Knit and Pray

Monday, December 22, 2014

Time Out to Smile

The past two weeks have been difficult. Downright awful.
       Two of us down with an unknown strain of flu. I had to make a trip the emergency room last Sunday to stop out my siege of bronchitis.
       Ahhh, but things improved for two days and I gave thanks, cheered, got remembrance cards off to all our kids and grands and greats. 
ON  l  A  l   R.O.L.L.
       Oops. Celebrated too quickly. A second trip the the emergency room for me. Saturday morning I woke up to the strangest sensations. Ended up—of all the weird things for me whose blood pressure hovers at almost ZERO—I had severe high blood pressure. Yeah. And I lost another whole day.

Goodness sakes gracious alive.

I lost the energy and time to keep up and totally forgot to write a joyful post for the fourth Sunday of Advent--
the pink candle--the Sunday to REJOICE--the Sunday to celebrate JOY

I don’t even know where I am in my MUST DO LIST or my URGENT LIST and I completely lost my CAN NOT WAIT ANOTHER SECOND LIST.

So, tonight is TIME OUT for FUN.

Christmas Sox.

I love Christmas socks.

Christmas hosiery is awesome.

However you spell it.

They fit. They are warm. They don’t roll down to my ankles. My shoes don’t eat them.


I have tried ordinary sox after socks after footwear. Miserable.
Expensive ones. Cheap ones. Fuzzy, slick, thin, athletic, running, sleeping, and knee-high ones.


  • Now I have found socks that are comfy, cozy, contented, and cute.
  • They shall become my go-to guys.
  • My every-day-survival foot coverings.
  • My keep-me-from-anguish solution.
  • I will identified as:

“Liz. You know…that old woman.
The CRAZY one who wears Christmas socks ALL YEAR LONG.”

That’s okay. My Christmas socks stay where they belong.
My feet stay warm in my Christmas sox.
Christmas hosiery does not cut off the circulation in my legs.

Laugh if you will. Snicker if you must.

I shall NOT be daunted. This old woman will happily prance through the remaining years of my life in COMFORT.



Hugs and Merry Christmas,


       Liz

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Raging Fever and Christmas Lights.

 I haven't posted this week because the dreaded December Crud hit our household. On Sunday evening, my adult daughter with special needs got it first. Yesterday she was well enough to handle some of the daily stuff to keep our household going. Good thing because Thursday night at 7:00 PM, it landed on me. Horrible sore throat, stuffy head, general misery.Since I am a prime candidate for pneumonia, all of us feel uneasy. My husband worries and  hobbles around with his walker to find me if I disappear too long for a nap. Even in normally healthy households, part of preparing for Christmas includes battling winter viruses, strange bugs, and miscellaneous wretchedness. Today,as my daughter and I compared notes about the state of our misery and I remembered Anne’s story.
If, like me, you are struggling with exhaustion and sickness, perhaps another of my fictional characters will shine a light on our hearts.
                                         Advent Blessings from   Liz

When both of the twins finally slept, Anne fell into bed, for the umpteenth time, around midnight. Billy and Beverly had run fever, sneezed, coughed, and spread misery to everyone all weekend. When the baby screamed, Ann threw back the covers, grabbed the baby aspirin, and groped her way down the hall.
Four o’clock in the morning. My head aches. My back hurts.
Danny and his bed were clean but he still whimpered with the fever. She rocked him and whispered his favorite songs. As her youngest quieted, snippets from last Sunday’s sermon floated around her mind. It had to do with something about greeting Christmas with joy.
Yeah, sure! Anne rocked faster; the baby fretted.
“Shhhh. Mommy’s here.”
Anne slowed the rocker but her thoughts swirled and tears streamed down her face. The tree is only half decorated, the kids are sick and Dan will be out of town at his meeting all week. There’s nobody to understand or care!
She pulled Danny closer, smoothing wet ringlets of hair framing his baby face. When the fever finally broke, she settled him in the crib and leaned against the window listening to his breathing before going back to her own bed.
“Oh, look at the lights!” She covered her mouth and smiled for talking out loud. The multi-colored lights on the cedar tree in the yard twinkled at her. Dan must have put the lights up yesterday before his flight when she was too busy with sick kids to notice.


