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Archive for March, 2011

funeral friday 4

It seems like the funeral director in your town or neighborhood has been there forever, right?  The turnover rate is so low in some places that you get the impression that he was born in the funeral home.

But when a new director does come, it’s a transitional period for the community as well as for the funeral director.  He has to learn all the names, the relationships in all the families.  He needs to learn where all the churches and cemeteries are located; develop relationships with all the pastors and cemetery sextons.  He will learn all of the town and village clerks and the local veteran’s services agent.  He will also build bridges with other area funeral directors and service organizations.  I think you’re getting the picture.

Life for the new funeral director is very interesting, indeed.  And in the early part, it’s like you never really catch up, and you’re praying like mad that things go well.

I remember Mrs. C, an amazingly gracious woman.  Her husband had passed away in during a cold, snowy winter.  She no longer lived in the area, but she understood the plight of the new funeral director; where he needed assistance with information that the previous director would have known, Mrs. C amicably provided it.

It turns out the cemetery was quite far away and it was not one that was utilized by this funeral home often.  For peace of mind, it was necessary to drive out, look over the cemetery, and develop confidence in the route for a successful processional.  Having done that, it seemed we could relax a little about logistics and concentrate on service.

The calling hours and funeral service ended, it was time to proceed to the cemetery.  An accurate and orderly processional was created and off we went.  Driving, slowly, but just driving.

And then, we noticed out the driver’s side window that Mrs. C’s car had pulled up along side of our car, having pulled out and passed the hearse to make the maneuver.  This was about eight years ago and cell phones had not migrated into the elderly portion of the population at all, so this was her only method of communicating with the funeral director.

So we pulled over, lowered our window, and heard Mrs. C kindly say, “I’m not familiar with this route to the cemetery.”  Which was enough to send a creeping pink line up the funeral director’s neck (my dear husband) as he looked around to determine our location.   They discussed the situation and decided how to get things back on track for that successful processional.

As there was no cross-road nearby, a turn-around was the course of action chosen.  The “about-face” went amazingly smooth, as numerous cars executed the needed maneuvers to stay out of ditches and snow banks.

Mrs. C was, indeed, very kind about the whole situation keeping the intimate details of that conversation discretely to herself.  And we now know where all the cemeteries are and have not repeated this mistake!

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I needed a jump-start today–this week.

My motivation has been so low.  I tend to blame it on the weather.  The dreariness just keeps hanging on, with a deep chill that hits me hard.  Ah, but then it’s not a tsunami.  What do I have to complain about?  As I watched the destruction last week, my mind went immediately to their weather, or climate.

The Sendai area has an average 30° low with 50° high for March.  I cannot imagine being wet, homeless, devastated, and COLD.  I am blessed.  The thermostat is just here beside my desk–and it works.

Forgive me Lord.

Subject change–

There is a beautiful verse in Psalm 84. (v11)

The Lord, God is a sun and shield; he will give grace and glory; no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.

That’s the Baker paraphrase.  I learned it in KJV and have altered the words slightly…but that’s how I say the verse.

The Lord is a sun:  this turns my mind toward Provider.  The sun is the source of energy that grows our plants which results in food for animals and food for us.  The sun supplies our bodies with Vitamin D.  Lack of sun results rickets.  The sun heats our planet…ah yes, heat…

The Lord is a shield:  Protector.  What else is a shield for?  Windshield, battle shield, police shield, and…

You have also given me the shield of Your salvation,
And Your right hand upholds me;
And Your gentleness makes me great.  (Psalm 18:35)

Total Protection through the shield of salvation…Jesus and all He did for us.

The Lord God is my Provider and Protector… that’s the part of the verse that stays with me today.

My daughter just informed me that it’s an AWESOME day outside … so I’m going to go absorb some Vitamin D, and chase out some of that deep chill.

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weekdays

I’ll be posting on weekdays.  Weekends are just too crazy.

