Saturday, November 19, 2016

hearing and listening

I am 64 years old.  I tell my age a lot because I have a hard time believing it's true.  Fifteen years ago I graduated high school and it's ten years ago now that I had my babies and was a young mother. Five years ago my daughters married and my granddaughters were born yesterday.

Oh, how I wish that were all true.  
I miss my babies, my little girls. 
I miss my grandbabies.  
I miss the young me.

She's in here though.  You just can't see her anymore because she's disguised as an older woman.  Her voice is rough.  Her body gives her troubles.  She's chubby and sometimes she's so very tired. She colors away the gray and doesn't see as well as she once did.  She doesn't always adjust to new things as easily as she'd like but she tries.      

She's in here.  
I'm in here!  

I'm interested in current events.  I want to be physically fit. I know a lot of stuff--some useful, some useless.  I have developed more patience with some things, some people, and have less patience with others.  I love live music, live theater, live literary readings, live demonstrations. I love life and sometimes life is hard.  

It's cliche, I know, but I'm understanding why aging brings on lots of conversation about health, doctors, medicines, and treatment.  I get it.  I'd like to ignore it but it's too "in my face," to ignore.  Not only do I have my own aches, pains and conditions, my husband also struggles with his issues.  If that weren't enough, many of my dear, longtime girlfriends have more serious health issues than I do.  I remember the times, and it was for many years, that the only doctor visits I'd have in a year were my yearly physicals.  That seems so long ago. 

Add to illness and conditions, that many of my peers have died.  Some suddenly, some after extended illness and others in accidents.  We are more fragile.  If I fell at twenty years old, I might have a bump, bruise or nothing at all.  If I fall now, I may deal with broken wrists, blood clots, or head injury.  It's a scary time for my friends and me.  We watch our steps and check for obstacles in our way.  One fall and we could be headed for surgery and months of recuperation.  So we learn to be more careful than we've ever been in our lives. All these issues are new to us.  We've never been this age before and it's tough. We are adjusting and not always well.

 We talk a lot about our health because it's important to us.  We realize that if our health goes, we could be in big trouble. What if we don't have or can't afford doctor visits and required medicines? What happens to us if we have serious health problems and have no one to take care of us?  

These are some of the things we think about, in addition to what happens if can't afford my home? Everyone needs shelter.  Many, dare I say most, of our concerns have to with finances and health.  If we talk about them a lot it's because they are what's on our hearts and minds.  

We want someone to care enough to listen to our concerns but to also listen to our opinions, our ideas, our dreams!  Yes, we have dreams and plans and hopes and so many memories.  We want to share who we are with our daughters, our sons, our granddaughters, our grandsons.  We want you to know us but also we want to share with you where we came from, and in turn, where YOU came from.  We want real conversation. We want to know about the deepest you and we want you to know the deepest us.  We have ideas, opinions and hard won wisdom that we want to share and we want to know who our heirs are and who we will one day leave behind.  

Don't just listen politely. Hear who we are and what we think.  We are not as stuck in a time warp as you may think.  We remember elementary school, high school and we remember the bad and the good.  We can tell you stories about the girl named Pam who wore a bikini under her coat on a freezing winters day and lots of others.  Some of us are still blessed to have treasured friends who went through these days with us.

Many of us can and will share our walk with the Lord with you and tell you stories of how He rescued, healed and walked with us during the dark times in our lives.  These stories will come to your mind when you are going through the dark places in your own lives and will bolster your faith and this same Lord will carry you through as He did us. We have experienced so much you haven't experienced yet and we will share--if you will hear us.  Sharing is one of the best things we do.  

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Love in Curlers

I knew it wouldn't be long now. My mother was sleeping all the time from the meds and death that were creeping up on her. Shallow breaths. Deep sighs. Sadness and loss filled the room. Filled my heart. Filled my future. She would die soon.

A few days before, I'd helped her bathe and change her bed clothes. She'd sat on the side of the bed while I stood before her methodically and gently combing and parting her hair into small sections to gently it wrap around each curler. She still wanted to feel pretty.

That's when she wrapped both her arms around my waist and pulled me close. Then she laid her head on my chest.

"Be my love," she whispered. "Be my love."

"I'm your love, Mama. I am your love."

My mother looked deep into my eyes, searching.

"I'm so tired," she said.

