Archive | July 2013

The Child, the Teen, the Mother and the Door

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Watching our daughter run from slide, to swing, to bouncy purple dinosaur to the monkey bars I smile remembering other hours at the park.  Smaller hands grasping and smaller legs climbing.  Same short attention span, as if she is trying to cram as many turns in as possible.

Before asking if she could go play she snuck a glance at me and quietly commented, “I love to play at little kids parks like these, but I know I’m to old”.  She pauses then continues, “I like it better being alone, even if it is lonely sometimes.”

I see the child she still is and the young lady she is becoming. I blink. Then I realize that this is what it is like watching her peer cautiously through the open doorway between childhood and adolesence…so beautiful, so frightening.

Now other hands are reaching through the door to grasp our daughter’s, hands that were once flickering shadows are now flesh and bone. Other voices, once faint whispers have now grown louder, more audible and call her name.

In a nanosecond she is poised to leave the coziness of childhood to stand in her newly and wide open to her teenage years, doorway. Tentatively she touches, faintly, briefly but firmly, those outstretched hands. Softy and shyly she answers the beckoning voices of invitation to walk through the door. “I’m coming,” she says!

My breath catches. My heart pumps madly. Never have I regretted my inability to run as I do now. To think I have been grateful to lose my leg after she knew how to look both ways crossing the street, not to dash into the street after a ball or from between parked cars! Oh how I long for it now! As if I might physically restrain her, somehow stop her, freeze time until I know she’s ready…but I long for the impossible.

For long bittersweet minutes, as she remains one foot in childhood and one poised in her teen world I understand an old wisdom saying. The one that says, “A parent must give their child two things, roots and wings.”. I see almost visibly how that notches in with the Proverb so often quoted about childrearing, “Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it”. The life verse we gave claimed for her, Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future.”

Roots. Have we given her good, healthy roots? We know, for we were not blessed with our child until she was four, that some of her roots started off weak, so we’ve tried our best to strengthen those and help her grow roots in deeper, richer, better soil.

Wings. I see her wings shaking as the breeze ruffles them. She turns back to me and our eyes lock and we cry each others tears. Her hand touches mine and she grasps tightly. She whispers, “Mama”! I hear the first time she called me Mama eight years ago in her voice.

I touch my chest, exactly over my heart and she mirrors my actions. In silence without words we speak what we’ve often said aloud, “Always in here we are connected. The bond cannot be broken. Wherever you are, whatever you do we are together here!”

Wind. Wings need air to fly. Air currents. My actions, reactions, my words…they will set her free…they will lift her in prayer, by praising Our God for our forever family her wings will grow and strengthen beneath His breath.

For a moment I think of her birth mother. Of her difficult choices, her gift to us. The child she blessed us with is barely recognizable. Oh what she has missed!

Oh, thank you Jesus for what I have not been deprived of! Thank you for every tear, every frustration, the years our daughter hoarded food and things afraid they’d disappear, every therapy session, every broken, bleeding memory she pulled forth, every teacher conference, every worship service, every pillow fight, every dandelion, every rose and every thorn! Thank You Jesus for these, the last minutes of her childhood.

Roots and wings. You, Heavenly Father gave me mine. For my parents just didn’t know how! And You are also giving our daughter her roots and her wings, whether through me or her father they come ultimately from You. You are the vine with deep healthy roots and wings that cover, protect and soar. You are our Rock and our Savior and You have these moments of our lives, our brief existences, in the palm of Your hand.

The child, the teen, the mother and the door…You have us all

Let it be!
-Faye

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Singing the Ugly Out

Artwork is original to author/artist. All rights reserved.
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Growing up my dad was country music all the way.  Mama mixed in Elvis.  Loretta Lynn, Lynn Anderson, Johnny Cash, Dolly Patton, Conway Twitty…all familiar names whose music helped set the soundtrack of my childhood.  I wanted to be just like them.

Problem?  I just couldn’t sing!  The family joke was how bad my voice was all the time.

God was mysterious to me then.  I didn’t quite trust Him.  My brother’s early surrender to God’s love, gift and call made me nervous.  If we couldn’t trust our dad, how did we trust an invisible Father?  I knew God knew us, He had a plan for each of us.  But, I just didn’t get the salvation message because it wasn’t yet my time understand.