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funeral friday 3

Memorials.  They are a sobering vision.  We look at them in Arlington Cemetery, in national parks, in city parks–they’re all around if we just look.  That statue in your city circle is a memorial to a brave person of long ago–or maybe even of recent events.

Memorials are about a remembering a an event, a culture, a life.  In Joshua 4 God instructed the Israelites to build a memorial.  This was an altar of rocks.  The purpose of the memorial was that the story of the crossing of the Jordan would be repeated.  And then, “all the peoples of the earth might know that the hand of the LORD is powerful and so that you might always fear the LORD your God.”

Each life will be remembered for some thing.  Some for bravery; consider the marine statue of Iwo Jima.  (There was one Navy corpsman as well.)  Others, perhaps more for a whimsical, cultural impact such as the Jim Henson Memorial.

Memorials are in the fabric and life of our culture.  Not everyone will get a statue in front of city hall, but everyone is worth honoring by a memorial.

Funeral services are about remembering.  Taking time to celebrate life–the life that was and the great impact it had on you personally–and cherish memories is the essence of the memorial.

How is this done?  In your own way.  Display Dad’s work tools, set up photo boards, hang Mom’s quilts, put the Harley on the funeral home porch, write a poem or essay about your good memories.  (The bad ones are just trash, put them on the compost pile where they should have been years ago…)

Remembering through a memorial is not ignoring the reality of life, nor is it implying perfection.  A memorial simply selects worthy moments and characteristics and allows us to shout out “Look!  This was important to me.”

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draw your prayer

Sometimes, staying focused in prayer is difficult for me.  So I tried this experiment.  I “drew” while I prayed.  Actually, the concept is based on a book entitled Praying in Color by Sybil MacBeth.

I found her method of coloring to be somewhat distracting because I was frequently choosing a color and became caught up in that process.  My method forces me to to concentrate a little more on the people and the prayer.

In the photo below you will see a six-paned window.  We have several of these in our home, which is what inspired this particular picture.  Each of the panes is dedicated to one member of our family.  Where the curtain splits a pane, I also included prayers for the people my children were dating at the time.

The frame around the panes contains notes that I found to be important to us at the time.  And a Bible verse–Psalm 122:1  “Unless the Lord builds the house its builders labor in vain.”

As I filled each pane with prayer requests, I was praying for that person.  After I had the inked portions laid down, I then went back and shaded the panes…praying once again for the person in that window.

This process covered my family with prayer for a couple of hours that day.  Obviously I don’t do this every day.  But when I do it, I come away feeling more focused about each person I pray for.   I have the confidence that the Lord heard my prayers–rather, the prayer of my heart, as I poured out all the thoughts, concerns, hopes, and dreams I hold for each person.

This is a very simple drawing, as you can see. (In fact, I didn’t even finish the frame on this drawing.  When I finished the panes, I had a peace and sense of completion, so I ended there.)  So you don’t need to be overly gifted in drawing.  Just willing to give it a try.  It might not be something that you connect with, but I’ve found it to be good for me sometimes.

Unless the Lord builds the house its builders labor in vain. Psalm 122:1

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the attitude

A sweet story from the archives.  This is when Erinnae was four, Titus, three.

The thunder came during dinner.

We were all four at the table–Bud, Erinnae, Titus, and me.  At the first burst of lightening, Erinnae was in Daddy’s lap and I had Titus.

Trying for a distraction, after a little while, I said to Titus, “Who made the booms?”  After a pause, he said, “God did.”  And I responded with “Everything God made is good.”

Daddy decided to get Erinnae on board with this diversion tactic, so he asked her, “Who made the booms?”

In exasperation she said, “I don’t want to discuss that right now.”

That was so adult of her.  I know,  it sounds so childish, but in practice that’s what we adults do.

You’re going 52 in a 45; and you ignore Romans 13:1 as it comes to mind.  “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorit–” Wait! That was a really bad example…let me think of something that doesn’t apply to me.

