Saturday, February 27, 2010

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Twenty-One Years

Tomorrow is our wedding anniversary. I'm not more in love with Mike today than I was way back when - I would have told you it's not possible. But our love is richer, fuller and sweeter. We've definitely gotten better with age. And now it seems we're legal - twenty-one. Ha!

I've often told Mike one lifetime won't be long enough to spend with him - especially since his health has threatened to separate us sooner rather than later more than once. I still can't imagine it being any better, but if the last twenty-one years foretells the next twenty-one, then bring 'em on! I'm ready and waiting, with (wedding) bells on!

Engagement

Dedication,
a celebration
of the love we share.
We dare to live,
to love,
to care.
It’s time for the wedding,
the shedding,
of two lives
and separate things,
and gaining,
moving,
growing,
improving,
to become the one
God chose
us to be.
My mind and soul,
they ring,
they spin,
they leap for joy.
For now I know
beyond a doubt
what love is truly
all about.
We laugh,
we sing,
we work,
we play,
and always
find God
each time we pray.
Overjoyed,
overwhelmed,
I stand amazed,
in awe,
in wonder,
at the gift He gave.
There’s nothing
more sacred
more precious,
more holy,
or just
than the gift of life
bestowed
through Love.
That gift I accept,
yet return
with a wish,
a yearn,
that this life,
our love,
is protected,
used,
and blessed
for praising
and pleasing
the One
from above

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Seeing Clearly


Today I took my mom to a doctor's appointment in the next state. She's lost a lot of vision from a thirty-year fight with glaucoma, typically an old people's disease that attacked her when she was thirty. She stopped driving a year ago, has trouble reading and washing dishes (until they're actually clean) and will very possibly be completely blind long before the rest of her body quits working.

Today we planned a radical surgery for her left eye that has a 15% chance of blinding that eye, but that's a lot better than the 100% chance if we do nothing. I asked her how she was feeling about it on the way home, and she nonchalantly offered, "Well, I've put my eyes in God's hands, and there's nothing else to do. I'm fine." Now that's blind faith.

Last week my microwave broke. You know how it is; you never realize how much you use something until it's out of commission. Not being able to reheat morning coffee has tested Mike's patience and my sanity. And we're not even past breakfast yet. What a major inconvenience!

Can you imagine the inconvenience of losing your sight? How would I fix my hair and put on make-up? Know if my clothes needed ironing, or if I missed a spot when I vacuumed. You wouldn't be able to drive yourself anywhere for anything, not even in an emergency. Dependent on someone else to balance your checkbook and read your mail. No more privacy, no more cooking, no more reading, no more sunsets or Fall leaves, no more smiling grandchildren's faces. No more reading lips to converse with people (because she has lost much hearing, too). No more Christmas lights or movies. Only darkness and ineptness left where there used to be independence and self-sufficiency.

If 'Amazing Grace' is once being blind and now seeing, what's it called in reverse? From watching my mom, it, too, is amazing grace. She's learning to count money based on how it's folded and where it's placed in her wallet, she's planning to learn Braille and go to blind school at sixty-seven. She matches her clothes with strategically placed safety pins and is learning her way around her house by feel.

Mom's only complaint has been that she won't be able to rub her eye anymore after this surgery. Only a woman with dignity, poise, and much faith would mourn such a trifle in light of the glaring limits blindness will bring. She isn't perfect by any means, but she's come much closer to that mark since God changed her life five years ago. My mom's brave and has overcome many a trial in her life with style and a sense of humor. I can only hope to someday see life with such clarity. I'll do it, too, Mom, 'Looking Through Your Eyes.'[Please click link to listen.]

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Up in the Attic

Since I'm still moving in and getting settled around here, I thought I'd put a few things in storage. So, although it's not Christmas anymore, and I'm really longing for Spring, here's a Christmas thought I wrote back in December that I want to put in storage. Merry Christmas!

Original Title: What's In a Name

With just a few days left to homeschool before we are Christmasing full-time around here, I started a new read-aloud book today with my girls. Judging from the first two chapters of Island of the Blue Dolphin, we're in for a grand adventure with a developing young heroine.

