Tag Archives: love

Good Grief

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays are of course the traditional phrases this time of year, but for many people, for many reasons, ‘merry’ and ‘happy’ are more of a challenge to live up to than authentic state of being.  I’m not into morbid, but I am into real, and life doesn’t get more real than the surreal experiences death brings.  Some people get a brief reality check and take stock of what changes they should make.  Others get hit with a more permanent situation, as they have to discover what to do now that the rest of their life won’t include someone they love dearly.

If you’ve been around me or my blog in the past 2 years, you’ve encountered the name Tricia Lott Williford.  Her blog is full of insights and the antics of her two boys.  Since Christmas of 2010, it has also been full of their grief journey, as they lost husband and father to illness within the span of 12-16 hours.  As for real, she’s got it down.  I have recommended her blog to several people as they begin their journey through such a grief, because nice sayings from those of us who haven’t really been there can only do so much (and it ain’t much).  She has a book coming out in February 2014, “And Life Comes Back”, and I have every intention of getting it. 

This year, thanks to Tricia, I’ve been introduced to another blogger, Brad Luczywo, who lost his wife in 2010.  He’s also about being real, and like Tricia, has two children to raise without the partner he expected to share the adventure with.  Unlike Tricia, he went through the rollercoaster of hospital and hope and devastation for a year, and intensely for two weeks, before she was gone. 

Both of these are real and transparent with their agony, but they’re not wallowing in despair.  Frankly, with two kids each, they don’t have the time for that.  They have more topics than grief and loss – they speak of their faith, and the One in whom their faith rests.  Tricia also includes meaningful quotes, writing insights, and of course, the antics of two young men in training who are most certainly all boy.  Brad, I’ve only recently ‘met’, but I’m inclined to read the rest of what he has written. 

Another theme the both of them have in common is that they loved and were loved well. If you are in the place of seeking your life’s partner, or just making a list of important characteristics, read what these two have to say. If you have your partner, and you find the ring on your left hand chafing a bit, read what these two have to say. If you’ve lost your partner and you’re in that awful place between ‘what happened’ and ‘what now’, read what these two have to say. They’ll bring you in touch with real, and more importantly, with real faith.

That same faith will sustain those of us still in search of our unmet partners, or our unborn children. It will sustain those who find themselves without the partner they used to have, not by death of the person, but by death of the relationship. It will sustain those whose relationships are intact but homes and posessions and treasured artifacts are irreparably destroyed. Grief in different forms touches all of us at some point. When it pushes you closer to the One who loves you, who redeems every situation; when it becomes a building block to greater faith in Jesus and a stronger more gracious character, it can rightly be called ‘good grief’.

Engage!

It was a few months before my graduation, a little over a year ago now.  I had just finished another one of those Mother-Daughter conversations that daughters can recite with astounding accuracy  – it’s practically scripted.  Truth be told, it has been for generations, but some mothers & daughters get an early escape from it.  We didn’t.

“If you were married, I wouldn’t worry so much.” Continue reading Engage!

An Honest Dandelion

Children are precious, especially when they’re still in the innocent stage of seeing every colorful bloom as a beautiful flower.  For a few years, those plants we invest hours and paychecks in eliminating, known to us as weeds, are bright perky flowers the color of sunshine, a wonderful way to express love.  Best of all, they’re free for the picking! Yes, my mother joyfully received many dandelion bouquets, and she put them in whatever cup or vase she could find for the hours they would last.
image

When we grow up, we look back and laugh at those offerings, and we (ok, some of us) try to do better, in keeping with bigger incomes.  Between Mom and I, I’ve become partial to a tea rose that goes from cream/peach at the base to pink on the petal edges.  We know it when we see it, but it escapes accurate definition.  Others I’ve met prefer daisies, orchids, or any of the other varieties florists keep in stock.  Florists have yet to offer dandelions.

My friend and I were talking one day of how she has become desensitized to certain flowers.  They were presented, you see, by men who were being manipulative and hiding their true intentions (and/or tally of current girlfriends).

There’s a metaphor here that goes beyond flora & fauna.  Most of us would rather get a simple and sincere anything – compliment, note, smile – than the most practiced and cultured (and expensive) display of false affections.  An honest dandelion is worth more than an exotic floral arrangement.  Jesus said the same as He took note of a Pharisee and a Tax Collector praying at the temple.

This isn’t to let you fellas off the hook if you really mean to express yourself with fine flowers.  It’s just an answer for why your half-a-paycheck bouquet may find itself on the same shelf with a dixie cup of dandelions.

The Man I Would Marry

During one foray into online dating, many years ago, I was asked for 5 characteristics that I wanted in a man I would marry. Fair question, a good one really, and I gave it some thought – how would I pare down a list of preferences and must-haves into the top 5 without losing some of the essentials?? I finally came up with a list, and being the word-wrangler that I am, I was able to make an alliteration, which has come in handy. I still want a few items that don’t fit conveniently into this list, like someone who enjoys variety in dining, but the absolute essentials are these:

Pastor of our home. Above all, this man must have a solid relationship with Jesus Christ, and a readiness to lead his family to the throne room with praise and prayer for any issue big or small. He is the one answerable to God for the decisions of our family, and he should be in a position to get his answers from God before that time comes. He is to have a pastor’s heart, as gentle and comforting as it is firm and uncompromising, appropriate for the situation.

