Saturday, December 19, 2009

Needs, wants, desire...what is what.

Psalm 37:4 (King James Version)
“Delight thyself also in the LORD: and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.”



“You’re a survivor. Your like something out of the great depression.” My friend Lisa said to me as we drove down a busy road, back to my house after one of our many adventures together.
“I don’t know how to take that. LOL~”
So many of our conversations land us in doubled over with laughter that it would be natural to crack ourselves up over any statement made to each other. But Lisa wasn’t done making her point.
“No, I mean whatever comes at you, you are not going to curl up in a ball and wait for someone to rescue you. You are going to come at the problem head on and find a way to fix it. And you do it all with a smile on your face. Your more like my husband’s grandmother. You would dry out your paper towels and reuse them if you just used them for cleaning up water. Most people can’t do that anymore.”
“I guess I am kind of a scrapper. But in my ‘old age’ here, I am learning to rely on God for my needs not on my scrapper abilities.”
When we got back t my house, we kept chatting along the same lines until she saw our Christmas tree. We went back to our ROFLOL~ing as she described the tee as something created by little blind children. There is always an element of truth to her comments and this one was all true! LOL! It makes Charlie Brown’s tree look like the one in Rockefeller Center!

After she left I got to thinking that she was right. In the years I took care of Mom it became a huge part of who I am today. You see I was the princess who had no idea my parent’s ever had a money issue. They never mentioned it. Dad worked three jobs at the height of the ‘70’s recession. Mom wore the same outfits and kept the food budget down. We didn’t need wardrobes because we were in school uniforms. We honestly had no idea, or maybe just I didn’t.
So when the truth hit, when I was in college, I sort of didn’t understand. There had always been enough money for everything we wanted, I didn’t really believe that there was not enough money was the truth. By hook or by crook, there would always be enough. And often that enough for was what our priorities would call a need when in reality it was a want.
My parents had there own way of handling money. Dad would hand over his paycheck to Mom every week and she would put it into the bank and pay the bills, build up savings and buy groceries, gas, etc…. Oh and Dad got spending money as well. He never once looked at the accounts and had no idea how much money Mom had squirreled away.
What Dad didn’t hand over was the money he made on the side. And by on the side, I mean tips and whatever he made selling the merchandise that fell off the back of the moving truck or what he made on a bet at OTB. Some weeks he had more then others, but he pretty much spent whatever was in his pocket.
Dads pockets…I loved those pockets. They were like magic to me. His pants hung on the hook in the bathroom every night and his pocket ran deep. In the ‘80’s at the height of Dad’s money making I made a fortune. I had one of the best wardrobes in my teen years that you could imagine. I made so much out of those pockets I went to Hawaii at 17. I never believed in a money tree, I didn’t need to. I had something better: Money pant’s pockets. I lived quite the rich life.
Until I didn’t. When our insurance was capped on Mom, there was no money in those pockets anymore. It was all spent on bills. Unless Dad hit big on a horse or did good with the bookie. Now what?
Mom hid money, Dad spent his last dime. I was left somewhere in-between.
When Mom’s TV died, she gave me a deep sigh and said, “Now I will have nothing to keep me company in this room. We just can‘t afford a new TV right now.”
“Sorry Mom. I am sure we will work something out.” I said as I turned and looked for something in her jewelry box. “I can’t find my earrings. Did I leave them in here? Oh well. I will find them later. Look, I gotta go. See you later. I love you.”
I promptly left her room. Got into my (her) car, drove to Sears, used her Sears credit card and bought her a new TV. When I got home I told Dad to carry it in.
She looked at me and said “How did you get that?”
“I took your Sears card out of the jewelry box and slipped it into my pocket. Enjoy the TV. You sit alone in this room 24 hours a day. I am not leaving you with out something to watch. This one has a remote so you can change the channel yourself. Neat right?”
Mom took the tube off of her neck and said with total conviction, “You learned that move from YOUR FATHER! NOT FROM ME!”
“Yes. Yes, I did. Now shut up and enjoy the darn thing. I love you, I really do have to run now. By the way, it will run you about $25.00 per month. You can pay that. It is not going to put you into the poor house.”
Priorities vs. Providence. I think that is what our lives often boil down to. Mom was willing to play martyr and sit in the dark alone day after day. Okay, except that the rest of us would have paid very dearly for her martyrdom. It was not a price I was willing to pay and so made the decision for her. Maybe I did it more for me then for her. I am not sure.
What I do know is that broke is as broke does. It is not a priority to me to make sure I have paper towels in the house as all times. I know that I can use an old rag to clean a counter, wash it and use it again. I usually cook with a kitchen towel draped over my shoulder to dry my hands. And sometimes I remember to wear an apron to wipe my floured hands on but more often then not, my jeans have flour on them. I don’t need paper towels to have a clean kitchen~~~I could play that Sham Wow guy, minus the scandal! LOL!
I would rather buy chocolate chips then buy paper towels. I would rather buy an ornament then an expensive and disposable tree. I would rather buy breakfast food for the kids because I hate cooking in the mornings then loaves of bread for lunches because bread I can make. I make my choices based on what is a priority.
My parents did the same. I think it would be an argument Mom and I would have had, had she lived to today. She found it more important to have money for a rainy day…but her definition of rain and mine were very different. Dad would spend until there was nothing left to spend because tomorrow there may be nothing to spend it on anyway.
When I became the primary caregiver to them, one of the things I had to make decisions about was how the money was spent on them. Some of those decisions were spot on, some not so much. Sometimes I had to call them out on their decisions or be unpopular with mine.
So here I am, all these years later, both of my parent’s gone now. But not forgotten. Today I can look back and call sin, sin. Each buck I took out of Dad’s pants was stealing. Stealing always comes back to pride. Pride always says to God, “I don’t trust YOU to meet my needs and wants.“ How blessed I am to be convicted and forgiven by my Provider. I don’t say that lightly. I say it as one who has those “hot coals upon” my head like Paul describes in the book of Romans.
Each day as I trust Providence to provide for our families needs, He shows me something new. Sometimes He gives us our hearts desire because it truly is. Sometimes He says no, not now. Either way, I have learned to trust in Him in want and in need and in plenty. I began to learn those lessons in the years I cared for my parents. Today, I continue to learn them as a parent.

How about you?
Do you have to juggle the checkbook for your parents even as you try to juggle your own? How do you work out who talks to the insurance company, the doctors office, the hospital? How do you make those decisions: with your parents or alone? When do you bring them to your Abba?

Let’s pray:
Father in the name of Jesus, take it all. Show us how to balance not just our check book but our parent’s as well. Show us how to handle their money and when to abide by what they ask and when to say no. It can be so painful to make these choices when the money is not ours but the power is. Show us how to honor them in the choices we make, and the things we say. Help us to be good stewards of all they ask us to do.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Give thanks...

1 Thessalonians 5:14-23 (King James Version)
"Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men.
See that none render evil for evil unto any man; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men.
Rejoice evermore.
Pray without ceasing.
In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
Quench not the Spirit.
Despise not prophesyings.
Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.
Abstain from all appearance of evil.
And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ."


I realized last night that I have not an appetizer to our name for dinner today. We had plans to have another family join us, but do to illness can't make it. We still have another couple coming and family as well...now what? My husband told me not to worry, the stores are open and he would go pick something up...That's right the stores are open. Ugh, how I hate that the stores are open today at all.
Yes, when we were kids, for the most part, nothing was open on Sundays except the local bakery for a few hours. In our neighborhood the mom and pop supermarket and deli were open until noon or at the latest 2pm. But it was only a generation before that NOTHING was open on Sundays.
Recently I was lamenting to a friend that I would have to wait until noon to get something at the mall because it was Sunday. She asked me if I like living in a cave. The stores open at 10:00 on Sundays now, just like every other day of the week.
I suppose it boils down to money, perfectionism and a lack of belief in Providence doesn't it? The corporate stores can make more money by being open on Sundays, it feeds our belief that we must all be like Martha Stewart. We can have a perfect Thanksgiving (insert Christmas, New Years, 4th of July here) because if we forget our appetizers we can run to the store and the day will be saved. If we burn the turkey we can get another one, the restaurants are all open after all today as well. We can pick up an extra case of soda or beer or napkins if we feel the need to do so.
Of course that would mean that we don't really need to plan ahead do we? That would mean that we don't have to "pray about everything" because our needs or wants are available to purchase at any time on any day.
Legend has it that my mom's best high school friend, Ginger, hosted her first Thanksgiving with her new husband and his family. Her mom was not a cook at all so she asked my grandmother what and how to do everything. When the big day arrived, she knew to wash up the turkey before she cooked it and so she did. She scrubbed that bad boy Tom with soap and Ajax! Needless to say, dinner was not yummy! LOL! But there were plenty of side dishes and it became family legend to be told and retold every year at the table.
The Pilgrims understood what it was to live and die in need of all things. How awful that they came here for religious freedom and suffered that first winter with such lose. Can you imagine how much they must have missed England at that point? And yet, those that survived gave thanks in season and out. They did not give thank just on the first Thanksgiving, they did it everyday.
Today we live in historic times in a nation called no longer Christian by our commander-in-chief. To some degree he is right. He has held up a mirror and simply condemned us by our own actions. We, as a nation, have allowed more atrocities in the name of freedom, then any other nation with the murder of the innocent in the womb. We have allowed gay marriage. We have stood by and tsk-tsked the sexualization of our little girls. We have handed over our religious freedom out of the fear that we might offend someone by saying the name above all names in public unless it is to swear. As a nation, we the people, have allowed these things. Now what? Now what?
I don't know, except to give thanks today and everyday. On this uniquely American and religious holiday we should all give thanks for the "little foxes" that crept in to our garden. It is what has awakened this sleeping dog to say no more. We must give thanks for the president we have, because so many of us are standing up and say "NO!" to liberties being stolen and grabbed away. It did not start with him, it began a long time ago, one little fox at a time. It started with one little store open on a Sunday at a time. Eve could not put the bite back into the fruit. Remember, God did not forget us even in our sinfulness. Today lets be grateful that He has pealed the scales off of our eyes and raised up a nation, yet again, that will not stand for sin. We cannot bring it back to the days of our parents, but we can ask for God to bring us forward and re-found our nation, based again, on our Christian values and principles. Today we can thank God for the storm we find ourselves in and watch Him reveal Himself in this storm.