Anne pulled her robe around her shivering body and tiptoed down the hall. It was almost dawn, so instead of going to bed, she made coffee and curled up on the couch with her Bible.
I’m really not alone, am I, Father? This day is going to be long, but I will trust You. I’m so glad You care….
The twins barreled into the room before Anne finished her prayer.
“Mommy! What’s for breakfast? Are there presents yet? When’s Daddy coming home?”
“Morning, guys!” She scooped them up for hugs and even managed a laugh. “Let’s go get Danny and maybe have scrambled eggs!”


He gives strength to the weary and increases
the power of the weak. … but those who hope
in the LORD will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.
From Isaiah 40: 28-31


Tomorrow I’ll share my surprise when the tables were turned on me and I received Christmas blessings.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Interruptions

Advent is rushing toward Christmas morning. As the to-do lists get longer and the days busier, my gift for the second Sunday of Advent is Allison’s story. I created this fictional character more years back than I want to count but it seems her story is timeless. With Advent blessings from Liz.

Interruptions

          The breakfast dishes sat soaking in the sink while I stewed over my “to-do” list. I didn’t try to stop the ribbon and shinny paper that rolled off the kitchen table onto the floor. Tinsel, snowmen, scissors, tape, and recipes, cluttered the counter and kitchen chairs. But, I was on track!
Then the phone rang.
Katie’s sobs garbled her words. Well, yes, she’s my best friend; yes she’s having a hard time since that louse of a husband left her and three kids this summer. But, she wants to talk and ... I don’t have time!
“Sure Katie, come on over.” Wondering where those words came from, I gritted my teeth and shoved dirty dishes into the dishwasher. I don’t have time!!
Katie rang the doorbell just as the coffee finished brewing. I rushed from the kitchen and almost knocked over the nativity on the hall table. At the door, I glanced at the cross above Baby Jesus.

“Hi, Katie.” She fell into my arms.

God did not ask me to ride on a donkey over miles of rough, rocky roads at the end of a pregnancy. He did not ask me to give birth to a child—in disgrace. He did not ask me to escape through the night to save the life of my child. He did not ask me to stand at the foot of a cross to watch my son die.
He just asked me to take a few minutes—to comfort my friend.

“Guess what, Katie! The coffee’s ready and I’ve got Christmas cookies. I’m so glad to see you.”

 Christmas is about tending to my Father’s business.

“Do you love Me?
. . . Then tend my lamb,
. . . .shepherd My sheep.”
(From John 21: 15-17)

Has God ever interrupted your busy schedule with something you didn’t understand? If you listened to Him, were you glad?


Closed for Christmas

           How is your transition going? You know….those few filled-to-the-brim days
when suddenly Thanksgiving is over and the calendar screams that the second week
of Advent begins tomorrow….. ? ? ?   
        Today I found another of my fictional characters hiding out in the file drawer marked “Advent.” If your week is similar to Linda’s, the manger might be on the
verge of getting lost.                                     
                                                Advent blessings from Liz

Let's Just Not Do Christmas !!
   

My husband and I spent Thanksgiving alone this year so I decided on a “why bother”  routine for Christmas. At our age, we just don’t need the hustle, bustle, hurry-up and wait, glitzy, and phony stuff Christmas brings. To say nothing of dragging out dusty boxes of lights and decorations.


Our kids are scattered now. They have homes, growing families, jobs, and in-laws of their own. Goodness, our large blended family has multiplied until we can’t keep up with everybody. I suppose that's the good, natural ebb and flow of life, but—for whatever scheduling reasons—my  husband and I are alone for all of November and December this year. Besides, I’m tired and Christmas is really for children.
That was my general frame of mind the weekend after Thanksgiving.
To make my self-imposed pity-party worse, I picked up one of our old Christmas photo albums. Tears fell for real as I gazed at pictures of the happy days when the house was full of growing kids. They were such cute teenagers, then spouses came along, and finally, joy of joys, we got grandkids!