Provider. He must have the ability and ambition to bring an income that will cover our need for food and shelter. He must have a reasonable perspective on money and what it takes to earn enough, being neither a workaholic nor wasteful. He must also recognize where provision ultimately comes from, and not deny the need for Godly generosity, yet with wisdom.

Protector. I will be his prize, and a not-so-bad prize at that, so his first thought should be toward my best interest. It may or may not mean heroically sacrificing himself to snatch me from the teeth of death – but he should love me enough to be unflinching if it comes to that. Generally, it would mean encouraging me and my to-do list to maintain appropriate balance, and stepping in to do the heavy lifting so that my body is not prematurely worn out.

Partner. We’ve got to work together, whether it’s in ministry, remodeling, or dishes. There’s no point in me joining my life with someone else’s if we’re going to continue living as independent individuals. He will need to be ready to discuss and negotiate, then follow through, holding up his end of the bargain and occasionally lifting me – as well as accepting that I will occasionally need to lift him. Partnership works that way.

Playmate. Part of life is enjoying its blessings – the scenery, the stories, the flavors… While we will have interests & friends that don’t necessarily cross over (he isn’t invited to women’s retreats), we must truly enjoy one another’s company. We have to laugh together, and be free to laugh at whatever strikes us as funny, even if in a moment, it’s the iced tea I just dumped in my lap or the keys he accidentally locked in the car.

I started, over the years, to believe that such a fellow doesn’t exist in our century. I’ve been learning lately that I’m incorrect. I’ve met guys such as these, usually through my relationships with their wives. These are blessed women indeed. One day, perhaps, I may meet a single man in my age bracket who meets these qualifications, and whose qualifications I meet. Until then, I’ve learned that I have Someone who meets all of the above characteristics. I have a Pastor, a Provider, Protector, Partner, and yes, even a Playmate. I’ll have to tell you about Him in another post, but I can honestly say (and have), I am well cared for. There is no man on this planet that could have given me all the provision, protection, and encouragement I have gotten from the Lord. Granted, I don’t get to sneak bites of chocolate pie from His plate with an impish grin, but He’s managed to make up for that. He’s also promised a big party & fabulous meal in the future, when spilling tea in my lap will be impossible.

Grace is a Gift

He stood in his doorway, an old man sobbing like a small child, a millionaire baffled over a $5 can of mixed nuts.  A gift, for no reason other than an expression of care, was beyond comprehension for this successful businessman and world traveller. 

He understood trade well. Much of his money was gained by stock investments started years prior with $50 at his kitchen table.  Now, he and his wife were in an upscale apartment literally wallpapered with photos of their adventures: dining with the captain aboard the Queen Elizabeth II (twice), kissing the Blarneystone, safaris, tours, and places I’d only imagined I’d like to go.  Like his ancient grandfather Jacob, he had mastered the economy of tit-for-tat. Gifts were for the sake of good marketing or because it was culturally expected. His year-end mailing list was sorted into nicer cards for those who had sent nicer, lesser cards for those who had sent lesser, and a stack of small checks for charities with careful accounting for the tax deductions. He was every inch a business man, though much friendlier than old Ebeneezer Scrooge. His reputation among the “who’s who” of society was very important to him, as though even his friendships were a business venture. Another story suggests this to be true.

He could have purchased a whole case of the finest brand of nuts, perhaps exclusively almonds or cashews, without flinching. Yet, in all his wheeling and dealing, trading and investing, he simply couldn’t comprehend a gift without expectation. It overwhelmed him, and so he wept. The image is imprinted in my mind – I can still see his red smoking jacket and his facial expression. The caption in my personal gallery is “What profit is there to gain the whole world and lose your soul?” I don’t know, of course, the condition of his soul – but I know that in that moment, he was dumbstruck by a simple gift.

Between the time of considering this article and actually getting it typed up, I encountered another woman in another town. She just had to share with me that she had been praying for our mutual friend, in hopes that the One to whom we pray actually intervenes on behalf of ‘normal’ people. He did intervene, by the way, in our friend’s case and in mine, and I shared my story. Her response was that, being raised by a Jewish father, she couldn’t see herself accepting such a gift without somehow paying or trading for it. I understand that, and yet I remember my old friend and a can of nuts.

Pray for the Jewish people, that they learn of Grace before they have a face-to-face encounter with the Lord of the Law. What a pity to be so blessed and beloved, and miss out. This was Jesus’ thought as He wept over the city of Jerusalem, bustling with business, strict in their sanctity, and ignorant that Jehovah Himself was in a humble carpenter’s body, about to be mounted like a trophy to wood beams, to give us all the one gift we cannot trade or pay for – Grace. “How I’ve longed to gather you as a hen gathers chicks under her wings” He said, “but you would not, and so the outsiders are entering ahead of you.”

Pray for the Jewish people… and for all others who put their full confidence in their own resources. It is when we realize that we have nothing to trade that we begin to recognize Grace.