When Daddy moved us 200 miles north my fifth grade year I fought back.  Daddy wasn’t much on girls getting an education but my struggle with math embarrassed him.  So I set about to fail.  I did the first six weeks.

But two things turned it around. One, my math teacher figured out what I was doing, understood and in turn helped me see a larger picture.  Two, I had to take either P.E. and purchase the uniform, band and purchase an instrument or choir and sing.    My mother said, “She’ll take choir.”. Later in the hall she told me to just mouth cornflakes or watermelon over and over and not let the choir teacher know I couldn’t, “Carry a tune in a bucket!”

But this amazing God I didn’t yet trust, gave me the desire of my heart, He gave me a voice to sing with.  Knowing how my parents felt about my singing I kept the news to myself.  Banned from singing in the earshot of my family it was easy to keep my secret.  Imagine my parents shock when I forgot to keep silent and belted out “Mine eyes hath seen the glory…” and it was good!

From then on I was asked to sing.  At home, at church and at school. God’s gift gave me an inroads to survival, even if I never fit in. I passed math.  I even won the science fair award and one for most improvement in math that year.

That was my first answered prayer, God loved me enough to gift me with music. But I never lost those voices telling me I couldn’t sing. To my ears I sounded no different than the years my family groaned when I opened my mouth.

I was a lonely, miserable, misfit who had to undergo our dad’s sudden decisions to move us around repeatedly. God, who I didn’t yet trust or truly know, gave me something our father couldn’t take away. He gave the gift of voice to His child in dire need of something of her own along the road she had no choice but travel.

I’d never be a star, except in God’s eyes, but His gift is always with me.

-Faye

Into the World

Seems like all I have wrestled with the past week are the forced acknowledgements of how uncomfortable I am in the world. Frankly, it drives me nuts. There’s nothing to upset my apple cart more than a trip into the world, no matter how brief, how fun, or how refreshing in the moment for once I’m back home, I find a stale and bitter taste in my mouth.

I have, in my forced exile from the world, come to immensely crave the isolation. A danger I foresaw, for who knows me better than I except God? Herein lies the reason I never willingly sought the status of disabled, why I fought to keep focused on the goal of being in the daily workplace, because I knew I would come to choose to remain isolated and with my own thoughts for company once forced to acknowledge how ill fitted for the world I am.

Recently my husband, our daughter and our niece took a brief and whirlwind three day weekend to Pigeon Forge/Gatlinburg in Tennessee. Travel is hard for me since the amputation and the spread of the Lymphedema to other areas of my body. But for a few hours on the Saturday afternoon of our trip I enjoyed being part of the tourists crowding the streets of Pigeon Forge. My husband forces my wheelchair into areas the world forgot to allow me access to being capable of lifting me and the chair up over curbs and not timid about asking or just telling people to get out of the way when they block the sidewalk or store aisle. On this Saturday we parked in the Old Mill area of Pigeon Forge and went in and out of overcrowded shops, had our picture made in an old-time photography shop and ate a marvelous lunch at the Old Mill restaurant (even if we did have to wait nearly an hour for a handicap accessible table). I felt much like I imagine a kid set lose in a candy store does during those few hours.

But all too quickly my body started reminding me of how uncomfortable it was and how ill-suited to travel. Our ways of adapting in our home didn’t work in a suppose-to-be-but-isn’t wheelchair accessible hotel room where even the bed was an issue. (It was so tall it came to the top of my hip making “hopping” up on it an adventure and fear of falling off it a possibility.)

So we returned home and I was grateful to be back. Back to where I am more comfortable. Back to where we’ve ironed out far more of the wrinkles in the fabric of being disabled for me and my family.

Only I heard and saw and tasted the message of the world. “Look what you’re missing! Isn’t this fun? See? Feel? Come experience! Come play! Come be us!”

But I can’t. The same world reminds me I can’t.

“No! Keep your wheelchair away from here!”

“No! You can’t eat yet, there are only six tables where we can put your wheelchair and 51 others we can’t so wait.”

“No! We put up rails in the bathroom, wait for someone to help you if you can’t use the standard size accommodations!”

