Wednesday, October 21, 2015

The Traveling Song

Whereupon Jesus said to them, My time (opportunity) has not come yet; but any time is suitable for you and your opportunity is ready any time [is always here]. John 7: 6

Today, my son texted me, "What's the name of the vacation song?"
That song, better known in our family as "the traveling song" was one of our family favorites.  As we would pullout of Vegas, Layne would put that song on and we would play it often on our vacation.  He especially liked for us to play it as we wound our way up the coast.  He felt that the piano strains and the rhythm kept with a rain stick were perfectly tuned to the coast.  In one part, the song sings "Alleluah...." and Layne swore he could hear angels singing that on our last trip as we traversed the twists and turns of highway 101 in as the fog settled in. 

I can't hear that sound without thinking of peace...the peace that Oregon brought to us.  And of Layne, and his love of Oregon

Today, Matthew, my youngest, makes his way to Yachats for the first time since we laid his dad's ashes on his favorite spots:  The Heceta Lighthouse, the cabin, our bench...and of course, "the edge of the world," our favorite piece of the Oregon coast.  

I would like to think that Layne heard that he met his Savior...and completed his travels here on earth.

In life, we take a lot of roads. Some of them are difficult and filled with breakdowns, and some are boring.  But around each corner is an opportunity for excitement, for something greater...if only we will be open to those new experiences.  In our family, we call these "adventures."

God has so much for us.  Sometimes we get stuck in the commute of daily life, going back and forth, back and forth, but never noticing the world around us.  We don't take the time to slow down and notice the adventure in each day.

But that is not how it is supposed to be.  Our business gave us opportunities to reach people.  Our journey with cancer gave us opportunities to meet even more. 

Today, God has penciled a few things in your schedule.  Perhaps that breakdown is a chance to meet someone.  Maybe the woman smelling cantaloupe along side you in the grocery store needs a friend.  Maybe you are supposed to learn from the fast food worker, if you'd only listen. Every day we have divine appointments.  Let's not overlook those in order to meet some earthly mission.  

The traveling song is playing...where will the journey take you today?

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

A Ring of Truth...

It actually made headlines, in a world where people are shooting innocent victims in colleges, and Christians are being beheaded on seashores, Kathy Lee Gifford made headlines but doing the unthinkable only seven weeks after the passing of her husband of 29 years, Frank Gifford.

She appeared in public without her wedding ring.

Immediately, people began to talk "It's too soon."  "She got over him quickly."  "Is she dating already?"

I shook my head and poured in to the Bible where I read:  "You shall not afflict any widow or orphan.  If you afflict him at all and he does cry out to Me, I will surely hear his cry; and my anger will be kindled..." (Exodus 22:22-24a)

I have never met a widow (or widower) who expected to become one.  We don't get up one day and say "I think I'd make a great widow, I have a lot of little black dresses, and I think I can handle this house on my own."  The situation is thrust upon you, and even those who lose their spouses due to a lingering disease hold out hope that widowhood will be forestalled for a long while.  

We aren't taken to a back room and told how to prepare.  In the days of the civil war, there were rules to these things.  But even then, life dictated that the strict rules bend.  When the war began, social mores indicated that men were to mourn for six months, and then they were expected to quickly marry.  Women mourned for a year for a spouse, and were even in partial mourning for the spouse of a widower they married for a year after the death.  These rules relaxed as the war dragged on, and in one town, the mayor actually asked that women quit wearing their mourning clothing, as the entire town seemed to be cloaked in black.  

In modern times, many of us don't even wear black to our spouse's funeral.  In my case, I didn't even hold a "funeral", I held a "celebration of life," because that is what Layne would have wanted.  A celebration of the man he was. 

A good friend who I met through our Carepages, became a widower shortly after I was widowed.  He is an amazing man, who cared faithfully for his wife, who succumbed to cancer. He stepped in to be a mom when his wife could not be one to his daughters, and he was a servant to his wife, whose needs were numerous.  I recognized the progression in the photos, as she moved from walking and getting about to a wheelchair, his eyes began to have dark bags and his expression, though outwardly smiling, held a shadow of sadness.  

Within three months of the death of the woman to whom he had pledged his life, with whom he had brought children into the world, built a life, and worked in the world of missions, he met another Christian woman.  He put a ring on her finger and brought her home, where the children welcomed her, and she became their new mom.  I'm sure people talked.  I'm sure they thought it was "too soon"...but there is no denying the life that this new spouse has brought to my friend's life.  

The circles beneath his eyes are gone.  There is excitement in his reporting of daily events.  The children are growing into lovely young ladies...and there is happiness.  Does he love his former wife any less?  No.  Love that deep never goes away.  And now a second woman is blessed to have a husband who she is certain will love her through it all, till death they do part.  They shot family portraits recently...and this shot of "togetherness" I think, speaks volumes.

And yet, tongues and heads will wag, I'm sure.

But my friend was not given a rule book stating he had to remain a widower and alone for a certain amount of time.  God did not say to him, "You must be sad for longer."  God sent him a help meet...and he is grateful for that gift.

If they fall down and struggle, I would hope that instead of saying "I told you so" that his friends and the church would say " there, but by the grace of God go I," and extend a hand to lift them both up.

So Kathy Lee Gifford has removed her ring.  It's a ring...while a symbol of a relationship that she saw through to the end, it is not her husband.  She did not choose for him to be taken from her life.  Her husband will remain in her heart forever, I would imagine.  The shared memories that meant so much are now housed only in her mind...she is the lone keeper of all they shared intimately.  It would be so wrong to deny her any act of healing that she needs to embark upon life alone.  We will never know the strength it took to remove those rings, or the tears that fell as she did so.

It is not necessary to "afflict her" with our second guessing, gossip or sideways glances.  

As I said to all who didn't like how I "did" widowhood...when your chance comes, I pray you do it better than I.  It has been the hardest thing I've ever done in my life.