Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Day Before Tomorrow

I wonder what my mother was doing 74 years ago tonight?
I don’t remember any stories about February 24, 1937. The day before I was born.

*sigh* WelL, TODAY—all these 74 years later—I’ve cleaned house. Over the course of the last month or so, I’ve had to sort through miscellaneous physical challenges and today was a really good day!! So, I tackled my house. Why? Oh, just ‘cause. Waking to a clean house in the mornings is one of my joys. Guess I’d like to wake up on my birthday to an orderly, things-in-their-places, relatively “clean” home. These days, that is an unusual gift!
          It is funny that as the story-keeper of the family, I don’t know any of the stories about the day before my birth. What did Mother do? When did her parents and sister get to their tiny apartment in Hearne? Did Mother clean house all day? Did neighbors drop in? Did she cook? Did Grandmother Alice bring a week’s worth of meals? Probably. Mother kept a record of my first year in a little, pink book but that was about me. I wonder about her. How did a 25-year-old expectant mother feel in 1937… on a cold day in February
          Well, I do know a LOT about their beginning.

          After one week of marriage, MayBeth and Mack Hoyt walked home from church, arm in arm. MayBeth dropped her Bible and her new groom immediately retrieved it. Then Mack stopped in the middle of the street and looked at the Bible. He looked at his new bride.
          “Sweetheart?” he asked, with a puzzled look on his face.
          MayBeth smiled and said, “What, Darlin?”
          “Well, this IS your Bible, isn’t it?”
          “Of course.”
          “Then why does it say: Mary Elizabeth Hughes?
          “Well, silly, that’s my name.”
          Mack handed the Bible to MayBeth but did not move along He just stood. Looking at MayBeth. They had met at the First Baptist Church in Hearne, Texas two years earlier. They both maintained it was mutual love at first sight and Mack had traveled the 20 miles down Highway 79 to Milano, Texas to see MayBeth any time he could “hitch” a ride. In between their times together, they wrote letters to each other. MayBeth saved some of the letters she received from the young man from the big city who stole her heart.
          So, in early August, 1933, there was a bridal shower at the home of her parents, Luther and Alice Isaac Hughes then on Sunday afternoon, August 20, at the home of the pastor of the First Baptist Church in Hearne, Mack Hoyt and MayBeth Hughes were united in holy matrimony.
          The following Sunday, the heat in the Texas air hung hot and heavy but Mack kept standing in the middle of the street staring at MayBeth with his hands on his hips. She blushed and smiled and twisted the small gold band on her left hand.
          Finally, a broad grin began to spread across Mack’s face and he said, “Well, we’ll settle one thing here and now. You kept your real name secret for two years, but our first child will be named Mary Elizabeth! Now, let’s go home.”

          It took a while, but when  their firstborn crashed the scene, I WAS a girl. I’ve often wondered if my brother Jerry had come first, whether he would have liked the name Mary Elizabeth. When our daddy set his mind….

          Sometime around mid-afternoon on February 24, 1937, birthing began to call. Time seemed to stand still for the young couple, but at eight o’clock the next night, Mack and MayBeth became parents for the first time. And, it was a “they” thing because Mack stayed in the bedroom through the whole ordeal. So, with birthing done, Old Dr. Bo handed the screaming baby girl to Grandmother Alice for cleaning while he tended to the new mother. Mack went out to the small living room to announce the results of those long hours to the waiting family.
          When all the commotion settled down, Mack went back to the bedroom to hold his new daughter. He just stood at the foot of MayBeth’s bed a long time, rocking his daughter back and forth.
          Mother said, “Darlin, is she all right?”
          Mack grinned and said, “Well, yeah. But, Sweetheart? Well, gosh, half her legs are turned up in feet.”
          In spite of pain, MayBeth laughed.
          Mack regained some of his composure and sat on the edge of Mother’s bed. He said, “Mamma. I want you to meet MARY ELIZABETH HOYT. Your first AND your last child. We’ll not be doing this ever again.”

          J Mother had to do a lot of whatever it was she did to convince my Daddy, but four years later, they did bring forth into the world their second (and last!!) child, a son, my little brother.

Thank you Mother and Daddy for giving me life. For showing me the Way. For standing by—no matter what. But, mostly, thank you for introducing me to Jesus!

Dearest love, from your first-born who was always knows as

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Winter Prayers

I wonder what you expect when you visit my praying chairs.
Probably not grumblings, so you might want to stop now and choose another link.

It has been a hard, dry winter.

Often, my offerings on these pages are flimsy, meaningless, superficial.
On occasion, the words uplift, encourage, and maybe even heal.

Not today. It is a warm, cloudy, WINTER day in February. In Texas the land is brown, the trees bare, the landscape dead, dusty, and dirty. Bland, bla, bla. Plain. Colorless.  Nothing but gray and brown.

I wander.
In and out.
Here and there.
Even back and forth.

My prayers usually do the same as I weakly seek and sing and praise and cry.

