Grace, Hope

Lest I Fall

 I didn’t need the old Farmers Almanac this year to feel the fall sweep in. I didn’t need the latest fashion magazine to flash this seasons new sweaters stuffed in my mailbox. And I definitely groaned inward at the splay of Halloween mess spilling all over my errand rounds. 

   

  

   

  The moon and the sun, they play this game of banter back and forth across the fragmented farmhouse and across the freshly harvested fields. I watch them equal out their appearance this time of year. And it’s this amazing rise of faith, this willingness to meet eye to eye, and I can almost hear a symphony composed in the background. This sound of the heavens celebrating another successful rotation of seasons, and this, their meeting in the dusk, in the dawn, is their faith-fueled offering to their Creator.  

 Occasionally, the clouds cluster and cover up the skies and occasionally, so does my ego. Occasionally, my fears and my hurry and my equations of how everything should be going and growing, all gather together and my life offering is so swampy I want to lock the doors and pull the calendar pages back and try again. My ego has these perfect intentions, “Look Lord, that’s not what I meant to show you, that’s not what I meant to show them.” I hear the hiss of the lie and feel my own edges dying.  

  
 All this sky, it’s this amazing blue. It’s void of any storms, and I realize this fall, this mark of autumnal change, can, actually, be really good. In this equaling out of the sun and moon, we’ve had an eclipse, and although during the brightest part of the day the sun easily could have veiled the moon, instead, in the dark of the night, it changed the moon. That old rotating rock up there, on a normal night, reflects light, but only parts of himself. And then, about once a month, it wakes from it’s drowsy cycle and boldly looks back at the sun, full faced, and I watch in awe. It’s a single note pulled by some invisible bow across a lone string and it offers all it’s light. I wonder at it, if it’s straight at the Creator that it stares. And this season, not only did it face straight-on, but it was changed. Completely changed by the light, in. this. season.
 I sweep the first falling leaves off the drive and notice the sweep of light dancing through branches. I sigh large and pray deep and beg for that full faced look of my Redeemer. And I too am looking for change. Maybe if I rotated my thoughts. But how? I feel the connection, sometimes, and the Lord is right there and all is clear and I feel more beautiful than I’ve ever felt before, but, as they say, beauty is fleeting, and as soon as the husband works to many late evenings and the girl skips the corners of the bathroom again, the baby grows fussy and dumps his whole plate straight to the sandy floor, what about those times? Suddenly I find my edges crinkle straight in and I’m nothing but a slight sliver of someone who, once, maybe, looked like the image of her Savior?  

 There is no symphony playing. No song calling my name. Nothing but a dark night with no stars and no moon. My reflection is completely jejune. And then it hits me. My life is dull and has completely lost it’s beauty because I have failed to draw. every. breath. with. the. word. of. God. My ego led the way through scripture reading and through bathroom cleaning and, quite frankly, right through parenting!

Scripture says, “For wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition there you will find disorder and evil of every kind.” James 3:16 NLT. My ego leads my selfish ambition!

 This is a lot to swallow. I want to rest beautifully in the light of the Lord, but my perfection doesn’t seem to be the same as HIS perfection, and so my “beauty” looks like nothing other than chaos and disorder.

 The moon cannot change himself but he must come full circle and face the sun before he can be changed. Before his composer can write his song. Before his beauty can be seen for what it really is. And do you know what that is? It’s the perfect reflection of the SON. “You can make many plans, but the Lord’s purpose will prevail.” Proverbs 19:21 NLT.

 That, friend, is beauty worth seeing, worth wearing, worth rotating towards. Seek His face and you will see His plan and you will know His purpose and ALL will be beautiful!

   
 
In pure pivoting waltz,

~kathy b

Gifts & Talents, Giving, Parenting, Thankfullness

Growing up with Linda

In four weeks a group of old friends will gather on a campus full of highschoolers and reminisce about thier own styles and cliques and adventures full of poor judgement.  They’ll remind each other of hours spent working for free to cover a broken rule, of love lost and found, and they’ll talk about the craziness of 50 years gone by.  They’ll pass their phones around showing off pictures of kids and grandkids and that camper they always wanted.  They also decided to take some time and talk about those who are no longer among them.  Those who have passed away.   One of those is my mom.  Here is the tribute I wrote to be read at that gathering.  I love that they chose to not forget fellow classmates and honored that they asked me to describe what is was like growing up with Linda as my mom.  Here is my, somewhat tearful, walk down memory lane.

