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, 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 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.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

a new post on the way!

Mrs. Stahl and Mrs. K are coming to visit Ellen's daughter and grand kids today...that's me for those who don't know! They were two of my mom's best friends and stood by all those years mom was on the vent. I can't wait, even if I can't get the house re-sided, landscaping done and make a great quiche before they arrive! Not that they care, but I sure do! Will post a devotional later tonight, promise...crazy days here with homeschoolers, football, and tea parties as well!
God bless all,

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

We did it!

Truly, He who began a good work has seen it through to completion! The book is done and now available!
I promise to finish the post from yesterday as soon as I get off of this cloud!