Sunday, August 30, 2009

Lest you should think I have arrived...

Isaiah 38:8
"Behold, I will cause the shadow on the stairway, which has gone down with the sun on the stairway of Ahaz, to go back ten steps." So the sun's shadow went back ten steps on the stairway on which it had gone down."

We use to tease Mom about her keys to the kingdom. She had keys to every church and school and mailbox we could think of. She was in charge of everything from PTA to the Fordhum prayer community's core team, to teaching CCD. She was an excellent leader. Mom briefly worked part time in a pharmacy but we all hated it. Not that anyone was at home anymore. Dad was off at work, Mark in college, me in high school. But we did guilt her into quitting. Rotten of us. We all hated the idea of her not being at home and being there for us, waiting on our call. After years and years of volunteer work, it must have been fun for her to get a paycheck for that short time.
Now that I am not a working mom again, I have to admit I can feel a certain kinship with her. I am busier these last few weeks, working on important things at home (can't tell you what they are. It sure isn't the laundry.) and not at all getting ready to homeschool my clan. School starts in a week and I am totally unprepared. How in the world did it get to be the end of August?
Sometimes Mom got over involved in so much volunteer work, she missed what was going on with her kids. I use to think that was just I think it is just being a woman.
We super-woman honestly think we can do everything, don't we? I knew the Lord gave me three jobs to do this past year: homeschooling these children, work part time as a nurse, write House Me from the Wind. Any time I got overwhelmed, I knew it was time to get back before Him and refill that always needed grace factor.
Now that I am gainfully un-employed as a nurse, one would think life just got less crazy, except that it got worse! I know that God released me from nursing position. I just am not sure I understand how things could be this busy suddenly.
It gives me greater compassion for my mom's lot in life.
Time to get off this blog, make some dinner, drive the older kids to youth group, kiss the husband, feed the dog, prepare for football practice tomorrow, pick up the kids from youth group, finish a cake for a birthday party tomorrow, throw in a load of laundry...I think I will go hide in my prayer closet first and get a refill from the Giver of all good gifts!

How about you?
Are you feeling like this is a time that just won't stand still? Are you feeling overwhelmed? Are you working on what you think you should do or what the Lord put in front of you? Can you tell the difference? What can you put aside? What has to be done now? Are you sure? Have you asked Him?

Let's pray:
Father in the name of Jesus, here we are again. How is it that we know You created man to join You in Your work, but we girls assume we can do a better job? Father, show us what needs to be done to bring glory to Your name. Lord we know You expect us to be good stewards of all You have given us, even the time we have. I offer up our crazy schedules and our Facebook pages and our phones and our laundry baskets. I ask that if we are not about Your work, You would stop us in our tracks. I also ask that if we are about what You would have us do, You would slow down time because only in You, can we ever get everything done. Only You can stop time. I pray that as we trust in You that You would grant us wisdom to walk in the way we should go. Amen.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Little children and big stories....

"Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me." (Mark 9:37)

I have been having a bit of a hair crisis. Now I won't say it is as bad as the bad perm and subsequent bad hair-cut of 84, but a crisis non-the-less. I have gone so far as to have my hair relaxed in attempt to let it grow out looking half way decent. I know you all feel for me.

As I was putting my youngest daughter to bed the night following having my hair relaxed, I hugged and kissed Maggie and she said in all of her mature 5 year oldness: "Mommy, I hate to tell you this, but I think Mittens (our cat) peed on you hair last night."

I responded: "No. Honey, Mommy had some yucky stuff put on her hair to make it look better, the cat didn't pee on my hair."

She pointed at my hair and said: "MOM, Yes! Mittens peed on your hair and YOU need to take a shower!"

Me: "Okay Mags, good night."

IT was not an argument I was going to win!

In terms of family legend, this one will be told at Dinner tables for generations. It got me to thinking of the stories about my growing up.

When my brother was little, he was told it was okay to for a boy to pee in the park on a tree...having the equipment to do so. He didn't quite understand when he did so at a restaurant that happened to have a huge oak tree in the middle of the court yard of the place and everyone seemed to freak out!

When my mom was very little, her parents took her to Radio City Music Hall for a concert. Evidently it was quite the hoyty-toyty event. When they began to play the William Tell Overture, mom stood up and yelled: "It's the Lone Ranger!" Her mom tried to disappear into her seat!