   
 

  
Encapsulating the life of your Mom is maybe one of the more difficult things. Mapping out a timechart of motherhood roles and duties requires a scroll of paper across the kitchen floor because the kids have full bellies and safe play and always, always a shoulder to lean into whenever it’s needed and how do you chart that? Growing up with Linda as a Mom was busy and full and secure because she literally took care of everything! Linda was an extrovert but absolutely wanted, needed, to stay home with her kids. So she opened a daycare in our home and filled it with kids and made friends with other Mama’s who needed her multi-tasking, her practicality, and her Christian boldness to help raise their offspring. For roughly 13 years she took care of multiple kids alongside her own 4. At times there were between 15 and 20 little beings pounding up and down the stairs, hanging from trees, splashing in the pool, and snacking on graham crackers with left-over cake frosting smothered on them. She embodied the “old” woman who lived in a shoe and the chaos fueled her. And while the mundane of scrubbing dirty floors and dirty dishes might literally scrub out the very creativity of a God-designed soul, she battled that with a small business on the side. Word got out that Linda made wedding cakes, and so, blushing couples sat side-by-side on our brown patterned couch and talked colors, styles, and dates and there are many memories of helping Mom transport multi-tiered cakes to church after church, the upside, for us, of course, was the start of a new tradition. Leftover wedding cake frosting smeared on graham crackers! Mom and Dad were conservative Seventh day Adventists which meant there was no caffeine, no meat, no alcohol, and no rock-n-roll. Instead, there was church and school involvement. Everything from teaching/leading Sabbath School and heading a group in a potluck rotation to attending music programs and gymnastics shows for all four kids, and eventually starting up a preschool program at Hinsdale Junior Academy. Linda was an early bird, a roadrunner, for the rate of speed at which she could accomplish things was amazing. She started every day ahead of her kids, but that also meant bedtimes were early because mama was tired and she needed to be done at the end of the day.
 Our home was always full of people. If the 6 of us was not enough, we often had people in various transitional places in theirs lives staying for days or weeks, or, occasionally, months. Every Sabbath a special lunch was prepared and it was not an unusual site to have invited guests over for Sabbath lunch. Holidays were the same. If we did not have family around to share a loaded Thanksgiving table with, then she would seek out a single person or two from the church or school and add another place-setting. Hospitality was defined for me by my Mom, and she seemed to have a soft spot for single mothers, because my memory lists quite a few that found a warm smile, a heart that didn’t judge, and a flexible drop-off and pick-up place to bring their kids. The Christian atmosphere was just a bonus.

 Linda was a high-energy, bossy, woman, but she was equally kind, gentle, and nurturing and how you pour all of that into a 5’2″ woman is a wonder to me, but that is how God designed her.

 Her “working” life after kids was that of her in-home daycare until 1988 when she started a preschool program at Hinsdale Junior Academy. It was into her second year there that she was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 44. She took that on like everything else, with fury. She scheduled herself, her kids, and her job around her single mastectomy surgery, her chemotherapy, and her radiation treatments. She never lost her hair that time. I think she was too stubborn and bossy, even the hair follicles learned who they were dealing with. She chose no reconstruction, but instead bore those scars as any good soldier would. You do what you have to do to survive so you can take care of your kids. Because that was her only prayer, “Lord, please let me finish raising my kids.” And she did.

 From the school she left and went on to run a daycare center in an elite business district in a western suburb of Chicago, eventually starting a private school within its walls. When she reached a point where she could no longer give her whole heart to those kids and their families, she switched careers and worked for a financial investment group. When the main broker that she worked for went to start his own company she left and went to work for a Honda dealership close to home, where she retired from when her own mother got sick with cancer. 

  She left and went to FL and stayed with her mom until her death in March of 2005. Struggling with where to stay and live from there, she and Alan, who had retired from Hinsdale Hospital, sent prayers heavenward for direction, never dreaming that a few weeks later they would get an anxious call from a hospital in Grand Rapids, MI where their second daughter, (me) had just given birth to micro-premie twins at only 24 wks gestation. She shed tears and packed her bags and sat by my side for all of the fours months required. This is where she also buried a grandson. The loss of her mother, who was one of her closest friends, and her almost 2 month old baby grandson whom she had held only once, finally took some of the wind out of her sails. Once her daughter and granddaughter were safely home, she and Alan moved down to Nashville, TN to live near her oldest daughter, Diana. Life grew quieter there.

 Linda was a ‘busy-body’, and although she had slowed some, true “retirement” nearly drove her crazy, so she got involved in a free medical clinic for the poor and put her efforts into running the office there. But in January of 2008, the same day grandchild number 7 was born, she received an early morning call from her doctor who told her that the weakness in her left hand and the drooping of the left side of her smile was because of an inoperable brain tumor. For the next two and a half years she took the recommended treatments until finally there was nothing else and the tumor was growing so fast she declined every day. Her family gathered quickly and on June 2, 2010, after a peaceful five day coma, her heart stopped, and she rested quietly. It was a strange quiet for a woman born with a fire burning in her. Linda was 64 years old.

 I miss that Mama every day. I miss how she would stop her entire world if you called her and needed her. “Ok, honey, what can I do to help? Do you need me to come?”

 Always. Every time.