Archive for the ‘relationships’ Category

home

October 27, 2011

I absolutely love the Switchfoot song This Is Home and could listen to it over and over. (Sometimes I do!) It touches something deep inside my heart. I mean, just the word ‘home’ unearths memories and feelings. It’s fraught with an immense gamut of emotions. It’s my guess that we all long to experience ‘home’ in the best sense of the word.

I think that’s why, especially over the holidays, we can get so emotionally conflicted. We find ourselves grieving at a time when everyone (it seems) is celebrating. We long for home while at the same time knowing ours wasn’t really a place of love or safety, or perhaps it was but we’ve moved across country or our parents are divorced or no longer living. We long for home to be static, to be permanent, yet it is neither of those.

Our hearts long for home regardless of our age or gender. Not necessarily our home, but a home to go home to, to be welcomed in with open arms and hugs and aromas of favorite foods made especially for us. We ache for a home that isn’t filled with anger and resentment, that isn’t pocked by emotional scars left by prior fights and arguments. If we do manage to go home, we tiptoe around to avoid setting off any land mines that might ruin another visit.

If that isn’t our experience, perhaps we wish our family was home long enough all at the same time to actually be together. We long for parents who aren’t so busy in their own worlds that they notice us, make time for us and value us. Maybe we yearn for what used to be but is no longer.

Inevitably, eventually our earthly home will be invaded by loss of some kind. Whether by growing up and moving out, job changes, aging parents, health issues, death or divorce, families change. Home changes. Nothing stays the same. If we could freeze a frame from our life to go home to it’d probably be a favorite Christmas or birthday or family meal of some kind that made us feel special.

my childhood home

Home is supposed to be a place where we are safe, accepted as we are, loved, cherished, nurtured, enveloped and valued. It’s supposed to be a place where our needs are met, our presence is enjoyed and our dreams are fueled and fulfilled. It’s supposed to be a haven, a refuge, a place of rest and refreshment and recuperation. In Isaiah 32:18 God says, “My people will live in peaceful dwelling places, in secure homes, in undisturbed places of rest.” Doesn’t that sound incredible?! I think this is God’s ideal for our homes: to be places that are safe, secure, peaceful and restful. Ahhhhhhh. Home.

I don’t need to point out the discrepancies between the ideal and reality. And, despite all our best efforts to hold those longings at bay, to tell ourselves to be logical and analytical, we still find our hearts wistful.

We’re on the brink of Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas and New Years. We’ll be making or feeling the pressure to make trips back to the homes in which we were raised or to attend meals with family. These activities have the potential to be catalysts for reopening old wounds or creating new ones. This time of year inevitably focuses our attention on what we feel should have been yet isn’t and perhaps will never be. It yanks our hearts back to aching for Real Home.

The other day I came across these verses in the Bible. Psalm 90 verses 1-2. Moses was talking to God. “Lord, through all the generations you have been our home! Before the mountains were born, before you gave birth to the earth and the world, from beginning to end, you are God.”

The very next psalm begins this way: “Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty. This I declare about the Lord: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust him.” (Ps. 90:1-2.) Here’s a verse to hang onto as well, Malachi 3:6 says, “For I the Lord do not change.”

I have said before that the only thing in my life that never changes is the fact that nothing ever stays the same! But there is one other reality. God never changes. He is the same yesterday as He is today and as He will be tomorrow and forever. There is a home that is perfect and will never change!  That encourages me! God is my safe place. As I put my trust in Him, as I believe that He is my Ultimate Home, I will experience home even though my home of origin is no longer in existence. My parents and oldest brother have died. The home pictured above is inhabited by another family. I have memories but that’s all that remains of my childhood home. I know you can relate in some way yourself.

I have a little framed print that says, “Home is where your story begins.” I love that saying and I look at it pretty much every day. I love it because I think of my precious children, now adults.

