Friday, July 26, 2013

Gifts on the Mind - Christmas six months away!

I don’t know if it is the reality that Christmas comes in six months or just that grace has been on my mind, but they kind of came together this morning.
Now this may be a strange beginning, but I will get there.

Sweat tickling down my back and lizards shimmying up the wall behind the pastor wanted to distract me but communion had always been a sacred, and a little bit scary thing for me, so  I struggled to pay attention…even though most of the service was in a language I could not yet grasp.
Women sat on one side, men on the other, and everybody else’s children sat up front.  I still kept mine with me on the women’s side, about half way back.  The pews were simply mud-brick benches – no back, and as hard as you can imagine.  Occasionally the rooster, tied to a chair on the platform, given as an offering crowed, and a bee buzzed low around my head. But I could see the platter of chunked baguettes and cups of communion juice (is it sacrilegious to say it tasted sort of like ashes – not that I had ever imbibed of the juice of ashes) coming my way.

In those moments I became aware of the absolute unity of the body of believers. All around the world believers would be taking communion, drinking some juice, or wine, in memory of Christ’s shed blood and eating the bread (or crackers) in memory of His broken body.  I was just a tiny part of that amazing body of people, of countless languages, of different skin colors, of different traditions even, but men and women and children who believed Christ paid their sin-debt on the cross – the greatest grace gift of all.
Today I am grateful for the grace gifts of hope, of security, and of my place in a much larger family – the genealogy which goes beyond blood. I pray for the Body and I know there are those who pray for me.  How amazing that is, to never be alone….God said He will never leave nor forsake us, but God can also lay me on the heart of some other family member, just as I am certain there are those I have prayed for who do not know me.

I am only beginning to understand grace, unmerited favor, the lavish gifts of God.  This morning, I feel as though I am standing under a waterfall of His grace.


Thursday, July 25, 2013

Just a bag of cosmetics!!

That’s what it was, a plastic make-up bag filled with things like nail polish, lipstick, fragrance, nail files even, but what made it so wonderful is that my husband thought it up all on his own.  He took the time to pick out the colors, the fragrances, each item so foreign to anything he would normally shop for and from an area of the store he would never visit.  It was one of those Christmas gifts from my husband I have never forgotten…just because it was all his idea.
Then this morning I found this line in the Message, James 4: 6, And what He gives in love is far better than anything else you’ll find.  The NIV puts it this way: But He gives us more grace…James 4:6a NIV

The idea is the same; God graces us because He loves us, and the way He loves us is better than anything we could imagine.  And like that wonderful Christmas gift so many years, God’s grace gifts are absolutely personalized…He thought about you and me and designed exactly what He knew would be the best gifts for us.
This morning one of my grace gifts was this passage.  Honestly, I have been struggling with contentment, with the desire to do something meaningful.  Then God graced me in two ways: this passage and a call from my older daughter reminding me that words have influence – even when they are lined into cyberspace. 

I sit here happy.  Yup, happy!  Content!  You should see this silly grin!  God reached down through all the pages I consume every day and messaged me: what He gives us far better than anything I could find. And through encouraging words from my grown-up child and encouraging words spoken through His words.
I have to thank Eugene Peterson for his work making the Word of God even more accessible.  A couple of years ago I heard Eugene Peterson speak and address the young pastors-to-be in the audience: Get your languages he said.  Peterson translated from the original languages  when he worked on the Message, putting God’s thoughts into contemporary language…so I thank God for allowing me to go to the Festival of Faith and Writing where I heard Peterson and where my fear of the Message was defused, just one more grace gift this morning.


Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The Unseen Visitor At TLC

Did you ever think of Jesus walking about seeking those whom He could bless?  I know we are all aware of the Scripture that tells us the devil walks about like a roaring lion seeking whom he would devour(I Peter 5:8), but what about Jesus as the Son of God?
As I was praying this morning about TLC and all the workers – and there are a ton of them, everything from kitchen workers to counselors to maintenance workers to the workshop leaders and musicians, the image of Jesus walking about the campus became very vivid.