I ran across this early on:

"I come in peace and wish to parley," he said to the men on the shore.

None of them answered, but my father, who was one of those hidden among the rocks, came forward down the sloping beach. He thrust his spear into the sand.

"I am the Chief of Ghalas-at," he said. "My name is Chief Chowig."

I was surprised that he gave his real name to a stranger. Everyone in our tribe had two names, the real one which was secret and was seldom used, and one which was common, for if people use your secret name it becomes worn out and loses its magic. Thus I was known as Wan-a-pa-lie, which means The Girl With the Long Black Hair, though my secret name is Karana. My father's secret name was Chowig. Why he gave it to a stranger I do not know.

My mind raced to the Christmas story I have been "reciting" on my facebook page. Joseph was told to give the child the name Jesus. Joseph is now on board with the whole Messiah thing - it only took an angel to convince him.

Can you imagine? Your fiance tells you she's pregnant by the Spirit of God rather than by any act of unfaithfulness. All-righty-then!! While you're trying to figure out what to do with this tidbit, an angel appears to confirm the story (making this easier to swallow?!). The last straw is when he hears, "Name him Bob." Bizare doesn't begin to do it justice.

Jesus - to many of us today in Western society, a name reserved for the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, but back in the day in the Holy land, it was quite common. Why such a common name? Was God sending the message that Jesus is Everyman? That God is just like us? A common, ordinary guy, like your next door neighbor? The God of the Universe disguised as Man.

The Old Testament law prohibits using His name in vain. The Jews wouldn't think of uttering it at all, and left out letters when recording it in scrolls couldn't be avoided. But how many times did God answer to the name "Bob" while he walked the earth? Did he feel common? Did his name become meaningless?

My life sometimes seems meaningless and common. When someone needs my attention, they call my name. Do you get tired of being called upon? The responsibilities of life call us, our families call upon us, our problems and worries beckon us. Sometimes I get to the point that I cringe when I hear my own name called yet again.

If you've read the Book, you'll know that because Jesus came to Earth to rescue us from ourselves, God highly exalted Him and gave him the name which is above every name.

We, too, will get new names when we enter Heaven. No one will bow to it like we will His name, but it will be important. It won't be ordinary and worn out. It won't have lost its meaning or remind us of our Earthly life. It will be the Father's pet name for his beloved child. It'll be our sacred secret.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Chocolate Chip Cookies and Armpits

Hi, my name is Dawn, and I'm a worrier. But don't worry - God has me on his twelve step plan for anxiety sobriety. It looks a little like this: The opportunity arises to totally freak out over an earthly care. You know when that happens, right?

First you feel like an elephant moved into your chest and is trying to escape through your esophagus - heavy and slow. Instead, the pressure creeps behind your cheekbones and begins to crowd your tear ducts. When you finally think you have that under control, it props your eyelids open at bedtime and flings your brain into a whirlwind of rapid-fire irrational thoughts. Then, just in the nick of time, God comes through with a word of scripture or encouragement from a sister. You have just enough strength to make it through until God (finally) meets the need and puts you out of your misery and leaves you feeling like a dope for worrying in the first place.

Well, Saturday night the whole process began agian. What can I say - practice makes perfect. I was up to the tear duct part by bedtime, so I got up and went to the computer to read. Sleepy time tea took its toll, and the next thing I knew, I was in Sunday School. Although I don't remember much about the lesson in Mark 13, a little nugget from the opposing page tapped me on the shoulder and did this:

It was Jesus quoting Psalm 110:1 and the Holy Spirit's sword sank that truth, just with a slightly different slant, deep into my anxious heart. He used those words to tell me to draw near to his right hand while He defeats my enemies. Right now my enemies are Fear, Worry, and Financial Pressure.

I wanted to hear it straight from the horse's mouth (in this instance, King David), and discovered verse two, which says something about Jesus extending his scepter to gain victory. The rapid-fire thoughts now made me see Moses with his arms lifted to the heavens while Israel defeated her enemy on the battlefield and Aaron and Hur sat under Moses' weary arms. So I went to investigate that, and found even more a few chapters prior in Exodus 14:14 which says, I will fight for you while you keep silent.