“No! You can’t swim here!”

“No! You can’t! No! No! No!”

So I wrestle with shutting the voice of the world out of my mind. I seek solace in scriptures ancient and true. I seek comfort in the arms of a Heavenly Father who doesn’t reject me. I seek a way to express myself that the world will welcome or at least accept. I turn to the modern world of technology seeking a connection and find a weird sense of being anything but connected. My mind whirls and sleep does not come.

Prayers ooze out of me with a desperate plea about them.

John wrote in I John 4:18, “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.”

I fear.

I am always human here.

I sin here. I sin in my need to be accepted for superficial appearances and for superficial reasons. I sin and I do so in my inability to accept this twist of life.

But I am on my way home. Truly my home where my body won’t be ravaged by disease. Where the accommodations will be perfect. Where I won’t want to go anywhere or do anything that someone will say “No” to. Home. Home where the perfect love reigns and the message isn’t buried beneath layers of “stuff”. Home where expressing myself isn’t an issue at all because the selfishness that drives my ego of self is silenced by the much stronger need to worship and express my love for God.

If only I could get that down here I would be much more like Paul who wrote in Philippians 4:11-13, “I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is like to be in need, and I know what it is like to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who give me strength.”

Meanwhile I am more in the mindset of David who wrote in Psalm 40:12, “For troubles without number surround me; my sins have overtaken me, and I cannot see. They are more than the hairs of my head, and my heart fails within me.”

-Faye

Sameness

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This is a picture of my African Violet that was the first plant I grew successfully indoors and for an extended period of time.  It was, ironically, a gift from my co-workers when my father died.  So at the time I took this picture the violet was around 2 1/2 years old.

I confess growing it for the most part was done without much thought.  It grew in one of those self-watering pots so I kept the reservoir filled and cut off any blossom or leaf as soon as it looked sick.

Turned out there were a lot of African Violet nurturers in our office building.  All with lots of rules on how to grow this flower with a reputation for being finicky.  Of course I was doing everything wrong. Of course this flower doesn’t like change in it’s environment, period so everyone warned me not to EVER MOVE IT FROM THE SPOT ON MY DESK.

When I had to stop working I had to bring the violet home.  Neither it nor I were happy being home all the time.  Despite my focused attempts, my desire to succeed and a fear of failure the violet died.

I grieved the loss of a plant.  I grieved its loss more than I grieved the loss of my father.  My sorrow wove itself into the fabric of my heart, intertwined with the threads of unhappiness over forced retirement, the loss of knowing who and what I was anymore and my physical pain.

Unlike my violet the tentacles of death I felt didn’t have a firm enough grip on me to succeed.  The difference?  The gardener.

Like the violet I don’t like change, especially drastic change especially.  Unlike the violet I am adapting.

See, my Creator, the same Creator as my African Violet, has a plan for me to continue living and we have a relationship that allows communication.  Complete communication.

I am learning to accept where I am now because God is faithful, trustworthy and knows what is best for me.  Sadly my violet didn’t understand that, but, being it was a flower not a human that reality is understandable.

God promises never to leave or forsake us and He has given us a lifetime assignment. (Matthew 28:16-20)

He promises a plan and a purpose for our lives.  (Jeremiah 29:11).

Our Master Gardener knew us in our mother’s womb. (Psalm 139:13).

Most of all He tells us He is the vine and we are the branches.  To be alive we must abide in Him. (John 15:1-17).

Yes, He makes all the difference.  My way of caring for my violet adapted but the finicky plant couldn’t.  Gratefully, God always gives me His best because He has an intimate knowledge of me. 

Change happens.  God is always in control. 

-Faye

Letters to the Apostle Paul from 2013 #3


Faye, a Christian female in the year of our Lord, 2013 take up the task assigned to me by God to write to the Apostle Paul. I greet you, Apostle Paul, with much respect for God was able to use you in remarkable and astounding ways.