Jesus is present.  In Matthew 18:20 we find Him speaking these words, “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there I am in the midst of them.”  So, this morning Jesus is there on campus at BBC at TLC wandering around in the midst of 500 some people, and I cannot imagine Him doing anything other than seeking whom He could bless.
Some He will bless with a renewed and refreshed faith that He is Who He said He was, the One Who loved them so much He bore their sin debt on the cross.  Some He will refresh with a reminder that on that cross He paid their sin debt in totality, that wandering around on earth under a load of sin and guilt was not His plan for them.  Some He will bless with relationships, with the reminder that they are not alone in their faith but there are hundreds of other young men and women who love God.  Some He will bless with refreshment through the great music, music that will run through their minds and hearts when they leave the campus and which will encourage and bless them for the months to come. Others He will bless in ways we will never know unless they tell us.

The point is, I love that image, the invisible Christ, seeking to speak blessing into the lives of all those kids and their youth leaders and the staff of TLC today.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

TLC, and it's not a TV channel!!

Funny, as old as we are, we are so unconscious of those we influence or those who influence us. Yesterday I helped with the registration for the Teen Leadership Conference on our campus…some four hundred senior highers filled our dorms, spilled over the sidewalks and ran from raindrops yesterday afternoon. 
However, as exciting as it was to see all of that, what I loved best was recognizing faces, not the faces of the teenagers, but of their youth leaders bearing the papers needed to register their groups,  Eileen’s smile still lights up a room, and though Johnny did not recognize me, I recognized him.  And I could name a bunch of other graduates, still in ministry, graduates even from the last century – now that sounds impressive.

We hear so much negative about young people (I’m in my sixties, so young encompasses a pretty big group), but the one word that kept echoing in my mind yesterday was faithfulness.  These young men and women are still living lives of faithfulness.  They are still loving God in practical ways, the evidence of which was written all over the really young people they brought back to campus.
I’m sure influencing me was the last thing on their minds yesterday, but they influenced me – all those kids who once sat in my (our) classrooms, our chapel services, our dorms.  I loved reading the peace and excitement (yes both) on their faces.  I know they have lived through lots of pain, because if you work with kids and love kids, you will face pain with them.  But their faces also bore a lightness, a tenderness, the marks of that love, not the tough cynicism, the hardness, the sadness, the resignation I see on the faces of so many.

Today, I am influenced and encouraged by young alumni, who bless us all by their fidelity.

Friday, July 19, 2013

It's a matter of choice!

I have been thinking about choices in relationship to our thought life and relationship, but this morning was challenged by other choices we make.

We are, I am, so rich we/I get to make many choices – which kind of bread, which kind of meat, which kind of potato or rice or pasta….not whether we will or can eat. 
Maybe a year ago I read Ann Vos Kamp’s book – 1000 Gifts and was challenged to each day record three blessings….the ordinary to us, but blessings nonetheless. I write yesterday’s blessings in my journal each day, and it dawned on me this morning, the blessings we have in choice.

I would imagine most of my stateside readers had a cupboard and refrigerator full of choices to select from already today.  And that is after the choices you made from your dresser and closet full of clothes.  I remember in Africa being admonished to be careful about the laundry I hung out because the Chadians generally seldom had more than one change of clothing – if they had that…and I hung out six or seven pair of underwear per family member and more than that number of dresses or pants and shirts for my family each week – more because it was so hot and kids get so dirty. 
Here’s a side note: a neighbor had a new baby and my seven-year-old and her Chadian friend often carted the infant around.  Because Chadians cannot afford diapers, well you can imagine,  and because diseases are often transmitted through bodily fluids, I told Amy she could only hold baby Dorcas if she would come home immediately and change her clothes if the baby wet on her.  So Amy’s laundry piled up fast.