Then I pen words to fill those spaces.
So often restless, I move from chair to chair to chair, writing and praying over mundane doings.
          Sometimes, the words flit from flower to flower, friend to friend and I write frivolous thoughts while my heart grieves… until the pain eases and I can breathe again.
My grandson calls those “Memaw’s Rabbit Trails.” Ah, so.
There is rest on a quiet, side trail where I don’t have to face up to life and grapple with God.
Rather than scream at my Holy Father, “It just hurts too much!” . . . . .
I simply turn aside into empty musings.
          The loss of friends—precious earthy vessels—over and over and over gets to be too much, especially because:
 I’m the strong one. I’m the woman of faith. I’m the elder. I’ve survived the hard places. I walk with Jesus. “Hey, Liz, you can’t crack; you have to set the example!”
 I’m supposed to know how to live it out.

So, I write. I pray. I read. I beg. I pray. I write.
I clean and shop and cook and toss and turn while I pray; but the words hover in my head.

Until… I stumble across a memory…a word… strains of a song.
His Word.
Blessed Assurance.
Jesus IS mine.
I slowly pull the warm blanket of His Word closer around me and quietly nestle.
BUT WAIT!!! I forgot.
WINTER. Oh. I forgot.
          My petunias and yellow bells and orange trumpets and bluebonnets cannot bloom next month… UNLESS they winter over and lie dormant--still and quiet and dead under the covering of heaps of brown, dead leaves. The flowers of my field that will peek purple and yellow and orange and blue blossoms through death next month have shivered in the long night of cold and ice and snow and been soaked by winter’s rains.

There is no Easter morning without the blood; without the cross.

There is no resurrection without death.

I have “wintered-over” these last months. Tired. Empty.  But in this dormant time, I whisper to the Holy Spirit and I take on the winter rains of Scripture, lift up shivering heart murmurings so that I, too, can bloom again.

And when I bloom, I WILL bring to my writing many bouquets of promises and love and encouragement from God’s own sure and Holy Word.

          But for now, in these waning days of a drab winter, I rest in God's Word and ponder the words of the Apostle Paul to the Philippians. Chapter 4, verses 6 and 7 of The Message:

Don't fret or worry. Instead of worrying, PRAY.
          Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns.
Before you know it, a sense of God's wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down
It's wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.  (4: 6,7 The Message)

But, Holy Father, HOW do I stop the worry and the fret????Oh. OH! I remember. Finish the passage.
J Paul continues in verses 8. I like the way it reads in the NIV 2010:

Finally, brothers and sisters…
          whatever is true,
          whatever is noble,
          whatever is right,
          whatever is pure,
          whatever is lovely,
          whatever is admirable
—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—
think about such things.

         May His Perfect peace keep you safe and watered through the waning days of this drab winter.


Monday, February 21, 2011

Monday's Random Thoughts

Today I posted a new-old story on my “other blog,” Stories From Liz’s Heart.
And, yes, you guessed it. There is a story about my story.
I originally wrote, Freedom! vs the Pink Handkerchief circa 1976. I lived in Austin, Texas and studied creative writing from a local writer. Mike was a great nuts ‘n bolts teacher, but he did not like Barbara’s pink hanky story and asked me to write on another subject. Desperately hoping to find favor for my work, I crafted a story written in a letter by an eighty-five-year-old woman to her husband as she closed her home to move into a nursing home. Mike really disliked that story and said, “Only write what you know!!!!” (his explanation points, not mine J). “You are too young to know what an eighty-five year old woman could possibly feel.”
Okay. I put a cover on my typewriter.
Pretty soon, my own life began to crumble before my eyes and I put a cover on all frivolous things. Like writing.
Two lifetimes later:
In 1998, this single grandmother had settled my small brood out in the Texas hill country, working as director at a senior citizen’s center. For a lark, I submitted my pink hanky story to the Austin Christian Writers’ Guild. (Smiles and winks accepted.)
My story received FIRST PLACE in the Fiction category and earned $15.00 and a printed certificate. The contest judge was no other than national author, writers' conference speaker and writing teacher, and former pastor and missionary CECIL MURPHY. (Polite applause appreciated)
*sigh* My good Fredericksburg buddy, Blanche, from those long-ago-foster parent-days went with me to the winner’s banquet in Austin. Five minutes of fame was sweet. *sigh*
Back to the subject!! I always assumed Freedom vs the Pink Hankerchief was a sweet, romantic fiction. Ha! Shows you what this OLD author knows. Just last week I read a post by Christian novelist Sharon K. Souza at discussing Magical Realism
Blew me away. I discussed it further with my dyed-in-the-wool-literary-snob grandson and he explained magical realism further. Really? You’re kidding! Well, sure, I’ve heard of Tolkin, C.S. Lewis but that’s NOT what I write!!
After a long discussion about the hidden aspects of several of my little fiction short stories and my still-waiting-in-the-drawer novel, I caved. A smidgen. Because not only is my writing not even in the ballpark with real Christian magical realism writers, I don't even know the game. But, there is a lively debate at Novel Matters on the subject. Hummmmm.

May be there's more real-make-believe in my daily reality and my writing than I suspected.
What do YOU think??? I’d love some opinions!!

As always, everything I attempt is because He first loved me.

By-The-Way and P.S.
This week in my daily prayer time, I am soaking my soul with Ann Voskamp’s A Thousand Gifts. We must be people of thanks giving. Join me in this heart search.