Excuse Me, Please

I need a moment or two, maybe a week or so.  Davie was the wall at my back as much as anyone else’s.  Maybe even more because we shared a home, although we each had our own space and didn’t spend our days or evenings together because we didn’t have the same taste in TV shows and we only ate in the diningroom when we had family over.  So, whoever cooked would tell the other when food was ready.  We’d fill our plates and go our separate ways for the evening.  

He did more than half the cooking.  Which meant he planned that many of the meals.  He did almost all the kitchen cleanup.  We shared the monthly shopping, but he did most of the daily or weekly stuff.  I gave him money every month, but it wasn’t nearly half of the living expenses.  

When I came back from North Carolina before Mama died, he said that it would cost him the same amount for the house expenses whether I was here or not.  He didn’t even want me to help pay for groceries because he said I didn’t eat enough to matter.  I guess, compared to his diet, that may have been true.  All he wanted was my share of the group insurance and cell phone accounts.  I insisted on giving him more than that, but he carried most of the load.  That was Davie.  

We each did our own laundry and kept our own bathrooms.  The livingroom, diningroom, and office were my responsibility.  We never discussed it or planned it.  That’s just the way it worked.  Now, it doesn’t.  My daily routine is the same, but it isn’t.  I keep having to remind myself of the things I need to add to my schedule because he’s not here.  

My head is constantly jumping from place to place. I have so many changes and decisions to make that I can’t concentrate on any one thing for long.  Pardon me while I find my footing here.  I used to shake my head at women who let their husbands handle everything and were lost when they died.  I never realized how close to doing the same thing I was with my brother.

It’s not that I don’t know how to handle the household expenses and routines.  I can do it and I will.  I just need a little time to get organized.  In the meanwhile, my mind isn’t interested in cooperating when I try to come up with topics and write about them.  It has more pressing concerns.  So, excuse me while I find a way to fill the gaps and put my life back together.  I will be posting again soon.

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Categories: Current Events, For Your Consideration, Random Thoughts | Leave a comment

Uncle Davie

 My brother, Davie, had no children of his own.  He was never married.  But, he provided a father figure for all my children and grandchildren and he was starting on the third generation.  Uncle Davie was the wall at all our backs.

Our father was always there for all of us, no matter what.  We could go out with confidence knowing that whenever things got tough, he would be there for us.  Even if we screwed up big time after he had tried to warn us, there’d be no “tough love” lecture or recriminations.   He’d just fix it and let us start over.  Never once, in all our lives, not even for a second, did any of us doubt his love.  Davie soaked that attitude deep inside and made it the center of his nature. 

He began his lifetime of service when he came back from Vietnam shortly before the birth of my middle daughter.  We were all living with Mom and Daddy. There were only three bedrooms and one bath.  It was crowded.  My other three brothers shared a room.  I shared the second room with my three older children.  My oldest daughter, Chrystal, slept in my bed.  Her two older brothers, Bill and Tom, slept on the bottom of a set of homemade double bunk beds.  When Davie came home, he took the top bunk.  When my second daughter, Jeanne, was born, we squeezed her bassinette into the corner at the end of my bed.  I rarely had to get up with her in the middle of the night because Davie always heard her before I did and had her changed, fed, and back to sleep in no time.  In 1972, that was almost unheard of in a father, much less an uncle.

When our father died, Davie was still living at home and he stayed there. While the rest of us made separate lives, Eddie being himself, Dannye and I married with families of our own, Jim traveling the world with the Air Force, Davie stayed with Mama.  He helped her with the bills, the heavy housework, and the yardwork.  That was his life. 

When Jeanne moved from Charlotte, NC back to Madisonville with her two daughters, he spread his wings over them as well.  When Mama began to fail, he took care of her at home as long as he could. When the decision was finally made to put her in a rest home for her own safety, I moved back here too and he expanded his reach.  

