Friday, July 26, 2013

Life in the Rearview Mirror

Heading home on the interstate, I glanced several times in my rearview mirror to make sure she was still following behind. We had both been in the city that day, and were now traveling back to our small town. When she asked to follow me, I gladly agreed. At least then I'd know if she arrived home safely. After all, the traffic moves so fast and well,...she does not. Years of hard physical labor, arthritis and aging in general have taken their toll and slowed her pace. Where did the time go? When she get old? For that matter, when did I get old? Seriously. It seems like only yesterday when I was 12 and she, my mom that is, was the age I am now. I mean, weren't her locks of white a shade of brown just yesterday (no hair dyes were harmed in the making of this blog)? And, when did her fingers become so drawn, and her gait become accented with a limp? Why, she was walking just fine...yesterday. 

As I continued the drive home that day, thousands of memories filled my mind. Memories, like the first time mom let me drive her wood-grain paneled, Country Squire station wagon on that very same interstate. I must have looked way cool behind the wheel of that wagon with my mall bangs, braces and Sally Jesse Raphael glasses. I'm pretty sure my jeans were pinch rolled too. Mom, me, and my keen 80's fashion sense made many trips on that interstate in our "cool" station wagon. Now, those trips are forever memories of the rearview mirror.

I suppose the reality of the saying, "the only thing constant is change" becomes more apparent as we age! Cause, it sure does seem the older I get the quicker life is constantly changing. People, places and things are in my rearview mirror much faster these days. Time sure does fly, but, oh how I routinely wish I could stop the hands of time. Sometimes I catch myself looking at life in the rearview mirror and longing for the past. Pining for a time when my parents, my husband, and my children were younger...a time when I myself was younger. Craving that season in my life when my closest friends were still present and cancer was not so frequently part of family discussions. Reminiscing and yearning for the church I used to know, and the way things were. Just yesterday I was a kid who couldn't wait to grow up. Today, I'm a thirty something year old (and holding!) who doesn't want to grow any older. But alas...time marches on, and just like that – in the blink of an eye – life is in the rearview mirror and we, as well as the seasons in our lives, are constantly changing.

Maybe you're feeling like life is flying by, and you too would like to slow the hands of time. Perhaps you're getting ready to send a child off to college, or... to kindergarten. Maybe you've just lost a loved one, or maybe you've welcomed a new one into your family. No matter what season you're in; what changes you're going through; or where you're at in life – chances are you've longed for time to stand still at one point or another. But, onward we go to face the future. A future full of pleasant, and not so pleasant seasons, that will soon be, life in the rearview mirror.

I love old hymns. There's a reason those beloved melodies and words are still popular today. No matter how fast life goes, or how much the world changes, the message conveyed in so many of those precious songs stands the test of time. Though not as ancient of a hymn as others, I truly enjoy the endeared Bill and Gloria Gaither hymn, "Because He Lives". The lyrics of the chorus speak life and reassurance into me, especially in those moments I wish time would stand still:

"Because He lives, I can face tomorrow. Because He lives all fear is gone.
 Because I know He holds the future, and life is worth the living just because He lives."

He holds the future. What. A. Relief. I am thankful change is not the only constant in my life. You see, I have another constant...a constant that, or rather who, never changes. One who is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8). One who is ever present; has plans for me; and holds me in the palm of His hand - always. When time rushes by, His constant presence assures me He knows just where I'm heading, and where I've been. Because He lives, I can face tomorrow...and, life in the rearview mirror.

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord,
"plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future".

– Jeremiah 29:11

Time is fleeting, God is not.

Thank you, Lord, for the time You give us here on earth, and for all the wonderful memories You provide. Thank You for holding each one of us in Your mighty, capable hands. Father, help us to remember when time moves fast and when time stands still, good or bad, life is always worth living because You live and You hold our future.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

When Love Disappoints

“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted....” – Psalm 34:18 (NIV)

Martin Luther King Jr. once said, "There can be no deep disappointment where there is not deep love." Boy, ain't that the truth? The more we love something or someone the more disappointed we are when we our plans or expectations aren't fulfilled with regard to them.

