Knit and Pray

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

One Cherished Minute at a Time

Thanksgiving of 2014 will mark my SEVENTY-SEVENTH Thanksgiving. Those years brought celebrations and losses; pain and healing; sadness and joy; separation, anger, depression; and great restoration.
  
After all those years--and after my horrible health crisis two years ago that almost stopped my time on earth at seventy-five years, I own a deeper understanding of and a profound appreciation for all the things that make up my daily life.

Most times I stand calm today even as the hard things still come to me and to mine.
Struggles. Heartaches. Disappointments. Injustice. Fear. Pain.

I do testify and promise you that today’s blessings shine larger than struggles.
Tender. Precious. Surprising. Amazing. Sweet.
         
 Last night one set of great-grands romped and giggled and hugged and bounced through our house and our hearts swelled with joy.

Today, the to-do list is on schedule. Onions and celery are chopped, cornbread is cooling, apples and grapes stand ready for salads.

The counter shines with fall flowers

The guestroom bed is ready with fresh sheets

The dining table is ready to be set, AND
Most of the tablecloth wrinkles don’t show
 


Tomorrow one set of grands will arrive to help put the finishing touches on the next day’s feast and to visit and share and remember over a soup supper on Thanksgiving Eve.

Thursday, a unique collection of people who make up just part of our large blended family will again gather around our table. We will hug and welcome and remember and raise our glasses to goodness and each other. We will name blessings and family not present. We will give thanks.

Through these celebration days, as clatter and laughter and chatter swirl around me, and chairs scrape and dishes bang, tea spills on the tablecloth, the fireplace crackles, and the candles flicker, I will hold all of it in my old, wrinkled hands and give thanks. For another precious moment.

May God’s love surround you with His radiant peace.
    Liz

Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.”  (Matthew 6:34, The Message)



And, wow, our God, we give you thanks, and we praise your glorious name

Friday, November 7, 2014

Grief

Betty died.

Just like that. Without checking in first.

            She just . . . . . up and left.


Our long to-do list has no check marks.

First, retirement ran away from us

With no notice took most of our plans

            left sickness in its wake,

                        and death,

                                    and second chances

only remnants of a few tarnished dreams remained.

Yet… together we held onto a tiny sliver of
             hope that we would for sure
go & laugh & visit & share & enjoy 
                        
We did not know that our hope 
                                                melted
                                                              drip by drop
                                                
and with no warning

            left us empty, rudderless, with only a broken compass.
           
Anger boils up inside me
            spews out
                        erupts
                                    screams.

Eyes red, heart ripped, soul drained
           
            I wonder.


                        Why.

One day, your contagious laugh that is hidden in my memory will reopen my heart.

But not today.



Friday, October 24, 2014

Such a Little (HUGE) Thing

I promised a story.

Disclaimer: NO theology lessons intended. Just a true story from one of the least of His servants--and not a very good servant, at that, who reports just the facts.

Back-story:  Way back in April of 2013, I decided to go cyber. Full-blown. Jumped onto that speeding vehicle and all at once got me an I-phone, an I-pad, and my daughter a new/old smart phone. Way to go, GRANNIE!
          My sweet, kind, and helpful AT&T salesman did NOT treat me [openly] as a senile old woman. So, to thank him, I smiled sweetly and bought the I-phone cell phone case he HIGHLY recommended.
          In all honesty, the case was heavy, bulky, dingy gray and heavy, and not at all chick or modern or cute. You know: UGLY. But, as I said: humor the sweet young man.

Fast-forward 18 months.