The sick old woman rested her head on me--her daughter--her caretaker--her friend--for a few more seconds and then leaned back so I could finish curling her hair.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Vivid dreams can come after a late night meal,
or sometimes they come from God

Suzanne Adams
March 2014

The Journey

          It is midnight and I am walking all alone on a dark road.  There are thick woods on either side of the straight road.  I am headed toward home that is at the end of the long road. 
          As I walk I can only see one step at a time.  The black of the night frightens me and I am afraid of what might be just ahead.
          After walking for a few minutes, a floating, dark, ugly head with no body, comes out of the woods about shoulder height, directly toward me. 
          It wrenches and twists grotesquely.  It snarls and snaps at me with misshapen, jagged teeth.  I am startled and fearful.  Apprehension grips my heart--and yet, I walk on. 
          I cannot see His face or form but at the very second the awful thing is about to get me, to hurt me, Someone loving and protective disintegrates it like ashes from a fire, crumbling to the ground.  Completely gone.
          I continue on my way one step at a time, relieved the thing is gone.
          A few minutes more on the road and the second thing springs out of the night just above my head on my other side.  This one is dark with no definite shape, twisting and writhing--threatening.  It is as frightening as the first.  I am startled and again fearful.  Apprehension grips my heart--and yet, I walk on. 
          At the very second the twisting shape is about to hurt me, the same protective, loving Someone disintegrates it as the first one, like ashes crumbling to the ground.  Completely harmless.  Completely gone. 
          Relieved that the thing is gone, I continue on my way. 
          Frightening things continue to come at me every few minutes as I travel the straight road but always at just the right time they crumble as ashes on the ground, never harming me. There are many but each one is different and every time a new one appears I am protected by Someone.
I am never harmed.  I am fearful, but I am never hurt.        
          My dream ends before I reach home. 
          My final destination is yet to come. 

I told you these things so that you can have peace in me. In this world you will have trouble, but be brave! I have defeated the world.  John 16:33 NCV

What I Think My Dream Means
          I think the road I am on is my life, my walk with Christ.  I am alone because our walk with the Lord is personal and no one can walk it for us.  It is a straight way of undetermined length but with a definite destination.  The night speaks to me of not knowing what's "out there," in life, for me.  Thick woods, especially at night, scare me because I don't know what harmful things are in there.  Not knowing is frightening to me. 
          We read in scripture that our steps are "ordered of the Lord."  We take steps of faith one at a time.  The Bible says, "from faith to faith."  In my dream, I'm walking these steps one at a time in all the light I have. 
          The attacks are frightening but not disabling.  I still function.  I still walk though fearful.  I worry.  Each and every time I think I'm about to be harmed by these "scary things,"  Someone loving and protective, The Lord, crumbles them.  The scary things are but ashes with no real strength or power.  Over and over I am attacked on my journey by paper tigers.  

This dream is a reassuring comfort at a time in my life when my family and I have come through a long season of much turmoil and heartache.  I believe the Lord is saying, I've protected you through all your troubles and I will protect you until you're home.  Sometimes I'm afraid but there is no need to be.  Fear is useless when we have faith in Jesus.
I believe the Lord is reassuring me that even though troubles come hard and often, He protects me and no harm comes to the real me.  My body is scared but my spirit is safe in Him.  He is my protector and my Savior.  He is the One who will bring me home even on the final leg of my journey.   

Father, Thank you for your protection until the end of my earthly journey.  You're a wonderful protector and the lifter of my head.  I love you.


Thursday, March 27, 2014

finishing strong

My kids were at our house for dinner recently.  After we'd eaten I was sitting on my front porch swing with Summer, Sid, Hannah and her boyfriend, Corey.  We were talking and laughing and playing with our big dog, Goose.  Summer was trying to get Goose to run with her so they could play but he wasn't having any part of it.  There were too many other things to capture his attention.  That's when I had the bright idea that if I ran he'd surely run and play with his mama.  So I took off.

I ran, and I'm using the term "run" loosely, to the end of my front walk.  He didn't follow.  Hannah started laughing and I thought she was laughing because Goose wasn't cooperating.  Nope.  She was laughing at my attempt to run!  I am not thin skinned and if I can do something to make my grandkids laugh, I'll do it until it's not funny anymore, so it absolutely didn't hurt my feelings.

Hannah kept laughing and told me I looked like I was speed walking, not running.  Hmm, a speed walking Gramma.  That IS pretty funny. I laughed at the visual too but I was laughing harder because I hadn't felt like I was speed walking, I felt like a gazelle!  When I told them how I'd felt, we all laughed!

Today as I walked around the lake at our nearby park, I wasn't nearly as tired as I had been in the beginning.  I am up to twice around the lake, nearly two miles, and yes, I'm pretty happy about it.  As I was completing my second lap and my car was in sight, I decided not to limp the last stretch but to run, to finish strongly.  Of course, as I started to run, I thought about looking like a speed walking Gramma and how funny I must have looked but I ran on...feeling like a gazelle...a Gazelle Gramma...and thinking about how the kids had laughed at me, I laughed, too!