Oh yes, Bud and I had a disagreement the other day.  Sometimes he just refuses to see things my way.  So I went to bed–“do not let the sun go down while you are still ang–”

I’m going to try that again.

You would think that standing right there on the ball court, the trained official in the striped shirt would be able to make an accurate call.  That was a travel–“be kind and compass–”

Okay.  So, it’s my issue too.  There is truth sitting right at my doorstep and I pull out the “I don’t want to discuss that right now” attitude.  Don’t bother me with right and wrong, just let me do this my way.

But we are to be sanctified by truth (John 17:17.)  Because of Jesus’ great love we are inspired, motivated and delighted to cooperate with God in the development of a Christlike character in preparation for heaven.  Well, we’re supposed to be, but sometimes we have “the attitude.”

 

Everyone say CHEESE -- ok, just the kids.

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quarterback

Mission Christmas Tree 2010

An extra player on the left--Abigail!

I’m sitting here at this desk, desiring to post something, feeling emotions and words and situations all churning around.  What does one post about when the heart’s ebb and flow are constricted?

I am stuck today on parenting.  This is, in my opinion, the hardest job on the face of the earth.  What are some of my reasons for thinking this?

There is no pattern. The day-to-day, step-by-step instruction sheet was lost on the assembly line of the baby shipping factory.  Or maybe it was an economic decision.  “Hey boss, seems like we have to print out a different set of directions for each model.  Gets kind of expensive.  We could save a lot of money … .  Just sayin’.”

The reality is that what was effective with one child may not be effective with the next.    All parents know that each one is different.  You’d like to tell yourself that they’re growing up in the same home, with the same parents, sharing the same experiences.  And all that “sameness” should gel together for a consistently effective method of parenting.  Think again.

Even though my children declare that they want to be treated the same, I believe that if they actually received this, they would wilt.  God doesn’t treat all his children the same.  I’m pretty certain that He would encourage all parents to know their children and bring them up accordingly.

There is little appreciation. I have to temper this by saying that as some of our children have gotten older, they have at times expressed appreciation of some type or another.  However, the general truth remains that when you’re “in the thick of it” your child will not choose to try to understand your position on the various issues.

You, the parents, are the people on this earth who love that child the most.  (In the normal scheme of things.)  You are the ones who have taken the time to know this child, love this child, nurture this child.  And you want the best for your child.  But that child may be a long way from seeing and understanding this.  Parents should and must act according to the best interests of the child, lovingly, of course.

And this is so hard at times.  I am happy to share that our kids are great kids.  We have issues at times, of course.  So I think that’s what makes it so hard.  It is rare that we have had to make tough decisions in parenting.  So when those decisions come, we are all–parents and children–a little flummoxed on how to wade through the quagmire of strong emotions that result.

There is little companionship. In honor of our children, we parents are willing to walk alone.  We are willing to take the abuse that comes from an uninformed outsider.

Most children have done it.   Comments such as: “Aw, they won’t let me.  I never get to do anything fun.”  You’ve heard your friends children do it to their parents.  And perhaps you’ve disagreed with the parents.  I know I’ve done that, thinking that the parents really should reconsider THAT decision.  (Shame on me.)

I believe it’s called “arm-chair quarterbacking.”  The coach and the quarterback know the plan.  But every sports enthusiast in the nation is watching and re-plotting a better approach–with incomplete data.  The quarterback has to stand behind his decision; the coach has to stand behind his.  And they have to be willing to be misunderstood.  And even abused.

In the world of parenting, I am so glad that I am not the coach.  I have someone with more authority leading me and showing me how to move the ball down the field.  I am the quarterback, doing my best to manage the plays for sweet success.

God is the coach (and so much more.)  He knows the plan and He directs the action.  He expects that the quarterback will do the work effectively, lovingly.  The players might not like the play but the coach works His ways anyway.

As we parents move along in life, striving to move our  teams into a position of success, let us remember that we each have our own battles involving unique personalities and behaviors.  And let us respect the decisions that are played out under God’s watchful care.

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