Anyway, I wonder how often we thank God for the privilege of having so much and so many choices.  Then I wonder whether we should have quite so many choices.  For thirty plus years I worked and stuff piled up because mostly I was too busy to really notice.  This summer one of my chores has been to declutter, and I have been shamed by the choices we get to make when too many have no choices.  They truly live in the moment. Because that is all they have!

So, feeling too rich today, I am going to continue pruning, making choices..and some are difficult.  We do get attached to our stuff. 

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Infidelity: Is it a way of life? Even my life?

Do you believe in coincidences?  I do, sort of – divine coincidences that is, the kind only the Spirit of God could and does orchestrate.  Yesterday I wrote about infidelity in marriage and the way it could look on the outside and the reality of what it is on the inside.
Then today, I read from The Best of Andrew Murray on Prayer, as is my regular routine and came upon the following line: Everything in life is to bear the signature of the name of Jesus. Wow, what a thought!  And what a challenge…does everything in my life bear the signature of the name of Jesus?  What I eat, what I wear, what I do, where I go, what I read?  And well you get the idea.  And if it doesn’t, what then?

After that time of challenge and prayer, I went on to read James 4 (our church is working through James this summer and we have been encouraged to read the book through each week and in a different version.)  So, I am using The Message this week.  Here’s is what chapter four sounds like in verses four and five:
You’re cheating on God. If all you want is your own way, flirting with the world every chance you get, you end up enemies with God and His way.  And do you suppose God doesn’t care? The proverb has it that  “he’s a fiercely jealous lover.”

Is this the theme for the week? I wondered, infidelity?  And when I choose, without consulting, or even ignoring God’s mind, am I actually cheating on God?  I think of the woman I read about yesterday and her record of her response to her husband’s infidelity.  My husband and I spent four years at our church as grief counselors, running a small group for those who had experienced loss, and the language Wendy used as she described her feelings and choices sounded just like the language of those who had lost a loved one to death.
Desolation! Absolute abandonment! Hopelessness!  Emptiness and purposelessness! NO motivation to take even the next step! An inability to make choices!

Certainly God goes on, whether we are faithful or not, but I could not help wondering how our choices make Him feel.  Certainly we have feelings because He did, so what we do does cause Him to feel.  Love always results in emotion!
And today I am driven to examine my record of fidelity – not over my lifetime.  I could not handle that, and I am grateful for His forgiveness. But what about the choices I have made today?  When I think about the vivid images that come to mind when I read the word “flirting,” I am forced to consider whether that is what we do when we watch a TV show or movie, knowing we probably wouldn’t if Jesus were sharing the couch with us.  Would we tell or listen to that joke if we could see Him in the circle? 

You can fill in the areas of your life where you are most vulnerable to temptation, and we can both pray that we will be so sensitive to the leading of the Spirit that we will notice when the real temptation is to flirt with the world and then perhaps cheat on God.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Like charging on a credit card: the pleasures of sin for a season---And then the awful price!!

And then the awful price.

Reading good literature – read that well written literature – makes me better as a writer.  So after I had my stack of Latin American works last week, I passed by the new nonfiction section, and picked up two, by title alone.  One was the book about a child raised by monkeys; the other was subtitled A Memoir of Marriage.  Since I am up to my elbows in a memoir, that seemed a good choice
However, it was not what I expected.  Instead it was the story of a tragedy, the author’s early betrayal of her wedding vows, and her husband’s betrayal later in their marriage.  The marriage counselor she saw told her to confess her transgressions to her husband, and from the outside looking in, it appears that gave him license for his infidelity.

In the early chapters of the book, she recounts her affairs, painting them with the brilliant colors of desire and passion and adventure, but she subsequently paints them also with the greys and blacks of lies, deceit, subterfuge, fear, and regret.  Lies had to be made up, remembered, pulled out again as history until eventually the affair swirled down the drain like dirty water after a storm.
Except that, as in the aftermath of a hurricane, the storm does not leave the landscape untarnished.