I was about four when our parents took us to Lake George for the first time. I was about to jump into the pool and shouted: "Geromeo!" Evidently I had combined Romeo and Geronimo...I guess I had always loved a romance and a good western!

My favorite family story and the one most tender to my heart is my dads. His mom was not a well woman. At one point after another stroke, the children were place in an orphanage until she was well again. It was the around 1939 or 1940 and times "were tough all over" as he use to say. No one believed she would ever see her children again, much less come to get them. No one, that is except a little boy name Edy Brennan, my dad, who about 4 years old.
He told the story that he prayed every night that "Mama" would could come get him and his sisters and brothers so they would be home for Christmas. Each night, for months and months he would call out to God to rescue them and bring them home. Some of the boys teased him about it. He kept saying he would be home by Christmas.
On Christmas Eve night, he was in his bed, crying out to the God of all who had not said yes to his prayer. His faith was at the point of breaking. How could this God abandon him? His tiny heart was crushed...but the God of all already had a plan in motion...
At midnight, Mama pulled up in a cab, woke up all the nuns and brothers and stormed into the orphanage to get her babies to bring them home for Christmas! No one was happy with Mrs. Brennan's ruckus to get her babies to bring them home in the middle of the night! But she didn't care.
She piled the lot of them into that cab and went home to Brooklyn, where there were no toys, no tree and almost no food. But no cared, they were home! They got to be a family that Christmas morning. God rescued my daddy from the pit of despair. God is never late, He is always just on time.

We all have our stories don't we?

How about you?

Do have the silly stories that make you giggle years later? Have you told them to your children? Can you ask your parents for a "good one" about when you were little and silly? Is there one that makes you tender towards your folks or you God?

Let's pray:
Father in the name of Jesus, thank You. You never let us reach the pit do you? I love that You are the God who created the giraffe, the platypus and the hippo! I love that we can make You smile! Since we know that we are created in Your image, we know that You know all about humor! You also know the heart of despair. You are never late and You never let us down. Even when our hearts are in desperate, you reach us at our understanding. How marvelous that You never, ever let us down.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

The coolest thing...

"But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have."
1Peter 3:15

I was just thinking that the coolest thing about the book being published is the poem my mom wrote for me, called "House you from the wind." She wrote that when I was very little, but now it is in print.
For her 50th birthday, I had a talented friend of mine take one of her poems and make it into a song...he played it for her on her birthday when I threw her a surprise prayer meeting/birthday party in her bedroom! She was thrilled.
Today, I thought I would share what Ellen believed. It is her very own version of The Creed. Mom knew what she believed and was always ready to play "defender of the faith" as I use to call her.
Ellen's Creed 11/20/76:
"I believe in humanity. So did He. He put it on to show us he way. I believe in our faithlessness, our hopelessness and our lack of love. He died for this, not for our perfection.
I believe in the sustaining power of the realization that God loves me. He is in LOVE with me and I with Him. I sometimes don't believe because I am e and do not always relinquish this part of self to my Lord. I dominate! I own! I'm a fool! All belongs to Him and He shares it withe me. He shares my friends my possessions, my soul. He is and I am. He is Messiah and I am grateful. He is my joy and I reach for His hand. He is the forest which I love. The Ending is written in His space and time and He does know what is your and mine. Created we are through love or lust, His love is always available.
In my deepest loneliness, in my darkest time, in my fear and my anxiety, He speaks to me. He does not let me reach the pit. Today, I believe---tomorrow my weakness emerges and I forget. I enter the desert, my winter, my discontent. I pray. I pray wordlessly for my words tend to hide the reality. Like a foggy mist, my soul i enshroud, only He knows what the truth is.
Again, He speaks to me, lifts me, and my shame is touched by a resounding joy. He forgives my doubts and carries me. He embraces me and I am flooded with peace.
I believe in our ability to touch each other through Him. I believe in our cruelty to each other and His ability to heal us so deeply that the scar is a new strength. I believe in His nourishment and power of his body to feed me and His blood to wash me. I believe in the inner quiet of self--frightening to face alone--whee we can meet Him.
I believe in my tears. I don't always know why they are shed, but I believe in them as a gift. His gift to me. He touched my heart where no one else has ever been permitted. I cry.
I believe--sometimes--in me. He loves me, now at this moment as I am. I am not, nor will I ever be, worthy of redemption but His love knows no bounds, no little boxes of which I am so fond.
I believe in my friends. I believe in the communion that He builds with them. I believe each is an opportunity to grow3--mutual growth--in Him. I believe in touching, caring, loving and blessing through Him.
I believe in confusion, my confusion. I believe this ever present, individual, always moving God moves me. Moves me to think, allows me to make my own mistakes and grow with in Him.
I haven't even begun. I believe in yesterday, today and tomorrow and I don not always have to know what tomorrow will be. I believe in My Father, I feel the Spirit in my being, I love my Lord, Jesus.

