Tuesday, May 25, 2010

She Was So There

This entry is separate because it deserves it's own space. (Refer back to former blog One Last Thing.)  My friend Sue wasn't able to physically attend her first daughter's wedding but she was there.  Her spirit permeated the room and our nasal passages.  I have never heard so much sniffling at a wedding in my life.  Yes, the tears were there, sad ones mixed with happy ones but the party played on.  The few major complications such as a total venue and menu change in the last week with a third venue change the day of the wedding, were handled with such grace and flexibility by the bride that I couldn't help but know that her mother's spirit was right beside her giving her the strength and peace that none of us other mothers could.

This wedding was joyful and fun.  I usually don't have fun at weddings.  There's too much going on and too many people.  It's hard to even speak a few words with the couple.  This wedding was the most relaxing and enjoyable one I've attended--including mine!  Who loved a gathering of friends and family more than Sue??  She didn't miss this one.

Sue was with her friends giving us support to carry our some of her duties for her.  I think we got the job done.  We would much rather have had her do it herself, but under the circumstances, the experience was awesome.

Sue was collaborating with God Himself on softening the hearts of a couple of tired, sad, grieving "old" friends of hers.  She got the last laugh on that one!

I will always feel her with me.  She has taught me so much.  Such huge changes have taken place in my life over the past year or so and many have been by following her example of how to live and how to die.

I'm Listening. . .

     After a busy but wonderful weekend helping a couple's new life begin, I am energized.  So energized, in fact that today I'm taking a "Mary Day".  (I'm reading a book about the Mary and Martha in the Bible: Mary sits at Jesus' feet while Martha bangs pots and pans around in the kitchen and sighs heavily during pauses in the conversation in the living room because no one is helping.  She asks Jesus to help her out by chastising Mary about shirking her duties.  Of course, Martha is the one who becomes the star of this teachable moment as Jesus kindly but firmly tells her that she's working too darn hard doing stuff that no one really cares much about at the moment and is missing out on many blessings by not joining into the conversation.)  So, a Mary Day is a day for relaxing, reading, catching up on blogs and emails and, of course, listening to Jesus as He softly throws blessings my way.
     I have always considered myself intelligent and hard-working, fun loving and a little crazy (the good kind of crazy).  All true, but there's a dark side of controlling, seeking approval, resentments and not quite believing that God can handle all aspects of my life.  I've developed a theory on how God goes about getting my attention.  This may apply to you, too. Gather 'round people because I'm just saying this once (not really, I also tend to repeat myself due to lack of short and medium term memory loss from an old football injury--NOT from old age).
     As a Martha, I have worked hard to get the approval of others to prove my worth.  I resisted what I knew I needed to do which was to "wait on the Lord".  But I really had no idea what that meant.  Do I just sit by the door and wait?  Do I get on my knees and with face looking heavenward wait to be blinded by the light?  What I did not know how to do was to LISTEN to God.  I'm a rather loud, talkative person and my thoughts are always spinning.  I had so rarely heard the voice of God that I didn't think I'd recognize it if He spoke to me anyway.
     What I know now is that when He wants my attention to help me answer a prayer I've prayed, He will first tap my shoulder, then nudge, poke, push or prod to get me to move.  He'll also breathe on me, whisper, talk softly, speak and yell to get me to hear Him.  When I finally listen He begins to softly pelt me with answers, one marshmallow at a time until I'm so buried in soft, fluffy sweetness that I almost go into a sugar coma.  But right before I do, I begin to change into who he made me to be.
 EXAMPLE:  "Lord help me to change my busy and overwhelmed life into one of peace.  Amen"
So, the He begins to answer my prayer because that's what He does.

     1.   He breathes the Holy Spirit past my face with peace and understanding but at that precise time I'm exhaling (out of frustration) and it passes me by.  He taps me on the shoulder but I'm in a cleaning frenzy and can't feel it.
   2.  He whispers to me, "Deb, I'm here." but I can't hear because the vacuum in on. The nudge I get is brushed away thinking I've bumped into something while rounding a corner taking out the garbage.
     3.  He talks a little louder just as the dryer buzzer goes off and pokes me which I ignore thinking it's just a back spasm (from overworking).
     4.  He then pushes me and talks in a louder voice.  I curse out loud thinking I've just tripped on a rug for the umpteenth time and my curses drown out His voice.
     5.  He then gets out the cattle prod, which to me feels like nerve pain and starts to yell at me which I can't hear because "Bewitched" has just started and the TV is too loud.


But yet, I feel that something is changing...