How about you?
How will you thank Him today? How deeply will that thanks go? How has freedom blessed you in the greatest nation in the world? How has this freedom blessed your family, in the season of caregiver? Are you mourning? How can you thank Him today in your sadness?

Let's pray:
Father in the name of Jesus, we pray. On a day set apart to give You thanks, we are humbled by all that is around us. We have more questions then answers in our nation today. Will we have the freedom to choose the care our parents need, or our children or ourselves? Will we lose that freedom in the name of government? Lord God remind us always to render to Ceaser what is Ceaser's but to render to You, what belongs to You. Let us rest and gain strength to fight for the nation You have blessed with such abundance. Forgive our squandering of it all. Pull us back, protect us from the enemy without and within. Thank You for the time left with our parents or for calling them home to rest in the ultimate healing. You alone are God of all, and we have been endowed by You with certain unalienable rights to life, liberty and property. You alone can place Your hand on our nation and call us forth as a remnant. Thank You for all You have done and what You are about to do. In Your name, Amen.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Today we pray...

(Psalm 119:105)
"Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path."

Father in the name of Jesus, let even my failures serve You. You know the end from the beginning not me. How blessed I am when You reveal Yourself to Me! But more often then not, I can only see one step at time because I only have that much light. Thank You for that gift or I would run ahead, missing the blessings on the way. Like the child who runs before he crawls, he loses cognitive and fine motor skills that he cannot live with out. How frustrated we as parents get when we try to get a child who has decided to walk, to crawl...Thank You for Your patience when I try to skip a step. So today, I commit my life once again, my brokenness, my fullness of joy, my call to serve, my family, my past, my today and my tomorrow to You. They belong to You anyway. With out You, I am nothing. Amen.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The harness to keep us safe...

"With your help I can advance against a troop; with my God I can scale a wall." (2Samuel 22:30)

My youngest daughter, Maggie, will turn six in a few weeks. She is no wilting flower. She has a will as strong as her given name of Margaret Colleen. She is not bratty, mostly, just determined. One of the advantages of being the youngest child in a relatively large family is that there is always someone there to help you achieve your goals. It has given her the gift of knowing there is nothing she can't do.

After church one recent Sunday, we all came in to get changed and have brunch. I didn't realize Maggie had stayed outside to play. She was still in her pretty dress and Sunday shoes. A few minutes later my second oldest looked out the window and screamed "Maggie!" Not having any idea what was wrong, I asked her to stop yelling.
"No, Ma! Maggie is in the tree!"
I looked out our large picture window in the dining room and saw Maggie about three quarters of the way up our pine tree. This tree must be thirty years old to give you an idea of the scale of tree we are talking about here. It rises high above our house and sits between the pool and the gravel driveway. If she fell she would land in a drowning situation or one in which we would be picking gravel out of her brain...neither of which seems like a safe idea to me!
I quickly sent the kids out to help her and I followed along. When Maggie saw me coming she scampered back up! LOL!
This is not her first trip up a tree. A few months back her daddy had to get a ladder to get her out of one on the other side of the property. When he and I were laughing together about it, she hollered from on high, "Could you guys talk later and get me down from here?!"
So when Jack and Maggie were invited to a birthday party yesterday that included a rock climbing wall, I knew she would be thrilled. By the end of the day, she could make it to the top of the wall and do that slide thing away from it as she made it to the ground. I would so much rather have her in a harness when she climbs to new heights!
Watching her get the harness on the first time was almost as much fun as watching her scale the wall. It was not a natural thing to do as she secured the straps around her legs and little waist. It could be made looser and tighter depending upon who wore it. Finlay she was hooked to the rope that would keep her from falling and off she went up that wall.
I love that she is so brave and willing to go so high. In many ways that will be her greatest gift and her greatest challenge. My job as a mom will constantly be to teach her she can do all things through Christ, not just that she can do all things. He is the harness that keeps her safe not matter what wall she takes.

In the years I cared for Mom and Dad this played out over and over again. Sure I had the physical ability to care for them, be it as a student nurse or as a mom of five. I am just ADD enough to get all kinds of things done! LOL! But without Christ, I quickly lost my focus. Just because I could get it done, does not mean I did it with all the Grace He had for me.
Some of the walls I scaled in those years were daunting, but doable. When I trusted Him, I did my jobs as a calling not as a chore. Our parents know the difference between our love and our obligation. They know when we have our harness on or not.
Stopping to put on that harness was not my first thought. My first thought was to just jump in and start doing jobs or run and not do them. It took real discipline to harness up first in prayer before I took care of anything in my day.

One of the walls I scaled poorly was bathing Mom. I hated it. I would avoid doing it like the plaque. Since she was in bed all those years, there was no just putting her in the shower and calling it a day. I would have to bed bath her and wash her hair in the bedroom. Sometimes as I washed her down and lotioned her up, I would cry quietly so she wouldn't know I was upset...but she knew. She tried not to ask me to do it. As a result, Mom did not get washed up as often as she should have. That is one of those regrets I know my Abba never wanted me to live with. For my heart, it was simply a wall I was unwilling to trust to Him. I don't think I ever accomplished this task harnessed up.
My days of caregiver are over now. They are part of who I am today as a wife, mom, a nurse and writer. I am still learning that not every wall can be taken by shear act of my strong will. Some I can take just by the way He made me, but all the walls in my life need Him in order to be taken with grace. He is our harness to keep us safe as we take them...and when we blow it, He also is the ladder to help us down.

How about you?
What task do you have to accomplish today as a caregiver that seem like a ten foot wall to you? Are there things you avoid doing, just because it makes your heart sick? How do you plow through it? Do you seek your Heavenly Father in advance? Can you sense His harness around your waist? Do you need a ladder to help you down?

Let's pray:
Father in the name of Jesus, we offer all of our ten foot walls to You today. There is nothing we cannot do in Christ! Help us to remember to turn to You before we attempt to take it all on. You created us the way we are. You know what You would have us do and when. We know that You will give us the grace we need to bless our parents, our children our spouses and our co-workers in and out of season. Remind us with Your gently tug to turn to You first, not our own ability. In Your holy name we pray. Amen.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Post Intensive Season Syndrome

Psalm 23 "The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: He leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name's sake."

While I know I can't use the acronym for the Post Intensive Season Syndrome, it does fit where I am at the moment. It is not PTSD, it is Post Intensive Season Syndrome. My oldest daughter is feeling it at the moment too. She just finished her school play...you know how intense those last few weeks can be for a school production. It all ends with a flurry of activity, high emotions and exhaustion...you can't wait for a break. Then the break comes and you find yourself bored. We humans are never satisfied are we?

I've been going through Post Intensive Season Syndrome myself for the last few months. If you follow "House" on Facebook, you know that I just removed the "good" paneling from the living room wall. Of course there was no way to know what the wall looked like under the 45 year old paneling, but I was going to get it done. Taking it down was a little rough, but not as bad as putting back on the base board radiators! But I had my drill, I wasn't afraid...
My darling husband was not quite as thrilled with my DIY spirit. When he arrived home that afternoon, he discovered the paneling in the driveway...not knowing what he was walking into, he stayed in the driveway and worked on the cars for a while, until I came out to see if he was okay. He was stone silent until he walked into the living room and saw that I had done a pretty good job. Things, however, remained a little tense between us for a few days after that.
We went out on a date and talked it out...we are kinda madly in love, even still, so we don't do well with tension in the air.
DH: "I would have helped you. I just hate to see an unfinished project. We have so many projects to do on this house. Couldn't you have just finished one of the ones we already have going? Did you have to start a new one? Right before Thanksgiving? I'm not mad, well, sort of."
Me: "I am sorry. Will you forgive me?"
DH: "Yeah. I forgive you. Is this you being Post Intensive Seasonal?"
Me: "Yeah, like after Rosemarie..."
DH: "Yeah, I thought so. Go be successful at this. I love you, you know. Even when you are a flake."
Me: "Yeah, I know you do, what's not to love? LOL! And I love you too."
We left our fancy date (a trip to Hobby Lobby and sitting in his pick-up truck in the parking lot of the school near our house) and went home to sleepy children.

