At times it can be helpful just to write down the thoughts that occur in your brain. The morning of December 6 after doing a Tara Brach guided meditation through Insight Timer this was my flow.
Tara Brach Letting life live through you
Smattering rain, splattering rain
Listening is my intention for meditation
Can’t possibly center
Too much to do
Piles of presents unwrapped and waiting
Draw away to surrender
Yield to the moment
This moment, only gift
Right now, right here
What greater gift than presence
Read Macrina writing about shopping carts
This is the place and time
For centering in true life
As breeze disturbs the curtains
And rain increases to water now present
Smattering has become flowing
Leaves have yielded to gravity and now lie
as drenched, disconsolate leaves
Not yet encased in ice and snow
Lay down your plans Molly Lin
Hear, see, record, make the letters large
That the runner might see and read (HAB 2:2)
Prince of peace here regardless of man made season
Waiting to be invited
Coming with floods of mercy
Kindness and peace washing over and through
My created chaos insubstantial to this
Power of Almighty
I am waiting as manger for Your resting
Wind increases and I
Bend the knee of my heart
As You envelop me in Your power
Public power source fails
Light goes out, things flicker, then on
You are steady and unmoved
Light of the World
Shine throughout and beyond me
Look through my eyes
Declare Your presence
Touch this world with Sight and Sounds
Of holy life beyond the grind
Of holiday tradition
Man made glamor
Glitz and tinsel
I think I’m hearing music
Realize that is Your Holy Wind
Playing the outdoor chimes
Holding the note to call me back
To Your presence in my midst
Sustained tone like angelic choir
Drawing me, calling me back
To the center down silence
Place of restoration, healing, atoning
Refreshment from Your presence
We set up our old Christmas tree in the new house. It was too wide for the setting. Bob heard there could be an artificial Christmas tree shortage this year. So when he saw them at the hardware store he took me with him to choose one. I chose a pencil tree, known on the box as Sonoma Pine, seven foot.
It sat in the box in the garage for several weeks. Finally we decided we should set it up and be certain we liked it and it fit in the space. Mind you, my husband would be content with the photo of a Christmas tree instead of a real or artificial one. The idea of setting one up before November 15, before Thanksgiving even, has never occurred in our 51 years of marriage!
We unboxed it. The dog watched in the corner in fear. As we set it up the dog had left the room completely. We plugged it in. Looked pretty good! Well, if you have a tree set up and the ornaments are close at hand, why not decorate it? And so, we did! Just the two of us. The last few years Grand-kids had helped us decorate the tree. This year the two oldest ones are both holding down jobs and school. The youngest is 40 minutes away, one way. So we just did it.
The dog had returned to the room and was watching warily. It stumped me why she was so timid. Then I remembered the tree at the other house had been in the basement (more room for gifts and celebration space). She spent very little time near it.
We actually had fun together decorating it. After a while Bob took the job of putting hooks on ornaments while I placed them around the branches.
I was remembering the angel Myrtle made me, the bell I crocheted like the ones Aunt Audrey made, ornaments the children and grandchildren made. Little treasures that make me smile. One ornament from Bob’s kindergarten class and the replica we made first year we were married. The yarn “snow queen”, Christmas mouse, stars to remember how His birth was announced in the heavens. The ornaments are just good for my soul. I am still debating whether to leave the angel on the top of the tree or replace her with a sparkly Gold crown I found to honor the King of Kings? There are quite a few angels on the tree.
We are accustomed to lights with many colors and this one is all white. We are unlikely to keep it lit every night until January first. Bob said he meant to get one with LED lights and this one is not. It is a joy to have it up as the time change brings sunset so much earlier.
New home, new tree and likely new traditions will be formed in however many year we have left. Bob says he is not paying for any 5 year magazine subscriptions as who knows if he will get them all read! Other age related comments have been bouncing around since our birthdays 3 weeks apart.
Father, You knew when to send Jesus.
You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
And Father, You also know how long we have left on this earth. Let us use that time to Your Glory, I pray.