Our home is where they found their beginning. It wasn’t a perfect one, although we tried and gave it our absolute best. But the beautiful reality is that word ‘begins’. Their stories began in our home, but they aren’t set in stone. The same is true for me. I had a good home, yet I suffer the effects of life begun in an imperfect one. But my story isn’t over either! It is still being written! And the best part of the story is that my home of origin is not my final home. God is my safe place, my Home. I am safe in Him. In Him I am secure, loved, cherished and nurtured.

Ultimately, heaven will be my final destination and it will be Home like God intended from the very beginning.

In the words of Switchfoot:

“Created for a place I’ve never known, this is home . . . I’ve got my heart set on what happens next . . . it’s not over yet  . . . Oh, this is home, now I’m finally where I belong, where I belong, yah this is home, I’ve been searching for a place of my own, now I know this is home. . .”

farmers market for a cure

July 15, 2010

It’s a hot night in Waleska, Georgia, as it is most places the country right now.

This evening my husband and I were heading back to our borrowed sabbatical home near a lake in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains when we passed by a small farmers market being held behind an old Baptist Church with a ‘for sale’ sign at the corner of Hyw 5 and Hwy 108. Les asked if I’d like to go and I said, “Why not? What else do we have to do tonight?!” That’s one of the beauties of sabbatical, not having any thing you have to do or any place you have to be! He swung the car into the gas station caddy corner to the church to run in and get cash from the ATM.

We turned the car around and drove the 300 or so feet across to the church and parked our car. Man, it was hot!

There were maybe 10 booths arranged in a U-shape. First we came to a man selling his self-proclaimed famous BBQ sauce and home-made jams. He offered us a taste of the sauce as well as his Meyer-lemon marmalade with vanilla or blueberry jam with nutmeg and some other unusual ingredients. The next tent-booth housed a woman selling candles. We tried to pass by unnoticed but she hollered out, “Do you burn candles? Do they smell? I’ll tell you why you can’t smell them!” And she proceeded to tell me why. I smiled and said thanks and kept walking.  Burning anything was not a pleasant thought right then! If she’d been selling ice cubes she might have made a sale!

Next, there was a booth with stuffed animals made from socks – my favorite item so far. The creative little critters looked happy and friendly like characters in a Dr. Seuss book.

There were booths selling delicious looking watermelon, cucumbers, tomatoes, okra, potatoes and other vegetables. One man had rose bushes and another tent had a table loaded with jewelry. We just browsed and smiled and sweated and walked. Man it was hot! The thermostat said it was 93 but that wasn’t counting the heat radiating up from the cement. It had to be at least 100, maybe hotter.

We rounded the last turn in the U past another booth selling BBQ sauce (we might have shown some interest if we hadn’t just eaten dinner!) We smiled at the man as we passed him and approached the next tent. It had colorful cupcakes arranged on a white metal cupcake stand and a hot pink boa strung along the top of the awning. Two attractive women in their late 50’s sat within and one began to explain that the flyer I saw was for a catering business her daughter owned, but that she was here raising money for the Komen Foundation. Her daughter, Natalie, was going to be walking 60 miles over 3 days and was wanting to raise $5,ooo.oo. She was up to about $2,100.00. Her mother was telling us that she thought her daughter was being a bit extreme. She’d never had cancer and about that time her daughter walked up and introduced herself to me and further explained what she was trying to do.

Natalie has two sisters. She told us that statistically, one of the three of them is likely to get cancer at some time in their life. Her mom cut in trying to say that was highly unlikely and they talked back and forth, not arguing, but trying to convince each other of their opinion. Natalie said, “Mom, you aren’t always going to be here for us. I’ll need to look out for my sisters, and I need to start now.” Wow. That was really precious.

Les and I stood there in the sweltering, sweat inducing heat taking it all in. All of a sudden I heard myself say, “I’m a two-time breast cancer survivor. I have two sisters as well. I think it’s great that you’re doing this.” I told them the cupcakes looked gorgeous, which they did, but that we just wanted to contribute to her fund as Les handed her the money he’d taken from the ATM.

Tears welled up instantly, ready to overflow their eye-lid border. Emotion that I’d apparently lost touch with jetted to the surface pressing to be released.