I pushed the album aside, grabbed a handful of tissues, and flipped on the television. The album dropped to the floor. It fell open to the year I was really alone!

#  #  #  #  #  #  #  #  #  #  #

A newly single mom with three junior high kids and the first Thanksgiving after my mother died. The kids and I lived hours from other family and I couldn’t afford to take time off from a new job to travel. The memory of that Thanksgiving flooded back.
The kids and I went to church and then had a low-budget-non-turkey meal alone. I guess that old habits die hard because we got caught up in our tradition of naming blessings. After my divorce and my mom’s death, I got a surprise job offer in another city. The move was easy, the kids quickly settled into new schools, we found a good church, and my job with the service organization not only paid the bills but did wonders for my self-esteem. As we finished out dull Thanksgiving meal, my amazing teenagers insisted we had been sad long enough and we should start new traditions for Christmas.
By the end of Thanksgiving weekend, the house sparkled with Christmas lights, tinsel, and bells. We even decorated as much of the outside as my skills with stepladders and duct tape would allow. The kids further surprised me by limiting their “want lists” and actually stuck to their budgets. Then we invited six elderly people from our church to join us for Christmas Day dinner.
At the appointed time, our guests arrived, the turkey was delicious, and laughter filled our home. After dinner, we sang Christmas carols, shared memories, and listened to their stories. Both the kids and I learned a lot that year. They’ve always said that was their best Christmas ever.
 #  #  #  #  #  #  #  #  #  #  #

I snapped off the TV, put away the photo album, and went to the workshop to find my husband. Before I could lay out my entire plan, he was on the stepladder pulling down Christmas boxes with a big grin. Within minutes we had a list of eight friends who would NOT be alone on Christmas this year!   

  Then the King will say, 'I'm telling the solemn truth
 Whenever you did one of these things to someone
overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me.
 Matthew 25:40 (The Message)

Thank you, Father, for using old memories to remind me that Christmas
is about You….

…. not about me!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Change is Certain

Today: an unvarnished Liz story.


When our Thanksgiving guests arrived last Thursday, Christmas had not one time entered my old and tired and feeble mind.


OOPS!!! Sunday. ANXIETY hit the danger zone.
My Christmas planning / lists / decorating / shopping stood at ZILCH.
Nothing. None.
Sunday evening another shock:
TODAY IS THE FIRST SUNDAY IN ADVENT ! ! !
Huh? How? Already?

BUT I’M NOT READY !!!!!!!!!

Slowly and gradually I pulled myself together and managed to collect—into one place (the dining room table of course) from all around the house—the Thanksgiving wreaths, Pilgrims, and plastic pumpkins and to launder the autumn tablecloths and new gold napkins.
Then, after a long sigh (please note the fall decorations continued to sit on the dining room table), I got out my #2 pencil and trusty Big Chief Tablet.
Christmas Scheduling-Planning To-Do-List-Making Time.

? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?

F.U.T.I.L.E

Deep Breath. As a blended family of a dozen years, Dear Husband and I have seen our separate absolute/must-have/can’t-live-without traditions ebb and flow, change and grow, swell and diminish. New meanings have enveloped each tradition into a bright, new sameness. Between us, (as of today) we have 29 kids, grands, spouses, and greats. Then, throw in a big bunch of assorted siblings of his and mine and all those delightful nieces/nephews, grands and greats. Through these years, a lot of blending, bonding, forgiving, changing, accepting ensued as we worked around sick children and adults, war deployments, vacation cancellations, weddings, final exams, lost baggage, our own aging, and a changing economy.

W.H.E.E.E

Now. How do I manage control around so many unknown
          plans / schedules / people / events??? Well - - - -

F. I. N. A. L. L. Y

I.     U. D. E. R. S. T. A. N. D

I have no control.
None.
And - - - it is good.