So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.
1 Corinthians 10:31
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. 17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
Our times are in Your hands. (Psalm 31:15a) Celebrate the gift of His life to you!
Continuing my life with and without God, two weeks after my mother’s death and after 32 hours of labor, Emily Kathryn was born by emergency C-Section. They gave me total anesthesia. I could barely open my eyes to tell her hello.
In keeping with my confirmation in the Episcopal church, the older version of The Book of Common Prayer has a wonderful little service called the Thanksgiving of Women after Child-birth (commonly called the Churching of Women). That ‘commonly’ name seems beyond weird to me. Regardless, I wanted Bob to pray this with me after our first child was born.
The newer version of the Prayer Book calls this ‘A Thanksgiving for the Birth or Adoption of a Child.’ This version asks for the presentation of the child to ‘the Church to be welcomed by the congregation and to give thanks to Almighty God.” We were not attending church regularly so we prayed the service together in the hospital room.
For A Safe Delivery
O gracious God, we give You humble and hearty thanks that You have preserved through the pain and anxiety of childbirth Your servant Molly Lin, who desires now to offer You her praises and thanksgivings. Grant, most merciful Father, that by Your help she may live faithfully according to Your will in this life, and finally partake of everlasting glory in the life to come; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Book of Common Prayer
Yes, the Father certainly had my attention. Within a few months we moved back to the Cincinnati area. I continued to grieve. Bob was working second shift at Clermont Mercy hospital. We would work all day on our house and then he would go to work. I was not coping terribly well.
One night while grieving I told God, “You promised that You would comfort those who mourn. Where is my comfort?”
Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
I clearly heard Him tell me, “You have tried life your way. Are you are willing to try it My way? “
I called my Episcopal priest the next morning. He did not quite know what to do with me. He called Mary Dirkse and she came to visit. A wonderful pseudo-mother/daughter relationship was born. She listened to my heart. She shared her faith with me. She took me to Women’s Aglow meetings where I eventually received my prayer language again. She took me to Bible Study at Linda Werner’s house.
Mary and I compared the attitudes and tantrums of my two year old with her teenagers. When I became pregnant with our son she coaxed me to eat during the morning sickness. Cooked me hot hard-boiled eggs and served them on buttered toast. Sat with me while I slowly ate. She helped me pray for the courage to get up on the delivery table and be awake for my second C-Section. Though she lives in Washington State now and I remain in Ohio, we are friends to this day.
Yes, I was comforted. I was comforted in ways I could not imagine. When my mother died she was a full-blown alcoholic. Years later I read “Co-Dependent No More.” I bought my sister a copy saying, ‘They lived in our house. They got in our heads. They wrote it all down.’ I had no idea that millions of other families had experienced what we did growing up.
I eventually attended Adult Children of Alcoholics meetings. I did writing workshop workbooks to learn more about alcoholism. I prayed it would end in mom’s generation. It did not end in her generation, but I learned so much about how to go on with my life and serve the Lord in the midst of that upbringing.
Emily brought us great joy and delight. She still does to this day. Jeff’s birth was so different than hers. We rejoiced over his good health and home coming.
By then we were established in the Methodist church. Bob had not liked the Episcopal service with the up and the down, the flipping back and forth in the Book of Common Prayer. So we agreed to worship at the Methodist church.
After one year of marriage and living in California we moved back to the Cincinnati area. Bob had decided not to pursue Medical School, but to go for a degree in Medical Technology. At that time you needed 4 years of college, 1 year of training and then licensing before you could do in-house hospital work. The University of Cincinnati took all of their Med Tech students from their college enrollment. He searched further afield and found a Med Tech school in Lexington Kentucky.
When we were wed Bob made me promise we would not have kids until we were married 5 years. I reluctantly agreed. I have always loved babies. For the first 5 years it seemed that all I saw were pregnant ladies and newborn babies. Finally in Lexington we ‘got pregnant.’