Natalie and her mom and the other woman sitting there were shocked and surprised and I could tell they were touched by my brief story. Natalie said she wanted to give me a hug but she was so sweaty that she shouldn’t so she sent me one across the table flinging her arms out toward me.

I thanked her as I tried to keep the emotion-controlling dam in place – wishing it would hold back the rush of tears and wails that were pressing to be released. I could feel the wall bow and just hoped I wouldn’t ‘lose it.’ All that emotion would tsunami its way out and it could get messy.

Les asked if I’d like to get a picture of us and I said that no, it was ok. I’d just remember it. I wanted to make a quick exit.

We got to the car and my face was wet with tears. They were no longer spilling but were rushing and washing and I was still fighting back the sobs. What was going on? What button got pushed? What was that all about?!

I regained some composure and said that maybe I’d like a photo with Natalie after all.

We climbed back out of the car, onto the griddle-hot pavement and walked back to Natalie’s tent. They were happy to see us and said how they were all talking about me and were still crying, wiping their eyes and sniffing. Natalie’s mother said, pointing to the giant of a man in the BBQ tent, that even he was crying! He nodded at me in agreement. Well, that got me crying again!

Natalie came around the table to get her photo taken with me under the hot pink boa and we hugged, sharing our sweat with one another and more importantly our kindred hearts for women who face this dreaded disease. Les asked if he could pray for her and she said yes. We put our arms around each other and he prayed. We said our goodbyes again and walked back to the car. We could hear them saying what a good prayer that was and all I could do was cry.

Natalie and Kris

As we were driving away, other than my sniffing we were silent.  My precious treasure of a husband just drove and didn’t press me to explain or unpack my feelings. He gave me space to sort them out, which I am still trying to do.

I think the reasons for my rush of tears are many. Some of the emotions come from the bumping open of ‘boxed-up-to-be-forgotten’ memories – those experiences so painful and sorrows and griefs so numerous that resulted from both encounters with cancer. I’d just rather leave them alone and keep moving on. But in situations like this one, those boxes get their lids bumped off and I see once again what’s inside. It’s painful to remember.

Then there are emotions that come from a two-tierd humility. The humility of having gotten cancer twice and that of having survived. It’s hard to explain, but for me it was almost like a kind of shame I had to deal with. I got the dreaded disease. I was marked with the pink ‘C’. I was one of the unlucky ones. That’s a negative type of humility.

But then there is a humility born from the gratitude of making it through, twice, when so many don’t. Like me, they fight so hard, but for whatever reason, they don’t win in the end. It makes me sad. I know that I wasn’t the reason I survived. I’m keenly aware that the prayers and fasting of thousands of friends I know and those I haven’t met yet made a difference for me. I am indebted to them as well as to my doctors who fought hard with and for me, and to my husband and children who endured with me and cared for me and pampered me. I couldn’t have survived without them. I’m a debtor. That humbles me.

Finally, there is a wave of emotion which comes from meeting people like Natalie who whole-heartedly give themselves to working hard to make a difference for the sake of others. They bake cupcakes and decorate them beautifully and sit outside for hours in the sweltering heat and sweat and sacrifice to help other people, people like me. That kind of selflessness touches me deeply. It reminds me that beauty and goodness really do still exist in the world. It makes me feel loved and cared for even though we’d only just met. There is a sense of family and acceptance and belonging. That, too, is humbling.

I never would have guessed that we’d stop serendipitously at a farmers market on a hot evening in Waleska, Georgia to idle away some time together and I’d end up finding a new friend and maybe not the cure for cancer, but at least a salve to continue healing my heart and a source. A source of hope for countless women as we link arms in solidarity to raise money to find a cure and fight it and win.