I think Mom and I would have had some wonderful theological discussions based on her creed...especially the confusion part! But on the whole, I am the woman I am today, because I had a praying mom. Glory to God for His faithfulness!

How about you?
Do you know what your parent's believe? Do you believe the same thing? Are you allowed some wiggle room to disagree? Do have your own creed? Do you know that the Jesus is Lord of all? Do you know that He is in love with you? Are you with Him? Do you know what you believe and why? Are you "always prepared to give an answer..."?

Let's pray:
Father in the name of Jesus, we pray. Thank You for Your Word and showing us how to pray. Thank you for giving us the Truth to believe in. You alone know the end from the beginning. You don't ever want us to follow you blindly. Even when we don't understand the circumstances in our lives, we trust that You do know and understand. How glorious that even when we don't believe too much in ourselves, You always do! Glorious Lord, we praise You, forever and ever. Amen.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Healthcare vs. Providence

Psalm 37:35
"I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread. "

This past August 5th was my mom's 16th anniversary in Heaven. I thought in the days we live in, I would share our insurance nightmare.

My dad was a union man and all that implied. He never crossed a picket line in his life. When he was told to burn the trucks of the non-union workers, he did just that. He was a union man through and through. Because I like my knee caps, I won't mention what union he was in. Draw your own conclusions. I have to say, that he and the men he worked with drank hard and worked harder. These were not slouches looking for nothing. The believed that they would be rewarded for all they gave. They were. They got steady work and worked around the clock if that is what the job called for. While some of his ethics could be questioned and answered, not his work ethic. He was the hardest worker I ever met and was proud to be, a man's man. When there was no work to be had, he made a new career for himself, and worked three jobs to keep food on the table. He made sure he always provided health insurance for his family. He worked whatever hours he had to and for some pretty awful bosses to make sure he had enough hours in to get his benefits. He trusted his union to care for his family because they said they would, forever.
Now mom went on a vent in 1987. Her insurance was capped in 1990 or '91. What did that mean for the family with a mom on life support you ask? It was awful. There was simply no money because work was scarce as well. ALL of their savings were used to pay for mom's medications. The respiratory therapy company even took her vent (that she owned) as ransom for payment and gave her a loaner until she had the ability to pay them for the services. Eventually they only came once a week to maintain their vent, but not her.
I learned to clean her trach, change her dressings and change her trach as well. I did this before I was a nurse with a degree. I would ask the pharmacy at work and school if anyone had any left over medication in their pockets for her nebulizer treatment. My parents were unable to pay the mortgage or my was as desperate as it sounds.
But the God of nature and natures God stepped in. My best friend's parents payed the mortgage until after I graduated. My mom's best friend payed my nursing school tuition so I could finish school. Groceries would show up on our door step and I know of several times checks would arrive from our dear friends that payed for her medications.
The credit card bills and IRS bills were beyond imagination. These (my parents) were the people who played by the rules, and payed into a system that promised to take care of them. Were it not for a local assemblyman, we would still be waiting for her medicare card. It arrived in April of 1993. It would be June of '93 before we could use it. She was dead in August.
Make no doubt, they were painful and terrifying times.
But I am still here to tell the story. Is He any less God? Is He any less on the throne? Did he meet all of our needs and some of our wants? Did the US Government do anything to save this family? did not.
Providence did. He saved this family in our darkest hours. He gave us a desire to work harder. He never abandoned us and never left us to our own. He gave us a faith and a righteousness to survive.
I know for a fact that my mom would have been left to die, had she not lived in the greatest country the world has ever seen. If she had lived in Ireland or Canada, she never would have lived those six years at home. Should the horror of Obamacare pass, I fear for all those who would know the glory of God come down. Her life had purpose and I praise God, in that very different time, I got to be apart of it. Not the union, not the government...not any one man provided for our family. God provided and He often used the body of Christ to do so. Sometimes He just stepped in.
One night I returned home from work and the entire street was in a black out...scary thing when your mom is on a vent. As I sped up the block to our house, I saw the strangest sight. The entire street was dark, except our house. Con Edison had no idea why...I do. I bet you do too. The very light of the world kept the power on, because His beloved Ellen needed it to be. Providence met our needs. He will meet yours as well.