Last Tuesday, in the early hours of the morning, a text came in. I knew it would be arriving soon, but neither my heart, nor my mind was prepared for the magnitude and finality it brought. I was sitting at the table when Todd entered the kitchen. From the look on his face, I knew the words he was about to say would not be words I wanted to hear.

"Daryle just texted. Lola passed away."

No! She can't be gone! It makes no sense. I don't…I just don't…I don't understand.

Now I don’t truly know how it feels to take a knife to the chest, but if I had to guess, I'd say it might come close to how it feels when someone you love dies. My aunt Lola is gone. Gone. Just a few months ago, she was vibrant, active, and full of life. But her cancer returned and took that all away. No sooner did we learn her diagnosis than we said goodbye. I can't wrap my mind around it. I keep thinking I'll wake up and this will all be some crazy, strange dream. I haven't even had a chance to process and accept her diagnosis yet. Furthermore, we just said goodbye to my uncle Don. His life too, cut short by cancer. My heart aches for them and for my family as we grieve those we love so deeply.

My inbox and voice mail still hold messages from Lola. I can't bring myself to delete them. Surely tonight I'll see her working in the yard, as she often did, and hear her jokingly yell at me from across the road, "You need to mow your yard!" She can't be gone. She just can't. Not only was she part of my family, she was my neighbor and my friend...we shared so many laughs and good times. There can be no deep disappointment where there is not deep love. And, oh how the disappointment hurts and tugs at my heart. It fills my mind and floods my eyes with tears. She's gone. She's really gone. It just can't be...but, it is.

I've been putting off this post. And, not just a little, but a whole bunch-a-lada. To be honest, I just don't know what to write. Or then again, maybe I do, but am afraid to put it out there for all to see...afraid to put it out there for me to see. It's ugly, and so not tied up in a pretty little package complete with a perfect bow. I like to write about happy things. I like to be silly and witty. I like to share insight and encouragement. But...truthfully, right now I don't feel silly...or witty...or insightful...or encouraging. Mostly I just feel disappointment. There can be no deep disappointment where there is not deep love. I want her to come back. I want Don to come back. I loved them so.

I tend to laugh my way through life. The less serious I have to be, the less I have to really face things head on and deal with them. Now, some might say I'm doing what I should in trying not to feel disappointment or hurt. They may offer up "Right on, Angela. Don't sweat the 'small stuff'", or perhaps, "Shake it off", or maybe even, (my least favorite) "Get over it". Generally speaking I'm a pretty happy go lucky kind of gal. The trouble though is that sometimes beneath the smile I am totally sweating (profusely, I might add) the small and the big stuff. And, so it is now. Under my smile is a broken heart. A woman weary, worn out and sweating. A woman who loves deeply. And, a woman who is disappointed deeply.

My aunt Lola and my uncle Don were amazing people. And, the disappointment I feel is nothing more than love grieving deeply for those I hold dear. So, while I'm still this season of disappointment...sweating and grieving, I pray the Lord will give me the strength needed to face each day, and to take one day at a time. Great is His faithfulness.

Strength for today.  Hope for tomorrow.

That is my prayer.

Father God, great is Your faithfulness. Thank You for the hope we have in You. Even when we face disappointments in our lives, You are still good. Lord, I pray You would mend the broken pieces of my heart, and those within my family also, as we grieve for our loved ones. Thank you for the blessing Lola and Don brought to our lives and for the time, love and laughter we shared with them both. Please be with others who are also hurting at this time and missing those they hold so dear. Your word tells us You are close to the brokenhearted and deliver us from discouragement and crushed spirits. May we feel your healing touch, deliverance and presence, Lord. Please give each of us the strength to face each day, one day at a time, and help us to remember You are forever and always our hope.