She somehow never expected her husband’s final affair to last ten years and birth a child by the time she discovered it.  She never expected him to leave her and their two sons, to lose their home, to lose the dreams she had maintained since she stood in a white dress and pledged her heart and body to her husband.
As I read the book, I grew steadily more grieved, for all of the lives touched by this nightmare because there seemed no reason not to live that way, nor did she seem to have any idea of how to right the mess.

She, they, did not know God.  She writes, as she reflects on 18 years of marriage and then five years of recovery after her husband finally walked out, that she still believes in marriage,” that there is no better way to get through adult life than as a married person.”  She goes on to say, “I used to think that marriage was based on passion and love.  Now I see that it’s based mostly on loyalty.  Loyalty with warmth.”
She also seems to believe that few people are hard-wired for fidelity, for monogamy. As I read that near the end of the book, I wondered if she realized she was saying that most people were doomed to the “hell” as she described it consequent to infidelity.

And finally, I wanted so much to tell her that it did not have to be that way.  That people could learn how to love, that love means finding joy in blessing your mate.  I labored over that last line, but I think that is what it comes down to, caring enough about someone to day- by- day seek ways to bless them, and you can only know and do that if you are aware of how loved and blessed you are by God first.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Living with Monkeys? No, real capuchin monkeys!!

Ephesians 4:3-4  Always keep yourselves united in the Holy Spirit…We are all one body, we have the same Spirit.
So Yay! for us.  Blessings rain on us because we are loved, guided, protected, encouraged, admonished, cherished…we belong to God and to this Body, the Church – local and universal. But what about all of those outside of the family of God?

Can you imagine being snatched from the bosom of your family as a four-year-old and then being dumped in the middle of the jungle, left for dead?  In The Girl With No Name: The Incredible True Story of a Child Raised by Monkeys, Lynne Barrett-Lee and Marina Chapman, tell Marina’s amazing true story of survival in the jungle and then cities of Columbia.
For four years, Marina actually lived as part of a monkey troop, learning from them how to survive, until she happened upon an Indian woman giving birth.  She followed the woman to a village where she eventually revealed herself, only to be rejected and sent back to the bush.  Remember, for four years or so, she had no contact with humans, had no clothing, no haircuts, no baths, and no one to affirm or build human language.  So she communicated through the language of sounds she had learned from the monkeys, moved on all fours, and ate whatever the jungle and monkeys provided.

From the jungle, her story moves to nightmarish experiences at the hands of other humans until, what she believes was her mid-teens, she was rescued from the house of major criminals by a daring woman.
At the end of the book, the writer gives the name of a charity whose aim is the rescue and help of throwaway children:  Substitute Families for Abandoned Children (SFAC) – family based care over institutional care.  I think that must be a lot like our foster care system in the US.  She also recommends Neotropical Primate Conservation (NPC), a group that strives to protect monkeys and conserve their homes, in response to the illegal wildlife traffic.

I guess today I am feeling too blessed and burdened by the life I have been given…and I wonder how many other church goers feel as I do.  I wonder how it is that we can enjoy our riches when too many have nothing…and I wonder what God wants, expects from us in relationship to the apparent “fatherless.”


Monday, July 15, 2013

Don't ask, if you don't want an answer

For thirty years, every morning I got up and went to school - well, not on most weekends, but I knew where I was supposed to be.  Then I retired!~ Everybody keeps asking me how I'm doing and whether I like retirement.  I am not sure how to answer them. But I have been asking God what He wants my retirement to look like and I think, just maybe, He is beginning to show me....don't you love God moments?  Holy coincidences?