How about you?
Do you believe that God can/will provide or do you trust your government to do so? Do you know that we are free in our nation, because God made it so? Do you trust Providence to provide when the world says it cannot be done?

Let's pray:
Father in name of Jesus, step in. As a nation our people cried "give us a king" and we got a Saul. Lord God, send us our David. Rescue your people from despair of those who would destroy us. You know that we are not un-American for fighting this administration. You have given us a spirit to fight the good fight. Let us, the people strive to feed the poor, heal the sick and take in the homeless...and not trust a corrupt leader to do it for us. Lord God step into this mess that Your people might turn to You as the God of nature and natures God. Amen.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

A good cleansing...

"Weeping may endure for a night, but Joy comes in the morning" Ps 30v5

Last night I "had" to go to the mall with my oldest daughter, Elizabeth. She "needed" a new shirt for her Fine Arts, Choir Competition in Florida this week. Sigh...
I was not so thrilled. I did it, but not with a smile.
I had a memory this morning: I was on the down escalator in the old Macy's in White Plains, NY. I was probably about 19 or 20 at the time. I saw mother and daughter pairs, one set after another on the upside of the escalator. I left the store, went to the car and cried. I cried like my heart was breaking, because it was. I never got to do that. I never got to go shopping with my mom at Macy's as a teen or a young woman. My mom was at home on life support. The best I could do was to bring home the goods and ask her what she thought about them. I was so jealous and I coveted those outings the girls I saw were having.
I never thought about the fact that I was breaking a commandment at the time. I think we never do.
But it was more than was the grief of a daughter who longed to spend time with her mom. I had forgotten how painful it was at times to "miss out" on simple things, like going to Macy's.
I appreciate my mall trip with my daughter a lot more this morning. How glorious that what I didn't get to do as a girl, I get to do now!

This past week my heart has been very tender towards my dad. I honestly did not understand the tears. I had to walk out of an Irish store that had a "Herself" towel hanging on a rack...he use to call me that from time to time.
I cried and cried and cried about a patient in ICU...could not go to care for him and my husband demanded I find someone to cover my shift. I honestly did not recognize the grief.
A dear friend pointed out to me that grief is an odd animal. We never know when it will poke it's head out. Another friend had this to say:
"Tears are not necessarily for pain. They can be cleansing and healing, too. You've shared several times and, I sense, you still carry some pain about your Dad -- his life, and his death. Sometimes, something touches our heart just so -- in a way that only God can orchestrate - and it bumps the bruises -- or open wounds -- in our hearts and the pain comes all back to us. Think about your toes. They get stubbed and bumped every day, several times a day (well, at least mine do). But we don't think about it. Until we injure it. Then every bump sends pain through our whole body. I know you said these are tears of pain - and I think that's a good thing. It tells me you're moving past the pain, into the healing. God is cleaning out the last of the grief, washing your heart of the pain of the past... Weeping may last for the night, but joy comes in the morning. (Ps 30:5) Your morning is coming... It's time to wake up and walk in His joy as you never have before. "
I was told recently by a man at my old church who remembered my dad fondly about how grief caught him by surprise. He was driving on a country road and saw a little boy and his daddy fishing off a bridge. That sight brought back such a vivid memory of the man and his own dad that he had to pull over and have a good cry. His dad had been gone for well over twenty years.
The cry shocked him!
I didn't think much about it, until my own crying jag this past week.
I can praise God this morning for the good washing I have recieved. I pray my own tears bring healing for someone, touched by the odd animal of grief.

How about you?
Have you ever been taken off guard by tears of grief or pain? What got you to crying? Are you willing to believe that God allows moments (some longer than others) of great pain, to bring about a greater healing in your heart?

Let's pray:
Father in the name of Jesus, thank you for the gift of cleansing tears. Thank you for your promise that while weeping may come, joy follows in the morning! You know our hearts, the good the bad and the ugly. Wash away our bad and our ugly, so that we may left with a heart after Your own. Thank you for counsel from those who love us. In your name, Amen.