Rosemarie is the baby girl we lost, in utero, about 10 years ago. I handled it. I knew where she was. I knew she was in the arms of Jesus and that I would see her again. It would be just fine. But I missed her desperately.
About a week after I lost her, I re-did the kitchen.

The night of Mom's funeral, I cleaned out her room including the vent, her draws (I only say it as "drawer" I can use spell check to make sure it's draw!" and closet. I only allowed myself one box of memories, for fear I would build a shrine.
With in a few months I moved out of my childhood home. I decorated my little heart out! That is, until I crashed with a mighty bang.

After Dad died, we moved five weeks later. Plenty to be busy with, so no one noticed. Even when I re-did our son Jack's room into a fire house headquarters, it seemed normal to decorate in a new home. I was very busy...until I wasn't. CRASH!

When it became clear we couldn't have anymore children after our youngest Maggie was born, I re-did the basement. I kept very busy until, again: CRASH!

Today, no one has died. But it is a season of post stress. A year ago I was working for the first time in years, home schooling five children, and then writing a book as well. It was incredible the amount of stuff on my plate! But our Heavenly Father gave me both the grace and ability to do it all and to do it all well! It never felt like too much. I loved it!

Cue the crickets please.

I lost my job as a nurse, the kids are back in school, the book is done and my world book tour has not begun (note sarcasm here) and I have felt lost.
I felt a lot of things. Failure is the most intense one, although to my knowledge I didn't fail at anything.
After Mom died, I remember not knowing how I could possibly be considered extraordinary any more. I was just extra ordinary. I am not very good at ordinary. If I was, just tackling the thirty loads of laundry I have to do, would have been enough.

But laundry piles don't win you accolades like decorating does. Why is it not enough to rest in the fact that I succeeded at obeying God?

Recently, one of my very dearest friend sent me an email that was titled: "When you can't change your life..."
My first thought was "Oh, dear God, she cut her hair! It has to be very bad!" Things are pretty intense right now for her and she has a hair appointment this week. I feel her pain!

Fortunately, I am having an incredible hair season so I have concluded that if you can't change your life, change your decor.

The thing is, that no matter how busy you are, no matter how much work the Lord may call you to do, or to not do, He adores you. Paul reminds us in the Word that all of our gifts are as filthy rags to the Lord. There is nothing I can do to earn my way in to Heaven or to impress our God. He wants our obedience more then anything. Because if we love Him, we do obey Him. We are made righteous not because of how much we get done in a day but because He died on the Cross and rose again. It is by His blood that we are washed clean and made righteous.

Psalm 23 says "He maketh me to lie down in green pastures." I think it a Beth Moor-ism that says, "I think we can conclude that if we don't lie down, He will push." So before He does, "Be still and know that He is God." (psalm 46:10) And whatever you do, don't fall into Post Intensive Seasonal Syndrome at least not until after the new year!

How about you?
Are you just out of a season of intensity? How do you address it? Do you get busy or do you hide? Are you missing a season of being "extraordinary" and feeling extra ordinary? How do you handle a post emergency visit to the hospital with your folks? Are you mourning? How do you tackle the day to day quiet after an adrenaline rush?

Let's pray:
Father in the name of Jesus, let us just be Yours. Let us rest in the FACT that You love us no matter what we do or don't do. You call us to curl up in Your lap and just be with You. We have nothing to prove or can prove to You. You are our proud parent when we obey and sometimes that obedience calls us to stillness. Thank You for fabulous decor, great hair cuts and good humor in spite of our sadness, loneliness and feelings of failure. Remind us again and again that all we have to do, to be on that list in Hebrews 11 is to be faithful. Pull us in our stillness back to Your feet. We love You all the more. Amen.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

New factors in an old topic...

(Colossians 3:20-21) "Children obey your in all things: for this is well pleasing to the Lord. Fathers provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged."


11 Pm? Seriously? 11Pm? That was my die hard curfew throughout high school and the beginning of college. Most of my friends were out and about. Only one was away at college. Living in NY, near the city we were surrounded by some of the best colleges the world has to offer, so there was no real need to go away per say. But I had an 11 PM curfew...um why?

I broke it, often. Mom would tell me, "It's not you I don't trust, it's the rest of the world." Ugh, I hated to hear those words! Interpretation by me: "You don't trust me to be able to handle the rest of the world. This is a trust issue."

At the time I didn't drive. Didn't need to in Yonkers. If you couldn't catch a bus, a friend would be driving or there was always a cab. I took lots and lots of cabs! Most of the time I was with my best friends and Mom liked them, even loved and trusted them but I still had to be home at 11pm. I learned to sleep over my friends houses most of the time.

When Mom entered the hospital in the summer I was 19, I began to drive to most of the places I wanted to go to. There was no one home to give me a curfew. I was a grown woman at that point~or at least I believed so. When Mom came home after a four month stay in the hospital, she had lost control of the curfew issue. I had a legal NYS drivers license...yes, it was actually mine. Just because I hit the curb a few times during the test does not make it invalid. INDEPENDENCE was mine! Insert: BWA-HA-HA-HA-HA!!!

Okay, but the heart issue was never, ever resolved. Lest you should think I go around contemplating this type of thing all day, I really don't. It's just that suddenly I find myself in the curfew distribution business with a teenager and it got me to thinking about my own way back when.

After being a part of the school play, my oldest daughter, Elizabeth wanted to be a part of the cast parties. I clearly remember all the fun entailed in doing high school theater (I bet you have never seen an all female cast of Godspell have you? If you had gone to an all girl high school you would have! LOL!) and half the fun was the after parties.

I wasn't so much worried about the crowd...it was well chaperoned and in public places. But the time!

Herself, "Could you pick me up at around 1:30-ish tonight?"

Me, "Um, no. I will give you until around 12 am."

Herself, "Fine."

She is a very respectful teenager, so there was no argument, but perhaps a little 'tude. I did not detect even a little eye roll.

As I watched my third episode of Cake Boss on TLC, I made my self a cup of coffee at around 10pm. I knew it was risky but I could not imagine getting in the car at midnight to go get her with out some java. I chatted with a nurse, Lisa, who also happens to be a very dear friend, I use to work with. She was working the over night so she kept me company on the ride to get Liz. I told her I could not believe I was going out at this hour! I was informed by Lisa (who is way younger and a way better nurse than I will ever be) that little bit of information...she informed me that I was now officially old. Yes, yes I am.

When my cell dropped the call, I was left with just my thoughts to think over and I finally understood my own 11pm curfew! It was as if a spot light went on in my mind and it suddenly made sense!

You see, Mom went to bed at 11:30 pm every and I do mean EVERY night. M*A*S*H repeats were on every night from 11-11:30 pm, and than she went to bed...asleep at 11: 36 pm.

The whole not trusting the rest of the world thing was just crock to get out of telling me that she too was OLD! LOL! She was also already sick, sicker than I knew. Mom was so strong that she never admitted defeat. She was known as "the alligator" and never showed she was weak. I wish she didn't think she had to be so strong all the time. I think I would have been way more compassionate, had I known how bad off she was. Truth is, I should have obeyed her simply because she told me to. There were some definite lack of respect issues between us back then.

If Mom were here today, I would so throw the kitchen towel I drape over my shoulder while I clean at her! I know for almost a fact that she would be shocked and deny, deny, deny. She would deny for about a second until she realized she had been caught and then she would raise her shoulders, roll her eyes and give me her guilty grin. Busted Mom!

At first I couldn't understand why I had to be home so early even when she didn't pick me up...she waited for me. She might have been in bed, but she didn't really sleep. She was waiting on her baby girl. That is what a mom does. Even after I began to work as a nurses aid while I was in nursing school, and she was on the vent, I would creep in, give her a smooch and let her know I was home. Some nights I would go out after work with the other nurses and not get home until way later. I would call and tell Dad to let her know I was okay. She still expected that smooch when I got in. I would park the car in front of her bedroom window so she could see it when she awoke in the morning...just in case she forgot I came in.

All this to say, Mom was right after all. I am not sure my curfew for my kids will be as die-hard as hers was, but it will be based on the needs of our family, not on just one teen or two teens or three...ugh!