Current-story: Enter exhausted granny, older granny. A granny who seriously-multi-tasks and who handles—for all three of us—the cooking, shopping, driving, smiles, cleaning, calendar, tears, appointments, future, finances, confusion, and our thanksgivings. Not necessarily in that order.
          Wednesdays are supposed to be a day off for our family. NO APPOINTMENTS. A true stay-at-home day. Yet, somehow, my quarterly dental appointment got scheduled. And that appointment landed right in the smack-dab middle of a few dozen other mind-shattering decisions in the making.
          No problem. I’m used to those days. Carry on.
          I did. I carried on right over to the local garden center where I nurture my soul. Way out on the north side of town. Awesome. I delightfully bought three new baby lemon verbena plants—just  in case my faithful four-year-old plant might give up the fragrance.[fyi: lemon verbena from my very own container garden is a specific and mandatory ingredient for Liz’s Luscious Lemonade]
          The plant-store clerk graciously carried my precious purchases to my car. I stopped to show her a photo on my amazing i-Phone of a tree I covet. (Hummmmm, do you suppose covet is important here???) We discussed the tree, she loaded my plants, and off I went to my dental appointment.
          I deftly navigated a tight circle to get out of the garden center’s drive and hooked a SHARP turn to the right over a bumpy exit. Checked the time: all was well. Made a SHARP left, another left, another left and a sharp right. Finally, back onto North Llano headed  south. Decided I had extra time so took the scenic route through down-town Main Street, requiring another SHARP RIGHT. Noted that town was already gaining tourist on a Wednesday in preparation for our annual Fredericksburg Wine Fest. Ahhhh, sweet memories of the fests my husband and I had enjoyed many times in our more amble years.
          So much for memories. Reality got me to Milam Street. Another SHARP left, a couple of stop signs, some curves, and then easily pulled in at my dentist office… five minutes early.
          I carefully put the car into park, turned off the ignition, removed the keys and placed them into their specific place in my purse, decided to leave my i-Pad in the car, and  . . . . .
          Uh…where….uh…
                            MY PHONE ?????????????????

MY PHONE !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
 
Look carefully. Your humble writer is behind the wheel inside the vehicle. 
Those of you who know me well will not believe me. But, I promise you:
I sat perfectly, completely, totally still. Did not move. Just sat. Staring. And I prayed.
          No, I do not say God did a miraculous, amazing thing for me. After all, he is in charge of the universe. He cares about ALL. He loves every one of you. I have never ever in all my 77 years done one single thing to earn favor or good things or even miscellaneous favors.
          But my phone clung to the hood of my car. Safe. Sound. Working. Not harmed. No scratch. To the phone or the hood of my vehicle.
          My cell phone just sat there with all of my numbers, people, photographs, personal information, contacts, important notes, e-mails, games, reminder alarms, plans, recipes, grocery lists, calendars, and favorite scripture addresses.
         
I am grateful.
I am unworthy.
I will not even venture to ask: why me?
I will just say thank You.

Somehow, I smiled a lot on Thursday and Friday. Even though those two days were uncommonly hectic and hard and complicated.

Somehow, I just wanted you to know.

Thoughtfully,

    Liz



Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Friendship. And Black Holes.

            My soul and writer friend, Sally, recently introduced me to Netflix. Ahhhh. Sweet. Restful. Entertaining. Relaxing.  I found a brand new world of television.
            Those who read my words and/or who know me well are aware that I’ve never been a TV addict. Off and on some shows interested me. Now and then I found time to relax and enjoy watching make-believe life come alive with happy endings within thirty minutes of allotted time. Somehow, as a fiction writer, few modern day sit-coms or dramas hooked me.

So be it.
My life is always full.
Busy.
Solving heavy problems.
In real life.

Then came marriage. And THE NEWS.

So be that, also.

Again, those who read my words and/or who know me well are aware that in addition to many other things, I am a caregiver.
Full time.
Twenty-four seven.
To two precious and beloved care receivers.

And…. At 77 years old, my own health demon issues rise up and make a frontal attack at the most inopportune times.

That’s life. Also.

Therefore, escape is sometimes golden. Beautiful. Sustaining. Restful. Replenishing.

Enter:  WEST WING.

Wait. The plot thickens.
You also know…. I am one of those die-hard, disgusting, awesome, judgmental, understanding, stupid, intelligent, surprising conservatives who leans just a tad to the right. J

Disclaimer: I am so hooked on The West Wing that I am writing my congressman to determine what happens if, in the next presidential election, I write in Josiah 'Jed' Bartlet  for President. Will that be a vote for Martin Sheen?????? (Awesome)

But, I digress.