God had given me a strategy to glorify Him in my weakness, and to reassure me He hasn't left his throne. Little did I know that my Father was arming me in advance of this week's onslaught of earthly cares. (Doesn't that sound less sinful than worries?) Doubt, Despair, Anger and their friends were soon to join the enemy camp.

Monday morning I found an obscure Proverb, more truth that spoke directly to the new assault. It has become the promise I have clung to all week. I also found the Chips Ahoys in the pantry. As I dug into the bag, I dug into prayer without ceasing, forcing myself forward in faith, feeling Jesus right there beside me every precious step.

It's made me wonder what fervent prayer is anyway. Is it the prayer you want answered so badly that your prayer comes all the way from your toes? Is it when you beg and badger like a spoiled child? Is it when you pray the same thing for the hundredth time this hour because the worry keeps pushing you to your knees - ceaselessly?

These prayers are certainly different than the ones you pray before meals and at bedtime. Are those casual prayers? Is God fervently listening? Is the prayer even for Him, or is it for me?

All I know is that God directed me to stay at His armpit. His provision has already started to come in the form for zeros on a check. It's humbling when God is so good and teaches so much and always comes through in the end, no matter what that looks like, even when I feel so unworthy of any of His goodness. For now, I plan to stay put right where He has me, and let the chocolate chip cookies keep me company until every enemy is defeated.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

South Carolina Snow Spectacular

There once was a woman who was a little girl in New England. She had fond memories of playing outside late into the first snowy night of the season each year. Well, those memories got dusted off this weekend, because we got to spent our Friday night like this:

and like this....

We spent much of the evening recording these very unusual (for us) images...











We awoke this morning to find that it looked just like this outside our house:





So while the entire subdivision was drawn into the streets, Mike and I went exploring the woods behind our neighborhood, and I'm so glad we did. Here's what we stumbled upon....








Now, it's 43 degrees and....IT'S MELTING! IT'S MELTING!! (Think Wicked Witch of the West in The Wizard of Oz.) It sure was magical. Who would have thought that 8.6 inches could take me back so far as childhood.

Friday, February 12, 2010

"Lightness"



Photo Friday - "Lightness"
The view from my doorway in this evening's unusual South Carolina snow.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

If Life Were a Ledger

I'm a bookkeeper. I love my job - I'm not the decision-maker, the go-to person, nor the one responsible when things go wrong. I'm just the record-keeper. It's the only arena of my life where that's true, and that's so refreshing.

It's also a bit of a fantasy world. You take stock of every single cotton-pickin' thing, recording what comes in and what goes out. Everything gets tagged as an asset or a liability. Two choices - that's it. Black and white....well, red. Simple. The Shirts and the Skins (and you know which team can afford shirts) line up in opposing columns and face each other at the line of scrimmage on the green field of ledger paper (well, computer screen these days...) and promptly cancel each other out. Once this happens, you know your job is done, you turn out the light, and go home to your life. It's a dream job. What's not to love?

In the real world, liabilities can outnumber your assets. Things can get mis-tagged. What was meant for evil, God can use for good. You never know when the job is done, and things are often out of balance. Accounts go unreconciled, the reports and statements can read in red. The columns are smudged and smeared, the amounts get listed in every shade of grey. The only good thing is that at the end of real life, you don't have two zeros to account for all that interest over time.

On really crazy days when I can't tell if I'm coming or going, or whether or not I'm getting credit for my investments and it feels like I'm on loan, I'm glad to know that I can audit my life. You see, at home in my life, I am the decision-maker, the go-to person, the one who's responsible when things go wrong. And that's so refreshing.

So I decide not to leave life out of balance. If I choose to settle my accounts. If I credit forgiveness to those that overdraft me. If I let love cover a multitude of liabilities. Let mercy turn deficits into profit. I'll die a rich woman, with an inheritance of peace and joy in my portfolio. Real life's a dream job. What's not to love?