How about you?
Have you found yourself in the parenting role and realized you have turned into your own parents? Are you horrified? Does it make you giggle? Can you imagine that they were right after all? If your folks are still alive, can you tell them? If not, can you tell your Abba?

Let's pray:
Father in the name of Jesus, Your word tells us as parents to not push our children towards rebellion. That is not easy! But first You tell us to obey our parents. Again, at times, not easy. Our flesh can be so wrong! Thank You that it is never to late for redemption. Call us deeper into You so that we long to obey Your word. Thank You for that call. It was not just an easy way to set up law and order, but rather another way You say You love us. I pray we love in spirit and truth. Amen.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Shut up...

A prudent man concealeth knowledge: but the heart of fools proclaimeth foolishness. (Proverbs 12:23)

"Your mouth is both your greatest gift and your greatest burden." Ellen Brennan; AKA Mom to me.
Not always so sure how to take this one. My mom was one of those strong, silent, and stoic types. She kept her options open by not showing her hand. I would say it made her appear unfeeling at times. In retrospect it wasn't coldness, just not a willingness to share her heart when it was broken. Not being the silent type, I know I often confused her silence for rejection. I would often fill that silence with aimless chatter.
Most of my life I felt I owed an explanation for my actions to anyone who seemed to want to know. It would be into my thirties before I would understand the gift of silence. I slowly learned that I only play to an audience of One.
But a lesson that came more slowly was the comfort of silence. I tend towards putting people at ease by making conversation with them. It is a gift my husband appreciates when we attend an event where we don't know anyone. He hates making conversation with strangers and tends to be the wall flower. I however can make a new dear friend in the ladies room bonding over toilet paper.
I began to learn this skill of silence when I was still a very young nurse. There would be patients I would chat with, learn their loves and hates. Sometimes they would call me in, just to hang out with them. I completely enjoyed being with them! But there were others that wanted nothing to do with my chattiness. I remember at the time referring to them as the cranky type. I never realized it had nothing to do with crankiness but rather my own selfishness. I am at ease when I can put others at ease with my humor or words. I have come to realize that what can be a gift can also be my greatest burden. While I was still working this past year, there were nights my patient was all about chatting with me, while there were other nights he would be stone silent. I hated those nights! I had to fight my own insecurity to fill the silence. It was not his job to make me feel comfortable while I cared for him. It was my job to be available when he did want someone to talk with.
So how in the world do you know when to do what? When do you chat and when do you remain silent?
Wisdom knows the difference. The answer is in that verse above from Proverbs. If we are prudent and seek after wisdom, God's word tells us He will be generous to give it. Sometimes the person we encounter honestly does not like us and wants no part in our chatter, other times, it is simply a matter of someone who is more than happy with the quiet. While still others are thrilled to share their story or hear ours. Only wisdom will give us the insight to know for sure.
I am sure that sometimes I error on the side of saying too much. Sometimes I error on the side of saying too little. But I can rest in the fact that my God loves me in spite of myself.

How about you?
Are you a chatter caring for the silent type? Are you the silent type annoyed by the chatter? Are you both quiet, are you both noisy? Do you complement each other? Do you see the gift in each other? How or how not?

Let's pray:
Father in the name of Jesus, I pray we come to You, to hear from Heaven, and be still. Let us rest not in our ability to put others at ease, but rather in knowing that we are subject to your authority over us. When You call the chatterboxes to quiet stillness and the stoic silent types to reach beyond comfort, we know that You will give us both the grace and ability to be who You called us to be. Thank You for creating us the way You have and for showing us how deeply we are loved. We are made in your image and we rest in Your favor. Amen.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Not prospering..

(Psalm 46: 10) "Be still and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted above the earth."


"We are not prospering here." This was the lament of my child to me the other night as we took a cruise together around our neighborhood.

I have to share the back story on cruising here. It is one of my happiest memories of my teenage years and into my mid-twenties. During the years I took care of Mom, there were many nights my friends and I would go for a cruise up and down Central Ave. in Yonkers. It was in essence vehicle therapy, not to be mistaken with cubicle therapy which took place in bathroom stalls or coffee therapy which took place in diners.

I was first introduced to the idea of driving with no particular place to go by Mom. We would drive for the sake of it, chat, listen to great music and talk. As a young teen my dear friend Marli and I would drive for hours on end and do the same thing. In college I drove the neighborhood with my friend Lori. I won't tell you about the drives with Annie, in her Red Rabbit listening to "Just a gigolo" with my feet can-caning out the window...my kids might actually happen onto the blog and well, yeah, you get it. As a young woman falling in love, my meant to be husband and I would drive and drive and drive. We fell in love in that convertible, with the car in drive, not knowing the destination would be the alter.

The music was just as important as the company. The only ticket I have ever gotten was during a particularly great song that got my foot slammed down on the pedal. The trooper did not think I had a good reason. Sigh.

But my all time favorite road trip of all was with Barbara. We got the idea to go to Florida on Saturday afternoon over coffee and left the following Monday. We took the right of passage trip down I95 from NY and arrived the following day. We knew it was time for me to stop driving when I saw a sign for an Irish motel.

"Look Barb! An Irish place to stay...Sean's sun!" or at least that is how I read it.

Barbara asked,"Um, you mean Sea n' sun?"

We parked the car and called it a day!

Back to the comment by my daughter though. What does it mean to prosper in the Lord?

I learned in my mom's Chevy that when the hand clapping, foot stomping, and arm waving stops, there had better be some very deep roots there. The truth is that all of those things will stop at some point. We all have "dry seasons" with the Lord, and yet, I am not sure we are suppose to believe that means we are not prospering with Him. Sometimes, He calls us to know Him in His silence. Sometimes we have to be still and know that He is God based on the facts. Notice He does not call us to believe He is God but to know it. It is a fact, not a feeling and it is based on the Truth.

We can and will prosper in the Lord even when we don't see anything happening. The only thing that has changed in my testimony about the years I cared for Mom is time. The story, in the flesh, could have been told and re-told a million times by now. But He waited until I was properly seasoned with grace until this time.

I don't know why God has us where He does. I don't understand it at all. I would like to replant us somewhere else. That to me sounds like just the thing to do right now. Instead, I will be still and KNOW that He is God and He will prosper us where He chooses. He knows what He is about and I will, therefor, trust Him even when I don't see with my eyes what He is doing.

Anyone that has given birth to a child knows that what is growing in the silence of our wombs often will often determine the ability of our born child. When that child arrives to soon, they often have problems physically or sometimes they die. But when our children, whom we get to glimpse shadows of through ultrasound, are allowed to grow in silence, they arrive ready for the first stage of life on the outside! How like our God to allow us only glimpses of the splendor He is creating.

"Not prospering." I beg to differ. He is wild about us and He never fails. Never.



How about you?

Are you at a stand still right now? Are you wondering how you could possibly be growing in the Lord when you walking a tight rope of stress? Are you wondering if God is silent for a reason? Do long to hear His voice? Have you asked Him to check your heart for sin? Are you given the "all clear" in terms of it and yet, still, He is silent? Are you able to get yourself to some vehicle therapy or coffee/cubicle therapy?



Let's pray:

Father in the name of Jesus, we come and we seek you in the silence. Sometimes all we can go on are the facts. There is no greater thrill than to hear from You. I pray we are just as thrilled in our souls when You are silent, knowing You re about Your work. We worship You, even when the music stops, the car pulls over and our coffee cup is empty. Glory to your name on high, for You alone deserve our praise even in the silence. Amen.

Monday, November 2, 2009

119 update and bon-bon Mondays...

Psalm 119:18 "Open thou, mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of they law."


Not as fruitful a day as I had hoped. I don't know why no one will recognize bon-bon Mondays! Hmph. I must send out a stronger memo about this! LOL!
I have a ton more to do on Psalm 119, but this is what I do know thus far:
Yes, it is the longest chapter in bible and yes, it is all about His word. It is an acrostic poem that uses the entire Hebrew alphabet...neat in and of itself. Not too spectacular when you first realize it. But it is in the Word of God and so deserving of a little more digging.
When I was in college, I became an English major because it was my native language and I figured that I was smart enough to handle at least that. It never occurred to me that a deep love of literature and desire to write were gifts.
As I fell more in love with the likes of Tennyson and Yeats, I also fell in love with history. It never occurred to me that the skills I learned in digging into the story behind the poems would become a life long desire to understand the writer, the times he wrote in and the history in which he lived.
As I fell in love more deeply with our God, I also realized I wanted to know and understand the God breathed Word He gave us. How exciting that He would allow the likes of me a glimpse into who He is, by revealing Himself in His Word.

