Friday, January 29, 2010


Anyone who writes has a day when there are no words; when you can’t think of the first letter to put on a piece of paper (or your computer screen). On those dry days, I do one of several things.

1) I call a friend, and sometimes in the course of a conversation, something wakes my muse.
2) I read; usually my Bible, sometimes something completely secular, and a word hits the trigger of my creativity.
3) Finally, I put music in my CD player and just listen, forgetting all about writing until something happens as it did today.

I am listening to a one song CD by Tim McGraw. The song is called, “Live Like You Were Dying” and my ‘muse’ woke up and woke my fingers. These are the words to his song;

He said, “I was in my early forties, with a lot of life before me,
When a moment came that stopped me on a dime,
And I spent most of the next day, looking at the x-rays
And talking ‘bout the options, talking ‘bout time sweet time.

And I asked him when it sunk in
That this might really be the real end.
“How’s it hit you when you get that kind of news?
Man, what’d you do?” He said,

“I went sky diving, I went rocky mountain climbing;
I went two point seven seconds on a bull named Fumanchu.
And I loved deeper, and I spoke sweeter
And I gave forgiveness I’d been denying.”
And he said, “Someday I hope you get the chance
To live like you were dying.”

He said, “I was finally the husband that most of the time I wasn’t.
And I became a friend a friend would like to have.
And all of a sudden going fishin’ wasn’t such an imposition
And I went three times that year I lost my dad.

“And I finally read the good book and I took a good long hard look
At what I’d do if I could do it all again…and then

I went sky diving, I went rocky mountain climbing,
I went two point seven seconds on a bull named Fumanchu,
And I loved deeper, and I spoke sweeter
And I gave forgiveness I’d been denying.
And he said, “Someday I hope you get the chance
To live like you were dying.”

Like tomorrow was a gift
And you’ve got eternity to think of what you did with it…
What you did with it…What did I do with it?

I went sky diving, I went rocky mountain climbing,
I went two point seven seconds on a bull named Fumanchu,
And I loved deeper, and I spoke sweeter
And I gave forgiveness I’d been denying.
And he said, “Someday I hope you get the chance
To live like you were dying.”

In the book that came with the CD, McGraw said it wasn’t about his dad who recently passed away, but about times that all of us get to a time when we think, “What if...”

I have had that chance two times.

The first time was in Intensive Care as I watched my daughter slip away. I didn’t know what to do or what to say, so I spent those few precious days saying, “I love you”, over and over. I learned to never let her brother leave the house, or hang up the phone without saying, “I love you.” I greet my grandchildren with “I love you”, and I say goodbye to them the same way. I learned that in life, the only really important thing we can give… is the knowledge that we have loved another person completely and unconditionally.

Like McGraw’s song, I even came to a place where “I gave forgiveness I’d been denying” and I learned something. When you really hate another person, the only person you truly harm is yourself. They go on with their life, and you are the person stuck in the darkness. On the day I said, “I forgive you,” my whole world changed. For the first time in almost five years, I looked at the sky and saw blue and not shades of gray. I looked in the mirror and didn’t even recognize the person who smiled back at me. I stepped out of hell that day into life again. The power of forgiveness can only be called Supernatural, and I believe is a gift from God Almighty.

The second time was when I was in Cardiac Intensive Care, but as a patient. I was very ill, and after all the tests were in, came to a place where I was ready for death. I made my peace with God, I knew that my soul was right in the eyes of Eternity, and then (like an earlier Blog), ‘God interrupted”.

I was at peace and ready to say goodbye to my son, when he came to see me before surgery and told me that his grandmother had just died an hour earlier. There was no way I could let him remember a day when he lost both his mom and his grandmother.

It seems almost funny now, but I remember offering a quick prayer, “Whoa Lord. I can’t come to You today. I need to come through this surgery alive.” As He has too many times, God listened and honored my prayer.

So I lived, and I did some things I wanted to do. I went to the West Virginia Writer’s Contest, twice, and won prizes both times. I started submitting my writing on a monthly basis and seeing some success. I made it a point to spend time with my son and with friends instead of isolating myself. I let go of the pain of my daughter’s death, and instead concentrated on the joy of my son’s life.

