asked to share some of our experiences at the annual Sweetheart Dinner. The idea that the organizers wanted to convey is that marriage is not about living a fairy tale. It is the concept of two broken people living this relationship together and desiring to do it God’s way. I have attached a recording of the talk. I apologize for the “tin” sound you hear occasionally as the lectern I was using was wobbly. I didn’t realize it would make such an awful sound in the recording. After our talk, we showed a video (using photos from our church family) that highlighted the song “Broken Together.”

 

Broken Together – Youtube Video

In the talk, Bud emphasizes how prevalent divorce is in our families. However, there are those marriages who have stood the test of time. I am not going to our “cousin” level as I am looking primarily at those relationships that affected either Bud or me. The last eight couples on the list were distant relatives either in geography or in actuality. Some of those listed here have, indeed, reached their 50th anniversary! So as you see the list, marriage has survived in our families, as the names listed are those relationships that did not end in divorce. In my case, I did not get the benefit of observing a lasting marriage on display as we lived a good distance from most of those who were “making it.”

Bud’s Grandpa and Grandma Baker – Grandpa died when Bud was very young
Uncle Gary and Linda Rounds
Aunt Cynthia and Tom Needham
Uncle Eddie and Herma Baker
Uncle Jim and Barb Baker
Linda’s Grandpa and Grandma Ousley – Grandpa died when Linda was in elementary school
Grandpa and Grandma Miller
Uncle Fred and Sharon Miller
Uncle Dan and Marilyn Miller
Aunt Judy and Elwin Potter
Aunt Rita and Tim Silvey
Aunt Fran and Jim Fear
Uncle Holly and Geri Ousley
Aunt Lois and Emmet Trump

Two of our siblings have weathered the storms of their original marriage: Bud’s sister — Amber and Tom Grace and Linda’s brother — Keith and Cristina Ousley.

 

 

 

Christmas Points to Calvary

This year just needs to be simpler. So I only decorated a short little Big-tree-wanna-be. But the beauty still touches my heart. I placed on an ornament that commemorates our first date, one that is from our wedding, and mainly dough ornaments I made for our first Christmas tree. That first tree also had some tulle from the material for my wedding veil — I have echoed the idea once again in this tree. Our handcrafted (from a dear friend) angel was too weighty for the tree itself, but she’s there at the base.

With no adornment at the top, the tree seemed pretty empty. So I made a simple reminder. It isn’t a star, reminiscent of the Star of Bethlehem. It isn’t an angel to remind me of the account of the angel encouraging the shepherds to “Fear Not.”  It is a simple shiny red ribbon, surrounded by a lovely white bow.

” . . . Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; . . . “

And the tree, itself, is a reminder that though Jesus came as a sweet little baby, His destiny was the cross–the tree of Golgotha. It was this tremendous act of love that made possible the transformation of my sin, and yours, from scarlet to white.

Bud and I send Christmas greetings to one and all and we pray that your celebrations will remind you of God’s great love for you. He gave you the greatest gift of all, His Son.

2018Tree

Fight Like a Girl

FIGHT LIKE A GIRL!

This is the caption on my cousin, Sherri’s facebook image today. Sherri is a vibrant sherriChristian with one daughter, Kylee, who attends Cedarville University. Sherri teaches at Ironton High School in Ohio. Her mother is my Aunt Judy, who I wrote about yesterday.

Sherri’s Facebook posting this morning:

“I know I have lots of people praying for me – especially today since my last post indicated I’d be having another gamma knife procedure today, but things have changed yet again. My doctors found more lesions in the dura lining of my brain, and because of this, whole brain radiation is necessary. I went through the simulation and had a mask made on Monday and began treatment yesterday. I’ll have ten treatments total with Thanksgiving day & weekends off, so I’ll be in Columbus a lot. I’ve truly struggled this past week wallowing in negativity and self-pity. This morning, although I’ve slept very little, I feel energized and ready for this next battle in the war. I just ask that you pray my doctors are given wisdom, that I’m given strength, joy and peace, that Kylee is given assurance, and that my family is given resilience. I know I serve a mighty God who gives me hope and a future (Jer. 29:11), and He has a plan in all of this. I will trust Him and take joy in my future! This is an uphill battle, I know, but I’m ready. BRING IT ON!!!!!”

As you can surmise, she has been at this for a very long time. We have been praying for her and have seen God do wonderful things. It appears that this is another season of escalation for Sherri.