I suppose this missive brings me back to my point: what does the fact that Psalm 119 uses each letter in the Hebrew alphabet prove? Yes. That it celebrates the Word of God? Yes. That God is creative? Yup, that too!
But scratch the surface a little: It shows that every letter, not just the words, but down to the letter, is used to praise the name of God. Think that through, every letter, used to praise the God of the universe. Glory.
If every letter in the alphabet is used to praise Him in His Word, what does that say about us? Should we not also be willing to praise Him down to every cell in the very marrow of our bones?
I guess that says something in terms of learning about Him. Think about it. Not too many years ago, we had no idea that the very bone marrow could be used to treat disease. Not very long ago, like yesterday afternoon, I had no idea that every letter I write could be used to worship Him.
Not just my words, but each letter. Now in no way I am I suggesting that what I write is on par with scripture. I hope you already knew that fact! LOL! But that my Heavenly Father would lend me a gift, to serve Him, to get to know Him deeper, that He would even call the likes of me to seek Him out to open my eyes to behold the wondrous things in the law. Again all a girl can say, is Glory.

How about you?
Can you see how this might affect your walk with the Lord in this season of your life? Can you see that every word, and every action contributes to how you serve your parents today? Does this speak to where you are going today with both the Lord and your folks? Do you trust Him with every letter?

Lets pray:
Father in the name of Jesus, thank You for revealing Yourself in Your Word down to the letter. Fill us with the desire to know You in Your word, deeper than we ever have before. Let this season one of a closer walk with You. Now is not a time to be strong in ourselves, but rather to draw on the strength of You. You the name above all names, Jesus. There is power in the name of Jesus, let us rest in that. You alone know our hearts desire. Call us deeper into You. Do, indeed, open our eyes that we may find you deeper in Your Word. Amen.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

While I was still at work...

I began to study psalm 119. I fell in love with the poetry of it all. Today I printed out the KJV of it so I can compare it with the NIV version. I think a study is in order here. I don know that the entire psalm is about His Word. Perhaps that is what God has been preparing my heart for. I will keep you posted on that!
Football is over for the season of Pop Warner. Yay God! A little quiet before the holiday rush begins...a little anyway!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Not for sale...

If someone would like the purchase the book from Amazon they are more than welcome to. By all means, increase my royalties! LOL! But if you need a copy, if you are in the season of caregiver, and you are near by, just ask me for one.

My husband often teases me that I should have been a car salesman, that I could sell glasses to a blind man. But I don't want to sell this. It never was about making a buck. The revenue gained from the sales on Amazon will be use to buy more books so we can give more of them away.

House Me from the Wind Ministries is here to serve, to make you laugh, to make you think, but above all to lead you to Christ, to remind you of Your Heavenly Father's love for you.
Our prayer is that if you have a need in this season, we would have the privilege and the honor to serve it.
God bless.
Maryellen

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Poor People Cheese...

(Matthew 6:25-29) "Therefore I tell you, don not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? and can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these."

Note: I tried to copy and paste this scripture. Computer would not allow me to do so. I typed it out insdead, you know the old fashioned way before I learned how to copy and paste! Maybe our Father is trying to get this into my head too today!

Poor People Cheese. At least that is what we called it. Here in NY, in the late '70's, we got our first view of "Poor people cheese" and I think it was from my friend Michele's grandmother, known to us only as "Rosie." I am pretty sure my great-aunt Molly got PPC as well. They were senior citizens and evidently someone, from some government office, somewhere, decided that they needed cheese. Of course what widow needed an entire block of cheese? We use to laugh about it. We also hated it. Being PPC, it was not sliced. It was just a hunk of cheese. I think we would get about 3/4 of one from Aunt Molly.
There were times my folks were a bit cash poor, or broke as my dad use to say. But certainly, not poor. Unless we are going by our American standards of today. Than I guess you could say that yes, we were poor and still are. LOL!
I think my mom was rather put off by the PPC in general. She grew up in the later part of the depression, very unlike my dad, it really never affected her. Mom's dad owned his own bar that was across the street from Yonkers' General Hospital and St. Joe's church. He got business from every funeral and every birth. They were what you would consider well off. To my dad, Mom had money. After all she lived "Upstate". He was the kid from Brooklyn so Yonkers (it borders NYC) was upstate to him!
You could say my Mom was rather affected. Now don't get me wrong. She was a darn hard worker and what she didn't bring in the way of a paycheck, she made up for with her time. But Mom had class. She was well read, and had impeccable taste.
She believed that you feed the hungry, clothed the naked, housed the homeless. She believed these things because Jesus said them. She believed in helping out a family to pay tuition for their child's school, because they needed the help. She taught CCD for over a decade because she knew that she didn't have to go to "Outer Mongolia" to spread the Gospel and she did that because Jesus said to do that too. She believed that in the greatest country in the world, we could afford to give it away...to whom we feel the Spirit has lead us to give it to.

This past week we got news of a couple that is here from a communist country and are here as literal refugees. They came with nothing but the clothes on their backs. They found their way to the office of a friend of ours who just happens to speak their language, who just happens to be a strong man of God and this couple just happened to have been missionaries in their old country.
Before they left their country for ours, they gave away their house to missions who work with prisoners. They arrived in our great country believing in Providence.
Our friend has put out the call to the body of Christ to help. Who has volunteered a kitchen set, pots and pans, curtains and pot holders! The couple are not peasants with out skills. They are professionals as well as missionaries. They are looking for work, in the land of opportunity.

How could they do this? Today, when we are all so fearful that we may wind up with nothing in the pantry but PPC? We have all watched in horror as our 401K's have tanked, our property values have plummeted and our taxes have risen.
They can do this because they still believe in Providence, just as our founding fathers did. Just as our Jesus told us to. We are still the land of the free and the home of the brave, because we are still a Christian nation filled with believers. Not because of the Constitution, although it is all in there too. We are free because the Son has set us free and who He sets free is free indeed.

How about you?
Are there times you worry about eating nothing but PPC? Are you wondering how you will put gas in the car to take Dad/Mom to the doctors much less the kids to football practice? Are you hoping that Walmart will cover that prescription and you won't have to pay full price? Are you starting to cry out "But what will we eat? What will we wear?"

Let's pray:
Father in the name of Jesus, we call on Your name. Our nation was founded on the fact that we are free in the eyes of our creator. We know that freedom because we rest in You. When the worries of the day start to add up, we know, we know that You will provide a way out. There is no wall we can't get over, no pack we can't stand against. You will provide all of our needs and be our comfort in all our desperate times. We know that all things work together for the good and that means all things not just the pleasant. Show us how to get from point A to point B with our check books as we try to meet our parents needs as well. Before we check our morning balance call to us with such a loud, still, small voice, that we can't help but come to you first. I pray that You would move us all the more deeply to give You our first fruits. You alone know our cares and the desires of our hearts. I pray we would trust You first and our credit cards last. In Your name, Amen.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

More to heal...

And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly. (Matt 6:5-6)

After Mom came home on the vent, she was frequently visited by a couple who had a healing ministry. We had known them for years and years through the Renewal. They would come and pray with Mom, anoint her with oil, praise and worship. Sometimes I would be arriving home from classes and they would still be with her. We would visit and talk about healing and God's ability to heal.

After a few months, they stopped coming. The woman sent Mom a note saying that since she did not appear to be getting that healing, they were going to use their gifts for those God HAS chosen to heal. It grew a rather bitter root in my mom's heart about healing and this couple in particular. She was left in need of more healing by there visit, than if they had not been there at all. We never saw them again, until Mom's wake.

Um, anyone have a problem with that?

Something I find myself very careful about is when I hear of a tragedy or illness in a friend that will be long term. I rarely jump in with calls or offers to help. I wait. I wait for a month or so. When the dust settles, I make my call or send my note to offer help. Sometimes that help is just grocery shopping or picking up a kid from school. I have a strong sense that no one needs me to be a part of the story just so I can say I was there. Do you see the difference? When we serve, is it so we can be a part of the story or is it so we can be there and serve?

Sometimes we are called to swoop in, serve with washing dishes and making meals, driving to doctor appointments and attending wakes. Other times, we need to hang back and wait on our marching orders. We must be willing to do what ever God has called us to. This is especially true, when no one is watching.
A few months back, Glenn Beck made the point that we may all know the name of Paul Revere. He is the one who got all of the credit. But does anyone remember the name of the guy that rowed his boat past the British ships to get the message to the other side of the shore? How about the guy that ran with the message to the guy that had the horse that that got to Paul? Do you see his point? We are often called to serve in the quiet un-noticed ways. The ones that no one will ever remember, that heal, deeply those most in need.
No one would know that a boy in my neighborhood named Pat came and brought new born puppies for Mom to see. He is a grown man now with a beautiful family of his own, but he was my childhood buddy. He brought those puppies up to see Mrs. Brennan and let them squirm around her bed and make her giggle on that vent. He would come and chat, sit in her room and tell her all of his stories. He arrived one day in his full dress uniform, having just graduated from the police academy. He had to, according to him, after all, it was Mrs. Brennan. No one ever gave Pat a promotion at work because he was kind to my mom. But we knew. He was a silent servant. I thank God for those every day.