On my due date my mother insisted on visiting us in Lexington. I told her the obstetrician was certain nothing would happen on that date, but she was determined. She came with a Styrofoam cooler of food. She wanted to go shopping. I could barely fit my belly behind her steering wheel to drive.
That night she died in her sleep. (Cerebral hemorrhage ran in her family.) Sadly, I found her the next morning. Bob checked for a pulse and we knew she was gone. It was quite shocking.
Shortly after Bob determined that indeed Mom was dead, I heard her voice repeating, “God works in mysterious ways.” She often said this. I believe she took the saying from a hymn by William Cowper written about 1774 and carried in most Protestant hymnals.
God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform;
He plants His footsteps in the sea,
And rides upon the storm.
Deep in unfathomable mines
Of never-failing skill
He treasures up His bright designs,
And works His sovereign will.
Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take,
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy, and shall break
In blessings on your head.
Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust Him for His grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.
His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding every hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flower.
Blind unbelief is sure to err,
And scan his work in vain;
God is His own interpreter,
And He will make it plain.
Within an hour of finding my mother dead I told Bob that in some ways it was such a relief. She had been determined to buy a playpen. She said when we came to visit in Cincinnati she would keep the baby and we could go out. I knew I could never let that happen and was going to find a way to tell her so that very weekend. My mother had some sort of personality disorder thing. It was not just the alcoholism. She would be fine, go in the bathroom and when she emerged have this distinct other personality. She was not in the bathroom long enough to get drunk. I would never have felt safe leaving my infant with her.
So, I never had to tell her something that I feared might kill her. I did have to raise my children without their Grandmother around.
The Lord has indeed led and guide me through my years. Blessed be the Name of the Lord!
Here is a contemporary version of the hymn with a few added lines.
Finally off to college and the world of learning, lust and various forms of sin. I participated in quite a few of those. After one year at college I ran out of money. People were telling me I could eat peanut butter and get a degree with debt at the end, or I could go to work. I chose to go to work.
Got an apartment, full time job as a key punch operator and was on my own. My mother was calling me every day. When she was questioning me one day about where I had been the night before I had quite enough. She had called. I was asleep and never heard the phone. This was way before answering machines. My boyfriend had left for California. I started contemplating moving there to help Mom cut the apron strings. Found out I could have a job as a nanny if I wanted it.
Soon I was off to California to work full time as a nanny to a Chinese family. There was not much sign of Christian life in me at the time, though I had kept my prayer book and Bible. I went into somewhat of a depression trying to reconcile what had happened to my life in Cincinnati. The niece I never knew was put up for adoption immediately upon birth. My family was splintered.
The best part of Berkeley California was I worked across the street from Peet’s coffee shop. They roasted coffee every day. What a glorious aroma!! After a few months I broke up with the boyfriend. Eventually I changed jobs and went to work at AAA as a touring counselor. It was fun. I even waited on Ray Kroc once, the owner of McDonald’s. I thought he was teasing me about being the owner.
While enjoying the park one Saturday I met a young man named Don William. He introduced me to his roommate, Bob. Bob was only coming to their shared apartment on weekends. He lived in Fremont with his family of origin during the week because he worked with his dad even further south near San Jose. It was literally love at first sight.
We met in July, got engaged in August and married in September. We only waited until September so the people from Ohio could get there. I knew I wanted to be married in the eyes of the church as well as the state. So we began prenuptial meetings with a priest in Oakland. The priest agreed to do our wedding out of doors at Live Oak park in Berkeley. He just wanted assurance that we planned to wear clothes! It was 1970 and a bit wild in Berkeley those days. I chose the park because I knew God was much larger than any church building.
I had a gown I had purchased for $30 from a used clothing store and had altered for $30 to fit me. Bob wore the jacket his mother had purchased at a yard sale for his high school dances. We made all the plans we could before my mother arrived from Ohio.
It wasn’t until five years later that the Lord got my full attention.
As we now approach our 51st wedding anniversary, I am amazed at the joys we have shared over the years. We have supported each other in times of sorrow and difficulty, too. God has been so good to us. We are forever grateful to Him.