            My husband and I continue to count birthdays and life is slowing to that snail’s pace. *sigh*  We now belong to that terrible, left-out, sad, group known as the “home-bound.”
            Actually, we really do go out a lot. We regularly and routinely visit our physicians: primary care peeps, physical therapy specialist, eye doctors, hearing aid professionals, skin cancer surgeons, and many others who try to keep us moving and well and independent.

Because of many and sundry problems and health issues, we find it more and more difficult to get to church and, sadly, our participation in our many and sundry volunteer activities ceased several years back.

            YET – we LOVE life. It is a thrill when a child or in-law or grands or great drops by for a short or an extended visit. We love it when a niece, nephew and/or their offspring stops in to chat. We make a point to go out to dinner occasionally and what fun that is….in our still small town, we ALWAYS run into people we know!!! We try to remember to call up friends for lunch dates from time to time. We take part in any and everything possible to stay busy, alert, involved, interested. and interesting. We read …. And yes, we watch THE NEWS. We are most certainly well informed.

Lonely.
But, well informed.

So. What does “The West Wing” have to do with all of this? Besides entertaining me on those long nights when I struggle with that evil spirit Restless Leg Syndrome????

So glad you want to know.

In Episode 32, both John Spencer and Bradley Whitford turned in brilliant performances. In the next to final scene,  Leo McGarry (John Spencer) told a story to Josh Lyman (Bradley Whitford). The story stopped me cold. I back-tracked. Listened again. Cried. Replayed the scene.
Yes.

Leo, an alcoholic, understood life. He cared deeply about his friend Josh who was in a life and death struggle with post violence trauma.

Ahhhhh, yes.

With apologies to the writers and/or the original creator of “the story,” here is my version.

          A woman walked down a busy sidewalk. She tripped and fell into a hole. A deep hole. A dark hole. A hole so deep and full of mud and muck and slick sides she could not get out.
          A physician walked by and the woman yelled, “Doctor!!! Can you help me?”
          The doctor stopped. He found a piece of paper, wrote out a prescription, and dropped the paper into the hole.
          Later, the woman stopped sobbing when she heard a minister walk by. She screamed, “Pastor, can you help me?”
          The minister stopped. He also found a piece of paper, wrote down a prayer, and dropped the paper into the hole.
          Sometime later, nearly dead, the woman hears someone else approaching. It is one of her friends. With almost her last, weak breath, the woman pleads, “Friend, can you help me?”
          The friend jumps into the hole.
          The woman looks at her friend in angry astonishment and spews, “Are you crazy? Why did you do that? Now both of us are in this hole.”
          The friend smiles, “Yeah. But, I’ve been here before. I know the way out.”

  
            Maybe you don’t know about dark holes. I’m glad.
            I do know. I have spent time in several black, muddy, slimy holes. I’ve been there.
           And..... I have known and loved friends who almost died in one of those holes.

Life-sucking holes come in all colors of black from spousal abuse to homelessness to death's-door-illness to grief to simple and ordinary things that change lives and hearts and souls.
            I am thrilled to tell that that I DO know the way out.
And, I have jumped into more than a few holes with others. Many times. Sometimes the friend turns on me when we find our way back to the good world. So be it.
            Some who climbed out were grateful and grew and learned and turned around to help others in turn.

The take-away?

Judging does not help.
Spending time in the hole with a friend is, indeed, a v.e.r.y good thing.

I am exceedingly blessed with friends who jumped right into that black, slimy, dark hole with me, sat still for awhile, and then showed me the way out. I still remember and treasure each one of those precious souls. You know who you are. I love you.


Please. Pass it on.

Dearest Love and Blessings,

      Liz


Sunday, September 7, 2014

Happy 28th Grandson John


  

 Auspicious occasion.

Must be recognized as such.
Twenty-eight years ago tonight, I held my baby daughter's hand as she writhed in pain to bring her own baby son into this old world.
And yes, John was worth all of it.
There is no way to show a life so large on Facebook.
It takes a blog post all unto it self to attempt to kind of do justice to the amazing man my daughter brought into this world. All alone. Without medication. To protect her baby.
Job well done, Melinda.

