Friday, August 24, 2007

"Have a Nice Day!"

I was walking out of Caribou Coffee with my Heath Bar Frappaccino , and the girl said, “Have a nice day!”

I couldn’t help but recognize the irony. I’d just come from meeting with the pastor to plan my mom’s funeral service and was on my way home to finish up the last things before heading over to the visitation. So when she said this common pleasantry, it made me wonder: What would you say if I told you what I was doing today? And if you knew, would you still wish me a nice day?

But then I thought, what makes a day a “nice” day? Is it a day that is easy? Pleasurable? Happy? Trouble-free?

What constitutes a “nice day”?
If a day is filled with love and laughter and peace, would that make it a nice day?

This day has been filled with love as family and friends have come to share their sympathy for us and their admiration for my mom, and many tears have glistened in the eyes of those who will miss her, because she was loved.

There has been laughter as stories have flowed about good times people have shared with my mom, and there has been lots of laughter looking at the old photographs and all those strange clothes and hairstyles.

There has been peace: There is the peace that comes from knowing she is now home with her Lord in heaven and reunited with her husband. There is the peace seen in her life as she followed God and as she trusted God to always watch out for her, and He always did. There is peace for her children, who know that her sudden illness was not random, but just one of all the moments God had laid out for her before she ever took her first breath (Ps. 139:16), and we know that she had finished the work He’d appointed for her to do.

So, you know what? This wasn’t the greatest day and it was filled with moments of sorrow and loneliness and grief, but the blessing of family and friends who have come to comfort us and the blessing of knowing Mom and remembering and seeing how she touched so many because she just loved whoever she came into contact with really has made this a nice day.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Loss

I found out today that a friend is moving - soon and far away: far enough way that any contact will be electronically and probably eventually reduced to the exchanging of Christmas cards.

Loss is numbing - I guess that's the beauty of shock, it allows you to go on doing all that your day demands as your heart assimilates little by little what has happened.

As this fact cuts into my heart, I've started thinking about the ramifications of this to my future as I recall how important what is now lost, has been to my past.

Clinically there are stages of grief - I've read them, worked through them with the deaths of in - laws and a parent. This isn't death but it's still grief. Like the loss of a job, or health, or a house to fire, or a car in an accident, or all the things we just assume will never change, it shakes us when suddenly what has been the norm, isn't.

I'm remembering occasions that I didn't know it would be the last time, and consequently planning to fully invest myself in the time there is remaining - which is a valuable gift - knowing that good-bye is coming but there is still some time before it's said.

It's no wonder that from these experiences we gain more motivation to live and love as fully as we can while we are alive, while those we love are still with us; though our children are often so needy and caring for parents is wearing, and to spend time with friends takes more time to arrange than can actually be spent together, and a "date night" with our spouse had been nothing more than a good idea for months...

Nevertheless we do have today and we are not guaranteed tomorrow - not in our own lives or the lives around us.

I plan to be more vocal, at least in these numb moments, to make sure I say and show to those who surround me how rich my life is because of them.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

I can't even imagine

It's a hot, middle-of-the-summer kind of day. I am at the laundromat - oh joy. Part of the reason I am there is that it's a hot summer day, and everything will be able to dry on the clothesline before the sun sets. This is also a bad idea, because a laundromat is not the place you want to be when it's stifling.

So I wrestle my basket into the car and head home, and pulling up I realize that I don't have any additional clotheslines. It had been the last thing I'd said to my husband two hours ago when I was leaving - please, make sure the lines are up when I get back.

People are more easily irritated when it's hot - did you know that? "They" just did a big study on it as reported on the ten o'clock news - what a surprise...

I am not a happy camper. I hang up a few things and leave the basket with the rest and head into my room, the only room with air conditioning. I reach for my journal and start writing out my frustrations. As I recount how I am both disappointed and angry, I am reminded about other things in my life that are not working, and the more I think, the more I remember and the more irritated I get. My writing grows larger and wilder, then suddenly I stop, and I say to the Lord that this isn't helping and I give this all to You - my disappointment that once again my husband has not done what I counted on him to do, the fact that my mattress is old but I can't get a new one because I may not be living here for much longer, my anger at the one who is keeping us flustered about this living situation, my anxiety about returning to the teaching world after being a stay-at-home mom for ten years and worry about what school would possibly hire someone with a resume that looks like mine.


I laid it all out before my Lord and said, "I am putting all this in Your hands,” and I took a nap, which felt like all I was able to handle at that point.

There are familiar verses in Philippians 4 that have taken on a new understanding for me since reading them in the New Living Translation. " Don't worry about anything; instead pray about everything. Tell God what you need and thank him for all he has done. If you do this, you will experience God's peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus." I don't understand everything these verses are saying, but I do know that by making these things God's "problem" and no longer my own that I was more at peace. It didn't solve the problems but it took them out of my hands, and off my mind, and most importantly out of the emotional quagmire that was my heart.

When I woke up, I found that not only had my clotheslines been hung, but the rest of the clothes had been hung up as well.

Three days later we were given a mattress that is ten times better than the one we had, and along with it a great blue microfiber recliner.

The beauty of it being a blue chair is this: I have a blue chair at home and here it is that I sit in the mornings with my Bible, journal, and of course, my coffee. When I came to this place I had no "blue chair" and had mentioned it in passing to my husband. Throughout the weeks I've tried different places as my "blue chair." (The hammock was great, but it's very hard to journal there ...)


My husband was very excited that he'd found me a "blue chair"; I was amazed because I'd never felt he "got" that part of me before, and now here was evidence to the contrary.

The writer in me is fascinated by how the Author of all brings things to pass. He's taken these things I gave to him and fixed them in such amazing ways. Who would have imagined that suddenly I'd be given a mattress? Or that the acquisition of a new chair would serve as affirmation that maybe the man I married does occasionally "get" me?

I am filled with an anticipatory curiosity to see what is going to happen next.
There is still the matter of a house and a job that I placed in those ingenious hands.
My creative mind has already been blown away, so how the rest of the plot is to unfold I can't even imagine...