Friday, February 23, 2018

While I Gently Weep

The first anniversary of my mother's death will be next Friday. We're packing and moving, and I'm weeping. 

It's difficult to understand my tears. Of course, I know much of the sadness is from losing my mother and brother last year, around this time. But there's more that is difficult to articulate. The busy-ness of our lives often keeps us from truly contemplating what lies ahead.

Each breath we take, each step we take brings us closer to death. Death might take us unaware. Death might be long awaited. Yet it always hovers before us, tainting our dreams. 

Today I finished a study of 2 Timothy. This is Paul's last letter before he died, beheaded according to Eusebius, an early church historian.  

Paul says: For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing. ~ 2 Timothy 4:6-8

I tremble to think, not of the death that awaits me, but at the race I still have left to run, the good fight I must still fight. None of us is perfect, and we should be continuously learning, stretching toward the finish line, reaching forward to fully grasp righteousness. No, we will never fully attain that upon this earth, but it's something we must strive toward, even when we're weary.

Paul goes on to say, But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. And I was delivered from the lion’s mouth. ~ verse 17

Here on earth we weep. But the Lord stands by our side and strengthens us. Later, on the day our race is finished, our tears will be wiped away forever. 


(Image from Pixabay)

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

A Love Story

Ours is not a usual love story. It began before I ever met Carl. I'd graduated from college with a teaching degree and moved back home to save money. I taught for a few years at a local middle school before applying at a private Christian school in another city. 

The superintendent of the school hired me, and I began looking at houses with plans to buy. My plans were derailed.

My father worked at Ft. Benning, Georgia after retiring from the army. He was 59 and decided to accept early retirement. My mother and father had purchased over fifty acres down home, in south Alabama, near family and friends, on which they planned to build a house. 

However, my father underwent a physical only to discover he had an aortic aneurysm. To make a long story short, my father died in the early morning hours following emergency surgery, on May 3rd, my mother's birthday. 

I talked to my mother and asked her if she wanted to move to south Alabama. Another option would have been for her to move with me to the city where I'd received the job offer. Or, we could stay put. My mother, in a deep depression, was unable to make a decision. I considered each possibility but did not know what to do.

I could not accept a job in Montgomery, Alabama, so soon after my father's death and regretfully declined the job offer. As it turned out, I remained at home with my mother and continued teaching at the same school for another year. 

One night I had a dream in which I traveled to the city where I'd received the job offer. Along the way, I became lost. I stopped at a gas station and asked the attendant for directions. 

He said, "Why do you want to go to Montgomery? All you've ever wanted is in Opp, Alabama, and it's right down the road."

I awoke the next morning, the vivid dream playing through my head. Instantly, I made the decision and told my mother we would build the house on the land she and my father had purchased. She agreed.

It took another year to build the house and then we moved at the end of May. It was foolish what we did, quitting our jobs and moving. I applied for teaching positions, in every school system nearby, but nothing was available. I applied for other jobs but was told I was over qualified. My mother, in her fifties, also could not get a job.

Across the road from our new house was a gas station. My mother and I often walked over to purchase a Coke and bag of chips. One day, when my mother had gone over by herself, the gas station attendant (coincidence?) asked about me and told my mother that a young man lived across the highway from us. She asked if she could give the guy my number. My mother agreed, without consulting me. The days turned into weeks and into months. The guy didn't call.

Our savings dwindled. My mother said we would have to move to find jobs. 

I dug in my heels. The dream remained vivid. I felt certain it was the place I needed to be, that this place was my home. I signed up to substitute, and we managed to hang on for a little while longer. 

In November, the guy called. He explained he was our neighbor and asked if he could come over to meet us. Of course, I said.

And he did. We married on January 17th. 

No, I don't recommend marrying someone you'd only known a few weeks. In our case, it worked. We've been married for 37 years now. A few years ago, we moved away from the farm, and it was a season of change for us.

Last year, I told my husband I wanted to move back. In a few weeks, Lord willing, we'll be back home. The place I moved to thirty-eight years ago, the place the dream led me to, the place I met my husband for the first time, the place I fell in love, the place my children grew to adulthood, the place I love and long to be, the place where resides the love, the memories, the beauty, everything God planned for me, everything I dreamed. 

Everything I have ever wanted and much, much more. 

When we were young.
Carl and me, 37 years of marriage and counting.