Friday, August 29, 2014

common tears

Yesterday as I signed the check-in clipboard at my dentist's office, I peered under my eyelids at the dental assistant seated at the counter--she's worked alongside the good dentist for 20 years; I remember when her children were just babes.

"So, did you get him off?" I asked. my voice barely audible.
Her tears welled up instantly, spilling over. It was so fresh- she'd just taken her oldest to college in Boston, to the New England Conservatory, no less.

She ushered me to the treatment room and as we waited, she shared her mother's heart struggle--it's so good but it's so hard and I agreed. Then my appointment was all finished, quick, pretty much it was just a professional chat with the good dentist- in fact I almost didn't need to be there. but then I did. . .

Gathering up my chart she asked, "Where's your purse?" and we lingered by the door. I hugged her again, "This is God's good plan for our children- you know,  change is almost always perceived as loss. . .it will be okay, he'll write or call or text- trust God with your boy and with all the tomorrows." I assured.

Then we cried together-- and Why me?  my boys and girls sailed off to college and beyond long ago.  But we're the mamas peering  over the edge from the outside into our kids' new lives. . . and again it's all so fresh.
hmm, mutual reassurance is good- as is the dampness of shared tears.

Ahh, Coneflowers in Ohio- wish I could get these beauties to grow in my yard ini Texas!

Saturday, August 23, 2014

visits and memories

I suppose I'm at the age where memories come flooding in with the slightest nudge-

Built in book shelves line one wall of the dining room at Brett and Rachel's house in Ohio. Wouldn't you know that my eyes and interest would drift over there. I found my old copy of the La Leche League Cook Book, published first in 1971.  Rachel was born a few years later and that's when I got that book, so eager to do the most natural, most healthy thing for my yet unborn babe. I flipped through the pages,  Did I really cook this? I think I first tried my hand at yeast bread with one of those recipes. I told Rachel that I'm not attached to the book memory-really, she can pass it on without any emotional hiccup from me.  I read aloud the titles of at least 8 recipes for cooking liver--40 years ago, I was starting out the motherhood journey- they said that liver was the very best food for expectant moms--I haven't eaten it since.

I remember the time my mom came to visit us in Texas and she insisted that I needed a paper shredder; I didn't really think so- but she insisted and gave John money to buy one. That trusty machine shredded a ton of paper over the years.
So- I visit my grown children and I'm like my mom, usually it has to do with kitchen stuff. . ."Ahh, she needs new measuring cups. . .or new wooden spoons. . .or her Italian coffee pot lost its handle, she needs a new one of those!" It's funny- in my mind I sound like my mom and maybe I understand her and her love for me a bit better.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

to embrace dependence

Before leaving town in June I spent a morning with my friend, Karen. We shared about our lives and our individual walks of faith and my friend observed, "It's good that you can get around- you can still visit your family!"  I hadn't thought of it like that, but Karen's right- I can still get around. 

So, in New York I kissed and wiped small sticky faces, and on the first day of our visit I selected a book from Abi and Nathaniel's collection, Radical Disciple by John Stott. I finished it that week and penned some notes on a scrap paper shoved in the pages to mark my place. Stott wrote Radical Disciple when he was 88 years old; in the preface he states that he's ready to lay down his pen for the last time. . .and he did.

Stott sketches a portrait of Christ's radical disciple- in the chapter titled Dependent, he reminds us that God's plan is that we should be dependent- on Him and on others; our great Creator designed us to be a burden to one another- you and me, and the life of the family and the church should be one of "mutual burdensomeness".

So, the idea of "mutual burdensomeness" percolates inside me and I want to pursue it- but honestly, it's easier for me to embrace you as my burden, and harder for me to think about it the other way around, if you know what I mean?
In Radical Disciple, Stott describes a time of personal dependence- one Sunday morning he fell in his home; the ambulance arrived, transported him to the hospital. Surgery and a lengthy convelesence followed. I copied his insights on that paper bookmark:

There is another aspect of dependence which I experienced which was new to me, 
which I am tempted to gloss over, but which my trusted friends have urged me
 not to conceal. It is the emotional weakness which physical infirmity
 sometimes brings to the surface and which finds expression in weeping.

John Stott, man of God, theologian, experienced and wrote about his emotional weakness and about weeping-- and I find myself praying, "God, teach me more dependence, more about mutual burdensomeness. . .and yes, even about weeping.

Friday, August 15, 2014

a little creative work

We're diving back into work at home and around town, and this week we've covered the dining room
table with a little creative work. My part is fabric. John's part is industrial tile.
He's cutting, labeling, stacking tiles, creating a running game with his homemade scrabble tiles, 1000 tiles to be exact. He describes the game to me, but I can't quite get it. He tells me, It'll be good, and I believe him. The tricky part of all our creative work is carving a little space for two dinner plates at the end of the day.

So, today is the first day of the new school year for my husband. His part of the creative table is all cleared and trucked off to the classroom.

As far as traditional work goes, it looks like this will be the final year, the last hot August day for my husband to ride off to work on his bike, to greet children for a fresh school year.
Our emotions are mixed up ( mine more than his) but what's ahead will be good. . .because our heavenly Father always gives good gifts to his children, right?

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

sharing their work

A month and a half is a long time to be away from home- just glance briefly at the garden, brittle and brown in 100 degree August.  I love to resume my morning routine, hose watering the garden, drinking coffee with toast, picking up my tattered Bible in the same familiar spot- at home.
And about the road trip- well, there's lots to remember, record, process.. . here's just a bit.

We stayed a week at a time with family in Arkansas, Tennessee, Ohio, New York, and we got to work! John repaired machines, built stairs and beds, scraped, and painted walls and ceilings, chopped weeds and yanked out poison ivy. I worked too, albeit not so arduously- washing, sorting, organizing.
One day I overheard a son comment, "Thanks, Papi, that's not exactly how I planned to do it, but that's fine!"
Our kids grew up and we fed and cuddled them- now we cuddle their children and share their work.
We get to be productive in a season of of life where productivity at times appears fuzzy.

So- thanks, kids, for sharing your homes and families, loving us and letting us share your work.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Home -and a fan in the window

Last night we came  home after almost 6 weeks on the road.  John unlocked the side door and called into the dark, "Hello house, we're home again!"

So, we cranked open the windows, wiped the layer of dusty film off all the surfaces and wedged a fan in the bedroom window.

 How could I forget that Texas is HOT. . . in Ohio they say of cool summer nights, "It's good sleeping weather!"
 If you've never experienced sleeping in August heat in Texas, a fan in the window is the best way to do it.
You see, a 70 degree breeze blows in  at midnight- it's nice.
So, we lie there, still, attempting to embrace the hot night - and I ask my husband, "Does it feel like home?"

Then I hear bird like chirping from the window--Ahh, the gecko on the scream, our guard gecko chirping, chirping. And to me it feels like home on a summer night.

Summer at Lake Erie