Monday, June 14, 2010

Memos to God

Last winter I started writing in a journal, something I hadn’t done since I was a teenager. This one was much different from my teenage journal.
I was having a few missed heartbeats and a little anxiety. So I decided to start a prayer journal. Having recently read Kathryn Stockett’s “The Help,” I was inspired by the character Aibileen who wrote her prayers in a book. Her friends seemed to think she had a more direct line to God by writing her prayers down.
I have a friend who does that. There’s nothing magical about writing down your prayers, but there is something special about taking time to think about your needs and the needs of others.
So, I started this journal. I must admit, as an administrator in an educational setting, my written prayers looked, at first, like memos. I started with a list of people for whom I wanted to pray. No details, just a list. I started with myself, of course, I need this, and I need that, and then I moved on to the other people and their needs—more like a status report.
A few times, I even sent up a memo/request for physical things—more like a budget.
Of all people, I need patience. Some of my memo-prayers might as well have said, “If you will recall my journal entry of Jan. 20, I requested patience. I am requesting that virtue once again.” We all know what happens when we pray for patience.
My business-like prayers were more in line with a long-range planning request—telling God what I thought I’d need in the future.
As the long winter months passed, I noticed that my prayers were changing. They were not so memo-like. They evolved from the simple lists to paragraphs. The emphasis shifted from me to my children, co-workers, my husband and others.
God worked through my selfish needs to let me see the needs of those around me. You know, I’ve never had much trouble with some of the commandments such as: “You shall not murder” and “You shall not steal.”
But the verse that give me trouble is found in Psalms 46:10, “Be still, and know that I am God;” Being still is something I struggle with. This verse in the Hebrew probably means “Enough” or “Stop”. No matter how you look at it He is telling us to slow down and recognize him.
That’s what this journal has done for me. I challenge you to take as little as five minutes a day to think about your blessings, the needs of your loved ones, and to give thanks for what God has already done for you.
You can even confess out loud and in writing some of your weaknesses. You can’t fix something you can’t acknowledge, and God won’t tell.
The stillness is coming easier all the time.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Retirement—Adventure Begins

Look at my picture. Do you see me smiling? I never knew I could have so much fun. Talk about mixed blessings. I worked in a place and at a job that I dearly loved. Health issues forced me to come home. I'm having so much fun I don't have time to feel bad!

Today I went back for the second day to a dog show with one of my dearest friends. You have to understand, as a former equestrienne and horse show person, it is a little dangerous for me to be around people competing with animals. I love looking at the over-priced wares of the vendors. (I bought a pair of Silky terrier earrings!) My husband said it was a little strange to have little yappy dog heads hanging from my ears. I love all the dog equipment and gadgets.

I loved looking at the different breeds and watching the techniques of the handlers and owners. I will go to as many dog shows as I can. Better than horse shows, not so hot, no dust, no hauling a trailer. Dogs could bite you, but they can't step on your foot or knock you over or throw you or make you wonder why you are in this expensive, frustrating, business in the first place.

But I still feel a twinge of wanting one. Anyway, back to the retirement fun.This week holds the promise of dinner with friends, a quilting lesson, another dog adventure, lunch in a tea room in a small rural community and not setting my alarm clock.

A Mother's Legacy, a non-mushy Mother's Day tribute

This is not one of those mushy mother’s day columns. Even if you have recently lost your
mother, bear with me. For those of us who have lost mothers, sitting through Sunday Mother’s Day services at church and seeing the Mother’s Day cards everywhere can be bittersweet.

I challenge you all, if you fall into that category, to dig deep for the good memories. My mother has been gone now for 16 years. It’s hard to believe. But the good side of this is that all the bad or sad memories begin to fade, leaving sweet and funny ones in their place.

It has taken 16 years for the little aggravating things she did to become sweet and endearing—like taking back to the store every pair of shoes she ever bought—sometimes a month later. I can see my little teenaged self, rolling my eyes at the thought. And when she did find a pair she liked she bought six pair in different colors. Ugh.

We all catch ourselves saying things that sound like our mothers. Sometimes those phrases, such as “When I was your age…..” come out of my mouth and I could swear she is speaking through me.
She used to give me this disapproving look over her bifocals. It strikes fear in me still, just thinking about it. I was accused lately by a co-worker, of giving her that look. I can’t believe it.

I’ve already started embarrassing my children. It seems I addicted to lipstick and they constantly pick up drinking glasses and say, “Well, we know whose glass this is. It has Amber Suede on it.” I’m told I also do not drink out of a straw the right way and that I drive too slow. It’s only going to get worse.

In a way, that is a tribute. When I really miss my mother I try to be the kind of mother she was to me, with a few amendments. She showed me unconditional love. That happens when a woman waits 13 years for a baby only to have it die only days later. I was born 11 months later. The semi-smothering began.

Now that I’m over 50, I still want my mama when I’m sick. Still have the urge to call her at 10 each morning when I made my daily check-in call. Instead I call one of my children. Mothers of only children have a special calling—dealing with the little special ones and letting them go graciously.

But then, no less is the task of mothers of boys. Bless their hears. I have a son and a grandson, a step-grandson and a son-in-law. A few years ago when my grandson was about five I took him to a college rodeo. Being a horse person, when that pretty girl came running in the arena at full speed on that black horse with the American flag flying, I got chill bumps. My grandson stood up, without being told, put his little hand over his heart . My heart soared. As soon as the national anthem was over, he removed his hand from his heart, spread his legs and spat. Need I say more?

And for the mothers of girls—oh my goodness—let’s bless those little girls’ conniving and devious hearts. They hook you from the moment they are born with their heavy-lashed little eyes—the same ones they bat when they are teenagers and lying to your face.

Thanks goodness most of them come around. All I can say, is that my mother made me a better mother, grandmother, and friend. She whispers in my ear and gives me courage. She had brass and spunk, attributes I sometimes lack. I’m still trying.

The compliment that could be paid a grandmother is that 16 years after my mother’s death, my children are still giving each other photos of her and quoting her when the situation bring to mind a Nanny-like saying.

We can all pay tribute to our mothers this May by letting them live on through our relationships with our friends, children and grandchildren, even if they are not here to see.
But you won’t catch in a pair of shoes that has six cousins in my closet.

Published by DeSoto Magazine