Thursday we had our Mom2Mom Christmas Celebration, concluding our meetings until January. Our lively group of 100+ young moms and 16 leaders meet each week addressing mom issues and offering encouragement, support, mentoring, friendship, and Godly influence. As we reflected over the first semester I reminded the girls that although our circumstances are different, we all share in the fact that “Life is tough ….. but God is good.” I wanted them to remember this as they walk through the next few busy weeks. Even as we focus on Jesus’ birth, God’s greatest gift to mankind, the tough stuff will still be looming around each of our lives. I had no idea how quickly the tough stuff would show up.
Life is tough . . . but God is good.
Fast forward – here I am two days later, sitting in ICU at Grady Hospital in Atlanta with Martha, my dear friend and co-director of M2M. Martha has five sisters – you heard me right – FIVE. Jane, closest in age to Martha, had a stroke yesterday morning. The irony is that she was in spin class at the gym. Jane is a nurse, a very fit person with good “numbers” and she does all the right things to take care of her health. In spite of all that, Jane had a stroke. She was paralyzed on one side. Martha made a few calls and asked us all to pray. Fortunately Jane was airlifted from Athens to Grady in Atlanta where they did some procedure and we got the miracle for which we prayed. Her feeling has come back and the last MRI shows very minor damage. The nurse acknowledges this is a miracle and not the usual outcome. Hearts of family and friends are overflowing. Jane should have a full recovery. Thank you God.
So it is 12/5/15 today, and my next week includes a party at our house tomorrow, a party at our house on Tuesday evening, and a luncheon at our house on Thursday. Thursday evening JB and I will fly to Texas to visit our son, Rob, so all the gifts that require mailing must be sent before we leave along with the Christmas cards that are not yet addressed.
While sitting in my chair early this morning drinking coffee, reading my Bible, and making lists, I clearly felt God’s prompt to contact Martha and offer to drive her to Grady today. It would have been easy to talk myself out of it given the paragraph above, BUT I remembered . . .
I remembered. . .
Several years ago Rob had a terrible accident due to a seizure and was in the hospital in Birmingham. It was a scary time for our family. Looking down the hall on Day 2 I saw Jane (yes, the same Jane) and Charlotte (another sister who lives in Birmingham) coming to visit me and bring lunch. Who has time to do things like this? Martha is the one I am closest to but I am sure she asked her sisters to show up for me and they did. I will never forget it.
Who has time to do things like this?
I also remembered that when my Mama died last year, early on the Saturday morning after Thanksgiving, Martha showed up at my house. She stayed with me most of the day and when there was a lull in the plans being made, we planted pansies into pots on my back deck. That was a gift of time and love.
Today I am delighted to be chauffeur and sidekick to my buddy, Martha. Of course I am glad to see Jane with my own eyes and assure her of my continued prayers. But I am content to just sit here in the waiting room and give Martha time to talk with her sister, help her with make-up and hair and respond to all her phone calls and texts. The things that could have kept me at home today will all get done. If I had stayed home, this day would have had no special significance; it just would have faded in my memory. I’m so glad to have followed God’s prompt and stepped up to show up.
A little while ago Martha and I sat together and read the devotional materials we each brought. I got tickled as I started my reading for 12/5. It began with the verse, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things!” (I promise I am not making this up!) When we each finished our readings we shared them with each other. She gave me Janet Denison’s “Season of Miracles” advent devotional. The 12/5 reading dealt with miracles. Like the other devotional, it was so relevant, especially since we have witnessed this miracle with Jane. I love it when God reminds us of his presence and care for the very details of our lives through things like the “coincidence” of our devotional readings today! While we know that God does not answer every prayer the way we would like, sometimes he does and that is time for rejoicing.
Today I am praising God for the miracle we are seeing in Jane. And I am so glad he prompted me to show up. Making memories with our dearest friends happens in the fun, happy experiences we share and also in the hardest, scariest moments.
Perhaps God is reminding you to make something right with a family member or friend. Maybe you know you need to go help someone but you can easily talk yourself out of it. If the situation is awkward or uncomfortable or inconvenient you may be filled with the idea of “I don’t have time and I just don’t know what to say.” Here is my advice to you:
Just show up!