As I got closer to the car I thought about the real race, this walk with Jesus, that I'm on.  More than anything in my life, I don't want to limp across the finish line.  I want to finish strongly!  On the outside, I may look like I'm speed walking Gramma, but in my heart, I'm a gazelle, sailing through the finish line into the arms of Jesus!    

"I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing."  2 Timothy 4:7-8

Father, thank you for the race and for the strength to finish it.  I love you!


Sunday, January 19, 2014

silent seasons

I will admit I'm not a very proactive friend.  I love my people, I really do, but when it comes to keeping in touch with them regularly, I often fall down.  My thinking has always been, "No news is good news," but it's not always true.  Sometimes, ok, often, it means stuff is going on in my pals lives and it's not always good.  The more days that go by, the more friends I hear of having serious issues...cancer, death in the family, financial woes, and family troubles just to name a few.

The truth is that even when I'm in a silent season, one of my BFFs sends me a note that says, "What's going on?  You've been quiet for too long,"  and she's usually right.  Either Byron or I have been ill or there's been a negative relationship issue or something else has been haunting me.

I am going to give my best effort to not being the one leaving my friends alone anymore when they are making themselves scarce.  I might be the very one who can offer some help, encouragement, or just a listening ear.  

"If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble."  Ecclesiastes 4:10

I am thankful for my friends, including my daughters who have grown up to be my friends, and I am blessed with many others, most of whom are very long time friends. I need them and they need me. I am grateful for them for they lift me up when I am low.

Dear Father, 
How I thank you for strong friends who help me, who lend me their hands to lift me up.  Help me to always be a supportive hand to them.  Thank you for being my very best friend. I love you! 

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

If curiosity killed the cat then I'm never going to die!

I never had much curiosity as a kid.  At age 7 when my Grandpa Kidd told me he kept all his money in his wooden leg, I didn't question it and didn't ask him how he got his wooden leg. I wasn't curious how it happened, why it happened or even when it happened. It wasn't that it seemed so normal to me that I thought everyone else's grandpa had a wooden leg, I just knew mine did.  That's just the way it was and I was ok with it.

I was 9 when my mom told us girls we were going to have another sister or a baby brother.  There were no questions about how or why and not even a question about when he or she would arrive.  It would come when it would come.  I figured it "just happened," because Mama and Daddy were married, so when Mama packed her hospital suitcase and placed baby clothes in it, I did ask her why she was bringing them.  She told me they were for the baby to wear home.  I asked her why didn't she just bring it home in the clothes it was born in...Yes, I really asked her that question.  I remember it well because my mother didn't usually laugh a lot but that question had her laughing out loud!

If something was too difficult for me to understand or simply didn't make sense to me, my brain glazed over and I didn't try to figure it out or even picture it in my mind.  That phase lasted quite a while until I was a teen, then I started knowing everything!  My understanding of life and how it worked came crystal clear!  I was a genius and authority on just about everything!  Some would call it by another name...obnoxious.  I'm embarrassed to say that this knowledgeable time lasted quite a while.  At least until I was about 30 years old and then I started realizing maybe I wasn't so smart after all.  Maybe I didn't have all the answers.  Maybe, just maybe, I still had a lot of growing up to do.  Looking back, now I say that's when I really started to know something and that something was that I DID NOT know everything.

To my surprise, it was a wonderful discovery!  Knowing everything, having the right opinion on each and every issue in the world is a lot of pressure and it will make you weary really fast!  This epiphany wasn't an overnight deal, but slowly, I started asking more questions and listening more.  I was pleasantly surprised to discover there are some really intelligent people out in the world and that I could learn something from them if I was of a mind to do it.

My husband got smarter and wiser.  My mother was smarter and had great experiences to share.  What a great thing!  I kept getting less and less adamant about my opinions and life became less black and white.  Shades of gray issues prompted me to consider and ponder issues from both sides of an argument.  I didn't only listen more, I heard more.  This phase continued on for many years until I started working on my college degree at 42 because I realized just how much I didn't know.

In my college classes I learned to think critically about things and I learned that it is ok to hear a differing opinion and consider what the other person is saying.  It isn't a sin to open my ears to issues I may not necessarily agree with.  I know where my faith lies and am determined to cling to the Lord but still allow myself to grow intellectually and academically.

Now that I am older I often jokingly say, "I used to know stuff and now I don't know anything," but I am secure in my faith and morals and beliefs and I will listen to others and try to see things from their standpoint.  A former pastor once told us in service that, "I can learn something from everyone I meet," and it makes sense.  I've only walked in my shoes.  Your life has been different than mine.  There is something I can definitely learn from you and I'd like to know what it is.