In Letter 2 I said that in this letter I would bring your own words, given by God to you, that are in our New Testament. For centuries now, Apostle Paul, your words in 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 (Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says. If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church.”) are used to not only make men the ministerial leadership in the majority of Protestant churches but to bar them from certain positions period. Another passage comes from your instructions to 1 Timothy 3:2 and 12 has also been used to forbid women in the role of deacons and pastors, ministers, preachers and sometimes even teachers. (“Now the overseer must be above reproach, the husband of but one wife…,” and “A deacon must be the husband of but one wife…”)

As a teenager your instructions were taken very strictly in the small church and its larger association to which the church belonged. Women were not even allowed to speak during a meeting where the day-to-day operation of the church was discussed. Women were not allowed to teach anyone other than young children and other women. Women did not “preach” or expound upon the Word of God. Husbands were elected to offices they were unqualified to keep, such as the office of church clerk held by men who could not read or write very well. Their wives did the work and their husbands presented their reports to the church body. My own father taught a Sunday School class when he could not read the lesson nor his own Bible well enough to teach. My mother read the lesson out loud to him repeatedly until he could recite enough to make his class members think he could read.

The first female I ever encountered who was in a ministerial role was the campus minister at the community college I attended straight out of high school. Learning that the church I attended was in the Blount County Association she knew immediately the overly restrictive atmosphere and teaching I had received. Once when we were discussing my reluctance to even explore another viewpoint on the matter she told me about the first time she was to give the report of the campus ministry that was partly supported by the Blount County Association. Her first name was Jo and when she alerted them that she would indeed be there they though Jo was a Joe. Upon discovering she was female she was allowed to be acknowledged by standing from where she sat in the congregation but a man read her report. Jo was allowed to answer questions that were addressed to the man who read her report, she replied to him and he to the man who asked the question. After that her report was requested always to be “sent in for reporting” rather than to be presented in person.

In my own experience, wrestling with an answer to whether or not a female should be allowed to be in a ministerial position in a church and feeling “called” to do so is a stumbling block to myself, my own spiritual growth. During the years I was in ministry the church often “discussed” whether it was okay to use the word minister in my title or to use director, whether it was okay for me to teach teenage boys, or hold the position at all. Once the pastors of the association (one in Virginia) were meeting at the church on which I was on staff. He came into the church office demanding copies of a hymn from a hymn book and while I made his copies he proceeded to inform me of how many of God’s commands I was breaking by being on the church staff. Only by God putting a lock on my lips did I keep from replying to this pastor. Only by God’s grace was I able to not let him see how deeply he had wounded me for I hid my pain and forbid myself to cry until I was out of sight and could not be seen nor heard. This pastor quoted you.

Yet in other scriptures you speak of female deacons in the churches you started. (Romans 16:1: “I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a deacons of the church in Cenchreae. I ask you to receive her in the Lord in a way worthy of his people and to give her any help she may need from you, for she has been the benefactor of many people, including me.”)

Other women you clearly worked closely with in the churches you started and your ministry were Priscilla, Mary, Tryphena, Tryphosa, Persis, and Lydia. You also though highly of Timothy’s mother and grandmother.

There is more, so much more that time nor space allow me to conclude now. Before I close I want to add one thing that has been emerging since I began these letters to you and that is that Jesus’ thoughts about women also give us a different perspective that cannot be ignored. Sadly too I have learned of some background teaching about you that as a layperson I had not been taught. As hard as these additional roots are to trace I must do so.

In Jesus Christ,

-Faye

Scurrying Toward Adolescence

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(Photo the original work of this blogs author.  All rights reserved.)

Today is a special day in our home. Our daughter who in less than 60 days away from turning 12 is going to her first concert, Veggie Tales excluded. Appearing is one of the Nickelodeon/Disney boy bands and another female artist. We watch their T.V. shows and she adores one particular guy in the boy band.

Going means a 3 1/2 hour drive to an amphitheatre in a neighbouring state. A trip I could be making but choose not to so our daughter can go and not have the burden of my wheelchair and needs. Instead my oldest niece has taken the day off to take her.

Her first trip this far without Mom and Dad and her first concert to see her first dream crush, that’s a lot. We trust my 22 year old niece. We trust our daughter. This is a rite of passage into adolescence.

Have we given her roots deep enough to support her wings to fly? Has our training in God’s ways been enough to help her follow them faced with new choices?