Just show up! God will take care of the rest and the blessing, peace and joy that comes from following God’s prompts are gifts that cannot be bought.
At the beginning of this year I made fresh commitment to some things I wanted to do better. For too many years I have just let the days and weeks and months pass by, always postponing or making excuses for rarely finding time for things I claimed to be important. This book title has always haunted me, “If You Don’t Know Where You Are Going You Will Probably End Up Somewhere Else.” Will that be me?
The three things I felt compelled to focus on this year were walking, writing, and working on relationships. I would love to tell you about great strides in all three areas, but that is not the case. However, it is never to late to get started or get back on track.
Working on relationships has included some memorable experiences this year. I started the year off with a bang, driving to Tallahassee to see a long-time friend and getting to visit with her and most of her siblings as they gathered to celebrate her mother’s 95th birthday! When she invited me to come, my immediate response was, “thanks, but I can’t come.” Immediately I remembered my desire to work on relationships and admitted, “there is no reason I can’t go and this is just the type opportunity I need to grasp.” It was a great trip and I’m so glad I went! A cousin from California and her husband were in our area and they came to our house for a meal. A friend of our son (Rob), along with another guy were on a road trip and needed a place to stay. Jake posted on FB asking if anyone knew where they could spend the night, and of course Rob called and asked us to take them in. It was such fun to have these two young men in our home for a short visit! I drove two of my older lady mentors and friends to Montgomery to have lunch and visit with our dear friend and former pastor’s wife. I went to Atlanta to celebrate the 90th birthday of a woman who was my boss at one time, and had a ball renewing friendships with co-workers and friends from my single days ages ago. I made lists and called friends to catch up and had lunch with several. AND THIS WAS ALL IN JANUARY!
those are the days I remember
Working on relationships takes effort and initiative and it is easy to put off, put off, put off. As the year continued I slacked off from pursuing these opportunities as intently, but as I look back those are the days I remember; these visits have enriched my life. This summer I went on a girls’ trip with three friends to celebrate a big birthday. We were gone a week and the things we did, memories we made, and heart conversations we shared will stay with me forever. What would I have been doing that week if I had not gone? Probably not much, and certainly not anything so meaningful. Not too long ago a girl from my high school class invited me and others from our class to lunch in her home. I had not seen some of these girls since the night we graduated! It was a sweet time and I hope to spend more time with these girls in the days ahead. Again, I almost said, “thanks, but no – sorry I can’t come,” but I’m so glad I went!
Now, my update on walking. The good news is that I went to walk this morning! But that has not been my regular routine throughout this year. I have been pitiful and disappointing in this area. At least I still remember that I declared it was important and that taking care of my health is a desired priority. As I say to others in encouraging them to start over or renew a commitment I will now say to myself, “it’s never too late to get back up on that horse!” Hopefully more discipline in this area will be cultivated. Whatever age you are, you are getting older every day, and the choices you make now will determine to a large extent the health you will have one day down the road. I used to wonder what was wrong with all those older people who complained, “my hip hurts, my knee hurts, something terrible has happened to my hair, my skin looks weird, I can’t lose weight like I used to, that music is too loud, I’m so uptight and anxious, etc.” Well….. I. am. starting. to. understand. those. old. people.
I. Am. Starting. To. Understand. Old. People.
Walking, or some other form of exercise, helps lessen anxiety, clears the mind, improves focus, increases metabolism, helps joints, improves moods, and just makes you feel better because you did it! Every year my doctor asks,” Are you exercising? It is really important.” My answer usually is, “I’m trying.” That’s pitiful. Truth is, laziness wins out with me too often. I need to apply the challenge I offer others all the time – Do Right Because It Is Right Until It Feels Right. Enough said.
Do right because it is right until it feels right.
Writing — again I hope that it is never too late to start over with something you feel called to do. At the beginning of the year I admitted my desire to write but my commitment has been slack. This past week I attended Women’s Forum in Nashville, an event our daughter, Mary Margaret, helps to plan and carry out. The speakers, music, break-out sessions were all life- changing and life-challenging to the almost 1000 women who attended. We were reminded Who God is and what He has done for us and for all humanity. We were encouraged to recognize that we are all leaders, people of influence, and that God has a purpose for each of our lives. We were challenged to figure out what God has called us to do and to do it! He is a great big God, his story includes us, and his Word, the Bible, is the source for every need.