As the years passed, he played father figure to all of my grandchildren, just as he had to my children.  He taught them, by example, what a man should be: strong, non-judgemental, reliable, but also gentle.  I’m not saying he was perfect.  He gambled and could be stubborn about doing things his own way.  There were times when the male chauvinistic attitude of his youth would rear its head and he’d really get on my feministic nerves.  But, he never held a grudge and was so soft hearted, he often seemed to let people take advantage of him.  

He was our rock, the wall at our backs. Whenever there was a problem, it was Uncle Davie we all called. He died yesterday without any warning. We are all stunned.  The hole he has left in our lives will take a long time to close.  Our only comfort is the fact that he went quickly and didn’t have to spend months or years wasting away like our mother, father, and older brother did.  He was reasonably healthy and happy until the very end.  We know he is in heaven with them now.  He certainly deserves it if anyone ever could.

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Categories: Memoirs | 3 Comments

Studying Prayer

I have always felt comfortable talking to God in private.  I speak to him as though to my own father, as we should do because He is our Father.  The bible tells us in many places that God expects us to reach out to him: “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18.  It tells us “But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” Matthew 6:6.

However, I am not as confident of my ability for public prayer, even when it’s just offering thanks at family meals.  I stand aside and leave it up to others.  I cannot imagine serving as an Elder and praying in front of the congregation.  I feel this is a weakness.  God told Moses: “Now then go, and I, even I, will be with your mouth, and teach you what you are to say.” Exodus 4:12.  He wants us to be able to witness for Him to others.  I feel that public prayer is one of the ways we witness. 

So, as part of my Lenten commitment, I began a study of how to pray.  As I discussed in an earlier post, I started with Lord, Teach Me to Pray by Kay Arthur.  When I had finished the book, I still was not satisfied, so I moved along to Living the Lord’s Prayer by David Timms. This one breaks down The Lord’s Prayer line by line and discusses what it meant at the time and how it relates to our world today. Timms says that our “spiritual formation must percolate through every aspect of our lives.”(p 23 of Kindle version) He explains how he feels a proper understanding of The Lord’s Prayer, as a teaching tool not a rote recital, can be a springboard toward the transformation of our lives.

While I found the book interesting, it still hadn’t helped me formulate oral prayers.  So, I went on to Praying Backwards: Transform Your Prayer Life by Beginning in Jesus’ Name by Bryan Chapell.  Easter has come and gone.  I am about halfway through this one.  It has been helpful.  Well, they have all been somewhat helpful, just not conclusive.  One thing that Chapell mentioned in passing, as though it were common knowledge, is using ACTS as a framework for prayer. I had never heard of this and left the book to ask Google what it was.  

Google, as usual, offered me many choices.  The one I chose is called Prayer Central, a website devoted to Prayer and Devotionals.  In case you haven’t heard of it either, ACTS stands for Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication.  This is something I can work with.  The website listed several other prayer models as well.  I’ve bookmarked it and plan to make visits there part of my study.

I am still reading Praying Backwards.  I am finding it the most helpful and engaging of the books I’ve used.  If you are looking for a better prayer life, I recommend that you start with Praying Backwards.  I like the idea of making sure you put Christ first, even when praying or maybe it should be especially when praying.

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Taking Stock

Terri McCarty Jones, a friend of mine from church, recently asked a series of questions on Facebook:

“Just curious. How many of you feel that you are doing exactly what you are supposed to be doing with your life? Do you have a career or a calling or a combination of the two? Is there something else you wish you would have done other than what you are doing now? What factors charted your course?

Working with the high school CYF and knowing they are going to be going forth into the world and making decisions that will impact their futures makes me curious as to how many of us are overall truly satisfied with what we are doing with our lives. I’m sure some of you took a circuitous route to get where you are now while others seem to have known from childhood the path to take. Any wisdom shared will be greatly appreciated!”