How about you?
Are you serving right now? Are there those that are there for you? Are you years into your struggle, but alone right now? Are you wondering where the body of Christ is right now? Have you asked? Have you prayed to your Heavenly Father, that a bitterness might no grow deep while you serve, sometimes alone. Can you see your potential to want to be a "part of the story"? Are you blessed with silent servants are you one yourself?



Let's pray:
Father in the name of Jesus, we come. Your word tells us to go into our prayer closet, in secret, to meet with you. Sometimes, You call us to be way out front on the battle line to serve with a heart hungry to do Your will, sometimes You call us to hang back and make dinner quietly but with just as much hunger to do Your will. Thank You in advance for silent servers who love in quiet ways, so often unseen. You see what is done in secret with any parades. Thank You who sees even the most unseen. Amen.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Healing the sick...

Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’
“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
Matthew 25:34-46

When I was living at home, I remember chatting in Mom's room with her one day, the vent working away, about healing.
"You have the gift of healing." she said.
"Um, have you looked in the mirror lately? No, if I had that gift, you would not be sitting there on life support." I said with a giggle.
Mom sat up to her full five foot zip, with full indignation and said, "Don't you think that what you do is healing? The doctors gave me 18 months and here I am all these years later. Your touch is healing, because it gives me comfort. You make me laugh, not just at what you say, but at myself...that alone is healing. You are my comfort. You visit the imprisoned everyday you come in here. I am a prisoner in this room and to this vent. You give me my lunch and feed me, the hungry. You help me change and buy me new clothes when I need them, that would be clothing the naked. Do I need to go on? Nurses heal the sick everyday they work. Don't ever doubt your gift of healing."

I was shocked at how strongly she felt about this topic. It was very humbling to be told that by my own mom.
It humbles me still today as I prepare to attend a health fair at my church. We woman so often forget to take care of ourselves, as we care for others. My prayer is that care-givers woulds see their own gift of healing and seek out Him who provides so readily to heal our heart, soul and minds.

How about you?
Care-giver, do you see your gift of healing in this post? Do you know that just taking Pop to the store for groceries, or sitting and having a cup of tea is a huge blessing? Your just being there is healing in and of it's self. Does it make you as uncomfortable as it did me? Can you rest in the fact that any good thing you do, is only because He made you able to do it?

Let's pray:
Father in the name of Jesus, thank You for the call to healing. We so often want the big miracle that we miss the little ones. Let us never forget to ask to see the lame walk and the deaf hear! But remind us to also enjoy the years we have our folks, the small victories, the cancer patient given six months who lives two years or the Alzheimer patient who remembers her child, even if just for a moment. Thank You for every mercy You give us. Thank You, Divine Physician for healing.

Monday, October 19, 2009

It is I...

(Matt 14:22-27)
"Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.
During the fourth watch of the night Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. "It's a ghost," they said, and cried out in fear.
But Jesus immediately said to them: "Take courage! It is I. Don't be afraid."


Matthew 14 has been on my heart for months and months now. I was reading it one afternoon, when I was done teaching the kids and just could not put it down until the Lord revealed Himself to me in those pages.
You can't help but marvel at the hutspa (forgive the Irish girls phonetic spelling of Yiddish!) of the boys. They had just watched Jesus preach, heal and feed the multitudes. Yet, when THEY are in the storm, right after witnessing this, they think it's a ghost coming at them...they don't see Him, nope. They are scared to death!
What does Jesus say to them? Three sentences that I think are very telling in this moment:
"Take courage.
It is I.
Don't be afraid."

Notice He didn't introduce Himself to them first. He expected them to know Him and to recognize Him. He knew, they would know His voice, even if they were terrified by what they were seeing. The first thing He tells them to do is to take courage. I think there is a pattern here.

When God gave a vision of Himself to Abram, He didn't introduce Himself than either. He said:
"Do not be afraid, Abram.
I am your shield,
your very great reward."(Genesis 15:1)

Again in Joshua, as He gives command of the people over to Joshua, the Lord tells him:
"Have I not commanded you?
Be strong and courageous.
Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go." (Joshua 1:9)

When God speaks first and than reminds us who He is later I believe it is as our Comforter. He expects us to know His voice. He expects us to listen. He reminds us to be not afraid and than reminds us of who He is. That is quite a president to stand on.

It is very much like when we speak to our children when the are hurt or frightened. We say things like: "It's okay, Mommy is here. Don't cry." I am sure we have all said it a million times.

How about you?
Are you worrying about how to care for your folks? Are you mourning them and afraid the hurt will never go away? Are you afraid of how you will survive with them gone? Do take this to your Heavenly Father or do you try to be brave in your own strength? Is it working out for you?

Let's pray:
Father in the name of Jesus, we pray. Thank you for the consistency in Your Word. We don't always know how to link point A with point B, but You are the same from the beginning to the end. You call us to be brave and courageous, not in our own strength, but in Yours. You alone are the reason we can stand against the enemy of our souls. Courage is ours to take from the hand of our Abba. You give it freely to those You have called as Your own. Amen.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Not so long ago...

"Like a scarecrow in a melon patch, their idols cannot speak; they must be carried because they cannot walk. Do not fear them; they can do no harm nor can they do any good."Jerimiah 10:5

Note: Everytime I read that verse I crack up. I am in the middle of doing a Beth Moore bible study called "Believing God". It is the best study of the word I have ever done and helped to solidify my faith. The Lord used studying His Word in that particular study like no other I have ever done. This particular verse is used at one point and it fit my mood today! It always makes me smile.

Four years ago today, at around 10:00 in the morning, I drove my dad to the train for the last time ever. He had babysat the night before and had to get home to watch the Yankees in the post season. Dad was a man of priorities after all! He was more than welcome to watch the game at my house, but he had no interest. For him, the Yankees were a high purpose and watching them was a holy calling. I, of course, love the Yankees, but I rarely watch them. I've just never gotten the bug. Now football, that's another story all together!
Our son, Jack, plays football for Pop Warner. I have known football all of my life. My brother, Mark, played as a kid and Sunday afternoons were spent at Lennon Park in Yonkers while he played. I never watched the game, there were other little sisters to play with. My husband, John, is a Jets fan...being that my dad was a Giants fan, that makes this a mixed marriage. And Dad was passionate about the Giants. He would settle in on the floor of the living room...yes, we had perfectly good furniture, but dad rarely sat on it. He layed on the floor in front of that TV and watched the game up close. There was all sorts of vocabulary that came out of that living room on game days...we didn't go into the living room when the game was on. If they were losing , you might get clipped by a flying ashtray.
But now that my son plays, I have a new love for the game. Somewhere between flag and tackle I fell in love with it. I found myself watching not just one game a few weeks ago, but three...Picture in picture is a marvelous thing! During a game, John and Jack sit on the couch and the girls come and go...I run between the kitchen making meals and the next play. When it is a particularly good one, I jump up and down screaming: "Go baby go!" What in the world has happened to me?
What was my dad's passion and something that was just his, has become a family sport. I do watch the Giants...how could I not want to? I still jeer (oh, I so meant to write "cheer" there...that is some slip up! LOL!) on the JETS...marriage requires it. But it is no longer a reason to avoid the living room, but an invitation to come join the fun.
I think Dad would chuckle at how much we all love the game. John takes all the kids at one point or another to watch the JETS play out in Jersey. The rest of us cheer at home and watch for them on TV. How awesome that we have become a football family!
I can thank Jack for that and my dad too. I promised the man before he died that Jack would not play soccer but rather football. LOL! I took it as a joke, but I think he meant it! I am glad I made that promise. I think we would have missed a lot other wise. Jack adores football the way my dad did. But I think he has more balence in his life or at least, I think it is our job as his parents to make sure he knows to have it. I pray sports never become his scarecrow, but I think the potential is there.
To a very real degree sports were the scarecrow in my dad's melon patch. But I think he knew that in the end. To God be the Glory!
Go Giants! Let's go J-E-T-S!

How about you?
Is there a passion in your life from one of your parents? Are you surprised by it? Do you avoid things your parents loved, out of spite, fear, or just because you can't imagine you would care about the same thing? Have you fallen in love with something that they did once too? Have you spotted a scarecrow in a melon patch in your life?

Let's pray:
Father, you give us memories to comfort us, to bring us joy, to make us laugh. Sometimes memories are hard on us and make us miss things from our past. But you are the God of all comforts. You made us this way and so we rest in that. You never want us to dwell on the past as a painful thing, but rather to use it to Your Glory. Be it happy or sad, memories should never be an idol, but rather a chance to reflect on Your glory. Thank You for giving us a good chuckle in the Word. May we search it out, knowing that You are the Creator of everything! Amen.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Poems and such...

"Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead?" Luke 11:11

I think I've mentioned before that Mom was a writer. She would collect quotes from different poets and great writers that spoke to her. She often let me curl up with her books of self written poetry or quotes and when I was in college I often ran into a favorite quote of hers in an anthology. I would share it, with her on the vent, and she would recite whole passages back to me. It is a gift I treasure in my own children today. They often come to me with something they have written, a poem, a song or a journal entry. Now if I could just get them to settle into math! LOL! What I love most is that almost all of their missives are about the Lord or their relationships with Him. That makes this mommies heart sing. As we face our giants, armed with a only a few rocks and a sling shot, my tender mommy heart is more focused on my children more than on my parents. But I have to say, I miss them right now. I know what a help they would be. Dad would have swung in and spoiled us with his money, Mom would no doubt hit my ever growing laundry pile. Yes, tough times make you miss your folks. I don't have a lot of time to ponder that thought, but I do rest in the fact that even without Mom and Dad, God has blessed me with a family that I adore, a church family that loves me in spite of myself and a Heavenly Father who knows in advance all that I need and want.

How about you?
Are you feeling tender towards your parents in a time of stress? Can you let yourself think about what they would be doing to serve you right now? Can you tell your Heavenly Father all about it? Do you trust that He knows already and is waiting to bless you this very day in unexpected ways?

Let's pray:
Father in the name of Jesus, we come with out fear to your throne of grace. We confess our sins and and count our blessings. As we bow before You, we petition You, knowing that all good gifts are from You alone. There is nothing we need that You won't meet and when something does not arrive as we think we need it to, You prove us only to need to trust in You. You fail us not. Amen.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Battle...

"But Jesus immediately said to them: "Take courage! It is I. Don't be afraid." Mtthew 14:27

You know the moment. The seize of your heart when your it drops into your stomach. The moment when your worst nightmare comes true. That moment when your worst case scenario is before you. We've all had them and we are changed because of them....
I know those moments in my life...the moment a young man walked into my house on a hot a August night with a knife; the moment my mom took her last breath; the moment the tests proved that the baby I was carrying was gone; the moment I was on the phone with St. John's hospital ER and learned my dad was on life support with little time left. There have been too many others to list, but those are some of the biggest. Today I face a new one as we wait to see what will become of a scary situation...
God is still God.
He is still crazy about me.
I am wild about Him.
I've not been dropped, I am not forgotten, He never for a moment said: "Oops, didn't' see that one coming."
Many months ago, I heard that still small voice telling me: "You have been proven faithful." My immediate response was: "To what?" He didn't' answer. But every time I thought on the fact that my God sees me as faithful, I smile...and smile...and smile.
So I stand in faith. I won't let fear gain one inch in me...not one. I will "Take courage" for I know it is mine to take. I know He has me and my family, just as He always has.

The other night I played "Going on a bear hunt" with Maggie...You know the game and if not please Google it, it is so fun. I was shocked to learn that she had never played it in her ripe old age of five and a half. So we sat Indian style (we don't have to sit criss cross apple sauce because we home school, so we don't have to PC here in my room) and we began on our trek, going on a bear hunt, not afraid, because we have our gun. When we get through the high grass, over the wall and swim through the river, we meet eye ball to eye ball in the dark cave with the bear and RUN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! We run because we are afraid after all.
This morning, as I face eye ball to eye ball with the worst, I'm not afraid, I can't shoot at this anyway, but still, I'm not afraid because my God is my rear guard.

How about you?
Are you very afraid? Of what? Will He be any less God if your worst fears are before you? Will you tell Him you are very afraid and believe that He knows? Will you trust Him even if you come eyeball to eyeball with your worst fear?

Let's pray:
Father in the name of Jesus, we pray. We stand against the enemy of our souls, shrouded in the full armor of God with the Sword of Truth to do battle. Lord, You are God and while we ask that these things that scare us pass us by, we stand knowing that You are no less God. We are the army of God and though we may be wounded in the battle, we know our victory rests in You. In Your name, we pray. Amen and amen.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Feet to our prayers...

"Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth." 1John 3:18


Sometimes the practical needs to step into our lives as we act as care-givers. One of the things that was hardest for us while Mom was on the vent was when our insurance was capped. We had no idea of what to do. It would be a few years and thousands of dollars later before we knew we had any rights to health care. Part of the problem at the time was that long term care at home was a relatively new beast at that point--- for the vent dependant anyway. There was simply no one to ask.
Know you are not alone...know that even when you feel like you are, You have a heavenly Father who knows your daily battles. He will always be your rear guard.
I hope these links help someone.
God bless,
Mair



http://www.thefamilycaregiver.org/index.cfm


http://www.caps4caregivers.org/

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Hearing and telling

Romans 10:16-18 'But not all the Israelites accepted the good news. For Isaiah says, "Lord, who has believed our message?" Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ. But I ask: Did they not hear? Of course they did: "Their voice has gone out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world."


September 23, 1998 I had a baby girl. Brennan-Fiona was born to very happy parents that day! My dad had come up to the hospital a few hours earlier and waited, sometimes alone, sometimes with John and I in the delivery room and some of the time he and John just sat in the waiting room together. John tells me that Dad retold the legend of the day I was born. The story goes that while my dad was in the waiting room with the other dads for news of his wife and child, a poker game got started. Evidently, when the nurse came out to tell dad that he had a new baby girl (me) he told her to hang on a minute, he was playing a good hand!

There was no one to start a game of poker with the day Brennan was born, so moments after she was in my arms, Dad came into the delivery room...he had never seen such a new baby. I can still see him standing next to my bed, with his newspaper tucked under his arm. It was so natural to see him that way, evidence of years and years of commuting into the city for work everyday with something to read. Reading for Edward Brennan would a life long accomplishment.

I often think on Dad while I am teaching my son, Jack. Jack is a struggling reader...dyslexic actually. He works very hard for me, sometimes. But it has been a rough road for us and some days it is like pulling teeth, for both of us.
While my dad did attend school, St. Rosalyma--if you are from Brooklyn, but St. Rose of Lima if you are from anywhere else, he was a struggling reader too. He skipped the third grade, not as in getting to go to the fourth, as in he cut for a year and no one noticed because there were so many Brennan's in the school anyway! Somewhere around that time, he decided he was going to read. He wanted to read the sports section. This was during WWII, early in the war. It was soon after Sea Biscuit was all the rage and the Brooklyn Dodgers were his beloved. I am not sure if his family had a radio or not. The only way he could find out about his passion was if he could read the sports section of the paper. So read it he did.
I don't think I gave a lot of thought to that accomplishment until I was teaching my own son. Have you any idea how amazing it is that a child taught himself to read? I have no doubt he was probably dyslexic as well, which makes the accomplishment even more amazing. Dad had no curriculum to work from, no teacher to encourage him, no one to give him tips on remembering one word from another. Yet, he did learn to read and read he did, everyday as long as I can remember. He often still used his finger to follow the lines in the paper and he rarely wrote notes to anyone but he was somewhat successful, not because he was a scholar, but because of his work ethic. How different from the world we live in today.
On the days that Jack and I are most frustrated with each other over reading, I remember Ed Brennan and his accomplishments. He learned to read because of his work ethic, not because his mom sat with him, she was the mother of ten, and not well....not because his dad sat with him, he was the father of ten, and not around much...not because there was a team of special ed. teachers, just an Irish Christian Brother with the Board of Education...no, he had grit and the determination to prove everyone wrong. Grit is way harder to teach, than reading.

How about you?
Are you amazed at something your folks accomplished in a time with out computers, experts, and options? Do you wonder how you can get something done even with all the advantages? Have you prayed about how to get that grit generations before us seemed to have? Why or why not? What can you do, today, to accomplish as much?

Let's pray:
Father in the name of Jesus we pray. The Good News was spread for centuries with no computer, no phones, no air planes, no cars, just The Word, written or memorized. Remind us that success in the Heavens is very different than success according to the world we live in. Give us words to speak, hands to praise, feet to run to spread the good news. I pray today, we would remember the greatest commandment and the great commission. Give us that grit we often seem to miss out on, give us your boldness to go into all the world, to use the tools at our disposal, be it electronic or the old fashioned way, regardless, prompt us towards love. Your Word tells us that faith comes from hearing, let us us hear You this day and always. Amen.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Kitty Cat stories...

"But You, O Sovereign LORD, deal well with me for Your name’s sake; out of the goodness of Your love, deliver me. For I am poor and needy and my heart is wounded within me." Psalm 109:21,22

When I was very little, whenever my dad would take me to NYC for the day, we would stop at my Poppy's guard house on the rail road tracks. My mom's dad was a Gibson Guard and worked in this little guard house in between the North and South bound tracks. It looked like the Photo Mat booths that would become popular years later. Poppy would sit at his desk and read the paper and I guess he would call the cops if he saw something...Poppy was a stick of a man who I can't imagine stopping a criminal for anything. I am not even sure he had a gun, but maybe he did. On one visit, as Dad and Poppy chatted about the Yankee's, I got to play with a box of kittens. One of the stray cats had a litter under the guard house and Poppy took them in. There were six of them and I was in love. One train after another left the station as I played and played with them. After several hours, Dad said it was time to go. I was not allowed to bring one home, as Mom would never allow it. Poppy wasn't allowed to bring one home either...Granny would kill him! Covered in lots of scratches from the playful kittens, Dad and I said good-bye to Poppy and headed home. We never made it down to the city that day, but it remains one of my happiest memories of my Dad and Poppy.