Anyway this last weekend, two forms of media shook my world.  First, my husband shared a video of a young girl, shot in the face by the Taliban in Pakistan, speaking at the United Nations in response to what happened to her.  Let me suggest you go to this site to read the text of her speech:
I would like to quote it all here but let me give you a bit:
So here I stand...    one girl among many.  I speak – not for myself, but for all girls and boys.  I raise up my voice – not so that I can shout, but so that those without a voice can be heard.  Those who have fought for their rights:  Their right to live in peace.  Their right to be treated with dignity.  Their right to equality of opportunity.  Their right to be educated.  
Dear sisters and brothers, we realise the importance of light when we see darkness. We realise the importance of our voice when we are silenced. In the same way, when we were in Swat, the north of Pakistan, we realised the importance of pens and books when we saw the guns.
The wise saying, “The pen is mightier than sword” was true. The extremists are afraid of books and pens. The power of education frightens them. They are afraid of women. The power of the voice of women frightens them. And that is why they killed 14 innocent medical students in the recent attack in Quetta. And that is why they killed many female teachers and polio workers in Khyber Pukhtoon Khwa and FATA. That is why they are blasting schools every day.  Because they were and they are afraid of change, afraid of the equality that we will bring into our society.

Then we watched a movie from 2007 - Freedom Writers - a true story about a first year teacher at Long Beach, California where her inner city students, as 14 year-old freshmen, have all been shot at and have lost one or more of their friends to gang violence.  They do not really believe they will live to graduate.  Now there's a challenge for an English teacher!!  But she is creative and she believes they could and should learn, even when she must take on second and third jobs to fund the books and trips they need to give them hope and a way out.

These two young women believed in a cause and pursued it, at the possible cost of their own lives.  Their courage and bravery and willingness to personally sacrifice reminds me of the young missionaries who "gave up" all they could have had in this country to carry the gospel to those who had no hope.  It made me think of our young BBC grads who are willing to think outside of the box to follow God into uncharted territory because they believed God for their future.

And it challenged me to consider what God might have for me now, if I would just believe and follow His leading.  So what does retirement mean to means adventure.  It means courage.  It means believing and anticipating and watching for what and where God might lead...Right now, I am a writer, so for the moment, it means writing.  We will see what else it means.

Friday, July 12, 2013

July 12 We went to the movies! The Lone Ranger

I grew up watching the “real” Lone Ranger, the one who rode Silver, was accompanied by his pal Tonto, and who always caught the bad guys – kind of a Robin Hood character---well, the Robin Hood I knew.  Anyway, we went to the new movie, The Lone Ranger, with a certain set of expectations, our Hero would ride again.
Now I had heard that Johnny Depp had researched Indian history and had even joined an Indian tribe, and that he was doing everything he could to respect the Indian people.  But did he have to make the Lone Ranger be such a weak and silly character for most of the movie?  Now, it is not that I wanted the Indian people to be made less than; I just didn’t think my hero needed to be made less than.

As I thought about this, it took me back many years to the mission field in Africa.  We were the “newbies,’ and I expected the veteran missionaries to deserve the pedestal I had put them up on. Then I was crushed when I realized they were normal people who sometimes succumbed to self and temptation.  Mind you, it never occurred to me that I was a missionary and someone might have me on a pedestal because I knew how flawed I was.
We do that though, don’t we?  Look at other believers, especially those in any kind of leadership or public role, put them on a pedestal and expect them to be perfect, to never let us down, to never let themselves down.  And when they do, because they are not perfect, bad things happen.  Their weakness becomes an excuse to walk away for some.  For others, it becomes a rationale for their own weaknesses, and future failures.  The problem is our eyes are in the wrong place.