I found it an interesting topic for conversation and decided to present it to a wider audience.  I personally, wanted nothing except to be a wife and mother when I was a teenager.  I said no when a friend of my mother’s offered to pay for me to go to college.  My mother thought I should be a teacher, which was her dream that was interrupted by the Great Depression.  Her friend had no children and was well off.  I had always made good grades in school and they thought I should have a career.  I wasn’t the least bit interested.  Instead, the summer between my sophomore and junior years of high school, I got married.  Two years later, I graduated just one month before the birth of my first son.  

I was set on the path I had planned for myself and even the divorce that came ten years and three children later didn’t alter that goal.  I found a job, but I also started shopping for a new husband, almost immediately.  Wife and mother was what society told me I should want to be, when I was growing up, and it was all I could see then.  Why waste all that time and effort in college and building a career, to just turn it off when I got married?  Why not just get married and be done with it?

Back then, even girls who went to college were expected to be looking for husbands along the way.  We were fully indoctrinated to be wife and mother.  Things have changed somewhat since then, but we still hear a lot about “biological clocks,” the search for “the perfect mate,” and the new goal of “having it all.”  

While those of us who grew up with limited expectations may be looking around and wishing we had all the possibilities that are now available, things today are much more confusing for young people.  That includes boys as well as girls.  In those “good ole days,” young men were expected to follow in the footsteps of their elders.  If they couldn’t manage a college education, their father, uncle, or family friend would get them a low level job with their own employer, so that the youngster could “learn a trade.”  I suppose that still happens to an extent, but attitudes are much different than they used to be.

Today, young people feel a pressure to decide for themselves what career they want.  A daunting task for someone whose biggest decision to date has been what to wear to school and which movie to see on the weekend.   They are told, “You can be anything you want to be, if you are willing to work for it.”  It sounds good to those of us who had limited choices.  I’m sure, it can be scary to someone who is faced with that broader decision.   I have watched many young people try to decide which way to go and they tend to fail.  They will, mostly, give up on their “dream job” and settle for what they can find in the real world.  There just aren’t that many positions open for Rock Stars or Ballerinas.  Major league sports teams don’t have room for every child who loves to play.  Fashion designers are few in number and far away from middle America.  In the final analysis, most kids have to “settle” for something along the way and “find themselves” later.  

There came a time when I realized that I wasn’t really cut out to be “wife.”  It required a level of submission to the needs of a partner that I couldn’t accept.  I gave up that dream.  Mommy isn’t something you can resign from, but it is a temporary job.  The day comes when those precious little toddlers become rebellious teenagers who don’t want or need a “mom” hanging around all day.   You still maintain the title, but the duties become more or less honorary.  

As a single mother, I had found jobs I could do.  None of them were my “dream job.”  By the time I found what that could have been, the children were more important and the two were incompatible.  It is very difficult to become a Systems Analyst, who travels to distant parts of the country for weeks or months at a time designing and setting up new computer systems, with youngsters in school.  

I turned my attention to more sensible jobs, still within my field of interest, and went on with my life.  Eventually, my lack of formal education limited my opportunities for advancement even in those positions.  So, I retired from my “job” and went back to school.  More than 40 years after I graduated high school, I finally found a use for college.  

It was while taking basic requirement courses, that I discovered my true passion, a love of writing.  I had always loved to read and was in awe of the ability of some writers to tell a story.  While I never kept a formal journal, I knew that I sometimes needed to put my thoughts down on paper.  I always found it easier to write than to talk.  I just never considered making it a career.  My English professors were very encouraging.  Even those courses that weren’t really about writing required essays, term papers, and research.  I came to love research.  It’s still one of my favorite pastimes.  

I may never become a paid author, certainly not a well-known or “best selling” one.  But it doesn’t matter.  I am retired now.  I get by financially.  More money would be nice, but it isn’t a goal.  I just like writing.  I now spend my days between “mothering” my great grandchildren and writing: blog posts, a prayer journal, plans for a couple of novels that will probably never see the light of day.  It doesn’t matter.  The joy is in the creation of words, sentences, paragraphs, pages of text.  The telling of the story, true or imaginary, is the thing.  