When I was in third grade I had my life altering encounter with cats. It was a cold Saturday in February and I put on my snorkeler jacket and went outside to play in the gray mist surrounding Yonkers that day. When I got to the tip of the driveway I heard something in the old steal garbage can. The can was shaking and I heard crying. When I looked in the can, I saw three of the most beautiful kittens I had ever seen. They were pure white with blue eyes. I can honestly say I have never seen more beautiful cats. I scooped them out of the garbage and ran to tell my mom! Yes, they were beautiful, and no, you can not bring them in, I was told.
I sat outside in the drizzling rain with the kittens for what seemed like forever. Eventually, I got a great idea: I put them inside my coat and took them up to my room. I sat on the bed with them and in just a little while realized Mom would kill me when I got caught. I wrapped them back up in my coat and snuck back outside, with out being caught.
It eventually became a neighborhood event and many of kids came and loved on the kittens. None of their parents would let them keep the kittens either. The entire day was spent trying to figure out who would leave them in our garbage can and what we would do with them. One of the moms got us a box and she and her girls brought them down to the local supermarket called Barca Brothers. In a matter of an hour, someone took them all home.
That day was the end of my love affair with cats.
Nice sad story right? Who cares? Right? Get over it right?
Ah, but our God has a promise kept for every broken childhood dream.
Stick with me here, it is about to get good.
In the spring of 2005, I got my first kitten. Now I married a man who came with two cats but they were never really mine. This was my kitten. Of course I let my daughter Elizabeth name him and so he was dubbed Fluffy! Fluffy the black cat. He was all mine.
I would bury my dad that fall and we would move to a larger house soon after that. Our new home is near a busy road, and at some point, Fluffy became an outdoor cat.
In the spring of 2006, we were waiting on word about my Mother-in-Law. She had Alzheimer's and was not doing well. On Easter Sunday, still missing my dad terribly, we got ready to go to church. The phone didn't ring with any news, so we packed into the car and were on our way.
As we turned onto the main road there it was. Fluffy, now a part of the pavement. I promptly began to cry as did our girls. John and Jack (who was only 5 at the time) were our pillars of strength. John pulled the car over and scrapped the cat off of the road, wrapped in a piece of garbage bag he found and put Fluff in the back of the car.
We drove home and John put him on the retaining wall and asked what I wanted to do now. I told him we should go celebrate the Resurrection, because that is what we do when our hearts are broken...praise Him anyway.
Our pastors prayed with us, we cried the entire service and received hugs from friends over the lose of our cat. I quietly prayed: "This is crazy! But how? You know how important that cat was to me. I don't understand. Why now, in the middle of grieving over Dad and waiting to hear about John's mom! You knew...You knew...I just don't understand."

We drove home, knowing there would be no egg hunt, but rather a burial for a beloved cat...

We pulled into our driveway and as we got out of the car, I caught Elizabeth's eye...she looked like she had seen a ghost! I followed her gaze and what did I see...FLUFFY! Ack! A cat Resurrection or pet cemetery, one or the other! John quickly ran to the garbage bag he had wrapped the cat in and discovered there was still a very dead cat there! Yes, we had scrapped the wrong cat off of the road. Of course we all broke into song: "The cat came back, we thought he was a goner, the cat came back, the very next day..."

In the middle of our grief God allowed a respite of laughter that has become not just family legend, but neighborhood lore!

About a year ago we got another new kitten and his name is Mittens. He is our daughter Brennan's cat. She adores him and he follows her everywhere.
Recently, when Mittens peed on the carpet (again) in the living room, I decided it was time he became an outdoor cat. John and I put him outside and Brennan quickly followed. She sat outside in the drizzle and cried over her cat. We knew, if we didn't bring them both back in, we would lose Brennan's heart.
John cleaned out the cat kennel and we decided that at night, he had to sleep in there. John tried to place Mittens in the kennel...by the time Mittens was done with John, my darling husband looked like something out of a cartoon: Think Sylvester the Cat ripping the plumber to shreds. John's shirt was slashed with big holes, he had claw marks on his neck and chest and back.

Brennan brought her daddy Band-Aids and a clean shirt. When we were done cleaning up the daddy, we tucked Brennan in for the night, with her cat, in the kennel, at the base of her bed.
John became her hero that night.

I got to watch the promise kept. Where my folks were not able to do something for me, our God allowed me to witness, all these years later, in my husband to our child. He never forgets a wounded heart and seeks to repair all of our hurts...even the ones we think are silly.

This was an awfully long post about cats for someone who is NOT an animal person! LOL! I hope it made you giggle and blesses you today.

How about you?
Are there things in your heart that you think are silly to be hurt over? Do feel ridiculous to share them with your Heavenly Father? Do you know he wants to tend to all of you? How has He delivered you from brokeness?

Let's pray:
Father in the name of Jesus, we pray: Thank You for memories that seem silly at first. Thank You for promises kept. You alone can heal our inner most hurts, even the ones we don't know are there. You are our Abba...You never leave us to our own resources. You provide us with all we need. You make us giggle in times that our hearts are overwhelmed and lift us out of our pits. You are the creator of all, and we thank You for the pleasure Your creatures bring us. In Your name we pray. Amen.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Late, as per usualy....

Titus 2:3-5 "Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God."


Me, always ten minutes late at least. My mother-in-law use to say that if we made it to church while the singing was still going on, we weren't late. Of course we now go to a nice pentecostal- type of church so they sing for twenty five minutes! LOL!
My mom was on time for EVERYTHING! Her dear friend Carol use to say that she and Mom would have plans to walk the kids to the park and Mom would meet her at exactly 9:08...and sure enough at that exact time, mom would be there. Now that is something I could never do!
When she use to drive me to school, after the car pool days were over, I would ask her what the time was on Main St. in Hastings-On-Hudson. There was a digital clock over one of the banks there and before we came around the corner I would ask her the time...she was always right! Not once did she miss the time, even by a second. This ability did not transfer well in the gene pool...
The day my Mom's girlfriends were coming for brunch, I knew I had an extra twenty minutes, at least before they got here, to finish getting myself together...Wrong! They were only three minutes late! I quickly ran to my room and changed out of my yucky cleaning/cooking pants, threw on my jeans and ran outside, sans make up, to greet them.
First words out of my mouth were: "You are early! My entire life, you have never been on time! I have at lest 17 minutes!" Fortunately they accepted my warm greeting!

It was a wonderful visit. The three of us chatted and laughed for hours. My darling husband and children stayed for lunch and than went to the park so the three birds here could chirp away. There is something extraordinary about these woman, who knew me as a kid and still choose to know me as a woman. I have no doubt it has very much to do with who my mom was. Now that both of my parents are gone, these woman give my children a glimpse of who Mom was. She can only be judged by who she associated her self with...I think my kids have clear picture of integrity and love.

One of the great gifts my mother gave me growing up was Titus 2 ladies. I am not sure she knew that was what she was doing, but it was. She had it too as a kid.
Mom lived with her Aunt Molly for a time, when her own dad had spinal meningitis in the 1940's. Aunt Molly was my grandmother's sister and she became like a second mother to her. Even before my grand-mother passed away, Mom had become very close to a woman named Marian Martin. Marian survived childhood polio and walked with braces on her legs. I clearly remember Mom picking her up for prayer meeting on Wednesday nights. At the time, I just thought she was giving this nice old lady a ride. It was many years later that I realized that while the ride Mom gave her was practical, the wisdom Marion gave Mom was just as practical.

I didn't have any aunts to turn to but I did have mom's friends. Many of them would take me under their wing and spend time with me. When Mom died, they were there.
Today, many of them still are. The day the book was published I called Mrs. Stahl and had a cry with her over the accomplishment. Carol, and I spoke the next day to share the triumph. Mrs. K marvelled at it. How awesome is the Father's love for me that He would grant me the love of mothers and let me borrow not just one, but many. Awesome is He.

How about you?
Who are your Titus 2 ladies? Do you have any? Have you sought out the wisdom of the older and wiser ladies in your church or family? Why or why not? Have you asked your Heavenly Father to provide?

Let's pray:
Father in the name of Jesus, thank you. Your word clearly spells out that the older woman are to train the younger woman. Thank you for that charge. I ask that you provide when there is no one to turn to for council and wisdom. How blessed to know that you established this in Your word. You know how important female fellowship is, even when we don't. I life up in prayer all of the Titus 2 woman out there this day. Bless and protect them, let them walk in truth and share the very blessings of wisdom You gave them. In Your name we pray. Amen.