Yesterday, it seems, she was a tiny baby asleep on my chest. She was learning to walk. Saying her first words, sentences and developing her own personality. Didn’t we just walk her into her first day of school? Witness her decision to ask Jesus into her heart and believers baptism?

I won’t cry today, at least in front of her. For she is still our daughter who is anxious for this day to proceed and asking if we have a baby bottle for her Pooh bear. True she is scurrying toward adolescence and I can’t slow her down but God reminds me of His instruction and His promise.

“Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.”. -Proverbs 22:6

Our daughter’s days of testing her faith against the world will come. They must come. And then too with prayer cover and our own faith we will cling to God’s Word.

Our daughter too must learn to cling while hurrying toward adulthood.

-Faye

Down by the River

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(Photo & poem are originals to the photographer & poet, Faye, of this blog.  Not to be reused with permission.)

Down by the river
Sitting on its banks
The trees dripping with dew
The waters rushing merrily
Down by the river,
Down by the river,
Down by the river,
Sitting on its banks.

Down by the river
Sorrow gurgles in my heart
I cannot climb out on the rocks
Can’t be frozen by its cascade
Down by the river,
Down by the river,
Down by the river,
Sorrow gurgles in my heart.

Down by the river
Praise erupts in my soul
The Creator of this beauty
Is the One who fashioned me,
Down by the river,
Down by the river,
Down by the river,
Praise erupts in my soul!

Down by the river
God touched my wounds
Cleaning away the ugliness
Washing away my pain
Down by the river,
Down by the river,
Down by the river,
God touched my wounds.

Down by the river
I found God today
I felt God today
I touched God today
Down by the river,
Down by the river,
Down by the river,
God found me today.

-Faye

Precious Souls

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Outside one of the most popular tourist sites in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, The Old Mill, an older gentleman sat playing his guitar and singing.  He was tucked into the deep shade of the creaky front porch were it was still hot but he escaped the suns beating waves.

He sang old gospel songs mixed with mountain ballads.  His voice pleasant but not amazing.  There was a very small display of old CD’s still in the manufacturer’s wrapping but clearly remnants of earlier pressings.

My husband who adores the bluegrassy twanging sounds of this type musical offering stops to buy one of the old CDs.  The singer and my husband converse between the man singing and just playing his guitar. Our daughter pouts over not getting a shirt she wanted. Our niece stands to the side and I sit waiting in my wheelchair wondering if I can find out his story.

Then silently and shyly our youngest niece, a 16-year-old whose soft heart is well known by our family slips around me.  In a flash my husband and I see her drop a $20 into the old man’s tip bucket. 

I look at her hand dropping the $20 in and I see a rare beauty.  I know how much of her hard earned money she has allotted herself for our weekend trip and I am swept away in the offering she gives.  I see the deep sweet generosity of a soul whose wisdom wraps itself around her precious soul. 

She hastens to tell us, at our surprised and questioning looks, that she has used her own money.  I assure her we know.  Knowing she is easily embarrassed I turn my face away from her so my eyes brimming with tears are not visible.

A true offering given to support the ministry of a musical missionary by a heart nestled deeply in the soul of a young teenage girl.  I marvel at the purity of her gift and I see another layer of our nieces sweet, sweet heart and soul.  I marvel and I pray for her.  A prayer she will come to understand her real value and gift to the human race.

I pray she will see her beauty and value in and through God’s eyes. Because in this harsh and outwardly trapped society we live in it is hard for tender hearted people, whose greatest gift to the world is seeing the best and beauty of it beneath the glitz and blitz covering the filth. That world doesn’t appreciate the love through which our niece views it, instead it often seeks to destroy it because it cannot be like it. Deep down I believe most of society longs to love and see the beauty our niece sees naturally but they can’t in their race to make themselves number one, to fit into the right group or keep up with an ever rising economic status bar.My heart overflows…I am so blessed to know this wonderful, loving, artistic and tender person!

This marvelous selfless act astonishs me.  What a true beauty resides within our niece’s soul.  I pray she never becomes corrupted by the evil of this life.  I pray to be more giving like our niece for I have seen a peek of Jesus in her and she is beautiful.
Oh so beautiful!

-Faye