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Fifty Things

1. My first post was a little corny - you can take the name thing a little too far.

2. I once wrote a sonnet for senior English called Dawning that was actually pretty good - I got an A.

3. I used to write a lot of poetry.

4. The last poem I wrote was after my brother's death 15 years ago.

5. I wrote that one on a Krispy Kreme napkin while driving on the interstate, crying.

6. I'm usually a safe driver.

7. My son, Adrian, thinks a lot about learning to drive.

8. I try not to think about that. (When, exactly, did he become taller than me?)

9. When I was little, I had two aunts that used to fuss at me for growing.

10. I thought that was funny...but now I understand.

11. I have a terrible engagement story, but have a fabulous 21 year marriage.

12. How come people want to hear about your engagement rather than your successful marriage?




13. We got engaged after a fight - it was not planned, and it was ringless.

14. Told ya.

15. We hardly ever fight anymore.

16. My kids do though.

17. Adrian, Noelle and Reagan hardly ever stop talking.

18. The girls, as we call them, are separated by 19 months, but they act like twins.

19. I always wanted a sister; God, in his goodness, gave me daughters instead.

20. When Noelle had her first day of school, Reagan cried.

21. I didn't.

22. What kind of mom doesn't cry on her kid's first day of school?

23. I didn't even cry when my oldest went to school.

24. What's wrong with me?!

25. I remember being excited about spreading their wings and new chapters in their lives.


26. Instead of crying on the first day of school, I wrote them letters, sealed them in envelopes and tucked them into their baby books.

27. Sometimes I can't wait for my kids to grow up so I can be friends with them.

28. Parenting isn't always fun.

29. I want my kids to grow up to be people I want to be friends with, so for now I will parent.

30. A surgeon once told me that my husband might not live through the night, go get some dinner, and then you can meet him in ICU.

31. That night I had my first-ever all night prayer vigil.

32. It was really a temper tantrum, more fear than faith.

33. My amazing mother-in-law, who kept vigil with me, slept soundly beside me on the hospital floor.

34. Cancer is a good teacher.

35. While I was singing "The Ants Go Marching One By One" on the way to school the next morning with my 2nd grader and 3 year old, I was thinking, "It's cancer. Oh, God! It's CANCER!"

36. God spoke clearly into my heart that day and said, "Do you love me more than these?"

37. I was afraid of my answer.

38. I'm glad that it only joined our family rather than subtracting a member from it.

39. I used to be very proud that I was running 12-15 miles a week.

40. Now I'm ashamed that I don't, and I miss running.

41. Mike hates running, unless it's to catch a ball, tackle someone or make the shot.

42. I'm neither competitive nor athletic.

43. But I am too high-strung and serious, a perfectionist, and worry wart.

44. I know that life is too short, I just can't seem to help myself.

45. I'm glad that I am growing in the grace of God and that He forgives my faults.

46. I didn't sleep for two weeks after Hurricane Katrina.

47. Three family businesses and four homes were just gone.

48. Four days later my mother became my neighbor.

49. Good things often come with bad things.

50. Together, with God's new mercy for each day, they become my beautiful life.

Monday, February 8, 2010

A New Beginning

A dawning, so to speak. A blank slate before me with so much potential, a blazing sun peaking over the horizon with all the promise of a new day ahead. A dawning.

The third definition of dawn in the dictionary is to begin to be perceived or understood, as in, it dawned on me that I should be blogging all this craziness and wonderfulness called life. I love it when things "dawn" on me, when ideas fall into place all of a sudden, and make perfect sense. That's what this will be for me, a place to record all that life brings and teaches, as it falls into place ... or it doesn't.

I blame this whole blogging thing on Lindsay, who, totally unbeknownst to her, sucked me into her blog as well as a few others. It wasn't long before I was thinking I'd like to give it a try myself. So here I am, on the edge of this whole new creative adventure. It's a humble beginning to be sure, but a beginning nonetheless. I'll be adding and expanding as I go: photos, book lists, random thoughts, and who knows what else. The sky's the limit, and right now, its fading darkness is turning pink and promises to be a bright sun-shiny day.
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