As Sherri continues on with her battle, my prayer for her is rest. For even in conflict the warrior must experience two types of rest – stillness of body and of mind. Her body has experienced a bit of rest these past few months, now it is being called into action for the next battle. And as she enters the battle, she is being called to the other rest, peace. When the battle rages the hardest is when peace can reign most supreme for the child of God.

Jesus offers Himself as the source of our peace:

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”  Matthew 11:28-30

He promises rest for those who come to Him. In our weariness, He wants us to observe and learn. This Master Teacher, who is so humble and so gentle, will show us that rest is possible. It is possible because of Him.

He has all authority to settle our hearts in peace. He can offer this peace because He is the very Prince of Peace:

“For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6).

I also pray that Sherri will know His presence. That she will be assured that He will never leave her; He will always be with her and He will show her the way.

The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” Deuteronomy 31:8

Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” Isaiah 30:21

Though these are my prayers for her, they are, rather, continued prayers. Because, you see she has been fighting like a girl. She has been shining the love of God through the entire process. She has been aware of His working in and through her. She has been faithful to Him.

She does fight like a girl.

She fights like a girl on her knees.

When the plan is not coming together.

When the plan is not coming together.  That is a hard concept to explore. We all make plans and we have our preferences of how we want things to go, and we base our plans on our preferences. We also base our expectations on our preferred plan.

This posting is not about Bud, but about my aunt.

I have a wonderful aunt, Judy. I have admired her and her family for my whole life. Whenever we would visit she was so welcoming. She always talked to me in a “grown-up” way. I truly loved observing her with her husband, Elwin. They have always seemed like a great match. I have lately learned that she has some “snark” as well. I would have never guessed it, but I suppose we all need some of that to get through life on this earth.Judy

My dear Aunt Judy has pancreatic cancer. I know that people the country over are praying for her. I would ask you to remember her as well. My heart is so sad that I haven’t known her better. But what I do know is this: she loves her family. She and Elwin have three grown children and several grandchildren. And they have taught that family how to love one another.

Isn’t that the main thing? We can get so caught up in chasing after stuff that we lose sight of the main thing. They stayed in one area and rarely moved. I can remember visiting them in one house all through my growing up years. After Elwin retired (?) they built a lovely house way out in the country and that is where they now live. I admire that they understood the value of belonging to a place, and they gave that sense of belonging to their children.

As I keep track of Judy’s struggles, I think of things that I would like to know, to do. Mostly, I just want to say, “I love you. Thank you for being such a great role model for me. I watched you even through our sporadic visits and I saw a woman who worked hard to grow her family in the important things. I see a woman who loves her husband and her family. I appreciate that you have spent your life serving and helping each one of them.”

I remember one summer thinking how selfless she was. She had just redecorated her bedroom and she actually considered my uncle’s taste when she chose the color. The room was very masculine. At that point in my growing up years, I just did not get it that she would lay aside her preference for his and actually choose a brown bedroom!

My Aunt Judy had plans to grow old with her husband; to watch her grandchildren grow up and marry; to not be beaten down by pancreatic cancer. But her plan is not coming together. Even when our plan does not come together, God is there, and all the more.

What I have learned recently is this … God wants us to be in Heaven with Him a whole lot more than we want to be there. We forget that we are spiritual beings on a journey home. God has waited these sixty plus years for Judy to live her life on earth and He has waited patiently. He knows that she will be with Him someday. And He knows that the “someday” is coming much sooner than she would have planned. The time He has had to wait for her companionship has been a gift to her and a sacrifice for Him. Even though “time” has a different meaning for Him, there has been a space of it where Judy has not been with Him.

And still He waits. I am so thankful for the time that her family still has with her, to love her and to show her that love. I know that God is hurting for her sweet family and for the loss that they will one day face—He is the God of compassion. He is moved by our pain.

I will continue to pray for my aunt. I know that her journey is so hard right now. I will pray for my uncle. His great love for Judy is so evident. His sorrow and pain in walking this path beside her, instead of for her, is heart breaking to observe. I will pray for my cousins and their children. That God loves each one of them is no mystery.

As Judy moves along her journey, I pray that she continues to point them all to love: her love for them as his wife, their mom, their grandmother; her love for the Lord who she invited into her life years ago; God’s love for her as He waits to enfold her in His tender embrace; ultimately God’s love for each one of her family.

When plans don’t come together, God is there, and all the more.