   I share with friends that I'm overwhelmed and need peace and a friend hands me a book called When Women Long to Rest: God's Peace for Your Overwhelmed Life which I read and see myself on every page.
   I talk to my daughter about how she works too hard ( it takes one to know one) and God points us in the direction of another book Having a Mary Spirit which we each read and discuss over the phone on Sunday evenings.  It totally nails our Martha ways.
   I talk to my husband about a desire to begin praying and reading the Bible together and God sends him to a men's workshop at church on prayer.  We started praying again.
   I want friends and He opens my eyes to all the beautiful women around me who are also in need of friends.  He renews our friendships and helps us form new bonds.  We need each other desperately yet suffer in silence.  We are women, hear us roar!
   I want more information on prayer and He leads me to another book, Too Busy Not to Pray which was ironically donated to our church library by one of my overworked, overwhelmed friends.
   I want to pray and listen and He show me lots of times when I can pray and study His Word and I learn how to listen and become less overwhelmed and more at peace.


Tuesday, May 18, 2010

One Last Thing

     This weekend I'm doing one last thing for my friend Sue.  My good friend died on March 29, 2010, two months before her oldest daughter's wedding. Several months before she died, Sue asked me to go with her to the wedding as part of her "bridal party".  She wanted to share this moment with her friends and since the wedding is in another state, most of her friends would not be able to attend.  As she got sicker, I realized that I would need to be there as a friend and a nurse.  I anticipated that she would need a lot of help, but it was still something that could be accomplished.  Then there came a time when I knew but was reluctant to bring up--she would not be able to make the trip.  She realizd this, too. Even viewing it on a computer "live" was something she did not want to happen because the wedding would have her as a focus. She did not want to take any focus away from the newlyweds.  It was after she realized that she wouldn't be able to go that I realized the real reason she wanted me there.  Along with two other close friends, she wanted us to stand in her place to, along with her husband,  "give the bride away" to her new husband.  I was surprised.  What an honor.  I was overcome with love and compassion for my dear friend and told her I would be there for her.  
     So, the time is almost here.  Only a few more days until the wedding.  I am having such bittersweet feelings.  I'm going to do this because I'm carrying out the final request  of my friend.  I also have very close ties to the bride as she was one of my daughter's best friends since Kindergarten.  She spent a lot of time in our home and was one of my "add on kids".  But whenever I think about Sue not being there I get this feeling of sinking butterflies in my gut.  It doesn't seem right.  It seems out of balance.  She definitely should be there instead of me. I think about her every day.  I really miss her.  I still have trouble believing she's gone.

Sue, this one last thing I do for you.  

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Being a grown up mom is fun!

In the past six weeks we've seen our kids a lot. With two of them in northern CA, getting all of them together isn't easy. Our eldest lives in Fresno and the out-of-towners live in the San Francisco and Davis. They were home two weeks in a row in April. Then, Emilie had a couple of events that she came home for the past two weekends. It's been fun having all three kids under one roof. We try to make the most of it when it happens. A couple weeks ago the men folk spent the weekend in SF going to a couple of Giants games and staying at Matt's apartment. That weekend Emilie came home for a bachelorette party so she and I hung out all weekend doing girl stuff. She was home again yesterday and last night we took our oldest, Mike and her to a Grizzlies game. We cherish those times that we get to spend with our grown-up kids (22, 26, 27). When they were little we spent a lot of time with them, too. We were constantly busy with all their activities and family activities and just the activities of life. It seemed overwhelming and we thought they may never grow up. We looked forward to having time to ourselves when they left home. While we do like having an emptier house sometimes, we really look forward to having them all home. We are energized and thrilled that they actually want to be with us--and not just because we foot the bill! We share interests and love to do things together. We also love just visiting with them. We still worry about them and pray for some of the same things as when they were young--safety, spiritual growth, good choices, good mates, and on and on, but the difference is that we know them better now. We know the kinds of things they like to do and the directions their lives are going. We can pray for them much more specifically. There's still worry--we want their lives to be perfect. We don't want them to have to go through the trials that we went through as young adults. We know, though, that they will. They'll learn painful lessons. They'll realize that some of the things we nagged them about were valid and someday they'll have their own little ones to worry about. But we've taught them that family togetherness and closeness is one of the most important things in life. We've taught them that we can all count on each other--we have each other's backs. They know that their mom and dad will always love them, no matter what. They know the things they have done that have stretched our patience almost to the breaking point and they know we never, ever will give up on them. We just love our family. They get more precious to us every day. We know that one day when we're gone, they'll be the elders of our clan. Life just goes on and on and they have the foundation to be able to handle whatever gets sent their way. God felt the same way about family. That's why it's mentioned so much in His book. What a great idea He had when He invented families!