Let me quote from Andrew Murray:  (Our) teaching must always be a personal testimony from experience (of) who Christ is and what He can do.  The Holy Spirit carries the message as a living reality to the heart.  It is this that will build up believers so that they can walk in fellowship with Jesus Christ. And it is this that will lead them to the knowledge of the indispensable secret of spiritual health – the prayer life in daily fellowship, in childlike love, with the Father and the Son.
Therein lies the challenge, to keep our life and conversation focused on the reality of the gospel and how it has influenced our lives.  I don’t know why, well, yes I do, it is so hard to talk about our personal
relationship with Christ.  It is because the evil one is alive and well and seeking whom he may devour.  So he lies to us and makes us afraid of talking about personal spiritual things, when in reality, the testimony of God’s work in our personal faith journey is the one thing that could have lasting influence.
As much as I fail to keep Him there, the only One Who belongs on any kind of pedestal is my Lord.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

July 11, 2013 Lifting up Holy Hands – staying focused

It was a writers’ conference at Wheaton…we were in an auditorium at the college and I did not know a soul.  Before the class started, the leader led in some worship choruses, and I watched from the fifth row back, as hands rose as we sang.
I must confess a load of thoughts went through my mind, my rooted in a conservative and fundamental Baptist background.  What did I get myself into?  Are these a bunch of charismatics and will someone start speaking in tongues next?  Please forgive me for what that sounds like.  I am just being honest.

Then, I started paying attention to the words we were singing, and my hand wanted to go up to join them in worship.  It was as though my right arm, my right hand has suddenly become more spiritual, more worship minded than the rest of me.  I don’t want people to look at me, I remember thinking, but as quickly as I thought that, I realized how foolish it was.  At least half of them were singing and worshipping with their hands in the air.
And ever so gently, I obeyed the Spirit, and my right arm rose, almost on its own.  And…I have to confess, I began to realize that raising my arm in worship, in reverence and honor to God made the whole worship experience more real than any I had experienced previously.  There was something about the physically raising my hand that helped me focus, gave meaning to my words.  I was no longer singing along with people.  I was singing to God, my hand raised in worship to Him, and it didn’t matter if anyone else cared or not.

I went back home, and then came the real challenge.  Had this been an emotional response to the experience or was it real?  And in the next worship gathering, as we sang our worship to God, it seemed to me more of a fraudulent thing to keep my hand down.  So I allowed it to rise, my palm up to God, thinking and praying, “Here it is, all of me, Precious Lord.  Fill me - Spirit, teach me and receive my worship.”
I’m not trying to convert anyone to this, but as I prayed this morning privately, in my office, my hand rose in worship. It struck me then that maybe there might be others who would want to share in the freedom and joy of simply yielding it all to Him, and not worrying about what anyone thinks about it.


Wednesday, July 10, 2013

July 10, 2013 Loving How God Gets Specific, a confession!

The theme for our messages this summer at church has been Faith in Motion, and the theme for this Sunday was “At the Center of the YOUniverse.” The take home one liner at the top of the paper was this: IF I choose to life FOR myself, I will end up living BY myself.
Saturday at a family reunion of sorts, my niece, like everyone I know, asked how I was liking retirement.  Even I was surprised at my answer: "I didn’t know how lonely it would be. "

 Are you beginning to see how things are coming together here?  We are a one car family, live in the country, a little over a hour to my nearest child, so when I say good by to my husband in the morning, it is me and technology at home…and my wonderful books.

So, I set up a schedule – chores, Bible study, chores and lunch hour, get dinner started, and work on writing projects around any major chores not done in the morning.  As I listened to the message Sunday, I could not help but take it personally – and I think that is a mark of a good message – you can take it personally.
I recognized how much of my day was arranged around me and what I wanted/needed to do.  I am asking God to help me to be very aware of His presence every morning, to empty myself of my desires, my plans and allow Him to put back what needs back and to guide me to what I have not thought of. 

I have been researching hospice this week, and last night we watched the movie Two Weeks about the last two weeks of the mother’s life, her adult children around her being human.  Watching the movie was like watching the book I am reading, a memoir about the last three weeks of a woman’s life, told from the perspective of her daughter.
 It struck me in both the movie and the book, that end of life issues are so different for us as believers.  We have hope, purpose, both in our lives and our deaths. The more we make either one about pursuing our own happiness, the more miserable we will be.  But if we are able to find joy in serving others, even if it is in serious praying for others, the greater will be our peace and joy. ( I am not saying praying is a little thing, but we too often make the bigger acts of doing more important than prayer.)