I still don't have much curiosity about things and the way they work if they don't interest me beforehand.  In a spiritual vein, I'm not one of those people who always has to know why things happen like they do.  Of course, there are times I'm perplexed about why life is like it is.  Why do bad things happen to good people and vice versa?  Why are some prayers are answered "Yes," and others "No," and why does life often seem so unfair, but I'm not stymied over not knowing.

I find great peace in knowing I don't have to know everything.  That the Lord has everything under control and that He is well equipped to handle it all.  Now that takes a load off my mind!  He is faithful to us, His children.  There is nothing too hard for Him.  There is nothing too small to tell Him about.  He cares about it all.  When situations arise that I don't understand, I take comfort that it's more than I can handle and that it's in His hands.

The Lord says it so well himself, "I leave you peace; my peace I give you.  I do not give it as the world does, So don't let your hearts be troubled or afraid." John 14:27 

Thank you, Jesus for your comforting words. Our lives here are harsh and hurtful and we are often desperate for peace and reassurance of your love.  I need to hear them and keep them close to my heart so I am reminded of your tender loving care for us and your powerful hand that takes such good care of us.  I love you!



Wednesday, May 22, 2013


Pole Bridge Baptist Cemetery
We went on an adventure this week to a small cemetery near our home in Alabama.  We would have never known  it was there except for a small sign someone put up last year at the road's beginning.  I've wanted to go there ever since the sign appeared.

The road was clay and rock and not too difficult to navigate even though the hills and curves were a little challenging at times. There were several roads off the main one that led up into the hills, each one gated and locked.  We passed no other cars and saw no other people as we traversed upward and onward to the goal, Pole Bridge Baptist Church Cemetery.

The cemetery is up on the side of a small hill and has many graves and markers for such a small place.  Weeds and wildflowers have nearly taken over the place and the tops of the headstones and markers are visible through the tall greenery.  There are a few modern headstones and monuments as well as many field rocks and  homemade concrete markers that, when they are legible, give a name and dates of birth and death.  A few of the graves have collapsed in on themselves but mostly, they seem intact.

As I walked up the hill, reading headstones and markers I was overcome with emotion.  Maybe it was because of the seemingly hidden place of the graveyard, perhaps it was the state of disrepair that had befallen these memorials, or maybe it was because these people, mothers, fathers, infants, who had lived and died in our small community seemed forgotten by their whole world.  Each field stone, each marker, represented a life that lived, was loved, died and now all remnants of this life had nearly disappeared.

Daniel Hagan who was born in 1791 and died in 1875 at 84 years old, was a veteran of the War of 1812 as part of Alexander's Battalion of Rifleman Georgia Millitia.  Amazing!  I'm sure he had great stories to tell his children and grandchildren.

I thought of the baby girl, Vicie Viola Bryant, who was stillborn or died the same day she was born in March 1912.  How heartbroken her mother and father must have been.  All their hopes and dreams for their child, dashed.  Her life was over before it got started.

Little Susie Mae Webber was born March 25, 1912 and died October 24, 1914was 2 1/2 when she died.  Was it illness or an untimely accident that took her life so soon?  I imagine Susie Mae's mother worked hard to take care of her family, perhaps working on the farm or in the garden each spring and fall.  She prepared food for the winter by canning or drying it for the family even when she was pregnant.  She cooked and sewed and took care of her husband and other children despite the sheer fatigue she endured.  I'm sure she was proud of her family, proud of her little girl.  Maybe Susie got sick and just couldn't get over it, or perhaps she was injured on their farm.  She might have been bitten by a snake or drowned in a pond.  The list of dangers in the country is long.

Mr Hagan will be remembered in military records and by his family proud of his service those many years ago, but what of the children who died so young, but what about the mothers who underwent severe hardship back in 1912 to birth their babies only to have them die before they could live even one day, like precious Vicie?  Who will remember these little girls and their hard working mothers and fathers when their only memorial is overgrown and forgotten on a small, lonely hill back in the woods of Alabama?

"Before I shaped you in the womb, I knew all about you.  Before you saw the light of day, I had holy plans for you..."  Jerimiah 1:5  The Lord knew all the people buried in Pole Bridge Baptist Cemetery even before they were born and He surely knew them all their lives, whether it was 84 fully lived years or 2 1/2 years or even a day.  We are, each one of us, important to him, and He remembers.

Now that I've found their final resting place, I will remember, too.  I will visit their graves when I have opportunity.  I will clean around their headstones and put wildflowers on their graves and I will remember the people who lived in this beautiful Talladega forest trying to live their lives the best they knew how.