(Oh, by the way, I thought I’d include a link to Natalie’s website. If you’d like to help Natalie reach her goal and also contribute to the Komen Foundation as they continue funding to find a cure, click on the Komen 3-day Race box at the top of her page and it will link you to a secure page with the Komen Foundation. Thanks from the bottom of my heart!)  http://www.arrangedtoeat.com/

I’ll see ya when I see ya

May 2, 2010

As a young wife and mother, probably the most frustrating thing I struggled with was fixing dinner with little ones to care for. Just preparing an edible meal was challenging enough at that point in my life, but doing it with a baby who had colic, projectile vomiting, who needed feeding and diaper changes, etc. was enough to push me over the proverbial edge! Doing that and meeting the dinner deadline was nearly impossible and rarely a delight! Dinner hour was the most dreaded hour of my day.

When my husband was late for dinner, after all that, well, let’s just say that it became a sore spot. I’d get frustrated that he was late; he’d be agitated that I was frustrated. After all, what was the big deal? He was doing something important. (And I wasn’t? grrrrrrrr!)

He couldn’t understand my world, and I resented his. Over the years, communication, love, forgiveness and grace have soothed the bumps and bruises of our earlier years. It helps a lot that the kids are older (nearly grown) and that I have lightened my expectations tremendously! It helps too, that my husband is great about communicating with me and we now enjoy mutual understanding and plenty of grace!

Now, when one of us is leaving the house, I’ll say, “I’ll see ya when I see ya!” No longer is there an expectation that he be home exactly on the tick of a certain hour. There’s a general time frame, but not a dogmatic expectation. If there is a specified time that is vital, we clarify it and say we’ll see each other then. But more often than not, my line has become, “I’ll see ya when I see ya!” The underlying message is that I’m not going to hold him hostage to an exact time to be home. He’s free to come home when he’s able and I’ll be delighted to see him come through the door at the end of the day, no matter how many hours that day may be! It’s amazing how pleasant life became when I adopted a kinder, gentler way of operating!

I’m glad our 21-year-old son is living at home with us until he finishes college in December. I’m so thankful to have him around after ‘losing’ so many years to cancer. If I catch him coming or going it’s a delight. I know that he is a full-time student and works nearly full-time at his job, so I never expect his attendance at dinner. That’d be a bit weird – he’s a grown man, after all! But I let him know if I’ll be making dinner and what it is in case he’s interested. I’ll holler after him as he’s walking out the door, “I love you sweetie! I’ll see ya when I see ya!” Message: I look forward to seeing you, whenever that may be!

Recently my family had been making plans to fly out to South Carolina in June to visit my dad and his wife. We were looking forward to seeing their home and yard that he’d told me so much about. He asked nearly every time we talked when I was coming out to visit. I’d almost begun dreading our conversations because I knew the question would always come and I’d feel so guilty for not making it there for a visit. I hadn’t been able to make the trip because of cancer, chemo-sickness, 7 months of dizziness, years of surgeries and then several subsequent years of challenges we faced due to work-related issues. Physically, emotionally and financially I just couldn’t make the trip happen. I was really excited about going out in June. Then I got the phone call.

We made hasty plans. We were finally going to make that trip home, earlier than June, to attend my father’s funeral. Oh how my heart ached and still anguishes. I was able to see his and Donna’s beautiful home and carefully tended yard filled with plants arranged with an artistic touch. Donna showed us around with sorrow-tinged pride. They spent innumerable hours working together in that beautiful garden. I just can’t believe we missed seeing him by 8 weeks.

I know my father had been disappointed I hadn’t made it out to see him yet. I know he longed to have me share that part of his life. I’m disappointed as well. My life-reality didn’t provide a good opportunity for me to travel there, and for whatever reason, he hadn’t made it out here for 5 years either. What a sadness we both bore. What disappointments we both gave to each other.

I’ve learned many lessons from this sorrowful event. I’ve taken away treasures from this experience and tucked them into my heart for future reference. I know my dad loved me. I have no doubts. I’m so glad my dad loved God also, and lived his life attempting to obey God and live to please Him. I’m thankful that one day, decades ago when my dad was a teenager that he decided to surrender his life to God. Because I’ve done the same, I have the assurance that some day when I die, I’ll be able to see my dad again. So even though I missed my opportunity to see him in South Carolina in June, I can still say, “Dad, I’ll see ya when I see ya!”