My loneliness came a lot from selfishness – remembering and longing for the great companionship I had at work, instead of thanking God for those wonderful memories.  Hmmm, I am so glad that God never stops teaching us….and giving us more opportunities for peace and joy.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

July 9, Living at the End of Life

 No, I’m not being morbid and I am not talking about myself today; that is the name of an amazing book by Karen Whitley Bell.  I have been doing some research to finish up a writing project and had been looking for resources on hospice.  The local library ordered this book for me, and I think it is an amazing handbook…and if you are in ministry or care about people, you probably ought to read it too.
I have always been a big fan of looking up stuff, of trying to be prepared, and as I read this book, I thought of all of my ministry friends. In the last thirty years of working with college kids and their families, we have faced all kinds of challenges, things like overcoming grief, eating disorders, physical and sexual abuse, and the tragedy of broken families.  But honestly, I have not been all that intimately and physically closely involved with the care of a loved one dying.

And I am not sure the church is all that involved with the care-giving required.  The Bible does say that we are to love one another, that we are to care for the fatherless and widows, and minister to the hurting.  This book – Living at the End of Life is phenomenal, as far as a tool or resource useful to help those facing terminal illnesses.  Written by a hospice nurse, the book is written as though she were talking to you and is filled not only with both question/answer sections but illustrated with real life examples of people dealing with end of life issues.  She writes like a good friend.
For one thing, this book takes the fear out of accessing hospice services.  Secondly, it helps caregivers access amazing resources and find appropriate care, both for the patient and the caregiver. Too often, I think, people suffer in silence, when they should at least have our company to help bear their burdens.  And we do not do what we fear or what we do not know about.

So enough of this for today….I think there is more to be said and a very personal application of these thoughts, but that will come tomorrow.


Wednesday, July 3, 2013

July 3 I Lost My Mother!

I know that those of you who really know me realize that I lost my mom a long time ago when she had her final heart attack when I was 23.  At the time I had a preschooler, a five-month-old and was newly pregnant again, with a child I lost two months later.
But my mom had battled heart disease since her first heart attack when I was a 17-year-old college freshman.  That’s when I really lost her because that heart attack was the culmination of a broken heart, when I was just twelve and my baby brother died.  Anyway, when I was 17, she became an invalid, and that destroyed whatever confidence she had as a parent, and her ability to do all the things grandmothers do, once her daughters started having their own babies.  All of that to say, I didn’t learn a lot about grandmothering from my mother.  She was never able to change a diaper, babysit or even go grocery shopping with me.

So, when my adult son called last night and asked us to come back and see him, he had a hip replacement last Tuesday and we had been down for three days, it rattled me.  It is not that I didn’t want to go see him.  It’s not that he was having a normal recovery, but he asked us to come down, and this time there was nothing in particular he wanted, other than to see us.
My frame of reference for grandmothering and mothering, for that matter, has largely been seeing and  doing what could be done.  Kind of works oriented, as I think about it.  It’s not that I didn’t and don’t love my family, but I never had parents to just keep company with.  As an adult, I never played games, or had coffee with or went shopping with my parents…or my mom or my in-laws.  So it kind of threw me to think he might just want to see us, to spend time with us. 

As I pondered all of this, it made me think about a lot of things – about faith producing works, yes, but about love for God producing faith, and that faith in loving God back, producing works. So my love for my son could produce faith in him and his words and somehow in all of that, enjoy him.  I fear I have always been so focused on the doing part that I missed too much of the pleasure of the loving part.
This is all fresh thinking, and maybe in a few days, it will sort itself out.  I think all of these years of working kind of narrowed my vision, and I focused too often on the next task – even if the task was done out of love.  What I missed was laughter – and I do believe God means for us to laugh. A lot!!