This amazing son of my daughter's is now a husband and a minister of the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. He and his lovely wife are making their own home, creating their own joys, going through their own doors. They are ready to welcome another generation into their hearts. My own baby daughter and I are eager to meet her grandchildren and my great grandchildren and to celebrate all the new memories.

A picture is worth how many words? In John's case, a few pictures can only touch the surface of the delightful, astonishing, life-changing, precious, loving, and giving man 
who graces our lives.


1986 Summer. My Baby ready to birth her baby


1987. And what a guy she brought forth.
The first of so many doors that would open for him
as he followed his own path.

1988. 2nd Birthday with his beloved great-grandmommy who turned the world for him


1989 Three years old with Marine Uncle
1990. Four. Already the Performer
1991. Five. 


1992.Six. Yep. He's already in charge.


1993. A life-long gift to make friends and influence people.
Mr. Green had not spoken in years. Then John became his friend.
   

1993. Six. A new town. Always the center. Always surrounded by friends.

1994 And off to school in another new town.
1994. Seven. Always surrounded by family, too. Four generations. 
    
1995. Nine. And just how high will you jump, John????
As high as you want! Go, John, GO !
                       

                           

1997. Eleven. Heritage School
1996. Tenth birthday in
 Fredericksburg.
                    
1996. First plane trip ALONE. To
Louisville, KY with Uncle Eddy
& Aunt Julie
 



       
1998. Twelve. On Stage.
Again.
                                 
1999. Thirteen. That infectious grin stayed.
             


2000. Fourteen. John is a cousin.
Madeline Herbert.



2001. Fifteen. The infamous Winter Formal Sit-down Dinner
(yes, that is Ashley's left hand on the right of Austin. *smile*)

2002. Sixteen. Mr. Sax serenaded Memaw at her wedding.


2003. Winter. Enter--ta-da--ASHLEY for real.


2003. Summer. Best Friends Forever. (His truck in the background. )


2003. After Boys' State. Rough plane ride alone.
Survived both congress and angry skies.


2003. And the seventeenth birthday. With Best Girl, Mom
and Family.
                                               


2003. Just John. Just another tux.



No history of John is complete without the.....
BLACK COAT.
2003. Leavenworth, WA

2004. Yes. We made it to graduation year.
And he DID go to the prom with ASHLEY.
She and Memaw knew it all along.


2004. Awards Night. And, oh the conversations and events
and occasions on our front porch.

And YES, He did graduate Fredericksburg High School

2004. Of course Ashley was there !!!


And, Off to Texas Lutheran University. Oh goodness, oh dear, oh glory. OH MY !! 




They said goodbye and Memaw drove his mother and his girl back home.
Yes, a LOT of tears.

2004. EIGHTEEN YEARS OLD. A man. And he voted. 

2005. Summer. His Nineteenth was just around the corner.


2006. The Year of the Hair.
Beautiful. Gorgeous. Thick.
TWENTY years old.
He did it once !!
                                     

2006. The hair came off when Ashley came home from mission trip.
2007. Those twenty-one candles almost melted the icing.
Now he is really The Man.


2008. TWENTY-TWO Wow. Look at that grin.

Yes, he counted the candles.


2008. Earning a living. Paying their way through school
Well, he did not wear the cap while serving.


2009. Does he look tired? Old man at TWENTY-THREE

2010. Really, REALLY Big Year.
UTSA GRAD. 

2010. TWENTY-FOUR. Celebrating in San Antonio.

2011. And look, Our Man of the Day is
TWENTY-FIVE and still grinning.

2012. Ahhhhh. Yes. The to-be Mrs. and Mr. John Lowrey.
November 3, 2012.
No, we have never seen our man in robes at his first church nor heard him preach.
Our love must transcend the miles these days. 

2013. At least a bunch of family got together around Christmas.


2014. Happy Ending. A son makes his mom proud.
Mother's Day. Together.

John, dear one. I love you dearly.