I often take Lucky out into the front yard and brush her. And brush her. and brush her. This beagle seems to shed huge amounts constantly.
The other thing she really likes is a good massage. I told her she was in for a treat when she met Dan and Betty last week for the first time. They do not just pet a dog. They massage!
(An aside: Oh look! Bob and Molly have hung a picture in the new house!!)
We do not have a guest room in this new house. After Dan and Betty went to their motel room every evening I would get out the vacuum and clean up the beagle shed. I kept the pet hair roller next to Betty’s place on the sofa.
You can see in this photo that Lucky turned around for a Dan massage. Sadly, Dan likely has dog hair in his eye.
Lucky has seemed sad the last couple days as Dan and Betty are no longer visiting here, but continuing their tour of Ohio to see their son and Grandson and Greats.
I am sad, too. I miss them terribly. The four of us are great friends and have even done ministry together over the years. So unusual. They are much more like family than friends! I believe the four of us could live together comfortably!
Focus is defined as the main or central point of something, especially of attention or interest. Over 45 years ago Bob and I were driving around Kentucky. As usual he was taking photos. After he snapped the one below I commented, “Oh I can’t wait to see how that horse comes out!” He responded, “What horse?”
I said, “Why the horse in the barn!”
“I didn’t see any horse,” he said.
“Didn’t you see the galvanized tub hanging out the side of the barn for the horse to drink from?” I asked.
“No. I just took a photo of the barn!”
As we drove on down the road I said, “Well, when you develop and print those photos you will see the horse. I thought it made the picture special.”
Amazing how people can look at the very same thing and see totally different items. Was it focus or observation? Now fifty years into the marriage we continue to focus and observe different things even when we are in the very same setting. I find that continuously amazing!
Years ago we had both kids in college. Bob had promised to take me to Paris for our anniversary, never dreaming we’d be strapped for money due to college bills. We had heard this song and I told him he had to take me to Paris, Kentucky since we could not afford to go to Paris, France. And He did!
Bob still has the song on his You Tube Music and other playlists. A little crude, but it makes me giggle with the memory! When you have been married 50+ years, you gather this stuff! We remember the music of John Prine fondly. Hope it makes you laugh!
When we moved here 15 years ago we named the house “Treetops.” The driveway and front entrance are on the street level. The yard slopes down sharply so that the walkout and basement level and actually a story down. The upper story windows are almost level with the treetops. With the sloping yard it has always seemed larger than the dimensions.
After the backyard slope there is a small drainage ditch. Then our yard slopes up rather sharply and is covered with woods. We have enjoyed watching the seasons change and the wildlife that populate the woods, especially the birds.
Our new house is on a tiny level lot. The neighbors behind us have a sprinkling of trees. Kitchen, dining room and bedroom windows have the view there. Our windows on each side of the house look at the siding of the houses to our left and right. The office windows look out on the street. This will be a major change!!
So many major changes in store. I have been grieving the loss of this lovely home. And that grief is healthy. This has been a gorgeous place to live. We simply cannot do those stairs to the basement any longer.
One day this week our son gave me his Christmas gift to me. He dug up a few plants for us to take with us to the new house. They will not go in the ground until we get some sort of planting beds. At this point we are uncertain if we will even have sod before we move!
As Jeff dug, I walked around consoling myself that next year I can easily purchase pink bleeding heart and lily of the valley. See we have spent the last 15 years enjoying and improving our flower beds here. Funny, one rationale for moving 15 years ago was I could no longer take care of the flower beds because of arthritis. My husband and I spent 15 years making new flower beds here. I am shaking my head, “Go figure!” Guess as long as there is a spot to grow things I am unlikely to learn not to garden!
We will move to a little green house on Platform Street. What a place to launch last era of life! Fooling around with trying to think in haiku (to me, sparse words to contain broad thoughts) I recently wrote:
Loved living in treetops
Spring mornings I grieve
Packin' I land on the ground