In this, my seventy-seventh Christmas, I will change. I accept that….  ready or not… Christmas WILL have its own way.

Because: Jesus was born at exactly the precise time and in the perfect place.

Because: Christmas blessings will meet us at the grocery store, in Christmas cards from friends of long ago, through telephone calls from grandkids, and even at our medical appointments and at the funeral of an old and faithful friend.

And, Because: without any planning on my part, Christmas Joy—our Savior—meets us in an evergreen cross, a child’s hug, Chrismons on a nine-foot Christmas tree, nativity scenes in unexpected places, voices lifted together in old hymns, weak legs growing stronger, hurt feelings healed, unexpected hugs, and love restored.

Jesus Christ IS the same
 yesterday and today, and FOREVER.
Hebrews 13:8 [NAS]

Rejoice in Advent and the Preparation for our Savior’s Return.

Advent Blessings,
       Liz
                                                                         



Tuesday, December 2, 2014

The Christmas Card

     
      My writing files hold many stories told by one or another of my fictional characters. This morning I ran across Barbara Jean’s story. I no longer remember why I created her but on this first Monday of Advent, her story seems appropriate. I hope Barbara Jean blesses you.

         Liz


 The Christmas Card

          There’s still time…..
No, it’s too late!
          Well, if I don’t write a note in each ….
Absolutely not, postage is much too expensive!

      I have the same argument with myself every year, but this is the year I stop. Absolutely! I will NOT send Christmas cards. It is a useless waste of my time and our money!
I’ll… well, I’ll just send an extra donation to the Salvation Army where money really does good.
      “Hi, Honey, mail came. Look who we heard from!” My husband stomped snow off his feet. “I thought Sam had died but he actually survived a second heart surgery and might get remarried this spring.”
      I did not need to know that. My resolve cracked.
      “Funny.” Carl poured a cup of coffee. “I prayed for Sam all last year, not knowing whether he made it or not but something urged me on. Isn’t it great to know?”
      “Well, yes,” I said, “but don’t you think….” I’d lost his attention. He was back in Viet Nam with his buddies… remembering.
      Sam saved my husband’s life when the grenade landed too close. Later, Carl led Sam to Christ. They stayed in touch all these years… through Christmas cards.

      After supper, our son stopped by to help with the Christmas tree lights. When the old, artificial tree sprang to life once again, Carl insisted Bud stay for devotions.
      “Do you guys still do the Advent candle thing? Martha tries to… when I get home early enough.”
      “Well, you’re already late,” Carl struck a match. “Few more minutes won’t bother.”
      In the glow of candlelight, Carl’s eyes glistened. My husband, the quiet guy, the leader, the “John Wayne” to our kids, seemed… undone.
      “You know, Son, life is hard sometimes. How are things at home? Are you going to church?”
      “Well, uh, sure, Dad.” Bud’s surprise matched my own.
      “No, I mean, do you go with Martha and the kids? Do you help her get ready? She’s a fine wife, Son. Let’s pray.”
      The crackle of the logs in the fireplace emphasized my husband’s words as he spoke to the Lord of his life. Carl gave thanks for his old friend, Sam, then he prayed for our children, and he prayed for me.
      After Carl’s almost curt ‘amen,’ he got up and stoked the fire. Bud had his head in his hands and didn’t move. I quietly moved to the kitchen.
      It was late when Carl came to bed. “How did you know they were having trouble?” I asked.
      “I didn’t.” My husband-of-few-words sat on the side of the bed a long time. “I guess just thinking about Sam. After he got saved, he didn’t like the 'church thing.' It hurt his wife real deep. She died ‘bout five years ago. I never knew if they worked it out.” He pulled the blanket up over my shoulders. “I think Bud and Martha will be fine.”

     I drifted to sleep, rearranging tomorrow’s to-do list. Our old friends will hear from us this year.
 According to Paul the Apostle:
And let us not lose heart
in doing good…..
See with what large letter
 I am writing to you
with my own hand.
From Galatians 6: 9 & 11

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.