So, I guess my answer to the above questions would be: Yes, I am doing exactly what I should be doing with my life.  It is a combination of a part of my original goal and what I found along the way.  I sometimes wonder what would have happened if I had been able to make different choices when I was young.  

In college, I also discovered a love of Physics.  I’m not sure I have the mental acuity to have made it a career but, if I had been exposed to it in high school, I might have accepted that opportunity to go to college.  Even if Physics didn’t work out, I might have discovered my love of writing in time to have made that a lifetime career.  Either of those possibilities would have made my life very different. Better?  There’s no way to know.  But, I can’t wish for it.  After all, that would wish away my five children, all my grandchildren and my precious greats.  I can’t even wish away my two failed marriages for the same reason.  

My life went as it should.  I didn’t know when I was 15 how it would turn out.  No one can.  All you can do is the next thing.  Expose yourself to as many paths as possible.  Take the one in front of you, but watch for side branches.  You never know what you’ll find along the way.

How about you?  Join the conversation.  Leave a comment below.  

 

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Categories: For Your Consideration, Inspiration, Meditations, Memoirs | 1 Comment

Mourning with My Privilege

I thought I was done with the Privilege topic, but then I read about the churches being attacked in Egypt.  This is Holy Week.  We’ve gone to worship every day and twice on Maundy Thursday.  Not once did any of us worry that we might be targeted.  I know that Muslims, Jews and even Black Christians in this country can’t always say the same.  I am grateful for my Privilege in knowing that I can worship in safety.  On this Good Friday, as we remember Jesus’ sacrifice on our behalf, I pray the day will come when all God’s people will have such Privilege.

As part of my Lenten commitment, I’ve been reading “He Chose the Nails”  and “On Calvary’s Hill” by Max Lucado.  Lucado emphasizes the fact that Jesus knew, even before He started His ministry, how it would end.  I am wearing black today as a symbol of my mourning for the fact that I fear, if Jesus came back today, we’d kill Him again.  After all, He was a Middle Eastern religious fanatic who taught that we should all be living by God’s law.

He was executed by the method of the day because of fear and political expediency.  The fact that he expected it and was prepared to sacrifice himself doesn’t alter that fact.  For more than 250 years, His followers were also persecuted and killed by the popular methods.  In the middle ages, Europeans, professing Christianity, killed thousands to “free the holy land” from the Jews and Muslims who had always lived there.  Today, we have leaders promoting discrimination against people for their religious beliefs, just as those early Christians suffered under the Romans, the Muslims suffered during the Crusades, and the Jews suffered in Germany during World War II.  

While I may not always agree with the teaching of other religious organizations, including some Christian ones, I fanatically declaim their right to hold their beliefs in peace as long as they allow others to do the same.  Whether or not we agree with them, we have no right to judge, only God is supposed to do that.  

There is only one God, people.  The fact that others call Him by different names, doesn’t mean it’s a different being.  We have many names for Him ourselves.  In Spanish, it’s Dios; in French, it’s Dieu; in German, Gott; in Swedish, Gudaväsen; in Russian, Boga; all from Christians.  The fact that Islamic nations say Allah, doesn’t make it a different God, any more than Jews saying Jehovah or Yahweh does.  We all worship the God of Abraham.  

We adhere to different teachings, claim different prophetic voices, but we start from the same beginning and we should respect the fact that others could only take the path that was before them as they searched for a relationship with the only God that exists.  We are instructed to go forth and preach the gospel, not to condemn those who do not accept our proselytizing.  Our only concern should be our personal relationship with our Lord, not the correctness of other people’s beliefs.  

Rant over.  I cannot judge those who do not agree with me, even those whose actions are based on obvious prejudices.  God is in charge, whether the majority of people choose to believe it or not.  He gave us free choice because He wanted us to choose to love Him and live by His commandments.  I am sure He is saddened by the state of His world today.  I know I am.

This is not the post I had planned for this week.  That one got bumped to next week.  Come back then.

 

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