I went to his wedding and watched as he and a lovely young woman said their vows and entered into a new chapter of their lives. She already had two little girls, and I joyfully accepted the idea of becoming a grandma. Last year, a little girl with soft wisps of hair entered my life, and this year, a little boy with a head full of bright red hair, and I am grandma to both of them. God has brought treasures into my life, but as I listened to the song my Tim McGraw, I know I still haven’t lived life fully.

As I heard, “I went sky diving, and rocky mountain climbing, and did two point seven seconds on a bull names Fumanchu”, I was acutely aware that I still have things to do. I have a ‘bucket list’ that I haven’t even started yet. I smile today as I think, yep; it’s time to start living like I was dying.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


People, who know me, know that I am a movie buff. If I like a movie, I can quote whole scenes to you, and so it is with “The Four Feathers”, with Jennifer Hudson and Heath Ledger.

A short synopsis of the story: A young man joins a very prestigious military school and unit because his father expects it of him. When it’s time to go to war, he realizes how little he really wants to be a soldier. He tells his fiancé that he wants to resign his commission, and she is appalled that not will he be the object of scorn, but so would she as his wife, so she rejects him. He resigns his commission and is given a box containing four white feathers – the ultimate insult – the sign of a coward. Three are from his friends; one is from the woman he loved.

He lives a life of obscurity, then word comes that his former regiment and his friends have come under attack with terrible consequences. He takes what money he had and heads across the dessert alone to help his friends.

In his travels, he meets an Arab who was a scout at one time for the British Army, and in their friendship, he learns that he is less of a coward than he thought. At one point, he tells his new friend to leave and save himself. The man replies, “God put you in my way, and I must deal with you.”

Since this is a short synopsis, he finds his friends, and in battle, saves two of them, then goes to a Marti prison to save the last survivor.

He gets the last man back to England, only to learn that his fiancé is going to marry his best friend. His best friend was blinded in battle, and doesn’t know that the Heath Ledger character is the one who saved him and got him back to England alive. The two meet, and are saying goodbye, when some papers drop on the floor. As the sighted friend (Ledger) hands the papers to his blind friend, his friend realizes that this was who saved him in the dessert.

There is a church service where all the surviving soldiers honor those who died, and the blind man gives a speech about friendship in the heat of battle. He says that the glory of battles pales against the friendship of the man on your left and the man on your right; friends who will never desert you; honoring the man who learned he was not a coward.

The original couple leaves the church together, knowing that they will have a life together after all. She asks him what they will do now, and he answers, “God put you in my way and I must deal with you.” He laughs, his friend in the dessert laughs, and the movie ends.

Back to reality. Today, in the middle of a normal work day, God put someone in my way. I went to return some information, and ended up talking about the scriptures, and being ministered to at a time when I needed some affirmation about my path in life. I mean, how often does a near stranger start discussing the old testament with you, let alone parts that you have read that are somewhat obscure?

It just hit me today how often when we despair, or just lose interest in our future, that God puts someone "in our way", and we must deal with them. Once again, I am reminded that He is a good God and that He is always beside us, directing our every step if we just let Him.


Sunday, January 24, 2010

rantings of a joyous old lady

Ramblings of a Joyful Old Lady

Saturday, January 23, 2010


I’ve been watching the news about Haiti and it absolutely breaks my heart.

I’m not one of those Christians who see this horror as a ‘judgment’ of God. I don’t believe for one minute that my Lord, who I love and revere would take pleasure in that kind of sorrow. I don’t believe that He caused the tsunami a few years ago to hurt people. I don’t believe that He caused the twin towers to fall to show anyone anything.

I believe in natural disasters and I believe in men with evil in their hearts, and they have both existed since Adam and Eve left the garden. You say, “Well maybe so, but so many people didn’t die from one event.”