So here we are in November – most of the year is gone, but we can still start today to do those things that are most important. What will that look like for you? I hope to make new friends and cultivate the ones I have had for years. I want to walk and take better care of my health in order to be active and able to participate in things the rest of my life. And I want to write – to use my words to encourage, support, and help others. This is the calling God has given me and I want to use it for his purpose and his glory.
The last words I spoke to my Daddy while leaning over his hospital bed and giving him a kiss were these, “you are the best Daddy in the whole entire world.” I was blessed along with many of you who have or had a wonderful father.
Today I want to give a shout-out to J.B., my kids’ Dad. I am so grateful for all the ways in which he has blessed our children.
#1 – From the very start JB was “all-in.” He painted the nursery, stood with me as I delivered all three with no major drugs, changed diapers, rocked and walked crying babies, fed baby food, and cleaned up lots of messes. He encouraged me to attend women’s events and was always willing to keep the kids. He took us to youth camp with him, bringing a babysitter along to help. He has loved his role as Dad and showed up for everything our kids did. When the boys were young he was one of their coaches. While he may not have known all the strategies of the sport, he was the one who high-fived all the kids and told them they were great and getting better by the minute! Every play or concert we were often a little late because he had to stop and get flowers to present to Mary Margaret when the performance was over. He initiated a Valentines Date with her every year – a dress-up affair, with her usually getting to choose where to go. These are all great memories for our kids to treasure.
#2 JB is the Fun Dad. In fifth grade Rob had to fill in blanks on a sheet, describing his family. His entries included, My Mom is a workaholic. My Dad is a party animal. That got lots of laughs from all the teachers and parents who saw it on the wall outside the classroom. And it was true. (In my own defense, somebody had to be in charge of maintenance, and that was me, and it took lots of work!) Meanwhile JB provided the fun, the spontaneous, the out-of-the box experiences that we still talk about today. Somehow in our family a tradition was established that every year every kid had a big birthday party. One year J.B. planned a party on a friend’s pontoon boat. It became memorable when the motor stopped (or maybe we ran out of gas?) and we had to call someone to come tow us in! (Thank goodness for cell phones!) Another year, when the kids were in middle school a party was in our backyard with tons of kids doing hilarious relays and games that he had done in his student ministry days. I was in charge of food and he was in charge of the fun and games. Even today our kids’ friends remind of us the fun they had at our parties. Thanks, J.B.!
Children become what you say they are.
#3 J.B. is the ultimate encourager to all, but especially to our kids. I learned something from him early in our marriage – he told me, “children become what you say they are.” At first I did not understand that, but as I watched him encourage many students in the churches we served, I watched so many blossom and become absolutely amazing, confident, fine young adults. The same has been true for our children. He has believed in them, encouraged them to pursue their dreams, and come alongside them with help and consolation when it was time to start all over again. They have always known their Dad thinks they can accomplish anything they set their minds to do.
#4 J.B. has vision. He knew that our kids would benefit greatly from some experiences that I would not have imagined possible. They went to Kanakuk Kamps for several years. The counselors and whole Kamp experiences were incredibly influential in our children’s growth and decisions and maturity. I cannot say enough about how thankful I am for that. We took our kids, along with other families, on a mission trip to the Northwest one summer. Working together with new friends to further God’s kingdom in another part of the country was a great experience. The year JB and I went to a conference in Europe, the boys went along and attended the youth camp. It was JB who let folks over there know our boys’ strengths. Rob had opportunity to speak to peers in Germany, and Wes was needed (and delighted!) to run sound for the youth camp in Switzerland!
#5 J.B. has put up with me. Enough said ….
In summary, and sparing many more details, J.B. is not perfect … neither am I … neither are our kids. BUT, J.B. has been and continues to be a great dad to our children.
love Jesus, love who they are, love others
He told me early on that his goal for our children was that they would love Jesus with all their hearts, that they would be happy to be who they are, and that they would love other people.
Congratulations, J.B. I believe we have seen this come to pass. Happy Fathers’ Day!