Oh really? Well, let’s see; there was Adam, Eve, Cain and Able. Cain killed Able, or ¼ of the entire world’s population. Then there was Herod the first who killed anyone who got in his way, including two of his own sons. Herod who lived in Jesus time killed all the male babies in his kingdom less than 3 years of age. Pharaoh who lived in Moses time also killed all the Jewish male children and it goes on. Between 1938 and 1945, over 6 million Jews, gypsies, polish people, mentally and physically challenged people, were put to death in German death camps. Evil is not new.

In 1138, an earthquake hit Syria and 230,000 people died. In 1181, 100,000 Japanese people died of famine. In 1201, an earthquake on the coast of the Mediterranean killed 1.1 million people, mostly in Syria and Egypt. During the years between 1347 and 1350 – just three years – the Black Death, or bubonic plague, killed 1/3 of the population of Europe, as well as more deaths in China and Japan for a total of 25,000,000 people. More recently, during the world-wide influenza pandemic of 1918-1919, between 34 and 75 million people died. Those are the ones that they are sure of, there may have been as many as 100 million.

What happened in Haiti is horrible and should touch every decent person’s heart. We should do whatever we can to help; be it money, goods, our sweat or our prayers, but I don’t believe that this was a judgment from God.

When I am tempted to ascribe horror, or evil, or natural events to God, I am reminded of the book of Job. God is talking to Job and asks, (The Message)

“Where were you when I created the earth?
Tell me, since you know so much!
Who decided on its size? Certainly you'll know that!
Who came up with the blueprints and measurements?
How was its foundation poured,
and who set the cornerstone,
While the morning stars sang in chorus
and all the angels shouted praise?
And who took charge of the ocean
when it gushed forth like a baby from the womb?
That was me! I wrapped it in soft clouds,
and tucked it in safely at night.
Then I made a playpen for it,
a strong playpen so it couldn't run loose,
And said, 'Stay here, this is your place.
Your wild tantrums are confined to this place.'

12-15 "And have you ever ordered Morning, 'Get up!'
told Dawn, 'Get to work!'
So you could seize Earth like a blanket
and shake out the wicked like cockroaches?
As the sun brings everything to light,
brings out all the colors and shapes,
The cover of darkness is snatched from the wicked—
they're caught in the very act!

16-18 "Have you ever gotten to the true bottom of things,
explored the labyrinthine caves of deep ocean?
Do you know the first thing about death?
Do you have one clue regarding death's dark mysteries?
And do you have any idea how large this earth is?
Speak up if you have even the beginning of an answer.

19-21 "Do you know where Light comes from
and where Darkness lives
So you can take them by the hand
and lead them home when they get lost?
Why, of course you know that.
You've known them all your life,
grown up in the same neighborhood with them!

22-30 "Have you ever traveled to where snow is made,
seen the vault where hail is stockpiled,
The arsenals of hail and snow that I keep in readiness
for times of trouble and battle and war?
Can you find your way to where lightning is launched,
or to the place from which the wind blows?
Who do you suppose carves canyons
for the downpours of rain, and charts
the route of thunderstorms
That bring water to unvisited fields,
deserts no one ever lays eyes on,
Drenching the useless wastelands
so they're carpeted with wildflowers and grass?
And who do you think is the father of rain and dew,
the mother of ice and frost?
You don't for a minute imagine
these marvels of weather just happen, do you?”

When my daughter died, I was encouraged to be angry towards God. Then one day, I read, “God never takes a child, but He always receives them.” I think that pretty much explains my feelings about God in the midst of adversity. He never asks us to make bad choices, or to harm our planet or each other, but when those things happen, He is there to help us.

I believe He is in the 12 day old infant who was pulled from a building alive after being buried for 8 days. I believe He was in the Twin Towers in every person who went against their natural instincts and ran into burning buildings instead of running away. I believe He was in every person in Hitler’s Europe who hid Jews knowing that they could be imprisoned and killed for their kindness. I believe God is in every act of goodness that happens when sorrow comes. He is in the governments who sent teams of helpers to Haiti, and in the strength of men and women who dug survivors out with their bare hands. He is in those too old and feeble to journey to Haiti, but who kneel by their beds and pray for those in need.

I know that there will come a day of judgment, but I don’t think we are there yet. I believe that when sorrow comes, God weeps with us, and then inspires people to help.